All posts by Kathryn Occhipinti

About Kathryn Occhipinti

Dr. Kathryn Occhipinti is a radiologist of Italian-American descent who has been leading Italian language groups in the Peoria and Chicago areas for about 10 years. During that time, she founded Stella Lucente, LLC, a publishing company focused on instructional language books designed to make learning a second language easy and enjoyable for the adult audience. Using her experiences as a teacher and frequent traveler to Italy, she wrote the "Conversational Italian for Travelers" series of books, which follow the character Caterina on her travels through Italy, while at the same time introducing the fundamentals of the Italian language. The associated website www.learntravelitalian.com, provides free interactive dialogues recorded by native Italian speakers, cultural notes, and Italian recipes to make learning the language really come alive. Everything one needs to know to travel to Italy is in this series of books!

Italy and the Spanish steps

Travel Italy: Italian Hosts and their Guests

Travel Italy: Italian Hosts and their Guests

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog  Follow Caterina and read about Italian hosts and their guests in Italy in the Conversational Italian for Travelers series of books!

The Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook begins each chapter with a dialogue from a story about the character Caterina, an American girl who travels to Italy to visit her relatives. As the story continues from one chapter to the next, we learn Italian, and about Italy, in an engaging way through Caterina’s experiences.

Italian Hosts and their Guests 

Italian hosts are found throughout Italy, as a multitude of tourists from all countries of the world visit the bustling cities,  ancient mountain towns and stunning seaside resorts that Italy is known for.  And, Italian hospitality is well-known to those who visit Italy.  Italian hosts  in family restaurants or shops even invite guests in with the exclamation, “Benvenuti!” “Welcome all!”

In our story, Caterina is a guest at the house of her Italian cousin Pietro and his wife Francesca.  She counts herself lucky to have family to visit in Italy, and her visit is in turn celebrated by her Italian hosts.  A warm, “welcome-home” dinner is planned upon her arrival and she is able to relax and visit with her cousins, grandmother and nephew on the first night of her Italian vacation.

Feel free to listen in on Caterina and her relatives on the day of her arrival to her cousin Pietro’s house with our FREE audio dialogue from “Chapter 7 – A Family Reunion” on www.LearnTravelItalian.com.

The Cultural Note below, adapted from the  textbook found on Amazon.com, Conversational Italian for Travelers, gives some general guidelines about the Italian one needs to know to talk about celebrations in Italy and address Italian hosts and their guests.
—Kathryn Occhipinti


 

Italian Cultural Note:
  Italian Hosts and their Guests

Several Italian words are commonly used to refer to hosts and their guests that sound very much like their English counterparts.  But, beware!  Despite similar pronunciation, the meaning of these words in Italian is often different from the English definition.  Here are short but important explanations to clarify these issues.

Let’s start with an Italian word we already know: l’hostess.  In Chapter 1 of our Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook, we learned that this word means stewardess and that a man working the same job is referred to as lo steward.

The word l’hostess does not have any other meaning in Italian, other than stewardess.  So, other Italian words must be substituted for the English word hostess (a woman who has invited others to a gathering or party or to stay in her home).

L’ospite can be used to refer to the hostess of a party in Italy.  However, l’ospite is also commonly used to refer to the guest!

Several common phrases can be used to clarify the situation…

For a hostess or host who has invited people into their home, the titles “la padrona di casa” or “il padrone di casa” are used.

For a party given outside the home, you can use the phrase, “la persona che invita” to refer to both a female or male host.  It should be noted here that, although persona is a feminine word in Italian, it refers to all human beings, male and female; the plural would be le persone, of course!

To refer to an organizer/coordinator of an event or party, use, l’organizzatore/l’organizzatrice della festa.”

Below is a table that summarizes these points:

l’ospite host, hostess
guest
la padrona (di casa) hostess (at her home)/homeowner, mistress
il padrone (di casa) host (at his home)/homeowner, boss
older meanings: ruler, master, lord (landowner)
la persona che invita host or hostess
(for event or party outside the home)
l’organizzatore host/organizer/coordinator
(for event or party outside the home)
l’organizzatrice hostess/organizer/coordinator
(for event or party outside the home)

Here are some phrases to that refer to the type of celebration you may be invited to while in Italy by your Italian friends. If you stay in Italy long enough, you are sure to run into a street fair or parade on a feast day, or a wedding or other holiday celebration.  Buon divertimento!” Have a good time!”

la festa/le feste holiday(s), celebration(s) party(ies)
la festa di compleanno birthday party
la festivà religious holiday
fare una festa to have/make a party
festeggiare to celebrate or have a celebration
to observe a holiday
fare festa to celebrate/to party

—Adapted from Conversational Italian for Travelers, “Vocabulary—Hosts and their Guests,” by Kathryn Occhipinti

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog—Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers series of books and a teacher of
Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1 and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
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Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Travel Italy: Italian Hosts and their Guests

Italian Hypothetical Phrases from Conversational Italian

Italian Subjunctive Mode (Part 5) – Italian Hypothetical Phrases – Family Reunion

Italian Subjunctive Mode (Part 5): Italian Hypothetical Phrases – Italian Family Reunion

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog               The Italian subjunctive mode can be used to make Italian hypothetical phrases and talk about your own Italian family history!

 

Speak Italian: Italian Subjunctive Mode with Italian Hypothetical Phrases – Past

Can you speak Italian? By now, many of you have passed the beginning stages of learning how to speak Italian and can read and comprehend quite a bit of the language. Meraviglioso!

But have you tried to take the next step to speak Italian fluently? Have you ever wondered about if something had happened in the past what the consequences might have been? How would you express this idea in Italian? Well, we can express hypothetical, or “if” ideas, called hypothetical phrases, in several ways in Italian and often with the Italian subjunctive mode that we have been focusing on in this series! 

This is the fifth blog post in the “Speak Italian” series that focuses on how to use the Italian subjunctive mode, or “il congiuntivo,” and will include Italian hypothetical phrases.  

To take that giant step from simple beginning sentences to more complex and fluid sentences in Italian, in this segment, we will discuss how to form Italian hypothetical phrases for probable and impossible “if” situations in the past in Italian. We will learn how to conjugate the Italian trapassato subjunctive mode and how to form the Italian past conditional tense.  With these two tenses, we will be able to construct sentences and refer to the past using Italian hypothetical phrases. We will also introduce the passato remoto past tense that is used to describe actions that began and were completed in the past when writing about historical events or narrating a story.

An example story will start our discussion.  This story is about an Italian mother and daughter, Francesca and Maria, who are preparing a welcoming party for an Italian-American relative who is visiting the family for the first time. You may remember the characters from our recent Italian Subjunctive Mode Practice blog posts.

Speak Italian: Italian Subjunctive Mode with Italian Hypothetical Phrases – Past

In the first three blog posts in the “Speak Italian” series about the subjunctive mode (“il congiuntivo”), we have presented Italian phrases that take the Italian subjunctive mode in the present and past tenses.

In this blog post, we will focus on how to construct Italian hypothetical phrases for events that have occurred in the past, as well as the different Italian verb forms needed for probable past and impossible past situations. Read our “real-life”story for examples that can be used as “anchors” in your knowledge for when you must speak Italian. Then next time you are wondering about something that might have happened in the past, start a conversation and use Italian hypothetical phrases!

Enjoy the fith blog post in this series, “Italian Subjunctive Mode (Part 5): Italian Hypothetical Phrases – Italian Family Reunion!
—Kathryn Occhipinti

Some of this material is adapted from our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC, found on www.learntravelitalian.com. Special thanks to Italian instructor Maria Vanessa Colapinto.


Speak Italian: Italian Subjunctive Mode with Italian Hypothetical Phrases – Past

When reading the story below, notice the use of the imperfetto past tense (for making general statements about the past) and the passato remoto past tense (for describing actions that began and were completed in the past).  The use of these tenses shifts from one to the other while Maria is narrating the story of her family, depending on the situation that is described. Finally, the hypothetical phrases that refer to events in the past have been underlined.

Italian Hypothetical Phrases in the Past:
A Family Reunion

It was a lovely spring day in April in the mountains of Abruzzo.  Frances and her daughter Mary met in Frances’ house in order to plan a party.

Era un bel giorno di aprile nelle montagne abruzzesi.  Francesca e sua figlia, che si chiama Maria, si sono incontrate a casa di Francesca per organizzare una festa.  

They wanted this party to be very special because Francesca’s cousin Rudy, who lives in America, was coming to Italy for the first time.
Loro volevano che questa festa fosse bellissima,  perché il cugino di Francesca, Rudy, che abita in America, veniva a visitare l’Italia per la prima volta.

 

“Tell me again how Great Uncle Mark, cousin Rudy’s grandfather, saved our family in Italy,” Mary asked her mother.

“Raccontami ancora come il prozio Marco, il nonno del cugino Rudolfo, ha salvato la nostra famiglia in Italia,” Maria ha chiesto a sua madre.

 

Frances replied (to her) with the following story:

Francesca le ha risposto con la storia qui di seguito:

 

Great grandmother Mary had a brother, whose name was Mark.

La bisnonna Maria aveva un fratello, che si chiamava Marco.

 

Great Uncle Mark left Italy and went to live in America with his family in 1920.

Il prozio Marco lasciò l’Italia e andò a vivere in America con la sua famiglia nel 1920.

 

He had to leave Italy to find work, because after World War I there was no work in Italy.

Dovette lasciare l’Italia per trovare lavoro, perchè dopo la Prima Guerra Mondiale, non c’era lavoro in Italia.

 

Right after Uncle Mark had left Italy, great grandmother’s husband died, and she was left all alone to raise their three children.

Subito dopo che lo zio Marco lasciò l’Italia, il marito della bisnonna morì, e lei era da sola a crescere i suoi tre figli.

 

In Italy in the early 1900’s, if a woman didn’t have a husband, usually she was not able to support her family.

In Italia negli anni del primo novecento, se una donna non aveva un marito, normalmente non poteva mantenere la famiglia.

 

At that time, if a woman wanted to work, she could be a teacher or a seamstress.

A quel tempo, se una donna voleva lavorare, poteva fare l’insegnante o la sarta.

 

Grandmother Mary had been a teacher before she was married.

La bisnonna Maria era un’insegnante prima di sposarsi.

 

But with three children it was not possible for her to leave the house to work.

Ma con tre figli, non era possibile per lei uscire di casa per lavorare.

 

So Uncle Mark worked in America and sent money to Italy.

E cosi’ lo zio Marco lavorava in America e mandava i soldi in Italia.

 

If Uncle Mark had not sent money to Grandmother Mary, she and the children could have starved to death.

Se lo zio Marco non avesse mandato i soldi alla bisnonna Maria, lei e i figli sarebbero potuti morire di fame.

 

At the end of this story, Mary said,   “And if Uncle Mark had not helped Grandmother Mary, you and I would not be here today!”

Alla fine della storia, Maria ha detto, “E se lo zio Marco non avesse aiutato la bisnonna Maria, tu e io non saremmo qui oggi!”

 

“Probably not,” replied Frances.

“Probabilmente no,” ha risposto Francesca.


Speak Italian: Grammar You Will Need to Know to Narrate a Story

The “Passato Remoto”

The passato remoto form of the Italian past tense is used in textbooks to describe historical events that took place centuries ago, and also in textbooks that describe art history.

Outside of scholarly works written in Italian, the passato remoto is still commonly found as a narrative tool in novels and other forms of fiction written today.

In fiction today, the author of a novel will often use the passato remoto form for the voice of the narrator.  The passato remoto is useful for the “detached” feeling it gives to the narration in descriptive passages that relate completed  events in the “remote past” of a character’s life. The passato prossimo  is the past tense form usually  used by the characters during their conversations, which gives a “realistic” feeling to the dialogue.

Although used differently for artistic purposes in novels, the passato remoto can be considered interchangeable with the passato prossimo, since  both describe completed events that took place during a given period of time in the past.

The English translation for the passato prossimo is in the simple present tense, as English does not have an equivalent tense to the passato prossimo.  In effect, the Italian past tenses can express certain shades of meaning which cannot be expressed by the verb alone in English.

Note that the imperfetto remains important for works of fiction as well, as the passato remote cannot be used to replace the imperfetto!  We remember that the imperfetto is used to describe an ongoing action or event, while we have just reviewed that the passato prossimo describes completed actions or events.  For a review of the specific uses of the imperfetto, please refer to our blog Speak Italian: A Story About… Love!

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Since our focus to this point has been on conversational, rather than written Italian, a common convention regarding stories told in conversation should be noted here.  In both English and Italian, the present tense is very often used to tell a story that the speakers understand to have happened in the past.  For instance:

            Kathy:  (Past tense to introduce setting.) “Yesterday, I met Janice.
Kathy continues:  (Switch to present tense to tell the story):
“And she says to me…  And then I say to her…”

This simplifies matters – no complex, little used past tense is needed to tell a story! But, if one wants to expand their conversational Italian to include the ability to narrate a story about the past formally, the passato remoto is an important tense to learn.

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We should also note here that  in certain southern regions, and particularly in Sicily, it is the normal convention to use the passato remoto instead of the passato prossimo.  In these  regions, the idea that the passato remoto  should be reserved for remote events or narration is not adhered to, and the passato remoto is instead chosen to speak about any past event that took place within a given period of time.

 


Speak Italian:  “Passato Remoto”  Past Tense
You Will Need to Know…

“Passato Remoto” – “Avere” and “Essere”

The most commonly used form of the passato remoto  is the third person singular of essere, which is fu.  The first and third person singular of  avere, which is ebbi, is also commonly used.  Even if you don’t plan to continue to learn the passato remoto tense, remember these two verbs, as you will surely encounter them when reading Italian! The full conjugations of these irregular verbs are given for completeness.

Avere—to have—Passato Remoto

 io ebbi I had
 tu avesti you (familiar) had
 Lei

lei/lui

ebbi you (polite) had

she/he had

     
(se) noi avemmo we had
(se) voi aveste you all had
(se) loro ebbero they had

 

Essere—to be—Passato Remoto

 io fui I was
 tu fosti you (familiar) were
Lei

 lei/lui

fu you (polite) were

she/he was

     
 noi fummo we were
 voi foste you all were
 loro furono they were

 

 


Speak Italian:  “Passato Remoto”  Past Tense
You Will Need to Know…

The “Passato Remoto” Regular Conjugations

Unfortunately, before we even begin to conjugate verbs in the passato remoto, it should be noted that the passato remoto has many, many exceptions to the regular conjugation. But luckily, the use of the passato remoto in novels is usually limited by the narrative form chosen, which will normally be in the first person or third person singular.  This in turn limits the number of endings necessary to learn.

Also, certain verbs are used over and over in the passato remoto form –  those needed to keep the flow of dialogue going, such as: said, asked, answered, went, came. So, even a limited knowledge of this verb form is very useful for understanding a work of Italian fiction.

For this blog, we will describe how to conjugate the passato remoto, but then focus only on the most commonly used verbs in the singular first and third persons.

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To conjugate the passsato remoto past tense…

As usual, we must first make our stem from the infinitive –are, -ere, and –ire verbs.  The method used to form the stems for the passato remoto is easy – just drop the –are, -ere, or  -ire from the infinitive verb!

Then, as usual, we add the endings to the stems.  You will notice that, for all persons except the third person singular, each ending begins with the first vowel we have just removed from the stem! So if it makes it easier for you, think of the endings as being the same, other than this one change, except for the third person.

For the third person: For the –are verbs, the third person ending will be -ò, for the -ere verbs the ending will be -é,  and for the -ire verbs, the ending will be -ì.

Using this method, though, it soon becomes apparent that the first and third persons for the -ere form of the passato remoto  form will not be unique ( the first person -ei ending will be the same as the conditional tense and the third person é  is almost identical to the present tense; the third person plural -erono is identical to the future). The -ere conjugation used most often will instead be -tti for the first person, -tte for the third person singular, and -ttero for the third person plural in order to get around this difficulty.

 

Passato Remoto Endings for –are, -ere, -ire Verbs

Infinitive
Verb
  -are -ere -ire
io (i) ai ei (etti) oi
tu (sti) asti esti isti
Lei/lei/lui   ò é (ette) ì
         
noi (mmo) ammo emmo immo
voi (ste) aste este iste
loro (rono) arono erono irono

 

When pronouncing the passato remoto verbs, the stress will always be on the first vowel of the ending. Except, of course, for the third person singular, where the ending has only one vowel with an accent that will be stressed.

*Notice that andare has a regular conjugation in the passato remoto!  Also, because the -etti , -ette and -ettero forms for the -ere first and third persons are used most frequently, these are listed first.

Passato Remoto – Regular Conjugations

  Andare

(to go)

(went)

Credere

(to believe)

(believed)

Finire

(to finish)

(finished)

io andai credetti (credei) finii
tu andasti credesti finisti
Lei/lei/lui andò credette (credé) finì
       
noi andammo credemmo finimmo
voi andaste credeste finiste
loro andarono credettero (crederono) finirono

 


Speak Italian:  “Passato Remoto”  Past Tense
You Will Need to Know…

“Passato Remoto” Common Irregular Verbs

Since there are so many irregular verbs in the passato remoto tense, we present in the table to follow only the most commonly used verbs – and only in the first person io and third person Lei/lei/lui forms.  Notice that some of these irregular forms fall into groups, which are listed together.

Since the passato remoto is often used for historical purposes, it should be mentioned here that although nascere (to be born) is irregular in the passato remoto, morire (to die) is regular!

Passato Remoto – Common Irregular -are Verbs

  Dare
(gave)
Fare
(did/made)
Stare
(stayed/was)
io diedi feci stetti
Lei/lei/lui dette fece stette

 

Passato Remoto – Irregular -ere Helping Verbs

  Dovere
(had to)
Potere
(could have had to)
Volere
(wanted to)
io dovetti potei volli
Lei/lei/lui dovette poté volle

 

 

Passato Remoto – Common Irregular -ere Verbs

  Correre
(ran)
Perdere
(lost)
Mettere
(put)
Rimanere
(remained)
Rompere
(broke)
Spengere
(put out)
Vedere
(saw)
io corsi persi misi rimasi ruppi spensi vidi
Lei/lei/lui corse perse mise rimase ruppe spense vide

 

Passato Remoto – Common Irregular Verbs that Double the Stem Consonant

  Bere
(drank)
Cadere
(fell)
Conoscere
(knew)
Crescere
(grew)
Sapere
(knew)
Venire
(came)
io bevvi caddi conobbi crebbi sappi venni
Lei/lei/lui bevve cadde conobbe crebbe sappe venne

 

Passato Remoto – Common Irregular Verbs with a Double ‘S’ in the Stem

  Dire
(said)
Leggere
(read)
Muovere
(moved)
Scrivere
(wrote)
Vivere
(lived)
io dissi lessi mossi scrissi vissi
Lei/lei/lui disse lesse mosse scrisse visse

 

Passato Remoto – Common Irregular Verbs that End in –dere and –endere

  Chiedere
(asked)
Dicedere
(decided)
Prendere
(took)
Ridere
(laughted)
Rispondere
(answered)
Sorridere
(smiled)
io chiesi decisi presi risi risposi sorrisi
Lei/lei/lui chiese decise prese rise rispose sorrise

 

Passato Remoto – Common Irregular Verbs that End in –gliere

  Scegliere
(chose)
Togliere
(took off)
io scelsi tolsi
Lei/lei/lui scelse tolse

 

Passato Remoto – Irregular Verbs that End in –ngere and –ncere

  Piangere
(cried)
Stringere
(tightened/grasped)
Vincere
(won)
io piansi strinsi vinsi
Lei/lei/lui pianse strinse vinse

 

Passato Remoto – Verbs with  –cqui in the stem

  Nascere
(was born)
Piacere
(liked/was pleasing to)
Tacere
(touch)
io nacqui piacqui tacqui
Lei/lei/lui naque piacque tacque


Speak Italian: Grammar You Will Need to Know to for Hypothetical Phrases in the Past

 How to Make a Hypothetical “If” Phrase in Italian—and Refer to the Past
“Periodo Ipotetico con ‘Se’ in Passato”

To express complex thoughts and feelings, human beings have developed “hypothetical phrases”—phrases that enable us to think or wonder about situations that could occur. For instance, how many times have we said, “If I had…” or  “If I were…”?

Hypothetical phrases are composed using several different verb forms in English and Italian. For our first blog post on this topic, we talked about which Italian verb forms to use for the probable and improbable situations that are useful for every day conversation in the present.

To read our discussion on Italian hypothetical phrases that refer to the present, read our last blog, Italian Hypothetical Phrases of Love.  We will now continue our discussion of Italian hypothetical phrases in this blog by describing how these phrases can be used to refer to the past.

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When we want to express the idea that something may have happened in the past in English, we most often start with a phrase that begins with the conjunction “if.” The conjunction “if” starts a dependent clause in which we will describe a condition that could have caused something else to happen. This dependent clause is then linked to a main clause that will describe the impending result or consequence that may have happened in the past or could have happened in the present.

This sentence structure is the same in Italian, and the hypothetical clause in Italian starts with the word “se.” A hypothetical phrase is called a “periodo ipotetico.”

We will now continue our discussion of the different types of hypothetical phrases that we can use that describe conditions in the past and their consequences in the past or present. This will give depth to our Italian conversations. In the cases that we will present, knowledge of English will be very helpful. Read the technical information, but then focus on the actual phrases and you will soon see how thinking in English and Italian for this subject is really very similar!

 


Speak Italian: Italian Hypothetical Phrases – Past
You Will Need to Know…

How to Make Italian Hypothetical Phrases
Probable Situations – Past

Probable hypothetical phrases that refer to the past describe situations that were likely to have happened in the past.

We can talk about these past situations as if they had in fact happened by using the knowledge we have learned directly, from a particular individual or source in the present, or indirectly, by making assumptions gained from history.

