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useful italian phrases

Useful Italian Phrases and Tips for Dating

useful italian phrases

Navigating through the complex world of dating is hard enough, let alone trying to do it in a foreign country. Below, Italian teacher Nadia B. shares some useful Italian phrases and tips for dating…

You’ve tried Italian cuisine, explored every inch of the Vatican, and survived your first Italian conversation. Is dating an Italian next on your bucket list?

Perhaps you’re planning on studying abroad in Italy, or you’re simply mesmerized by the sophisticated allure of Italians. Whatever the case, dating in Italy is quite different from your local dating scene back home.

Below are some useful Italian phrases and tips for dating so you can navigate the Italian dating world con gusto. But first, let’s go over some Italian dating tips:

Helpful Tips for Dating Italians

While they’re aren’t any hard and fast rules to dating Italians–as every individual is different–there are some things to keep in mind as you play the field. Below are some helpful tips for both men and women:

  • Italians are a very fashionable bunch. If you want to attract a date, be sure to dress appropriately at all times. Torn, revealing, or heavily worn clothing are a big no-no.
  • Ladies, don’t be too showy. Italian men are drawn to women who are elegant, funny, and intelligent. Bottom line, be your charming self!
  • Italians are often outgoing and expressive. Don’t be alarmed if your date gets enthusiastic, as he or she is just expressing his or her emotions.
  • Family is very important to Italians. Be respectful of that and show an interest in getting to know and learning about your significant other’s family members.

Useful Italian Phrases for Dating

What’s the key to a successful relationship? Communication. To make sure that you can successfully communicate with your date, brush up on your Italian language with these useful Italian phrases:

Below are some useful Italian phrases for sparking up a conversation with someone who peaks your interest:

  • Posso offrirti qualcosa? (Can I buy you a drink?)
  • Come stai? (How are you?)
  • Posso unirmi a te? (Can I join you?)

If you like the person you meet, you might continue to see each other. Here are some words associated with dating:

  • farsi delle storie (to see each other)
  • uscire (to go out on a date, but it can also be used in a more general context of leaving the house to go out somewhere)
  • accompagnarsi (to go with, accompany)

Italians enjoy doing various activities with the person they’re dating. For example, you might find yourself doing any one of the activities below:

  • fare una passeggiata (taking a walk)
  • andare al cinema (going to the movies)
  • cucinare insieme (cooking together)

Once you start seeing someone, you might want to clarify your relationship. The following words will help you to explain the status of your relationship:

  • il mio ragazzo/la mia ragazza (my boyfriend/my girlfriend)
  • il mio fidanzato/la mia fidanzata (my fiancé/my fiancée)
  • il mio amante/la mia amante (my lover [male/female])
  • innamorarsi (to fall in love [with each other])
  • divertirsi (to have fun)
  • relazione, rapporto (relationship)

As you fall more in love with the person you’re dating, you may want to use more affectionate names for them. There are many possibilities when it comes to affectionate terms for your partner, but here is a sampling of some of the most typical:

  • amore (love)
  • tesoro (honey or literally meaning ‘treasure’)
  • cucciolo (my pet or literally meaning ‘puppy’)

Learn more romantic Italian phrases here!

The better you are at speaking Italian and understanding the customs of Italy, the easier you’ll find it to date in Italy. Dating an Italian can be a fascinating, fun, and unique experience. Who knows, you may just find eternal love (amore eterno)!f

nadiaBPost Author: Nadia B.
Nadia B. teaches Italian in New York, NY. She graduated summa cum laude from New York University, with a double degree in Italian Language and Literature and Classical Music Performance. Learn more about Nadia here!

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italian grammar

10+ Fun Italian Grammar and Vocabulary Games for Kids

italian grammar

Learning Italian grammar and vocabulary can be difficult for kids. Below, Italian teacher Nadia B. shares some games parents and teachers can play to help engage kids in learning Italian…

For kids, learning Italian can be a great adventure, filled with exciting new discoveries. As your child explores the joy of learning Italian, you can aid him or her by playing fun Italian grammar and vocabulary games.

