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2022 Guide to Improving Your Italian Conversation Skills!

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How many times have you found yourself at a loss for words when speaking Italian, or a little shy when starting a conversation in Italian with people you have just met? Or, after the person you were talking to is gone, you think to yourself… “I could have said this… I could have answered that…”

This is normal, but it is especially true for conversations in another language, where not all words, sentences, or structures might come to mind immediately.

This is why it makes sense to prepare a little “helper”, a “conversation kit,” to help get the communication going and to help improve your conversation in Italian.

In this guide, you will find conversation starters, appropriate reactions to specific questions, filler words and phrases, and everything else to improve your Italian conversation skills!

Four Young People at a Table Taking Notes

Get your cheat sheet ready and start a conversation!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian Table of Contents
  1. Make Your Own Conversation Cheat Sheet
  2. Italian Reactions Words and Expressions
  3. Learn Italian Filler Words
  4. Questions and Answers
  5. Italian Conversation Starters
  6. How to Improve your Conversation Skills
  7. Conclusion

1. Make Your Own Conversation Cheat Sheet

1- What’s a cheat sheet?

To improve your conversation in Italian, a conversation cheat sheet is the best way to quickly improve your skills by making a set of Italian words and phrases, lines, or expressions that you can learn and easily access when you need to start a conversation. It is a way to feel more secure and to be sure to always have topics and arguments that are interesting to you.

In this guide, we will give you some hints and suggestions (and many more you can find online), but ultimately, you are the one that will have to put together this list based on your profile, personality, and interests. And, of course, the type of Italian people you will have to interact with.

2- Why would I need one?

A conversation cheat sheet is very useful if you are a bit shy, a little insecure, and if you want to be sure you don’t get stuck without things to say and topics to tackle.

In fact, you can always start a conversation in Italian by introducing yourself and talking about the things you do and like. But this will only take you so far. You better be prepared to ask and answer questions about different topics in order to build relationships and friendships.

3- How do I make one?

A good way to start making your own conversation sheet is to make a brief description of who you are and what you like. Maybe mentioning what you did in your recent past and what you like and hope for the future.

Here is an example of a possible personal introduction to include in your conversation starter. Make sure you mention any particular or unusual event or hobby in your life. Those make great conversation starters!

Ciao, mi chiamo Jessica, sono americana e ho 28 anni. Da due anni, studio letteratura italiana all’Università di Bologna. Prima di venire in Italia, ho viaggiato molto e ho vissuto in diversi paesi. Sono fidanzata con un ragazzo brasiliano e mi piace molto leggere, cucinare e coltivare un orto in casa.
“Hi, my name is Jessica, I am American and I’m 28. I have been studying Italian literature at the University of Bologna for two years. Before coming to Italy, I traveled a lot and lived in different countries. I am engaged to a Brazilian guy and I really enjoy reading, cooking and growing a vegetable garden at home.”

Someone Writing on a Notebook

Start by writing a small introduction

Then, you can elaborate on individual parts and imagine how you would answer specific questions by gathering phrases and words specifically tailored to your needs.

  • Vivo in Italia da sei mesi. (“I’ve been living in Italy for six months.”)
  • È la prima volta che vengo a Roma. (“It is my first time in Rome.”)
  • Mi piace molto viaggiare. (“I really like travelling.”)

  • Vado spesso al cinema.  (“I often go to the movies”)
  • La mia attrice preferita è Anna Magnani. (“My favorite actress is Anna Magnani.”)
  • Ho molti hobby.  (“I have many hobbies.”)

  • Studio piano da quando ero piccolo/a. (“I study piano since I was a child.”)
  • Ho comprato una chitarra. (“I bought a guitar.”)
  • Adoro l’opera lirica. (“I adore opera.”)

4- Getting off to a good start

Don’t worry if you think it’s too hard for a beginner! There are plenty of resources you can use, depending on your level:

  1. Online translators are great tools to get fast translations into the target language. Make sure you translate simple sentences, and the translations will be mostly correct. Google translate is the most popular option, but you can also find other good tools.

  2. Other online tools such as Reverso context can help you with idioms and expressions, and they give a very good idea of how certain words or expressions are used in context. 
  1. ItalianPod101 has tons of free content, blog articles, and vocabulary lists you can use. The lists are especially useful if you’re looking for a specific topic, as they’ll provide sentences and vocabulary that suit your specific needs.

  2. A personal teacher is the perfect strategy for learning fast and hard. Your teacher can guide you through the process of writing your conversation cheat sheet and fix any tiny mistakes. Be sure to check our private coaching service from our Premium PLUS offer.

2. Italian Reactions Words and Expressions

Have you ever talked to someone who remained completely silent until it got really awkward and you couldn’t tell if they were still paying attention? This is what reaction words and expressions are meant to prevent.

In this chapter, let’s see how to react to a statement by expressing excitement, curiosity, annoyance, or disbelief. It will help make your conversations smoother and more lively, as well avoiding awkward silences that would make the other person uncomfortable.

That’s Great! – Bene! / Bravo!

Q: Nel tempo libero gioco a basket.  (“In my free time I play basketball.”)

A: Bravo/a! Lo sport è importante.  (“That’s great, sport is important!”)
A: Bene! Possiamo giocare insieme qualche volta? (“Cool! Can we play together some time?”) 

Really? – Davvero?

Q: Non sono mai stato/a in Spagna. (“I’ve never been to Spain.”)

A: Davvero? È bellissima, dovresti andarci. (“Really? It’s beautiful, you should go.”)

I’m sorry…  – Mi dispiace…

Q: Purtroppo non ho passato l’esame. (“Unfortunately I didn’t pass the test.”)

A: Mi dispiace, quando potrai riprovare? (“I’m sorry. When will you able to try the test again?”)

Unbelievable! – Incredibile!

Q: Non mi piace la pizza. (“I don’t like pizza.”)

A: Incredibile! (“Unbelievable!”) [Formal or Casual]
A: Seriamente? (“Seriously?”) [Formal or Casual]
A: Non ci credo! (“No way!”) [Formal or Casual]
A: Scherzi? (“Are you kidding?”) [Casual]
A: Scherza? (“Are you kidding?”) [Formal]

That’s too bad! – Peccato!

Q: Non posso venire al cinema. Devo studiare. (“I can’t come to the movie. I have to study.”)

A: Peccato! Questo film è molto bello. (“Oh, that’s too bad! The movie is very good.”) [Formal or Casual]
A: Che peccato! (“Oh, what a pity!) [Formal or Casual]

Keep me updated! – Fammi sapere!

Q: Forse riesco a raggiungervi più tardi. (“I think I’ll be able to catch up with you later.”)

A: OK, fammi sapere! (“Alright, let me know!”) [Casual]
A: OK, tienimi al corrente! (“Alright, keep me posted!”) [Casual]
A: Va bene, mi tenga aggiornato! (“Alright, keep me posted!”) [Formal]

    ➜ This is just a quick list of common reaction words and phrases, but you can find a few more in our blog article on Intermediate Italian Phrases on ItalianPod101.

3. Learn Italian Filler Words

Now that you have the foundations of your conversation sheet let’s change the tempo and talk about something slightly weirder. Academic studies can prepare you for many things, but when you start a real conversation, you’ll hear a lot of strange sounds and words that don’t ring any bells.

Italian Filler words are these short useless sounds and words that locals use to fill the gaps. They exist in every language I know, and you don’t necessarily have to use them unless you want to sound genuinely local. However, learning about them so you can filter them out is very important.

Young Man Can’t Decide Between and Apple and a Cake

Eh… la mela o la torta? (“Uh, apple or cake?”)

Here are some of the most common Italian filler words:

Italian: Eh…English equivalent: “Uh…”
Vorrei un cornetto e, eh… un cappuccino. (“I would like a cornetto and, uh… a cappuccino.”)
Eh… non so proprio cosa scegliere. (“Uh… I don’t know what to choose.”)

Italian: Beh – Be’ – BeneEnglish equivalent: “Well”
Q: Vuoi ancora del vino? (“Will you have more wine?”)

A: Be’, perché no? (“Well, why not?”)
A: Vino? Be’ … non credo proprio. Devo guidare. (“Wine? Well… I don’t think so. I have to drive.”)

Italian: CioèEnglish equivalent: “Actually”
Vengo domani, cioè, forse vengo. (“I’ll come tomorrow, actually, I’ll probably come.”)
Ti telefonerò, cioè, ti manderò un messaggio. (“I’ll call you, actually, I’ll text you.”)

Italian: AlloraEnglish equivalent: “Well” or “So”
Allora, cosa ne pensi? (“Well, what do you think?”)
Allora, ci andiamo? (“So, shall we go?”)

Do you want to know exactly how Italians use this filler word? Watch this hilarious scene from a popular series: https://youtu.be/8U1F-XwTeNg

Italian: Vedi – Guarda (informal)
          Veda – Guardi (formal)
English equivalent: “You know” or “You see”
Vedi, non è una scelta facile. (“It’s not an easy choice, you know.”)
Guardi, vorrei solo parlarle cinque minuti. (“I just want to talk to you, you see.”) [Formal]

Italian: Mah – BohEnglish equivalent: “Who knows…” or “Well”
Mah, non so proprio cosa fare. (“Well, I really don’t know what do do.”)
Chi verrà alla festa? Boh! (“Who is coming to the party? Who knows!”)

4. Questions and Answers

Conversation is often made of a sequence of questions and answers. Like a ping pong match: you ask something, get an answer and another question, you answer and ask something else, and so on. Asking questions is the fundamental brick to getting to know someone, establishing a common ground, finding out something new or interesting, and simply getting the flow of the conversation going.

And formulating a question in Italian is particularly easy compared to other languages, as there is no particular pattern: no word order inversion, no adding of extra words. You simply change your intonation and make it sound like a question. Easy, right?

And then, of course, you can always add some typical Italian gestures if you really want to sound and look like an Italian!

And now, let’s get back to your conversation cheat sheet and to fill it with questions (and answers) relevant to your personal story and interests.

A Young Woman with Question Marks Above Her Head

Questions… questions… questions…

“Where are you from?”

Q: Di dove sei? [Casual]
Q: Di dov’è lei? [Formal]

A: Sono italiana, ma sono nata in Cile. (“I’m Italian, but I was born in Chile.”)
A: Vengo dal Brasile. (“I come from Brazil.”)

“Do you speak English?”

Q: Parli inglese? [Casual]
Q: Lei parla inglese? [Formal]

A: Non parlo inglese. (“I don’t speak English.”)
A: Sono fluente/madre lingua in inglese. (“I am fluent/native in English.”)

“What do you study?”

Q: Cosa studi? [Casual]
Q: Che cosa studia? [Formal]

A: Studio linguistica e letteratura. (“I study linguistics and literature.”)
A: Sto facendo un dottorato in relazioni internazionali. (“I’m doing a PhD in international relations.”)

“What kind of music do you like?”

Q: Che tipo di musica ti piace? [Casual]
Q: Che tipo di musica le piace? [Formal] 

A: Mi piace il jazz e la musica classica. (“I love jazz and classical music.”)
A: Ascolto soprattutto musica napoletana. (“I mostly listen to Neapolitan music.”)

“What’s your job?”

Q: Che lavoro fai? [Casual]
Q: Di cosa si occupa? [Formal] (literally: “What do you occupy yourself in?”)

A: Sono idraulico. (“I’m a plumber.”)
A: Lavoro nel marketing digitale. (“I work in digital marketing.”)

“Why do you study Italian?”

Q: Perché studi l’italiano? [Casual]
Q: Per quale motivo studia l’italiano? [Formal] 

A: Perché adoro il suono dell’italiano. (“Because I love the sound of Italian.”)
A: Per motivi di lavoro. (“For work-related reasons.”)

5. Italian Conversation Starters

Starting a conversation could be a difficult part of communicating. And doing it in another language makes it just a bit more challenging. And also, you may have noticed that while talking to some people is very easy, with someone else, you almost have to get the words out of their mouth.

But don’t worry! Just have some sentences ready in your sheet, and follow our examples, and you will be prepared for every situation.

Here are a few examples that you can use with different people and in various situations:

  • Ti piace la cucina messicana?
    “Do you like Mexican cuisine?”

  • Cosa fai nel fine settimana?
    “What do you do on the weekend?”

  • Come hai conosciuto il tuo ragazzo / la tua ragazza?
    “How did you meet your boyfriend / girlfriend?”

  • Puoi consigliarmi un bel film o serie da vedere?
    (“Can you recommend a good movie or series to see?”)

  • Come ti trovi in questa città?
    (“How do you like this city?”)
    ➜ There are countless conversation starters for every situation: strangers, people you already know, colleagues, schoolmates, romantic dates. For many more examples, you could stop by our full guide on Conversation Starters, on ItalianPod101.

Young Woman Asleep on a Bad while Doing Homework

Cosa fai nel fine settimana? (“What do you do on the weekend?”)

6- How to Improve your Conversation Skills

1- Use every opportunity to practice

Yes, practice makes perfect. Or at least, it helps to gain confidence, rehearse different scenarios, and to learn what strategies keep the conversation flow going. So, don’t be shy and use every opportunity you have to talk to people. Strangers at the bus station, friends of your friends, and even online chats are good places to start a conversation.

And don’t worry if you make a few mistakes or if you can’t find the right word. Just keep practicing and improving your conversation cheat sheet and keep building on that.

2- Exposure to real content

Did you know that when you are exposed to a lot of spoken Italian, you will learn vocabulary, idioms, and even grammatical structures much faster and in a more pleasant way than just working on grammar books and courses?

And since speaking Italian to real people is not always an option (you might want to stay home, or you are not in Italy, or your friends are not available), a very good alternative is to immerse yourself in real content. You will have lots of options: from Italian music, to podcasts, to movies. There are tons of resources to learn Italian online, and, of course, one of the very best is italianPod101.com! 🙂

Reading is also a very good strategy to get familiar with a foreign language and to find interesting topics of conversation. Whether it’s the news, a novel, or the latest sport events, it’ll give you good material to discuss and, without even noticing, you will be learning new Italian words and phrases.

3- Find available partners to chat 

If you are serious about improving your conversation in Italian, it is a good idea to find a partner to chat with in a consistent way. It could be another learner of Italian who is more or less at your same level, it could be someone interested in a conversation exchange. 

What is that? You find a native Italian who would like to practice conversation to improve his/her English, for example. And when you meet in person, you can have a conversation half of the time in English and the other half in Italian. You can easily find lots of people interested in exchanging conversation. And you can probably find it also online!

Another way to go is by hiring a private teacher to make fast progress in your conversation skills, especially if you want to also improve grammar and pronunciation. You can likely find a private teacher or classroom-based sessions in your area, or subscribe to an online service such as our Premium PLUS coaching on ItalianPod101.

7. Conclusion

In this guide, you have learned how to improve your skills in speaking Italian. It all starts with making your own cheat sheet, then learning about various types of words and expressions specific to conversations: filler words, reaction phrases, questions, and answers. Do you want to share your thoughts about conversation skills? Do you want to know more Italian language learning resources? Let us know in the comments below!

On top of our bonus tips to improve your conversation skills, ItalianPod101 has tons of vocabulary lists with audio recordings and Free resources to boost your studies and keep your Italian learning fresh and entertaining!

Remember that you can also use our premium service, MyTeacher, to get personal 1-on-1 coaching and have your own private teacher to practice with BLEP words and more. 

Along with assignments, personalized exercises, and recording audio samples just for you, your teacher will review your work and help improve your pronunciation. And keep having fun with ItalianPod101!

About the Author: Jessica Barbagallo grew up on the sunny island of Sicily, in the south of Italy. She has lived in Florence, Milan, New York, Vancouver, Rio de Janeiro, and São Paulo. After a career in digital marketing, she went back to what is most fun to her: teaching languages! 

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian

Countries and Nationalities in Italian

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Possibly one of the first things you will be asked as a foreigner traveling or living in Italy, it will be: “Sei straniero? Da dove vieni?” (“Are you a foreigner? Where do you come from?”). That is why it is important to be able to answer with the appropriate vocabulary. And while it is certainly easy to learn and remember the vocabulary related to your nationality, you should be prepared to sustain a conversation about other countries and nationalities, of which there are quite a lot! But don’t worry, once you learn the names of the countries and the name of the nationalities in Italian, you will automatically also know the name of the language and the general adjective for anything related to that country.

Parlo francese ma non amo la cucina francese.  (“I speak French but I don’t like french cooking.”)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian Table of Contents
  1. Italian Citizenship
  2. Countries & Continents
  3. Conversations About Nationalities
  4. Country, City, Nationality & Language
  5. Conclusion

1. Italian Citizenship

Even if we often use it to mean the same thing, nationality and citizenship are not necessarily the same. Nationality mainly indicates the cultural, religious, and traditions that link us to a country or to a state. On the other hand, citizenship represents your socio-political belonging to the country that issues your passport. So, if you have Italian citizenship, you can legally obtain an Italian passport, vote in the Italian elections, apply to public service, etc. In other words, you have full civil and political rights

If you have at least one Italian parent, you are immediately recognized as an Italian citizen whether you were born in Italy or a foreign country. This rule is called the “ius sanguinis“, which in Latin means, rather dramatically, “law of the blood.” This law also applies to adopted children.

But there are other ways to become Italian citizens. In fact, in the last few years in Italy there has been an increasing number of people applying for Italian citizenship

So, what are the requirements to apply for citizenship in Italy?

  • Citizenship by marriage (after two years of marriage)
  • Citizenship by residence (after five years of uninterrupted residence)
  • Citizenship by descent (by demonstrating that you descent from an Italian ancestor)

Over a million people have acquired Italian citizenship in the last decade, of which nearly 800,000 in the last five years. The most represented citizenships of origin are Albanian (26,000 acquisitions, 20.5% of the total), Moroccan (12.5%), Brazilian (8.4%), and Romanian (8%). 

2. Countries & Continents

1- Gender and Agreement

In Italian, most countries are singular feminine (l’Italia, la Francia, la Tunisia, l’Irlanda, la Cina, etc. (“Italy, France, Tunisia, Ireland, China,”), but there are exceptions. Some countries are singular masculine, like il Canada (Canada) or il Giappone (Japan), while others are plural, like gli Stati Uniti (The USA) or i Paesi Bassi (The Netherlands).

As you can see from the examples, when talking about a country you always use the article in front of the country name. In fact, if you learn the countries vocabulary together with the article, it will help you remember the gender and use the right agreement.

La Francia è bellissima. (“France is beautiful.”)
La verde Irlanda è molto piovosa in autunno. (“The green Ireland is very rainy in autumn.”)
Gli Stati Uniti sono entrati in guerra nel 1941. (“The United States entered the war in 1941”)

View of the Sicilian Coast on a Cloudy Day.

La Sicilia è bellissima! (“Sicily is very beautiful!”)

 2- Names and Adjectives

Once you know the country’s name, you could try and guess how to say the word for the people living there and the language spoken there. In fact, the name of the inhabitants and the language spoken in any specific country are the same. 

And don’t forget, if you are talking about the people of a specific country, you should use the initial capital letter (gli Italiani, i Canadesi). At the same time, if it’s simply an adjective, there is no need to capitalize, even if you are talking about people (un ragazzo italiano, un ristorante cinese, etc. “an Italian guy, a Chinese restaurant”). 

Here are a few examples:

Country’s nameNounAdjective
L’Italia
(“Italy”)
Un italiano, Un’italiana
(An Italian)
italiano
(Italian)
L’Inghilterra
(“England”)
Un inglese, Un’inglese
(An Englishman/woman or a British person)
inglese
(English)
La Cina
(“China”)
Un cinese, Una cinese
(A Chinese)
cinese
(Chinese)

Did you notice how, to make an adjective out of the name of the country, you sometimes add the suffix -ano/ana (italiano, americana, etc.), other times you add -ese (inglese, cinese, giapponese). These are by far the most common, but you can find other (and sometimes bizarre) ways to for the adjective, such as spagnolo, austriaco, guatemalteco, yemenita

And in some cases, the adjective has absolutely nothing to do with the root of the country’s name, as in the case of la Germania >> il tedesco… (“Germany >> German”).

