"Too much tu" - discussion on Duo

Really interesting that someone complained as per the title. When I joined ClozeM I was a bit unsettled to find more Formal than I expected, took a while to adjust. After a discussion in our club this evening it seems the formal Lei or Voi is still very much used and respected in Italy. Glad to hear it and very glad to be using it here. Thanks ClozeM!


I made the same point in a number of discussion threads back when I didn’t know any better than to be at… that other place. There seemed to be a REALLY strong institutional bias against it, probably due to the site founder’s artificial and plastic kumbaya view of “we are the world”. We are all one, we are all equals, we are all… ah, no, actually. Some people have earned some basic respect and marking a question wrong for using the Lei form is just asinine. (Unless it’s an audio question which uses the tu form of course, but I’m talking about purely vocabulary questions.)

If I were to somehow run into Sergio Mattarella (and presumably his bodyguards were looking the other way to let me get close enough to speak to him), I’m not likely to say “Eh Sergio, come stai??” It would be disrespecting the office as much as the man.

I’ll admit that I find it easier to stick to the tu form… or more precisely it’s easier to stick to ONE form, but I’ve never received a knock back to a simple “ci possiamo dare del tu, vero?” (Which I usually offer if I’m addressed as “Signore” as well.) I’ll sometimes qualify that with “È più facile per me” as an explanation. At least in shops and restaurants, when in doubt you can just flip to the “voi” form given that the formal version of that is universally regarded as antiquated.

What I find more difficult to adapt to here is that there is a lot more passato remoto than I’m used to. I never use it myself, and whether you come across it seems to depend on which region you’re in. Yes, Sicilia and Toscana, I’m looking at you two in particular.

But then Toscana is also the only place where I’ve been greeted with “Buonasera” at 1:30 in the afternoon too. They sometimes do things a little differently there.


Ciao LuciusV. Loved your comment (eh Sergio;-) and feel much the same. I learned v quickly to apologise for the “tu” when discussing the price of a gondola ride etc. Was met with charm and understanding but with noticeably molto di più rispetto when I used the formal.

And here, whenever I “just don’t get it” I think “Ah it’s the Remoto!” And you’re so right about Toscana where my friend Cristina in Lucca insists they’re the only Italians who speak properly. Mamma mia, it will be joyous to breath Italian air once again, north south, anywhere. Tanti auguri, rispetto eh!