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The Most Useful Italian Compliments and Praise Words

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Why is it important to study the most useful Italian compliments? Nothing makes people feel more important, appreciated, and good about themselves than compliments. By complimenting a girl, a friend, or a chef for their very good food, you set out to a good start in any relationship. Not to mention that the occasional compliment is an indispensable part of polite conversations.

First of all, let’s remember that the two most basic Italian compliments are bello/a (“beautiful,” “nice” ) and bravo/a (“good,” “able” ). We’ll see how they can be used in different ways, and how you can fare bella figura, or “make a good impression,” using these common Italian compliments and praise words.

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Table of Contents

  1. Ciao bella! Complimenting Someone’s Look
  2. Complimenti! Complimenting Someone’s Work
  3. Bravo! Complimenting Someone’s Skills
  4. Che buono! Complimenting Food
  5. Come stai bene! Generic Compliments
  6. Grazie! What to Expect After Giving Compliments
  7. Che bel sorriso! How to Flirt in Italian
  8. Sembri più giovane! Compliments on Someone’s Aging
  9. Congratulazioni! You’ve Gotten to the End…

1. Ciao bella! Complimenting Someone’s Look

Italians can be very particular about looks, and they’ll definitely notice a person’s hairstyle, tan, and clothing choices and comment about it. This can be a genuine compliment or just a way to—subtly—point out if something is off… But don’t worry. What matters is being able to graciously accept and respond to the compliments.

A Woman Kissing a Gray Kitten on the Cheek

Che bel gattino! (“What a cute little cat!” )

By far, the most common compliment in Italian is bello (“beautiful,” “nice” ), which can be used to both compliment a person’s look and to praise an object’s or animal’s appearance.

  • Sei una bella ragazza. (“You are a beautiful girl.” )
  • Sei un bel ragazzo. (“You are a handsome boy.” )
  • Hai una bella macchina! (“She has a nice car.” )
  • Puffi è un bel gattino! (“Puffi is a cute little cat.” )

Notice how the adjective bello has the particularity that its ending changes depending on how the next word starts, just like the definite article, as follows:

La ragazza >> bella ragazza
Il ragazzo >> bel ragazzo

Compliment phrases in Italian can take different forms:

  • Come sei carino/a! (“How cute you are!” )
  • Che begli occhi! (“What beautiful eyes!” )
  • Quanto sei elegante! (“How elegant you are!” )

Notice how you can start a compliment in Italian with one of these conjunctions:

  • Come (“How” )
  • Che (“What,” but literally “that” )
  • Quanto (“How,” but literally “how much” )

Now, receiving compliments is all too nice, but there also exists a whole different aspect of complimenting someone’s look. This is the—rather annoying—compliments to passing women in the street. This is, unfortunately, a practice quite common in Italy, especially in the past. Nowadays, things are slowly changing and Italian men have started to realize that random compliments from a stranger are not welcome. So, if you’re a woman visiting Italy, be prepared that you might receive some unwanted compliments on the street, and try to avoid the typical Italian cascamorto (“skirt-chaser” ).

2. Complimenti! Complimenting Someone’s Work

Cooperation and partnership in the workplace are very important. So make sure you know how to compliment a job well done, a good performance, or a brilliant idea.

A Woman Giving the Thumbs-up Sign

Ottimo lavoro! (“Great work!” )

  • Hai fatto un bel lavoro. (“You did a good job.” )
  • Che progetto ben fatto. (“What a well-made project.” )
  • Bellissima presentazione. (“Very good presentation.” )
  • Ottima idea. (“Great idea.” )
  • Complimenti. (“Congratulations.” )
  • Congratulazioni. (“Congratulations.” )

We’ve seen how the Italian word bello is used to refer to aesthetic beauty, but in this case, it can also refer to something that is good quality-wise.

As you can see, there are two different Italian compliment words to express “Congratulations,” and they’re used in different contexts:

    Complimenti is used to praise somebody who behaved well, passed an examination, or achieved some other accomplishment: Complimenti per la presentazione, è stata veramente interessante. (“Congratulations on the presentation; it was really interesting.” )

    Congratulazioni is used for promotions, marriages, or having a baby: Ho saputo che hai avuto una promozione. Congratulazioni! (“I heard you got a promotion. Congratulations!” )

3. Bravo! Complimenting Someone’s Skills

A Man in a Suit Singing into a Microphone

Bravooooooo!

Have you ever been to a concert or a play? Have you ever been to Teatro alla Scala in Milan? At the end of a performance, if the show was good, everybody stands up shouting “Bravo!” That’s a typical example of how to praise somebody for something good or well done. Bravo is a word that’s used in theaters and concert halls all over the world, but only in its masculine form, even if you’re complimenting a woman. In Italian, however, like every other adjective, bravo needs to agree in gender and number with the person (or people) you’re complimenting.

  • Brava, Maria, scrivi proprio bene! (“You are good, Maria, you write really well!” )
  • Bravo Marcello, corri molto veloce! (“You are good, Marcella, you run really fast!” )
  • Bravi bambini, siete stati molto buoni oggi! (“Good kids, you have been very good today!” )

Bravo can also be used to praise a specific activity:

Che bravo/a ____!

  • Che bravo fotografo! (“What a good photographer!” )
  • Che brava attrice! (“What a good actress!” )

You can also use bello as a way to compliment the product of an activity:

Che bello ____!

  • Che belle foto! (“What nice photos!” )
  • Che bella interpretazione! (“What a beautiful interpretation!” )

When you compliment someone in Italian, it doesn’t hurt to exaggerate a little. Here’s a list of adjectives that will increase the power of your praises:

  • Fantastico (“Fantastic” )
  • Meraviglioso (“Wonderful” )
  • Stupendo (“Superb” )
  • Eccezionale (“Awesome” )
  • Formidabile (“Fantastic” )
  • Splendido (“Beautiful” )
  • Incredibile (“Unbelievable” )

Another way of complimenting someone for doing something well—such as speaking Italian, cooking, or performing a sport—is to use the following construction:

Come ____ bene!

  • Come cucini bene! (“How well you cook!” / “What a good cook!” )
  • Come parli bene l’italiano! (“How well you speak Italian!” )
  • Come giochi bene a calcio! (“How well you play soccer!” )

4. Che buono! Complimenting Food

Italians love food. They love to make it. They love to eat it. They especially love to talk about it… So, it’s just natural that they expect to be praised when they’re cooking and to praise (or criticize) when they’re eating. Let’s look at some Italian compliments for food!

A Group of Friends Cooking and Eating Together

Mmm.. Faccio il bis! (“Mmm… I go back for seconds!” )

Here’s the survival list of food compliments in Italian:

Che buono/a! is the first and most important compliment you can say about any dish. It means “good” in a general sense, but when it comes to food, it means “tasty” or “delicious.” Feel free to use or include any of the exaggerated adjectives that were listed before!

  • Che buono! Posso assaggiare? (“So good! Can I taste it?” )
  • Il pesto genovese è delizioso. (“Genoa pesto is delicious.” )
  • La lasagna della nonna è buonissima! (“Grandma’s lasagna is very good!” )
  • La pizza fatta in casa è eccezionale! (“The homemade pizza is awesome!” )
  • Questo gelato è fantastico! (“This ice cream is fantastic!” )

However, the best compliment you can make to an Italian cook is to eat and come back for more. This is better than any praise:

  • È buonissimo! Posso averne ancora? (“It’s good! Can I have some more?” )
  • Mi piace un sacco! Faccio il bis. (“I really like it! I’ll go back for seconds.” )

An even better compliment is to ask about the ingredients and to ask for the recipe:

  • È delizioso. Mi dai la ricetta? (“It’s delicious. Can you give me the recipe?” )
  • Che piatto fantastico! Come lo prepari? (“What a fantastic dish! How do you prepare it?” )

And finally, whether you’re at a restaurant or at somebody’s house, the classic compliment for food is the good old: Complimenti al cuoco/alla cuoca! (“My compliments to the chef!” )

5. Come stai bene! Generic Compliments

Compliments

Come stai bene! is a generic compliment that you can use for many different occasions. This is because it conveys a general sense that the person you’re complimenting looks good, feels good, or has something good about him/her. It’s often followed by a question to get more details about the specific compliment:

Looks:

  • Come stai bene, sei andata dal parrucchiere? (“You look nice, did you go to the hairdresser?” )
  • Come stai bene, sei stato al mare? (“You look nice, did you go to the beach?” )

Fitness:

  • Come stai bene, stai andando in palestra? (“You look good, are you exercising?” )
  • Come stai bene, stai facendo una dieta? (“You look nice, are you on a diet?” )

Clothing:

  • Come stai bene in rosso. (“The color red suits you.” )
  • Come stai bene, è un vestito nuovo? (“You look nice, is it a new dress?” )

A Woman Posing in a Long Red Dress and High Heel Shoes

Il rosso ti sta bene. (“Red suits you.” )

When talking about clothes, most Italians are happy to be praised regarding their style. The way to do that is to make a compliment that not only praises the piece of clothing or the accessories, but also the way the person is wearing it, and how beautiful he or she looks in it. Here’s how you do that:

Come ti sta bene ____ !

  • Come ti sta bene questo cappotto! (“How good you look in this coat!” )
  • Come ti stanno bene questi occhiali! (“How good you look with these glasses!” )

And everybody loves a casual mention of elegance and style: Che eleganza! Che stile! (“What elegance! What style!” )

6. Grazie! What to Expect After Giving Compliments

Positive Feelings

In Italy, we generally like to receive compliments and to be praised. Who wouldn’t? But even so, people often respond to compliments by shying away, pretending that they don’t really deserve it, or that it’s not a big deal. But it is! Trust me…

So, while the general response to compliments is thankfulness:

  • Grazie. (“Thank you.” / “Thanks.” )
  • Grazie mille. (“Many thanks,” but literally “a thousand thanks” )
  • Che gentile! (“How kind!” )
  • Che carino! (“How nice!” )

…others prefer a somewhat shy response:

  • Ma figurati… (“Do not even mention it…” )
  • Mi fai arrossire… (“You make me blush…” )
  • Mi metti in imbarazzo… (“You embarrass me …” )

7. Che bel sorriso! How to Flirt in Italian

Of course, we couldn’t do without a chapter dedicated to romantic Italian phrases and flirting in Italian. After all, Italy is one of the most romantic places on earth, and the native country of Rodolfo Valentino, the father (or grandfather) of all Latin lovers.

A Man Smiling Awkwardly

Che bel sorriso…? (“Beautiful smile…?” )

Interesting fact: The word “flirting” (flirtare) has recently entered the Italian dictionary (it’s pronounced flertare). Of course, the compliments you use when flirting are different depending on if they’re for a man or for a woman. Also, while flirtatious compliments can get very creative and even funny, in most cases, you just need to praise the object of your desires in the most common way. The only important thing is to be sincere.

