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Our 2020 Guide to the CILS Italian Test

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Maybe you’ve already thought about taking an Italian proficiency test, or maybe you have no idea what we’re talking about. In this article, we’ll explain why it’s important to take an Italian test like this one, and we’ll guide you through everything you’ll need to do to sign up and pass the most widely accepted proficiency test (CILS). By the time you’re done reading, you’ll be totally prepared for the big day—even if this is your first time hearing about the test.

Spoiler alert: You need to get started six months beforehand!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Study Strategies in Italian Table of Contents
  1. What is a Proficiency Test?
  2. Why Take a Proficiency Test?
  3. What is the CILS Certification?
  4. How to Get Started
  5. What to Expect on the Day of the Test
  6. The CILS DUE-B2 Test
  7. Winning Strategies for Taking the CILS Exam
  8. How to Prepare for the CILS Exam
  9. Conclusion

1. What is a Proficiency Test? 

Are you ready to be tested…?

Are you ready to be tested…?

Nowadays, in order to attain any approved language certificate, you must first be tested on the four basic competencies (Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking). These tests are quite thorough; they might last a few hours, or even be spread out over the course of two days. Depending on where you are in your language studies, you would apply for one of the different levels (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2). 

In regards to which exam to take, there are a few options for recognized certifications, each with just slight differences that mainly correlate with your final goal. Which takes us to the next question…

2. Why Take a Proficiency Test?

There are many reasons why you might want to take certain Italian exams or attain Italian language certifications: 

  • To check your progress
  • To look good on your CV
  • To qualify for a school, a university, a job, etc.
  • To apply for Italian citizenship (as of December 2018, a basic (B1) level of Italian is required to apply)
  • To be able to teach Italian

What’s your motivation?

In this guide, we’ll tell you all about the best-known and most-renowned certification, called CILS. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about these comprehensive tests, and try to answer your questions: 

  • What is CILS?
  • What should you expect?
  • How can you prepare?

Are you ready?

3. What is the CILS Certification?

The CILS Certification, or Certificazione di italiano come lingua straniera (“Certificate of Italian as a Foreign Language”), is a qualification officially recognized by the Italian state, based on an agreement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It certifies students’ degree of competence in the Italian language. 

Why do you need that? 

An official certification is often necessary for admission into Italian universities, and it could be helpful if you plan to have professional contact with Italy. This certification was originally devised by the Università per Stranieri di Siena, but today, it’s administered all over the world. You can just choose a school or a university near you and take the exam there.

The certification follows the six levels of competence determined by the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) of the Council of Europe. Each level certifies your language ability, including whether you can communicate effectively in a specific social or professional context. 

Choose your level carefully!

Choose your level carefully!

How do you know what level you’re at and what test to choose for your certification? The first thing you should consider is what your current linguistic ability is and/or what level you need to achieve. 

The following table outlines the basic differences between the levels and what they correspond to in terms of communication and grammar knowledge:

LevelDescriptionYou are able to:Main grammar points
CILS A1Beginner
It’s intended for learners with initial skills in the Italian language. In this level, you find different exams tailored to the various types of students, as follows:
  • A1
  • A1 for integration into Italy
  • A1 children (eight to eleven years)
  • A1 teenagers (twelve – sixteen years)

The format is the same, but the content varies.
Understand short texts and use everyday expressions; 
Introduce yourself;
Ask and answer questions about personal topics;
Interact in a simple way



  • Articles and adjectives;
  • Feminine, masculine, plural;
  • Numbers;
  • Simple prepositions;
  • Regular verbs;
  • Essere e avere (“to be,” “to have”);
  • Modal verbs potere, dovere, volere (“can,” “must,” “want”);
  • Present tense;
  • Passato prossimo (“present perfect”) tense;
  • Imperative mood;Main adjectives and adverbs
CILS A2ElementaryThis level certifies an initial competence, which still lacks autonomy from the communication point of view. 
Like the previous level, it’s divided into different modules according to the student:
  • A2
  • A2 for integration into Italy
  • A2 children (eight to eleven years)
  • A2 teenagers (twelve to sixteen years)
Understand expressions frequently used in relevant personal and professional areas;
Communicate in simple exchanges on familiar and common topics, and exchange information;
Express opinions with ease; 
Make invitations and apologize
  • Si impersonal and reflexive;
  • Prepositions and articles;
  • Irregular verbs andare, bere, dare, dire, fare, stare, venire (“go,” “drink,” “give,” “say,” “do,” “stay,” “come”);Use of passato prossimo vs imperfetto;
  • Complex sentences with prima di, invece, allora, infatti, non solo … ma anche, o, che, se (“before,” “instead,” “then,” “as a matter of fact,” “not only… but also,” “or,” “that,” “if “)
CILS UNO-B1IntermediateThis level certifies that the student has the skills necessary to use the Italian language independently and adequately in the most frequent situations of daily life. 
This is the certification needed to apply for Italian citizenship.
Communicate in Italian in everyday situations in both written and oral form in an effective way (even if with a few errors);
Understand the essential points of clear and articulated messages;
Read the most popular and useful texts
  • Position of the adjective;
  • Comparatives and superlatives;
  • Reflexive and relative pronouns;Possessive adjectives;
  • Demonstrative, interrogative, and indefinite pronouns;
  • Conditional mood;
  • Complex sentences: temporal, causal, declarative, and relative clauses
CILS DUE-B2Upper-IntermediateThis is the level that certifies the full autonomy of communication. 
It’s the minimum level ofcompetence for access to the Italian university system for students, teachers, andresearchers. It’s also required to obtain scholarships or internships.
Understand the basic ideas of complex texts related to everyday or more abstract concepts;
Utilize effective oral and written Italian (even if with a few errors);
Interact easily during a stay in Italy or in work meetings
  • Ci, ne (“in here,” “of it”);
  • Passato remoto (“remote past”);
  • FutureUse of the subjunctive (present and past, judgement and doubt)Impersonal verbs;
  • Past conditional;
  • Hypothetical phrases;
  • Implicit and explicit complex sentences
CILS TRE- C1AdvancedThis is the level of mastery in Italian proficiency: It means that you can communicate formally for social, academic, and professional purposes. Those who possess this level are able to interact formally in public institutions or companies, and to fit in in any situation. Understand long and demanding texts and their implicit meaning
Talk spontaneously and fluently without searching for your words too much;
Use the language in an efficient and flexible manner at home, work, or school;
Express your opinions on complex topics in a clear and structured manner, having full control over the linguistic tools
  • Past subjunctive;
  • Gerund and past participle;
  • Passive voice;
  • Idiomatic verbs;
  • Complex sentences: consecutive, concessive, modal, incidental, exclusive, restrictive;
  • Direct and indirect speech
CILS QUATTRO-C2Proficient
This is the level of full Italian language mastery. It means you can dominate not only all informal and formal situations, but also professional ones. 
It’s the level necessary to teach Italian abroad.
Understand effortlessly anything you read or hear;
Summarize facts and arguments from various sources, written or spoken;
Express yourself fluently, mastering slight nuances in meaning
  • Pragmatic rules of informal contexts and formal communication; 
  • Social varieties of linguistic uses of Italian;
  • Full grasp of the sociolinguistic and sociocultural implications of native language