In probable situations that took place in the past, the stated condition given in the “if” clause is a condition that the subject likely experienced in the past and the consequence that will follow is a situation that is thought to have almost certainly happened.

Examples usually given for a probable hypothetical phrase in the past often relate to historical situations that we know in general to be true,  such as, “If you were one of  the first settlers in America, your life was hard.” We all know that given the condition just described, the resulting situation must have happened to some extent!

The “if” phrase does not need to start the sentence, although it remains the dependent clause. Here is our example sentence again: “Your life was hard if you were one of the first settlers in America.”

 

To Summarize: Hypothetical Phrases for Probable Situations – Past

 

Italian Hypothetical  Phrases—Probable Situations – Past
The condition described in the “if” clause and the consequence that followed in the past were  probable;  both almost certainly did happen.

 

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How to Make Italian Hypothetical Phrases
Probable Situations – Past

If + Past Tense Verb > Past Tense Verb

Now read the following table, which describes the sentence structure and the verb forms to use when creating a hypothetical sentence for a probable situation that occurred in the past. This table compares how English and Italian approach this type of speech.

 

Italian Hypothetical Phrases:
Probable Situations – Past
  English   Italian
Condition (If) If  Simple Past Tense  Se +  Passato Prossimo -or-

Imperfetto Past Tense

Consequence (Probable Result)   Simple Past Tense   Passato Prossimo -or-

Imperfetto Past Tense

 

From the table above, it is easy to see that English and Italian both express hypothetical, probable situations that could have occurred in the past in a very similar way!

In English and Italian, for our condition in the dependent clause, we start with the conjunction “if” (“se” in Italian) and then most often use the simple past tense.  For Italian, the passato prossimo or imperfetto past tense may be used, as usual.

For the consequence in the main clause, the past tense will be again used for both English and Italian.

You may remember from our first blog on hypothetical phrases that no special tense is necessary for probable situations that occur in the present.  We used only our usual indicative present and future tenses given the certainty that these probable situations will occur.  And it is the same with probable situations that have likely occurred in the past! No special tense is needed!

To follow are some examples of the probable hypothetical situation in the past from our dialogue, with our “if” condition and the consequence phrases underlined:

In Italy in the early 1900’s, if a woman didn’t have a husband, usually she was not able to support her family.
In Italia negli anni del primo novecento, se una donna non aveva un marito, normalmente non poteva mantenere la famiglia.

At that time, if a woman wanted to work, she could be a teacher or a seamstress.
A quel tempo, se una donna voleva lavorare, poteva fare l’insegnante o la sarta.

 

 


Speak Italian: Italian Hypothetical Phrases – Past
You Will Need to Know…

How to Make Italian Hypothetical Phrases
 Impossible Situations -Past

Impossible hypothetical phrases in the past describe situations that did not actually take place in the past.

These situations are called “impossible” because the condition given refers to a past event that could not have been acted upon in the past and is also not something one can act on in the present.  Instead, these types of phrases are used in order to “wonder” out loud or “suppose” what  could have happened in a particular situation if things had been different in the past from what we know to be true.

Stated another way: in impossible hypothetical situations of the past, since the stated condition given in the “if” clause in the past and did not happen, it cannot be used to change the situation.  But, we can still speculate on the outcome. The consequence that might have followed can refer either to the past or to the present.

The often used phrase, “If I had known…” is a good example of an impossible hypothetical condition.  Here, the condition as stated did not happen – the person did not know something at the time, which was in the past and is now over. This in turn makes the outcome, either in the past or the present, pure speculation.

With an impossible hypothetical situation, there may be a note of regret in the statement, as the individual describes how he/she would like things to have been different now that the past event has ended. Perhaps this individual might say, “If I had known she needed me, I would have been at home.”  Or, “If I had known he was sick, I would have brought him some medicine.”

Or, another example that describes how he/she sees that things could be different now:
If Ann and her ex-boyfriend Paul had gotten back togethershe would be happy now. *

The “if” phrase does not need to start the sentence, although it remains the dependent clause. Here is our first example sentence again: “I would have been at home if I had known she needed me.”

 

In fact, I always remember this type of Italian sentence with the following rule: If you start an Italian sentence with the past or present conditional tense, the imperfetto tense must follow in the next phrase!

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*(Do you recognize this sentence from our last blog on hypothetical phrases? Here the speaker is making a supposition about the past – that in fact it was possible for Anna and her ex-boyfriend to get together, and then speculating about how Anna would feel about this today.  Neither the condition nor the consequence have taken place, however.  In the dialogue, we learn that Anna is actually very happy with her new boyfriend. )

 

To Summarize: Impossible Situations – Past

 

Italian Hypothetical Phrases— Impossible Situations – Past
The condition described in the “if” clause is impossible as it did not happen and is a supposition about the past; therefore the condition cannot lead to the result in the consequence speculated about, either in the past or the present.

 

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How to Make Italian Hypothetical Phrases
Impossible Situations – Past

 If + Trapassato Subjunctive >
Past Conditional or Present Conditional Verb

Now read the following table, which describes the sentence structure and the verb forms to use when creating a hypothetical sentence for an impossible situation when we want to speculate about something that might have happened in the past. This table compares how English and Italian approach this type of speech.

The examples given use the first person “I” or “io” subject pronoun, as this is the most common form to use in conversation, but of course all subject pronouns and their respective verb conjugations are possible.

 

Italian Hypothetical Phrases:
Impossible Situations – Past
Consequence – Past
  English   Italian
Condition
(If:Supposition)
If + Past Pluperfect
(I had
+ past participle)
Se + Trapassato Subjunctive
(io avessi/fossi
+ past participle)
Consequence
(Speculation)
  Conditional +
Present Perfect
(I could, would, should +have
+ past participle)
   Past Conditional
(io avrei/sarei
+ past participle)

 

Italian Hypothetical Phrases:
Impossible Situations – Past
Consequence – Present
  English   Italian
Condition
(If: Supposition)
If + Past Pluperfect
(I had
+ past participle)
Se + Trapasatto Subjunctive
(io avessi/fossi
+ past participle)
Consequence
(Speculation)
  Present Conditional   Present Conditional

 

The table above shows that English and Italian speakers think alike, although this may not be so evident to the English speaker at first.

1.In English and Italian, for the condition we are wondering about in the dependent clause, we start with the conjunction “if” (“se” in Italian), and then use the past tense form that indicates an event that was both started and competed in the past.  These are thought of as “remote” events.

  • In English, a remote event that was started and completed in the past uses the helping verb “had,” (rather than have) prior to adding on the past participle.  Who remembers this from English class?  Chances are we English speakers do this naturally, but now that we are learning Italian, our English grammar surfaces again!

2. For both English and Italian, the main clause that describes the speculative consequence with reference to the past will use the past conditional; to refer to the present simply use the present conditional.

  • To form the past conditional In English, we use one of our  helping verbs  – could, should, would, and add the present perfect tense (actually a past tense: “have + past participle”).
  • To form the past conditional in Italian, we use the imperfetto conjunctive forms of “to have” and “to be” (examples: io avessi or io fossi) + past participle.

 

Below are some examples of phrases that used impossible hypothetical situations from our dialogue, with our condition and consequence phrases underlined.

 

Se Anna e il suo ex-fidanzato Paolo si fossero riconciliatilei non sarebbe felice ora.
If Ann and her ex-boyfriend Paul had gotten back togethershe would not be happy now.

If Uncle Mark had not sent money to Grandmother Mary, she and the children could have starved to death.
Se lo zio Marco non avesse mandato i soldi alla bisnonna Maria, lei e i figli sarebbero potuti morire di fame.

 

At the end of this story, Mary said,   “And if Uncle Mark had not helped Grandmother Mary, you and I would not be here today!”
Alla fine della storia, Maria ha detto, “E se lo zio Marco non avesse aiutato la bisnonna Maria, tu e io non saremmo qui oggi!”

 

 


Speak Italian: Italian Verb Tenses You Will Need to Know for

Improbable Italian Hypothetical Phrases- Past

The Trapassato Subjunctive Mode

 “Essere” or  “Avere” + Past Participle

We have already learned in our last blog on this topic that the most commonly used improbable hypothetical phrases begin with the words, “If I were…” or “If I had…”  So in Italian, the two most important phrases of this type to remember are, “Se io fossi…” and “Se io avessi…” using the imperfetto subjunctive conjugations for essere and avere.

To form the trapassato subjunctive mode for impossible hypothetical phrases in the past tense, we need only to add the past participle to the initial phrases above!

Remember that action verbs of direction, reflexive verbs, and piacere all take essere as a helping verb when making these compound verbs.  All other verbs take avere.  If you need a review of the use of helping verbs for the Italian past tense, please refer to our blog Speak Italian: A Story About… Love!

In English, however, any event that started and was completed in the past simply needs “had” inserted in front of the past participle! This is a bit easier than Italian, but with a little practice, you will get used to the Italian in no time!

Below are the trapassato subjunctive mode conjugations for the auxiliary verbs avere and essere,  using the past participles for two Italian verbs that are commonly used in this tense – fare and andare.

You will notice that avere has a regular conjugation in the imperfetto subjunctive mode, whereas essere  has an irregular conjugation. The past participle for fare (fatto) is irregular, but that of andare (andato) is regular. If you need a refresher on how to form past participles, please refer to our blog Speak Italian: A Story About… Love!

In hypothetical clauses, because the trapassato subjunctive mode is introduced by se, (se) is included in the subject pronoun column as a reminder. When conjugating these verbs, say “se” before the subject pronoun and each verb form to reinforce this way of thinking!

 

Avere  (to have) + Fare (to do/make) — Trapassato Subjunctive Mode

(se) io avessi   +      fatto I had  +                                   made/done
(se) tu avessi  +       fatto you (familiar) had  +       made/done
(se) Lei

(se) lei/lui

avesse  +       fatto you (polite) had  +           made/done

she/he had  +                     made/done

     
(se) noi avessimo  +  fatto we had  +                          made/done
(se) voi aveste  +        fatto you all had  +                  made/done
(se) loro avessero  +   fatto they had  +                       made/done

 

Essere (to be) + Andare (to go) — Trapassato Subjunctive Mode

(se) io fossi  +     andato(a) I had  +                               gone
(se) tu fossi  +     andato(a) you (familiar) had  +    gone
(se) Lei

(se) lei/lui

fosse  +    andato(a) you (polite) had  +        gone

she/he had  +                  gone

     
(se) noi fossimo  +  andati(e) we had  +                         gone
(se) voi foste  +        andati(e) you all had  +                 gone
(se) loro fossero  +   andati(e) they had  +                      gone

 


Grammar Note: The Italian Conditional Tense

The conditional tense is used to make a polite request, as we learned way back in Chapter 4 of our Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook, when we discussed how to use the word vorrei, which means “I would like” or  “I wish.” In the “Important Phrases” section of Chapter 16, we also learned how to use the word vorremmo, which means, “we would like,” to place an order for the group at a table in a restaurant.

Notice that the meaning of a conditional verb is rendered in English with the combination of “would + infinitive verb.” The conditional tense, in summary, expresses a want or wish, an intention, a duty, or a preference.

The method used to form the stems for the Italian conditional tense is exactly the same as the method to form the Italian future tense. Also, the irregular stems for the conditional tense are identical to those for the future tense. The Italian conditional endings are always regular and will be the same for all three conjugations!

Please see Chapters 17 and 18 of the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook for a review of how to conjugate the conditional tense in Italian.


Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blogKathryn Occhipinti, MD, author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books, is a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area. “Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1 and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube Stella Lucente Italian, LLC

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on these Stella Lucente Italian sites:
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian
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Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Italian Subjunctive Mode (Part 5) : Italian Hypothetical Phrases – Italian Family Reunion

Basil for Pesto alla Genovese

Pesto alla Genovese Meets American Aquaponic Farming in Chicago

Pesto alla Genovese Meets American Aquaponic Farming in Chicago 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog Pesto is a unique green sauce that originated from the piquant basil grown around the city of Genoa and is now loved the world over.

Pesto alla Genovese Meets American Aquaponic Farming in Chicago

Pesto alla Genovese is the famous bright green “pasta sauce” from the northern Italian region of Liguria, whose capital is the city of Genoa. My introduction to pesto, which was not a part of my southern Italian upbringing, was from one of those little glass jars I found in a grocery store in Peoria, Illinois. The jar had been labeled “pesto” by an Italian company. Back then, I was trying to learn to cook true Italian “regional” cooking and specifically to expand my sauce-making techniques beyond the ubiquitous and well-loved southern Italian red tomato sauce.

Diary of my first experiences making pesto…

So, on the day of my first foray into northern Italian sauces, I put a pot of salted water on the stove to boil, added some spaghetti, and dusted off my jar of Italian-labeled pesto that had probably been sitting on the grocery shelf for many, many months before I had purchased it. I opened the jar and saw that olive oil was floating on top, separate from the basil that makes up the major component of the sauce. I mixed the basil and olive oil together, not knowing if this was the correct thing to do. (It was. The olive oil layer on top helps to preserve the pesto.)

When the spaghetti was ready, I drained it and poured some of the thick, dull green pesto from the jar over my  hot spaghetti and mixed it to coat.  Was I supposed to use the entire jar? I wasn’t sure. I tasted it. It wasn’t too bad, but really, it wasn’t very good either, and I wasn’t really sure why. After all, pesto is a famous dressing for pasta. Millions of people love it!

Not one to give up easily, a few weeks later, I tried to make a pesto sauce for my pasta again. The second time, I emptied the contents of my jar of pesto into a small pan to warm the sauce.  Even worse! Now, I know that pesto is a “cold emulsion” type of “dressing” for pasta and should never be cooked! But, as I said, back when I was first introduced to pesto, I really had no experience about how it should be prepared or how it should taste.

Pesto success at last?

Finally, one year when I had an over-abundance of fresh basil in my garden one late summer, I remembered pesto alla Genovese. Perhaps fresh basil was the secret. I turned to my favorite Italian cookbook, Italian Regional Cooking by Ada Boni. I had purchased this cookbook in 1992 while in training in San Francisco, and I credit the book with sparking my interest in discovering true Italian cuisine for the home cook. Each region is beautifully introduced with photographs of beautiful platters of food set in the Italian countryside. Translated from the Italian, and beautifully compiled with all regional specialties included, detailed notes on each specialty, and clear directions, Italian Regional Cooking is my “bible” of Italian cooking, even today. Unfortunately, when it comes to the recipe for making pesto alla Genovese, the directions are a bit vague…

 Pesto alla Genovese
(Genoese Green Sauce or Basil Sauce)

“Put 2 cloves of garlic, 4 small bunches of fresh basil leaves, a pinch of coarse salt, and a tablespoon of toasted pine nuts, if liked, in a mortar.  Pound to a paste.  Continue pounding, gradually adding 3 or 4 tablespoons each of grated Parmesan and Pecorino cheese.  When the paste is smooth, stir in a cup of olive oil. This quantity of pesto is sufficient for 1 pound noodles and will serve 3.” —Ada Boni, Italian Regional Cooking, pg. 85. (Milan English Translation © 1989 by International Culinary Society, dist. by Crown Publishers, NY)

Pesto—a method, NOT a recipe!

I realized at once that the directions above were really a method rather than a recipe, and this is the secret to pesto—one must find his or her own favorite combination of ingredients and method that works best. So I started on my journey to discover my own “true” pesto alla Genovese with the ratio of ingredients above, not really knowing exactly how many basil leaves to include in my “4 small bunches of basil leaves,” or exactly how to use a mortar and pestle. But I did discover one thing to be true: fresh basil leaves led to freshly made pesto, and this was the key to a delicious and aromatic pasta dressing!

A pesto method learned over time…

After much reading on the topic, I learned that the name “pesto” comes from the Italian verb “pestare,” which means “to crush/to mash.” After more reading and many, many more attempts, I learned that the sequence for crushing the ingredients makes a difference.

First, mashing the garlic and pine nuts into a paste allows the garlic to receive the crushed basil, cheese, and olive oil more easily. (Also, halve the garlic and remove any bitter green stem that may have started to grow before processing the garlic.) I no longer roast my pine nuts. Adding the basil leaves a little at a time and most of the salt when most of the basil leaves have been crushed seems to help to get the right consistency and to keep the vibrant green color of the pesto.

Much trial and error led to a basil/pine nut/cheese ratio that I liked, although in truth, once I started to make fresh pesto, a wide range of ratios of ingredients worked. The amount of garlic can be varied—less or more, depending on taste—although I like to keep the garlic/pine nut ratio equal.

The proportion of Parmesan, which is a cow’s milk cheese, to Peccorino, which is a goat’s milk cheese, is also important. I’ve experimented using Peccorino Romano and the less well-known Peccorino Sardo. Both taste good to me, but of course, everyone has their favorite. (Peccorino Sardo is recommended by Chef John Coletta of Chicago’s Ristorante Quartino.)

For a quick dinner during the workweek, it is even possible to make pesto by pulsing all the ingredients together in a food processor, although, of course, this method does not allow the full flavor of the pesto to bloom and would certainly not be considered authentic pesto alla Genovese in Liguria!

But how should pesto be served?

Finally, I also learned to dilute my pesto with a bit of the hot, starchy pasta water just before serving to ensure that the pasta strands are evenly coated with the pesto. And from Chef John Coletta of Chicago’s  Ristorante Quartino, I learned a trick that turned pasta with pesto into one of my children’s favorite dishes. The pesto recipe in his cookbook, 250 True Italian Pasta Dishes, suggests serving hot pasta coated with pesto in a large pasta bowl lined with paper-thin slices of prosciutto. As John says,

“When a platter is lined with paper-thin prosciutto and hot pasta is piled on top, something wonderful happens: as the pasta heats the prosciutto, the meat releases its flavor.  When you serve the pasta with a little bit of the prosciutto in each portion, it is very fragrant in a way that is different from cooked prosciutto.” —John Coletta with Nancy Ross Ryan, 250 True Italian Pasta Dishes, pgs. 134–135. (©2009 by Robert Rose, Inc. Ontario, Canada)

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A favorite blogger spotlights “Pesto alla Genovese”

I thought I had my pesto method complete many years ago. Fast forward to about a year ago, when one of my favorite Italian travel bloggers, Victoria DeMaio, wrote about her experience learning to make pesto on tour, from the city of pesto’s birth, Genoa. Click on the link Presto! It’s Pesto! to read her full blog post in “PostcardZ from Victoria” if you like.

Once again, pesto returned to the forefront of my culinary experimentation. Finally, directly from Liguria, through Victoria’s blog, I learned what a typical mortar and pestle used in Liguria looks like and how to use them!

To make authentic pesto alla Genovese, one must purchase a fairly large Carrera marble mortar and use a large wooden pestle. In Liguria, every bride receives this important wedding gift from her family before departing for her new family life. Click on the link to watch Victoria’s YouTube video, “Let’s Make Pesto with Mario and Cristina in Genoa Where Pesto Originated.” You will  learn a bit about Genoa and see Mario’s mortar and pestle technique for crushing basil leaves. Notice the basil plant he is holding in the beginning of the video to show the approximate number of basil leaves needed for making one batch of pesto!

Making Pesto with a mortar and pestle, photo courtesy of Victoria DeMaio
Mortar and pestle for making pesto. Photo courtesy of Victoria DeMaio

I also learned from Victoria’s blog post, Presto! It’s Pesto!, that the traditional pasta served in Genoa with pesto alla Genovese is called trofiette. (See below for details). This pasta is not easily found here in America, though, and I like to dress gnocchi and spaghetti with pesto, as is commonly done throughout northern Italy. I did know that pesto should always be served with a white wine, because its herbaceous character does not mix well with red. In her blog, Victoria mentions the local Genovese white wine called Vermentino.

“Pesto is served in a variety of delicious ways and with several different pastas but the most traditional is trofiette which looks a bit like a small twisted rope. (Trofiette is made with farina made from castagne  (chestnuts) and water (no eggs) and requires 20 min to cook.)” —Victoria DeMaio

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Finally, about fresh Genovese basil…

 The last “link,” so to speak, in the chain of events that led to my understanding of how to make an authentic pesto alla Genovese is perhaps the most important: the type of basil that should be used. The Ligurians believe that the basil grown in their region, Basilico Genovese DOP (Designazione di Origine Protetta, or Protected Denomination of Origin), which was granted by the European Union in 2015 is the only basil to use for authentic pesto alla Genovese.

Basil was originally introduced throughout Italy by the Romans. (The Romans loved to cook with herbs, and they created what some consider an early form of pesto using basil leaves called “moretum.”) The specific type of sweet basil grown in Liguria for which the DOP designation is held is said to have very little or no undertones of mint and a more piquant and complex taste than the most common variety of sweet basil. The pungent aroma released when these basil leaves are crushed is what gives the wonderful fragrance of true pesto alla Genovese.

To fall under the Basilico Genovese DOP designation, along with the variety of basil grown, the location where it is grown is important. Basilico Genovese DOP must be grown in a narrow strip of land “between the mountains and the sea” that encompasses the provinces of Genoa, Savona, and Imperia. The best Basilico Genovese DOP is said to be grown in a small village named Prà, just west of the city of Genoa. Basilico Genovese DOP is grown year-round in these provinces, with greenhouses in use for many years to allow the year-round, continuous production.

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…and Metropolitan Farms in Chicago

So, what does all this mean for us here in America? Can we produce high-quality basil for our own version of pesto? After being introduced to Metropolitan Farms just west of Chicago last May, I would venture to say that the answer to this question is “yes,” and in a uniquely creative way!

The event that I attended last May, titled Metropolitan Farm Tour: Explore an Urban Ag Destination, was organized by Catherine Lambrecht, long-time Culinary Historians of Chicago director and director of the Chicago Foodways Roundtable. Metropolitan Farms uses a relatively new technique called aquaponics to create a closed-loop greenhouse system that can produce hydroponically grown herbs and lettuce and fish for local sale year-round.