Italian compliments for a woman:

  • Come sei carina! (“How cute you are!” )
  • Come sei dolce! (“How sweet you are!” )
  • Sei una bella ragazza/donna. (“You are a beautiful girl/woman!” )
  • Che begli occhi! (“Nice eyes!” )
  • Che bel sorriso! (“Beautiful smile!” )
  • Sei molto simpatica! (“You are very nice!” )

Italian compliments for a man:

  • Sei un tipo interessante. (“You’re an interesting guy.” )
  • Come sei divertente! (“You are funny!” / “You make me laugh!” )
  • Che belle mani! (“You have beautiful hands!” )
  • Che muscoli! (“What muscles!” )
  • Che bel sorriso! (“Beautiful smile!” )
  • Sei molto simpatica! (“You are very nice!” )

8. Sembri più giovane! Compliments on Someone’s Aging

Are you about to go and meet a friend’s sweet grandma? In that case, when talking to the nonna (or other elderly member of the family), remember that talking about age isn’t exactly a taboo. It’s just a topic to be treated with delicate care. And there’s always a subtle way to make compliments on somebody’s age and to avoid embarrassing missteps.

An Elderly Woman Smiling

75? Li porti benissimo! (“You don’t look at all 75!” )

Whenever the topic of age comes up in conversation, you’re “supposed” to praise the person for not showing their age. There are many ways to do that, and the person you’re complimenting will be grateful to hear any of them:

  • Sembri più giovane. (“You look younger.” )
  • Li porti bene/benissimo. (Lit. “You wear them very well,” means “You don’t look your age”. )
  • Ti davo dieci anni di meno! (“I would give you ten years less.” )
  • Non li dimostri per niente! (“You don’t show them at all!” )

9. Congratulazioni! You’ve Gotten to the End…

You deserve to be praised for all the hard work you’re putting into learning Italian. Now you can take advantage of all the great resources you can find at ItalianPod101. Grammar lessons, vocabulary lists, and language practice. Everything you need to keep improving your Italian skills!

Practice is always the best strategy to improve your Italian grammar, vocabulary, and communication skills. So make sure you visit ItalianPod101. Here, you’ll find a great number of free resources, podcasts, lessons, and even mobile apps, and a FREE PDF with practical and efficient lessons. Keep up your good work on your Italian learning!

In the meantime, if there’s anything in this lesson you didn’t quite understand, feel free to leave us a comment and we’ll do our best to help you out! What’s your favorite Italian compliment?

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M or F? A Quick Guide to Italian Gender Rules

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Why is it important to study Italian gender rules? Unlike in English, gender in Italian is the first characteristic of every noun. In Italian, everything has a gender, and you need to know which gender it is to use a noun with the correct article, adjective, or pronoun. When you search for a word in an Italian dictionary, you’ll always find the gender next to it (m/f).

You won’t find a neutral gender for Italian names, but from day one of your Italian class, you’ll start hearing that everything has to “agree.” This means that all parts of the phrase have to be in accordance with the word gender (and number).

So, here we go with a simple grammar guide about the gender of nouns in Italian.

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Table of Contents

  1. What is Word Gender?
  2. How to Make a Good Guess on the Gender of a Word
  3. How to Memorize the Gender of Italian Nouns
  4. Gender Agreement for Articles and Adjectives
  5. Irregulars and Weird Exceptions
  6. Names with Totally Different M./F. Equivalents
  7. Conclusion

1. What is Word Gender?

The Symbols for Male and Female

Femminile o Maschile? (Feminine or Masculine?)

In Italian, there are two gender categories: Femminile (“Feminine” ) and Maschile (“Masculine” ). This means that there is no neutral gender.

This might sound a bit strange, but in Italian, objects such as chairs (la sedia, f.) and tables (il tavolo, m.), animals such as lions (il leone, m.) and tigers (la tigre, f.), feelings such as doubt (il dubbio, m.) and happiness (la felicità, f.) have a m/f gender, and you need to memorize which word is what gender. The best way to do this is to practice repeating the noun together with the right article; the article always shows you clearly what the gender of the word is.

Some words, such as the names of animals, have feminine/masculine equivalents that sometimes have a different form, like mucca/toro (“cow/bull” ) or gallina/gallo (“hen/rooster” ). These are mostly farm or pet animals. Other wild animals have an assigned gender in the Italian language (by whom, I ask myself…?),such as una tigre (“a tiger,” f.) and un rinoceronte (“a rhinoceros,” m.). If you want to make a word feminine, you’ll have to add femmina or maschio (“female” or “male” ) next to it. For example, un rinoceronte femmina (“a female rhinoceros” ).

A Rhino and Her Child

Un rinoceronte femmina. (“A female rhinoceros.” )

This is also the case for professions. If there’s no feminine equivalent, you should add donna (“woman” ) after the name of the profession to solve any ambiguity: un ingegnere donna (“a woman engineer” ).

2. How to Make a Good Guess on the Gender of a Word

Besides looking up the gender in the Italian dictionary, there are basic gender rules in Italian to follow to understand if a word is feminine or masculine. The easiest clue is to check the ending of the word as, generally, words ending in -o (plural ending in -i) are masculine while words ending in -a (plural ending in -e) are feminine.

  • Questo libro (m) ha una bella copertina (f).
    “This book has a nice cover.”
  • La mia casa (f) è bella e comoda.
    “My house is nice and comfortable.”

That sounds pretty straightforward, but things get a bit more complicated because there are a bunch of words ending in -e that could be either gender. Don’t worry, there are a few Italian language gender rules, but you’ll just need to memorize the words that don’t fit these rules. It’s hard work at the beginning, but soon you’ll get the hang of it.

  • Il nostro è un amore (m.) infinito.
    “Ours is an infinite love.”
  • Ho trovato la tua lezione (f.) molto utile.
    “I found the lesson very useful.”

3. How to Memorize the Gender of Italian Nouns

Now you have the main rule (-o is masculine and -a is feminine), but what you really need is some tips to quickly know and memorize the gender of other Italian words. Here’s a list of endings that have a certain consistency and will help you determine the gender:

  • Are feminine:
    • All names ending in -ione (stazione; stagione; opinione) (“station”; “season”; “opinion” ).

      A Milano c’è una stazione molto bella. (“Milan has a beautiful train station.” )
      L’estate è la stagione più calda. (“Summer is the hottest season.” )

    • Names ending in -tà or -tù (città; felicità; virtù; gioventù) (“city”; “happiness”; “virtue”; “youth” ).

      Roma è la città eterna. (“Rome is the eternal city.” )
      Hai visto il film ‘La meglio gioven?’ (“Did you see the movie The Best of Youth?” )

    • Most names ending in -i in the singular (crisi; sintesi) (“crisis”; “synthesis” ).

      Hai fatto una sintesi molto chiara. (“You did a very clear synthesis.” )
      La crisi di governo è prossima. (“The government crisis is close.” )

    • Most names of fruit (banana; pera; mela) (“banana”; “pear”; “apple” ).

      Questa mela è dolcissima. (“This apple is very sweet.” )

    • Names of the sciences and other abstract notions (chimica; fisica; giustizia; pace) (“chemistry”; “physics”; “justice”; “peace” ).

      La matematica è bellissima! (“Math is beautiful!” )

      A Graffiti Peace Sign

      La pace è femminile! 😉 (“Peace is feminine!” ) 😉

  • Are masculine:
    • All names ending in -ore (calore; attore; professore; ecc.) (“heat”; “actor”; “professor”; “etc.” ). Notice how nouns of professions ending in -tore are made feminine with the -trice ending, as in attore >> attrice (“actor >> actress” ).

      Oggi c’è un calore intenso. (“Today there is an intense heat.” )
      Hai incontrato il mio professore? (“Did you meet my professor?” )

    • Most names of trees (melo; pero) (“apple tree”; pear tree” ). While in English, to make the name of a fruit tree, you have to add “tree,” in Italian you just switch the gender of fruit from feminine to masculine…rather convenient, right?

      Maria è caduta dal pero. (“Maria fell off the pear tree.” )

      Fun fact: Did you know that cadere dal pero is an idiomatic expression meaning that you were oblivious of something? Maybe this is because pear trees are rather tall and common in Italy; to be on top of it means that you’re less in contact with reality…

      Bunches of Pears

      Cadere dal pero (“To fall from the pear tree” ) really means “to have no idea.”

    • Greek origin names ending in -ma (problema; sistema; teorema) (“problem”; “system”; “theorem” ).

      Questo problema è molto serio. (“This problem is very serious.” )
      Non ho mai capito il teorema di Pitagora. (“I have never understood Pythagoras Theorem.” )

      Notice how, even if they end in -a in the singular, the plural of these names in -ma of Greek origin have a masculine regular plural in -i (il problema >> i problemi).

    • All names of foreign origin ending in a consonant (bar; sport) (“bar”; “sport” ).

      Il mio sport preferito è la pallacanestro. (“My favorite sport is basketball.” )
      Questo è il bar dove servono il caffè migliore della città. (“This is the bar where they serve the best coffee in town.” )

    • Names of (most) professions ending in -ta (poeta; pilota; astronauta). Note that some of them become feminine using the -essa ending, as in poetessa while others don’t change, such as la pilota or la giovane astronauta).

      Il più grande poeta Italiano è Dante. (“Dante is the greatest Italian poet.” )

    • Names of months and days (except for domenica (f) = “Sunday”).

      È stato il dicembre più caldo del secolo! (“It was the hottest December of the century!” )

    • All numbers (except for numbers indicating hours).

      Il tre è il numero perfetto. (“Three is the perfect number.” )
      Il 99% degli Italiani adora la pizza! (“99% of Italians love pizza!” )

Are you ready for a little practice? Can you tell the Italian grammar gender of the nouns listed in this video?

4. Gender Agreement for Articles and Adjectives

Let’s talk about the dreaded concordanza (“the agreement” ). First things first, in Italian, most nouns need to be introduced by the article (determinate or indeterminate) and they have to agree in gender (and number) with the noun.

So, in order to memorize the gender of the words (besides the few Italian noun gender rules mentioned above), the best way is to memorize article + noun as a unique entity. The article always tells you clearly what the gender is.

    la lezione (f.) (“the lesson” )
    il fiore (m.) (“the flower” )

Here’s a little reminder of the way m./f. definite and indefinite articles change their form according to phonetic rules:

Determinate Masculine Article (the)
Sing. Pl.
il i This is the regular form and is more commonly used.
lo gli This form is used in front of nouns starting with specific letters:

  • S+consonant, z, x, y, gn, and ps
    • Lo studente >> gli studenti (“the student” >> “the students” )
  • Vowel (where lo >>l’)
    • L’italiano >> gli italiani (“the Italian” >> “the Italians” )

Determinate Feminine Article (the)
Sing. Pl.
la le Same as for the masculine, in front of a vowel, the article la >> l’:

  • L’italiana >> le italiane (“the Italian” >> “the Italians” )
  • La casa >> le case (“the house” >> “the houses” )

Indeterminate Masculine Article (a/an)
un This is the more commonly used form in front of a consonant or a vowel:

  • Un bambino (“a kid” )
  • Un italiano (“an Italian” )
uno This form is used in front of nouns starting with S+consonant, z, x, y, gn, and ps:

  • Uno studente (“a student” )

Indeterminate Feminine Article (a/an)
una In front of a vowel, the article una >> un’:

  • Un’italiana (“an Italian” )
  • Una casa (“a house” )

So, we were talking about the agreement: all variable parts of the sentence have to agree with the gender (m./f.) and the number (sing./pl.) of the noun. Variable parts are:

    – Articles (definite/indefinite)
    – Adjectives
    – Possessive adjectives (my; yours)
    – Demonstrative adjectives (this; that)
    – Indefinite adjectives (some)
    – Pronouns (him; her; it)
    – Past participle

Let’s analyze a sentence like this one, where the main noun is masculine (bambino = “kid” ):

Il mio bambino (m) é andato a scuola. (“My kid went to school.” )

Article + possessive + noun + (verb) + past participle; they all agree to the masculine form, except for the object (a scuola).

