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italian grammar

Italian Grammar: Introduction to Gender and Number

italian grammar

When it comes to building a solid Italian grammar foundation, gender and number are two very important concepts one must learn. Unfortunately, they are also very troublesome for beginner students. Below Italian teacher, Nadia B. gives a quick and easy introduction to the two concepts…

Ready to explore Italian grammar? For students, gender and number are often the most challenging concepts to understand, since they are used very differently in Italian than in English. However, with a little explanation and practice, you will be using them with ease in no time. So, let’s get started!

Gender

In Italian, nouns and adjectives can be either masculine or feminine. Usually the gender of the noun can be identified by the ending. For example,  if the noun ends in -o it’s generally masculine, and if the noun ends in -a, it is generally feminine. In the plural, nouns ending in -i are generally masculine, and nouns ending in -e are feminine. See examples below.

Masculine:

  • il ragazzo (the boy) / i ragazzi (the boys)
  • il libro (the book) / i libri (the books)
  • l’albero (the tree) / gli alberi (the trees)

Feminine:

  • la ragazza (the girl) / le ragazze (the girls)
  • la gonna (the skirt) / le gonne (the skirts)
  • la penna (the pen) / le penne (the pens)

There are exceptions to the above-mentioned Italian grammar rule. For example, nouns that denote inanimate objects are randomly assigned a gender. It is best to continually practice these words in order to memorize them and their gender. See examples below.

  • l’arte (the art) – feminine
  • il bicchiere (the glass) – masculine

Also, don’t be fooled by nouns that are commonly shortened, as their long form reveals their true gender. See examples below.

  • la bici=la bicicletta (the bicycle)
  • la foto=la fotografia (the photograph)
  • la moto= la motocicletta (the motorcycle)

italian grammar

Number (Singular and Plural)

Once you’ve learned how to identify whether a noun is masculine or feminine, another important component to learning Italian grammar is how number affects nouns.

Feminine Nouns and Adjectives

When we pluralize a noun, it generally follows the rule that the -a ending in feminine singular nouns changes to -e, and the -o ending in masculine singular nouns changes to -i.  The same applies to adjectives. See examples below.

  • la donna (the woman) becomes le donne (the women)
  • la città (the city) becomes le città (the cities)
  • il letto (the bed) becomes i letti (the beds)

However, what happens when the ending is a little different to begin with? If it’s a feminine singular noun or adjective that ends in -ca or -ga, we want to preserve the hard sound, therefore, the plural then ends in -che or -ghe. See examples below:

  • la giacca (the jacket) becomes le giacche (the jackets)
  • la pianta larga (the wide sole) becomes le piante larghe (the wide soles)

Feminine singular nouns that end in -cia or -gia drop the -i in the plural and thus the ending becomes -ce or -ge. This is to preserve the same sound and syllabication that occurs in the singular. See examples below.

  • la faccia (the face) becomes le facce (the faces)
  • la spiaggia (the beach) becomes le spiagge (the beaches)

The only exception to this rule is in the case of la camicia (the shirt) which retains its -i in the plural le camicie (the shirts).

If the stress lands on the -i in the -cia or -gia ending, though, then the noun retains the -i in the plural, with the ending -cie or -gie. See examples below.

  • la pasticceria (the pastry shop) becomes le pasticcerie (the pastry shops)
  • la bugia (the lie) becomes le bugie (the lies)

Masculine Nouns and Adjectives

For masculine nouns and adjectives, the ones that end in -co turn to -chi or -ci in the plural. The identifying factor is the accentuation — if the stress is on the next-to-last syllable, the plural ending should be -chi. Nouns ending in -co that have the stress on the third-to-last syllable turn to -ci in the plural. See examples below.

  • Il pacco (the package) becomes i pacchi (the packages)
  • Il giocho (the game) becomes i giochi (the games)
  • Il medico (the doctor) becomes i medici (the doctors)
  • il cucciolo stanco (the tired puppy) becomes i cuccioli stanchi (the tired puppies)

There are a few exceptions, though, like words originally from Greek and other ones that simply don’t follow the rule.

