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È with an Accent or E? All About Italian Accent Marks

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Have you ever wondered what makes Italian so musical? Among other reasons, there’s the fact that the rhythm inside the sentences is set by raising and lowering one’s tone of voice, dictated by…yes, you guessed right! The accento, which is how you say “accent” in Italian.

Man in Suit Singing into a Microphone

Accents and alternation of vowels make Italian so musical!

Accents are little (and often invisible) signs that help us speak and write correctly. That’s why it is so important to get Italian accent marks right on the page and to know the few rules that govern them. Ready to go? Start with a bonus, and download the Must-Know Beginner Vocabulary PDF for FREE! (Logged-In Member Only)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian Table of Contents
  1. Introduction to Italian Accents
  2. Italian Accents and Their Functions
  3. The Most Important Italian Accent Mark of All (È vs. E)
  4. Are Italian Accent Marks Optional?
  5. Homograph Words (Same Words, Different Meanings)
  6. A Brief History of Italian Accents
  7. How to Type Italian Accents
  8. How to Get All Your Italian Accents Right with ItalianPod101.com!

1. Introduction to Italian Accents

First of all, let’s clarify an important point. In this article, we’ll be focusing only on orthographic signs, and not on the wonderful variety of regional variations with which Italians talk. That is a totally different topic, even though it also has to do with the musicality of the Italian language. But keep checking the ItalianPod101.com blog because in the future, you might discover just how to do an Italian accent!

The accents we’ll be talking about are those little orthographic signs that you write on top of vowels to give a syllable prominence or emphasis, basically to indicate that your voice has to stop there for an instant. In Italian, the only letters with accents are: à, è, é, ì, ò, ù.

When we talk, even if we don’t realize it, we put the accent on every word we say. And rightly so, because each word has an accent. But in writing, it’s rarely obligatory to indicate the accent, given that the Italian words with accent marks are a minority compared to those without. 

In Italian, you’ll find only two accents:

  • grave accent (`) as in città (“city”)
  • acute accent (´) as in perché (“why”)

In the past, there used to be a circumflex accent (^) in specific cases, but it has—luckily—been dropped. 

2. Italian Accents and Their Functions

Recapping, there are two types of Italian accents (acute and grave), and they have two functions:

  • They indicate on which syllable to put the stress when you speak.
  • They indicate if the vowel is open (grave = `) or closed (acute = ´).

In the first case, the only time it’s obligatory to put the accent mark in Italian is when the stress falls on the last syllable. These are called parole tronche (“truncated words”).

Roma è una bellissima città. (“Rome is a beautiful city.”)
I soldi non danno la felicità. (“Money does not give happiness.”)
La pazienza è la virtù dei forti. (“Patience is the virtue of the strong.”)

One Girl Looking Over Another Girl’s Shoulder During Test

Is it with an accent or without…?

Notice how when the accent on the last syllable falls on the vowels a, i, o, or u, the accent is always grave: à, ì, ò, ù. If it falls on the vowel e, it could be grave (è) or acute (è), depending on the open or closed pronunciation of the vowel. (You can watch this video on Italian accents when pronouncing vowels for more information.)

For example, it’s acute with the causal conjunctions perché (“why” / “because”), affinché (“so that”), cosicché (“so”), giacché (“since”), poiché (“because”), etc., or on the compound words of tre (“three”), ventitré (“twenty-three”), trentatré (“thirty-three”), etc. In most other cases, it is grave.

To know when to put the accent, it helps to remember that all of the words in English that end in -ty (city, society, variety, immensity, etc.) will end in -tà in Italian (cit, socie, varie, immensi, etc.). Note that they end with the à accent.

Then, there’s a certain number of monosyllabic words that are composed of just one syllable and need to have an accent. The small Italian words with accent marks are:

  • (“She/He/It gives”)
  • Là, Lì (“There”)
  • (“Yes”)
  • (“Tea”)
  • È (“It is”)
  • (“Nor” / “Neither”)
  • (“Oneself”)
  • Ciò (“That,” as a pronoun)
  • Già (“Already”)
  • Giù (“Down”)
  • Più (“More”)
  • Può (“He can”)

Other places where you need to consistently put the accent? Here they are:

  • On the third person singular of the passato remoto (“remote past,” which is the equivalent of the preterit past). This is actually a bit more advanced. Do you want to find out more about it?
    • Andò (“He went”)
    • Mangiò (“She ate”)
    • Dormì (“He slept”)

  • On the first and third person singular of the future tense:
    • Andrò / Andrà (“I will go” / “He will go”)
    • Mangerò / Mangerà (“I will eat” / “She will eat”)
    • Dormirò / Dormirà (“I will sleep” / “He will sleep”)

  • On all the names of the days, except for sabato and domenica (“Saturday” and “Sunday”).This is because they are compounds of the word , which is another way to say giorno (“day”).
    • Lunedì (“Monday”)
    • Martedì (“Tuesday”)
    • Mercoledì (“Wednesday”)
    • Giovedì (“Thursday”)
    • Venerdì (“Friday”)

3. The Most Important Italian Accent Mark of All (È vs. E)

The accented è in Italian is extremely important. Being the third person singular of the verbo essere (“verb ‘to be’”), you can imagine just how useful it is in your writing and how often you’ll have to write it. 

That’s why Italian teachers can overlook some spelling and grammar mistakes, but one thing that will surely result in a red mark on your homework is to leave out the ` accent of è (“it is”) or to put it on e (“and”).

