Posts

useful italian phrases

Useful Italian Phrases and Tips for Dating

useful italian phrases

Navigating through the complex world of dating is hard enough, let alone trying to do it in a foreign country. Below, Italian teacher Nadia B. shares some useful Italian phrases and tips for dating…

You’ve tried Italian cuisine, explored every inch of the Vatican, and survived your first Italian conversation. Is dating an Italian next on your bucket list?

Perhaps you’re planning on studying abroad in Italy, or you’re simply mesmerized by the sophisticated allure of Italians. Whatever the case, dating in Italy is quite different from your local dating scene back home.

Below are some useful Italian phrases and tips for dating so you can navigate the Italian dating world con gusto. But first, let’s go over some Italian dating tips:

Helpful Tips for Dating Italians

While they’re aren’t any hard and fast rules to dating Italians–as every individual is different–there are some things to keep in mind as you play the field. Below are some helpful tips for both men and women:

  • Italians are a very fashionable bunch. If you want to attract a date, be sure to dress appropriately at all times. Torn, revealing, or heavily worn clothing are a big no-no.
  • Ladies, don’t be too showy. Italian men are drawn to women who are elegant, funny, and intelligent. Bottom line, be your charming self!
  • Italians are often outgoing and expressive. Don’t be alarmed if your date gets enthusiastic, as he or she is just expressing his or her emotions.
  • Family is very important to Italians. Be respectful of that and show an interest in getting to know and learning about your significant other’s family members.

Useful Italian Phrases for Dating

What’s the key to a successful relationship? Communication. To make sure that you can successfully communicate with your date, brush up on your Italian language with these useful Italian phrases:

Below are some useful Italian phrases for sparking up a conversation with someone who peaks your interest:

  • Posso offrirti qualcosa? (Can I buy you a drink?)
  • Come stai? (How are you?)
  • Posso unirmi a te? (Can I join you?)

If you like the person you meet, you might continue to see each other. Here are some words associated with dating:

  • farsi delle storie (to see each other)
  • uscire (to go out on a date, but it can also be used in a more general context of leaving the house to go out somewhere)
  • accompagnarsi (to go with, accompany)

Italians enjoy doing various activities with the person they’re dating. For example, you might find yourself doing any one of the activities below:

  • fare una passeggiata (taking a walk)
  • andare al cinema (going to the movies)
  • cucinare insieme (cooking together)

Once you start seeing someone, you might want to clarify your relationship. The following words will help you to explain the status of your relationship:

  • il mio ragazzo/la mia ragazza (my boyfriend/my girlfriend)
  • il mio fidanzato/la mia fidanzata (my fiancé/my fiancée)
  • il mio amante/la mia amante (my lover [male/female])
  • innamorarsi (to fall in love [with each other])
  • divertirsi (to have fun)
  • relazione, rapporto (relationship)

As you fall more in love with the person you’re dating, you may want to use more affectionate names for them. There are many possibilities when it comes to affectionate terms for your partner, but here is a sampling of some of the most typical:

  • amore (love)
  • tesoro (honey or literally meaning ‘treasure’)
  • cucciolo (my pet or literally meaning ‘puppy’)

Learn more romantic Italian phrases here!

The better you are at speaking Italian and understanding the customs of Italy, the easier you’ll find it to date in Italy. Dating an Italian can be a fascinating, fun, and unique experience. Who knows, you may just find eternal love (amore eterno)!f

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!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

 

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!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

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!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Newsletter Sign Up

italian grammar

Italian Grammar: Mastering the Informal and Formal ‘You’

italian grammar

When it comes to Italian grammar, understanding the informal and formal ‘you’ can be very difficult. Below, Italian teacher Giulio G. shares some tips and tricks on how master this common Italian grammar conundrum…

In the Italian language, there are three ways to say ‘you’; tu (informal) Lei (formal) and Voi (plural)For beginner Italian students, it can be difficult to determine the correct form when speaking. After all, there’s only one ‘you’ in the English language.