Here are some common words that are exceptions:

  • l’amico (the friend) becomes gli amici (the friends)
  • il greco (the Greek) becomes i greci ( the Greeks)

One last ending that changes from singular to plural is that of masculine nouns and adjectives ending in -go. These nouns change to -ghi in the plural.

For example:

  • Il dialogo (the dialogue) becomes i dialoghi (the dialogues)
  • Il capello lungo (the individual strand of long hair) becomes i capelli lunghi ( the head of long hair)

The only exception to this rule is nouns that end in -go that stem from a longer ending of -ologo. This ending creates a plural ending of -ologi.

For example:

  • Lo psicologo (the psychologist) becomes gli psicologi (the psychologists)
  • Il radiologo (the radiologist) becomes i radiologi (the radiologists)

italian grammar

While there are many different Italian grammar rules to remember, they are not as difficult to learn as they may seem. In fact, after seeing gender and number usage in context and using them yourself, you will soon be able to distinguish between all the possibilities.

Work closely with your Italian tutor to come up with some fun exercises for you to better learn these complex Italian grammar rules.

nadiaBNadia 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 online

5 Effective Ways to Learn Italian Online

italian online

While in-person Italian lessons can be extremely valuable, some people simply lack the time and money to schedule regular sessions. In this case, learning Italian online is a great option.

The Benefits of Learning Italian Online

Learning Italian online – or any language for that matter – has many advantages, such as:

  • Flexible scheduling: Trying to sync schedules with a tutor can be difficult for some students. Whether you prefer to take lessons late at night or early in the morning, you can easily fit online lessons into your busy schedule.
  • Lower costs: Commuting 20 minutes once or twice a week to meet with your Italian tutor can put a dent in your piggy bank. With online lessons, the furthest you have to travel is to your couch or desk!
  • Larger pool of experts: Depending on where you live, there might be a shortage of local, qualified Italian instructors. Without any geographic boundaries keeping you away, you have the ability to choose from thousands of online tutors.

Whether you want to take online lessons with an expert tutor or simply want to teach yourself through games and tutorials, there are tons of resources available online.

Below, we explore five different ways to learn Italian online as well as evaluate the pros and cons of each.

1. Italian Lessons on Skype

Skype, a free online video platform, is one of the most popular options for students looking to take Italian lessons online with a teacher or native speaker.

Pros

  • As long as you have a reliable mobile device and good Internet connection, you can learn Italian from just about anywhere – whether it’s in an airport or in the comfort of your own home.
  • With Skype, you have instant access to materials, such as PDFs, audio files, and videos, which are often much cheaper than textbooks.
  • For a small fee, Skype allows you to make international video calls, which means you can take lessons with a native Italian speaker.

Cons

  • Some types of exercises – for instance, writing in Italian – may be difficult to complete over Skype.
  • Taking lessons online can be disconcerting for students who prefer having face-to-face interactions with their teachers and enjoy getting to know them on a personal level.
  • Using technology leaves you vulnerable to technical difficulties. For example, video calls drop unexpectedly, which can cause your learning to come to a screeching halt.

2. Italian Lessons on Google+ Hangouts

Google+ Hangouts is another popular online video platform. Although the platform is similar to Skype, there are a few distinct differences in terms of advantages and disadvantages.

Pros

  • With Google Hangouts, you’re able to participate in a group video call with up to 10 people. This is a great option for students who like to take lessons in group settings.
  • Google Hangouts allows users to start a conversation on one device and finish it on a different one, as all conversations are synced across devices.

Cons

  • In order to use Google Hangouts, you need set up a Google+ account, which can be an annoyance for some students and teachers. After all, do you really want to have to remember another username and password?
  • Similar to Skype, Google Hangouts can have technical difficulties, such as muffled speech and paused motion.

 

3. Italian YouTube Tutorials

YouTube is a great resource in which you can find tons of tutorials about learning Italian, covering a variety of topics and skill levels.