There is no rule there, so, unfortunately, you will have to memorize them…

3- Who Comes to Italy, How, and Why?

The majority of the tourists visiting Italy come from neighboring countries. Lately, because of Covid, the number and the proportion of nationalities have changed. In this study prepared by Banca d’Italia, we see the ranking of nationalities visiting Italy in 2019:

17.2%GermanyLa Germania (F)Tedesco/a
12.5%United StatesGli Stati Uniti (M, PL)Americano/a
9.9%FranceLa Francia (F)Francese
8.6%United KingdomIl Regno Unito (M)Britannico/a
5.7%SwitzerlandLa Svizzera (F)Svizzero/a
4.8%Austria L’ Austria (F)Austriaco/a
4.2%Canada Il Canada (M)Canadese
3.8%SpainLa Spagna (F)Spagnolo/a
3%NederlandI Paesi Bassi (M, PL)
Incorrectly called: L’Olanda (M)
Olandese
2.5%Australia L’Australia (F)Australiano/a

The study made by the Bank of Italy also mentions what are the main reasons for foreigners to travel to Italy, how they travel and how and other information that may not be so interesting to you… but they are a good way to increase the Italian vocabulary needed to hold a conversation about your trip and visit to Italy. Or maybe to be more comfortable when you go through customs at the airport or at any Italian borders.

An Officer Checking a Traveler’s Passport at the Airport Custom.

Motivo del viaggio? (“Reason to travel?”)

Motivo del viaggio? (“Reasons to travel?”)

    Vacanza. (“Vacation.”)
    Visita a parenti o amici. (“Visit to friends or relatives.”)
    Motivi personali. (“Personal reasons.”)

Dove alloggi? (“Where do you stay?”)

    Albergo. (“Hotel.”) 
    Ospite da parenti o amici. (“With relatives and friends.”)
    Casa in affitto. (“Rental house.”)
    Bed & breakfast.

Che tipo di destinazione preferisci? (“What type of destination do you prefer?”)

    Culturale, città d’arte. (“City, art, culture.”) 
    Al mare.  (“At the beach.”)
    Al lago. (“At the lake.”)
    In montagna. (“In the mountains.”)

Come sei arrivato in Italia? (“How did you arrive to Italy?”)

    In aereo. (“Flying.”)
    In macchina. (“By car.”)
    In treno. (“By train.”)
    In nave. (By ship.”)


4- Continents in Italian

EuropeL’Europa (F)Europeo/a
AsiaL’Asia (F)Asiatico/a
AfricaL’Africa (F)Africano/a
AmericaL’America (F)Americano/a
OceaniaL’Oceania(F)Oceaniano/a*
AntarcticaL’AntartideDo people live there?

*This noun or adjective is rarely used, and Italians tend to call people from Oceania -improperly- Australiani (“Australians”) even when they are Neozelandesi (“New Zealanders”).

A Family of Penguins Walking on the Snow.

Vengo dall’Antartide. (“I come from Antarctica.”)

Especially when talking about great geographical areas, you might need a bit more geographical references such as points and their use:

NorthIl nord
SouthIl sud
EastL’est
WestL’ovest

For example:

Il nord Africa. (“North Africa.”)
Il sud America. (“South America.”)
L’Europa dell’est. (“Eastern Europe.”)
Il Polo nord e il Polo sud. (“North and South Pole.”)

but also

NorthIl settentrione / settentrionale
SouthIl meridione / meridionale
EastL’oriente / orientale
WestL’occidente / occidentale

For example:

Milano si trova nell’Italia settentrionale. (“Milan is in northern Italy”)
Il meridione comprende le regioni italiane a sud di Roma. (“Southern Italy includes all regions below Rome.”)
Il muro di Berlino separava la Germania orientale e occidentale. (“The Berlin Wall used to separate East and West Germany.”)

3. Conversations About Nationalities

When you meet someone new in a foreign country, one of the first topics of conversation that comes up is countries and nationalities. People will ask you where you’re from and possibly how and why you are traveling.

As always with Italian, depending if you are talking to friends or people your age, you will use the casual form of address, or the formal mode, if you are talking with older people or if you are in a very formal setting.

Two Young Women Talking at a Coffee Shop.

Conversations about nationalities are great icebreakers.

1- Questions & Answers

How to Ask Someone Their Nationality
In this part, introduce a few common ways to ask about nationality. You can briefly explain the differences.

English[Casual >> tu][Formal >> Lei]
Where are you from?Da dove vieni? or Di dove sei?Da dove viene? or Di dov’è?
What country are you from?Da quale paese vieni?Da quale paese viene?
What is your nationality?Qual è la tua nazionalità?Qual è la sua nazionalità?
Are you from France?Vieni dalla Francia?Viene dalla Francia?
Are you French?Sei francese?È francese?

Here are some examples on how to answer questions about nationalities:

  • Sei inglese? No, sono Giapponese. (“Are you British? No, I’m Japanese.”)
  • Sono americana, ma i miei genitori vengono dalla Cina. (“I am American, but my parents come from China.”)
  • Da dove vieni?  Vengo dall’Austria, sono austriaca. (“Where do you come from? I come from Austria, I am Austrian.”)
  • Sei tedesco? Sì, sono tedesco, di Berlino. (“You are German? Yes, I’m German, from Berlin.”)

And a few more advanced ones:

  • Sono nata in Cile ma sono cresciuta in Italia. (“I was born in Chile, but I grew up in Italy.”)
  • Sono brasiliano e italiano. Ho la doppia cittadinanza. (“I’m Brazilian and Italian. I have dual citizenship.”)
  • Sono cinese ma vivo in Svizzera. (“I’m Chinese, but I live in Switzerland.”)
  • Sono cinese ma abito in Svizzera. (“I’m Chinese, but I live in Switzerland.”)
  • Sono italiana ma vivo in Francia da tre anni. (“I’m Italian, but I’ve been living in France for three years.”)
  • Mi trasferisco in Inghilterra l’anno prossimo.  (“I am moving to England next year.”)


2- Prepositions

One thing you definitely need to pay attention to when you talk about places, countries, and cities is the choice of the preposition you need to use.

The general rule is that 

  • when you are, or when you go to a country, a continent, or an island, you use in;
  • When you are, or when you go to a city, you use a;

Vado in vacanza a Roma, in Italia. ​​(“I’m going on vacation to Rome, Italy.”)
Abito in Francia, a Parigi. (“I live in France, in Paris.”)
Sono cresciuta in Sicilia, a Palermo. (“I grew up in Sicily, in Palermo.”)

But notice that when you come back, then the preposition changes into:

  • Da when you are coming back from a city;
  • Da + article when you are coming back from a country, a continent, an island;

Mario è tornato dall’Italia, da Roma. (“Mario has returned from Italy, from Rome.”)
Quando partirai dalla Sardegna? (“When will you leave Sardinia?”)
Molti sono emigrati dall’Europa in America. (“Many have emigrated from Europe to America.”)


4. Country, City, Nationality & Language

Now, let’s go back to a list of countries and expand with what we’ve learned: Name of the country, name of the nationality and language, and name of the major city. You will notice that some of the city’s names are translated… does it happen in your native language too?

 Pile of Different Language Dictionaries.

How many of these languages do you speak?

Let’s start with the same table we saw earlier, adding more countries and nationalities.

CountryItalianNationality/LanguageMajor City
GermanyLa Germania (F)Tedesco/aFrancoforte (Frankfurt)
United StatesGli Stati Uniti (M, PL)Americano/aNew York
FranceLa Francia (F)FranceseParigi (Paris)
United KingdomIl Regno Unito (M)Britannico/aLondra (London)
SwitzerlandLa Svizzera (F)Svizzero/aZurigo (Zurich)
AustriaL’ Austria (F)Austriaco/aVienna
CanadaIl Canada (M)CanadeseToronto 
SpainLa Spagna (F)Spagnolo/aBarcellona (Barcelona)
NederlandI Paesi Bassi (M, PL)OlandeseAmsterdam
AustraliaL’Australia (F)Australiano/aSidney
BrazilIl Brasile(M)Brasiliano/aRio de Janeiro
RussiaLa Russia (F)Russo/aMosca (Moscow)
IndiaL’India (F)Indiano/aNuova Delhi (New Delhi)
JapanIl Giappone (M)GiapponeseTokyo
Peruil Peru (M)Peruviano/aLima
PortugalIl Portogallo (M)PortogheseLisbona (Lisbon)
TunisiaLa Tunisia (F)Tunisino/aTunisi (Tunis)
ChinaLa Cina (F)CinesePechino (Beijing)
KeniaIl Kenia (F)KenianoNairobi
TurkeyLa Turchia (F)Turco/aIstanbul

Now you have all you need to use the vocabulary about nationalities, countries, languages, and cities, and you are ready to combine them all to introduce yourself and start a conversation.

Here are some examples:

  • Sono tedesca. Sono nata a Francoforte, ma adesso vivo a Ginevra, in Svizzera.
    (“I’m German. I was born in Frankfurt, but now I live in Geneva, Switzerland.”)

  • Sono americano, ma sono cresciuto nel Nord Africa.
    (“I’m American, but I grew up in Northern Africa.”)

  • Siamo brasiliani, ma abitiamo a Londra da qualche anno con la nostra famiglia.
    (“We are Brazilians but we’ve been living in London for a few years with our family.”)

  • Sono francese e vivo a Montreal, in Canada. Sapevi che in Quebec si parla francese?
    (“I’m French and I live in Montreal, Canada. Did you know that in Quebec they speak French?”)

  • Mi sono trasferita in Brasile tre mesi fa. Non parlo ancora bene il portoghese.
    (“I moved to Brazil three months ago. I still don’t speak Portuguese well.”)
  • Sono italiano e brasiliano. Sono cresciuto e Rio de Janeiro e ha la doppia cittadinanza.
    (“I am Italian and Brazilian. I grew up in Rio de Janeiro and have dual citizenship.”)

  • È spagnola, ma parla benissimo il francese e fa un corso di cucina francese.
    (“She is Spanish, but speaks French very well and takes a French cooking class..”)

    ➜ Telling where you’re from and what language you speak is a great starting point. To go a bit further, you can check out our vocabulary list with ten lines to introduce yourself in Italian on ItalianPod101.

5. Conclusion

In this guide, you have learned everything about nationalities, from the names of countries and cities to adjectives and languages, capitalization rules, gender agreement, and prepositions. You also learned about the countries that are often visiting Italy, and how they spend their stay.

You should now be ready to break the ice in any situation, introduce yourself at your arrival, and even form some complex sentences with all these new words.

Did I forget any important topic on nationalities or country names you’re interested in? Feel free to share it with your fellow students in the comments below!

A good exercise to practice nationality vocabulary is to create fictional introductions where you combine the name of countries and cities, languages, and adjectives, using the right genders and prepositions. You can start simple and gradually add more complexity when you feel comfortable enough.

ItalianPod101 also has tons of vocabulary lists with audio recordings and free resources to boost your studies and keep your Italian learning fresh and entertaining!

Remember that you can also use our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, to get personal 1-on-1 coaching with your own private teacher so that you can practice these new words and much more.

Along with assignments, personalized exercises, and recording audio samples just for you, your teacher will review your work and help improve your pronunciation. Have fun with ItalianPod101!

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Learn the Most Useful Advanced Italian Phrases

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Have you been studying Italian for a while? If so, it’s time to step up your skills and venture into more advanced scenarios. In this guide, we have listed a great number of advanced phrases, structures, and idioms that will help you show competence and confidence in the most diverse of environments.

It is important to study advanced Italian phrases because it will allow you to fit right in wherever you are. For example, if you plan on attending an Italian university, knowing advanced phrases will help you write an essay or perform well in an oral exam. Or, you might need to submit your resume to apply for your dream job; advanced phrases will definitely help with that while also giving you more confidence when it’s time for your interview. And how about participating in business meetings? Do you have the necessary skills? In any of these situations, our guide to the most useful advanced Italian phrases will help you demonstrate your Italian proficiency.

So, let’s start right away: prendi due piccioni con una fava. Learn useful advanced Italian phrases while having fun with ItalianPod101! And if you want to know what that phrase means, just keep reading until the end, where you’ll find a fascinating chapter about Italian idioms.

Girl with Glasses Holding a Tablet

Are you ready for some advanced Italian phrases?

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian Table of Contents
  1. Advanced Italian Phrases for Academic Writing
  2. Advanced Italian Phrases for Your Cover Letter
  3. Advanced Italian Phrases for Business and Meetings
  4. Advanced Italian Idioms, Sayings, and Proverbs for Everyday Usage
  5. Conclusion

1. Advanced Italian Phrases for Academic Writing

Italian universities offer great opportunities for foreign students to study topics related to Italian culture and to take advanced economy or science courses. Although you can find classes in English, being enrolled in an Italian university—especially for advanced studies—means that you’ll need to know sufficient Italian to sustain complex conversations, hold interviews, and write structured and coherent text for assignments and essays.

Below, you’ll find several advanced Italian phrases you can use to structure your essay, organize your thoughts, prove your point, and present your opinion or thesis. 

Per prima cosa / La cosa più importante 
“First of all” / “First and foremost”
Per prima cosa, cominciamo a definire i nostri obiettivi.
“First of all, we start by defining our goals.”

In vista di / In considerazione di 
“In view of” / “In consideration of”
In vista del prossimo esame, passerò più tempo in biblioteca.
“In view of the upcoming exam, I will be spending more time in the library.”

Secondo quanto detto da X / In riferimento alle opinioni di X 
“According to what X said”
Secondo quanto detto da Leonardo a proposito del volo, se lo provi una volta continuerai sempre a guardare il cielo.
“According to what Leonardo said about flying, if you try it once, you will be forever looking at the sky.”

Inoltre / In aggiunta 
“Furthermore” / “In addition”
In aggiunta a quanto già detto, possiamo affermare che questa scoperta è un’assoluta novità.
“In addition to what has already been said, we can say that this discovery is an absolute novelty.”

A questo scopo / Con questa intenzione 
“For this purpose” / “With this intention”
A questo scopo, è utile sfruttare tutte le conoscenze acquisite fin qui.
“For this purpose, it is useful to exploit all the knowledge acquired so far.”

In altre parole / In breve 
“In other words” / “In short”
In altre parole, l’autore ha voluto esprimere il suo dolore in questa poesia.
“In other words, the author wanted to express his pain in this poem.”

Allo stesso modo / Ugualmente 
“Similarly” / “Likewise”
Allo stesso modo, dobbiamo riconsiderare anche il nostro approccio.
“Likewise, we must also reconsider our approach.”

Un altro fattore chiave da ricordare / Un aspetto ugualmente significante 
“Another key factor to remember” / “An equally significant aspect”
Un altro fattore chiave da ricordare è che non tutti gli elementi fanno parte di un gruppo.
“Another key factor to remember is that not all elements are part of a group.”

Al contrario / D’altro canto / In alternativa 
“Conversely” / “On the other hand” / “Alternatively”
D’altro canto, non possiamo affermarlo con certezza.
“On the other hand, we cannot say that with certainty.”

In confronto a / Rispetto a 
“In comparison with” / “Compared to”
Rispetto al Medioevo, la nostra vita è estremamente sicura.
“Compared to the Middle Ages, modern life is extremely safe.”

Nonostante questo / Ciò nonostante 
“Despite this” / “Nevertheless”
Ciò nonostante, tutti gli indizi supportano la nostra teoria.
“Nevertheless, all the clues support our theory.”

A prova di ciò / Per fare un esempio 
“As proof of this” / “To give an example”
Per fare un esempio, il 1881 fu un anno controverso.
“For example, 1881 was a controversial year.”

Questo spiega come / Se ne può dedurre che / Ne consegue che 
“This explains how” / “It can be deduced that” / “It follows that”
Se ne può dedurre che la somma dei lati equivale al perimetro.
“It can be deduced that the sum of the sides equals the perimeter.”

Si può notare che / La cosa più significativa 
“It can be noted that” / “The most significant thing”
Si può notare che gli studi di genere si sono moltiplicati negli ultimi decenni.
“It can be noted that gender studies have multiplied in recent decades.”

Tutto considerato 
“All things considered”
Tutto considerato, questo corso mi è stato veramente utile.
“All things considered, this course was really helpful to me.”

In conclusione / In ultima analisi / Volendo riassumere 
“In conclusion” / “Ultimately” / “Wanting to summarize”
In ultima analisi, l’apprendimento di una lingua dipende da tanti fattori.
“Ultimately, learning a language depends on many factors.”

Young Student Taking Notes in a Notebook

To write a good essay, you first have to organize your thoughts.


2. Advanced Italian Phrases for Your Cover Letter

Writing the perfect cover letter is an art… 

First of all, it’s essential that your cover letter be personalized for each job you’re applying to. You will need to research every company you’re sending an application to so that you can say something in your letter that applies directly and only to them.

It’s also necessary that you use phrases and concepts that stand out. You want to be memorable, but at the same time, you don’t want the employer to think you’re trying too hard.

Here are some advanced action phrases that will help you get your dream job. You can also use them in your interviews to make sure you leave a great impression.

La contatto per sottoporre la mia candidatura.
“I’m contacting you to submit my application.”

Sono sicuro/a di essere la persona adatta per questa posizione.
“I am sure I am the right person for this position.”

Sono certo/a di possedere tutte le qualifiche indicate nell’annuncio di lavoro.
“I am sure that I have all the qualifications indicated in the job advertisement.”

Possiedo una vasta esperienza nel campo di  ___.
“I have extensive experience in the field of ___.”

La vostra offerta di lavoro ha particolarmente suscitato la mia attenzione.
“Your job offer has particularly caught my attention.”

La mia formazione accademica in ___ mi ha permesso di acquisire ottime competenze in ___.
“My academic training in ___ allowed me to acquire excellent skills in ___.”

Sono alla ricerca di nuove sfide.
“I am looking for new challenges.”

Sarei felice di poterLa incontrare per discutere la mia candidatura.
“I would be happy to meet you to discuss my application.”

Ho ottime capacità analitiche e una comprovata esperienza nella risoluzione di problemi.
“I have excellent analytical skills and a proven track record in problem-solving.”

Pen Over a Resume

Writing the perfect resume is an art!

And finally, here are a few ways to end your letter:

Cordiali saluti.“Yours sincerely.”
La saluto cordialmente.“Cordial greetings.”
Le auguro una buona giornata.“I wish you a good day.”
Resto in attesa di un cortese riscontro.“I look forward to a kind reply.”
Grazie per la vostra cortese attenzione.“Thanks for your kind attention.”


3. Advanced Italian Phrases for Business and Meetings

It’s normal to be a little nervous before a business meeting. Sometimes, the stakes are high; this makes it important to be clear and to get everybody on board. This is why good preparation for a meeting starts with organizing what you want to say and how.

You can begin by clarifying what you’re trying to achieve and showing the meeting agenda. Doing a good job of preparation will boost your confidence and set you up for a successful meeting. But don’t forget that meetings can be fun and relaxed, so don’t be afraid to use informal or slang expressions.

To help you prepare, here’s a list of advanced Italian phrases to help you perfectly manage meetings and groups in any situation.

L’ordine del giorno 
“Today’s agenda”
L’argomento principale dell’ordine del giorno è il rinnovo dell’impresa.
“The main topic on today’s agenda is the renewal of the company.”

