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Archive for the 'Italian Phrases' Category

The 25 Most Well-Known Italian Quotes

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Quotes are the perfect way to go deeper into the cultural wealth of a language. They give us a clear vision of people’s philosophy, mindset, history, and popular culture. This means that by studying Italian quotes, you’ll not only be able to better understand the people around you and better express yourself, but you’ll also be able to explore Italian culture at a deeper level.

In this article, we’ll go through the most commonly used Italian quotes, from sayings about love to words of traditional wisdom.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian Table of Contents
  1. Quotes About Success
  2. Quotes About Life and Wisdom
  3. Quotes About Love
  4. Quotes About Family and Friends
  5. Quotes About Food
  6. Dante’s Quotes
  7. L’importante è finire!

1. Quotes About Success

We’ll start our list with a few Italian quotes of strength and success. How can you apply these to your everyday life?

1. Veni, vidi, vici. 


(“I came, I saw, I conquered.”)

In Italian, it’s: Venni, vidi, vinsi

This is probably the oldest and most memorable of all the popular Italian quotes, and it comes from ancient Italian times (and more precisely, from ancient Rome). The original quote is in Latin, coined by Julius Caesar to describe one of his many quick and easy military victories. Today, this quote has—fortunately—lost its military connotation, but it continues to be commonly quoted in its original Latin form to describe great personal achievements that were accomplished quickly and without much effort. Does it sound like bragging? Well, yeah! After all, it is Julius Caesar we’re talking about!

Veni, Vidi, Vici Written on a Blackboard

I came, I saw, I conquered.

2. Il fine giustifica i mezzi. 


(“The end justifies the means.”)

Success, particularly in the political realm, was what Machiavelli had in mind when he wrote this famous and oft-quoted phrase. This sentence has been used since the Renaissance to depict a type of political system that would resort to every evil means in order to reach its goals, no matter the costs. This isn’t exactly what Machiavelli meant, but it doesn’t matter much anymore since it’s such a widely known concept. There was even an adjective created to illustrate this very idea: machiavellico (“Machiavellian”).

3. La calma è la virtù dei forti. 


(“Calm is the virtue of the strong.”)

But success is not derived from military strength or political ability alone. On the contrary, a very old saying (the origin of which is now lost) tells us the secret to being strong and successful: be calm, be sure of yourself, and face any situation. It’s basically another way of saying “Keep calm and carry on,” the famous phrase from a 1939 poster made by the British government before World War II.

2. Quotes About Life and Wisdom

Now let’s look at some Italian quotes about life from some of Italy’s greatest minds and artists. 

4. La semplicità è l’ultima sofisticazione. 


(“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”)

When talking about life and wisdom, it just makes sense that we quote one of the wisest, most intelligent, creative, and brilliant minds of all times! Have you guessed? Of course, we’re talking about Leonardo da Vinci! He loved to say that la semplicità è l’ultima sofisticazione (“simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”), or in other words, “keep it simple” or “less is more.” This seems like very good advice for anybody in any situation—and in any case, anything that good old Leonardo said will make you look good!

A Sketch of Vitruvian Man

Keep it simple, says Leo Da Vinci!

5. Dietro ogni problema c’è un’opportunità. 


(“Behind any problem, there is an opportunity.”)

Galileo Galilei, another great scientific and philosophical mind of the Renaissance, brought us this very modern-sounding quote. He probably had no idea that this concept would be used five centuries later by managers and marketers all over the world, all agreeing with the advantage of turning problems into opportunities.

6. La libertà è come l’aria: ci si accorge di quanto vale quando comincia a mancare. 


(“Freedom is like air: you realize its value only when you miss it.”)

Next is the jurist Piero Calamandrei, one of the most prominent protagonists of la Resistenza (“the Resistance”). His quote is true of many things: you miss them when they’re gone. But the quote gains significance when we talk about freedom, one of the vital elements of life, just like air. 

7. Se comprendere è impossibile, conoscere è necessario. 


(“If understanding is impossible, knowing is necessary.”)

And from the same historic time—the aftermath of WWII—comes another memorable quote, this time from the novel Se questo è un uomo (“If This is a Man”) by Primo Levi. Talking about his experience as a survivor of a concentration camp, he underlines the importance of remembering and studying the absurd tragedies of the past.

8. Se non hai mai pianto, i tuoi occhi non possono essere belli. 


(“If you haven’t cried, your eyes can’t be beautiful.”)

Wisdom can come from many different sources. You don’t need to be a scientist or a philosopher to say something so beautiful and meaningful that people cite it for years to come. For example, this quote of simple popular wisdom is from the mouth of the beautiful Italian actress Sophia Loren. It entails the notion that real beauty has the depth of life, and suffering is a part of living.

A Tear Streaming Down a Woman’s Face

Did you know that crying can make you beautiful?

3. Quotes About Love

Italian quotes about love… We can’t talk about this without making a reference to the delicious Baci Perugina. These are chocolate and hazelnut pralines that, since the 1920s, have made the perfect romantic present. They’re individually wrapped in popular literary love quotes that are translated into four languages. In Italy, they’re synonymous with romanticism (or cheesy pickup lines, depending on who you ask…).

But no love quote is more famous than this one:

9. Amor ch’a nullo amato amar perdona. 


(“Love that exempts no one loved from loving in return.”)

Considering that Dante wrote this quote in his Divina Commedia in 1320, it’s not very easy to understand. But it basically means that love has a powerful way of attracting love. The rhythm of this verse is so beautiful that people like to quote it just to hear the sound. Give it a try!

10. Siamo angeli con un’ala sola: possiamo volare solo se abbracciati. 


(“We are one-wing angels: we can only fly together.”)

Not as old as Dante’s quote but just as poetic, is this quote from the Neapolitan actor, director, and writer Luciano De Crescenzo, in his film Così Parlò Bellavista. It’s a beautiful metaphor of the force of true love.

11. L’amore è cieco. 


(“Love is blind.”)

Italians often quote this universal concept of love to justify an improbable relationship. Lately, people have added another small pearl of wisdom to the sentence: L’amore è cieco…ma la sfiga (la sfortuna) ci vede benissimo! (“Love is blind…but bad luck sees perfectly well!”). This addition actually comes from one of the Murphy’s Law books by Arthur Bloch.

4. Quotes About Family and Friends

You all know how important family is to Italians—especially the family members that gather around a table on special occasions! Family isn’t limited to our immediate relatives, but includes all of its members, close or distant. Nowadays, Italian families have a tendency to be more and more extended. The bottom line is that every family is different and none of them are “normal.” 

There are many Italian quotes about family (and several proverbs) that discuss the sweet and sour dynamics of family life.

12. Si può fare tutto, ma la famiglia non si può lasciare. 


(“You can do anything, except leaving your family.”)

This may be another way of saying that we don’t choose our family and that family ties are stronger than anything. Or so believed Gianni Agnelli, whose family owned the Italian automotive giant Fiat (which is today Fiat-Chrysler). And it’s no wonder he would say that, since his family allowed him to be the richest man in Italy for decades!

13. Gli faremo un’offerta che non potrà rifiutare. 


(“We will make him an offer he cannot refuse.”)

When talking about famous and powerful families, how could we forget the—fictitious, but quite realistic—Corleone family from The Godfather? This is by far the most memorable citation from the movie, and one that people quote all the time as a joke about making a very good offer of any kind. It goes without saying that Cosa Nostra is not something to joke about, but this quote has entered Italy’s everyday language.

14. Dagli amici mi guardi Iddio che dai parenti mi guardo io. 


(“Lord, protect me from my friends; I can take care of my relatives.”)

We choose our friends, and we inherit our families. In the end, they are both very important to us—but they can be dangerous, too! Or at least that’s what the famous comedian Totò thought. You don’t know Totò? Well, he was “just” the most popular Italian performer of all time. He said this quote in a movie, paraphrasing an old proverb. If you want to learn all about crazy family and friend dynamics, just watch any of his old movies!

A Family Eating a Large Dinner Together

Nessuna famiglia è “normale.” (“No family is “normal.”)

15. Sai cos’è l’amico? Un uomo che ti conosce a fondo e nonostante ciò ti vuole bene. 


(“Do you know what a friend is? Someone who knows you deeply and still loves you.”)

Vittorio Gassman gave us this quote about friendship in his movie Profumo di Donna (“Scent of a Woman”). It depicts the quintessential and bittersweet quality of the movie.

5. Quotes About Food 

Considering the prominent food culture in Italy, it should come as no surprise that Italian food quotes are very common. Here are some of the best Italian quotes about food!

16. Buono come il pane. 


(“Good as bread.”)

Italian food is the celebration of simple flavors, and this concept is best illustrated through this quote. Simpler things are the best, and bread is the greatest example of honest, traditional, and good qualities. This saying can apply to people as well!

17. Non si vive di solo pane. 


(“We do not live by bread alone.”)

Bread is great, but according to this traditional saying, it’s just not enough…

18. La vita è una combinazione di pasta e magia. 


(“Life is a combination of pasta and magic.”)

Nobody can describe the beauty of life better than the Maestro Federico Fellini, who summed it all up in this quote. What else is there to say? Genius!

19. Altro il vino non è se non la luce del sole mescolata con l’umido della vite. 


(“Wine is nothing but sunlight mixed with the humidity of the vine.”)

Or maybe we can just add another element to Fellini’s formula with Galileo Galilei’s definition of wine. It just reminds us how important nature is in all aspects of our life.

20. L’uomo passa la prima metà della sua vita a rovinarsi la salute e la seconda metà alla ricerca di guarire. 


(“Men spend the first half of their life ruining their health and the second half trying to fix it.”)

Pasta and wine are great, but better not overdo it. So it’s Leonardo Da Vinci to the rescue, reminding us to keep our future in view while we enjoy ourselves in the present! I bet we can all relate to this quote…

A Table Laid Out with Italian Pasta Dishes, Wine Bottles, and Fresh Ingredients

Is it pasta or is it magic?

6. Dante’s Quotes

Before wrapping up, we can’t forget to introduce the most common and widespread citations by Italians. When it comes to Italian quotes, Dante’s Divina Commedia is a major source of modern-day quips. Maybe it’s because it was the first literary work written in Italian, or maybe because Italians have to study it inside and out for school. Perhaps it’s because he really was the greatest Italian poet.

Dante’s quotes can sometimes be obscure. They’re written in archaic Italian, and they’ll definitely make more sense if you read the book…but we’ll provide you with the most popular quotes so you can show off to your Italian friends!

21. Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita mi ritrovai per una selva oscura. 


(“In the middle of my life I found myself in a dark forest.”)

Let’s start with the very first sentence of his Divina Commedia. You’ll hear this citation quoted all the time in reference to any difficult situation (the dark forest) that a person has experienced at some point in life (in the middle of my life).

22. Galeotto fu il libro e chi lo scrisse. 


(“Guilty was the book and who wrote it.”)

This quote is used to refer to a person, an object, or an event that made a relationship possible.

23. Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate


(“Leave all hope, you who are entering.”)

This grim phrase was written on the door of hell, making it clear that there was no coming out once you went through that door. But today, it’s a favorite quote for students who are about to enter their classroom, used as a joke about the desperation of being in school-hell! 🙂

24. Non ti curar di lor, ma guarda e passa


(“Don’t pay attention to them, but observe and move on.”)

This quote is used to mean that one should be superior and not worry about what others do, think, or say.

25. L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle. 


(“Love that moves the sun and the other stars.”)

Let’s conclude with a cosmic love citation, giving us the feeling of just how important love is. Love is all we need! And, from the Middle Ages to today, that hasn’t changed!

The Immortal Dante Aliguieri

7. L’importante è finire!

“The important thing is the end” sang the famous Italian singer Mina in the 60s. We hope you enjoyed learning the most important and common Italian quotes on success, wisdom, love, family, and much more. 

Do you want to learn more quotes and citations? Do you have something specific in mind? Make sure to share them with us in the comments below!

ItalianPod101.com also has tons of free vocabulary lists with audio recordings and free resources to improve your Italian in a fast and fun way!

Remember that you can also use our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching, personalized assignments and exercises, and tailored materials to help you dramatically improve your language skills. Check it out!

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Italian Business Language for Doing Business in Italy

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Did you land the perfect job in an Italian design firm? Do you want to start expanding your business in Italy? Are you applying for a job in Rome and need to update your CV and interviewing skills with the proper Italian business language?

We know that workplaces, job interviews, and starting a new job can be stressful. And what about talking on the phone with a client or boss? Not to mention the art of writing the perfect email or a convincing CV. Now imagine having to manage all of this in Italian… 

If you want to succeed in any of these activities, you’ll need to master the basic Italian business phrases and vocabulary.

A Woman in a Red Jacket Standing in the Center of Several People in Black Suits

Let’s do business with style!

But don’t worry! We’ve put together this practical guide on how to succeed in the Italian business world. We’ll guide you through all you need to know to be at your best in the most common business situations.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Business Words and Phrases in Italian Table of Contents
  1. First Things First
  2. Business Words and Phrases
  3. Nail a Job Interview
  4. Interacting with Coworkers
  5. Sound Smart in a Meeting
  6. How to Handle Emails and Business Phone Calls
  7. Go on a Business Trip
  8. Conclusion

1. First Things First

In any social situation, the first code that you have to learn is how to greet and address others. In a work or business situation, this is even more important. So let’s start by going over the correct way to meet and greet in Italian.

1 – Greetings

First of all, you’ll need to say hello. The best Italian business greetings for this are:

  • Buongiorno (“Hello,” but literally “Good day”) 
    • This can be used in formal and informal settings, and it’s the appropriate greeting to use until the early afternoon.
  • Buonasera (“Good evening”) 
    • This is the greeting that you start using in the late afternoon.
  • Ciao (“Hello”) 
    • This is a very informal way of greeting, and it can be used only in situations where everybody is very informal, or if you know everybody very well.

Now, if you’re in a business meeting and need to introduce yourself for the first time, here are the most common formulas:

  • Piacere (“Nice to meet you,” but literally “Pleasure”)
    • It’s actually the shorter version of the next phrase.
  • Piacere di conoscerla (“It’s a pleasure to meet you”)
  • Molto piacere (“Really nice to meet you”)
    • This is just another version of the same formula.

In professional settings, you’re expected to use the appropriate title to address professionals. Some examples include: 

  • Dottore / Dottoressa (“Doctor”) – This one is also used for anybody with a university degree.
  • Avvocato (“Lawyer”)
  • Ingegnere (“Engineer”)
  • Architetto (“Architect”)

When it’s time to leave the office, just use the most common goodbye phrases:

  • Arrivederci (“Goodbye”) is the best way to bid farewell in Italian, since it can be used in both formal and informal situations. Additionally, it can be used to address a single person or a crowd, as it literally means “We’ll see each other.”
  • If you want to be more formal, use Arrivederla, which is the same formula, but using the Lei form (which we’ll review below).
  • Ciao (“Bye”) is a good option if you’re very familiar with your coworkers. In Italian, it means both “hello” and “bye.”

Two Businesswomen Shaking Hands

Arrivederci!

2 – “Tu” or “Lei”?

Like other Romance languages, Italian has two different forms for addressing people in the second person, depending on the degree of familiarity or informality of the situation.

In professional settings, it’s normally expected for you to address everybody with the formal “you” (lei). Notice that while it looks like the pronoun for “she,” lei agrees with the gender of the person.

  • Signor Rossi, Lei è mai andato in barca a vela? (“Mr. Rossi, have you ever sailed?”)

The rule of thumb is that you formally address all people that are older than you, those who are hierarchically higher than you, and unfamiliar people in formal settings.

Nowadays, especially in typically younger workplaces (startups, design firms, new-economy, etc.), it’s becoming more and more common to address everybody informally. But just to be sure:

  • See if the people around you use tu or lei and do the same.
  • Wait for your interlocutor to ask: Possiamo darci del tu? (“Can we switch to informal you?”).

2. Business Words and Phrases

Business Phrases

Here is the most basic Italian business vocabulary you should know.

1 – The Company

Depending on your line of business, you probably work in one of these places:

  • Una società / Un’azienda / Un’impresa (“Company”)
  • Un’agenzia (“Agency”) – usually refers to marketing, advertising, or a generally creative workplace
  • Un ufficio (generic “Office”)
  • Una fabbrica (“Factory”) – not to be confused with fattoria, which means “farm”
  • Un laboratorio (“Laboratory”)

Because there are many different types of companies, you’ll probably hear the following definitions to describe a specific Italian business:

  • Società per Azioni (Spa) is a company with shares in the stock market.
  • Società a Responsabilità Limitata (Srl) is a company with limited responsibility.
  • Cooperativa (“Cooperative”)
  • Multinazionale ( “Multinational”)
  • Azienda familiare (“Family business”)
  • Un’associazione (senza fini lucrativi) (“A non-profit organization”)

2 – Let’s Talk About Work

Here’s a basic Italian business vocabulary list with the basic words and expressions for talking about work.

  • Lavorare (“To work”)
  • Lavoro / Mestiere / Occupazione (“Job”)
  • Professione (“Profession”)
  • Cercare lavoro (“To look for a job”)
  • Annuncio di lavoro (“Job listing”)
  • Assumere (“To hire”)
  • Assunzione (“Recruitment”)
  • Lavoretto [Casual] (“Job”)
  • Posizione  (“Position”)
  • Carriera (“Career”)
  • Contratto di lavoro (“Contract”)
  • Licenziare (“To fire”)
  • Licenziamento (“Dismissal”)

A Man Carrying a Box of His Office Things

Sono stato licenziato… (“I was fired…”)

3 – The Workplace

Here are some business Italian words and phrases regarding various elements in a typical workplace. For example, different positions and responsibilities, management, and the place of work itself.

