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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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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: 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!

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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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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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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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10 Common Italian Stereotypes That Are Actually True

10 Common Italian Stereotypes That Are

Italy, the land of contemporary fashion, historical art and… men who adore their mothers, hand-gesturing enthusiasts, and gatherings about Dante?

Actually, yes!

While most Italian stereotypes are inaccurate–for example, all Italians are not mobsters and the men don’t look like Super Mario–there are a handful of stereotypes that hold some small kernel of truth.

Below are the 10 most common Italian stereotypes that are actually true.

10 Common Italian Stereotypes

1. Italians Can’t Live Without Pasta

Italians live for food–in particular pasta. In fact, Italians consume the most pasta in the world, averaging 60 pounds a year for every man, woman, and child in the country.

While most Americans cook dry pasta out of a box, Italians make pasta with precision from scratch. This dedication to quality plus the fact that Italians are the top consumers of pasta, makes Italy the champion of pasta.

2. Italians Talk With Their Hands

What if you could communicate with someone only through hand gestures? Well, in Italy, you can! Italians use hand gestures to enliven conversations, strengthen their point, and communicate on a non-verbal level.

There’s a running joke in Italy that you can understand a conversation that’s out of hearing range just from watching someone’s hand gestures. This endearing habit makes Italians some of the most expressive and passionate speakers in the world.

3. Italians are All About ‘La Famiglia’

Family is so important in Italy that you’ll find that many Italians either live close to their parents or in the same house. In fact, it’s common for adults in their 20’s and 30’s to live with their parents.

The ties that bind families together are undeniably strong. Families often gather weekly for a meal or stay in close contact. And yes, mamma rules the roost.

4. Italians are Habitually Late

Everything in Italy happens on its own timeline, including work and appointments. If you comment on someone’s tardiness, most Italians will tell you that they just wanted to stop for a coffee or smoke a cigarette before arriving, and that they were in fact on time–Italian time!

This relaxed mindset can also be seen on the streets, as most people walk at a relatively leisurely pace. While habitual lateness is viewed as a negative thing in the United States, in Italy it is a reflection of taking life slowly and appreciating the moment.

5. Italians are Die-hard Football Fans

Juventus, Milan, Inter—these are just a few of the most famous names you’ll hear being thrown around when Italians are discussing football. Italians take soccer very seriously, and when there’s a game on, all attention is directed toward it.

Italians can’t get enough of football because it’s a chance for them to unite with their local team and express their regional pride. Since Italy was first composed of individual regions, Italians mostly identify with their regional culture rather than with Italy as a whole.

6. Italians Love a Good Cappuccino

Breakfast in Italy is sacred. Unlike a typical American breakfast, which includes eggs, bacon, and toast, an authentic Italian breakfast usually includes a cornetto (similar to a croissant) and a cappuccino.

The quality of cappuccino in Italy, and coffee in general, is taken very seriously as well. Italians love the mix of coffee, milk and foam, and it’s an art in itself. Italians will travel blocks to find the best cappuccino.

7. Italians are Obsessed with Fashion

Like coffee, fashion is wildly popular in Italy. Just look at all of the famous designers that hail from Italy, including Prada, Armani, Versace…the list goes on. Italians feel an obligation to “fare la bella figura,” or appear nicely in all respects, and fashion is a big component of that.

While everything doesn’t have to be designer, Italians like to wear high-quality fabrics. Individualism is also valued in Italy, and men aren’t afraid to wear bright colors. In fact, don’t be surprised if you see men wearing orange, blue, or pink pants.

8. Italians Aren’t Scared of Public Affection

Italians are no strangers to affection. In fact, it’s very common to see lovers embracing and kissing one another in public. What’s more, don’t be surprised to see two male friends expressing affection by walking closely together, perhaps with one arm across the other’s back for a few moments as they talk and stroll.

The warmth and outgoing nature of Italian culture encourages the expression of emotions, whether it’s crying, screaming, or showing affection. This is one of the reasons why Italians greet one another with the classic kissing of the cheeks.

9. Italians Love the Opera

A nation riveted by Puccini, Rossini and Bellini, Italians love the opera. Hordes of people attend outdoor performances in amphitheaters, and it’s not surprising to find people discussing their favorite opera composer or the last performance they saw.

Italians are very well-versed in opera and have strong opinions about the art form. Opera is similar to soccer in terms of  its widespread appreciation, attendance, and passion. It also showcases the beauty of the Italian language, which is another reason why it is beloved throughout Italy.