La scadenza 
“The deadline”
Non possiamo posticipare in nessun modo la scadenza del progetto.
“We cannot postpone the project deadline in any way.”

Avere tutto sotto controllo 
“To have everything under control”
La cosa più importante è avere la situazione sotto controllo.
“The most important thing is to have the situation under control.”

Prendere una decisione difficile 
“To make a difficult decision”
In autunno, saremo costretti a prendere una decisione difficile.
“In the fall, we will be forced to make a difficult decision.”

Soppesare i pro e i contro 
“To weigh the pros and cons”
Nell’affrontare una situazione, bisogna sempre soppesare i pro e i contro.
“In dealing with a situation, you must always weigh the pros and cons.”

Pensare in maniera strategica 
“To think strategically”
Bravi! Avete dimostrato di pensare in maniera strategica.
“Well done! You have demonstrated that you think strategically.”

Lo stato dell’arte 
“The state of the art”
Il nostro prodotto rappresenta lo stato dell’arte in materia ambientale.
“Our product represents the state of the art in environmental matters.”

Mettere le carte in tavola 
“To put the cards on the table”
È opportuno mettere le carte in tavola: l’onestà prima di tutto.
“It is appropriate to put the cards on the table: honesty first of all.”

Giocare secondo le regole 
“To play by the rules”
In questa azienda, abbiamo sempre giocato secondo le regole.
“At this company, we have always played by the rules.”

Mettere in piedi/in pista un progetto 
“To set up a project”
Il progetto che vogliamo mettere in piedi, rappresenta il futuro della nostra società.
“The project we want to set up represents the future of our company.”

Mantenere i nervi saldi 
“To keep your nerve”
Nelle situazioni difficili, è fondamentale mantenere i nervi saldi.
“In difficult situations, it is essential to keep your nerve.”

Dare il beneficio del dubbio 
“To give the benefit of the doubt”
Vogliamo dare ai nostri concorrenti il beneficio del dubbio su questo punto.
“We want to give our competitors the benefit of the doubt on this point.”

Six People Around a Red Table at a Meeting

Business meetings don’t have to be stressful…


4. Advanced Italian Idioms, Sayings, and Proverbs for Everyday Usage

To end this guide to advanced Italian phrases, we couldn’t omit the idiomatic expressions. These, along with sayings and proverbs, represent the backbone of communication in any language. But while they’re used by native speakers every day and comprise an essential part of Italian for advanced learners, you’ll have a hard time finding them in textbooks. 

In your everyday conversations with Italians, you’ll find that they tend to pop up all the time. Do your homework here, and surprise your Italian friends and colleagues by using just the right idiom or expression. 

Salvare capra e cavoli 
“To save both the goat and the cabbage”
Meaning: To keep everybody happy; To have one’s cake and eat it too
Con questa soluzione rischiosa, siamo riusciti a salvare capra e cavoli.
“With this risky solution, we managed to keep everybody happy.”

Prendere due piccioni con una fava 
“To kill two birds with one stone”
Meaning: To obtain the best outcome with the least amount of effort
Brava! Così hai preso due piccioni con una fava.
“Good job! This way, you killed two birds with one stone.”

Rompere il ghiaccio  
“To break the ice”
Meaning: To do something that removes the embarrassment during an initial meeting between people who don’t know each other
Per rompere il ghiaccio, vorrei iniziare questa riunione con un piccolo gioco.
“To break the ice, I’d like to start this meeting with a little game.”

Braccia rubate all’agricoltura 
“Labor force (lit. ‘arms’) stolen from agriculture”
Meaning: A mockery towards someone who is not suitable to fill the role he occupies
Molti uomini politici sono incompetenti. Tutte braccia rubate all’agricoltura!
“Many politicians are incompetent. All laborers stolen from agriculture!”

Chi va piano, va sano e va lontano. 
“Who goes slow and steady wins.”
Literally: Who goes slow, goes safe and goes far.
Non bisogna avere fretta, dopotutto chi va piano va sano va lontano!
“You don’t need to hurry; after all, those who go slow and steady win!”

Restare a bocca asciutta  
“To be left with nothing”
Literally: To be left with a dry mouth
Hai voluto esagerare con la tua offerta, e adesso sei rimasto a bocca asciutta.
“You wanted to overdo your offer, and now you are left with nothing.”

Trattare a pesci in faccia 
“To treat someone very badly”
Literally: To slap somebody on the face with a fish
Non accetto il loro comportamento. Mi hanno trattato a pesci in faccia.
“I don’t accept their behavior. They treated me with utter disrespect.”

A colpo d’occhio 
“At a glance”
A colpo d’occhio la situazione è abbastanza complicata.
“At a glance, the situation is quite complicated.”

Un’arma a doppio taglio  
“A double-edged sword”
Meaning: Something that is both helpful and harmful to someone/something
La nostra strategia è stata parzialmente vincente: si è dimostrata un’arma a doppio taglio.
“Our strategy was partially successful, but it proved to be a double-edged sword.”

Dare i numeri 
“To go nuts” / “To say whatever”
Literally: Throwing out numbers
Proprio non ti capisco… Stai cominciando a dare i numeri.
“I just don’t understand you… You’re starting to go nuts.”

Andare a rotoli 
“To go to pieces” / “To fall apart”
Literally: To go into rolls
Non posso stare a guardare il mondo andare a rotoli.
“I can’t sit back and watch the world fall apart.”

Mettere il bastone fra le ruote  
“To hinder/impede/boycott/thwart somebody”
Literally: To put a spoke in the wheels
Ogni volta che comincio un nuovo progetto, qualcuno mi mette i bastoni fra le ruote.
“Every time I start a new project, someone hinders me.”

Fare la parte del leone 
“Play the lion’s share”
Meaning: Unfairly hoard everything (or almost everything)
In questo affare, i primi investitori hanno fatto la parte del leone.
“In this deal, early investors got the lion’s share.”

Big Sheet of Ice about to Break

Per prima cosa, bisogna rompere il ghiaccio. (“First of all, we need to break the ice.”)


5. Conclusion

In this guide, you have learned many advanced Italian phrases that you’ll be able to use for cover letters, business meetings, and other social interactions. Did we forget any important structure or expression you’d like to learn more about? Feel free to let us know in the comments below!

Keep having fun with ItalianPod101 and our great variety of free resources designed to help you practice grammar and learn new words. Make sure you check our free vocabulary lists as well, where you can find useful words (along with their pronunciation) spanning a vast range of topics. 

Remember that you can also use our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, to get personal 1-on-1 coaching. Your own private teacher will help you practice with advanced phrases and more, give you assignments, provide personalized exercises, and record audio samples just for you.

Not sure where to start? We recommend creating your free lifetime account and checking out the Level 5 pathway for some advanced Italian lessons. 

Happy learning!

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Useful Italian Phrases for the Intermediate Level

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Now is the time to step up in your Italian studies. As you get ready to surpass the beginner level, you’ll need to practice using more tenses (past, future, conditional) and memorize several ready-to-use intermediate Italian phrases. To help you level up with confidence, we have prepared a list of the 50+ most common (and useful) intermediate Italian phrases for a variety of contexts. This guide will bring to your disposal all the must-know phrases for telling stories about the recent past, asking for advice, recommending a restaurant to someone, and more.

If you ever want to go deeper with your learning or have any questions, take a look at all the available Italian lessons, free resources, and interactive material on ItalianPod101.com!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian Table of Contents
  1. Talking About Past Events
  2. Making and Changing Plans
  3. Explaining and Listing Reasons
  4. Making Recommendations and Complaints
  5. Reaction Phrases for Everyday Conversations
  6. Etiquette Phrases for Social and Business Settings
  7. Conclusion

1. Talking About Past Events

So, you have already mastered simple sentences in the present. You can introduce yourself, describe yourself, ask for simple things, and give simple instructions. 

It’s time now to venture into more complex sentence structures, such as those for talking about stories or memorable experiences from the past. It could be talking about a recent night out or giving information about your family or your childhood. And if you want to learn even more conversational phrases, here you go!

When you talk about the past in Italian, you cannot avoid needing to decide between passato prossimo and imperfetto. If you need a little help with this, make sure you check out this lesson to see a good example and explanation of their use. 

Ready? Here are some intermediate Italian phrases for discussing the past.

People Dancing at a Club with a DJ

Che bella serata! (“What a nice night!”)

È stata una bella serata!
It was a beautiful evening!
Another way of saying the same thing: Che bella serata! (“What a beautiful evening!”)

Ci siamo divertiti moltissimo ieri sera.
We had a lot of fun last night.

Ho iniziato a lavorare nel 2017.
I started working in 2017.

Sono stato a Roma 3 anni fa.
I was in Rome three years ago.

Da piccolo/a avevo tanti amici.
As a child, I had many friends.
Literally: “As little, I had many friends.” 

You find the same construction with da ragazzo/a (“as a young boy/young girl”) and da giovane (“as a young man/woman”).

Mia nonna era pugliese.
My grandmother was from Puglia.

L’anno scorso sono stata in vacanza al mare.
Last year, I went on vacation at the beach.

Siamo stati sposati per 7 anni.
We’ve been married for seven years.

2. Making and Changing Plans

Making and changing plans in the immediate future is something that you’ll often need to do when interacting with friends and colleagues, organizing an event or meeting, or putting together a fun party. 

Are things getting complicated? Don’t worry. Just learn these simple intermediate Italian phrases, and they’ll help get you out of any trouble. Notice that even though we’re talking about the immediate future, in Italian, we don’t always need to use the future tense. Using the present tense with the appropriate temporal adverb is usually enough to convey that we’re talking about the future.

A Group of Five Friends Goofing Around Together

Posso portare qualche amico? (“Can I bring a few friends?”)

Sei pronta per uscire? 
Are you ready to go out?

Sei disponibile per una riunione domani?
Are you available for a meeting tomorrow?

Ne parliamo dopo. 
Let’s talk about it later.
Notice the use of ne, meaning “of it” or “about it.”

Possiamo rinviare l’appuntamento alla settimana prossima? 
Can we postpone the appointment until next week?

Posso portare qualche amico? 
Can I bring some friends?
Notice that the indefinite adjective qualche, even though it means “some,” is always followed by a noun in the singular.

Facciamo una videochiamata per entrare nei dettagli. 
Let’s have a video call to get into the details.

3. Explaining and Listing Reasons

Sometimes, you’ll find yourself in situations where you will have to explain what happened or give reasons for your actions. Once you reach an intermediate level of proficiency in Italian, it’s important that you’re able to do this with relative ease. But don’t worry about it! We’re here to help you with some ready-to-use intermediate Italian phrases for giving reasons and explanations.

If you need more intermediate Italian vocabulary, check out our free dictionary on ItalianPod101.com, where you can search for specific words and listen to their perfect pronunciation!

An Upset Businessman Pointing to His Wristwatch

Sei di nuovo in ritardo! (“You’re late again!”)

Sono in ritardo perché non ho sentito la sveglia. 
I’m late because I didn’t hear the alarm.

Questo è il motivo per cui non mi piace. 
This is why I don’t like it.
Literally: “This is the reason for which I don’t like it.”

Note that cui is the relative pronoun (just like che “that”) that we use together with prepositions such as di, a, da, in, con, su, per, tra, fra (“of, to, from, on, in, with, for, by, among”).

Ti do tre buone ragioni per non uscire stasera: primo, sta piovendo tantissimo; secondo, ho preparato una buonissima lasagna; infine… non ne ho voglia! 
I’ll give you three good reasons not to go out tonight: First, it’s raining a lot; then, I prepared a very good lasagna; finally…I don’t feel like it!

Piove troppo, quindi resto a casa.
It’s raining too much, so I’m staying at home.

Devi assolutamente venire alla mia festa, altrimenti mi arrabbio! 
You absolutely must come to my party; otherwise, I will get mad!

Visto che non hai capito, te lo spiego di nuovo. 
Since you didn’t understand, I’ll explain it again.

4. Making Recommendations and Complaints

How do we know if something is good or not so good? We usually rely on friends’ recommendations or, now that we’re in the era of social media, opinions and comments left by users on internet platforms.

So, let’s get ready to give five stars or to voice our complaints!


A Man in a Restaurant Complaining about the Salad He Received

Posso reclamare col cuoco? (“Can I complain to the chef?”)

È un piatto fantastico. Dovresti provarlo.
It’s a wonderful dish. You should try it.

Te lo consiglio vivamente.
I strongly recommend it.

È il miglior ristorante della città.
It’s the best restaurant in town.

È la miglior pizza di Napoli.
It’s Napoli’s best pizza.

È un hotel bello ed economico. Sicuramente ci tornerò. 
It’s a nice and cheap hotel. I’ll definitely go back.

Il servizio in quel locale non è un granchè. 
The service in that place is not that great.

Mi sono lamentato con il servizio clienti. 
I complained to the customer service.

5. Reaction Phrases for Everyday Conversations

In any conversation, it’s important to have the right reaction to what we’re being told. This helps us better empathize with the other party, and it makes them feel that we care or that we’re impressed.

As a beginner, you might often find yourself struggling to find the appropriate words. And that’s okay. But once you reach an intermediate level, you’ll want to be able to say the right thing at the right time. In fact, learning natural reaction phrases is one of the best ways to improve your Italian at this stage! 

Here are some sample conversations to help with that. And don’t forget that body language and intonation also play important roles in establishing empathy in a conversation. Especially in Italy!

A: È stata una bella serata! (“It was a beautiful evening!”)
B: È vero! Anch’io mi sono divertito/a! (“True! I had fun too.”)

A: Ci siamo divertiti moltissimo ieri sera! (“We had a lot of fun last night!”)
B: Davvero moltissimo! (“Really a lot!”)

A: Ho iniziato a lavorare nel 2017. (“I started working in 2017.”)
B: Complimenti! E dove lavoravi? (“Congratulations! And where were you working?”)

A: Sono stato a Roma tre anni fa. (“I was in Rome three years ago.”)
B: Fantastico! Anche a me piacerebbe visitare l’Italia. (“Fantastic! I would also like to visit Italy.”)

A: Da piccolo avevo tanti amici. (“As a child, I had many friends.”)
B: Che bello! Eri un bambino felice? (“How nice! Were you a happy kid?”)

A: Mia nonna era pugliese. (“My grandmother was from Puglia.”)
B: Come si chiamava tua nonna? (“What was your grandma’s name?”)

    ➜ Notice how nonna/o translates both as “grandmother”/“grandfather” and as “grandma”/“grandpa.”

A: L’anno scorso sono stata in vacanza al mare. (“Last year, I went on vacation at the beach.”)
B: Io invece sono stato in montagna. (“On the other hand, I went to the mountains.”)

A: Siamo stati sposati per 7 anni. (“We had been married for seven years.”)
B: Avete divorziato? Mi dispiace.  (“Did you get divorced? Sorry to hear that.”)

A: Vorremmo adottare un cane. (“We would like to adopt a dog.”)
B: Buona idea! (“Good idea!”)

A Black Dog Barking

Che bello! Ho adottato un cane… (“How wonderful! I adopted a dog…”)

6. Etiquette Phrases for Social and Business Settings

And last but not least, here are some intermediate-level Italian phrases for being polite in a variety of social and business contexts. Learning them will give you a leg up in your personal and professional life while in Italy, because good etiquette is always appreciated.

Do you want to know more? Check out our article on everything you should know about Italian etiquette.

Buon appetito.
Bon appetit.
To this, you can reply: Grazie, e altrettanto! (“Thanks, and to you too!”)

Buongiorno, (come) posso aiutarla? 
Hello, (how) can I help you?

Benvenuto/a nel nostro negozio. 
Welcome to our store.

Accomodati. 
[Informal]
Please, come in.
Literally: Get comfortable. 

Notice how it changes when we use the formal: Si accomodi.

Fa’ come se fossi a casa tua. 
Make yourself at home.
Literally: Do as if you were at your house.

Fammi sapere se hai domande.
Let me know if you have questions.
Some variants include: 
  • Fammi sapere se hai dubbi. (“Let me know if you have doubts.”)
  • Fammi sapere se hai bisogno di aiuto. (“Let me know if you need help.”)
  • Fammi sapere se hai bisogno di altro. (“Let me know if you need anything else.”)

Mi fai sapere cosa ne pensi? 
Will you let me know your thoughts?
Literally: Will you make me know what you think about it?

Resto in attesa di una tua risposta.
I look forward to your response.
Literally: I remain waiting for an answer of yours.

Buon lavoro!
Have a good workday!
Literally: Have a good work. 

This phrase shouldn’t be confused with Bel lavoro! (“Good job!”)

Buon viaggio!
Have a nice trip!

Buone vacanze! 
Have a nice vacation!

Two People Relaxing in Chairs at the Beach

Buone vacanze! (“Have a nice vacation!”)

7. Conclusion

I hope you liked this guide and that you found it useful for increasing your arsenal of intermediate Italian phrases. Do you know what else you might find useful and interesting? All the incredible learning tools you’ll find on ItalianPod101.com, such as the vocabulary lists and other free resources

Have fun learning Italian with our podcasts, videos, and YouTube channel. And if you upgrade to Premium PLUS, you can check out MyTeacher to get personal 1-on-1 coaching with your own private teacher. They can help you practice the intermediate phrases from this list and aid you in creating your own. In addition to providing you with personalized assignments and exercises, your teacher can record audio samples just for you and review all your work.

Keep having fun with ItalianPod101!

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The 10 Best Italian Podcasts to Improve Your Italian

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Listening is one of the four skills you need to master when learning a language (the others are speaking, writing, and reading). These are the skills that you’ll have to keep training as you study Italian or any other language. But if you’re not planning to travel in order to get an immersive experience or don’t have a bunch of Italians living with you, listening to authentic Italian might not be the easiest thing to do. Luckily, the internet is replete with a variety of Italian podcasts that, as it turns out, are great for learning the language.

A Woman Lying in the Grass with Headphones On and Her Eyes Closed

You can listen to podcasts literally anywhere!

In this article, we’ll present and analyze a list of the ten best podcasts to help you learn Italian and improve your learning experience. And we’ll also talk about tools, strategies, and tricks for making the most out of them.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian Table of Contents
  1. Benefits of Using Podcasts to Learn Italian
  2. The Top 10 Italian Podcasts
  3. Tricks to Help You Learn Italian More Effectively with Podcasts
  4. Conclusion

1. Benefits of Using Podcasts to Learn Italian

Listening to podcasts in Italian is the next best thing to visiting Italy. 

Once you find the perfect fit, you can subscribe to the podcast so that you’ll always be updated when a new episode comes out. Podcasts are usually updated on a weekly basis, or sometimes even once every two or three days. But don’t worry! They stay online forever (or at least for a few years), and you can listen to them at your own pace. 

So, what do podcasts have to offer? 

  • They are fun and interesting, therefore boosting your motivation.
  • They provide authentic listening material produced (mostly) by Italians.
  • They’re always available (online, downloaded, any way you prefer).
  • You can listen to an episode as many times as you want; you can also pause it, rewind it, fast-forward it, and even slow it down.
  • You can listen in the car, on the bus, on your bike, or even in bed with your eyes closed right before you go to sleep!

And since podcasts have become really popular in recent years, you’ll be able to find a number of different podcasts that suit your needs and preferences. There are those specifically devoted to learners of Italian (just like you!), those that provide the latest Italian news, and even those that focus on culture, music, sports, and cooking. Oh, yes! Especially cooking.

A Guy Listening to a Podcast while Walking Alongside a Busy Street

How about a little Italian on your way to work?

2. The Top 10 Italian Podcasts

1 – Italiano Automatico

  • Level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Theme: Teaching Podcast
  • PDF and YouTube channel

This is a great and fun podcast that will help you learn Italian and improve your listening skills with weekly 10-minute episodes. The podcast covers many different topics: grammar and vocabulary, gestures and culture, Romeo and Juliet, rude Italian expressions…the list goes on. 