  • Il personale (“The staff”)
  • Impiegato/a (“Employee”)
  • Funzionario/a (“Employee of a public service”)
  • Stagista (“Intern”)
  • Il capo (“The boss”)
  • Amministratore delegato (“CEO”) 
  • Direttore / Direttrice (“Director”)
  • Datore di lavoro (“Employer”)
  • Consiglio di amministrazione (“Board of Directors”)
  • Risorse umane (“Human Resources”)
  • Il capo del personale (“Chief of Staff”)
  • Area di marketing (“The marketing department”)
  • Area di vendita (“The sales department”)
  • Area tecnica (“The technical department”)
  • Ufficio contabilità (“The accounting department”)

4 – Talking About Money

Talking about money is inevitable when discussing jobs or business, so here’s the essential vocabulary for money talk:

  • Lo stipendio (“The salary”)
  • L’aumento di stipendio (“The salary increase”)
  • La busta paga (“The payslip”)
  • Un anticipo (“An advance payment”)
  • Detrazioni sullo stipendio (“Payroll deductions”)
A Photo Representing the Gender Pay Gap

Let’s talk about money, shall we?

  • Le tasse (“The taxes”)
  • Il budget (“The budget”)
  • Il bilancio (“The financial statement”)
  • I ricavi (“The revenues”)
  • Il costo (“The cost”)
  • Il margine (“The margin”)
  • Il profitto (“The profit”)
  • Il volume d’affari (“The turnover”)
  • Gli affari (“Business,” as in doing business)
  • Un affare (“A deal,” as in closing a deal)
  • Le azioni (“The stocks”)
  • Il mercato azionario (“The stock market”)
  • Le azioni salgono (“Stocks are rising”)
  • Le azioni scendono (“Stocks are declining”)
  • Le azioni sono crollate! (“Shares have collapsed!”)

3. Nail a Job Interview

Job Interview

So, you’ve sent your curriculum (“CV”) and have made it to a colloquio di lavoro (“job interview”) for your lavoro ideale (“dream job”) in Italy. And now? Well, you already know how to greet, introduce yourself, and properly address your interlocutor. Now it’s time to prepare for typical job interview questions and start talking about you and your past experiences!

  • Mi parli di lei. (“Tell me about yourself.”)
  • Quali sono le sue esperienze lavorative? (“What are your work experiences?”)
  • Ha esperienza professionale in questo campo? (“Do you have professional experience in this field?”)

Be prepared to answer questions about your good qualities and shortcomings:

  • Quali sono le sue migliori qualità? (“What are your best qualities?”)
  • Faccia la lista di tre suoi difetti. (“List three shortcomings.”)
  • Racconti un suo successo professionale. (“Tell me about a professional achievement.”)
  • Parli di un problema lavorativo e come lo ha superato. (“Talk about a professional problem and how you got over it.”)
  • Qual è il suo punto forte/debole? (“What is your strength/weakness?”)

Another important factor in job interviews is to show your motivation and willingness to be a team player!

  • Perché ha deciso di cambiare lavoro? (“Why have you decided to change jobs?”)
  • Perché pensa di essere la persona giusta per questa posizione? (“Why do you think you are a good fit for this position?”)
  • È abituata al lavoro di squadra? (“Are you used to teamwork?”)

An Older Woman Knitting Something

What are your hobbies?

But none of this matters if you don’t leave a good impression on your interviewer. So, be prepared to have something fun to say when you’re asked:

  • Come passa il tempo libero? (“What do you do in your free time?”)
  • Mi parli dei suoi hobby. (“Tell me about your hobbies.”)

And last but not least, don’t forget to show decisiveness in your stretta di mano (“handshake”).

4. Interacting with Coworkers

Ottimo lavoro! (“Good job!”) 

Now you’re the neo-assunto (“newly hired”) at an Italian company and it’s time to meet your colleghi (“coworkers”). 

Like in many offices around the world, it’s probable that your scrivania (“desk”) will be in an open space, with no walls (and no privacy!). This means that fare amicizia (“making friends”) with the other employees will happen a lot faster than in closed office environments, and you can help out (and ask for help) more often. 

Here’s some useful Italian for business conversations with coworkers:

  • Possiamo darci del tu? (“Can we switch to informal you?”)
  • Posso chiedere un favore? (“Can I ask you a favor?”)
  • Hai bisogno di aiuto? (“Do you need help?”)
  • Ho un problema con la stampante. (“I have a problem with the printer.”)
  • È finita la carta della fotocopiatrice. (“We are out of photocopy paper.”)
  • Facciamo una pausa caffè? (“How about a coffee break?”)
  • Ti va un’apericena dopo il lavoro? (“Are you up for a drink after work?”)

5. Sound Smart in a Meeting

Riunioni (“Meetings”) are an important part of every job. Sometimes they are brief and to the point (called briefing in Italian, too), and sometimes they are endless and pointless… But still, you need to prepare yourself for them, right?

Here are some useful phrases to help you out in Italian business meetings:

  • A che ora comincia la riunione? (“What time is the meeting?”)
  • È pronta la presentazione / il powerpoint? (“Is the slideshow ready?”)
  • In questa slide presento il grafico del 2019. (“In this slide, I show a 2019 graph.”)
  • Vorrei suggerire una modifica. (“I would like to suggest a change.”)
  • Vorrei sentire la vostra opinione. (“I would like to hear your opinion.”)
  • La riunione si farà in video-conferenza. (“The meeting will be on a video conference.”)
  • Puoi condividere lo schermo? (“Can you share your screen?”)
  • Sono d’accordo. / Non sono d’accordo. (“I agree.” / “I disagree.”)

And of course, you’ll need to talk about projects and deadlines, as well as negotiate with your supervisors:

  • Le diverse fasi del progetto (“The different stages of the project”)
  • Quando è la scadenza? [Leri!] (“When is the deadline?” [“Yesterday!”])
  • La scadenza è dietro l’angolo. (“The deadline is around the corner.”)
  • Il progetto sta andando benissimo. (“The project is going very well.”)
  • Qual è la mia funzione / il mio compito nel progetto? (“What is my role / my task in the project?”)

Sometimes it’s necessary to raise concerns:

  • Non c’è abbastanza tempo. (“There is not enough time.”)
  • Non abbiamo il budget per ___. (“We don’t have the budget for ___.”)
  • Non abbiamo le risorse per ___. (“We don’t have the resources for ___.”)
  • L’obiettivo non è realistico. (“This goal is not realistic.”)
  • C’è un errore in questi dati. (“There is a mistake in this data.”)
  • Chi prepara la documentazione? (“Who is in charge of the documentation?”)

Business People Asleep in a Meeting

Thank you for your attention…

You might even need to apologize from time to time. Don’t be afraid of it! 

  • Mi dispiace. (“I’m sorry.”)
  • Non si ripeterà. (“It won’t happen again.”)
  • Scusate il ritardo. (“Sorry I am late.”)

And at the end of the business meeting, thank and congratulate everybody:

  • Grazie della partecipazione. (“Thanks for the attendance.”)
  • Ottimo lavoro! (“Great work!”)
  • Bel lavoro di squadra! (“Good team work!”)

6. How to Handle Emails and Business Phone Calls

Among the most useful Italian business phrases are those for business phone conversations and letters/emails.

First, once and for all, let’s clear a doubt that most Italians still have: The Italian dictionary considers the forms e-mail or mail to be correct (though many people also write email…). And, in case you were wondering, it’s a feminine noun: un’e-mail / la mail. Note that some people still call it la posta elettronica. Very retro, isn’t it?

Here are a few Italian business email phrases that are sure to come in handy:

  • Devo rispondere a un mare di e-mail. (“I have to answer a ton of emails.”)
  • Mi dai la tua e-mail? (“Can you give me your email address?”)
  • Il destinatario (“The recipient”)
  • Il mittente (“The sender”)
  • L’oggetto (“The object”) 
  • il corpo della mail (“The body of the email”)
  • Ho dimenticato l’allegato… (“I forgot the attachment…”)

Emails and formal letters tend to use many of the same formulas for addressing the recipient: 

  • Spettabile (“Esteemed”) is used when we are addressing a company or firm.
  • Gentile (“Dear,” but literally “Kind”) is used when we are addressing a woman. It can be followed by her title and name.
    • Gentile Sig.ra Maria Rossi
    • Gentile Dott.ssa Anna Verdi
    • Gentile Arch. Carla Bianchi
  • Egregio (“Dear,” but literally “Egregious”) is used when we are addressing a man. It can be followed by his title and name.
    • Egregio Sig. Mario Rossi
    • Egregio Prof. Luca Verdi
    • Egregio Avv. Gino Bianchi

You can write whatever you want in your letter or email, but make sure the closing follows the conventions of Italian business correspondence. Here are some formulas for a proper Italian business email sign off or letter closure that you can copy-paste (copia e incolla) in your emails/letters. We’ll start with the most formal and end with the most relaxed and friendly:

  • In attesa di un Suo riscontro, voglia gradire i miei più cordiali saluti. (“Pending your feedback, please accept my best regards.”)
  • La ringrazio per l’attenzione e La saluto cordialmente. (“Thank you for your attention and best wishes.”)
  • Distinti saluti. (“Yours sincerely.”)
  • Cordiali saluti. (“Best regards.”)
  • Grazie e a presto. (“Thank you, see you soon.”)

When using formal language, you’re supposed to capitalize the initial letter of the personal pronoun (Suo, La, etc.). But nowadays, some people consider it to be very archaic and prefer not to. (Like me, for example!) 😉

The good thing about writing an email is that you have time to think about what you want to say and to make corrections before sending it. Not so for phone calls, where you have to be on your toes and prepared to improvise. 

To help you out, here are the essential phrases for handling any phone call with no stress at all!

  • Pronto? (“Hello?”) – Literally, it means “ready,” and you better be ready for what comes next…
  • Con chi parlo? (“Whom am I talking to?”)
  • In cosa posso aiutarla? (“How can I help you?”)
  • Posso parlare con ___, per favore? (“May I please talk to ___?”)
  • Può/puoi passarmi ___, per favore? (“Can you please pass me [to]  ___?”)
  • Un attimo. / Resti in linea. (“One moment.” / “Hold on.”)
  • Al momento non è al suo posto / alla scrivania. (“At the moment, he/she is not at his/her desk.”)
  • Vuole lasciare un messaggio? (“Do you want to leave a message?”)
  • Disturbo? / È occupato/a? (“Am I bothering you?” / “Are you busy?”)

A Woman Working Late at Night

Just one more email…

7. Go on a Business Trip

Many job descriptions include the need for traveling (disponibilità a viaggiare). Business trips can be a lot of fun, but let’s face it: sometimes they turn out to be nightmares. But let’s stay positive and prepare for a really nice viaggio di lavoro (“business trip”).

When you go on a business trip, you might go to visit other offices of your company:

  • La sede (“The head office”)
  • La succursale (“The branch”)
  • La filiale (“The subsidiary”)

You might go to an event:

  • La conferenza (“The conference”)
  • Il convegno (“The convention”)
  • Un corso di aggiornamento (“A refresher course”)
  • Una fiera internazionale (“An international fair”)

No matter the reason or location, you’ll need to get organized and make a few arrangements:

  • Prenotare il volo / l’albergo (“Book the flight / the hotel”)
    • Hai prenotato il volo per Roma? (“Did you book your flight to Rome?”)
    • Ho prenotato l’albergo a nome Rossi. (“I booked the hotel on behalf of Rossi.”)
  • Il check-in (“Check-in”)
    • A che ora apre il check-in? (“What time does the check-in open?”)
  • Un pranzo di lavoro (“A business lunch”)
    • Ho incontrato il cliente ad un pranzo di lavoro. (“I met the client at a business lunch.”)
  • Incontrare all’aeroporto (“Meet at the airport”)
    • Possiamo incontrarci all’aeroporto e prendere un taxi insieme? (“Can we meet at the airport and share a taxi?”)

And then it’s time to go back home:

  • Comprare un souvenir all’ultimo minuto (“Buy a last-minute souvenir”)
  • Conservare gli scontrini (“Saving the receipts”)
  • Chiedere il rimborso spese (“Ask for reimbursement”)

8. Conclusion

How do you feel about Italian business language now? Are you ready to plunge into business letters and emails, phone calls, and coffee breaks? In this guide, you’ve learned the most common and useful business phrases in Italian, and you’re now ready to go to work and get down to business in Italian!

Are there other phrases or expressions that we missed? If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave us a comment below!

And don’t forget to take advantage of all the free resources on ItalianPod101.com. Here, you’ll find grammar lessons, vocabulary lists, and tons of audio and video material to get you ready to spend the time of your life in Italy.

Do you need more? With our Premium PLUS service, you can have unlimited access to a teacher and one-on-one coaching. With MyTeacher, you’ll learn at your own pace with fast, fun, and easy lessons, and at the same time get personalized feedback and advice.

Keep up the good work!

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Arrivederci! (Or 10 Ways to Say Goodbye in Italian.)

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When you’re meeting someone for the first time or joining a new group, it’s normal to worry about what you’re going to say. While one can argue that the entirety of a conversation is important, there are two key elements that are crucial to making a good impression: the beginning and the end. Lucky for you, we’ve already written a great article about how to say hello in Italian—and today, we’ll show you how to say goodbye in Italian, too! 

If you’ve been keeping up with our blog, you’ve probably been practicing how to greet people, introduce yourself, exchange pleasantries, and talk about the weather. But what do you say when it’s time to leave? 

There are many ways to give an Italian goodbye, each suited to a specific context. In this article, we’ll do our best to cover all of them! 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. The 2 Most Common Ways to Say Goodbye in Italian
  2. Other Ways to Say Goodbye in Italian
  3. Conclusions and Arrivederci!

1. The 2 Most Common Ways to Say Goodbye in Italian

In Italian, there are two very common ways to say goodbye. In fact, they may be two of the most widely known Italian words (setting aside words such as pizza, lasagna, and espresso…). 

A Man Waiving Goodbye

“Bye” in Italian is Ciao or Arrivederci.

Have you already guessed what they are? Of course you have…

1. Arrivederci

Arrivederci is literally “to see each other again.” Its formal version is arrivederla, where we substitute the informal personal pronoun ci (“us,” “one another”) with the formal third person pronoun la (“you,” formal).  

Arrivederci is the perfect goodbye expression because it works as either a formal or informal farewell, and it can be used to address a single person or a group.

2. Ciao

This is another versatile form of greeting, as it can actually be used for both arrival and departure. Italian students often find this a little confusing at first because there are very few languages where this happens. Most languages have different formulas for one’s arrival and departure. I, personally, can’t think of any other language that has a formula that works for both hello and goodbye, can you? If you do, please leave us a comment below; we’re eager to learn new things about languages!

Nowadays, ciao is commonly used in many languages around the world (mostly to mean “goodbye” and not “hello”), often with a different spelling. But do you know where this word comes from? (To summarize, it comes from Venetian and it meant: “I’m at your service.”)

Ciao is an informal Italian word for “bye,” so you can use it with friends, family, young people, and in other informal contexts. Nowadays, addressing people informally is becoming more and more common, even in professional settings; this is especially true in areas related to the new economy or the world of creativity. And sometimes, you might hear the “doubled-up” form: Ciao, ciao! This usually indicates that someone is going away in a hurry. 

2. Other Ways to Say Goodbye in Italian

Most Common Goodbyes

Don’t worry, there are many more Italian phrases to say goodbye! Here are a few commonly used options and how to use them. 

3. Ci vediamo!

Ci vediamo is used less frequently than arrivederci, but it means exactly the same thing (“we’ll see each other again”). So, the emphasis of this phrase is not on the fact that we’re going away, but that we’re going to see each other again. I guess it’s the philosophy of the glass being half-full, right?

A Man Sneaking on the Table

Ci vediamo is another way to say Arrivederci.

Now that you’ve seen how arrivederci and ci vediamo literally mean “until we see each other again,” we’ll introduce some other ways to say goodbye in Italian. Some of these phrases indicate when you’ll be seeing each other again, a very useful bit of information to include when you’re departing. 

4. A + [Adverb of Time]

Whether you’re leaving a party, heading off to work, or going separate ways after a day out with your Italian friend, you might want to use a goodbye formula like this one:

  • A presto. → (“See you soon.”)
  • A dopo. → (“See you later.”)
  • A fra poco. → (“See you in a little.”)
  • A domani. → (“See you tomorrow.”)
  • A stasera. → (“See you tonight.”)

5. A + Article + [Generic Date] + Prossimo/a 

Let’s say you go running in the park with a friend every Saturday morning, or you see your Italian family only once a year for Christmas. In situations like these, you can say goodbye by saying that you’ll see each other la prossima volta (“next time”). Some common examples are: next week, next year, or next month.

  • (Arrivederci) alla settimana prossima. → (“See you next week.”)
  • (Arrivederci) al mese prossimo.           → (“See you next month.”)
  • (Arrivederci) all’anno prossimo.           → (“See you next year.”)

Naturally, when you join the preposition a (or most simple prepositions, for that matter) and the article, you get the preposizione articolataa single word combining the two parts. Do you want to learn more about it? You’ll see and hear these used all the time in Italian…

6. A + [Day of the Week] (+ Prossimo/a)

Now, if you want to be specific as to what day of the week you’ll see each other again, you just need to say a and the day of the week. In this case, you don’t have to worry about the article. However, if you add prossimo at the end, keep in mind that one of the days of the week is feminine and will require the feminine form prossima. Can you guess which day it is? Yes, of course, it’s domenica. (And by the way, adding prossimo/prossima at the end is optional.)

  • (Arrivederci) a lunedì (prossimo). → (“See you next Monday.”)
  • (Arrivederci) a martedì (prossimo). → (“See you next Tuesday.”)
  • (Arrivederci) a mercoledì (prossimo). → (“See you next Wednesday.”)
  • (Arrivederci) a giovedì (prossimo). → (“See you next Thursday.”)
  • (Arrivederci) a venerdì (prossimo). → (“See you next Friday.”)
  • (Arrivederci) a sabato (prossimo). → (“See you next Saturday.”)
  • (Arrivederci) a domenica (prossima). → (“See you next Sunday.”)

This is the perfect opportunity to practice the days of the week, isn’t it?

7. Alla Prossima!

This is one of the most versatile Italian goodbye phrases, perfect for any occasion. It’s a generic “to next time,” where you could mean next Monday, next class, next week, next time you do something together, etc. 