Pros

  • Don’t you wish you could tape some of the awesome lessons you had with your teacher? The great thing about YouTube is that you can revisit topics and refresh your memory any time you want.
  • You can try tutorials from a wide variety of teachers. Once you find a specific teacher or set of teachers you like, you can subscribe to their channel to ensure you get updates on new videos posted.

Cons

  • Watching YouTube videos only allows for passive learning – you will not have the chance to practice your speaking skills or your writing abilities.
  • Interacting with the instructor who created the videos is very difficult, meaning that you will not be able to ask for extra help if you are struggling to understand a particular concept.

4. Italian Online Games and Quizzes

Online Italian vocabulary quizzes and games can help you perfect your skills while staying engaged! Transparent Language and Digital Dialects are two great choices if you’re looking for fun activities.

Pros

  • Let’s face it: Learning a new language can be boring at times. Quizzes and games keep learning interesting and fun.
  • With online quizzes and games, you can test a variety of different skills and knowledge, including grammar, vocabulary, listening, and reading.

Cons

  • Without a teacher present, there’s no way for you to ask questions when you get an answer wrong.
  • Thoroughly learning a language through quizzes and games is limited – these activities are better suited for practice.

5. Italian Language Learning Blogs

Many language teachers have blogs where they share great study tips and resources for learning Italian. While there are many advantages to reading these blogs, they also have their drawbacks.

Pros

  • Blogs give you the chance to read in-depth articles about a particular topic whether it’s grammar, Italian culture, or numbers. If you would like to enhance your Italian through reading blogs, try Learn Italian with Lucrezia or Italian Language Blog.
  • Many bloggers will have give visitors the option of viewing content in Italian, which can help improve your reading and comprehension skills.

Cons

  • Learning Italian through blogs is another passive activity that often makes it difficult to properly retain information.
  • Bloggers often post content for a variety of readers, meaning all content might not be relevant to your interests. You’ll have to spend some time sifting through articles to find what you’re looking for.

You will only get so far learning on your own, and even Italian speakers may be unsure about how to explain the more complex grammar topics. The best way to learn Italian online is to take lessons with a qualified teacher.

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italian vocabulary

5 Study Tips That Will Help You Ace Your Next Italian Vocabulary Quiz

italian vocabulary

Do you have an Italian vocabulary quiz coming up soon? Studying for a vocab quiz isn’t always as easy as it might seem. Simply reading through an Italian vocabulary list isn’t enough to understand the meanings of the words or how to correctly use them in context. Below are some new strategies to mix up your study routine and ace your next quiz.

1. Flashcards With a Twist

An oldie but a goodie, flashcards are one of the most inexpensive and effective techniques for learning vocabulary. Start by writing the vocabulary word on one side and its meaning on the other side. You can take it one step further by writing the vocabulary word in a sentence on the same side as the meaning. Practice reading the definition first then guessing the word and vice versa.

2. Read Vocabulary Words in Context

While memorizing your Italian vocabulary list may be enough to pass your next quiz, it may not be enough to learn how to use the words in conversation, which is a much more valuable skill. To increase your understanding of a word, write three or four simple English sentences using the word.

For example, the Italian word for “always” is sempre.  Try writing sentences like, “The sun sempre sets in the west” or “Three and three sempre makes six.” This exercise will go a long way toward helping you remember both the words and their meanings.

3. Incorporate the Words into Your Daily Routine

As you go about your daily routine, look for opportunities to practice your Italian vocabulary words. For example, if you’re taking a walk in your neighborhood, quiz yourself on the words for “sky”, “clouds”, “sidewalk”, “house”, and “mailbox”. Some people find that they have an easier time remembering the words if they say them aloud instead.

4. Use Mnemonic Devices

Think of a word based on the first syllable of the Italian vocabulary word, which is known as a keyword. Then make up a story or think of an image that includes both the keyword and the meaning of the original word.

Most people have an easier time recalling stories than isolated words. Consequently, you should be able to use your stories to pull up the meanings of the words during your quiz.

Think of the word sempre again. The first syllable in sempre is the same as the first syllable in the English word “simmering.” Imagine an active volcano in Hawaii that is “always simmering” to help you remember the meaning of the Italian word sempre.