4. How to Get Started

So, if you made it this far, you’re probably serious about taking a certification test. If so, pay attention to the next steps of CILS exam preparation:

1. Find the closest venue offering the test and get in contact with them for information. Do this at least a couple of months before taking the exam.

2. Plan well in advance. Once you take the test, you’ll receive the results via email after a period of time that can vary from two to four months, depending on your level and the total number of candidates. So, it’s better if you start thinking about your certification at least six months before you’ll actually need it.

Plan in Advance

Plan in advance: six months should do!

4. DOs:

  • The exams typically start at 8:30. Be on time, or you’ll lose the right to take the test;
  • You NEED to take a photo ID with you (the same one you used for the registration);
  • Bring a black pen (nothing else is allowed, and definitely no dictionaries or smart devices);
  • Before and during the test, make sure you listen carefully and follow the instructions, especially about how to fill the answer sheets.

5. DON’TS:

  • You cannot open the notebook before the start of the tests;
  • You cannot review or correct tests related to the previous sections;
  • You cannot move to the next section before the scheduled time;
  • You cannot ask for explanations on the content of the tests;
  • You cannot leave the room before the break, unless it’s for a serious need (so, make sure you go to the bathroom in advance).

5. What to Expect on the Day of the Test

Language Skills

Like all language proficiency tests, CILS certification is based on the four main communicative abilities (Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking). In addition, it contains an analytic section. Here’s how the exam is divided:

  • Ascolto (“Listening comprehension”)
  • Comprensione della lettura (“Reading comprehension”)
  • Analisi delle strutture di comunicazione (“Analysis of communication structures”)
  • Produzione scritta (“Writing test”)
  • Produzione orale (“Speaking test”)

All levels have more or less the same structure, but obviously, the difficulty and complexity of the texts and contents are higher with each level. 

In this guide, we’ll take into account only one of the levels: The CILS DUE B2. This is, in fact, the level where the student should have full autonomy in communicating without too many problems. It’s also the level that gives the student access to schools and universities, and it allows the student to apply to most jobs requesting knowledge of the Italian language.

But keep in mind that all of the instructions and tips to prepare for and approach the exam are largely the same, regardless of level.

6. The CILS DUE-B2 Test

The total duration of the exam is almost four hours, but be prepared to do the speaking test on a different day, mainly for logistic reasons. The maximum score you can receive for this certification is 100 (20 for each section), while the minimum passing score is 55. But be careful: You need to get at least 11 in each section if you want to pass!

A Woman Listening

Listen very carefully to the CILS audio recording…

1 – The Listening Comprehension

Duration: 30 minutes, three exercises for a total of 20 points. Minimum passing score is 11 points

  • In the listening comprehension test, you’ll hear a recording of a real-life dialogue at a regular speed. It can be a conversation, a telephone call, an interview, an instruction text, a radio program, etc., with two native speakers.
  • The recordings will be played twice, and the timing includes the instructions as well as the time to fill in the answers.
  • The test will be divided into three exercises in which you’ll be asked to answer questions and identify information, typically in a multiple-choice format.

2 – The Reading Comprehension

Duration: 50 minutes, three exercises for a total of 20 points. Minimum passing score is 11 points

  • The reading portion tests your ability to understand the general meaning of the information presented to you. You should expect extracts from books, newspapers, magazines, works of fiction, catalogs, instruction manuals, publicity, etc.
  • The total amount of text that you’ll need to read and understand is around 1200-1400 words.
  • There will be three parts, divided into a multiple-choice exercise, an exercise where you’ll need to find information in a text, and one based on the reconstruction of a text, following the logical and temporal sequence. 

3 – Analysis of Communication Structures

Duration: 60 minutes, four exercises for a total of 20 points. Minimum passing score is 11 points

  • In this part of the CILS Italian exam, you’ll have to be able to analyze, summarize, or transform a text. 
  • There will be four parts, which can be multiple-choice, cloze (where you need to fill in missing words), or completion tests, mostly based on vocabulary or grammar points.

4 – The Writing Test

Duration: 70 minutes, two tests for a total of 20 points. Minimum passing score is 11 points

  • In this part of the test, you’ll have to produce two simple but well-structured written texts, showing that you’re able to describe events and experiences through a cohesive and coherent text. You’re also expected to clearly highlight the relationships between concepts.
  • There will be two sections. The first will be centered on a description or narration, the review of a film / book / show, etc. (from 120 to 140 words). The second is usually a formal or informal letter (from 80 to 100 words).
A Woman Writing Using a Big Pencil

Do you find it hard to write? The secret is to practice, practice, practice!