8. Buon… (“Have a good…”)

Buon (“good”) is a useful adjective in Italian, one that we use in many different contexts. It can mean: 

  • good to eat  → La pizza è buona. (“Pizza is good.”) 
  • good quality  → Ho letto un buon libro. (“I read a good book.”) 
  • well-behavedBambini, state buoni!  (“Kids, be quiet.”) 
  • And much more… I’ve counted fifteen definitions in this dictionary!

Buono is also used to wish someone a good…whatever they’re planning to do next. So, if it’s around Christmas, Easter, New Year, etc., you can use Buon… to wish your interlocutor or group a good one.

  • Buon Natale. (“Merry Christmas.”)
  • Buona Pasqua. (“Happy Easter.”)
  • Buon anno. (“Happy New Year.”)
  • Buone vacanze. (“Have a good holiday.”)
  • Buon viaggio. (“Have a nice trip.”)
A Woman Carrying a Luggage

Traveling with style… Buon viaggio!

But unfortunately, not everything in life is fun. You may have to use this formula to bid farewell to people who are working, studying, recovering, or just going about their business.

  • Buon lavoro. (“Have a pleasant time at work.”)
  • Buona permanenza. (“Have fun staying here.”)
  • Buona continuazione. (“Have fun doing this.”)
  • Buon riposo. (“Have a good rest.”)
  • Buona lezione. (“Have a good class.”)
  • Buona guarigione. (“Have a quick recovery.”) There are other formulas that you can use to say goodbye to someone who’s sick (malato/a) or not feeling well (che non si sente bene):
    • Riguardati. (“Take care of yourself.”)
    • Abbi cura di te. (“Take care of yourself.”)
    • Guarisci presto. (“Get well soon.”)
    • Stammi bene. (“Be well [for me].”)

And then there are my personal favorites: the Italian goodbye phrases you say when leaving someone or a group of people who are going to do something fun, go on an adventure, or have some great food. (Or even better, all of the above!)

  • Buon appetito! (“Enjoy your meal!”)
  • Buon divertimento! (“Have fun!”)
  • Buona fortuna! (“Good luck!”) 

Another way to wish someone good luck is: In bocca al lupo! It literally means “in the mouth of the wolf” and it is the English equivalent of “Break a leg!” Neither expression seems to make sense, but apparently in certain situations (like in the performing arts or before exams) it’s bad luck (sfortuna) to wish good luck! 

Ah, and don’t forget: The appropriate reply to the In bocca al lupo farewell is Crepi il lupo! or simply Crepi! (“May [the wolf] die!”). This part isn’t so common anymore, though. In fact, there’s currently a big campaign in Italy to support native wolves, beautiful animals that are coming back to live in our mountains and forests. So now we say: Viva il lupo! (“Long live the wolf!”)

A Wolf Howling

In bocca al lupo! Viva il lupo!

The final typical Italian farewell with buon… is a simple wish to have a good day, evening, or night.

  • Buona giornata*! (“Have a good day!”) → You use this formula if there is still lots of daytime left.
  • Buona serata*! (“Have a nice evening!”) → You use this formula if you foresee a long evening still ahead.

*Did you notice how this formula uses giornata/serata instead of giorno/notte? This is because these terms better convey the idea of duration, the passing of time. On the other hand, as a greeting when you arrive, you can only use Buon giorno / Buona sera (“Good morning” / “Good evening”). 

  • Buona notte! (“Good night!”) → This is a typical farewell formula when you (or the person you’re talking to) are going off to bed. There are also other ways to say this:
    • Dormi bene! (“Sleep well.”)
    • Sogni d’oro! (Literally, “Golden dream” = “Sleep well.”)

A final note on using buon

1. It has to agree with the noun (masculine, feminine, singular, plural).

2. When it comes before a noun, it changes according to the first letter of that noun. And it works exactly as the indefinite articles un, uno, una, un’.  

9. Variations of Arrivederci 

We said before that arrivederci literally means “to see each other again.” Well, what if you’re talking on the phone and you’re not actually “seeing” each other? In this case, you can use a similar formula that means “until we hear each other again.” It’s quite a long sentence in English, but in Italian, it’s a simple:

  • A risentirci!

And a few variations of this are:

  • Fatti sentire. (“Get in touch.”)
  • Restiamo in contatto. (“Let’s stay in touch.”)
  • Ci sentiamo. (“Let’s hear from one another.”)
  • Telefonami. (“Give me a call.”)

And what if you’re bidding farewell and have to leave in a hurry? Unfortunately, this is a situation that’s more and more common nowadays, since we’re all running here and there (di qua e di là) all the time. But, don’t worry, we have a formula for that, too:

  • Scusa, devo scappare. (“Sorry, I have to run off.”)
  • Devo andare. (“I have to go.”)
  • Devo correre. (“I have to run.”)
  • Scusa, non ho tempo. (“Sorry, I have no time.”)

10. Addio 

Rather appropriately, the final way to say goodbye in Italian is Addio. It’s a rather dramatic way of saying goodbye, because A Dio = To God. So it literally means “We’ll see each other again in front of God.” It’s not used a lot anymore, but there are still a few occasions where it comes in handy: after a tragic breakup, when you bid farewell to someone going to war, or to tell someone that you don’t want to see them ever again (or maybe just in an afterlife…). 😉

A Military Salute

Addio… going off to war.

  • Addio, domani parto per la guerra. (“Goodbye, tomorrow I’m leaving for the war.”)
  • Ti odio! Addio per sempre! (“I hate you! Goodbye forever!”)
  • Mi avete scocciato, addio! (“I’ve had it with you, goodbye!”)

3. Conclusions and Arrivederci!

Are you ready to face any Italian conversation and leave with style? In this article, you’ve learned how to say goodbye in Italian formally, informally, before going to sleep, before eating, and even in case you go off to war! 

What do you usually say when you leave your Italian friends? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll answer any questions you have.

Keep having fun with Italian and ItalianPod101.com! Don’t forget to check out our website. Here, you’ll find a great selection of resources, such as vocabulary lists, grammar lessons, and even mobile apps!

And by the way, did you know that with our premium service you get access to your own teacher? That’s right! With MyTeacher, you’ll have personalized exercises and one-on-one lessons. So…

Arrivederci!

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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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How to Master the Most Useful Italian Sentence Patterns


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Have you ever asked yourself how we learn our native language when we’re kids? We keep hearing and repeating the same simple sentences over and over. That’s the only trick! 

As an adult, it works the same way: You memorize a sentence structure, then you start changing the elements a little, and in the end, you start making the sentences more complex. 
With this simple guide on forming sentences in Italian, we’ll help you memorize the most basic and useful Italian sentence patterns; with those, you’ll be able to generate hundreds of natural sentences. And in no time, you’ll be holding complex conversations with ease and confidence.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian Table of Contents
  1. A is B: L’italiano è bello!
  2. Voglio imparare l’italiano con ItalianPod101.com!
  3. Love is all you need…
  4. Mi piace l’italiano!
  5. Bella Ciao and the Reflexive Verbs
  6. Asking politely: Scusi, posso…?
  7. Asking Questions
  8. Conclusion

1. A is B: L’italiano è bello!


Sentence Patterns

In Italian, if you want to describe a person or an object, you need to be able to say that A is B. Nothing’s easier! The only thing is that you need to know how to use and conjugate the verb essere (“to be”). And once you master that, you need to keep in mind that everything in Italian needs to agree in number (singular/plural) and gender (masculine/feminine).

  • Mario è mio fratello. (“Mario is my brother.”)
  • Maria è mia sorella. (“Maria is my sister.”)

There are already a lot of things you can say using this pattern:

  • (Lei)* È professoressa di italiano. (“She is an** Italian teacher.”)
  • (Voi) Siete molto simpatici. (“You are very nice.”)
  • Gli amici sono americani. (“The friends are American.”)

*Notice how, in Italian, you don’t need to express the personal pronoun when it’s the subject of the verb (io, tu, lui/lei, noi, voi, loro), **and when you say someone’s profession, you can omit the article:

  • (Io) Sono avvocata. (“I’m a lawyer.”) [for a female speaker]
  • (Tu) Sei ingegnere. (“You are an engineer.”)
  • Carlos è studente. (“Carlos is a student.”)

But what about when you want to say that A is not B? No problem. Anytime you need to express a negative statement, you just add the negation non (“not”) in front of the verb, as in:

  • Maria non è mia sorella. (“Maria is not my sister.”)
  • Questo orologio non è un regalo. (“This watch is not a present.”)

Notice also how the basic Italian sentence structure doesn’t change with most of the tenses (past, future, etc.).

  • Giovedì sarà il mio compleanno. (“Thursday will be my birthday.”)
  • Mario non era un bravo calciatore. (“Mario wasn’t a good soccer player.”)

And finally, if you need to ask a question, remember that, in Italian, you don’t need to do much. Just change your intonation, and you’ll have a perfect question.

  • Sei ingegnere? (“Are you an engineer?”)
  • Mario non era un bravo calciatore? (“Wasn’t Mario a good soccer player?”)

When we use adjectives to describe a person, a thing, or a situation, the structure stays exactly the same, including in the negative form or in other tenses:

  • (Tu) Sei bellissima! (“You are very beautiful!”)
  • La lasagna era deliziosa. (“The lasagna was delicious.”)
  • Il museo che abbiamo visitato ieri era molto interessante. (“The museum we visited yesterday was very interesting.”)

A Red Rose on Top of a Love Letter

The rose is red…[A] is [B]

2. Voglio imparare l’italiano con ItalianPod101.com!

Voglio (“I want”) is one of the Italian modal verbs (verbi servili) that are constructed by directly preceding the infinitive. 

  • Voglio imparare l’italiano con ItalianPod.101! (“I want to learn Italian with ItalianPod101.com!”)
  • Devo parlare. (“I have to speak up.”)
  • Posso fare. (“I can do it.”)
  • So suonare. (“I know how to play.”)

You can probably guess by now what the pattern is for the negative and interrogative forms. Yes, you’re right! For the negative form, you just put non (“not”) in front of the verb; if you want to ask a question, you just change the intonation:

  • Non voglio andare a scuola domani! (“I don’t want to go to school tomorrow!”)
  • Sai suonare il sassofono? (“Can you play the saxophone?”)

Italian phrases change a little when we start using direct or indirect personal pronouns, which we can put in front of the conjugated verb (as usual): 

  • Lo voglio dire. (“I want to say it.”)

Or, we can attach it to the end of the infinitive: 

  • Lo voglio dire; = Voglio dirlo(“I want to say it.”)
  • Ti devo parlare; = Devo parlarti; (“I have to talk to you.”)
  • Lo possiamo fare; = Possiamo farlo; (“We can do it.”)
  • La so suonare; = So suonarla; (“I can play it.”)

3. Love is all you need…

Although it might be true that “All you need is love,” in the real world, outside of dreamy songs, we need a lot of things. In Italian, “to need” translates into avere bisogno di. It’s a slightly different structure than in English and you’d better get familiar with it, because when you travel to Italy, or when you’re in the company of Italian friends, you might need to say one of the following:

  • Avete bisogno di informazioni? (“Do you need information?”)
  • Hai bisogno di cambiare i soldi. (“You need to change the money.”)
  • Il bambino ha bisogno di mangiare subito! (“The kid needs to eat right away!”)

A Group of Friends Holding Their Hands Up in Heart Shapes

Abbiamo bisogno d’amore! (“We need love!”)

Let’s take a look now at this Italian language sentence structure. 

You’ve probably noticed that we’re conjugating the verb avere (“to have”), which means that the literal translation of avere bisogno di is “to have the need for.” The noun bisogno (“need”) never changes, regardless of who the subject is, or who or what you need. 

Another important thing to remember is that the thing you need is introduced by the preposition di (“of”). When prepositions meet the article, they usually merge into a preposizione articolata.

  • Ho bisogno del (=di + il) bagno. (“I need the bathroom.”) 
  • Hai bisogno della (=di + la) macchina? (“Do you need the car?”)

When what you need is expressed by an action (and therefore a verb) you can change the sentence by replacing avere bisogno di (“to need”) with dovere (“to have to”). Like in English, the final meaning in Italian is basically the same, with maybe just a slight difference:

  • Ho bisogno di mangiare altrimenti svengo. (“I need to eat, otherwise I’ll faint.”) >> It’s necessary.
  • Devo mangiare altrimenti svengo. (“I have to eat, otherwise I’ll faint.”) >> I have no choice.

4. Mi piace l’italiano!

In Italian, the verb piacere expresses the concept of “liking” something, and of showing tastes and preferences. Piacere uses a particular sentence structure: What you like (or don’t like) is the subject of the verb, while the person who likes (or dislikes) someone/something is expressed with an indirect personal pronoun. 

If you try to translate it literally into English, you’ll have to change the order of the words a bit. Take a look:

  • Mi piace la pasta. (Mi = a me) > “I like pasta.”
  • Ti piace la pasta. (Ti = a te) > “You like pasta.”
  • Le piace la pasta. (Le = a lei) > “She likes pasta.”
  • Gli piace la pasta. (Gli = a lui) > “He likes pasta.”
  • Ci piace la pasta. (Ci = a noi) > “We like pasta.”
  • Vi piace la pasta. (Vi = a voi) > “You like pasta.”
  • A loro piace la pasta. > “They like pasta.”

Can you see what happened here? In the Italian translation, the grammatical subject is no longer “I” (io); it turned around to be the pasta! So if we go for the literal English translation, it would be “Pasta (subject) pleases (third person plural verb) me.”

If the thing you like is plural, you use piacciono (“they please”).

  • Mi piacciono gli spaghetti. > “I like spaghetti.”
  • Ti piacciono i fumetti di Diabolik? > “Do you like Diabolik comic books?”
  • Non ci piacciono le brutte notizie. > “We don’t like bad news.”

The verb piacere can also be followed by an infinitive.

  • Non gli piace guidare. > “He doesn’t like to drive.”
  • Ti piace ballare? > “Do you like dancing?”
  • Mi piace camminare a piedi nudi. > “I like to walk barefoot.”

Many other verbs use the same Italian sentence construction as piacere. For example:

  • Dispiacere (“to be sorry”) >> Mi dispiace per la confusione. (“I’m sorry for the mess.”)
  • Bastare (“to suffice”/”to be enough”) >> Ci basta poco. (“We don’t need much.”)
  • Mancare (“to miss something or someone”) >> Mi manca molto. (“I miss it a lot.”)
  • Servire (“to need”) >> Gli servono due pomodori. (“He needs two tomatoes.”)
  • Interessare (“to be interested in”) >> Ti interessa la storia? (“Does history interest you?”)
  • Sembrare (“to seem”/”to appear”) >> Ci sembra molto bello. (“It seems very nice to us.”)
  • Dare fastidio (“to annoy”/”to bother”) >> Mi dai proprio fastidio. (“You really bother me.”)

5. Bella Ciao and the Reflexive Verbs

Lately, the traditional hymn of freedom and resistance Bella Ciao has become very popular. But have you ever realized how it’s also a hymn to the power of reflexive verbs? Just look at the very first lyrics:


Someone Holding a Sign that Says

Is it a protest or a bank robbery…? 😉

Una mattina mi son(o) svegliato,
o bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao ciao ciao!
Una mattina mi son(o) svegliato
e ho trovato l’invasor.

One morning I awakened,
oh bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao, ciao, ciao!
One morning I awakened
And I found the invader.

One very common structure in Italian is to use reflexive verbs. These verbs express that the subject and the object of the action are the same: 

  • (io) mi sono svegliato. (“I woke up.” Literally: “I woke myself up.”)
  • (io) mi lavo le mani. (“I wash my hands.” Literally: “I wash myself the hands.”)

As you can see from the examples above, the reflexive verb is always preceded by a reflexive pronoun. So the pattern is always:

[subject] [reflexive pronounsame person as the subject] [verb]
[Maria] [si – (lei)] [sveglia]

Further, an Italian sentence that uses reflexive verbs requires the auxiliary essere (“to be”) in the past and all compound tenses. It also needs the consequent agreement of the past participle with the subject, as usual.

  • Si sono sposati l’anno scorso. (“They got married last year.”)
  • Carla, ti sei arrabbiata con me? (“Did you get angry at me?”)
  • Ieri non mi sono rasato. (“Yesterday, I didn’t shave.”)

In Italian, many common reflexive verbs are those related to routine daily actions. Reflexive verbs, in the infinitive form, will have the third person reflexive pronoun -si attached to the end, which can be a little confusing. Let’s see a few examples to clear things up.

Svegliarsi (“to wake up”) > Mi sveglio alle sei. (“I wake up at six.”)

Alzarsi  (“to get up”) > Ti alzi? (“Do you get up?”)

Lavarsi (“to wash up”) > John si lava solo la domenica. (“John washes up only on Sunday.”)

Vestirsi (“to dress up”) > Mi vesto per andare alla festa. (“I dress up to go to the party.”)

Mettersi (“to wear”) > Non ti metti il vestito rosso? (“Don’t you wear the red dress?”)

Pettinarsi (“to comb”) > Jessica non si pettina mai. (“Jessica never combs her hair.”)

Radersi (“to shave”) > Si rade un giorno sì e un giorno no. (“He shaves every other day.”)

Truccarsi (“to put on makeup”) > Le bambine si truccano a Carnevale. (“Girls put on makeup for Carnival.”)

Addormentarsi (“to fall asleep”) > Mi addormento a mezzanotte. (“I fall asleep at midnight.”)


A Man Thinking Deeply about Something on a White Board

Reflecting on reflexive verbs…

Many Italian verbs that express a physical state or a state of mind are also reflexive:

Annoiarsi (“to get/be bored”) > A teatro ci annoiamo. (“We get bored at the theater.”)

Arrabbiarsi (“to be angry”) > Perché ti arrabbi? (“Why do you get angry?”)

Chiamarsi (“to be called”) > Ciao, mi chiamo Elena. (“Hi, I’m called Elena.”)

Divertirsi (“to have fun”) > Sono sicura che vi divertiete. (“I’m sure you’ll have fun.”)

