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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 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 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 it’s something that I am always working on! The next three blogs in the “Speak Italian” blog series will focus on how to conjugate and use the Italian subjunctive mood, or “il congiuntivo.”

To take that giant step from simple beginning sentences to more complex and fluid sentences in Italian using the subjunctive, 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. Example sentences to 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”), phrases that take the Italian subjunctive mood will be presented. Then we will review the Italian conjugation for the subjunctive mood. Finally, examples of common phrases used in daily life with the subjunctive mood will be presented. 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 doubt, uncertainty, desire, or a feeling.

The subjunctive mood is said to “open up” a conversation to discussion about a particular topic.

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.

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 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 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.

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
 Bisogno 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       

Secondo me = According to me

Per me = For 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 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 used with  the conjunction che.  Also, use 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, if there has not been recent communication, it is customary to mention a hope that all is well with the 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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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 1): Speak Italian!

Conversational Italian for Travelers Speak Italian!

Speak Italian: A Story About… Love!

Speak Italian: A Story About… Love!

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

 

Speak Italian: A Story About… 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 all the things that are nearest and dearest to your heart 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 many things; in this segment, we will discuss how to use possessive adjectives in Italian, phrases for storytelling, reciprocal reflexive verbs, and the special ways to say we love and miss someone using the Italian verbs volere and mancare!

 

Speak Italian: A Story About… Love!

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! Remember these examples about yourself as “anchors” in your knowledge for when you must speak Italian in your next conversation!

Enjoy the third topic in this series, “Speak Italian: A Story About… 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: A Story About… Love!

In every life,  we experience many types of love—country, family, and of course, one’s own true love. So it is important to learn the special Italian phrases to speak about what we love. I’ve adapted the story of one of my grandmothers, who emigrated from Italy in the 1920s, into a short essay about her struggles in Italy and in America, and the love that she was able to find in her life. Of course, this material has been adapted to be a learning tool, and this essay is not meant to be a complete biography.

While reading about my grandmother’s three great loves—her countries, her family, and her husband—think about yourself and what you truly love. Read the grammar section if you like. Then, use the blank spaces in the form that follows to fill in the Italian for your own life! 

Speak Italian: A Story About… Love!

When I was young, when I was about 7 years old, I asked my grandmother to tell me her story. And this is what she said to me:

Da bambina, quando avevo cerca sette anni, ho chiesto a mia nonna di raccontarmi la sua storia.

E questo è quello che mi ha detto:

 

My story is a story of many great loves. When I was young, I lived in Sicily, and I loved my town Ragusa very much. Ragusa is on top of a big mountain but is also near the sea. Every day I could see the sunrise and the sunset over the south of Sicily, and it was very beautiful! I loved Sicily very much!

La mia storia è una storia di tanti grandi amori. Quando ero giovane, ho vissuto in Sicilia e mi piaceva molto il mio paese che si chiama Ragusa. Ragusa è sopra una grande montagna ma  è anche vicino al mare. Ogni giorno potevo vedere l’alba e il tramonto sopra il sud della Sicilia ed era molto bello! Mi piaceva molto la Sicilia!

 

I had five brothers and sisters—two brothers and three sisters. I was the oldest in the family, and when I was 12 years old, I had to leave school. I had to help my mother take care of my sisters and my brothers. Before I went to bed, every night I said to my mother, “Do you love me?” And my mother replied, “I love you very much!”

Avevo cinque fratellidue fratelli e tre sorelle. Ero la più grande nella famiglia e quando avevo dodici anni ho dovuto lasciare la scuola. Ho dovuto aiutare mia mamma a prendersi cura delle mie sorelle e dei miei fratelli. Prima di andare a letto, ogni notte dicevo a mia mamma, “Mi vuoi bene?” E mia madre diceva, “Ti voglio molto bene!”

 

And at Ragusa, there was also a boy named Peter who was 2 years older than me. Peter grew up on the same street as my family. When he became older, Peter was tall and handsome, a good person, and was very nice to me. I loved him. I became his girlfriend, but in secret.

Ed a Ragusa c’era anche un ragazzo che si chiamava Pietro che aveva due anni più di me. Pietro è cresciuto nella stessa strada della mia famiglia. Da grande, Pietro è diventato alto e bello, bravo, ed era molto simpatico con me. L’amavo. Sono diventata la sua ragazza, ma in segreto.

 

Peter’s father, Paul, was also a good person and decided to make a better life for his family and go to America. In 1916, when Peter was 16 years old, Paul brought the family to America. There was a lot of work for Paul, who was a bricklayer and helped to build many buildings that are still well known in New York today. Peter’s father made a lot of money, and the family was very well off.

Il padre di Pietro, Paolo, era anche una persona perbene e ha deciso di migliorare la vita della sua famiglia e di andare in America. Nel millenovecentosedici, quando Pietro aveva sedici anni, Paolo ha portato la famiglia in America. C’era molto lavoro per Paolo, chi era un muratore e ha aiutato a costruire tanti palazzi ancora ben conosciuti a New York oggi. Il padre di Pietro ha fatto tanti soldi e la famiglia stava molto bene.

 

Peter also worked every day and learned his father’s trade. But Peter was not happy. He wrote me in many letters that New York was ugly. He missed his beautiful Sicily. He missed me! In Sicily, I missed Peter!

Anche Pietro lavorava ogni giorno e imparava il mestiere da suo padre. Ma, Pietro non era contento. Lui mi ha scritto in tante lettere che New York era brutta. A lui mancava la sua bella Sicilia. Anche, io gli mancavo! Mentre in Sicilia, mi mancava Pietro

 

This continued for many years.

Continuava cosi per tanti anni.

 

Finally, Peter wrote a letter to my father and asked him to take me to America to get married (marry me).

Finalmente, Pietro ha scritto una lettera a mio padre e l’ha chiesto di portarmi in America per sposarmi.

 

At first, my father had said, “Absolutely not!”

Al inizio, mio padre ha detto, “Assolutamente no!”

 

But I wanted to go to America and marry Peter. I loved Peter very much. Every day, I cried. I did not eat anything. My mother said to my father, “How sad Maria is! You must take her to America!”

Ma volevo andare in America e sposarmi con Pietro. L’amavo tanto. Ogni giorno, piangevo. Non mangiavo niente. Mia madre ha detto a mio padre, “Come triste è Maria! Devi portarla in America!”

 

And finally, he did it!

E finalmente, lui l’ho fatto!

 

Peter and I were married, and we had three children: two boys and one girl. We moved to a small town north of New York City, where there are mountains and it is very pretty.

Pietro ed io ci siamo sposati e abbiamo avuto tre figlidue figli maschi e una figla femmina. Abbiamo traslocati a un piccolo paese a nord di New York, dove ci sono le montagne ed è molto bello.

 

Today, I feel very fortunate and happy because I have my three great loves: my new country, my husband, and my family!

Oggi, mi sento molto fortunata e contena perché ho i miei tre grandi amori: il mio paese nuovo, mio marito, e la mia famiglia!

 


 

Speak Italian: Grammar You Will Need to Know…

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

How to Use Italian Possessive Adjectives to Describe Things

  1. The definite article (il, la, i, or le) must be added before the possessive adjective when we describe the things that we possess. In this case, both the definite article and the possessive adjective will match the gender and number of the noun that is being modified. Remember, in Italian, we do not think about who is doing the possessing, but about what is being possessed!
Singular   Plural
il mio/la mia my i miei/le mie
il tuo/la tua your (familiar) singular i tuoi/le tue
il suo*/la sua* your (polite)* singular

his, her, its

i suoi*/le sue*

 

     
il nostro/la nostra our i nostri/le nostre

 

il vostro/la vostra your (familiar) plural i vostri/le vostre
il loro/la loro their i loro*/le loro*

*For “polite your,” simply capitalize, as in, “il Suo amico” or “la Sua amica.”

 

  1. It should be noted that the definite article can be omitted if the speaker wants to emphasize ownership of a particular thing when using the verb essere. If someone wants to stress his ownership of a car, for instance, he would simply say, “È mia” for “(It) is mine,” and omit the definite article la and the word macchina. In English, we use mine instead of my, ours instead of our, and yours instead of your after the verb “to be” in a similar way. This is called the stressed form of the possessive adjective.

 

  1. Also, the expression “a casa mia,” with the possessive adjective placed alone, after the noun, is idiomatic and means “at/to my house.” The other possessive forms can be used as well with this phrase, as in “a casa tua” (at your house) or “a casa sua” (at his/her house). And it can always be “colpa mia,” or “my fault.”                            

 

 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

How to Use Italian Possessive Adjectives with Family Members

  1. When speaking of only one family member, do not use the definite article!

        mio cugino = my cousin

  1. When speaking of more than one family member, the definite article must be used.

i miei cugini = my cousins

  1. If using an adjective to describe family members, the definite article must be used.

“Caterina è la mia cara cugina.” = “Kathy is my dear cousin.”

 

Singular and Plural Possessive Adjectives for Family

 

mio/mia my i miei/le mie
tuo/tua your (familiar) singular i tuoi/le tue
suo/sua your (polite) singular/his/her/its i suoi/le sue
     
nostro/nostra our i nostri/le nostre
vostro/vostra your (familiar) plural i vostri/le vostre
il loro/la loro their i loro/le loro

 

La Mia Famiglia Femminile/Female Members of My Family

 

mia madre my mother  
(la) mia mamma my mom  
mia sorella my sister(s) le mie sorelle
mia nonna my grandmother(s) le mie nonne
mia zia my aunt(s) le mie zie
mia figlia my daughter(s) le mie figlie
mia cugina my female cousin(s) le mie cugine

 

La Mia Famiglia Maschile/Male Members of My Family

 

mio padre my father  
(il) mio papà my dad  
mio fratello my brother(s) i miei fratelli
mio nonno my grandfather(s) i miei nonni
mio zio my uncle(s) i miei zii
mio figlio my son(s) i miei figli
mio cugino my cousin(s) i miei cugini

 

  1. Always use il mio fidanzato or la mia fidanzata for a boyfriend/fiancé or girlfriend/fiancée who are not yet part of the family! This also applies to la mia ex moglie and il mio ex marito, my ex-wife and my ex-husband.

 

  1. If a pet, or animale domestico, such as a cat or a dog, is a part of your family, use the definite article when referring to them. So, my cat or my dog would be il mio gato or il mio cane. The endings of the nouns that refer to animals do not need to be changed to match their gender. But, if it is important to emphasize that you have a male or a female animal, see below:

 

il gato il mio gato the cat my cat (any gender or a male cat)
il mio gato  il mio gato maschio the male cat my male cat
la mia gata la mia gata femmina the female cat my female cat

 

il cane il mio cane the dog my dog (any gender or a male dog)
il mio cane  il mio cane maschio the male dog my male dog
la mia cagna la mia cagna femmina the female dog my female dog

 

  1. When speaking in Italian of two family members or objects of the same gender and number, link them with the word “and,” which is “e” in Italian. The possessive pronoun does not need to be repeated. That said, the tendency in Italian is to repeat the possessive pronoun anyway.