The course is intended for students who already have some basic knowledge of Italian but can’t speak well yet or have difficulty following the spoken language. Alberto (sometimes joined by his nonna) gives you tips and suggestions for making quick progress. The podcast is entirely in Italian but comes with a PDF transcript. 

Italiano Automatico is also on YouTube, so you’ll be able to watch extra material.

2 – Coffee Break Italian

  • Level: Absolute Beginner to Advanced
  • Theme: Teaching Podcast
  • Free content with ads + Premium paid content

This is a very interesting one because it offers something for learners at every level. It starts in English—making it ideal for absolute beginners—and as the seasons and episodes progress, the amount of Italian used increases alongside your progress in the language. 

In each episode, the hosts explain the use of the language, introduce specific vocabulary for a variety of occasions, and help listeners make sense of Italian grammar. They also go around Italy and talk with different people, which will give you the chance to listen to a number of native speakers. 

CoffeeBreak Italian is updated with great frequency, so you’ll always have some new content to enjoy. 

3 – ItalianPod101

  • Level: Absolute Beginner to Advanced
  • Theme: Teaching Podcast
  • Free content + Premium and Premium PLUS subscriptions

Well…of course I’m a bit biased here, but ItalianPod101 is a truly complete Italian course with many different podcast series. Just choose your level and the topic you want to learn about, and you’ll find everything you need, whether you’re an absolute beginner, an intermediate learner, or an advanced student.

You’ll find dialogues depicting common daily situations, cultural insights, and lots of first-hand information about Italy and the Italian lifestyle. You can complement this with the grammar points, exercises, quizzes, and vocabulary lists we provide. You could even get personal coaching by upgrading to Premium PLUS—perfect if you wish to have personalized lessons and a 1-to-1 learning experience.

4 – News in Slow Italian

  • Level: Beginner to Advanced
  • Theme: News
  • Free 3-minute episodes or Premium content (full episodes)

Do you want to keep up with current events while improving your listening skills? Try the News in Slow Italian podcast. It offers weekly updates on everything that happened during the week, presented at a very slow pace so that you’ll be able to catch every single word.

A 3-minute summary of every episode is free, and it even comes with a written summary that will definitely help you get the main concepts, even if you’re a beginner.

5 – Coffee Break Italian – Travel Diaries

  • Level: Intermediate to Advanced
  • Theme: Teaching Podcast
  • Free content with ads + Premium paid content

Even though Coffee Break Italian is already on the list, the Travel Diaries season deserves a special mention. Traveling has been complicated lately, right? So what could be better than a podcast that allows you to travel through the amazing Tuscany region and discover its history, gastronomy, and culture while practicing your Italian? 

In its ten episodes, you will accompany Giulia and her friend Paolo on a train ride through Tuscany. If you’re willing to subscribe to the paid content, you can also get videos and lesson notes.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy

Let’s travel with a podcast and “listen” to the Torre di Pisa!

6 – L’italiano Vero

  • Level: Intermediate to Advanced
  • Theme: Teaching Podcast
  • Free content with ads + Premium content with a small donation

As the title of this podcast (literally: “The Real Italian”) suggests, its more than 60 episodes feature real conversations about real topics with a group of true Italians.

One of the great things about this podcast is that it gives you the ability to read the transcript as you follow along with the audio (if you’re listening on the computer). Most of the content is free, though you can opt to give a small donation or pay a small fee for specific episodes.

7 – RaiPlay

  • Level: Advanced
  • Theme: Everything!
  • Free 

RAI is the public Italian radio and television service, and RaiPlay is its online platform. Here, advanced students can find every type of podcast and radio recording, literally from A to Z!

Music, news, cooking, travel, culture, you name it. My personal favorites are: 

  • Il rifugio (“The shelter”), which follows a high-altitude trek to the best Italian mountain shelters and covers the stories of those who live there
  • Italia a tavola: pari o dispari? (“Italy at the table: even or odd?”), which is a lively discussion of what the best foods are and where to find them

8 – Mangia come Parli

  • Level: Advanced
  • Theme: Food and Good Living
  • Free 

A star chef. A sports journalist with a passion for la dolce vita. These two characters make up the strange couple hosting Mangia come Parli, a great cooking and food culture podcast. 

If you’re an advanced learner with a strong grasp of the language (and a love of good food), this is the perfect Italian podcast for learning simple recipes while honing your language skills. Discussions focus on things like seasonal products, Italian culinary traditions, and everything that makes life more pleasant. You might even hear little secrets from the chef on how to make your dishes perfect! 

All this is seasoned with clever dialogue and irony from the hosts, starting with the title. Mangia come parli (“Eat like you speak”) is a take on the popular saying Parla come mangi (“Speak like you eat”), a piece of advice suggesting that we speak in a simple way (just as we eat in a simple way). 

9 – La mia Storia

  • Level: Advanced
  • Theme: Fiction
  • Free 

An intriguing podcast, La mia storia (“My Story”) is a series of over thirty 30-minute episodes. It’s a mix of history and stories, reality and fantasy, covering the lives of ordinary men and women in the context of the great events that made history.

Even though the theme might seem complex, the narration is so smooth and—naturally—slow that it will please even intermediate learners. And you’re free to listen to each episode as many times as you wish!

10 – Learn Italian with Lucrezia

  • Level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Theme: Teaching Podcast
  • YouTube channel

To finish our list of the ten best Italian podcasts, let’s look at one more podcast specifically aimed at students of Italian. Lucrezia is a vlogger and YouTuber who specializes in cultural topics as well as essential grammar and vocabulary. Each of her podcast episodes is 5 to 7 minutes long, and you can listen to them anywhere.

She has published a lot of material, and you’ll definitely find everything you need in addition to answers to any doubts or questions you might have. And she also has a popular YouTube channel you can check out! 

3. Tricks to Help You Learn Italian More Effectively with Podcasts

Now that you’ve seen some of the best podcasts for learning Italian, let’s go over a few tips and tricks you can use to make the most of your listening time. 

Picking the Perfect Podcast

  • Find a podcast that meets you at your current level. If it’s too easy or too fast to follow, it’s probably not the right podcast for you. You would get bored or frustrated.
  • Make sure it focuses on topics that really interest you. The topic of the podcast should be familiar to you or associated with something you’re interested in. The exception is if it’s a podcast aimed at Italian learners. But even in that case, different podcasts tackle different topics, so you always have the opportunity to pick the most appropriate one for you.
  • Consider listening to many podcasts. This will help you find the one that’s right for you, even if it takes some time. So be it! This will actually be a good challenge, and it will “force” you to pay more attention. Listening to podcasts on different topics will also help enrich your vocabulary. 

Making the Most of Podcasts for Language Learning

Have you already chosen your favorite podcast? Or two or three? Then get your headphones, grab a piece of paper, and make sure your pencil’s sharpened. Below, we’ll give you our top tips on how to improve your Italian listening skills with podcasts. 

  • Listen with headphones. This will allow you to better concentrate on the conversation without distractions. 
  • Catch the keywords. Don’t worry if you don’t get every single word. No problem at all! What’s important is that you get a sense of the topic by catching the keywords and main sentences. You will soon notice that the word denoting the topic is usually stressed more; that is, it is pronounced more clearly, maybe with a pause before or after it. For example, a host might say:

    Oggi siamo qui per parlarvi di melanzane. (“Today we’re here to talk to you about eggplants.”)

    But you’ll probably hear: Oggi siamo qui per parlarvi di MELANZANE. Or even: bla … bla … bla … bla …  melanzane. 

    Yes, that’s right. Melanzane is the keyword here, and as long as you hear that clearly, you’ll know what they’re talking about.
An Eggplant Against a White Background

Melanzane / Eggplant

  • Feel free to pause, rewind, slow down the audio, and use the transcripts. One of the great advantages of podcasts is that, unlike real people and conversations, they offer you the chance to listen to the same content many times over. You can pause and take notes while you listen, and in some cases, you can even download the transcript and read it as they speak.
  • Practice, practice, practice! Try and listen to at least one podcast episode every day, and repeat any words or expressions that catch your attention. This will help you learn and get used to the pronunciation. Some podcasts (like ItalianPod101) even provide a pause in the dialogue so you can repeat after the hosts. 
  • Mix the listening practice with other material. As we mentioned at the beginning, listening is one of the four skills you’ll need to work on throughout your Italian learning journey. So we recommend keeping things fresh and mixing it up a little. The best place to do just that is ItalianPod101.com, where you can take advantage of all the resources we have to offer.
  • Be consistent. This will provide you with a more natural learning experience, so you can acquire the Italian language just like children do! When you read or listen to a language, you’re memorizing the grammatical structures of the language without even noticing. Kids learn all the basic grammar rules and are able to apply them correctly, way before they study any of it at school. If you listen many times to certain simple constructions—such as those using avere (“to have”) or essere (“to be”)—they will eventually become so natural that you’ll start using them correctly without thinking too much about it.

4. Conclusion

A Woman Lying on Her Stomach in the Grass while Listening to a Podcast

In this guide, we have presented the top ten Italian podcasts and discussed how you could benefit from them to improve your Italian skills. Are there other podcasts you would like to suggest? Please let us know in the comments below; we always love to hear from our readers.

If you’re looking for something to help you keep practicing all of your other communication skills, make sure you take a look at ItalianPod101.com. Here, you can find tons of free resources, grammar lessons, and vocabulary lists to review words and practice their pronunciation.

And if you need customized lessons, remember that you can subscribe to our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, to get personal 1-on-1 coaching with a private teacher. Have a question about a podcast episode you just listened to? Your teacher has answers! In addition to providing you with assignments, personalized exercises, and recorded audio samples just for you, your teacher will review your work and help improve your pronunciation. 

Keep learning Italian and having fun with ItalianPod101!

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Simple Italian Phrases for Beginners

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Are you just starting out with Italian? In this guide, you’ll find all the Italian phrases for beginners that you will need in order to meet and greet people, get around cities and regions, ask for directions, and even order food or go shopping. All the basic sentences to get you going in your first Italian conversations!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian Table of Contents
  1. Greetings and Self-introductions
  2. Courtesy Phrases & Social Expressions
  3. Dining
  4. Shopping Phrases
  5. Asking for Help
  6. Conclusion

1. Greetings and Self-introductions

Hello. Good morning. How are you? Nice to meet you. 

The first thing to know is that, in Italian, we have two ways of addressing people: with formal speech and with informal speech. Habits are slowly changing, and informality is becoming increasingly common and accepted in contexts where it previously would have been unheard of (in the workplace, between people of different age groups, etc.). 

Especially in the case of new Italian learners, using informal speech is completely acceptable. But here, we have included phrases for both formality levels.

Two Women Having a Pleasant Chat Over Coffee or Tea

L’italiano è facile! (“Italian is easy!”)

Let’s start with some basic Italian phrases that you could use when meeting people in Italy. 

Ciao. 
[Casual]
Hi. / Bye.
The word ciao is the most common greeting in the Italian language for friendly and informal encounters. You can use it when first meeting someone and when saying goodbye; you can also use it when addressing either one person or a group of people. The word is of Latin origin, and it was once used primarily in Northern Italy, though it is now used internationally. 

Salve. 
[Formal or casual]
Hello.
Literally: “Health to you.” 

This is another common Italian word derived from Latin. It is considered neutral, and it can be used in both formal and casual contexts.

Buongiorno. 
[Formal or casual]
Hello.
Literally: “Good day.”

Buonasera. 
[Formal or casual]
Good evening.
So, what time of day do we start saying buonasera? It might vary from region to region, but typically it’s correct to greet with buonasera when it starts getting dark. Obvious, right?

Now that you’ve greeted everyone, it’s time for some polite questions and answers:

Come va? 
[Formal or casual]
How is it going?

Come stai? 
[Casual]
Come sta? 
[Formal]
How are you?

Tutto bene. 
[Casual]
Bene, grazie, e lei? 
[Formal]
All good.Fine, thanks, and you?

Once you’ve gone over the basic greetings, you’ll want to find out a bit more about the people you’re meeting. This is the perfect time to start asking and answering more personal questions.

Come ti chiami? 
[Casual]
Come si chiama? 
[Formal]
What’s your name?
Literally: “How do you call yourself?”

Mi chiamo Maria.
My name is Maria.
Literally: “I call myself Maria.”

Piacere. 
[Formal or casual]
Nice to meet you.
Literally: “Pleasure.”

Di dove sei? 
[Casual]
Di dov’è? 
[Formal]
Where are you from?

Sono Italiano/a.
I’m Italian.

Sono di Roma.
I am from Rome.

Abito a Roma.
I live in Rome.

Quanti anni hai? 
[Casual]
Quanti anni ha? 
[Formal]
How old are you?
Literally: “How many years do you have?”

Ho 27 anni.
I’m 27 years old.
Literally: “I have 27 years.”

Are you ready for some in-depth practice? We recommend checking out our video lessons on how to say hello and how to introduce yourself in Italian. 

A Businesswoman Receiving a Business Card from a Japanese Businessman

Piacere, mi chiamo Maria. (“Nice to meet you; I am Maria.”)

2. Courtesy Phrases & Social Expressions

Grazie! Nothing expresses courtesy, pleasantry, and kindness better than this word—also of Latin origin—which literally means “graces.”

Why is it important to master courtesy phrases and expressions? Because they help you navigate new environments, elicit sympathy from other people, and make it easier to communicate with others. 

Below are several simple Italian phrases for beginners that will help you put your best foot forward in any situation. 

Grazie.
Thank you.
Literally: “Graces.”
Despite being the most basic Italian word, grazie can be a bit tricky to pronounce, especially the final -zie. Here is a little phonetic help for you: Pronounce this word as if it were written graTSeeAY. If the phonetic transcription looks strange, just listen to the audio recording… 😉

Prego.
You’re welcome.
Literally: “I pray.”

You can also express this concept using one of these phrases:

Di nulla. / Di niente.
Literally: “Of nothing.”

Scusa. / Scusami. 
[Casual]
Scusi. / Mi scusi. 
[Formal]
Excuse me. / I am sorry.
This word works both for apologizing and for catching someone’s attention before asking a question. 

For example: 

Scusa, mi puoi dire dov’è la stazione? (“Excuse me, can you tell me where the station is?”)

Per favore. / Per piacere. 
[Casual or formal]
Please.
Literally: “As a favor.” / “As a pleasure.”


A Man Scratching His Head and Grimacing in Uncertainty

Mi dispiace… (“I’m sorry…”)

Another way to apologize:

Mi dispiace.
Sorry.
Literally: “It displeases me.”

Non c’è problema.
That’s okay.
Literally: “There is no problem.”

This is a good way to end the forgiveness topic. Better to forget and move on. But if this still isn’t enough, check out our guide on how to say sorry in Italian

And now, it’s time to say goodbye!

Arrivederci. 
[Casual]
Arrivederla. 
[Formal]
Goodbye.
Literally: “Let’s see ourselves again.”

Remember that you can also use the ever-useful ciao when you’re leaving an informal setting.

Buonanotte. 
[Formal or casual]
Goodnight.
Buonanotte is generally the departure phrase we use at the very end of the day. Basically, right before we go to sleep. Would you like to serenade your Italian with a nice romantic lullaby? Here’s Buonanotte fiorellino (“Goodnight, Little Flower”) for you. 

A più tardi. A dopo!
See you later.See you!
Literally: “Until later.”Literally: “Until after.”

A presto.
See you soon.

A domani.
See you tomorrow.

Buona fortuna.
Good luck.

3. Dining 

Whether you’re studying Italian or just traveling around, at some point you’ll find yourself sitting down in a restaurant or a trattoria. When this happens, you’ll get the best experience if you know a few basic Italian phrases for ordering food, getting your waiter’s attention, and more.

A Kid Holding a Fork and a Knife while Waiting for Food

Ho fame…! (“I’m hungry…!”)

Andiamo a pranzo?
Shall we go to lunch?

Andiamo a cena?
Shall we go to dinner?

Ho fame.
I’m hungry.
Literally: “I have hunger.”

Posso vedere il menù?
Can I see the menu?

Qual è il piatto del giorno?
What is today’s special?
Literally: “What is the dish of the day?”

C’è un menu turistico?
Is there a tourist menu?

Per me una pizza margherita e una birra, grazie.
I would like a pizza margherita and a beer, thanks.
Probably the most renowned type of pizza, it’s very simple and traditional with an interesting story behind it.

Da asporto / Da portare via
To go
Literally: “To remove” / “To take away”

Il conto, per favore.
The bill, please.


4. Shopping Phrases 

What fun is traveling if you don’t stop to shop for souvenirs, local foods, and other fun stuff to bring home or give as a present? 

So, here is a list of phrases to help you have the best (and easiest) shopping experience, whether you’re in an open-air mercatino or in a centro commerciale (shopping mall).

Very important! The first thing you’ll want to do is get the attention of the seller. Do you remember how? Yes! Scusi! And you might also lift your index finger for increased effect.

Scusi, posso avere…?
Excuse me, can I get…?

Scusi, posso vedere…?
Excuse me, can I see…?

If you want to be just a little more polite, try and use the conditional form. Don’t worry too much about learning the tense; just use this simple formula…

Scusi, potrei avere…? 
Excuse me, could I have…?

Scusi, vorrei
Excuse me, I would like…

And, especially if you’re going to local neighborhood markets, make sure to review your fruit and vegetable vocabulary with one of our fun lists. And then, you’ll really be ready to shop!

When it’s time to pay, you have a few options, depending on whether you plan to pay with cash or card. Here are some useful Italian phrases to get you started:

Quanto costa?
How much does it cost?

Quant’è?
How much is it?

Quanto viene?
How much is it?
Literally: “How much does it come (for)?”

Quanto le devo?
What do I owe you?
Literally: “How much do I owe you?”

Posso pagare con la carta? 
Can I pay by credit card?
Literally: “Can I pay with the card?”

Pago con la carta.
I will pay by credit card.
Literally: “I will pay with the card.”

Ecco la carta.
Here is my credit card.
Literally: “Here is the card.”

But actually, right before paying, it’s a good habit to ask to try on (or taste) the merchandise, right?

Posso provarlo?
Can I try it on?

Posso assaggiarlo?
Can I try/taste it?

If you need more shopping words, take a look at this free vocabulary list on ItalianPod101.com.

Women Tasting Different Ice Cream Flavors

Posso assaggiare il pistacchio? (“Can I taste the pistachio?”)

5. Asking for Help

There is no shame in asking for help, especially if you’ve just started learning Italian. Asking for help is a great way to talk to people, find out information, establish contact, and even make new friends along the way. 

You’ll find that most Italians, especially those not in the middle of the most touristic cities, will be more than happy to help you. Some will even go out of their way to show you special attention and give extra help! And if you’re very lucky, you might even get an invitation to lunch or to a homemade cappuccino!

1 – Help with Directions

Below are a few beginner phrases in Italian you can use to ask for directions. Just remember: 

  • Address the person with scusa if you want to be casual.
  • Address the person with scusi if you need to be a bit more formal. For example, when speaking to older people or to a poliziotto/a (“policeman” / “policewoman”) or a vigile urbano (“traffic policeman”).

Dov’è…?
Where is…?

Dove si trova?
Where is…?
Literally: “Where can it be found?”

Scusa, dov’è il bagno? 
[Casual] 
Scusi, dov’è il bagno?
[Formal]
Excuse me, where is the bathroom?
While traveling through Italy, you might often hear la toilette. Maybe it just sounds more elegant if you give it a French name!

Scusa, cerco la fermata dell’autobus. 
[Casual]
Scusi, cerco la fermata dell’autobus.
[Formal]
Excuse me, I’m looking for the bus stop.

Come arrivo a…?
How do I get to…?