Innamorarsi (“to fall in love”) > Mi sono innamorata di te. (“I fell in love with you.”)

Lamentarsi (“to complain”) > Si lamentano sempre. (“They complain all the time.”)

Preoccuparsi (“to worry”) > Non ti preoccupare. (“Don’t worry.”)

Rilassarsi (“to relax”) > La domenica mi rilasso in famiglia. (“On Sunday I relax with my family.”)

Sedersi (“to sit down”) > Ci sediamo un poco? (“Shall we sit down for a while?”)

Sentirsi (“to feel”) > Non ti senti bene? (“Aren’t you feeling well?”)

Sposarsi (“to get married”) > Si sposano a maggio. (“They get married in May.”)

Vergognarsi (“to be ashamed”) > Mi vergogno di quello che ho fatto. (“I’m ashamed of what I’ve done.”)

6. Asking politely: Scusi, posso…?


1- Posso?

There are many situations where you need to politely ask to go someplace, or to get information or a service. Here’s the correct Italian language sentence pattern for you to use in order to make the best impression with your politeness.


A Little Boy Asking to Use the Bathroom

Posso andare al bagno? (“May I go to the bathroom?”)

As in English, Italian uses the verb potere (“can”/”may”), followed by an infinitive, to ask for permission to do or get something.

  • Posso entrare? (“May I come in?”)
  • Posso andare in bagno? (“Can I go to the bathroom?”)
  • Posso alzarmi da tavola? (“Can I be excused?” Literally: “Can I leave the table?”)
  • Posso avere il tuo numero di telefono? (“Can I have your phone number?”)

2- Scusa… Scusi…

Often, before asking for something, Italians say Scusa… (informal) or Scusi… (formal). But what does that mean? It’s actually a short version for saying “Excuse me,” and in some situations, it can also be used to say “Sorry.” But going back to the sentence pattern for politely asking for something, scusa is a way to draw the attention of the person you’re about to ask permission from.

  • Scusi, posso entrare? (“Excuse me, may I come in?”)
  • Scusa, posso avere il tuo numero di telefono? (“Excuse me, can I have your phone number?”)

A common situation where you should use this structure is when you’re at a coffee bar or a restaurant, and you want to draw the waiter’s or bartender’s attention before making your request:

  • Scusi, posso avere un cappuccino? (“Excuse me, can I get a cappuccino?”)
  • Scusi, possiamo avere il conto? (“Excuse me, can we have the bill?”)

Or, if you’re lost in Milan or Rome and you need directions (or the time):

  • Scusi, può dirmi come arrivo al Duomo? (“Excuse me, can you tell me how to get to the Duomo?”)
  • Scusi, può dirmi che ore sono? (“Excuse me, can you tell me the time?”)

Remember to use the formal version, scusi, when you talk to an older person, someone you don’t know, or anyone you want to show respect to (and with waiters and bartenders). The informal scusa is for young people, friends, and family.

3- Potrei…?

Finally, another way to ask politely for something in Italian is to use the present conditional. This shows that you’re asking something, but you’re not ordering. You’re rather expressing a wish.

  • Potrei avere un cappuccino? (“Could I have a cappuccino?”)
  • Mi farebbe un cappuccino? (“Could you make me a cappuccino?”)
  • Mi potresti dire l’ora? (“Could you tell me the time?”)

7. Asking Questions


1- About things: Che cos’è …?

Cosa (“thing”) is the most indeterminate and comprehensive word in the Italian language. With the word cosa, you can indicate anything that exists, whether in an abstract sense or in reality. It’s also the interrogative pronoun we use to ask about things when we want to know what they are, what they do, etc.


A Woman with Question Marks Above Her Head

Cosa? Dove? Quando? Too many questions!!!

It’s interesting to notice how there are different ways to say “what” in Italian:

  • Che
  • Cosa
  • Che cosa

These pronouns are always followed by a verb, either essere (if you’re asking what things are), or any other verb (if you’re asking about any other thing).

  • Che fai stasera?
  • Cosa fai stasera?
  • Che cosa fai stasera?

What’s the difference between the above sentences? None whatsoever. They all mean: “What do you do tonight?” Similarly, the following sentences all mean: “What is an interrogative pronoun?” (By the way, if you want to know more about interrogative pronouns in Italian, you can review all about pronouns on ItalianPod101.)

  • Che è un pronome interrogativo?
  • Cos’è un pronome interrogativo?
  • Che cos’è un pronome interrogativo?

Did you see what happened with cos’è (in cos’è successo)? When you have cosa + è, the final “a” is dropped, and you add an apostrophe (‘) to indicate that there was an elision. This is quite common in Italian, and we’ll see more examples of this in the next chapter.

2- Asking about a location: Dov’è …?

It might be true that all roads lead to Rome, but when you’re in Rome and you need directions to get around, what do you do? For that, you simply use the adverb dove (“where”). Remember what happened with cosa + è = cos’è (elision). The exact same phenomenon happens here: dove + è = dov’è.

  • Dov’è il bagno? (“Where is the bathroom?”)
  • Dove si prende l’autobus? (“Where do we take the bus?”)
  • Dove va questo treno? (“Where does this train go?”)

A Map Focusing on Rome

All the roads lead to Rome, but you can still get lost…

Another common way to ask where things are is by using the verb trovarsi. It’s a reflexive verb meaning “to find oneself” / “to happen to be” / “to be situated.”

  • Dove si trova il bagno? (“Where is the bathroom?”)
  • Dove mi trovo? (“Where am I?”)

And finally, you can hear Italians use the verb stare (literally “stay”) to indicate where things are (especially within Rome):

  • Dove stanno i miei calzini? (“Where are my socks?”)
  • Stanno nel primo cassetto, come sempre! (“They are in the first drawer, as always!”)

3- Asking about time: Quand’è?

Tell me Quando Quando Quando

This old Italian standard from the ‘60s is the perfect soundtrack to introduce the final basic Italian sentence pattern: Asking about time. Quando (“when”) is used pretty much the same way as the other interrogative words, including the trick quando + è = quand’è.

  • Quand’è il tuo compleanno? (“When is your birthday?”)
  • Quando arriva il treno? (“When does the train get in?”)
  • Quando cominciano le vacanze di Natale? (“When does the Christmas vacation start?”)

Obviously, you use quando if you mean to ask a general question about time, but you can change the formula if you want to be more specific:

  • In che anno sei nato? (“What year were you born?”)
  • A che ora arriva il treno? (“What time does the train get in?”)
  • Che giorno cominciano le vacanze di Natale? (“What day do the Christmas vacations start?”)

Sentence Components

8. Conclusion

Do you think you know enough about the most useful Italian sentence structures now? Do you feel confident about diving into a conversation in Italian, using basic sentences, questions, and polite requests? What about discussing your likes and desires?

Let us know if there’s any other topic or sentence pattern that you would like to learn more about. And make sure to explore our site, ItalianPod101.com, to take advantage of our free resources, vocabulary lists, and mobile apps to practice whenever and wherever you want.
Remember that you can also use our premium service, MyTeacher, to learn Italian with your own teacher. You’ll also continue to study at your own pace with fast, fun, and easy Italian lessons, including 220+ hours of audio/video courses, study tools, and more!

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A Simple Guide to Italian Verb Conjugation

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Verbs are everywhere! Whatever you’re trying to say or write in Italian, you’re going to need to use a verb and a subject. And guess what? Right there, you already need to conjugate the verb to use it correctly. 

  • Vado al cinema. Vieni con me? Cosa dici? 
    “I go to the movies. Will you come with me? What do you say?”

For example, in this simple sentence, you’ll have to know the conjugations of the verbs andare (“to go”), venire (“to come”), and dire (“to say”).

Italian verb conjugation might seem tough at first, but with a few tips (and ItalianPod101’s resources), you’ll learn how to conjugate Italian verbs and become a real pro!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Italian Table of Contents
  1. What Does Conjugation Mean?
  2. Verb Groups
  3. Conjugation Examples
  4. Irregular Verbs and Their Conjugations
  5. Quiz
  6. Tips to Improve and Practice Your Italian Conjugations

1. What Does Conjugation Mean?

What is a conjugation and what do you need it for? A conjugation is a basic process—common to most languages—by which you change the verb ending in order to indicate who is doing the action (me, you, he/she, we, you, they), with what intention (realistic, wish, opinion, order, etc.), and when (present, past, future, etc.).

Woman with Question Marks above Her Head

Who? When? What intention? Ask questions to start conjugating.

Also, in Italian verb conjugation, you may have to:

  • Conjugate auxiliary verbs (avere/essere = “to have”/”to be”) 
  • Conjugate modal verbs (verbi servili: potere, dovere, volere, ecc. = “can, must, want, etc.”) 
  • Add a participio passato (“past participle”) 
  • Watch out for Italian irregular verbs and irregular verb forms (dire, fare, andare, stare, venire, perdere, chiudere, and a few more…)

Let’s look at this in more detail:

1- Who?

1st person singularIo“I”
2nd person singulartu / Lei*“you” (casual) / “you” (formal)
3rd person singularlui / lei“he” / “she”
1st person pluralnoi“we”
2nd person pluralvoi“we”
3rd person pluralloro“they”

*It’s important to remember that the polite form of address is in the third person singular feminine. So, for example, the phrase “What do you eat?” can be:

  • Tu cosa mangi? (informal)
  • Lei cosa mangia? (formal)

It can be a little confusing at the beginning, but since the formal way of address is extremely common in Italian, it’s a good idea to practice using it from the very beginning.

Remember that the person who is doing the action is very important because, in Italian verb conjugation, every person of the verb has a different ending. But we’ll see that in a little bit.

2- With what intention?

In every sentence, you can ask “What is the intention of this action?” This intention is called il modo (“the mood”), and it reflects whether the intention is realistic, possible, or uncertain, or if it’s a wish, an opinion, or an order. 

Let’s look at this Italian conjugation table and study the moods to determine what they mean.

Indicativo
(“Indicative”)
Mangio una pizza.
(“I eat a pizza.”)
Used to express a real and certain fact. This is, by far, the most common mood in Italian.
Conjuntivo
(“Subjunctive”)
Credo che sia meglio.
(“I think it is better.”)
Used to express an opinion, a possibility, a desire, or something uncertain. It’s usually supported by certain verbs and conjunctions.
Condizionale
(“Conditional”)
Vorrei andare.
(“I would like to go.”)
Used to express a probability or a hypothesis. Usually, one fact depends on another.
Imperativo
(“Imperative”)
Fai i compiti!
(“Do your homework!”)
Used to give an order.
The examples above are called modi finiti (“finite moods”) because they define the action in a precise way, and they’re conjugated according to the person and the time. The following ones, on the other hand, are modi indefiniti (“indefinite moods”) as they don’t have a specific subject. They usually depend on other verbs, and—very good news—they don’t change!
Infinito
(“Infinitive”)
Mangiare
(“To eat”)
It’s an undetermined action, used as the basic form of the verb.
Gerundio
(“Gerund”)
Sto dormendo.
(“I am sleeping.”)
Often used in combination with stare, it can have many intentions.
Participio
(“Participle”)
Serata danzante
(“Dancing night”)
A word formed from a verb and used as an adjective.

3- When?

Every action takes place in a specific time, called tempo (literally “time,” or “tense” in the context of a conjugation). The Italian tenses are presente, passato, and futuro, and they can be tempi semplici (“simple tenses”) when they’re made of just one word, or tempi composti (“compound tenses”) when they’re formed by the auxiliary (essere/avere) and the past participle.

Two Hearts Drawn in the Sand on a Beach

Io amo, tu ami… (“I love, you love…”) The best conjugation of all!

Let’s look at the full Italian conjugations chart of all possible moods and tenses with the best Italian verb: amare (“to love”).

MODITEMPI SEMPLICITEMPI COMPOSTI
FinitiIndicativoPresente | AmoPassato prossimo | Ho amato
Imperfetto | AmavoTrapassato prossimo | Avevo amato
Passato remoto | AmaiTrapassato remoto | Ebbi amato
Futuro semplice | AmeròFuturo anteriore | Avrò amato
CongiuntivoPresente | Che io amiPassato | Che io abbia amato
Imperfetto | Che io amassiTrapassato | Che io avessi amato
CondizionalePresente | AmereiPassato | Avrei amato
ImperativoPresente | Ama!
IndefinitiGerundioPresente | AmandoPassato | Avendo amato
ParticipioPresente | Amante
Passato | Amato
InfinitoPresente | Amare

It’s true that there are quite a lot of tenses! But keep in mind that the Italian conjugations you’ll really have to master are the ones that are in bold, as they are by far the most common. They’re also the most practical ones for meaningful communication up to an intermediate Italian level. That sounds better, doesn’t it?

2. Verb Groups

Top Verbs

In the Italian conjugation of verbs, there are three basic groups, divided according to the verb ending in the infinitive:

  • 1st with the infinitive in -ARE
  • 2nd with the infinitive in -ERE (verbs ending in -arre, -orre, and -urre belong to this group)
  • 3rd with the infinitive in -IRE (verbs that add a -isc suffix belong to this group)

Regular Italian verbs are simple to conjugate because they all follow the same pattern, as you can see in the following chart:

Io (“I”)tu (“you”)lui/lei (“s/he”)noi  (“we”)voi (“you”)loro (“they”)
AMARE (“to love”)AmoAmiAmaAmiàmoAmàteÀmano
CREDERE (“to believe”)CredoCrediCredeCrediàmoCredèteCrèdono
DORMIRE (“to sleep”)DormoDormiDormeDormiàmoDormìteDòrmono*

*Notice how the position of the stress changes syllable. Try and read the three basic present conjugations, just to familiarize yourself with the rhythm of it.

As you can see, there are no major changes from one group to the other. But things do get a bit more complicated with Italian irregular verb conjugations, which involve some of the most common verbs.

3. Conjugation Examples

Negative Verbs

Now that you know that Italian conjugations are divided into three groups, let’s see in greater detail how each group behaves according to the person (who), the tense (when), and the mood (with what intention).

1- Verbs in -ARE

AMARE (“To love”) 

IndicativeSubjunctiveConditionalImperative
PresentAbsolute Past*ImperfectFuturePresentPresentPresent
ioamoamaiamavoameròamiamerei
tuamiamastiamaviameraiamiamerestiama
lui/leiamaamòamavaameràamiamerebbe
noiamiamoamammoamavamoameremoamiamoameremmoamiamo
voiamateamasteamavateamereteamiateameresteamate
loroamanoamaronoamavanoamerannoaminoamerebbero

PARLARE (“To talk”)

IndicativeSubjunctiveConditionalImperative
PresentAbsolute Past*ImperfectFuturePresentPresentPresent
ioparloparlaiparlavoparleròparliparlerei
tuparliparlastiparlaviparleraiparliparlerestiparla
lui/leiparlaparlòparlavaparleràparliparlerebbe
noiparliamoparlammoparlavamoparleremoparliamoparleremmoparliamo
voiparlateparlasteparlavateparlereteparliateparleresteparlate
loroparlateparlaronoparlavanoparlerannoparlinoparlerebbero

GIOCARE (“To play”)

IndicativeSubjunctiveConditionalImperative
PresentAbsolute Past*ImperfectFuturePresentPresentPresent
iogiocogiocaigiocavogiocherò*giochi*giocherei*
tugiochi*giocastigiocavigiocherai*giochi*giocheresti*gioca
lui/leigiocagiocògiocavagiocherà*giochi*giocherebbe*
noigiochiamo*giocammogiocavamogiocheremo*giochiamo*giocheremmo*giochiamo*
voigiocategiocastegiocavategiocherete*giochiate*giochereste*giocate
lorogiocanogiocaronogiocavanogiochino*giochino*giocherebbero*

*Notice how, whenever the ending of the conjugation starts with i or e, the root adds an h in order to maintain the hard K sound of giocare. This will happen for all the verbs of the first group that end in -care or gare. So, for verbs in -care or gare:

C + I, E = CHI, CHE (in order to keep the hard K sound)
G + I, E = GHI, GHE (in order to keep the hard G sound)

Let’s see some examples:

  • Pagare (“to pay”)
    Paghi tu? (“Will you pay?”)
  • Cercare (“to look for”)
    Cerchiamo un bar. (“We look for a bar.”)
  • Giocare (“to play”)
    Giocheresti con me? (“Would you play with me?”)
  • Litigare (“to fight”)
    Non litighiamo! (“Let’s not fight!”)
  • Mancare (“to miss”)
    Mi manchi tanto! (“I miss you so much!”)
  • Sporcare (“to get dirty”)
    Ti sporchi sempre… (“You always get dirty…”)
  • Sprecare (“to waste”)
    Perché sprechi la carta? (“Why do you waste paper?”)
  • Navigare (“to sail”)
    Navigheremo per tre notti. (“We will sail for three nights.”)

Wait… Didn’t we tell you earlier that the only verbs you really needed to master were presente, passato prossimo, imperfetto, futuro, condizionale, and imperativo (“present, present perfect, imperfect, future, conditional, and imperative”)? 

You’re absolutely right! As a matter of fact, the absolute past (passato remoto) is mostly used in literary writing and very formal speech about things that happened a very long time ago. So you definitely don’t have to worry about it too much. Just be aware of it, just in case you encounter it while reading a story.

Do you know where you might actually hear passato remoto a lot? In the south of Italy, in Sicily for example, because southern dialects have no passato prossimo in their grammar. For this reason, people have historically tended to use this tense more often than other Italians. 

Sicily, Italy

Andai in Sicilia. (“I went to Sicily.”) Sicilians use passato remoto a lot!

On the other hand, the one that you’ll really be using all the time (in combination with the imperfect) is the present perfect (passato prossimo), which is formed by the auxiliary essere or avere (“to be” or “to have”) and the past participle. But we’ll see more about that in a little bit. For now, just take a look at what it’s like.