These games are chock-full of fun activities so that learning Italian can become less painless and more fun! Below are 10+ Italian grammar and vocabulary games that will make a big difference in your child’s learning.

1. Rhymes and Tongue Twisters

These fun and imaginative verbal adventures will help your child to think of Italian as a playful and colorful exploration, not to mention build a strong Italian vocabulary and understanding of syntax and grammar.

You can trade off reciting lines of a rhyme, have a tongue twister competition, or read a fable before bedtime. Before you know it, learning Italian will be just another fun part of the day.

2. Memory Games

Using index cards, write out some Italian vocabulary words. Try choosing a theme (for example, colors or animals). Then, create a matching card with a related vocabulary word.

Lay them all out with the words face-down and have your child try to select the pairs. Recalling where each word is located will help the vocabulary word stick in your child’s mind.

3. Make Assuming Sentences

This game is similar to MadLibs, as you provide all the parts of a sentence and then allow your child to choose words to form a unique sentence.

Here’s how to do it: Write out all of the pronouns (io, tu, lui, lei, Lei, noi, voi, loro), a selection of verbs (volare, ridere, sorridere, pensare, andare), and some nouns (il gatto, il cane, l’albero, il poliziotto, l’Italia, etc.)

Keep each category of words in its own pile. Your child can select a pronoun, verb and possibly a noun to form a sentence. For example, “Io volo con il gatto” (I fly with the cat).

You can help your child to form grammatically correct sentences by providing prepositions (con, sopra, sotto) when needed. The sillier the sentence, the better!

4. Sing in Italian

Download, purchase, or stream some simple songs in Italian in which you and your child can sing along. For example, you can search for Christmas carols or lullabies.

Encourage your child to sing along, or to sing from memory when you have free time in the car, while walking, or some other time. Sing along together, or help your child as needed to remember the lyrics.

5. Charades

Charades is a really fun game and there are so many opportunities to tailor it to your child’s needs. First, write out a selection of verbs, nouns or phrases to act out.

Once you’ve formed two teams, start by having the first team draw a verb, noun, and phrase to act out while the other team guesses. This can be as simple as two teams — you and your child — or can involve other children and family members.

6. I Spy

This game is an excellent option when you’re on the go or exploring a new place. It will encourage your child to view and describe his or her surroundings in Italian.

You can give your child a prompt of “Io vedo…” (“I see…”) and then let him or her choose an item to identify in Italian. For example, “Io vedo una nuvola grande e bianca.” (I see a big, white cloud).

7. Describe an Imaginary Friend

If your child has an imaginary friend, ask him or her to describe him or her to you in Italian. For example, “Luisa è simpatica, alta e bionda. Le piace nuotare e saltare la corda.” (Luisa is friendly, tall and blond. She likes to swim and jump rope.).

This helps to build useful Italian vocabulary. You can also ask your child to talk to his or her imaginary friend in Italian! This is a playful way to show your child that Italian can be spoken anywhere and anytime.

8. Italian in the Kitchen

If you’re busy cooking in the kitchen, why not get your child involved? Go online to find a recipe in Italian to use. As you cook, have your child read the recipe and then ask him or her to name the ingredients as they go in the pot to be cooked.

You can also ask your child to retrieve ingredients with the Italian name (for example, farina, latte, pane), and describe the colors and size (“Com’è il pomodoro?” “What’s the tomato like?”). This is also a great Italian culture activity, as cooking and eating together as a family is a common tradition in Italy.

9. Identify Characteristics

Gather up some old magazines or newspapers laying around the house. Cut out pictures of objects and people from those magazines, and have your child describe the particular scene in Italian.

Encourage your child to use color, specific characteristics, and numbers to practice adjectives, quantity and more!

10. Give Commands

Designate a piece of clothing or a certain item, such as a hat or a scarf. Whenever someone is wearing that particular item, he or she is responsible for issuing commands to the other people in the group.

For example, the person wearing the item could say the following: “Gira a la destra; dimmi un piccolo racconto; chiamami ‘Alessandro’ quando mi parli” (“Turn to the right; tell me a short story; call me Alessandro when you speak to me”).