5. Quiz With a Partner

You can use any of the previously mentioned study strategies on your own or with a partner. Many students find it helpful to use multiple study tactics throughout a language course to stay fresh and engaged.

Make it a priority to find a good study partner in your class, and set aside time to review Italian vocabulary words together at least once before each quiz.

For example, you can switch off quizzing each other with flashcards, or you can recite your English language sentences and have the other person fill in the Italian vocabulary word for each one.

If you’re looking for even more study tips for tackling an Italian vocabulary list, talk to the other students in your class or ask your Italian tutor for some expert advice. They may be able to share some study tactics that work well for them that never would have occurred to you.

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4 Fun Italian Vocabulary Games for Kids

4 Fun Italian Vocabulary Games for Kids

4 Fun Italian Vocabulary Games for Kids

Is your child having trouble memorizing Italian vocabulary? Below, Italian tutor Nadia B. shares four fun games that will help your child learn vocabulary while still having fun…

One of the keys to helping children learn Italian–or any language for that matter–is to keep it fun and encourage use of the language. The following Italian vocabulary games accomplish both goals.

In between Italian lessons, play these fun games with your child. You never know, you might pick up a few Italian vocabulary words yourself!

1. Charades

Chances are you’re already familiar with the word guessing game, charades. Charades is a fun way to stimulate a child’s imagination, and the best part is you can customize the game for whatever your child needs to work on.

If he or she needs to work on memorizing verbs, for example, you can write different verbs–such as ridere (to laugh), scrivere (to write), pensare (to think)–on index cards, then ask your child to act out the verb.

You can make it as simple or as complex as you like. The only rule is that all discussions must be done in…yes, you guessed it, Italian!

2. Who Am I?

Write out a list of individuals on small strips of paper; for example, l’insegnante (teacher), la studentessa (student), il fratello (brother), l’avvocato ( lawyer), etc. If the child has a good understanding of Italian culture, you can try listing well-known Italian figures such as il Papa, Jovanotti, Dante, etc.

Next, choose a strip of paper and tape it to the child’s back so he or she can’t see it. Then, have the child take turns asking questions in Italian about who she or he is. You can give the child suggestions for questions to ask; for example, Sono maschio o femmina? (Are they male or female?), Quanti anni ho? (How old am I?), and Sono ancora vivo/a? ( Am I still alive?)

As the questions become more complex, the more the child will practice his or her Italian vocabulary. If the child doesn’t know a particular word, encourage him or her to look it up or simple ask how to say it. The game is concluded when the child has discovered his or her identity.

3.  I Spy

First, gather a set of index cards. On half the cards, create a mark with a colored marker or crayon. On the remaining cards, write out the name of an object in the room. Keep the two sets of cards separate.

Next, ask the child to choose a card from each pile. After choosing a colored card and object card, the child will have to identify the specific colored object in the room and form the sentence, “I spy a ______”. If the child chooses the object door and the color white, for example, he or she will form the sentence, Vedo una porta bianca. (I see a white door.)”

4. Like/Dislike

Gather a set of index cards and some dice. On half of the cards write the phrase, Mi piace/piacciono ___” (I like ___). On the other half, write the phrase, Non mi piace/piacciono ___ (I don’t like ____). Then, place all of the index cards in a bag.

Next, ask the child  to pick a card from the bag and roll the die. Whatever number he or she rolls is the number of items or actions he or she must list. For example, if the number three is rolled, the child must list three things he or she likes or dislikes depending on which card he or she picked.

Using these Italian vocabulary games will make practice fun and exciting! Encourage your child to come up with exciting alterations to the games, as there are many variations in how they can be played.

 

nadiaBNadia 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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Essential Italian Vocabulary Words for Beginners

Essential Italian Vocabulary Words for Beginners

Essential Italian Vocabulary Words for Beginners

Learning basic vocabulary words helps you build a solid language foundation. Below, Italian teacher Nadia B. shares some of the most essential Italian vocabulary words to add to your study list…

Are you ready to start learning Italian? Before you dive into the more difficult lessons like grammar and writing, it’s best to start with a foundation of basic Italian vocabulary words. Learning these words will give you a running start, and enable you to communicate in a simple, yet clear way in Italian. Below is a list of basic Italian vocabulary words, split into five different categories.