The system is composed of two greenhouses, one for fish tanks and the other for the greens to grow hydroponically. The fish (tilapia, in this case) provide the fertilizer for the greens as they grow; water from their tanks is piped into the hydroponic system that circulates around the roots of the plants. The water from the plants is then filtered and piped back into the fish tanks. The greens are grown in carefully regulated, advanced greenhouse conditions, which create healthy, undamaged plants without the need for pesticides.

As part of their crop, Metropolitan Farms grows high-quality Genovese basil from seed, year-round, as is done in Liguria. Most of their basil is sold wholesale. They also make their own pesto (several varieties) for local sale.

Walking through the Metropolitan Farms greenhouse, I could almost smell the fragrant pesto that would come from this ingenious system. I’ll end this blog post with a photo of Benjamin and his wonderful basil, and we’ve come full circle, as the wonderful fragrant basil I grew in my own garden was really the impetus for the many years I spent discovering the details of  how to make pesto alla Genovese in the first place!

Metropolitan Farms Founder Benjamin Kant
Benjamin Kant of Metropolitan Farms in Chicago showing his Genovese basil growing method.

Italian Recipe: Kathryn’s Pesto alla Genovese 

Pasta alla Genovese with Trofiette Pasta from Liguria
Photo credit: Victoria-DeMaio of true-Trofiette pasta from the region of Liguria and pesto. From-the-blog-PostcardZ-from-Victoria-Presto-Its-Pesto.jpg

Ingredients for Italian Recipe
Kathryn’s Pesto alla Genovese
(Serves 4)

Leaves from 1 small sweet, green (Genovese) basil plant
(about 1 cup of lightly packed leaves, rinsed, patted dry, stems removed)
1 to 2 small garlic cloves, peeled, halved lengthwise
(and bitter green center removed if present)
1 to 2 tablespoons Italian pine nuts
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cups of extra virgin olive oil, from Liguria, if possible

 

Method for the Pesto 

Note: Before starting, set a large pot of well-salted water on the stove to boil, and cook your pasta to “al dente” tenderness (“to the tooth). Time the pasta so it finishes cooking just before the pesto is complete. Keep in mind that fresh pasta and gnocchi will take far less time to cook than dried pasta.

  1. Put the garlic cloves into the mortar with a few grains of salt and begin to crush. Add the pine nuts and continue to crush into a smooth paste.
  2. Remove the garlic/pine nut mixture from the mortar to a small bowl.
  3. Put a few of the basil leaves and a few grains of salt into the mortar and begin to crush, using the method shown in the link to the video in this blog post.
  4. As the basil leaves become crushed and release their essential oils, add a few more. Continue to crush the leaves, adding a few at a time, until all are crushed fairly uniformly.
  5. Add whatever salt is left to the crushed basil leaves, the garlic/pine nut mixture, and then drizzle in a bit of olive oil. Combine.
  6. Add the cheeses and a bit more olive oil. Combine.
  7. Drizzle in the rest of the olive oil while continuously stirring the garlic/pine nut/ crushed basil/cheese mixture until a creamy dressing has formed.
  8. Reserve 1 to 2 tablespoons of pasta water and mix into the pesto to warm.
  9. Quickly drain the pasta and put the warm pasta into a large serving bowl.
  10. Dress with your pesto, mix to coat, and serve immediately!
  • If you would like to preserve your pesto rather than use it right away, it can be frozen in small plastic containers. Top off with a small amount of olive oil. Leave a small amount of room in the container for the liquid to expand and then cover.

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Growing Basil
Kathryn’s Gardening Tips 

  1. Basil is an annual plant and, with some exceptions in warmer climates, will not reseed on its own. It grows easily from seed after the threat of frost is over and when the soil has warmed in cooler climates. It is advisable to plant seedlings, though, in order to have basil readily available throughout the summer.
  2. All basil plants love a very sunny location, hot, humid weather, and lots of water. If you do not water carefully, the plant will droop and may appear to have died, but a good dousing of water will quickly bring it “back to life.”
  3. The basil plant will grow a center stalk of small white flowers, which will then go to seed. Pinch this off when you see it; if you allow the plant to go to seed, it will die shortly thereafter.
  4. To overwinter basil, cut a stalk from the top of the plant with as long a stem as possible. Try to do this before the plant has started to go to seed, when it is still in the growing phase. Place the stem in a small container of water, and watch the roots appear. When a small ball of roots has formed, it is ready to plant in soil.

See “Growing Italian Herbs” from Zuppa, Insalata, e Verdure (Soup, Salad, and Vegetables) by Kathryn Occhipinti © 2006, Italian-American Society of Peoria.

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1 and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
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YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
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More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on Facebook Stella Lucente Italian and Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian.
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Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Pesto alla Genovese Meets American Aquaponic Farming in Chicago

Textbook Conversational Italian for Travelers

Italian Subjunctive (Part 4): Italian Hypothetical Phrases of Love

Italian Subjunctive (Part 4): Italian Hypothetical Phrases of Love

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog               The Italian subjunctive mode can be used to make Italian hypothetical phrases and talk about love!

 

Speak Italian: Italian Subjunctive Mode with Italian Hypothetical Phrases

Can you speak Italian? By now, many of you have passed the beginning stages of learning how to speak Italian and can read and comprehend quite a bit of the language. Meraviglioso!

But have you tried to take the next step to speak Italian fluently? Have you ever wondered about if something were to happen and just how you would express this idea in Italian? Well, we can express hypothetical, or “if” ideas, called Italian hypothetical phrases, in several ways in Italian and often with the Italian subjunctive mode that we have been focusing on in this series! 

This is the fourth blog post in the “Speak Italian” series that focuses on how to use the Italian subjunctive mode, or “il congiuntivo,” and this blog will complete our list of uses for the subjunctive mode. 

To take that giant step from simple beginning sentences to more complex and fluid sentences in Italian, in this segment, we will discuss how to form Italian hypothetical phrases for probable and improbable “if” situations in Italian in the present. We will learn how to conjugate the Italian subjunctive imperfetto mode  and how to use the Italian conditional tense to construct our improbable Italian hypothetical phrases.  

An example email between two friends talking about hypothetical situations of love will start our discussion! You may remember the characters and the story in the email from our recent Italian Subjunctive Mode Practice blog posts.

Speak Italian: Italian Subjunctive Mode with Italian Hypothetical Phrases

In the first three blog posts in the “Speak Italian” series about the subjunctive mode (“il congiuntivo”), we have presented Italian phrases that take the Italian subjunctive mode in the present and past tenses.

In this blog post, we will focus on how to construct Italian hypothetical phrases, as well as the different Italian verb forms needed for probable and improbable situations. Read our “real-life” dialogue for examples that can be used as “anchors” in your knowledge for when you must speak Italian. Then next time you are wondering about something, start a conversation and use Italian hypothetical phrases!

Enjoy the fourth blog post in this series, “Italian Subjunctive Mode (Part 4): Italian Hypothetical Phrases of Love”!
—Kathryn Occhipinti

Some of this material is adapted from our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC, found on www.learntravelitalian.com. Special thanks to Italian instructor Maria Vanessa Colapinto.


Speak Italian: Italian Subjunctive Mode with Italian Hypothetical Phrases

All phrases that take the subjunctive mode have been underlined in this sample email. Try to pick out the Italian hypothetical phrases and then read about how to make your own Italian hypothetical phrases in the next section.

The characters Caterina and Susanna are cousins who grew up together in Abruzzo and now stay in touch with each other and discuss family happenings through email. Notice the many Italian idiomatic expressions that relate to dating and love, some of which are explained after each section.

Italian Hypothetical Phrases of Love

Una breve email tra due cugine
A brief email between two cousins

Cara Susanna,
Dear Susan,

 

È stato bellissimo vedere te e i tuoi figli quest’estate in Abruzzo. E poi, lo shopping a Roma è stato fantastico!
It was wonderful to see you and your children this summer in Abruzzo. And afterward, the shopping in Rome was fantastic!

 

Se io non fossi occupata all’università, verrei a trovarvi di nuovo a Roma!
If I weren’t so busy at college, I would come to visit you all again in Rome!

 

Forse quando la sessione di gennaio è finita, posso fare un viaggio.
Maybe when the exam session in January is over, I can take a trip.

 

Fammi sapere se tu sei libera per un weekend presto!
Let me know if you are free for a weekend soon!

 

Ma oggi sto scrivendo perché ho una buona notizia.
But today I am writing because I have good news.

 

La nostra cugina Anna ha incontrato  un ragazzo molto simpatico quando è stata in Sicilia l’estate scorsa.
Our cousin Ann met a very nice boy when she was in Sicily last summer.

 

Lui si chiama Giovanni.
His name is John.

 

Anna mi ha mandato una foto. Mamma mia, è un figo da paura!*
Ann texted a photo to me. Wow, he is amazing!

 

Stanno insieme da un mese e frequentano la stessa università.
They have been (Italian: are [still]) together for a month and go to the same college.**

 

Secondo Anna, vanno molto d’accordo e sono gia una coppia.
According to Ann, they get along very well and are already a couple.

 

Se il tempo è bello, andranno al mare per il weekend a casa del papà di Giovanni.
If the weather is nice, they will go to the sea for the weekend to Giovanni’s father’s house.

 

A tutti e due piace molto la spiaggia e fare windsurf.
They both really like the beach and to go windsurfing.

 

Se Anna vuole andare al ristorante o al cinema, lui la porta.
If Ann wants to go to a restaurant or to the movies, he takes her.

 

Se lei vuole restare a casa, loro restano a casa insieme.
If she wants to stay at home, they stay at home together.

 

Mi sembra che siano innamorati.
It seems (to me) like they are in love.

 

Se Anna e il suo ex-fidanzato Paolo si fossero riconciliatilei non sarebbe felice ora.
If Ann and her ex-boyfriend Paul had gotten back togethershe would not be happy now.

 

Tu ricordi bene, sono sicura, come lui l’ha tradita, come le ha spazzato il cuore, e comunque erano gia agli sgoccioli da mesi prima.***
You remember well, I am sure, how he betrayed her, how he broke her heart, and anyway, they were already at the end of their relationship for months before.

 

Finalmente Anna si è resa conto che lui non era quello giusto per lei.
Finally, Anna realized that he was not right for her.

 

L’ha lasciato e ora quella storia è finita e un nuovo amore è cominciato per lei.
She left him and now that relationship is over, and a new one (Italian: a new love) has begun for her.

 

Sono molto contenta per Anna!
I am very happy for Ann!

 

Forse tra un anno si sposano!
Maybe in a year, they (will) get married!

 

Scrivimi quando hai tempo!
Write me when you have time!

 

Tanti baci.
Lots of kisses.

Caterina.

*“Un figo da paura” refers to a young man who is handsome and sexy.  Used alone, “Figo!” means “cool.”

And yes, “Mamma mia!” is still in use in Italy today. Variations include “Madre santa!” or simply “Maria!”

**In this case, Italian uses the present tense for an ongoing action, whereas English uses the past tense.

***The phrase “essere agli sgoccioli” literally means “to be at the last drops” and refers to when the last of the wine in the bottle is left and drips out. This phrase is used to suggest that the relationship is dying out and the couple is only seeing each other infrequently.

****************************************************

Cara Caterina,
Dear Kathy,

 

Anch’io sono molto contenta per nostra cugina Anna!
I am also very happy for our cousin Ann!

 

Lei è molto bella e penso che anche Giovanni sia un bel ragazzo come dicevi.
She is very pretty, and I think he is also good looking from what (Italian: as) you have told me.

 

Lui sembra molto simpatico e mi sembra che lui la tratti molto bene.
He seems very nice, and it seems to me that he treats her very well.

 

Mi sembra che a loro piaccia molto frequentarsi.***
It seems (to me) that they like seeing each other very much.

 

Mi pare che non sia solo una cotta ma si piacciano da vero.
It seems to me that it is not only a crush but they really like each other.

 

Ma si stanno frequentando solamente da un mese!
But they have been seeing each other (English: dating) (for) only one month!****

 

Loro sono molto giovani, come te.
They are very young, like you.

 

Uno non sa mai che cosa può succedere!  
(Italian: One never knows) You never know what could happen!

 

Nè uno nè l’altro lavorano. Non hanno vissuto con un’altra persona. Non hanno soldi…
Neither one of them works. They have never lived with another person. They don’t have money…

Spero che loro aspettino almeno un anno prima di cominciare a parlare di matrimonio.
I hope that they wait at least a year before starting to talk about marriage!

 

Sarei molto contenta se tu venissi a trovarmi a febbraio.
I would be very happy if you were to come to see me in February.

 

A presto!
See you soon!

Susanna

***Today in America, we “date,” “go out on a date,” or refer to two people who are “dating,” from the first romantic encounter until they become married. After they are married, they can still have “date nights.” But be careful when translating American romantic experiences into Italian! The English verb “to date” as used in America today to refer to a romantic relationship does not have a literal translation in Italian.

Of course, to “court” a woman was common in past centuries, and Italian language still reflects this. When a man tries to show he is interested in a woman, the phrase “fare la corte a…” is used from the verb corteggiare or “to court.”

If a woman wants to refer to dating a man, the following phrases can be used:

“Mi vedo un ragazzo.” “I’m seeing a boy.”
 “Esco con un ragazzo.” “I’m going out with a boy.”
“Il ragazzo con cui ho/avevo appuntamento.” “The boy with whom I have/had an appointment.”

There is another verb still in use in Italy today that refers to a man seducing, or “winning over,” a woman: “conquistare a… ” If a woman lets herself be “won over” or “captivated” by a man, she can use the phrase  “Mi lascio conquestare a…”

The usual Italian phrases used to refer to two people who have become romantically involved and are getting together regularly before marriage are “to go out with someone”—“uscire con qualcuno”—or “seeing each other”—“frequentarsi.”

Finally, to express a close romantic relationship in Italian, we can use the word “rapporto.” Any relationship in general is considered a “relazione.” But be careful, as an “affair” outside of marriage is also a “relazione,” whereas “affari” refers to more general personal and business “affairs.”

****In this case, Italian uses the present tense for an ongoing action, whereas English uses the past tense.

 

 


 

Speak Italian: Grammar You Will Need to Know for Italian Hypothetical Phrases

 

How to Make  Italian Hypothetical Phrases
“If” Phrases Refer to the Present:

Periodo Ipotetico con “Se” in Presente

 

To express complex thoughts and feelings, human beings have developed “hypothetical phrases”—phrases that enable us to think or wonder about situations that could occur. For instance, how many times have we said, “If I had…” or  “If I were…”?

When we want to express the idea that something may happen in English, we most often start with a phrase that begins with the conjunction “if.” The conjunction “if” starts a dependent clause in which we will describe a condition that could cause something else to happen. This dependent clause is then linked to a main clause that will describe the impending result or consequence that we are concerned about.

This sentence structure is the same in Italian, and the hypothetical clause in Italian starts with the word “se.” An Italian hypothetical phrase is called a “periodo ipotetico.”

Hypothetical phrases are composed using several different verb forms in English and Italian. For this blog post, we will talk about which Italian verb forms to use for the probable and improbable situations that may arise in the present and that are useful for every day conversation.

“Hold onto your hat!” as we say in English, because we will now start a “whirlwind tour” of the different types of hypothetical phrases that we can use to give depth to our Italian conversations. In the cases that we will present, knowledge of English will be very helpful. Read the technical information, but then focus on the actual phrases and you will soon see how thinking in English and Italian for this subject is really very similar!

 


Speak Italian: Italian Hypothetical Phrases of Love
You Will Need to Know…

How to Make Italian Hypothetical Phrases
Probable Situations

Hypothetical phrases in the present tense describe situations that are likely to happen, or probable situations.

In probable situations, the stated condition given in the “if” clause is a condition that a person may experience in the present and the consequence that will follow is a situation that will almost certainly happen.

A common example usually given for a probable hypothetical phrase relates to the weather, such as “If it snows, my feet will get cold when I go out.” We all know that given the condition just described, the resulting situation will happen to some extent!

The “if” phrase does not need to start the sentence, although it remains the dependent clause. Here is our example sentence again: “My feet will get cold when I go out if it snows.

 

To Summarize: Italian Hypothetical Phrases for Probable Situations

 

Italian Hypothetical  Phrases—Probable Situations
The condition described in the “if” clause and the consequence that will follow are  probable;
both will 
almost certainly happen.

 

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How to Make Italian Hypothetical Phrases
Probable Situations

If + Present Verb > Present or Future Verb

Now read the following table, which describes the sentence structure and the verb forms to use when creating a hypothetical sentence for a probable situation. This table compares how English and Italian approach this type of speech.

 

Italian Hypothetical Phrases:
Probable Situations
  English   Italian
Condition (If) If + Present Se + Present (or Future)
Consequence (Probable Result)   Present or Future   Present or Future

 

From the table above, it is easy to see that English and Italian both express hypothetical, probable situations in a very similar way!

  1. In English and Italian, for our condition in the dependent clause, we start with the conjunction “if” (“se” in Italian) and then most often use the simple present tense.
  2. For situations that are in the more distant future but really likely to happen (really probable), Italian may use the future tense for the condition clause.
  3. For the consequence in the main clause, the present or the future tense will work in English.
  4. In Italian, again, the present or the future tense can be used for the consequence in the main clause. In general, Italian uses the present tense for the immediate future, so the present tense is the most common form to choose for the consequence clause in Italian. But the future tense can also be used for an event in the more distant future.

A review of the  Italian future tense and the conjugations of the most commonly used Italian verbs in the future  can be found in Chapters 15 and 16 of our  textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers.

To follow are some examples of the probable hypothetical situation from our dialogue, with our “if” condition and the consequence phrases underlined.

You will notice that we introduced these lines in the dialogue with the idea, or condition, that the characters Anna and Giovanni have become a couple; therefore, the consequence is that in the future, they will do everything together.  And, for this couple, the consequence is almost certain to happen.

 

Se il tempo è bello, andranno al mare per il weekend a casa del papà di Giovanni.
If the weather is nice, they go (will go) to the sea for the weekend to Giovanni’s father’s house.

Se Anna vuole andare al ristorante o al cinema, lui la porta.
If Ann wants to go to a restaurant or to the movies, he takes (will take) her.

Se lei vuole restare a casa, loro restano a casa insieme.
If she wants to stay at home, they stay (will stay) at home together.

 


 

Speak Italian: Italian Hypothetical Phrases of Love
You Will Need to Know…

How to Make Italian Hypothetical Phrases
Probable Situations with a Command

Hypothetical phrases in the present tense can be used to refer to a situation and then give “advice” in the form of a direct command.

Phrases like “If you feel… (this way)” or “If you make/do… (something)” are very common in conversation. The speaker may describe a certain situation two people know to be likely, and then, without waiting for a reply, the speaker may give a command about what should be done in that situation. In the speaker’s mind, perhaps, that command will virtually always solve a perceived problem.

Think about how often parents give advice to their children in this way—without first waiting to hear how the children really feel! Here is a common exchange in my house, parent to child, of course. “Dinner will be ready in a half hour. Don’t eat cookies. If you are hungry, eat some fruit!”

The “if” phrase need not start the sentence in these cases, although it remains the dependent clause. Here is our example sentence again: “Eat some fruit if you are hungry!

 

To Summarize: Italian Hypothetical Phrases for Probable Situations with a Command

 

Italian Hypothetical Phrases—Probable Situations with a Command
The condition described in the “if” clause is  probable, and the “advice” given in command form will almost certainly solve a problem, and/or result in the consequence that describes the future event.

 

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How to Make Italian Hypothetical Phrases
Probable Situations with a Command

If + Present Verb > Imperative Verb

Now read the following table, which describes the sentence structure and the verb forms to use when creating a hypothetical sentence for a probable situation when giving a command. This table compares how English and Italian approach this type of speech.

 

Italian Hypothetical Phrases:

Probable Situations
with a Command

  English   Italian
Condition (If) If + Present Se + Present (or Future)
Consequence
(Advice/Probable Result)
  Imperative   Imperative

 

From the table above, it is easy to see that English and Italian express hypothetical probable situations with a command in a very similar way!

  1. In English and Italian, for our condition in the dependent clause, we start with the conjunction “if” (“se” in Italian), and then most often use the simple present tense.
  2. For situations that are in the more distant future but are likely to happen (probable), Italian may use the future tense for the condition clause.
  3. For the consequence in the main clause, use the command verb form in English and Italian. The English command form is easy, and for the most part, we don’t even realize we are using it! Just remove the “to” from the infinitive form of the English verb. “To eat” is an infinitive in English. “Eat!” is a command.
  4. A review of the Italian command form will not be provided here, but can be found in Chapter 9 of our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers. (Note: In writing, Italian emphasizes that the command form is in use with an exclamation mark at the end of the sentence.)

Below is an example of a probable situation with a command from our dialogue, with our condition and consequence phrases underlined.

 

Fammi sapere se tu sei libera per un weekend presto!
Let me know if you are free for a weekend soon!

 


Speak Italian: Italian Hypothetical Phrases of Love
You Will Need to Know…

How to Make Italian Hypothetical Phrases
 Improbable Situations

Hypothetical phrases in the subjunctive mode with the conditional tense describe situations in the present that are not likely to happen and are  improbable.

These types of phrases are used in order to “wonder” out loud or “suppose” what  could happen in a particular situation if things were “different” from what we know to be true.

In improbable hypothetical situations, the stated condition given in the “if” clause and the consequence that will follow are  situations that could happen (possible), but they are very unlikely to happen and are therefore improbable.