This game is meant to be silly and encourage children to practice commands in a fun and memorable way. The roles reverse whenever the person with the item issues a command that the other person chooses not to obey, or doesn’t obey.

11. Ask Questions

Ask your child any question in Italian. You can find a set of questions in your child’s Italian textbook or online. If your child  answers the question with the proper Italian grammar, he or she can then ask you a question.

The game can be played with just the two of you, or with other children. This is another exercise that can be silly and amusing, while simultaneously reinforcing interrogative words, grammar, and vocabulary.

Learning Italian doesn’t have to be boring. Make learning enjoyable for your child by playing games with him or her in between his or her lessons.

Photo by Leonid Mamchenkov

nadiaBPost Author: Nadia B.
Nadia B. teaches Italian in New York, NY. She graduated summa cum laude from New York University, with a double degree in Italian Language and Literature and Classical Music Performance. Learn more about Nadia here!

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italian grammar

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: The Proper Way to Use the Four B’s

italian vocabulary

Are you confused about how to properly use the Italian vocabulary words, buono, bello, bravo, and bene? Below, Italian teacher Giulio G. explains the right way to use the four b’s…

Buono, bello, bravo, bene—the so-called four b’s—are very common words in the Italian language. Their exact usage, however, can be quite difficult for beginner Italian students to master.

That’s because when translated to English these Italian vocabulary words all mean, “good.” Below are some tips and tricks that I hope will be useful for all of you who might be struggling with these four Italian vocabulary words.

Bene:

First, it is extremely important to emphasize that the Italian vocabulary words buono, bravo, and bello are adjectives and bene is an adverb.

This means that the actual meaning of bene is ‘well’ in English and it cannot be conjugated following the gender and the number of the noun it precedes.

Regarding its usage, bene is always used after the verb, and its function is to express a positive judgment. See example below:

  • Joseph parla bene l’Italiano. (Joseph speaks Italian well.)

Joseph speaks Italian in an excellent way. So, bene modifies the verb by giving the listener (or the reader) more information related to that specific action.

Buono:

This adjective is used to express a positive judgment related to the quality of a person, an animal, or an object. Specifically, buono is referred to:

  • Morality: Lui è un buon uomo. (Meaning Lui has a good soul or a good heart)
  • Quality: è un buon film. (Meaning that the movie is well-made)
  • Taste: La torta è buona. (Meaning that the cake tastes good.

It is important to know that this Italian vocabulary word can be used with animals, people, and things.

Bravo:

Whereas the Italian vocabulary word buono can be used with animals, people, and things, the adjective bravo can be used only with people or animals.

Bravo is used to underline that someone is good at doing something or that he/she has very good manners. See examples below:

  • Lei è un brava pittore. (She is good painter/ She is good at painting.)
  • Lui è un bravo ragazzo. (He has very good manners).

Bello:

Like the two Italian vocabulary words above, bello is used to express a positive judgment; however, it is usually used to emphasize another characteristic of the noun. It expresses a positive judgment related to the formal, aesthetic aspect.

For example, the phrase “Un bell’uomo” (A handsome man) doesn’t refer to his behavior and kindness, but just to his physical attributes. Essentially, it means that man is attractive.

Additionally, bello also has the purpose of intensifying a concept. For example, in the sentence, “Mi mangio una bella torta,” (I eat a beautiful cake) the speaker wants to emphasize his desire toward a specific sweet. In other words, he cannot wait to eat it.

Overall, the differences of these words are very small and it can be difficult to always choose the correct word. While you’re learning Italian, it is very normal to make occasional mistakes with the four b’s.

Therefore, don’t worry if you mix up these Italian vocabulary words. Just keep practicing with your Italian teacher and talking to natives and you’ll soon get it right!

Photo by MC Quinn

Giulio GPost Author: Giulio Giannetti
Giulio G. teaches in-person Italian lessons in New York City. He is originally from Florence, Italy and is currently a student at the University of Florence for Languages and Intercultural Relations. He has been teaching lessons since 2009. Learn more about Giulio here!

