Dialogue - Italian


Vocabulary (Review)

amare to love
film movie
mente mind
pensare to think
labirinto labyrinth, maze
primo first

Lesson Notes


Lesson Focus

The Focus of This Lesson Is the Presente Progressivo ("Progressive Present") and Passato Progressivo ("Progressive Past").
Ti andrebbe di venire al cinema con me?
"Would you fancy going to the cinema with me?"


We shall first consider the functioning of the two progressive present and past tenses, in Italian respectively the presente progressivo and the passato progressivo.

To convey these two tenses in Italian, we use the verb stare to translate the English "to be" plus the gerundio ("gerund") of the main verb that never changes its ending. For the presente progressivo tense, we simply use the present of the verb stare.

For Example:

  1. Sto andando a pranzo.
    "I'm going for lunch."

For the passato progressivo tense, we use the imperfetto tense of the verb stare.

For Example:

  1. Stavo uscendo quando mi hai telefonato.
    "I was going out when you called me."

We note that the gerundio of the main verb never changes its ending. The information regarding the person and the number is provided by the conjugation of the auxiliary verb stare: io stavo; tu stavi; lui stava, etc. + pensando ("I was," "you were," "he was," etc. + "thinking").

Whereas we can use the presente progressivo tense only to talk about ongoing actions that are taking place at the present moment, we can also use the passato progressivo in its extended employment to refer both to ongoing actions that took place in the past as well as to present ongoing actions. In the first case, we use the passato progressivo in its proper form, while in the latter we use it metaphorically. When Giulia says Stavo pensando al... ("I was thinking of..."), she actually means Sto pensando al ("I am thinking of...").

In Italian, we often use the expression ti andrebbe di + infinitive form to invite a friend out or to ask him or her to do something together with us. This expression is made up of the pronominal particle ti that means a te ("to you") and andrebbe, which is the condizionale presente of the verb andare ("to go"). We normally translate this in English as "do you fancy/like" + -ing form.

For Example:

  1. Ti andrebbe di andare a Rimini per il fine settimana?
    "Do you fancy going to Rimini this weekend?"

Then we have another similar expression: cosa ne dici di + infinitive form. They can be interchangeable because they have the same meaning, so if we use this expression for the sentence we have just seen, it would become Cosa ne dici di andare a Rimini per il fine settimana? ("What about going to Rimini this weekend?") Be careful because as you can see, in the dialogue the English translation is conveyed with "what about" + noun

Cultural Insights

Are You Being Fresh or Just Straightforward?


When talking about dating a person in Italy, we first have to consider the traditions and customs of the area we live in. In average-size cities, people have a more open-minded approach to life, and this general attitude also reflects their dating habits. In particular, new generation girls tend to be more aggressive, and it does sometimes happen that ladies make the first move. They obviously first need a certain degree of acquaintance with the person.

Whether or not it is the male who makes the proposal, girls expect males to respect certain unwritten rules. Males usually pick them up at their homes and then take them to a nice, upscale place. Although this might sound old-fashioned or even chauvinistic, it is customary for men to open the car's door for them. However, this should not lead us to believe that Italian girls are generally shy or timid. They like to be courted with respect but also with passion. They talk about their lives and intimate desires sometimes even on the first date, and they expect their partner to show their true selves with the same self-confidence. Bringing flowers or gifts on the first date is not common.

On the other hand, foreign girls occasionally become puzzled by the straightforwardness of Italian males, taking offense when they give unwanted and uncalled-for compliments. So long as those compliments do not cross the respect line, we should keep in mind that in Italian cultures people relate differently, look (even stare) at each other when walking in public streets, and have a "theatrical" way of performing their everyday actions. This is a sort of game in which everyone plays their own part, and it's just another aspect of the passionate Italian way of life. If we are to delve into this culture, we have to learn how to tell rude observations from sincere, honest compliments.