A common example often given for an improbable hypothetical phrase relates to money, such as, “If I were rich, I would travel to Italy.” Here, the condition as stated is unlikely; in general, one is usually either rich or not.  This in turn makes the outcome unlikely to happen. With an improbable hypothetical phrase such as this, there may be a note of wishful thinking or irony in the statement. We are dealing with supposition, rather than facts.

The “if” phrase does not need to start the sentence, although it remains the dependent clause. Here is our example sentence again: “I would travel to Italy if I were rich.”

In fact, I always remember this type of Italian sentence with the following rule: If you start an Italian sentence with the conditional tense, the imperfetto subjunctive tense must follow in the next phrase!

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Impossible Situations

Sometimes, a situation proposed for the present is so improbable that it is actually impossible, although it may be interesting to bring up in conversation. Think about how we sometimes pretend to be someone or something we know we cannot be.  By wondering about these impossible situations, we are able to reveal a little something about ourselves and the world we actually live in.

For instance, maybe I am someone who loves cats. What comes to my mind when I think of my cats in America is an “easy” life.  I may convey the complicated idea of how I might enjoy an “easy” life myself by relating my own life to my cats’ lives.

If I were a cat, I would live in a nice house and not have to work.
I would live in a nice house and not have to work if I were a cat.

Or, maybe I am someone who would like to change something about my appearance, which is easier today than in the past, but the condition and consequence are still impossible for me.

If my eyes were green,  I could find work as a model.
I could find work as a model if my eyes were green.

 

To Summarize: Italian Hypothetical Phrases for  Improbable Situations

 

Italian Hypothetical Phrases—Improbable Situations
The condition described in the “if” clause is improbable and therefore is unlikely to result in the consequence that describes the future event one is wondering about.

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How to Make Italian Hypothetical Phrases
Improbable Situations

 If + Imperfetto Subjunctive Verb >
Present Conditional Verb

Now read the following table, which describes the sentence structure and the verb forms to use when creating a hypothetical sentence for an improbable situation when we want to wonder about something. This table compares how English and Italian approach this type of speech.

 

Italian Hypothetical Phrases:

Improbable Situations

  English   Italian
Condition
(If: Wonder)
If + Subjunctive Se + Imperfetto Subjunctive
Consequence
(Supposition)
  Conditional   Present Conditional

 

From the table above, it is easy to see that English and Italian speakers think alike, although this may not be so evident to the English speaker at first.

Use of the subjunctive mode is becoming less common in English conversation, and even in widely respected American newspapers and magazines.

Some English examples:

For instance, instead of “If I was…,” correct English would be “If I were…” to signal that the phrase to follow is hypothetical and the consequence unlikely.

Or, instead of “If I saw…,” correct use of the subjunctive would be “If I had seen…” (It is never grammatically correct to say “I seen…,” despite what one may actually hear in some towns in America today!

To make matters more complicated, the English subjunctive form of many verbs is similar to the regular past tense form.

At any rate, let’s summarize how to make probable hypothetical phrases in English and Italian:

  1. In English and Italian, for the condition we are wondering about in the dependent clause, we start with the conjunction “if” (“se” in Italian), and then use the subjunctive mode.
  2. For the consequence/supposition in the main clause, use the present conditional tense in English and Italian. A review of the imperfetto subjunctive mode for avere, essere, and stare, and -are, -ere, -ire infinitive verbs will follow this section.

 

Below are some examples of phrases that used possible hypothetical situations from our dialogue, with our condition and consequence phrases underlined.

Se io non fossi occupata all’università, verrei a trovarvi di nuovo a Roma!
If I weren’t so busy at college, I would come to visit you all again in Rome!

Sarei molto contenta se tu fossi venire a trovarmi a febbraio.
I would be very happy if you were to come to see me in February.

 


Speak Italian: Italian Verb Tenses You Will Need to Know for

Improbable Italian Hypothetical Phrases

The Imperfetto Subjunctive Mode

Auxiliary Verbs – “Essere, Avere, Stare”

The most commonly used improbable hypothetical phrases begin with the words, “If I were…” or “If I had…”  So in Italian, the two most important phrases of this type to remember are, “Se io fossi…” and “Se io avessi…” using the imperfetto subjunctive conjugations for essere and avere.

Here are the imperfetto subjunctive mode conjugations for the auxiliary verbs in Italian. You will notice that avere has a regular conjugation, whereas essere and stare have irregular conjugations.

In hypothetical clauses, because the imperfetto subjunctive mode is introduced by se, (se) is included in the subject pronoun column as a reminder. When conjugating these verbs, say “se” before the subject pronoun and each verb form to reinforce this way of thinking!

 

Avere—to have—Imperfetto Subjunctive Mode

(se) io avessi I had
(se) tu avessi you (familiar) had
(se) Lei

(se) lei/lui

avesse you (polite) had

she/he had

     
(se) noi avessimo we had
(se) voi aveste you all had
(se) loro avessero they had

 

Essere—to be—Imperfetto Subjunctive Mode

(se) io fossi I were
(se) tu fossi you (familiar) were
(se) Lei

(se) lei/lui

fosse you (polite) were

she/he were

     
(se) noi fossimo we were
(se) voi foste you all were
(se) loro fossero they were

 

Stare—to stay/be—Imperfetto Subjunctive Mode

(se) io stessi I stayed/were
(se) tu stessi you (familiar) stayed/were
(se) Lei

(se) lei/lui

stesse you (polite) stayed/were

she/he stayed/were

     
(se) noi stessimo we stayed/were
(se) voi steste you all stayed/were
(se) loro stessero they stayed/were

 


The Imperfetto Subjunctive Mode

Regular “-are, -ere, -ire” Conjugations

Improbable hypothetical phrases always take the imperfetto subjunctive mode in Italian, and as we have seen in the last sections.

But, the imperfetto subjunctive mode has other uses.  Specifically, it is necessary with all of our many clauses that trigger the subjunctive mode when we are speaking in the past tense.  We will go over these rules in detail in later blogs.

For now, we will simply discuss the complete conjugation of the imperfetto subjunctive mode, which is actually quite easy.  So, keep the knowledge of how to conjugate the imperfetto subjunctive mode handy for when we discuss its many uses!

Luckily, there are only a few irregular stem forms to learn for the imperfetto subjunctive mode, making it an easier tense to learn than the present, future and conditional tenses.

Finally, the imperfetto subjunctive mode endings are always regular and will be the same for all three conjugations!

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To conjugate the imperfetto subjunctive mode…

As usual, we must first make our stem from the infinitive –are, -ere, and –ire verbs.  The method used to form the stems for the imperfetto subjunctive mode is easy – just drop the –re from the infinitive verb!

 

This will create stems that end in the letters –a for the –are verbs, -e for the –ere verbs, and –i for the –ire verbs. Then, add the following endings below to the stems for all three conjugations:

Subjunctive Mode – Imperfetto Endings

io ssi
tu ssi
Lei/lei/lui sse
   
noi ssimo
voi ste
loro ssero

 

The following table will put together our stems with our imperfetto subjunctive mode endings.  A few notes about this:

When pronouncing the imperfetto subjunctive mode verbs, the stress will always be on the syllable that begins with the last two letters of the stem and will incorporate one –s letter from the ending. (Remember the rule for Italian double consonants: one consonant will go with the syllable before and the second with the syllable after, in effect also stressing the double consonant itself.) The stressed syllables are underlined in our example table below.

Notice that English uses the simple past tense to express the same idea in improbable hypothetical phrases. Or, alternatively, were + infinitive form or gerund, such as, “If I were to live…” or “If I were living…”

 

Imperfetto Subjunctive Mode – Example Verb Conjugations

  Abitare

(to live)

(lived/were living)

Scegliere

(to choose)

(choose/were choosing)

Finire

(to finish)

(finished/were finishing)

io abitassi scegliessi finissi
tu abitassi scegliessi finissi
Lei/lei/lui abitasse scegliesse finisse
       
noi abitassimo scegliessimo finissimo
voi abitaste sceglieste finiste
loro abitassero scegliessero finissero

 


The Imperfetto Subjunctive Mode

Commonly Used Regular Verbs

Luckily, most verbs are regular in the imperfetto subjunctive mode.  So, there are many, many more regular than irregular verbs! Below are some commonly used regular verbs. Practice saying them out loud and listen to how each conjugated verb sounds.

Notice that English uses the simple past tense to express the same idea in improbable hypothetical phrases. Or, alternatively, were + infinitive form or gerund, such as, “If I were to go…” or “If I were going…” Also, had + past participle, such as, “If I had seen…”

 

Imperfetto Subjunctive Mode Conjugations – Commonly Used Regular Verbs

  Andare

(to go)

(went/were going)

Sapere

(to know)

(knew/had known)

Vedere

(to see)

(saw/had seen)

Venire

(to come)

(came/had come)

Vivere

(to live)

(lived/were living)

io andassi sapessi vedessi venissi vivessi
tu andassi sapessi vedessi venissi vivessi
Lei/lei/lui andasse sapesse vedesse venisse vivesse
           
noi andassimo sapessimo vedessimo venissimo vivessimo
voi andaste sapeste vedeste veniste viveste
loro andassero sapessero vedessero venissero vivessero

 


The Imperfetto Subjunctive Mode

Commonly Used Irregular Verbs

There are a few important verbs to know in the imperfetto subjunctive mode.  You will find them in the tables below. Practice saying them out loud and listen to how each conjugated verb sounds.

Notice that English uses the simple past tense to express the same idea in improbable hypothetical phrases. Or, alternatively, were + infinitive form or gerund, such as, “If I were to make…” or “If I were making…”

 

Fare – to do/make Imperfetto Subjunctive Mode

io facessi I did/ made
tu facessi you (familiar) did/made
Lei

lei/lui

facesse you (polite) did/made

she/he did/made

     
noi facessimo we did/made
voi faceste you all did/made
loro facessero they did/made

 

 

Dare – to give – Imperfetto Subjunctive Mode

io dessi I gave
tu dessi you (familiar) gave
Lei

lei/lui

desse you (polite) gave

she/he gave

     
noi dessimo we gave
voi deste you all gave
loro dessero they gave

 

 

Dire – to say/tell – Imperfetto Subjunctive Mode

io dicessi I said/told
tu dicessi you (familiar) said/told
Lei

lei/lui

dicesse you (polite) said/told

she/he said/told

     
noi dicessimo we said/told
voi diceste you all said/told
loro dicessero they said/told


Grammar Note: The Italian Conditional Tense

The conditional tense is used to make a polite request, as we learned way back in Chapter 4 of our Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook, when we discussed how to use the word vorrei, which means “I would like” or  “I wish.” In the “Important Phrases” section of Chapter 16, we also learned how to use the word vorremmo, which means, “we would like,” to place an order for the group at a table in a restaurant.

Notice that the meaning of a conditional verb is rendered in English with the combination of “would + infinitive verb.” The conditional tense, in summary, expresses a want or wish, an intention, a duty, or a preference.

The method used to form the stems for the Italian conditional tense is exactly the same as the method to form the Italian future tense. Also, the irregular stems for the conditional tense are identical to those for the future tense. The Italian conditional endings are always regular and will be the same for all three conjugations!

Please see Chapters 17 and 18 of the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook for a review of how to conjugate the conditional tense in Italian.

*************************

Grammar Note: Present versus Conditional Tense

The Meaning of  the Modal Verbs
“Dovere, Potere, Volere”

Throughout our Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook, we have emphasized the polite forms of volere (vorrei, vorremmo) in the conditional tense and recommended using this form to make requests for oneself or for a group. The English translation for the conditional verbs in general is that of “would + infinitive verb,” which describes a request or a wish, rather than a demand or an order.

Here are two examples below of the same request that might be made in a restaurant to a waiter, first in the present tense, and then in the conditional tense. The first, in the present tense, sounds more demanding and insistent. The second, in the conditional tense, sounds less forceful, as it describes a preference or wish.

Voglio un tavolo vicino alla finestra.       I want a table by the window.

Vorrei un tavolo vicino alla finestra.        I would like/wish to have a table by the window.

Let’s take a look at the other modal, or helping, verbs and see what connotation the conditional tense lends to them. For dovere, the idea relayed in the present tense is a forceful must. With devo (I must), we are led to understand that the action that follows has to be completed, no matter what else may come to pass. The conditional dovrei translates into “I should” or “I ought to,” which gives a feeling of necessity but also implies a bit of indecisiveness and an uncertainty as to whether the action described will be completed. Here are two examples using each tense:

Devo visitare mia nonna domenica.        I must visit my grandmother Sunday.

Dovrei visitare mia nonna domenica.      I should visit my grandmother Sunday.

For the verb potere, the present tense “posso” translates as “I can” and can be used to ask “May I?” “Può,” the present tense “polite you” form, is also used to make a polite request and in these situations means “Could you?” The conditional form we have just learned also translates as “could” and may be heard while traveling in Italy. Here are some commonly used phrases:

 Mi può auitare?                 Could you (pol.) help me?

Potrebbe aiutarmi?         Could you (pol.) help me?

Ti posso aiutare?               May I help you (fam.)?      

Potrei aiutarti?                   May I help you (fam.)?


The Imperfetto Subjunctive Mode
Modal Verbs – “Dovere, Potere, Volere”

The imperfetto subjunctive forms of the modal, or helping verbs, are used frequently in conversation.  All have regular stems, and of course, regular endings – as all imperfetto subjunctive mode verbs have regular endings! Here is a summary of the imperfetto subjunctive mode conjugations for all three modal verbs together, for easy reference.

Notice that the English translation for these verbs is in the conditional tense.

Dovere – to have to – Imperfetto Subjunctive Mode

io        dovessi I should
tu dovessi you (familiar) should
Lei/lei/lui dovesse you (polite) she/he should
     
noi dovessimo we should
voi doveste you all should
loro dovessero they should

 

Potere – to can – Imperfetto Subjunctive Mode

io potessi I could
tu potessi you (familiar) could
Lei/lei/lui potesse you (polite) she/he could
     
noi potessimo we could
voi poteste you all could
loro potessero they could

 

Volere – to want – Imperfetto Subjunctive Mode

io volessi I would like
tu volessi you (familiar) would like
Lei/lei/lui volesse you (polite) she/he would like
     
noi volessimo we would like
voi voleste you all would like
loro volessero they would like

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blogKathryn Occhipinti, MD, author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books, is a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area. “Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1 and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube Stella Lucente Italian, LLC

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on these Stella Lucente Italian sites:
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian
Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Italian Subjunctive Mode (Part 4) : Italian Hypothetical Phrases of Love

Grand Canal Venice with Gondolas

Italian Travelers: Sightseeing Today!

Italian Travelers: Sightseeing Today!

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog  Follow Caterina and read about Italian travelers and sightseeing today in Italy in the Conversational Italian for Travelers series of books!

The Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook begins each chapter with a dialogue from a story about the character Caterina, an American girl who travels to Italy to visit her relatives. As the story continues from one chapter to the next, we learn Italian, and about Italy, in an engaging way through Caterina’s experiences.

Sightseeing in Italy 

In our story, Caterina visits her relatives in Italy during August, when most Italians go on vacation. So of course, all the family members in our book become Italian travelers! Italian travelers usually go to the beach or the mountains during their Ferragosto holiday and often enjoy sightseeing during that time.

Feel free to listen in on Caterina and her relatives when, as Italian travelers in the lakeside town of Stresa, they carry on a conversation to plan their day of sightseeing on www.LearnTravelItalian.com.

The Cultural Note below, adapted from the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook, gives some general guidelines about sightseeing in Italy that all Italian travelers may find helpful when planning their vacation this summer.
—Kathryn Occhipinti


 

Italian Cultural Note:
 Taking in Italian Culture and Shops

Many books have been written about the art and architecture of Italy. Even those who would not normally spend time admiring works of art often find themselves drawn into one of the many museums, historical palaces, or churches in Italy. A complete list would be exhaustive, but for the curious, a short list of some easily recognizable works of art and architecture—and where to find them—is included at the end of this section.

As many of you may or may not know (I did not when I went to Italy for the very first time), the Mona Lisa (la Gioconda), a famous portrait by the Italian genius Leonardo da Vinci, is not on this list, as it is in Paris, at the Louvre!

The Last Supper (L’Ultima Cena), da Vinci’s most well-known fresco, can thankfully still be viewed in Milan despite the destruction of the adjacent walls of the monastery during the bombing of World War II. The fresco survived because of the dedication of the townspeople, who protected it with sandbags. The monastery has been rebuilt, and the Last Supper now exists in a climate-controlled environment, which protects its fragile paint from heat and humidity. A limited number of visitors are admitted each day through the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie.

The larger museums in Italy often open remain open from 8 to 9 a.m. through 7 p.m. Smaller museums may close at 1 p.m. for siesta and reopen later in the day, around 4 p.m., so it is advisable to check the hours of operation. Museums may be closed on Mondays. There may be extremely long lines at some of the most famous museums and sites (the Vatican and the Colosseum in Rome, or the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, for instance), but now it is fairly easy to buy tickets ahead of time, over the Internet, by phone, or through tour guides.

Churches are usually open for viewing from early in the morning, about 7–8 a.m., until 12:30 p.m., and then reopen from 4 to 7 p.m., every day except Sunday (when services are held).

The island of Sicily is a trip in and of itself—with ancient Greek ruins, many Baroque architecture UNESCO world heritage sites and even entire cities, stunning beaches, and Mount Etna, a week is barely enough to see all the island has to offer. Sicily has once again become a travel destination as the world has taken notice of the island’s treasures. Sardinia, the second-largest Italian island, has long been a destination of the very wealthy, who vacation along the secluded beaches along the Costa Smeralda, or Emerald Coast.

For those who prefer shopping to, or along with, their dose of culture, shops in Italy are usually open from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., close for lunch, reopen between 3 and 4 p.m. and then usually remain open until 8 p.m. Most family-run shops are closed on Sundays and may be closed on Mondays.

One of the most famous shopping strips in the world is actually on a bridge—the old bridge, or Ponte Vecchio, in Florence, where gold and jewelry are found in abundance. Florence is also known for its handmade leather goods, and small shops with handmade items in a multitude of colors are found throughout the city.

Venice is known not only for its architectural beauty but also for wonderful, hand-painted masks for Carnevale (Mardi Gras). The smaller islands of Venice offer wonders of their own. Visit the famous beaches on the Lido for relaxation. Or visit the island of Murano to watch the centuries-old technique of creating beautiful, hand-blown glass pieces, a large variety of which are available for purchase and can be shipped back home. The small but picturesque island of Burano, with its brightly colored houses, is the oldest center for handmade lace still in existence in the world today.

Milan and Rome are known as fashion centers. It would be difficult to miss the high-end shops that line the piazza around the Spanish steps in Rome, but even the side streets offer beautiful clothing and a dazzling variety of shoes. Most mid-sized cities in Italy also have a good number of designer boutiques. The greatest discounts are found during the last week of July, when almost every shop puts up signs in their window advertising discounts (sconti) of 50% or more at the end of the season.

A note on visiting Italy during August—during the weeks of the Ferragosto holiday in early to mid-August, most small shop owners and restaurant owners will close their businesses and head for the beaches or mountains. Smaller towns may seem deserted to the visitor. It may be best to stay in the country for these weeks in August, as the Italians do!

***************************************

Italian Traveler’s Guide to Sightseeing 

Milan: Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper—Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie

Il Duomo (di Santa Maria Nascente)—fifth-largest cathedral in the world

Lake region: Lago Maggiore and Lago Como

Florence: Uffizi Gallery of Art

Michelangelo’s statue of David at the Academy Gallery

Il Duomo (di Santa Maria del Fiore)—third-largest cathedral in the world

Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge)

Piazza della Signoria

Pitti Palace

Boboli Gardens

Palazzo Vecchio

Pisa: Leaning Tower in the Campo dei Miracoli

Siena: The Palio horse race (August 16)

Rome: Vatican museum

St. Peter’s Basilica—largest Catholic cathedral in the world

Michelangelo’s Creation frescoes at The Sistine Chapel

Colosseum/Roman Forum/Baths of Caracalla

The Trevi Fountain

The Spanish Steps

Villa Borghese museum

Villa Medici

Pantheon

Victor Emmanuel Monument

Piazza Navona

Piazza del Popolo

Abruzzo: Tivoli Gardens

Naples: Ruins of Pompeii

Amalfi Coast

Island of Capri

Venice: St. Mark’s Square

St. Mark’s Basilica and Campanile

Doge’s Palace

Grand Canal: gondolas and Rialto Bridge

Island of Murano: hand-blown, decorative glass

Island of Burano: handmade lace

Art Biennal (Biennale Arte)

Peggy Guggenheim Museum

Lido beaches

Verona: Juliet’s balcony (from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet)

Castelvecchio

Lago Garda—largest lake in Italy

—Adapted from Conversational Italian for Travelers, “Cultural Note—Taking in Italian Culture and Shops,” by Kathryn Occhipinti

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog—Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers series of books and a teacher of
Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1 and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
YouTube Learn Travel Italian 

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on Facebook Stella Lucente Italian and Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian.
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian
Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Italian Travelers: Sightseeing Today!

Italian manicotti

Italian Recipe: Manicotti from Mamma Rosa

Italian Recipe: Manicotti from Mamma Rosa

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog ManicottiItalian crespelle are crêpes stuffed with delicious ricotta cheese!

Italian Recipe: Manicotti from Mamma Rosa

Manicotti (pronounced (man-ee-cot-tee) are Italian crêpes, called crespelle, filled with cheese, topped with just a bit of sauce, and baked. They are a perfect light start  as the “primo”(first) course for a special Italian meal. Because making the crespelle is a bit labor intensive—they have to be made one by one—we don’t often have manicotti at my house. I made these at home this past Easter for dinner, so I thought I would share the method.

