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italian grammar

10+ Fun Italian Grammar and Vocabulary Games for Kids

italian grammar

Learning Italian grammar and vocabulary can be difficult for kids. Below, Italian teacher Nadia B. shares some games parents and teachers can play to help engage kids in learning Italian…

For kids, learning Italian can be a great adventure, filled with exciting new discoveries. As your child explores the joy of learning Italian, you can aid him or her by playing fun Italian grammar and vocabulary games.

These games are chock-full of fun activities so that learning Italian can become less painless and more fun! Below are 10+ Italian grammar and vocabulary games that will make a big difference in your child’s learning.

1. Rhymes and Tongue Twisters

These fun and imaginative verbal adventures will help your child to think of Italian as a playful and colorful exploration, not to mention build a strong Italian vocabulary and understanding of syntax and grammar.

You can trade off reciting lines of a rhyme, have a tongue twister competition, or read a fable before bedtime. Before you know it, learning Italian will be just another fun part of the day.

2. Memory Games

Using index cards, write out some Italian vocabulary words. Try choosing a theme (for example, colors or animals). Then, create a matching card with a related vocabulary word.

Lay them all out with the words face-down and have your child try to select the pairs. Recalling where each word is located will help the vocabulary word stick in your child’s mind.

3. Make Assuming Sentences

This game is similar to MadLibs, as you provide all the parts of a sentence and then allow your child to choose words to form a unique sentence.

Here’s how to do it: Write out all of the pronouns (io, tu, lui, lei, Lei, noi, voi, loro), a selection of verbs (volare, ridere, sorridere, pensare, andare), and some nouns (il gatto, il cane, l’albero, il poliziotto, l’Italia, etc.)

Keep each category of words in its own pile. Your child can select a pronoun, verb and possibly a noun to form a sentence. For example, “Io volo con il gatto” (I fly with the cat).

You can help your child to form grammatically correct sentences by providing prepositions (con, sopra, sotto) when needed. The sillier the sentence, the better!

4. Sing in Italian

Download, purchase, or stream some simple songs in Italian in which you and your child can sing along. For example, you can search for Christmas carols or lullabies.

Encourage your child to sing along, or to sing from memory when you have free time in the car, while walking, or some other time. Sing along together, or help your child as needed to remember the lyrics.

5. Charades

Charades is a really fun game and there are so many opportunities to tailor it to your child’s needs. First, write out a selection of verbs, nouns or phrases to act out.

Once you’ve formed two teams, start by having the first team draw a verb, noun, and phrase to act out while the other team guesses. This can be as simple as two teams — you and your child — or can involve other children and family members.

6. I Spy

This game is an excellent option when you’re on the go or exploring a new place. It will encourage your child to view and describe his or her surroundings in Italian.

You can give your child a prompt of “Io vedo…” (“I see…”) and then let him or her choose an item to identify in Italian. For example, “Io vedo una nuvola grande e bianca.” (I see a big, white cloud).

7. Describe an Imaginary Friend

If your child has an imaginary friend, ask him or her to describe him or her to you in Italian. For example, “Luisa è simpatica, alta e bionda. Le piace nuotare e saltare la corda.” (Luisa is friendly, tall and blond. She likes to swim and jump rope.).

This helps to build useful Italian vocabulary. You can also ask your child to talk to his or her imaginary friend in Italian! This is a playful way to show your child that Italian can be spoken anywhere and anytime.

8. Italian in the Kitchen

If you’re busy cooking in the kitchen, why not get your child involved? Go online to find a recipe in Italian to use. As you cook, have your child read the recipe and then ask him or her to name the ingredients as they go in the pot to be cooked.

You can also ask your child to retrieve ingredients with the Italian name (for example, farina, latte, pane), and describe the colors and size (“Com’è il pomodoro?” “What’s the tomato like?”). This is also a great Italian culture activity, as cooking and eating together as a family is a common tradition in Italy.

9. Identify Characteristics

Gather up some old magazines or newspapers laying around the house. Cut out pictures of objects and people from those magazines, and have your child describe the particular scene in Italian.

Encourage your child to use color, specific characteristics, and numbers to practice adjectives, quantity and more!

10. Give Commands

Designate a piece of clothing or a certain item, such as a hat or a scarf. Whenever someone is wearing that particular item, he or she is responsible for issuing commands to the other people in the group.

For example, the person wearing the item could say the following: “Gira a la destra; dimmi un piccolo racconto; chiamami ‘Alessandro’ quando mi parli” (“Turn to the right; tell me a short story; call me Alessandro when you speak to me”).

This game is meant to be silly and encourage children to practice commands in a fun and memorable way. The roles reverse whenever the person with the item issues a command that the other person chooses not to obey, or doesn’t obey.

