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useful italian phrases

Getting Down to Business: Useful Italian Phrases and Etiquette Tips for Doing Business

useful italian phrases

Close the deal on your next Italian business trip with this lesson from Italian teacher Nadia B. on useful Italian phrases and etiquette tips for doing business…

Are you planning on doing business in Italy? It’s important that you learn Italian—even just a little—before your trip, as you want to interact with constituents in a professional and polite manner.

In this article, we’ll explore various useful Italian phrases and words you can use to ensure your meetings go off without a hitch. But before we jump into learning Italian, below are some helpful etiquette tips.

Italian Business Etiquette Tips

When it comes to doing business, Italy and the U.S. are fairly similar; however, there are some cultural differences. Use the tips below to ensure that you’re well prepared for your meeting.

  • Be on time: Contrary to popular belief, Italians take punctuality for business meetings very seriously. Make sure your on time for meetings and leave yourself enough time to get to your destination if you’re not familiar with the area.
  • Gift giving: Only after you’ve established a trusted relationship with your Italian constituents is it appropriate to give a small gift. Proper gifts include liquors, delicacies, or crafts from your native country.
  • Dress Code: Italians are as serious about their fashion as they are their food. Make sure, therefore, that you dress to impress. Men typically wear high-quality, tailored suits, while women opt for a feminine skirt suit or dress.
  • Greetings: Greet the group by saying “Buongiorno” (good morning) or “Buonasera”’ (good afternoon/evening) and shake each individual’s hand. Typically, older people and women will be introduced first.
  • Titles: When meeting someone for the first time, address the person with his or her appropriate title followed by his or her last name. For example, “Dottore” and “Dottoressa” for individuals holding a university degree, “Avvocato” for a lawyer, “Ingegnere” for an engineer, and “Architetto” for an architect.

Useful Italian Phrases for Business

Perhaps the most important concept to learn in Italian is the use of the formal ‘you’. While in English, there’s only one way to address a person, in Italian there’s a formal (“Lei”) and an informal (“tu”) option.

In most business situations, you’ll want to use “Lei” since it’s more formal and a sign of respect. However, if you find yourself among colleagues of a similar age in a more casual situation, it may be more appropriate to use “tu”.

Here are some other useful Italian phrases for initial introductions and greetings, as well as some helpful networking phrases.

  • Buongiorno, come sta/stai? (Hello, how are you [formal/informal]?)
  • Piacere. (Nice to meet you.)
  • Come si chiama/ti chiami? (What is your name (formal/informal)?)
  • Sono ___.” (My name is ___.)
  • Per quale società lavora/i? (For what company do you [formal/informal] work?)
  • M’interesserebbe sapere più del suo/tuo lavoro.” (I would be interested to learn more about your [formal/informal] work.)
  • Posso avere il suo/tuo recapito?” (Can I have your [formal/informal] contact information?)
  • Se vuole/vuoi, mi piacerebbe incontrarci per un caffè. (If you [formal/informal] like, I’d like to meet you for a coffee.)

When you’re really getting down to business, you might need the following Italian phrases.

  • Quanto costerebbe questo progetto? (How much would this project cost?)
  • Quanti articoli vorrebbe/vorresti? (How many items would you [formal/informal] want?)
  • Quando potrebbe essere realizzato? (When could it be completed?)
  • Possiamo usare l’inglese per communicare? (Can we use English to communicate?)

Lastly, here are some useful Italian vocabulary words that might come in handy.

