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For my exam I need to write a formal letter and I'm wondering if 'voi' is appropriate. Sometimes I hear it is only for informal and sometimes I hear it is formal and informal. I'm trying to be pedantic as my exam is a bit old fashioned.

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2 Answers 2

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‘Voi’ is considered a formal expression to refer to a group of people, sometimes it may be used also to refer to a single person (instead of ‘Lei’) but it is more common in the southern regions of Italy.

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  • Actually, it's informal (though almost universally accepted) to use voi for several persons. The formal way to address more than one person is Loro.
    – DaG
    Commented Apr 23 at 8:33
  • @DaG To me using Loro for several people feels unbelievably stuffy, not formal, at the level of parody. Is it still used in your idiolect? Rome must be a weirder place than I thought :).
    – Denis Nardin
    Commented Apr 24 at 9:57
  • @DenisNardin, no, the last time I heard it in real life it must have been several years ago (even though I won't deny Rome to be a weird place). On the other hand, I still consider it formal high use (perhaps, say, in some administrative act) and Serianni's Italiano (VII.84) gives loro on the same level as voi among the “pronomi allocutivi reverenziali”.
    – DaG
    Commented Apr 24 at 17:00
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    @apaderno: Both loro and essi are pronouns for the third plural person (with slight difference in usage), while as a formal way to address more than one person only loro is (or was) used.
    – DaG
    Commented Jun 4 at 12:03
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    @apaderno I feel there is some misunderstanding. Do you mean that the sentence is addressed to only one of the persons (as opposed to the group)?
    – Denis Nardin
    Commented Jun 4 at 18:31
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Si! Its more formal ;) But in Italy we are not using it that often... You know everybody is your family

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