The possessive pronoun must be used for each person/thing linked with the word “and” when the gender or number of the person/thing differs.

Note that in English, it is not necessary to repeat the word “my,” although “my” can be repeated to emphasize that one is speaking of two different types of groups.

mio fratello e cugino or mio fratello e mio cugino my brother and cousin
   
mio fratello e mia sorella my brother and sister
mio fratello e i miei cugini my brother and my cousins

 

 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

How to Talk about Siblings and Children

  1. When talking about siblings in Italian, the idea is expressed with the Italian plural word fratelli. This masculine plural noun refers to a group of all male siblings and to a group of both male and female siblings. Therefore, the number of brothers and sisters must be specified in the next sentence—and all endings changed into either masculine or feminine.

Remember to use un fratello for one male sibling and una sorella for one female sibling.

Ho due fratelli. I have two siblings (brothers and sisters or just brothers).
Ho un fratello e una sorella. I have one brother and one sister.

 

Remember to use fratelli for a group of brothers and sorelle for a group of sisters.

Ho cinque fratelli. I have five siblings (brothers and sisters or just brothers).
Ho due fratelli e tre sorelle. I have two brothers and three sisters.

 

  1. When talking about one’s own or someone else’s children in Italian, the idea is expressed with the Italian plural word figli (which otherwise means sons). This masculine word refers to a group of all male children and to a group of both male and female children. It then becomes necessary to use additional nouns to categorize the children as male or female in the next sentence, and all endings must be changed into either masculine or feminine.

Remember to use uno figlio maschio for one male child and una figlia femmina for one female child.

Ho due figli. I have two children./I have two boys and girls.
Ho un figlio maschio e una figlia femmina. I have one boy and one girl.

 

Remember to use figli maschi for a group of male children and figlie femmine for a group of female children.

Ho cinque figli. I have five children./I have five boys and girls.
Ho due figli maschi e tre figlie femmine. I have two brothers and three sisters.

 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

When to use “Che” to Connect Phrases in Italian

“Che” has many meanings in Italian,and is used in many ways.  This little word will come up often in spoken and written Italian.  The first and probably most important meaning that is found in most every dictionary, though, is the conjunctive “that.”  While in English, many times we leave out the word “that” when linking two phrases together to make a complex sentence, in Italian this word can almost never be omitted.

 A couple of important examples were underlined in are dialogue to make this point and are reprinted here.  Learning how and when to incorporate “che”  into an Italian sentence will take one a long way to becoming fluent in Italian, so listen closely for this word!

  1. To link the phrase “this is what” to a second phrase.

E questo è quello che mi ha detto:
And this is what (that) she said to me:

        2. To mention something or someone and then give its actual name.

Mi piaceva molto il mio paese che si chiama Ragusa.
( Italian: I loved my town very much that is called Ragusa.)
I loved my town Ragusa very much.


 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

When to use “Che” to Connect Phrases in Italian

“Che” has many meanings in Italian,and is used in many ways. Below are two more uses for the Italian word che, with two different meanings.

  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. Two of the most commonly spoken phrases where che is used this way are below:

 

Che succede? What’s happening?
Che è successo? What happened?

 

  1. And by now you have no doubt heard the exclamation, “Che bello!” which means, “How beautiful!” or “How wonderful!” from anyone who has seen the rolling hills of the Italian countryside or a famous work of Italian art or architecture.  Additional examples are listed below.  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?” since the word come is the most often used to mean how in most other situations.
Che bello! How beautiful! How wonderful!
Che brutta (figura)! How ugly! How terrible!
Che fortuna! How lucky! What good fortune!

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

How to Say “I Love You” in Italian

“Ti voglio bene” is an idiomatic expression in Italian, which translates roughly as, “I wish you well,” or better, “I care for you.”  It originates from the verb volersi, which takes on a different meaning than the verb volere.  The meaning of this verb is not easily translated into English, but is used often in Italy for many different situations.

“Ti voglio bene” is an old expression that is still used for platonic forms of caring and loving among family members and close friends in Italy today. The expression can be used between a boyfriend and a girlfriend and is also used between a husband and a wife. Watch some older Italian movies, and you will hear this expression often!

Mi voui bene? Do you care for/about me?
Ti voglio bene. I care for/about you.

 

The verb amare, which means “to love,” is reserved for romantic love—that one true love held between fiancée and fiancé, wife and husband.

Mi ami? Do you love me?
Ti amo. I love you.
Ti amo per sempre. I will always love you.

 

Finally, some phrases for when you have fallen out of love:

Non ti voglio più bene. I don’t like/care for you anymore.
Non ti amo più. I don’t love you anymore.


 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

Common Phrases to Begin a Story Paragraph

Da giovane… When I was young…
Da grande… When I grew up…
Quando ero più vecchio(a)… When I was older…

 

Nel 1928… In 1928…
C’era una volta…
Una volta c’era…
Once upon a time…
In the past there was… / Once there was…
Allora…
In those days…

 

 

Per prima cosa… For the first thing…
Dapprima… Initially…
Prima…/Poi… First…/Then…
Prima o poi… Sooner or later…

 

Fin dall’inizio… From the beginning…
Da ora in poi… From now on…
Da allora in poi… From then on…
From that moment on…


 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

Verbs That Take the Preposition “A”

 Some Italian verbs need to be followed by the Italian word “a,” which in this case means “to,” before the addition of an infinitive verb to make a complete sentence. This may seem a little redundant at first, because in English, a verb in its infinitive form already includes the word “to.” To the Italian speaker, though, it is natural to insert the word a after the verbs on the list that follows—the phrases just sound correct this way.

Two important phrases to remember that use this rule are “andare a trovare” (“to go to visit”) and “venire a trovare” (“to come to visit”), which are used when visiting a person. The noun visitare can be used when you want to speak about a place you are visiting.

Don’t memorize this list, but instead try to listen for the “a” when these phrases come up in conversation, and soon it will become natural for you, also, to say these phrases correctly.

aiutare to help Aiuto mia mamma a … cucinare la cena.
andare to go Vado a … trovare mio cugino Pietro in Italia.
cominciare to start Comincio a … cucinare la cena.
divertirsi to enjoy oneself Mi divertito a … suonare il violino.
imparare to learn Tutti imparano a … parlare italiano.
insegnare to teach Lei insegna a … parlare la lingua francese.
invitare to invite Lui l’invita a … mangiare al ristorante.
mandare to send Io mando Pietro a … prendere una pizza.
prepararsi to get ready Mi preparo a … viaggiare in Italia.
venire to come Caterina viene a … trovare i suoi cugini.


 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

Reciprocal Reflexive Verbs, Including Sposarsi

Reciprocal reflexive verbs are used in the special situation when two people perform the same action together; this will make both people the subject of the action. Therefore, the reciprocal reflexive verbs are conjugated in their plural form, using the plural subject and reflexive pronouns: (noi) ci, (voi) vi, or (loro) si. For conversation, the noi and loro forms will be the most important to remember. To express this type of situation in English, we simply add the phrase “each other,” after the verb.

Here is how this verb form works: for instance, everyone knows that “Ci vediamo” means “We (will) see each other.” So if the speaker is involved in the action with someone else—we are doing the action—use the noi verb conjugation and put ci in front of the verb.

Another common phrase is “Si abbracciano e si baciano,” which means “They hug and kiss each other.” If two people are being talked about—they are doing the action—use the loro verb conjugation and put si in front of the verb.

A quick word about sposarsi. It is one of those reflexive verbs that translates as “to get” married. We talked about these “to get” verbs in the last blog in this series. So if a person wants to say, “I want to get married” in Italian, this would be “(Io) voglio sposarmi.”

As we know, the subject pronouns are almost always omitted in conversation, and this applies to reciprocal reflexive verbs as well—hence the parentheses in the examples that follow!

 

Io e Francesca ci vogliamo bene. Frances and I care for each other very much.
(Noi) Ci sposiamo oggi. We (will) marry each other today.
(Noi) Ci scriviamo ogni giorno. We write each other every day.
(Noi) Ci vediamo al teatro. We (will) see each other at the theater.
(Noi) Ci vogliamo bene. We love each other very much.

 

Caterina e Zia Rosa si salutano. Kathy and Aunt Rose greet each other.
Michele e Francesca si volgiono bene. Michael and Frances care for each other very much.
(Loro) si vogliono bene. (They) care for each other very much.
(Loro) Si incontrano. They meet each other.
(Loro) Si telefonano ogni giorno. They telephone each other every day.


 Listed below are verbs that commonly use the reciprocal reflexive form:

 

abbracciarsi to hug each other
aiutarsi to help each other
amarsi to love each other
baciarsi to kiss each other
chiamarsi to call each other
conoscersi to get to know each other
fidanzarsi to become engaged
guardarsi to look at each other
incontrarsi to meet each other (planned meeting)
odiarsi to hate each other
parlarsi to speak to each other
salutarsi to greet each other
scriversi to write each other
sposarsi to marry each other
telefonarsi to call each other
trovarsi to meet each other
vedersi to see each other


 

 Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

Passato Prossimo Verbs That Take Essere

Here is a list of the most common action verbs that take essere when forming the passato prossimo, which is the verb form used to describe going from one place to another or “passing through” life—growing/living/dying. The infinitive form is in the first column, and the corresponding past participle is listed in the third column; notice that some past participles will be regular and others irregular.

It should also be noted that all reflexive verbs, as well as piacere, take essere.

 

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
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 passato(a)(i,e) past
piacere to be pleasing to piaciuto(a)(i,e) pleased
restare to remain restato(a)(i,e) remained
rompere to break rotto(a)(i,e) broken
salire* to go up salito(a)(i,e) went up
scendere* to do down sceso(a)(i,e) went down
succedere to happen successo(a)(i,e) happened
uscire to go out uscito(a)(i,e) went out
venire to come venuto(a)(i,e) came

 

+Some verbs, such as cominciare, finire, and iniziare, take avere except when the subject is a thing, rather than a person. So as we have learned in Chapter 11 of Conversational Italian for Travelers, “Io ho finito il libro,” “Tu hai finito il libro,” and “Lei/lui ha finito il libro,” but “Il film è finito,” for “The film is finished.” Notice that in the last example, the verb itself completes the sentence and refers back to the subject. (Finire is categorized as transitive in all of the examples except the last, when it is intransitive, but don’t worry about these terms!)

*Some verbs, such as passare, scendere, and salire take avere when used with a direct object, as in “Io ho sceso le scale” for “I have gone down the stairs.” Otherwise, they use essere: “Lui è sceso” for “He has gotten off.”               