Passato Prossimo – AMARE
ioho amato
tuhai amato
lui/ leiha amato
noiabbiamo amato
voiavete amato
lorohanno amato

2- Verbs in -ERE

CREDERE (“To believe”)

IndicativeSubjunctiveSubjunctiveImperative
PresentAbsolute Past*ImperfectFuturePresentPresentPresent
iocredocredetticredevicrederòcredacrederei
tucredicredesticredevicrederaicredacrederesticredi
lui/leicredecredettecredevacrederàcredacrederebbe
noicrediamocredemmocredevamocrederemocrediamocrederemmocrediamo
voicredetecredestecredevatecrederetecrediatecrederestecredete
lorocredonocrederonocredevanocrederannocredanocrederebbero

PRENDERE (“To take”)

IndicativeSubjunctiveConditionalImperative
PresentAbsolute PastImperfectFuturePresentPresentPresent
ioprendopresi*prendevoprenderòprendaprenderei
tuprendiprendestiprendeviprenderaiprendaprenderestiprendi
lui/leiprendeprese*prendevaprenderàprendaprenderebbe
noiprendiamoprendemmoprendevamoprenderemoprendiamoprenderemmoprendiamo
voiprendeteprendesteprendevateprendereteprendiateprenderesteprendete
loroprendonopresero*prendevanoprenderannoprendanoprenderebbero

*Just to complicate things a bit further, most verbs of the second group in -ERE have an irregular passato remoto (“absolute past”), in which the io, lui/lei, loro (“I,” “s/he,” “they”) forms can change considerably from the root. But again, this tense is rarely used in spoken Italian, so you’ll just need to recognize them in case you encounter them while reading. 

LEGGERE (“To read”)

IndicativeSubjunctiveConditionalImperative
PresentAbsolute PastImperfectFuturePresentPresentPresent
ioleggo**lessi*leggevoleggeròleggaleggerei
tuleggileggestileggevileggeraileggaleggerestileggi
lui/leileggelesse*leggevaleggeràleggaleggerebbe
noileggiamoleggemmoleggevamoleggeremoleggiamoleggeremmoleggiamo
voileggeteleggesteleggevateleggereteleggiateleggeresteleggete
loroleggono**lessero*leggevanoleggerannolegganoleggerebbero

*See the note above.

**Contrary to what happens to the -care / -gare verbs in the first group (they add an h to keep the hard sound in front of e or i), in the second conjugation, verbs in -cere and -gere change sound from soft to hard in front of the ending -o (io and loro – “I” and “them”). 

Mother Reading to Her Baby

Che piacere leggere! (“What a pleasure to read!”)

IO LEGGO [leggo – hard G] as in “gospel”
TU LEGGI [ledʒi – soft g] as in “giant”

Other common verbs that have the same behavior are:

  • Vincere (“to win”)
    Vinco sempre! (“I always win!”)
  • Conoscere (“to know”)
    Non ti conosco. (“I don’t know you.”)
  • Crescere (“to grow”)
    Come crescono questi bambini…! (“How do these kids grow…!”)
  • Nascere (“to be born”)
    In Italia nascono 50 bambini all’ora. (“In Italy, 50 babies are born every hour.”)
  • Correggere (“to correct”)
    Correggo i tuoi errori. (“I correct your mistakes.”)
  • Friggere (“to fry”)
    Friggo le patate. (“I fry potatoes.”)
  • Leggere (“to read”)
    I ragazzi leggono Pinocchio. (“Kids read Pinocchio.”)
  • Aggiungere (“to add”)
    Aggiungono sempre troppo sale! (“They always add too much salt!”)
  • Piangere (“to cry”)
    Quando sono triste piango. (“When I’m sad, I cry.”)

3- Verbs in -IRE

DORMIRE (“To sleep”)

IndicativeSubjunctiveConditionalImperative
PresentAbsolute PastImperfectFuturePresentPresentPresent
iodormodormiidormivodormiròdormadormirei
tudormidormistidormividormiraidormadormirestidormi
lui/leidormedormìdormivadormiràdormadormirebbe
noidormiamodormimmodormivamodormiremodormiamodormiremmodormiamo
voidormitedormistedormivatedormiretedormiatedormirestedormite
lorodormonodormironodormivanodormirannodormanodormirebbero

SENTIRE (“To hear” / “To feel”)

IndicativeSubjunctiveConditionalImperative
PresentAbsolute PastImperfectFuturePresentPresentPresent
iosentosentiisentivosentiròsentasentirei
tusentisentistisentivisentiraisentasentirestisenti
lui/leisentesentìsentivasentiràsentasentirebbe
noisentiamosentimmosentivamosentiremosentiamosentiremmosentiamo
voisentitesentistesentivatesentiretesentiatesentirestesentireste
lorosentonosentironosentivanosentirannosentanosentirebbero

CAPIRE (“To understand”)

IndicativeSubjunctiveConditionalImperative
PresentAbsolute PastImperfectFuturePresentPresentPresent
iocapisco*capiicapivocapiròcapiscacapirei
tucapisci**capisticapivicapiraicapiscacapiresticapisci
lui/leicapiscecapìcapivacapiràcapiscacapirebbe
noicapiamocapimmocapivamocapiremocapiamocapiremmocapiamo
voicapitecapistecapivatecapiretecapiatecapirestecapireste
lorocapisconocapironocapivanocapirannocapscanocapirebbero

*Did you notice something different about this conjugation? You’re absolutely right! Quite a few Italian verbs of the third group add an -isc suffix to the conjugation in the present, subjunctive, and imperative in the first singular (io, “I”),  second singular (tu, “you”), third singular (lui/lei, “s/he”), and third plural (loro, “they”).  


**Similarly to what happens to the verbs in the -cere and -gere that we just saw above, verbs that add the -isc suffix change sound from soft to hard in front of the endings -o and -a (io and loro – “I” and “them”).

IO CAPISCO [kapisko – hard K] as in “color”
TU CAPISCI [kapishi – soft sh] as in “sheep”

Other common verbs that have the same behavior are:

  • Capire (“to understand”)
    Capisco [capisko] / Capisci [capishi] tutto. (“I/you understand everything.”)
  • Costruire (“to build”)
    Costruisco [kostruisko] / Costruisci [costruishi] una casa. (“I/you build a house.”)
  • Finire (“to finish”)
      Finisco [finisko] / Finisci [finishi] subito! (“I/you finish right away!”)
  • Preferire (“to prefer”)
    Preferisco [preferisko] / Preferisci [preferishi] l’acqua. (“I/you prefer water.”)

    Now it’s your turn to try! Change the subject from io (“I”) to tu or lui/lei (“you” or “s/he”) and practice with the hard/soft pronunciation.
  • Proibire (“to forbid”)
    Io ti proibisco di andare! (“I forbid you to go!”) >> Lei ti ……………… di andare! (“He forbids you to go!”)
  • Pulire (“to clean”)
    Io pulisco la mia stanza. (“I clean my room.”) >> Tu …………….. la mia stanza. (“He cleans my room.”)
  • Punire (“to punish”)
    Non punisco gli sbagli. (“I don’t punish mistakes.”) >> Lui non ………… gli sbagli. (“He doesn’t punish mistakes.”)
  • Restiture (“to give back”)
    Io restituisco il libro. (“I give back the book.”)  >> Tu …………….. il libro. (“You give back the book.”)
  • Trasferire (“to transfer” / “to move”)
    Io mi trasferisco a Roma. (“I move to Rome.”) >> Tu ti …………….. a Roma. (“You move to Rome.”)

4. Irregular Verbs and Their Conjugations

Essential Verbs

As it often happens, some of the most common verbs are irregular and, although they continue to follow a pattern to a certain point, they can differ quite a lot from what you expect. 

Let’s start with the most important Italian irregular conjugations: essere (“to be”) and avere (“to have”). 

ESSERE (“To be”) 

IndicativeSubjunctiveConditionalImperative
PresentAbsolute PastImperfectFuturePresentPresentPresent
iosonofuierosaròsiasarei
tuseifosteerisaraisiasarestisii
lui/leiè*fuerasaràsiasarebbe
noisiamofummoeravamosaremosiamosaremmosiamo
voisietefosteeravatesaretesiatesarestesiate
lorosonofuronoeranosarannosianosarebbero

*The third person singular lui/lei è (“s/he is”) requires the grave accent to distinguish it from the conjunction e (“and”). Even if it might seem like a small detail, it’s considered a big mistake, so double your attention!


AVERE  (“To have”)

IndicativeSubjunctiveConditionalImperative
PresentAbsolute PastImperfectFuturePresentPresentPresent
ioho*ebbiavevoavròabbiaavrei
tuhai*avesteaveviavraiabbiaavrestiabbi
lui/leiha*ebbeavevaavràabbiaavrebbe
noiabbiamoavemmoavevamoavremoabbiamoavremmoabbiamo
voiaveteavesteavevateavreteabbiateavresteabbiate
lorohanno*ebberoavevanoavrannoabbianoavrebbero

*In Italian, you’ll never find the H at the beginning of a word, except for in foreign words such as “hotel” and the avere conjugation. For some reason, only the first singular (io, “I”), second singular (tu, “you”), third singular (lui/lei, “s/he”), and third plural (loro, “they”) in the present keep the H from the Latin conjugation habere. However, nothing changes in the pronunciation.

1- AVERE & ESSERE as auxiliaries with passato prossimo (“present perfect”)

Remember how we told you that the absolute past isn’t really used in colloquial Italian, and you would more often use the passato prossimo? Passato prossimo is formed with an auxiliary avere/essere and the past participle, which is formed as follows:

  • Verbs in -are >> -ato
    Ex: Parlare >> ho parlato  / Andare >> sono andato
  • Verbs in -ere >> -uto
    Ex: conoscere >> conosciuto
  • Verbs in -ire >> -ito
    Ex: dormire >> dormito
  • Essere >> stato 
  • Avere >> avuto

But how do you know which auxiliary to use? Here’s how it works. 

Transitive verbs (verbs that can have a direct object) form the passato prossimo with the auxiliary AVERE:

  • Amare Ho amato mio marito. (“I loved my husband.”)
  • Vendere Ho venduto la mia macchina. (“I sold my car.”)
  • Capire Ho capito quello che hai detto. (“I understood what you said.”)

Intransitive verbs (verbs that can’t have a direct object, and that usually indicate state, movement, change, etc.) form the passato prossimo with the auxiliary ESSERE:

  • Andare Sono andato al cinema. (“I went to the movies.”)
  • Venire Sono venuto con te. (“I came with you.”)
  • Uscire Sono uscito. (“I went out.”)

Other intransitive verbs that need the essere auxiliary are: salire, restare, tornare, ritornare, scendere, arrivare, cadere, entrare, and more.

Irregular verbs in Italian are quite frequent and common. Here’s a basic list with their conjugations in the present indicative, from which you can deduct the rest of the patterns.

DIREDAREFAREANDAREVENIREVOLERESAPEREPOTEREUSCIRE
iodicodofacciovadovengovogliosopossoesco
tudicidaifaivaivienivuoisaipuoiesci
lui/leidicedafavavienevuolesapuòesce
noidiciamodiamofacciamoandiamoveniamovogliamosappiamopossiamousciamo
voiditedatefateandatevenitevoletesapetepoteteuscite
lorodiconodannofannovannovannovoglionosannopossonoescono

Do you think that these are enough? No way! There are many more irregular verbs in Italian you can have fun with.

5. Quiz

Do you think that you know enough about Italian conjugations? Let’s do a quick test.

Fill in the blanks with the correct verb, paying attention to the subject and the tense:

Someone Filling Out Answers on Multiple Choice Test

Quiz time!

  1. Gli Italiani (amare) _______________ il caffè molto forte.
    (“Italians love very strong coffee.”)
  2. Domani tu (andare) ______________ al cinema con i tuoi amici?
    (“Tomorrow, will you go to the movies with your friends?”)
  3. Quando noi (essere) __________ piccoli, (credere) ___________ a Babbo Natale!
    (“When we were kids, we believed in Santa Claus!”)
  4. Io (volere) _____________ un gelato al limone, per favore.
    (“I would like a lemon ice cream, please.”)
  5. Un anno fa Laura (finire)  ______________ la scuola.
    (“A year ago, Laura finished school.”)

Let’s check the answers together:

1) Amano: This is the third person plural of the present.

2) Andrai: This is the second person singular of the future, since domani tells us that the action takes place in the future.

3) Eravamo, Credevamo: These are both first person plural of the imperfect, which is the tense we use for describing a generic time, not a specific moment.

4) Vorrei: Here, we use the first person singular of the conditional, since we’re expressing a wish or a polite request.

5) Ha finito: In this case, the past tense that we need is the passato prossimo, since it’s an action that occurred at a specific time.

Did you get them all correct?

6. Tips to Improve and Practice Your Italian Conjugations

Italian conjugations can seem like a lot to take in, but there are tricks and strategies that you can use to help you learn and remember them.

For example, you can try to memorize each verb as a chant (amo, ami, ama, amiamo, amate, amano…). This way, you’ll memorize the patterns and they’ll stick forever. Repetition always helps, so do as many exercises as you can. Reading, listening to music, and watching videos is also extremely useful in getting familiar with different kinds of verbs in context. 

And the final tip: Make sure that you take advantage of all the free resources available on ItalianPod101.com! You’ll even find mobile apps, lessons, and a guided learning system with your own teacher!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Italian

The 100+ Most Important Italian Verbs

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Verbs are concepts in motion and are a fundamental part of every language. But how many Italian language verbs should you learn to speak the language properly? Here at ItalianPod101, we believe that with the following 100+ Italian verbs, you’ll be able to face most circumstances with ease. And don’t be scared—with our examples and definitions, you’ll be able to master this Italian verbs list quickly. It’s Italian verbs made easy with ItalianPod101! 

But first, let’s take a look at Italian verb conjugation.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Italian Table of Contents
  1. Italian Regular Verbs
  2. Italian Irregular Verbs
  3. Reflexive Verbs in Italian
  4. Italian Verb Types & Their Meanings
  5. Italian Verb Placement in a Sentence
  6. ItalianPod101: A Great Source for Your Italian Learning!

1. Italian Regular Verbs

Buildings in Florence, Italy

There are three groups of Italian regular verbs, and their conjugation makes students happy. Indeed, they’re easy to learn and always the same. 

The three regular verb groups are: 

  • Verbs in -are
  • Verbs in -ere
  • Verbs in -ire

1- Verbs in -are

Here’s a chart with the -are Italian verb conjugation, and an example of how it works with the verb portare, meaning “to bring.”

1st sg (I)2nd sg (you)3rd sg (she)1st pl (we)2nd pl (you)3rd pl (they)
Stem + oStem + iStem + aStem + iamoStem + ateStem + ano
Io portoTu portiEgli portaNoi portiamoVoi portateEssi portano

Some examples of Italian verbs in -are are: 

1.

Amare
“to love”
Amo moltissimo viaggiare.
“I love traveling very much.”

2.

Pensare
“to think”
Io lavoro e penso a te.
“I work and I think about you.”

3.

Cominciare
“to start”
Oggi cominciamo un corso di italiano.
“Today, we start an Italian course.”

4.

Incontrare
“to meet”
Il Presidente incontra il suo staff nello Studio Ovale.
“The President meets his staff in the Oval Office.”

2- Verbs in -ere

Top Verbs

And now let’s see the conjugation of -ere verbs. We’ll use temere, meaning “to fear,” as an example.

1st sg (I)2nd sg (you)3rd sg (she)1st pl (we)2nd pl (you)3rd pl (they)
Stem + oStem + iStem + eStem + iamoStem + eteStem + ono
Io temoTu temiEgli temeNoi temiamoVoi temeteEssi temono

Some examples are: 

5.

Leggere
“to read”
Al mattino leggo il giornale.
“In the morning, I read the newspaper.”

6.

Mettere
“to put,” “to wear”
Marco mette sempre lo stesso cappello.
“Marco always wears the same hat.”

7.

Ridere
“to laugh”
Valeria ride sempre, è una ragazza davvero allegra.
“Valeria always laughs; she really is a joyful girl.”

8.

Prendere
“to take,” “to get”
Di solito prendono il caffè in questo bar.
“They usually get their coffee in this cafe.”
Woman Enjoying Breakfast in Venice, Italy

3- Verbs in -ire

The -ire verbs in Italian have two conjugations:

  • Verbs in -ire (simple)

This is the simplest conjugation. Here, we use the verb partire, meaning “to leave,” as an example.

1st sg (I)1st sg (I)3rd sg (she)1st pl (we)1st pl (we)3rd pl (they)
Stem + oStem + iStem + eStem + iamoStem + iteStem + ono
Io partoTu partiEgli parteNoi partiamoVoi partiteEssi partono

Other examples are:

9.

Aprire
“to open”
Il negozio apre dalle ore 10 alle ore 18.
“The shop is open from 10 to 18.”

10.

Sentire
“to hear,” “to feel”
Sento freddo, puoi chiudere la finestra per favore?
“I feel cold, can you please close the window?”
  • Verbs in -ire (with -isc-)

This is a slightly more complex conjugation. We’ll use the verb colpire, meaning “to hit,” as an example.

1st sg (I)2nd sg (you)3rd sg (she)1st pl (we)2nd pl (you)3rd pl (they)
Stem + iscoStem + isciStem + isceStem + iamoStem + iteStem + iscono
Io colpiscoTu colpisciEgli colpisceNoi colpiamoVoi colpiteEssi colpiscono

Examples: 

11.

Capire
“to understand”
Kate capisce benissimo l’italiano.
“Kate understands Italian very well.”

12. 

Pulire
“to clean”
Mia zia pulisce la casa ogni giorno.
“My aunt cleans the house every day.”

2. Italian Irregular Verbs

More Essential Verbs

Unfortunately, many very important Italian verbs are irregular, and this means that you have to learn their conjugation one by one. But don’t worry, with our help you’ll master them like it was the most natural thing in the world. 

By far, the most important Italian irregular verbs are essere (“to be”) and avere (“to have”), which also work as Italian auxiliary verbs

13. 

Essere
“to be”
Lorenzo è un bravissimo cuoco.
“Lorenzo is a great chef.”

14. 