Greetings

Greetings are perhaps the most useful vocabulary words of all, especially when you’re traveling. These simple words give you the ability to appropriately greet whomever you encounter or understand those who are greeting you.

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Essential verbs

In order to form complete sentences you must have an understanding of the essential verbs. Below are just a few of the most useful verbs to add to your language repertoire.

verbss

Numbers

To effectively communicate prices in shops, quantities of food, and other items, numbers are extremely useful to know. Below are the numbers one through ten as well as examples of how to use the numbers in sentences.

Introductions

Another basic element of vocabulary are words to introduce yourself. After all, it will be hard to meet a native speaker if you’re not sure of how to introduce yourself properly. Below are some vocabulary words for introductions.

 

Politeness

Lastly, there’s nothing more important in Italian culture than politeness. When speaking a new language, you can often end up saying things you don’t mean out of misunderstanding. The following words will help you fix any situation.

Politeness (1)

With these words, you’re well on your way to building a strong foundation of basic Italian vocabulary. To help you memorize these words, play some fun grammar games or practice speaking with your family or friends.

 

nadiaBNadia 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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Top 5 Italian Travel Blogs to Read Before You Visit Abroad

Top 5 Italian Travel Blogs to Read Before You Visit Abroad

Have you been taking Italian language lessons for your upcoming trip to Italy? While it’s important to familiarize yourself with useful Italian phrases, it’s just as equally important to brush up on Italian culture. After all, understanding both the language and culture will make your trip even more enjoyable.

Luckily, there are hundreds of blogs that dish out helpful travel, language, and cultural tidbits no travel book would reveal from where to find the best pizza to the proper Italian etiquette. Here’s a list of our favorite Italian travel blogs that will help you effortlessly navigate throughout Italy.

My Melange

My Melange is the brainchild of European travel consultant and owner of Melange Travel, Robin Locker Lacey. My Melange is the go-to resource for all things Italian. The blog offers up tips on planning your dream vacation on a budget as well as advice on where to dine, stay, and eat while in Italy. Check out this awesome post about “What to Expect From Visiting a Bar in Italy and Popular Coffee Drinks.”

Italy Chronicles

Italy Chronicles covers everything from Italian food and drink to politics. The website’s “How-To” and “Travel” sections are where you’ll likely find the most valuable information, including helpful advice that you might have never thought of like where to find postage stamps or how to flush a toilet (there are nine ways!). Read the fun post here.

Girl in Florence

If you’re heading to the popular city of Florence, then you’ve got to check out Girl in Florence. Author Georgette, an American living in Florence, shares her best kept travel secrets and tips. From proper dress attire to language tips, you’ll be feeling like a native Italian in no time. Here’s a great post about “10 Mistakes That Expats in Italy Make.”

Walks of Italy

Walks of Italy helps travelers experience only the best that Italy has to offer. The blog shares a wide range of travel tips including useful Italian phrases travelers need to know, advice on driving throughout Italy, and major holiday traditions. We especially love this post on “The Best Travel Apps to Use in Italy.”

Margie in Italy

Author of Memoirs of a Solo Traveler-My Love Affair with Italy, Margie Miklas is the mind behind the blog Margie in Italy. In the blog, Margie shares her expert advice on how to travel throughout the various regions in Italy such as the Amalfi Coast and Verona. The blog also features guest posts from other travel experts. Check out her post on “Travel Tips for Visiting the Amalfi Coast in Italy.”

 

In addition to taking Italian lessons, it’s also a good idea to brush up on Italian culture and customs before your trip. These are just a few of the resources in which you can go to learn all things Italian. Happy travels!

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Top 5 Benefits of Taking Italian Online Lessons

Top 5 Benefits of Taking Italian Online Lessons

Top 5 Benefits of Taking Italian Online Lessons

Do you want to learn how to speak Italian? Besides being fun, learning Italian offers many benefits. Not only does it broaden your cultural perspective, but it also offers you additional work opportunities; boosts academic achievement and test scores; and even helps prevent dementia later in life.