11. Ask Questions

Ask your child any question in Italian. You can find a set of questions in your child’s Italian textbook or online. If your child  answers the question with the proper Italian grammar, he or she can then ask you a question.

The game can be played with just the two of you, or with other children. This is another exercise that can be silly and amusing, while simultaneously reinforcing interrogative words, grammar, and vocabulary.

Learning Italian doesn’t have to be boring. Make learning enjoyable for your child by playing games with him or her in between his or her lessons.

Photo by Leonid Mamchenkov

nadiaBPost Author: Nadia B.
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!

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italian grammar

5 Most Difficult Italian Grammar Rules Made Simple

italian grammar

Are you ready for a lesson in Italian grammar? Below, Italian teacher Liz T. breaks down the five most difficult Italian grammar rules…

Learning Italian can be difficult, not to mention overwhelming for new students. Many students are afraid of tackling Italian grammar, as it can be complex and confusing at first.

If you take the time to learn Italian grammar, however, you’re much more likely to understand what you’re actually saying, hearing, reading, and writing.

Below, we break down the five most difficult Italian grammar rules to make it easier for you to understand.

1. Nouns and Adjectives

We categorize nouns and adjectives as either masculine and feminine. Typically, nouns ending in -o are masculine, while nouns ending in -a are feminine. See examples below.

  • Feminine: “Donna” (woman)
  • Masculine: “Uomo” (man)

If the noun ends in -i that means it’s masculine, but plural and nouns ending in -e are feminine, but plural. See examples below.

  • Masculine: “Bambini” (children)
  • Feminine: “Ragazze” (girls)

2. Singular vs. Plural

Knowing how to create singular and plural nouns can be difficult. While there are a few tricks to remembering the rules, it’s really all about memorizing the endings. See examples below.

Nouns ending in singular -o switch to plural -i

  • Amico” is changed to “Amici” (Friend, Friends)

Nouns ending in singular -a switch to plural -e

  • Torta” is changed to “Torte” (Cake, Cakes)

Nouns ending in singular -ca switch to -che

  • Mucca” is changed to “Mucche” (Cow, Cows)

Nouns ending in singular -e switch to -i

  • Professore” is changed to “Professori” (Professor, Professors)

3. Introducing “The” Definite Articles (Singular)

Singular:

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, p-s, or -z. See examples below:

Masculine singular

  • Example: “Il gatto” (the cat)

Feminine singular

  •  Example: “La gatta” (the cat)

Masculine noun starting with a vowel

  • Example: “L’uomo” (the man)

Feminine noun starting with a vowel

  • Example: “L’amica” (the friend)

Masculine noun starting with a -s plus a consonant

  • Example: “Lo Zio” (the uncle)

Plural:

Le is used to describe plural feminine

  • Le Ragazze” replaces La or L’.

I is used to describe plural masculine

  • I Ragazzi” replaces il.

Gli is used to describe plural masculine

  • Gli Zii” replaces Lo or L’.

4. Indefinite Articles “A, An” Describing Nouns

Masculine nouns use “Un” before a vowel or consonant.

  • Example: “Un libro” (a book)

Masculine nouns use “Uno” before consonant beginning with -s, -z, -gn, -ps etc.

  • Example: “Uno specchio” (a mirror)

Feminine nouns use “Una” before consonant.

  • Example: “Una donna” (a woman)

Feminine nouns use “Un” before vowel

  • Example: “Un’attrice” (a actress)

5. Italian Pronouns to Use When Describing People

According to Italian grammar, there are singular pronouns and plural pronouns. Below is a table that will help you better memorize the singular and plural pronouns:

Italian Pronouns

To gain a better understanding of the Italian language, it’s important to master these five grammar rules. Use flash cards, write them down, put them in a song, use visuals, anything that will help you memorize them.

Here are some additional Italian grammar articles that can help supplement your studies:

Photo by Phil Roeder

LizTPost Author: Liz T.
Liz T. teaches singing, acting, music and Italian lessons in Brooklyn, NY. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music with a B.M. in vocal performance and has a graduate certificate in arts administration from New York University. Learn more about Liz here!

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interesting facts about italy

50+ Fun and Interesting Facts About Italy

From it’s charming countryside to its rich heritage, Italy is a wonderfully unique place to visit. In fact, the country is the fifth most visited place in the world!

There are so many fun, interesting facts about Italy that it’s hard to compile just one short list. So we’ve compiled the 50 most interesting facts about Italy that we think you’ll enjoy.

Whether you’re planning your next vacation to Italy or you’re permanently relocating , learning everything you can about the country–from its history to its native language–will make your stay that much more enjoyable.