5 – The Speaking Test

Duration: 10 minutes, two tests for a total of 20 points. Minimum passing score is 11 points

  • In the final part of the CILS test, you’ll have to communicate effectively by having a coherent and well-structured conversation on a variety of situations. You can be asked to make a description, narrate an event, or express an opinion on various topics, clearly explaining your ideas and showing relevant examples. There will be two tests, both in the presence of an examiner: one monologue and one dialogue.
  • For the dialogue, you’ll choose a topic among the three or four proposed to you, and the examiner will start asking questions. The duration of the dialogue should be around two or three minutes.
  • For the monologue, the student is asked to talk about one topic chosen from a short list, which can also contain pictures to illustrate. The duration of the monologue should be about two minutes.


7. Winning Strategies for Taking the CILS Exam

Read or listen to the instructions very, very carefully. They are the first step to a good performance.

1. Be calm and relaxed, but at the same time, keep track of the time. Every section has a given time limit, which is more than enough to complete the task—unless you stubbornly stop too long on a single question. If you’re in doubt, make a mental note and come back to that question at the end of the section if you have time. 

2. Take a peek at the questions beforehand, so you’ll have a basic notion about the topic and what you’ll be asked about during the listening or reading comprehension sections.

3. Read the text very carefully, trying to understand as much as possible. And then read it again. Underline or write notes on a separate piece of paper to help you organize your thoughts and your ideas.

4. If you don’t know an answer, try to guess it by exclusion. Sometimes, if you eliminate all the wrong or improbable answers, you’ll be left with just the correct answer.

5. In the speaking sessions, there’s often an initial part where the examiner asks personal questions (name, activity, origin, hobbies, etc.) to start assessing your level and to put you at ease. You’d better be ready and prepare a nice presentation about yourself

6. Keep it simple! Try to avoid overly complicated sentences and structures. Write what you know, and avoid translating from English at all costs! Remember all of the Italian sentence patterns that you already know and use them.

Playing Chess

It’s always important to have a strategy.

8. How to Prepare for the CILS Exam

There are many ways to prepare for the CILS exam. One of them is to take advantage of all the available resources that ItalianPod101.com offers. 

Another good way to practice is to go to the official CILS site and take a simulated test. There, you’ll find a copy of a real test administered by the Università per Stranieri di Siena in 2012. You can also buy official books that will allow you to practice and study.

Be sure you have a good grasp of the grammar topics required for your level. And before anything else, search the ItalianPod101 database of grammar and vocabulary lessons.

Read as much as you can! Reading is a great exercise to expand your vocabulary and easily fix grammar structures and points in your mind. It will help you not only in the reading comprehension test, but in all of the other sections as well. Newspapers, magazines, books, letters—everything helps.

Listen to a wide variety of audios. You can find many online Italian radio shows and podcasts, or simply tune in to movies or series. Try to concentrate as much as possible, and maybe even listen with your eyes closed, to better understand what you’re hearing. Getting used to listening to native Italian speakers will give you the necessary confidence for the listening and speaking portions of the test.

Practice writing. Lose your inhibitions and  write as often as you can. Keep your sentence patterns simple, but be effective and precise with your vocabulary. It can be very useful to use spell-checkers and translators, mainly to verify that your sentence is written correctly in terms of conjugation, spelling, agreements, etc.

A Woman Writing

Just three words: Practice. Practice. Practice.

9. Conclusion

So, do you have everything you need to embark on this adventure and take the CILS certification test? 

Whatever your strategy, know that you’ll always be able to count on a variety of ItalianPod101 resources: vocabulary lists, audio podcasts, grammar lessons, and much more.

Remember that you can also use our premium service, MyTeacher, for one-on-one interaction with your personal teacher, guidance, and ongoing assessment. You’ll receive personalized exercises (reading, writing, and speaking) with non-stop feedback, answers, and corrections, so you’ll be ready for your B2 in no time—all while having fun!

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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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Italian Keyboard: How to Install and Type in Italian

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

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

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

A keyboard

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

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

2. Setting up Your Computer and Mobile Devices for Italian

A phone charging on a dock

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

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

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

3. How to Activate an Onscreen Keyboard on Your Computer

1- Mac

1. Go to System Preferences > Keyboard.

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

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

A screenshot of the keyboard viewer screen

2- Windows

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

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

3- Add-ons of Extensions for Browsers

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

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

Man looking at his computer

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

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

1- Windows 8 (and higher)

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

2- Windows 7

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

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

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

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

3- Mac (OS X and higher)

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

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

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

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

Adding a system language

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

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

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

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

1- iOS

1. Go to Settings > General > Keyboard.

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

3. Select “Italian” from the list.

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

2- Android

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

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

3. Select “Italiano” from the list.

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

3- Applications for Mobile Phones

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

6. Italian Keyboard Typing Tips

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

A man typing on a computer

1- Computer

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

2- Mobile Phones

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

7. How to Practice Typing Italian

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

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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.”

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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

Improve Listening

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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Directions in Italian: Learn “Right” in Italian & More!



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Are you traveling through Italy? Do you need to get to the Colosseum? Are you taking art classes in Florence?

If you’re in Italy and you want to enjoy getting around and exploring new places, get ready to ask for directions in Italian with this quick and easy guide. No need for maps or GPS if you can get a little help from locals and practice your Italian in the process.

In this article, I’ll be going over direction phrases in Italian, and will teach you words like “right” in Italian and much more!

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Table of Contents
  1. On the Map: Cardinal Directions in Italian
  2. On the Road: Street Directions in Italian
  3. Directions in Italian Using Landmarks
  4. Italian Phrases for Asking (Politely) for Directions
  5. Must-know Italian Phrases for Giving Directions
  6. If You Get Lost
  7. Streets, Squares, and More (Much More!)
  8. Conclusion


1. On the Map: Cardinal Directions in Italian


Whether you’re old-school and like to rely on paper maps, or you’re more into new gadgets and like to get around with GPS apps, one of the first things to learn is how to ask for compass directions in Italian when planning your trip on a map.

Map of Rome Tutte le strade portano a Roma. (“All roads lead to Rome.”)