Vorrei andare a…
I would like to go…

Mi sono perso/a.
I got lost.

    → Do you need more help when it comes to getting around and asking for directions? Here is a more exhaustive vocabulary list with lots of practical direction-related words and samples of their pronunciation.

An Explorer Looking through a Spyglass while Out at Sea

Mmm… Mi sono perso? (“Mmm… Am I lost?”)

2 – Overcoming Language Barriers

We all know the feeling: As beginner learners, listening and speaking can be challenging and even terrifying… 

What if I don’t understand? What if they speak too fast? What if they don’t understand me? What… what… what? 

Don’t worry. Here are some useful phrases to ease your communication with native speakers, even if you’re an absolute beginner.

Parli inglese? 
[Casual]
Parla inglese? 
[Formal]
Do you speak English?

Non parlo bene l’italiano.
I don’t speak Italian very well.

Non capisco.
I don’t understand.

Non ho capito.
I didn’t understand.

Come si chiama questo in italiano?
What do you call this in Italian?

Come si traduce questa parola in italiano?
How do you translate this word in Italian?

Puoi ripetere? 
[Casual]
Può ripetere? 
[Formal]
Can you repeat?

Puoi parlare più lentamente? 
[Casual]
Può parlare più lentamente? 
[Formal]
Can you speak slowly?

Someone Trying to Understand Complex Drawings and Symbols on a Blackboard

Aiuto… Non capisco! (“Help… I don’t understand!”)

3 – A Little Help from a Friend!

For those situations where nothing makes much sense and you just need a little help understanding what’s going on, here are some good beginner sentences to help you get out of trouble. You actually saw one of these earlier in the article.

Cosa è successo?
What happened?

Che cos’è?
What is it?

A che serve?
What is it for?
Literally: “What does it serve?”

Non so.
I don’t know.

Non lo so.
I don’t know.
Literally: “I don’t know it.”

Ho bisogno di aiuto!
I need help!

Non preoccuparti. 
[Casual]
Non si preoccupi. 
[Formal]
Don’t worry about it.

Non c’è problema.
There is no problem.

Non fa niente.
There’s nothing to it.
Literally: “It doesn’t do anything.”

And remember, when the situation gets really confusing, you can always resort to the most useful word in the whole Italian vocabulary: Boh! A great little word that’s wonderful for expressing uncertainty, disbelief, and contempt all at once.

6. Conclusion

We hope that this simple guide has helped you acquire the most common Italian phrases for beginners. You can now face simple situations such as first meetings, greetings, asking and answering basic questions, and finding your way out of different everyday situations.

Are there other situations that you think we should have covered? Please let us know in the comments below, and we’d be glad to help you with those too.

And if you still haven’t had enough, you can practice some more with our Can-Do Italian for Absolute Beginners course! It features 105 lessons for a total of 5.5 hours of lesson material covering basic words and phrases you should know when first starting out. 

Don’t forget to explore ItalianPod101.com to start taking advantage of our free resources, useful vocabulary lists with audio recordings, and a variety of fun lessons designed to make learning Italian easy.

Remember that you can also upgrade your account to use our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, to get personal 1-on-1 coaching with your own private teacher. Your tutor will help you practice, provide personalized assignments and exercises, and even record audio samples of pronunciation just for you. In addition, they can review your work to help you improve faster.

Keep it up with ItalianPod101!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian

Advanced Italian Words to Spice Up Your Vocabulary

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So, you’ve passed the intermediate level in Italian. You have all the basics and then some, but you want to go the extra mile and learn more advanced Italian words and sentences. 

Are you applying for an Advanced Italian certificate [CILS], corresponding to the C1 or C2 level? Or are you enrolled in an Italian university? Maybe you just need to write an essay, compose the perfect cover letter, or take part in more formal and complex discussions with your Italian friends and colleagues. 

According to the Common European Framework Reference for Languages (known in Italian as QCER, Quadro Comune Europeo di Riferimento delle Lingue), advanced learners of a language are able to effortlessly understand virtually everything, whether it’s written or oral. They can also use the language effectively for social, academic, and professional purposes, as well as produce well-structured and articulated text on complex topics.

Do you think you’re getting there? 

Here, we’ll present you with a great list of advanced Italian vocabulary words, including verbs, nouns, connectors, and example sentences and phrases. This list will help you sort out any complex linguistic situation for any professional environment you might find yourself in. But, if you still want more by the time you reach the end, check out our wide array of vocabulary lists with audio recordings. 

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian Table of Contents
  1. Advanced Academic Words
  2. Advanced Business Words
  3. Advanced Medical Words
  4. Advanced Legal Words
  5. Advanced Words for Acing Italian Writing/Essays
  6. Conclusion

1. Advanced Academic Words

Let’s start with some vocabulary you’ll need to feel at ease in any academic context.

A Boy Frustrated with His Homework

Are you ready for some serious academic work?

Approccio (n.)Bisogna avere un approccio scientifico.
ApproachYou have to have a scientific approach.

Beneficio (n.)Tutti possono trarne beneficio.
BenefitEveryone can benefit from that.

Concettuale (adj.)Si tratta di arte concettuale.
ConceptualThis is conceptual art.

Ruolo (n.)Il ruolo fondamentale della storia
RoleThe fundamental role of history

Astratto (adj.)Questo è un concetto astratto.
AbstractThis is an abstract concept.

Punto di vista (n.)Devi capire il mio punto di vista.
Point of viewYou have to understand my point of view.

Parere / Opinione (n.)Non è facile cambiare parere.
OpinionIt’s not easy to change your opinion.

Polemica (n.)Agli italiani piace fare polemica.
ControversyItalians like to argue.

Valutare (v.)Bisogna valutare tutte le posizioni.
To evaluateYou have to evaluate all the positions.

Funzione (n.)La funzione della scuola è educare.
Function / RoleSchool’s role is to educate.

Fascicolo (n.)Dove hai messo il fascicolo completo?
Dossier / FileWhere did you put the complete dossier?

Argomentare (v.)Come argomenti la tua tesi?
To argue / To defend / To discussHow do you defend your thesis?

Comportare (v.)Che cosa comporta?
To involve / To implyWhat does it imply?

Verificarsi (v.)Questa situazione si verifica raramente.
To occurThis situation rarely occurs.

Atteggiamento (n.)È un atteggiamento ragionevole.
AttitudeIt is a reasonable attitude.

Implicare (v.)Questa conclusione implica che la premessa era giusta.
To implyThis conclusion implies that the premise was correct.

Interpretazione (n.)È una questione di interpretazione.
InterpretationIt is a question of interpretation.

Fattore (n.)Il fattore più importante è l’ecologia.
FactorThe most important factor is ecology.

Definizione (n.)Troverai la definizione sul dizionario.
DefinitionYou will find the definition in the dictionary.

Fonte (n.)La fonte di questo studio è molto antica.
SourceThe source of this study is very old.

For more words and phrases about school, school subjects, or even life on a school campus, make sure to refer to our free vocabulary lists!

2. Advanced Business Words

Many people travel for business reasons, and there’s no better way to conduct business than through effective communication. The business terms on this advanced Italian vocabulary list will help you avoid any misunderstandings when doing business with Italians. 

Strategia (n.)È una buona strategia di vendita.
StrategyIt is a good sales strategy.

Controproposta (n.)Aspetto la vostra controproposta.
Counter-proposalI’m waiting for your counter-proposal.

Preventivo (n.)Sceglieremo il miglior preventivo.
Price quotationWe will choose the best quote.

Bilancio (n.)Il bilancio aziendale è in attivo.
BudgetThe company’s budget is in the black.

Rimborso (n.)I clienti hanno diritto ad un rimborso.
RefundCustomers are entitled to a refund.

Contabilità (n.)La contabilità è un settore critico.
AccountingAccounting is a critical area.

Fattura (n.)La fattura è arrivata dopo 30 giorni.
InvoiceThe invoice arrived after 30 days.

Bolla di accompagnamento (n.)Senza bolla di accompagnamento, il prodotto non può essere spedito.
Packing slipWithout a packing slip, the product cannot be shipped.

Ricerca di mercato (n.)Abbiamo fatto un’estesa ricerca di mercato.
Market researchWe have done extensive market research.

Consumatore (n.)Dal produttore al consumatore
ConsumerFrom producer to consumer

Dirigente (n.)Il dirigente della mia azienda guadagna troppo!
Manager / DirectorMy company director earns too much!

Capo reparto (n.)Il capo reparto sa sempre tutto.
Department headThe department head always knows everything.

Mercato di nicchia (n.)Il mercato del lusso è un mercato di nicchia.
Niche marketThe luxury market is a niche market.

Filiale / Succursale (n.)Abbiamo tre filiali all’estero.
BranchWe have three branches abroad.

Inventario (n.)Il negozio faceva l’inventario ogni anno.
InventoryThe store made an inventory every year.

Ricavi (n.)Quest’anno i ricavi sono calati.
RevenuesRevenues have dropped this year.

Azionisti (n.)Gli azionisti sono molto soddisfatti dei risultati.
ShareholdersThe shareholders are very satisfied with the results.

Giro/Volume d’affari (n.)Il giro d’affari di questo business è enorme.
TurnoverThe turnover of this business is enormous.

Ufficio acquisti (n.)Ho fatto domanda all’ufficio acquisti.
Purchasing departmentI made a request to the purchasing department.

Estratto conto (n.)L’estratto conto ormai è solo digitale.
Account statementThe bank statement is now only digital.

Raggiungere gli obiettivi (v.)Quest’anno non abbiamo raggiunto gli obiettivi previsti.
To achieve goalsThis year, we didn’t achieve the expected goals.

Assumere (v.)L’azienda assumerà centinaia di giovani lavoratori.
To hireThe company will hire hundreds of young workers.

Licenziare (v.)Purtroppo sono stato licenziato.
To dismiss / To fireUnfortunately, I was fired.

Licenziarsi (v.)Non ne posso più. Mi licenzio!
To quitI have had enough. I quit!

Maternità (n.)La maternità in Italia è obbligatoria per cinque mesi.
Maternity leaveMaternity leave in Italy is compulsory for five months.

Bancarotta (n.)Certe volte la bancarotta è inevitabile.
BankruptcySometimes, bankruptcy is inevitable.

Marchio registrato (n.)Ferrari è un marchio registrato.
Registered trademarkFerrari is a registered trademark.

Stipendio (n.)Lo stipendio è versato il 27 di ogni mese.
SalaryThe salary is paid on the 27th of each month.

Busta paga (n.)Le tasse sono detratte dalla busta paga.
PaycheckTaxes are deducted from the paycheck.

An Elderly Couple Checking Over Their Finances with an Accountant

Are the accounts correct?

→ Want to learn more vocabulary for doing business successfully? You’ll find it here!

3. Advanced Medical Words

Whether you’re planning to study medicine in Italy or you need medical attention while traveling, being able to discuss medical issues requires a somewhat advanced vocabulary. To give you a head start, we’ve compiled this list of several advanced words in Italian related to the medical field. And if you really want a full immersion experience, check out the ten (10!!!) seasons of the historic TV series Un medico in famiglia (A Doctor in the Family) from the Raiplay platform. 

Analisi del sangue (n.)Domani devo fare le analisi del sangue.
Blood testI have a blood test tomorrow.

Anticorpi (n.)Gli anticorpi combattono le malattie.
AntibodiesAntibodies fight diseases.

Chirurgia (n.)La chirurgia plastica è molto invasiva.
SurgeryPlastic surgery is very invasive.

Diagnosi precoce (n.)Una diagnosi precoce diminuisce i rischi.
Early diagnosisEarly diagnosis decreases the risks.

Dosaggio (n.)È necessario controllare il dosaggio delle medicine.
DosageIt is necessary to control the dosage of the medicines.

Ecografia (n.)Dall’ecografia si vede se il bambino è sano.
UltrasoundThe ultrasound shows if the baby is healthy.

Raggi X (n.)Ho fatto i raggi X perché avevo un braccio rotto.
X-rayI did the X-rays because I had a broken arm.

Prurito (n.)Se hai prurito, ti gratti.
ItchIf you itch, you scratch.

Emorragia (n.)Siamo riusciti ad arrestare l’emorragia.
BleedingWe managed to stop the bleeding.

Ricetta (n.)Il medico prescrive le ricette.
PrescriptionThe doctor gives prescriptions.

Sistema immunitario (n.)Il mio sistema immunitario è debole.
Immune systemMy immune system is weak.

Gesso (n.)Per quanto tempo devi tenere il gesso?
PlasterHow long do you have to keep the plaster on?

Frattura (n.)Per fortuna non è una frattura esposta.
FractureThankfully, it’s not an open fracture.

Pressione arteriosa (n.)È bene controllare regolarmente la pressione arteriosa.
Blood pressureIt’s good to check your blood pressure regularly.

Contagio (n.)Chi sta diffondendo il contagio?
InfectionWho is spreading the infection?

Cura (n.)A volte la cura sta nella prevenzione.
CureSometimes the cure lies in prevention.

Tirocinio (n.)Quella dottoressa ha fatto il tirocinio all’ospedale San Paolo.
InternshipThat doctor did her internship at the San Paolo Hospital.

Cancerogeno (adj.)Questo materiale è cancerogeno.
CarcinogenicThis material is carcinogenic.

Two Medical Professionals Looking Over a Chart Together

Does it look okay to you?

→ Check out our vocabulary list to practice talking about medicines and medical treatments.

4. Advanced Legal Words

Are you a fan of detective and crime stories? If so, you might love to watch the entire series of Il commissario Montalbano (Detective Montalbano), set in wonderful Sicily. You’ll need to study and practice a few advanced legal words first, but these words could be useful in many other situations as well. You never know…

Procuratore (n.)Ti presento il procuratore della Repubblica.
Attorney / ProsecutorThis is the public prosecutor.

Avvocato (n.)Alcuni avvocati non hanno una buona fama.
LawyerSome lawyers don’t have a good reputation.

Querela (n.)Ho ricevuto una querela per quello che ho detto.
LawsuitI got a lawsuit for what I said.

Essere passibile di (v.)Il tuo comportamento è passibile di una sanzione pesante.
To be liable toYour behavior is liable for a heavy penalty.

Fare appello / ricorso (v.)Gli avvocati hanno fatto appello immediatamente.
To appealThe lawyers appealed immediately.

Verdetto (n.)Il giudice ha annunciato il verdetto.
VerdictThe judge announced the verdict.

Tribunale (n.)Ci vedremo in tribunale!
CourtWe will see you in court!

Arresti domiciliari (n.)Il politico è stato messo agli arresti domiciliari.
House arrestThe politician was placed under house arrest.

Abrogare (v.)È necessario abrogare questa legge ingiusta.
To repealIt is necessary to repeal this unjust law.

Arresto (n.)L’arresto è stato spettacolare.
Arrest / CaptureThe capture was spectacular.

Calunnia (n.)Quello che dici è solo una calunnia.
SlanderWhat you say is just slander.

Reato (n.)È un reato molto grave.
CrimeIt is a very serious crime.

Diffamare (v.)È molto facile diffamare su internet.
To defameIt is very easy to defame (someone) on the internet.

Indagine (n.)Hai visto l’ultima indagine del commissario Montalbano?
InvestigationHave you seen the latest investigation by Detective Montalbano?

Multa (n.)Se superi il limite di velocità, ricevi una multa.
FineIf you exceed the speed limit, you will be fined.

Precedenti penali (n.)Hai dei precedenti penali?
Criminal recordsDo you have any criminal records?

Sentenza (n.)Questa è una sentenza storica.
RulingThis is a historic ruling.

Testimone (n.)Il testimone apparirà in tribunale.
WitnessThe witness will appear in court.

Patteggiare (v.)I miei avvocati mi hanno convinta a patteggiare.
To settle / To negotiateMy lawyers convinced me to negotiate.

Udienza (n.)Quando è fissata l’udienza?
Court hearingWhen is the hearing scheduled?

Verbale (n.)Il carabiniere ha fatto il verbale dell’accaduto.
MinutesThe carabiniere took the minutes of the incident.

A Detective Looking Up through a Spyglass

I love detective stories!

5. Advanced Words for Acing Italian Writing/Essays

Writing essays, whether for language certification or a student thesis, is definitely an art! But you’ll do well as long as you choose your vocabulary carefully, selecting less common words to deliver key concepts in the best possible way.

Here is a selection of verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and conjunctions that will immediately increase your score on an essay or paper. 

1 – Alternative Verbs

Sometimes, the trick is to substitute a common verb with a more sophisticated one that has the same meaning. Here are some examples. Note that the first word is the common version, while the second one is the more advanced Italian verb. 

AverePossedereIl mio amico possiede una bella casa.
To haveTo ownMy friend owns a nice house.

DireAffermareCome puoi affermare una cosa del genere?
To sayTo claimHow can you say such a thing?

DareConsegnareHai consegnato la tesi al professore?
To giveTo deliverDid you deliver the thesis to the professor?

ScrivereRedigereDevo redigere il mio curriculum.
To writeTo redactI have to redact my resume.

ComprareAcquistareIl mio sogno è acquistare tutto!
To buyTo acquireMy dream is to buy everything!

VolereDesiderareDesidero un bicchiere d’acqua, per favore.
To wantTo wishI would like a glass of water, please.

PiacereApprezzareApprezzo il vino di qualità.
To likeTo appreciateI appreciate quality wine.

IniziareIntraprendereHo intrapreso una nuova avventura.
To startTo undertake / To embarkI have embarked on a new adventure.

2 – Conjunctions

AffinchéBisogna controllare le grandi aziende affinché non inquinino.
So thatBig companies must be controlled so that they do not pollute.

NonostanteNonostante il freddo, abbiamo fatto il bagno.
DespiteDespite the cold, we went swimming.

A meno cheStasera ci sarà il concerto, a meno che non si metta a piovere.
UnlessThere will be a concert tonight unless it starts raining.

Piuttosto chePiuttosto che guardare questo film, vado a dormire.
Rather thanRather than watching this movie, I’m going to sleep.

Non appenaNon appena arrivo ti telefono.
As soon asAs soon as I arrive, I will call you.

ComunqueComunque è meglio di niente.
In any caseIn any case, it is better than nothing.

PoichéNon siamo usciti, poiché c’era il coprifuoco.
AsWe did not go out, as there was a curfew.

BenchéBenché sia simpatico, non lo inviterò alla mia festa.
AlthoughAlthough he is nice, I will not invite him to my party.

3 – Adverbs

DecisamenteQuesto è decisamente un bell’articolo!
DefinitelyThis is definitely a good article!

FrequentementeMi succede frequentemente di sbagliare.
FrequentlyIt happens frequently to me to make mistakes. / I frequently make mistakes. 

ModeratamenteSiamo moderatamente ottimisti.
ModeratelyWe are moderately optimistic.

AssolutamenteNon ne voglio assolutamente parlare.
AbsolutelyI absolutely don’t want to talk about it.

OstinatamenteContinuava a rifiutare ostinatamente.
StubbornlyHe kept stubbornly refusing.

ImprovvisamenteImprovvisamente tutto è diventato buio.
SuddenlySuddenly, everything went dark.

BruscamenteSe n’è andato bruscamente.
AbruptlyHe left abruptly.

A Man in a Suit Plugging His Ears with His Fingers

He stubbornly refused to listen…

4 – Adjectives

AccattivanteHa un sorriso molto accattivante.
CaptivatingHe has a very captivating smile.

CaoticoIl traffico di Roma è caotico.
ChaoticTraffic in Rome is chaotic.

GradevoleLa temperatura dell’acqua è molto gradevole.
PleasantThe water temperature is very pleasant.

MaliziosoNon mi piace il tuo sorriso malizioso.
MischievousI don’t like your mischievous smile.

