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5 Quick and Easy Italian Grammar Exercises

4 Quick and Easy Italian Grammar Exercises

4 Quick and Easy Italian Grammar Exercises

One of the keys to learning Italian is practice. Below, Italian teacher Nadia B. provides some quick and easy Italian grammar exercises to help get you on the road to success…

Despite what you may think, mastering Italian grammar isn’t impossible. In fact, it’s as quick and easy as putting the rules you’ve learned into practice. The following four exercises will have you perfecting Italian grammar in no time! Remember, learning a new language takes time, so don’t get discouraged if you stumble along the way. It’s expected!

Exercise 1: Interrogative Words

In Italian, interrogative words–such as che (what), chi (who), quando (when), perché (why) and come (how)–are used to form a question. Practice using interrogatives by forming a question using each word above. Doing so will ensure that you can quickly produce the correct interrogative when needed to ask a question. See examples below:

  • Che vuoi fare oggi? (What do you want to do today?)
  • Chi era quell’uomo? (Who was that man?)
  • Quando arriva Giovanni? (When does Giovanni arrive?)

Exercise 2: Telling Time

Write down a series of times (for example, 2:24 p.m., 3:00 a.m., 8:00 p.m., and 9:45 a.m.) and then practice saying the times out loud, concentrating on your pronunciation. After you’ve mastered that, try working on your time expressions next. You can include di mattina (in the morning), del pomeriggio (in the afternoon), di sera (in the evening) and di notte (at night). See examples below:

  • Sono le nove e quattro di mattina. (It is 9:04 a.m. in the morning.)
  • Sono le sei e ventidue di sera. (It is 6:22 p.m. in the evening.)
  • Sono le undici e trentacinque di notte. (It is 11:35 p.m. at night.)
  • Sono le undici di mattina. (It is 11:00 a.m. in the afternoon.)

Don’t forget that you also have the option of using the following phrases as well: a quarter before (meno un quarto), a quarter past (un quarto), half past (mezzo/a), noon (mezzogiorno), and midnight (mezzanotte). See examples below:

  • Sono le sette meno un quarto di mattina. (A quarter before seven in the morning)
  • Sono le otto e un quarto di mattina. (A quarter past eight in the morning)
  • Sono le otto e mezzo di mattina. (A half past eight in the morning)

Exercise 3: ‘There is’ vs ‘There are’

‘There is’ and ‘there are’ are indispensable in Italian, and it’s easy to practice using them correctly. Look around whatever room you are in, and use c’è  (there is) and ci sono (there are) to describe the objects you see.

For example, if you see a white chair in the room:

  • C’è una sedia bianca. (There is a white chair.)

You can even take it a step further and describe the quantity of each item to practice the numbers in Italian.

  • Ci sono dieci libri e tre cuaderni. (There are 10 books and three notebooks.)

Exercise 4: The Definite Article

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, ps-, or z-.

  • Singular masculine noun: il
  • Singular feminine noun: la
  • Noun starting with a vowel: l’
  • Masculine noun starting with s- plus a consonant, ps-, or z- : lo

Remember, i for plural masculine, le for plural feminine, gli for plural masculine beginning with a vowel, s- plus a consonant, ps-, or z-.

  • Plural masculine noun: i
  • Plural feminine noun: le
  • Plural masculine noun beginning with a vowels- plus a consonant, ps-, or z- gli

To practice using definite articles, write out a list of singular nouns and then assign each one the appropriate definite article. Then, do the same for plural nouns by writing out a list of plural nouns and assigning each the correct definite article. See examples below:

Singular

  • mattita –> la matita (the pencil)
  • zaino –> lo zaino (the backpack)
  • uomo –> l’uomo (the man)

Plural

  • mele –> le mele (the apples)
  • uomini –> gli uomini (the men)
  • bicchieri –> i bicchieri (the glasses)

With these Italian grammar exercises, you should be well on your way to a thorough and accurate understanding of basic Italian grammar. If you practice these quick and easy Italian grammar exercises regularly, you’ll start to notice that you’re making use of these grammar concepts in an easier, more rapid, and accurate way than ever before in conversation and in writing.

 

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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10 Common Italian Grammar Mistakes

10 Most Common Italian Grammar Mistakes

10 Common Italian Grammar Mistakes

Are you struggling to perfect your Italian grammar skills? Below, Italian teacher Nadia B. highlights the 10 most common grammar mistakes to help you get on the path to success…

When you’re first learning Italian, it can be hard to keep track of all the complex grammar rules. Understanding all of the differences in how ideas are expressed in Italian versus in English, for example, can be hard to remember. Nonetheless, it’s important that you master your Italian grammar skills if you wish to be successful.

Below are the 10 most common Italian grammar mistakes. By reading this, you’ll learn how to avoid making these common errors!

