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Marco: All About Italian Lesson 5 – The Top Five Must Know Italian Phrases
Marco: Welcome back to ItalianPod101.com, the place to learn and to love Italian. In this lesson, we are taking years of experience in Italy and boiling it down to a few essential phrases that are a great place to start in Italian.
Laura: Yes, these are real-life Italian words that will help you every day!
Marco: Words that you'll be really glad you learned. We'll teach you not only the phrases, but more important, when and where to use them.
Laura: So where should we begin?
Marco: Well, first we want to make sure that we're polite.
Laura: Yes. I mean, there's a set of rules and steps that you should follow when you're in Italy and you are introducing yourself to somebody.
Marco: So what's the first-step word?
Laura: It's "ciao." I think it's so famous that it's being used in the United States as well as in other countries worldwide. It translates as "hi," but its meaning can change slightly depending on the situation.
Marco: It could be used even when saying good-bye, right?
Laura: Yes. Usually for that we double it, like "ciao ciao," but saying it once will work as well.
Marco: So that would work even in formal situations?
Laura: No, "ciao" is a pretty informal word. For formal situations, we usually say the equivalent of "good morning," "buon giorno," to greet people.
Marco: Oh, yes, I see.
Laura: Next, we have "piacere!"
Marco: What does that mean?
Laura: It's the equivalent of "nice to meet you," but it literally means "it's a pleasure."
Marco: So when meeting someone new, saying "ciao, piacere" all at once should work, right?
Laura: Yes, that's it. However, we don't use "piacere" when parting from people. It is used just when you meet as a greeting.
Marco: Okay! I see. So now that we've learned how to go through the first step and break the ice, we should learn how to thank somebody, right?
Laura: That's the next pair of words.
Marco: Why in pair?
Laura: Because they are often used in this way. The first word is "grazie."
Marco: "Thanks" or "thank you," right?
Laura: Yes. Italians say "grazie" pretty often, so better to learn it quickly!
Marco: Are there any particular cases in which you should use "grazie?"
Laura: Well, it's a good word to use, say, if someone does something for you or gets you something. Then you can say "grazie."
Marco: And…
Laura: You could use it to partly apologize for the trouble that a person went through to help you.
Marco: Oh, that's nice.
Laura: So the answer to that, the English "you're welcome," is "prego."
Marco: "Prego," short and easy to remember.
Laura: Yes. "Prego" could be used in response to a request and is also good to use if you want someone to go ahead of you or do something before you.
Marco: For example?
Laura: Like if you open the door for someone…
Marco: Or if you offer someone your seat on the train…
Laura: Or if you're at a restaurant and your friends' food comes before yours and you want them to go ahead…
Marco: Yeah, I think "go ahead" is a good translation of this word.
Laura: Any time you want someone else to "go ahead," you can use "prego."
Marco: Wow, that sounds really Italian.
Laura: The next phrase we want to cover is "scusa" or "mi scusi."
Marco: Meaning…?
Laura: They both mean "excuse me."
Marco: Oh, I see. So, we should use "mi scusi" when asking something of somebody we don't know, right?
Laura: Yes. "Scusa" instead could be used for the same purpose but used with our friends or relatives.
Marco: “Mi scusi” is used in formal Italian and conversely “scusa” is used on casual occasions.
Laura: Yes. And you can use it also to get someone's attention…like to call the waiter over at a restaurant, get the attention of a shop clerk, or get the attention of a passerby you want to ask a question.
Marco: Yeah, that makes sense.
Laura: And if you don't catch what someone says to you, you can use "scusa?" or "mi scusi?" to show that you didn't catch what that person said.
Marco: Oh, I see.
Laura: Yeah, you do hear those two expressions a lot in Italy. Let's just remember not to mix up formal and informal too much, which could be rude.
Marco: Okay, let's try to remember while we move on to the last word!
Laura: The last phrase we'll cover is "per favore!"
Marco: Ooh, this one is famous as well. You will hear it quite often.
Laura: Definitely. The meaning of this phrase is simply "please."
Marco: Yes, you can use it when you're asking a favor or making a request of some kind, so it's like asking "please?"
Laura: You can also use it to ask for something, as in a tangible object. The thing that you are asking for comes before "per favore." For example, if you go to a café, you can say "un caffè, per favore?" which means "a coffee, please?"
Marco: Yeah, it's a pretty easy way to ask for something. When you're just starting out in Italian, that's probably how you're going to be using it.
Laura: I think that just about does it for today!
Marco: We've gone over our top five must-know phrases in Italian. Let's recap them before we go. What did we study?
Laura: "Ciao," meaning "hello" and "bye-bye."
Marco: "Piacere," meaning "nice to meet you."
Laura: "Grazie," meaning "thank you."
Marco: “Scusa” or “mi scusi,” meaning "excuse me."
Laura: "Per favore," meaning "please."
Marco: Knowing these will take you a long way. So keep those phrases in mind, and we'll see you next time! Ciao!
Laura: Ciao ciao!