Expressions used to say something is banned or forbidden

To express a general ban that applies to everyone, we could use:

  • (È) vietato/proibito (it is forbidden/prohibited) + the infinitive. Note: we often see this expression without è on signs and in written instructions.

(È) vietato fumare.

Smoking is forbidden (no smoking). 

  • È/sono vietato/i / proibito/i (is/are forbidden/prohibited) + a noun. The verb essere (to be) and the adjectives vietato/a/e/i and proibito/a/e/i need to agree in gender and number with the noun that follows.

Sono vietate le feste in spiaggia.

Beach parties are prohibited.

  • Non + è/sono (is/are) + consentito/permesso (allowed/permitted) + (di) the infinitive/a noun. The verb essere (to be) and the adjectives consentito/a/i/ and permesso/a/i/e need to agree in gender and number with the noun or the infinitive that follows (the infinitive takes the masculine singular form). The preposition di is only used before an infinitive, never a noun.

Non sono permesse modifiche ai piatti.

Changes to meals are not allowed (no substitutions).

  • Non + si + deve/devono dovere, presente (one should not) / può/possono potere, presente (one cannot) + the infinitive.

Non si può entrare nella sala.

Do not enter the room (literally “one may not enter the room”).

  • Divieto (forbidden/prohibited) + di + a noun. This expression is very common on warning signs.

Divieto di accesso.

No entry (entry forbidden). 

To say that a specific person is forbidden to do something, we could use:

  • Non + the verb dovere dovere, presente (to need to, to have to) + the infinitive.

Non dovevi comprare il latte.

You didn't have to buy milk.

  • An indirect object pronoun Pronomi CI + vieto/proibisco/impedisco (I forbid) + di + the infinitive.

Ti vieto di parlare con la zia.

I forbid you to talk to your aunt.

  • The negative imperative

Non mangiare! (tu)

Don't eat!

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