  • “la riunione” (meeting)
  • “l’agenda” (agenda)
  • “la presentazione” (presentation)
  • “il verbale” (report)
  • “la tassa” (tax)
  • “il salario” (salary)
  • “gli affari” (business [in the general sense])
  • “l’azienda/l’impresa” (company)
  • “l’impiego/il lavoro” (occupation)
  • “il negozio” (shop/store)
  • “il/la cliente” (client)
  • “il pranzo di lavoro” (working lunch)
  • “il biglietto da visita” (business card)
  • “i contatti” (contacts)

With these useful Italian phrases and etiquette tips above, you’ll be able to smoothly navigate throughout the world of business in Italy.

nadiaB
Post 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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useful italian phrases

Useful Italian Phrases and Tips for Shopping in Italy

useful italian phrases

If you’re taking a trip to Italy, chances are you’re planning on doing some serious shopping. Below, Italian teacher Nadia B. shares some useful Italian phrases and tips for shopping in Italy…

Do you have a trip to Italy planned? Besides the delicious food, Italy has some of the best shopping in the world. Whether you’re looking for a souvenir for your loved one or some high-fashion duds for yourself, Italy has it all.

In this article, we’ll explore some useful Italian phrases for shopping as well as some general tips. Learning how to speak Italian will ensure that you’re getting what you want at the appropriate price.

But before we dive into these useful Italian phrases, below are some shopping tips to help make sure that your first shopping trip in Italy goes off without a hitch.

Italian Shopping Tips

From big-name fashion brands to antique mom and pop shops, Italy boasts some of the world’s best fashion and art. Use the tips below to ensure that you have a positive shopping experience.

  • Watch out for imitations: When you’re visiting cities with lots of tourists, for example Florence, you might be tempted by the designer look-a-likes being sold on the street at bargain prices. Attento! (Watch out!) The police have been known to fine tourists and sellers alike for buying and selling these items. If it’s too good to be true, it’s probably fake.
  • Look for the “Made in Italy” tag: The “Made in Italy” tag has been created to guarantee buyers that an item is authentically conceived, manufactured, and packaged in Italy. Look for items that have this tag so you can ensure that’s it authentic. What’s more, you’ll be supporting classic Italian workmanship.
  • Ask for a tax refund: If you’re making purchases that are taxed with the VAT (value-added tax), ask the shop owner for a tax refund form. This form enables you to receive a refund at the airport. The standard rate of this tax is 22%, so you stand to save quite a bit!
  • Remember to pack light: Resist the temptation to pack five pairs of shoes or three pairs of jeans. You’ll want to leave enough room in your suitcase to bring back the souvenirs and clothing you purchased. However much you think you need to pack, cut it in half.
  • Brush up on your bargaining skills: Brush up on your bargaining skills to get fantastic deals. Chances are you’ll have better luck in smaller stores or if you’re buying more than one item. Don’t get too greedy; start with a small discount and go from there.

Useful Italian Phrases for Shopping

When you first enter a shop, the salesperson might greet you and ask how they can help. You can respond by telling them one of the following phrases:

  • Cerco… (I’m looking for…)
  • Vorrei… (I would like…)
  • Ho bisogno di… (I need…)
  • Avete…? (Do you have…?)

If you’re looking for a specific clothing item, one of these words may be just what you’re looking for:

  • L’ abbigliamento (clothing)
  • La camicia (shirt)
  • La gonna (skirt)
  • Il vestito (dress)
  • I pantaloni (pants)
  • Le scarpe (shoes)

If you’re looking for accessories, try one of these Italian words:

  • La collana (necklace)
  • Il braccialetto (bracelet)
  • L’ anello (ring)
  • La cintura (belt)
  • La sciarpa (scarf)
  • I guanti (gloves)
  • Il portafoglio (wallet)
  • Gli occhiali da sole (sunglasses)

Once you’ve spotted something you like, here’s a phrase you can direct toward a shopkeeper

  •  Posso provare questi articoli, per favore? (Can I please try these items?)

Once you’ve tried them on, you might want to discuss the fit with a salesperson. Here are some useful Italian phrases to use:

  • Mi sembra troppo… (It seems too…)
  • stretto/a (tight)
  • allentato/a (loose)
  • grande (big)
  • piccolo/a (small)
  • Come mi sta? (How does it look on me?)
  • Mi piace… (I like… [for a singular object])
  • Mi piacciono… (I like…[for a plural object])
  • Non mi piace… (I don’t like [for a singular object])
  • Non mi piacciono… (I don’t like…[for a plural object])
  • Mi può portare una taglia più grande/piccolo, per favore? (Can you please bring me a bigger/smaller size?)