Or let’s take this one:

Nessuna pizza (f) è buona come questa. (“No pizza is as tasty as this one.” )

Indefinite + noun + (verb) + adjective + demonstrative; they all agree to the feminine form, except the verb.

Notice how the verbs don’t have to agree with the gender in Italian. But you do have to ensure that the past participle, which is part of the passato prossimo (“present perfect” ), agrees when it’s conjugated with the essere (“to be” ) auxiliary verb. But this will be part of another lesson coming up shortly about Italian conjugations on ItalianPod101.com!

Finally, one of the main consequences of all these Italian grammatical gender rules is that when you speak or write in Italian, you first have to think of the gender of the main noun, and then you can form the sentence accordingly.

5. Irregulars and Weird Exceptions

As usual, when it comes to syntax and grammar, there are exceptions. In particular, you might find nouns that look masculine because they end in -o but are feminine. These feminine -o nouns are often shortened words, such as:

  • la radio (“radio” )      is short for radiotrasmettitrice
  • la foto (“photo” )       is short for fotografia
  • la moto (“bike” )       is short for motocicletta
  • l’auto (“car” )            is short for automobile

Couple of People Riding 
around on a Vespa

È una moto? No, è una Vespa! (“It’s a motorcycle? No, it’s a Vespa!” )

Similar, but opposite, is the case of il cinema (short for cinematografo.)

A little different is the case of la mano (“hand” ) because it’s not the shortened version of anything.

Then there are names, mainly of professions, that have the same ending of -ista or -a, and can be either masculine or feminine. And this is a typical situation where you have to rely on the article, agreement, or purely the context, to figure out the gender.

Ending in -ista: il/la turista (“the tourist” ); il/la dentista (“the dentist” ); il/la giornalista (“the journalist” ).

    La turista è contenta. (“The tourist is happy.” )
    Questo giornalista sportivo scrive per la Repubblica. (“This sports’ journalist writes for la Repubblica.” )

Ending in -a: il/la collega (“the colleague” ); lo/la psichiatra (“the psychiatrist” ).

    Il mio collega mangia sempre in ufficio. (“My colleague always eats in the office.” )
    È un bravo psichiatra. (“He is a good psychiatrist.” )

Notice how in both cases, the plural of these nouns in -ista/-a ends in -e for feminine and in -i for masculine:

  • La turista          >> Le turiste
  • Il turista            >> I turisti
  • La collega        >> Le colleghe
  • Il collega          >> I colleghi

Then there’s the most bizarre of all cases: when a noun changes gender according to the number, that is, if it’s singular or plural. There are not—luckily—too many of those, but they are very common words:

Singular is masculine Plural is feminine
L’uovo Le uova “The egg/s”
Il dito Le dita “The finger/s”
Il braccio Le braccia “The arm/s”
Il paio Le paia “The pair/s”
Il riso Le risa “The laugh/s”
L’osso Le ossa “The bone/s”
Il lenzuolo Le lenzuola “The sheet/s”
Il muro Le mura “The walls”

6. Names with Totally Different M./F. Equivalents

Some names form their feminine counterpart from a very different root. We’ve already seen the case of pet/farm animals. Besides those, most of the other names belong to the relatives‘ category. See the examples below:

m f m f
fratello sorella “brother” “sister”
padre madre “father” “mother”
uomo donna “man” “woman”
marito moglie “husband” “wife”
genero nuora “son-in-law” “daughter-in-law”
dio dea “god” “goddess”

7. Conclusion

Italian gender rules can be a bit complicated, so you’ll need to learn a few tricks and practice, practice, practice. Do you want to know more? Do you want to practice with podcasts, lesson materials, and videos? Check out ItalianPod101.com for more, and keep up the good work!

Before you go, let us know in the comments if Italian gender rules are similar or different from those in your own language (or if your language has them at all!). We look forward to hearing from you!

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Loud and Creative: A Guide to Getting Angry in Italian

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Italians are known for expressing their emotions and for being passionate, a little loud, and definitely creative. So, it’s no surprise that when Italians get angry—and they do get angry a lot—they will have a passionate, loud, and creative way to express their feelings.

We know that angry people tend to express themselves with profanities and insults, but we’ll avoid parolacce (“curse words” ) and will give you instead a totally acceptable list of common Italian angry phrases and expressions useful for any occasion. Let’s start with learning how to say “angry” in the Italian language.

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Table of Contents

  1. Sono arrabbiato! (“I am angry!” )
  2. Angry Orders
  3. Angry Warnings in Italian
  4. Angry Questions and Blames in Italian
  5. Getting Emotional in Italian
  6. Saying it with Animals
  7. Culture: A Gesture is Worth a Thousand (Angry) Words
  8. Calmati! (“Calm Down!” ) A Brief Guide on How to Relax in Italian
  9. Don’t Make Me Come Over There and Teach You a Lesson!

1. Sono arrabbiato! (“I am angry!” )

The Italian word for “anger” is rabbia, from which comes the adjective arrabbiato (“angry” ). But let’s say that you’re really angry, but you don’t want to use any profanity. You can use the expression Sono arrabbiato nero! (“I am black angry!” ) when you’re soooo angry that you become black in the face.

There are other Italian words for “angry,” though. For example, you can use the phrase Sono incavolato, which literally refers to the cavolo (“cabbage” ), but is just a “clean” alternative to a curse word that also starts with Sono inc…(beep!).

You’ll hear these “clean” versions of parolacce (“swear words” ) all the time, from children and youngsters who don’t want to get in trouble with the adults to people in formal situations where profanities and curse words wouldn’t be appropriate. You’ll often hear an angry Italian guy (or lady) using these words, and you’ll see that they can often be really funny.

Negative Verbs

2. Angry Orders

Most of the time, we get angry because someone else is doing something annoying and they won’t stop when we ask them to.

A- Shut up!

This is the most widely used angry order. You say it to those chiacchieroni (“blabberers” ) who never stay quiet.

  • Zitto! This is the most common way to say it, and is the short version of Stai zitto! (“Be quiet!” ).
  • Taci! This is the imperative form of the verb tacere. Of course, if you’re giving the order to a crowd of loud people, you’ll change the verb to tacete!
  • Chiudi il becco! This is an older way of saying the same thing, but it’s still evergreen. Literally, it means “shut your beak” and is one of the angry Italian insults that give someone an animal characteristic. And we’ll see that there are many more examples of phrases like this throughout the article.

B- Stop!

There are so many things that make us angry…and often, we just need a generic order to stop whatever thing is driving us mad. And angry Italians have the perfect word for it:

  • Basta! It literally means “enough,” and you can use it by itself or with a noun:

    Basta ridere! (“Enough/Stop laughing!” )
    Basta con tutta questa confusione! (“Enough/Stop with all this mess!” )

  • Finiscila! This phrase literally means “end it,” as finisci is the imperative form of the verb finire (“to end” / “to finish” ). The pronoun la stands for whatever thing (cosa) is annoying us.
  • Smettila! This phrase is constructed exactly like the previous one, with the verb smettere (“to quit” ).
  • Dacci un taglio! This is another colorful way to tell somebody to cut it off (literally: “give it a cut” ).

Basta! (“Stop” )

C- Leave me alone!

When there’s loud people around you doing things they’re not supposed to do, the only thing you want is to be left alone, or as angry Italians say it:

  • Lasciami in pace! Literally, it means “let me in peace,” and it makes it very clear to steer away and give the speaker some peace of mind.
  • Togliti/Levati dai piedi! This angry phrase literally means “get out of my feet,” and it perfectly depicts a situation where somebody is constantly around you, literally “at your feet,” that you want to get rid of.
  • Vattene! It literally means “go away from this place” and it’s the imperative form of the verb andarsene (a reflexive + ne pronoun combination). In the plural form, it becomes Andatevene! And if you’re really arrabbiato nero (“madly angry” ) you can add a few unpleasant places where you want to send them to. For this, check the next paragraph.

D- Go to hell!

When everything else fails, it’s time to send the person bothering you really, really, really far away. Maybe even into another realm…

  • Vai all’inferno! (“Go to hell!” ) Not a very nice thing to say to anybody, but if you’ve been bad, that’s where you deserve to go, after all…
  • Vai al diavolo! (“Go to the devil!” ) This is another variation of the phrase above.
  • Vai a quel paese! This one literally means “go to that village!” It means that you order the person you’re angry with to go to an unidentified, faraway place.

Angry Man Pointing Finger at Someone

Vai all’inferno! (“Go to hell!” )

Did you notice that most of the examples above, since they’re orders, have the verb in the imperative form? You might want to review the imperative, especially if you want to know how to say angry phrases in Italian.

3. Angry Warnings in Italian

It’s such a cliché…but you don’t need to watch many mobster movies to know that angry Italians can be very intimidating, without even raising their voice! It’s true that sometimes just a mean look is enough to make you stop what you’re doing. But if you also add the right angry Italian phrases, you can be sure to achieve your intent.

  • Non mi fare incavolare/incacchiare! (“Do not make me angry!” ) Here we are again with these euphemisms (an expression substituting another that’s considered too vulgar, in this case).
  • Mi stai facendo perdere la pazienza! (“You are making me lose my patience!” ) This is what happens when you can’t take it anymore.
  • Non me lo fare ripetere due volte/un’altra volta! (“Don’t make me repeat it twice/once more!” )
  • Questa è l’ultima volta che te lo dico! (“This is the last time that I tell you!” ) This is just a variation of the angry phrase above.
  • Uomo avvisato, mezzo salvato! This common Italian motto literally means “Warned man is half saved,” and it’s the equivalent to the English “Forewarned is forearmed!” But with the right angry intonation, rather than a bit of advice, it becomes a warning that it’s the last chance to stay out of trouble.
  • Questa è la goccia che fa traboccare il vaso! And since we’re talking about mottos, another common way to warn people that you’re mighty angry is the image of “the drop that makes the vase overflow,” which is the equivalent of the English “the straw that broke the camel’s back!” And you know that when the thing that’s overflowing is anger, you better run and take cover!
  • Attento a come parli! This is literally translated as “Be careful how you talk,” which really means “Watch your mouth!”