ViziatoÈ un bambino troppo viziato.
SpoiledHe is an extremely spoiled child.

ImpeccabileIl suo comportamento è stato impeccabile.
FlawlessHis behavior was flawless.

PacatoParla sempre con un tono molto pacato.
CalmHe always speaks in a very calm tone.

VivaceMi piacciono le conversazioni vivaci.
LivelyI like lively conversations.

RagionevoleMi è sembrata una proposta ragionevole.
ReasonableIt seemed like a reasonable proposition.

InaccettabileLa tua controproposta è inaccettabile.
UnacceptableYour counteroffer is unacceptable.

ImbarazzanteÈ stata una situazione imbarazzante per tutti.
EmbarrassingIt was an embarrassing situation for everyone.

A Bald Man with Glasses Yelling at Someone

You seem like a reasonable person…

6. Conclusion

In this guide, you have learned a large collection of both general and specialized advanced Italian words, from medical vocabulary to legal terms and business phrases. If we forgot any important topic or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below.

Make sure to explore ItalianPod101, as we have plenty of free resources to help you practice your grammar and learn new words. Our vocabulary lists are also a great way to review new words and learn their pronunciation. Not sure where to start? Then we recommend checking out our advanced Italian course

Remember that you can also use our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, to get personal 1-on-1 coaching. Your own private teacher will help you practice advanced words and phrases, provide you with assignments and personalized exercises, and record audio samples just for you. Your teacher will also review your work and help you improve your pronunciation.

Keep learning and having fun with ItalianPod101!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian

Italian Words for Intermediate-Level Learners

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Mastering Italian is an ongoing process and a wonderful journey, but you’re definitely on the right track! Once you have secured the basics, it’s time to move on and tackle more complex grammar structures and vocabulary words.

The topic of this guide is Italian words for intermediate learners, and you’ll find a great variety of nouns, verbs, adjectives, pronouns, conjunctions, and more! We’ve included everything you need to improve your comprehension and to take part in more advanced conversations, watch movies without subtitles, or read books and magazines without a dictionary.

While this list is by no means complete, we recommend you begin practicing these intermediate Italian words right away. Remember that you can find more lessons and exercises on ItalianPod101.com—create your free lifetime account today to gain full access to our study materials.

Let’s get started!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian Table of Contents
  1. Let’s Start with the Numbers
  2. Nouns
  3. Pronouns
  4. Verbs
  5. Adjectives
  6. Adverbs
  7. Prepositions
  8. Conjunctions
  9. Conclusion

1. Let’s Start with the Numbers

3… 2… 1… Via! (“Go!”) 

The first set of intermediate words we’ll look at are the higher numbers. The first ten are quite easy—you just need to memorize them!


The Numbers 1-5 in Block Form

Diamo i numeri? (“Shall we give the numbers?”)

1 – From 11 to 20

The numbers from 11 to 20 are extremely useful when talking about the ages of your amici adolescenti (“teenage friends”), small prices, or the time.

11Undici
12Dodici
13Tredici
14Quattordici
15Quindici
16Sedici
17Diciassette
18Diciotto
19Diciannove
20Venti

There are a couple of things we should point out regarding the Italian numbers from 11 to 19. 

1. They are formed by combining the word dici (a word meaning “ten”) and the unit number. But, as you probably noticed, dici looks a bit different from dieci (as there’s an “e” missing in there). Furthermore, it’s positioned after the units until the number se-dici (16), but before the units for the numbers 17, 18, and 19.

2. Notice also how we double the consonant in diciassette (17) and diciannove (19).

2 – Counting Up to 100

20Venti
30Trenta
40Quaranta
50Cinquanta
60Sessanta
70Settanta
80Ottanta
90Novanta
100Cento

While the numbers up to twenty can be a bit tricky, counting up to cento (100) in Italian is fairly easy. Just put together the decine (“tens”) and the units: ventuno, ventidue, ventitre, ventiquattro (21, 22, 23, 24), and so on. They all follow the same pattern.

3 – To 1,000 and Beyond

Now, the big numbers—the ones you need to talk about large amounts of money—are really straightforward. You just have to remember that they form one word (no hyphen, no space) and that we use a period (.) rather than a comma (,) to write numbers from 1,000 onward: 1,234 = 1.234.

200Duecento
300Trecento
(…)
900Novecento
1,000Mille
2,000Duemila
10,000Diecimila
100,000Centomila
1,000,000 Un milione

If you want to check out more examples, read our full Italian numbers guide on ItalianPod101.com.

2. Nouns

In Italian, nouns are called sostantivi (that is, “substantive”). 

Nouns have a fundamental function in communication. They allow us to name people, things, places, concepts, actions, feelings, ideas, and anything else we might want to refer to while speaking or writing. In short, nouns define everything that exists or that we can imagine, and therefore constitute an essential element of any sentence. 

In Italian, each noun can be masculine or feminine and singular or plural. And don’t forget that they have to “agree” with other parts of speech in the sentence, such as articles or adjectives.

Let’s now see some intermediate Italian vocabulary words you can use at school, in the workplace, or in your spare time.


1 – Exercise

La corsaRunning
In Italy, you might hear people saying faccio footing, which sounds English—but it’s not! This is one of the many Itanglish words that have been misused over the years.

Attività fisicaExercise
In Italian, there is no single word for general exercise, and we often think of it as andare in palestra (“to go to the gym.”)

What do we call the different kinds of sports in Italian? Let us know in the comments which sport is your favorite (in Italian, of course). 

Note that the verb used for practicing sports could be either giocare (“to play”) or fare (“to do”), depending on the sport in question. But which is which? Here we go:

Calcio
Pallacanestro
Pallavolo
Pallanuoto
Tennis
Soccer
Basketball
Volleyball
Water Polo
Tennis
For all of these sports, we use the verb giocare (“to play”).

Da piccola giocavo a pallacanestro. 
“When I was a kid, I played basketball.”

Nuoto
Ginnastica
Atletica
Ciclismo
Sci
Swimming
Gymnastics
Track and field
Cycling
Skiing
For these sports, on the other hand, we use fare (“to do”).

Ho fatto atletica per tanti anni. 
“I practiced track and field for many years.”

Un giocoA game

Una partitaA match

Il punteggioThe score

La vittoriaThe victory

Un infortunioAn injury

A Man being Lazy and Flipping through Channels on the TV

E tu, che sport fai oggi? (“And you, what sport are you doing today?”)

2 – The Workplace

Un lavoroA job

La pausa caffèThe coffee break
Are you wondering why this is the second item on the list? Not only because coffee is soooo important for Italians, but also because the coffee break is the perfect moment for a creative, informal meeting among colleghi (“colleagues”).

Un colloquio (di lavoro)An interview

Una riunioneA meeting

La sala riunioniThe meeting room

L’ufficioThe office

La scrivaniaThe desk

La sediaThe chair

La mensaThe cafeteria

3 – At School

La classe / L’aulaThe classroom
Lo zaino / Lo zainettoThe backpack
La pennaThe pen
La matitaThe pencil
Il libro di testoThe textbook
Il quadernoThe notebook
Il bancoThe desk
La cattedraThe teacher’s desk
La lavagnaThe blackboard
Il dizionarioThe dictionary
Il righelloThe ruler
L’astuccioThe pencil case

4 – Arts, Crafts, and Hobbies

Il disegnoThe drawing
Il dipintoThe painting
La sculturaThe sculpture
La composizioneThe composition
L’orchestraThe orchestra
La chitarraThe guitar
Il violinoThe violin
La danzaThe dance
La coreografiaThe choreography
L’artigianatoThe crafts

A Man Chiseling to Make a Sculpture

Mani esperte (“Expert hands”)

5 – At the Doctor’s

Il dottore / La dottoressaThe doctor
Il dentistaThe dentist
L’ospedaleThe hospital
La medicinaThe medicine
La curaThe cure
Il mal di testaThe headache
Il mal di dentiThe toothache
Il mal di stomacoThe stomachache
Le pilloleThe pills
Il cerottoThe band-aid
L’ambulanzaThe ambulance
Il vaccinoThe vaccine

3. Pronouns

Pronouns are fundamental when it comes to advancing your speaking skills and reaching an intermediate level of Italian. They help you avoid repeating the names of things and people over and over again. 

There are many kinds of pronouns. Let’s start with the basics: personal pronouns.

As a beginner, you probably learned the personal subject pronouns (io, tu, lei, etc.). Now, to expand your intermediate Italian vocabulary, you’ll need to tackle the stressed, unstressed, direct, indirect, and reflexive personal pronouns. Here we go.

1 – Stressed Pronouns

Complement pronouns can be used in both stressed (forti) and unstressed (deboli) forms. The form you choose basically depends on how much emphasis you want to place on the pronoun. Let’s see a few examples. 

You need to use the strong form of the complement pronoun when you want to give greater importance to the subject or to the complement. They’re generally placed after the verb. 

For example:

Penso a te. → (stressed: “It is you I am thinking of.”)
Ti penso. → (unstressed: “I think of you.”)

Chiami me? → (stressed: “Is it really me you are calling?”)
Mi chiami? → (unstressed: “Do/can you call me?”)

And you always need a stressed form when you use the pronoun together with a preposition (di, a, da, con, etc.).

Vado con loro. (“I go with them.”)
Non mi ricordo di te… (“I don’t remember you…”)

A Woman Who Is Stressed Out at Work

Are you a stressed or an unstressed…pronoun?

PersonItalian pronounEnglish
1st person sg.meme
2nd person sg.teyou
3rd person sg.lui / leihe / him / she / her
1st person pl.noius
2nd person pl.voiyou
3rd person pl.lorothem

2 – Direct, Indirect, and Reflexive Personal P
ronouns

If you don’t need to put particular emphasis on the person or thing you’re talking about, you’ll use an unstressed personal pronoun. In Italian, unstressed pronouns can be direct or indirect.

Direct pronouns replace direct object complements. In simpler terms, they answer the question “Who?” or “What?”

Chiamo Sara. (“I call Sara.”) → I call who? Sara. → La chiamo. (“I call her.”)
Mangio un gelato. (“I eat an ice cream.”) → I eat what? An ice cream. → Lo mangio. (“I eat it.”)

Indirect pronouns replace indirect object complements, and they answer the question “To whom?” or “To what?”

Telefono a Carlos. (“I make a call to Carlos.”) → To whom? To Carlos. → Gli telefono. (“I make a call to him.”)
Scrivo alla mia amica. (“I write to my friend.”) → To whom? To my friend. → Le scrivo. (“I write to her.”)

Reflexive pronouns are those that go with reflexive verbs [see verb section], and we use them when the object of a sentence is also its subject. It allows the action to fall upon the subject.

Mi alzo e mi lavo la faccia. (“I get [myself] up and I wash my face.”)

There is no equivalent in English, but the same idea is rendered by using “my, myself,” etc.

Notice how all of these pronouns are the same across the three types (direct, indirect, reflexive) except for the third person. This change takes place to distinguish between masculine and feminine forms. 

PersonDirect pronounsIndirect pronounsReflexive pronouns
1st sg. [m, f]mimimi
2nd sg. [m, f]tititi
3rd sg. [m]lo glisi
3rd sg. [f]lalesi
1st pl. [m, f]cicici
2nd pl. [m, f]vivivi
3rd pl. [m]liglisi
3rd pl. [f]leglisi

3 – Relative Pronouns

Relative pronouns, like all pronouns, are used to replace the name of someone or something. Generally, they’re used to join sentences that have an element in common. 

Mio fratello viene a trovarmi. + Mio fratello studia a Roma. 
→ Mio fratello, che studia a Roma, viene a trovarmi.

(“My brother comes to visit me.” + “My brother studies in Rome.”)
→ (“My brother, who studies in Rome, comes to visit me.”)

Or:

Ti ho parlato di mio fratello. + Mio fratello studia a Roma. 
→ Mio fratello, di cui ti ho parlato, studia a Roma.

(“I told you about my brother.” + “My brother studies in Rome.”)
→ (“My brother, whom I told you about, studies in Rome.”)

che (“that” / “which” / “who”)This is the easiest relative pronoun, as you can use it for almost anything, provided that there is no preposition.
il quale (“that” / “which” / “who”)Compared to the one above, il quale is a bit more sophisticated and complex. It must be used with the article and agree with other words in the sentence. 

Mio fratello, il quale studia a Roma, arriva domani.
“My brother, who studies in Rome, arrives tomorrow.”
cui  (“that” / “which” / “who” / “where”)This relative pronoun is used together with a preposition:

La città in cui vivo. (“The city where I live.”)
L’amico a cui hai scritto. (The friend you wrote to.”)
Sei la ragione per cui vivo. (“You’re the reason why I live.”)

4 – Indefinite Pronouns

Indefinite pronouns indicate, in an imprecise and generic way, the quantity of a thing or the identity of a person.

Some of them can also function as indefinite adjectives (if they precede the noun) and indefinite pronouns (if they replace the noun). Others are only used as indefinite pronouns.

Qualcuno (“Someone”)Qualcuno ha capito? (“Did someone understand?”)
Nessuno (“Nobody”)Nessuno ha capito! (“Nobody understood!”)
Ognuno (“Each one” / “Everyone”)Ognuno fa quello che può. (“Everyone does what they can.”)
Niente (“Nothing”)Non ho capito niente… (“I understood nothing…”)
Qualcosa (“Something”)Forse ho capito qualcosa. (“Maybe I understood something.”)
Un tale / Un tizio (“Somebody”)Ieri ho incontrato un tale… (“Yesterday I met somebody…”)
We often use the expression tizio, caio, e sempronio to talk about generic people—those we don’t really know or who don’t mean much to us. For some reason, these three names were chosen in Ancient Rome to represent a Mr. Nobody…


4. Verbs

At the beginner level, you learned a number of basic action words that allowed you to get your point across. These words may have been quite useful at first, but as your speaking and writing skills improve, you should start picking up some intermediate Italian verbs. Knowing these will help you sound more like a native speaker and give you the means to better express yourself. 

1 – Reflexive Verbs

Reflexive verbs indicate that the subject of a sentence performed an action on itself. This type of verb is always used with reflexive pronouns [see previous section]. They’re extremely common in Italian, which means they’ll make an excellent addition to your intermediate Italian vocabulary.

A Guy Looking at Himself in the Mirror

Guardarsi allo specchio (“Look in the mirror”)

AnnoiarsiTo get bored
ArrabbiarsiTo get angry
DivertirsiTo have fun
ImpegnarsiTo engage
InnamorarsiTo fall in love
LamentarsiTo complain
PettinarsiTo comb (one’s hair)
PreoccuparsiTo worry
TruccarsiTo put on makeup
RilassarsiTo chill out
SedersiTo sit
SposarsiTo get married
SvegliarsiTo wake up
VergognarsiTo be ashamed
VestirsiTo get dressed

2 – Verbs and Prepositions

Some verbs use simple and complex prepositions (preposizioni articolate) before the noun or the infinitive that follows them. But which preposition do we use? Di, da, a…? Unfortunately, there is no precise rule, and the only way to learn them is by heart. 

Here’s a list of the most common verb-preposition pairs you’ll need to add to your intermediate vocabulary.

Pensare aTo think to
Minacciare diTo threaten to
Fingere diTo pretend to
Dubitare diTo doubt of
Finire diTo finish to
Evitare diTo avoid to
Cominciare aTo start to
Abituarsi aTo get used to
Aiutare aTo help to
Andare aTo go to
Continuare aTo keep on
Imparare aTo learn to
Mettersi aTo start to
Provare aTo try to

5. Adjectives

Adjectives are the perfect instruments to improve the way you express ideas. The more, the better. Here, we’ll just concentrate on possessive adjectives as well as comparatives and superlatives. 


1 – Possessives

Possessive adjectives in Italian are always preceded by an article, except when they’re followed by terms indicating a singular family member: mio fratello (“my brother”), tua sorella (“your sister”), etc. 

They need to agree in gender and number with the noun, and their form doesn’t change even when they’re turned into pronouns.

A Family Eating a Large Meal Outside

La mia famiglia (“My family”)

Italian PossessivesAdjectivePronoun
il mio / la mia / i miei / le miemymine
il tuo / la tua/ i tuoi / le tueyouryours
il suo / la sua/ i suoi / le suehis / herhis / her
il nostro / la nostra/ i nostri / le nostreourours
il vostro / la vostra/ i vostri / le vostreyouryours
il loro / la loro  / i loro / le lorotheirtheirs

2 – Comparatives & Superlatives

In Italian, comparatives and superlatives are normally formed with più or meno (“more” or “less”) and the adjective. However, there are also some irregular forms that come directly from the Latin model.

MiglioreBetter
OttimoGreat / Best
MaggioreBigger / Greater
MinoreMinor / Less
SuperioreSuperior / Higher
UlterioreFurther
PeggioreWorse
PessimoBad / Worst
InferioreInferior / Lower

6. Adverbs

Like with adjectives, you could get away with very few adverbs as a beginner, but you’ll need to learn some more as you level up. They’re not only great for showing style and sophistication in writing, but also for helping the audience picture how something is done when you’re having a conversation.

1 – When

GiàAlready
A lungoA long time / Long
AdessoNow
AncoraAgain
FinalmenteAt last
AlloraThen

2 – How Often 

A volteSometimes
RaramenteRarely
SolitamenteUsually
GeneralmenteGenerally / Usually
SempreAll the time
MaiNever

3 – Where 

Da nessuna parteNowhere
Da qualche parteSomewhere
AltroveSomewhere else
SuUp / Above
GiùDown / Below
SopraOver / On
SottoUnder / Below
LontanoFar
VicinoClose

A Guy in a Dark Coat being Secretive

Facciamolo…silenziosamente. (“Let’s do it…quietly.”)

4 – How 

SilenziosamenteSoftly / Quietly
Lentamente / PianoSlowly
RapidamenteFast / Quickly / Shortly
Con calma / PianoCalmly / Quietly
FacilmenteEasily
FortunatamenteLuckily
SemplicementeSimply / Just

5 – How Much 

PiuttostoRather
AbbastanzaEnough
SpecialmenteEspecially
QuasiAlmost
QuantoHow much / How many
TalmenteSo / So much / So many
CircaAbout / Approximately

Take note of how many adverbs are formed by the [adjective + mente] pattern (rara-mente, general-mente, lenta-mente). Why don’t you give it a try? You can create a great number of adverbs to build upon your intermediate vocabulary! Or, you can find many more adverbs in our guide to the top 100 most useful Italian adverbs on ItalianPod101.com.

7. Prepositions

You don’t need too many prepositions, but they’re still vital when it comes to articulating your speech and structuring your sentences. They mark the relationships and links between people, objects, places, and moments.

1 – Time

PrimaBefore / Prior

DopoAfter / Then / Once

FraIn / Within
Fra (which also means “between” or “among”) is used to talk about a period of time after which something will occur, as in:

Vado in vacanza fra una settimana. (“I go on holiday in a week.”)

The opposite is expressed with fa (“ago”):

Siamo arrivati una settimana fa. (“We arrived a week ago.”)

DaSince
The preposition da (which also has many other meanings, such as “at,” “from,” etc.) is used to talk about how long (since) something has been happening.

Vivo a Roma dal 2019. (“I’ve been living in Rome since 2019.”)

2 – Space

AccantoNext to / Beside

A destraTo the right

A sinistraTo the left

DaAt
Da is used to mean “at someone’s place or office.” For example:

Dormo da un amico. (“I sleep at my friend’s house.”) 
Vado dal medico. (“I go to the doctor.”)

DavantiIn front of / Ahead

DietroBehind

SottoUnder

SopraOver / On

8. Conjunctions

Conjunctions allow you to connect two (or more) words, clauses, or sentences together. They can also be used to clarify the relationship between one sentence and the next. They’re very cool because, by using conjunctions, you’re able to build more sophisticated phrases. 

