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What would be the formal equivalents of:

Dove vi siete conosciuti?
Stavo parlando con voi.

I read everywhere that Loro as plural formal 'you' is restricted only to very formal written work. What would be the spoken equivalent, and which verb conjugation would that pronoun take?

  • Welcome to Italian.SE, @ToGa! – Charo Feb 12 '16 at 8:46
  • To better understand the answer given be sure to get the difference between "loro" as formal of you (the now not common use) and loro as "they"/"them" (what now we use loro for) – Erik vanDoren Feb 12 '16 at 14:48
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Short answer: it's really uncommon to use loro in this case. You may want to use voi even in a formal conversation.

Why? I don't really know. Perhaps, because voi was used in the past for the plurale maestatis, hence it already contains this formal meaning.

However, even if it's uncommon, you could use loro:
Stavo parlando con loro
Dove si sono conosciuti loro?
But, believe me, the person to whom you are talking will probably not understand. He'll look around and then ask you "loro chi?" :)

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    Yes, it is uncommon, but not unheard of. Occasionally, I still hear some (admittedly, mostly aged) people asking for instance, in front of the exit door of a bus: “Scendono alla prossima?” – DaG Feb 12 '16 at 9:59
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    As for being uncommon, we agree: I was not contradicting you, I was just giving a small, further example. – DaG Feb 12 '16 at 10:18
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    Se vogliamo, quello non è plurale maiestatis, bensì plurale vero e proprio, perché tu sei l'addetto alla corrispondenza commerciale che ti esprimi per conto di un gruppo. – maxadamo Feb 12 '16 at 10:28
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    comunque, vostra grazia, vostra magnificenza, voi ... sono la logica conseguenza della regola del plurale maiestatis. Se egli usa 'noi' tu risponderai voi in conseguenza della stessa regola. – maxadamo Feb 12 '16 at 10:35
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    si "abbiamo" e "da noi" e' plurale... mentre il "comunicarVi" e' il dare del voi. Quando imparai dattilografia ai tempi di marcocaco il non dare del Voi nella corrispondenza commerciale era pure un erroraccio, incluso non usare la maiuscola che lo avrebbe trasformato in plurale. Il mio testo, anni 80, lo preferiva al Lei. Ora le regole sono sono cambiate parecchio ma l'esempio dal Treccani e' dell'82... – Erik vanDoren Feb 12 '16 at 14:08
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In modern Italian language "voi" means you (plural). The pronoun "loro" means they and is used even as honorific plural form.

However in northern Italy old people used "voi" as honorific form when they talked to their parents.

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  • Also in Tuscany, especially talking to grandfather and grandmother. – alsa Feb 21 '16 at 18:00

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