Grammar Point: Reflexive Verbs with the Passato Prossimo

All reflexive verbs form the passato prossimo with essere. Simply put the reflexive pronoun before essere and follow essere with the past participle as usual. Remember to change the ending of the past participle to reflect the gender of the person doing the action. See the example below with divertirsi (to enjoy oneself). With all the good times a visitor to Italy can expect, divertirsi is an essential verb to know in several different tenses!

Notice that the translation in English uses the verb to have, while Italian uses to be. So remember to think in Italian in this case!

 

Essersi divertito/To Have Enjoyed Oneself
io mi sono divertito(a) I have enjoyed myself.

I enjoyed myself.

tu ti sei divertito(a) You (familiar) have enjoyed yourself.

You (familiar) enjoyed yourself.

Lei/lei/lui si è divertito(a) You (polite)/she/he have/has enjoyed herself/himself.

You (polite)/she/he enjoyed herself/himself.

       
noi ci siamo divertiti(e) We have enjoyed ourselves.

We enjoyed ourselves.

voi vi siete divertiti(e) You all have enjoyed yourselves.

You all enjoyed yourselves.

loro si sono divertiti(e) They have enjoyed themselves.

They enjoyed themselves.

 

Grammar Point: Modal Verbs with Essere and the Passato Prossimo

We have seen how to use the modal verbs dovere, potere, and volere if the passato prossimo is formed with avere. The sequence to use is the same with essere; essere is conjugated to reflect the speaker, the past participle of the modal verb is added, and then the infinitive of the verb finishes the verb phrase.

There is one catch, though. Remember that we must change the past participle of the verbs that follow essere to reflect the gender of the speaker. In this case, the past participle is formed from the modal verb, so the ending of the modal verb must change!

 

Pietro è voluto partire alle sei stasera.
Peter wanted to leave at 6 tonight.
 
Caterina è dovuta andare a fare la spesa ieri.
Kathy had to go grocery shopping yesterday.


 

 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

When to Use the Passato Prossimo versus the Imperfetto

Here is a table to clarify the differences of the uses of the passato prossimo and the imperfetto past tense verb forms. Both will describe actions or events that have taken place in the past. The circumstances that surround each event determine the form to use. When narrating a story, use the imperfetto.

 

Passato Prossimo                                                                  Imperfetto                      
Past action that took place once. Past action that was habitual; done several times.
Stamattina ho telefonato a mia mamma.
This morning I called my mother.
Telefonavo a mia mamma ogni mattina.
I used to call my mother every day.
Past action that was performed a specific number of times. Past action that took place over an extended period of time.
Sono andata dal medico per tre giorni di fila.
I went to the doctor for 3 days in a row.
Andavo dal medico raramente quando ero giovane.
I went to the doctor rarely when I was young.
Past action that was performed within a definite time period. Past action that was performed within an indefinite time period, without a specific beginning and ending mentioned.
L’anno scorso è andato a scuola.
Last year he went to school.
Da giovane, andava volentieri a scuola.
When he was young, he used to go to school gladly.
Past states of being/having of a person or a thing in a specific time frame. Past states of being/having of a person or a thing
(essere or avere used alone).
Ieri ho avuto fame tutto il giorno.

Yesterday I had hunger all day long.
(English: I was hungry.)

Caterina è stata molto felice il giorno del suo compleanno.

Kathy was very happy on her birthday.

Io avevo fame.
I used to have/had hunger.
(English: I used to be/was hungry.)
Caterina era felice.
Kathy used to be/was happy.

 

 In a compound sentence that involves two actions performed in the past, the completed action (usually given second) uses the passato prossimo. In a compound sentence that involves two actions performed in the past, the setting, or the ongoing situation (usually given first), uses the imperfetto.

Mentre nostro figlio dormiva, abbiamo guidato per molte ore.

While our son was sleeping, we drove for many hours.

 

 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

How to Conjugate and Use Mancare

The verb mancare has many meanings: to miss/to lose/to lack/to be lacking/to omit/to failMancare is used to convey the idea of “to miss someone” very commonly in conversational Italian, so it is important to learn the conjugation and sentence structure for this verb.

To start off, you should know that the sentence structure used for mancare is the same as for the verb piacere (see the second blog in this series). In English, we say the subject of the sentence misses someone using the direct object (example: I miss John), whereas in Italian, this phrase is turned around and the subject is the person who is being missed.

The sentence structure in Italian can use the disjunctive pronoun.

example “I miss John”: John is missing to me= Giovanni manca a me.

But more often, the Italian sentence uses the indirect object pronoun placed before the verb.

example “I miss John”: (John) to me is missing. =  (Giovanni) Mi manca.

To make matters more confusing to the English speaker, the subject of the sentence—which can be somebody’s name, a subject pronoun, a place, or even an object—can be left out entirely as long as it is known from the context, as we see above.

But, in most cases the subject is then added to the end of the sentence for clarification.

example: “I miss John”: To me is missing John. = Mi manca Giovanni.

 

Think about this a bit and then read the present tense conjugation below. Notice that the tu and noi forms are irregular. These are marked with an asterisk.

Mancare/To Be Missing (To)

io manco I am missing (to…)
tu manchi* you (fam.) are missing (to…)
Lei

lei/lui

manca you (polite) are missing (to…)

she/he/it is missing (to…)

     
noi manchiamo* we are missing (to…)
voi mancate you all are missing (to…)
loro mancano they are missing (to…)

 

The past tense of mancare is regular in the passato prossimo and takes essere.  The passato prossimo form is often used.  Consider the phrase “I missed you!” This implies that a definite period of absence has passed, and now the individuals are able to finally talk about their feelings. This is the past tense form for mancare that is most commonly used during conversation.

See below for the passato prossimo conjugation of mancare:

sono sei, è, with mancato(a)
siamo, siete sono with mancati(e)

 

The imperfetto form of mancare is regular as well, and is used most often for narration, as in our example story. In this case, the reference is to a nonspecific amount of time that people missed each other in the past.

See below for the imperfetto conjugation of mancare:

mancavo, mancavi, mancava
mancavamo, mancavate, mancavano

 

The sentences below give some common examples of how to use the verb mancare, first in present tense and then in past tense, with the passato prossimo. For easier understanding, the subject pronouns are included in parentheses, but remember that they are most often left out of the sentence, unless needed for clarification.

(Tu) Mi manchi. You are missing to me. I miss you.
(Lei/Lui) Mi manca. She/he is missing to me. I miss her/him.

 

(Io) Ti manco? (Am I) missing to you? (Do you) miss me?
(Lei/Lui) Ti manca? (Is she/he) missing to you? (Do you) miss her/him?

 

(Io) Gli manco. I am missing to him. He misses me.
(Io) Le manco. I am missing to her. She misses me.
(Tu) Gli manchi. You are missing to him. He misses you.
(Tu) Le manchi. You are missing to her. She misses you.
Gli manca (Maria) . Maria is missing to him. He misses Maria.
 Le manca (Maria) . Maria is missing to her. She misses Maria.
Gli manca (Paolo). Paul is missing to him. He misses Paul.
Le manca (Paolo). Paul is missing to her. She misses Paul.

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

(Tu) Mi sei mancato(a). You were missed to me. I missed you.
(Lei/Lui) Mi è mancato(a). She/he was missed to me. I missed her/him.

 

(Io) Ti sono mancto(a)? (Was I) missed to you? (Did you) miss me?
(Lei/Lui) Ti è mancato(a)? (Was she/he) missed to her/him? (Did you) miss her/him?

 

(Io) Gli sono mancato(a). I was missed to him. He missed me.
(Io) Le sono mancato(a). I was missed to her. She missed me.
(Tu) Gli sei mancato(a). You were missed to him. He missed you.
(Tu) Le sei mancato(a). You were missed to her. She missed you.
Gli è mancata (Maria) . Maria was missed to him. He missed Maria.
Le è mancata (Maria) . Maria was missed to her. She missed Maria.
Gli è mancato (Paolo). Paul was missed to him. He missed Paul.
Le è mancato (Paolo) . Paul was missed to her. She missed Paul.


 


 

Speak Italian: A Story about… YOUR Great Loves!

Everyone has a story to tell about themselves. What would you like others to know about what you find important in life? What are your great loves? Fill in the blanks in the Italian sentences in the exercise below, using examples from your own life.

Speak Italian: A Story about… Your Great Loves!

When I was young, when I was about 7 years old, I asked my grandmother to tell me her story. And this is what she said to me:

Da bambina, quando avevo ___________________ anni, ho chiesto                             di raccontarmi la sua storia.

E questo è quello che mi ha detto:

 

My story is a story of many great loves. When I was young, I lived in Sicily, and I loved my town of Ragusa very much. Ragusa is on top of a big mountain but is also near the sea. Every day I could see the sunrise and the sunset over the south of Sicily, and it was very beautiful! I loved Sicily very much!

La mia storia è una storia di________________________________________________________________.

Quando ero                                  , ho vissuto                                                   e mi piaceva molto il mio paese che si chiama      ______________________________________________________________________ È_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________.

 

 

 

Ogni giorno potevo vedere ____________________________________________________ed era molto bello! Mi piaceva molto___________________________________________________________________________________!

 

I had five brothers and sisters—two brothers and three sisters. I was the oldest in the family, and when I was 12 years old, I had to leave school. I had to help my mother take care of my sisters and my brothers. Before I went to bed, every night I said to my mother, “Do you love me?” And my mother replied, “I love you very much!”

Avevo __________________________fratelli—_____________________fratelli e ______________________sorelle. Ero ______________________________________________________nella famiglia e quando avevo dodici anni _____________________________________________________________________________________________________.

Ho dovuto aiutare ______________________________________________________________________________. Prima di andare a letto, ogni notte dicevo a mia mamma, “Mi vuoli bene?” E mia madre diceva, “Ti voglio molto bene!”

 

And at Ragusa, there was also a boy named Peter who was 2 years older than me. Peter grew up on the same street as my family. When he became older, Peter was tall and handsome, a good person, and was very nice to me. I loved him. I became his girlfriend, but in secret.

Ed a Ragusa c’era anche un ragazzo(a) che si chiamava ______________________________che aveva __________________anni più di me.  ___________________________è cresciuto nella stessa strada della mia famiglia.

Da grande, _________________è diventato(a)_______________________________________________________, ed era molto simpatico con me. L’amavo(a). Sono diventata(o) la sua ragazza(o), ma in segreto.

 

Peter’s father, Paul, was also a good person and decided to make a better life for his family and go to America. In 1916, when Peter was 16 years old, Paul brought the family to America. There was a lot of work for Paul, who was a bricklayer and helped to build many buildings that are still well known in New York today. Peter’s father made a lot of money, and the family was very well off.

Il padre di _______________, Paolo, era anche una persona per bene e ha deciso di migliorare la vita della sua famiglia e di andare in America. Nel _____________________________________________, quando ____________________________aveva __________________anni, Paolo ha portato la famiglia in America. C’era molto lavoro per Paolo, chi era _________________________________e ha aiutato a ____________________________________________________________________________________________________. Il padre di ___________________________ha fatto tanti soldi e la famiglia stava molto bene.