If you’re thinking of buying a particular item and want to discuss price, use the following Italian phrases;

  • Quanto costa? (How much does it cost?).
  • E’ caro. (It’s expensive.)
  • E’ economico. (It’s inexpensive.)
  • I contanti ( money)
  • la carta di credito (credit card)
  • lo scontrino/la ricevuta (receipt [informal/formal])
  • la borsa (bag)

Learning Italian before your trip will definitely come in handy–especially when you’re shopping. Use the useful Italian phrases above to ensure that you have an enjoyable shopping experience.

Useful Italian Phrases and Tips for Shopping in Italy

nadiaB
Post 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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Moving to Italy? Expats Reveal Their Secrets to Surviving and Flourishing in Italy

moving to italy

Did you know that there’s an estimated 50,000 Americans who’ve temporarily or permanently relocated to Italy?

Whether it’s for work, warmer temperatures, or simply a new start, Americans are buying one-way tickets to Italy.

And we don’t blame them!

The country’s food, weather, people, and culture make it a very desirable place to live. Don’t be fooled, however, by the laissez faire lifestyle.

Moving to Italy—or any foreign country for that matter—is no walk in the park. Moving to Italy requires getting used to an unfamiliar language as well as different social and cultural rules.

Local holidays will be different and things you consider staples—such as food, television, and magazines—might not be readily available.

Lucky for you, we’ve interviewed several experienced expats to compile a list of the best kept secrets to surviving and flourishing in Italy.

moving to Italy

“Don’t waste time on missing people. By which I mean don’t let missing people back home take precedence over making a new life in Italy. There’s no point coming all the way to Italy and then spending every spare minute on Skype with your friends and family back home,” says Kate Bailward of Driving Like a Maniac.

“Get out there and enjoy what Italy has to offer. You’ll be happy, and your friends and family will be happy that you’re happy – win-win!”

moving to Italy

While it’s tempting to bring every last possession you have with you to Italy, it’s extremely unrealistic. Whatever you think you need, cut it in half. You don’t really need 5 pairs of jeans or sneakers that all look the same.

You’ll soon discover that living small is actually quite liberating and cost-effective. Plus, you’ll be able to fit everything you own in your tiny apartment or flat in Italy. Rule of thumb, only take with you what you use on a weekly basis.

moving to Italy

“If at all possible, avoid ever driving a car in Italy.  It’s not that the drivers are all murderous psychopaths–which of course they are—but the problem is that eventually you become one of them,” says Rick Zullo of Rick’s Rome.

“I drove a car in Rome during my first six months in town and then wisely opted to preserve what was left of my sanity over the marginal ‘convenience’ of owning a vehicle. On the plus side, my defensive driving skills improved significantly.”

moving to Italy

“The first thing I tell new arrivals in Rome is say yes. Say yes to every invitation or social opportunity for at least 6 months even if you think it is something you have no interest in. You never know who you will meet or what connection you will make that can help ease your transition,” says Gillian Longworth McGuire of Gillian’s Lists.

moving to Italy

Before you arrive, take the time to learn some Italian, even if it’s just a few simply phrases and words. Learning Italian will come in handy when you’re searching for a job, getting to know your new neighborhood, and meeting other locals.

“You can get by without it, but once you can hold a conversation that consists of more than just the answers to ‘what’s your name?’, ‘why are you here?’ and ‘do you like Italy?’ you’ll find that your world opens up exponentially,” says Bailward.

moving to Italy

Make sure that you’ve filled out all of the necessary forms. If you’re looking to live, study, or work in Italy, you’ll most likely apply for a residency visa, a student visa, or a work visa. Different documentation is required for each, so be sure to check with your local consulate or the Italian Embassy’s website before you make an appointment.

