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Short, helpful tips on Italian grammar, verbs, or sentence structure.

Italian Hypothetical Phrases from Conversational Italian

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

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

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

 

Speak Italian: Italian Subjunctive Mood 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 mood 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 mood, 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 mood and how to form the Italian past conditional tense.  With these two tenses, we will be able to construct sentences that 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 narrating a story. See the next blog in this series for more on the passato remoto.

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 Mood Practice blog posts.

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

In the first three blog posts in the “Speak Italian” series about the subjunctive mood (“il congiuntivo”), we have presented Italian phrases that take the Italian subjunctive mood 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 Mood (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 Mood 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 passato remoto past tense will be in italic, and more details will follow about this tense in the next blog.

For this blog, focus on the construction of Italian hypothetical phrases that refer to events that have occurred in the past, which have been underlined for easy identification.

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 at 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 was 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 così, 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.  “But fortunately, Uncle Mark was a good person.  And so is our cousin Rudy.  Let’s organize a wonderful party!”

“Probabilmente no,” ha risposto Francesca.  “Ma fortunatamente, lo zio Marco era una persona perbene.  E anche nostro cugino Rudy è così.  Organizziamo una festa meravigliosa!”

 


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

A Note about 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.

In the next blog, we will focus on the passato remoto past tense and delve more deeply into its uses and conjugations.  So, stay tuned for more on the passato remoto past tense!



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 could have happened in the past.

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 by focusing on 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  we really knew they had 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,  then the passato prossimo or imperfetto past tense may be used.

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 we have 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 could not have been used to change the situation.  But, we can still speculate on what the outcome might have been. 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 have been different now: If Ann and her ex-boyfriend Paul had gotten back togethershe would not 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 present or past conditional tense, the subjunctive mood 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 does not regret that she is no longer seeing her ex-boyfriend.  She has a new boyfriend and  is actually very happy.)

 

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 that 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!
  • When we see the “had”+ verb in English, this should alert us that in Italian we must use the traspassato subjunctive! (io avessi/io fossi + past participle)!

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 subjunctive forms of “to have” and “to be” (examples: io avrei or io sarei) + 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 Mood

 “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 mood 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 mood 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 mood, 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 mood 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 Mood

(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 Mood

(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!
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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 (Part 5) : Italian Hypothetical Phrases – Italian Family Reunion

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 mood can be used to make Italian hypothetical phrases and talk about love!

 

Speak Italian: Italian Subjunctive Mood with Italian Hypothetical Phrases

Can you speak Italian? By now, many of you have passed the beginning stages of learning 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 mood 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 mood, or “il congiuntivo.” This blog and the one to follow (in November 2017) will complete our list of uses for the Italian subjunctive mood. For a complete list, see our last blog, Italian Subjunctive (Part 3): Speak Italian!

Let’s 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 imperfetto subjunctive 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 Mood Practice blog posts.

Speak Italian: Italian Subjunctive Mood with Italian Hypothetical Phrases

In the first three blog posts in the “Speak Italian” series about the subjunctive mood (“il congiuntivo”), we have presented Italian phrases that take the Italian subjunctive mood in the present and past tenses.  For a review, see our last blog, Italian Subjunctive (Part 3): Speak Italian!

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 (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 Mood with Italian Hypothetical Phrases

All phrases that take the Italian subjunctive mood 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  in our dialogue 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 (d’amore)**** è finita e un nuovo amore è cominciato per lei.
She left him and now that (love) story 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.

**** A romantic relationship between two people is usually described as “una storia,” the shortened form of una storia d’amore,” or “a love story.”

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

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.

 

Non si 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…”

If one friend wants to ask the other about his/her new love, they may say,
“Che tipo è lei?” or “Che tipo è lui?” meaning, “What is he/she like?” or, more simply, “Che tipo è?”

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

Finally, to express a  relationship between two people in Italian, and especially a  close or romantic relationship, 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 you 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 rains, I will get wet 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: “I will get wet when I go out if it rains.

 

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 are 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 mood with the conditional tense describe situations in the present that are not likely to happen and therefore 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 a fact.

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 present conditional tense, the imperfetto subjunctive mood must follow in the next phrase!

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Nearly 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, I am someone who loves cats. What comes to my mind when I think of the  cats I have here 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 the lives of my cats.

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 and Impossible Situations
The condition described in the “if” clause is improbable to varying degrees, 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 mood is becoming less common in English conversation,  and even in some widely respected American newspapers and magazines.

Let’s digress for a moment, and give some English examples of the subjunctive mood:

  • 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 imperfetto subjunctive mood. ( A review of the imperfetto subjunctive mood for avere, essere, and stare, and -are, -ere, -ire infinitive verbs will follow this section.)
  2. For the consequence/supposition in the main clause, use the present conditional tense in English and Italian.

 

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 Mood

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 using the imperfetto subjunctive to remember are, “Se io fossi…” and “Se io avessi…” using the imperfetto subjunctive conjugations for essere and avere.

Below are the imperfetto subjunctive conjugations for the auxiliary verbs in Italian. You will notice that avere has a regular conjugation, whereas essere and stare have irregular conjugations. The stressed syllables are underlined.

In hypothetical clauses, because the imperfetto subjunctive mood 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 Mood

(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 Mood

(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 Mood

(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 Mood

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

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

But, the imperfetto subjunctive mood has other uses.  Specifically, it is necessary with all of our many clauses that trigger the  Italian subjunctive mood 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 mood, which is actually quite easy.  So, keep the knowledge of how to conjugate the imperfetto subjunctive mood handy for when we discuss its many uses!

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

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

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To conjugate the imperfetto subjunctive mood…

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 mood 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 Mood – 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 mood endings.  A few notes about this:

When pronouncing the imperfetto subjunctive mood 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.” Examples in English: “If I were to live…” or “If I were living…” Also, “had + past participle,” such as, “If I had seen…”

 

Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood – Example Verb Conjugations

  Abitare

(to live)

(lived/were living)

Vedere

(to see)

(saw/had seen)

Finire

(to finish)

(finished/were finishing)

io abitassi vedessi finissi
tu abitassi vedessi finissi
Lei/lei/lui abitasse vedesse finisse
       
noi abitassimo vedessimo finissimo
voi abitaste vedeste finiste
loro abitassero vedessero finissero

 


The Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

Commonly Used Regular Verbs

Luckily, most verbs are regular in the imperfetto subjunctive mood.  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. ” English examples:  “If I were to go…” or “If I were going…” Also, “had + past participle,” such as, “If I had seen…”

 

Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood Conjugations – Commonly Used Regular Verbs

Andare

(to go)

(went/were going)

Sapere
(to know)(knew/had known)
Venire

(to come)

(came/had come)

Vivere

(to live)

(lived/were living)

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

The Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

Commonly Used Irregular Verbs

There are a few important irregular verbs to know in the imperfetto subjunctive mood.  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…” Also, “had + past participle,” such as, “If I had seen…”

 

Fare – to do/make Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

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 Mood

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 Mood

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,” which comes in handy at a restaurant when ordering for the table.

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 rather than a definite need.

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 speaker believes 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(polite) help me?

Potrebbe aiutarmi?         Could you (polite) help me?

Ti posso aiutare?               May I help you (familiar)?      

Potrei aiutarla?                   May I help you (polite)?


The Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood
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 mood verbs have regular endings! Here is a summary of the imperfetto subjunctive mood 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 Mood

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  Mood

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 Mood

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!
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More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on these Stella Lucente Italian sites:
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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 (Part 4) : Italian Hypothetical Phrases of Love

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
You Will Need to Know…

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!
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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

Speak Italian: About Italian Movies and Love

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!”

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.
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More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on these Stella Lucente Italian sites:
Facebook:
 Facebook Stella Lucente Italian
Pinterest: 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: Italian Beach Vacation Revisited by Phone

Italian dialogue about shopping - at the Galleria Mall in Milan!

Italian Dialogue Practice: Shopping in Italy

Italian Dialogue Practice: Shopping in Italy

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog               Use our Italian practice tips to go shopping in Italy! Listen to our Italian dialogue about two cousins in an Italian shop!

Italian Dialogue Practice: Shopping in Italy

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 communicate in Italian fluently? Are you familiar with the vocabulary to use when shopping in Italy?

Our third Italian Practice blog includes an audio dialogue recorded with native Italian speakers! We will continue with the story of Caterina and Francesca, two Italian cousins who are living in different cities and trying to reconnect. In the dialogue that follows, Caterina visits Francesca in Rome, and they go shopping to buy Caterina some new clothes.

Click on the “PLAY” button below and listen to the Italian dialogue from Conversational Italian for Travelers, “Chapter 10 – Shopping in Milan,” right on this blog. Read along on the printed page that follows the dialogue button. Afterward, click on the website link www.LearnTravelItalian.com and interact with the same recorded audio on our website. Listen to individual lines over and over again—as many times as needed!

After the dialogue, we will present information about how to use Italian reflexive verbs to refer to dressing oneself and trying on clothes. We will also describe how to use questo and quello to point out to the shopkeeper which of those wonderful Italian items will make the perfect souvenir to remember a trip to Italy!

This material is adapted from our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC, found on www.learntravelitalian.com


Italian Dialogue Practice: Shopping in Italy

Italian Dialogue: Chapter 10: Shopping in Milan

 

Francesca Caterina, abbiamo

molto da fare oggi.

Kathy, (we) have

a lot to do today.

  È giovedì, e il giovedì

io vado a fare la spesa.

(It) is Thursday, and on Thursdays

I go to do the grocery shopping.

  E poi, la mia amica Anna

ci invita a prendere un caffé

in un bar.

And then my friend Ann

invites us to (take) have coffee

in a bar.

  Ti piace fare la spesa? (Do) you like to do the grocery shopping?

(lit. Is it pleasing to you…?)

Caterina Si, mi piace fare la spesa

al supermercato.

 

Yes, I like to do the grocery shopping at the supermarket.

 

  Ma, mi piace di più

andare a comprare vestiti.

But, I like more

to go to buy clothes.

(lit. It is pleasing to me more…)

  Ho bisogno di

un vestito nuovo e

vorrei comprare anche

qualcosa per mia sorella

in America.

(I) need

a new dress and

also (I) would like to buy

something for my sister

in America.

 
Francesca Molto bene.

Andiamo a fare shopping!

Very well.

Let’s go shopping (for clothes)!

  Ci sono molti bei negozi a Milano. There are many nice shops in

Milan.

 
Francesca (Dopo un po’…

Francesca e Caterina entrano

in un negozio di vestiti e

incontrano la commessa Laura.)

(After awhile…

Frances and Kathy enter

a dress shop and

meet the salesgirl

Laura.)

 

 

Laura

(a Caterina):

Buon giorno.

Posso aiutarla?

Good day.

May (I) help you?

(polite greeting to a customer)

 
Caterina Cerco un vestito da sera,

carino ma elegante.

(I) am look(ing) for an evening dress,

cute, but elegant.

Mi piace molto ballare.

Avete vestiti neri?

I like dancing very much.

(lit. Dancing to me is pleasing…)

(Do) you all have black dresses?

(plural (voi) form of “you” used to address salespeople politely)

Laura Certamente.

Che taglia porta?

Certainly.

What size (do) you take?

(polite question)

 
Caterina Porto la (taglia) quarantasei. (I) take (the) size 46 (Italian).
Laura Questo vestito è alla moda. This dress is in style.
 
Caterina Francesca, ti piace? Frances, (do) you like (it)?

(lit. Is it pleasing to you…?)

Francesca Si, ma anche questo (vestito) e bello.  Provali tutti e due. Yes, but also this (dress)

is nice. Try them both on.

Caterina

(a Laura):

Avete taglie più grande? (Do) you all have larger sizes?

(plural (voi) form of “you” used to address salespeople politely)

  Mia sorella porta la (taglia) quarantotto. My sister takes (the) size

48 (Italian).

 
Laura Si, questo, o forse quel vestito. Yes, this, or maybe that dress.
 

 

Francesca Caterina, ti piace questa gonna per tua sorella? Kathy, (do) you like this

skirt for your sister?

(lit. Is this skirt pleasing to you…?)

 
Caterina È bella, ma

a mia sorella non piace

il colore marrone.

(It) is nice, but

my sister doesn’t like

the color brown.

(lit. To my sister, the color brown

is not pleasing…)

 
Francesca E quella (gonna)? And that one (skirt)?
 
Caterina Oh, quella (gonna) è perfetta.

Le piace di più il rosso del marrone.

Oh, that (skirt) is perfect.

She likes red more than

brown.

(lit. To her, red is more pleasing than brown.)

  La prendo! I’ll take it!
 
Caterina

(a Laura):

Dov’è posso trovare

il camerino?

Where can (I) find

the fitting room?

 
Laura Eccolo. Here it is.
 
Francesca (Dopo pochi minuti…) (After a few minutes…)
     
Caterina Allora, Francesca.

Mi metto il vestito.

Now, Frances.

I put on (myself) the dress.

  Che pensi?

Mi sta bene?

What (do you) think?

(Does it) look good on me?

(lit. Does it stay well on me?)

 
Francesca Ti sta benissimo!

Ma com’è l’altro?

(It) looks wonderful on you!

But how (about) the other?

 

 

Caterina L’altro non mi va bene.

È troppo stretto.

The other did not fit me well.

(idiomatic expression)

(It) is too tight.

 
Laura

(a Caterina):

Desidera altro? (Do) (you) want anything else?
 
Caterina No, mi piacciono questi (vestiti). No, I like these (clothes).

(lit. These clothes are pleasing to me.)

  Quanto costano questo vestito e questa gonna? How much is (costs) this dress and this skirt?
 
Laura Sono cinquantadue euro per il vestito e ventitre euro per la gonna. (They are) 52 euros for the dress and 23 euros for the skirt.
 
Caterina Non c’è male. That’s not too bad.
 
Laura Ecco la cassa.

Come vuole pagare?

Here is the cashier’s counter.

How (do) (you) want to pay?

 
Caterina Posso pagare con un assegno? Can (I) pay with a check?
 
Laura Mi dispiace.

Non accettiamo assegni.

I’m sorry.

(We) don’t accept checks.

  Accettiamo la carta di credito o il bancomat. (We) accept (a) credit card or (a) debit card.
 
Caterina Va bene.  Pago in contanti. Very well. (I will) pay in cash.
  Mi può dare la ricevuta, per favore? Can you give me the receipt, please?
 
Laura Ma, certo!  Grazie mille! But certainly! Thank you very much!

 


 

 


Italian Dialogue Practice: What You Will Need to Know…

Italian Dialogue Practice: Shopping in Italy

For Italian Dialogue You Will Need to Know…
Expressions That Describe Shopping

Many important expressions describe the act of shopping in Italian. Notice from the tables below how the phrases differ depending on the type of shopping to be done. Examples follow.

Grocery Shopping 

fare la spesa to do the grocery shopping

to do some grocery shopping

General Shopping

fare spese to do the shopping (clothes, shoes, or other personal items)
fare compere to do the shopping (any purchase) (la compera = purchase)
fare acquisti to do the shopping (any purchase) (l’acquisto = purchase)
fare shopping to do the shopping

 

We have seen in the dialogue for this chapter that although Americans use the simple phrase “go shopping” for any shopping that they do, Italians often “go to do the shopping,” with the expression “andare a fare la spesa.” This interesting expression refers only to grocery shopping. A phrase denoting the location of the shopping, such as “al supermercato” (“at the supermarket”) can be used to complete the sentence. In most cases, both speakers know the place to obtain groceries, so the actual place is omitted.

If one is going to shop for non-grocery items, several phrases can be used. “Fare spese” is similar to the phrase we have just learned for grocery shopping, but it instead means “to go shopping for clothes, shoes, or other personal items,” usually in the piazza or shopping district in town known to the speakers. Two phrases can be used for shopping in general, for any purchase: “fare compere” and “fare acquisti.” A very popular phrase in Italy today that can be used for any type of shopping is simply “fare shopping!”

Otherwise, to shop for a specific item, use “andare a comprare” and mention what you are going to buy; for instance, complete this phrase with the word vestiti for clothes, like Caterina did in our dialogue.

