It is giving a command, but not necessarily impolitely. Here it is explained what imperative is/does, in English examples so you may better understand:
When asking to a friend you can just say "скажи" and drop the "please". Here, they use "скажите" : either talking to a group or respectfully talking to someone ; but no "please" so it's a respectful "Tell me". But not the most respectful ("скажите пожалуйста") - showing respect but not insisting on it. If you're asking something to a complete stranger for instance you'd better use the "excuse me please" way.
I'm translating скажи and скажите as "say," but that's not colloquial English.
If I were translating a modern play or story, I wonder if "Hey, ..." would be a better translation for "Скажи ...", and " Excuse me ..." for "Скажите ..." Any thoughts from bilingual English/Russian speakers?
That's colloquial English here in the US, albeit a bit archaic at this point. Perhaps report it? Additionally, as a native English speaker, I've always assumed "hey" was just a sound (or perhaps a shortening of "hello," an exclamation of surprise). It seems that скажйте actually has the meaning "to tell," which is a distinction.
Actually, сказать is the Infinitive (base form) of the word, the equivalent of "to say" in English. Every word in Russian and English comes from an infinitive, but as you can see, there are many more types of conjugations in Russian than in English. Сказать declines into скажи(те) when instructing someone to tell you something.
Excuse me, where is Vera? was not accepted, although that is a way to translate it according to the Notes Section. ["Please tell" when asking for information: «Скажи́те, пожа́луйста, где музе́й?» =Excuse me, where is the museum?] Either the exercise or the notes should be changed.
It's a little more nuanced than that. http://russianlearn.com/grammar/category/the_imperative_mood
It just sounds more polite.
So this is really grammatically "imperative form", but the tone is actually relaxed and the meaning is more like "So... where's Vera?" Like you're wondering about it aloud, not interrogating someone.
I kind of got the feeling that (in this case) 'сказать' is used almost like "I think someone should explain where Vera is". Does that make any sense...?
@LuhanLufaw - The English translation here is "Tell me, where is Vera?" Where is translated as где.
Ещё means "still" (as in, "I am still doing my homework"). When used with a perfective verb it can also mean "again" (Сказать ещё [раз]). So, "Скажите ещё, Вера" would mean "Tell me again, Vera".
Difference between скажите и скажи? If anyone can get this, благодарю вас