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Marco: All About Italian Lesson 15 - Top Five Mistakes You Should Never Make in Italian
Marco: "Buongiorno," Marco here, and welcome back to our All About Italian lessons.
Laura: "Ciao a tutti, ci sono anch’io!" Hi, everybody. I'm here too, this is Laura!
Marco: "Ciao" Laura. What's today's lesson topic?
Laura: Today we are going to talk about the top five mistakes you should never make in Italian!
Marco: Oh, that's interesting! I always make mistakes…
Laura: Don't worry, Marco. Do you know that famous proverb we have in Italy, "sbagliando s'impara?"
Marco: Sure, I know that, it literally means "making mistakes we learn."
Laura: Exactly! Because we know that practice makes perfect. But still, there are some mistakes that can easily be avoided while learning a language.
Marco: So in this lesson you will find the top five most common mistakes that Italian language students usually make.
Laura: And we will provide you with some useful tips.
Marco: That's amazing. Let's get started!
Laura: The first common mistake involves...
Marco: Mmm, I'm sure I know it…verb agreement!
Laura: Yep! It is well known that the biggest effort while learning Italian is learning verbs and their conjugations.
Marco: We must study, study, study because verbs change their endings according to the six different subjects…
Laura: "Io," "tu," "lui/lei," "noi," "voi," and "loro."
Marco: And according to tenses like the present, the past tense, the future tense, and so on.
Laura: "Presente," "passato prossimo," and "futuro."
Marco: You know, it is very easy to make mistakes here!
Laura: Oh, even for native Italian language speakers. But using the right verb agreement definitely makes you more confident with the language.
Marco: Moreover, if we think about a normal conversation in Italian, it is also very important to watch the politeness level sentences.
Laura: That's also true. Italians tend to be formal in some situations, and using "tu," meaning "you," and "Lei," the Italian courtesy form for "you," requires the right verb agreement.
Marco: A common mistake is when talking to a professor asking "come stai?” meaning "How are you?" which refers to "tu," instead of "come sta?" which refers to "Lei."
Laura: Here, you would have made a common mistake that influences the politeness level of your speech.
Marco: Italians study verbs for years at school, but you do not have all that time to learn them!
Laura: So, first of all you might…
Marco: Practice every day. For example, you can test yourself with the vast number of exercises you can find on the web.
Laura: When talking, first think about the infinitive form of the verb, then the tense you want to change it into, and then which person you need.
Marco: When in doubt, you can check the verb in a dictionary. There are always some pages dedicated to tense templates.
Laura: Now let's move on to common mistake number two. That is?
Marco: The gender and number of Italian nouns.
Laura: Yes, Marco. "Maschile, femminile, singolare, plurale."
Marco: Especially for English speakers, gender and number agreement errors are very common! We don't need to think about that when talking in English! It's so hard!
Laura: You only need to study and get used to quickly switching the endings. Please remember that adjectives and articles change their endings according to the gender and number of the noun they refer to.
Marco: Wait a minute. There is no general rule that determines whether a noun is masculine or feminine, right?
Laura: There is a rule of thumb that says nouns ending in "-o" are masculine and nouns ending in "-a" are feminine.
Marco: However, there are several exceptions!
Laura: You're right, Marco, but to avoid these mistakes, you can do two main things.
Marco: Such as?
Laura: If the person you are speaking to and the situation allow it, consult a handy, pocket-size Italian dictionary that you can carry with you everywhere you go.
Marco: That works. I always had one with me in Italy.
Laura: And when in doubt, follow the general rule on the feminine and masculine endings for nouns.
Marco: Let's say it again. Nouns ending in "-o" are masculine (like "libro," meaning "book")…
Laura: And those ending in "-a" are feminine (like "macchina," meaning "car").
Marco: Lastly, words derived from foreign languages, such as "sport," "garage," and "sushi," are usually considered masculine in Italian.
Laura: And we have many of those words in Italian, such as "il basket" and "il meeting."
Marco: Now, let's go over the next mistake.
Laura: Okay, mistake number three is about pronunciation.
Marco: Especially the double consonant sound.
Laura: In Italian, there is a relatively small number of possible sounds. This is why there are many words that are exactly the same or almost the same but with different meanings.
Marco: The most common errors made when pronouncing Italian words, especially for English speakers, involve double consonants.
Laura: Yes, Marco. Please listen to the differences in what I'm going to say.
Marco: Let's listen together!
Laura: "Capello."
Marco: "Hair."
Laura: "Cappello."
Marco: "Hat."
Laura: Once again "capello," "cappello."
Marco: Let's try other examples.
Laura: "Pena."
Marco: "Punishment," "pain."
Laura: "Penna."
Marco: "Pen."
Laura: Once again "pena," "penna." And lastly, "fato."
Marco: "Fate."
Laura: "Fatto."
Marco: "Done."
Laura: Once again "fato," "fatto."
Marco: The question is, how can we recognize them?
Laura: First of all, you should listen carefully to your Italian teacher. Secondly, try to listen to Italian radio, watch Italian movies in the original language, and listen to Italian songs.