1

  • Italy is the fifth most visited country in the world, welcoming some 46 million foreign visitors annually. It’s also the fifth most populous country in Europe.
  • Vatican City in Rome is the smallest country in the world and is led by the Pope himself.
  • Another interesting fact about Italy, the capital of Italy, Rome, is almost 3,000 years old.
  • The colors of the Italian flag–green, white, and red–have special meaning. Green represents hope, white represents faith, and red signals charity.
  • Italy boasts the eighth largest economy in the world.

2

  • Many musical terms are written in Italian because early composers from the Renaissance era were Italian.
  • In the Italian language, Lei (she) and Loro (they) have a special meaning. These terms are used in formal settings to address people in which you have a professional relationship, such as a colleague or professor.
  • Of all the Romance languages, Italian is the closest to Latin.
  • From Venetian to Sicilian, there are dozens of Italian dialects used throughout the country.
  • There are only 21 letters in the standard Italian alphabet. The Italian alphabet doesn’t have the have the letters J, K, W, X or Y.

3

  • Don’t be surprised if your hotel in Italy doesn’t have a 17th floor. Italians believe that this number is unlucky because when the Roman numeral for 17 (XVII) is rearranged is looks like VIXI, which means “I have lived,” a symbol that’s associated with death.
  • Italians believe that the corincello charm, which resembles a chili pepper or a small horn, will protect them from the evil eye.
  • According to Italians, placing a hat on a bed is bad luck. Traditionally, when priests visited the dying to give them their last rights, they would remove their hat and put it on the bed.
  • If a cat is crossing the street, don’t be the first one to cross it’s path. It’s believed that black cats are a symbol of witchcraft and the devil.
  • Don’t give someone your best wishes. Instead, say “In bocca al lupo” or “into the wolf’s mouth,” as this means “good luck.”
  • Italians believe that if someone brushes over a single person’s feet with a broom that he or she will never get married.

4

  • Unsurprisingly, Italy is the world’s largest exporter of wine. However, it’s the second largest producer of wine after France.
  • On average, Italians eat half a pound of bread a day. What’s more, estimated pasta consumption is 70 pounds per person annually.
  • Bread is not meant to be an appetizer. Rather, Italians use it to wipe the remaining sauce off their plate.
  • When dining in Italy, don’t ask for salad dressing or other condiments. Olive oil is the only acceptable “condiment” in Italy.
  • From Cappelletti to Cavatelli, there are over 140 types of pastas. Some of these pastas are only native to specific regions.
  • Check out this interesting fact about Italy: Italians consume over 45 bottles of wine per year, per capita.

5

  • Europe’s three active volcanoes, Etna, Stromboli, and Vesuvius are all located in Italy.
  • Italy has more earthquakes than any other European country.
  • There is bronze statue of Jesus Christ submerged in the Mediterranean Sea off San Fruttuoso.
  • The island of Poveglia is said to be so haunted that public access is prohibited.
  • Almost four-fifths of Italy is either mountainous or hilly.

6

  • La famiglia is very much a part of the Italian culture. In fact, it’s common for single children to live at home until their 30s.
  • According to Italian culture, you must respect your elders. Always stand when an elder person enters the room.
  • Fashion is also important in Italy. After all, some of the world’s most sought after designers, such as Armani, Versace, and Prada, hail from Italy. If visiting, be sure to dress to impress—no flip flops!
  • Italians are known for communicating with hand gestures and facial expressions. They’re also known for being late!
  • First impressions are important to Italians, so be sure to demonstrate respect and politeness toward others–especially in a business setting.

7

  • Italy is home to the world’s oldest university, the University of Bologna founded in 1088.
  • Some of the most well-known artists and authors–including Dante, Da Vinci, and Michelangelo–are from Italy.
  • Italy has more masterpieces per square mile than any other country in the world.
  • Ballet originated in Italy during the 15th century and it was Catherine de Medici who introduced it to France later on.
  • Many of the most influential scientists and mathematicians were born Italy, including Galileo Galilei and Alessandro Volta.

8

  • In the city of Turin, dog owners must walk their pooch at least three times a day or risk being fined. Woof.
  • Unless you want to pay a hefty fine, don’t eat or drink while sitting on church steps or within a church courtyard.
  • You better turn that frown upside down when you’re in Milan. According to ancient law, citizens are required to smile at all times, unless they’re attending a funeral or visiting a hospital.
  • In 2012, the town of Falciano del Massico in Campania made it illegal for residents to die because the town’s cemetery is full.
  • On the beaches of Eraclea on the Venetian Lido, it’s illegal to make sandcastles or any other kind of sand structure.