 

Peter also worked every day and learned his father’s trade. But Peter was not happy. He wrote me in many letters that New York was ugly. He missed his beautiful Sicily. He missed me! In Sicily, I missed Peter!

Anche _______________________lavorava ogni giorno e imparava il mestiere da suo padre. Ma, _________________________non era contento. Lui(Lei) mi ha scritto in tante lettere che _________________________era brutta. A lui(lei) mancava la sua bella Sicilia.

Anche, io gli(le) mancavoMentre in ________________________, mi mancava ____________________!

 

This continued for many years.

Continuava cosi per tanti anni.

 

Finally, Peter wrote a letter to my father and asked him to take me to America to get married (marry me).

Finalmente, _____________________ha scritto una lettera a __________________e
l’ha chiesto di portarmi in America per sposarmi.

 

At first, my father had said, “Absolutely not!”

Al inizio, ____________________________________________________________________________________________.

 

But I wanted to go to America and marry Peter. I loved Peter very much. Every day, I cried. I did not eat anything. My mother said to my father, “How sad Maria is! You must take her to America!”

Ma volevo andare in America e sposarmi con _______________________L’amavo tanto

Ogni giorno, ___________________________________________________________________________________.
Mia madre ha detto a mio padre, “Come triste è _____________________!

Devi portarla(lo) in America!”

 

And finally, he did it!

E finalmente, lui l’ho fatto!

 

Peter and I were married, and we had three children—two boys and one girl. We moved to a small town north of New York City, where there are mountains and it is very pretty.

_______________________ed io ci siamo sposati e abbiamo avuto _______________________figli____________________figli maschi e _______________figla femmina. Abbiamo traslocati a _______________________________________________, dove ci sono ____________________________________
ed è molto bello.

 

Today, I feel very fortunate and happy because I have my three great loves: my new country, my husband, and my family!

Oggi, mi sento molto fortunata e contena perché ho i miei tre grandi amori: ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________.

 

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 – A Story About… Love!

High speed Italian trains

High-Speed Italian Trains Freccia and Italo for Travel in Italy

High-Speed Italian Trains Freccia and Italo for Travel in Italy

FollKathryn for learntravelitalian.comow Caterina in the
Conversational Italian for Travelers series of books!

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

High-Speed Italian Trains Freccia and Italo for Travel in Italy

One of the first things Caterina must do after her plane lands in Italy is find her way on the Italian railway system. To listen to dialogues from Chapters 4 and 5 about Caterina’s encounters as she buys a ticket and boards a train in Italy, go to the interactive dialogues on our website at learntravelitalian.com/interactive.html.

For more images and links to the high-speed Italian train system, visit our Pinterest Site, Stella Lucente Italian.

The Cultural Note below, also from the textbook, describes the exciting new high-speed Italian trains of the Freccia and Italo railway systems that have streamlined travel between the major cities in Italy.
—Kathryn Occhipinti

 


Cultural Note: Freccia and Italo Railway Systems for Travel in Italy

The future of train travel is here in Italy today, under the old Trenitalia Ferrovie dello Stato railway system, to which has been added a new network traveled by a fleet of beautiful, high-speed Italian trains—the Freccia (arrow) trains. The high-speed Italian trains for the railway line Frecciarossa (red arrow) link the major cities of Naples, Rome, Florence, Milan, Turin, and Venice and travel up to 175 miles per hour across the country. It is now possible to travel from Milan or Venice to Rome on these high-speed Italian trains in about 3 hours. This Italian network is linked to major European cities outside of Italy as well and can be an efficient way to extend travel plans to neighboring countries, with restaurant cars and sleeper cars available for longer journeys. These cars are also equipped with WiFi for a small fee. The Frecciargento (silver arrow) and Frecciabianca (white arrow) trains are part of this new family of high-speed Italian trains and link smaller cities and towns. For a slightly higher fee, they provide a more comfortable ride than the older local trains and make fewer stops. Ask about the availability of these high-speed Italian trains when purchasing a ticket at the station. Or go to the official Trenitalia site, www.trenitalia.com, and click on one of the three silver tabs in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage for the high-speed Italian Freccia train of your choice.

High speed Italian train Italo
Self-service machine to purchase tickets to ride on an Italo railway high-speed Italian train

Italo is a privately owned company that also offers high-speed Italian passenger train service. Italo offers a club membership for frequent travelers, with private waiting rooms at the train stations and special cars with reclining leather seats, personal TVs, WiFi, and meal service. Look for the bright red automatic ticket machines, or purchase tickets at the Italo ticket offices in the train station. For more information on the Italo family of high-speed Italian trains or to purchase tickets online, use the Italo website at www.italotreno.it.

Read all about this new high-speed Italian train network and learn about traveling throughout Italy on the different classes of trains offered by Trenitalia and Italo on the website The man in Seat 61 at www.seat61.com. Click on the link for Italy and search for “A beginner’s guide to train travel in Italy” to see pictures of each type of train and learn more about the accommodations that are offered.

All of the high-speed Italian trains require a reservation (prenotazione), and the ticket issued will have an assigned car (carrozza) and seat (posto) for each passenger. Look for the car number on the side of the train, or ask the conductor, who will come out of the office to the platform when the train enters the station before departure for the next stop. Tickets for the high-speed Italian trains, as well as local trains, can be purchased online in most cases, starting 60 days before departure, and in some cases, up to 90 days. These online tickets may be discounted up to 60% off the price paid at the train station, depending on how far in advance they are purchased. Beware, though—the timetables change in mid-June and mid-December each year, so be sure to check them again before departing if you have bought tickets in advance. An alternative site, all in English, is www.raileurope.com. And remember, along with your ticket, you will need a valid personal ID to travel between European cities. Or, if you choose ticketless travel (within Italy only), you will need the registration number.

Have fun visiting the Trenitalia and Italo websites!

 Adapted from Conversational Italian for Travelers, Chapter 4, “Cultural Note,” © 2012, Stella Lucente, LLC, by Kathryn Occhipinti. 

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

High-Speed Italian Trains Freccia and Italo for Travel in Italy

Conversational Italian for Travelers Speak Italian!

Speak Italian: All About… What I Am Doing!

Speak Italian: All About… What I Am Doing!

Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com Speak Italian: Everything

you need to know … 

to describe your day in Italian!

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 describe your daily routine and talk about yourself 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 many things; in this segment, we will discuss how to use reflexive verbs, how to use irregular verbs to say what we like, and how to describe the passage of time.

Speak Italian: All About… What I Am Doing!

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!

Remember these examples about yourself as “anchors” in your knowledge for when you must speak Italian in your next conversation!

Enjoy the second topic in this series, “Speak Italian: All About… What I Am Doing!”
—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: All About… What I Am Doing!

Here is a short description of what I do every day. The reflexive verbs used in Italian for daily activities (many of which often translate as “to get” in English) have been underlined.

Also underlined are the verbs for “to like” (“to be pleasing to”) and “it takes time,” because they follow a different pattern of conjugation than regular Italian verbs.

Do you have a schedule that you follow every day? What do you like to eat for breakfast? Where do you go? After reading my daily routine, use the blank spaces in the form that follows to fill in the Italian for your daily routine!

 

Speak Italian: All About… What I Am Doing!

On the days that I have to work, I get up at 7 in the morning.
I giorni che devo lavorare, mi alzo alle sette di mattina. 

My cell phone rings at 6:15 and I wake up, but I do not get up until 7!
Il mio telefonino suona alle sei e quindici e mi sveglio ma non mi alzo fino alle sette!

The first thing I do is take a shower.
Per prima cosa, mi faccio la doccia.

Then, I like to eat something for breakfast, so I make a cup of coffee and also have some bread or an Italian cookie.
Allora, mi piace mangiare qualcosa per la prima colazione, cosi faccio un caffè ed anche mangio del pane o un biscotto.

If I am not in a hurry, sometimes I will have a fried egg, toast, and orange juice instead.
Se non ho fretta, qualche volta,  invece, mangio un uovo fritto, il pane tostato e bevo un bicchiere di succo di arancio.

My morning routine to get ready for work includes the usual things: I brush my teeth, wash my face, get dressed, and brush my hair.
La mia routine di mattina per prepararmi per il lavoro include le solite cose: mi lavo i denti, mi lavo la faccia, mi vesto, e mi pettino.

I always wear makeup (for men: shave) when I go out of the house and especially to work.
Mi trucco sempre (per gli uomini: mi faccio la barba) quando esco di casa e specialmente quando vado a lavorare. 

But it is not easy and it takes time, usually about 20 minutes.
Ma non è facile e ci vuole tempo, normalmente quasi venti minuti. 

On some days, I can put on makeup (for men: shave) quickly.
Qualche giorno, però, mi posso truccare (per gli uomini: mi faccio la barba) rapidamente.

All of this usually takes me until 8:00 and then I must take the children to school.
Per fare tutto, mi ci vuole fino alle otto e poi devo portare i miei figli a scuola.

After I have dropped off the children at school, I take the train into the city to work.
Dopo avere portato i miei figli a scuola, prendo il treno per la città per andare a lavorare.

The train is very reliable, and it takes only 30 minutes to reach the city.
Il treno è molto affidabile e ci vogliono solamente trenta minuti per arrivare in città. 

On the way, I read the newspaper.
Durante il viaggio, leggo il giornale.

By 3 PM, I take the train back home.
Per le quindici, prendo il treno e torno a casa.

At 4 PM, I pick up the children from school and take them home.
Alle quattro di pomeriggio, io vado a prendere i miei figli dalla scuola e li porto a casa.

When I come home in the evening, I take off my coat and shoes and get changed into jeans or athletic wear to be more comfortable.
Quando torno a casa di sera, mi tolgo il cappotto e le scarpe e mi metto i jeans o la tuta (indumento da ginnastica) per stare più comoda.

I make dinner for my children during the workweek, but on the weekend, we usually go out to eat for dinner.
Preparo la cena per i miei figli durante la settimana lavorativa, ma il fine settimana di solito ceniamo fuori.

Later, I try to relax.
Più tardi, provo a riposarmi.

I get undressed and put on my pajamas.
Mi svesto e mi metto il pigiama.

I watch the news on the television and fall asleep at 11:30 at night.
Guardo le notizie alla televisione e mi addormento alle undici e mezzo di notte.

I start this same routine all over again the next morning!
Comincio di nuovo questa routine la mattina dopo!

 


Speak Italian: Grammar You Will Need to Know…

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

Use of Prepositions: “Da,” “Di,” and “A”

Many Italian verbs are followed by prepositions, those “little words” that link one phrase to another for descriptive purposes; improper use of prepositions is a common issue for all non-native speakers, because one must tap into the “way of thinking” of each language to use prepositions correctly. It is often the prepositions that give away the fact that one has had to study to learn a language—no matter how well one speaks otherwise.