Lesson Transcript

Cinzia: Buongiorno a tutti. Mi chiamo Cinzia.
Marco: Marco here. Lower intermediate series, season 1, lesson 1. Are These The Best Italian Films? Buongiorno a tutti.
Cinzia: Buongiorno Marco. Come stai oggi?
Marco: Io sto bene. And we should welcome everyone to this new series called Lower Intermediate.
Cinzia: Yes today we have the new series.
Marco: And it’s going to be building up from newbie, beginner and now this lower intermediate where we will see in more detail what we saw in the previous lessons and also some more difficult grammar and topics.
Cinzia: Yes true and the dialogue will also be longer.
Marco: Yes because hey, we have a lot more to explain here.
Cinzia: Yes and much more to learn.
Marco: So with the lower intermediate series, our students can literally take their studies to a higher level.
Cinzia: Okay, okay Marco but what are we talking about today?
Marco: Well today we have two new names. First of all, Manuel and
Cinzia: Giulia.
Marco: Yes.
Cinzia: Oh new characters.
Marco: Manuel is not an Italian and he likes this girl called Giulia.
Cinzia: We don’t know where is he from?
Marco: Well we will see in a few lessons I am sure. Let’s not spoil the surprises.
Cinzia: Okay, okay who is the girl who he likes?
Marco: Well her name is Giulia and he wants to organize a date with her.
Cinzia: Oh really?
Marco: Yes. So in today’s lesson, he is going to ask her to go to the movie theater together.
Cinzia: Let’s see what movie they are going to see.
Marco: But before we start, don’t forget to
Cinzia: Check out the PDF in the learning center.
Marco: Yes I will be Manuel while Cinzia will be
Cinzia: Giulia.
Manuel: Ti andrebbe di venire al cinema con me?
Giulia: Cinema? Hmm, che film hai in mente?
Manuel: Stavo pensando al Signore degli Anelli.
Giulia: Oh, amo Viggo Mortensen.
Manuel: Cosa ne dici del Labirinto del Fauno?
Giulia: Hmm no, preferisco il primo.
Marco: Let’s hear it slowly now.
Manuel: Ti andrebbe di venire al cinema con me?
Giulia: Cinema? Hmm, che film hai in mente?
Manuel: Stavo pensando al Signore degli Anelli.
Giulia: Oh, amo Viggo Mortensen.
Manuel: Cosa ne dici del Labirinto del Fauno?
Giulia: Hmm no, preferisco il primo.
Marco: And now, with the translation.
Manuel: Ti andrebbe di venire al cinema con me?
Manuel: Would you fancy going to the cinema with me?
Giulia: Cinema? Hmm, che film hai in mente?
Giulia: Cinema? Hmm, what movie do you have in mind?
Manuel: Stavo pensando al Signore degli Anelli.
Manuel: I was thinking of "The Lord of the Rings."
Giulia: Oh, amo Viggo Mortensen.
Giulia: Oh, I love Viggo Mortensen.
Manuel: Cosa ne dici del Labirinto del Fauno?
Manuel: What about "Pan's Labyrinth?"
Giulia: Hmm no, preferisco il primo.
Giulia: Hmm…no, I prefer the first one.
Marco: Well, well, well these two people have really chosen a couple of interesting movies. Haven’t they?
Cinzia: Yes amazing movies.
Marco: Now if I am not mistaken, the Lord of the Rings fans are huge in Italy?
Cinzia: Oh they are like crazy.
Marco: Yes you can find miniatures, you are going to find anything of Lord of the Rings in Italy.
Cinzia: Yes and I actually love the Lord of the Rings. I have the PlayStation game.
Marco: Oh so you like playing games after all.
Cinzia: Oh yes of course.
Marco: Nice. The Lord of the Rings, the Trilogy has been a huge success also in Italy right?
Cinzia: Yes and actually Peter Jackson is one of my favorite directors.
Marco: Well let’s hope he is listening to our podcast then.
Cinzia: And who is your favorite character Marco?
Marco: In Lord of the Rings?
Cinzia: Yes.
Marco: I just love Gimli’s humor.
Cinzia: The Dwarf?
Marco: Yes, yes he is such a funny guy.