  • Nord — “North”
  • Sud — “South”
  • Est — “East”
  • Ovest — “West”

These (and their combinations nord-est, sud-ovest, etc.) are the essential words you need to learn to find your way around a map of the country. Other than that, Italians don’t have the habit of referring to cardinal points when giving directions, and they’re mainly used to indicating the parts and areas of Italy.

When talking about directions in English, it’s very common to say things like “go north on Second Street” (prosegui a nord su Second Street). Instead, Italians almost never use directions when giving directions. Italians mostly mention the directions when describing geographical features.

    – Milano è nel nord d’Italia.
    “Milan is in the north of Italy.”

    – Napoli e Palermo sono le maggiori città del sud d’Italia.
    “Naples and Palermo are the major cities in the south of Italy.”

    – Pompei si trova a sud di Napoli.
    Pompeii is located south of Naples.”


Compass Hai perso la bussola? (Literally, “Did you lose your compass?” meaning also “Are you lost? Out of your mind?”)

In Italy, you’ll never hear someone talking about the north part of the city. Instead, almost every city can be divided into il centro storico, or “the historical center,” historically the old part of town, and la periferia or “the outskirts”/”the suburbs,” which are the newer parts of the town.

2. On the Road: Street Directions in Italian


Asking Directions

For road directions in Italian, you’ll need a series of relative indicators that will help you easily find where to go. Here are the most important ones:

a destra; a sinistra “to the right”; “to the left”
davanti; dietro “in front”; “behind”
vicino; lontano“near”; “far”
accanto a “next to”
all’angolo; dietro l’angolo “at the corner”; “around the corner”
da questo lato; dall’altro lato “on this side”; “on the other side”
a [due minuti] di distanza “it’s [two minutes] away”


Notice to say “right” in Italian we say destra, but just in the sense of left and right. If you mean “right” as in “correct,” you’ll have to say giusto. Giusto?

    A: È vicino il Duomo?
    “Is the Duomo near?”

    B: Saranno 5 minuti a piedi.
    “It’s probably a five-minute walk.”

    B: Prendi la prima a sinistra, poi la seconda a destra. Il Duomo è dietro l’angolo.
    “You turn left at the first intersection, then turn right at the second intersection. The Duomo is around the corner.”


3. Directions in Italian Using Landmarks


When you’re traveling, there are so many landmarks that you’ll go to or pass by. So it’s important to know the names of the main public buildings and of all the places of tourist interest in a particular city. When asking for directions, make sure you know the following words and phrases:

Around the City


l’aeroporto“the airport”
la stazione (dei treni, degli autobus)“the (train, bus) station”
l’accesso alla metro“the access to the subway”
la fermata dell’autobus “the bus stop”
il centro“downtown”
il centro commerciale“the shopping center”
il parco“the park”
l’albergo; l’hotel; l’ostello“the hotel”; “the hostel”
l’ospedale“the hospital”
la banca; il bancomat“the bank”; “the cash machine”
l’ufficio postale“the post office”
il parcheggio dei taxi“the taxi parking”
il museo; il teatro; il cinema“the museum”; “the theater”; “the cinema”
la chiesa“the church”
il ristorante; la trattoria; la pizzeria“the restaurant”; “the tavern”; “the pizzeria”
il bar; la gelateria“the coffee bar”; “the ice cream shop”
il supermercato; il mercato“the supermarket”; “the market”
l’edicola“the newsstand”
la farmacia“the pharmacy”
la scuola“the school”
il benzinaio; il distributore di benzina“the gas station”


Bus Stop Sign La fermata dell’autobus. (“The bus stop.”)

    – La farmacia è di fronte all’ospedale.
    “The pharmacy is in front of the hospital.”

    – Per andare al supermercato, vai sempre dritto fino al benzinaio, gira a destra, poi continua fino al secondo semaforo e infine gira a sinistra.
    “To go to the supermarket, go straight to the gas station, turn right, then continue to the second traffic light and then turn left.”


On the Street


l’incrocio“the intersection”
il semaforo (verde, rosso, giallo) [link to colors]“the traffic light” (green, red, yellow)
le strisce pedonali (le strisce)“the pedestrian crossing”
il marciapiede“the sidewalk”


    – La fermata dell’autobus è a duecento metri dal semaforo.
    “The bus stop is two-hundred meters from the traffic light.”

    – Quando arrivi all’incrocio, attraversa sulle strisce pedonali e aspettami sul marciapiede.
    “When you reach the intersection, cross on the pedestrian crossing and wait for me on the sidewalk.”


Inside a Building


il bagno“the toilet” (or bathroom)
l’ascensore“the elevator”
le scale“the stairs”
la porta; il portone; il cancello“the door”; “the main door”; “the gate”
l’entrata; l’uscita“the entry”; “the exit”
il parcheggio (la cassa per pagare il parcheggio)“the parking” (the cash desk to pay the parking)


    – Dov’è il bagno?
    “Where is the bathroom?”

    – Per favore, potrebbe indicarmi l’uscita?
    “Can you show me the exit, please?”


Bathroom Sign Scusi, dov’è il bagno? (“Excuse me, where is the bathroom?”)

4. Italian Phrases for Asking (Politely) for Directions


If you want to make sure that you’re given the best directions to the place you want to go, you might want to master a few must-know phrases that will allow you to ask politely and make a great first impression on the person you’re asking. Italians are usually very happy to help a tourist, especially a foreign one, but courtesy always goes a long way.

Scusi…


The first and most important phrase when asking directions in Italian is Scusi (scusa for informal) which literally means “may you excuse,” but basically just serves to catch the attention of the other person. (If you need a quick refresher on when we use formal/informal in Italian, check out this video.) Whenever you ask for directions, make sure you always start with that.

    – Ciao, scusa, dov’è la scuola?
    “Hi, excuse me, where is the school?”

    – Scusi, dove prendo l’autobus per il centro?
    “Excuse me, where do I take the bus downtown?”

    – Scusi, potrebbe darmi un’indicazione?
    “Excuse me, could you give me an indication?”


Did you notice that often when we ask politely, we end up using the conditional tense? So now is a very good opportunity to check out uses and conjugations, don’t you agree?