Teacher Grading Papers Behind Her Desk

Beware! È vs. E is a red pen mistake!

In fact, in this case, it’s not only a matter of style, but it directly affects the meaning of the sentence. And since both parts (conjunction and verb “to be”) are so common and essential in any sentence, it’s clear why it’s so important to write them correctly. To help children remember if they need to write e with an accent or not, Italian teachers use this little rhyme with kids:

E che lega / È che spiega (“E that ties / È that explains”).

Try and repeat it a few times to memorize it. And if you still need more practice, check out one of the many resources on ItalianPod101.com.

4. Are Italian Accent Marks Optional? 

Accents on parole tronche (“truncated words”), those words where the stress falls on the last syllable, are the only case in which accents are not optional. And—in theory—you should respect the correct orthography of the accent (basically the direction you write it ` vs. ´). But beware that nowadays, many Italians don’t pay much attention to it, especially with all the fast writing in chats and on phones…

When the stress falls inside the words, it’s not mandatory to write the accent. However, it’s extremely useful to clarify the pronunciation (yes, sometimes even Italians can get confused on the correct way to pronounce long words…). You’ll also find it useful in distinguishing cases in which two words look the same, but have different meanings depending on where the accent falls or what kind of accent it is. In this case, the choice of whether to use the accent or not is left to the writer, depending on the degree of ambiguity of the context. As in lèggere (“to read”) vs leggère (“light” f. pl.).

  • Mi piace molto lèggere storie leggère. (“I really like to read light stories.”)

Most of the time, you’ll only see these accents in Italian dictionaries when you’re looking up the definition of the word.

5. Homograph Words (Same Words, Different Meanings)

The example above perfectly shows the other function of Italian accents, which is phonetic rather than orthographic. This means that it impacts the pronunciation and not the writing. These accents help you know how to pronounce any given word, and they clear things up in case of homographs, which are two words that are written the same way but have different meanings depending on where the accent falls.

Old Man Raising Hands in Gesture of Uncertainty

Homograph words…what are those?

1- Same accent, different position

To better understand the importance of Italian accent marks’ pronunciation, here’s a list of Italian words with hidden accent marks that have different meanings depending on the position or the type of accents. But remember that these accents aren’t usually written, and they only appear in dictionaries.

  • Lèggere / Leggère (“To read” / “Light”)
  • Meta / Metà (“Goal” / “Half”)
            La meta di quest’anno è le metà dell’anno passato. (“This year’s goal is half of last year’s.”)
  • Prìncipi / Princìpi  (“Princes” / “Principles”)
            La storia è piena di prìncipi senza princìpi. (“History is full of princes with no principles.”)
  • Capitàno / Càpitano (“Captain” / “They happen”)
            Il capitàno ha detto che sono cose che càpitano. (“The captain said that these things can happen.”)
  • Áncora / Ancòra (“Anchor” / “Yet” or “Still”)
            La nave non ha ancòra gettato l’àncora. (“The ship has not yet thrown the anchor.”)

2- Same position, different accent

In other cases, the accent is in the same place, but it’s a different type (acute vs. grave). When this happens, the meaning changes as well, like in these examples.

  • La bótte (“the barrel”) vs. Le bòtte (“the beatings”)
  • Affètto (“affection”) vs. Affétto (“I slice”)
  • Pèsca (“peach”) vs. Pésca (“he fishes”/”fishing”)
  • Èsca (“bait”) vs. Ésca (“she leaves,” subjunctive of uscire)

Even for an Italian ear, it’s not always easy to hear the difference, especially since regional accents might influence the pronunciation. So it’s always easier to make out the difference based on the context of the sentence.

6. A Brief History of Italian Accents

Old Writings with a Red Wax Seal On It

Old Italian has a lot more accents…

So now you know that accents are sometimes there (we pronounce them), but aren’t really there (we don’t write them). Do you wonder why? 

Accents in all romance languages come from the Greek. In Italy, up to the 19th century, there were no set rules and everybody used them as they liked…kind of. This is why, if you try and read a very ancient Italian text, you might find a lot of accents that today aren’t written anymore. And it’s just recently that the grammaticians have gotten together and set the rules that you’ve just learned here.

7. How to Type Italian Accents

Now, you might be wondering: “How do I type Italian accent marks?”

Sometimes, the biggest challenge when you write in a different language is to find unfamiliar letters and accents on your keyboard. Luckily, in Italian, you only have to worry about è, é, à, ì, ò, ù. So, here’s a little guide to help you learn how to write Italian accents.

1- On phones

Smartphones with a touchscreen normally have a very useful feature. If you hold your finger on a letter, all of the possible combinations and variations of that letter will pop up, including the accents.

2- On an Italian keyboard

If you happen to be in Italy, and you’re using an Italian keyboard (at a friend’s house, a library, or an internet cafè), you’ll find the vocali accentate (“accented vowels”) on the right side of the keyboard (à, è, é, ì, ò, ù). Very convenient! However, you won’t find uppercase È (“It is”) on the keyboard. But since it’s the only one that you will ever really need, you can copy-paste from another text, for example here: È! 🙂  

An Upclose Shot of a Keyboard

Combination of keys will write à è é ì ò ù

3- On other keyboards

However, if you need to write Italian accent marks on keyboards that aren’t Italian, you’ll need a little patience and some trial and error before you’re able to write that perfect letter to your friend or finish your Italian homework.

On keyboards that have the ` and ´ keys, you normally just need to press one of those keys, followed by the vowel you need the accent on.