A few words about what are called manicotti in America. Many of you have no doubt tasted manicotti made with pasta tubes in an Italian-American restaurant or have seen manicotti pasta tubes in the grocery store. And yes, the pasta tubes are about the same size as the “tubes” we will make when we roll up our crespelle. And yes, our filling will work well in these pasta tubes or large pasta shells for a quick meal. But for true manicotti made the southern Italian way, as passed down by my Mamma Rosa, the shells must be light crespelle, not made from boiled pasta.

Also, I have to say that I completely forgot that manicotti can be topped with sauce and a bit of grated mozzarella cheese. But please (I am begging here), please do not “drown” your manicotti in sauce or a pool of gooey mozzarella cheese, as some restaurants do. Then the crespelle will become soggy, and you will not be able to taste the delicate flavors of the cheese filling!

To see the method to make Italian crespelle in real time, watch our Stella Lucente Italian You Tube Channel. Visit the Learn Travel Italian Pinterest site for photos of how to put together your own manicotti. Try our recipe and amaze your family with something new!
—Kathryn Occhipinti


Italian Recipe: Manicotti from Mamma Rosa 

Italian Manicotti
Two Manicotti baked and ready to serve.

Ingredients for Italian Recipe: Manicotti from Mamma Rosa
(Serves 4)

For the crespelle (crêpes)*
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
1 egg
1 Tbsp olive oil

For the cheese filling
15 oz.  good, fresh Ricotta cheese**
6 oz. mozzarella (not buffalo mozzarella) cut into small cubes***
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp white pepper
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, minced, stems removed

For baking
1 jar (26 oz.) homemade or favorite tomato sauce

Make the crespelle batter

Put 1/2 cup of the milk and the rest of the ingredients into a mixing bowl.

Beat briskly with a whisk until all lumps of flour have dissolved. (This may take a little bit of time and produce small air bubbles if done thoroughly.)

Add the remaining 1/2 cup of milk and beat with the whisk again.

Let batter rest for 1 hour in the refrigerator. This will let any remaining particles of flour absorb into the batter and relax any gluten that may have formed during the mixing. The rest allows for a more tender and less “doughy” crespelle.

Method to cook the crespelle 

To cook the batter to make the crespelle, you will need a small frying pan that heats evenly and holds the heat well. A crêpe pan works best, of course!

The technique is a little tricky, and the crespelle must be cooked one at a time. But once the method is mastered, you should have a batch of about 8–10 crespelle in no time!

  1. Brush the pan with olive oil and then heat the pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Pour approximately 3 Tbsp of batter into the center of the pan.
  3. Off heat, tilt the pan around with a circular motion so that the batter thins out and forms a round crêpe about the size of the pan.
  4. Place the pan back on the heat again and cook until the edges of the crêpe become whitish and the inner portion yellow and partially solid.
  5. Using a spatula, flip once and cook briefly (about 30 seconds).
  6. Remove to a plate to cool.

Watch our video “How to Make Crespelle” on the Learn Travel Italian YouTube Channel.

Assemble the Manicotti

One at a time, place a crespelle on a separate plate and stuff with the ricotta mixture to make a manicotti as follows:

  1. Place the crespelle with the second side up (the side that cooked briefly after flipping) onto a plate or work board.
  2. Place 1–2 Tbsp of ricotta filling in a line down the middle.
  3. Fold one side of the crespelle over to the center.
Manicotti crespelle
One side of a crespelle folded over the ricotta cheese filling.

Repeat with the other side and overlap to make a tube shape with open ends, similar to a large penne pasta. Seal the overlapping edges in the center with a drop of water.

Have a baking pan ready with a layer of spaghetti sauce on the bottom.

Place the manicotti into the pan.

Continue to make manicotti and place them into the pan, making as many rows as possible to fill up the pan.

When the pan has been filled, pour a bit of your favorite tomato sauce to make a “line” of sauce over the center of each row of manicotti.  Don’t put too much sauce over the manicotti, or the crespelle will become soggy.

Italian manicotti
Finished manicotti topped with tomato sauce in a pan ready to put into the oven to bake.

Above all, please don’t drown your manicotti in mozzarella cheese! If you like, put a small amount of shredded mozzarella over the top of the sauce line.

Bake in a 350° oven about 15–20 minutes, or until the mozzarella cheese has melted and the manicotti have crisped a bit.

Serve with tomato sauce on the side.

*There are, of course, many variations on how to make crespelle batter. Some use more egg or less flour. Others don’t use olive oil. I’ve found that the recipe for crespelle batter given above works the best with the pan that I have available at home. If adding more egg, the batter may stick to the pan. Less flour makes a watery batter that is a little difficult to deal with without a true crêpe maker. If you have a favorite crêpe batter, you can use that, although crespelle are traditionally a little bit thicker than crêpes.

 **This dish showcases how delicious ricotta cheese can be. So please use only creamy, fresh, good quality ricotta cheese, from a specialty store if possible.

*** For the mozzarella cheese, the hard mozzarella cheese holds up better and has more flavor to add to the dish than buffalo mozzarella. The slightly nutty flavor of fontina cheese is also wonderful in this filling, although it is not “authentic” because it is a northern Italian cheese, and the dish is southern Italian.  

—Adapted from Primi e Secondi Piatti Italian cookbook from the Italian-American Society of Peoria; recipe by Rose Schimmenti Occhipinti and Kathy Occhipinti

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1 and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
YouTube Learn Travel Italian

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on Facebook Stella Lucente Italian and Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian.
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian

Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Italian Recipe: Manicotti from Mamma Rosa

Speak Italian with Conversational Italian for Travelers Just Grammar Book

Speak Italian: About Italian Movies and Love

Speak Italian: About Italian Movies and Love 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog                          Everything you need to know
to talk about Italian movies and love in Italian!

 

Speak Italian: About Italian Movies and Love 

Can you speak Italian? By now, many of you have passed the beginning stages of learning how to speak Italian and can read and comprehend quite a bit of the language. Meraviglioso!

But have you tried to take the next step to speak Italian fluently? Can you talk about Italian movies? Or any movie, using Italian terms? Do you know the correct phrases to use to talk about love and relationships in Italian? 

Can you speak Italian the way you would speak in your native language, with complex and varied sentences? This is more difficult than it may seem at first, and it’s something that I am always working on!

This series will focus on the situations that have come up most frequently in my everyday conversations with Italian instructors and friends. The “Speak Italian” blog series will focus on the type of sentence structure and vocabulary we all need to remember to be more fluent when we speak Italian!

To take that giant step from simple beginning sentences to more complex and fluid sentences in Italian, we must know how to use essential grammar, such as how to use the words “che” and “qualche,” how to make phrases to describe beginnings and endings, how to form Italian direct and indirect object pronouns, and how to make command phrases. 

If you need to refresh your memory about how to say, “I love you” in Italian, please visit the third blog post in this series, Speak Italian: A Story About… Love!

 

Speak Italian: About Italian Movies and Love 

In the “Speak Italian” blog series, a short essay or dialogue in Italian will be presented about a common topic of conversation. Then, we will review the Italian grammar that is necessary to talk about the particular topic in detail. And finally, the same material will be presented in Italian and English, with blanks for the reader to fill in with descriptions from his or her own life or to practice verb conjugation! Remember these examples as “anchors” in your knowledge for when you must speak Italian in your next conversation!

Enjoy the fourth topic in this series, “Speak Italian: About Italian Movies and Love”
—Kathryn Occhipinti

This material is adapted from our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC, found on www.learntravelitalian.com. Special thanks to Italian language instructor Simona Giuggioli.

 


Speak Italian: About Italian Movies and Love 

In the dialogue to follow,  we listen in on a telephone call between two good Italian friends who are sharing thoughts about a famous Italian movie. The movie is about a love story that takes place during World War II. Common idiomatic expressions used when talking with a friend, vocabulary related to the movies, and phrases about love have been underlined.

Listening to foreign films is a wonderful way to learn another language. The movie described contains short sentences spoken in clear Italian and is a good place to start to build a vocabulary about relationships and love. Spoiler alert: The only real violence is at the very end of the movie, although the movie title is Violent Summer.

 

Speak Italian: About Italian Movies and Love

Una sera, il telefono di Maria ha squillato. Era Francesca, la migliore amica di Maria.
One evening, Maria’s telephone rang. It was Francesca, Maria’s best friend.

 

“Maria! Sono io! Come stai? Puoi parlare per un attimo?”
“Maria! It’s me! How are you? Can you talk for a bit?”

 

“Ma, certo Maria. Che è successo?”
“But of course, Maria. What happened?”

 

“Niente. Voglio solamente fare due chiacchere.”
“Nothing. I just want us to chat for a bit.”

 

Dimmi.”
Tell me!”

 

“Stasera ho visto un bel film che si chiama, Estate Violenta di Valerio Zurlini.”
“Tonight I saw a wonderful movie called Violent Summer, by Valerio Zurlini.”

 

“Mamma mia! Che titolo terribile! Ma, dove l’hai visto? Non ho mai sentito parlare di questo film.”
“Wow! What a terrible name (title). But where did you see it? I’ve never heard about this film.”

 

“A casa mia. Ho comprato il DVD su Amazon. È un film del 1959, con Eleonora Rossi Drago e Jean-Louis Trintignant, due stelle del cinema europeo.”
“At my house. I bought the DVD on Amazon. It is a movie from 1959, with Eleonora Rossi Drago and Jean-Louis Trintignant, two stars of European movies.”

 

“Non mi dire! E di cosa parla questo film?”
“You don’t say! And what is this film about?”

 

E questo è quello che Francesca le ha detto:
And this is what Frances said:

 

“È un film molto importante nella storia del cinema italiano perché è ambientato alla fine della Seconda Guerra Mondiale.
“It is a very important film in the history of Italian cinema because it takes place at the end of the Second World War.

 

È un film molto lirico e appasisonato, perché è una storia d’amore.
It is a very lyrical and passionate film, because it is a love story.

 

La storia dei due personaggi principali è cominciata quando i due amanti si sono incontrati sulla spiaggia a Rimini.
The story of the two main characters started when the two lovers met each other for the first time on the beach at Rimini.

 

La donna, che si chiamava Roberta, aveva i capelli biondi e una bellezza naturale, anche senza trucco. Lei aveva quasi trent’anni.
The woman, called Roberta, had blond hair and a natural beauty, even without makeup. She was about thirty years old.

 

Suo marito, che era un capitano nell’esercito italiano, era appena morto. Roberta aveva una figlia di tre anni e viveva con la madre a Rimini, per scappare dalla guerra a Bologna.
Her husband, who was a captain in the Italian army, had just died. She had a three-year-old daughter and lived with her mother at Rimini, in order to escape from the war in Bologna.

 

Roberta ha incontrato un ragazzo che si chiamava Carlo e che era molto più govane di lei, durante un’incursione aerea sulla spiaggia.
Roberta met a boy who was called Carl and who was much younger than her, during an air raid on the beach.

 

Il momento in cui Carlo ha visto Roberta, gli è piaciuta subito. Dopo il primo incontro sulla spiaggia, lui ha perso la testa per lei.
When Carl first saw Roberta, he liked her right away. After their first meeting on the beach, he lost his head over her (English = fell head over heels for her/fell madly in love with her).

 

Cosi, Carlo ha incominciato a fare la corte a Roberta.
So, Carl started to court Roberta. (English = Carl tried to get Roberta to be his girlfriend.)

 

Dopo un po’, i due hanno cominciato a uscire insieme. Si sono visti ogni giorno. A Roberta piaceva molto il suo rapporto con Carlo. Lo amava.
After a while, the two of them started to go out together. They saw each other every day. And Roberta really liked her relationship with Carl. She loved him.

 

Ma alla madre di Roberta non piaceva il comportamento di Roberta, perché era insieme a un ragazzo molto più giovane di lei. Sua madre esigeva che Roberta smettesse di frequentare Carlo.
But Roberta’s mother did not like Roberta’s behavior, because she was with a boy much younger than her. Her mother demanded that Roberta stop seeing Carl.

 

Roberta non ascoltava la madre. Si era resa conto che solamente Carlo era l’uomo per lei.
Roberta didn’t listen to her mother. She realized that Carl was the man for her.

 

A un certo punto, gli amanti hanno provato a scappare a Bologna in treno.
At a certain point, the lovers tried to escape to Bologna on the train.

 

Ma è successa una cosa brutta che io non ti dirò perché spero che tu guaderai questo film.”
But something bad happened that I will not tell you because I hope that you will watch this film.”

 

Dai, dimmi!”
Come on, tell me!”

 

“Sfortunamente la loro storia si è chiusa in malo modo. Invece, speravo che la loro storia fosse terminata bene. Non ne voglio parlare.”
“Unfortunately, their romance ended in a bad way. I wish that their story had ended in a good way instead. I don’t want to talk about it.”

 

“Capisco. La fine della storia fra Roberta e Carlo era molto triste. Non mi piace quando la fine di un film è cosi.”
“I understand. The end of the relationship between Roberta and Carlo was very sad. I don’t like when a film ends like this.”

 

“Ma gli attori hanno ricitato le loro parte molto bene in questo film. Se vuoi, ti lo do e puoi vedere per te stessa.”
“But the actors played their parts very well in this film. If you want, I will give it to you, and you can see for yourself.”

 

“Grazie. Dammelo! Mi è piaciuto l’ultimo DVD che mi hai dato il mese scorso. Parliamone dopo!”
“Thank you. Give it to me! I really enjoyed the last DVD that you gave me last month. We’ll talk about it later!”

 

“Si certamente vale la pena guardare questo fillm!  Ed anche per capire l’Italia durante il dopoguerra.”
“Yes, it is certainly worth it to see (watch) this movie! And to understand Italy during the aftermath of the war.”

 

“Ci parliamo dopo e tu dimmi che ne pensi!”
“We’ll talk to each other later, and you tell me what you think (about it)!”

 


 

Speak Italian: Grammar You Will Need to Know About Italian Movies and Love…

 

Speak Italian: About Italian Movies and Love
You Will Need to Know…

Commands That Use “Fare”

We will now revisit the verb fare, which often comes up when someone needs to/must do something or requests that someone else do something. To ask for a favor politely, you could use the (by now, well-known) verb può with fare to make the phrase, “Mi può farmi un favore?” for “Could you do me a favor?” More often, the same request is made between two people who know each other well using the familiar command form of this phrase: “Fammi un favore!” for “Do me a favor! Piacere also works interchangeably with favore in this expression, as in, “Fammi un piacere!”

 

Notice that, when attaching a direct object to the familiar command verb fa, the first letter of the direct object is doubled. This holds true for mi, ti, lo, la, ci, and vi. Below are some commonly used expressions that combine the command form of fare with direct object pronouns.

 

Fammi un favore! Do me a favor!
Fammi un piacere! Do me a favor!
Fatti vedere! Come and see me! (lit. Make yourself seen!)
Fatti sentire! Call me! (lit. Make yourself heard!)
Fallo! Do it!

 

Fammi can also be used in an idiomatic way, with the meaning, “let me,” when followed by an infinitive verb, such as “Fammi vedere” for “Let me see” or “Fammi chiamare” for “Let me call.”

 

Fammi vedere… Let me see…
Fammi chiamare… Let me call…

 

Two additional important familiar commands with direct objects that we have encountered in Chapter 8 are given here again:

 

Dimmi! Tell me!
Dammi! Give me!

 


Speak Italian: About Italian Movies and Love
You Will Need to Know…

 How to Say “Myself, Himself, Herself”

To emphasize that one has done something for “himself,” we can use the following phrases in Italian listed below. Stesso(a) is the singular form for “self,” and stesso(i) is the plural form. The usual rules for Italian masculine (o,i) and feminine (a,e) endings apply. Remember that the “i” ending applies to a group of all males and to both males and females.

 

me stesso(a) myself
te stesso(a) yourself
se stesso(a) himself/herself
noi stessi(e) ourselves
voi stessi(e) yourselves
loro stessi(e) themselves

 


 

Speak Italian: About Italian Movies and Love
You Will Need to Know…

 How to Talk About Beginnings and
What Comes Before

  1. When the reference is about something that has happened “in the beginning,” we can use one of the following three phrases. These phrases can be placed at the beginning or the end of the sentence.
all’inizio at the beginning
al principio at the beginning

 

All’inizio del film, Roberta e Carlo si sono incontrati.
Roberta e Carlo si sono incontrati al inizio del film.
Roberta and Carlo meet each other at the beginning of the film.

 

  1. When the reference to “beginning” is about the beginning of a career, the following phrase is appropriate:
l’esordio the beginning

 

L’esorido della mia carriera era molto difficile.
The beginning of my career was very difficult.

  1. The word primo means first and is one of the ordinal numbers (the ordinal numbers are first, second, third…). Remember that the endings of the ordinal numbers will change in Italian to reflect the gender and number of the noun modified. So when talking about the first of several things, we can use primo and change the ending to match the noun it follows, as below:
il primo first
(la prima, i primi, le prime) first

 

il primo piano the first floor (one up from the ground floor in an Italian building)
il primo tempo
il secondo tempo
the first part/the second part (phrases used in early Italian movie theaters when a movie would be shown with an intermission)
la prima volta the first time (general phrase to refer to the time something happened)
la   prima classe                       the first class
la prima cosa the first thing
Per prima cosa… (For) the first thing… (use per to show intent)

 

La prima cosa è molto importante.
The first thing is very important.

 

Per prima cosa di mattino, mi preparo un buon caffè..
First thing in the morning, I will make myself a good (cup of) coffee.

 

Here are some additional important expressions that use prima to denote important “firsts”:

a prima vista at first sight/at a glance
a tutta prima at first sight/on first impression
 
prima visione first run of a movie or show (premiere)
prima puntata first episode (TV series) (premiere)
prima serata first night of a performance (show) (premiere)
prima squadra first team (sports)
prima base first base
prima pagina first page/front page (newspaper, magazine)
opera prima first work/debut of a novel or film
 
in prima battuta as a first step
in prima istanza in the first place, as a start
in prima persona in first person (grammar)/personally

 

  1. The feminine word prima is also often used in phrases to denote the following ideas: earlier/early, previously, once, at one time. With regard to time, prima means before; with regard to space, prima means in front of and before (something). In these cases, prima is part of an expression, and its feminine “a” ending may or may not agree with the noun in the phrase.
prima luce del giorno daybreak/the first light of day
prima mattina early morning/early in the morning
prima maniera early style (reference to art)
 
prima o poi sooner or later
ancora prima even earlier/even before
della prima ora from the very beginning/immediately
amici come prima friends again (like before)
 
ancora prima even before
il giorno prima the day before, the previous day
mai visto prima never seen before
non prima di not before
prima d’ora before now, beforehand
 
prima linea front line (of battle)

 


 

Speak Italian: About Italian Movies and Love
You Will Need to Know…

How to Talk About Endings and
What Comes Next, After, and Last

  1. The word prossimo(a,i,e) means next and is often used to refer to time. Prossimo follows the usual rules for adjectives and changes depending on the noun modified.
il giorno prossimo the next day
la settimana prossima the next week
l’anno prossimo the next year

 

  1. Dopo means after. Dopo always ends in the masculine “o”—its ending will not change, no matter what noun it modifies.
domani tomorrow
dopodomani the day after tomorrow
la settimana dopo the week after
l’anno dopo the year after

 

Italians often refer to the years after World War II with the phrases below. In this case, there is no need to mention the exact name of the war (Seconda Guerra Mondiale), which most Italians still remember took place from 1939 to 1945.

dopo la guerra after the war
 il dopoguerra the aftermath of the war

 

  1. Scorso(a,i,e) means last. The ending of the adjective scorso will change to match the noun it is modifying in the sentence.
ieri yesterday
l’altro ieri the day before yesterday
la settimana scorsa last week
l’anno scorso last year

 

  1. Use recentemente and più recentemente to mean recently and most recently.
recentemente recently
più recentemente most recently

 

  1. L’ultimo means the last (one) or final (one), and per ultimo is the adverb that means lastly or finally. Finalmente also means finally.

Perhaps the most famous Italian phrase to use this word is “L’Ultima Cena,” or “The Last Supper,” from the Christian religion.

l’ultimo the last
per ultimo lastly, finally
per l’ultima volta for the last time
non più da… not since… (a long time has passed since…)

 

Liu è l’ultimo uomo che io sposerei.
He is the last man that I would marry.

Lui è arrivato per ultimo./Finalmente, lui è arrivato!
He arrived finally./Finally, he has arrived!

Ho visto Michele ieri per l’ultima volta.
I saw Michael for the last time yesterday.

Non ho più visto Michele da molto tempo.
I haven’t seen Michael since yesterday.

  1. So, finally, finalmente, how do we say, “the end” in Italian? We use the word fine, but depending on the situation, we must modify fine with a masculine or a feminine definite article—il or la. Here is how it works:

 

il fine  the end – when the reference is to purpose

 

Il fine giustifica i mezzi. (Famous quote from Macchiavelli in his book The Prince)
The end justifies the means.

Important exception to this rule:
il fine settimana  =  the end of the week

 

la fine the end – when the reference is to time of a relationship, movie, or book

 

Non è la fine del mondo.
It is not the end of the world.

 

È un film molto importante nella storia del cinema italiano perché è ambientato alla fine della Seconda Guerra Mondiale.

It is a very important film in the history of Italian cinema because it takes place at the end of the Second World War.

 


 

Speak Italian: About Italian Movies and Love
You Will Need to Know…

   Che Means “That” and “What”
How to Use “Che” with Exclamations

The Italian word “che” has many, many uses as a conjunction to link one phrase to another in Italian and can never be omitted!

 

  1. One of the most important meanings for che is “that.” Remember how important the word che is when we are using the subjunctive to refer to what someone else wants/likes/thinks? See our previous blog posts about the subjunctive for more information on this use of che.

 

  1. Che is also commonly used as an interrogative expression meaning “What?” “Che?” “Che cosa?” and “Cosa?” all mean “What?” in Italian and are used interchangeably.