Dov’è…?


When you want to know where a certain place is, you have a few different ways of saying it:

Dov’è / dove si trova / come si va (“where it is” / “where is located” / “how do you go”). They can all be used to ask directions to a specific place.

    – Scusi, dov’è il supermercato più vicino?
    “Excuse me, where is the closest market?”

    – Scusi, dove si trova il bagno delle donne?
    “Excuse me, where is the lady’s bathroom?”

    – Come si va a Pompei?
    “How do I go to Pompeii?”


Per favore


Kindness is never too much, especially when you’re asking a favor from a stranger, so you might want to add a few “please”s with your question. And how do you say “please” in Italian? Per favore, of course. And can you guess what favore literally means? A favor? Please…

    – Scusi, potrebbe dirmi per favore come si arriva al Duomo?
    “Excuse me, can you please tell me how to get to the Duomo?”


Woman Holding a Map

Quanto dista?


Not only do you need to get to your destination, but you also need to know how far/long it is to get there. You have many different ways to ask that:

  • Quanto dista?
    “How far is it?”
    Literally: “How much it is distant?”


  • È lontano?
    “Is it far?”


  • Quanto ci vuole?
    “How long does it take?”
    Literally: “How much [time] it’s necessary to get there?”


Grazie mille!


Once you have all the information you need, make sure you know how to properly thank the nice person who helped you get where you needed to. Grazie! (“Thanks!”) is obviously the basic appreciation, but if you want to get a bit fancier, you have a few more options:

  • Grazie.
    “Thank you.”


  • Grazie mille. or Mille grazie.
    “Thank you very much.”
    Literally: “Thank you a thousand.”


  • Grazie tante. or Tante grazie.
    “Many thanks.”


  • Molto gentile.
    “Very kind.”


  • La ringrazio. / Ti ringrazio. (formal / informal)
    “Thank you.”
    Literally: “I thank you.”


5. Must-know Italian Phrases for Giving Directions


Directions

Are you familiar enough with your whereabouts that you feel confident giving directions to other people? Well done! Here’s how to give directions in Italian with a few simple phrases. And always remember the basic rule: if you know the person you’re talking to, go ahead and use the tu (2nd person – informal); otherwise, stick to Lei (3rd person – formal).

On the Street


  • vai — “go”
  • continua/prosegui — “keep going”
  • Dritto — “straight”
  • torna indietro — “go back”
  • fai un’inversione (a U) — “make a U-turn”
  • gira / svolta — “turn”
  • a destra / a sinistra — “to the right” / “to the left”


  • – Per il Colosseo, continua dritto.
    “To the Colosseum, keep going straight.”

    – La strada è interrotta, fai una inversione a U e torna indietro.
    “The street is blocked, make a U-turn and go back.”


On the Stairs


  • al ventesimo piano — “on the twentieth floor”
  • primo, secondo, ecc., ultimo piano — “first, second, etc., last floor”
  • prendere le scale — “take the stairs”
  • prendere l’ascensore — “take the elevator”
  • salire / scendere — “go up” / “go down”
  • a che piano va(i)? — “What floor?”


  • – L’ufficio postale è al secondo piano.
    “The post office is on the second floor.”

    – Di solito prendo le scale, ma oggi vado all’ultimo piano e prenderò l’ascensore.
    “I usually take the stairs, but today I will go to the top floor and will take the elevator.”


Person Pressing Elevator Button A che piano va? (“What floor?”)

To a Driver


When giving suggestions to your driver, unless he/she is a friend of yours giving you a ride, you should address the driver using the formal Lei. Here are some useful taxi directions in Italian:

  • continui — “go on”; “keep going”
  • può fermarsi? — “Can you stop?”
  • può andare più veloce? — “Can you go faster?”
  • ho fretta, sono in ritardo — “I’m in a hurry, I am late.”
  • può andare più piano? — “Can you go slower?”
  • Non ho fretta, questa non è la formula 1… — “I’m not in a hurry, this is not the Formula 1…”


  • – Può fermarsi in Piazza San Marco?
    “Could you stop in San Marco square?”

    – Devo prendere il treno, può andare più veloce?
    “I have to take the train, can you go faster?”


6. If You Get Lost


Even if you know all the vocabulary and all the must-know Italian phrases, even with maps and GPS and written-down directions, getting a little lost is common when you travel in a foreign country. So, get prepared for that possibility.

But don’t worry about it because, first of all, Italians are a generous and helping people and they’ll love to help you find your way back. And second, getting lost and just wandering around for a bit isn’t such a bad thing after all. Don’t you agree?

  • Mi sono perso/a. — “I got lost.”
  • Non trovo… — “I can’t find…”
  • Non so come arrivare… — “I don’t know how to get to…”
  • Mi potresti/potrebbe aiutare? — “Could you help me?”


  • – Dove vado? Non so come arrivare in centro…
    “Where do I go? I don’t know how to get to the center…”

    – Penso di essermi persa. Mi potrebbe aiutare ad arrivare in Via Roma?
    “I think I got lost. Could you help me to get to Roma street?”


Couple Riding on a Vespa In Vespa per i vicoli di Roma. (“Riding a Vespa through Rome narrow streets.”)

7. Streets, Squares, and More (Much More!)


Surely you won’t have any problem giving or understanding directions in English. But when people give you directions in Italy, they might use unfamiliar names to refer to places around the cities, especially the more historical ones. Here’s a useful list for you:

Via“Street”
Viale“Avenue”
Vialetto“Alley” (usually leading to a house)
VicoloVicolo
Vicolo cieco“Cul-de-sac” (also metaphorically)
Strada statale / strada provinciale“State highway” / “provincial road”
Autostrada“Highway”
Svincolo“Junction”; “exit” (on a highway)
Casello (per il pedaggio)“Toll gate”
Stazione di servizio“Service station”
Piazza“Square”
Rotonda, rotatoria“Roundabout”


In Italian, you can always use the diminutive form of a noun or an adjective to give it a slightly different meaning. And we do it all the time! So, don’t worry if you hear people telling you about vicoletti, stradine, cancelletti, portoncini, and porticine (“tiny alleys, narrow streets, mini-gates, and cute little doors”). If you still have some doubts, just check out how diminutive and other fun suffixes work.