For the grave accent:

  • à = ` then press the ‘a’ key.
  • è = ` then press the ‘e’ key.
  • ì = ` then press the ‘i’ key.
  • ò = ` then press the ‘o’ key.
  • ù = ` then press the ‘u’ key.

For the acute accent:

  • à = ´ then press the ‘a’ key.
  • é = ´ then press the ‘e’ key. (The only one you will really need.)
  • í = ´ then press the ‘i’ key.
  • ó = ´ then press the ‘o’ key.
  • ú = ´ then press the ‘u’ key.

4- On a Mac

To type Italian accent marks on Mac keyboards, for the grave accent you’ll have to press the Option key, the tilde (~) key, and then the vowel you need to put the accent on:

  • à = option + tilde (~) / then press the ‘a’ key.
  • è = option + tilde (~) / then press the ‘e’ key.
  • ì = option + tilde (~) / then press the ‘i’ key.
  • ò = option + tilde (~) / then press the ‘o’ key.
  • ù = option + tilde (~) / then press the ‘u’ key.

To write with the acute accent, you’ll have to press the Option key, the “e” key, and then the vowel you need to put the accent on, as follows:

  • à = option + ‘e’ key / then press the ‘a’ key.
  • é = option + ‘e’ key / then press the ‘e’ key again. (The only one you will really need.)
  • í = option + ‘e’ key / then press the ‘i’ key.
  • ó = option + ‘e’ key / then press the ‘o’ key.
  • ú = option + ‘e’ key / then press the ‘u’ key.

5- On search engines

One thing that you won’t have to worry too much about is using the right accent when you’re looking something up on a search engine. Engines, in fact, give you full results, whether you put the accent or not.

For example, if you search meta on an Italian search engine, in the results you’ll find links, articles, and definitions about both the goal (meta) of this year’s spending review and the difference between metà and mezza (both, in fact, mean “half”).

8. How to Get All Your Italian Accents Right with ItalianPod101.com!

Are you ready now to write a perfect letter, a perfect resume, or a motivational letter? Are you confident enough to chat comfortably with your Italian friends via messages and chats? 

Making progress in learning a language becomes easier once you have the right tools. And what could be better than free resources, mobile apps, a personalized learning system, or audio and video lessons to help you improve more everyday? All of this and more you’ll find on ItalianPod101.com, the Innovative Language site for on-the-go learning. Check it out!

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

Is Italian Hard to Learn?

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In this article, we’re going to dismantle some common misconceptions about learning a new language, with a focus on Italian. We’ll start with a big question: “Is Italian hard to learn?”

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Learning Italian Table of Contents
  1. Is Italian a Difficult Language to Learn? (Spoiler…the answer is “No”)
  2. What are the Hardest and Easiest Parts of Learning Italian?
  3. This is Why Learning Italian is Easy!
  4. Here’s Why Italian is Hard to Learn
  5. I Want to Learn Italian. Where Should I Start?
  6. Why is ItalianPod101 Great for Learning Italian?
  7. Conclusion

1. Is Italian a Difficult Language to Learn? (Spoiler…the answer is “No”)

So, you’ve finally decided to jump into learning a new language, and your first choice is Italian (a great choice, by the way). Now, with your foot in the door, you’re wondering whether Italian is a hard language to learn. 

The short answer here is “No!” Anybody can learn Italian, especially after getting through our quick and definitive guide on how to succeed. And our first piece of advice is this: Independent of your goal, learning a new language is a journey, so have fun with it!

Of course, there are some variables that have an impact on how easily or quickly you’re going to master Italian, but the good news is that you’ll definitely get there—and you’ll have great fun in the process.

First, let’s take a brief look at the main factors that affect the way one learns and perceives a new language:

  • → predisposition: We all know that learning a language just comes easier to some people than it does for others. They have that something…it’s like having a good ear for music or a good sense of direction. But don’t worry, even if that might give them a little jumpstart, there are lots of other variables that contribute to one’s perceived difficulty of a language.

  • → motivation: Whether you were born with a knack for languages or not, being very motivated can help you learn quickly and with ease. Imminent moves to Italy, the prospect of a job abroad, or an Italian boyfriend/girlfriend have always been fantastic motivators!

  • → how close your native language is to Italian: of course, if you speak another of the Romance languages (French, Spanish, or Portuguese, for example), Italian will be easier for you because you’ll find many similarities.
A Couple Walking Together Down a Road

Learning a language is a journey. Have fun with it!

2. What are the Hardest and Easiest Parts of Learning Italian?

But what if you don’t speak one of the Romance languages? Is Italian hard to learn for English-speakers?

We have good news: The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) considers Italian to be one of the easiest languages for English-speakers to learn. In fact, they estimate that you just need twenty-four weeks (or 600 hours) to acquire basic fluency. So after that amount of time, you should be able to sustain a simple conversation and get by in various Italian language situations.

Well, in the end, these are just numbers and everybody has a different learning pace and different needs. But that said, let’s see in full detail what the easiest and hardest parts of learning Italian are—and what strategies you can use to tackle any Italian difficulty you face.

Let’s start with the good news:

3. This is Why Learning Italian is Easy!

Here are a few aspects of the Italian language you can rejoice about as a new learner. 

1 – Pronunciation 

Italian pronunciation is not only beautiful and very musical, but it’s also easy! 

Why? Mainly because everything is pronounced the same way it’s written, and there are no strange exceptions as there are in languages like English or French. In Italian, there are clear and basic rules to follow, and the most important thing to remember is that every letter is pronounced (except for “h”). In addition, almost every word ends with a vowel, which is what makes the Italian language so beautiful. 