Avere
“to have”
Luca e Antonia hanno una casa stupenda in Toscana.
“Luca and Antonia have a wonderful house in Tuscany.”

Other important examples of irregular verbs are: 

15. 

Andare
“to go”
In Italia i bambini vanno a scuola dalle 8 alle 13.
“In Italy, children go to school from 8 to 13.”

16. 

Venire
“to come”
Se non è un problema, vengo con voi.
“If it’s not a problem, I’ll come with you.”

17.

Potere
“can,” “may”
Posso raggiungervi più tardi?
“May I join you later?”

18.

Dovere
“to have to”
Devi parlare con tua madre.
“You have to talk to your mother.”
Boats in Burano, Italy

3. Reflexive Verbs in Italian

Reflexive verbs in Italian are very common and can sometimes be hard to understand for students. This is because some of them don’t actually have a real reflexive meaning. In sentences, even those verbs that have an identical subject and object are more like expressions in Italian than actual reflexive verbs as they’re thought of in English.

An example is the verb svegliarsi, which literally means “to wake yourself up.” But it really just means “to wake up.”

Some of the most important reflexive verbs are:

19.

Divertirsi
“to have fun”
Mi sono divertito molto questa sera.
“I really had fun tonight.”

20.

Lavarsi
“to wash up”
Ti sei lavato i denti?
“Did you brush your teeth?” (literally, “Did you wash your teeth?”)

21.

Alzarsi
“to stand up”
Quando l’insegnante entra in classe, dovete alzarvi.
“When the teacher comes in the classroom, you have to stand up.”

22.

Addormentarsi
“to fall asleep”
Ieri mi sono addormentata sul divano.
“Yesterday, I fell asleep on the couch.”

4. Italian Verb Types & Their Meanings

Negative Verbs

Following are a few lists of the best Italian verbs to know as a beginner in the language. Beginning with Italian action verbs, we’ll go through a variety of verb types that we’ve categorized for your convenience. Let’s get started! 

Italian Action Verbs

23.

Arrivare
“to arrive”
I miei cugini sono arrivati ieri sera.
“My cousins arrived yesterday evening.”

24.

Stare
“to stay”
A Parigi starò a casa di un’amica.
“In Paris, I’ll stay at a friend’s house.”

25.

Fermarsi
“to stop”
Fermati qui, c’è un buon ristorante.
“Stop here, there’s a good restaurant.”

26.

Camminare
“to walk”
Amo camminare sulla spiaggia.
“I love walking on the beach.”

27.

Cercare
“to search,” “to look for”
Scusi, cerco un bancomat. Sa dove posso trovarlo?
“Excuse me, I’m looking for an ATM. Do you know where I can find it?”

28.

Trovare
“to find”
Ho trovato un buon amico.
“I’ve found a good friend.”

29.

Spostare
“to move”
Per favore, aiutami a spostare il tavolo.
“Please, help me to move the table.”

30.

Tirare
“to pull”
Tira per aprire.
“Pull to open.”

31.

Spingere
“to push”
Sto scendendo, non serve spingere!
“I’m getting off, there’s no need to push!”

32.

Correre
“to run”
Mia sorella corre ogni mattina per 10 chilometri.
“My sister runs for ten kilometers every morning.”

33.

Viaggiare
“to travel”
Viaggio almeno due volte all’anno.
“I travel at least twice a year.”

34.

Rimanere
“to remain,” “to stay”
Vorrei rimanere di più, ma non posso.
“I’d like to stay longer, but I can’t.”

35.

Tenere
“to keep,” “to hold”
Tienimi la mano.
“Hold my hand.”

36.

Trasportare
“to transport,” “to carry”
Questo camion trasporta frutta.
“This truck transports fruit.”
Couple on Vespa

Mental Verbs

37.

Volere
“to want”
Sono stanca, voglio andare a dormire.
“I’m tired, I want to go to bed.”

38.

Sapere
“to know”
So chi è stato.
“I know who did it.”

39.

Credere
“to believe”
Credo che tu abbia ragione.
“I believe you’re right.”

40.

Sperare
“to hope”
Spero che l’esame vada bene.
“I hope the test will go well.”

41.

Piacere
“to like”
Il caffè italiano mi piace molto.
“I like Italian coffee very much.”

42.

Dispiacere
“to be sorry”
Mi dispiace che tu non ti sia divertito.
“I’m sorry that you didn’t have fun.”

43.

Ricordare
“to remember,” “to remind”
Questa canzone mi ricorda la mia infanzia.
“This song reminds me of my childhood.”

44.

Dimenticare
“to forget”
Ho dimenticato le chiavi.
“I forgot the keys.”

45.

Imparare
“to learn”
Sto imparando l’italiano.
“I’m learning Italian.”

46.

Sognare
“to dream”
Sogno di visitare Venezia.
“I dream of visiting Venice.”

47.

Desiderare
“to wish”
Desidero rivederti.
“I wish to see you again.”

48.

Odiare
“to hate”
Mia figlia odia il cavolfiore.
“My daughter hates cauliflower.”

Verbs of Change

The world is full of change and nothing is to be taken for granted. Here are some useful Italian verbs to learn to talk about change!

49.

Cambiare
“to change”
Il paesaggio è davvero cambiato.
“The landscape has really changed.”

50.

Diventare
“to become”
Crescendo, sono diventata più indipendente.
“Growing up, I’ve become more independent.”

51.

Migliorare
“to improve”
Il mio italiano è migliorato nell’ultimo anno.
“My Italian has improved over the last year.”

52.

Peggiorare
“to worsen”
Il tempo è peggiorato rapidamente.
“The weather has quickly worsened.”

53.

Aumentare
“to increase”
Il mio stipendio è aumentato di 100 euro.
“My salary has increased by 100 euro.”

54.

Diminuire
“to decrease,” “to reduce”
Bisogna diminuire le spese.
“We have to reduce our expenses.”
Rome

Verbs for the Workplace

Here are some Italian verbs you must know to talk about work and different types of jobs.

55.

Lavorare
“to work”
Matteo lavora 10 ore al giorno.
“Matteo works ten hours a day.”

56.

Fare
“to make,” “to do”
Faccio spesso degli errori di ortografia.
“I often make spelling mistakes.”

57.

Finire
“to end,” “to finish”
Ho finito il nuovo libro di Elena Ferrante.
“I’ve finished Elena Ferrante’s new novel.”

58.

Iniziare
“to start,” “to begin”
Hai iniziato a fare i compiti?
“Did you start doing your homework?”

59.

Costruire
“to build”
Mio nonno ha costruito questa casa.
“My grandfather built this house.”

60.

Creare
“to create”
Leonardo ha creato un capolavoro.
“Leonardo created a masterpiece.”

61.

Cucinare
“to cook”
Mio padre ha cucinato la pasta.
“My father cooked pasta.”

62.

Mescolare
“to mix”
Mescola il latte con le uova.
“Mix the milk with the eggs.”

63.

Tagliare
“to cut”
Per favore, taglia il pane.
“Please, cut the bread.”

64.

Servire
“to serve”
Servire a temperatura ambiente.
“Serve at room temperature.”

65.

Guidare
“to drive”
Non mi piace guidare molte ore.
“I don’t like to drive for many hours.”

66.

Usare
“to use”
Posso usare la tua auto?
“Could I use your car?”

67.

Scrivere
“to write”
Gli scriverò una lettera.
“I’ll write him a letter.”

68.

Telefonare
“to phone”
Domani telefonerò all’ufficio.
“Tomorrow, I’ll phone the office.”

69.

Chiamare
“to call”
Andrea ti chiamerà più tardi.
“Andrea will call you later.”

70.

Chiedere
“to ask,” “to request”
Marco ha chiesto a Valentina di sposarlo.
“Marco asked Valentina to marry him.”

71.

Rispondere
“to answer”
Ti prego di rispondere al più presto.
“Please, answer as soon as possible.”

72.

Firmare
“to sign”
Ho appena firmato il contratto.
“I’ve just signed the contract.”

Sensory Verbs

73.

Guardare
“to watch”
Sto guardando la tv.
“I’m watching TV.”

74.

Vedere
“to see”
È così buio che non vedo nulla.
“It’s so dark that I can’t see anything.”

75.

Ascoltare
“to listen”
Roberto ascolta solo la musica metal.
“Roberto only listens to metal music.”

76.

Assaggiare
“to taste”
Voglio assaggiare questo vino.
“I want to taste this wine.”

77.

Profumare
“to smell”
La tua macchina profuma di sapone.
“Your car smells like soap.”

78.

Toccare
“to touch”
Tocca questo tessuto: è morbidissimo.
“Touch this fabric; it’s really soft.”

9- Other Italian Verbs for Beginners

79.

Parlare
“to talk,” “to speak”
Io e mia sorella parliamo ogni giorno al telefono.
“My sister and I talk everyday on the phone.”

80.

Dipingere
“to paint”
Michelangelo ha dipinto la Cappella Sistina.
“Michelangelo painted the Cappella Sistina.”

81.

Suonare
“to play (an instrument)”
Maria sa suonare il piano.
“Maria can play the piano.”

82.

Recitare
“to play (like an actor)”
Al Pacino ha recitato ne Il Padrino.
“Al Pacino played in The Godfather.”

83.

Mangiare
“to eat”
Di solito a pranzo mangio un panino.
“I usually eat a sandwich for lunch.”

84.

Bere
“to drink”
Ti andrebbe di bere qualcosa con me?
“Would you like to drink something with me?”

85.

Dormire
“to sleep”
La domenica dormo sempre fino a tardi.
“On Sundays, I always sleep until late.”

86.

Riposare
“to rest”
In vacanza non ho riposato per niente.
“On holiday, I couldn’t rest for a moment.”

87.

Vestirsi
“to get dressed”
Vestiti, dobbiamo uscire.
“Get dressed, we have to go out.”

88.

Nuotare
“to swim”
Non so nuotare.
“I can’t swim.”

89.

Sdraiarsi
“to lie”
Mi sono sdraiato per terra.
“I lay down on the ground.”

90.

Salire
“to get on,” “to get up”
Sono salito sull’ultimo autobus.
“I got on the last bus.”

91.

Scendere
“to get off”
Scusi, devo scendere alla prossima fermata.
“Excuse me, I have to get off at the next stop.”

92.

Sollevare
“to lift”
Questa macchina solleva fino a una tonnellata di peso.
“This machine lifts up to one ton of weight.”

93.

Passare
“to pass”
Passami il sale, per favore.
“Pass me the salt, please.”

94.

Inventare
“to invent”
Marconi ha inventato la radio.
“Marconi invented the radio.”

95.

Comprare
“To buy”
Hai comprato il latte?
“Did you buy the milk?”

96.

Vendere
“to sell”
Il negozio all’angolo vende borse e scarpe.
“The shop at the corner sells bags and shoes.”

97.

Pagare
“to pay”
Ho pagato 10 € per una pizza a una birra.
“I paid 10 € for a pizza and a beer.”

98.

Vincere
“to win”
La Ferrari ha vinto l’ultimo Gran Premio.
“The Ferrari won the latest Grand Prix.”

99.

Perdere
“to lose”
Ho perso il cellulare.
“I’ve lost my mobile phone.”

100.

Nascere
“to be born”
Sono nato in Francia, ma sono cresciuto in Belgio.
“I was born in France, but I grew up in Belgium.”

101.

Morire
“to die”
Nell’incidente per fortuna non è morto nessuno.
“Luckily, nobody died in the accident.”

5. Italian Verb Placement in a Sentence

As you can see from the many sentences above, in Italian, a verb usually goes after the subject and before the object (or any other complement). 

Example: 

Subject + Verb + Object

Il topo mangia il formaggio.

“The mouse eats the cheese.”

6. ItalianPod101: A Great Source for Your Italian Learning!

We hope you enjoyed learning about Italian verbs with us, and that you picked up a few new vocabulary words you can start using today! It will take lots of studying and practice, but you can memorize every word on this list over time. And once you do, why not start on another Italian basic verbs list on ItalianPod101? 

Have you already checked out our majestic 100 adjectives article, our amazing 100 nouns list, or our guide on Italian pronouns? If not, it’s time to do it! Improve your Italian with our wonderful guides and lessons, whenever and wherever you want. Download our mobile apps or follow our courses on your PC, and you’ll live the Dolce vita

Before you go, let us know in the comments if there are any Italian verbs you still want to know! We look forward to hearing from you, and will do our best to help! 

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Italian Pronouns: Definition, List, and Examples of Use

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Pronouns are one of the fundamental bricks in the majestic building of grammar. Basically, what they do is replace another word, allowing us to avoid repetition and making every language more agile, pleasant, and poetic. Italian pronouns are no exception. 

A pronoun in Italian can replace: 

There are many kinds of Italian pronouns, categorized by their function in a sentence. In this Italian pronouns lesson here on ItalianPod101.com, we’ll show you a list of all the most important ones, with their definitions and examples of Italian pronoun usage. It’s Italian pronouns, made easy!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian Table of Contents
  1. Italian personal pronouns
  2. Italian possessive pronouns
  3. Italian reflexive pronouns
  4. Italian demonstrative pronouns
  5. Italian interrogative and exclamatory pronouns
  6. Italian indefinite pronouns
  7. Italian relative pronouns
  8. ItalianPod101: Fast & Fun Italian for All

1- Italian personal pronouns

Introducing Yourself

A personal pronoun is a word that indicates who or what is involved in a sentence, without having to repeat it in full. Let’s clarify with an example in English: “My daughter is on holiday. She’s very happy.” Without pronouns, we would say: “My daughter is on holiday. My daughter is very happy.” A bit annoying, isn’t it?

Now, there are two categories of Italian personal pronouns:

  • Subject pronouns: When the replaced element is the subject of the sentence.
  • Object pronouns: When the replaced element is the object of the sentence. 

Further, there are two kinds of object pronouns.

  • Direct object pronouns: When the pronoun replaces a direct object, answering the question “Who?” or “What?”
  • Indirect object pronouns: When the pronoun replaces an indirect object, answering the question “To whom?” or “To what?”

Now, let’s see them in action in this nice and neat Italian pronouns table. 

Italian subject pronounsItalian direct object pronounsItalian indirect object pronouns
1st person singularIo (“I”)Mi (“Me”)Mi (“To me”)
2nd person singularTu (“You”)Ti (“You”)Ti (“To you”)
3rd person singularInformal: Lui, Lei (“He, She”).

Formal: Egli, Ella, Esso, Essa (“He, She, It male, It female”) *
Lo (“Him, It male”), La (“Her, It female”), L’ (“Him, Her, It” whenever the following word begins with a vowel)Gli (“To him, her, it”)
1st person pluralNoi (“We”)Ci (“Us”)Ci (“To us”)
2nd person pluralVoi (“You”)Vi (“You”)Vi (“To you”)
3rd person pluralInformal: Loro (“They”).

Formal: Essi, Esse (“They,” male and female) *
Li, Le (“Them,” male and female)Gli, Loro (“To them”)
*Used in written, formal language, like in literature or official documents.

And now, let’s dive into these Italian pronouns with examples!

Italian subject pronouns:

  • Io
    • Io vado al cinema, vuoi venire?

“I’m going to the cinema, do you want to come?”

  • Tu
    • Tu puoi andare ora.

“You can go now.”

  • Lui 
    • Lui aveva fame ed è tornato a casa.

“He was hungry and has gone home.”

  • Lei
    • Lei, Marta, è davvero una persona interessante.

“She, Marta, really is an interesting person.”

  • Noi
    • Noi andremo in vacanza fra una settimana.

“We’ll go on holiday in one week.”

“Did you watch the match yesterday?”

  • Loro
    • Loro non sono qui perché non sono stati invitati.

“They are not here because they were not invited.”

Direct object pronouns:

  • Mi
    • Ieri Marco mi ha visto ma non mi ha salutato.

“Yesterday, Marco saw me but he didn’t say hello to me.”

“I’ll call you tomorrow to confirm the deal.”

  • Lo
    • Cerco Giuliano, lo hai visto?
    • “I’m looking for Giuliano, have you seen him?”
  • La
    • Ti piace la pasta? Io la adoro.

“Do you like pasta? I love it.”

  • L’
    • Il Barolo è buonissimo, l’ho assaggiato in Piemonte. 

Barolo is very good, I’ve tasted it in Piedmont.”

  • Ci
    • Lorenzo ci ha invitati al suo matrimonio.

“Lorenzo has invited us to his wedding.”

  • Vi
    • Martedì vi porto a cena in un ristorante buonissimo.

“Tuesday, I’ll bring you to dinner in a very good restaurant.”

  • Li
    • Li ho incontrati stamattina al supermercato.

“I bumped into them this morning at the supermarket.”

  • Le
    • A: Hai tu le mie scarpe bianche? 

B: No, non le ho io.

A: “Do you have my white shoes?” 

B: “No, I don’t have them.”

Indirect object pronouns:

  • Mi
    • Ieri Andrea mi ha dato una bellissima lettera.

“Yesterday, Andrea gave me a beautiful letter.”

  • Ti
    • Ho bisogno di parlarti.

“I need to talk to you.”

  • Gli 
    • Gli ho consigliato di accettare il lavoro.

“I’ve suggested to him to accept the job.”

  • Ci
    • Roma ci piace così tanto che abbiamo deciso di vivere lì.

“We like Rome so much that we’ve decided to live there.”

  • Vi
    • Più tardi vi mando un’e-mail con i dettagli. 

“Later, I’ll send you an email with the details.”

  • Gli / Loro
    • Gli ho detto che devono partire entro domani. / Ho detto loro che devono partire entro domani.

“I’ve told them that they must leave by tomorrow.”

Two important notes: 

  • Unlike in other languages, in Italian, the use of the subject pronoun in a sentence isn’t mandatory. In fact, the subject pronoun is usually omitted, except when it’s needed to avoid ambiguity. 
  • Sono andato a letto presto, perché ero stanco.

“(I) went to bed early, because (I) was tired.”

  • In some cases, when you use an infinitive verb, you can add the object pronouns at the end of the sentence, attaching it to the infinitive verb.
  • Vieni a trovarci questa estate?