There’s nothing worse than moving to Italy only to find out that you’re missing an important document that’s required to live there. And the last thing you want is to be tied up in international red tape or waiting in a never ending line at the U.S. embassy.

moving to Italy

Moving to Italy with a closed mind is a recipe for disaster. To truly enjoy your stay, it’s important that you let go of any preconceived notions and accept Italy as your new home.

“Suspend all judgments, criticisms, and comparisons to your home country. Keep an open mind while you discover and learn about Italy. Consider the move as an adventure to enjoy,” says Melinda Gallo of melindagallo.com.

moving to Italy

Prepare yourself for hidden costs and extra unexpected expenses. For example, you may be charged an import tax on your belongings or you could be hit with a hefty medical bill. If possible, give yourself a solid financial buffer for when these types of expenses come up.

How much money you bring will depend on your budget and needs. Experts suggest, however, bringing at least six-month’s worth of expenses.

moving to Italy

Things happen. Your apartment might get robbed or you may get in an accident. Before moving to Italy, it’s important to have a plan for when these things happen. Learn how to get to the closest hospital and police station. It’s also a good idea to register with the embassy or consulate.

Registering with the embassy provides you with assistance in the event of an emergency and allows you to complete various administrative formalities, such as taxes and registering to vote, more easily.

moving to italy

“Italy is full of surprises. Turn down a small quiet street and you might discover the best trattoria in town. Your train is 90 minutes late? Tough luck, there’s nothing you can do about it. Travel to one town over and voila! A completely different menu,” says Sarah Dowling of Italy Project 365.

“The ticket machine on the bus isn’t working? You’ll have to get off and wait for the next one. Walk into town on a Saturday afternoon and you’re sure to come across a festival, a street performance, a live concert in the piazza. It’s a wonderfully confusing place to live.”

Moving to Italy should be one of the most adventurous and enjoyable times of your life. Make sure that it goes off without a hitch by following the tips above.

Are you an expat living in Italy? If so, share your best tips in the comment section below.

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Exploring the Six Most Popular Italian Dialects

Exploring the Six Most Popular Italian Dialects

Exploring the Six Most Popular Italian Dialects

There are numerous Italian dialects spoken throughout Italy. Below, Italian teacher Liz T. shares the six most popular Italian dialects…

In the big boot of Italy, there are dozens of Italian dialects. In fact, almost every region has it’s own unique accent.

While the literary Italian language is used throughout the country for law, business, and education, many people still use their region’s original Italian dialect.

While it’s not necessary for you to learn every Italian dialect, familiarizing yourself with the most popular accents could come in handy when you’re traveling throughout Italy.

Below is a breakdown of some of the most common Italian dialects. Review the list to help you recognize accents on your next trip to Italy!

1

Milanese is not actually classified as a form of Italian. Rather, it’s a dialect of the Gallo-Italic sub-group that is closely related to French and German.

Similar to French and German, Milanese uses two additional vowels “ö” and “y” and subject pronouns are doubled in the second and third person.

For example, the standard Italian phrase “Tu non sei” (You are not) is pronounced “ti te seet no” in Milanese.

2

Spoken in Venice and the surrounding areas by over two million people, Venetian derives from Latin and Greek.

The Italian dialect is used mostly in informal contexts. One example of how it differs from standard Italian, is that in Venetian the word “Farmacia” (pharmacy) is replaced with “Apoteca.”

3

Florentine is the most standard Italian dialect, commonly used by people under the age of 35. The dialect uses nicknames of words. For example, the standard Italian word, “Formaggio” (cheese) is pronounced “Cacio” in Florentine.

The further south you travel, the more heavy and harsh the Italian dialect becomes. Also, because there are many immigrants that settle in Florence, there are several different sounds that influence the accent.

4

In Romanesco, there are several deviations from standard Italian. For example, “il” turns into “er” and “gli” or “I” turns into “li“.

What’s more, the letter “j” is pronounced as “i“, whereas in the other Italian dialects it’s not. Typically, the letter “j” will appear in between two vowels or at the beginning of a word followed by a vowel.

