Despite what you may think, mastering Italian grammar isn’t impossible. In fact, it’s as quick and easy as putting the rules you’ve learned into practice. The following four exercises will have you perfecting Italian grammar in no time! Remember, learning a new language takes time, so don’t get discouraged if you stumble along the way. It’s expected!
Exercise 1: Interrogative Words
In Italian, interrogative words–such as che (what), chi (who), quando (when), perché (why) and come (how)–are used to form a question. Practice using interrogatives by forming a question using each word above. Doing so will ensure that you can quickly produce the correct interrogative when needed to ask a question. See examples below:
- Che vuoi fare oggi? (What do you want to do today?)
- Chi era quell’uomo? (Who was that man?)
- Quando arriva Giovanni? (When does Giovanni arrive?)
Exercise 2: Telling Time
Write down a series of times (for example, 2:24 p.m., 3:00 a.m., 8:00 p.m., and 9:45 a.m.) and then practice saying the times out loud, concentrating on your pronunciation. After you’ve mastered that, try working on your time expressions next. You can include di mattina (in the morning), del pomeriggio (in the afternoon), di sera (in the evening) and di notte (at night). See examples below:
- Sono le nove e quattro di mattina. (It is 9:04 a.m. in the morning.)
- Sono le sei e ventidue di sera. (It is 6:22 p.m. in the evening.)
- Sono le undici e trentacinque di notte. (It is 11:35 p.m. at night.)
- Sono le undici di mattina. (It is 11:00 a.m. in the afternoon.)
Don’t forget that you also have the option of using the following phrases as well: a quarter before (meno un quarto), a quarter past (un quarto), half past (mezzo/a), noon (mezzogiorno), and midnight (mezzanotte). See examples below:
- Sono le sette meno un quarto di mattina. (A quarter before seven in the morning)
- Sono le otto e un quarto di mattina. (A quarter past eight in the morning)
- Sono le otto e mezzo di mattina. (A half past eight in the morning)
Exercise 3: ‘There is’ vs ‘There are’
‘There is’ and ‘there are’ are indispensable in Italian, and it’s easy to practice using them correctly. Look around whatever room you are in, and use c’è (there is) and ci sono (there are) to describe the objects you see.
For example, if you see a white chair in the room:
- C’è una sedia bianca. (There is a white chair.)
You can even take it a step further and describe the quantity of each item to practice the numbers in Italian.
- Ci sono dieci libri e tre cuaderni. (There are 10 books and three notebooks.)
Exercise 4: The Definite Article
There are two main forms of the definite article in the singular, il (masculine) and la (feminine) and two alternate forms, l’, for any noun starting with a vowel, and lo, for any masculine noun starting with s- plus a consonant, ps-, or z-.
- Singular masculine noun: il
- Singular feminine noun: la
- Noun starting with a vowel: l’
- Masculine noun starting with s- plus a consonant, ps-, or z- : lo
Remember, i for plural masculine, le for plural feminine, gli for plural masculine beginning with a vowel, s- plus a consonant, ps-, or z-.
- Plural masculine noun: i
- Plural feminine noun: le
- Plural masculine noun beginning with a vowels- plus a consonant, ps-, or z-: gli
To practice using definite articles, write out a list of singular nouns and then assign each one the appropriate definite article. Then, do the same for plural nouns by writing out a list of plural nouns and assigning each the correct definite article. See examples below:
- mattita –> la matita (the pencil)
- zaino –> lo zaino (the backpack)
- uomo –> l’uomo (the man)
- mele –> le mele (the apples)
- uomini –> gli uomini (the men)
- bicchieri –> i bicchieri (the glasses)
With these Italian grammar exercises, you should be well on your way to a thorough and accurate understanding of basic Italian grammar. If you practice these quick and easy Italian grammar exercises regularly, you’ll start to notice that you’re making use of these grammar concepts in an easier, more rapid, and accurate way than ever before in conversation and in writing.
Nadia B. teaches Italian in New York, NY. She graduated summa cum laude from New York University, with a double degree in Italian Language and Literature and Classical Music Performance. Learn more about Nadia here!