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Italian Subjunctive Mood Practice: Emailing Italian Families

Italian Subjunctive Mood Practice: Emailing Italian Families 

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

Italian Practice: Emailing Italian Families

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

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

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

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

Italian Practice: Email and the Italian Subjunctive Mood

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

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

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

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


Italian Practice Email: All about… Family

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

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

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

Cara cugina Francesca,
Dear Cousin Frances,

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

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

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

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

Come sta la piccola Eleonora?
How is little Eleanor?

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

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

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

E Giovanni, come sta?
And how is John?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mi manchi molto!
I miss you so much!

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

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

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

Scrivimi presto!
Write me soon!

Baci e abbracci,
Kisses and hugs,

Caterina
Kathy

 


 

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

Cara cugina Caterina,
Dear Cousin Kathy,

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

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

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

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

Ho una buona notizia!
I have good news!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tanti baci!
Lots of kisses!

Francesca
Frances

 


Italian Practice Email: What You Will Need to Know…

Italian Practice: Emailing Italian Families

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

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

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

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

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

 


Italian Practice: Emailing Italian Families

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

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

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

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

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


 

Italian Practice: Emailing Italian Families

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

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

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

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

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


Italian Practice: Emailing Italian Families

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

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

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


 

Italian Practice: Emailing Italian Families

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

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

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

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

Commonly Used Familiar Italian Salutations

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

 

Commonly Used Formal Italian Salutations

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

 


 

Italian Practice: Emailing Italian Families

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

Trovare means “to find” something.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 


Italian Practice: Emailing Italian Families

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 


 

 Italian Practice: Emailing Italian Families

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

The verb fare, which means “to do,” or “to make,” often comes up when one person makes a direct request that another person do something.  To ask for a favor politely, you could use the (by now, well-known) verb può with fare to make the phrase, “Può farmi un favore?” for, “Could you do me a favor?”  But, more often, the familiar command form of this phrase is used; if one is instructing another person to do something, both people often know each other very well. Or, perhaps in the workplace, a superior is making a request of another worker.   In this case, the commonly used phrase used would be, “Fammi un favore!” for, “Do me a favor! Piacere also works interchangeably with favore in this expression, as in, “Fammi un piacere!”

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Two additional commonly used familiar commands with direct objects involve the verbs dire and dare:

 

Dimmi! Tell me!
Dammi! Give me!

 


 

Italian Practice: Emailing Italian Families

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few pointers are useful to remember. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 


Italian Practice: The Italian School System 

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

American and Italian School Systems

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

 


 

Italian Practice: Talking about the Italian School System 

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

  

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

                       


 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blogKathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
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Italian Subjunctive Mood Practice: Emailing Italian Families

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Italian Subjunctive (Part 3): Speak Italian!

Italian Subjunctive (Part 3): Speak Italian!

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

 

Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mood

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

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

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

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

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

Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mood

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

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

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

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

Enjoy the third blog in this series, “Italian Subjunctive (Part 3): Speak Italian!”
—Kathryn Occhipinti

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

 


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

Once Again… Phrases That Take the Italian Subjunctive Mood

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

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

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

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

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

These groups are again listed  below for review.

In this blog, we will discuss phrases that express feelings in Group 8 and describe the situations in which they are used to  introduce the subjuctive mood.

We will also now discuss Groups 9-11, in which we list indivicual words must be followed by the subjunctive mood. These particular words are often found in the introductory phrase of a sentence, but can also be found in the phrase that completes a sentence.

Group 12 will be the topic of a later series of blogs on Italian hypothetical phrases, but is included here for completeness.

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

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

Points to remember about the subjunctive mood:

In Italian, the introductory phrases that take the subjunctive mood (those that trigger doubt, uncertainty, desire, or a feeling)  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.

We now see from Group 9 that some words or phrases already have -ché or che integrated into the word itself. In these cases, che is not repeated.  The clause that follows our introductory phrase will then describe what the uncertainty is about.