Negative Feelings

4. Angry Questions and Blames in Italian

Questioning somebody’s behavior and actions are the first step you take when you’re angry. Here’s a list of angry questions and expressions in Italian for you to practice when you’ve lost your cool:

  • Ma che dici? (“What are you talking about?” ) This angry expression often goes together with a specific gesture that we’ll see in the following chapters. Or do you already know it?
  • Ma che diavolo/cavolo/cacchio dici/fai? (What the hell are you saying/doing?” ) This is just an angrier variation of the previous sentence, used with words that substitute the c… (beep!) curse word.
  • Chi ti credi di essere? (“Who do you think you are?” ) This phrase comes in handy when you want to rub in somebody’s face that they’re inferior to you. Variations of this are:
    • Non sai con chi stai parlando… (“You don’t know who you are talking to…” )
    • Non sai con chi hai a che fare…. (“You don’t know with whom you are dealing…” )
  • Sei pazzo? Sei scemo? (“Are you crazy? Are you dumb?” ) Nothing gives more pleasure—when you’re angry—than to question somebody’s sanity or intelligence. This is also often accompanied by a specific gesture. See more about this below.
  • Hai fatto casino! (“You messed up!” ) The word casino has various meanings (none of which is a small house, by the way). One of them is “brothel” and another is “confusion” or “mess,” which is probably a slang word derived from the first one. Casino (and its derivatives casinista, incasinato, etc.) used to be considered a curse word in the past, but nowadays it’s so common that you can safely say it. Even in front of somebody’s nonna (“grandmother” ).
  • Non sono fatti tuoi! (“It’s none of your business!” ) Notice how fatti (“facts” ) can have, in this context, the same meaning as “affairs” or “business.” You can also use the same expression to say “Mind your own business!” with the phrase Fatti i fatti tuoi! Notice how, in Italian, you don’t “mind” your business, but rather you “do” your business. And fatti is the imperative form (second person singular) of the verb fare (“to do” ).

Common Feelings

5. Getting Emotional in Italian

Let’s face it. We all get angry. And one thing that definitely helps to cope with anger, is to make sure your emotions are known. Here’s how you can show your disappointment, anger, impatience, and the whole range of angry feelings in Italian. And don’t forget that it’s also very important to know how to say sorry!

  • Non ne posso più! (“I can’t stand/take it anymore!” ) This is a rather bizarre construction, to say that you can’t stand something, as it’s only formed by the verb potere (“can,” “being able to” ) and the ne pronoun (“of it,” “about it” ). It is perfect, though, as a generic Italian expression of frustration.

    Non ne posso più… ho bisogno di un mese di ferie!
    “I can’t take it anymore…I need a month-long vacation!”

  • Non ti sopporto più! (“I can’t stand you anymore!” ) This is the perfect angry phrase if you want to break up with your Italian boyfriend/girlfriend. But it’s also an alternative (or possible addition) to the phrase above when you want to specify what you can’t stand:

    Non ti sopporto più! Me ne vado.
    “I can’t stand you anymore! I’m leaving.”

  • Ne ho piene le tasche! (“I’ve had it!” ) Literally, it means “I have my pockets full of that,” but “pockets” is really just a euphemism for male testicles. Another very common way Italians refer to being sick and tired of someone or something is the expression Rompere le scatole (“Break the boxes” ), where you already guessed what scatole stands for in this case.

    Basta con tutto questo casino! Mi avete rotto le scatole!
    “Enough with all this mess! I’ve had it with you!”

    Ne ho piene le tasche di tutto questo casino!
    “I’ve had enough of all this mess!”

  • Che schifo! (“How/That’s disgusting!” ) This is one of the most common Italian phrases when angry, and it’s a very encompassing word that Italians use all the time to express a range of negative emotions. It’s the perfect expression if you don’t like a dish (although it’s not polite at all for the cook, and you might have to face an angry Italian woman), if you see something bad, dirty, or smelly, or for anything else you dislike. It can also be used as a verb: mi fa schifo (“it disgusts me” ), a reflexive verb that can be considered the opposite of mi piace (“I like it” ).

    Prima mi piaceva ma adesso mi fa schifo!
    “I used to like it, but now it disgusts me!”

Girl Who Thinks Lima Beans Are Disgusting

Che schifo! (“Disgusting!” )

  • Che stress! (“What a stress!” ) “Stress” isn’t an Italian word, but it’s been so commonly used for many years that it’s officially entered the Italian dictionary. So have its derivatives stressare, stressarsi, and stressato (“to stress someone, to get stressed, stressed” ).

    Domani ho gli esami: che stress!
    “Tomorrow I have exams: what a stress!”

  • Che nervi! Literally, this can be translated as “What nerves!” Nervi is a synonym for “anger,” so as to mean “I am so angry!” A variation of this is Che nervoso!
  • Che palle! This is my personal favorite and, although it’s a bit more vulgar than the other examples, it’s mostly accepted nowadays. Palle (“balls” ) is still another word for testicles, but it also conveys other meanings, such as boredom, annoyance, or intolerance:

    Questo film è noioso e dura tre ore. Che palle!
    “This movie is boring and it lasts three hours. What a bore!”

    Parli troppo! Che palle!
    “You talk too much! What a nuisance!”

For many other ways to talk about your emotions, check out this catalog of negative emotions. Learn how to say that you’re sad in Italian and much more!

Complaints

6. Saying it with Animals

Maybe it’s due to the Italian agricultural background, or maybe it comes from our ancient ancestors, but the fact is that angry words in Italian culture are often animal comparisons. Here are just a few examples of animal insults in the Italian language:

  • Siete un branco di pecore! (“You are a herd of sheep!” ) This angry phrase is intended to insult people who have no will of their own and blindly follow orders. Pecoroni (“big sheep” ) has the same meaning.
  • Essere un maiale/porco (“To be a pig” ) This is an insult generally addressed to males, and it means “to be dirty, lewd, obscene.” The word porco (“pig” ) is also used in some generic expressions of anger: porco mondo! (“cursed world!” ) and porca miseria! (“cursed misery!” ).
  • Essere un asino/ciuccio/somaro (“To be a donkey” ) Asino/ciuccio/somaro are three synonyms for the same animal: the donkey, which is considered to be very ignorant, especially when referred to in a school setting. It’s not by chance that in the famous book, Pinocchio and the other kids that always skipped school turned into donkeys, remember?
  • Essere un verme (“To be a worm” ) For some reason, this little invertebrate has become used as an insult against a cowardly, vile, and morally repugnant person.
  • Figlio di un cane! (“Son of a dog!” ) Although the dog is most people’s favorite pet and is considered to be our best friend, in Roman times, Christians used to call people of different religious beliefs who betrayed them “dogs.” From those times comes this angry insult, which means “You are a traitor!”

7. Culture: A Gesture is Worth a Thousand (Angry) Words

Italians are famous for gesticulating a lot to emphasize what they’re saying. In angry situations, looks, hands, arms, and the entirety of body language help stress the extent of our feelings. Here’s what you need to know to use gestures instead of angry Italian words.

  • Ma che dici? (“What are you talking about?” ) When you want to question someone’s intelligence, there’s no better way than to put your fingertips together and move your hand back and forth a couple of times.
  • Sei pazzo! (“You are nuts!” ) To question someone’s sanity, you just need to touch your temple with your forefinger and tap on it a few times (or turn the finger clockwise).
  • Me ne frego! (“Who cares?” ) This angry expression shows absolute indifference to a situation. It’s made with the reflexive verb fregarsene (combined with the pronoun ne). Not an easy construction, but Chissenefrega…? (the impersonal way to say “Who cares?” ) will be much easier once you can say the same with a gesture. Just rub your fingers under your chin while looking at the person in front of you with indifference and contempt.
  • Ti faccio un mazzo così! (“I’ll kick your butt!” ) Alas, sometimes you’re so angry that all communication fails and you need to take action! Or at least threaten to take action. Or even better, you just make this gesture threatening to take action. Just make an L with your thumbs and forefingers with both hands and form a circle. But be careful, as this gesture is rude and aggressive. But it also means “you are very lucky” because, for some reason, in Italian, butts are synonymous with luck…
  • Mi fai incavolare! (“You drive me nuts!” ) By now, you should know everything about the use of this cabbage euphemism. What you probably don’t know is that you can say the same thing just by biting your upper and/or your lower lip.
  • Cornuto! (“Cuckold!” ) It literally means “with horns” and it’s the worst insult that will make any Italian man very angry (especially in the South), as it means that their partner is being unfaithful. So, you might actually not want to use it with that meaning. On the other hand, it’s often used as a generic insult, and it’s not uncommon to see people in traffic waving their fists with the index and little finger raised as to imitate the horns of a bull. Take, for example, the iconic scene from the movie Il Sorpasso.

8. Calmati! (“Calm Down!” ) A Brief Guide on How to Relax in Italian

Using Italian phrases when angry is perfect for getting your point across to fellow Italian speakers. But one of the most important things to remember about being angry is that right after, we need to calm down and find our cool again.

Italians are masters in this art. Here are a few suggestions on what to do when you’re angry.

  • Canta che ti passa! (“Sing and it will go away!” ) This is a very old Italian motto and it reflects the concept that Italians love music and singing. And there’s nothing better than singing a song to regain your good mood.
  • Fatti due passi. (Literally, “make two steps,” meaning to take a walk.) When you walk, you stimulate your brain to release endorphins—a neurochemical that makes you feel instantly better. It helps overcome stress and pain, and it can even make you feel euphoric.
  • Fai un bel respiro! (“Take a deep breath!” ) A well-known remedy for overcoming anger is to breathe deeply a couple of times and let the oxygen do its thing as a natural tranquilizer. This is especially useful if you use it as a method before saying or doing something that you might regret…
  • L’arte di chiedere scusa. (“The art of saying sorry.” ) Last, but definitely not least, the best thing to do after having burst in anger at somebody is to say you’re sorry. And mean it. Here’s how to say sorry in Italian:
    • Scusa. (“Sorry.” ) Notice how, in Italian, scusa means both “sorry” and “excuse me.”
    • Scusami. (“Forgive me.” )
    • Ti chiedo scusa/perdono. (“I ask for your forgiveness.” )
    • Perdonami. (“Forgive me.” )
    • Ti prometto che non lo faccio più. (“I promise I won’t do it again.” )

9. Don’t Make Me Come Over There and Teach You a Lesson!

Sorry, I got carried away with all these Italian angry phrases, and I just meant an Italian lesson… 😉 But really, in this guide we gave you all the tools you need to express your feelings, even if they’re angry feelings.

Did you like learning about angry expressions in Italian? Then drop us a comment below and let us know (but no parolacce, please!).

Keep exploring all of your emotions by diving deep into ItalianPod101.com, where you’ll be able to find videos, audio recordings, and all the answers to your questions related to Italian grammar and vocabulary.

And don’t forget to check out all of our free resources!

Happy Italian learning!

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Festa dei Lavoratori: Celebrating Labor Day in Italy

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Italians celebrate International Labor Day with fervor, flair, and food! In this article, you’ll learn about the history of Labor Day in Italy, what events Italians hold to celebrate, and more. While you read, compare Italian celebrations for Labor Day with those in your country!

Let’s get started.

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1. What is Labor Day?

Labor Day is about honoring workers around the world, celebrating economic and social gains workers have made, and demonstrating for even more rights and privileges.

In Italy, Labor Day began near the end of the 1800s, particularly with the protest for an eight-hour workday in 1886 in the United States. However, this holiday was suspended during the years of the fascist regime in the early 1900s, finally being restored in 1945, following WWII.