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italian grammar

5 Common Italian Grammar Mistakes That Even Natives Make

italian grammar

Don’t pick up any grammatical bad habits when visiting abroad. Below, Italian teacher Giulio G. shares 5 common Italian grammar mistakes natives often make…

Spending your vacation in Italy is amazing, both for the breathtaking landscapes and the opportunity to improve your Italian language skills.

When learning Italian through immersion, however, it’s necessary to know that even native speakers make some pronunciation and grammar mistakes.

It is extremely important to recognize these Italian grammar mistakes in order to avoid getting into any bad habits. Below are the five most common Italian grammar mistakes natives make while speaking.

1. “Ma Però” vs. “Ma” or “Però”

Italians will often put together these two conjunctions in daily conversation, not realizing that they’re making a common repetition mistake.

When translated into English “Ma però” means “but however.” As you can see, this is a repetition of two words that have similar meanings, which makes the expression wrong.

When you want to introduce an adversative sentence, it is necessary to choose just one of the adversative conjunctions.

For example, “Volevo andare al mare ma sono restato a casa” (I wanted to go to the seaside, but I stayed home.)

2. “A me mi” vs. “Mi” or “A me”

This is another repetition mistake similar to the one above. Many Italian speakers are used to emphasizing the “Mi” by putting it together with “a me” to express the piacere construction.

For example, “A me mi piace il gelato” (I like the ice-cream). This sentence is grammatically incorrect, however, as “Mi” is an alternative way to say “A me.”

Therefore, saying “A me mi piace il gelato” actually corresponds to saying “I I like the ice cream.” The correct way to say this sentence is “A me piace il gelato” orMi piace il gelato.

3. The usage of congiuntivo (subjunctive)

When traveling throughout Italy, it’s uncommon to hear the subjunctive while speaking with natives.

Rather, native speakers prefer to use the indicativo, even with sentences containing verbs that express doubts, wishes, beliefs and worries.

However, this is incorrect, as one should use the congiuntivo form when expressing such emotions.

4. The usage of “Ed/Ad”

Natives are used to putting the D eufonica (a Greek word for ‘Good Sound’) after the vowels ‘e’ or ‘a’ anytime they’re followed by a word that starts with a vowel.

For example, “Io vado ad Empoli” (I go to Empoli) is incorrect because the word “Empoli” does not begin with an ‘a.’

It’s only necessary to use the D eufonica when the ‘e’ and the ‘a’ are respectively followed by a word that starts with ‘e’ and ‘a’.

For instance, “Io vado ad Ancona” (I go to Ancona) or “Luigi ed Ennio sono italiani” (Luigi and Ennio are Italian).

5. “Gli” vs. “Le”

In Italy, it is quite common to use the masculine indirect pronoun instead of the feminine indirect pronoun when talking about a woman. Doing so, however, is committing a gender mistake.

It’s important to keep in mind that “Gli” is a masculine pronoun and “Le” is a feminine pronoun.

For example, “Gli ho detto che era bello” (I said to him that he was handsome), or “Le ho detto che era bella” (I said to her that she was beautiful).

Traveling to Italy is a great way to learn Italian. However, be aware of these common mistakes, so you don’t pick up any bad Italian grammar habits from the natives you meet.

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 traditions

15 Strange Italian Traditions and Superstitions Explained

italian traditions

Did you know that in Brazil its bad luck to let your wallet or purse hit the floor, as it means you’ll lose money? Or that in France it’s actually good luck to step in dog poop with your left foot?

Like many countries, Italy has its fair share of wacky traditions and superstitions. In fact, Italy is said to be one of the most superstitious countries in the world.

Below, we explore the 15 strangest Italian traditions and superstitions. Review this list before traveling to Italy to make sure that your trip isn’t cursed by Malocchio or the evil eye.

After all, you don’t want to take any chances!