Il centro di Napoli è pieno di vicoletti e stradine.
“Downtown Naples is full of tiny alleys and narrow streets.”

Cappuccetto Rosso vive in una casetta nel bosco.
“Little Red Riding Hood lives in a small house in the woods.”

8. Conclusion


Basic Questions

Do you better understand directions in Italian now? Can you easily find your way around Florence, the Colosseum, Torre di Pisa, and the train to Pompei?

Good job! Now just keep going straight ahead (sempre dritto) to ItalianPod101.com for more fun and useful lessons to get you exactly where you need to be with your knowledge of Italian!

Happy learning!

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Top 100+ Italian Nouns: Our Guide to Common Italian Nouns

Thumbnail When learning a new language, vocabulary is—almost—everything. That’s because when speaking with a foreigner in his or her language, people don’t usually mind if that person doesn’t talk with perfect grammar, and will understand them anyway.

But if you don’t know an important word, communicating will be a problem.

And nouns are the most important words of all. So, what are the Italian nouns you should learn while studying Italian? Check out our list here on ItalianPod101.

But first, some information on Italian nouns’ gender! Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian Table of Contents
  1. Italian Nouns: Masculine and Feminine
  2. The 100 Most Common Italian Nouns
  3. Learn Italian at Your Pace with ItalianPod101


1. Italian Nouns: Masculine and Feminine



Nouns 1 First things first: How many genders are there in Italian?

In the Italian language, nouns are masculine or feminine. There is no neuter gender.

For people and animals, the gender of their noun is determined by their sex. For example:

  • Il maestro / la maestra
    “the male teacher” / “the female teacher”


  • Il cavallo / la cavalla
    “the horse” / “the mare”


However, there are nouns that don’t change in masculine or feminine form. For example:

  • Insegnante
    “Teacher”


  • Autista
    “Driver”


For things, their gender is conventional. For example:

  • Il mare:
    “The sea”
    [Masculine]


  • La luna
    “The moon”
    [Feminine]


  • Il bicchiere
    “The glass”
    [Masculine]


  • La tazza
    “The cup”
    [Feminine]


In general (but there are exceptions), these types of nouns in Italian are masculine:



In Italian, feminine nouns tend to be in these categories (again, there are exceptions):

  • Fruit
  • Disciplines (such as philosophy, science, math…)
  • Continents, states, regions, cities, and islands


There are masculine and feminine nouns in Italian in many other categories. For example:

  • Plants
  • Vegetables
  • Sports
  • Body parts


Now, let’s explore the most important Italian nouns and articles you should know.

Most Common Italian Nouns

2. The 100 Most Common Italian Nouns

Nouns 2 Here are the 100+ most common Italian nouns you should learn when you start studying Italian.

1- The Most Common Italian Nouns for Appliances



Check out these Italian nouns for appliances, with their translation and an example of use:

  • Televisione — “Television” [f.]
    • La mia televisione è rotta.
      “My television is broken.”


  • Frigorifero — “Fridge” [m.]
    • Se hai fame, c’è della pasta nel frigorifero.
      “If you’re hungry, there’s pasta in the fridge.”


  • Condizionatore — “Air conditioner” [m.]
    • Ho caldo, accendiamo il condizionatore?
      “It’s hot, can we turn on the air conditioner?”


  • Lavatrice — “Washing machine” [f.]
    • Non dovresti lavare questo vestito in lavatrice.
      “You shouldn’t wash this dress in the washing machine.”


  • Microonde — “Microwave” [m.]
    • La cena è nel microonde.
      “Dinner is in the microwave.”


  • Phon — “Hairdryer” [m.]
    • D’estate non uso mai il phon.
      “I never use the hairdryer in the summer.”


  • Ventilatore — “Fan” [m.]
    • Stanotte era così caldo che ho dormito con il ventilatore acceso.
      “Tonight it was so hot that I slept with the fan on.”


  • Caldaia — “Boiler” [f.]
    • Abbiamo appena cambiato la caldaia.
      “We’ve just changed the boiler.”


  • Lavastoviglie — “Dishwasher” [f.]
    • Non potrei vivere senza lavastoviglie.
      “I couldn’t live without a dishwasher.”


  • Forno — “Oven” [m.]
    • La pizza è nel forno.
      “The pizza is in the oven.”


2- The Most Common Italian Nouns for Technology



Some very common Italian nouns for tech are:

  • Computer — “PC” [m.]
    • Ho comprato un nuovo computer.
      “I’ve bought a new PC.”


  • Computer portatile — “Laptop” [m.]
    • Questo computer portatile è molto leggero.
      “This laptop is very light.”


  • Cellulare — “Mobile phone” [m.]
    • Marco passa troppo tempo sul cellulare.
      “Marco spends too much time on his mobile phone.”


  • Cuffie — “Headphones” [f.]
    • Ho dimenticato le cuffie in palestra.
      “I forgot my headphones at the gym.”


  • Caricabatterie — “Charger” [m.]
    • Mio figlio ha perso il caricabatterie.
      “My son lost his charger.”


  • Connessione — “Connection” [f.]
    • La connessione qui è lenta.
      “The connection here is slow.”


  • Tastiera — “Keyboard” [f.]
    • Non so scrivere con la tastiera QWERTY.
      “I can’t write with a QWERTY keyboard.”


  • Schermo — “Screen” [m.]
    • Lo schermo è ad alta risoluzione.
      “It’s a high-resolution screen.”


  • Tasto — “Button”; “Key” [m.]
    • Se sei pronto a procedere, premi il tasto di controllo.
      “If you’re ready to proceed, please press the control key.”