2 – Simple Tricks to Easily Guess the Italian Word

Italian, like all other Romance languages, comes from Latin. It’s actually the one language among them that’s closest to Latin.

Black and White Image Representing a Group of People in the Middle Ages

Can I borrow these words? Please…?

Since the Middle Ages, English has borrowed a great number of words from Latin and incorporated them into everyday language. You might not realize it, but there are lots and lots of English words that you use every day that come from Latin. Thus, these words are very similar to the corresponding Italian word.

This means that you can reverse the process and guess the Italian word, starting from a Latin-derived English one. And this process is super-easy because there are simple tricks for translating suffixes (the final part we attach to a word to slightly change its meaning) and getting the correct Italian word every time. 

Let’s see how easy it is:

English EndingItalian EndingEnglish WordItalian Word
-ity-ità“abilityabilità
-tion
-ption
-ction
-zione“station
“action
“corruption
stazione
azione
corruzione
-ly-mente“legallylegalmente
-ism-ismo“alpinismalpinismo
-ist-ista“dentistdentista

3 – Do You Know Another Romance Language?

If you’ve already studied another Romance language, such as Spanish, French, or Portuguese, learning Italian will be much easier for you. Just consider these factors: 

  • the alphabet is the same (and it’s also the same as English’s alphabet, by the way)
  • the vocabulary has a lot in common
  • the use of some tenses is similar across the board
  • the concept that everything has a gender remains intact
  • the concept of agreement also remains 
A Man Hiding Flowers Behind His Back for His Girlfriend

Are you ready for some Romance…languages?

Here are a few examples:

ItalianSpanishPortugueseFrench
cantare (“to sing”) cantarcantarchanter
dormire (“to sleep”)dormirdormirdormir
luna (“moon”)lunalualune
mare (“sea”)marmarmer

So, if you know any of the words above, you’ll definitely have a much easier time learning Italian than those not familiar with other Romance languages. Knowing another Romance language will give you a great advantage! 

4. Here’s Why Italian is Hard to Learn

Like any other foreign language (I’m putting a little stress on the “foreign” part), Italian also presents some challenges to the learner. 

But I’m sure that you’ll overcome these challenges with little problem. 

The important thing here is not to become overwhelmed because, with just a little study and practice, things will get much easier for you. Having said that, here are some of the things that make Italian hard to learn for some people, and that require a little more effort on the learner’s part.

1 – Everything Has a Gender 

This might drive an English-speaker crazy, but it’s quite common in many languages (and not only Romance languages, mind you!). Everything in Italian has an assigned grammatical gender, either masculine or feminine. 

We can all agree that it’s hard to make sense of the criteria behind the assigned gender. Why is la sedia (“the chair”) feminine, while il tavolo (“the table”) is masculine? And if it makes sense that i pantaloni (“the pants”) is masculine while la gonna (“the skirt”) is feminine, can someone please explain why il vestito (“the dress”) is masculine, but la giacca (“the blazer”) is feminine?

The good news, however, which you might have already noticed, is that it’s not too difficult to guess the gender of a word because the ending generally gives it away. 

  • If it ends in -o, it’s masculine.
  • If it ends in -a, it’s feminine.

2 – Everything Has to Agree 

Once you’ve gotten the hang of word gender, you have to start paying attention to all the other elements of the sentence that need to agree with it: articles, adjectives, past participles, etc.

It might seem like a lot of work at the beginning, but it’s actually quite automatic after a while. You just remember that most of the ending vowels must be the same (unless it’s one of those names or adjectives ending in -e):

    La mia bella casa è spaziosa e colorata (ma mi è costata carissima).
    “My beautiful house is spacious and colorful (but it cost me a lot).”

3 – Double or Nothing!

For a non-Italian speaker, it’s always a bit difficult to hear the difference between a single or double consonant. They are very frequent in the Italian language, and sometimes missing the double can change the meaning of a word. For example:

  • pane (“bread”) vs. panne (“breakdown”)
  • cane (“dog”) vs. canne (“canes”)
  • copia (“copy”) vs. coppia (“couples”)

But even if it appears that only Italians are able to hear the difference, and they immediately know if it’s one or the other, this is a minor mistake. One that we can all live with!

4 – The Subjunctive (And How to Survive Without It)

Many Italian students consider the subjunctive a true bestia nera (literally “black beast,” referring to something nightmarish, something that everybody is afraid of). 

This is mainly due to the fact that it’s virtually nonexistent in English. And besides, the rule on how to apply it isn’t always crystal-clear. Basically, the subjunctive is used to express subjectivity, uncertainty, doubt, will, desire, etc. The subjunctive is very often introduced by the conjunction che (“that”).

A Man Lying in Desert Sand, Out of Water

I bet he needs a Subjunctive Survival Kit!

But don’t worry! Even in this case, there are little tricks you can implement to make life easier, such as:

  • Learning a few prefabricated sentence patterns:
    • Credo che sia giusto. (“I think it’s fair.”)
    • Penso che tu abbia ragione. (“I think you are right.”)
    • Bisogna che i ragazzi si sveglino presto. (“It’s necessary that the kids get up early.”)
  • Learning the little tricks to avoid using the subjunctive altogether! 🙂
    • Credo che sia giusto. >> Secondo me è giusto.
    • Penso che tu abbia ragione. >> Per me hai ragione.
    • Bisogna che i ragazzi si sveglino presto. >> I ragazzi devono svegliarsi presto.