9

  • In 1948, Roy Jacuzzi invented the Jacuzzi using specialized water pumps to help his son who was suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
  • You can thank Bartolomeo Cristofori for developing the very first piano in 1698. Other musical instruments invented in Italy include the violin, the guitar, and the organ.
  • In 1896, the first ice cream cone was created by an Italian immigrant who settled in New York City.
  • No wonder why Italians love caffeine, the espresso machine is an Italian invention built by Angelo Moriondo in 1884.
  • Pretzels were actually first made in Italian in 610 by an Italian monk who gave them to children who learned their prayers.

10

  • Italy has hosted the Olympics three times in 1956, 1960, and 2006.
  • Italy has won the World Cup four times, the most Word Cup wins second to Brazil.
  • Believe it or not, volleyball is a very popular sport in Italy. In fact, the Italian Volleyball League is one of the most well-respected and talented leagues in the world.
  • Italy is host to one of the three most famous bike rides in Europe, “Giro d’Italia” (Tour of Italy).

Hopefully, these fun and interesting facts about Italy have inspired you to finally take that trip to Italy you’ve always dreamed of. Before you jet off to Italy, make sure you take some Italian lessons so you can speak to natives and learn even more interesting facts about Italy.

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italian grammar

Italian Grammar Rules: How to Form Singular and Plural Nouns

italian grammar

Mastering Italian grammar can be difficult. Nonetheless, it’s important if you want to become proficient in the Italian language. Below, Italian teacher Nadia B. shares some tips and tricks on how to form singular and plural nouns…

In Italian, it’s important to understand how to form singular and plural nouns. After all, nouns are a cornerstone of the Italian language—or any language for that matter.

Luckily, this Italian grammar rule is easy to master as it follows a certain pattern. Once you learn this recognizable pattern, you’ll be able to express more exponentially in Italian. Let’s get started!

Identifying the Gender of a Noun

Regardless of number, each noun has a gender: masculine or feminine. It’s important that you understand how to recognize whether a noun is feminine or masculine.

Once you know whether a noun is feminine or masculine in the singular, you can make changes to the ending to pluralize.

If a noun is feminine, it generally ends in –a in the singular and if it is masculine, it generally ends in –o in the singular. See examples below:

  • Feminine: la mela
  • Masculine:  il ragazzo

However, there are some nouns that end in –e, which can be feminine or masculine. See examples below:

  • Masculine: il ristorante
  • Feminine: la notte

Pluralizing the Noun

The most basic way to pluralize singular nouns is as follows:

Nouns ending in –o, the ending changes to –i in the plural. See example below:

  • Singular: il libro
  • Plural:  i libri

Nouns ending in –a, the ending changes to –e in the plural. See example below:

  • Singular: la bambina
  • Plural: le bambine

Nouns ending in –ca change to –che in the plural. See example below:

  • Singular: l’amica
  • Plural: le amiche

Nouns ending in –e change to –i in the plural. See example below:

  • Singular: lo studente
  • Plural: gli studenti

Exceptions to the Rule

There are several exceptions to the rules listed above:

For the nouns that end in –io, the -i is generally not repeated in the ending. An exception to this are words like lo zio, which becomes gli zii. See example below:

  • Singular: il negozio
  • Plural:  i negozi not i negozii

There are certain feminine nouns ending in –a that change to –i in the plural. See example below:

  • Singular: l’ala
  • Plural: le ali.

There are certain masculine nouns ending in –a that change ending to –i in the plural, along with nouns ending in –o and –e, which can be masculine or feminine. See examples below:

  • Singular: il problema
  • Plural: i problemi
  • Singular: la mano
  • Plural: le mani

There are also nouns ending in –a that can be both masculine and feminine. Dentista, for example, can be accompanied by the masculine or feminine article; la dentista or il dentista.

In these cases, the masculine noun changes to –i in the plural and the feminine noun changes to –e in the plural. See example below:

  • Masculine Plural: i dentisti
  • Feminine Plural: le dentiste

Nouns that end in –ca and –ga have a hard sound that needs to be preserved in the plural. To do so, the plural forms add an -h, but are otherwise normal in their pluralization. These nouns can be either feminine or masculine. Here is an example of each:

  • Singular: la barca
  • Plural: le barche
  • Singular: lo stratega
  • Plural: gli strateghi

The same addition of the ‘h’ in the plural also applies to nouns ending in –go and in –co. Some nouns ending in –co, however, don’t include ‘h’ in the plural (l’amico à gli amici).

  • Singular: il dialogo
  • Plural:i dialoghi
  • Singular: il pacco
  • Plural: i pacchi

Lastly, another type of noun with a spelling change are those that end in –cia or –gia. If the –i in this ending is unstressed in the singular, it drops the –i in the plural. However, if the –i is stressed, it is retained in the plural.