 

Here are two examples from our dialogues:

 “Ma, certo Maria. Che è successo?”
“But of course, Maria. What happened?”

E questo è quello che Francesca le ha detto:
And this is what (that) Frances said:

  

  1. By now, you have no doubt heard the exclamation “Che bello!” or “How beautiful!” from anyone who has seen the rolling hills of the Italian countryside or a famous work of Italian art or architecture. “Che brutto!” and “Che fortuna!” are also popular Italian exclamations. In short, che, when used in an exclamation of this type, takes on the meaning of how. Of course, “Com’è bello?” means “How beautiful is it?” because the word come is the most often used to mean how. 

 


 

Speak Italian: About Italian Movies and Love
You Will Need to Know…

 When to Use “Che and “Chi” for “Who” and “Whom”

If we want to ask who has done something at the beginning of the sentence, we usually use the word “chi,” meaning “who.” Remember our common telephone greeting from our last blog post:

 

Pronto. Chi è? Chi parla? Hello? Who is it? (telephone greeting uses essere)

 

But even more often, Italians use che to mean “who” or “whom.” If we want to refer to someone who has done something after an introductory phrase in a sentence, we must use che! In this case, our multitasking word che means “who” or “whom.” 

Now let’s look at the many times che is used with the meaning of who or whom in the dialogues from this blog post. Don’t forget this very important use for the simple word che. And remember that although the che may be omitted in English, it is always needed to link phrases in Italian!

La donna, che si chiamava Roberta, aveva i capelli biondi e una bellezza naturale, anche senza trucco.
The woman, called Roberta, had blond hair and a natural beauty, even without makeup.

Suo marito, che era un capitano nell’esercito italiano, era appena morto.
Her husband, who was a captain in the Italian army, had just died.

Roberta ha incontrato un ragazzo che si chiamava Carlo e che era molto più govane di lei, durante un’incursione aerea sulla spiaggia. 
Roberta met a boy (who was) called Carl who was much younger that her, during an air raid on the beach.

Carlo è un ragazzo che Roberta ha visto prima alla spiaggia.
Carl is a boy whom Roberta first saw on the beach.

 


 

Speak Italian: About Italian Movies and Love
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The Partitive: Some, Any, a Few
Qualche and Alcune/Alcuni

When speaking of a part of a whole, or an undetermined number of things, in English, the idea is rendered with the words some or any, as in “some of the” or “any of the.” In English, the translation with the partitive is always in the plural, which makes sense if you think of the partitive as the plural of the indefinite article a (un, uno, una, or un’).

Things are a little bit different in Italian, however, with two important Italian words that are often used to express the meaning of some, any or a few, a certain amount: qualche and alcuni/alcune.

 

 Below are the rules of use for these two partitives, which are actually quite simple.

 

The word qualche, which is invariable, is always followed by a singular noun.
The words alcune or alcuni are always followed by a plural noun.

 

Qualche and alcuni/alcune are frequently used in everyday conversation to talk about a broad spectrum of situations and things. Time, for instance. Or groups of people. Qualche and alcuni/alcune are often used to start a sentence, but of course are also used in dependent phrases.

For qualche: Just put qualche in front of the Italian singular noun for the segment of time or the people you are referring to. Never mind that in English, we would use the plural (and that this is the correct translation).

For alcuni/alcune: Just put alcuni or alcune in front of the Italian plural noun for the segment of time or the people you are referring to, matching alcuni with the male gender noun and alcune with the female gender noun, of course.

Notice that in every situation below, the English translation will be the same, and always in the plural, no matter which partitive is chosen!

 

Qualche volta… Sometimes… Alcune volte…
Qualche giorno… Some days… Alcuni giorni…
   
qualche ora some hours alcune ore
qualche minuto some minutes alcuni minuti
   
qualche persona some people alcune persone
qualche amico some friends (male or male/female group) alcuni amici
qualche amica some friends (female) alcune amiche

 

Qualche is used in some very common expressions where alcuni/alcune are not used. These expressions make general statements about things or places. Use the table below to see how these expressions work.

An exception to the rules we’ve mentioned occurs with the first expression, where the meaning is in the singular in Italian and the translation is singular in English. So by definition, the plural words alcuni/alcune cannot be used!

 

qualche cosa something  
qualche cosa some things alcune cose
qual cos’altro something else  
qualsiasi cosa anything
da qualche parte somewhere  

 

******************************

When it comes to use of qualche and alcuni/alcune, it should be noted that…

Neither qualche nor alcune/alcuni can be used in every situation. Qualche and alcune/alcuni can be used to talk about portions of food or other things.

But if the noun being modified is made up of a quantity that is not easily divisible, such as a liquid like milk, water, or soup, or an indivisible mass, like a loaf of bread or a cake, qualche and alcune/alcuni cannot be used. Instead, the idea of “some” is rendered by “di + definite article” or “un po’ di.”

 


Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

Italian Pronouns
Reflexive, Direct, Indirect, and Disjunctive Pronouns

 

Reflexive Pronouns Direct Object Pronouns Indirect Object Pronouns
mi myself mi me mi to me
ti yourself (fam.) ti you (fam.) ti to you (fam.)
si yourself (pol.) La (L’) you (pol.) Le to you (pol.)
si herself la (l’) her, it (fem.) le to her
si himself lo (l’) him, it (masc.) gli to him
           
           
ci ourselves ci us ci to us
vi yourselves vi you all vi to you all

 

si themselves le them (fem.) gli to them (fem.)
si themselves li them (masc.) gli to them (masc.)
The reflexive, direct, and indirect object pronouns come before the verb or are attached to the end of an infinitive verb after dropping the final infinitive –e.

 

 

Disjunctive Pronouns with prepositions  
me me a/con/per me to/with/for me
te you (fam.) a/con/per te to/with/for you (fam.)
Lei you (pol.) a/con/per Lei to/with/for you (pol.)
lei her a/con/per lei to/with/for her
lui him a/con/per lui to/with/for him
itself, herself, himself

yourself

a/con/per sè to/with/for itself, herself, himself

to/with/for yourself

       
       
noi us a/con/per noi to/with/for us
voi you all (fam.) a/con/per voi to/with/for you all
loro them a/con/per loro to/with/for them
themselves a/con/per sè to/with/for themselves

 


Speak Italian: About Italian Movies and Love
You Will Need to Know…

 Double Object Pronouns

The verb dare (to give) is commonly used in conversation while dining and asking for food and other items to be passed around the table. In this situation, it also becomes necessary to say not only what item we are giving away, but to whom we are giving the item. In effect, we are combining direct and indirect object pronouns in the same sentence!

The use of double object pronouns comes up frequently in many, many other situations as well.

When both object pronouns refer to the same verb, the word order in Italian and rules are as follows in the table below:

Double Object Pronouns
 
indirect object pronoun direct object pronounverb

(1) The indirect object pronouns mi, ti, ci, and vi will change their –i  to an –e when placed before the direct object pronouns lo, la, li, le, and ne, to become me, te, ce, and ve (see Chapters 17 and 18 of Conversational Italian for Travelers for how to use ne).
(2) Gli will add an e and become glie when placed before the direct objects lo, la, li, le, and ne. The direct object will then be added directly to glie to make glielo, gliela, glieli, and gliele.

 Use glie for men and women (to replace le for women, as well as gli for men).

(3) When using a helping verb + infinitive verb combination, simply drop the –e from the end of the infinitive verb, combine the objects in the usual order, and attach the combined objects to the end of the infinitive verb.

 

Let’s give this a try by changing some example sentences without pronouns into sentences with pronouns.  We will list the English first, then the Italian, one step at a time, so that by the last example, both sentences will contain double object pronouns. Watch the placement of the pronouns, which stay after the verb in English, but take a position before the verb in Italian. To help you follow this process, the verbs will be in green, the direct object pronouns will be in brown, and the indirect object pronouns will be in red.

 

Kathy gives the butter to me.   Caterina da il burro a me.
Kathy gives me the butter.   Caterina mi da il burro.
Kathy gives it to me. Rule (1) Caterina me lo da.                
The waiter gives the menu to Peter.   Il cameriere da il menù a Pietro.
The waiter gives him the menu.   Il cameriere gli da il menù.
The waiter gives it to him. Rule (2) Il cameriere glielo da. 
The waiter gives the menu to Kathy.   Il cameriere da il menù a Caterina.
The waiter gives her the menu.   Il cameriere le da il menù.
The waiter gives it to her. Rule (2) Il cameriere glielo da.
(I) want to give my bread to you.   Voglio dare il mio pane a te.
(I) want to give it to you. Rule (3) Voglio dartelo.

 

 


Speak Italian: About Italian Movies and Love
You Will Need to Know…

Direct Object Pronouns and the Passato Prossimo

Several rules must be followed when using the Italian direct object pronouns with the passato prossimo form of the Italian past tense.

 

(1) The direct object pronoun is placed before the passato prossimo compound verb.
(2) The third person singular direct object pronouns (lo, la, and La) usually drop their vowel before the letter h, especially in conversation.
(3) The last vowel of the past participle must agree in gender and number with the object that it refers to when using the third person singular and plural.

 

Let’s see how this works if we want to shorten the answer to a commonly asked question: “Hai visto Pietro?” (“Have you seen Peter?”) We could answer, “L’ho visto,” for “I saw him,” following rules (1) and (2).

 

Hai visto Pietro?   Have (you) seen Peter?
Lo ho visto. Rule (1) I saw him.
Lho visto. Rule (2) I saw him.

 

So far, so good. The words “L’ho” flow easily together and are spoken as one word, short and sweet. However, if we were looking for Caterina, we would need to also change the ending of the past participle of the verb to agree with the feminine direct object pronoun ending, which we have just dropped! So our phrase would instead be “L’ho vista,” for “I saw her.” We have to follow rules (1), (2), and (3) to make one short sentence!

 

Hai visto Caterina?   Have (you) seen Kathy?
La ho vista. Rules (1) (3) I saw her.
Lho vista. Rule (2) I saw her.

 

And, finally, for the plural forms, when referring to two males or a male and a female, we need to use the direct object li and the letter i for the past participle. If we should see two women, we would use the direct object le and the letter e for the past participle. These examples below follow Rules (1) and (3).

Hai visto Pietro e Michele?   Have (you) seen Peter and Michael?
Li ho visti. Rules (1) (3) I saw them.
     
Hai visto Caterina e Francesca?   Have you seen Kathy and Frances?
Le ho viste. Rules (1) (3) I saw them.

 

 


Speak Italian: About Italian Movies and Love 

How well do you remember phrases to use when chatting with a friend or talking about the movies or love? Fill in the blanks for the phrases in the Italian sentences in the exercise below, then check your work with the dialogue in the first section. If you like, write about an Italian love story of your own!

Speak Italian: About Italian Movies and Love

Una sera, il telefono di Maria ha squillato. Era Francesca, la migliore amica di Maria.
One evening, Maria’s telephone rang. It was Francesca, Maria’s best friend.

 

“Maria! Sono io! Come stai? ____________________________?”
“Maria! It’s me! How are you? Can you talk for a bit?”

 

“Ma, certo Maria. Che è successo?”
“But of course, Maria. What happened?”

 

“Niente. Voglio solamente _____________________________.”
“Nothing. I just want us to chat for a bit.”

 

_____________________!”
Tell me!”

 

“Stasera ho visto ___________________ che si chiama, Estate Violenta di Valerio Zurlini.”
“Tonight I saw a wonderful movie called Violent Summer by Valerio Zurlini.”

 

“Mamma mia! Che _________ terribile! Ma, dove l’hai visto?  _______________________ questo ____________________.”
“Wow! What a terrible name (title). But where did you see it? I’ve never heard about this film.”

 

“A casa mia. Ho comprato il DVD su Amazon. È ________________________________ 1959, con Eleonora Rossi Drago e Jean-Louis Trintignant, due stelle _______________________.”
“At my house. I bought the DVD on Amazon. It is a movie from 1959, with Eleonora Rossi Drago and Jean-Louis Trintignant, two stars of European movies.”

 

“Non mi dire! E _______________________________________?”
“You don’t say! And what is this film about?”

E questo è quello che Francesca le ha detto:
And this is what Frances said:

 

“È un film molto importante _________________________________________________________ perché _________________________________ alla fine della Seconda Guerra Mondiale.
“It is a very important film in the history of Italian cinema because it takes place at the end of the Second World War.

 

È un film molto lirico e appasisonato, perché è ______________________________________.
It is a very lyrical and passionate film, because it is a love story.

 

La storia ______________________________________________ è cominciata quando _______________  _______________________________ per la prima volta sulla spiaggia a Rimini.
The story of the two main characters started when the two lovers met each other for the first time on the beach at Rimini.

 

La donna, che si chiamava Roberta, aveva i capelli biondi e una bellezza naturale, anche senza trucco. Lei aveva quasi trent’anni.
The woman, called Roberta, had blond hair and a natural beauty, even without makeup. She was about thirty years old.

 

Suo marito, che era un capitano nell’esercito italiano, era appena morto. Roberta aveva una figlia di tre anni e viveva con la madre a Rimini, per scappare dalla guerra a Bologna.
Her husband, who was a captain in the Italian army, had just died. She had a three-year-old daughter and lived with her mother at Rimini, in order to escape from the war in Bologna.

 

Roberta ________________________________________ che si chiamava Carlo e che era molto più govane di lei, durante un’incursione aerea sulla spiaggia.
Roberta met a boy called Carl who was much younger than her, during an air raid on the beach.

 

Il momento in cui Carlo ha visto Roberta, _________________________________________Dopo _________________________________ sulla spiaggia, lui _________________________________ per lei.
When Carl first saw Roberta, he liked her right away. After their first meeting on the beach, he lost his head over her (English = fell head over heels for her).

 

Cosi, Carlo ha incominciato ______________________________ Roberta.
So, Carl started to court Roberta. (English = Carl tried to get Roberta to be his girlfriend.)

 

Dopo un po’, i due hanno cominciato a uscire insieme. Si sono visti ogni giorno. A Roberta piaceva molto _____________________________ con Carlo. _____________________.
After a while, the two of them started to go out together. They saw each other every day. And Roberta really liked her relationship with Carl. She loved him.

 

Ma alla madre di Roberta non piaceva ______________________________________________, perché ___________________________________ un ragazzo molto più giovane di lei. Sua madre esigeva che Roberta _______________________________________________ Carlo.
But Roberta’s mother did not like Roberta’s behavior, because she was with a boy much younger than her. Her mother demanded that Roberta stop seeing Carl.

 

Roberta non ascoltava la madre. Si era resa conto che solamente Carlo era l’uomo per lei.
Roberta didn’t listen to her mother. She realized that Carl was the man for her.

 

A un certo punto, _________________________ hanno provato a scappare a Bologna in treno.
At a certain point, the lovers tried to escape to Bologna on the train.

 

Ma è successa una cosa brutta che io non ti dirò perché spero che tu guaderai questo film.”
But something bad happened that I will not tell you because I hope that you will watch this film.”

 

________________, dimmi!”
Come on, tell me!”
“Sfortunamente __________________________ ___________________ in malo modo. Invece, speravo che ______________________ fosse _____________________ bene.

_________________________________________________.”
“Unfortunately, their romance ended in a bad way. I wish that their story had ended in a good way instead. I don’t want to talk about it.”

 

“Capisco. _________________________________________ fra Roberta e Carlo era molto triste. Non mi piace quando la fine di un film è cosi.”
“I understand. The end of the relationship between Roberta and Carlo was very sad. I don’t like when a film ends like this.”

 

“Ma gli attori _________________________________ molto bene in questo film. Se vuoi, ti lo do e puoi vedere per te stessa.”
“But the actors played their parts very well in this film. If you want, I will give it to you and you can see for yourself.”

 

“Grazie. Dammelo! _____________________ l’ultimo DVD che mi hai dato il mese scorso. Parliamone dopo!”
“Thank you. Give it to me! I really enjoyed the last DVD that you gave me last month. We’ll talk about it later!”
“Si certamente è ___________________ _______________________! Ed anche per capire l’Italia durante il dopoguerra.”
“Yes, it is certainly worth it to see (watch) this movie! And to understand Italy during the aftermath of the war.”

 

“Ci parliamo dopo e _________________________________!”
“We’ll talk to each other later and you tell me what you think (about it)!”

 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blogKathryn Occhipinti, MD, author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books, is a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1 and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
YouTube Stella Lucente Italian, LLC

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on these Stella Lucente Italian sites:
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian
Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Speak Italian: About Italian Movies and Love

Lago Maggiore,: Italian reservations made for a view of Isola Bella

Making Italian Reservations for Your Summer Vacation

Making Italian Reservations for Your Summer Vacation

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog  Follow Caterina and learn how to make YOUR Italian reservations in the Conversational Italian for Travelers series of books!

The Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook begins each chapter with a dialogue from a story about the character Caterina, an American girl who travels to Italy to visit her relatives. As the story continues from one chapter to the next, we learn Italian, and about Italy, in an engaging way through Caterina’s experiences.

Making Italian Reservations for YOUR Summer Vacation—or Any Time!

Because Caterina visits Italy during the summer months for our story, she is able to join her Italian family on their traditional trip for the Ferragosto holiday that takes place on the week of August 15. As part of their preparations,  Caterina’s sister-in-law Francesca asks Caterina to make hotel reservations for their family at their favorite family-run lakeside resort in the town of Stresa.

Listen in on Caterina’s conversation with the hotel manager at our website  www.LearnTravelItalian.com and learn important Italian phrases that may be useful to plan YOUR vacation in Italy this summer!

The Cultural Note below, adapted from the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook, focuses on how to use the Italian vocabulary needed to make and change reservations.
—Kathryn Occhipinti


 

Making Italian Reservations
Checking and Changing Italian Reservations

Historic Villa Igea Hotel, Palermo Sicily
Italian sunrise over Palermo, Sicily, from the historic Villa Igea Hotel

Let’s start with some basic phrases that will be helpful to know when calling or speaking to hotel personnel in order to make a reservation. To follow, we will learn about some general ways these phrases can be used.

 

la prenotazione reservation
Ho una prenotazione. (I) have a reservation.
prenotare to make a reservation
Ho prenotato (I) have made a reservation…
riservare to make a reservation
È riservato… (It) is reserved…
l’ordine order
ordinare to order
Ho ordinato… (I) have ordered…
annullare to cancel (a reservation or order)
Ho annulato… (I) have cancelled…
cambiare to change
Ho cambiato… (I) have changed…
controllare to check
Ho controllato (I) have checked…
confermare to confirm
Ho confermato… (I) have confirmed…

 

Vorrei/Desidero… I would like/I want to…
…fare una prenotazione. …make a reservation.
…annullare una prenotazione. …cancel a reservation.
…cambiare una prenotazione. …change a reservation.
…controllare una prenotazione. …check a reservation.
…confirmare una prenotazione. …confirm a reservation.
…ordinare la prima colazione. …order breakfast.
.
Si, la camera è riservata. Yes, the room is reserved.
Lei ha una stanza riservata per sabato. You (pol.) have a room reserved for Saturday.

******************************

Both Italian verbs prenotare and riservare translate into English as “to book/to make a reservation.” Their corresponding nouns are la prenotazione and la riservazione. Although both nouns translate as the English word reservation, the use of each Italian word varies with the situation.

Most commonly, when asking to make Italian reservations at a hotel, on a train, or at the theater, Italians use the word prenotazione, with the verb fare, as Caterina does when she says during her telephone conversation in our dialogue Chapter 12 Dialogue “Phone Conversations,” “Vorrei fare una prenotazione,” for “I would like to make a reservation.”

When boarding a train or entering a theater with a ticket that has a reserved seat, Caterina would have “un biglietto con la prenotazione,” or “a ticket with the reservation.” If Caterina wants to tell someone she is checking her seat to make sure she is in the right place, she would use the verb controllare, as in, “Controllo il biglietto con la prenotazione,” for “I am checking the ticket with the reservation.” Remember il controllore from Chapter 5 of our textbook Conversational Italian for Travelers, whose job it is to check tickets on passenger trains?

However, the actual room in the hotel or seat on the train or theater is referred to as reserved with the past tense, as in “Il posto è riservato.” The seat has been booked, and no one else can use it. The word riservato can also be used as an adjective. If someone else had made a prenotazione before Caterina, her request might be denied because of una camera riservata, una stanza riservata, or un posto riservato!

Now, what would happen if Caterina had to cancel a reservation she has made for a trip She would call the hotel and use the verb annullare and say, “Vorrei annullare una prenotazione,” for “I would like to cancel a reservation.” If she had placed an order for something that needed to be cancelled, Caterina would say, “Vorrei annulare un ordine.” Or if a reservation needed to be changed, she could use the verb cambiare, as in “Vorrei cambiare una prenotazione.”

And what should we do if we want to confirm a reservation? Just say, “Vorrei confermare una prenotazione.” Finally, instead of vorrei, one could also use the verb desidero for I would like. Also, as always, be polite and add per favore to the end of the sentence!

—Adapted from Conversational Italian for Travelers, Chapter 12, “Important Phrases and Grammar Note: Making, Checking and Changing a Reservation,” by Kathryn Occhipinti

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog—Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers series of books and a teacher of
Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1 and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
YouTube Stella Lucente Italian, LLC

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on Facebook Stella Lucente Italian and Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian.
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian
Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Making Italian Reservations for Your Summer Vacation

Chicken in Marsala Wine Italian Style

One-Pot Italian Chicken in Marsala Wine

One-Pot Italian Chicken in Marsala Wine

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog Italian Chicken in Marsala Wine 

A delicious and easy to make family dinner. Try it tonight!

Try One-Pot Italian Chicken in Marsala Wine for YOUR Dinner Tonight! 