Nonetheless, it’s important that you choose the correct form when conversing with others. This is especially important when you’re in formal settings; for example, when you’re first meeting someone, speaking with an older person, or addressing a person with higher rank or authority.

Below is an Italian lesson on mastering the informal and formal ‘you’:

Tu (Informal)

Typically, tu is used in everyday conversation. For example, you would use tu when talking to someone your own age or younger.

You may also use tu when speaking to someone that you know well, such as a friend or a family member. See examples below:

  • Scusami, sai dov’è la stazione? (You are asking for directions to a person you already know)
  • Claudia, vuoi venire a cena a casa nostra? (Claudia is a friend of yours)
  • Non capisco questo esercizio. Me lo puoi spiegare (You are asking a friend of yours to explain an exercise to you)

Lei (Formal)

Lei is used in a more formal setting. For example, when a person addresses someone with whom he or she has a professional relationship, such as a colleague or professor.

It’s also used when a person starts a conversation with someone with whom he or she does not have any previous relationship. See examples below:

  • Mi scusi, sa dov’è la stazione? (You are asking for directions to a complete stranger)
  • Dottor Rossi, vuole venire a cena a casa nostra? (Dottor Rossi can be your boss, an elderly person, or an important figure)
  • Non capisco questo esercizio me lo può spiegare? (You are asking your professor for help)

Oftentimes, once you get to know an Italian they will ask you, “Possiamo darci del tu?“, which means they would like switch to the tu form now that they’re more comfortable with you.

Voi (Plural)

In the past, voi was often used as a formal way of addressing someone and showing respect; for example government officials or the Pope.

Oftentimes, children would use it to address their elders. See examples below:

  • Padre, oggi indossate una così bella cravatta. (Father, you are wearing such a beautiful tie today.)
  • Grandma, are you going to the Mass? (Grandma, are you gong to the Mass?)
  • Vostra eminenza, potreste incontrarmi? Ho bisogno di un consiglio. (Your Eminence, could you meet me? I need advice.)

Voi, however, is no longer really used in normal social situations. Nonetheless, it’s important to be familiar with how to use it just in case.

Learning the Italian grammar rules for the informal and formal ‘you’ isn’t easy. However, working with your Italian teacher and practicing on your own is a good way to master this pesky Italian grammar rule.

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!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Newsletter Sign Up

 

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!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

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!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Newsletter Sign Up

 

being bilingual

10 Hilarious Frustrations Every Bilingual Can Relate To

Did you know that 26% of American adults speak another language other than English?

There are a number of benefits to being bilingual, such as better cognitive abilities, higher job salary, improved creativity…the list goes on.

While being bilingual has its perks, there are some frustrations that come along with it.

We’ve interviewed a bunch of language bloggers to compile the ultimate list of the most common problems that bilinguals face.

1. You meet another bilingual person, but can’t figure out what language to speak in.

“When you meet someone who speaks the same languages and don’t know which one to speak to them in,” said Linas of ikindalikelanguages.

2. People constantly try to guess where you’re from and always get it wrong.

“Native speakers find it hard to guess where I’m from. I don’t have a perfect ‘native’ accent in any language nor do I have a discernible English-speaking one either,” said Conor Clyne of Language Tsar.

“So in Italian, many Italians think I’m German, in Russian many think I’m French, in Romanian many native speakers think I’m Russian etc.  Being multilingual uniquely makes me mistaken for other nationalities depending on the language I’m speaking in.”

3. You have a hard time getting your grammar rules straight.

Does the verb come right after the subject or the last word of the sentence? And when do I use that weird ß in German?

4. People treat you like a foreign dictionary.

“The second people know that you speak more than one language, they start asking how to say words as if you were a dictionary!” said Lucrezia Oddone of Learn Italian with Lucrezia.

5. You confuse two languages and end up speaking in a weird hybrid language.

“A problem only bilingual people can understand in my opinion is when a word for something in one language seems to click more than the words for the same thing in other languages and you end up speaking this weird hybrid language!” said Lindsay Dow of Lindsay Does Languages.