  • Singular:la mancia
  • Plural: le mance
  • Singular: la farmacia
  • Plural: le farmacie

Abbreviated Nouns

In Italian grammar, there are other types of nouns that are abbreviated, which are shortened to make them easier to write and say. La foto, for example, which is short for la fotografia.

With these nouns, they retain the same ending in the plural shortened forms (le foto). Similarly, nouns that end with an accented vowel or a consonant don’t change in the plural, either. See examples below:

  • Singular: il caffé
  • Plural: i caffé
  • Singular:  il film
  • Plural: i film

An important part of understanding nouns is also understanding what articles accompany them, including definite and indefinite articles. You can read more about articles in this blog post.

While there are many exceptions to nouns, the basic rules of how to form singular and plural nouns will take you quite far. As you work with your Italian tutor, you can learn the exceptions through practice, listening, and repetition. Before you know it, you will naturally form singular and plural nouns perfectly!

Photo by llmicrofono Ogglono

nadiaBPost Author: Nadia B.
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!

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italian vocabulary

Italian Vocabulary: The Proper Way to Use the Four B’s

italian vocabulary

Are you confused about how to properly use the Italian vocabulary words, buono, bello, bravo, and bene? Below, Italian teacher Giulio G. explains the right way to use the four b’s…

Buono, bello, bravo, bene—the so-called four b’s—are very common words in the Italian language. Their exact usage, however, can be quite difficult for beginner Italian students to master.

That’s because when translated to English these Italian vocabulary words all mean, “good.” Below are some tips and tricks that I hope will be useful for all of you who might be struggling with these four Italian vocabulary words.

Bene:

First, it is extremely important to emphasize that the Italian vocabulary words buono, bravo, and bello are adjectives and bene is an adverb.

This means that the actual meaning of bene is ‘well’ in English and it cannot be conjugated following the gender and the number of the noun it precedes.

Regarding its usage, bene is always used after the verb, and its function is to express a positive judgment. See example below:

  • Joseph parla bene l’Italiano. (Joseph speaks Italian well.)

Joseph speaks Italian in an excellent way. So, bene modifies the verb by giving the listener (or the reader) more information related to that specific action.

Buono:

This adjective is used to express a positive judgment related to the quality of a person, an animal, or an object. Specifically, buono is referred to:

  • Morality: Lui è un buon uomo. (Meaning Lui has a good soul or a good heart)
  • Quality: è un buon film. (Meaning that the movie is well-made)
  • Taste: La torta è buona. (Meaning that the cake tastes good.

It is important to know that this Italian vocabulary word can be used with animals, people, and things.

Bravo:

Whereas the Italian vocabulary word buono can be used with animals, people, and things, the adjective bravo can be used only with people or animals.

Bravo is used to underline that someone is good at doing something or that he/she has very good manners. See examples below:

  • Lei è un brava pittore. (She is good painter/ She is good at painting.)
  • Lui è un bravo ragazzo. (He has very good manners).

Bello:

Like the two Italian vocabulary words above, bello is used to express a positive judgment; however, it is usually used to emphasize another characteristic of the noun. It expresses a positive judgment related to the formal, aesthetic aspect.

For example, the phrase “Un bell’uomo” (A handsome man) doesn’t refer to his behavior and kindness, but just to his physical attributes. Essentially, it means that man is attractive.

Additionally, bello also has the purpose of intensifying a concept. For example, in the sentence, “Mi mangio una bella torta,” (I eat a beautiful cake) the speaker wants to emphasize his desire toward a specific sweet. In other words, he cannot wait to eat it.

Overall, the differences of these words are very small and it can be difficult to always choose the correct word. While you’re learning Italian, it is very normal to make occasional mistakes with the four b’s.

Therefore, don’t worry if you mix up these Italian vocabulary words. Just keep practicing with your Italian teacher and talking to natives and you’ll soon get it right!

Photo by MC Quinn

Giulio GPost Author: Giulio Giannetti
Giulio G. teaches in-person Italian lessons in New York City. He is originally from Florence, Italy and is currently a student at the University of Florence for Languages and Intercultural Relations. He has been teaching lessons since 2009. Learn more about Giulio here!

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useful italian phrases

La Famiglia: Useful Italian Phrases and Words for Family

useful italian phrases

Family plays a big role in the Italian culture. Below, Italian teacher Nadia B. shares some useful Italian phrases and words for describing family.

Italians are all about la famiglia or family. In fact, it’s common for family members to gather for weekly dinners and multiple family members to live under the same roof or neighborhood.

As you continue to learn the Italian language and culture, you’ll start to understand the importance of family. And soon you’ll be asked to describe your family dynamic to others.

Review the useful Italian phrases and words below, so you’ll be able to hold an Italian conversation about your family.