5 – What About the Rolled R?

Why haven’t we included the rolled R among the challenging parts of Italian? Well, even if it stresses out some students, this is actually not a problem at all. Even some Italians can’t roll their R (it’s called erre moscia). And, don’t worry, everybody will understand you, whether you roll it like a pro or just use your basic anglophone R.

5. I Want to Learn Italian. Where Should I Start?

So, now that we’ve got the challenging parts of learning Italian out of the way, it’s time to give you some basic strategies to help you learn Italian in a quick, easy, and fun way.

1 – Learn the Basic Structure

You can start taking a course, going through a textbook, or using a great variety of free online resources, but from the very beginning, you should start paying attention to the basic patterns of the Italian language and practice with them. Start easy and keep adding more and more features as you go on. This way, you can go from making basic sentences to more complex ones. 

2 – Memorize the Top 100 Basic Words

One way to quickly get a grasp of Italian is to memorize the top 100 basic words. This will help you build simple sentences and start a conversation, and it will also make it easier to understand what you’re hearing and reading. The best way is to learn words divided into categories that are related to your immediate environment. For example:

3 – Learn the Basic Conjugations

Verbs are the cement that keeps sentences together, so you might want to tackle them right away. It’s true that, for an English-speaker (who virtually doesn’t have to bother with conjugations in his/her language at all), Italian conjugation might seem like a lot of work. But you can start gradually, concentrating on what’s most important. Here it goes, start with the present and past tense conjugations of: 

  • auxiliary verbs: essere and avere (“to be” and “to have”)
  • modal verbs: 
    • volere (“to want”) 
    • potere (“to be able to”) 
    • sapere (“to know how”) 
    • dovere (“to have to”) 

Okay, you’re right, they’re quite irregular and might be a bit complicated to memorize. But once you have them in your head, you’ll be able to start speaking tons of different phrases right away. 

4 – Don’t Be Shy

To learn a language, you have to practice, and to practice, you have to speak. So, once you’ve learned the basic structure, memorized the first 100 words, and are familiar with auxiliaries and modal verbs, it’s time to take the plunge. 

So what if, in the beginning, you’re using the wrong verb or mispronouncing a word? That’s just part of the learning process! So, lose your inhibitions and shamelessly dive into a conversation with the first Italian you meet.

5 – Have Fun with it!

Learning a new language is like assembling a puzzle: it can be a very entertaining mental exercise. And the most fun part is that you get to “play” with a great variety of materials and media.

A Man and Woman Dressed in Costumes and Line Dancing

Time to lose your inhibitions and have fun learning Italian!

From the very beginning, you should try to read and listen to authentic material as often as possible: being exposed to the language is the best way to memorize vocabulary and patterns. And the best part is that you don’t even realize that you’re learning!

These are some excellent ways to get authentic Italian content: 

And don’t worry if, at the beginning, you only understand about ten percent of what you’re reading or listening to. Try to focus on keywords, pay attention to the articles, look at verbs and how they conjugate, look for words that are similar to English, and finally, listen or watch for the basic words you’ve recently learned. It’s just like a Lego building: you keep adding different little bricks until you get the result you want.

6. Why is ItalianPod101 Great for Learning Italian?

Finally, what are the best tools for solving this wonderful puzzle? To put together all the pieces that, combined, will give you basic fluency? Because this is a complex task, the best strategy is to use all the tools you have available to you. 

And guess what? We have just the right tools to make your Italian-learning experience fast, easy, and fun. 

ItalianPod101.com is a great place to learn Italian, because we offer you a great variety of tools to ensure that you learn at your own pace, in your own time, and with an approach that’s tailored to your needs and goals.

  • →  An Integrated Approach
    One of the distinguishing traits of ItalianPod101 is that we offer an integrated approach. This means that each lesson combines activities based on the four basic language skills (listening, reading, writing, and speaking) using podcasts, videos, texts, and practice exercises. This combination allows you to learn in a very effective way because it’s a natural approach—and much more fun than traditional learning methods!
  • → A Great Variety of Free Content
    ItalianPod101 offers so many resources for learners at every level that you’re sure to find the tool that’s best for your specific needs. You’ll find grammar lessons, vocabulary lists, customizable flashcards, texts, videos, and audio lessons. It’s all available on your computer, your smartphone and, in the case of our downloadable lessons, offline.
  • → Premium Personal Coaching
    If you’re looking for something more personalized, ItalianPod101 has the perfect solution for you! With our Premium service, you’ll enter the Fast Track to Fluency program and gain access to your own teacher and guided learning system.

Besides the regular lessons, you’ll have direct interaction with your personal teacher, weekly assignments, and ongoing assessment of your progress. 

7. Conclusion

In this article, I wanted to show you that, even though there are some challenges when you start learning Italian, anybody can reach basic fluency with a little practice, no inhibitions, and—especially—the right tools.

How do you feel about trying to learn Italian now? More confident, or do you still have questions or concerns? Reach out to us in the comments, and we’ll get back to you! 

We’ve selected for you a great variety of free resources covering all aspects of Italian grammar and vocabulary to help you in this adventure. We also provide flashcards to help you learn words in context and mobile applications so you can always have ItalianPod101 at hand.

So, don’t be shy. Jump right into it, because learning Italian is easy with ItalianPod101!