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

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

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

 


 

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

Phrases Used to Express Feelings with “Di” in Italian

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

 

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

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(and need to do)

Devo cucinare il pranzo ogni sera.

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

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

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

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

Non abbiamo  bisogno di giorni migliori,

ma di persone che rendono migliori i nostri giorni!

We don’t need to have better days,

instead, people who make our days better!


 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Avevo bisogno… che tu I needed… that you*

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

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

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

 

       
Non sono certo(a)…
che tu
I am not certain…
that you
Non ero certo… che tu I was not certain… that you
       
Non sono sicuro(a)…
che tu
I am not certain…
that you
Non ero sicuro… che tu I was not certain… that you
       
Sono felice… che tu I am happy… that you Ero felice… che tu I was happy… that you
       
Sono fortunato(a)… che tu I am happy… that you Ero fortunato(a)… che tu I was fortunate… that you
       
Sono libero(a) di… *

 

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

 

I am tired…*

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

Ero stanco(a)… che tu I was tired…*

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

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

 

 


Idiomatic Use of the Italian Subjunctive Mood

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

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

 

Phrases Used to Introduce the Subjunctive Mood—Idiomatic

 

Present Tense Subjunctive Phrase
Groups 9, 10, 11
 
Prima che Before that  ( Prima che is used to mean “before that” and followed by the subjunctive mood when the subject in the first phrase is different from the subject in the second phrase; use Prima di + infinitive when the subject of both phrases is the same.)
Benché, Sebbene Although, Even though, If
Può darsi che It may be possible that, Possibly, Maybe
Affinché So as, So that, In order that
Perché So that (Perché is only used in the subjunctive mood when it means “so that.” Other meanings of perché include “why” and “because” and in these cases, the subjunctive mood is not used.)
Purché As long as, Provided that, Only if

 

Finally, our usual reminder:

DO NOT USE THE SUBJUNCTIVE WITH THE FOLLOWING THREE PHRASES!

Forse = Perhaps       

Per me = For me

Secondo me = According to me

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

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

Solo se = Only if

Anche se = Even though/if

 


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

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

A review from the second blog in this series:

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

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

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

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

(to return)

Vendere

(to sell)

Partire

(to leave)

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

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

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

 


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

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

 

 Dovere – to have to/must – Present Subjunctive Mood

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

(che) lei/lui

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

 

  

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

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

(che) lei/lui

possa you (polite) are able to/can

she/he is able to/can

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

 

 

 Volere – to want/ to need – Present Subjunctive mode

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

(che) lei/lui

voglia you (polite) want/need

she/he wants/needs

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

The Subjunctive Mood – Irregular Present Tense
Commonly Used Verbs

A review from the second blog in this series:

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

Andare – to go – Present Subjunctive Mood

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

(che) lei/lui

vada you (polite) go

she/he goes

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

 

Dare – to give – Present Subjunctive Mood

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

(che) lei/lui

dia you give

she/he gives

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

 

Dire – to say/ to tell – Present Subjunctive Mood

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

 

(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

dica you (polite) say/tell

she/he says/tells

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

Fare – to do/ to make– Present Subjunctive Mood

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

 

(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

faccia you (polite) do/make

she/he does/makes

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

 

Sapere – to know (facts) – Present Subjunctive Mood

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

(che) lei/lui

sappia you (polite) know

she/he knows

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

 

Venire – to come –  Present Subjunctive Mood

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

(che) lei/lui

venga you (polite) come

she/he comes

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

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

A review from the first blog in this series:

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

 

Avere – to have – Present Subjunctive Mood

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

(che) lei/lui

abbia you (polite) have

she/he has

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

 

Essere – to be – Present Subjunctive Mood

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

(che) lei/lui

sia you (polite) are

he/he is

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

 

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

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

(che) lei/lui

stia you (polite) stay (are)

she/he stays (is)

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


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

Example Phrases Using the Present Tense
Italian Subjunctive Mood

To follow are some examples of how the Italian subjunctive mood in the present tense might be used in conversation during daily life. (In later blog posts in this series, we will cover examples of how to use the subjunctive when the introductory phrase is in the conditional or past tense.)

