What's the diference between "usi" and "usa"? I've seen both so far and they both seem to mean "use!" (singular imperative of usare). Or is one the imperative form of utiliza and the other the imperative of usare? If so, which is which?
"Usare" and "Utilizzare" have the same meaning, there is no difference.
- "Usi" (verb) is used in two cases:
1) "Tu usi il coltello" = "You use the knife" : present indicative.
2) "Usi il coltello!" = "Use the knife!" : present imperative. In italian is a formal form, when you say to a person "Lei usi il coltello". You are studying Spanish too: well, it's similar to usted/ustedes when used as a formal form.
- "Usa" is used in two cases too:
1) "Lui usa il coltello" = "He uses the knife" : present indicative.
2) "Usa il coltello" = "Use the knife!" : present imperative. If your Italian girlfriend is using a spoon to cut the bread ( Wtf? ahah ) you say to her: Usa il coltello!
Remember the Second Person "Lei" used as a formal form for "You".
Okay, but those examples sound pretty similar to me and I couldn't tell whether to use "usi" or "usa". At first I thought "usa" is the third person singular indicative and "usi" the second person singular indicative". But if I want someone to use something, do I say "usa" or "usi"? I can't really tell by the examples... :(
It can be different for other verbs:
"Ehi andrea, senti" = "Listen to me"
"Signore, senta" : this is the formal "You", in italian "Lei"
"Andrea, esci" = "Go out"
"Signore, esca per favore" : again, formal form.
It's only matter of practice and get the ear (:
Perhaps you are a little confused here. Utilizzare (to utilize) is not part of the conversation. Usere (to use): 'usi' is the informal you, 'usa' is the formal you (same as 3rd person). This verb SWITCHES for imperative, so 'usa' is 2nd person informal and 'usi' is 3rd person and formal you.
I suspected it had to be something like that. I've disabled auto-correct for that reason and when on DL or otherwise writing in Italian, I switch my spell-check option to Italian, so that those annoying squiggly red lines alert me to possible typos or outright spelling errors in the Italian. I've used Pimsleur almost exclusively over the years and it only focuses on oral/aural skills, which is one reason my spelling in Italian is -- like those squiggly lines--, shaky.
Credo che Lei abbia ragione: http://www.italian-verbs.com/verbi-italiani/coniugazione.php?verbo=usare
A punctuation question (even though DL doesn't gig you for punctuation): It seems DL always uses an exclamation point (!) after every imperative sentence. But this is a case where it's easy to see how a ! can make a difference: "How should I cut the bread?" "Dummy. Use the knife." (No big deal.) "Should I shoot him?" "Too loud. Use the knife!" (Big deal.) So, does well written Italian always require a ! or not?
Every language I know usually punctuates the imperative with an exclamation mark. Since the imperative is a form of an order, it is only fitting to emphasize it with an exclamation mark. It is not mandatory and dependant on the context, as you could easily use the imperative without the exclamation mark and with it. E.g: Taglia il formaggio, per favore. - Please cut the cheese. You can also simply answer Taglia il formaggio. when asked by someone what he/she should do next. If you say Taglia il formaggio! then you emphasize your imperative because the person you told it to either dind't get it the first time or somehow defies you. As I said before: It's strongly context-sensitive.