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How do you address someone politely in Italian?
How should I use the polite form and when?
I can't really understand it!1 answer
When talking with someone in Italian you have to be careful of how you address the other person. Because in Italian, as in many other languages, we have a polite speech.
When is it used?
It's generally used for people you don't know and who are older than 25 or 30 years old or as a sign of respect for his or her role. Using with someone younger than that can sound very awkward but it happens.
It shouldn't be used with very young people, friends, family members, people with whom you have a fairly close relationship.
It should be used with adult strangers
If someone much older than you addresses you with a polite speech, you should respond in the same way.
For using the polite speech you have to change everything as if you were talking to a third female person (Lei).
Posso aiutarla? Can I help her / May I help you? (polite)
Può sentirmi? Can he/she hear me / Can you hear me? (polite) (polite)
Lei cosa pensa di ciò? What does she think about it? / What do you think about it? (polite)
If you want to ask if you can stop addressing the other person like that or if you want to say that the other person can stop using a polite speech, you need to use the following phrases:
Posso darle del tu? May I address you with "tu"?
Può darmi del tu. You can address me with "tu"
Remember that even in this case you can avoid to use the personal pronoun unless you want to emphasize. The correct conjugation automatically makes the other person understand it.
Lei può sentirmi? Can you hear me?
Lei, può sentirmi? Can YOU hear me?
Può sentirmi? Can you hear me?
The first one sounds unnatural.
The second one emphasizes Lei (You) for some reason. It sounds much stronger! Therefore you need to be careful.
The third is the best choice most of the time.
Feel free to practice even more with the exercises below!