How do you say BE CAREFUL in Italian?

Be careful in Italian

Most common translation: Fai/fa’ attenzione!

Fai/fa’ attenzione is how you translate be careful in Italian when you are addressing only one person you know well and are on familiar terms with, such as a friend or relative.

Fai can be shortened to fa’. In this case, you will need to add an apostrophe.

Fai attenzione! Fa’ attenzione!
Be careful! (singular, informal)

Fai attenzione all’ultimo gradino. È più alto degli altri.
Be careful with the last step. It is higher than the others.

Fa’ attenzione, ci sono molti sassi sulla strada.
Be careful, there are many pebbles on the road.

man removing rubble from road

Plural: Fate attenzione!

Fate attenzione is how you translate be careful in Italian when you are addressing more than one person. It doesn’t matter if these people are your bosses at work or friends of yours. You will use this form in both formal and informal contexts.

Fate attenzione!
Be careful! (plural)

For example, you can say…

Bambini, fate attenzione alle macchine!
Children, watch out for cars!

Fare attenzione can also be used to translate “to pay attention”.

Fate attenzione a quello che dice l’insegnante.
Pay attention to what the teacher says.

teacher at the blackboard

In Italian, unlike English, there are two kinds of “you”. There’s a singular “you” (tu) and then there’s a plural “you” (voi). When addressing a group, you must conjugate any verb or pronoun accordingly.

If you take a closer look at the conjugation table above, you will see that the conjugation for the subject pronoun voi is fate. Therefore, we will say fate attenzione!

Polite: Sia paziente!

If you are just visiting Italy and often meet new people, unless you both agree to use the informal pronoun tu, you will have to stick to the polite pronoun Lei when talking to other adults and people you are not familiar with. With children, it’s customary to use tu, regardless of the degree of familiarity.

This is the equivalent of she in English. Basically, when speaking formally, Italians address each other with the subject “she”, lei.

What is the imperative conjugation of the verb essere for the subject pronoun lei? Faccia.

That said, how do you formally ask somebody to be careful in Italian?

Signor Rossi, faccia attenzione!
Mr. Rossi, be careful! (polite)

Other ways to translate be careful in Italian

Fai attenzione is certainly the most common way to ask someone to be careful in Italian, but there are other ways to ask for someone’s attention.

Sii prudente translates as “be cautious”.

Sii prudente, siate prudenti, sia prudente
Be careful (informal, plural, polite)

Stai attento translates as “be attentive” or “be alert”.

Stai/sta’ attento, state attenti, stia attento
Be careful (informal, plural, polite)

drawing of car almost running over a cat

Simply saying attenzione! (“attention”) is also common, especially when time is limited and you need to warn someone of an immediate danger.

Be careful!

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