10. Italians Can’t Get Enough of Dante’s Divine Comedy

Ask any Italian to recite the Divine Comedy and chances are they will be able to recite at least some, if not a substantial amount. Italians are required to dedicate a significant amount of time studying each part of the Divine Comedy—Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise.

Dante is idolized in Italy for writing in the most purest form of Italian, the Tuscan dialect. The famed poet is so popular you’ll find societies devoted to studying the medieval text.

Well, there you have it. Can you think of any more Italian stereotypes we should add to the list? Do you agree or disagree with some of them? Let us know in the comments below!

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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Header USEFUL ITALIAN PHRASES AND ETIQUETTE TIPS FOR GOING OUT TO EAT (1)

Useful Italian Phrases and Etiquette Tips for Going Out to Eat

Header USEFUL ITALIAN PHRASES AND ETIQUETTE TIPS FOR GOING OUT TO EAT (1)

Are you planning to learn Italian before your big trip? Below, Italian teacher Nadia B. shares some useful Italian phrases and etiquette tips for dining…

Yum, la gastronomia italiana (Italian cuisine)–the heartbeat of Italian life occurs around the dinner table, and you won’t want to miss out on all of the delicious foods and wines when visiting Italy.

Keep reading to discover some useful Italian phrases for going out to eat. Learning how to order and converse with your waiter in Italian will allow you to enjoy your meal to the fullest and practice your Italian pronunciation at the same time.

But before we dive into these useful Italian phrases, there are some important dining etiquette rules one must remember when traveling to Italy.

Italian Etiquette for Dining

In the Italian culture, eating is a way of life. Family and friend gatherings are often centered around food. Here are some major do’s and don’ts when eating in Italy.

  • Don’t expect the waiter to bring you the bill. Until you ask for il conto (the bill), the waiter will not bring it to your table. Also, don’t be shocked when the bill includes a small bread fee.
  • Do enjoy your meal slowly. Italians consider dinner to be a time when you relax with family and friends. There is no such thing as get a quick bite to eat.
  • Don’t cut your spaghetti. Whatever you do, never cut your spaghetti; rather learn how to gracefully twirl it onto your fork or go old school with a spoon.
  • Do arrive late. Whereas showing up late for dinner in the U.S. is considered rude, Italians are rarely ever on time. Therefore, it’s okay to arrive a few minutes after the appointed time.
  • Don’t expect breakfast. Unless you’re staying at a hotel that caters to Americans, don’t expect to eat a breakfast filled with eggs, bacon, and toast. Italians typically start their day with a cappuccino.
  • Do go where the locals go: Italy is home to some of the most delicious foods in the world. Don’t hunt down the one restaurant that serves an American cheeseburger—eat where the locals dine!

 

Useful Italian Phrases for Going Out to Eat

 

The first thing to learn are common Italian phrases your waiter (il cameriere / la cameriera) may use. For example, the waiter may say the following:

  • Cosa prende Lei? (What will you have?)
  • Cosa desidera Lei? (What would you like?)

 

If you are eating with one or more people, your waiter may phrase these questions in the plural to address all parties:

Cosa prendete voi? (What will you all have?)

Cosa desiderate voi? (What would you all like?)

 

In response, you can simply state the item(s) you want, or you can use a whole sentence:

Un piatto di ravioli con un bicchiere di vino rosso, per favore. (A plate of ravioli with a glass of red wine, please.)

Prendo il risotto ai funghi. (I’ll have the mushroom risotto.)

 

If you have specific dietary restrictions, the following phrases may come in handy:

Non mangio… (I don’t eat…)

…la carne (meat)

…il pesce (fish)

…le uova (eggs)

 

In looking at the menu and specifying what you would like for each course, familiarize yourself with the following words:

la colazione (breakfast)

il pranzo (lunch)

la cena (dinner)

l’antipasto (appetizer)

il primo piatto (first course)

il secondo piatto (second course) or piatto principale (main course)

la pasta (pasta; you will see different types such as le lasagne, i ravioli, gli spaghetti)

il contorno (side dish)

il formaggio (cheese)

il dolce (dessert)

le bevande (beverages)

 

When ordering your meal, your waiter may inquire whether you would like:

acqua gassata (sparkling water)

acqua minerale (still water).

 

In addition to water, you may want to order:

un bicchiere di vino rosso/bianco (a glass of red/white wine),

una birra (a beer)

un espresso (an espresso). *Keep in mind that, in Italian culture, un cappuccino is reserved only for breakfast time; it is not served after lunch or dinner.

 

When it comes time to pay, if you’re dining with your Italian hosts or friends and would like to treat them, you can say:

Offro io!” (It’s my treat).