1. Don’t take a bath when you’re sick

When you’re feeling under the weather, chances are you want to take a nice hot bath to soothe your pain. According to Italian traditions, however, taking a bath when you’re sick will only make you sicker as will going outside with wet hair.

italian traditions

2. The unlucky number 17

Have you ever wondered why some hotels in Italy don’t have a 17th floor? It’s because the number is considered unlucky. The Roman numeral for 17 is XVII, but when rearranged to look like VIXI it means “I have lived,” a symbol that’s placed on ancient tombstones and associated with death.

italian traditions

3. Don’t place a loaf of bread up-side-down

According to Italian traditions, a loaf of bread must always be placed facing up. This superstition is based on the religious fact that bread is considered a symbol of life, therefore, its bad luck to turn the bread up-side-down or stick a knife into it.

italian traditions

4. Watch where you lay your hat

After a long day of sightseeing you might be tempted to toss your hat onto your bed—don’t! Putting a hat on a bed is considered unlucky because it’s associated with death. According to tradition, when priests visited the dying to give them their last rights, they would remove their hat and put it on the bed.

italian traditions

5. Never seat 13 people at a dinner table

If you find yourself sitting at a dinner table with 12 other people, then consider yourself unlucky. Having 13 people around the table at mealtime is considered bad luck, as there were 13 people at the Last Supper.

italian traditions

6. Single people, avoid brooms

If you’re single and you see someone sweeping the floor, make a run for it. If someone brushes over your feet by accident, then you’re destined to be single for the rest of your life.

italian traditions

7. Don’t toast to bad luck

When it comes to toasting, there are several things that can cause you to have bad luck. For example, never raise a glass that’s full of water and don’t cross arms with the person next to you when you clink glasses.

italian traditions

8. Stay clear of air conditioners

Wonder why there are no air conditioners in Italy? Italians believe that these evil contraptions blow dangerously cold air in your face, leading to “colpo d’ari” or a “punch of air.”

italian traditions

9. Touch iron to avoid back luck

In the U.S., people will knock on wood to avoid tempting fate. In Italy, it’s common for people to “tocca ferro” or “touch iron.” We just hope they aren’t touching a hot iron.

italian traditions

10. Bless a new home

It’s common for people moving into a new home-especially newlyweds–to rid evil spirits and bless their home by performing certain rituals, such as sprinkling salt in the corners of all the rooms.

italian traditions

11. Eat plenty of lentils on New Year’s Eve

Every culture has it’s own set of New Year’s traditions. According to Italian traditions, it’s customary to eat lentils after the clock strikes 12:00. Also, don’t forget to wear red undergarments, as this too will bring you luck in the coming year.

italian traditions

12. Beware of a black cat crossing your path

If a cat is crossing the street, don’t be the first one to cross it’s path, as you’ll have bad luck. It’s believed that black cats are a symbol of witchcraft and the devil. We, however, think they are super cute!

italian traditions

13. Carry a cornicello charm

If you want to protect yourself against the evil-eye, carry a corincello charm around with you at all times. The charm, which resembles a chili pepper or a small horn, represents the horns of the Old European Moon Goddess and will bring you luck.

italian traditions

14. Don’t place objects in the shape of a cross

Never cross objects in the shape of a cross–for example, your fork and knife–as this is considered to be an insult to the religious symbol of the cross and will bring you bad luck.

italian traditions

15. Don’t spill the salt

This superstition–which states that one must toss a handful of salt over their left shoulder to get rid of bad luck–is also common in the U.S. In Italy, it’s also customary when passing the salt to place it on the table first before handing it over.

italian traditions

 

This is just a sample of the many unique Italian traditions and superstitions. In addition to learning Italian, familiarize yourself with these “wives tales” before your trip to avoid getting into any trouble.

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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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useful italian phrases

Useful Italian Phrases and Tips for Shopping in Italy

useful italian phrases

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

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

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

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

Italian Shopping Tips

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

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

Useful Italian Phrases for Shopping

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Useful Italian Phrases and Tips for Shopping in Italy

nadiaB
Post Author:
 Nadia B.
Nadia B. teaches Italian in New York, NY. She graduated summa cum laude from New York University, with a double degree in Italian Language and Literature and Classical Music Performance. Learn more about Nadia here!

 

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