You may have learned the most basic conjunctions already (e, o, se, perché, ma), so we’ll just focus on the slightly more advanced ones here. 

A Vegetarian Soup with Bread

Né carne, né pesce… sono vegetariana! (“Neither meat nor fish… I’m a vegetarian!”)

Né…né (“Nor” / “Neither…nor” / “Either…or”)

  • Non mangio né carne né pesce. (“I eat neither meat nor fish.”)

Quindi (“Therefore” / “So”)

  • Sono stanca quindi vado a letto. (“I’m tired, so I’m going to bed.”)

Altrimenti (“Otherwise”)

  • Studia, altrimenti mi arrabbio! (“Study; otherwise, I’ll get angry!”)

Poiché (“Since” / “As”)

  • Poiché insisti, accetto il tuo invito. (“Since you insist, I accept your invitation.”)

Sebbene (“Although”)

  • Sebbene sia stanca, continuo a scrivere. (“Although I am tired, I continue to write.”)

→ Note how some conjunctions (sebbene, a meno che, così che, qualora) need to use the subjunctive.

Invece di (“Instead of”)

  • Invece di uscire, abbiamo visto un film a casa. (“Instead of going out, we saw a movie at home.”)

Mentre (“While”) 

  • Mentre ero al parco, ho incontrato un amico. (“While I was in the park, I met a friend.”)

9. Conclusion

In this guide, you’ve learned many of the best Italian words for intermediate learners. Did we forget any important words or categories you’d like to know about?

If you want more, remember that ItalianPod101 offers a great variety of vocabulary lists with audio recordings and other free resources to help you continue improving! 

Remember that you can also use our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, to get personal 1-on-1 coaching with your own private teacher who can help you practice intermediate words and more. Your teacher can give you assignments and personalized exercises, record audio samples to help with your pronunciation, and review all of your work to help you learn more efficiently.

Keep having fun and learning with ItalianPod101!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian

Italian Words for Animals

Thumbnail

Time to study Italian animal words!

Why? 

Animals are beautiful, animals are funny, and animals are useful. In addition, they are a common conversation topic (think of pets, documentaries, and films with animals in them). But do you really need a reason to study animal words in Italian?

Animal words are something that Italian children learn very early on when they first start speaking, and they’re equally essential for language learners to study—no matter their age. And, conveniently enough, many common animal names are similar across languages. Take, for example:

  • Elephant
  • Lion
  • Tiger
  • Giraffe
  • Panda
  • Koala
  • Kangaroo
  • Panther
  • Gorilla

Do you want to give it a try and say the names of these animals in Italian? In any case, keep reading to find the answers! 

In this article, you’ll learn the names of animals native to Italy as well as those found abroad. We’ll cover wild animals, farm animals, zoo animals, sea animals, bugs, birds, and even different types of pets. You’ll also discover fun expressions related to animals and the Italian terms for animal body parts. Ready?

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian Table of Contents
  1. Pets
  2. Farm Animals
  3. Wild Animals
  4. Marine Animals
  5. Bugs and Insects
  6. Birds
  7. Reptiles & Amphibians
  8. Animal Body Parts
  9. Animal Verbs
  10. Animal Sounds
  11. Animal-Related Idioms and Slang Expressions
  12. Conclusion

1. Pets

There are around 60 million pets in Italy today, equating to almost one pet per Italian! You could definitely say that Italians love their pets.

The most common pet choices here are dogs and cats (no surprise there), with Italians owning a total of seven million of each! Other popular pets among Italians of all ages are birds, fish, little mammals (hamsters and rabbits), as well as reptiles and spiders!

A Kitten and a Dog

Best friends forever!

Pets are not only a source of companionship and stress relief for people, but they’re also good for the economy! It’s calculated that the pet industry moves more than two billion euros per year, and it’s a constantly growing business.

Here are the names of animals in Italian that are most often kept as pets:

(Il) gatto“Cat”
(Il) cane“Dog”
(Il) criceto“Hamster”
(Il) coniglio“Rabbit”
(Il) canarino“Canary”
(Il) porcellino d’India“Guinea pig”
(Il) pesce rosso“Goldfish”

→ Check out our big list of animal names, and practice your pronunciation with the help of recordings from native speakers.

2. Farm Animals

Before fashion, art, and sports cars, Italy was mainly an agricultural economy. As such, farm animals have always played a central role in the lives and culture of Italians. Take a local train out of any Italian city, and you’ll be able to spot beautiful and happy farm animals scattered throughout the Italian landscape.

A Little Piglet

Sono un porcellino. (“I’m a piglet.”)

Granted, they may not be happy all the time, given the general conditions of intensive farming. But numbers do show that the consumption of meat in Italy has decreased over the last decade, especially when it comes to red meat (for health issues) and meat from horses, rabbits, and lambs (due to a growing sensitivity toward these species).

Some breeding animals are more important than others, since they’re vital in the creation of some of the most widely known Italian culinary products: mozzarella di bufala (“buffalo mozzarella”), prosciutto di Parma (made from select pigs), and formaggio pecorino (“sheep milk cheese”).

Here are the names of common farm animals in Italian:

(La) mucca“Cow”
(Il) cavallo“Horse”
(L’)asino“Donkey”
(Il) mulo“Mule”
(La) pecora“Sheep”
(La) capra“Goat”
(La) gallina“Hen”
(Il) gallo“Rooster”
(Il) tacchino“Turkey”
(Il) maiale“Pig”

3. Wild Animals

Italy has the highest biodiversity of any country in Europe, with over 57,000 different animal species (or more than a third of all European fauna). 

This is due to various factors. 

The Italian Peninsula is at the center of the Mediterranean Sea, forming a corridor between Central Europe and North Africa; its coastline is 8,000 kilometers (≈ 4971 miles) long. Animals also tend to arrive in Italy from the Balkans and the Middle East. And finally, the geological structure of Italy is quite varied and its climate differs from North to South. All of this contributes to creating a great habitat diversity.

As a result, Italy is home to many beautiful wild land animals, mostly in the woods and in the mountains. In the recent past, many of these animals were in danger of extinction from Italian territory, mostly due to hunting and the loss of their natural habitat. But lately, thanks to protection laws and information campaigns, they’re starting to increase in number.

Keep reading to discover the names of several different wild animals in Italian! 

A Mama Bear with Her Two Cubs

A happy family

(L’)orso“Bear”
(Il) lupo“Wolf”
(Il) cervo“Deer”
(Lo) stambecco“Steinbock” (Alpine wild goat)
(La) volpe“Fox”
(La) lepre“Hare”
(Il) cinghiale“Wild boar”
(Lo) scoiattolo“Squirrel”
(La) vipera“Viper”

If these aren’t enough, you might want to spend a day in a zoo (check out one of the oldest and largest zoos in Europe, Roma’s Bioparco). Here are the names of wild animals you’ll find there:

(Il) leone“Lion”
(La) tigre“Tiger”
(La) giraffa“Giraffe”
(L’)ippopotamo“Hippopotamus”
(Il) rinoceronte“Rhino”
(Il) gorilla“Gorilla”
(L’)elefante“Elephant”
(Il) canguro“Kangaroo”
(Il) panda“Panda”
(Il) koala“Koala”
(La) pantera“Panther”
(La) scimmia“Monkey”
(Il) bradipo“Sloth”
(Il) pinguino“Penguin”
(L’)orso polare“Polar bear”
(La) foca“Seal”

4. Marine Animals

Italy is a peninsula surrounded by the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, and Italians have always been exploring its waters for adventure and fishing. So, we love fish…and the beach, too!

There are many common species of fish in the Mediterranean, especially of the type pesce azzurro (“oily fish”). These include tonno (“tuna”), sgombro (“mackerel”), pesce spada (“swordfish”), and sardina (“sardine”). We also have plenty of seafood, like ricci (“sea urchins”), vongole (“clams”), and cozze (“mussels”).

Below, you’ll find the names of the most common sea animals in Italian. But if you want to see and practice the names of larger or more exotic aquatic species, you should go to the fantastic Aquarium of Genova.

(Il) pesce“Fish”
(Lo) squalo“Shark”
(Il) delfino“Dolphin”
(La) balena“Whale”
(Il) leone marino“Sealion”
(La) medusa“Jellyfish”
(Il) cavalluccio marino“Seahorse”
(Il) riccio“Urchin”
(La) stella di mare“Starfish”
(La) cozza“Mussel”
(Il) polipo“Octopus”

→ Do you want to take a plunge with more marine animals and fish? Check out our fun vocabulary list!

5. Bugs and Insects

In the countryside, in the cities…the planet is full of insects. And maybe one day they will indeed inherit the world! Until then, let’s review the most common insects and other creepy-crawlies (hoping that no one here suffers from insectophobia!).

Upclose Image of a Housefly

Don’t you like me?

But, on the other hand, if you’re among those who think that insects and bugs will be the food of the future, be advised that Italian law still prohibits the commercialization of edible bugs and derivatives (such as bug flour). So, if you have that particular craving, the only solution would be online stores.

Anyway, on with the list…

(La) mosca“Fly”
(Il) moscerino“Gnat”
(La) zanzara“Mosquito”
(Lo) scarafaggio“Cockroach”
(La) formica“Ant”
(La) farfalla“Butterfly”
(La) libellula“Dragonfly”
(L’)ape“Bee”
(La) vespa“Wasp”
(Il) ragno“Spider”
(Il) grillo“Cricket”
(La) coccinella“Ladybug”

6. Birds 

In Italy, there are more than 500 species of birds. Half of these are nesting birds, while the other half are just passing by.

Birds have traditionally been a favorite target of hunters, and for this reason, they’re in great need of protection by organizations such as the Lega Italiana Protezione Uccelli – LIPU (“Italian Bird Protection League”). They do a great job at protecting birds, defending nature, and promoting knowledge of and respect for the environment. 

(La) colomba“Dove”
(Il) piccione“Pigeon”
(Il) passero“Sparrow”
(Il) corvo“Crow”
(Il) gabbiano“Seagull”
(Il) falco“Hawk”
(L’)aquila“Eagle”
(La) civetta“Owl”
(Il) pavone“Peacock”

7. Reptiles & Amphibians

You might never expect to see exotic or dangerous reptiles while traveling through Italy, but there are many varieties of lizards, turtles, and even a few poisonous vipers, so… Attenti dove mettete i piedi! (“Watch your step!”)

If you want to learn more about what to look for and what to avoid, i Carabinieri has published an exhaustive page on the topic.

(La) rana“Frog”
(Il) rospo“Toad”
(La) tartaruga“Turtle”
(Il) serpente“Snake”
(La) lucertola“Lizard”
(La) salamandra“Salamander”
(L’)iguana“Iguana”
(Il) coccodrillo“Crocodile”

8. Animal Body Parts

Even if we all evolved from the same little amphibians millions of years ago, we have different names for the body parts of humans and animals. And you’d better avoid mixing them up!

Learning the following words will help a lot when it comes to describing animals in Italian.

(Il) muso“Muzzle”
(Il) becco“Beak”
(La) zampa“Paw”
(La) coda“Tail”
(Le) corna“Horns”
(Il) pelo“Hair”
(La) pelliccia“Fur”
(Le) zanne“Fangs”
(Gli) artigli“Claws”
(Lo) zoccolo“Hoof”
(La) penna“Feather”
(La) piuma“Plume”
(La) criniera“Mane”
(La) proboscide“Trunk”
(Il) tentacolo“Tentacle”
(L’)antenna“Antenna”
(Le) pinne“Fins”
(Le) scaglie“Scales”
(La) cresta“Comb”

→ Are you getting confused between human and animal body parts? Here’s a link to freshen up your “human” vocabulary.

9. Animal Verbs

Are you having fun yet? We thought so.

To complement your knowledge of animal names and body parts, let’s go over a few essential verbs you’ll need to talk about animal-related actions. 

A Cow

In Italian, I go Muuuuu.

Miagolare“To meow”
Abbaiare“To bark”
Ruggire“To roar”
Ronzare“To buzz”
Ringhiare“To growl”
Fare le fusa“To purr”
Cinguettare“To chirp”
Muggire“To moo”
Galoppare“To gallop”
Nuotare“To swim”
Strisciare“To crawl”
Azzannare“To bite (with teeth)”
Beccare“To peck”
Graffiare“To scratch”
Leccare“To lick”
Accarezzare“To pet”
Addestrare“To tame” / “To train”
Allevare“To breed”
Accoppiare“To mate”

10. Animal Sounds

Animals do not emit generic noises, but calls that have very precise names. Some of these onomatopoeia are commonly used, while others are less well-known. After learning the sounds animals make in Italian, try to see which ones you’re able to imitate! 

AnimalSoundVerb
cane (“dog”)bau bauabbaia (“it barks”)
gatto (“cat”)miaomiagola (“it meows”)
asino (“donkey”)Iho ihoraglia (“it brays”)
cavallo (“horse”)iiihnitrisce (“it neighs”)
elefante (“elephant”)iiiihbarrisce (“it trumpets”)
gallo (“cock”)chicchirichì canta  (“it sings”)
zanzara (“mosquito”)zzzzzzzronza (“it buzzes”)
corvo (“crow”)cra cragracchia (“it croaks”)
topo (“mouse”)squit squitsquittisce (“it squeaks”)
serpente (“snake”)ssssssssibila (“it hisses”)
rana (“frog”)cra cragracida (“it croaks”)
pulcino (“chick”)pio piopigola (“it peeps”)
piccione (“pigeon”)gru grutuba (“it coos”)
pecora (“sheep”)beeeeebela (“it bleats”)
passero (“sparrow”)cip cipcinguetta (“it chirps”)
mucca (“cow”)muuuuumuggisce (“it bellows”)
maiale (“pig”)oink oinkgrugnisce (“it grunts”)
lupo (“wolf”)auuuuhhhulula (“it howls”)
grillo (“cricket”)cri crifrinisce (“it chirps”)

And the crocodile…? What does the crocodile say? Nobody knows. But if you want to have a little fun, here’s one of the most famous Italian children’s songs, named Il coccodrillo come fa? (“How Does the Crocodile Go?”)

11. Animal-Related Idioms and Slang Expressions

Animals are an integral part of our daily lives, so much so that we find them in many common proverbs, expressions, and idioms in the Italian language.

We often use expressions where animals are associated with personal qualities in order to highlight these qualities more effectively, or to metaphorically represent some characteristics or traits of people.

Expressions with animals are so numerous and so pervasive that it would be impossible to make an exhaustive list. But here are the most common ones. What can I say? In bocca al lupo! (You’ll need to get to the end to know what that means…) 😉

A Wolf Snarling

In bocca al lupo – Viva il lupo!

Italian expressionIl lupo perde il pelo ma non il vizio.
Literal translation“The wolf loses its fur but not its vice.”
It’s very difficult to eliminate bad habits, though some people struggle with it more than others. This expression is roughly equivalent to the English “A leopard never changes its spots.”

Wolves have a special place in Italian culture, and you can find more than a few expressions mentioning these wonderful wild dogs…such as the next one!

Italian expressionAvere una fame da lupo
Literal translation“To be hungry as a wolf”
The poor wolves have become a symbol of greed and hunger, not to mention arrogance and force. We use this expression to mean that one is starving and could eat a cow… It is similar to the expression “I’m as hungry as a wolf,” in English. 

Italian expressionMettere la pulce nell’orecchio
Literal translation“To put the flea in the ear”
It basically means that you’re giving something to someone (usually a piece of information) in order to instill a doubt or a fear, or to cause some kind of annoyance. Because let’s face it: a flea in your ear would definitely grab your attention. 

This expression can roughly be translated as: “to plant a seed of doubt.”

Italian expressionPrendere qualcuno a pesci in faccia
Literal translation“To throw fish at someone’s face”
This means to treat someone very rudely, with total disrespect. But why would you show disrespect by throwing smelly fish at someone? Apparently, it’s a Nordic habit that was common among the Vikings; it was made famous in Italy not so long ago via the Asterix comic books

A rough English equivalent would be: “to treat someone like dirt.”

Italian expressionNon sapere che pesci pigliare
Literal translation“Not knowing what fish to choose”
This is an expression used to signify that you’re totally undecided about something, and cannot make up your mind over this or that. My guess is that it originates from the great variety of fish available in an Italian pescheria (“fish market”).

In English, you would use the expression: “to not know which way to turn.”

Italian expressionEssere un pesce fuor d’acqua
Literal translation“To be a fish out of water”
This expression indicates the state of being outside of your usual environment, especially if you feel uneasy, shy, or embarrassed.

I would say it’s rather self-explanatory. You try to be a fish out of water…and then you tell me how you feel!

Italian expressionAndare a letto con le galline
Literal translation“To go to bed with the hens”
You don’t need to be living on a farm to know that the hens (and the rooster) are the first to wake up and the first to go to sleep.

An English equivalent might be: “to get up with the chickens.” 

Italian expressionFare la fine del topo
Literal translation“To end up like a mouse”
Mice don’t have it easy in life… Cats try to catch and eat them. Humans try to kill them with poison or traps. At best, they’re thrown in a cage and used for experiments. So, obviously, ending up like a mouse means that you’re trapped with no way out.

Italian expressionEssere un asino
Literal translation“To be an ass”
In English, being an ass means that you’re basically an idiot. But in Italian, to call someone this means to call them ignorant, especially in the sense that they’re a bad student at school.

Do you remember the scene in Pinocchio, where he and his friends were all turned into donkeys because they refused to go to school? Well, there it was taken rather literally.

Italian expressionEssere un cane
Literal translation“To be a dog”
This one has a different meaning than its English equivalent. It means to be really bad at something, especially when acting or performing. This is another case of referring to an animal in order to describe a human characteristic. 

You could use it in a sentence like this: Quell’attore è bello, ma a recitare è un cane. (“That actor is handsome, but as an actor he’s really bad.”)

Italian expressionEssere un’oca
Literal translation“To be a goose”
For some reason, Italians use the goose as a symbol of clumsiness and of disconcerting superficiality, usually in reference to a girl or woman.

Italian expressionEssere testardo come un mulo
Literal translation“To be stubborn as a mule”
The mule is a hybrid animal, crossbred between a donkey and a mare. This animal is known for its resistance to fatigue, thanks to which it has been bred since ancient times in order to help humans with labor and transportation. But another quality mules are known for is their stubbornness; apparently, once a mule decides to stop, there is no way to convince it otherwise.

Italian expressionNon sentire volare una mosca
Literal translation“Not hearing a fly fly”
There is absolute silence. Not a sound, not even that of the wings of a fly. The equivalent concept in English is expressed with “dead silence,” which might be just a bit scarier…

Italian expressionTagliare la testa al toro
Literal translation“To cut the bull’s head”
The expression “to cut the bull’s head” figuratively means “to make a sudden and serious decision,” one that usually involves grave consequences. It’s used when someone takes control in order to solve a particular problem once and for all.

In English, you would say: “Let’s just get this over with!”

Italian expressionPrendere due piccioni con una fava
Literal translation“To catch two pigeons with one fava bean”
This expression refers to obtaining more than one benefit through a single task. 

Fava beans were once used to lure pigeons into traps. The saying alludes to the fact that one bean could catch more than one pigeon. 

It means the same as “to kill two birds with one stone” in English. 

Italian expressionEssere in quattro gatti
Literal translation“To be four cats”
This means to be very small in number, or for there to be few people around.

This expression comes from the fact that wild cats once gathered in quite large groups, probably to protect themselves and hunt better. So if you had a group of only four animals, that was a very small group. 

Italian expressionEssere solo/a come un cane
Literal translation“To be as lonely/alone as a dog”
The phrase derives from the observation that the dog is, like humans, a social animal. If you were to keep it isolated, away from its own kind (as often happens with guard dogs), it would suffer for wanting company.

