This blog series, “How to Talk About… in Italian” will focus on the topics that have come up most frequently in my everyday conversations with Italian family, friends and colleagues. We will focus on the important Italian phrases and Italian vocabulary we all need to know to become more fluent when we speak about everyday events in Italian!
The topic for this month —movies and TV — comes up frequently during daily conversation, both when making small talk with acquaintances and also when planning activities with family, friends, and co-workers. In the “How to Talk About Movies and TV in Italian” blog for this month, we will focus on common Italian phrases needed to describe the type of show you have watched, if liked it, and why . As usual, the focus will be on common Italian expressions that can be used to describe your own interests.
Enjoy the third topic in this “How to Talk About…” series, “How to Talk About Movies and TV in Italian.” —Kathryn Occhipinti
Special thanks to Italian instructor Maria Vanessa Colapinto.
Banner image credit: Como lake landscapes on film strip
Using piacere to say we like a TV show or movie…
In Italian, a few simple sentences will suffice to say if we liked what we saw — or not. You may recall that Italians use the irregular verb piacere to convey the idea that they like something. For a refresher on how this verb works, please refer to the beginning Italian blogs in my Conversational Italian! blog, “Piacere — How Italians Say, ‘I like it!” and “Piacere: How Italians Say, ‘I liked it!’
The most important thing to remember is that the conjugation of piacere will have to agree with the number of things that are being liked.
So, when speaking in the present tense, if one thing is liked, simply use the third person singular conjugation piace.
If many things are liked in the present, use the plural third person, which is piacciono.
For the past tense, we can use the passato prossimo third person singular forms “è piacuto” and “è piaciuta” for the one-time event when we liked something.
If many things are liked, the third person plural forms “sono piaciuti” for the masculine plural (and mixed group plural) and “sono piaciute” for the feminine plural are used.
Then put the indirect object pronoun “mi” before the verb to make the simple sentence: “ To me, this is/was pleasing!” Or, as we would say in English, “I like/liked this!”
To ask a friend if they like or liked something, put “ti“ before the verb, for “Is/was this pleasing to you?” Or, as we would say in English, “Do/Did you like this?”
If, for some reason, we do NOT like what we have watched, just start your sentence with the word “non.”
What we might say about our favorite TV show or movie that we like:
|Mi piace questo film.||I like this movie.|
|Mi è piaciuto questo film.||I liked this movie.|
|Mi piace molto questo film.||I really like this movie.|
|Mi è piaciuto molto questo film.||I really liked this movie.|
|Ti piace questo film?||Do you like this movie?|
|Ti è piaciuto questo film?||Did you like this movie?|
What we might say about our favorite TV show or movie that we did NOT like:
|Non mi piace questo film.||I don’t like this movie.|
|Non mi è piaciuto questo film.||I didn’t like this movie.|
|Mi piace molto questo film.||I really don’t like this movie.|
|Mi è piaciuto molto questo film.||I really didn’t like this movie.|
|Ti piace questo film?||Don’t you like this movie?|
|Ti è piaciuto questo film?||Didn’t you like this movie?|
Using common expressions to say we like a TV show or movie…
Of course, there are many common expressions in Italian that go beyond the simple: ” I like it” or “I didn’t like it.” Just like in English, we might say, “It was cool,” or “It was out of this world,” It seems like new expressions are invented almost every day for how we feel about things! So, it should come as no surprise that Italians also have invented colloquial expressions that express feelings that go deeper than simply liking. Here are a few you might want to try to surprise your Italian friends.
If you want to ask your friend if it is worth your time to watch a certain movie, you can use the phrases, ” Vale la pena?” for “Is it worth it?” “Voleva la pena il film?” means, “Was the film worth it?”
In the table below are some answers to this question that you might hear from a native Italian if they liked the film you are talking about:
|Mi piace un sacco!||I like it a lot! (lit. a sack full)|
|Mi è piaciuto un sacco!||I liked it a lot!|
|È stato bello!||It was great!|
|È / È stato meraviglioso!||It is / was wonderful!|
|È / È stato stupendo!||It is / was amazing / cool!|
|È / È stato fantastico!||It is / was fantastic / cool!|
|È / È stato fico / figo!||It is / was cool!|
|È / È stato fichissimo / fighissimo!||It is / was the coolest!|
|È / È stato da paura!||It is / was cool!|
|È / È stato il meglio!||It is / was the best!|
|È il migliore film che io abbia mai visto.||It is the best film that I have ever seen.|
How do I say, “TV show” and “movies” in Italian?
The programs we watch on a television set ( il televisore) or on a screen (lo schermo) are referred to most commonly in both English and Italian as “TV.” The pronunciation, of course, is different in each language. In Italian, “TV” is pronounced as an Italian would pronounce the letters “t” and “v”, which sounds like “tee-vooh.” Notice from the table below that there is an Italian word for TV, “la televisione,” and therefore the abbreviation is feminine as well.
|TV||La TV / La televisione|
|Cable TV||La TV via cavo|
|Satellite TV||La TV sattelitare|
|RAI-TV||Italian state television
|Television set||Il televisore|
|TV or computer screen||Lo schermo|
|TV show||Un programma
Un programma televisivo
|TV series||Una serie TV
|Situation Comedy||Una serie TV sitcom
|Comedy show||Un programma comico|
To talk about a movie in Italian, we could refer to “la pellicola,” but this word is no longer in common use. Instead, Italians most often refer to a movie in general with the word “film.” Movies in general are either “i film,” with the borrowed English word preceded by the plural masculine definite article in Italian, or “il cinema,” a collective masculine noun.