“Are you coming to visit us this summer?”

Italian Indirect Object Pronouns

2- Italian possessive pronouns

Italian possessive pronouns are identical to possessive adjectives. They replace the possessed object and must always be preceded by a definite article or a preposition + definite article. They’re conjugated according to gender and number. 

They are:

  • Mio / mia / miei / mie
    • Adoro il tuo stereo. Il mio è vecchio. 

“I love your stereo. Mine is old.”

  • Tuo / tua / tuoi / tue
    • Le mie nuove scarpe da trekking sono perfette. Come vanno le tue?

“My new trekking shoes are perfect. How are yours going?”

  • Suo / sua / suoi / sue
    • La mia valigia è stata finalmente trovata, ma della sua ancora non si sa nulla. 

“My luggage was finally found, but we still don’t know anything about his.”

  • Nostro / nostra / nostri / nostre
    • Tuo figlio adora il basket, mentre i nostri preferiscono il calcio.

“Your son loves basketball, while ours prefers football.”

  • Vostro / vostra / vostri / vostre
    • Il mio cane è un pastore tedesco, e il vostro?

“My dog is a German shepherd, and yours?”

  • Loro 
    • Il mio lavoro mi lascia molto tempo libero, mentre il loro no.

“My job gives me a lot of free time, while theirs does not.”

Italian Pronouns

3- Italian reflexive pronouns

Reflexive pronouns are used when the subject of a sentence is also the object. There are a lot of very common reflexive verbs in Italian, and they can be a bit confusing. Anyway, the Italian reflexive pronouns are:

  • Mi (“Myself”)
    • Mi sto facendo la doccia.

“I’m taking a shower.”

  • Ti (“Yourself”)
    • Ti sei lavato le mani?

“Did you wash your hands?”

  • Si (“Himself, Herself, Themselves”)
    • Si è vestito in fretta ed è uscito.

“He dressed up quickly and got out.”

  • Ci (“Ourself”)
    • Io e Antonio ci amiamo molto.

“Antonio and I love each other very much.”

  • Vi (“Yourself”, plural)
    • Oggi vi siete svegliate molto presto, come mai?

“Today you got up very early, why?”

4- Italian demonstrative pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns are used instead of a noun to point out a specific person or thing. The most common Italian demonstrative pronouns are:

  • Questo / questa / questi / queste (“This, these”)

“This is Luca, my husband.”

  • Quello / quella / quelli / quelle (“That, those”)
    • Quelli che vedete sono i resti di un grande tempio romano.

“Those you see are the remains of a big Roman temple.”

5- Italian interrogative and exclamatory pronouns

Basic Questions

Interrogative and exclamatory pronouns are used to form questions or exclamations. In Italian, they are:

  • Chi (“Who”)
    • Chi è l’uomo con cui parla Simone?

“Who is the man Simone is talking to?”

  • Che cosa / Cosa / Che (“What”). All of these options are synonyms.
    • Cos’è successo?

“What happened?”

  • Quanto / quanta / quanti / quante (“How much” but also “So much” in exclamations)
    • Quanto mi manchi!

“I miss you so much!”

  • Quale / quali (“Which one”)
    • Tra pizza e pasta, quale preferisci?

“Between pizza and pasta, which one do you prefer?”

Pizza and Pasta

6- Italian indefinite pronouns

Indefinite pronouns are used to indicate something or someone in general. The most common Italian indefinite pronouns are:

  • Alcuno / alcuna / alcuni / alcune (“Some”)
    • A: Ti sono piaciute le opere in mostra? 

B: Alcune mi sono piaciute, ma non tutte.

A: “Did you like the artworks on display?” 

B: “Some I liked, but not all of them.”

  • Molto / molta / molti / molte (“Many, a lot”)
    • A: Hai fame? 

B: Molta!

A: “Are you hungry?” 

B: “A lot!”

  • Poco / poca / pochi / poche (“Few”)

B: No, poca.

A: “Were there many people at the concert?” 

B: “No, not much.”

  • Tanto / tanta / tanti / tante (“Many”)
    • Tanti sono venuti alla manifestazione, nonostante il freddo.

“Many went to the demonstration, despite the cold.”

  • Troppo / troppa / troppi / troppe (“Too much, too many”)
    • Troppi non sono tornati dalla guerra.

“Too many didn’t come back from the war.”

  • Tutto / tutta / tutti / tutte (“All, everyone”)
    • Siamo arrivati tutti in ritardo.

“We’ve all arrived late.”

  • Uno / una (“One”)
    • A: Hai un cellulare? 

B: Ne ho uno, ma è vecchio.

A: “Do you have a mobile phone?” 

B: “I have one, but it’s old.”

  • Qualcuno / qualcuna (“Someone, anyone”)
    • Qualcuno sa dirmi dov’è Dario?

“Could anyone tell me where Dario is?”

  • Ciascuno / ciascuna (“Everyone, each one”)
    • Ciascuno di noi ha un compito.

“Each one of us has a task.”

  • Ognuno / ognuna (“Everyone, each one”)
    • Ognuno deve fare la sua parte.

“Everyone has to do their part.”

  • Nessuno / nessuna (“No one, any”)
    • Nessuno sa perché è successo. 

“No one knows why it happened.”

  • Sono andata a cercare funghi nel bosco, ma non ne ho trovato nessuno. 

“I went looking for mushrooms in the forest, but I didn’t find any.”

Italian Indefinite Pronouns

7- Italian relative pronouns

Relative pronouns connect a sentence with a subordinate clause. The Italian relative pronouns are:

  • Che (replaces a subject or direct object)
    • La donna che sta parlando con Leo è il mio capo. 

“The woman who is talking with Leo is my boss.”

  • Chi (“The person who, the people who, whoever”)
    • Chi è stato?

“Who did it?”

  • Cui (replaces an indirect object)
    • La ragazza di cui ti ho parlato sta entrando nella stanza proprio adesso.

“The girl I told you about is entering the room right now.”

  • Il quale / la quale / i quali / le quali (same as Cui)
    • La persona per la quale lavoro si chiama Mario Rossi.

“The person I work for is called Mario Rossi.”

8. ItalianPod101: Fast & Fun Italian for All

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Mastering Italian pronouns is no easy feat, but with enough practice, you’ll get there! We hope you enjoyed this article and that you’re well on your way to really understanding Italian pronouns.

If there’s anything you didn’t quite understand, don’t hesitate to reach out in the comments. We’ll do our best to help you out! 

Grammar is a complicated universe, but we at ItalianPod101 are here to help! Check out our lesson library and enjoy hours of videos, tons of useful articles, and practical mobile tools to learn and study whenever and wherever you want. 

Happy Italian learning! 

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Italian Word Order: From Basic to Complex Sentences

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When speaking a new language, you’ll find that many things about it are different compared to the language you’re used to. Sounds, words, grammar, everything is…foreign? Well, yes, of course. 

But maybe you haven’t yet thought about whether or not the sentence structure and word order are different, too. 

First of all, what do we mean by that? We’re talking about the basic word order, the correct sequence of all the elements that form the basic structure of a sentence.

If you compare the English and Italian sentence structure, you’ll definitely find differences that might create some confusion, especially when you get to negative sentences, questions, and complex phrases. But don’t worry about it; we’re here to help you with this simple guide. We’ll help you understand the basics of Italian word order rules, and then we’ll guide you until you’re able to perform well when creating more advanced sentences.

So, are you ready to learn about word order in Italian?

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian Table of Contents
  1. The Basics of Italian Word Order with Subject, Verb, and Object
  2. Il Buono, il Brutto e il Cattivo: Italian Word Order with Modifiers
  3. The Importance of Exercising
  4. The Famous Last Words

1. The Basics of Italian Word Order with Subject, Verb, and Object

The basic Italian sentence structure, as with all Neo-Latin languages, follows the Subject Verb Object (SVO) pattern.

(And by the way, since we’ll be talking a lot about apples…what about checking out how to say the names of all kinds of fruit?)

First of all, let’s see what the single elements of this sentence mean:

  • {Eva mangia una mela.} (“Eva eats an apple.”)

Subject = It’s who/what is doing the action >> Eva mangia una mela.

Verb = It’s the action >> Eva mangia una mela.

Object = It’s the destination of the action >> Eva mangia una mela.

The sentence structure doesn’t change, even if you want to make the same sentence interrogative. In fact, in Italian, there is no S-V inversion as there is in other European languages (French and German, for example), and you don’t need to add anything to the sentence as you would do in English. 

In the case of Italian question word order, the basic sentence structure remains the same; you just need to add the interrogative tone and the question mark.

A Woman about to bite into a Green Apple

Eva, are you really going to eat that…???

See the examples:

  • {Eva mangia una mela.} (“Eva eats an apple.”)
  • {Eva mangia una mela?} (“Does Eva eat an apple?”)


  • {Studi l’italiano.} (“You study Italian.”)
  • {Studi l’italiano?} (“Do you study Italian?”)

Notice how in Italian, we generally omit the personal pronoun as a subject (io, tu, lui/lei, noi, voi, loro – “I, you, he/she, we, you, they”) unless there’s an ambiguity in the sentence, or you want to give particular emphasis to the person doing the action.

But what happens when you want to make a negative sentence? Very simple. You add the negative adverb non in front of the verb:

  • {Eva non mangia una mela.} (“Eva does not eat an apple.”)
  • {Eva non mangia una mela?} (“Doesn’t Eva eat an apple?”)


  • {Non studi l’italiano.} (“You don’t study Italian.”)
  • {Non studi l’italiano?} (“Don’t you study Italian?”)

As you can see, whether it’s affirmative or interrogative doesn’t change the structure of the sentence.

This is always the basic structure, even when the sentence becomes more complicated. For example, you could have a whole clause as a subject:

La prima donna che abita sulla terra mangia la mela. (“The first woman living on earth eats the apple.”)

Similarly, you could have a whole clause as an object:

Eva mangia quel frutto rosso o giallo o verde che chiamiamo mela. (“Eva eats that red or yellow or green fruit that we call apple.”)

2. Il Buono, il Brutto e il Cattivo: Italian Word Order with Modifiers

Improve Listening

Let’s look at the word order in Italian sentences when things get more complex. What happens to the sentence when you add, for example, an adjective that modifies the nouns (like bravo or “good”), or an adverb that modifies the verb (like sempre or “always”). These are called modifiers, as they’re used to add meaning—and therefore modify—the element they go with. 

1. Adjectives 

  • {Lo studente studia l’italiano.} (“The student studies Italian.”)

What if I want to add that we’re talking about an “American” student  (americano) studying Italian? 

  • {Lo studente americano studia l’italiano.} (“The American student studies Italian.”)

Did you see what happened? The adjective went after the noun. And this is the general rule: Italian adjectives follow the noun:

L’italiano non è una lingua (noun) difficile (adjective). (“Italian is not a difficult language.”)

Ho comprato un vestito rosso. (“I bought a red dress.”)

Sei un ragazzo simpatico! (“You are a nice boy!”)
But all rules have an exception, right? So, keep in mind that some of the most common Italian adjectives are placed before the noun. And here’s the list:

bello“beautiful”Un bel* ragazzo“A beautiful boy”
bravo“good”Una brava ragazza“A good girl”
brutto“ugly,” “bad”È un brutto giorno“It’s a bad day”
buono“good”Hai fatto un buon* lavoro.“You did a good job.”
caro“dear”Sono dei cari amici.“They are dear friends.”
cattivo“bad”Non dare il cattivo esempio.“Don’t set a bad example.”
giovane“young”Conosco un giovane attore.“I know a young actor.”
grande“big”Abbiamo una grande opportunità.“We have a great opportunity.”
lungo“long”Facciamo una lunga passeggiata.“Let’s take a long walk.”
nuovo“new”Il nuovo libro è rosso.“The new book is red.”
piccolo“small,” “little”Ho un piccolo problema.“I have a small problem.”
stesso“same”La stessa ragione“The same reason”
vecchio“old”Un vecchio albero“An old tree”
vero“true”È una vera avventura!“It’s a real adventure!”

*Bello/a and buono/a (“beautiful” and “good”), when they come before a noun, change their endings following the same rules of the definite article (bello >> il) and the indefinite article (buono >> un). Check the following examples. Do you want to know more and practice? 

an Upclose Shot of Baby’s Sleeping Face

Un bel bambino/Un bambino bello! (“A cute baby!”)

  • Il ragazzo >> il bel ragazzo 
  • Lo studente >> il bello studente
  • Un giorno >> un buon giorno
  • Uno studente >> un buono studente

But watch out! If they’re used together with an adverb, they must follow the noun, as in the general rule:

  • È un vecchio albero. (“It is an old tree.”) | È un albero molto vecchio. (“It is a very old tree.”)
  • È un brutto giorno. (“It’s a bad day.”) |  È un giorno veramente brutto . (“It’s a really bad day.”)

The same thing happens if you want to convey emphasis or express a contrast. In the following sentence, for example, the stress of the sentence is on the age of the tree, and not the tree itself:

  • Questo non è un albero vecchio, è un albero giovane! (“This is not an old tree, it is a new tree!”)

2. Adverbs

Just like adjectives, adverbs are modifiers and they appear in a sentence to slightly modify the meaning of the verb or adjective they go with. In Italian, they’re usually placed after the verb:

  • Leggo sempre il giornale. (“I always read the newspaper.”)
  • John parla bene l’italiano. (“John speaks Italian well.”)

Naturally, there are some exceptions to this rule in case of:

  • Modifying an adjective
    • È un albero molto vecchio. (“It is a very old tree.”)
  • Modifying another adverb
    •  John parla molto bene l’italiano. (“John speaks Italian very well.“)
  • The negative non, which we’ve already seen
    • Non leggo il giornale. (“I don’t read the newspaper.”)

But notice what happens if you add another negative adverb. Let’s compare English to Italian: Double negatives are grammatically incorrect in English, but in the Italian language, they’re perfectly acceptable:

  • Non leggo mai il giornale. (“I never read the newspaper.”)
  • Non leggo più il giornale. (“I no longer read the newspaper.”)
  • Non leggo quasi mai il giornale. (“I almost never read the newspaper.”)

Do you think we can add some more elements to complicate the structure a bit? Certamente! (“Of course!”) Which brings us to the other exception, when an adverb is formed with the -mente suffix (usually equivalent to the English “-ly” suffix).

Someone Looking Down at a Newspaper

I always read the newspaper. Do you?

See, for example, the case of normalmente (“generally, normally”):

  • A) Normalmente non leggo il giornale.
  • B) Non leggo normalmente il giornale.
  • C) Non leggo il giornale normalmente.

All these sentences have the same meaning (“I don’t normally read the newspaper”), although we can argue that by moving around the adverb, we end up stressing different parts of the sentence. In A), the stress is on the frequency; in B), it’s on the act of reading; in C), it’s on the newspaper. It’s a small nuance, but nevertheless is there.

3. Adverbs & Auxiliary or Modal Verbs

So far, we’ve looked at simple verbs. But what happens if a verb is composed of an auxiliary, as in the case of the passato prossimo, or with modal verbs (potere, volere, sapere, dovere – “can, will, know, must”)?

With these verbs, you normally follow the general rule. But in the presence of the following adverbs expressing time, assessment, certainty, or doubt, they can be placed in the middle, between the auxiliary and the past participle (or between the modal verb and the infinitive).

Ancora (“Yet”)Proprio  (“Really”)
Appena  (“Just”)Subito  (“Immediately”)
Finalmente  (“Finally”)Certamente  (“Surely”)
Già  (“Already”)Forse  (“Maybe”)
Mai  (“Never”)Nemmeno  (“Not even”)
Sempre  (“Always”)Probabilmente (“Probably”)
Spesso  (“Often”)Sicuramente  (“Definitely”)
  • Eva ha appena mangiato la mela… (“Eva just ate the apple…”)
  • Non ho ancora letto il giornale. (“I haven’t read the newspaper yet.”)
  • Voglio sicuramente studiare l’italiano con ItalianPod101. (“I definitely want to study Italian with ItalianPod101.”)
  • Devo proprio chiedere scusa…? (“Do I really have to apologize…?”)

4. Prepositional Phrases

In most sentences, we end up referring to “when,” “where,” and “how” the action is taking (or took) place. These sentences are the ones that explain the when, where, and how, and they’re called prepositional phrases since they’re often introduced by a preposition.

  • Studio l’italiano di sera. [when?] (“I study Italian in the evening.”)
  • Studio l’italiano a Firenze. [where?] (“I study Italian in Florence.”)
  • Studio l’italiano con ItalianPod101. [how?] (“I study Italian with ItalianPod101.”)

As you can see in the examples above, these phrases normally go at the end of the sentence, although with most of the phrases indicating the time aspect of the action (when?), you can safely move the elements around, just as you would in English:

  • Studio l’italiano di sera. [when?] (“I study Italian in the evening.”)
  • Di sera studio l’italiano. [when?] (“In the evening, I study Italian.”)
  • A pranzo non bevo mai il caffè.  [when?] (“For lunch, I never have coffee.”)
  • Non bevo mai il caffè a pranzo. [when?] (“I never have coffee for lunch.”)

But, if you’re not sure, always place them at the end of the sentence, and you’ll definitely be correct.

If you want more information on Italian prepositions, be sure to take a couple of minutes to watch the video below:

5. Personal Pronouns

Remember the first sentences we looked at?

  • {Eva mangia una mela.} (“Eva eats an apple.”)
  • {Studi l’italiano.} (“You study Italian.”)

Subject, verb, object. In that order. Well…not always. If you substitute the object with a personal pronoun, that pronoun would still be the object of the action, but it goes BEFORE the verb. Take a look:

  • {Eva la mangia in fretta.} (“Eva eats it in a hurry.”)
  • {Lo studi con ItalianPod101.} (“You study it with ItalianPod101.”)
A Personal Trainer Talking into a Megaphone

Help! I need a Personal [pronoun] Trainer!!!

The same rules apply to indirect personal pronouns, as in:

  • Gli chiedo un favore. (“I ask a favor of him.”)
  • Mi piace la pizza. (“Pizza pleases me.“= “I like pizza.”)