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Italian Keyboard: How to Install and Type in Italian

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You asked, so we provided—easy-to-follow instructions on how to set up your electronic devices to write in Italian! We’ll also give you a few excellent tips on how to use this keyboard, as well as some online and app alternatives if you prefer not to set up a Italian keyboard.

Log in to Download Your Free Italian Alphabet Worksheet Table of Contents
  1. Why it’s Important to Learn to Type in Italian
  2. Setting up Your Computer and Mobile Devices for Italian
  3. How to Activate an Onscreen Keyboard on Your Computer
  4. How to Change the Language Settings to Italian on Your Computer
  5. Activating the Italian Keyboard on Your Mobile Phone and Tablet
  6. Italian Keyboard Typing Tips
  7. How to Practice Typing Italian

1. Why it’s Important to Learn to Type in Italian

A keyboard

Learning a new language is made so much easier when you’re able to read and write/type it. This way, you will:

  • Get the most out of any dictionary and Italian language apps on your devices
  • Expand your ability to find Italian websites and use the various search engines
  • Be able to communicate much better online with your Italian teachers and friends, and look super cool in the process! 

2. Setting up Your Computer and Mobile Devices for Italian

A phone charging on a dock

It takes only a few steps to set up any of your devices to read and type in Italian. It’s super-easy on your mobile phone and tablet, and a simple process on your computer.

On your computer, you’ll first activate the onscreen keyboard to work with. You’ll only be using your mouse or touchpad/pointer for this keyboard. Then, you’ll need to change the language setting to Italian, so all text will appear in Italian. You could also opt to use online keyboards instead. Read on for the links!

On your mobile devices, it’s even easier—you only have to change the keyboard. We also provide a few alternatives in the form of online keyboards and downloadable apps.

3. How to Activate an Onscreen Keyboard on Your Computer

1- Mac

1. Go to System Preferences > Keyboard.

2. Check the option “Show Keyboard & Character Viewers in Menu Bar.”

3. You’ll see a new icon on the right side of the main bar; click on it and select “Show Keyboard Viewer.”

A screenshot of the keyboard viewer screen

2- Windows

1. Go to Start > Settings > Easy Access > Keyboard.

2. Turn on the option for “Onscreen Keyboard.”

3- Add-ons of Extensions for Browsers

Instead of an online keyboard, you could also choose to download a Google extension to your browser for a language input tool. The Google Input Tools extension allows users to use input tools in Chrome web pages, for example.

4. How to Change the Language Settings to Italian on Your Computer

Man looking at his computer

Now that you’re all set to work with an onscreen keyboard on your computer, it’s time to download the Italian language pack for your operating system of choice:

  • Windows 8 (and higher)
  • Windows 7
  • Mac (OS X and higher)

1- Windows 8 (and higher)

  1. Go to “Settings” > “Change PC Settings” > “Time & Language” > “Region & Language.”
  2. Click on “Add a Language” and select “Italian (Italy).” This will add it to your list of languages. It will appear as Italiano (Italia) with the note “language pack available.”
  3. Click on “Italiano (Italia)” > “Options” > “Download.” It’ll take a few minutes to download and install the language pack.
  4. As a keyboard layout, you’ll only need the one marked as “Italian – Italiano.” You can ignore other keyboard layouts.

2- Windows 7

1. Go to Start > Control Panel > Clock, Language, and Region.

2. On the “Region and Language” option, click on “Change Keyboards or Other Input Methods.”

3. On the “Keyboards and Languages” tab, click on “Change Keyboards” > “Add” > “Italian.”

4. Expand the option of “Italian” and then expand the option “Keyboard.” Select the keyboard layout marked as “Italian.” You can ignore other keyboard layouts. Click “OK” and then “Apply.”

3- Mac (OS X and higher)

If you can’t see the language listed, please make sure to select the right option from System Preferences > Language and Region

1. From the Apple Menu (top left corner of the screen) go to System Preferences > Keyboard.

2. Click the Input Sources tab and a list of available keyboards and input methods will appear.

3. Click on the plus button, select “Italian,” and add the “Italian” keyboard (not the “Italian – Typewriter.”)

Adding a system language

5. Activating the Italian Keyboard on Your Mobile Phone and Tablet

Texting and searching in Italian will greatly help you master the language! Adding a Italian keyboard on your mobile phone and/or tablet is super-easy.

You could also opt to download an app instead of adding a keyboard. Read on for our suggestions.

Below are the instructions for both iOS and Android mobile phones and tablets.

1- iOS

1. Go to Settings > General > Keyboard.

2. Tap “Keyboards” and then “Add New Keyboard.”

3. Select “Italian” from the list.

4. When typing, you can switch between languages by tapping and holding on the icon to reveal the keyboard language menu.

2- Android

1. Go to Settings > General Management > Language and Input > On-screen Keyboard (or “Virtual Keyboard” on some devices) > Samsung Keyboard.

2. Tap “Language and Types” or “ + Select Input Languages” depending on the device and then “MANAGE INPUT LANGUAGES” if available.

3. Select “Italiano” from the list.

4. When typing, you can switch between languages by swiping the space bar.

3- Applications for Mobile Phones

If you don’t want to add a keyboard on your mobile phone or tablet, these are a few good apps to consider:

6. Italian Keyboard Typing Tips

Typing in Italian can be very challenging at first! Therefore, we added here a few useful tips to make it easier to use your Italian keyboard.