 

Faccio la spesa. (I) do the (grocery) shopping.
Vado a fare la spesa. (I) go to do the (grocery) shopping.
Vado a comprare… (I) go to buy… (any item).
Faccio shopping. (I) go (lit. do/make) shopping (general).
Faccio shopping di vestiti. (I) go (lit. do/make) shopping for clothes.
Faccio compere. (I) go (lit. do/make) shopping (general).
Faccio acquisti. (I) make purchases (usually for non-grocery items).
Mi può mostrare… Could you (pol.) show me…
Mi fa vedere… Could you (pol.) show me…
Posso? May I?
Che taglia porta? What size do you (pol.) wear?
Porto la taglia…/Porto la… (I) take the size…/(I) take the (size)…
Qual’è la taglia italiana per What is the Italian size for
la taglia dieci americana?  (the) size 10 American?
alla moda/di moda in style
di marca designer/brand name
Mi provo…/Ti provi (I) try on (myself)…/(You fam.) try on (yourself)…
Mi metto…/Ti metti… (I) put on (myself)…/(You fam.) put on (yourself)…
Mi metto… (I) am trying on (myself)…/(I) am going to try on (myself)…
Mi sta bene. (It) looks good (lit. stays well) on me.
Ti sta bene. (It) looks good (lit. stays well) on you.
Mi va bene. (It) fits me well.
La/Lo prendo! I’ll take it! (fem./masc. direct object)
Le/Li prendo! I’ll take them! (fem./masc. plural direct object)


Italian Dialogue Practice: Shopping in Italy

 For Itlaian Dialogue You Will Need to Know…
Reflexive Verbs of Dressing Oneself

Italian uses the reflexive verb mettersi (to put on oneself) to convey the ideas of “I put on the dress,” “I put on my dress,” and “I put my dress on.” The reflexive pronoun mi (myself) is placed before the conjugated form of mettersi, as usual, and the article of clothing to be put on is then placed after the verb. The subject pronoun is omitted.

So when Caterina goes to try on her dress in our dialogue, she says, “Mi metto il vestito.” Just remember the simple phrase “mi metto,” and replace vestito with the article of clothing of your choice to describe your own action! To describe action in the tu (you) form, use “ti metti.”

 

(Io) Mi metto il vestito. I put on the dress./I put the dress on./I put on my dress.
(Tu) Ti metti l’anello. You put on the ring.

Also, remember that stare is used to describe how someone feels? Well, to tell someone “It looks good on you!” follow this simple method: Conjugate stare into the third person, or “it” form, sta, then place an indirect object pronoun before the verb.

This is easier than it sounds, because for routine conversational use of the io and tu forms, Italian words we already know—mi and ti—are again used. (Mi means both me and to me, and ti means both you and to you; the same Italian words are used for both direct and indirect object pronouns for the io and tu forms.)

 So when Francesca told Caterina in our dialogue, “Ti sta bene,” she was saying, literally, “To you, it stays well,” with the meaning, “It looks good on you.” 

To ask someone if an article of clothing you are wearing looks good, use, “Mi sta bene?” If clothing looks really wonderful on someone, reply, “Ti sta benissimo!”

Mi sta bene? Does it (article of clothing) look good on me?
Ti sta bene. It looks good on you.
Ti sta benissimo! It looks wonderful on you!

Finally, the expression “va bene” that we have come to know so well by now is also used to describe how an article of clothing fits on a person. If it fits well, say, “Va bene.” If not, use “Non va bene,” as Caterina does in our dialogue to describe a dress that did not fit her properly.


Italian Dialogue Practice: Shopping in Italy

 For Italian Dialogue You Will Need to Know…

How to Describe Wearing Clothes
 with the Verbs Portare, Mettersi, and Vestire

In order to say I am wearing…”  or I take the size…”  the verb portare, which is not reflexive, is usually used in the present tense. You no doubt remember that portare is commonly used to mean to bring”  or to carry.” 

Porto il mio vestito preferito. I am wearing my favorite dress.
Porto la (taglia) quarantotto. I take size 48.

Portare can also be used to say I wore”  in the past tense. But perhaps because portare is used so commonly with its other meaning of to bring”  in the past tense, to describe what they wore, most Italians prefer to revert to mettersi and use its past participle messo. Here is how it works:

(Io) Mi sono messo una gonna. I wore a skirt.
Ho portato una gonna. I wore a skirt.

Another way to describe how someone was dressed, is to use the past tense verb “essere vestito(a,i,e).”  This verb can be used to make generalizations, as well as to refer to a specific article of clothing.  When being specific, the preposition “con” is used in these phrases, as in the examples below.

Era vestito con un abito grigio. He was dressed in a suit.
Era vestita con una gonna blu. She was dressed in a blue skirt.
Eravamo vestiti tutto in rosso per la festa. We were dressed all in red for the party.

Italian Dialogue Practice: Shopping in Italy

For Italian Dialogue You Will Need to Know…

How to Describe Wearing Clothes
 with the Verb Indossare

The verb indossare also means “to wear” and “to put on.”  This verb can is used in exactly the same way as portare or mettersi.  To the Italian ear, the verb indossare is said to have a more elegant sound than portare or mettersi, and perhaps this is why indossare is more common in written Italian than in conversation.

Just like the other two verbs that have the same meaning, indossare must always be followed by the article of clothing that the person is wearing.

Caterina indossa un abito rosso. Kathryn is wearing a red dress.
La signora indossava un cappotto molto elegantamente. The lady was wearing a very elegant coat.

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

Finally, when something fits perfectly on you or another, to really fit into Italian society, use the idiomatic expression calzare a pennello.”  Calzature refers to shoes, or “footwear,” so this Italian saying is the equivalent of  the English saying, It fits you like a glove” or It fits you to a T.”

Mi calza a pennello! It fits me perfectly!
Ti calza a pennello! It fits you perfectly!
Lo/la calza a pennello! It fits him/her perfectly!

Italian Dialogue Practice: Shopping in Italy

 For Italian Dialogue You Will Need to Know…
Questa and Quella

The feminine demonstrative adjectives questa (this) and quella (that) have endings that follow our usual gender rules. Both have the usual –a ending for the feminine singular that changes to an –e ending in the plural, to make queste (these) and quelle (those).

It should be noted that if the singular feminine noun modified begins with a vowel, the usual –a ending of questa or quella can be dropped. The adjective and noun are then combined with an apostrophe to make conversation flow more smoothly.

Unfortunately, there is no hard-and-fast rule for when to drop the –a ending and when to keep it. As usual, listening to the language as it is spoken by a native is the best and most natural way to pick up these phrases. Here are a few examples:

Questa – This (Feminine)
Singular to Plural 

questa casa this house goes to these houses queste case
questa amica this girlfriend goes to these girlfriends queste amiche
quest’altra* this other goes to these other queste altre

 

 Quella – This (Feminine)
Singular to Plural 

quella casa that house goes to those houses quelle case
quella amica that girlfriend goes to those girlfriends quelle amiche
quell’altra* that other goes to those other quelle altre

*In these last phrases, questo and quello are not followed by a noun, and so they are technically pronouns rather than adjectives… don’t worry about these different labels now, though.

 


Italian Dialogue Practice: Shopping in Italy

 For Italian Dialogue You Will Need to Know…
Questo and Quello

The masculine demonstrative adjective questo (this) uses the usual –o ending for the masculine singular, which changes to an –i ending for the masculine plural and becomes questi (these).

Notice that if the singular masculine noun to be modified begins with a vowel, the usual –o ending of questo will be dropped and the words combined with an apostrophe to make conversation flow more smoothly.

Questo – This (Masculine)
Singular to Plural 

questo giorno this day goes to these days questi giorni
quest’amico this friend (male) goes to these friends (male) questi amici

 

 Quello – This (Masculine)
Singular to Plural 

The masculine demonstrative adjective quello (that) does not follow our usual gender rules but instead follows the rules for the masculine definite article “the” when it precedes a noun.

The word quello itself follows the rule for the definite article lo and is only used before the singular form of Italian masculine nouns that begin with s + consonant, z, ps, gn, or pn. This is similar to another adjective that ends in -lo, bello.

Quel (that) is used to modify all singular masculine nouns that begin with a consonant, except for those noted in the last paragraph.

An apostrophe and an additional letter –l are added, to make quell’ (that) for singular masculine nouns that begin with a vowel.

For the plural masculine forms of quello, the usual –i ending is used for plural masculine nouns that begin with a consonant, to make quei (those).

The word quegli (those) is used for plural masculine nouns that begin with s + consonant, z, ps, gn, or pn, and all vowels…

This is not as complicated as it seems, because again, we are following the same rules as for the masculine definite article. The summary table is below:

 

 Quello – This (Masculine)
Singular to Plural 

quel giorno that day goes to those days quei giorni
quell’amico that friend goes to those friends quegli amici
quello zio that uncle goes to those uncles quegli zii

The above material is adapted from “Chapter 10 – Shopping in Milan” of the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook, © 2012 by Kathryn Occhipinti, courtesy of Stella Lucente, LLC. 

 

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

Italian Dialogue Practice: Shopping in Italy

Italian Book Sale

Italian Subjunctive Mood Practice: Planning Your Italian Vacation

Italian Subjunctive Mood Practice: Planning Your Italian Vacation 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog               Planning your Italian vacation?

Use our Italian subjunctive mood practice tips to write your own Italian email!
Revisit the Italian subjunctive mood!

Italian Subjunctive Mood Practice: Planning Your Italian Vacation

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 communicate in Italian fluently? Are you comfortable using email to make plans with your family and friends? Can you use the Italian subjunctive mood and Italian reflexive verbs correctly when making plans?

For our second Italian practice email, we will continue with the story of Caterina and Francesca,  two Italian cousins who are living in different cities and trying to reconnect. First, we will present a review of how to describe visiting someone using the verb trovare. Then we will present information about Italian reflexive verbs of emotion and of self-action, and the different meanings of verbs with reflexive and non-reflexive forms. We will also discuss use of Italian prepositions regarding the different places we go in our daily lives and regarding time. Finally, we will describe how to use Italian verbs as nouns.

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

Italian Subjunctive Mood Practice: Planning Your Italian Vacation 

A note about the Italian subjunctive mood: to express complex feelings in Italian correctly, it is important to use the Italian subjunctive mood. Using the subjunctive mood  is difficult for English speakers, because we only rarely use this tense in English, and it’s something that I am always working on! This is the second blog post in the “Italian Practice” series that focuses on how to use the Italian subjunctive mood, or “il congiuntivo,” when writing an email to your family.

To review how to express one’s feelings using the subjunctive mood and how to conjugate the subjunctive mood in the present tense, see our Speak Italian Subjunctive series.

Enjoy the second blog post in this series, “Italian Subjunctive Mood Practice: Planning Your Italian Family Vacation.”
—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 Simona Giuggioli.


Italian Subjunctive Mood Practice Email: Planning Your Italian Vacation 

How many phrases that use the subjunctive mood can you pick out of the following emails? Hint: these phrases usually include the word “che.” Look for the underlined phrases for help! Notice that the future tense does NOT have a subjunctive mood! Also, look for reflexive verbs of emotion and self-action and special phrases of visiting that have been italicized for easier comprehension.

Remember these examples as “anchors” in your knowledge for when you try to speak Italian and try out the subjunctive mood in your next Italian conversation!

Italian  Subjunctive Mood Practice Email:
Planning Your Italian Vacation
An Email to Francesca

Cara cugina Francesca,
Dear Cousin Frances,

Leggere la tua ultima email mi rende* molto contenta!
Reading your last email makes me very happy!

Sono molto contenta che tu e i tuoi figli possiate venire a trovarmi in Abruzzo.
I am very happy that you and your children can come to visit me in Abruzzo.

Mi dispiace che tuo marito non possa venire con voi.
I am sorry that your husband cannot come with you all.

Di solito, ti prendi cura di lui molto bene ogni giorno!
Usually, you take care of him very well every day!

Ed ora, dobbiamo fare il programma!
And now, we must make up the itinerary!

Spero che tu possa arrivare la domenica prima di Ferragosto.
I hope that you can arrive the Sunday before the Ferragosto holiday.

Per prima cosa, io vorrei portarti a trovare i nostri zii.
First, I want to take you to visit our aunt and uncle.

Sono anziani e io dovrei andare a trovarli ogni domenica.
They are elderly and I should go to visit them every Sunday.

Dopo che andiamo in chiesa di mattina, dobbiamo andare a casa loro.
After we go to church in the morning, we should go to their house.

Sono sicura che nostra zia preparerà una buona cena per noi.
I am sure that our aunt will make a wonderful dinner for us.

Lunedì, vorrei andare in montagna a fare un picnic.
On Monday, I would like to go to the mountains to have a picnic.

Per me, restare in montagne dovrebbe essere molto bello con l’aria fresca e gli alberi verdi.
For me, a stay in the mountains would be very beautiful with the fresh air and the green trees.

Dovremmo avere una buona giornata, no?
We should have a good day, no?

Possiamo prendere un buon apertivo come un Aperol Spritz e chiacchierare un po.’
We can have a nice apertif like an Aperol Spritz and chat a bit.

I ragazzi saranno anche molto contenti di giocare insieme fuori.
The kids will also be very happy to play together outdoors.

Mi piacerebbe molto restare in montagna due or tre giorni.
I would really like to stay in the mountains for two or three days.

Possiamo restare all’Albergo Grande vicino a Capistrello per due o tre giorni.
We could stay at the Albergo Grande Hotel near Capistrello for two or three days.

Tu ricordi che il padrone è anche mio cugino.
You remember that the owner is also my cousin.

Prima che tu ritorni, dobbiamo fare la spesa.
Before you return, we could go grocery shopping.

Puoi comprare il cibo tipico del nostro paese.
You can buy food typical of our town.

Puoi dirmi la verità—il pane a Roma non è buono come il nostro in Abruzzo!
You can tell me the truth—the bread in Rome is not good like ours in Abruzzo!

Pensaci.  Fammi sapere che pensi di questo programma!
Let me know what you think of this itinerary!

Non vedo l’ora di vederti!
I can’t wait to see you! (idiomatic expression)

Abbracci e baci,
Hugs and kisses,

Caterina
Kathy

*From the verb rendere,  which can mean “to render,” or “to make,” as in “to become.”


 

Italian Subjunctive Mood Practice Email:
Planning Your Italian Vacation
A Reply Email to Caterina

Cara cugina Caterina,
Dear Cousin Kathy,

Mi sembra che il tuo programma sarà meraviglioso!
It seems (to me) that your schedule will be marvelous!

Sarei molto contenta di restare in montagna con te!
I would be very happy to stay in the mountains with you!

Dopo avere letto la tua email mi sono resa conto che mi mancano molto le montagne dell’Abruzzo.
After having read your email, I realized that I really miss the Abruzzo mountains.

Dopo, andiamo a fare la spesa insieme a Capistrello e così posso portare del buon pane a Roma quando torno!
Afterward, let’s go grocery shopping together in Capistrello, so I can bring some good bread to Rome when I return!

Ho anche una buona idea—
I also have a great idea—

Forse tu puoi venire a trovarmi a Roma e possiamo fare shopping di vestiti.
Perhaps you can come to visit me in Rome, and we can go shopping for clothes.

Lo sai ci sono molti bei negozi di moda a Roma!
You know there are many wonderful, fashionable shops in Rome!

Qualche volta mi annoio di vivere a Roma senza te.
Sometimes I get bored living in Rome without you.

Ma, non mi sono arrabiata con mio marito due anni fa quando ci siamo trasferiti a Roma.
But I didn’t get mad with my husband two years ago when we moved to Rome.

Mi piacerebbe molto andare a trovare i nostri zii in Abruzzo.
I would really like to go to see our aunt and uncle in Abruzzo.

Mi ricordo di avere cenato molto bene a casa di zia Rosa!
I remember having eaten very well at Aunt Rose’s house!

Sarà molto divertente!
It will be very entertaining!

Ci vediamo presto!
See you soon! (Literally “We will see each other soon!”)

Francesca
Frances

 


Italian Subjunctive Mood Practice Email: What You Will Need to Know…

Italian Subjunctive Mood Practice:
Planning Your Italian Vacation

You Will Need to Know…
Phrases That Describe Visiting People

Let’s quickly review how to use the verbs trovare and venire to describe visiting someone, which we covered in detail in our last Italian practice blog post, “Emailing Italian Families.” We will also describe how to use the verb portare when bringing someone to visit others. Examples will come from the emails in this blog post. Did you notice these italicized phrases as you were reading?

 Trovare means “to find” something.