1. Noun/adjective agreement

One of the most difficult things for English speakers to remember is to make the noun and the adjective agree in Italian. Just remember, no matter what the noun or the adjective is, you should always check to make sure the agreement between them makes sense. Always take into account number and gender. See examples below:

  • Singularun ragazzo amabile (a friendly boy)
  • Pluraldue ragazzi amabili (two friendly boys)
  • Genderuna lezione lunga (a long lecture)

Note: feminine nouns have the adjective ending in –a, while masculine nouns have the adjective ending in –o.

2. Correct verb conjugation

Oftentimes, verb conjugations can seem complex. Making sure the verb conjugation always reflects the subject–even when the subject isn’t explicitly stated–is important. For example, in the sentence, “Lucia ed io andiamo a scuola,” (Lucia and I go to school) the verb conjugation is in the we form (noi) because it’s referring to Lucia and I.

Another common mis-conjugation is in the use of the voi form (you all). In this case, you’ll be directly addressing a group of two or more people; for example, “Ragazzi, siete bravissimi” (“Guys, you are very good”). Often, Italian language learners mistakenly use the loro (they) form when they’re directly addressing a group.

3. Collective nouns viewed as singular

Some nouns in Italian appear plural because they are a unit of several, but they act as singular nouns with regard to the verb conjugation. Two examples of this are la famiglia (the family) and la gente (the people). Even though they are referring to multiple people, they are treated as singular nouns. See examples below:

  • La famiglia è andata alla chiesa (The family went to the church)
  • La gente dice che… (People say that…)

4. Conditions of being

When we explain how we’re feeling in Italian, some of the ways we express this vary from English. For example, many conditions (such as being cold, fearful, etc.) use the verb avere (to have) instead of essere (to be). So, when you want to say you’re feeling cold in Italian, you would say “Ho freddo” not, “Sono freddo.” Similarly, when you’re talking about age, you would say “Ho 24 anni” (I am 24 years old) instead of “Sono 24 anni.

5. Mi piace vs. mi piacciono

Expressing what you like and dislike can often get you into trouble in Italian. The verb piace (to please) is used in a phrase to refer to an item you like. The first common error students make is to conjugate the verb based on the person who likes it. In other words, “Mi piaccio” or “I like myself” which is not what you’re generally trying to convey.

The second mistake that can occur is to forget to make the verb agree with the subject in number. If what you like is plural ( i.e. the books, the topics, the shirts) then you would say “Mi piacciono…” If what you like is singular, then you should say “Mi piace…” See example below:

  • PluralMi piacciono i libri (I like the books)
  • SingularMi piace il libro (I like the book)

6. Shortened nouns

Some words in Italian are very long. Because of this many words are shortened. For example, la bicicletta (the bicycle) can be shortened to la bici, and la fotografia (the photograph) can be shortened to la foto. In these cases, the noun is still feminine in the shortened version, even though the word ends in -i or -o. When using these shortened nouns, remember to make the noun agree with the adjective. For example, La bici è rossa (The bicycle is red).

7. Irregular past participles

Once you learn how to form the past participle, don’t forget that irregular past participles exist! Some of the commonly misused verbs include: aprire (aperto), bere (bevuto), chiedere (chiesto), correre (corso), dire (detto), essere (stato), fare (fatto), leggere (letto), mettere (messo), perdere (perso), scrivere (scritto), vedere (visto) and venire (venuto).

8. Essere vs. avere with the past participle

Another common grammar mistake is using the wrong verb before the participle. While there are only two choices ( i.e. essere and avere), it’s easy to get confused about which one to use. The basic rule is that most transitive verbs are conjugated with avere, while intransitive verbs are conjugated with essere.

In some cases, both avere and essere can be used. However, be careful because the meaning can be very different depending on which you use. With the verb finire, for example, “ho finito” means “I finished,” while “sono finito” means “I’m dead”!

9. Making the direct object preceding the past participle agree when using avere

When you have a past participle with avere, you most likely have a direct object following it. For example, Ho scritto le lettere (I wrote the letters). If you wish to use a direct object pronoun, you would put it before the past participle and avere. If you do this, however, you must make the past participle agree with the direct object pronoun that precedes it. For example, Le ho scritte (I wrote them). This is a very common mistake as it is a fine point of Italian grammar. If you use this correctly, you will impress whomever you’re speaking with!

10. Commands

Commands are not very complicated in Italian; however, there is an exception that is often forgotten. While the tu form is expressed in the affirmative by dropping the –re of the infinitive, the tu form is expressed in the negative by using non plus the infinitive. Oftentimes, students use the same tu form for both affirmative and negative commands, which is incorrect. See example below:

  • Affirmative: “Ascoltami!” (“Listen to me!”)
  • Negative: “Non mi ascoltare!” (“Don’t listen to me!”)

Practicing using these grammar concepts in conversation is a good way to check if you’re able to use them correctly. Knowing the most common Italian grammar mistakes should help you notice when you make an error and help you to correct it yourself, or with the help of your Italian teacher.

 

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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