A man typing on a computer

1- Computer

  • The key for “è” (with grave accent) is usually on the right of the P key; “é” (with acute accent) is also on the right of the P key, but you need to press Shift. “ò” is on the right of the L key; “à” is on the right of the “ò” key. “ù” is on the right of the “à” key.
  • The apostrophe is on the right of the zero key and “ì” is on the right of the apostrophe key.
  • A useful shortcut for macOS: 
    • È = Alt + Shift + E
    • The rest of the accented letters never occur at the beginning of a sentence or word.

2- Mobile Phones

  • To add accents on a vowel, keep the key pressed until the accented letter appears and choose it.

7. How to Practice Typing Italian

As you probably know by now, learning Italian is all about practice, practice, and more practice! Strengthen your Italian typing skills by writing comments on any of our lesson pages, and our teacher will answer. If you’re a ItalianPod101 Premium PLUS member, you can directly text our teacher via the My Teacher app—use your Italian keyboard to do this!

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Learn All the Terms for Family in Italian

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Family is a vital institution everywhere in the world, but particularly in Italy. It’s not a cliche: Italians love their family, A LOT. And even if things have changed over the last few decades and huge, extended families aren’t as common as before, Italians still feel a connection toward their family members that’s hard to find in other Western countries.

But then, who doesn’t love their mom and dad, their grannies or little children, and doesn’t feel the need to talk about them with friends? As stated before, Italian extended families are greatly valued in Italian society, so knowing how to talk about them is essential. That’s why we’ve written this guide on how to talk about family in Italian.

Here at ItalianPod101, you’ll learn the basic Italian for family members, read through some Italian family phrases for reference, and discover some very interesting Italian quotes for family. But first, a little information on the average Italian family unit and Italian family roles.

Table of Contents

  1. Italian Family Culture: What are Italian Families Like?
  2. Dictionary of Terms about Family in Italian
  3. Respect Terms vs. Endearment Terms in Italian
  4. Italian Quotes and Proverbs about Family
  5. ItalianPod101: Learn Italian in the Blink of an Eye with Our Great Tools

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1. Italian Family Culture: What are Italian Families Like?

Family Quotes

As mentioned above, Italian families have changed a lot in recent history. Until the Fifties, Italy had a largely agricultural economy, with extended, strongly patriarchal families working on lands that they often didn’t own. Then, the economic boom and industrial development happened, with millions of people quickly moving from the poor and undeveloped countryside to the rapidly growing cities. As a consequence, the nuclear family—living in an apartment and raising a small number of children—became the norm.

Nevertheless, uncles, aunts, and cousins are still very important in Italy, probably more so than in other European countries. Cousins are the best game buddies of almost every Italian child, while uncles and aunts are teachers, baby sitters, supports, and examples.

Italian Cousins

And what about grandparents? Well, they’re simply one of the key figures of every Italian. Since the country doesn’t have a strong enough network of kindergartens, little Italian children spend a lot of their time with their grandparents while their parents are at work.

Growing up with Italian family values certainly has some great pros. As for Italian family traditions, Sunday isn’t simply a day off, but a family meeting with tons of delicious food and loud chats. And there’s always a cousin living in some small Southern city with amazing beaches, who’s very happy to host you during summer holidays.

But there are also some cons. For example, the amoral familism studied by the political scientist Edward C. Banfield in 1955 still somehow survives. That’s to say that Italians often see the interest of their family as more important than the interest of society, even when it damages collective goods.

Many of the Italian family qualities have changed over time, especially since the Italian society is now multicultural. Moreover, a growing number of young people leave the country to look for better opportunities abroad. As a consequence, families are becoming more and more the product of different cultures and experiences.

But enough with history and social sciences. Now that you know a little more about the meaning of family in Italy, let’s dive into our guide of terms about family in Italian!

2. Dictionary of Terms about Family in Italian

Italian Family

Do you want to know how to say “father” in Italian? And what about “mother,” “grandmother,” “aunt,” and all the other Italian family members term that every good family guy must know? Check out our dictionary.

But before that, let’s learn how to say “family” and “my family” in Italian, the root of every family-based conversation.

The Italian word for “family” is famiglia, which is similar in many other European languages. That’s because this word comes from the latin familia, which has an even more ancient origin: faama, meaning “house” in the Oscan language. Fascinating, isn’t it?

So, let’s see some examples of use:

  • Example: La mia famiglia è originaria dell’Italia Centrale.
  • Translation: “My family comes from Central Italy.”
  • Example: Ieri sono andata a trovare la famiglia di Marco.
  • Translation: “Yesterday I went to visit Marco’s family.”
  • Example: Ho una famiglia molto numerosa.
  • Translation: “I have a very big family.”

1- Italian Terms for Parents

  • Madre: “Mother”
    • Example: Mia madre è medico e lavora all’ospedale.
    • Translation: “My mother is a doctor and she works at the hospital.”
  • Padre: “Father”
    • Example: Il padre di Andrea è molto simpatico.
    • Translation: “Andrea’s father is very nice.”

Mother in Italian

2- Italian Terms for One’s Children

  • Figlio: “Son”
    • Example: Giovanna ha un figlio di tre anni.
    • Translation: “Giovanna has a three-year-old son.”
  • Figlia: “Daughter”
    • Example: Mia figlia va molto bene a scuola.
    • Translation: “My daughter is very good at school.”

3- Italian Terms for Siblings

  • Fratello: “Brother”
    • Example: Io e mio fratello non andiamo d’accordo.
    • Translation: “My brother and I don’t get along.”
  • Sorella: “Sister”
    • Example: Mia sorella si è trasferita a Londra per studiare.
    • Translation: “My sister has moved to London to study.”