First, let’s learn the various different members of the family. Notice that the article changes depending on the gender of the noun.

Next up, a common question when learning about someone’s family is who’s the oldest and who’s the youngest. Below are some useful Italian phrases and words to correctly answer this question.

  • maggiore or più grande (the oldest)
  • minore or più piccolo (the youngest)
  • di mezzo (the middle)

Below are some additional useful Italian phrases and words that will come in handy as your family grows.

  • il marito (husband)
  • la moglie (wife)
  • il fidanzato (fiancé)
  • la fidanzata (fiancée)
  • il cognato (brother-in-law)
  • la cognata (sister-in-law)
  • il suocero (father-in-law)
  • la suocera (mother-in-law)

If you need to describe your marital status, you can use the following terms.

  • sposato/a (married)
  • nubile (single)
  • dicorziato/a (divorced)
  • separato/a (separated)
  • vedovo/a (widowed)

Important Italian Grammar Tips

When having an Italian conversation about your family there are some important grammar tips you must keep in mind. For example, i parenti in Italian means relatives, not parents.

It’s a false cognate that’s often misused by second language speakers. The correct word for parents is i genitori. A more casual way to refer to your parents is to say ‘i miei’ (literally meaning mine).

When referring to a single member of the family, don’t use the definite article. For instance, tua sorella is correct; and la tua sorella is incorrect. If there is more than one member, you should use the definite article as you would normally. For example, le tue sorelle.

This rule, however, becomes null if the single family member you are referring to is modified in some way (for example, with an adjective, a prefix, suffix or if the possessive is loro). In these cases, use the definite article. See examples below:

  • il mio caro cugino (cugino is modified by the adjective caro)
  • la mia bisnonna (nonna is modified with the prefix –bis)
  • il mio fratellino (fratello is modified with the suffix -ino)
  • la loro sorella (sorella is used with the possessive loro)

One additional fine point of the definite article concerns affectionate terms for family members. When using terms such as mamma and papà, if you use the article (i.e. la mia mamma / il mio papa) it possesses an additional affectionate meaning. Whereas if you use it without the article (mia mamma / mio papà) it simply expresses the relationship as your mom or dad.

Try It Out Yourself

Now that you know several useful Italian phrases and words for family, try to develop a sentence using the vocabulary above. Use the example below to help get you started.

“La mia famiglia è molto grande. Mia madre ha sette fratelli, e ho molti cugini. Non ho sorelle, ma ho due fratelli minori. I miei genitori sono sposati da 1979. Adesso ho anche due cognate. Non ho ancora nipoti.”

(My family is very large. My mother has seven siblings, and I have lots of cousins. I don’t have sisters, but I have two younger brothers. My parents have been married since 1979. Now I also have two sister-in-laws. I still don’t have nephews or nieces.)

With these useful Italian phrases and words, you should be well-equipped to describe your family in Italian. Keep working with your Italian tutor on these useful Italian words and phrases for family so that when the topic comes up, you’ll be ready!


nadiaBPost Author:
 Nadia B.
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!

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5 Common Italian Grammar Mistakes That Even Natives Make

italian grammar

Don’t pick up any grammatical bad habits when visiting abroad. Below, Italian teacher Giulio G. shares 5 common Italian grammar mistakes natives often make…

Spending your vacation in Italy is amazing, both for the breathtaking landscapes and the opportunity to improve your Italian language skills.

When learning Italian through immersion, however, it’s necessary to know that even native speakers make some pronunciation and grammar mistakes.

It is extremely important to recognize these Italian grammar mistakes in order to avoid getting into any bad habits. Below are the five most common Italian grammar mistakes natives make while speaking.

1. “Ma Però” vs. “Ma” or “Però”

Italians will often put together these two conjunctions in daily conversation, not realizing that they’re making a common repetition mistake.

When translated into English “Ma però” means “but however.” As you can see, this is a repetition of two words that have similar meanings, which makes the expression wrong.

When you want to introduce an adversative sentence, it is necessary to choose just one of the adversative conjunctions.

For example, “Volevo andare al mare ma sono restato a casa” (I wanted to go to the seaside, but I stayed home.)

2. “A me mi” vs. “Mi” or “A me”

This is another repetition mistake similar to the one above. Many Italian speakers are used to emphasizing the “Mi” by putting it together with “a me” to express the piacere construction.

For example, “A me mi piace il gelato” (I like the ice-cream). This sentence is grammatically incorrect, however, as “Mi” is an alternative way to say “A me.”

Therefore, saying “A me mi piace il gelato” actually corresponds to saying “I I like the ice cream.” The correct way to say this sentence is “A me piace il gelato” orMi piace il gelato.