5

In Neapolitan, a lot of vowels and endings are dropped. For example, the standard Italian “Piove” is written as “Chiove” in Neapolitan and “Ci veddiamo dopo” is written as “Ce verimm’ aròppo

Also, many traditional Italian songs are written in this dialect, including the popular song “O sole mio”.

6

Sicilians talk with such a thick accent that people often mistake the dialect as a completely different foreign language–and they are right! Sicilian doesn’t derive from standard Italian. Rather it has linguistic elements from Greek, Latin, Arabic, French, Spanish, and more.

What’s unique about this Italian dialect is that plural endings of nouns end in “i“, no matter what the gender.

Mastering these Italian dialects can be tricky, but with the help of your Italian teacher you can practice speaking, reading, writing, and hearing these dialects together!

Bona furtuna! (Now, can you guess this dialect?)

 

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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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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italian games

5 Fun Italian Games for Learning Numbers

Can you count to 10, 20, or 30 in Italian? Below, Italian teacher Nadia B. shares some fun Italian games that will help students learn numbers…

Learning numbers in Italian is as simple as uno, due, tre. From referencing amounts to sharing phone numbers, learning the Italian numbers will serve you well.

Play the following Italian games with your instructor or friends to help you learn and memorize the numbers–and before you know it, you’ll be using numbers with ease!

italian games

1. Bingo

An old favorite, bingo can be transformed into an Italian game. Print off a bingo sheet with numbers (there are a ton of websites where you can find blank bingo sheets), then designate someone to call out the numbers in Italian.

When someone completes an entire line, he or she yells “bingo” and then recites the numbers he or she has in Italian. If you don’t have chips to place on the sheet, try placing a clear sheet over the printout so you can simply erase the x’s on the sheet and start over.

2. Catch it!

In a circle (or between two people), start tossing a small ball back and forth. Every time a person catches the ball, he or she must say a number in Italian. The next person who catches the ball must say a numeral higher than the previous one.

You’ll start to learn more and more as the numbers ascend. Before you know it, you’ll be reciting the number 1,395 or milletrecentonovantacinque. To add extra challenge, you can also recite the numbers in threes, tens, or whatever sequence you wish.

3. Story Time

This Italian game is an imaginative way to practice using numbers in conversation. As a group, create a story by having each person contribute a sentence, one by one, building on the previous sentences. Every third person (or sentence) needs to have at least one number included in it. Here is an example of a story:

Mauro è un ragazzo che abita vicino ad un bosco. Un giorno, quando camminava nel bosco, ha visto un lupo. Il lupo gli ha detto, <<Dopo quattro giorni, vedrai un albero alto e accanto all’albero, due fiori. Questi fiori sono magici.>>

[Mauro is a boy who lives near a forest. One day, when he was walking in the forest, he saw a wolf, and the wolf said to him, “After four days, you will see a tall tree and, next to the tree, two flowers. These flowers are magical.”]

4. Solve it

In a circle, have someone start by proposing a math question using multiplication, division, addition, or subtraction. For example, tre per tre (three times three), dieci diviso per due (ten divided by two), or cinque più tre (five plus three).

The next person in the circle has to answer the question, then using their answer create a new math problem. Keep the equations simple–or else you could end up with complex math to do! If someone gets a problem wrong or mispronounces a number in Italian, he or she steps outside the circle. The last person left wins!

5. Number patterns

First, have everyone stand in a straight line. Choose a number pattern to count ( for example, odd numbers, even numbers, multiples of five, etc.). The first person starts off by saying the first number of the sequence and then moves to the back of the line. The next person continues and so on until the number 100 is reached in each sequence.

This Italian game is good practice and can also add extra challenge if a quick pace is established. The movement of walking and standing also helps, since learning happens best when the whole body and brain are engaged!

These Italian games for learning numbers are playful and fun, so make sure to enjoy yourself. You’ll see the benefit of having the numbers on the tip of your tongue when you start to use what you’ve learned outside of your Italian lessons, since all sorts of daily activities involve numbers.