  • When trovare is combined with the verb andare in the phrase “andare a trovare,” the meaning changes into “to go to visit” someone.

Sono anziani e io dovrei andare a trovarli ogni domenica.

Mi piacerebbe molto andare a trovare i nostri zii in Abruzzo.

  • Similarly, when trovare is combined with the verb venire  in the phrase “venire a trovare,” the meaning changes into “to come to visit” someone.

Vorrei che tu venga a trovarmi in Abruzzo quest’estate.

Sono molto contenta che tu e i tuoi figli possiate venire a trovarmi in Abruzzo.

Forse tu puoi venire a trovarmi a Roma e possiamo fare shopping di vestiti.

  • Also, when trovare is combined with the verb portare in the phrase, “portare a trovare,” the meaning changes into “to bring (someone) to visit” someone.

Per prima cosa, io vorrei portarti a trovare i nostri zii.


Italian Subjunctive Mood Practice:
Planning Your Italian Vacation

You Will Need to Know…
Reflexive Verbs of Emotion

Italian reflexive verbs can be tricky for the English speaker because in many situations, reflexive verbs are used in Italian but not in English. In these cases, we must learn to think in Italian! If we think in Italian, using reflexive verbs to refer to changing emotions that one is feeling at the moment does makes sense.

We have already talked about the most common reflexive verbs in the second blog post in the Speak Italian! series, Speak Italian: All About… What I Am Doing! This blog post describes activities of daily living, which are the most common activities that use the Italian reflexive verbs.

Other activities that involve the changing of one’s emotions during the course of daily life are also reflexive, as in the current blog post, when one cousin talks to the other about her feelings about Rome and taking care of her children. Remember that verbs that translate as “to get” in English are reflexive in Italian!

So, if I “get”/ “am getting” angry, bored, embarrassed, offended, or worried, the verbs used to describe this happening within myself will be reflexive in Italian: arrabbiarsi, annoiarsi, imbarrazzarsi, offendersi, and preoccuparsi. 

Verbs of  “forgetting” and “remembering” that use the word “about” after the infinitive form in English are also reflexive in Italian.  These verbs are followed by the preposition di: dimenticarsi di, scordarsi di (colloquial expression), ricordarsi di.  

The following list includes the above verbs, and “a few” more!

 

accorgersi di/che to notice or realize (about self/someone or something else)
annoiarsi to get bored
arrabiarsi to get angry/mad
aspettarsi to expect/ to anticipate
confondersi to get confused
concentrarsi to concentrate (on something)
dimenticarsi di to forget about (something)
distrarsi to be distracted
focalizzarsi to focus (on something)
imbarrazzarsi to get embarrassed
interessarsi a to take an interest in/ to show an interest in
interessarsi di to take care of/ to be in charge of
offendersi to get offended
preoccuparsi to get worried/worry
rendersi conto di/che to realize (about self/someone or something else)
ricordarsi di to remember to do
sbronzarsi to get drunk
scordarsi di to forget about (something)(colloquial expression)
scusarsi to excuse oneself
seccarsi to get annoyed
sentirsi to feel
sorprendersi to get surprised
spaventarsi to get scared
ubriacarsi to get drunk
vergognarsi to be ashamed

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

Notice that the Italian verb that describes getting bored, annoiarsi, sounds very much like the English word “annoyed.” However, don’t get confused (confondersi)! The Italian verb that means “to get annoyed” is seccarsi. And of course, the verb for to feel in Italian is reflexive—sentirsi, not to be confused with the non-reflexive verb that means to hearsentire.

Here is how this works. When I want to talk about these emotions as they are happening to me, I must use the reflexive pronoun mi for myself. If I want to talk about emotions that I know are happening to someone else, then I must use the correct corresponding reflexive pronoun/verb conjugation (ti, si, ci, vi, si). Remember to leave out the subject pronoun (io, tu, Lei/lei/lui, noi, voi, loro) unless it is necessary for clarification.

All this is easier than it sounds once you give it a try!

Mi arrabio.
I am/am getting angry.

Ti annoi?*
Are you getting bored?

Lei si imbarrazza!
She is getting embarrassed!

Lui si imbarrazza!
He is getting embarrassed!

Ci offendiamo!
We are getting offended!

Vi confondete!
You all are getting confused!

Loro si seccano.
They are getting annoyed.

*The tu and noi forms of arrabiarsi and annoiarsi are irregular and have only one “i” at the ending: tu arrabi e tu annoi.

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

You Will Need to Know…
How to Use the Past Tense with Reflexive Verbs 

Distrarsi is often used in the past tense, as below. In this case, remember to change the “o” ending of the masculine past participle distratto to an “a” ending to make the feminine past participle distratta if needed.

Mi sono distratto(a).
I got distracted.

Non ho ascoltato il professore perché mi sono distratto(a).
I didn’t hear the professor because I got distracted.

 

Two other reflexive verbs in our list that are commonly used in the past tense are those of forgetting and remembering: dimenticarsi di and scordarsi di (to forget about something)* and ricordarsi/ricordarsi di (to remember something/to remember to do something).

Mi sono dimenticato(a) di andare alla posta centrale stamattina.
I forgot to go to the post office this morning.

Non mi sono mai scordato(a) di te.
I have never forgotten you.

Mi sono ricordato(a) il nostro aniversario di matrimonio quest’anno!
I remembered our anniversary this year!

Mi sono ricordato(a) di portare il vino per cena stasera.
I remembered to bring the wine for dinner stastera.

*The verb scordare means to make an instrument go out of tune. There is some controversy about the use of scordarsi with the meaning of “to forget,” and in effect giving it the same meaning as dimenticarsi; some linguists consider only dimenticarsi correct Italian. That said, to some Italians scordarsi means to forget something in your heart and dimenticarsi to forget something in your mind (i.e. without involving emotion).  In actual, everyday use, most Italians probably consider the two interchangeable.


Italian Subjunctive Mood Practice:
Planning Your Italian Vacation

You Will Need to Know…
How to Say, I realized… or I noticed”*

Lastly, we present examples that use the phrases “rendersi conto di/che,” which means “to realize” and “accorgersi di/che,” which can mean both “to realize” and “to notice.” Accorgersi di/che is most often used when something is recognized, but not necessarily understood.

To realize is rendered in Italian with the reflexive verb phrase  rendersi conto.  In order to say, “I realize,” we must conjugate the verb rendersi, which has a regular -ere conjugation in the present tense, and then add the word conto to finish the phrase.  So, “I realize…” is  “Io mi rendo conto…” But, of course, we always leave out the Italian subject pronoun, so the phrase that Italians use is conversation is just, “Mi rendo conto…”  

To complete the sentence, just add what you realize in the phrase that follows! The following phrase will most commonly be in the present or past tense, but of course, there are times when we may need to use the conditional or future tenses, depending on our realization.

  • Link what you realize about yourself with the Italian conjugation “di” before adding an infinitive verb.  Note: you don’t always have to use “di” in this case if you are talking about yourself.  But if you do chose to use “di,” the verb in the next phrase must be in the infinitive form.

—-or—-

  • Link what you realize about yourself, someone or something else with the Italian conjugation“che”before adding a verb conjugated in the appropriate tense. Remember, if the subject is different in the original phrase and the phrase that follows, you MUST use “che” to link the two phrases.

In English, both “di” and “che” are translated as “that.”

Below are example sentences to show how this all works.  These example sentences are true for me.  To think of more examples, and try to describe what you realize about yourself!

Mi rendo conto di avere un’ora per preparare la cena.
I realize that I have an hour to make dinner.

Mi rendo conto che ho un’ora per preparare la cena.
I realize that I have an hour to prepare dinner.

Mi rendo conto che hai un’ora per preparare la cena.
I realize that you have an hour to prepare dinner.

 

Mi rendo conto che desidero sempre imparare di più sulla lingua italiana.
I realize that I will always want to learn more about the Italian language.

 

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

Now, let’s say that we recognize something without really understanding what it is about, or what is going on – that is, we notice something.  In this case, we can use the reflexive verb accorgersi.  This verb also has a regular -ere conjugation and will be followed by either di or che,  for the same reasons as we have just described above.  To say, “I notice that,” then, use the phrase, “Mi accorgo di/che…” 

Again, an example from my life, taking from a time when I was when talking a good friend of mine about a certain movie.  Try to think of some examples from your own life!

Mi accorgo che ti piace molto questo film.  Vuoi andare a vederlo con me?
I notice that you really like this film. Do you want to go to see it with me?

 

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

How to say, “I realize,” or “I notice,” seems simple enough!  But wait… we most commonly use the past tense to talk about something that we have realized or have noticed.  This, of course, involves conjugating our two verbs in the past tense!

We will use the passato prossimo forms of these verbs for the one time events of realizing or noticing something, which you will remember is formed for reflexive verbs with essere + the past participle. (If you need a general refresher on how to form the passato prossimo, please refer to our book Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Verbs ).

  • The past participle for rendersi is the irregular verb reso, and the ending will need to change to reflect the speaker when using the passato prossimo.
  • The past participle for accorgersi is the irregular verb accorto, and the ending will need to change to reflect the speaker when using the passato prossimo.

 

  • So, when I want to talk about what I have realized, I can say, “Mi sono resa conto di/che…” Similarly, a male would say, “Mi sono reso conto di/che…”
  • And, when I want to mention what I have noticed, I can say, “Mi sono accorta di/che…” Similarly, a male would say, “Mi sono accorto di/che…”

To complete the sentence, just add what you have realized in the phrase that follows!  The following phrase will most commonly be in the present or past tense, but of course, there are times when we may need to use the conditional or future tenses, depending on our realization.

Below is a table to summarize these phrases of realizing and noticing. I’ve made the verbs in the phrase green to differentiate them from the other words in the phrase.  Most Italians use these verb  phrases so frequently, though, that they say them quickly, and the words usually run together in real-time conversation.   Listen carefully for these phrases and then try to use them yourself!

Mi rendo conto di/che… I realize that…
Mi sono reso conto di/che… I realized that… (male speaker)
Mi sono resa conto di/che… I realized that… (female speaker)
Mi accorgo di/che… I notice that…
Mi sono accorto di/che… I noticed that… (male speaker)
Mi sono accorta di/che… I noticed that… (female speaker)

 

We  had fun in our Conversational Italian! group  “discussing” what we all realized  during the year 2017 for our talking point this January.  Below are some example sentences that I’ve made up thinking back to New Year’s Eve of 2018.  (Notice that as a female I have to use resa and accorta.)  How many more examples can you think of?

Ieri sera, a Capodanno, mi sono resa conto di essere molto fortunata.
Last night, on New Year’s Eve, I realized that I am very lucky.

Ieri sera, a Capodanno, mi sono resa conto che sono molto fortunata.
Last night, on New Year’s Eve, I realized that I am very lucky.

Mi sono resa conto di avere amici molto cari.
I realized that I have many dear friends.

Mi sono resa conto che ho molti cari amici.
I realized that I have many dear friends.

Mi sono resa conto di avere imparato tante cose importanti dalla mia famiglia.
I realized that I have learned so many important things from my family.

Mi sono resa conto che ho imparato tante cose importanti dalla mia famiglia.
I realized that I have learned so many important things from my family.

Mi sono accorta che era molto freddo a Capodanno.
I noticed that it was very cold on New Year’s Eve.

*The past section is a reprint from the blog: Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! What I realized… from ConversationalItalian.wordpress.org, to be published on February 7, 2018.

 


 

Italian Subjunctive Mood Practice:
Planning Your Italian Vacation

You Will Need to Know…
Reflexive Verbs of Self-Action

Italian reflexive verbs can be tricky for the English speaker because in many situations, reflexive verbs are used in Italian but not in English. In these cases, we must learn to think in Italian! If we think in Italian, using reflexive verbs to refer to the things we are doing at the moment makes sense.

We have already talked about the most common reflexive verbs in the second blog post in the Speak Italian! series, Speak Italian: All About… What I Am Doing! This blog post describes activities of daily living, which are the most common activities that use the Italian reflexive verbs.

Other activities that involve actions relating to the self are reflexive in Italian. They refer to what a person (oneself) is doing. Here is a short list:

divertirsi to  enjoy oneself/to have fun
divertirsi a to enjoy… / to play with
incontrarsi to meet (planned)
informarsi di/su to ask/inquire about something
nascondersi to hide
occuparsi di to work at a job or a task
perdersi to get/be lost
prepararsi (a) to get ready (to)
provarsi to try on clothes
rilassarsi to relax
riposarsi to rest
sbrigarsi to hurry up
sedersi* to sit down
smarrirsi to get/be lost

*Sedersi has an irregular conjugation.  

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

You Will Need to Know…
How to Say You are Having Fun
“Divertirsi, Divertente,  Divertimento”

One of the most important verbs listed in the last section is divertirsi, which is the verb that Italians use to say that they are enjoying themselves or having fun. There is a lot of fun to be had in Italy, so it is worthwhile to learn how to use this verb, as well as the adverb divertente and the noun divertimento.

To tell someone, “Have a good time!”  use the phrase, “Buon divertimento!” To use the verb divertirsi and the adverb divertente see below:

Mi diverto! I am enjoying myself/having fun!
Mi diverto a guardare la TV (televisione). I enjoy watching TV.
Mi sono divertito(a)! I had fun!/I had a good time!
Mi sono proprio divertito(a)! I really had fun/a good time!
   
È divertente! It is fun/entertaining/enjoyable.
È divertente parlare italiano. It is fun to speak Italian.
Era divertente! It was fun/entertaining/enjoyable/a good time.
Era proprio divertente!  It was really a lot of fun/entertaining/enjoyable/a good time!

 


 

Italian Subjunctive Mood Practice:
Planning Your Italian Vacation 

You Will Need to Know…
“Prendersi Cura di…” and “Occuparsi di…”
Reflexive Phrase of Taking Care

When one person is taking care of another person (or living thing), the reflexive phrase “prendersi cura di…” is used in Italian. The reason that this concept is reflexive in Italian may be that the caring originates within an individual person (myself, for instance), although the action of caring/taking care of is directed at another person. The easiest way to remember this concept is by examples (see below).

The preposition “di” at the end of this phrase must be combined with the definite article (il,la,lo, l’, i, gli, le) if one is not referring to a family member.  Also, remember that the subject pronoun is usually left out of the sentence, except for clarification.

Mi prendo cura di mio figlio.
I take care of my son.

Ti prendi cura di tuo nipote?
Do you take care of your nephew?

Lei si prende cura della classe quando l’insegnante non c’è.
She takes care of the class when the teacher is away.

Lui si prende cura della sua famiglia.
He takes care of his family.

Ci prendiamo cura degli ospiti.
We take care of the guests.

Vi prendete cura degli animali nella fattoria.
You all take care of the animals on the farm.

Loro si prendono cura dei loro nipoti.
They take care of their grandchildren.

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

When a person is taking care of something, the reflexive phrase “occuparsi di…” is used in Italian. The reason that this concept is reflexive in Italian may be that the caring originates within an individual person (myself, for instance), although the action of caring/taking care of something is directed at something. Often this involves someone’s occupation, but it could also involve just one task.

Me ne occupo io.
I will take care of this.

Te ne occupi tu.
You will take care of this

Ti vuoi occupare di questo?/ Te ne vuoi occupare?
Do you want to take care of this?

Lui si occupa del ristorante della sua famiglia.
He takes care of his family’s restaurant.

Da decembre mi occuperò di trovare un nuovo impiegato.
From December I will take care/have the task of finding a new worker.

 

 


 

Italian Subjunctive Mood Practice:
Planning Your Italian Vacation 

You Will Need to Know…
Different Meanings of Verbs
with Regular and Reflexive Forms


Many Italian verbs have regular and reflexive forms. If the action is directed back toward the speaker, use the reflexive form. For the verbs ricordare and ricordarsi, in most situations, either form may be used. When speaking of something one needs to remember to do, use ricordare di, as we learned in the last chapter, or ricordarsi di.