Learning when to use which preposition in Italian can be challenging, and often, the “rules” of preposition use do not make sense and just need to be memorized.

Da and di are two common Italian prepositions. “Da” usually means “from,” and “di” usually means “of,” although “di” is often used in situations where in English we would use “from.”

The Italian verb “uscire,” which means “to go out,” or “to leave” is usually followed by da + definite article (il, lo, la, etc.), but when referring to the act of leaving one’s house (casa), uscire takes the preposition di without the definite article. You might want to remember this detail by thinking of the alternate meaning of the word “casa,” which is the very personal “home,” and that when speaking in Italian about one’s family and home in other situations, a definite article is not necessary. Also, notice from the last example below that the verb andare (to go) is always followed by the preposition “a,” for “to,” without the definite article.

 

1. Prepositions for Uscire

da + definite article
di (with reference to casa)

2. Preposition for Andare a

 

Examples of use:

Io esco dal ristorante. I go out to the restaurant to eat.
Io esco di casa. I go out of the house./I leave the house.
Io vado a casa mia. I go to my house.
   
Mi trucco sempre quando esco di casa e specialmente quando vado a lavorare
I always wear makeup when I leave the house and especially when I go to work.


Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

Use of Preposition: “Per”

The preposition “per” is used in Italian to express intent and purpose and will be used to start phrases that will then describe what you are going to do. The English translation will usually be “for” but can also be “to.” When referring to time, “per” takes the place of “by” in English. The combination “stare per” means “to be about to.”

Per prima cosa, mi faccio la doccia.
The first thing I do is take a shower.

 

Per fare tutto
To do all this

 

Per le quidici…
By 3 PM…

 

La mia routine di mattina per prepararmi per il lavoro include…
My morning routine to get ready for work includes…

 

Io sto per studiare l’italiano stasera.
I am about to study Italian tonight.


Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

How to Tell Time

On any given day, the time we need to do things frequently comes up. We often have to ask specifically what time our transportation will be leaving or what time an event will be starting. Here are some examples of questions you may need to ask. Remember, there is no insertion of the word “does” in Italian when asking a question, the way we do in English.

A che ora…? (At) what time (does)…?
   
A che ora arriva l’aeroplano? At what time (does) the airplane arrive?
  (lit. At what hour arrives the airplane?)
A che ora parte il treno? At what time (does) the train leave?
A che ora comincia* il viaggio? At what time (does) the trip start?
A che ora inizia* il film? At what time (does) the film begin?
A che ora finisce il film? At what time (does) the movie end?
A che ora apre il museo? At what time (does) the museum open?
A che ora chiude il museo? At what time (does) the museum close?

*Cominciare and iniziare are interchangeable in Italian.

The answers to the above questions will also use the word “at,” which is the word “a” in Italian. We can mention our special times of day if they apply, such as “a mezzogiorno” or “a mezzanotte.” Otherwise, the word a will be combined with the definite article (the) (l’ or le). The Italian definite article l’ is combined with a to make all’ before the word una for the phrase “all’una,” which means “at one.” For all numbers greater than one, use a with the definite article le to make “alle” (alle due – ventiquattro) (at two through 24).

A mezzogiorno. At noon.
A mezzanotte. At midnight.
All’una.         At one o’clock.
Alle sette. At seven o’clock.
All’una e cinque. At 1:05 AM.
Alle sette e mezzo. At 7:30 AM.

If desired, to emphasize the time of day, as in morning, afternoon, evening, or night, you can add the following expressions after stating the numerical time: “di mattina, di pomeriggio, di sera, or di notte.”

 


 

 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

Common Reflexive Verbs

Here is a list of regular direct reflexive verbs that includes all three conjugations. Reflexive forms are extremely important for conversation because they often involve activities and emotions that we encounter every day. Note that many of these verbs are not reflexive in English.

accomodarsi to make oneself comfortable preoccuparsi to worry/get worried
accorgersi to realize reprendersi to get better/to recover
addormentarsi to fall asleep rilassarsi to relax oneself
alzarsi to get up riposarsi to rest
annoiarsi to be/become bored sbagliarsi to be wrong
arrabbiarsi to become angry sbrigarsi to hurry up
asciugarsi to dry oneself scusarsi to excuse oneself
bagnarsi to get wet/to take a bath spogliarsi to get undressed
dirigersi to go over to/head over sposarsi to get married
divertirsi (a) to enjoy oneself/play with svegliarsi to wake up
fermarsi to stop oneself svestirsi to get undressed
innamorarsi to fall in love togliersi to take off
mettersi to put on (clothes) truccarsi to put on make-up
laurearsi to get a university degree vergognarsi to be ashamed
muoversi to move oneself vestirsi to get dressed/to wear
pettinarsi to comb one’s hair

 Also, many of the verbs that describe what we do every day, which are translated as “to get…” in English are reflexive in Italian. Let’s take these commonly used verbs that mean “to get” out of the list above:

alzarsi to get up
annoiarsi to get bored
arrabbiarsi to get angry
bagnarsi to get wet / take a bath
laurearsi to get a university degree / to graduate
mettersi to put on clothing / to get (oneself) in trouble
preoccuparsi to get worried / to worry
reprendersi to get better / to recover
spogliarsi to get undressed
sposarsi to get married
vestirsi/svestirsi to get dressed/to get undressed
Ho deciso di sposarmi. I have decided to get married.
   
Non ti metti nei guai. Don’t get (put) yourself in trouble.
Mi sono messo nei guai. I got (put) myself in trouble.


Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

How to Conjugate Reflexive Verbs

Reflexive verbs take a reflexive pronoun before the verb. They are conjugated in the usual way, by dropping the –are, –ere, and –ire verb endings and adding the regular endings for each type of verb to the stem that remains.

Infinitive
Present
Reflexive

Pronouns

–are –ere –ire ire (isco)
io mi o o o isco
tu ti i i i isci
Lei/lei/lui si a e e isce
           
noi ci iamo iamo iamo iamo
voi vi ate ete ite ite
loro si ano ono ono iscono

When we use an infinitive reflexive verb in a sentence, the reflexive pronoun must come after the verb; the –si is dropped from the infinitive ending, and the reflexive pronoun is then added directly onto the stem at the end of the verb.

This is the same word order that we routinely use in English! This situation usually occurs in Italian when one of the helping verbs (dovere, potere, or volere) (to have to, to be able to, or to want) precedes a reflexive verb.

Voglio divertirmi. (I) want to enjoy myself.
   
Volgio riposarmi. (I) want to rest (myself).
   
Devo alzarmi. (I) must get (myself) up.


Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

How to Make Sentences with Reflexive Verbs

Here are some example sentences that use the regular verbs listed on the previous page. The Italian subject pronoun “io,” meaning “I” is included in the Italian examples, although, unlike the I in English, io is almost always omitted with reflexive verbs (as in most general conversation). Parentheses have been used in the Italian sentences as a reminder of this fact. In the same way, parentheses are used in the English translation to indicate Italian reflexive pronouns that are not necessary in English.

Getting up in the morning:

(Io) Mi sveglio. I wake up. (lit. I wake myself up.)
(Io) Mi alzo. I get up. (lit. I get myself up.)
(Io) Mi alzo presto. I get (myself) up early.
(Io) Mi alzo alle sei. I get (myself) up at 6 AM.
(Io) Mi alzo tardi domani. I (am going to) get (myself) up late tomorrow.

 

Getting ready to go out for the day:

(Io) Mi faccio il bagno. I take a bath. (lit. I make myself the bath.)
(Io) Mi lavo. I wash myself.
(Io) Mi asciugo. I dry myself off.
(Io) Mi pettino. I comb (myself) my hair.
(Io) Mi preparo per il lavoro. I get (myself) ready for (the) work.
(Io) Mi vesto. I get (myself) dressed.
(Io) Mi metto i vestiti. I put on (myself) the clothes.
(Io) Mi trucco. I put on my makeup.
(Io) Mi metto la giacca e le scarpe. I put on (myself) the jacket and the shoes.
(Io) Mi sento molto bene! I feel very well!
Vado al lavoro./Vado a lavorare. I go to work.

 

At the end of the day:

Torno a casa. I return home.
(Io) Mi tolgo la giacca. I take off (myself) the jacket.
Preparo la cena per la famiglia. I make the dinner for the family.
Alle nove (io) mi svesto. At nine (I) get (myself) undressed.
(Io) Mi tolgo le scarpe. (I) take off my shoes.
(Io) Mi metto il piajama e le ciabatte. I put on (myself) the pajamas and slippers.
(Io) Mi rilasso. I relax (myself).
(Io) Mi riposo. I rest (myself).
(Io) Mi addormento. I fall (myself) asleep.

 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

How to Describe Getting Dressed
 with the Reflexive Verbs Vestirsi and Mettersi

The Italian verb “vestirsi” carries the general meaning of “to get dressed.” To use this verb, just conjugate it as you would any other reflexive verb to make a simple sentence. Remember that in Italian, the subject pronoun is always left out of the sentence, so it is given in parentheses below.

(Io) Mi vesto. I get dressed.
(Tu) Ti vesti. You get dressed.
(Lei/Lui) Si veste. She/He gets dressed.

When talking about putting on an article of clothing, such as a dress or suit (vestito),* for instance, Italian uses the reflexive verb “mettersi” (to put on oneself). 

*A note: Don’t confuse the verb vestire with the noun vestito, which means dress and also suit (pants and jacket or skirt and jacket).  These words are similar but have different meanings!  Also,  it should be mentioned that the plural noun, vestiti, means clothing.(Other words for suit that can be used for both sexes are abito and completo.)

Here is how it works:

“Mettersi” can be used 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 the final sentence for “I put on the/my dress,” is, “Mi metto il vestito.” 

Just remember the simple phrase “mi metto” and replace il vestito with the article of clothing of your choice to describe your own action! To describe action in the tu (you) form, just conjugate mettersi normally and then add the article of clothing, as in “ti metti,” or in the lei/lui (she/he) form, use “si mette,” and so on.

(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.
(Lei/lui) Si mette le scarpe. She/he puts on shoes.

 

Speak Italian: 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 also 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, in order to describe what they have worn, most Italians prefer to revert to mettersi and use its (irregular) past participle messo.  Remember to use the helping verb essere for the passato prossimo past tense form with the reflexive verb mettersi.  Here is how it works:

(Io) Mi sono messo un completo.
(Io) Mi sono messa una gonna.
I wore a suit.
I wore a skirt.
Ho portato una gonna. I wore a skirt.

Another way to describe how someone was dressed is to use the imperfetto past tense of essere  with the descriptive past participle vestito(a,i,e).   This type of phrase 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.

 

Speak Italian: 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 elegante. 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!

 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

How to Conjugate the Irregular Verb Piacere

The irregular verb piacere literally means to like, as in “to be pleasing to.” It is the verb that Italians use when they want to express the idea that they like something. In English, when we say we like something, we mention two things: what thing is being liked and by whom. So in English, we would say, I like the car,” and fulfill these two requirements with the subject pronoun “I” and the direct object “car.”