 

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 conversation

How to Survive Your First Italian Conversation

italian conversation

Are you nervous about speaking Italian for the first time? Below, Italian teacher Nadia B. shares some tips on how to survive your first Italian conversation…

You’ve memorized a long list of Italian vocabulary words, and you’ve practiced repeating them out loud with your Italian teacher. But, are you confident enough in your skills to have an Italian conversation with someone other than your Italian instructor?

The following tips and tricks will teach you how to navigate through your first Italian conversation. These tidbits will help you communicate with and comprehend your conversation partner, as well as avoid some of the most common challenges facing Italian language learners in conversation.

Let’s get started!

1. Ask Your Partner to Speak Slowly

If your Italian conversation partner is a native Italian, you might find that he or she will become animated and start to speak rapidly. Don’t worry, this is very common among native Italian speakers.

If you’re having trouble understanding your partner, you can try the following phrase: “Parla/parli più lentamente, per favore,” which means “Please speak more slowly.” In this phrase, parla is informal and parli is formal.

2. Take Note of Hand Gestures

Another thing that happens as Italian speakers become more animated is their use of hand gestures. Take note of these hand gestures, as they can help you gain comprehension.

Check out this link to see the many hand gestures that Italians often use. Familiarize yourself with some of the gestures, and see if you can catch them in use in actual conversation.

3. Phrases to Use When You Don’t Understand

If asking your partner to speak slowly doesn’t work, here are some phrases you can use if there’s something you don’t understand:

  • Potresti/Potrebbe ripetere la parola/la frase, per favore? (Could you please repeat the word/the last few words?) In this phrase, potresti is informal and potrebble is formal.
  • Cosa vuol dire ____? (What does ___ mean?)

If you’re really not able to understand what your conversation partner has said, you can resort to:

  • Non capisco. (I don’t understand.)
  • Non ho capito. (I didn’t understand [a specific thing].)

4. Substitute Words You Don’t Know

If you’re following what your partner is saying, but you’re having trouble expressing a particular idea or thought, try to work around it.

If you can’t think of a particular word, or don’t know the word, you can try to describe it using words you do know. For example, if you didn’t know the word for “bookstore” in Italian (la libreria), you could say, “E’ dove si compra un libro.” (It’s where you buy books.)

If you’re really stuck, and the person you’re conversing with speaks some English, try the following phrase: Come se dice ____ in italiano? (How do you say ____ in Italian?)

5. Keep it Simple

Lastly, remember to keep it simple. Using simple sentence structures and basic vocabulary words can go a long way. Remember these common building blocks of sentences:

  • The verbs “to be”: essere and stare
  • Subject pronouns: io (I), lui (he), noi (us), etc.
  • Common verbs: mangiare (to eat), parlare (to speak), andare (to go)
  • Helpful prepositions: di (of), da (from), accanto (beside), davanti (in front), indietro (behind), giù (below)
  • Useful adjectives: interessante (interesting), bello (beautiful), amabile (friendly), difficile (hard), facile (easy)

6. Ask Your Partner Questions

In addition to using the above structures to create varied conversation, don’t forget that another way to increase the richness and depth of your conversation is to ask the person you’re conversing with questions about themselves, or ask for more information about what he or she has said. Use the following question words to gain more information:

  • perché (why)
  • come (how)
  • quando (when)
  • dove (where)
  • che cosa (what)
  • chi (who)

Use these tips and consult your Italian teacher to help prepare for your first Italian conversation. Most of all, enjoy yourself! It’s sure to be full of fun and learning, and it’s only the beginning of many adventures in Italian to come!

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!

Photo by Giulia Mulè

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Beginner’s Introduction to Italian Colors (Infographic)

 

italian colors

Are you ready to learn the colors of the rainbow in Italian? Below, Italian teacher Liz T. provides an introduction to Italian colors…

When it comes to Italian vocabulary, learning the colors is always a fun activity–especially for beginner students. Learning the various colors in Italian will help you expand your vocabulary and enrich your conversations.