In English, it can be translated as “lonely as hell.”

Italian expressionIn bocca al lupo!
Literal translation“In the mouth of the wolf!”
We use this expression to wish someone success in something. But an Italian would never simply say buona fortuna (“good luck”), because this actually brings bad luck! (Go figure…) Instead, we say this expression to someone before an important occasion (such as a test or job interview). 

This Italian expression seems to have ancient origins: It used to be a superstitious wish for hunters who went hunting in the woods. Their answer back then, as well as today, was: crepi il lupo (“that the wolf might die”).

Of course, nowadays, wolves are a protected species that is slowly coming back to inhabit Italian woods and mountains, so the preferred reply is now: Viva il lupo! (“Long life to the wolf!”)

12. Conclusion

In this guide, you’ve learned many animal names in Italian, from pets to all kinds of reptiles and marine creatures. You’re now ready to ask your friends about their pets or discuss your favorite animals with them. 

We realize that we only mentioned a small number of animals here. In case we forgot your favorite animal or you want to know more about Italian expressions with animals, make sure to mention it in the comments below!

You can also explore ItalianPod101.com and check out all of our free resources. Our vocabulary lists, in particular, are a great way to review words and practice your pronunciation. We also offer a page on the basics of Italian grammar, which is essential if you’re just starting out! 

Remember that you can also use our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher. This will give you access to personal 1-on-1 coaching with your own private teacher, who can help you practice animal words and so much more. Your teacher can also give you assignments and personalized exercises, provide you with recorded audio samples, and review your work to help you make faster progress.

Keep having fun with ItalianPod101!

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Italian Tenses Made Simple

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Verb tenses are absolutely necessary in clearly defining when a given action is taking place. 

If you were to browse through any Italian grammar textbook or study an Italian conjugation table, you would probably find yourself overwhelmed by the number (21!) and apparent complexity of the tenses. And on top of that, each of the Italian tenses has to be conjugated for the six persons (io, tu, lui/lei, noi, voi, loro). This means that—unlike in English—every person of every tense has a different form. 

But don’t worry, I have good news. Two pieces of good news, actually! 

  1. To have a complete and meaningful conversation in Italian, you really just need to know three (3!) tenses: presente (present), passato prossimo (near past), and imperfetto (imperfect). You can also throw in the imperative, if you want, since it has pretty much the same form as the present.

  2. Even though every person of every tense is conjugated and has a different form, the basic forms of the conjugations (the verb endings) follow a very consistent and predictable pattern. Once you’ve memorized that pattern, you’ll be able to easily apply it to whatever verb and tense you need.

Of course, there are other verb tenses in Italian that are used to express more complex thoughts and concepts, but we can worry about those later on. Just keep in mind that you can alw/ays get by knowing just the three basic Italian tenses. Isn’t that wonderful?

A Woman Eating a Slice of Pizza

Mangio una pizza. (“I’m eating a pizza.”)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian Table of Contents
  1. Present Tense
  2. Past Tenses
  3. Future
  4. Conditional
  5. Are You in the Mood for Moods…? 😉
  6. Verb Conjugation and Auxiliary Verbs Summary
  7. Conclusion

1. Present Tense

The present tense in Italian is used to express an action happening right now, as we speak. It’s by far the most common and most frequently used tense in the Italian language.

Mangio una pizza.“I’m eating a pizza.”
Andiamo al cinema?“Let’s go to the movies?”
Non lavoro la domenica.“I don’t work on Sundays.”

In addition to expressing actions happening right now, the Italian present tense is also commonly used to express the near future or the intention of doing something. Of course, there’s a specific tense for future (which we’ll see later on), but keep in mind that it’s extremely common in Italian to use the present tense to express a near-future intention or action.

Domani vado a mangiare una pizza.“Tomorrow I’ll go for pizza.”
L’estate prossima andiamo in vacanza in Sicilia.“Next summer we’ll go to Sicily on vacation.”

2. Past Tenses

When it comes to the past tense in Italian, it gets a bit more complicated. This is because there are actually two main Italian past tenses that we use depending on the situation. Here’s a brief overview with examples to make everything clearer.

A- Passato Prossimo

Passato prossimo (simple past) is the tense that expresses a specific action that happened in the past and ended in the past. The Italian passato prossimo is formed by combining the auxiliary avere (to have) or essere (to be) and the past participle, usually* ending in -ato, -uto, or -ito, respectively for the -are, -ere, and ire conjugations.

A Woman Studying while Snacking on a Pastry

Hai studiato? (“Did you study?”)

InfinitivePast participlePassato prossimo
Mangi-are (To eat)Mangi-atoHo mangiato (I ate)
Cred-ere (To believe)Cred-utoHai creduto (You believed)
Cap-ire (To understand)Cap-itoHa capito (She understood)

That’s not too hard to remember, right? 

Just keep in mind that there’s a great number of verbs that have an irregular past participle, so you’ll have to memorize them. The good news is that some of them are so common that the memorization process will happen naturally. Also, they’re mostly of the -ere conjugation, so you should watch out for those. 

Here’s a quick list of some must-know verbs that have an irregular past participle, along with their passato prossimo forms.

InfinitiveIrregular Passato ProssimoInfinitiveIrregular Passato Prossimo
AccendereHo acceso (I turned on)Perdere Ho perso (I lost)
Aprire Ho aperto (I opened)Prendere Ho preso (I took)
Chiedere Ho chiesto (I asked)Ridere Ho riso (I laughed)
Chiudere Ho chiuso (I closed)Rimanere Sono rimasto/a (I stayed)
Correre Ho corso (I ran)Rispondere Ho risposto (I answered)
Dire Ho detto (I said)Scendere Sono sceso/a (I went down)
Essere Sono stato/a (I was)Scrivere Ho scritto (I wrote)
Fare Ho fatto (I did/made)Spegnere Ho spento (I turned off)
Leggere Ho letto (I read)VedereHo visto (I saw)
Mettere Ho messo (I put)Venire Sono venuto/a (I came)
Morire Sono morto/a (I died)Vivere Sono*/Ho vissuto (I lived)
Nascere Sono nato/a (I was born)

Ieri ho mangiato a casa di mio fratello.“Yesterday, I ate at my brother’s house.”
Durante le vacanze sono andata** al mare tutti i giorni.“During my vacation, I went to the beach every day.”
Hai letto il giornale di ieri?“Did you read yesterday’s newspaper?”
Non abbiamo chiesto l’orario del treno…“We haven’t asked for the train schedule…”

You probably noticed that in the examples, the auxiliary avere (to have) was sometimes used and essere (to be) was used other times. Why? Well, this is rather common in Romance languages. So, if you’re familiar with French or Spanish, for example, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Basically, you always use avere as an auxiliary, except when you have an intransitive verb

What does “intransitive” mean? 

Intransitive verbs cannot have a direct object and must be used with the essere auxiliary. These verbs often indicate movement or a change of state, such as: 

  • Andare (To go) 
  • Rimanere (To stay)
  • Nascere (To be born)
  • Morire (To die)

At the beginning, it might seem complicated—but don’t worry! With a little practice, choosing the right auxiliary will be really easy!

Another thing to remember: If you use the essere auxiliary in any compound tense, you need to make it agree with the subject. It’s easier to show than to explain:

Giovanni è andato a scuola.                    (Giovanni went to school.)
Maria è tornata dalle vacanze.                 (Maria is back from vacation.)
(Noi) Siamo nati in Italia.                        (We were born in Italy.)
Le mie amiche sono venute in treno.       (My friends came by train.)

On the other hand, if you had a verb that uses the avere auxiliary, the ending always stays the same:

Giovanni ha studiato la lezione.                            (Giovanni studied the lesson.)
Maria ha mangiato un panino.                             (Maria ate a sandwich.)
(Noi) Abbiamo visto un bel film.                            (We saw a good movie.)
Le mie amiche hanno organizzato una festa.         (My friends organized a party.)

Passato prossimo is often used with adverbs or phrases indicating time, such as: 

  • ieri (yesterday)
  • l’altro ieri (the day before yesterday)
  • la settimana scorsa (last week)
  • un mese fa (a year ago)
  • l’anno passato (last year)

So far so good? Then let’s get ready for the imperfetto.

B- Imperfetto

Imperfetto (imperfect) is a tense that exists in most Romance languages. It indicates a recurrent or usual action, an action that is still pending or not yet completed, or an ongoing action that occurred while another action happened. Basically, it’s an “imperfect” tense because it does not describe a definite, precise action of the past. It might be a little tricky at first, but you’ll soon get the hang of it.

When and how do we use it, then? The indicative imperfect is used…

  • …to indicate an action not completed, which took place at the same time as another:

    Quando sono entrato, stavi dormendo. (When I came in, you were asleep.)
    Mentre andavo a scuola, ho incontrato una mia amica. (When I was going to school, I met a friend of mine.)
  • …to indicate an action that was habitually repeated in the past:

    Tutte le estati andavamo in Sicilia in treno. (Every summer, we used to go to Sicily by train.)
    Il nonno veniva a trovarci tutti i giorni e ci portava le caramelle. (Grandpa came to visit every day and brought us candies.)
Two Birds Sitting on a Tree Branch with Purple Flowers

C’era il sole e gli uccellini cantavano. (“It was sunny and the birds sang.”)

  • …to describe events, places, and people’s physical characteristics:

    C’era il sole e gli uccellini cantavano. (It was sunny and the birds sang.)
    Le montagne erano tutte coperte di neve. (The mountains were all covered with snow.)
    Maria aveva i capelli neri e gli occhi verdi. (Maria had black hair and green eyes.)

Since we’re talking so much about the past… There’s another past tense that’s so remote people don’t really use it anymore when speaking: the passato remoto. It’s a simple tense, used today mainly in written texts such as history textbooks and Italian literature. That’s why it’s important to be able to recognize it.

Giulio Cesare fu un generale romano. (Julius Caesar was a Roman general.)
La ragazza andò via senza voltarsi. (The girl left without looking back.)
Quell’estate andammo al mare solo una volta. (That summer, we only went to the beach once.)

3. Future

As mentioned before, in Italian you can use the present tense when talking about the near future. So, if you’re talking about your plans for later in the day or the following week, you can simply use the present tense and let the temporal adverb communicate that it will happen in the future. For example: 

Domani esco da scuola alle tre del pomeriggio! (Tomorrow I leave school at three in the afternoon!)
Domenica facciamo una gita in montagna. (On Sunday, we are going for a day-trip to the mountains.)
La settimana prossima faccio una festa, vieni? (Next week I am throwing a party, will you come?)

But that doesn’t work all the time. When you’re talking about the distant future or want to be more specific about a future event, you’ll have to use the future tense. 

The future tense in Italian is easy to spot, as it’s formed by adding an ending to the verb’s infinitive stem. 

Infinitive
Futureparl-are (to talk)legg-ere (to read)sent-ire (to hear)
ioparlelegg-eròsent-irò
tuparlerailegg-eraisent-irai
lui/leiparlelegg-eràsent-irà
noiparleremolegg-eremosent-iremo
voiparleretelegg-eretesent-irete
loroparlerannolegg-erannosent-iranno

Easy, right? Just keep in mind that you need to change the a into an e for the first conjugation (the one in -are): 

  • parlare >> parlerò 
  • mangiare >> mangerò 
  • volare >> vole

Also remember that the first (io = “I”) and third (lui/lei = “he/she”) persons have an accent on the ending, which means you need to put the stress on that final vowel.

But you can notice that, apart from the vowel coming from the stem of the infinitive, all endings are the same for each of the three conjugations.

L’anno prossimo faremo un viaggio negli Stati Uniti.      (Next year we will travel to the United States.)
Un giorno questa situazione cambierà.                             (One day this situation will change.)
Prevedo che nel 2021 l’economia crescerà.                      (I predict that in 2021 the economy will grow.)
Domani ci sarà il sole?                                                     (Will it be sunny tomorrow?)

Another common use for the future tense in Italian is to express a supposition or a doubt:

Che ora sarà? (What time can it be?)
Saranno le tre, le tre e mezza. (It is probably three, three and a half.)

Quanti anni avrà Maria? (How old can Maria be?)
Boh, avrà vent’anni. (Dunno, she’s probably twenty.)

And finally, we use the future tense in the main clause when we’re stating a very realistic hypothesis, such as:

Se non piove, uscirò. (If it doesn’t rain, I will go out.)
Se leggi il libro, capirai il film. (If you read the book, you will understand the movie.)

Three People Walking in the Rain with Umbrellas

Se non piove, domani uscirò… (“If it doesn’t rain, I’ll go out tomorrow …”)

4. Conditional

Once you know how to conjugate the future tense, it’s very easy to use the conditional because it’s formed exactly the same way. Just use the stem from the infinitive (changing the a into e for the -are conjugation) and add the appropriate ending for conditional.

Conditional is very important because it’s one of the most common Italian tenses and it’s used to express many situations.

  • A personal opinion:
    Io voterei per l’altro candidato. (I would vote for the other candidate.)

  • A doubt:
    Cosa dovremmo fare? (What should we do?)

  • A possibility:
    Sono così stanca che potrei dormire per due giorni! (I’m so tired that I could sleep for two days!)

  • A desire:
    Mangerei un gelato al cioccolato… (I would love a chocolate ice cream…)
    Oggi andrei al cinema. (Today I would like/love to go to the movies.)
  • A polite demand:
    Potrei avrei un cappuccino? (Could I have a cappuccino?)
    Vorremmo noleggiare un’auto.
    (We would like to rent a car.)
A Red Sports Car

Vorrei noleggiare questa macchina! (“I wish to rent this car!”)

We’ve already talked about hypothetical sentences regarding very realistic situations. Another important use of the conditional is in hypothetical sentences where we’re stating something very unrealistic. Do you remember these examples? Let’s look at them from a different point of view:

Se non piovesse, uscirei. (If it weren’t raining—but it is!—I would go out.)
Se tu leggessi il libro, capiresti il film. (If you read the book—but you refuse to—you would understand the movie.)

Or:

Se fossi ricco, comprerei una casa al mare. (If I were rich—but I’m not!—I would buy a beach house.)
Se tutti andassimo in bici, non ci sarebbe traffico! (If we all rode bikes—very unlikely—there would be no traffic!)

If you’re asking yourself what tense the verbs piovesse, leggessi, fossi, and andassimo, are in, I’ll tell you right away that it’s the past subjunctive (congiuntivo passato). We’ll talk about it in a little bit.

5. Are You in the Mood for Moods…? 😉

We’ve just mentioned condizionale (“conditional”) and congiuntivo (“subjunctive”), but we need to back up a little here. These are not tenses, but rather modi (“moods”). In other words, they indicate the attitude of the speaker relative to the action expressed in the verb.

For example, if the action is real we use the indicative; if it’s possible, we use the subjunctive; if it’s subject to particular conditions, we use the conditional; and if we’re giving orders, we use the imperative. These are the four Italian finite moods, meaning that they’re conjugated for each person. Then there are three infinite moods which are invariable and don’t change with different subjects. 

On the other hand, the tenses only refer to the time of the action (in the present, in the past, or in the future).

Here’s a table that represents all of the moods and tenses in Italian for my favorite verb: studiare (to study).

FINITE MOODS
Indicativo
Presente (studio)
Imperfetto (studiavo)
Passato remoto (studiai)
Futuro (studierò)
Passato prossimo (ho studiato)
Trapassato prossimo (avevo studiato)
Trapassato remoto (ebbi studiato)
Futuro anteriore (avrò studiato)
Condizionale
Presente (studierei)Passato (avrei studiato)
Congiuntivo
Presente (che io studi)
Imperfetto (che io studiassi)
Passato (che io abbia studiato)
Trapassato (che io avessi studiato)
Imperativo
Presente (studia!)

INFINITE MOODS
Infinito
Presente (studiare)Passato(aver studiato)
Participio
Presente (studiante)Passato (studiato)
Gerundio
Presente (studiando)Passato(avendo studiato)

6. Verb Conjugation and Auxiliary Verbs Summary

Now that we’ve taken into consideration the absolutely must-know Italian tenses (and had an overview of all the Italian moods and tenses), it’s time to look at how to form every Italian tense using the help of auxiliaries.

    → We’re not going to go into too much detail about conjugation, because if you want to know more about it, you just need to check out this fantastic article on the ItalianPod101 blog.
One Hand Extending Toward Another to Help

Gli ausiliari sono qui per aiutare. (“Auxiliaries are here to help.”)

Auxiliaries have lots of uses, as the name itself suggests: auxiliary = ausiliare = “to help.” 

We’ve already seen how to choose between essere (to be) and avere (to have) when forming the passato prossimo. Now we can look at other tenses (and other moods) that you’ll need the help of auxiliaries to use. Here we go!

A- Reality [Indicative]

Presente
Studio perché mi piace l’italiano!
(I study because I like Italian!)
Passato Prossimo
Anche tu hai studiato italiano con ItalianPod101?
(Have you also studied Italian with ItalianPod101?)
Imperfetto
Da bambina giocavo con le macchinine.
(As a child, I used to play with toy cars.)
Trapassato Prossimo
Quando sono arrivato, erano partiti da un’ora.
(When I arrived, they had left an hour before.)
Passato Remoto
Il gatto saltò sul divano.
(The cat jumped on the sofa.)
Trapassato Remoto
Dopo che Cesare ebbe conquistato la Gallia, si riposò.
(After Caesar had conquered Gaul, he rested.)
Futuro
Da grande farò l’astronauta.
(When I grow up, I will be an astronaut.)
Futuro Anteriore
Dopo che avrò studiato uscirò con gli amici.
(After I study, I will go out with friends.)

B- Desire [Conditional]

Presente
Mangerei un chilo di gelato al cioccolato…
(I would eat a kilo of chocolate ice cream…)
Passato
Ieri mi sarebbe piaciuto andare al cinema.
(Yesterday, I would have liked to go to the movies.)

C- Doubt, Possibility [Subjunctive]

Presente
Penso che Carlos canti benissimo.
(I think Carlos sings very well.)
Passato
Penso che Carlos ieri abbia cantato meglio.
(I think Carlos sang better yesterday.)
Imperfetto
Pensavo che Carlos oggi cantasse in italiano.
(I thought Carlos was singing in Italian today.)
Trapassato 
Ero convinta che Carlos ieri avesse cantato meglio.
(I was convinced that Carlos had sung better yesterday.)

D- Giving Orders [Imperative]

Presente
Studia se vuoi migliorare!
(Study if you want to improve!)

E- Indefinite Moods

The indefinite moods are verb forms that are only used in subordinate clauses, because they cannot stand alone in a sentence.

Infinitive

It indicates the pure action expressed by the verb. It ends in -are, -ere, ire.

  • Correre è bello! (Running is fun!)
  • Voglio andare al mare… (I want to go to the beach…) 

Present participle

It usually turns the verb into a noun or an adjective (as in, the person or the thing doing the action). It ends in -ante, -ente.

  • Il cantante è bravo. (The singer is good.)

Past participle

We already looked at this mood when talking about the passato prossimo. It’s the one ending in -ato, -uto, -ito that we use together with auxiliaries.

  • Ho cantato tutto la notte. (I sang all night.)

Gerund

It’s used to indicate something that is in the process of occurring, often used with the verb stare. It ends in -ando, -endo.

  • Sto cantando sotto la pioggia. (I’m singing in the rain.)
  • Stai ancora dormendo? (Are you still sleeping?)

7. Conclusion

Verbs are like bricks that you need in order to speak full sentences. In this lesson, you learned enough tenses, moods, and verbal forms to build yourself a beautiful Italian villa!

How confident are you feeling about Italian verb tenses now? Feel free to reach out in the comments if you have any questions, and we’ll get back to you!

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