The usual verbs for “to watch,” “guardare,” and “to see,”“vedere,” describe the act of watching a screen to see a TV show or movie.
|Movie theater||Il cinema|
|Film studio||Lo studio cinematografico|
|Movie||Il film (La pellicola)|
|Movies||I film / Il cinema|
|to capture an image for a film||filmare / riprendere / girare|
|to be recorded||essere filmato|
|to watch a movie||guardare un film|
|to watch a movie||vedere un film|
Using common expressions to say what we prefer…
The verb preferire means “to prefer,” which is a regular -isc conjugated -ire verb.“I prefer,“ is “Io preferisco…” To ask a question of someone else, say, “Tu preferisci…?”
If you want to say you prefer one movie genre over another, just use the adjective preferito. This also works for your favorite movie, TV show, color, etc. Just make sure to change the ending of preferito (a,i,e) to reflect what it is you are describing, whether masculine or feminine, singular or plural.
Here are examples from the dialogue below:
È il tipo di film che io preferisco.
It’s the type of film that I prefer.
Non per me. Il mio film preferito è un buon giallo.
Not for me. My favorite movie is a good mystery movie.
If you might want to say, “I liked (film) better than…” use the sentence construction:
“Mi piace… (film) più di + definite article… (film).
Ma mi piace La Vita è Bella più del Commissario Montalbano.
I like La Vita è Bella more than Detective Montalbano.
Another way to make a comparison between films: “This film is much better than…”
“Questo film è molto meglio di + definite article…”
Questo film è molto meglio del Commissario Montalbano, sono sicuro!
This film is much better than Detective Montalbano, I am sure.
Finally, to mention who has written or directed a movie, use the conjunction “di” to mean “by.”
Some common movie genres
|Adventure story||Storia d’avventura|
|Costume drama (historical TV show with costumes)||Sceneggiato in costume|
|Costume drama (historical film with costumes)||Film in costume|
|Comedy||Film comico / commedia|
|Comedy drama||Commedia drammatica|
|Dark comedy||Commedia nera|
|High comedy||Commedia sofisticata / da intenditori|
|Low comedy (bawdy)||Commedia popolare|
|Slapstick comedy||Farsa / Pagliacciata*|
|Musical comedy||Commedia musicale|
|Romantic comedy||Commedia romantica|
|Drama movie||Film drammatico / Dramma|
|Detective movie||Un poliziesco / Un giallo**|
|Film noir (thriller genre)||Film noir|
|Foreign Film||Film straniero|
|Horror||Film horror / Film dell’orrore|
|Science Fiction / Sci-fi||Film di fantascienza|
|Psychological thriller||Thriller psicologico|
|Thriller (suspense film)||Thriller / Giallo|
*Reference to the opera “Pagliacci,” whose main character is a clown that performs slapstick humor with puppets.
**Mystery books and films are referred to by the color “giallo,” which is derived from the yellow cover all mystery books were given in the past.
Below is a simple dialogue between two friends, Maria and Anna, talking about their favorite movie and TV show. There are, of course, many variations. Think about your favorite movie and create your own!
|Maria:||Ieri sera, ho guardato il film, La Vita è Bella, di Roberto Benigni.|
|Last night, I watched the movie, “Life is Beautiful,” by Roberto Benigni.|
|Anna:||Ne è valsa la pena?|
|Was it worth it?|
|Maria:||Si, vale la pena.
Mi è piaciuto molto questo film!
|Yes, it is worth it.
I really liked this film!
|Anna:||È una storia drammatica?|
|Is it a drama?|
|Maria:||Si, è una storia drammatica, ma la prima parte è anche un po’ comica.|
|Yes, it is a drama, but the first part is also a bit funny.|
|Anna:||Ah, una commedia drammatica.|
|I see, a comedy drama.|
|Maria:||È il tipo di film che io preferisco.|
|It’s the type of film that I prefer.|
|Anna:||Non per me.
Il mio film preferito è un buon giallo.
|Not for me.
My favorite movie is a good mystery movie.
|Commissario Montalbano è figo.|
|Detective Montalbano is cool.|
|Maria:||Boh. Ho visto molte puntate del Commissario Montalbano sul TV.|
|Well. I have seen many episodes of Detective Montalbano on TV.|
|Ma mi piace La Vita è Bella più del Commissario Montalbano.|
|I like La Vita è Bella more than Detective Montalbano.|
|Questo film è molto meglio del Commissario Montalbano, sono sicuro!|
|This film is much better than Detective Montalbano, I am sure.|
|Anna:||Allora, devo guardare La Vita è Bella un giorno.|
|Well, then, I will have to watch La Vita è Bella one day.|
Remember how to talk about movies and TV in Italian and I guarantee
you will use these Italian phrases every day!
And remember to study our Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” pocket travel book if you want a handy way to remember all the important Italian phrases you will need to know!
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”
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How to Talk about Movies and TV in Italian