Monday, August 16, 2010

Tu or lei?- a language game

The use of the informal tu or the formal lei is important in Italian, but unlike most other aspects of learning the language, it is far from cut and dried. Below I present various little scenarios. For each, decide whether you would use tu or lei. Remember that such usage is often subjective, but when in doubt, the lei should be used, unless the other person allows you to use the tu (ci diamo del tu?/mi puoi dare del tu, and so on.)

1. You're on a blog written by an individual and you write a comment. You don't know the blogger in person. You've never commented before.

2. You ask for directions in the street.

3. You're forty. A friend invites you to a party with people she knows but you don't (yet.)

4. You send an e-mail to an Italian website (hotel, restaurant, etcetera) asking for information.

5. You order at a restaurant.

6. You order at a pizzeria. You're fifty and the waiter appears to be about twenty-five.

7. You're middle-aged and you're having a long, friendly conversation with an elderly person. They use the tu form with you.

8. You're thirty and you're talking to some university students.

9. You're thirty and you're talking to a university professor.

10. You're sixty and you're talking to a priest under thirty.

11. You're forty and you're talking to a doctor under thirty who is caring for you.

12. You're forty, you're on vacation, and meet a couple of forty-year-old doctors and socialize at the beach.

13. You're thirty and you're talking to a child.

14. You're talking to an immigrant to Italy who doesn't know Italian well.

15. You meet your sixty-year-old Italian uncle for the first time.

Answers below.

1. Tu.
2. Lei.
3. Tu.
4. Lei.
5. Lei.
6. Tu.
7. Lei.
8. Tu.
9. Lei.
10. Lei.
11. Lei.
12. Tu.
13. Tu.
14. Lei.
15. Tu.