Common Italian Nouns

3- The Most Common Italian Nouns for Transportation



Nouns 3 Here are some essential Italian nouns about transportation:

  • Aereo — “Plane” [m.]
    • L’aereo partirà da Milano Malpensa.
      “The plane will depart from Milano Malpensa.”


  • Autobus — “Bus” [m.]
    • È questo l’autobus per il Colosseo?
      “Is this the bus to the Colosseum?”


  • Auto — “Car” [f.]
    • Non amo viaggiare in auto.
      “I don’t like traveling by car.”


  • Treno — “Train” [m.]
    • Il nostro treno è in ritardo.
      “Our train is late.”


  • Stazione — “Train station” [f.]
    • Per la stazione, gira a destra.
      “At the train station, turn right.”


  • Aeroporto — “Airport” [m.]
    • Questo aeroporto è enorme.
      “This airport is huge.”


  • Fermata — “Stop” [f.]
    • Devi scendere alla prossima fermata.
      “You have to get off the bus at the next stop.”


  • Biglietto — “Ticket” [m.]
    • Il biglietto costa un euro.
      “The ticket is one euro.”


  • Incrocio — “Intersection” [m.]
    • Al prossimo incrocio, gira a sinistra.
      “At the next intersection, turn left.”


  • Semaforo — “Traffic light” [m.]
    • Fermati! Il semaforo è rosso.
      “Stop! The traffic light is red.”


4- Common Italian Nouns at the Restaurant



Now, here are some of the most basic Italian nouns you should remember at the restaurant:

  • Tavolo — “Table” [m.]
    • Vorremmo un tavolo vicino alla finestra, per favore.
      “We’d like a table next to the window, please.”


  • Forchetta — “Fork” [f.]
    • Potrei avere un’altra forchetta?
      “Could I have another fork?”


  • Coltello — “Knife” [m.]
    • Questo coltello è molto affilato.
      “This knife is very sharp.”


  • Cucchiaio — “Spoon” [m.]
    • Mi dai un cucchiaio, per favore?
      “Can you give me a spoon, please?”


  • Conto — “Bill” [m.]
    • Vorrei il conto, per favore.
      “I’d like the bill, please.”


  • Acqua — “Water” [f.]
    • Bevo solo acqua perché devo guidare.
      “I only drink water, because I have to drive.”


  • Birra — “Beer” [f.]
    • Qual è la migliore birra italiana?
      “Which is the best Italian beer?”


  • Vino — “Wine” [m.]
    • Qual è il tuo vino preferito?
      “Which is your favorite wine?”


  • Verdure — “Vegetables” [f.]
    • Vorrei un contorno di verdure.
      “I’d like some vegetables on the side.”


  • Piatto — “Plate”; “Dish” [m.]
    • Ho mangiato un enorme piatto di pasta.
      “I had a huge dish of pasta.”


  • Cameriere/a — “Waiter” [m. and f.]
    • Il cameriere è stato molto gentile.
      “The waiter was very kind.”


  • Cuoco/a — “Cook” [m. and f.]
    • Mi sarebbe piaciuto fare il cuoco.
      “I would have loved to be a cook.”


Restaurant Nouns in Italian

5- Italian School and Education Nouns



Here are some great Italian nouns to learn if you plan on schooling in Italy, or know someone who does!

  • Scuola — “School” [f.]
    • Sono andata a scuola in Inghilterra.
      “I went to school in England.”


  • Scuola elementare — “Elementary school” [f.]
    • Quella è la scuola elementare di mia figlia.
      “That is my daughter’s elementary school.”


  • Scuola media — “Secondary (middle) school” [f.]
    • La scuola media è un periodo importante per i ragazzi.
      “Secondary school is an important period for kids.”


  • Scuola superiore — “High school” [f.]
    • La mia scuola superiore era in un’altra città.
      “My high school was in another town.”


  • Liceo — This is a high school that prepares students for university, as opposed to a professional high school, preparing them for work. [m.]
    • Al liceo non ero bravo in matematica.
      “I wasn’t good at math in high school.”


  • Università — “University” [f.]
    • Ho conosciuto mia moglie all’università.
      “I met my wife at university.”


  • Insegnante — “Teacher” [m. and f.]
    • L’insegnante di inglese di Lucia è bravissima.
      “Lucia’s English teacher is very good.”


  • Studente — “Student” [m. and f.]
    • Sono molto orgoglioso dei miei studenti.
      “I’m really proud of my students.”


  • Classe — “Class” [f.]
    • Nella mia classe ci sono più ragazze che ragazzi.
      “In my class there are more girls than boys.”


  • Laurea — “Degree” [f.]
    • Ho una laurea in ingegneria meccanica ottenuta all’Università di Bologna.
      “I have a degree in mechanical engineering obtained at the University of Bologna.”


  • Diploma — “Diploma” [m.]
    • Ho preso il diploma nel 1994.
      “I got my diploma in 1994.”


6- Italian Nouns for Jobs and Occupations



Here’s an Italian nouns list for jobs and occupations, so you can better talk about your work!

  • Medico — “Doctor” [m. and f.]
    • C’è un medico?
      “Is there a doctor?”


  • Avvocato/a — “Lawyer” [m. and f.]
    • Mia figlia è un’avvocata molto brava.
      “My daughter is a very skilled lawyer.”


  • Infermiere/a — “Nurse” [m. and f.]
    • L’infermiere è di turno stamattina.
      “The nurse is on duty this morning.”


  • Capo/a — “Boss” [m. and f.]
    • Il capo è cattivo e arrogante.
      “The boss is mean and arrogant.”


  • Imprenditore / Imprenditrice — “Businessman” / “Businesswoman”
    • Mio zio è un ricco imprenditore.
      “My uncle is a wealthy businessman.”


  • Poliziotto/a — “Policeman” / “Policewoman”
    • Da bambino volevo fare il poliziotto.
      “When I was a child, I wanted to be a policeman.”


  • Vigile del fuoco — “Fireman” / “Firewoman”
    • I vigili del fuoco sono molto coraggiosi.
      “Firemen are very brave.”


  • Ingegnere — “Engineer” [m. and f.]
    • Gli ingegneri lavorano molto.
      “Engineers do a lot of work.”


