I understand dammi probably is a combination of dare and mi, but I would like to know how to construct it. And what is the grammar phenomenon behind it so I can search about it.

Also, I translated the above sentence to mi dai un bacio. This was marked wrong and the hint was mi dia un bacio. According to word reference, this is the third person singular form of imperativo. I understand the answer probably used the formal you lei, but that doesn't make using dai, the second person singular form of imperativo wrong, does it? Much appreciated.

  • 1
    The grammar phenomenon is called "clitic pronouns attached to verbs as a suffix." This is a very basic stuff, usually covered in every textbook under the "Pronouns" section. We have a question about it here. On another note, please keep your questions separated. Asking two questions in one post may result in (a) not getting a proper answer to one of the two, (b) difficulties for other users to find the answer later if they have the same question. Thanks.
    – I.M.
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 8:20
  • Thank you for pointing it out. I will try not to ask two questions at once next time. But since the question has already been answered, probably I will leave it as it is this time.
    – jxhyc
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 11:30

1 Answer 1


Dammi is simply the usual unified form for da' (or dai), the second person singular imperative of the verb dare (= “to give”), and the pronoun mi, that is, a me (= “to me”). All in all, dammi is just “give me” (and hence dammi un bacio means “kiss me”).

The “m” is doubled since in such juxtapositions a phenomenon called raddoppiamento fonosintattico (syntactic doubling) happens, in which – simplifying a bit – when a vowel (a stressed one or the only vowel in certain one-syllable words) at the end of a word meets a consonant at the beginning of the next one, the consonant is doubled. Most of time, this is just heard in pronunciation (è vero is pronounced as if it were written “evvéro”); but in single words formed by the joining of two words as above, the phenomenon appears in spelling too: davvero, ebbene, frattanto and so on.

Attaching the direct or indirect or indirect object (or both) to the verb is the rule for imperatives, with or without doubling, as the case may be. For instance: prendilo (“catch it”), falle (“do [something] to her”), dimmelo (“say it to me”).

As for dai, be aware of the fact that it is both one form of the imperative (“give!”) and the second person singular of the indicative mood (“you give”). Which one we are using is often understood by the structure of the sentence. In your example, mi dai un bacio could only mean “you give me a kiss”, as in “you are giving me, right now, a kiss”, not an order or a request.

Finally, mi dia un bacio is what you would say formally, to a person with whom you use Lei, while dammi un bacio is what you'd say to some with whom you have more familiarity (addressing them with tu). (In either case, I wouldn't ask peremptorily for a kiss...)

(A final piece of advice: When in doubt, forget WordReference; it's not exactly an authoritative source.)

  • 1
    DaG, I'm torn whether to ask you to expand the answer to cover the second question, or to ask @jxhyc to post that question about the imperative mood separately, since it's so different from the first one.
    – I.M.
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 8:25
  • I have expanded the answer to address the dai / dia issue; I hope everything is covered now. (And I agree that asking separate questions is easier for everybody.)
    – DaG
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 8:45
  • I still don't understand why "mi dai" cannot be an imperative form for tu. Is it because it is both imperative and indicative form, so unified the clitics and the imperative verb became mandatory?
    – jxhyc
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 11:43
  • 1
    @jxhyc: More or less, but not only when the indicative and imperative forms are identical. In modern Italian, mi dai, mi leggi, mi dici... (and the same with different pronouns) are indicative forms (“you are giving, reading, telling me”), while the corresponding imperatives are dammi, leggimi, dimmi.
    – DaG
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 11:52

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.