On Labor Day, Italy closes many businesses and schools, and most people get the day off of work. Depending on when May 1 is, Italians may also get an entire Labor Day weekend to rest and enjoy themselves.

2. When is Labor Day in Italy?

Labor Day is on May 1

Each year, Italians celebrate Labor Day on May 1 (primo maggio). This is the same date that International Labor Day is celebrated around the world, except in the United States, where it takes place on the first Monday of September.

3. How Do They Celebrate Labor Day in Italy?

A Woman Raising a Glass of Wine at an Outdoor Lunch with Friends

On Labor Day, Italians celebrate with concerts, parades, picnics, or a relaxing time at home.

A popular celebration for Labor Day in Rome, Italy, is the concerto a San Giovanni, or “concert in San Giovanni.” Approximately half of all citizens in Rome attend this massive concert—which features both Italian and international artists, and lasts several hours—and people outside the city andare a Roma per il concerto, or “go to Rome for the concert.” This concert is sponsored by CGIL, CISL, and UIL, which are Italian labor unions.

Many people also enjoy the opportunity to festeggiare con gli amici, or “party with friends.” This often involves lots of good food and wine, sometimes consumed during a picnic all’aperto, or “outdoor picnic.”

Other people spend this time with their families, go to the beach, or simply stay at home and relax the entire day!

4. Workers’ Rights in Italy

Here are just a few modern-day Italian employee rights.

  • Every person has the right to work and is guaranteed paid holidays.
  • Each week, a worker is required to take one day off for every six they work.
  • Women are paid eighty percent of their salary for a five-month maternity leave period (two months before childbirth and three after).

Interested in learning more about working in Italy? ItalianPod101.com has an entire article about How to Find a Job in Italy!

5. Must-Know Vocabulary for Labor Day

An Up-Close Shot of an Orchestra Playing at a Concert

Ready to review some of the vocabulary words from this lesson? Here’s a list of the most important words and phrases for Labor Day in Italy!

  • Concerto — “Concert”
  • Festa dei Lavoratori — “Labor Day”
  • Primo maggio — “May 1”
  • Sindacato — “Labor union”
  • Concerto del primo maggio a Roma — “May 1 concert in Rome”
  • Andare a Roma — “Go to Rome”
  • Andare a Roma per il concerto — “Go to Rome for the concert”
  • Concerto a San Giovanni — “Concert in San Giovanni”
  • Picnic all’aperto — “Outdoor picnic”
  • Andare al mare — “Go to the sea”
  • Bere vino — “Drink wine”
  • Festeggiare con gli amici — “Party with friends”

To hear the pronunciation of each word and phrase, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our Italian Labor Day vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about the Labor Day holiday in Italy with us, and that you took away some valuable information.

How do you celebrate Labor Day in your country? We look forward to hearing all about it in the comments!

If you’re interested in learning even more about Italian culture and society, check out the following pages on ItalianPod101.com:

This is just the tip of the iceberg. For more fantastic Italian-learning content, create your free lifetime account with us, or upgrade to our Premium or Premium PLUS plans for exclusive features to help you improve your Italian faster.

Happy Labor Day! 🙂

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Life Event Messages: Happy Birthday in Italian & More

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Being part of your family’s, friends’, and colleagues’ life events is important in having a loving and caring relationship with them. That’s why we at ItalianPod101 have listed the most important messages for life events in Italy: In this article, you’ll learn how to say Happy Birthday in Italian, Italian Christmas greetings, messages you can use in case of funerals or marriages, and much more.

With our guide to life event messages in Italian culture, you’ll always know what to say.

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Table of Contents

  1. The Best Messages for Life Events in Italy
  2. Speak and Behave Like a Real Italian with ItalianPod101

1. The Best Messages for Life Events in Italy

1- How Do You Say Happy Birthday in Italian?

Happy Birthday

Birthdays are very important for Italians, especially for the children (and their parents), and the elderly. To wish someone you know a happy birthday will make them happy, and make them feel like you care for them.

Some people—especially middle-aged men and women—are very private about their birthday, and prefer not to celebrate it. But you’ll never be considered impolite if, without knowing their attitude, you wish them happy birthday. They’ll simply tell you that they don’t like birthdays and you’ll just have to avoid mentioning it next year.

Here’s our answer to the question “How do you say happy birthday in Italian?”: It depends on the occasion. Some examples are:

  • Buon compleanno – “Happy birthday.” Suitable for both formal and informal situations, and for both speaking and writing.
  • Felice compleanno – “Happy birthday.” Suitable for both formal and informal situations, and for both speaking and writing. Less common than Buon compleanno.
  • Tanti auguri di buon compleanno – “Many wishes of a happy birthday.” Suitable for both formal and informal situations, and for both speaking and writing.

How Do You Say Happy Birthday in Italian

2- What to Say in Case of Pregnancy & Birth

Baby showers aren’t common in Italy, but you should send your best wishes when someone’s pregnant or when a baby is born. Here’s a list of Italian greetings for life events full of joy, like pregnancy or birth.

In case of a pregnancy, here’s how you can offer congratulations in Italian:

  • Congratulazioni per la bellissima notizia. – “Congratulations for the wonderful news.” Suitable for both formal and informal situations, and for both speaking and writing.
  • Auguri per l’attesa più dolce che ci sia. – “My best wishes for the sweetest expectation.” Suitable for both formal and informal situations. Mostly used in writing.

In case of a newborn:

  • Benvenuto/benvenuta… (name of the baby) – “Welcome…” Suitable for both formal and informal situations, and for both speaking and writing.
  • I miei/nostri auguri di tanta felicità a… (name of the baby) – “My/our wishes of a happy life for…” Suitable for both formal and informal situations, and for both speaking and writing.

italian Greeting for Life Events

3- What to Say for a Graduation

A graduation is always something to celebrate, and Italy is no exception. As always, how to greet a new graduate depends on your relationship with that person:

  • Congratulazioni, dottore/dottoressa. – “Congratulations, graduate.” Suitable for informal situations, and for both speaking and writing.
  • Auguri per la tua laurea. – “My best wishes for your graduation.” Suitable for informal situations, and for both speaking and writing.
  • Congratulazioni e tanti auguri per i futuri successi. – “Congratulations and my best wishes for your future success.” Suitable for both formal and informal situations, and for both speaking and writing.

Fun fact: In many Italian university cities, graduations are often celebrated in a pretty extreme way. The newly graduated are ordered to drink, dress in a fun way, and forced to walk around the city while their friends make fun of them, play jokes, and read rhymed verses talking about them in an often vulgar way.

4- What to Say in Case of a New Job or Promotion

A new job is a new opportunity, and it’s always something to celebrate, especially in times of crisis. Here are a few Italian phrases of congratulations for this occasion:

  • Congratulazioni per il tuo nuovo lavoro. – “Congratulations on your new job.” Suitable for informal situations, and for both speaking and writing.
  • Congratulazioni per la sua nuova posizione lavorativa. – “Congratulations on your new job position.” Suitable for formal situations, and for both speaking and writing.
  • Congratulazioni per il nuovo lavoro, ti auguro che ti dia tante soddisfazioni. – “Congratulations on your new job, I wish that you receive great satisfaction from it.” Suitable for informal situations, and for both speaking and writing.

New Job

5- What to Say When Someone Retires

Retirement is an important—and often a most-desired—step in everyone’s life. Like everywhere in the world, not everyone is happy about it, but most people are.

Nice things to say in case of retirement are:

  • Congratulazioni, ma sappi che al lavoro ci mancherai tanto! – “Congratulations, but remember that we’ll miss you so much at work.” Informal, for speaking and writing, when addressing a colleague who has just retired.
  • Congratulazioni e ora goditi il tuo tempo libero! – “Congratulations, and enjoy your free time now!” Informal, for speaking and writing.
  • Dopo una vita di successi, congratulazioni per il suo pensionamento. – “After a life of successes, congratulations on your retirement.” Formal, for speaking and writing.

6- Italian Congratulations: Weddings & Engagements

Marriage Proposal

Even if more and more Italians choose to live together without marrying, marriage is still considered an important step. Celebrations vary and depend on the couple’s desires and wealth. Some just do a little toast with their closest friends and relatives, while others invite hundreds of people to a huge lunch or dinner party. Anyway, friends, relatives, and simple acquaintances should wish well to the couple.

Some things that you may say to the newlyweds are:

  • Vi auguro una vita di felicità. – “I wish you a life of happiness.” Suitable for both formal and informal situations, and for both speaking and writing.
  • Felicitazioni per il vostro matrimonio. – “Congratulations for your wedding.” Formal, for writing.
  • Auguri e felicità ai novelli sposi. – “My best wishes and happiness to the newlyweds.” Suitable for both formal and informal situations, mainly for writing.

Greetings for Life Events in Italy

7- Messages in Case of a Death/Funeral

When a loved person dies, it’s important to be there for their family and make them feel that you’re close. Most Italians do a Christian funeral a few days after the departure of their loved one. The day or night before the funeral, relatives, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances usually come to visit (at home or at the funeral home), and gather around him/her to pray.

Some Italian phrases for condolences include:

  • Condoglianze a te e alla tua famiglia. – “Condolences to you and your family.” Informal, for speaking and writing.
  • Le mie più sentite condoglianze a lei e alla sua famiglia. – “My most heartfelt condolences to you and your family.” Formal, for speaking and writing.
  • Vicini nel dolore, porgiamo sentite condoglianze. – “We are close to you in your pain and we give you our heartfelt condolences.” Formal, for writing.

8- What to Say in Case of Bad News

Basic Questions

It can be tricky to know how to react properly when someone from another culture tells you they just had bad news. Some good examples are:

  • Mi dispiace tanto. – “I’m so sorry.” Informal, for speaking and writing.
  • Ti sono vicino/vicina. Se hai bisogno conta su di me. – “I’m close to you. If you need anything, count on me.” Informal, for speaking and writing.
  • Mi dispiace della brutta notizia, se ha bisogno di aiuto la prego di farmelo sapere – “I’m sorry for the bad news, if you need any help please let me know.” Formal, for speaking and writing.

9- What to Say When Someone’s Injured or Sick

When someone’s injured or sick, it’s common courtesy to wish them to get well soon. Here’s how:

  • Riposati e torna in forma al più presto. – “Rest and get well soon.” Informal, for speaking and writing.
  • Le auguro una pronta guarigione. – “I wish you a quick healing.” Formal, for speaking and writing.
  • Prenditi cura di te e torna presto. – “Take care of yourself and come back soon.” Informal, for speaking and writing.

10- Greetings for the Most Important Holidays in Italy

How do you say Merry Christmas in Italian? What are the most popular Italian Easter greetings?

Holiday greetings are one of the most important life event messages in Italian family culture. Life event messages in Italian are seen as a way to show your affection to others, especially within the family.

Christmas is the most important holiday in Italy, and when it approaches, you’re supposed to visit your family or at least call to give your best wishes.

Let’s see the best ways to wish a Merry Christmas in Italian, and other Italian holiday greetings:

  • Buon Natale. – “Merry Christmas.” Formal and informal, for speaking and writing.
  • Buon anno. – “Happy New Year.” Formal and informal, for speaking and writing.
  • Buon natale e felice anno nuovo. – “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.” Formal and informal, for speaking and writing.
  • Buona Pasqua. – “Happy Easter.” Formal and informal, for speaking and writing.
  • Buone vacanze. – “Happy holidays.” Formal and informal, for speaking and writing.