Below is a brief guide to help you recognize Italian colors, as well as how to pronounce them!

Pink

Rosa (Roh-sah)

Red
Rosso (Roh-soh)

Orange
Arancione (Ah-rahn-cho-neh)

Yellow
Giallo (Giah-lloh)

Green
Verde (Ver-deh)

Light Blue
Azzurro (Ah-zoo=roh)

Blue
Blu (Bloo)

Navy Blue
Blu Marino (Bloo Mah-ree-noh)

Purple
Porpora (Pour-poh-rah)

Violet
Violetta (Vee-oh-letta)

Brown
Marrone (Mah-rone-eh)

Black
Nero (Neh-roh)

Grey
Grigio (Gree-joh)

White
Bianco (Bee-ahn-coh)

Silver
Argento (Are-Gehn-toh)

Gold
Dorato (Doh-rah-toh)

italian colors

Changing Italian Colors to Masculine or Feminine

When using an Italian color in a sentence, it’s important to remember that the color may be classified as masculine or feminine, depending on the context in which the color is used.

For example, in the sentence, “La palla rossa.” the letter “a” is added to the end of rossa, instead of an “o” because la palla  is feminine. See other examples below:

  • Il caffè nero. ( The black coffee)
  • La moto gialla. ( The yellow bike)
  • Il dollaro verde. ( The green dollar)

Expressing Italian Colors in Plural

To express colors in plural, you may add an “i” for masculine words and an “e” for feminine words. See examples below:

  • I cani neri (The black dogs)
  • Due giacconi verdi (Two green jackets)

Changing Italian Colors Depending on Article

The endings also change depending on the article. See examples below:

Rosso (Red)

  • Rosso (Masculine Singular)
  • Rossa (Feminine Singular)
  • Rossi (Masculine Plural)
  • Rosse (Feminine Plural)

 Giallo (Yellow)

  • Giallo (Masculine Singular)
  • Gialla (Feminine Singular)
  • Giallo (Masuline Plural)
  • Gialle (Feminine Plural)

Grigio (Grey)

  • Grigio (Masculine Singular)
  • Grigia (Feminine Singular)
  • Grigi (Masculine Plural)
  • Grigie (Feminine Plural)

Nero (Black)

  • Nero (Masculine Singular)
  • Nera (Feminine Singular)
  • Neri (Masculine Plural)
  • Nere (Feminine Plural)

*Please note that there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, some colors will stay the same, and will not change conjugation, such as blu and viola. What’s more, colors that end in the letter “o” will then switch to “a“, to make it masculine or feminine. Colors that do not end in the letter “o“, will stay the same, but will change for the plural. For example,  the plural for marrone would be marroni.

That’s it for my introduction to Italian colors! I hope this color guide will enable you to express yourself and the many beautiful colors correctly the next time you’re speaking in Italian.

If you would like to practice using Italian colors more, talk to your Italian teacher to see if there are any fun exercises you can do. The more you practice the easier it will be to memorize the colors.

 

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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Ultimate Traveler’s Guide to Italian Customs and Etiquette: 30 Things You Need to Know

Are you planning a trip to Italy? Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, it’s important to be well prepared. And we’re not just talking about making sure you have your passport and an extra pair of comfy shoes.

Besides learning how to speak Italian, it’s important that you familiarize yourself with Italian customs and etiquette. After all, you don’t want to unknowingly offend anyone or get yourself into a sticky situation.