Note also that the meaning of a verb may change with use of its reflexive form. Chiamare, for instance, means to call someone, as in to make a call on the telephone or to call out to someone. But chiamarsi means to call oneself by nameSentire refers to the senses, and can mean to hear, to feel (as in to touch something) and also to smell.  But the reflexive verb sentirsi has the very different meaning of to feel an emotion.

aspettare to wait/wait for aspettarsi to expect/anticipate
chiamare to call chiamarsi to call onself/to name
fermare to stop an object fermarsi to stop oneself
incontrare to meet by chance incontrarsi planned meeting
informare to inform/to educate informarsi di/su to ask/to inquire
lavare to wash lavarsi to wash oneself
mettere to put/place mettersi to put on clothing
occupare to be occupied occuparsi di to work at a job or a task
essere occupato con… to be busy with (something)
preparare to get something ready prepararsi to get oneself ready
provare to try/practice/rehearse provarsi to try on clothes
ricordare* to remember ricordarsi to remember something
ricordare di to remember to do… ricordarsi di to remember to do…
sentire to hear/to feel (sense of touch)
to smell
sentirsi to feel (emotions)
spostare to move spostarsi to move oneself


*
Incidentally, Romagnol dialect (from the Emiliano-Romangnolo region) for “I remember,” is “amarcord,” which is also the name of a famous Italian comedic film from the 1970s by the director Federico Fellini.  

 


Italian Subjunctive Mood Practice:
Planning Your Italian Vacation

You Will Need to Know…
Italian Prepositions “a” and “in” for Places

In English, we go “to” a place or we are “in or “at” a place.  In Italian, two prepositions are used to express both where we are going and where we are“A” and “in” both can mean “to, in, and at.”

Note that in English, the preposition “to” is used to describe the motion of going somewhere, but once a person has arrived where they are going, the prepositions “in” or “at” are used.* So the English preposition changes based on whether one is going to or is in a place.

In Italian, the motion of going to or being in a place does not change preposition use.  The preposition is selected depending on the noun that the preposition modifies.

The Italian prepositions are then often (but not always) linked with the Italian definite article (il, la, l’, lo, i, le, gli).

Try as I may, I cannot find a reason for the difference in Italian preposition use for each individual place, although in some cases the Italian use of prepositions seems to mirror British English, rather than American English (the British go “in hospital,” as do the Italians).  I guess we have simplified things here in America, across the ocean from the land of our mother tongue!

So therefore, these Italian preposition/noun combinations just need to be memorized. Just link them to the actual place one is going to or one is in and this combination will not change!

See the table below:*

Do you want to go… Are you… Vuoi andare…

Sei…

home? at home? a casa?
to a restaurant? at/in the restaurant? al ristorante?
to a (coffee) bar? at/in the (coffee) bar? al bar?
to a cafe? at/in the cafe? al café?
to the museum? at the museum? al museo?
to the movies? at the movies? al cinema?
to the concert? at the concert? al concerto?
to the show (performance)? at the show? allo spettacolo?
to the show (exhibit)? at the exhibit? alla mostra?
 
to a hospital? at the hospital? in ospidale?
to a pizzeria? at/in the pizzeria? in pizzeria?
to the piazza? at/in the piazza? in piazza?
to church? at/in church? in chiesa?
to the beach? at the beach? in spiaggia?
to the sea? at the seaside? al mare?
to the mountains? in the mountains? in montagna?
to the country? in the country? in campagna?

 

*You will notice from this list that the use of the English prepositions “in” and “at” is also a bit idiomatic.  To my mind, and I am sure this can be debated, when someone is surrounded by 4 walls or are in some way completely surrounded, they are “in” a place. 

An English speaker is always “at home.” If a person has just arrived, or is standing outside the door of a new place, they are “at” this place.  If one then wants to emphasize that they have settled down into this new place, i.e. have a table at a restaurant, the preposition “in” then comes into play. 

Also, if  a person is  involved in what is happening at a particular place, they are “in” it; a viewer is “at” a show, but a performer is “in” the show.  And, of course, we all stand “in”‘ line before the show or another event begins!

These explanations may be a bit more complicated than needed, though, and I am sure these prepositions are thought of as interchangeable in many situations by English speakers.


Italian Subjunctive Mood Practice:
Planning Your Italian Vacation

You Will Need to Know…
Italian Preposition “di” for Time of Day

Sometimes it is necessary to emphasize the time of day in Italian, as in morning, afternoon, evening, or night. This is simple in Italian! Just combine the preposition “di” with the time of day: di mattina, di pomeriggio, di sera, or di notte.

Dopo che andiamo in chiesa di mattina, dobbiamo andare a casa loro.
After we go to church in the morning, we should go to their house.

Here are some examples where the time of day is added after stating the numerical time for clarity or for emphasis. (Notice that the Italian language uses a comma rather than a colon to separate the hours from the minutes.) 

1,00 (AM)                    È l’una di mattina.              

1,00 (PM)                    È l’una di pomeriggio.                

 6,00 (PM)                 Sono le sei di sera.          

10,00 (PM)               Sono le dieci di notte.             


 

Italian Subjunctive Mood Practice:
Planning Your Italian Vacation

You Will Need to Know…
How to Use the Italian Infinitive Verb
as a Noun

Every now and then, one needs to use a verb as a noun. In this situation, for the English language, we use the gerund, or “-ing” form, of our verb. For instance, take the sentence, “Reading is fun.” The very first word is the “-ing” form of the verb “to read,” but in this case, the verb is actually the subject of the sentence and is doing the work of a noun!

In the Italian language, the infinitive form of the verb is used when a verb takes the place of a noun. For the present tense, only the infinitive form of the verb is needed. For the past tense, the helping verb will be in the infinitive form before the past participle.

In the email example in this blog post, this occurs in three sentences, which are reprinted below.

Leggere la tua ultima email mi rende molto contenta!
Reading your last email makes me very happy!

Dopo avere letto la tua email mi sono resa conto che mi mancano molto le montagne dell’Abruzzo.
After having read your email, I realized that I really miss the Abruzzo mountains.

Mi ricordo di avere cenato molto bene a casa di zia Rosa!
I remember having eaten very well at Aunt Rose’s house!

-Some of this material is adapted from Conversational Italian for Travelers,  © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC.                 


 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blogKathryn 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

Italian Subjunctive Practice: Planning Your Italian Vacation

Italian Book Sale

Italian Subjunctive Mood Practice: Emailing Italian Families

Italian Subjunctive Mood Practice: Emailing Italian Families 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog               Use our Italian practice tips to write your own Italian email! Revisit the Italian subjunctive mood when writing emails!

Italian Practice: Emailing Italian Families

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 communicate in Italian fluently? Do you know the usual Italian greetings and salutations to use in an email? Can you use the subjunctive mood correctly when writing an email? As everyone knows,  email is now an integral part of daily communication all over the world. For Italy, this means that the subjunctive mood is important again in daily life!

For our first Italian practice email using the subjunctive, we will follow the story of Caterina and Francesca,  two Italian cousins who are living in different cities and trying to reconnect. Then we will present information about Italian greetings and salutations used in informal and formal types of written communication in Italy. We will describe how to use the verbs trovare, venire, and visitare to describe visiting people and places, how to use  the Italian adverb “ci,” and how to make command forms with the verb fare.  We will also talk about Italian reflexive verbs of self movement. Finally, we will compare the American and Italian school systems that play such a large part in everyday family life in America and Italy today.

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

Italian Practice: Email and the Italian Subjunctive Mood

A note about the Italian subjunctive mood: to express complex feelings in Italian correctly, it is important to use the Italian subjunctive mood. Using the subjunctive mood is difficult for English speakers, because we only rarely use this tense in English, and it’s something that I am always working on! This is the first blog post in the “Italian Practice” series that focuses on how to use the Italian subjunctive mood, or “il congiuntivo,” when writing an email to your family.

To review how to express one’s feelings using the subjunctive mood and how to conjugate the subjunctive mood in the present tense, see our Speak Italian Subjunctive series.

Enjoy the first blog post in this series, “Italian Practice: Emailing Italian Families.”
—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 Simona Giuggioli.


Italian Practice Email: All about… Family

How many phrases that use the subjunctive mood can you pick out of the following emails? Hint: these phrases usually include the word “che.” Look for the underlined phrases for help! And beware those phrases that sound like they should take the subjunctive but do not—these can also be found in the emails below!

Remember these examples as “anchors” in your knowledge for when you try to speak Italian and try out the subjunctive mood in your next Italian conversation!

Italian Practice Email: All about… Family
An Email to Francesca

Cara cugina Francesca,
Dear Cousin Frances,

Quanto tempo è passato da quando ti sei trasferita dall’Abruzzo a Roma!
How much time has passed since you have moved from Abruzzo to Rome!

Spero che tu stia bene.
I hope that you are well.

Spero anche che tuo marito e i tuoi figli stiano bene.
I also hope that your husband and children are well.

È peccato che tu e la tua famiglia vi siate trasferiti cosi lontano da vostra cugina che vi vuole bene.
It is a shame that you and your family have moved so far from your cousin that cares for you all so much.

Come sta la piccola Eleonora?
How is little Eleanor?

Penso che Eleonora debba essere cresciuta molto.
I’m thinking that Eleanor must have grown a lot.

Penso che Eleonora abbia dieci anni, ora, no?
I think that Eleanor is 10 years old, now, no?

Mi sembra che Eleonora debba essere una bella ragazzina ora!
It seems to me that Eleanor must be a beautiful little girl now!

E Giovanni, come sta?
And how is John?

È probabile che Giovanni sia alto e forte e un bravo ragazzo!
I bet that (probably) John is tall and strong and a very good boy!

È incredibile che il tempo passi cosi in fretta!
It’s incredible that the time has passed so quickly!

Si dicono in inglese che “il tempo vola,” e per me è vero!
They say in English that “time flies,” and for me, it is true!

Immagino che tuo marito sia contento con il suo lavoro a Roma.
I imagine that your husband is happy with his job in Rome.

Ma non sono sicura che tu sia felice di vivere là.
But I am not sure that you are happy living there.

Forse tu sei felice di vivere in una città per un po’ di tempo, ma lo so che ti piace molto la campagna. 
Maybe you are happy living for a little bit in the city, but I know that you like the country a lot.

Per me, è molto difficile vivere senza di te, mia cara cugina.
For me, it is very difficult living without you, my dearest cousin.

Mi manchi molto!
I miss you so much!

Vorrei che tu venga a trovarmi in Abruzzo quest’estate.
I would like you to come and visit me in Abruzzo this summer.

Pensaci e fammi sapere. Mandami un’email.
Think about it and let me know. Send me an email.

Spero che tu abbia un buon weekend!
I hope that you have a good weekend!

Scrivimi presto!
Write me soon!

Baci e abbracci,
Kisses and hugs,

Caterina
Kathy

 


 

Italian Practice Email: All about… Family
A Reply Email to Caterina

Cara cugina Caterina,
Dear Cousin Kathy,

Ero molto contenta di sentire le tue notizie.
I was very happy to hear from you.

La mia famiglia sta molto bene, ed Eleonora e Giovanni sono cresciuti molto in questi due anni che siamo stati a Roma.
My family is very well, and Eleanor and John have grown in these last two years that we have been in Rome.

Eleanora fa il quinto anno di scuola elementare e Giovanni fa il primo anno di liceo.
Eleanor is in the 5th grade, and John is in his first year of high school.

Tutti e due sono bravi figli ed io e mio marito Giuseppe siamo molto orgogliosi di loro.
Both are good children, and my husband Joe and I are very proud of them.

Ho una buona notizia!
I have good news!

Sono libera di viaggiare in Abruzzo quest’estate in agosto per Ferragosto!
I am free to travel to Abruzzo this summer in August for the Ferragosto holiday!

Mi auguro che tu abbia tempo disponibile questo Ferragosto.
I hope that you have time free this Ferragosto.

Tu mi manchi molto, mia bella cugina!
I miss you very much, my beautiful cousin!

Noi siamo certi di avere una buona visita.
We are certain to have a wonderful visit!

Restiamo in contatto e spero di vederti presto!
Stay in contact, and I hope to see you soon!

Ti voglio molto bene.
I care for you very much.

Tanti baci!
Lots of kisses!

Francesca
Frances

 


Italian Practice Email: What You Will Need to Know…

Italian Practice: Emailing Italian Families

You Will Need to Know…
Phrases That Take the Italian Subjunctive Mood

Verbs in Italian can have a subjunctive mood that is used to express doubt, uncertainty, desire, or a feeling.

Certain phrases are commonly used to start a sentence in order to introduce the subjunctive mood, and these initial phrases will be in the indicative tense (the “usual” present or past tense). These initial phrases imply uncertainty and trigger the subjunctive mood in the phrase to follow. The phrase that follows will then describe what the uncertainty is about. These introductory phrases usually end with the word che, which means that. Che may also be the ending of the last word used in the introductory phrase!

Note that the simple present or past tenses can also be used after the introductory phrases listed below, rather than the subjunctive mood, if you are speaking about a fact or something that you believe to be true. This use will make perfect sense to the Italian listener, although the subjective mood is also commonly used. Notice that when speaking about the past using these phrases, the imperfetto form of the past tense is usually used.

To review how to express one’s feelings using the subjunctive mood and how to conjugate the subjunctive mood in the present tense, see our Speak Italian Subjunctive series.

 


Italian Practice: Emailing Italian Families

You Will Need to Know…
Italian Greetings for Family Emails, Texts, and Letters

Now that email has become an essential way to communicate, it is important to know how to address family, friends, and work colleagues in writing. In effect, that old-fashioned way of communicating—the letter—has been resurrected in electronic form! Here are some suggestions for greetings and salutations in Italian, depending on the formality of the situation.

For family and friends, most Italian emails will begin with “Cara,” for females or “Caro” for males, meaning “Dear.” This greeting is, of course, followed by the first name of the person to whom the email is addressed. Because caro is an adjective, the ending can be modified to match the gender and number of the person it refers to, just as other adjectives are. So cara(e) is used before a female singular/plural person(s) and caro(i) before male singular/plural person(s). Carissimo(a,i,e) is a common variation and means “Dearest.” Many times, no greeting at all is used for close family and friends who communicate frequently.

A note about texting, which is even more informal than email, because texts are usually made only to friends: there is much more variation if a greeting is used, and there are many creative ways to greet someone by text in Italian. One of the most common text greetings is probably “ciao” for “hi” or bye.” There are many common variations, such as “ciao bella” for a female, “ciao bello” for a male, or simply “bella” or “bellezza” for a female, all meaning “hello beautiful/handsome.” If texting in the day or evening, “Buon giorno” or “Buona sera” may be used as well, meaning, “Good morning/Good day” or “Good evening.”

A text is still not acceptable in most situations for a first or a formal communication, although email is now often the preferred way of establishing an initial contact in business.


 

Italian Practice: Emailing Italian Families

You Will Need to Know…
Italian Greetings for  Formal Emails and Letters

Letters are still frequently used in Italy. Several common salutations are used when writing a formal email in Italian. These salutations have been established over many centuries of formal communication.

A formal Italian letter will commonly begin with the Italian word for “Gentle,” which is “Gentile,” followed by a title, such as Mr., Mrs., or Miss, and then a surname. For example: Gentile Signor* Verde or Gentilissima Signora Russo. The Italian word “Egregio,” which used to mean “Esquire,” is still commonly used in very formal business communications, but in these instances, it is translated as “Dear.” “Pregiatissimo” is the most formal type of greeting and is similar to the English phrase “Dear Sir.” This greeting is only rarely used in Italy today.

This all seems simple enough, although a typical formal Italian greeting is often abbreviated and can seem a bit off-putting unless one is fluent in the abbreviations as well. Our salutations above are often written as follows: Gentile Sig. Verde and Gen.ma Sig.na Russo. The table in the next section lists the most commonly used abbreviations.

Also, in Italian, even more than in English, if one holds a professional title, such as “doctor” or “lawyer,” this title is always used as the form of address when speaking and in writing. In fact, those who have attended an Italian university or have an important job title are usually addressed by other Italians as “dottore” or “dottoressa.” A medical doctor is addressed the same way but is known specifically as “un medico” (used for men and women).


Italian Practice: Emailing Italian Families

You Will Need to Know…
Commonly Used Italian Abbreviations for Business Greetings

Avv. Avvocato Lawyer
Dott. Dottore Doctor (male or female)
Dott.ssa Dottoressa Female Doctor
Egr. Egregio Dear (Esquire)
  Ingegnere Engineer
Gent.mi Gentilissimi(e) Dear (plural) Very Kind
Gent.mo Gentilissimo(a) Dear (singular) Very Kind
Preg. Pregiatissimo Dear
Sig. Signor Mister (Mr.)
Sig.na Signorina Miss
Sig.ra Signorma Misses (Mrs.)
Sig.ri Signori Mr. and Mrs./Messers
Spett. Spettabile Messers

*When signore is followed by someone’s first or last name, in writing and when addressing someone directly, the “e” from signore is dropped to form signor.