But in Italian, the indirect object is used instead of the direct object, to describe to whom the thing is liked or pleasing to. If we wanted to change up this same English phrase into the Italian way of thinking, we could say, “The car is pleasing to me.” You will hopefully find the mixed Italianized-English phrase “is pleasing to” to be very helpful to understand how piacere really works!

The tricky thing about this type of phrase in Italian is that the conjugation of piacere will have to agree with the number of things that are being liked.

So, if one thing is liked, or an infinitive verb follows, piace is used.

If many things are liked, piacciono is used.

Italians then put the indirect object pronoun (mi, ti, Le, le, gli, ci, vi, or gli) before the verb, at the beginning of the sentence, to denote to whom the thing is pleasing to.

Piace—to be pleasing to: if one thing is liked/before infinitive verbs

 

Mi piace il vestito. The dress is pleasing to me. I like the dress.
Ti piace il vestito. The dress is pleasing to you. (fam.) You like the dress.
Le piace il vestito.

Gli/le piace il vestito.

The dress is pleasing to you. (pol.)

The dress is pleasing to him/her.

You like the dress.

He/she likes the dress.

     
Ci piace il vestito. The dress is pleasing to us. We like the dress.
Vi piace il vestito. The dress is pleasing to you all. You all like the dress.
Gli piace il vestito. The dress is pleasing to them. They like the dress.

 

Piacciono—to be pleasing to: if more than one thing is liked

 

Mi piacciono i vestiti. The dresses are pleasing to me. I like the dresses.
Ti piacciono i vestiti. The dresses are pleasing to you. (fam.) You like the dresses.
Le piacciono i vestiti.

Gli/le piacciono i vestiti.

The dresses are pleasing to you. (pol.)

The dresses are pleasing to him/her.

You like the dresses.

He/she likes the dresses.

     
Ci piacciono i vestiti. The dresses are pleasing to us. We like the dresses.
Vi piacciono i vestiti. The dresses are pleasing to you all. You all like the dresses.
Gli piacciono i vestiti. The dresses are pleasing to them. They like the dresses.

 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

How to Conjugate Volerci for Phrases Describing Time

To describe the general passage of time that it takes to do something, an English speaker will often say, “It takes time.”  Volerci is used to express this idea in Italian.  Volerci is called a pronominal verb because the impersonal adverb “ci” is an integral part o this verb. Volerci takes on a different meaning from volere and is used to describe the time, effort or tools needed to accomplish something. For now, now we will only discuss its meaning regarding the time it takes to do something.

To follow is the method to translate the phrase “it takes time” into Italian using the verb volerci.  First, it should be noted that the impersonal adverb “ci” is always used to begin the phrase.  “Volere” is then conjugated to reflect the amount of time taken, in either the third person singular or plural. This is the similar to the way we conjugate the verb piacere, except with piacere the reference is to what we like, rather than to how much time something takes.

 

So when saying, “It takes time,” the word “time” is considered one segment of time, and the third person singular form of volere, which is “vuole,” is used.

If the time “it” takes is one minute, one hour, one month, or one year—that is, if the reference is to one time segment, use “vuole.”

 

If the time “it” takes is more than one of each time segment (plural), the third person plural form of volere, which is “vogliono,” is used.

Ci vuole tempo. It takes time.
     
Ci vuole un minuto. Ci vogliono due minuti. It takes one minute/two minutes.
Ci vuole un’ora. Ci vogliono due ore. It takes one hour/two hours.
Ci vuole un giorno. Ci vogliono due giorni. It takes one day/two days.
Ci vuole un mese. Ci vogliono due mesi. It takes one month/two months.
Ci vuole un anno. Ci vogliono due anni. It takes one year/two years.

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

Commonly used questions that refer to time begin with “how much,” such as, “How much time does it take?” These phrases always begin with “Quanto.”  We remember that “quanto” always changes to match the gender and number of the noun it is placed before and modifies.  Answer using the phrases in the table given in this section!

Quanto tempo ci vuole per arrivare a Roma da Milano?
How much time does it take to get to Rome from Milan?

Quante ore ci vogliono per finire il tour?
How many hours will it take to finish the tour?

 ******************************

Other verbs that act like piacere, but will not be discussed here, include the following:

Dispiacere to displease/to upset
Mancare to be lacking/to miss
Occorrere to require/to need
Servire to need

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

How to Use Volerci for Phrases Describing Time
with Reference to People

If we want to speak in a little more complicated manner (and why not?) we can use the verb volerci* to describe how much time it will take someone to do something.  Remember to place the indirect object pronouns (mi, ti, le, gli, vi, gli) before  ci vuole  to refer to the “someone” we are talking about.

Looking at the table below, you will notice that “a noi”  is used to mean to us” before ci vuole.”  In this case, the indirect object pronoun ci” for to us,” is not used.  The word “ci” is already a part of volerci, and is always placed before the conjugated verb form.  To avoid the repetition that would occur in the phrase ci ci vuole tempo, Italians revert to a noi.”

Of course, we can always replace the word tempo in the examples below with a unit of time. Remember the rules we just learned:  If one unit of time is referred to, use the verb vuole, as in the examples.  If more than one unit of time is referred to, we need to use vogliono.

Mi ci vuole molto tempo. It takes me time.
Ti ci vuole molto tempo. It takes you time.
Le ci vuole molto tempo. It takes her time.
Gli ci vuole molto tempo. It takes him time.
   
A noi ci vuole molto tempo. It takes us time.
Vi ci vuole molto tempo. I takes you all time.
Gli ci vuole molto tempo. It takes them time.

*Volerci is a pronomial verb and takes on a different meaning from volere, as described in the previous section.

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

Commonly used questions that refer to time begin with “how much,” such as, “How much time does it take?” These phrases always begin with “Quanto.”  We remember that “quanto” always changes to match the gender and number of the noun it is placed before and modifies.  Answer using the phrases in the table given in the section above, but change the word time to the number of minutes or hours!

Quanto tempo ti ci vuole per arrivare a casa mia?
How much time does it take you to get to my house?

Quante ore ti ci vogliono per arrivare a casa mia?
How many hours will it take you to get to my house?

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

If we want to use the past tense with volerci in a phrase regarding time, we need to use the past participle voluto, with essere as the helping verb to form the passato prossimo. 

For a general statement about time in the past tense, as in the examples below, use the passato prossimo verb è voluto. 

Of course, we can always replace the word tempo in the examples below with a unit of time. Remember the rules we just learned:  If one unit of time is referred to in the past, use the verb  è voluto, as in the examples.  If more than one unit of time is referred to in the past, we need to use sono voluti(e).

To make these statements negative, just put “non” at the beginning of the sentence (with the exception of the “a noi”).

Below are some commonly used phrases that use volerci to refer to time in the past tense:

Non mi … ci è voluto molto tempo. It did not take me much time.
Non ti… ci è voluto molto tempo. It did not take you much time.
Non le … ci è voluto molto tempo. It did not take her much time.
Non gli… ci è voluto molto tempo. It did not take him much time.
A noi non… ci è voluto molto tempo. It did not take us much time.
Non vi… ci è voluto molto tempo. It did not take you all much time.
Non gli ci è voluto molto tempo. It did not take them much time.

 


Speak Italian: All About… What YOU Are Doing!

Do you have a schedule that you follow every day? What do you like to eat for breakfast? Where do you go?

Fill in the blanks in the Italian sentence that follows each English sentence, using
the examples given previously, or instead describing what you actually do.

Watch out for those reflexive verbs—the verbs that often mean “I get,” and the phrases
that translate as “I like” and “it takes time.”

On the days that I am working, I get up at ___________________________________.
I giorni che devo lavorare, ______________________________________________.

My cell phone rings at _________________ and I wake up, but I do not get up until 7!
Il mio telefonino suona _________________e ___________________________,ma

_____________________________________fino_____________________________!

The first thing I do is take a shower.
Per prima cosa, _______________________________________________________.

Then, I like to eat something for breakfast, so I make a cup of coffee and
have some bread or an Italian cookie.
Allora, ____________________________________qualcosa per la prima colazione,


cosi faccio_______________________________________________ed anche mangio

_____________________________________________________________________.

If I am not in a hurry, sometimes I will have a fried egg, toast, and orange juice instead.
Se non ho fretta, qualche volta, mangio ___________________________________ 

e bevo _________________________________________________________________.

My morning routine to get ready for work includes the usual things:
I brush my teeth, wash my face, get dressed, and brush my hair.
La mia routine di mattina ______________________________include le solite cose:

_________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________.

I always wear makeup (for men: shave) when I go out of the house and especially to work. ________________________________ quando esco di casa e specialmente quando vado a lavorare.

But it is not easy and takes time, usually about 20 minutes.
Ma non è facile e ______________________, normalmente

_________________________________________________________________________.

On some days, I can put on makeup (or shave) quickly.
Qualche giorno, però, __________________________________________ rapidamente.

All of this usually takes me until 8:00 and then I must take the children to school.
Per fare tutto, ___________________ fino ___________________ed poi devo portare i miei figli a scuola.

After I have dropped off the children at school, I take the train into the city to work.
Dopo aver portato i miei figli a scuola, ________________________________________
per andare a lavorare.

The train is very reliable, and it takes only 30 minutes to reach the city.
Il treno è molto affidabile e _____________________ solamente ___________________ per arrivare in città.

On the way, I read the newspaper.
Durante il viaggio, leggo il giornale.

By 3 PM, I take the train back home.
_______________________________________________, prendo il treno e torno a casa.

At 4 PM, I pick up the children from school and take them home.
_______________________, io vado a prendere i miei figli dalla scuola e li porto a casa.

When I come home in the evening, I take off my coat and shoes and get changed into jeans or athletic wear to be more comfortable.
Quando torno a casa di sera, __________________________________________________________________________

e ________________________________________________________________________

per stare più comoda.

I make dinner for my children during the workweek, but on the weekend, we usually go out to eat for dinner.
Preparo la cena per i miei figli durante la settimana lavorativa, ma il fine settimana di solito ceniamo fuori.

Then I try to relax.
Più tardi, _________________________________________________________________.

I get undressed and put on my pajamas.
__________________________________________________________________________

e ________________________________________________________________il pigiama.

I watch the news on the television and fall asleep at 11:30 at night.
Guardo le notizie alla televisione e _________________________________________________________________________.

I start this same routine all over again the next morning!
Comincio di nuovo questa routine____________________________________________ !

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

Kathryn for learntravelitalian.comKathryn 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 group 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

Speak Italian: All About… What I Am Doing!

Drive Italy! - Driving in Abruzzo

Drive Italy! Renting Cars to Drive in Italy

Drive Italy! Renting Cars to Drive in Italy

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Drive Italy! Follow Caterina and learn

how to rent a car in the

Conversational Italian series of books!