4- Italian Terms for Grandparents

  • Nonno: “Grandfather”
    • Example: Mio nonno è stato importantissimo per me.
    • Translation: “My grandfather was very important to me.”
  • Nonna: “Grandmother”
    • Example: Questo piatto è una ricetta che mi ha insegnato mia nonna.
    • Translation: “This dish is a recipe my grandmother taught me.”

Italian Grandmother

5- Italian Terms for Grandchildren, Nephews, and Nieces

  • Nipote: “Grandchild” (m. and f.), “nephew,” and “niece”
    • Example: Mia nipote adora la pallavolo.
    • Translation: “My granddaughter loves volleyball.”
    • Example: Hai già conosciuto mio nipote, Matteo?
    • Translation: “Have you already met my grandson, Matteo?”
    • Example: Quanti anni ha tua nipote, la figlia di tuo fratello?
    • Translation: “How old is your niece, the daughter of your brother?”

6- Italian Terms for Aunts and Uncles

  • Zio: “Uncle”
    • Example: Lo zio di Marta vive negli Stati Uniti.
    • Translation: “Marta’s uncle lives in the United States.”
  • Zia: “Aunt”
    • Example: La zia di Luca è molto giovane: ha solo 30 anni.
    • Translation: “Luca’s aunt is very young, she’s only 30 years old.”

7- Italian Terms for Cousins

  • Cugino: “Cousin” (male)
    • Example: Hai chiamato tuo cugino?
    • Translation: “Did you call your cousin?”
  • Cugina: “Cousin” (female)
    • Example: Ieri ho incontrato tua cugina al concerto.
    • Translation: “Yesterday I saw your cousin at the concert.”

Italian Terms for Family

8- Italian Terms for Family Members as a Married Person

  • Marito: “Husband”
    • Example: Il marito di Lucia è appassionato di trekking.
    • Translation: “Lucia’s husband is a trekking enthusiast.”
  • Moglie: “Wife”
    • Example: No, mia moglie non è in casa.
    • Translation: “No, my wife isn’t at home.”
  • Suocero: “Father-in-law”
    • Example: Mio suocero era un pittore e poeta.
    • Translation: “My father-in-law was a painter and a poet.”
  • Suocera: “Mother-in-law”
    • Example: Mia suocera purtroppo è morta prima che mio figlio nascesse.
    • Translation: “Unfortunately, my mother-in-law died before my son was born.”
  • Genero: “Son-in-law”
    • Example: L’uomo vestito di blu è il genero di GIuliano.
    • Translation: “The man dressed in blue is Giuliano’s son-in-law.”
  • Nuora: “Daughter-in-law”
    • Example: Io e mia nuora siamo molto legate.
    • Translation: “My daughter-in-law and I are very close.”
  • Cognato: “Brother-in-law”
    • Example: Io e mio cognato siamo amici d’infanzia.
    • Translation: “My brother-in-law and I are childhood friends.”
  • Cognata: “Sister-in-law”
    • Example: Andavo a scuola con tua cognata, alle elementari.
    • Translation: “I went to school with your sister-in-law, at primary school.”

3. Respect Terms vs. Endearment Terms in Italian

Phrases Parents Say

The terms for family in Italian are both common terms and respectful terms. Unlike in other languages, Japanese for example, Italian doesn’t have specific respectful expressions when talking about a third party.

When addressing someone older than you whom you’re not familiar with, or in a formal relationship, you’re expected to use the third person lei formula. But in a family, you don’t usually do this; you simply address everyone with the second person tu. Although, if you’re about to meet your parents-in-law and they’re old, it can be polite to start with lei. Afterwards, they’ll most certainly ask you to switch to the more familiar tu.

And what about endearment terms? You’re expected to only use them in a family context, and they are:

  • Papà: “Dad”
  • Babbo: “Dad “in Central Italy
  • Mamma: “Mom”
  • Nonnina: “Granny”
  • Nonnino: “Grandpa”

4. Italian Quotes and Proverbs about Famil

There are so many Italian quotes about family and local proverbs, that it’s really hard to choose which ones to include. We’ve collected a few of the most famous Italian family quotes for you below:

  • Mogli e buoi dei paesi tuoi.
    “When you choose a wife or a cow, it’s better to go to your own village.”
  • Il frutto non cade mai lontano dall’albero.
    “A fruit always falls next to its tree.”
    Note: This phrase means that a bad person always comes from a bad family or environment.
  • Parenti serpenti.
    “Relatives are like snakes.”
    Note: This phrase means that relatives are dangerous and traitors.
  • Tale padre, tale figlio.
    “Like father, like son.”

5. ItalianPod101: Learn Italian in the Blink of an Eye with Our Great Tools

Are you eager to start talking to your Italian family like you’d grown up with them? Then we can help you. Here at ItalianPod101, we’ve created a series of amazing tools to help you learn Italian in a heartbeat, while having fun! For example, our super-efficient apps, that allow you to learn everywhere you are and anytime you want. And if you’re in doubt, you can always count on the advice of our friendly community.

Start now! But before you head off, let us know in the comments if there are any family terms you still want to know! We look forward to hearing from you. 🙂

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Happy Holidays and Happy New Year From ItalianPod101.com!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from everyone here at ItalianPod101.com! We’re grateful to have listeners just like you, and we’re eagerly waiting for the upcoming year to learn Italian together!

And when the New Year comes around, be sure to make a resolution to study Italian with ItalianPod101.com!

Have a healthy and happy holiday season.

From the ItalianPod101.com team!