  • Impiegato/a — “Clerk” [m. and f.]
    • Questa impiegata non lavora mai.
      “This clerk never works.”


  • Commesso/a — “Shop assistant” [m. and f.]
    • I commessi lavorano spesso di domenica.
      “Salesmen often work on Sundays.”


  • Professore / Professoressa — “Professor” [m. and f.]
    • Mio padre è professore di letteratura italiana.
      “My father is an Italian literature professor.”


Occupations Nouns in Italian

7- Common Italian Nouns for Family Members



Now for some examples of Italian nouns you’ll need to talk about your family:

  • Famiglia — “Family” [f.]
    • La famiglia è tutto per me.
      “Family is everything for me.”


  • Madre — “Mother” [f.]
    • Mia madre lavora come insegnante.
      “My mother works as a teacher.”


  • Padre — “Father” [m.]
    • Tuo padre è davvero simpatico.
      “Your father is really nice.”


  • Genitori — “Parents” [m.]
    • I miei genitori vivono a Roma.
      “My parents live in Rome.”


  • Marito — “Husband” [m.]
    • Sto aspettando mio marito.
      “I’m waiting for my husband.”


  • Moglie — “Wife” [f.]
    • Mia moglie ha due anni più di me.
      “My wife is two years older than me.”


  • Figlio — “Son” [m.]
    • Ho un figlio di 12 anni.
      “I have a 12-year-old son.”


  • Figlia — “Daughter” [f.]
    • Tua figlia va all’università o lavora?
      “Is your daughter studying at university or working?”


  • Nonni — “Grandparents” [m.]
    • Ho passato molto tempo con i miei nonni da bambino.
      “As a child, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents.”


  • Nonno — “Grandfather” [m.]
    • Mio nonno è stato un grande maestro per me.
      “My grandfather was a great teacher for me.”


  • Nonna — “Grandmother” [f.]
    • Mia nonna adora ballare.
      “My grandmother loves dancing.”


Family

8- Italian Nouns for Body Parts



Learn the most important nouns for body parts in Italian:

  • Corpo — “Body” [m.]
    • I ballerini hanno corpi slanciati.
      “Dancers have slender bodies.”


  • Occhio — “Eye” [m.]
    • Gli occhi blu sono stupendi.
      “Blue eyes are gorgeous.”


  • Orecchio — “Ear” [m.] [Strangely enough, when plural this noun becomes feminine.]
    • Le orecchie di Dumbo sono giganti.
      “Dumbo’s ears are huge.”


  • Testa — “Head” [f.]
    • Mi fa male la testa.
      “My head hurts.”


  • Spalla — “Shoulder” [f.]
    • Marta ha un tatuaggio sulla spalla sinistra.
      “Marta has a tattoo on her left shoulder.”


  • Braccio — “Arm” [m.] [When plural, it becomes feminine.]
    • Mi ha presa tra le braccia e mi sono innamorata.
      “He took me in his arms and I fell in love.”


  • Petto — “Chest” [m.]
    • Il dolore al petto può essere sintomo di infarto.
      “Chest pain could be a symptom of a heart attack.”


  • Pancia — “Stomach” [f.]
    • Ha una grande pancia rotonda.
      “He’s got a big, round stomach.”


  • Schiena — “Back” [f.]
    • Mio marito ha dei problemi alla schiena.
      “My husband has back problems.”


  • Gamba — “Leg” [f.]
    • Mi sono rotto una gamba cadendo dalle scale.
      “I broke a leg by falling from the stairs.”


9- Most Important Italian Nouns for Time



Nouns 4
  • Oggi — “Today” [m.]
    • Oggi è un giorno importante.
      “Today is an important day.”


  • Ieri — “Yesterday” [m.]
    • Ieri sono andato al cinema.
      “Yesterday I went to the cinema.”


  • Domani — “Tomorrow” [m.]
    • Laura arriverà domani mattina.
      “Laura will arrive tomorrow morning.”


  • Lunedì / martedì / mercoledì / giovedì / venerdì / sabato / domenica — “Monday” / “Tuesday” / “Wednesday” / “Thursday” / “Friday” / “Saturday” / “Sunday” [All masculine except domenica, which is feminine.]
    • Mercoledì lavoro, mentre giovedì sono di riposo.
      “On Wednesday I’m working, while on Thursday I’m off.”


  • Giorno — “Day” [m.]
    • Che giorno è oggi?
      “Which day is today?”


  • Settimana — “Week” [f.]
    • Tornerò tra una settimana.
      “I’ll be back in a week.”


  • Mese — “Month” [m.]
    • Il mese prossimo ho un esame.
      “I have a test next month.”


  • Anno — “Year” [m.]
    • Quest’anno ho viaggiato molto.
      “I’ve traveled a lot this year.”


  • Ora — “Hour” [f.]
    • Tra un’ora sarò a casa.
      “I’ll be home in an hour.”


  • Minuto — “Minute” [m.]
    • Aspetta un minuto.
      “Wait a minute.”


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Life Event Messages: Happy Birthday in Italian & More

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

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

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Table of Contents

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

1. The Best Messages for Life Events in Italy

1- How Do You Say Happy Birthday in Italian?

Happy Birthday

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

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

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

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

How Do You Say Happy Birthday in Italian

2- What to Say in Case of Pregnancy & Birth

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

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

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

In case of a newborn:

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

italian Greeting for Life Events

3- What to Say for a Graduation

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Job

5- What to Say When Someone Retires

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

Nice things to say in case of retirement are:

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

6- Italian Congratulations: Weddings & Engagements

Marriage Proposal

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

Some things that you may say to the newlyweds are:

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

Greetings for Life Events in Italy

7- Messages in Case of a Death/Funeral

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

Some Italian phrases for condolences include:

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

8- What to Say in Case of Bad News

Basic Questions

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

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

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

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

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

10- Greetings for the Most Important Holidays in Italy

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

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

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

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

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

Merry Christmas in Italian

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

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

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