 

Italian Practice: Emailing Italian Families

You Will Need to Know:
Italian Salutations for Emails, Texts, and Letters

After we’ve written our email, text, or formal letter, how should we sign off? As you can imagine, this is very different depending on how close the two correspondents are. For two friends, the typical spoken salutations, “ciao” and “ci vediamo,” are commonly used for emails and texts, as are the many idiomatic expressions, such as “a presto” or “a dopo.”

For those who are close friends or family, one may send kisses as “baci,” and sometimes hugs, “abbracci,” as we do in English. You can imagine that there are many variations on this theme, such as “un bacione” for “a big kiss.” “Un bacio” or “tanti baci” are other variations and mean “a kiss” and “many kisses.” There is one big difference between salutations in English and Italian, though: Italians normally do not sign off with the word “Love,” as in “Love, Kathy.”

For business, the word “Saluti” is generally used in closing to mean “Regards.” One can also give “Un Saluto” or “Tanti Saluti.” “Cordalimente” means “Yours Truly.” “Cordali saluti” or Distinti Saluti” are particularly polite, meaning “Kind Regards” and “Best Regards.” “Sinceramente” means “Sincerely” but is not as often used in closing an email or letter.

Commonly Used Familiar Italian Salutations

Ciao Bye
Ci vediamo Good bye
(Until we see each other again.)
A presto! See you soon!
A dopo! See you later!
Baci Kisses
Un bacio A kiss
Un bacione A big kiss
Tanti baci Lots of kisses
Baci e Abbracci Kisses and hugs

 

Commonly Used Formal Italian Salutations

Saluti Regards
Un Saluto Regards
Cordalimente Yours truly
Cordali Saluti Kind regards
Distinti Saluti Best regards
Tanti Saluti Many regards
Sinceramente Sincerely

 


 

Italian Practice: Emailing Italian Families

You Will Need to Know…
How to Use Trovare, Trovarsi and Visitare

Trovare means “to find” something.

When trovare is combined with the verb andare in the phrase “andare a trovare,” the meaning changes into “to go to visit” someone.  An example would be, Vado a trovare mia mamma,” which of course means, “I go to visit my mother.”

Similarly, when trovare is combined with the verb venire  in the phrase “venire a trovare,” the meaning changes into “to come to visit” someone.  In the email we have just read, Caterina writes, “Vorrei che tu venga a trovarmi in Abruzzo quest’estate.”  She adds “mi” to the end of the verb trovare in order to specify the person who is being visited.

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

Visitare means to visit or to see a place.  For example, “Molte persone visitano l’Italia.” “Many people visit Italy.”

In a formal letter, one might use the phrase, “invitare a visitare,” to invite someone, to be a guest as in, “Vi invitiamo a visitare il nostro blog…” for, ” We kindly invite you to visit our blog.”

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

Let’s go back and explore a few more interesting points about the verb trovare.  Trovare can also mean “to meet by chance,” or “to run into” someone, as we would say in English.  Trovare sometimes means “to think/consider” and is also used to mean “to notice” in some expressions.  Trovarsi is a reflexive verb that is used to describe “finding oneself” in certain situations or in a certain place.

andare a trovare to go to visit with/to look in on/to look up
venire a trovare to come to visit with
cercare di trovare to try to find
trovare per caso to happen on/to happen upon/to come across
torvare i mezzi to find means
trovare conforto to take comfort
trovare informazioni su to find information (something) on
trovare la propria strada to make your way/to take the right road
trovare la risposta to find the answer
trovare la soluzione to find the solution
trovare il tempo per fare to get around to doing something
trovare il giusto equilibrio to strike a balance
trovare (qualcosa) divertente to find (something) amusing
trovare qualcosa to consider something
trovare un modo to find a way
Dove si trova? Where is she/he/it located?
Si trova in… (He/she/it) is located in…
Non mi trovo bene con.. I don’t get on well with…
Troviamoci dopo cena. Let’s meet (each other) after dinner.

 

 


Italian Practice: Emailing Italian Families

You Will Need to Know:
How to Use the Italian Adverb “Ci”

The phrases c’è and ci sono mean there is and there are respectively.  Ci can also be used to mean here or there when referring to a specific location.  The location is either understood by the speakers or will have already have been mentioned in the conversation, and ci will be used in a reply to make the conversation flow more smoothly.  In these instances, the location will be introduced by a preposition (a, in, su, da) and ci will replace both the preposition and the place when given in the reply.

Ci is placed before the conjugated verb.  With helping verbs dovere, potere, or volere, ci can be placed before the helping verb or attached to the infinitive.

Non ci voglio più stare. (I) don’t want to stay here anymore.
   
Vai in pizzeria stasera? (Are) (you fam.) going to a pizzeria tonight?
No, non ci vado. No, (I’m) not going there.
Ci sarò. I’ll be there.
   
Vuoi venire a casa mia? (Do) (you fam.) want to come to my house?
No, non ci voglio venire. No, (I) don’t want to come there.
No, non voglio venirci. No, (I) don’t want to come there.

Ci is frequently used as an indirect object to reply to certain questions regarding what someone believes in. “Credere a…?” which means, “Do you believe in…?” is one of the most commonly used phrases of this type.  In this case, ci replaces the phrase that is believed in.  The meaning of ci would be, “in it” or “about it.”

 Ci is also used as an indirect object to reply to certain questions regarding what someone thinks about. “Pensare a…?” can mean, “What do you think about…?”  In this case, ci replaces the phrase that is believed in.  The meaning of ci would be, “in it” or “about it.”

In other contexts, the verb pensare can be used to ask if someone is going to care of something.  The subject pronoun tu will come after the verb in these questions to signify intent.  For the response, ci replaces the thing that is being taken care of and the subject pronoun io is placed after the verb to signify intent. The meaning of ci in both cases is, “in it” or “about it.” “Ci penso io,” can always be used when you want to say, “I’ll do it.” or “I’ll take care of it.”

Ci is also used as part of a command in order to ask someone to believe in or think about something that has been stated previously.

Credi alla religione cristiana? (Do)(you fam.) believe in the Christian religion?
Si, ci credo. Yes, (I) believe in it.
   
Pensi di trovare un nuovo lavoro? Are you thinking of finding a new job?
Si, ci penso ancora. Yes, I am still thinking about it.
   
Caterina, ci pensi tu a comprare il latte? Kathy, are you going to take care of buying the milk?
Ci penso io. I’ll take care of it.
   
Credici! Believe in it! (familiar command)
   
Pensaci! Think about it! (familiar command)
   
Ci mancherebbe. Don’t mention it. (idiomatic expression)

 

Finally, if we want to combine ci with a direct object pronoun in a sentence to say ,“I’ve got it,” or “I’ve got them,” referring to something in our possession, the last letter-i of ci is changed to an e.  This is an expression that follows the word order “ce – direct object – verb.” See below for how this works:

 

Do you have the ticket in your purse? Hai il biglietto nella tua borsa?
Yes, I have it in my purse. Si, l’ho nella borsa.
Yes, I’ve got it. Si, ce lho.
   
Do you have the keys to your car? Hai le chiavi alla tua macchina?
Yes, I have them. Si, ce le ho.

 

 


 

 Italian Practice: Emailing Italian Families

          You will need to know:
Common Italian Command Forms with Fare

The verb fare, which means “to do,” or “to make,” often comes up when one person makes a direct request that another person do something.  To ask for a favor politely, you could use the (by now, well-known) verb può with fare to make the phrase, “Può farmi un favore?” for, “Could you do me a favor?”  But, more often, the familiar command form of this phrase is used; if one is instructing another person to do something, both people often know each other very well. Or, perhaps in the workplace, a superior is making a request of another worker.   In this case, the commonly used phrase used would be, “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 (mi, ti, lo, la, ci, vi) to the familiar command verb fa, the first letter of the direct object is doubled.  Below are some commonly used expressions which 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 commonly used familiar commands with direct objects involve the verbs dire and dare:

 

Dimmi! Tell me!
Dammi! Give me!

 


 

Italian Practice: Emailing Italian Families

You Will Need to Know:
Italian Reflexive Verbs for Self-Movement

Italian reflexive verbs can be tricky for the English speaker because there are many situations where reflexive verbs are used in Italian but not in English. In these cases, we must learn to think in Italian! If we think in Italian, using reflexive verbs to refer to where one has moved to or from or to describe a change in one’s feelings does make sense.

We have already talked about the most common reflexive verbs in the second blog post in the Speak Italian! series, Speak Italian: All About… What I Am Doing! This blog post describes activities of daily living, which are the most common activities that use the Italian reflexive verbs.

Other activities of today’s “modern daily living” include interrupting one’s life at a certain location and starting life again in a different location.  In this blog post, for instance, one cousin moves from Abruzzo to Rome. It makes sense, then, that the verb for the act of moving oneself is reflexive: trasferirsi, which can mean “to move (oneself) from town to another town” and “to transfer (oneself).”

Following this logic, the more general verbs to move” (muoversi) or to stop” (fermarsi) are also reflexive when they refer to an action that is being performed by a person.

Avvicinarsi a (to approach) alontanarsi da (to go away from/distance oneself from) are also included in the table below.

trasferirsi to move (oneself), as in relocate towns; transfer towns or job
muoversi to move (oneself) from one place to another
spostarsi to move (oneself) from one place to another, relocate
dirigersi to go over/head over somewhere
avvicinarsi a to approach
allontarsi da to go away from/distance oneself from
fermarsi to stop (oneself)

Here is the way this works: if I have moved (myself) from one place to another and want to talk about this, I use the reflexive pronoun for myself (mi) with the conjugated verb for the first person, and then I say where I have moved. If someone else has moved (themselves), and I want to talk about this, I use the other corresponding reflexive pronoun (ti, si, ci, vi, si)/verb conjugation and then the location.

A few pointers are useful to remember. 

When talking about a move we have made, we will be speaking in the past tense and will need to use the passato prossimo past tense verb form for this one-time event. All reflexive passato prossimo verbs use essere as the helping verb with the past participle. Females will need to change the passato prossimo ending from an “o” to “a” when referring to themselves.

Also, remember to leave out the subject pronoun (io, tu, Lei/lei/lui, noi, voi, loro) unless it is necessary for clarification.

Finally, remember how to use prepositions when talking about a location—“a” for cities and small islands and “in” for countries, regions, states in the United States, and large islands like Sicily.

All of this is easier than it sounds once you give it a try!

Mi sono trasferito(a) a New York.*
I moved/have moved to New York City.

Ti sei trasferito(a) nello stato di New York due anni fa, corretto?
You moved/have moved to New York State two years ago, correct?

Lui si è trasferito in America la settimana scorsa.
He moved/has moved to America last week.

Lei si è trasferita in America la settimana scorsa.
She moved/has moved to America last week.

Ci siamo trasferiti a Roma per un lavoro molto importante.
We transferred/were transferred to Rome for a very important job.

Vi siete trasferite alla scuola di Marymount Internazionale a Roma.
You all (girls) transferred/have transferred to the Marymount International School in Rome.

Loro si sono trasferiti in Italia per la loro società.
They transferred/have transferred to Italy for their company.

 

Finally, it should be noted that there are other ways of describing a person’s move from one place to another that do not involve reflexive verbs. To emphasize that one has moved from an old house to a new one, the phrase cambiare casa is used. To describe moving furniture from one’s old house to the new house (i.e., to move things), the nonreflexive verb traslocare is used.

 


Italian Practice: The Italian School System 

The Italian school system is similar to the U.S. school system. School years are divided into primary, middle, and secondary, or “high” school years. College is referred to as “university,” and in the past, a “university degree” entailed 6 years of education, similar to a master’s degree in the United States. Some 4-year university degrees are now also available in Italy. Below is a comparative list of the American and Italian school systems with the number of years children spend in each level.

American and Italian School Systems

U.S. School Years Italian School Years
Primary school 6 Scuola Elementare/la prima elementare 5
Middle school 2 Scuola Secondaria/Scuola Media/la prima media 3
High school 4 Liceo/il primo liceo 5

 


 

Italian Practice: Talking about the Italian School System 

 

For elementary school, if a child is in the 1st through 5th years of school:

Anna va alla scuola elementare.
Anna goes to the grade school.

 

Anna è in prima (classe) elementare. (seconda, terza, quarta, quinta classe)
Anna fa il primo anno di scuola elementare.
(secondo, terzo, quarto, quinto anno)
Anna is in the first year/1st grade of elementary school. (second, third, fourth, fifth year/2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th grade)

 

For middle school, if a child is in the 6th through 8th years of school:

Anna va alla scuola secondaria. or Anna va alla scuola media.
Anna goes to junior high schoolor Anna goes to middle school.

 

Anna è in prima (classe) media. (seconda, terza classe)
Anna fa il primo anno di scuola media.
(secondo, terzo anno)
Anna is in the first year/6th grade of middle school. (second, third year/7th, 8th grade)

 

For high school, if a child is in the 9th through 13th years of school, we can use similar phrases. Notice that there is no special title like “freshman, sophomore, junior, senior” for high school.

Anna va alla scuola superiore. or Anna va al liceo.
Anna goes to high school.

Anna è in prima (classe) liceo. (seconda, terza, quarta, quinta classe)
Anna fa il primo anno di liceo.
(secondo, terzo, quarto, quinto anno)
Anna is in the first year/9th grade of high school. (second, third, fourth, fifth year/10th, 11th, 12th, 13th grade)

  

-Some of this material is adapted from Conversational Italian for Travelers,  © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC.

                       


 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blogKathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
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Italian Subjunctive Mood Practice: Emailing Italian Families

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Italian Subjunctive (Part 3): Speak Italian!

Italian Subjunctive (Part 3): Speak Italian!

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog               The Italian subjunctive mood is easy to conjugate, but tricky to use!

 

Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mood

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

But have you tried to take the next step to speak Italian fluently? Can you use the Italian subjunctive mood in the correct situations? To express complex feelings in Italian correctly, it is important to use the Italian subjunctive mood. Using the subjunctive mood is difficult for English speakers, as we only rarely use this tense in English, and this is something that I am always working on! The blogs in the “Speak Italian” blog series will focus on how to conjugate and use the Italian subjunctive mood, or “il congiuntivo.”

Let’s take that giant step from simple beginning sentences to more complex and fluid sentences in Italian by using the subjunctive mood. In this segment, we will discuss how to express one’s needs in Italian and learn about other important introductory phrases and individual words that take the Italian subjunctive mood

We will repeat the Italian conjugation of the subjunctive mood for the regular -are, -ere, and -ire verbs and then present the conjugation of the modal, or helping, verbs dovere, potere, and volere.

A review of the Italian subjunctive mood conjugations for the auxiliary verbs and for commonly used irregular verbs will complete this blog. Example sentences will follow!

Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mood

In each blog in the “Speak Italian” series about the  Italian subjunctive mood (“il congiuntivo”),  we will first present phrases that take the Italian subjunctive mood.

Then,  we will review how to conjugate the Italian subjunctive mood.

Finally, we will present common phrases used in daily life that take the Italian subjunctive mood.

Remember these examples as “anchors” in your knowledge for when you must speak Italian and try out the subjunctive mood in your next Italian conversation!

Enjoy the second blog in this series, “Italian Subjunctive (Part 3): Speak Italian!”
—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 instructors Simona Giuggioli and Maria Vanessa Colapinto.

 


Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mood (Part 3)

Once Again… Phrases That Take the Italian Subjunctive Mood

Verbs in Italian can have a subjunctive mood that is used to express beliefs, thoughts, or hopes with the verbs credere, pensare, and sperare.

The subjunctive mood is also said to “open up” a conversation to discussion about a particular topic by expressing doubt, uncertainty, desire, or a feeling.

Certain phrases are commonly used to start a sentence in order to introduce the subjunctive mood, and these initial phrases will be in the indicative tense (the “usual” present or past tense). The subjunctive mood is also used with the conditional tense, but this will be the topic of later blogs. These initial phrases imply uncertainty and trigger the subjunctive mood in the phrase to follow.

In our first blog about the Italian subjunctive mood, we learned that these initial phrases fall into several groups. We discussed Groups 1  through Group 5.