Merry Christmas in Italian

2. Speak and Behave Like a Real Italian with ItalianPod101

So, reader, what did you think about this article? Do you feel more confident about giving life event messages in Italian now, or are there still life event messages you want to know about? Let us know in the comments!

ItalianPod101 can give you 360° knowledge of the Italian language and culture. Our lessons cover a vast range of topics regarding grammar and vocabulary, as well as culture, good manners, and other important things to improve your relationship with your Italian family, friends, and colleagues. And our apps make your learning easier than ever!

With your hard work and our fun, effective learning tools, you’ll be speaking Italian like a native before you know it!

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Domenica delle Palme: Celebrating Palm Sunday in Italy

Celebrating Palm Sunday in Italy

Palm Sunday in Italy is a major occasion around the country, with many unique religious celebrations. In this article, you’ll learn the basics about Palm Sunday, Italian traditions for this holiday, and some relevant Italian vocabulary.

Let’s get started!

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1. What is Palm Sunday?

On Palm Sunday, Italian Christians celebrate Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem as described in the Bible. According to the Bible, he entered riding a donkey and people from the city welcomed him by throwing down palm branches in his path. This took place exactly one week before his Resurrection from the dead, which is celebrated as Easter one week after Palm Sunday.

In Italy, Palm Sunday is also largely associated with plants, particularly the palm tree and olive branch.

2. When is Palm Sunday in Italy?

Closeup of an Olive Branch

The date of Palm Sunday varies each year, along with Lent and Easter. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years:

  • 2020: April 5
  • 2021: March 28
  • 2022: April 10
  • 2023: April 2
  • 2024: March 24
  • 2025: April 13
  • 2026: March 29
  • 2027: March 21
  • 2028: April 9
  • 2029: March 25

3. How Does Italy Celebrate Palm Sunday?

A Palm Sunday Procession

There are many unique Palm Sunday traditions in Italy. One such tradition is that of attending the Mass and receiving a palm branch (ramo di palma) or olive branch (ramo d’ulivo) there. Usually, the branches are bundled together right outside the church. For the Mass, it’s common for a priest to knock on the church doors three times, which is a symbol of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem.

At around nine-thirty in the morning, the Pope visits St. Peter’s Square in Rome. In the square, there’s a procession of people carrying palm or olive branches, which leads to the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica where the Mass takes place. Over the duration of the procession, the Pope and other clergymen give a benedizione, or “blessing,” to those carrying the branches.

Throughout Italy, many people may celebrate Palm Sunday—and the entirety of Holy Week—with some nice, home-cooked dinners. Some examples of popular Italian Palm Sunday dinner items include stracciatella soup, lamb, and Italian Easter bread.

4. World Youth Day

Did you know that in Italy, Palm Sunday has also been deemed World Youth Day according to the Christian calendar?

Because of this, the Pope’s Palm Sunday message is often geared toward the youth of today and the problems they face as they relate to Christianity.

5. Essential Italian Palm Sunday Vocabulary

Holy Water

Ready to review some of the vocabulary words from this article? Here’s a list of the most important words and phrases for Palm Sunday!

  • Ramo — “Branch”
  • Palma — “Palm tree”
  • Benedizione — “Blessing”
  • Ramo di palma — “Palm branch”
  • Passione — “Passion”
  • Seconda domenica di passione — “Second Passion Sunday”
  • Acqua santa — “Holy water”
  • Ulivo — “Olive”
  • Ramo d’ulivo — “Olive branch”
  • Processione — “Procession”

To hear the pronunciation of each word, and to read them alongside relevant images, check out our Italian Palm Sunday vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about Italian Palm Sunday traditions with us, and that you took away some valuable cultural information.

Do you celebrate Palm Sunday in your country? If so, are celebrations similar or quite different from those in Italy? We look forward to hearing from you in the comments!

If you’re fascinated with Italian culture and can’t get enough, we recommend that you check out the following pages on ItalianPod101.com:

That should be enough to satisfy your thirst for Italian cultural knowledge for a little while, but for more fun resources on all things Italian, create your free lifetime account today.

We look forward to having you! 🙂

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Celebrating International Women’s Day in Italy

Giornata Internazionale della Donna, or International Women’s Day in Italy, is a major holiday celebrated throughout the country. In this article, you’ll learn how Italians honor the women in their lives and about the most common traditions for Women’s Day.

Let’s get started.

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1. What is International Women’s Day?

In Italy, International Women’s Day may not be a public holiday, but that doesn’t keep people from finding ways to honor the women in their lives. Essentially, International Women’s Day is a reminder of the “discrimination” (discriminazione) and “violence” (violenza) women have faced in the past, and a day to celebrate the higher social position women have today.

This festival was first celebrated in 1909 in the United States, while in Italy, it has only been celebrated since 1922. However, it was only after the end of World War II that this day became an important holiday. This is because, after the war, women could vote and have a political career for the first time in the history of Italy.

This greater sense of “equality” (uguaglianza) continues to call for celebration today, and in Italy, Women’s Day is observed with fervor throughout the country. In addition, women often fight for greater equality on Women’s Day.

2. When is Women’s Day?

A Woman Sitting with Her Arms on Top of a Desk

Each year, International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8.

3. Women’s Day Traditions and Celebrations

Woman Smelling a Bouquet of Flowers

On International Women’s Day, Italy is abloom with love, appreciation, and respect for women. This is often done through gift-giving, of which sweets and flowers are common favorites.

Since 1946, the mimosa has been the symbol of the holiday, and today serves as the most popular Women’s Day flower in Italy. The mimosa is a yellow flower that grows in abundance throughout Italy, blooming in early March. Each year in Italy, Women’s Day flowers are available in all the shops and markets, which sell sprigs of mimosa that people then give as gifts to the women in their life.

As you know, Italians are very fond of sweets, and so naturally, there’s a typical dessert dedicated to celebrating Women’s Day. It’s called the mimosa cake, or torta mimosa. This cake is so named because it‘s yellow in color and it seems to be covered with mimosa flowers. In reality, it’s a sponge cake with whipped cream. Another favorite sweet for Women’s Day is “chocolate” (cioccolato).

4. Two Very Important Italian Women

In Italian history, there are two very notable women. Do you know who they are?

The first is Teresa Mattei, one of the first women in Italian politics. She’s the one who made mimosas the symbol of Women’s Day in 1946.

The second is an Italian woman who received the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1986. Her name was Rita Levi Montalcini, and she made important discoveries for the treatment of serious diseases such as cancer.

5. Must-Know Vocabulary for International Women’s Day

A Mimosa Flower

Ready to review some of the vocabulary words from this lesson? Here’s a list of the most important words and phrases for International Women’s Day in Italy!

  • Cioccolato — “Chocolate”
  • Donna — “Woman”
  • Mimosa — “Mimosa”
  • Parità — “Parity”
  • Diritto — “Right”
  • Uguaglianza — “Equality”
  • Torta mimosa — “Mimosa cake”
  • Giornata Internazionale della Donna — “International Women’s Day”
  • Violenza — “Violence”
  • Discriminazione — “Discrimination”

To hear the pronunciation of each word, and to read them alongside relevant images, check out our Italian International Women’s Day vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about Women’s Day in Italy with us! Does your country celebrate International Women’s Day, or honor women some other way? Let us know in the comments!

If you’re fascinated with Italian culture and can’t get enough, be sure to check out the following pages on ItalianPod101.com:

Whatever your reasons for developing an interest in Italian culture or the language, know that ItalianPod101.com is the best way to expand your knowledge and improve your skills. With tons of fun and immersive lessons for learners at every level, there’s something for everyone!

Create your free lifetime account today, and start learning with us.

Felice Giornata Internazionale della Donna! (“Happy International Women’s Day!” in Italian) from the ItalianPod101 family.

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Most Important Coordinating Conjunctions in Italian and More

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Without conjunctions, we would be talking like robots, putting together a sequence of detached sentences. You might not realize this, but conjunctions are a very important part of our language. They have the important job of coordinating and linking phrases.

So, let’s discover and practice the most commonly used conjunctions in Italian (including coordinating conjunctions in Italian), because these little bricks in your sentences will help you connect your Italian phrases and make your Italian conversation flow. And this is exactly what you’ll need to speak Italian like a pro! (See how I used conjunctions to link the last three sentences?) 🙂

As you can see, even the most simple Italian conjunctions can make a huge difference.

But before learning Italian conjunctions, let’s take a more detailed look at what a conjunction is.

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Table of Contents

  1. What is a Conjunction?
  2. Italian Conjunctions to Correlate Similar Thoughts
  3. Italian Conjunctions to Express Condition
  4. Italian Conjunctions to Express Cause
  5. Italian Conjunctions to Express Opposition
  6. Italian Conjunctions to Express Purpose
  7. Italian Conjunctions to Express Time
  8. Italian Conjunctions to Explain
  9. Italian Conjunctions to Express a Conclusion
  10. ItalianPod101: Your Guide to Italian Grammar & Culture

1. What is a Conjunction?

Sentence Patterns

Conjunctions serve as connectors to link together two or more sentences or groups of words. They are invariable, meaning that they don’t change—and this is good, because you won’t have to worry about the agreement of feminine, masculine, singular, or plural.

There are two types of Italian conjunctions:

  • Italian coordinating conjunctions, which put together two or more elements of the same importance
  • Italian subordinating conjunctions, which put together two or more elements establishing a dependence

For example, take Vado in pizzeria e poi al cinema (meaning “I go to a pizzeria and then to the movies,” when translated). In this sentence, e poi (and then) are two coordinating conjunctions.

But if I say, Vado in pizzeria perché ho fame (or “I go to the pizzeria because I am hungry,” when translated), this is a subordinative conjunction, because going to the pizzeria depends on the fact that I am hungry (in this case, it’s the cause).

Now, are you ready to learn Italian conjunctions? We thought so! Without further ado, here’s our Italian conjunctions list!

2. Italian Conjunctions to Correlate Similar Thoughts

Let’s start with some basic Italian conjunctions: those that correlate similar thoughts.

E: This is the very first conjunction you’ll learn when you start studying Italian. E means “and,” and it’s impossible to do without because you use it to link two or more words in a sentence:

“I eat bread and cheese.” (Mangio pane e formaggio.)

It can also link two sentences/verbs:

“I went to the movies and I saw a nice Italian film.” (Sono andato al cinema e ho visto un bel film italiano.)

Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Pane e formaggio. (“Bread and cheese.”): it also means two people that really get along!

Whenever you write in Italian, pay attention to the difference between e to connect parts of your phrases and the third person verb è (it is) that needs the accent. This is a very common mistake that many young Italian students make, and nonetheless it’s a red pen mistake! To help you remember, here’s a little filastrocca (nursery rhyme):

E senza accento lega,
È con accento spiega.

E with no accent binds,
È with an accent explains.”