3. The usage of congiuntivo (Subjunctive tense)

When traveling throughout Italy, it’s uncommon to hear this tense while speaking with natives. In fact, many Italians—especially the youth—do not use this tense anymore.

Rather, native speakers prefer to use the indicativo tense, even with sentences that contain verbs that express doubts, wishes, beliefs and worries.

However, this is incorrect, as one should use the congiuntivo form when expressing such emotions.

4. The usage of “Ed/Ad”

Natives are used to putting the D eufonica (a Greek word for ‘Good Sound’) after the vowels ‘e’ or ‘a’ anytime they’re followed by a word that starts with a vowel.

For example, “Io vado ad Empoli” (I go to Empoli) is incorrect because the word “Empoli” does not begin with an ‘a.’

It’s only necessary to use the D eufonica when the ‘e’ and the ‘a’ are respectively followed by a word that starts with ‘e’ and ‘a’.

For instance, “Io vado ad Ancona” (I go to Ancona) or “Luigi ed Ennio sono italiani” (Luigi and Ennio are Italian).

5. “Gli” vs. “Le”

In Italy, it is quite common to use the masculine indirect pronoun instead of the feminine indirect pronoun when talking about a woman. Doing so, however, is committing a gender mistake.

It’s important to keep in mind that “Gli” is a masculine pronoun and “Le” is a feminine pronoun.

For example, “Gli ho detto che era bello.” (I said to him that he was handsome.) or “Le ho detto che era bella.” (I said to her that she was beautiful.)

Traveling to Italy is a great way to learn Italian. However, be aware of these common mistakes, so you don’t pick up any bad Italian grammar habits from the natives you meet.

Giulio GPost Author: Giulio Giannetti
Giulio G. teaches in-person Italian lessons in New York City. He is originally from Florence, Italy and is currently a student at the University of Florence for Languages and Intercultural Relations. He has been teaching lessons since 2009. Learn more about Giulio here!

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15 Strange Italian Traditions and Superstitions Explained

italian traditions

Did you know that in Brazil its bad luck to let your wallet or purse hit the floor, as it means you’ll lose money? Or that in France it’s actually good luck to step in dog poop with your left foot?

Like many countries, Italy has its fair share of wacky traditions and superstitions. In fact, Italy is said to be one of the most superstitious countries in the world.

Below, we explore the 15 strangest Italian traditions and superstitions. Review this list before traveling to Italy to make sure that your trip isn’t cursed by Malocchio or the evil eye.

After all, you don’t want to take any chances!

1. Don’t take a bath when you’re sick

When you’re feeling under the weather, chances are you want to take a nice hot bath to soothe your pain. According to Italian traditions, however, taking a bath when you’re sick will only make you sicker as will going outside with wet hair.

italian traditions

2. The unlucky number 17

Have you ever wondered why some hotels in Italy don’t have a 17th floor? It’s because the number is considered unlucky. The Roman numeral for 17 is XVII, but when rearranged to look like VIXI it means “I have lived,” a symbol that’s placed on ancient tombstones and associated with death.

italian traditions

3. Don’t place a loaf of bread up-side-down

According to Italian traditions, a loaf of bread must always be placed facing up. This superstition is based on the religious fact that bread is considered a symbol of life, therefore, its bad luck to turn the bread up-side-down or stick a knife into it.

italian traditions

4. Watch where you lay your hat

After a long day of sightseeing you might be tempted to toss your hat onto your bed—don’t! Putting a hat on a bed is considered unlucky because it’s associated with death. According to tradition, when priests visited the dying to give them their last rights, they would remove their hat and put it on the bed.

italian traditions

5. Never seat 13 people at a dinner table

If you find yourself sitting at a dinner table with 12 other people, then consider yourself unlucky. Having 13 people around the table at mealtime is considered bad luck, as there were 13 people at the Last Supper.

italian traditions

6. Single people, avoid brooms

If you’re single and you see someone sweeping the floor, make a run for it. If someone brushes over your feet by accident, then you’re destined to be single for the rest of your life.

italian traditions

7. Don’t toast to bad luck

When it comes to toasting, there are several things that can cause you to have bad luck. For example, never raise a glass that’s full of water and don’t cross arms with the person next to you when you clink glasses.

italian traditions

8. Stay clear of air conditioners

Wonder why there are no air conditioners in Italy? Italians believe that these evil contraptions blow dangerously cold air in your face, leading to “colpo d’ari” or a “punch of air.”

italian traditions

9. Touch iron to avoid back luck

In the U.S., people will knock on wood to avoid tempting fate. In Italy, it’s common for people to “tocca ferro” or “touch iron.” We just hope they aren’t touching a hot iron.