The recipe title, “One-Pot Italian Chicken in Marsala Wine” sounds rich… and it is! But it is also so easy to make! I am told that for many years in Italy, only relatively wealthy families had ovens (in the day of my great grandparents). As a result, many wonderful Italian meals were developed that could be made entirely on the stove top. This actually fits perfectly with the lifestyle we live today.

In this chicken in Marsala wine recipe, a whole cut chicken is cooked in one large skillet along with the wine and few other ingredients until a silky gravy forms. This hearty and fulfilling dish can be made during the week or served when friends are over on the weekend. Hearty, crusty Italian bread makes a perfect accompaniment. Add a salad or vegetable side dish (contorno) if you like.

So get out the largest skillet you have, and try our chicken in Marsala wine dish for your family tonight. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed! —Kathryn Occhipinti


One-Pot Italian Chicken in Marsala Wine 

Ingredients

1 frying chicken, cut into 2 breasts, 2 thighs/legs, 2 wings
(any chicken with breasts and thighs of similar size)
up to 1/2 cup olive oil, as needed
1 small onion, minced
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 strips guanciale (bacon from cheek of pig) or
2 strips prosciutto, chopped
3/4 cup Marsala wine
8 oz. cremini mushrooms
1 (15 oz.) can chopped tomatoes or
canned or fresh cherry tomatoes
2 sprigs of Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped coarsely

Method

Rinse the frying chicken inside and out, pat dry, and cut into pieces. Reserve the back for chicken soup to be made at a later date!

Sprinkle chicken lightly with salt and pepper.

Use a large, shallow pot, Dutch oven, or skillet to cook all ingredients over medium high heat as follows:

Pour olive oil into your pot or skillet to coat the entire bottom of the pot with a thin layer of oil, using 1/4 to 1/2 cup of olive oil. Heat oil over medium high heat (do not let the oil smoke or flavor will be lost).

Add chicken to the pan skin side down, keeping each piece separate from the other and cook without moving the chicken for a few minutes, until the skin has browned and some of the fat from under the skin has been rendered.

Turn chicken pieces once and cook about 5 minutes more.

Remove chicken pieces to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm.

Pour out excess oil/fat from the skillet. Add fresh olive oil if necessary to coat the bottom lightly again.

Into the skillet, add the chopped onion, crushed garlic clove, and guanciale or prosciutto. Cook until the onion has softened.

Add Marsala wine and turn the heat up to high briefly to boil off alcohol while scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release chicken bits that will help flavor the sauce. Lower heat and continue to boil off alcohol until about 50% of the Marsala wine remains in the pot.

Put the chicken back into the skillet and add tomatoes (with the juices in the can), mushrooms, and parsley. Add enough water, so the chicken and vegetables are almost completely covered.

Chicken in Marsala Wine
Browned chicken with vegetables and Marsala wine on the stove top

Cover the skillet and cook on medium high heat until the chicken is cooked through, adding more water as needed, about 15 to 30 minutes (this will depend on how cooked the chicken was initially, of course).

Chicken in Marsala Wine Italian style
Italian chicken in Marsala wine with tomatoes added, cooking on the stove top

If the sauce is too watery at the end of cooking time, remove the lid and boil off some liquid gently. The sauce should be fairly thick.*

Taste, and adjust salt and pepper before serving.

Place the chicken pieces on a large platter or on individual plates. Pour on the sauce and serve with rustic Italian bread.

Italian Chicken in Marsala Tomato Sauce
Italian chicken Marsala served with a side of bread

*This method is a fricassee of chicken (a method of cooking meat in which it is cut up, sautéed and braised, and served with its sauce), so the sauce will be a little fatty. If you want to decrease the amount of fat, the same method can be followed with skinless, bone-in chicken cooked for a shorter time initially.

Kathryn Occhipinti

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1 and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
YouTube Stella Lucente Italian, LLC

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on Facebook Stella Lucente Italian and Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian.
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian

Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

One-Pot Italian Chicken in Marsala Wine

Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Verbs

Speak Italian: Italian Beach Vacation Revisited by Phone

Speak Italian: Italian Beach Vacation Revisited by Phone 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog                          Everything you need to know
to talk over the phone about your Italian beach vacation… in Italian!

 

Speak Italian: Italian Beach Vacation Revisited by Phone 

Can you speak Italian? By now, many of you have passed the beginning stages of learning how to speak Italian and can read and comprehend quite a bit of the language. Meraviglioso!

But have you tried to take the next step to speak Italian fluently? Can you talk about what you did on your Italian beach vacation using the past tense correctly—over the phone?   

Can you speak Italian the way you would speak in your native language, with complex and varied sentences? This is more difficult than it may seem at first, and it’s something that I am always working on!

This series will focus on the situations that have come up most frequently in my everyday conversations with Italian instructors and friends. The “Speak Italian” blog series will focus on the type of sentence structure and vocabulary we all need to remember to be more fluent when we speak Italian!

To take that giant step from simple beginning sentences to more complex and fluid sentences in Italian, we must know how to use the present and the past tense easily; in this segment, we will focus on the pronomial verb esserci and the past tense in Italian. We will discuss how to use the helping verbs avere and essere with the passato prossimo past tense, the trapassato past tense, the verb passare in the past tense, and the past progressive tense. At the end will be an introduction to the future tense as well!

If you need to refresh your memory on when to use the passato prossimo form of the past tense versus when to use the imperfetto, please visit the third blog post in this series, Speak Italian: A Story About… Love!

 

Speak Italian: Italian Beach Vacation Revisited by Phone 

In the “Speak Italian” blog series, a short essay or dialogue in Italian will be presented about a commonly used topic of conversation. Then, we will review the Italian grammar that is necessary to talk about the particular topic in detail. And finally, the same material will be presented in Italian and English, with blanks for the reader to fill in with descriptions from his or her own life or to practice verb conjugation! Remember these examples as “anchors” in your knowledge for when you must speak Italian in your next conversation!

Enjoy the fourth topic in this series, “Speak Italian: Italian Vacation Revisited by Phone”
—Kathryn Occhipinti

This material is adapted from our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC, found on www.learntravelitalian.com. Special thanks to Italian language instructor Simona Giuggioli.

 


Speak Italian: Italian Beach Vacation Revisited by Phone 

In the dialogue to follow,  we listen in on a conversation between an Italian mother and her daughter after the two have been separated for a few weeks. It turns out that the daughter has been enjoying a vacation on the beaches of Sicily. While reading their conversation, try  to pick out the past tense verbs and notice which helping verb—avere or essere—is used for each.

And… by the way, the southern coast of Sicily has beautiful beaches and really is a destination for windsurfing!

Speak Italian: Italian Beach Vacation Revisited
by Phone

Una mattina, mentre Francesca stava preparando la prima colazione per se stessa e suo figlio che si chiama Carlo, i due hanno sentito lo squillo del cellulare.

One morning, while Frances was preparing breakfast for herself and her son Carl, they heard the cell phone ring.

 

Carlo ha detto, “Rispondo io” e si è diretto verso al soggiorno. Ha preso il cellulare dal tavolino e ha risposto.

Carl said, “I’ll get it (I’ll answer it),” and headed over to the living room. He took the cell phone from the end table and answered (it).

 

“Pronto,” ha detto lui. “Chi è? Chi parla?” E dopo: “Anna! Come stai? Ti passo mamma.”

“Hello,” he said. “Who is it? Who’s calling (lit. speaking)?” And after, “Anna! How are you? I’ll get (pass the phone to) mom for you.”

 

Era Anna, la figlia di Francesca, che era appena tornata dalla vacanza in Sicilia!

It was Anna, Frances’s daughter, who had just returned from vacation in Sicily!

 

Francesca aveva ricevuto qualche messaggio da Anna sul cellulare, ma non si erano parlate a telefono per tre settimane.

Frances had received some texts from Anna on the cell phone, but they had not spoken to each other on the phone for three weeks.

 

“Quanto tempo è passato!” ha detto Francesca ad Anna, dopo che Carlo le ha passato il cellulare. “Sono molto contenta di sentirti!”

“How much time has gone by!” Frances said to Anna, after Carl gave (passed) her the cell phone. “I am so happy to hear from you!”

 

“Mamma! Sono solo tre settimane!” ha detto Anna a Francesca.

“Mom! (Up until now it) is only three weeks!”(English: has been only) said Anna to Frances.

 

“Lo so. Dimmi! Dove sei? Perché non sei tornata a casa? Sei ancora alla stazione? Passerò a prenderti prima del lavoro.”

“I know. Tell me! Where are you? Why haven’t you come home? Are you still at the station? I will pick you up before work.”

 

“Stai calma, mamma!” ha detto Anna. “Siamo arrivate a Roma ieri sera ma era molto tardi, cosi ho passato la notte a casa di Giulia.”

“Calm down, mom!” Anna said. “We arrived at Rome last night, but it was very late, so I stayed at Julia’s house for the night.”

 

Anna ha continuato a parlare: “Verrò ad Avezzano in treno e sarò alla stazione alle quattordici. Chi può venire a prendermi alla stazione, tu or Carlo?”

Anna continued (to talk): “I will come to Avezzano by train and will be at the station at 2 p.m.  Who can come to pick me up at the station, you or Carl?”

 

“Questo pomeriggio sarà in ufficio, ma Carlo può portarti a casa in macchina sua.”

“This afternoon I will be at the office, but Carl can take you home in his car.”

 

“Ci sarò,” ha detto Carlo, che ha sentito la conversazione. “Non preoccuparti!”

“I will be there,” said Carl, who had heard the conversation. “Don’t worry!”

 

“È papà?” ha chiesto Anna. “Non c’è?”

“And dad?” asked Anna. “Is he (not) there?”

 

“No. Non c’è a casa questa settimana. È dovuto andare a Milano.”

“No. He’s not at home this week. He had to go to Milan.”

 

“Dimmi un po’ della tua vacanza. C’era bel tempo? Era bella la spiaggia in Sicilia? E come era l’appartamento della famiglia di Giulia?”

“Tell me a little bit about your vacation. Was the weather nice? Was the beach nice in Sicily? And how was Julia’s family’s apartment?”

 

“C’era molto sole, naturalmente! Eravamo in Sicilia! La spiaggia era molto bella. Mi piace molto la zona di Ragusa, lo sai. Ti ho mandato molte foto via SMS. Non le hai ricevute?”

“It was very sunny, naturally! We were in Sicily! The beach was very beautiful. I love the area around Ragusa, you know. I texted a lot of photos to you. Didn’t you receive them?”

 

“Si, le ho ricivute. Ma che hai fatto per tutti quei giorni sulla spiaggia?”

“Yes, I received them. But what did you do for all those days on the beach?”

 

“Ho preso il sole. Mi sono rilassata molto. Ho nuotato con Giulia e qualche amica che abbiamo incontrato là.”

“I sunbathed. I relaxed a lot. I swam with Julia and some friends that we met there.”

 

“Li conosco, questi amici?”

“Do I know these friends?”

 

“Ne conosci solamento uno. Ricordi Giovanni che ho incontrato all’università di Roma?”

“You know only one of them. Do you remember John whom I met at college in Rome?”

 

“No. Non me lo recordo affatto.”

“No. I really don’t remember him.”

 

“È un tipo corto ma magro… con i capelli neri. In ogni caso, l’ho incontrato per caso sulla spiaggia. C’erano tre ragazzi vicino a me. Ma Giovanni è passato davanti a me e l’ho riconosciuto.”

“He is the short type but thin… with black hair. In any case, I met him by chance on the beach. There were three guys near me. But John passed by in front of me and I recognized him.”

 

“L’ho riconosciuto subito, perché lui mi piaceva molto quando eravamo a scuola insieme.”

“I recognized him right away, because I really liked him when we were at school together.”

 

“Veramente? Non mi hai mai parlato di lui prima.”

“Really? You never talked to me about him before.”

 

“Allora, ci siamo passati i numeri di telefono e resteremo in contatto d’ora in poi.”  

“Anyway, we exchanged telephone numbers and will remain in contact from now on.”

 

“Va bene! Qual cos’altro è successo?”

“Very well!  What else happened?”

 

“Ho anche camminato molto sulla spiaggia e qualche volta ho corso un po’ sul lungomare dietro dell’appartamento. Una mattina sono corsa al porto di Ragusa per incontrari i miei amici.”

“I also walked a lot on the beach, and several times I ran a bit along the boardwalk in back of the apartment. One morning I ran to the port of Ragusa to meet my friends.”

 

“Che hai fatto al porto?”

“What did you do at the port?”

 

“Vicino al porto c’è la spiaggia pubblica. Abbiamo fatto windsurf.”

“Near the port is the public beach. We went windsurfing.”

 

“Meraviglioso! Lo so che ti piace molto fare windsurf.”

“Great! I know that you really like windsurfing.”

 

“E uno dei nostri amici ha una barca. Alcune sere siamo restati in barca fino alle nove di sera e abbiamo visti il tramonto sul mare.”

“And one of our friends has a boat. Some nights we stayed in the boat until 9 p.m. and watched the sunset from the sea.”

 

“Molto bello!”

“Very nice!”

 

“Un altra sera io e Giulia siamo andate al ristorante a Scicli. Giovanni e un ragazzo che si chiama Paolo ci hanno portato lì. Il ristorante era sottoterra, in una grotta, con le candele accesse sulle tavole. Era molto romantico.”

“Another night Julia and I went to a restaurant in Scicli. John and a guy called Paul took us there. The restaurant was underground, in a grotto, with candles on the tables. It was very romantic.”

 

“Dopo siamo andati a ballare in un piccolo discoteca vicino. Abbiamo ballato fino alle due di mattina. È stato molto divertente!”

“Afterward, we went to dance in a small club nearby. We danced until 2 a.m. It was a lot of fun!”

 

“Mi sembra di si!”

“It seems like it was!”

 

“C’è altro della storia di Giovanni e me. Ma ora ho appena finito un caffè e devo preparmi per uscire di casa. Ci parliamo più tardi.”

“There’s more to the story about John and me. But now I have just finished a cup of coffee, and I have to get ready to go out. We’ll talk more later.”

 

“Va bene. Ma ci vediamo presto!”

“OK. But we will see each other soon!”

 

“Si, mamma! La storia dell’estate è finita ma un altra storia sta per comminciare!”

“Yes, Mom! The summertime story is over, but another story is about to begin!”

 


 

Speak Italian: Grammar You Will Need to Know to Speak on the Phone…

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

How to Use the Pronomial Verb Esserci

The verb esserci means “to be there,” or “to be around.” Notice that the adverb “ci,” which takes on the meaning of “there,” is an integral part of this verb.

Anyone who has been speaking Italian for even a short time has probably heard the expressions “c’è” for “there is” and “ci sono” for “there are.” These phrases are mentioned in Chapter 6 of our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers. Now we know the infinitive verb that the above expressions originate from!

There are many, many expressions that use esserci. Below is a list of the most common expressions. “Ci sarò” for “I will be there!” comes up often in conversation. “Sarò là,” or “Sara lì,” are two equivalent phrases that may be heard today that use the verb essere instead of esserci.

A common idiomatic expression that answers the question of personal well-being, “Come stai?” is “Non c’è male,” with the meaning, “Not so bad.”

Many negative expressions use esserci as well.

Finally, esserci is used in the many idiomatic expressions about the weather. A few common weather expressions are listed below.

 

c’è there is
C’è una cosa…
C’è una cosa…?
There is something…
Is there something?
Non c’è problema. There is no problem.
Non c’è dubbio. There’s no doubt.
Non c’è bisogno. There’s no need.
Non c’è più. There is no more.
Non c’è internet. The Internet doesn’t work. There’s no Internet there/here.
Non c’è WIFI. There is no WiFi.
Non c’è male. Not so bad.
Non c’è verso di… There’s no way to…/It’s not possible to…
Non c’è da farsi illusioni… It’s no wonder that…
   
ci sono there are
Ci sono tanti turisti a Firenze. There are many tourists in Florence.
Ce ne sono tanti./Ce ne sono un miliardo. There are many (of them)./There are a billion (of them). (Any number greater than 1 can be used.)
Non ci sono con la testa. I am not thinking straight; I am exhausted.
   
c’era there was
C’era una volta. Once upon a time.
Una volta c’era… In the past there was…/Once there was…
   
c’erano there were
C’erano tanti turisti a Firenze. There were many tourists in Florence.
Ce n’erano tanti. / Ce n’erano un miliardo. There were many (of them)./There were a billion (of them). (Any number greater than 1 can be used.)
   
Ci sarò. I will be there.
Chi c’è con te? Who is there with you?
Tu avresti dovuto esserci. You should have been there.
Lei/lui avrebbe dovuto esserci. He/she should have been there.
   
Deve esserci una… festa. There must be a… party there.
   
Pronto. Chi è? Chi parla? Hello? Who is it? (telephone greeting uses essere)
C’è al telefono la signora Massa. Mrs. Massa is on the phone.
Non c’è (lui)? He/she is not around./He’s not there/here.
Non c’è (nessuno)? Is anybody around?/Is anybody there?
(Nobody is around/there/here?)
Non ci sono per nessuno per la prossima ora. (lit.) I’m not here for anyone for the next hour. (idiomatic: pretend I’m not here; don’t bother me; leave me alone)
   
C’è il sole. There is sun./It is sunny.
C’è bel tempo./Fa bel tempo. There is nice weather./It is nice out.
C’è brutto tempo./Fa brutto tempo. It is bad weather./It is bad out.
C’era sole. There was sun./It was sunny.
C’era bel tempo./Faceva bel tempo. There was nice weather./It was nice out.
C’era brutto tempo./Faceva brutto tempo. It was bad weather./It was bad out.

 


 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

 Past Tense – Passato Prossimo 
Verbs That Take Essere

 

Here is a list of the most common action verbs that take essere when forming the passato prossimo form of the past tense in Italian. Most of these verbs describe the act of going from one place to another, although not all of them do. We will break them down into their respective groups in the next sections and then give examples from our dialogue.

The infinitive form is in the first column, and the corresponding past participle is listed in the third column; the irregular past participles are given in red. Remember that when essere is the helping verb, the endings of the past participles will change to reflect the gender and number of the subject. The various endings are given in parentheses.

It should be noted again that all reflexive verbs, and the verb piacere, take essere.

 

Infinitive                                                           Past Participle

accadere to happen accaduto        (a)(i,e) happened
andare to go andato            (a)(i,e) went
arrivare to arrive arrivato           (a)(i,e) arrived
cadere to fall caduto            (a)(i,e) fell
cambiare to change cambiato        (a)(i,e) changed
cominciare to begin cominciato     (a)(i,e) began
correre# to run corso              (a)(i,e) ran
crescere to grow cresciuto         (a)(i,e) grown
diventare to become diventato        (a)(i,e) became
entrare to enter entrato           (a)(i,e) entered
finire+ to finish finito               (a)(i,e) finished
iniziare+ to begin iniziato           (a)(i,e) began
morire to die morto             (a)(i,e) dead
nascere to be born nato                (a)(i,e) born
partire to leave partito            (a)(i,e) left
passare* to pass through/put through passato           (a)(i,e) passed through; passed

put through

piacere to be pleasing to piaciuto          (a)(i,e) pleased
restare to remain restato            (a)(i,e) remained
rimanere to remain rimasto           (a)(i,e) remained
ritornare to return ritornato         (a)(i,e) returned
salire* to go up salito              (a)(i,e) went up
scendere* to do down sceso              (a)(i,e) went down
stare to stay/(to be) stato               (a)(i,e) stayed/been
succedere to happen successo         (a)(i,e) happened
uscire to go out uscito             (a)(i,e) went out
tornare to return tornato           (a)(i,e) returned
venire to come venuto            (a)(i,e) came

 


 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

 Past Tense – Passato Prossimo
Action Verbs of Direction

ALWAYS Take Essere

Let’s break down the long list of action verbs that take essere into separate categories to make them easier to remember.

The most important rule governing these verbs is that they describe movement from one place to another specific place. The action has a beginning and a specific end point. Some obvious verbs in the category, like andare (to go) and venire (to come), are listed in the following table.

Restare and rimanere have been included in this list under the theory that one has come from one place and arrived at another place where he or she will “remain” for a bit.

 

Infinitive                                                                  Past Participle

andare to go andato            (a)(i,e) went
arrivare to arrive arrivato           (a)(i,e) arrived
cadere to fall caduto            (a)(i,e) fell
entrare to enter entrato           (a)(i,e) entered
partire to leave partito            (a)(i,e) left
restare to remain restato            (a)(i,e) remained
rimanere to remain rimasto           (a)(i,e) remained
ritornare to return ritornato         (a)(i,e) returned
uscire to go out uscito             (a)(i,e) went out
tornare to return tornato           (a)(i,e) returned
venire to come venuto            (a)(i,e) came

 

Un altra sera io e Giulia siamo andate al ristorante a Scicli.”
“Another night, Julia and I went to a restaurant in Scicli.”

“Perché non sei tornata a casa?”
“Why haven’t you come home?”

“Siamo arrivate a Roma ieri sera ma era molto tardi, cosi ho passato la notte a casa di Giulia.”
“We arrived at Rome last night, but it was very late, so I stayed at Julia’s house for the night.”

“Alcune sere siamo restati in barca fino alle nove di sera e abbiamo visti il tramonto sul mare.”
“Some nights we stayed in the boat until 9 p.m., and we watched the sunset from the sea.”

 


Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

 Past Tense – Passato Prossimo
Action Verbs of Being/Living

ALWAYS Take Essere

 

If we think of the verbs that describe “living” as taking us from birth to death; that is, from our beginning to our end point as human beings, it makes sense that essere is needed as the helping verb. Other commonly used verbs that describe how we all change in life, ingrassare, dimagrire, and invecchiare, have also been included.

As part of this way of thinking, we have included the verbs cambiare and diventare in this list as well. Because something or someone will change from one thing into another, there is a beginning and end point implied in these verbs as well. For a similar reason, accadere and succedere are included—the endpoint of a change is that something has happened. Below is a list of these verbs.