6. Auto correct is your worst enemy.

When you’re feverishly trying to send a text in Italian, but your phone keeps auto correcting to English or visa versa.

7. You embarrassingly forget your native language.

“The weirdest thing that happens to me is forgetting the name of common things in my native language, but remembering in a foreign language. I remember once I wanted to say ‘hanger’ in Portuguese, but I couldn’t remember, but I knew in English; so I had to look in an online dictionary to remember a simple word in my own language,” said Nathalia of Polyglot Nerd.

8. When you know multiple languages, but still can’t seem to find the right word.

“Remembering the word for something in three languages, but not in the one you are speaking just then,” said Rita Rosenback of Multilingual Parenting. 

9. People always ask you how to say swear words in a different language.

Your friends never stop asking you how to say certain swear words in different languages, and you can’t help but giggle and tell them…every time.

10. You’re in a group of people who speak two different languages and you’re forced to play translator.

“I often have to translate between my Spanish and Dutch speaking families. So when my Dutch speaking family says something in Spanish, I say it in Dutch to my Spanish speaking family. Always to great amusement of the people involved!” said Noel van Vliet of SmartLangaugeLearner.com

Being bilingual has its quirks, however, don’t let these common frustrations prevent you from learning a new language!

Photo by Peter

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Newsletter Sign Up

italian grammar

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)

When traveling throughout Italy, it’s uncommon to hear the subjunctive while speaking with natives.

Rather, native speakers prefer to use the indicativo, even with sentences containing 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!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Newsletter Sign Up

 

italian traditions

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.

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Newsletter Sign Up

italian vocabulary

Italian Vocabulary: Learn the Animal Kingdom

italian vocabulary

Is your child an animal lover? Below, Italian teacher Liz T. teaches a vocabulary lesson on how to name the different types of animals in Italian…

Is your child just starting to learn Italian? Keeping a child’s attention while teaching him or her a new language can be difficult. Keep your child engaged by having him or her learn Italian vocabulary words for something he or she loves–animals!

Below are various Italian vocabulary words for the most common animals as well as ways to use these vocabulary words in a sentence. As a helpful note, the following Italian vocabulary words are in the singular form. If you want to change it to plural, don’t forget to look whether it’s masculine or feminine.

Practice the sentences below so your child will be able to hold a conversation with another person about his or her favorite household pets.
  • Ho (insert number here) animali. (I have X number of pets.)
  • Io sono allergico a… (I am allergic to…)
  • Ho una piccolo lucertola. (I have a small lizard.)
  • Ho perso il mio cane. (I lost my dog.)
  • E’ questo gatto in vendita? (Is that cat for sale?)
  • Abbiamo una cucciolata di gattini. (We have a litter of kittens.)

Help your child memorize the following phrases before your next trip to the local zoo!
  • Andiamo allo zoo! (Let’s go to the zoo!)
  • L’elefante è grande. (The elephant is big.)
  • Quella scimmia è malizioso. (That monkey is mischievous.)
  • Il mio animale preferito è… (My favorite animal is…)
  • Non mi piace questo animale… (I don’t like this animal…)
  • Quanto alto è che giraffa? (How tall is that giraffe?)

  • La mucca mangia l’erba. (The cow eats grass.)
  • Animali da fattoria sono cosi carini. (Farm animals are so cute.)
  • Il cavallo fa un suono come questo… (The horse makes a sound like this…)
  • I polli sono cova le uova. ( The chickens are hatching their eggs.)
  • Mi piace andare a cavallo. ( I like to rise horses.)
  • I maiali cattivo odore. ( The pigs smell bad.)

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning Italian and practicing these animal names and phrases. For a great exercise, bring your child to the closest zoo or farm and have him or her practice naming the different animals in Italian.

For more Italian vocabulary words and useful phrases, ask your Italian teacher. He or she will be able to help you feel more comfortable speaking, writing, reading, and listening about topics such as animals.

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!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Newsletter Sign Up