In our second blog about the Italian subjunctive mood, we discussed Groups 6 and 7.

These groups are again listed  below for review.

To follow in the next sections is an explanation of several more phrases and also individual words that can be used to introduce the  Italian subjunctive mood, which we have added into our original list as Groups 8 through Group 11.  Group 12 will be the topic of a later series of blogs on Italian hypothetical phrases, but is included here for completeness.

  1. Phrases that use the verbs credere (to believe), pensare (to think), and sperare (to hope). These verbs use the pattern: [verb  di + infinitive verb to describe the beliefs, thoughts, or hopes that one has. When the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the clause that follows, the pattern changes to: [verb + che + subjunctive verb].*
  2. Impersonal constructions that begin with, “It is…” such as, “È possibile che…”
  3. Phrases that express a doubt, such as, “I don’t know…” or “Non so che…”
  4. Phrases that express uncertainty, such as, “It seems to me…” or “Mi sembra che…”
  5. Impersonal verbs followed by the conjunction che, such as, “Basta che…” “It is enough that,” or “Si dice che…” “They say that…”
  6. Phrases that use the verbs volere and desiderare when the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the clause that follows. In this situation, these verbs will be followed by che.
  7. Phrases that use the verbs piacere and dispiacere when the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the clause that follows. In this situation, these verbs will be followed by che.
  8. Phrases that express feelings and use the pattern: [avere, essere, or augurarsi verb  +  di + infinitive verb].  When the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the clause that follows, the pattern changes to: [avere, essere, or augurarsi verb + che + subjunctive verb].
  9. Sentences that begin with words that end in –ché, or complex conjunctions that end with che:  affinché, perché (so as, so that, in order that), purché (as long as, provided that, only if)**, a meno che (unless), può darsi che (it may be possible that, possibly, maybe), prima che (before that).  Also the many words that mean although/even though, one of which ends in -che: benché  (also sebenne, malgrado, nonostante).***
  10. Sentences that begin with adjectives or pronouns that include the idea of any in a description of a person, place or thing:  qualsiasi, qualunque (any), chiunque (whoever), dovunque (anywhere).
  11. Sentences that begin with adjectives or pronouns that include the idea of nothing or only  in a description of a person, place, or thing: niente che, nulla che (nothing that), nessuno che (nobody that), l’unico, il solo, a che (the only one that).
  12. Phrases that begin with se (if) or come se (as if) in certain situations.

 

As usual, there is a summary table at the end of each descriptive section that shows how to use these  additional groups that take the subjunctive mood in Italian. The present tense phrases are in the first two columns and the past tense phrases in the last two columns.  Notice that the imperfetto form of the past tense is given in our table for brevity, but the passato prossimo form of the past tense can also be used, depending on the situation.  Use of the past tense forms will be the topic of later blogs.

Points to remember about the subjunctive mood:

 In Italian, the introductory phrases usually end with a linking word, also known as a conjunction, which will be che.  In this situation, che means that.  We now see from Group 9 that some words or phrases already have -ché or che integrated into the word itself. In these cases, che is not repeated.  The clause that follows our introductory phrase will then describe what the uncertainty is about.

Note that the simple present or past tenses can also be used after the introductory phrases listed below, rather than the subjunctive mood, if you are speaking about a fact or something you believe to be true. This use will make perfect sense to the Italian listener, even when the subjective mood is otherwise commonly used.

*When the speaker in the introductory phrase will carry out the action in the phrase to follow, Italian will use the following construction to link the phrases for credere, pensare, and sperare :  di + infinitive verb. Example: Penso di andare a Roma domani.  =  I think I will go to Rome tomorrow. (Use  pensare a when thinking ABOUT something or someone.)

**solo se also means only if but does NOT take the subjunctive mode.

*** anche se also means even though/if but does NOT take the subjunctive mode.

 


 

Expressing One’s Feelings with “Di” and “Che” and the Italian Subjunctive Mood

Phrases Used to Express Feelings with “Di” in Italian

When expressing one’s feelings in Italian in the first person (io conjugation), many common Italian expressions are followed by di (of). In this case, when di is followed by another verb, the verb in the second phrase will be in the infinitive tense (if you remember, infinitive verbs end in -are, -ere, -ire, and translate as “to…”). Below are some examples of these phrases, along with example sentences, adapted from Chapter 7 of the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook.

 

avere bisogno di to have need of Ho bisogno di… riposare.
 
avere paura di to be afraid/have fear of Ho paura di… guidare.
 
avere voglia di to feel like Ho voglia di… mangiare una pizza.
 
essere certo di to be certain of Sono certo(a) di… ricordare il tuo nome.
 
essere sicuro di to be certain of Sono sicuro(a) di… ricordare questo posto.
 
essere felice di to be happy to Sono felice di… incontrare mio cugino oggi.
 
essere fortunato di to be lucky to Sono fortunato(a) di… mangiare questa cena.
 
essere libero di to be free to Sono libero(a) di… viaggiare.
 
essere stanco di to be tired of Sono stanco(a) di… lavorare.
 
temere di… to be afraid of Temo di… essere in ritardo.
 
augurarsi di… to wish/to hope (of) Mi auguro di… fare una buona vacanza.

 


How to Use the Phrase “Avere bisogno di…” in Italian

Before we go on to discuss more complex uses of the phrases in the table above, here is a brief description of how to use the very popular phrase, “ho bisogno di…” which means, “I need…”   Any beginning student of Italian no doubt has come across this phrase many times in general conversation and has already used it to express what he/she wants.

While I was learning how to use the subjunctive mood properly, I took the opportunity to learn how to use “ho bisogno di” properly as well.  After many question and answer sessions with native Italian speakers, here is what I’ve found out about the different uses of this phrase in English and Italian.

First, use of the phrase “ho bisogno di” is limited to describing a need one has for a person, a thing (something) or a physical need.  Remember to conjugate the verb avere used in this phrase (“ho” is the io form of avere) if someone else besides you needs something.  Also, leave out the word “di,” which means “of” in this phrase when it is at the end of the sentence.

The phrases “Mi serve…” and “Mi servono…” can also mean, “I need…” The conjugation is like that of piacere.  (See below)

If a person needs to do something, but it is also necessary that he does it – he has to do it – then the verb dovere is used.   See some examples in the table below:

avere bisogno di to have need of…  
   
…a person Ho bisogno di… te.
   
…a thing/ something Ho bisogno di… una macchina nuova.
  Ho bisogno di… prendere una vacanza.
   
…a physical need Ho bisogno di… riposarsi.
   
Mi serve… I need… (one thing) Mi serve 1 millione di euro.
 Mi servono…  I need… (many things)  Mi servono tante cose.
   
dovere for what you have to do

(and need to do)

Devo cucinare il pranzo ogni sera.

When we come to more complex sentences, and the subject  wants to express what he/she wants another person to do, the phrase “ho bisogno di” is not used.  In other words, if I want someone to do something, I must use the verb voglio, with the subjunctive, as in, “Voglio che tu…”  This was an important point for me to learn, as in English I am constantly asking my children or family to do things by saying, “I need you to…”

For instance, take the sentence, “I need you to take care of the cats when I am on vacation.”  I am not sure if this phrase “I need you to…” is used commonly in other parts of  America, but it has become a habitual use in the Northeast and Midwest.  The Italian translation would be, “Voglio che tu ti prenda cura dei gatti quando io sono in vacanza.”  So, to use the phrase “ho bisogno di” we must really learn how to think in Italian!

Enjoy some more examples for how to use our phrases to express a need or want in Italian, and then create your own!

Ho bisogno di un grande abbraccio! I need a big hug!
Abbracci e baci sono due cose che ho bisogno! Hugs and kisses are two things that I need!
Non mi serve niente. I don’t need anything.
Non mi serve nient’altro. I don’t need anything else.
Mi serve di più caffè. I need more coffee.
Devo andare al mercato. I need to/have to go to the (outdoor) market.

Non abbiamo  bisogno di giorni migliori,

ma di persone che rendono migliori i nostri giorni!

We don’t need to have better days,

instead, we need people who make our days better!


 

Phrases Used to Express Feelings with “Che” and the Italian Subjunctive Mood

Some of the expressions listed in the following table are most commonly used with the same subject for the second phrase. As noted in our previous discussions, these phrases will be followed with “di” and an infinitive verb. They are reprinted here to correspond with the previous table, followed by an asterisk and an explanation in parentheses.

For most of the expressions of feeling that

we have been talking about, though, it is possible to express a feeling that the speaker (io) has regarding another person or people. In this case, then, these expressions must be followed by che, and the subjunctive mood should be used for the verb in the second phrase.

In our example table, we will illustrate this by following the Italian phrases in which the subjects can be different with ...che tu, which we know means …that you, although of course, this rule follows no matter which subject pronoun we use.

 

Phrases Used to Express Feelings with “Che” and the Italian Subjunctive Mode

Present Tense Subjunctive Phrase
Group 8
    Past Tense Subjunctive Phrase
Group 8
 
Ho bisogno… che tu I need… that you*

*(This expression is not commonly used in Italian to tell another person what needs to be done; voglio che is used instead.)

Avevo bisogno… che tu I needed… that you*

*(This expression is
not commonly used
in Italian to tell
another person what
needs to be done;
volevo che is used
instead.)

       
Ho paura… che tu I am afraid… that you Avevo paura…  che tu I was afraid… that you
       
Ho voglia di… * I feel like… *
*(always used with the same subject +di in both phrases)
Avevo voglia… * I felt like…*

*(always used with
the same subject + di
in both phrases)

 

       
Sono certo(a)…
che tu
I am certain…
that you
Ero certo… che tu I was certain… that you
       
Sono sicuro(a)…
che tu
I am certain…
that you
Ero sicuro… che tu I was certain… that you
       
Sono felice… che tu I am happy… that you Ero felice… che tu I was happy… that you
       
Sono fortunato(a)… che tu I am happy… that you Ero fortunato(a)… che tu I was fortunate… that you
       
Sono libero(a) di… *

 

I am free… *
*(always used with the same subject +di in both phrases)
Ero libero(a)… * I was free… *
*(always used with
the same subject +di
in both phrases)
       
Sono stanco(a) di…

 

I am tired…*

*(always used with the same subject +di in both phrases)

Ero stanco(a)… che tu I was tired…*

*(always used with
the same subject +di
in both phrases)

       
Temo… che tu I am afraid…
that you
Temevo… che tu I was afraid… that you
       
Mi auguro… che tu I hope… that you Mi auguravo… che tu I hoped… that you

 

 


Idiomatic Use of the Italian Subjunctive Mood

The final group of words in the table below take the subjunctive mood when used to start a sentence . These conjunctions, adjectives, and pronouns imply that a second phrase is necessary to complete the sentence.

Only the most commonly used have been given in the table.  For a more complete list, see the list in the first section of this blog.

 

Phrases Used to Introduce the Subjunctive Mood—Idiomatic

 

Present Tense Subjunctive Phrase
Groups 9, 10, 11
 
Prima che Before that
Benché, Sebbene Although, Even though, If
Può darsi che It may be possible that, Possibly, Maybe
Affinché So as, So that, In order that
Perché So that (Perché is only used in the subjunctive mood when it means “so that.” Other meanings of perché include “why” and “because,” and in these cases, the subjunctive mood is not used.)
Purché As long as, Provided that, Only if

 

Finally, our usual reminder:

DO NOT USE THE SUBJUNCTIVE WITH THE FOLLOWING THREE PHRASES!

Forse = Perhaps       

Per me = For me

Secondo me = According to me

The above may seem like exceptions to the rule, but perhaps… because these phrases already express doubt or your personal opinion… in the Italian way of thinking, it would be redundant to use these phrases along with the subjunctive!

And, two more  phrases we can now add that DO NOT take the subjunctive mood:

Solo se = Only if

Anche se = Even though/if

 


Speak Italian: The Present Tense Subjunctive Mood (Part 3)

How to Conjugate the Italian Subjunctive Mood Present Tense for -are, -ere, and -ire Verbs

A review from the second blog in this series:

To change any regular Italian infinitive verb into the present subjunctive mood, first drop the final -are, -ere, or -ire to create the stem. Then add the endings given in the first table below to the stem that has been created. Examples for each verb type are given in the second table below.*

The word che is included in parentheses in the subject pronoun column as a reminder that these verb forms typically are introduced with  the conjunction che. Also, use the subject pronoun in your sentence after che for clarity, since the endings for the singular forms are all the same!

Practice the subjunctive verbs out loud by saying che, the subject pronoun and then the correct verb form that follows!

Subjunctive Mood – Present Tense
Subject Pronoun -are ending -ere ending -ire ending
io i a a
tu i a a
Lei/lei/lui i a a
       
noi iamo iamo iamo
voi iate iate iate
loro ino ano ano
  Tornare

(to return)

Vendere

(to sell)

Partire

(to leave)

(che)  io torni venda parta
(che) tu torni venda parta
(che) Lei/lei/lui torni venda parta
       
(che) noi torniamo vendiamo partiamo
(che) voi torniate vendiate partiate
(che) loro tornino vendano partano

*(The stressed syllable for the example verbs has been underlined in the table above.)

  1. When pronouncing the subjunctive verbs, the stress will fall in the same place as in the conjugated verb forms for the present tense. This will be in the beginning of the verb (first or second syllable) for the io, tu, Lei/lei, lui, and loro forms, and one syllable to the right (second or third syllable) for the noi and voi forms.
  2. Notice that all of the singular subjunctive endings (io, tu, Lei/lei lui) are the same for each infinitive form of the verb.
  3. Also, all the endings for the -ere and -ire verbs are identical in the first person!
  4. The noi and voi forms are the same for all infinitive verb forms as well.
  5. The noi form is identical to the present tense!

 


How to Conjugate the Italian Subjunctive Mood Present Tense for the Modal Verbs

Here are the  Italian present subjunctive forms for the modal verbs; modal verbs are auxiliary verbs that are also called “helping verbs.” These verbs are often used in the subjunctive mood in written and spoken Italian. As you no doubt recall, these three helping verbs give additional information about the main verb in the phrase. In the subjunctive mood, volere can also be translated as “to need.”

 

 Dovere – to have to/must – Present Subjunctive Mood

(che) io debba I have to/must
(che) tu debba you (familiar) have to/must
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

debba you (polite) have to/must
she/he has to/must
     
(che) noi dobbiamo we have to/must
(che) voi dobbiate you all have to/must
(che) loro debbano they have to/must

 

  

Potere – to be able (to)/can – Present Subjunctive Mood

che) io possa I am able to/can
(che) tu possa you (familiar) are able to/can
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

possa you (polite) are able to/can

she/he is able to/can

     
(che) noi possiamo we are able to/can
(che) voi possiate you all are able to/can
(che) loro possano they are able to/can

 

 

 Volere – to want/ to need – Present Subjunctive mode

(che) io voglia I want/need
(che) tu voglia you (familiar) want/need
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

voglia you (polite) want/need

she/he wants/needs

     
(che) noi vogliamo we want/need
(che) voi vogliate you all want/need
(che) loro vogliano they want/need

The Subjunctive Mood – Irregular Present Tense
Commonly Used Verbs

A review from the second blog in this series:

Here are the irregular  Italian present subjunctive forms for six commonly used  verbs in Italian.  It may be useful to commit these forms to memory, as these verbs are often used in the subjunctive mood in written and spoken Italian. Notice that the translation is the simple present tense in English.