This is also true for the little pronouns ci (“in it,” “there”) and ne (“of it”).

  • A Roma? Ci andiamo domani. (“To Rome? We go there tomorrow.”)
  • Ha del prosciutto? Ne vorrei 100 grammi. (“Do you have ham? I would like 100 grams of it.”)

Things, however, change a little when we have these same pronouns, but the verb is an infinitive, a gerund, or an imperative. (Maybe you need a little more practice with those tenses or how they’re conjugated?

Because with these tenses, the pronoun can be placed either before or after. And in case it’s after, you need to attach it to the verb. Let’s see how:

  • {Eva mangia una mela.} (“Eva eats an apple.”)
  • {Eva la mangia in fretta.} (“Eva eats it in a hurry.”)
  • {“Eva, mangiala!} (“Eva, eat it!”)
  • {Studi l’italiano.} (“You study Italian.”)
  • {Lo studi con ItalianPod101.} (“You study it with ItalianPod101.”)
  • {Puoi studiarlo con ItalianPod101.} (“You can study it with ItalianPod101.”)
A Bunch of Women Doing Yoga at the Beach

A little patience and lots of exercise: the perfect strategy for learning a language!

3. The Importance of Exercising

Time to put everything into practice with these step-by-step exercises on Italian word order. Let’s start with a very basic sentence, and we’ll add up elements of complexity. Check the sections above in case you’re uncertain of something.

How would you translate these sentences?

  1. “Mary studies Italian.” – ________________________________________________________
  1. “She studies it with ItalianPod101.” – _____________________________________________
  1. “She studies Italian with ItalianPod101 everyday.” – __________________________________
  1. “Her friends don’t study Italian with ItalianPod101 yet.” – ______________________________
  1. “She studies Italian with ItalianPod101 everyday comfortably at home.” – _________________
  1. “Maria never forgets her Italian lessons.” – _________________________________________
  1. “Maria has probably studied Italian today.” – _____________________________________
  1. “This summer, Maria can study it in Florence.” – ______________________________________

Check your answers here:

1. Maria studia l’italiano.

2. Lo studia con ItalianPod101.com.

3. Studia l’italiano con ItalianPod101 ogni giorno.

4. I suoi amici non studiano ancora l’italiano con ItalianPod101.

5. Studia l’italiano con ItalianPod101 ogni giorno comodamente a casa.

6. Maria non dimentica mai le sue lezioni di italiano.

7. Maria ha probabilmente studiato l’Italiano oggi.

8. Quest’estate Maria può studiarlo a Firenze. 

Improve Pronunciation

4. The Famous Last Words

Now you’ve learned how to structure a sentence in Italian. Soon, with a little practice, you’ll be able to build more and more complex sentences, putting every word in the correct order. Hopefully, this guide has helped you with this mission. 

Practice is always the best strategy for improving Italian grammar, vocabulary, and communication skills. So make sure you visit ItalianPod101.com. 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 with 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!

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

Wait a Minute… Do You Know How to Tell Time in Italian?

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How often do you need to check the time every day? Telling the time is part of everyday life, so if you’re making plans for a specific time and date while traveling or studying in Italy, it’s essential that you master this conversation skill as soon as possible. 

In this article, I’ll be going over everything from how to say “hour” in Italian to asking for the time and making plans in Italian. Let’s get started.
Che ore sono? è ora di iniziare a divertirsi con ItalianPod101.com! (“What time is it? It’s time to start having fun with ItalianPod101.com!”)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Time Phrases in Italian Table of Contents
  1. How to Ask for the Time in Italian
  2. Italian Hours
  3. Give Me a Minute…
  4. How to Divide Hours into Minutes in Italian
  5. General Time References of the Day in Italian
  6. Top Italian Time Adverbs
  7. Italian Proverbs and Sayings about Time
  8. Conclusion

1. How to Ask for the Time in Italian

Man Checking Watch

To start, let’s see the very first basic phrases you can use to ask for and say the time in Italian:

  • Che ore sono? / Che ora è? 


These literally translate to “What hours are they?” and “What hour it is?” respectively. They both mean “What time is it?”

This is the easiest way to ask the time in Italian. With this phrase, you don’t have to worry too much about using formal vs. informal speech, as adding scusi (“excuse me” – formal) or scusa (“excuse me” – informal) at the beginning of the sentence can make it more formal or informal.

  • Potrebbe/Potresti dirmi l’ora? 


This translates to “Could you (formal/informal) tell me the time?” 

This is a more complex form of asking for the time in Italian. It can be used both formally and informally as long as you change the person (2nd vs. 3rd) of the subject accordingly.

  • A che ora è…? /A che ora comincia…? 


These translate to “At what time is…” and “At what time starts …?” respectively. This is the Italian formula for asking when something (a meeting, a show, etc.) is going to start.

Did you notice that in Italian we say ore, literally meaning “hours,” when we talk about time? If you look up ora (“hour” in the singular) in an Italian dictionary, you’ll find that it means both “hour” and “now.” While the literal translation of “time” is tempo, in Italian, we use this word just in the sense of the concept of time—never to represent the passing of time on a clock. Interesting, right?

Che ore sono? Uffa*… il tempo non passa mai… (“What time is it? Geez…time never passes…”)

*Uffa is an untranslatable word that makes life so much more interesting! Depending on the context, it can be translated as “geez/gosh!”, “damn” (angry), “come on!” (impatient), “phew” (generic), or “oh, hum” (bored).

2. Italian Hours

When you say the time in Italian, it’s more common to use the twelve-hour clock, unless it’s in written official communication. In order to avoid confusion or ambiguity, you’ll often hear Italians say the time with the twelve-hour clock, adding di mattina, del pomeriggio, di sera, or di notte (“in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening, at night”).

Hourglass

Una vecchia clessidra (“An old hourglass”)

There’s no equivalent for “o’clock” in Italian. You simply say the time, and if you want to be very precise, you add in punto. You’ll only use this if you want to remark that it just turned exactly that time: Ci vediamo alle tre in punto! (“We meet at three o’clock (sharp)!”).

To state what time it is, you use the verb essere (“to be”), in the singular è, for midnight (mezzanotte), midday (mezzogiorno), and one o’clock (l’una). The rest of the time, you use the plural sono and the number  equivalent to the hour.
But if you want to say what time something happens, you use a/alle and the time, like this: a mezzanotte (“At midnight”), alle tre (“at three”). Remember that alle = a + le. Do you need to brush up on compound prepositions? Follow me!

È mezzanotte / A mezzanotte “It’s midnight” / “At midnight”
È l’una (di notte) / All’una (di notte) “It’s one AM” / “At one AM”
Sono le due (di notte) / Allle due (di notte) “It’s two AM” / “At two AM”
Sono le tre (di notte) / Alle tre (di notte) “It’s three AM” / “At three AM”
Sono le quattro (di notte) / Alle quattro (di notte) “It’s four AM” / “At four AM”
Sono le cinque (di mattina) / Alle cinque (di mattina) “It’s five AM” / “At five AM”
Sono le sei (di mattina) / Alle sei (di mattina) “It’s six AM” / “At six AM”
Sono le sette (di mattina) / Alle sette (di mattina) “It’s seven AM” / “At seven AM”
Sono le otto (di mattina) / Alle otto (di mattina) “It’s eight AM” / “At eight AM”
Sono le nove (di mattina) / Alle nove (di mattina) “It’s nine AM” / “At nine AM”
Sono le dieci (di mattina) / Alle dieci (di mattina) “It’s ten AM” / “At ten AM”`
Sono le undici (di mattina) / Alle undici (di mattina) “It’s eleven AM” / “At eleven AM”
È mezzogiorno / A mezzogiorno “It’s noon” / “At noon”
È l’una / All’una “It’s one PM” / “At one PM”
Sono le due (di pomeriggio) / Alle due (di pomeriggio) “It’s two PM” / “At two PM”
Sono le tre (di pomeriggio) / Alle tre (di pomeriggio) “It’s three PM” / “At three PM”
Sono le quattro (di pomeriggio) / Alle quattro (di pomeriggio) “It’s four PM” / “At four PM”
Sono le cinque (di pomeriggio) / Alle cinque (di pomeriggio) “It’s five PM” / “At five PM”
Sono le sei (di pomeriggio) / Alle sei (di pomeriggio) “It’s six PM” / “At six PM”
Sono le sette (di sera) / Alle sette (di sera) “It’s seven PM” / “At seven PM”
Sono le otto (di sera) / Alle otto (di sera) “It’s eight PM” / “At eight PM”
Sono le nove (di sera) / Alle nove (di sera) “It’s nine PM” / “At nine PM”
Sono le dieci (di sera) / Alle dieci (di sera) “It’s ten PM” / “At ten PM”
Sono le undici (di sera) / Alle undici (di sera) “It’s eleven PM” / “At eleven PM”

Naturally, it’s another matter to know how to write the time in Italian…. Here’s a hint: right now, it’s 11:33.

Impatient Boy at Table Holding Cutlery

È ora di pranzo! (“It’s lunchtime!”)

You’ll often find Italians referring to noon or one PM as l’ora di pranzo, meaning “lunchtime.” When it’s time to eat, it’s a sacred time for Italians. So, just a word of advice: avoid planning a meeting around that time unless you’re making plans for a lunch or dinner. Also, remember that the typical time for meals changes according to the region in Italy. Generally, people in the north have lunch around noon, while the more south you go, the later lunchtime (or dinnertime) is, especially in the summer. 

3. Give Me a Minute…

Time

A minute isn’t much, but we use the word all the time, both as a reference to sixty seconds and a more generic “little time.”

Kids will always tell you un minuto… cinque minuti… (“one minute… five minutes… “) when you ask them to get out of bed or clean their room, don’t they?

  • Sono le otto, alzati! “It’s eight o’clock, get up!”
  • Ho sonno… ancora cinque minuti… “I’m sleepy…five more minutes….”

It’s also the typical excuse for the chronic latecomer…

  • Ciao, sei pronto? “Hello, are you ready?”
  • Ehm…. Quasi… cinque minuti e arrivo… “Ehm…almost…five minutes and I’ll be there…”

Here are a few more useful formulas. Notice how the verb is in the imperative mood. You can practice with these phrases:

Dammi un minuto… “Give me a minute…”

Aspetta un minuto… “Wait a minute…”

The same formulas can be used with secondo, meaning “second.”

But in fact, apart from when we talk about cinque minuti or dieci minuti (“five minutes” or “ten minutes”), we rarely use the word “minute” in a sentence. See how it works in the case of 6:05 PM:

  • Che ore sono? (“What time is it?”)
  • Sono le sei e cinque. (“It’s five past six.”) 

We’ll look at this more in the following chapter.

Clock Spiral

Ore e minuti (“Hours and minutes”)

4. How to Divide Hours into Minutes in Italian

When the digital watches came around, a lot of people started telling time like robots:

  • Che ore sono? (“What time is it?”)
  • Sono le 17 e 27. (“It’s 17: 27.”)

But luckily, people soon realized it was too ugly and stopped doing that. The normal behavior now is to round up the minutes to halves, quarters, and fives. Much better!

  • mezz’ora (“half an hour”) 

Notice how in front of ora, the word mezza drops the last letter, a, and adds an apostrophe (‘), becoming mezz’ora. But whenever you need to put it after the hour, to mean “half past…” then you use the complete word, either mezzo or mezza.

  • … e mezza/mezzo  (“half past…”)

In this case, telling time in Italian is much simpler than in English. You just need to put together the hour and the half hour with the conjunction e. Notice how both mezzo and mezza are correct.

  • un quarto d’ora (“a quarter of an hour”)

Notice how here, too, we drop a letter and add an apostrophe, so that un quarto di ora becomes much nicer to hear and pronounce: un quarto d’ora.

  • e un quarto (“a quarter past …”)

To add just a quarter of an hour, you also need to put the conjunction e + un (indefinite article).

  • Just like in English, an easy way to tell time is by fractions of five minutes, as in:
  • le … e cinque (“five past …” or “… oh five”)
  • le … e dieci (“ten past …” or “… ten”)
  • le … e quindici (“fifteen past …” or “… fifteen”)

le … e venti (“twenty past …” or “… twenty”)

  • le … e venticinque (“twenty-five past …” or “… twenty-five”)
  • le … e trenta (“thirty past …” or “… thirty”)
  • le … e trentacinque (“thirty-five past …” or “… thirty-five”)
  • le … e quaranta (“forty past …” or “… forty”)
  • le … e quarantacinque (“forty-five past …” or “… forty-five”)
  • le … e cinquanta (“fifty past …” or “… fifty”)
  • le … e cinquantacinque (“fifty-five past …” or “… fifty-five”)
  • meno… 

After half past thirty-five, normally in Italian you start saying the following hour “minus” the minutes needed to get to the top of the hour. For example: 

  • 10:40 = le undici meno venti (literally “eleven minus twenty”)  
  • 11:45 = le dodici/mezzogiorno meno un quarto (“twelve/noon minus a quarter”)
  • 15:50 = le quattro meno dieci (“four minus ten”)
  • 19:55 = le otto meno cinque  (“eight minus five”)

5. General Time References of the Day in Italian

Telling the exact time, or being able to read a clock, is important. But since prehistoric times, people have talked about time by referring to the different stages of the day. So, if you want to have a more natural Italian conversation, here are the most common ways to give the general time of day in Italian.

Let’s remember that AM / PM isn’t commonly used in Italian. Instead, to avoid ambiguity or confusion, you’ll hear people mention di mattina, del pomeriggio, di sera, and di notte (“in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening, at night”) after the time. These are the four basic stages of the day, but below is a more complete list of phrases using all the different parts of the day.

Sun Low Over the Horizon

Dall’alba al tramonto (“from dawn to dusk”)

Sono uscita di mattina presto.“I left early in the morning.
Faccio colazione a metà mattinata.“I have breakfast mid-morning.”
Mi sveglio sempre all’alba.“I always wake up at dawn.”
Ci vediamo a mezzogiorno (ad ora di pranzo).“See you at noon (at lunchtime).”
Ti chiamo nel primo pomeriggio.“I’ll call you in the early afternoon.”
La festa comincia nel tardo pomeriggio.“The party starts in the late afternoon.”
Com’è bella la montagna al tramonto!“How beautiful the mountain is at sunset!
Non esco mai di sera tardi.“I never go out late at night.”
È ora di cena.“It’s dinner time.”
Non si può fare rumore a notte fonda.“No noise can be made in the middle of the night.
Ho sentito un rumore nel cuore della notte.“I heard a noise in the dead of night.
È tardi: ora di dormire!“It’s late: time for bed (nap time)!”

6. Top Italian Time Adverbs

Improve Listening

Once you’ve mastered how to say the time, how to talk about all the stages of the day and night, you still need some other little words that help you indicate when something happens. When talking about time in Italian, these adverbs of time will be immensely helpful:

  • adesso/ora (“now”)


Il treno parte ora. (“The train leaves now.”)

  • al momento (“at the moment”)


Al momento non abbiamo tavoli liberi. (“At the moment, we don’t have free tables.”)

  • nel frattempo (“in the meantime”)


Nel frattempo preparo il pranzo. (“In the meantime, I’ll prepare lunch.”)

  • prima/dopo (“before/after”)


Ci vediamo prima di cena o dopo cena? (“Shall we meet before dinner or after dinner?”)

  • presto/tardi (“early/late”)


Per favore, arriva presto. Non fare tardi come al solito. (“Please, be there early. Don’t you be late as usual.”)

  • tra un po’ (“In a while”)

Pay attention to the apostrophe (‘). It’s there to indicate that it was originally a longer word (poco) that dropped the last syllable.


Ora non ho voglia. Lo faccio tra un po’. (“Now I don’t want to. I’ll do it in a while.”)

  • per molto/poco tempo (“for a long/short time”)


Per molto tempo ho creduto a Babbo Natale. (“For a long time, I believed in Santa Claus.”)

  • sempre/mai (“always/never”)
  • Vai sempre in palestra? (“Do you always go to the gym?”)
  • No, non ci vado mai. (“No, I never go.”)
  • il prima possibile (“as soon as possible”)


Ho bisogno della relazione il prima possibile. (“I need the report as soon as possible.”)

  • in qualsiasi momento (“at any time”)


Può succedere in qualsiasi momento. (“It can happen at any time.”)

  • di tanto in tanto (“from time to time”)


È bene fare una pausa di tanto in tanto. (“From time to time, it’s good to take a break.”)

7. Italian Proverbs and Sayings about Time

Time is such a universal and primordial concept that in all cultures, you’ll find many proverbs and sayings about it. Here are some of the most common proverbs and sayings about time in Italian.

Sundial
Il tempo è denaro.“Time is money.”
Il tempo vola.“Time flies.”
Chi ha tempo non aspetti tempo.“Those who have time do not wait for time.”

Meaning: Basically, it’s an invitation to act immediately without hesitation.
La notte porta consiglio.“The night brings counsel.”

Meaning: The best decisions must be made with a clear mind, better if after a long sleep.
Dare tempo al tempo.“Give time to time.”

Meaning: Allow things to fall into place by waiting for the right moment.
Il tempo è galantuomo.“Time is a gentleman.”

Meaning: Time restores the truth, repairs all wrongs, and heals everything. Therefore, we must learn to wait.
Ora di punta.“Rush hour.”

Meaning: This literally means “peak hour” because it refers to a peak in a diagram.
Fare le ore piccole.Literally “to make the small hours.”

Meaning: It means to stay up or out until very late (one, two, or three).
Non vedo l’ora (che succeda…).“I can’t wait (for something to happen).”

8. Conclusion

Basic Questions

I bet time flew while learning to tell time in Italian and more. Now you can practice telling time: make plans with your Italian friends, ask strangers for the time, or find out what time the movie starts.

But most importantly, don’t stop now! Go on and keep learning Italian with fun lessons and tons of podcasts and videos on ItalianPod101.com. We’ll help you improve quickly. 

Before you go, practice telling time in Italian by dropping us a comment with the current time in Italian! We look forward to hearing from you!

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