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

Drive Italy! Renting Cars to Drive in Italy

After Caterina’s plane lands in Italy in the first chapter of the book, she takes a taxi to the main train station in Milan, where her cousin Pietro meets her. She is lucky to have a relative who can drive her in Italy to her final destination in Milan. For those who do not have a personal chauffeur to take them on a tour of Italy, or who just want to rent a Ferrari as part of their dream vacation, I have included in the book some tips on renting cars in the “Cultural Note: Drive Italy!” section in Chapter 6, which have been adapted for this blog.

To listen to the dialogue from Chapter 6, when Caterina meets her cousin and he takes her on a (fictional) drive in Italy through Milan,  go to the interactive dialogues on our website at learntravelitalian.com/interactive.html.
—Kathryn Occhipinti


Cultural Note: Drive Italy! Renting Cars to Drive in Italy

Drive Italy! Cars and buses along the Coloseum in Rome
Drive Italy: Cars, buses, and motorcycles driving by the Colosseum in Rome

The Italian railway system is the most efficient way to travel throughout Italy, especially for the tourist with a limited period of time to spend. But for those for whom driving the autostrada in a Ferrari has always been a dream (see www.red-travel.com), or for those who have enough time to spend to really get to know the countryside (www.italylogue.com/agriturismo), here are a few tips about what is needed to rent a car and drive in Italy.

A quick search of the Internet for “rent a car in Italy” yields many companies that promise quick and easy deals. Auto Europe is not a car rental company, but a car broker that allows the traveler to book online, and it offers several additional services (www.autoeurope.com). Auto Europe is recommended by Slow Travel Italy, which can also be found on the Internet at http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/planning/. Here are some of the benefits that Auto Europe can provide for the renter: competitive pricing, a list of what is included for the price, pickup and dropoff at different locations within Italy at no extra charge, and a 24/7 customer service line that will help the traveler handle any issues encountered on the road or with the local rental company. Note that commonly included fees when renting a car in Italy include taxes, a surcharge for picking up the car at the airport, and possibly a daily road tax. Insurance is necessary to drive in Italy and can significantly increase the price of the rental when obtained through the rental company, so it is worthwhile to check if you can get cheaper insurance through a credit card company.

Picking up a rental car at the airport can be difficult at peak travel times because of long lines, and during off-hours, when parts of the airport may be closed. In addition, many Italian hotels, especially if located centrally within a city, do not have parking available for their guests. There are tolls on most Italian freeways, and gas is expensive in Italy. It may be easier to take the train to your initial destination and pick up the car the next day or when you are leaving for the next city on your trip—again, public transportation in most cities is excellent. The city streets in Italy are narrow, so remember that a smaller car is probably better than a larger car, as long as luggage and family will fit!

Here is a checklist of things to find out before leaving the rental office: (1) whether the car takes unleaded gas (benzina) or diesel (gasolio), (2) how to put the car in reverse, (3) how to lock and unlock doors and windows, (4) whether a reflective vest and other equipment required by law in case of an accident have been provided (in the trunk), (5) whether a GPS or map of the town where you will be driving is available, and (6) whether you can get a parking disc for the car.

To rent a car and legally drive in Italy, some additional paperwork will need to be completed. Before leaving, call AAA to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP), which is an official translation of a U.S. driver’s license. Both the IDP and your driver’s license should be presented at the time of rental, along with proof of insurance.

Adapted from Conversational Italian for Travelers, Chapter 6
“Cultural Note”  © 2012 by 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 Stella Lucente Italian Facebook and Stella Lucente Italian Pinterest 
 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
Drive Italy! Renting Cars to Drive in Italy

Conversational Italian for Travelers Speak Italian!

Speak Italian: All About… Me!

Speak Italian: All About… Me!

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog                          Speak Italian: Everything you need to know to introduce yourself… in Italian!

 

Speak Italian: All About… Me!

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

This series will focus on the situations that come 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 many things; in this segment, we will discuss the grammar of complex sentences, prepositions, topic-related grammar, and present and past tense verbs!

Speak Italian: All About… Me!

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!

Remember these examples about yourself as “anchors” in your knowledge for when you must speak Italian in your next conversation!

Enjoy the first topic in this series, “Speak Italian: All About…Me!”
—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 instructor Simona Giuggioli.


Speak Italian: All About… Me!

Here is a short description of my origins, family, and work. Note some names/places have been changed to protect privacy. The essay is meant to be an example piece for others, rather than a complete biography.

While reading my history, think about yourself and what you would like other people to know about you. Read the grammar section if you like. Then, use the blank spaces in the form that follows to fill in the Italian for your own life! 

Speak Italian: All About… Me!

Mi chiamo Caterina Occhipinti.

Io sono italo-americana.

Sono (una) madre e (una) scrittrice.

  1. Dove sono nata e ho vissuto.*
    Where was born and have lived:

La mia famiglia viene dall’Italia.  Sono venuti in America nel 1916.
My family is from (lit. comes from) Italy.  They came to America in 1916.

Vengo dalgli Stati Uniti. Abito in America.  Sono di Brooklyn.
I am from the United States.  I live in America.  I am from Brooklyn.

Sono nata a Brooklyn, a Long Island, vicino a New York City. Ora, abito a Chicago.
I was born in Brooklyn, on Long Island, near to New York City.  Now, I live in Chicago.

Ho anche vissuto* a Boston, in California, e in Florida.
I have also lived in Boston, in California, and in Florida.

*In the past, “ho vissuto” was commonly used in Italy and can still be heard today to describe where one has lived.  It is now felt by some Italian linguists that the helping verb essere should be used to express this idea – in other words, that “sono vissuto(a)” is more correct.  However, please  keep in mind that language is a “living thing” and often the line between right and wrong depends mostly on what people actually say every day.  Even among linguists which form to use is controversial!

 

  1. La mia educazione:
    My education:

Mi sono trasferita da New York a Boston per l’università.
I moved from New York to Boston for college.

Ero una studentessa all’Università di Boston.
I was a student at Boston University.

Ho frequentato l’Università di Boston per un programma speciale per gli studenti di medicina.
I went to Boston University for a special program for medical students.

Ho ricevuto una laurea in “medical science” ed inglese dall’Università di Boston.
I received a degree in “medical science” and in English from Boston University.

Ho frequentato la scuola di medicina all’Univeristà di Boston per due anni ed anche a Mount Sinai a New York.
I went to medical school at Boston University for two years and also at Mount Sinai in New York.

Ho ricevuto una laurea in medicina dal Mount Sinai a New York nel 1987.
I received a degree in medicine from Mount Sinai in New York in 1987.

 

  1. I miei figli:
    My children:

Sono la madre di due figli, Maria e Giovanni.
I am the mother of two children, Mary and John.

Maria ha diciannove anni e Giovanni ha quattordici anni.
Mary is 19 years old and John is 14 years old.

Maria studia affari all’università di Urbana in Illinois e Giovanni studia alla scuola superiore a Peoria in Illinois.
Mary studies business at the University of Urbana in Illinois and John studies at middle school in Peoria in Illinois.

 

  1. Il mio lavoro—instruttrice e scrittrice:
    My work – instructor and writer

Sono un’istruttrice d’italiano.
I am an Italian language instructor.

Ero l’insegnante d’italiano per l’Italian-American Society of Peoria (la Società Italo-Americana di Peoria). Ed ora insegno anche l’italiano nella zona di Chicago.
I was the Italian teacher for the Italian-American Society of Peoria.  And now I also teach Italian in the Chicago area.

Insegno l’italiano agli americani che vogliono viaggiare in Italia. Offro lezioni di gruppo e lezioni private.
I teach the Italian language to Americans that want to travel to Italy.  I offer group lessons and private lessons.

Ho scritto un libro che si chiama Conversational Italian for Travelers. Questo libro è un libro di testo e ha quattrocentosessantasei pagine!
I have written a book called Conversational Italian for Travelers. This book is a textbook and has 466 pages!

Ho anche scritto un libro di esercizi, intitolato Audio Dialogue Practice Book. Gli esercizi sono per gli studenti principanti (Vol. 1) ed anche per gli studenti intermedi (Vol 2).
I have also written a book of exercises entitled  Audio Dialogue Practice Book. The exercises are for beginning students (Vol. 1) and also for intermediate students (Volume 2).

Gli studenti principanti dovrebbero usare Vol. 1 e gli studenti intermedi dovrebbero usare Vol. 2 dell’Audio Dialogue Practice Book.
The beginning students should use Vol. 1 and the intermediate students should use Vol.2 of the ’Audio Dialogue Practice Books.

Dal mio libro di testo, ho scritto tre brevi libri, si chiamano Just the Grammar, Just the Verbs, e Just the Important Phrases.
From my textbook, I have written three short books called Just the Grammar, Just the Verbs, e Just the Important Phrases.

 

  1. Il mio lavoro—medico:
    My work – physician:

Sono (un) medico. Sono (una) radiologa.
I am a physician.  I am a radiologist.

Mi occupo di medicina.  Mi occupo di radiologia.
My work is medicine.  My work is radiology.

Faccio medicina.  Faccio radiologia.
I practice medicine.  I practice radiology.

Inoltre io leggo/interpreto gli esami di MRI (risonanza magnetica) per una società che si trova in California. La società in California mi manda gli esami di MRI da interpretare via computer.
Furthermore, I read/interpret MRI exams for a company from California.  The company in California sends me the MRI exams for interpretation on my computer.

 


 

Speak Italian: Grammar You Will Need to Know…

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

How to Make Complex Sentences with “and” and “at” in Italian

(1) The English word “and” is the letter “e” in Italian.

When speaking in Italian, and linking one phrase to another using e, if the first word of the second phrase begins with the letter e as well, add the letter d to the Italian “and” to make “ed.”

(2) This rule is also used for the Italian word “a,” which means “to.”

If the word that follows the Italian a also begins with the letter a, add the letter d to the Italian word for “to” make “ad.”

(3) It is optional to use this rule if the Italian words e or a come before Italian words that begin with other vowels (i.e., vowels that are not identical to the Italian words for “and” or “to”).

That said, the letter d is commonly added to e or a before words that begin with any vowel in the next phrase.


 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

Grammar Rules for Anche, Sempre, and Inoltre

  1. Use of anche (also) and sempre (always):

(1) Present tense: anche and sempre follow the verb.

(2) Past tense imperfetto: anche and sempre follow the imperfetto verb.

 

(3) Past tense passato prossimo: anche and sempre can follow the compound verb of the passato prossimo. 

Example: Ho detto anche che la ragazza era bella.

(4) Option with the passato prossimo or any other compound verb tense:

anche and sempre can go between avere/essere and the past participle.

Example: Ho anche detto che la ragazza era bella.

 

(5) Anche and sempre belong before a person’s name if you are starting a sentence with their name or a pronoun (she = lei, he = lui).

Example: Anche Franco viene al cinema stasera.