Notice that English sentence structure differs from Italian in most of these sentences.  We can make a similar sentence in English as in Italian, but it would be considered an “awkward” sentence.

The biggest difference is that we English speakers do not use the subjunctive form, whether or not the subject in the two phrases is the same or different.  Also, we often leave out the word “that” from our sentences that contain two phrases. But, the Italian word for “that,” “che,”  is not an option when linking two Italian phrases – except if the introductory word itself ends in -che.

For the translations, the Italian sentence structure is given first for some examples to help us to think in Italian. The correct English is in bold.

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

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

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

 
Ho paura che lui  guidi  troppo veloce. I am afraid he drives too fast.
   
Non sono certo che Lei ricordi questo giorno. I amnot certain that you (will) remember this day.

 

Non sono sicuro che noi ricordiamo questo posto speciale. I am not sure that we (will) remember this special  place.
   
Sono felice che voi incontriate  mio cugino oggi. I am happy (that) you all (are going) to meet my cousin today.
Sono fortunato che voi mangiate con me questa sera per il mio compleanno. I am lucky that you all are eating with me tonight for my birthday.

 

Temo che loro non siano persone perbene. I am afraid that they are not good people.
 
Mi auguro che loro facciano una buona vacanza. I hope that they have a good vacation.

 


 

The Italian Subjunctive Mood: Examples for Idiomatic Phrases and Modal Verbs

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

Lei deve prepare molto bene i tuoi documenti prima che tu debba andare al lavoro. She must prepare your papers very well before (that) you have to go to work. =

She has to prepare your papers very well before you have to go to work.

 
Prima che mio figlio possa andare dove vuole, io devo venire a casa. Before (that) my son can go where he wants, I have to come home. =

Before my son can go where he wants, I have to come home.

 
Prima che noi dobbiamo partire per Roma, dovete riposare un po’ in campagna. Before (that) we have to leave for Rome, you all must rest a little bit in the country. =

Before we have to leave for Rome, you all must rest a little bit in the country.

 
Prima che voi possiate andare a trovare* i vostri parenti in America, tuo padre deve guardagnare un sacco di soldi.** Before (that) you all can visit your relatives in America, your father must make a lot of money. =

Before you all can visit your relatives in America, your father must make a lot of money.

 
Il mio assistente deve portarli alla riunione prima che loro possano mangiare la cena. My assistant must take them to the meeting before (that) they can eat dinner. =

My assistant must take them to the meeting before they can eat dinner.

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

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

 


The  Italian Subjunctive Mood: Examples for Idiomatic Phrases

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

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

You  must have fresh strawberries so that the pie is made properly.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Italian Subjunctive (Part 3) : Speak Italian!

Conversational Italian for Travelers Speak Italian!

Italian Subjunctive (Part 2): Speak Italian!

Italian Subjunctive (Part 2): Speak Italian!

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

 

Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mood

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

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

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

Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mood

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

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

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

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

Enjoy the second blog in this series, “Italian Subjunctive (Part 2): Speak Italian!”
—Kathryn Occhipinti

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

 


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

Once Again… Phrases That Take the Italian Subjunctive Mood

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Points to remember about the subjunctive mood:

In Italian, the introductory phrases that take the subjunctive mood (those that trigger doubt, uncertainty, desire, or a feeling)  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.

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

 


How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mood with
Volere and Desiderare

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the same way, I can ask that someone do something using the verb chiedere  or insist that they do it with the verb esigere.  But just asking someone else or even insisting does not mean that it will be done (as those of us who have children know).  So, in these cases as well, the verbs chiedo and esigo (I want and I insist) will be followed by the conjunction che and the next phrase will use a verb in the subjunctive form.