Whether you want learn Italian for its beauty or simply to impress the guy or gal next door, you don’t have to let your perceived limitations get in the way of flexing your fluency. With today’s sophisticated technology, learning Italian is as easy as pressing the “start” button. Below are just a few of the benefits of learning Italian online.

1. Busy schedule? No problem!

Is your calendar filled with obligation after obligation? When you learn Italian online, you decide when the timing is right. Whether it’s early in the morning or late at night, you can work with your teacher to create a schedule that fits into your busy lifestyle.

2. No transportation? Forget about it!

Whether you’re the driver or the passenger, online lessons give you a break from the constant running around, time sucks, and fuel costs typically associated with taking on new tasks. Plus, taking online lessons in your home allows you to sit back and relax in an environment you feel comfortable in.

3. Low on funds? Find a bargain!

Online lessons are not any more expensive than in-person lessons. Whether lessons are expensive in your metro area or you don’t have the dough to donate, learning Italian online offers you a variety of opportunities, including shopping for a great price with teachers outside your area.

4. No teachers in your one-horse town? Venture out!

Go for an adventure – online! Just because you live in a rural town doesn’t mean it’s impossible to infuse a little culture into your life. From Milan, TN to Milan, Italy, learning Italian online offers you a greater variety of qualified instructors. You can even work with a teacher that’s located in Italy!

5. On the move? You don’t have to be tied down!

Do you travel a lot? Whether you’re sitting at the airport or travelling on a train, you can take Italian lessons anytime, anywhere with today’s streaming technology and your mobile device.

Immerse yourself in the romance of Italian through online lessons. What are you waiting for? Find an instructor in your area today!

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useful italian phrases

10 Useful Italian Phrases You Won’t Find in a Travel Dictionary

useful italian phrases

Are you planning on taking a trip to Italy? A travel dictionary is a great resource to have on hand. However, it doesn’t always list common phrases and expressions used by native Italians. Below, Italian teacher Christopher S. shares 10 useful Italian phrases that you won’t find in a travel dictionary…

Italian is an extremely expressive language. Not only is it beautiful for the way it sounds and the theatrical hand gestures, it’s also beautiful because of its rich expressions. Like many cultures, Italians use a variety of proverbs and idioms to help express themselves.

When traveling abroad, it’s important to learn how to speak and understand these phrases, as it will help you carry on conversations with natives. Below are 10 useful Italian phrases and words you might want to consider learning before your trip.

Modo di dire (Idioms)

1. In bocca al Lupo (into the wolf’s mouth)

Literally meaning “into the wolf’s mouth,” this Italian phrase means “good luck.” The expression is the English equivalent of “break a leg,” comparing any challenging scenario to being caught between the hungry jaws of a wolf.

If you want to have good fortune, the proper response to this phrase is crepi meaning “may the wolf die.” If you want to tell someone “good luck” in Italian, you better use this phrase, because if you say the literal English translation buona fortuna, you’re not actually wishing good luck to someone at all.

2. Mangiare come un maiale (to eat like a pig)

If you plan on doing any eating in Italy (which I hope you planning on doing, because the food is delicious), this is a phrase you’ll want to know. In English, this phrase simply means “to eat like a pig.” Use this useful Italian phrase when you want to describe to your Italian friends how much food you and your friend ate at the restaurant you recently visited.

3. A tutta birra / A tutto gas / A tutto vapore (full speed)

Are you planning to go out on the town while in Italy? Meaning “full speed,” this is an appropriate phrase to use if you want to emphasize that you’re ready to party it up in Italy. Here’s an example of what you can say to a friend, “Andiamo di fretta. Forza, a tutto gas!” (We are in a hurry. Come on, full speed ahead!)

4. Rompere il ghiaccio (break the ice)

The phrase Rompere il ghiaccio has the exact same meaning as in English. In other words, it’s how you would “break the ice” in a conversation with someone you’ve just recently met. Here’s an example of how the phrase can be used in a sentence, “Volevo parlare con Eleonora e alla fine sono riuscito a rompere il ghiaccio.” ( I wanted to talk to Eleanor, and eventually I was able to break the ice.)