Every country, including Italy, has its fair share of unique customs. Below are 30 Italian customs and etiquette tips you need to know before packing your bags and heading abroad.

italian customs

  1. When you’re first introduced to an Italian native, it’s best to say “buongiorno” rather than “ciao,” as the latter is used only amongst close friends and the younger generation.
  2. After lunch around 1:00 p.m., it’s customary to say “buonasera” or “good evening”.
  3. When meeting a new person, you should shake his or her hand. Only greet someone with a kiss on either side of the cheek if you’re friends.
  4. Be sure to maintain eye contact while speaking, or else Italians may think that you’re trying to hide something.
  5. “When starting a conversation with someone in Italy, abandon the idea of ‘getting right to the point,’ whether you’re speaking in Italian or English. Italians don’t like this way of conversing, and in fact are a bit put off by a person who forgets to say “good day” or “how are you?” before launching into his or her series of questions and demands,” says Rick Zullo, creator of Italian travel blog, Rick’s Rome.
  6. Italians tend to communicate with gestures and facial expressions, so don’t be alarmed when you see someone waving their hands or speaking effusively.

italian customs

  1. Fashion is important in the Italian culture, so be sure to dress appropriately at all times. Torn or worn clothing are a big no-no.
  2. When in doubt, go more formal. Men should wear jackets and ties, and ditch the shorts. Women should opt for a dress or a more formal, feminine outfit.
  3. “If you are planning on visiting a church or religious site, your shoulders and knees need to be covered. Secondly, flip flops are only worn at the beach (if at all)…leave them at home. And if you’re headed to the theater, making an effort to fare la bella figura (roughly translated as “to make a good impression”) will be appreciated,” suggests Select Italy, a full-service Italian travel company.

italian customs

  1. Keep both of your hands above the table at all times—never on your lap.
  2. In Italy, the person who does the inviting pays for the meal.
  3. Don’t ask for salad dressing or other condiments. Olive oil is the only acceptable “condiment” that you’ll need during a meal.
  4. Bread is not meant to be an appetizer. Rather, it should be used to wipe the remaining sauce off your plate.
  5. If you don’t want more wine, leave your glass half full. Drinking excessively is highly frowned upon.
  6. “The early bird special does not exist in Italy. Show up at the restaurant at 5:00 p.m., and you’re marking yourself as an old American. Show up at 6:30, and you’re marking yourself as American. Show up at 7:30, and you’re marketing yourself as an old Italian. After 8:00 p.m. you’re one with the Italian culture and a non-tourist. The later the better, for most Italians, especially the farther south you go,” say the folks at Select Italy.

italian customs

  1. While Italians are known for being late, they take punctuality for business meetings very seriously—so be on time!
  2. Dress to impress. Formal attire is expected for business meetings. Men should opt for a tailored, dark colored suit, while women should wear a feminine, but modest pant or skirt suit.
  3. Gift giving is not common in Italy. Only after you’ve established a trusted relationship is it appropriate to give a small gift.
  4. Try not to schedule any business meetings during the month of August, as many companies are closed and/or employees are on vacation.
  5. Italians prefer doing business with people they trust, so spend some time developing a personal relationship with your constituents.

italian customs

  1. Always stand when an elder person enters the room.
  2. Unlike in America where the host sits at the head of the table, in Italy the host will sit in the middle of the table.
  3. “Try to be aware of who you’re talking to and what strata of society that they belong to. Overdosing on courtesy forms and titles can still be very flattering to many Italians, whether it’s your boss or a beautiful woman (or her mother, if you get that far),” says Zullo.
  4. Men should always remove their hats when entering an establishment.
  5. When invited to someone’s home, always bring a small gift for the host—chocolates, flowers, and pastries are all acceptable.
  6. If invited to a party or dinner, arrive between 15 to 30 minutes late to ensure the host has enough time to prepare.

italian customs

  1. Family is extremely important to Italians. In the south, extended families often live in one house; however, this has become less common over the years.
  2. It’s not uncommon for young adults to live with their parents until their late 20’s.
  3. When children leave the home, they are expected to live close to their families and visit them weekly.
  4. Grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins play an important role in the everyday life of Italians. Most Italians have been brought up by their grandparents in addition to their parents.

Most Italians will forgive you if you make an honest mistake. However, it’s always a good idea to review Italian customs and etiquette before traveling abroad. Do you have any helpful tips for fellow travelers?

 

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