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

 


How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mood with
Piacere and Dispiacere

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

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

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

Phrases Used to Introduce the Subjunctive Mood  with Volere, Desiderare, Piacere, Dispiacere
Present Tense &
Conditional Tense
Subjunctive Phrases
Groups 6 and 7
    Past Tense &
Past Conditional Tense
Subjunctive Phrases
Groups 6 and 7
       
Voglio… che tu I want… that you Volevo… che tu I wanted… that you
Vorrei… che tu I would like…
that you
Volevo… che tu I wanted… that you
Desidero… che tu
Chiedo … che tu
Esigo… che tu
 

I want… that you
I ask… that you
i insist… that  you

 

Desideravo… che tu
Chiedevo… che tu
Esigevo… che tu
I wanted… that you
I asked… that you
I insisted… that you
Mi piace… che tu I like… that you Mi piaceva… che tu I liked… that you
Mi dispiace… che tu I am sorry… that you Mi dispiaceva… che tu I was sorry… that you
Mi piacerebbe…
che tu
I would like…
that you
Mi sarebbe piaciuto… che tu I would have liked…
that you
Mi dispiacerebbe…
che tu
I don’t mind…
that you
Mi sarebbe piaciuto… che tu I didn’t mind… that you

 

Finally, a word of caution:

DO NOT USE THE SUBJUNCTIVE WITH THE FOLLOWING THREE PHRASES!

Forse = Perhaps      

Per me = For me

Secondo me = According to me

 

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


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

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

 

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

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

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

Subjunctive Mood – Present Tense

 

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

 

  Tornare

(to return)

Vendere

(to sell)

Partire

(to leave)

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

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

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

 


 

The Subjunctive Mood – Present Tense
Commonly Used Irregular Verbs

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

Andare – to go –  Present Subjunctive Mood

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

(che) lei/lui

vada you (polite) go

she/he goes

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

 

 

Dare – to give – Present Subjunctive Mood

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

(che) lei/lui

dia you give

she/he gives

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

 

 

Dire – to say/ to tell – Subjunctive Mood

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

 

(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

dica you (polite) say/tell

she/he says/tells

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

 

 

Fare – to do/ to make– Present Subjunctive Mood

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

 

(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

faccia you (polite) do/make

she/he does/makes

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

 

 

Sapere – to know (facts) –  Present Subjunctive Mood

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

(che) lei/lui

sappia you (polite) know

she/he knows

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

 

 

Venire – to come – Present Subjunctive Mood

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

(che) lei/lui

venga you (polite) come

she/he comes

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

 


 

 

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

Example Phrases Using the Present Tense Subjunctive Mood

To follow are some examples of how the Italian subjunctive mood in the present tense might be used in conversation during daily life. (In later blog posts in this series, we will cover examples of how to use the subjunctive when the introductory phrase is in the conditional or the past tense.)

Notice that English sentence structure differs from Italian in most of these sentences.  We can make a similar sentence in English as in Italian, but it would be considered an “awkward” sentence.

The biggest difference is that we English speakers do not use the subjunctive form, whether or not the subject in the two phrases is the same or different.  Also, we often leave out the word “that” from our sentences that contain two phrases. But, as mentioned previously, the Italian word for “that,” “che,” is not an option when linking two Italian phrases!

For the translations, the Italian sentence structure is given first in italics to help us to think in Italian. The correct English is in bold.

We will use the example introductory phrases and verbs from earlier in this section. You can see from our first example that use of the subjunctive in the opening phrase really does allow one to make complex sentences.  The first example has been completed to express a complex situation.  Have fun expanding the sentences we have given. How many more combinations can you think of?How many more combinations can you think of?

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Italian Subjunctive (Part 2): Speak Italian!

Conversational Italian for Travelers Speak Italian!

Italian Subjunctive (Part 1): Speak Italian!

Italian Subjunctive (Part 1): Speak Italian!

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

 

Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mood

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

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

Let’s take that giant step from simple beginning sentences to more complex and fluid sentences in Italian by using the subjunctive mood. In this segment, we will discuss the phrases that take the subjunctive mood and the how to conjugate the subjunctive mood for avere, essere and stare in the present tense. Finally, we will learn about the verb chiedersi, which means “to wonder.” Example sentences will follow!

Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mood

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

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

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

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

Enjoy the 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

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

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

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

These groups are listed below:

  1. Phrases that use the verbs credere (to believe), pensare (to think), and sperare (to hope). These verbs use the pattern: [verb  di + infinitive verb to describe the beliefs, thoughts, or hopes that one has. When the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the subjunctive clause that follows, the pattern changes to: [verb + che + subjunctive verb].*
  2. Impersonal constructions that begin with, “It is…” such as, “È possibile che…”
  3. Phrases that express a doubt, such as, “I don’t know…” or “Non so che…”
  4. Phrases that express uncertainty, such as, “It seems to me…” or “Mi sembra che…” and  “Chiedersi se… “ or ” To wonder if…”
  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 listed above are usually followed by a “linking word,” which in turn introduces the phrase that follows.  This “linking word” is also known as a conjunction, and is the word che.  In this situation, che means that.  The clause that follows our introductory phrase will then describe what the uncertainty is about.

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

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

Phrases That Take the Subjunctive Mood

 

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

 

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

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

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

Finally, a word of caution:

DO NOT USE THE SUBJUNCTIVE WITH THE FOLLOWING THREE PHRASES!

Forse = Perhaps

 Per me = For me

Secondo me = According to me

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


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

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

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

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

Avere – to have – Subjunctive Mood

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

(che) lei/lui

abbia you (polite) have

she/he has

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

 

Essere – to be – Subjunctive Mood

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

(che) lei/lui

sia you (polite) are

he/he is

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

 

Stare – to stay (to be) – Subjunctive Mood

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

(che) lei/lui

stia you (polite) stay (are)

she/he stays (is)

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

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

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

To follow are some examples of when the Italian subjunctive mood in the present tense might be used in conversation during daily life.  Notice that the English translation is the same for the present tense examples and the Italian subjunctive examples used in the sentences below.

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

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

She is well.

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

I hope that she is well.

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

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


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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Buona serata.

Have a good day.

Have a good evening.

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

 


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

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

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

(It seems to me that she is beautiful.)

L’insegnante è simpatico. The teacher is nice.  

Spero che l’insegnante sia simpatico.

 

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

Credo che Dio sia in cielo.

 

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

Penso che l’attrice sia brava in quel film.

 

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

Spero che lui sia fortunato.

 

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

Mi pare che lei sia contenta.

 

She seems happy to me.

(It seems to me that she is happy.)

Loro sono bravi cantanti. They are wonderful singers.  

Può darsi che loro siano bravi cantanti.

 

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

Dubito che lui sia un bravo studente.

 

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

(It is probable that she is married.)

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

How to Use the Verb “To Wonder”
 “Chiedersi” 

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

The verb chiedersi,  from Rule 4, is worthy of special mention.  Chiedersi is the verb Italians use to describe the idea of “wondering” if something might happen.

“Mi chiedo…” literally means, “I ask myself,” which translates into “I wonder.” This verb is often followed by the Italian word for “if” to make the sentence, “Mi chiedo se…” or,  “I wonder if…”  Given that this phrase ends in the word “if,” at first glance it may seem to fall into the category of  improbable hypothetical phrases, which need a special conjugation (to be discussed in blogs to follow). But, cheidersi  in its present tense form actually takes the present  subjunctive mood,  just as the other phrases in Rule 4 that we have learned about.

So, you already know how to use this verb and can easily wonder about things that might be!

Below is an example of how to use the verb chiedersi.  We will revisit  chiedersi  again as we continue to learn about the subjunctive mood in blogs to come!

Mi chiedo se lui sia un attore bravo in quel film.
I wonder if he is a great actor in that film.

 

 


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

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

Italian Subjunctive (Part 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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Speak Italian – A Story About… Love!

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 present 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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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?

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

Speak Italian: All About… What I Am Doing!

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!”

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

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

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

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

Speak Italian: All About… Me!