 

To ask the waiter for the bill, you can say:

Il conto, per favore” (The bill, please). * In Italy, tipping is not expected since the charge for service, called il coperto, is usually included in the bill.

 

If you’d like to use the bathroom before leaving, you can ask:

Dov’è il bagno?” (Where is the bathroom?).

 

Becoming familiar with these common Italian phrases for going out to eat will serve you well. You’ll be able to communicate with the wait staff, order your meal to your liking, and participate fully in this quintessentially Italian activity: enjoying your food.

If you want to learn more Italian words and phrases, you might want to consider taking an Italian lesson before your trip!

 

info USEFUL ITALIAN PHRASES AND ETIQUETTE TIPS FOR GOING OUT TO EAT

 

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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3 Ways to Help Your Child Learn to Speak Italian

3 Ways to Help Your Child Learn to Speak Italian

3 Ways to Help Your Child Learn to Speak Italian

Bilingual children enjoy creative, cognitive, and cultural advantages because of their early exposure to multiple languages. Fortunately, childhood is an ideal time to learn a new language, especially when the brain is still developing.

However, your child doesn’t have to start taking language lessons in infancy or grow up in a multilingual household to speak Italian. You just need to stay involved in their learning process and think of creative ways to keep them engaged.

If your son or daughter is taking private Italian lessons but you don’t speak Italian, it’s especially important to keep them immersed and make sure his or her new skills stick.

Turn Italian into your household’s second language with the following three kid-friendly techniques. From laminated labels to delicious menu items, your child will learn to speak Italian in no time!

 

1. Household Labels

3 Ways to Help Your Child Learn to Speak Italian

Enlist your budding bilingual’s help with a creative activity that will pay off for months to come: labels! Sticking name cards on everyday objects is a tried and true way to reinforce new vocabulary terms – and your child will appreciate the opportunity to curate their own collection of words.

Make it an ongoing project by starting with simple items, such as doors, windows, and appliances, and progressing to less common terms as your child gets comfortable with the first set of cards. If you don’t want to fill your home with neon colored post-its, find single sheets of scrapbook paper that simulate the colors and materials of each surface.

 

2. Italian Movie Night

 3 Ways to Help Your Child Learn to Speak Italian

There aren’t many stateside screenings of Italian-language movies, but it’s hard to beat the educational value of a foreign film. Check your library, online streaming services, and on-demand menus for original Italian movies with kid-friendly themes. The following five are particularly popular and widely available in America:

Title Genre Rating Released Themes
 Life is Beautiful (La vita è bella) Dark comedy PG-13 1997 Holocaust, father/son relationship, literature
They Call Me Trinity (Lo chiamavano Trinità…) Western G 1970 Cops vs. robbers
Il Postino: The Postman (Il Postino) Romantic comedy PG 1994 Poetry, love, literature
Pinocchio (Pinocchio) Fantasy comedy G 2002 Fairy tales, father/son relationship, honesty
Trinity Is STILL My Name! (Continuavano a chiamarlo Trinità) Western G 1971 Pioneers, brotherhood

Don’t rely on English subtitles to understand the plots and dialogue; instead, screen or stream the movies with their original audio, and encourage your child to pay attention. Even if your child doesn’t catch every word, he or she will get a little more comfortable with each subsequent viewing.

 

3. Italian Dinner Night

3 Ways to Help Your Child Learn to Speak Italian

Italy already has the market cornered on kid-friendly cuisine, but your family probably won’t pick up much Italian from a slice of pizza or bowl of spaghetti.

If you want to use mealtime as an opportunity to help your children speak Italian, it’s time to start a new family tradition. Pick a day or two each month — for example, every other Thursday — to prepare and serve authentic Italian meals together.

Instead of rotating a menu of safe favorites, commit to making at least one new dish each time. You don’t have to tackle challenging recipes for flatbread pizzas and hand-pulled pastas; just make sure your kids are picking items with original Italian names, and learning about their origins and etymologies.

For example, pasta cuts often have literal names with plural suffixes, such as ini or otti, which describe their size, shape and texture. If your kids pick different pastas for every Italian family dinner, they’ll gradually become acquainted with a whole lexicon of common words and grammar structures.

Speaking Italian is a great skill for a child to have. While private Italian lessons will certainly help your child progress, doing fun exercises at home is a great way to speed up the learning process and engage your child. For more fun kid-friendly Italian exercises, check out these other blogs posts:

 

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Photos by Tom BorowskiGinnyJonathan Moreau