Take a look at this Italian conjunctions chart to see how other common and useful correlative Italian conjunctions work:

Italian Conjunction English Equivalent
anche also Vado al cinema e viene anche Marco. “I go to the movies, and Marco will also go.”
inoltre besides Oggi non esco, inoltre piove. “I won’t go out today, besides it rains.”
nor Non so ballare cantare. “I can neither dance nor sing.”
o/oppure (synonyms) or Vuoi la torta o/oppure il gelato? “Do you want ice cream or cake?”
nemmeno
neanche
neppure
(synonyms)
not even Non esco nemmeno/neppure/neanche per un minuto. “I won’t go out, not even for a minute.”
nemmeno
neanche
neppure
(synonyms)
neither Non esci? Nemmeno/neanche/neppure io! “You don’t want to go out?
Neither do I!”

3. Italian Conjunctions to Express Condition

Se non piove, vado al mare. (If it doesn’t rain, I’ll go to the beach.)

This is a very common sentence structure that you’ll often need when you want to talk about a hypothetical situation. To do so, you’ll need to use another one of the most common Italian conjunctions, se (if), which is used to introduce a hypothetical sentence.

What does “hypothetical” mean? Simply that you’re stating a doubt, or a possibility (either realistic or impossible) that could occur. The difference between being realistic or not is actually very important in Italian, since what tenses you’ll use in your sentence depend on this.

Woman Thinking
Ipoteticamente, se fossi italiana userei sempre il congiuntivo! (Hypothetically, if I were Italian I would use the subjunctive all the time!)

Look at the example in the table to see the difference. Do you want to know more about Italian verbs and tenses?

Italian Hypothetical Phrase English Equivalent Situation What tenses?
Se non piove, vado al mare. If it doesn’t rain, I’ll go to the beach.” Very realistic possibility Present – Present
Se fossi un pesce vivrei nel mare. If I were a fish, I would live in the sea.” Highly improbable Past Subjunctive – Conditional

4. Italian Conjunctions to Express Cause

Oggi vado al mare perché c’è il sole (Today I go to the beach since it is sunny.)

Perché (since; because) is one of the most useful Italian conjunctions to know and use, because it explains the reason or the cause behind some action.

Other conjunctions to express cause are poiché, siccome, and visto che. They are synonyms of perché and also mean “since.” Notice how, unlike perché, they can be at the beginning of a sentence.

  • Poiché non mi chiami, vado da sola. (Since you didn’t call me, I’ll go by myself.)
  • Siccome piove, non vado al mare. (Since it’s raining, I won’t go to the beach.)
  • Visto che sei italiano, devi sapere fare la pizza! (Since you’re Italian, you must know how to make pizza!)

Man Sleeping Next to Pizza Boxes

Sono Italiano ma non so fare la pizza! La mangio solamente… (I’m Italian, but I can’t make pizza. I only eat it… )

Another difference is that perché is also used to ask a question: Perché non vai al mare? (Why don’t you go to the beach?).

So you see that while in English there are two separate words for it (why and because), depending on whether it’s a question or an answer/explanation, in Italian, they’re the same word: perché. And don’t forget to put the acute accent on the é at the end of perché!

Perché? Perché sì! (Why? Just because!)

5. Italian Conjunctions to Express Opposition

Sentence Patterns

These conjunctions in Italian are the perfect tool when you want to make an excuse for some action. So obviously, they’re very useful to help you politely decline an invitation, an opinion you don’t agree with, or a second helping of lasagna from your friend’s grandma…

The most common conjunctions to express opposition are ma or però (both mean “but” when translated):

  • Mi piacerebbe andare al mare, ma oggi devo studiare. (I would love to go to the beach, but today I have to study.)
  • Capisco il tuo punto di vista, però non sono d’accordo. (I understand your point of view, but I don’t agree.)
  • La lasagna è buonissima, ma sono proprio sazio! (The lasagna is fantastic, but I am really full!)

6. Italian Conjunctions to Express Purpose

Improve Listening Part 2

Affinché, così, and perché all mean “so that.”

Whenever you want to express the purpose of an action that you stated in the main sentence, use conjunctions such as per, affinché, cosí, or perché, which all mean “so that.” For most of these, you need to pay extra attention because they require the use of the congiuntivo (the subjunctive tense).

  • Ti chiamo perché tu capisca la situazione. (I’m calling you so that you understand the situation.)
  • Scrivo l’esercizio affinché tu possa correggerlo. (I’ll write down the exercise so that you can correct it.)
  • Lo spiego di nuovo cosí che voi comprendiate. (I’ll explain it again so that you’ll all understand.)

When the two sentences (main and subordinate) have the same subject, you can use the simpler conjunction per without the subjunctive. I bet you loved that…!

Ti chiamo (io) per spiegarti (io) la situazione. (I call you to explain the situation.)

If you want to know more about this type of sentence, check out this lesson on our website.

7. Italian Conjunctions to Express Time

Quando? and Per quanto tempo? mean “When?” and “For how long?” respectively. Whenever you need to answer those questions, you’ll be using conjunctions to express time.

Hourglass

Guardo la clessidra mentre il tempo passa (I watch the hourglass, while time goes by).

The most common of Italian conjunction words for this is definitely quando (when). And you must have heard the old and very famous Italian song ‘60 Quando, Quando, Quando by Tony Renis. Can you sing along?

  • Mentre (While)
    Non parlare mentre mangi. (Don’t talk while you eat.)
  • Quando (When)
    Esco sempre quando nevica. (I always go out when it’s snowing.)
  • Appena/Non appena (As soon as)
    Ti chiamo (non) appena ho finito. (I’ll call you as soon as I’m done.)
    Notice how appena/non appena have exactly the same meaning.
  • Prima di/che (Before)
    Bevo un bicchiere d’acqua prima di dormire. (I drink a glass of water before I go to sleep.)
    Ti voglio parlare prima che tu esca. (I want to talk to you before you leave.)
  • Dopo di/che (After)
    Esco solo dopo avere finito i compiti. (I only go out after I finish my homework.)
    Esco solo dopo che hai finito i compiti. (I only go out after you finish your homework.)

8. Italian Conjunctions to Explain

How many times have you said something in Italian and then realized your idea wasn’t clear enough? In that case, these conjunctions to explain will come in quite handy! The most common in Italian are cioè (that is) and infatti (in fact).

  • Mi piace l’entomologia, cioè lo studio degli insetti. “I like entomology, that is the study of insects.)
  • Ha nevicato tutta la notte, infatti stamattina fuori è tutto bianco! (It snowed all night, in fact this morning it was all white outside!)

Have you noticed how much young Italians say cioè (that is)? Since the 70s, it’s become very common in spoken Italian as a way to take time to think about what you want to say. This is similar to “well…” in English at the start of a sentence. Some younger kids use it all the time! In fact, Cioè has even become the name of a very famous Italian teen magazine!

Cioè… non ho capito la domanda. (Well… I didn’t get the question.)

You might have also noticed how often Italians answer a question with infatti (in fact). In this case, it’s not used to explain the previous sentence, but simply to answer a question. It’s a way to reinforce your (yes), as in “Yes, absolutely/That’s right!”

          – C’é un bel sole, non ho voglia di stare a casa!
          – Infatti!

          – “It’s nice and sunny, I don’t feel like staying home.”
          – “That’s right!”

Group of Friends

Cioè… Allora… Quindi… (That is… So…). You’ll hear these words a lot from young Italians!

9. Italian Conjunctions to Express a Conclusion

And finally, to conclude, what could be more appropriate than talking about conjunctions to express a conclusion? So here we go. The most common Italian conjunctions to express a conclusion are allora (then), quindi (so), and dunque (therefore).

  • Non vuoi andare al cinema, allora cosa vuoi fare? (You don’t want to go to the movies, then what do you want to do?)
  • Sono tornata a casa tardi, quindi mia madre si è preoccupata. (I came home late, so my mom got worried.)
  • Voglio imparare l’Italiano, dunque studio con ItalianPod101.com! (I want to learn Italian, therefore I study with ItalianPod101.com!)

Even though these conjunctions serve mainly to conclude a sentence, you’ll often hear Italians start their sentences with them. In this case, they have the same function as cioè… (that is). They merely earn you some time while you think of what you’re about to say.

10. ItalianPod101: Your Guide to Italian Grammar & Culture

You’ll have lots of fun playing with Italian conjunctions because they’re the glue that allows you to bring your Italian conversation and writing to the next level. In Italian grammar, conjunctions really are that essential! So, try and use these conjunctions as much as possible, and keep having fun with ItalianPod101.com.

Which of these conjunctions do you plan on putting to use soon? Are there any you’re struggling with? Let us know in the comments!

Until next time, keep practicing, because your hard work is going to pay off and you’ll be speaking Italian like a native before you know it!

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Everything You Should Know about Italian Customs and Etiquette

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Every culture in the world have their own customs and etiquette regarding the most important aspects of social life: from dining to celebrations, from greetings to traveling, and so on. For someone coming from a different culture, they can be hard to understand and adopt, but they’re indeed an important element in communicating with the local population and learning their culture.

In order to help you with this, ItalianPod101 has written a guide to the Italian customs and etiquette. With our Italian etiquette tips under your belt, you have no reason to be nervous when an Italian friend invites you to dinner or when you’re going to travel to Italy for business reasons. Everyone will remember you as the educated, nice foreigner who surprised them by perfectly knowing the Italian customs. For tourists, knowing even a small bit of Italian etiquette can go a long way!

Table of Contents

  1. How to Talk about Etiquette in Italian
  2. Italian Dining Etiquette: The Do’s and Don’ts for Dining in Italy
  3. The Do’s and Don’ts for Sightseeing
  4. The Do’s and Don’ts for Greetings
  5. The Do’s and Don’ts for Visiting a House in Italy
  6. The Do’s and Don’ts When Riding Public Means of Transportation
  7. The Do’s and Don’ts for Business
  8. The Do’s and Don’ts for Celebrations
  9. Learn Everything about Italian Culture and Customs with ItalianPod101

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1. How to Talk about Etiquette in Italian

Bad Phrases

First of all, a super-short language lesson. Let’s say, for example, that you find yourself in a new situation and you’d like to know the Italian culture customs regarding the circumstance. You’d like to ask an Italian friend or colleague, but how? What are the verbs and sentences to talk about etiquette in Italian? How do you know about proper Italian etiquette for your current situation?

1- Dovere

When talking about customs and etiquette, you usually use the modal verb dovere and/or the imperative form. Dovere means “to have to,” and can also mean “should” and “must.” Let’s see a couple of examples:

Example: Quando ti presenti a qualcuno, devi stringergli la mano.
Translation: “When you introduce yourself to someone, you should shake their hands.”

Example: Quando saluti una persona giovane, devi dire ‘ciao.’
Translation: “When you say hello to a young person, you should say ‘ciao.’

2- The Imperative Verb

ItalianPod101 has prepared a couple of great lessons on the affirmative imperative and the negative imperative.You can check them out to know everything about this form. But for the purpose of this article, here’s a couple of examples regarding Italian etiquette:

Example: Mangia con la bocca chiusa.
Translation: “Eat with a closed mouth.”

Example: Non toglierti le scarpe quando entri in una casa.
Translation: “Don’t take your shoes off when you go into a house.”