Andare – to go – Present Subjunctive Mood

(che) io vada I go
(che) tu vada you (familiar) go
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

vada you (polite) go

she/he goes

     
(che) noi andiamo we go
(che) voi andiate you all go
(che) loro vadano they go

 

Dare – to give – Present Subjunctive Mood

(che) io dia I give
(che) tu dia you give
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

dia you give

she/he gives

     
(che) noi diamo we give
(che) voi diate you all give
(che) loro diano they give

 

Dire – to say/ to tell – Present Subjunctive Mood

(che) io dica I say/tell
(che) tu dica you (familiar) say/tell

 

(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

dica you (polite) say/tell

she/he says/tells

     
(che) noi diciamo we say/tell
(che) voi diciate you all say/tell
(che) loro dicano they say/tell
 

Fare – to do/ to make– Present Subjunctive Mood

(che) io faccia I do/ make
(che) tu faccia you (familiar) do/make

 

(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

faccia you (polite) do/make

she/he does/makes

     
(che) noi facciamo we do/make
(che) voi facciate you all do/make
(che) loro facciano they do/make

 

Sapere – to know (facts) – Present Subjunctive Mood

(che) io sappia I know
(che) tu sappia you (familiar) know
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

sappia you (polite) know

she/he knows

     
(che) noi sappiamo we know
(che) voi sappiate you all know
(che) loro sappiano they know

 

Venire – to come –  Present Subjunctive Mood

(che) io venga I come
(che) tu venga you (familiar) come
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

venga you (polite) come

she/he comes

     
(che) noi veniamo we come
(che) voi veniate you all come
(che) loro vengano they come

How to Conjugate Italian Verbs “Essere,” “Avere,” and “Stare” in the Present Tense Subjunctive Mood

A review from the first blog in this series:

In the tables below are the subjunctive forms for the Italian auxiliary verbs avere, stare, and essere, which are often used in the subjunctive mood in written and spoken Italian. These are important verbs to commit to memory!

 

Avere – to have – Present Subjunctive Mood

(che) io abbia I have
(che) tu abbia you (familiar) have
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

abbia you (polite) have

she/he has

     
(che) noi abbiamo we have
(che) voi abbiate you all have
(che) loro abbiano they have

 

Essere – to be – Present Subjunctive Mood

(che) io sia I am
(che) tu sia you (familiar) are
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

sia you (polite) are

he/he is

     
(che) noi siamo we are
(che) voi siate you all are
(che) loro siano they are

 

Stare – to stay (to be) – Present Subjunctive Mood

(che) io stia I stay (am)
(che) tu stia you (familiar) stay (are)
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

stia you (polite) stay (are)

she/he stays (is)

     
(che) noi stiamo we stay (are)
(che) voi stiate you all stay (are)
(che) loro stiano they stay (are)


Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mood (Part 3)

Example Phrases Using the Present Tense
Italian Subjunctive Mood

To follow are some examples of how the Italian subjunctive mood in the present tense might be used in conversation during daily life. (In later blog posts in this series, we will cover examples of how to use the subjunctive when the introductory phrase is in the conditional or past tense.) Remember, even in Italian, the subjunctive is not an absolute requirement, but in the phrases below, the subjunctive mood is often used.

Notice that in English we do not use the subjunctive mood in the present tense. Also, in general, we often leave out the word “that” from our sentences that contain two phrases. But, as mentioned previously, the Italian word for “that,” “che,” is not an option when linking two phrases! For the translations, the Italian sentence structure is given first in italics to help us to think in Italian. The correct English is in bold.

We will use the example introductory phrases  from earlier in this section. How many more combinations can you think of?

Voglio che tu cucini una cena speciale per la festa stasera. I want that you cook a special dinner for the party tonight. =

I want you to cook a special dinner for the party tonight.

 
Ho paura che lui  guidi  troppo veloce. I am afraid that he drives too fast. =

I am afraid he (just) drives too fast.

   
Sono certo che Lei ricordi questo giorno. I am certain that you remember this day. =

I am certain that you (will) remember this day.

 

Sono sicuro che noi ricordiamo questo posto. I am sure that we remember this place. =
I am sure that we (will) remember this place.
   
Sono felice che voi incontriate  mio cugino oggi. I am happy that you all meet my cousin today. =
I am happy (that) you all (are going) to meet my cousin today.
Sono fortunato che voi mangiate con me questa sera. I am lucky that you all are eating with me tonight.
I am lucky that you all are eating with me tonight.

 

Temo che loro non siano persone perbene. I am afraid that they are not good people. =

I am afraid that they are not good people.

 
Mi auguro che loro facciano una buona vacanza. I hope that they have a good vacation. =

I hope they have a good vacation.

 


 

The Italian Subjunctive Mood: Examples for Modal Verbs

Here are some examples for the introductory phrases “before that” and “after that,” which, as we have discussed in the earlier section, should take the subjunctive mood. These phrases seem to be most useful in situations in which we talk about plans people would like to or have to make for themselves or others, and therefore helping verbs many times also come into play.

Prima che tu debba andare al lavoro, devi prepare molto bene i tuoi documenti. Before (that) you have to go to work, you must prepare your papers very well.
 
Prima che mio figlio possa andare dove vuole, lui deve portarmi a casa. Before (that) my son can go where he wants, he has to bring me home.
 
Prima che noi dobbiamo partire per Roma, dobbiamo riposare un po’ in campagna. Before (that) we must leave for Rome, we must rest a little bit in the country.
 
Prima che voi possiate andare a trovare* i vostri parenti in America, dovete guardagnare un sacco di soldi.** Before (that) you all can visit your relatives in America, you all must make a lot of money.
 
Prima che loro possano mangiare la cena,  devono prepararsi molto bene oggi per la riunione domani. Before (that) they can eat dinner, they must prepare very well today for the meeting tomorrow.

* andare a trovare is an idiomatic expression that means “to go to visit (someone).” Visitare is used when going to visit a place.

** un sacco di soldi is an idiomatic expression that means “a lot of money.”

 


The  Italian Subjunctive Mood: Examples for Idiomatic Phrases

The final group of words that take the subjunctive mood on an idiomatic basis imply that a second phrase is necessary to complete the sentence. These are essential phrases to remember if we want to express complex thoughts in Italian. Here are some examples. How many more can you think of?

Benché io voglia andare in Italia, non è possibile ora. Although I want to go to Italy, it is not possible now.
 
Sebbene lui voglia andare all’università,  non ha ricevuto voti abastanza buoni al liceo. Although he wants to go to college, he did not get good enough grades in high school.
 
Sebbene noi vogliamo vivere bene, dobbiamo lavorare per molti anni o essere molto fortunati. Though we want to live well, we must work for many years or be very lucky.
 
Perché la crostata sia fatta bene, si deve avere le fragle fresche. So that the pie is made well, one must have fresh strawberries.

(English = One/you must have fresh strawberries to make the pie properly.)

 
Vengo alla festa, purche’ lui non ci sia. I will come to the party, provided that he will not be there.

-Some of this material is adapted from Conversational Italian for Travelers, Chapter 7, “Idiomatic Expressions – Avere and Essere + di + Infinitive” © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC.

 

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

Italian Subjunctive (Part 3) : Speak Italian!

Conversational Italian for Travelers Speak Italian!

Italian Subjunctive (Part 2): Speak Italian!

Italian Subjunctive (Part 2): Speak Italian!

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog            The Italian subjunctive mood is easy to conjugate, but tricky to use!

 

Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mood

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

But have you tried to take the next step to speak Italian fluently? Can you use the Italian subjunctive mood in the correct situations? To express complex feelings in Italian correctly, it is important to use the Italian subjunctive mood. Using the subjunctive mood is difficult for English speakers, as we only rarely use this tense in English, and this is something that I am always working on! The blogs in the “Speak Italian” blog series will focus on how to conjugate and use the Italian subjunctive mood, or “il congiuntivo.”

Let’s take that giant step from simple beginning sentences to more complex and fluid sentences in Italian by using the subjunctive mood. In this segment, we will discuss when volere, desiderare, piacere, and dispiacere take the subjunctive mood. We will also learn the conjugation of the present tense subjunctive mood for the -are, -ere, and -ire verbs and the commonly used irregular verbs andare, dare, dire, fare, sapere, and venire. Example sentences will follow!

Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mood

In each blog in the “Speak Italian” series about the  Italian subjunctive mood (“il congiuntivo”),  we will first present phrases that take the Italian subjunctive mood.

Then,  we will review how to conjugate the Italian subjunctive mood.

Finally, we will present common phrases used in daily life that take the Italian subjunctive mood.

Remember these examples as “anchors” in your knowledge for when you must speak Italian and try out the subjunctive mood in your next Italian conversation!

Enjoy the second blog in this series, “Italian Subjunctive (Part 2): Speak Italian!”
—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 instructors Simona Giuggioli and Maria Vanessa Colapinto.

 


Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mood (Part 2)

Once Again… Phrases That Take the Italian Subjunctive Mood

Verbs in Italian can have a subjunctive mood that is used to express beliefs, thoughts, or hopes with the verbs credere, pensare, and sperare.

The subjunctive mood is also said to “open up” a conversation to discussion about a particular topic by expressing doubt, uncertainty, desire, or a feeling.

Certain phrases are commonly used to start a sentence in order to introduce the subjunctive mood, and these initial phrases will be in the indicative tense (the “usual” present or past tense). The subjunctive mood is also used with the conditional tense, but this will be the topic of later blogs. These initial phrases imply uncertainty and trigger the subjunctive mood in the phrase to follow.

In our first blog about the Italian subjunctive mood, we learned that these initial phrases fall into several groups. We discussed Groups 1  through Group 5, which are given below for review.

To follow in this blog is an explanation of several more phrases that can be used to introduce the Italian subjunctive mood, which we have added into our original list as Group 6 and Group 7.

  1. Phrases that use the verbs credere (to believe), pensare (to think), and sperare (to hope). These verbs use the pattern: [verb  di + infinitive verb to describe the beliefs, thoughts, or hopes that one has. When the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the clause that follows, the pattern changes to: [verb + che + subjunctive verb].*
  2. Impersonal constructions that begin with, “It is…” such as, “È possibile che…”
  3. Phrases that express a doubt, such as, “I don’t know…” or “Non so che…”
  4. Phrases that express uncertainty, such as, “It seems to me…” or “Mi sembra che…”
  5. Impersonal verbs followed by the conjunction che, such as, “Basta che…” “It is enough that,” or “Si dice che…” “They say that…”
  6. Phrases that use the verbs volere and desiderare when the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the clause that follows. In this situation, these verbs will be followed by che.
  7. Phrases that use the verbs piacere and dispiacere when the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the clause that follows. In this situation, these verbs will be followed by che.

 

As usual, there is a summary table at the end of the next section that shows how to use these phrases. The present tense phrases are in the first two columns and the past tense phrases in the last two columns. Notice that the imperfetto form of the past tense is given in our table for brevity, but the passato prossimo form of the past tense can also be used, depending on the situation.  Use of the past tense forms will be the topic of later blogs.

Points to remember about the subjunctive mood:

 In Italian, the introductory phrases usually end with a linking word, also known as a conjunction, which will be che.  In this situation, che means that.  The clause that follows our introductory phrase will then describe what the uncertainty is about.

Note that the simple present or past tenses can also be used after the introductory phrases listed below, rather than the subjunctive mood, if you are speaking about a fact or something that you believe to be true. This use will make perfect sense to the Italian listener, even when the subjective mode is otherwise commonly used.

*When the speaker in the introductory phrase will carry out the action in the phrase to follow, Italian will use the following construction to link the phrases for credere, pensare, and sperare :  di + infinitive verb. Example: Penso di andare a Roma domani.  =  I think I will go to Rome tomorrow.  (Use  pensare a when thinking ABOUT something or someone.)

 


How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mood with
Volere and Desiderare

When expressing one’s desire in Italian in the first person (io conjugation), voglio/vorrei and desidero are used in similar situations to mean I want and I would like. In this case, these helping verbs are followed directly by another verb that is in the infinitive tense (if you remember, infinitive verbs end in -are, -ere, -ire and translate as “to…”).  Of course, these verbs can also be followed by a noun, the “object of our desire”!

Volere and desiderare are covered in detail in Chapter 4 of our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers, if you would like a review. Below are some simple examples:

Voglio imparare l’italiano.      I want to learn Italian.

Vorrei viaggiare in Italia.         I would like to travel to Italy.

Desidero andare al cinema.    I want to go to the movies.

But when these same verbs—voglio/vorrei and desidero—are used to express a desire for something that the speaker in the first person (io) wants another person to do, then these helping verbs must be followed by che, and then the subjunctive mode should be used for the verb in the next phrase.

In this blog, we will only discuss the present tense subjunctive mood used with voglio and desidero.

 


How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mood with
Piacere and Dispiacere

The verb forms mi piace, mi piacerrebbe and mi dispiace, mi dispiaccerebbe follow the same rule given for the verbs in Group 6 we just discussed: when the verb that follows these introductory phrases refers to the speaker (io form), then a verb in the infinitive form follows directly.  When the verb that follows refers to someone else, che is used as a link to a verb in the subjunctive mood in the second clause.

In this blog, we will only discuss the present tense subjunctive mood used with mi piace and mi dispiace.

In our example table that follows, we will illustrate the use of che followed by a different speaker from the introductory phrase with ...che tu.  This conjunction  means …that you.  Of course, we can replace tu with any of the other subject pronouns, and then the phrases would be: ….che Lei, che lei, che lui, che noi, che voi, or che loro.

Phrases Used to Introduce the Subjunctive Mood  with Volere, Desiderare, Piacere, Dispiacere

 

Present Tense &
Conditional Tense
Subjunctive Phrases
Groups 6 and 7
    Past Tense &
Past Conditional Tense
Subjunctive Phrases
Groups 6 and 7
       
Voglio… che tu I want… that you Volevo… che tu I wanted… that you
Vorrei… che tu I would like…
that you
Volevo… che tu I wanted… that you
Desidero… che tu I want… that you Desideravo… che tu I wanted… that you
Mi piace… che tu I like… that you Mi piaceva… che tu I liked… that you
Mi dispiace… che tu I am sorry… that you Mi dispiaceva… che tu I was sorry… that you
Mi piacerebbe…
che tu
I would like…
that you
Mi sarebbe piaciuto… che tu I would have liked…
that you
Mi dispiacerebbe…
che tu
I don’t mind…
that you
Mi sarebbe piaciuto… che tu I didn’t mind… that you

 

Finally, a word of caution:

DO NOT USE THE SUBJUNCTIVE WITH THE FOLLOWING THREE PHRASES!

Forse = Perhaps      

Per me = For me

Secondo me = According to me

 

The above may seem like exceptions to the rule, but perhaps… because these phrases already express doubt or your personal opinion… in the Italian way of thinking, it would be redundant to use these phrases along with the subjunctive!


Speak Italian: The Present Tense Subjunctive Mood (Part 2)

How to Conjugate the Italian Subjunctive Mood Present Tense for -are, -ere, and -ire Verbs

 

To change any regular infinitive verb into the present subjunctive mood, first drop the final -are, -ere, or -ire to create the stem. Then add the endings given in the first table below to the stem that has been created. Examples for each verb type are given in the second table below.*

The word che is included in parentheses in the subject pronoun column as a reminder that these verb forms typically are used with  the conjunction che. Also, use the subject pronoun in your sentence after che for clarity, since the endings for the singular forms are all the same!

Practice the subjunctive verbs out loud by saying che, the subject pronoun and then the correct verb form that follows!

Subjunctive Mood – Present Tense

 

Subject Pronoun -are ending -ere ending -ire ending
io i a a
tu i a a
Lei/lei/lui i a a
       
noi iamo iamo iamo
voi iate iate iate
loro ino ano ano

 

  Tornare

(to return)

Vendere

(to sell)

Partire

(to leave)

(che)  io torni venda parta
(che) tu torni venda parta
(che) Lei/lei/lui torni venda parta
       
(che) noi torniamo vendiamo partiamo
(che) voi torniate vendiate partiate
(che) loro tornino vendano partano

*(The stressed syllable for the example verbs has been underlined in the table above.)

  1. When pronouncing the subjunctive verbs, the stress will fall in the same place as in the conjugated verb forms for the present tense. This will be in the beginning of the verb (first or second syllable) for the io, tu, Lei/lei, lui, and loro forms, and one syllable to the right (second or third syllable) for the noi and voi forms.
  2. Notice that all of the singular subjunctive endings (io, tu, Lei/lei lui) are the same for each infinitive form of the verb.
  3. Also, all the endings for the -ere and -ire verbs are identical in the first person!
  4. The noi and voi forms are the same for all infinitive verb forms as well.
  5. The noi form is identical to the present tense!

 


 

The Subjunctive Mood – Irregular Present Tense
Commonly Used Verbs

Here are the irregular present subjunctive forms for six commonly used  verbs in Italian.  It may be useful to commit these forms to memory, as these verbs are often used in the subjunctive mood in written and spoken Italian. Notice that the translation is the simple present tense in English.

