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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!

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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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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!

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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 slang words

15 Italian Slang Words and Phrases You’ve Gotta Know

Do you want to learn how to speak Italian like a true native? Below, Italian teacher Liz T. shares 15 common Italian slang words and phrases to help you communicate better in Italian…

In the United States, there are hundreds of slang words and phrases people use to communicate with one another. For example, phrases like “I’m beat,” “chill out,” and “epic fail” are commonly used in conversation.

Like Americans, native Italians use slang words and phrases to quickly communicate their emotions and actions. Although they might not be grammatically correct, theses words and phrases are commonly used to explain all types of situations in everyday life.

Below are some of my favorite Italian slang words and phrases. Practice these words with your Italian teacher or friends and you’ll soon be speaking like a true native!

1. Mettersi insieme

The equivalent of the American phrase “to tie the knot,” “mettersi insieme” means to begin a serious relationship with someone.

2. Mollare qualcuno

Ouch! Italians use this phrase when dumping their significant other. It’s roughly translated to mean “letting go” or “releasing someone free.”

3. Essere nelle nuvole

Italians use this phrase to describe someone who has his or her head in the clouds or someone who’s constantly daydreaming.

4. Ricco sfondato

This Italian slang phrase is used to describe someone who’s rich. The phrase literally means “rolling in money.”

5. Veloce come un razzo

Similar to the American phrase,”fast as lightning,” “veloce come un razzo” means something or someone is as fast as a rocket.

6. Amore a prima vista

Was it “love at first sight,” or as they say in Italy “amore a prima vista,” when you met your Italian crush while visiting abroad?

7. Alito puzzolente

Ew! You may need to use this Italian slang phrase to notify someone who has “bad breath.”

8. Guastafesta

What we know in America as a “Debbie downer,” the Italian slang word, “Gusastafesta,” is someone who’s a spoiler or someone who ruins the party.

9. Basta, Basta

When your friend is annoying you, shout “basta, basta” as this means “enough is enough.”

10. I Malano miau!

Are you shocked about what happened on last night’s episode of Game of Thrones? Use this phrase to express shock or amazement.

11. Non fai scumbari

When your Italian grandmother won’t stop embarrassing you, simply say “Non fai scumbari” or “Stop embarrassing me/don’t embarrass me.”

12. Pizzolino

This Italian slang word means “afternoon nap,” which are very common in Italy.

13. Gufare

If you or someone else is experiencing bad luck, use the Italian slang word, “gufare.”

14. Dai!

Similar to the American saying “Come on,” “Dai” is used when you want someone to tag along or do something. It can also be used to say “stop it.”

15. Boh

The equivalent of the American phrase “I dunno,” “Boh” is a quick way to say if you’re being indecisive.

I hope you have enjoyed learning these Italian slang words. If you want to make sure that your using these Italian slang words appropriately, you can practice speaking with a native or your Italian teacher.

The more you use these Italian slang words and phrases in conversation, the better you will become at speaking 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 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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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

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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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