Marco: Besides this general advice, we will give you a list of rules that might help you recognize a double consonant sound.
Laura: There is always a double consonant after the following prefixes…"contra-," as in "contraddire."
Marco: "To contradict."
Laura: "Sovra-," as in "sovrapporre."
Marco: "To lay upon."
Laura: "Sopra-," as in "soprattutto."
Marco: "Above all."
Laura: "A-," as in "annaffiare."
Marco: "To water."
Laura: "E-," as in "eppure."
Marco: "Even so," "still."
Laura: "I-," as in "irraggiungibile."
Marco: "Unreachable," "unattainable."
Laura: "Ra-," as in "rafforzare."
Marco: "To reinforce."
Laura: "So-," as in "sorridere."
Marco: "To smile."
Laura: "Su-," as in "susseguirsi."
Marco: "To follow one after the other."
Laura: "Da-," as in "dappertutto."
Marco: "Everywhere."
Laura: "Se-," as in "sebbene."
Marco: "Although."
Laura: And lastly with "fra-," as in "frattempo."
Marco: "Meantime."
Laura: The letter "-q" is doubled only in the word "soqquadro."
Marco: "Mess," "lack of order."
Laura: The prefix "contro-" does not require any double consonants. For example…"controcorrente."
Marco: "Controcorrente," meaning "upstream."
Laura: The final part "-bile" never has a double "-b." For example…"affabile."
Marco: "Affabile," meaning "affable."
Laura: Or "comprensibile."
Marco: "Comprensibile," meaning "comprehensible."
Laura: Finally, the letters "-r" and "-g" are never doubled in words ending in "-ione." For example, "stagione."
Marco: "Stagione," meaning "season."
Laura: Or "emozione."
Marco: "Emozione," meaning "emotion." Wow, Laura, "grazie." I'm sure this was very useful for our listeners.
Laura: "Prego," but now let's continue with the top five common mistakes.
Marco: Common mistake number four is choosing between the verb “essere" or "avere."
Laura: The usage of "essere," meaning "to be," and "avere," to have" is quite challenging, isn't it, Marco?
Marco: Yes, because sometimes in some expressions, the usage of the verb "to be" or "to have" differs from English.
Laura: Such as when giving your age or when talking about hunger or thirst when socializing among Italian-speaking people.
Marco: For example, in Italian the verb "to have" is used to express someone's age.
Laura: "Io ho ventidue anni."
Marco: "I am twenty-two years old."
Laura: …and "io ho fame" means…
Marco: "I am hungry."
Laura: In both cases, the verb "avere" is used instead of the verb "essere."
Marco: Another common mistake concerns the use of "essere" or "avere" as auxiliary verbs!
Laura: Oh, you mean in order to build verbs in a compound tense like "passato prossimo," right?
Marco: Yes, Laura, that's tricky! For example, "ho mangiato" or "sono mangiato."
Laura: Haha. Well, "ho mangiato" is the correct form as it means "I've eaten," while "sono mangiato" can be understood as "I've been eaten!"
Marco: See! I told you it's not easy! What should we do?
Laura: When in doubt, the best way to find out which verb to use is to check in a good grammar book or an Italian language dictionary.
Marco: And now we've reached the last common mistake!
Laura: Yep! "Errore numero cinque." Common mistake number five for Italian language students is about…
Marco: Uh-oh, prepositions!
Laura: "Sì, Marco, le preposizioni!"
Marco: Nooooo, I knew it! Besides Italian verbs, every student of the Italian language probably says that another challenging part of this language is prepositions!
Laura: I know, I know, prepositions and their employment.
Marco: Each preposition can be used alone, "di," "a," "da," "in," etc.
Laura: The so called "preposizioni semplici."
Marco: Or attached to the definite articles like "del," "al," "nel," and so on.
Laura: Those are "preposizioni articolate."
Marco: Since there is not much logic, no reason, and no rational rules for their usage, just as in English, there are few rules and many exceptions.
Laura: However, prepositions help us better explain ourselves, figure out directions, and frankly change from speaking the basics of a language to speaking like a native.
Marco: In the case of prepositions, do we have some tips, Laura?
Laura: Sure, but only a few. Please use the preposition "a" before the name of a city, as in "a Milano" and "a New York."
Marco: Then use "in" before the name of a country, as in "in Italia" and "in America."
Laura: And before words ending in "-teca," as "in discoteca."
Marco: "Nightclub."
Laura: "In biblioteca."
Marco: "Library."
Laura: And lastly, please remember to use "al" before the following places for daily life…"al museo."
Marco: "At the museum."
Laura: "Al teatro."
Marco: "At the theater."
Laura: "Al ristorante."
Marco: "At the restaurant."
Laura: "Al supermercato."
Marco: "At the supermarket."
Laura: In a phrase like "vado al supermercato."
Marco: "I go to the supermarket."
Laura: This does it for today!
Marco: We'll be waiting for you in our next all about Italian lesson! "Ciao!"
Laura: "Ciao a tutti!"