5. Spezzare una lancia a favorevole (to break a lance in favor of)

This is an old saying which most likely comes from the medieval times. Meaning to “break a lance in favor of,” this phrase is the equivalent of the English expression to “give someone a break.” If someone says something bad about a friend, you can respond with this phrase and really sound like a true local.

Here’s an example of how to use the phrase in a sentence, “E’ vero che Enrico si è comportato male, però spezziamo una lancia in suo favore: non conosceva tutti i fatti.” ( It’s true that Henry behaved badly, but break a lance in his favor, he did not know all the facts.)

6. Grana (grain)

This word has an interesting history in Italy, which most foreigners probably don’t know. The literal meaning of this word is “grain.” However by military bureaucratic jargon, the word passed through a phase of meaning a “designating nuisance” or “trouble.” It was also used as a form of referring to money in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

7. Essere al verde (to be on the green)

The English equivalent of the phrase “to be broke,” this expression is good to use if you’ve spent all your money, and you’re trying to get away from vendors. When Italian speakers hear this phrase, they will think you’re a true native and leave you alone.

Proverbi (Proverbs)

8. Morto un papa, se ne fa un altro (Once a pope is dead, there will be another one)

Even someone as important as the Pope has to be replaced. This proverb is used to stress the fact that life goes on no matter what happens, or, as they say in English, “the show must go on.” If you fall in love in Italy and get dumped, the phrase is also used to ironically encourage people who get dumped to move on. When used like this, the phrase is similar to the English expression, “There are plenty more fish in the sea.”

9. Chi nasce tondo non può morire quadrato (He who was born round, cannot die square)

This phrase essentially means that you cannot expect people to change radically. You will hear this phrase used commonly, especially in family situations. Therefore, it’s good to know if you need to make a point about a crazy uncle or aunt.

10. Meglio un morto in casa, che un pisano all’uscio (It is better to have someone dead in the house, than a soldier from Pisa at the door)

This is another phrase which most likely came from the medieval times. It is a war phrase that people from Lucca said when Pisa used to attack and loot their region. This is a good phrase to know if you’re in Tuscany and you want to give people a good laugh.

This is just a sample of the common phases used throughout Italy. While learning these useful Italian phrases is a good start, you might want to consider taking Italian lessons with an experienced teacher if you really want to sound like a true local.

Christopher S.Christopher S. teaches in-person Spanish, Italian, and guitar lessons in Randolph Center, VT. He lived abroad in Seville, Spain for two years where he studied classical and flamenco guitar and taught lessons to beginner students interested in classical guitar. He is currently working on his Master’s Degree in Guitar Performance, and has been teaching students since 2004. Learn more about Christopher here!

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italian online

How to Prepare for Your First Italian Online Lesson

italian online

Are you considering learning Italian? While it’s possible to learn Italian independently, you’ll have much better and faster results working with an experienced teacher. While working with a tutor has many advantages, one of the biggest benefits they provide is being able to correct your pronunciation and grammar before you develop bad habits.

Some students are worried about the time or costs associated with in-person lessons. Thanks to the Internet, however, you can take lessons online. No more travelling far distances to meet with a teacher or stressing over your schedule. While taking online lessons is a great option, there are certain things you need to prepare for. Here’s a list of things you should do before you take your first Italian online lesson.

Know How to Use Your Software

Italian online lessons are usually held over a video chat program, such as Skype or Google+. Before your first lesson, make sure the software is installed on your computer or tablet. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the program and its various features. This will prevent you from wasting valuable minutes of your lesson trying to figure out how to work the program.

Create the Right Environment

Before your lesson begins, you will want to set up a suitable study environment. The primary thing you need is a quiet location. Not only is this important for your own concentration, but it will also help your language teacher hear you speak clearly. If you have children or roommates, ask them to hang out in a different room and keep quiet so you can focus.

During your lesson, you should keep various office supplies on hand. A notebook, index cards, sticky notes, pens, and highlighters are good to have available so you can jot down notes to help you remember things.