Andare – to go –  Present Subjunctive Mood

(che) io vada I go
(che) tu vada you (familiar) go
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

vada you (polite) go

she/he goes

     
(che) noi andiamo we go
(che) voi andiate you all go
(che) loro vadano they go

 

 

Dare – to give – Present Subjunctive Mood

(che) io dia I give
(che) tu dia you give
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

dia you give

she/he gives

     
(che) noi diamo we give
(che) voi diate you all give
(che) loro diano they give

 

 

Dire – to say/ to tell – Subjunctive Mood

(che) io dica I say/tell
(che) tu dica you (familiar) say/tell

 

(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

dica you (polite) say/tell

she/he says/tells

     
(che) noi diciamo we say/tell
(che) voi diciate you all say/tell
(che) loro dicano they say/tell

 

 

Fare – to do/ to make– Present Subjunctive Mood

(che) io faccia I do/ make
(che) tu faccia you (familiar) do/make

 

(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

faccia you (polite) do/make

she/he does/makes

     
(che) noi facciamo we do/make
(che) voi facciate you all do/make
(che) loro facciano they do/make

 

 

Sapere – to know (facts) –  Present Subjunctive Mood

(che) io sappia I know
(che) tu sappia you (familiar) know
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

sappia you (polite) know

she/he knows

     
(che) noi sappiamo we know
(che) voi sappiate you all know
(che) loro sappiano they know

 

 

Venire – to come – Present Subjunctive Mood

(che) io venga I come
(che) tu venga you (familiar) come
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

venga you (polite) come

she/he comes

     
(che) noi veniamo we come
(che) voi veniate you all come
(che) loro vengano they come

 


 

 

Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mood (Part 2)

Example Phrases Using the Present Tense Subjunctive Mood

To follow are some examples of how the Italian subjunctive mood in the present tense might be used in conversation during daily life. (In later blog posts in this series, we will cover examples of how to use the subjunctive when the introductory phrase is in the conditional or past tense.) Remember, even in Italian, the subjunctive is not an absolute requirement, but in the phrases below, the subjunctive mood is often used.

Notice that in English we do not use the subjunctive mood in the present tense. Also, in general, we often leave out the word “that” from our sentences that contain two phrases. But, as mentioned previously, the Italian word for “that,” “che,” is not an option when linking two phrases! For the translations, the Italian sentence structure is given first in italics to help us to think in Italian. The correct English is in bold.

We will use the example introductory phrases and verbs from earlier in this section. How many more combinations can you think of?

 

Voglio che tu torni presto. I want that you return soon. =
I want you to return soon.
   
Voglio che lui  venda la macchina vecchia. I want that he sells the old car. =
I want him to sell the old car.
   
Desidero che lei parta questa sera. I want that she leaves tonight. =
I want her to leave tonight.
   
Desidero che Lei faccia una bella torta per la festa. I want that you make a nice cake for the party. =
I want you to make a nice cake for the party.
   
Mi piace che tu vada a Roma ogni giorno. I like that you go to Rome every day. =
I like (that fact that) you to go to Rome every day.
   
Mi dispiace che lui non sappia questa informazione. I am sorry that he doesn’t know this information. =
I am sorry he doesn’t know this information.

 

 

Voglio che noi torniamo presto. I want that we return soon. =
I want us to return soon.
   
Voglio che noi vendiamo la macchina vecchia. I want that we sell the old car. =
I want us to sell the old car.
   
Desidero che voi partiate questa sera. I want that you all leave tonight. =
I want you all to leave tonight.
   
Desidero che voi facciate una bella torta per la festa. I want that you all make a nice cake for the party. =
I want you all to make a nice cake for the party.
   
Mi piace che voi  andiate a Roma ogni giorno. I like that you all go to Rome every day. =
I like (the fact that) you to go to Rome every day.
   
Mi dispiace che voi  non sappiate questa informazione. I am sorry that you all don’t know this information. =
I am sorry you all don’t know this information.

 

 

Voglio che loro tornino presto. I want that they return soon. =
I want them to return soon.
   
Voglio che loro  vendano la macchina vecchia. I want that they sell the old car. =
I want them to sell the old car.
   
Desidero che loro partano questa sera. I want that they leave tonight. =
I want them to leave tonight.
   
Desidero che loro facciano una bella torta per la festa. I want that they make a nice cake for the party. =
I want them to make a nice cake for the party.
   
Mi piace che loro vadano a Roma ogni giorno. I like that they go to Rome every day. =
I like them to go to Rome every day.
   
Mi dispiace che loro non sappiano questa informazione. I am sorry that they don’t know this information. =
I am sorry they don’t know this information.

 

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

Italian Subjunctive (Part 2): Speak Italian!

Conversational Italian for Travelers Speak Italian!

Italian Subjunctive (Part 1): Speak Italian!

Italian Subjunctive (Part 1): Speak Italian!

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog               The Italian subjunctive mood is easy to conjugate, but tricky to use!

 

Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mood

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

But have you tried to take the next step to speak Italian fluently? Can you use the Italian subjunctive mood in the correct situations? To express complex feelings in Italian correctly, it is important to use the Italian subjunctive mood. Using the subjunctive mood is difficult for English speakers, as we only rarely use this tense in English, and this is something that I am always working on! The blogs in the “Speak Italian” blog series will focus on how to conjugate and use the Italian subjunctive mood, or “il congiuntivo.”

Let’s take that giant step from simple beginning sentences to more complex and fluid sentences in Italian by using the subjunctive mood. In this segment, we will discuss the phrases that take the subjunctive mood and the how to conjugate the subjunctive mood for avere, essere and stare in the present tenseExample sentences will follow!

Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mood

In each blog in the “Speak Italian” series about the  Italian subjunctive mood (“il congiuntivo”),  we will first present phrases that take the Italian subjunctive mood.

Then,  we will review how to conjugate the Italian subjunctive mood.

Finally, we will present common phrases used in daily life that take the Italian subjunctive mood.

Remember these examples as “anchors” in your knowledge for when you must speak Italian and try out the subjunctive mood in your next Italian conversation!

Enjoy the first blog in this series, “Italian Subjunctive (Part 1): Speak Italian!”
—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 instructors Simona Giuggioli and Maria Vanessa Colapinto.


Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mood (Part 1)

Introducing… Phrases That Take the Italian Subjunctive Mood

Verbs in Italian can have a subjunctive mood that is used to express beliefs, thoughts, or hopes with the verbs credere, pensare, and sperare.

The subjunctive mood is also said to “open up” a conversation to discussion about a particular topic by expressing doubt, uncertainty, desire, or a feeling.

Certain phrases are commonly used to start a sentence in order to introduce the subjunctive mood, and these initial phrases will be in the indicative tense (the “usual” present or past tense). The subjunctive mood is also used with the conditional tense, but this will be the topic of later blogs. These initial phrases imply uncertainty and trigger the subjunctive mood in the phrase to follow.

These groups are listed below:

  1. Phrases that use the verbs credere (to believe), pensare (to think), and sperare (to hope). These verbs use the pattern: [verb  di + infinitive verb to describe the beliefs, thoughts, or hopes that one has. When the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the subjunctive clause that follows, the pattern changes to: [verb + che + subjunctive verb].*
  2. Impersonal constructions that begin with, “It is…” such as, “È possibile che…”
  3. Phrases that express a doubt, such as, “I don’t know…” or “Non so che…”
  4. Phrases that express uncertainty, such as, “It seems to me…” or “Mi sembra che…”
  5. Impersonal verbs followed by the conjunction che, such as, “Basta che…” “It is enough that,” or “Si dice che…” “They say that…

 

In Italian, the introductory phrases usually end with a linking word, also known as a conjunction, which will be che.  In this situation, che means that.  The clause that follows our introductory phrase will then describe what the uncertainty is about.

Note that the simple present or past tenses can also be used after the introductory phrases listed below, rather than the subjunctive mood, if you are speaking about a fact or something you believe to be true. This use will make perfect sense to the Italian listener, even when the subjective mood is otherwise commonly used.

To follow is a (long) list of phrases that can be used to introduce the subjunctive mood, with example from the present tense in the first two columns and the past tense in the last two columns. Notice that the imperfetto form of the past tense is given in our table for brevity, but the passato prossimo form of the past tense can also be used, depending on the situation.  Use of the past tense forms will be the topic of later blogs.

Phrases That Take the Subjunctive Mood

 

Present Tense
Subjunctive 
Phrase
Groups 1 and 2
    Past Tense
Subjunctive Phrase
Groups 1 and 2
 
Credo che I believe that Credevo che I believed that
Penso che I think that Pensavo che  I thought that
Spero che I hope that Speravo che I hoped that
         
È possibile che It is possible that Era possibile che It was possible that
È probablile che It is probable that Era probabile che It was probable that
       
È bene che It is fine/good that Era bene che It was fine/good that
Sarebbe bene che It would be good that Sarebbe stato bene che It would have been good that
È giusto che It is right that Era giusto che It was right that
È meglio  che It is better that Era meglio che It was better that
       
È incredible che It is incredible that Era incredibile che It was incredible that
È un peccato che It is a shame that Era un peccato che It was a shame that
È una vergogna che It is a disgrace that Era una vergogna che It was a disgrace that
È normale che It is normal that Era normale che It was normal that
       

 

Present Tense
Subjunctive 
Phrase
Groups 3, 4, and 5
    Past Tense
Subjunctive Phrase
Groups 3, 4, and 5
 
Non so che I don’t know that Non sapevo che I didn’t know that
Non so dove I don’t know where Non sapevo dove I didn’t know where
Non sono sicuro che I am not sure that Non ero sicuro che I wasn’t sure that
Non ho idea che I have no idea that Non avevo idea che I had no idea that
Non mi aspetto che I couldn’t wait that Non mi aspettavo che I couldn’t wait that
Non c’è nulla che There is nothing that Non c’era nulla che There was nothing that
       
Mi pare che It seems to me Mi pareva che It seemed to me
Mi sembra che It seems to me Mi sembrava che It seemed to me
Può darsi che Perhaps    
Ho l’impressione che I have the impression that Avevo l’impresione che I had the impression that
Suppongo che I suppose that Supponevo che I supposed that
Immagino che I imagine that Immaginavo che I imagined that
Dubito che I doubt that Dubitavo che I doubted that
Sono convinto che I am convinced that Ero convinto che I was convinced that
 
A meno che Unless    
Conviene che It is best that Conveniva che It was best that
Basta che It is enough that Bastava che It was enough that
Malgrado che In spite of that    
Si dice che It is said that Si diceva che It was said that
Dicono che They say that Dicevano che They said that
 Bisogna che  It’s necessary that  Bisognavo che  It was necessary that

*When the speaker in the introductory phrase will carry out the action in the phrase to follow, Italian will use the following construction to link the phrases for credere, pensare, and sperare :  di + infinitive verb. Example: Penso di andare a Roma domani.  =  I think I will go to Rome tomorrow.  (Use  pensare a when thinking ABOUT something or someone.)

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

Finally, a word of caution:

DO NOT USE THE SUBJUNCTIVE WITH THE FOLLOWING THREE PHRASES!

Forse = Perhaps

 Per me = For me

Secondo me = According to me

The above may seem like exceptions to the rule, but perhaps… because these phrases already express doubt or your personal opinion… in the Italian way of thinking, it would be redundant to use these phrases along with the subjunctive!


Speak Italian: The Present Tense Subjunctive Mood (Part 1)

How to Conjugate Italian Verbs “Essere,” “Avere,” and “Stare” in the Present Tense Subjunctive Mood

Here are the present tense subjunctive forms for the Italian auxiliary verbs avere, stare, and essere, which are often used in the subjunctive mood in written and spoken Italian.  Che is included in parentheses in the subject pronoun column as a reminder that these verb forms are typically introduced with  the conjunction che.  Also,  make sure to include the subject pronoun in your sentence after che for clarity, since the singular forms are identical.

Practice the subjunctive verbs out loud by saying che , the subject  pronoun and then the correct verb form that follows!

Avere – to have – Subjunctive Mood

(che) io abbia I have
(che) tu abbia you (familiar) have
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

abbia you (polite) have

she/he has

     
(che) noi abbiamo we have
(che) voi abbiate you all have
(che) loro abbiano they have

 

Essere – to be – Subjunctive Mood

(che) io sia I am
(che) tu sia you (familiar) are
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

sia you (polite) are

he/he is

     
(che) noi siamo we are
(che) voi siate you all are
(che) loro siano they are

 

Stare – to stay (to be) – Subjunctive Mood

(che) io stia I stay (am)
(che) tu stia you (familiar) stay (are)
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

stia you (polite) stay (are)

she/he stays (is)

     
(che) noi stiamo we stay (are)
(che) voi stiate you all stay (are)
(che) loro stiano they stay (are)

Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mood (Part 1)

Example Phrases Using “Stare” in the Present Tense Subjunctive Mood

To follow are some examples of when the Italian subjunctive mood in the present tense might be used in conversation during daily life. Remember, even in Italian, the subjunctive is not an absolute requirement. But, in the phrases below, the subjunctive mood is often used. Notice that the English translation is the same for the present tense and the Italian subjunctive forms used in the sentences below.

We will start with sentences using stare (to stay/to be) in the subjunctive mood because this verb comes up very commonly in this modern life, when not a day seems to go by without an email being sent and received! The old formalities of opening and closing a letter have returned! After the greeting in an email, especially if there has not been recent communication, it is customary to mention a hope that all is well with friends and family. Here is a case for the subjunctive!

Present Tense
Phrase
Present Tense
Subjunctive Phrase
Tu stai bene. You (familiar) are well. Spero che tu stia bene. I hope that you (familiar) are well.
Lei sta bene. You (polite) are well.

She is well.

Spero che lei stia bene. I hope that you (polite) are well.

I hope that she is well.

Lui sta bene. He is well. Spero che lui stia bene. I hope that he is well.
La famiglia sta bene. The family is well. Spero che la tua famiglia* stia bene. I hope that the family* is well.
Tutti stanno bene. Everyone/body
is well.
Spero che tutti stiano bene.  I hope that everyone/everybody is well.

*Famiglia = family and is a collective noun and takes the third person singular.


Example Phrases Using “Avere” in the Present Tense Subjunctive Mood

We often close an email with a hope as well—for a nice weekend, for instance, or that we will see the person we have contacted sometime soon. In this case, the phrases we most commonly use will need to use avere (to have) in the subjunctive mood.

Present Tense
Phrase
Present Tense
Subjunctive Phrase
Buona settimana! Have a good week! Spero che tu abbia una buona settimana.

 

I hope that you have a good week!
Buon fine settimana! Have a good weekend! Spero che tu abbia un buon fine settimana.

 

I hope that you have a good weekend!
Buona giornata.

Buona serata.

Have a good day.

Have a good evening.

Spero che tu abbia una buona giornata/buona serata. I hope that you have a good day/evening.

 


Example Phrases Using “Essere” in the Present Tense Subjunctive Mood

The verb essere (to be) is commonly used when describing someone’s characteristics to someone else.  But what if we are not sure that someone possesses a certain characteristic, or we would like someone to possess a characteristic we fear they may not have? Then we must use the subjunctive mood in our sentence! Here are a few examples. How many more can you think of?

Present Tense
Phrase
Present Tense
Subjunctive Phrase
Lei è bella. She is beautiful. Mi sembra che lei sia bella. She seems beautiful to me.

(It seems to me that she is beautiful.)

L’insegnante è simpatico. The teacher is nice.  

Spero che l’insegnante sia simpatico.

 

I hope that the teacher is nice.
Dio è in cielo. God is in heaven.  

Credo che Dio sia in cielo.

 

I believe that God is in heaven.
L’attrice è brava in quel film. The actress is great in that film.  

Penso che l’attrice sia brava in quel film.

 

I think that the actress is great in that film.
Lui è fortunato. He is fortunate.  

Spero che lui sia fortunato.

 

I hope that he is fortunate.
Lei è contenta. She is happy.  

Mi pare che lei sia contenta.

 

She seems happy to me.

(It seems to me that she is happy.)

Loro sono bravi cantanti. They are wonderful singers.  

Può darsi che loro siano bravi cantanti.

 

Perhaps they are wonderful singers.
Lui è un bravo studente. He is a good student.  

Dubito che lui sia un bravo studente.

 

I doubt that he is a good student.
Lei è sposata. She is marrried. È probabile che lei sia sposata. She is probably married.

(It is probable that she is married.)

Loro sono ricchi. They are rich. È possibile che loro siano ricchi. It is possible that they are rich.

 

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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Italian Subjunctive (Part 1): Speak Italian!