 

  1. Use of inoltre (also, furthermore, moreover):

When starting a sentence, begin with inoltre for emphasis.


 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

Grammar Rules for the Prepositions a (to) and in (in) Regarding Cities, Regions/States, Islands, and Countries

When Americans travel, we travel to a place: to Italy, to Rome, to the northeast. Italians travel directly in (in) a country, region, or large island, but to (a) a city, town, or small island. (In Italian, the word for in is the same as in English… in!) For instance, one may live in America, but a Chicago. By convention, the definite article (the) (il, la, gli, or l’) is used to refer to countries, except when talking about traveling directly into them!

 


 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

How to Describe where You Are from

There are two ways to ask/tell where someone is from in Italian:

 

di + dove + essere from + where + to be   Da + dove + venire from + where + to come

 

In Italian, when the verb to be (essere) is used, the idea of from is expressed with di, as in, “From where are you?” In proper English, of course, we would say, “Where are you from?” The answer in Italian will also use di and will usually be followed by the town of one’s birth. Notice that the subject pronoun io (I) is usually left out of the answer, as it is understood from the ending of the verb.

 

Di dov’è Lei? Where are you (pol.) from?
Di dove sei? Where are you (fam.) from?
Sono di Chicago. (I) am from Chicago.

 

The action verb venire is usually used in conversation when someone is visiting or has moved to a new place. When replying to a question that uses this phrase, use the io form of venire, which is vengo and da for from, followed by a city, town, region/state, or country. Also, remember that when speaking of a region, state, or country, the definite article (il, lo, la, l’, gli) must be used. The preposition da is then combined with the definite article to make dal, dallo, dall’, dalla, or dagli, which means “from the.” For now, don’t worry about these rules. Just look up and remember the correct way to say where you are living in case you are asked!

 

Da dove viene?/Da dove vieni? Where do you come from? (pol.)/(fam.)
Vengo dall’America. (I) come from America./I am from America.
Vengo dagli Stati Uniti. (I) come from the United States.
Vengo dall’Illinois. (I) come from Illinois.
Vengo dalla California. (I) come from California.
Vengo dal New Jersey. (I) come from New Jersey.
Vengo da Chicago. (I) come from Chicago.

 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

Your Nationality

To explain where we are from, we must use adjectives that identify our country of origin. For men, adjectives of nationality end in –o and change to an –i in the plural, and for women, these same adjectives end in –a and change to –e in the plural. So, a man from Italy is italiano, but a woman is italiana.

Adjectives of nationality that have only one form for both men and women usually end in –ese.

What to do if the adjective describing nationality ends in an –e? Well, use the same –e ending for both men and women, and for the plural, change the letter –e to an –i. 

Adjectives of nationality always follow the noun and are not capitalized. Or you can just state your nationality directly after the verb sono to make the sentence “I am…”

 

Da dove viene?/Da dove vieni? Where do you come from? (pol.)/(fam.)
Vengo dall’America. (I) come from America./I am from America.
Vengo dagli Stati Uniti. (I) come from the United States.
Sono americano(a). (I) am American.

 

 


 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

How to State Your Age in Italian

Perhaps the most commonly asked question of someone is how old they are. In English, we say, “How old are you?” using the verb to be, as a statement of fact. But Italians look at this question as the number of years accumulated during a lifetime (and maybe the wisdom accumulated during these years?), so they use the verb to have, avere. The question in Italian is, “Quanti anni hai?” or literally, “How many years do you have?” This is not really an idiomatic expression, but just another way of looking at things.

 

Quanti anni hai? How old are you? (lit. How many years do you have?)

After this question is asked of you, the response will also use the verb avere, and you will respond:

 

Io ho        anni. I have        years.

There are a couple of rules that are necessary to make conversation flow more easily in Italian:

 

  1. The tens (20, 30, 40, etc.) drop their last vowel before the word anni. In this case, the expression would be:

 

Io ho vent’anni. I have 20 years.
Io ho trent’anni. I have 30 years.
Io ho quarant’anni. I have 40 years.

 

  1. All numbers that end in uno (21, 31, 41, etc.) drop the final –o before a noun that starts with a vowel. So, if you are 21, 31, or 41 years old, your reply would be as follows:

 

Io ho ventun’anni. I have 21 years.
Io ho trentun’anni. I have 31 years.
Io ho quarantun’anni. I have 41 years.

 

No need to remember all these rules—just look up and commit to memory your age and the ages of your immediate family members for now!


 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

Present Tense Verbs

Endings for Regular –are, –ere, –ire, and –ire (isco)* Verbs

Drop the –are, -ere, and -ire endings from the Italian infinitive verb and add the endings below for the present tense.  Reflexive verbs drop their –arsi, ersi, and -irsi endings and then are conjugated in the same way. Always add the corresponding reflexive pronoun before each conjugated form of a reflexive verb.

Infinitive
Present
Reflexive

Pronouns

–are –ere –ire ire (isco)

*capire

*finire

*preferire

io mi o o o isco
tu ti i i i isci
Lei/lei/lui si a e e isce
           
noi ci iamo iamo iamo iamo
voi vi ate ete ite ite
loro si ano ono ono iscono

 *Common –ire (isco) verbs are listed—there are many others!

 


 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

Present Tense Verbs

Conjugated Forms of Auxiliary Verbs Essere and Avere

Auxiliary

Verbs

Essere

(to be)

Avere

(to have)

io sono I am ho I have
tu sei you (fam.) are hai you (fam.) have
Lei/lei/lui è you (pol.) are

he is/she is

ha you (pol.) have

he has/she has

     
noi siamo we are abbiamo we have
voi siete you all are avete you all have
loro sono they are hanno they have

 


 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

Past Tense: Passato Prossimo

Auxiliary

Verbs

Essere

(to be)

Essere

Passato Prossimo

Avere

(to have)

Avere

Passato

Prossimo

io sono +stato(a) ho +avuto
tu sei +stato(a) hai +avuto
Lei/lei/lui è +stato(a) ha +avuto
         
noi siamo +stati(e) abbiamo +avuto
voi siete +stati(e) avete +avuto
loro sono +stati(e) hanno +avuto

 

Past Tense

Passato Prossimo

Avere

(to have)

–are

past participle

–ere

past

participle

–ire

past

participle

io ho +ato +uto +ito
tu hai +ato +uto +ito
Lei/lei/lui ha +ato +uto +ito
         
noi abbiamo +ato +uto +ito
voi avete +ato +uto +ito
loro hanno +ato +uto +ito

 

Past Tense

Passato Prossimo

Essere

(to be)

–are

past participle

–ere

past

participle

–ire

past

participle

io sono +ato(a) +uto(a) +ito(a)
tu sei +ato(a) +uto(a) +ito(a)
Lei/lei/lui è +ato(a) +uto(a) +ito(a)
         
noi siamo +ati(e) +uti(e) +iti(e)
voi siete +ati(e) +uti(e) +iti(e)
loro sono +ati(e) +uti(e) +iti(e)

 


 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

Past Tense: Imperfetto

Drop the –re ending from the Italian infinitive verb and add the endings below for the imperfetto past tense.  Reflexive verbs drop their –rsi, ending and then are conjugated in the same way. Remember to always add the corresponding reflexive pronoun before each conjugated form of a reflexive verb.

Verb

Endings

Past Tense

Imperfetto

io vo
tu vi
Lei/lei/lui va
   
noi vamo
voi vate
loro vano

 

The auxiliary verb avere is regular but essere is irregular in the imperfetto past tense.

Auxiliary Verb

Avere

Past Tense

Imperfetto

(used to have)

io avevo
tu avevi
Lei/lei/lui aveva
   
noi avevamo
voi avevate
loro avevano

 

Auxiliary Verb

Essere

Past Tense

Imperfetto

(used to be)

io ero
tu eri
Lei/lei/lui era
   
noi eravamo
voi eravate
loro erano

 

 


 

Speak Italian: All About… YOU!

Everyone has a story to tell about themselves. What would you like others to know about you and your family? Fill in the blanks in the Italian sentences in the exercise below, using examples from your own life.

   Mi chiamo (name) ________________________________.

 Io sono (nationality) _______________________________.

Sono (parent/occupation) __________________________.

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

  1. Dove sono nato(a) e ho vissuto:

La mia famiglia viene da (country of origin with definite article l, ll’, or lla)

_____________________________________________________.

(Loro) Sono venuti in America nel (year family came to America) _________.

(Io)Sono di (town/city of birth) _____________________________________________________.

Vengo da (country of birth with definite article l, ll’, gli or lla ) _____________________________________________________.

Abito in (country where you live) _____________________________________.

Sono nato(a) a (town/city of birth) ________________________________________________________________.

vicino a (nearest large city) _________________________________________.

Ora, vivo a (city currently living in)____________________________________.

Ho anche vissuto/Sono anche vissuto(a)** a (other town/city you have lived in)_____________________________________________.
in (other state/region you have lived in)_____________________________________________.

**Choose the past tense form you feel most comfortable with, as which form to use is controversial, as mentioned in the first section of this blog.

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

  1. Il mio/La mia educazione:

Ho ricevuto un diploma dalla scuola superiore (name of high school) ________________________________________________________________.

Ho ricevuto la mia certificazione di (name of trade) _______________________________________________.

Mi sono trasferito(a) da (town/city) _____________________ a (town/city) _____________________________
per (college/university/work, marriage, etc.) ____________________________________________________________.

Ero uno studente/una studentessa all’Università di (town/city) _______________________________________________________.

Ho frequentato l’Università di (town/city) ________________________________________________________________

per (major)_______________________________________________________.

Ho ricevuto una laurea in (university degree) ________________________________________________________________

dall’Università di (name of university/town/city)________________________
nel (year)_____________________________.

Ho frequentato la scuola di (higher education/professional school)__________________________________________________________
al (university name)________________________________________________
per (number of years attended)____________________ anni
ed anche a (any other school attended) _______________________________________________________________.

Ho ricevuto una laurea in (profession)_______________________________
dal (professional school)___________________________________________
nel (year)_______________________________.

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

  1. I miei figli:

Sono la madre/il padre di (number of children)________ figli: (names of children):________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________

(Name of child)_______________________ ha (age of child) _____anni/mesi
(un anno/ un mese)

e (names and ages of additional children) _________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________.

(Name of child in college) __________________ studia (college major) _______________________________________.

all’università di (name of college)____________________________________
in (U.S. state/region) ______________________.

e (name of child in high school) _______________________________________
studia alla scuola superiore

a (city)__________________________________
in (U.S. state/region)________________________________________________.

(Name of child in grammar school) ____________________ studia alla scuola elementare.

 ******************************

  1. Il mio lavoro

Sono (job description/profession)*_____________________________________.

*Remember that the indefinite article (un, uno, una, un’) is optional when describing a profession/what it is that you do!

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

  1. Tell a little bit about what you have done and what you do in Italian!____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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

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!”

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Speak Italian: All About… Me!