Test the Audio Quality

One of the hardest things about learning any foreign language is identifying and reproducing sounds that are not found in your native language. In order to hear these sounds, it is important to have good audio quality during your Italian online lesson.

For the best results, you’ll want to use a headset with an attached microphone. If you have a friend or family member willing to help you, make a test call before your first lesson to ensure the audio quality is good. If not, most programs have an audio quality test you can run to make sure everything is working properly.

Prepare a List of Questions

Chances are you have a million questions about the Italian language, especially if you already have some experience studying it. However, nothing is more frustrating than when your Italian teacher asks if you have any questions and you completely draw a blank. You know that you have questions, but you can’t seem to think of them at the time.

Prevent this frustration by keeping a list of your questions as they come up. Then you can check them off one by one as your teacher addresses each one for you. One excellent question to ask is recommendations for resources you can use to practice in between your Italian online lessons.

You should also keep a list of phrases or words that you would like to learn. Start with practical things that you’ll use over and over again during your lessons. “I do not understand” and “Talk slower, please” are probably two of the first phrases you’ll want to add to your list.

Learning another language takes time, but with hard work you will see results. Good luck!

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Tips on How to Learn Italian Fast and Effectively

Tips on How to Learn Italian Fast and Effectively

Tips on How to Learn Italian Fast and Effectively

Do you want to learn Italian fast, yet effectively? In addition to taking Italian lessons with an experienced teacher, there are other ways to speed up the language learning process. All it takes is some creativity, dedication, and practice. Below are five fun tips and tricks on how to learn Italian fast.

Find our Borrowed Italian Words

Believe it or not, you already know quite a bit of Italian! There are the obvious words like pizza, paparazzi, and graffiti. But did you know about cello, cupola, and stanza? Just like a game of hide and seek, see if you can recognize and identify these words in everyday life! Once you start looking for them, you’ll be surprised by how much Italian you actually know.

Watch Italian Television and Movies

Another way to learn Italian is to watch Italian television and movies. The dialogue can happen very quickly and sometimes be difficult to follow, so it’s always a good idea to watch with English subtitles. When watching, be sure to pay attention to how the actors pronounce words and phrases, and follow along with the text. Also, repeating what you hear can help to improve your pronunciation!

Subscribe to Italian Blogs and Magazines

Find an Italian blog or magazine that highlights one of your favorite hobbies or interests. If you enjoy sports or travel, for example, find a magazine or blog that’s dedicated to that subject. Since you’re already familiar with the topic, you’ll be able to easily identify common words and phrases.

Becoming Italian Word by Word is a great place to start. They cover Italian vocabulary, current events, and history. We also recommend checking out Live Like an Italian, a blog devoted to “Italian lifestyle, culture, fashion, art, travel, and gastronomy.” There’s always something new to learn and a yummy recipe to try out! When you’re trying to figure out how to learn Italian fast, remember that reading in Italian will not only help you expand your vocabulary, but it will also help you perfect your grammar skills.

Write Your To-Do List in Italian

Want to practice your Italian writing skills? Just like when learning any new language, you must take gender, conjunctions, and accent marks into consideration when writing in Italian. An accent mark put in the wrong place can alter the entire meaning of a word or phrase! Try writing out your daily to-do or grocery list in Italian. This is a wonderful way to practice basic vocabulary and brush up on your writing and grammar skills.

Throw an Italian-themed Night

Who said that learning Italian can’t be fun? Bring your friends and family in on the fun by throwing an Italian-themed night! Cook an authentic Italian meal and watch an Italian film (remember the subtitles!). This is an excellent opportunity to practice your Italian vocabulary and pronunciation. Greet your guests with a friendly “Benvenuto al mio partito!” (Welcome to my party!), and encourage your friends and family to test out their own Italian speaking skills by labeling common household items and food in Italian.

Learning how to speak Italian doesn’t happen overnight. So watch movies, play with words, consider taking private lessons, and above all, have fun! These are just a few tips about how to learn Italian fast – do you have any tricks you’ve used to further your knowledge?

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