italian traditions

10. Bless a new home

It’s common for people moving into a new home-especially newlyweds–to rid evil spirits and bless their home by performing certain rituals, such as sprinkling salt in the corners of all the rooms.

italian traditions

11. Eat plenty of lentils on New Year’s Eve

Every culture has it’s own set of New Year’s traditions. According to Italian traditions, it’s customary to eat lentils after the clock strikes 12:00. Also, don’t forget to wear red undergarments, as this too will bring you luck in the coming year.

italian traditions

12. Beware of a black cat crossing your path

If a cat is crossing the street, don’t be the first one to cross it’s path, as you’ll have bad luck. It’s believed that black cats are a symbol of witchcraft and the devil. We, however, think they are super cute!

italian traditions

13. Carry a cornicello charm

If you want to protect yourself against the evil-eye, carry a corincello charm around with you at all times. The charm, which resembles a chili pepper or a small horn, represents the horns of the Old European Moon Goddess and will bring you luck.

italian traditions

14. Don’t place objects in the shape of a cross

Never cross objects in the shape of a cross–for example, your fork and knife–as this is considered to be an insult to the religious symbol of the cross and will bring you bad luck.

italian traditions

15. Don’t spill the salt

This superstition–which states that one must toss a handful of salt over their left shoulder to get rid of bad luck–is also common in the U.S. In Italy, it’s also customary when passing the salt to place it on the table first before handing it over.

italian traditions

 

This is just a sample of the many unique Italian traditions and superstitions. In addition to learning Italian, familiarize yourself with these “wives tales” before your trip to avoid getting into any trouble.

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italian words and phrases

Express Yourself: Italian Words and Phrases for Emotions [Infographic]

italian words and phrases

Italians are an expressive bunch of people. Below, Italian teacher Liz T. teaches a lesson in how to express emotions using common Italian words and phrases…

The Italian language is one of the most emotionally expressive languages. In fact, Italians are not afraid to speak what’s on their mind, and certainly not afraid to show their emotions.

Whether you’re traveling to Italy or simply taking Italian lessons, it’s a good idea to learn how to express your emotions in Italian. Below are some Italian words and phrases you can use to express yourself and sound like a true native.

italian words and phrases

Now that you’ve studied the various different emotions in Italian, it’s time to learn how to use these words in conversation. To express the phrase “I am…” use the Italian word “Sono…” See the examples below:

  • Sono triste. (I am sad.)
  • Sono arrabbiato. (I am angry.)
  • Sono stanco. (I am tired.)
  • Sono innamorato. (I am in love.)

Remember, you must conjugate the emotion depending on who you are describing. Masculine words ending in “O” should be switched to a feminine ending “A” and visa versa. See the examples below:

  • Lei è sorpresa. (She is surprised.)
  • Lui è felice. (He is happy.)
  • Lei è arrabbiata. (She is angry.)
  • Lui è occupato. ( He is busy.)

To get more familiar with using these Italian words and phrases in conversation, work with your Italian tutor on some fun exercises.

For example, practice these words using flashcards or play a classic game of charades in which the teacher acts out an emotion then asks the student to guess the Italian word.

Whatever activity you choose, be sure to practice these Italian words and phrases so you will be able to better express yourself when chatting with a native Italian.

LizTPost Author: Liz T.
Liz T. teaches singing, acting, music and Italian lessons in Brooklyn, NY. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music with a B.M. in vocal performance and has a graduate certificate in arts administration from New York University. Learn more about Liz here!

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italian words and phrases

Italian Words and Phrases for the Summer [Slideshow]

Are you traveling to Italy this summer or simply want to brush up on your Italian vocabulary? Below, Italian teacher Nadia B. shares some useful Italian words and phrases for the summer…

It’s summertime, which means it’s time for some fun in the sun. In addition to your sunblock and hat, don’t forget to bring along these helpful Italian words and phrases for the summer (or, in Italian, l’estate). In doing so, you can continue to enrich your Italian studies, while also having some fun.

Italians love to go to the beach. During the month of August, cities are abandoned and quiet as everyone escapes to the beach. If you’re at the beach, here are some of the most relevant Italian words and phrases you can use in conversation.

Another beautiful part of summer is the opportunity to travel somewhere new. As you explore new places, the following Italian words and phrases will help you to describe your experience.

As you travel, go to the beach, and otherwise relax this summer, take a few minutes each day to practice Italian. Using the Italian words and phrases above will help you to describe your summer experiences. You could even keep a journal in Italian to practice your writing skills.

Another way to incorporate Italian into your summer fun is to bring your iPod to the beach and listen to some Italian songs or podcasts, while lounging in the sun. Whichever way you practice, it will surely result in positive progress!

nadiaBPost Author: Nadia B.
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!

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