 

Infinitive                                                          Past Participle

accadere to happen accaduto        (a)(i,e) happened
cambiare to change cambiato        (a)(i.e) changed
crescere to grow cresciuto         (a)(i,e) grown
dimagrire to lose weight/to become or make one look thin dimagrito        (a)(i,e) lost weight/became or made one look thin
diventare to become diventato        (a)(i,e) became
ingrassare to gain weight/to become or make one look fat ingrassato       (a)(i,e) gained weight/became or made one look fat
invecchiare to age/get old/to become or appear older

to mature

invecchiato     (a)(i,e) to have aged

to have gotten old

to have become or appear older

to mature

morire to die morto             (a)(i,e) dead
nascere to be born nato                (a)(i,e) born
stare to stay/(to be) stato               (a)(i,e) stayed/been
succedere to happen successo         (a)(i,e) happened

 

“Che succede?”/“Che sta succedendo?”
What is happening?”

“Che cosa è successo?”/“Che è successo?”/“Cosa è successo?”
“What happened?”

“Cosa stava succedendo quando siete arrivate alla spiaggia.”
“What was happening when we arrived at the beach?”

“Cosa altro è successo?”
“What else happened?”

 


 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

 Past Tense – Passato Prossimo
Non-Directional Action Verbs

ALWAYS Take Avere

 

Camminare and ballare are two verbs of movement that take the helping verb avere, rather than essere.

I’ve always thought this a bit curious, although one could say that dancing is movement without any set direction; spinning and turning are common, of course, and there is no set beginning or end to a dance, except in a performance.

Why does camminare take avere, and not essere? Maybe because it is sometimes used with the meaning of “to stroll,” which implies a leisurely walk without any set direction? Or maybe that is just the way it is, and there is no real explanation!

 

Infinitive                                                                    Past Participle

camminare to walk/to proceed/to function camminato walked/proceeded/functioned
ballare to dance ballato danced
passeggiare to stroll/to walk passseggiato strolled/walked
nuotare to swim nuotato swam
sciare to ski sciato skiied
pattinare (sul ghiaccio) to ice skate pattinato (sul ghiaccio) ice skated
pattinare (a rotelle) to roller skate pattinato (a rotelle) roller skated
fare windsurf to windsurf fatto windsurf windsurfed

 

“Ho nuotato con Giulia e qualche amica che abbiamo incontrato là.”
I swam with Julia and some friends that we met there.

 

“Ho anche camminato molto sulla spiaggia…”
“I also walked a lot on the beach…”

 

“Vicino al porto c’è la spiaggia pubblica. Abbiamo fatto windsurf.”
“Near the port is the public beach. We went windsurfing.”

 

“Dopo siamo andati a ballare in una piccola discoteca vicino. Abbiamo ballato fino alle due di mattina.”
“Afterward, we went to dance in a small club nearby. We danced until 2 a.m. It was a lot of fun!”

 


 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

 Past Tense – Passato Prossimo
Action Verb Correre

Takes Either Essere or Avere

 

Correre will take essere if one is running toward a destination. If one is running without a destination, correre will take avere.

“Lui è corso a casa sua.” for “He ran to his house.” vs. “Lui ha corso.” for “He ran.”

Infinitive                                   Past Participle

correre to run corso              (a)(i,e) ran

 

…e qualche volta ho corso un po’ sul lungomare dietro l’appartamento. Una mattina sono corsa al porto di Ragusa per incontrare i miei amici.”

…and several times, I ran a bit along the boardwalk in back of the apartment. One morning, I ran to the port of Ragusa to meet my friends.”

 


 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

 Past Tense – Passato Prossimo
Action Verbs of Starting/Finishing
Take Either Essere or Avere

 

The following two verbs, cominciare and iniziare, which both mean “to begin,” and finire, which means “to finish,” can use either essere or avere as their helping verb with the passato prossimo past tense.

Which helping verb to use? This will depend on the situation. In linguistic terms, these verbs are considered transitive and intransitive.* But who can remember this?

Use this trick to help you to remember whether to use avere or essere. When the subject is a person or group of people that has started or finished something, and the “something” is mentioned after the verb (as a direct object), use avere. Otherwise, use essere.

 

So, “Io ho finito il libro,” “Tu hai finito il libro,” and “Lei/lui ha finito il libro,” means I, you, he/she has finished the book. 

 But “Il film è finito” means “The film is finished.”

Notice that in the last example, the verb itself completes the sentence and refers back to the subject.* ++

 

 

Infinitive                                                                          Past Participle

cominciare to start cominciato     (a)(i,e) began
finire+ to finish finito               (a)(i,e) finished
iniziare+ to begin iniziato           (a)(i,e) began

 

“Ma ora ho appena finito un caffè e devo preparmi per uscire di casa.”
”But now I have just finished a cup of coffee, and I have to get ready to go out.”

 

“La storia dell’estate è finita ma un altra storia sta per comminciare!”
“The summertime story is over, but another story is about to begin!”

 

*Finire is categorized as transitive in all of the examples except the last, and it is considered intransitive in the last example, but don’t worry about these terms!

  ++Not to complicate things too much but... One can say, “Io sono finito,” or “Lei è finita,” but unfortunately, the meaning will be that this person’s life has finished or something important in his or her life has “finished them” “for good.”

 


 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

 Past Tense – Passato Prossimo
Action Verbs of Going Up/Down
Take Either Essere or Avere

Some verbs of movement that involve going up or down, such as scendere, salire, or saltare, take avere when used with a direct object (a thing or place that follows the verb), as in the following examples:

“Io ho sceso le scale.”
“I went down the stairs.”/“I have gone down the stairs.”

“Io ho salito le scale.” 
“I went up the stairs.”/“I have gone up the stairs.”

“Oggi ho saltato il pranzo.”
“Today I skipped lunch.”/“Today I have skipped lunch.”

 

 Otherwise, if these verbs are followed by a preposition, they use essere:

Lui è sceso dall’autobus.
He has gotten off the bus.

Lui è salito sull’autobus.
He has gotten on the bus.

La ragazza è saltata in aria dalla gioa.
The girl jumped in the air for joy.

Notice that in the last examples, the verb itself completes the sentence and refers back to the subject.*

 

Infinitive                                                                  Past Participle    

salire* to go up salito  (a)(i,e) went up
saltare to jump
to hop, to skip, and to go out/off (electronics)
saltato  (a)(i,e) jumped, hopped, skipped, went out/off

(electronics)

scendere* to do down sceso  (a)(i,e) went down

 

*Scendere, salire, and saltare are categorized as transitive in the first list of examples, and they are categorized as intransitive in the second, but don’t worry about these terms!


 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

The Many Uses for the Verb Passare

The verb passare means “to pass,” as in “to pass through,” “pass by,” “to pass time,” or “to spend time.” This simple verb is used in many ways in English and Italian!

lasciar passare (time) let (something) pass
  allow (something) to pass
lasciar passare (ignore) let (something) go by
passare alla storia to go down in history
   
passare una telephonata pass the telephone call over to someone
passare una serata insieme to spend a night together
passare un ordine… to send instructions (to somebody) to do (something)
passare la palla to pass the responsibility over (to someone) (lit. to pass the ball)
passare per la testa (something) comes to mind/to one’s mind/in one’s mind
   
passare a prendere (qualcuno) (pass by and) pick (someone) up
passare a far visita pass by to see (somebody)
  drop in to see (somebody)
passare a trovare (qualcuno) pass by to visit (somebody)
  pop in to see (somebody)
passare in ufficio to drop by the office
passare un attimo da casa to drop by one’s house for a bit
passare col rosso go through a red light

 

  1. Passare is used in the important everyday expression “passare a prendere,” which means “to pick up.” Venire is used with prendere as well, with a slightly different meaning.

Sei ancora alla stazione? Passerò a prenderti prima del lavoro.”
“Are you still at the station? I will pick you up before work.”

 

“Può venire alla stazione a prendermi?”
“Can you (polite) come to the station and get me?”

 

  1. We can “pass” something to someone else, such as the telephone or cell phone (il telefono, il cellulare, il telefonino) or the telephone call (la telefonata). If speaking Italian in the past tense, we must use avere as our helping verb.

“Quanto tempo è passato!” ha detto Maria ad Anna, dopo che Carlo le ha passato il cellulare.
“How much time has gone by!” Frances said to Anna, after Carl gave (passed) her the cell phone.

 

  1. If we are doing something “to pass the time,” we must use avere as our past tense helping verb.

“Siamo arrivate a Roma ieri sera ma era molto tardi, cosi ho passato la notte a casa di Giulia.”
“We arrived at Rome last night, but it was very late, so I stayed at Julia’s house for the night.”

 

  1. Time can “pass by” all by itself, so we must use essere as our past tense helping verb.

“Quanto tempo è passato!” ha detto Maria ad Anna, dopo che Carlo le ha passato
il cellulare.
“How much time has gone by!” Frances said to Anna, after Carl gave (passed) her the cell phone. “I am so happy to hear from you!”

 

  1. If a person “passes by/passes through,” we must use essere as our past tense helping verb.

Ma Giovanni è passato davanti a me e l’ho riconosciuto.”
“But John passed by in front of me, and I recognized him.”

 

  1. Finally, the reflexive verb passarsi is used to mean “to exchange” something between people and is interchangeable with scambiarsi. Both verbs take essere in the past tense, of course, because they are reflexive!

“Allora, ci siamo passati i numeri di telefono e resteremo in contatto d’ora in poi.”
“Anyway, we exchanged telephone numbers and will remain in contact from now on.”

 


Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

Past Tense – Past Progressive Tense
Verbs That Take Stare

Occasionally, we may want to emphasize that a particular action is going on at the exact same time as the conversation that is taking place. In this case, we would use the present progressive tense, or “-ing” tense, as we do so often in English.

In Italian, this tense is expressed with the verb stare and the gerund of the action verb. This is easier than it may seem at first because the gerunds are almost all regular for all three conjugations. Also, the second and third conjugations are identical!

To form the gerund, just drop the –are, –ere, or –ire infinitive ending and add the following endings:

Forming the Gerund

Verbs that end in are stem + ando
Verbs that end in –ere or –ire stem + endo

 

Conjugate stare to reflect the speaker, add the gerund, and you have made the present progressive tense of the verb!

For the past tense progressive form, simply conjugate stare in the imperfetto past tense and follow with the gerund. Luckily, stare is regular in the imperfetto form!

Here are all the forms of the present progressive and past progressive tenses using the verb preparare. Notice that the accent falls on the second to last syllable of the gerund, which is underlined.

Stare preparare – to be preparing

 

io sto stavo preparando I am/was                                       preparing
tu stai stavi preparando you (familiar) are/were         preparing
Lei

lei/lui

sta stava preparando you (polite) are/were             preparing

she/he is/was                            preparing

         
noi stiamo stavamo preparando we are/were                              preparing
voi state stavate preparando you all are/were                      preparing
loro stanno stavano preparando they are/were                           preparing

 

“Una mattina, mentre Francescca stava preparando la prima colazione per se stessa e suo figlio che si chiama Carlo, i due hanno sentito lo squillo del cellulare.”

“One morning, while Frances was preparing breakfast for herself and her son Carl, they heard the cell phone ring.”

 


Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

 Past Tense – Trapassato Prossimo

When talking about something in the past, we may at times refer to another event that has taken place even further in the past. In this case, the verb form used is the trapassato prossimo. So there is another Italian past tense to learn! But don’t despair! The use and verb structure is the same as for the passato prossimo!

Hint for use:  Whenever we say “had” in English, use the trapassato prossimo in Italian.

To form the compound verb for the trapassato prossimo, instead of using present tense avere or essere for the helping verb, simply substitute the imperfetto past tense form of these verbs. Then add the past participle. That’s all there is to it! Here are some examples from our dialogue:

 

“Era Anna, la figlia di Francesca, che era appena tornata dalla vacanza in Sicilia!”
“It was Ann, Frances’s daughter, who had just returned from vacation in Sicily!”

 

“Francesca aveva ricevuto qualche messaggio da Anna sul cellulare, ma non si erano parlate a telefono per tre settimane.”
“Frances had received some texts from Anna on the (her) cell phone, but they had not spoken to each other on the phone for three weeks.”

 


Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

Prepositions for Riding in/Getting in/Getting out of Vehicles

When one is riding in a train or another vehicle, the simple use of the preposition “in” will suffice for English and Italian. Travelers sometimes describe going or coming somewhere “by” train in English, but the preposition in Italian will not deviate from the usual “in.”

 

Anna ha continuato a parlare: “Verrò ad Avezzano in treno e sarò alla stazione alle quatordici.”

Anna continued (to talk): “I will come to Avezzano by train and will be at the station at 2 p.m.

 

However, Italian prepositions will change for cars versus other forms of transportation when one describes the act of getting in the vehicle. The same prepositions will be used for getting out of any vehicle, however.

 

To follow are some examples. Notice how the prepositions su (on) and da (from/out of) are combined with the different forms of the (il, l’, or la). 

 

Salgo* in macchina. I get into the car.
Salgo su I get on/I board/I go aboard…

 

“Salgo… sullautobus, sul treno, sulla barca, sulla motocicletta, sulla bicicletta, sullaereo.”

“I get onto… the bus, the train, the motorcycle, the bicycle, the airplane.”

 

Scendo dal I go down/I get down/I get off or out of…
Scendo dalla macchina. I get out of the car.

 

“Scendo… dallautobus, dal treno, dalla barca, dalla motocicletta, dalla bicicletta, dallaereo.”

“I get off… the bus, the train, the motorcycle, the bicycle, the airplane.”

 

Some common familiar command forms used to address family or friends riding with you:

Sali in macchina! Get into the car! (fam. command)
Scendi dalla macchina! Get out of the car! (fam. command)

 

 


Speak Italian: Italian Beach Vacation Revisited by Phone 

How well do you know how to use the Italian passato prossimo and past tense? Do you remember when to use the imperfetto past tense? And the  verb esserci? Fill in the blanks for the verbs in the Italian sentences in the exercise below, then check your work with the dialogue in the first section. If you like, write a story about an Italian beach vacation of your own!

Speak Italian: Italian Beach Vacation Revisited
by Phone

 

Una mattina, mentre Francescca ________________________ la prima colazione per se stessa e suo figlio che si chiama Carlo, i due ___________________ lo squillo del cellulare.

One morning, while Frances was preparing breakfast for herself and her son Carl, they heard the cell phone ring.

 

 

Carlo ________, “Rispondo io, “e ____________” verso al soggiorno.  _________________________ il cellulare dal tavolino e ___________________________.

Carl said, “I’ll get it (I’ll answer it),” and headed over to the living room. He took the cell phone from the end table and answered (it).

 

 

“Pronto,” ___________. “Chi è? Chi parla?” E dopo: “Anna! Come stai? _____________.”

“Hello,” he said. “Who is it? Who’s calling (lit. speaking)?” And after, “Anna! How are you? I’ll get (pass the phone to) mom for you.”

 

 

____Anna, la figlia di Francesca, che __________________ dalla vacanza in Sicilia!

It was Anna, Frances’s daughter, who had just returned from vacation in Sicily!

 

 

Francesca ______________ qualche messaggio da Anna sul cellulare, ma non __________________ a telefono per tre settimane.

Frances had received some texts from Anna on the cell phone, but they had not spoken to each other on the phone for three weeks.

 

 

“Quanto tempo ________________________________!” ha detto Maria ad Anna, dopo che Carlo _____________________ il cellulare. “Sono molto contenta di sentirti!”

“How much time has gone by!” Frances said to Anna, after Carl gave (passed) her the cell phone. “I am so happy to hear from you!”

 

 

“Mamma! Sono solo tre settimane!” ___________________________ Anna a Francesca.

“Mom! (Up until now it) is only three weeks!”(English: has been only) said Anna to Frances.

 

 

“Lo so. Dimmi! Dove sei? Perché non ______________ a casa? Sei ancora alla stazione?  ______________________ prima del lavoro.”

“I know. Tell me! Where are you? Why haven’t you come home? Are you still at the station? I will pick you up before work.”

“Stai calma, mamma!” _____________________ Anna. “___________________ a Roma ieri sera ma era molto tardi, cosi ________________________ la notte a casa di Giulia.”

“Calm down, mom!” Anna said. “We arrived at Rome last night, but it was very late, so I stayed at Julia’s house for the night.”

 

Anna _________________________________: “Verrò ad Avezzano in treno e sarò alla stazione alle quattordici. Chi _________________________________________ alla stazione, tu or Carlo?”

Anna continued (to talk): “I will come to Avezzano by train and will be at the station at 2 p.m. Who can come to pick me up at the station, you or Carl?”

 

“Questo pomeriggio sarà in ufficio, ma Carlo ________________________________ a casa in macchina sua.”

“This afternoon I will be at the office, but Carl can take you home in his car.”

 

 

“________________,” ____________________ Carlo, che __________________ la conversazione. “Non preoccuparti!”

“I will be there,” said Carl, who had heard the conversation. “Don’t worry!”

 

“È papà?” _________________________ Anna. “Non _____________?”

“And dad?” asked Anna. “Is he (not) there?”

 

“No. Non ______________ a casa questa settimana. _________________________ a Milano.”

“No. He’s not at home this week. He had to go to Milan.”

 

 

“Dimmi un po’ della tua vacanza. _____________ bel tempo? _____________ bella la spiaggia in Sicilia? E come ______________ l’appartamento della famiglia di Giulia?”

“Tell me a little bit about your vacation. Was the weather nice? Was the beach nice in Sicily? And how was Julia’s family’s apartment?”

 

 

“______________ molto sole, naturalmente! _______________________ in Sicilia! La spiaggia _________________molto bella. Mi piace molto la zona di Ragusa, lo sai. _______________ molte foto via SMS. Non ____________________________?”

“It was very sunny, naturally! We were in Sicily! The beach was very beautiful. I love the area around Ragusa, you know. I texted a lot of photos to you. Didn’t you receive them?”

 

 

“Si, le ho ricivute. Ma che hai fatto per tutti quei giorni sulla spiaggia?”

“Yes, _____________________. But what ___________________ for all those days on the beach?”

 

 

“_________________________ il sole. _____________________________ molto. _________________ con Giulia e qualche amica che _________________________________ là.”

“I relaxed a lot. I swam with Julia and some friends that we met there.”

 

 

“Li conosco, questi amici?”

“Do I know these friends?”

 

 

“Ne conosci solamento uno. Ricordi Giovanni che ________________________ all’università di Roma?”

“You know only one of them. Do you remember John whom I met at college in Rome?”

 

 

“No. Non me lo recordo affatto.”

“No. I really don’t remember him.”

 

 

“È un tipo corto ma magro… con i capelli neri. In ogni caso, ___________________________ per caso sulla spiaggia.  ________________________________ tre ragazzi vicino a me. Ma Giovanni _________________________ davanti a me e  _________________________________.”

“He is the short type but thin… with black hair. In any case, I met him by chance on the beach. There were three guys near me. But John passed by in front of me, and I recognized him.”

 

 

“_____________________________ subito, perché lui ___________________________ quando ______________________________ a scuola insieme.”

“I recognized him right away, because I really liked him when we were at school together.”

 

“Veramente? Non _________________________ di lui prima.”

“Really? You never talked to me about him before.”

 

 

“Allora, _________________________ i numeri di telefono e resteremo in contatto
d’ora in poi.” 

“Anyway, we exchanged telephone numbers and will remain in contact from now on.”

 

 

“Va bene! Qual cos’altro è successo?”
“Very well! What else happened?”

 

 

“_________________________________ molto sulla spiaggia e qualche volta ___________________ un po’ sul lungomare dietro dell’appartamento. Una mattina ___________________ al porto di Ragusa per incontrari i miei amici.”

“I also walked a lot on the beach, and several times I ran a bit along the boardwalk in back of the apartment. One morning, I ran to the port of Ragusa to meet my friends.”

 

 

“Che hai fatto al porto?”

“What did you do at the port?”

 

 

“Vicino al porto _____________________ la spiaggia pubblica.  _________________________ windsurf.”

“Near the port is the public beach. We went windsurfing.”

 

 

“Meraviglioso! Lo so che ti piace molto fare windsurf.”

“Great! I know that you really like windsurfing.”

 

 

“E uno dei nostri amici ha una barca. Alcune sere _____________________________ in barca fino alle nove di sera e ______________________________ il tramonto sul mare.”

“And one of our friends has a boat. Some nights we stayed in the boat until 9 p.m. and watched the sunset from the sea.”

 

 

“Molto bello!”

“Very nice!”

 

“Un altra sera io e Giulia ________________________________ al ristorante a Scicli. Giovanni e un ragazzo che si chiama Paolo __________________________ lì. Il ristorante ________________ sottoterra, in una grotta, con le candele accesse sulle tavole. ______________ molto romantico.”

“Another night, Julia and I went to a restaurant in Scicli. John and a guy called Paul took us there. The restaurant was underground, in a grotto, with candles on the tables. It was very romantic.”

 

 

“Dopo __________________________ in un piccolo discoteca vicino. _______________________ fino alle due di mattina. ____________________ molto divertente!”

“Afterward, we went to dance in a small club nearby. We danced until 2 a.m. It was a lot of fun!”

 

“Mi sembra di si!”

“It seems like it was!”

 

 

“_______________________ altro della storia di Giovanni e me. Ma ora _____________________ un caffè e devo preparmi per uscire di casa. Ci parliamo più tardi.”

“There’s more to the story about John and me. But now I have just finished a cup of coffee, and I have to get ready to go out. We’ll talk more later.”

 

 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blogKathryn Occhipinti, MD, author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books, is a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

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Speak Italian: Italian Beach Vacation Revisited by Phone