2. Italian Dining Etiquette: The Do’s and Don’ts for Dining in Italy

Here’s some Italian etiquette for tourists willing to explore the universe of Italian food and wine. The most important rules of Italian dining etiquette are:

  • Wait for everyone to be served before starting to eat: In some cultures, eating together is more about sitting at a table together than it is about actually consuming the food. The Italian culture is not one of them. Before starting to eat, make sure that everyone is served and ready to start. Not waiting for everyone to start at the same time is considered very rude.
  • Always say Buon appetito!: This is another key rule of Italian dining etiquette. Before starting to eat, you should always say Buon appetito! to your tablemates. Literally, this expression means “Good appetite,” but it really means, in context, “Enjoy your meal.”
  • Always serve your tablemates before yourself: When helping yourself with food or wine, always start with the others at your table and serve yourself last. Don’t worry; you don’t need to serve thirty people if you’re at a big dinner, just focus on serving the guests next to you. Kindness and generosity are highly appreciated at Italian tables.
  • Make a toast before starting to drink alcohol: Like the Buon appetito! is mandatory before starting to eat, so is a toast before starting to drink. Raise your glass and say Salute! or Cin cin!, then wait for your guests to join the toast.
  • Don’t talk with your mouth full: Italians really don’t like to see how the food looks in your mouth.
  • Don’t burp: In some countries, for example in India, burping is a sign of satisfaction and satiety. But in Italy, it’s unacceptable. Basically, you should avoid every loud sound—slurping is another good example.
  • When eating in the streets, beware of municipal rules: This isn’t properly about etiquette, but more about local laws. Given the huge number of tourists and the current boom of street food, some Italian municipalities have forbidden eating on the street. You should ask your host or tourist office about this to avoid expensive fines.
  • You’re allowed to use your bread to clean the plate as long as you’re NOT holding the bread with your hands! Make sure to cut the bread into bite-sized pieces, and to hold it with your fork to clean the plate. That’s a delicious rule.

Dining

3. The Do’s and Don’ts for Sightseeing

Thank You

Some tourists don’t really know how to behave when visiting a foreign country. And as Italy is a very popular destination, this becomes clear. Follow this list of Italian etiquette do’s and don’ts for tourists to be the visitor every Italian likes. Also note that specific Italian culture customs come into play here.

  • Talk with a low voice in churches and other holy places: Holy places are usually very quiet in Italy, and everyone visiting them is requested to respect this silence. You’re allowed to talk, but only with a low voice.
  • Turn your mobile phone off or on silent in churches and other holy places: People that don’t do this are considered very disrespectful.
  • Don’t go where people are praying: People who are praying need calmness and respect. Don’t go next to them, and be quiet when you pass near them. This includes the “clicks” of your camera or cell phone. Some churches, especially the most-visited ones, have an area only for prayers. Don’t go there.
  • Don’t point to people: Italians don’t like people pointing to them with their fingers. It makes them feel like animals at a zoo.
  • Ask for permission before photographing someone: For the same reason, you should always ask their permission before taking a photo of someone.
  • Be sensible with selfies: Selfies are a fun habit but also a curse of the current era, because they make us behave stupidly sometimes. We think about the people that will look at our photo on social media, and not about those around us. So, be sensible. Before taking a selfie, make sure that you’re not acting disrespectfully. For example, if you’re taking a selfie in front of a monument for the victims of WWII, this is considered disrespectful.

Sign

4. The Do’s and Don’ts for Greetings

We’ve already written a super interesting guide about greetings in Italy, but here are a few Italian etiquette tips.

  • Smile: Italians communicate a lot with their facial expressions and body language, and have a really hard time with people who don’t. If you don’t smile to someone when greeting or introducing yourself to them, they’ll think you’re rude or hate them.
  • Shake hands: Shaking hands is a key part of Italian etiquette when you meet someone new or when you greet a business contact. It’s also common among acquaintances, especially among men.
  • Kiss your friends and relatives twice on their cheeks: Italians do kiss, a lot. Not as much as the French do, but almost. You should kiss your friends and relatives twice on their cheeks when saying hello and goodbye. All of them. Yes, it’s a lot of kissing and they love it.
  • Don’t be too formal: Italians tend to be warmer in their manners than many other populations, and generally don’t like formalities too much. Just try to adapt to the level of formality they use toward you.

5. The Do’s and Don’ts for Visiting a House in Italy

Hygiene

Here are Italian etiquette rules for being a good guest in an Italian house. These simple tips for etiquette in Italy for tourists can go a long way toward impressing your host and leaving a good impression on potential friends.

  • Don’t take your shoes off: In many parts of the world, you have to take your shoes off to show your respect in someone else’s house. In Italy, it’s the opposite. So, if you’re not asked to, don’t ever take your shoes off.
  • Don’t wander around alone: Moving freely around someone else’s home is considered rude and inappropriate.
  • Accept something they offer: Leaving a house without having a coffee, a piece of cake, or even just a glass of water might disappoint your host. Let them welcome you.

Etiquette

6. The Do’s and Don’ts When Riding Public Means of Transportation

Busses and trains are often crowded and stressful, which is why you should be super kind when riding them. These are the basic rules of etiquette in Italy for tourists using public transportation:

  • Give your seat to old people, the disabled, pregnant women, and children.
  • Don’t speak too loud, especially on the phone, and don’t listen to music without headphones.
  • Say Permesso when you need to pass: This is the magic word that shows kindness to those traveling with you, like “excuse me” in English.

7. The Do’s and Don’ts for Business

Business Phrases

Knowing the Italian etiquette is especially crucial when doing business with Italians. Here’s some good advice when it comes to Italian customs in business.

  • Don’t talk about money right away: Yes, it’s weird, but money is a delicate issue for Italians. Don’t forget that for many centuries, the Church called it “the devil’s poo,” and even in today’s more secular century, there’s still something dirty about it. Don’t start talking about it at the beginning of a conversation, especially if it’s a large amount. It’s better to spend a few minutes talking about other aspects of the business before discussing the financial side.
  • Appreciate other people’s work: Be sure to show appreciation toward other people’s work, even if you won’t close any deal. You’ll leave a good impression and be able to build a good reputation.
  • Shake hands: After you’ve reached a business deal, shake hands.

Doing

8. The Do’s and Don’ts for Celebrations

What if you’re invited to a wedding or, unfortunately, you have to attend a funeral? Check out our advice here.

  • Don’t dress in bright colors at a funeral: Instead, dress soberly, using dark colors.
  • Say Condoglianze to offer condolences.
  • Don’t eat at a funeral: In Italy, mourning isn’t considered an occasion to eat together. Instead, eating at funerals is almost a taboo. People at funerals just gather together and remember the deceased.
  • Say Congratulazioni to offer congratulations: For example, you can say this at a wedding, a baptism, a graduation, etc.

9. Learn Everything about Italian Culture and Customs with ItalianPod101

What do you think about Italian customs and etiquette? Does your country have similar expectations? Let us know in the comments!

ItalianPod101 isn’t simply a place to learn the Italian language. It’s also a hub of information covering Italian culture and customs from many different points of view. Care to know more about how friendship works in Italy? You got it! Or do you want to move there to work? We got you covered!

And with our apps and tools, you’ll learn faster and in a fun, entertaining way, like you’ve never experienced before! Let us be your ladder to success as you master the Italian language!

Still don’t feel like you know everything you need about Italian etiquette and customs? Check out our in-depth articles and guides, like the ones we linked to throughout this article.

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Epifania: The Feast of the Epiphany in Italy

Italians celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany each year to celebrate the Magi’s visitation to Baby Jesus. However, the celebrations of Epiphany in Italy may surprise you—did you know that Epiphany isn’t what most Italians call this holiday?

In this article, you’ll learn about the origins of the Epiphany holiday and how the Italians observe it.

At ItalianPod101.com, it’s our goal to ensure that every aspect of your language-learning journey is both fun and informative—starting with this article!

Ready? Let’s dive in.

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1. What is Epiphany in Italy?

Epiphany, like Christmas, is a Christian religious festival. It celebrates the visit made by the Magi—the three great kings of the East—to Christ twelve days after his birth. This festival is a national holiday.

For Italians, the Epiphany is also a bit of a sad day, because it is the fine del Natale, or “end of Christmas.” Thus, while the Epiphany celebrations are going on, Italians are also bracing themselves for the humdrum of everyday life to begin again.

2. Epiphany Date

Each year, Italians celebrate Epiphany on January 6. The night before is called Epiphany Eve.

3. How Do They Celebrate Epiphany in Italy?

Go to Mass

While, like in most countries that celebrate Epiphany, many Italians andare a messa, or “go to mass,” the more popular traditions may surprise you. 😉

1- The Legend of La Befana

According to an Italian belief, on the night between January 5 and 6, a vecchia signora, or “old woman,” called Befana—who’s ugly and old and rides on a broomstick—goes into every home to fill the socks of the good children (bambini buoni) with candies and sweets, and distribute coal to the bad children (bambini cattivi). The kids really like this celebration of the Epiphany, because even if they get a bit of coal, they still always receive a lot of candies and chocolates. This belief also explains why the Epiphany is more commonly known as the Day of the Befana.

In Venice, the Befana travels on a boat! In fact, every year, on January 6, a boat race of the Befana is organized, led by athletes dressed as Befana, who compete on the Grand Canal.

2- More Epiphany Traditions

On this day, after opening the socks filled with candy (caramella), Italians get together with their families to enjoy lunch together. The most typical food eaten on Epiphany in Italy is sweets, including focaccia of the Epiphany. This is a cake that has a fava bean placed inside it; the one who finds this dry bean will have very good fortune throughout the year. The afternoon of this day is also an opportunity to go out for a walk around the historic centers of the city, where there are small markets selling sweets.

During the Epiphany Festival, Italy’s most common activity is actually to take away all the Christmas decorations, such as the Christmas tree and the nativity scene. This is because Epiphany marks the official end of Christmastime.

4. Origin of “Epiphany”

Do you know the meaning and origin of the word “epiphany”?

It is a word with Greek origins that means “appearance” or “revelation.” Some people also celebrate Epiphany as the day on which the Trinity of God was “revealed” during the baptism of Jesus, thus the holiday’s name.

5. Must-Know Vocabulary for Epiphany in Italy

Sweet Coal

Ready to review some of the vocabulary words we went over in this article? Here’s the essential Italian vocabulary for Epiphany!

  • Caramella — “Candy”
  • Epifania — “Epiphany”
  • Andare a messa — “Go to mass”
  • Carbone dolce — “Sweet coal
  • Calza — “Stocking”
  • Vecchia signora — “Old woman”
  • Magi — “Magi”
  • Regalo — “Gift”
  • Fine del Natale — “End of Christmas”
  • Scopa — “Broomstick”
  • Befana — “Befana”
  • Bambino cattivo — “Bad child”
  • Bambino buono — “Good child”

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our Italian Epiphany vocabulary list.

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about the Feast of Epiphany in Italy with us!

Do you celebrate Epiphany in your country? If so, are celebrations similar or different from those in Italy? Let us know in the comments!

If you’re interested in learning more about Italian culture, or if you want some wintery words up your sleeve to get you through the next couple of months, you may find the following pages useful:

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Happy Italian learning! 🙂

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