Cinzia: Yes he is very funny.
Marco: Come on, come on, on with the vocabulary.
Cinzia: Oh okay but we didn’t talk about labirinto del fauno.
Marco: Well next time.
Cinzia: Okay, okay.
Marco: Today’s first vocabulary is
Cinzia: Film.
Marco: Movie.
Cinzia: Film. Film.
Marco: Next word
Cinzia: Mente.
Marco: Mind.
Cinzia: Mente. Mente.
Marco: Next word
Cinzia: Pensare.
Marco: To think.
Cinzia: Pensare. Pensare.
Marco: Next word
Cinzia: Amare.
Marco: To love.
Cinzia: Amare. Amare.
Marco: Next word
Cinzia: Labirinto.
Marco: Labyrinth, maze.
Cinzia: Labirinto. Labirinto.
Marco: Next word
Cinzia: Preferire.
Marco: To prefer
Cinzia: Preferire. Preferire.
Marco: And last word
Cinzia: Primo.
Marco: First.
Cinzia: Primo. Primo.
Cinzia: Now let’s take a look at the usage for some of the words and expressions.
Marco: Okay so Cinzia what is the first word for today?
Cinzia: The first word we will look at is film.
Marco: And the first example sentence.
Cinzia: Che film vuoi vedere?
Marco: What movie do you want to watch?
Cinzia: So we have these words just like the English word film but it has a different meaning.
Marco: Well there is a simple explanation for this because film in Italian means the movie while pellicola means the physical film on which movies are recorded.
Cinzia: Exactly.
Marco: The same thing for example is pellicola fotografica means
Cinzia: Photographic film.
Marco: Yes so we are talking about the physical film, not the movie film. Is it clear?
Cinzia: Yes it’s clear and so just when we talk about movies, we say film but be careful because film doesn’t change in it is plural. So we have il fim the movie and i film the movies.
Marco: Yes because it comes from another language and we usually keep those words imported from another language in the singular form also when they are in a plural context.
Cinzia: Okay. Let’s move on to the next word.
Marco: Which is
Cinzia: Mente.
Marco: And the example sentence is
Cinzia: Lui era la mente del gruppo.
Marco: He was the mind of the group.
Cinzia: The next word we will look at is pensare.
Marco: And the example is
Cinzia: Non pensare troppo.
Marco: Don’t think too much. They often tell us this, don’t they?
Cinzia: Who are they?
Marco: Oh sorry, I mean my friends and my head, they tell me this.
Cinzia: Oh you got friends in your head.
Marco: Yeah, don’t you?
Cinzia: No.
Marco: Okay I will lend you some of mine. Let’s move on.
Cinzia: Ah thank you but I think I am okay for the moment.
Marco: I don’t know what you are missing.
Cinzia: Maybe I just don’t want to know but let’s move on and let’s see the next word which is labirinto.
Marco: And the example sentence is
Cinzia: Il labirinto di Knosso.
Marco: The Knossos Labyrinth.
Cinzia: Oh I used to like this legend.
Marco: Really the Minotaur?
Cinzia: Yes. Arianna, il filo.
Marco: Yes but no time.
Cinzia: Ah this is such a shame. Okay and the last word we will look at is primo.
Marco: And the last example sentence is
Cinzia: Noi siamo i primi e gli unici.
Marco: We are the first and only.
Cinzia: Which is so true.
Marco: We who?
Cinzia: Us.
Marco: Oh italianpod101, certainly we are.
Cinzia: Of course Marco, come on now and so now, we should see the grammar. Shouldn’t we?

Lesson focus

Marco: Yes we shall see the grammar and what are we talking about?
Cinzia: I guess it is going to be so complicated and boring.
Marco: No, no, not at all.
Cinzia: Okay this time I think I can trust you. So let’s see the grammar.
Marco: Today we are going to take a look at the progressive present and progressive past tenses. In Italian, respectively presente progressivo and passato progressivo.
Cinzia: In Italian, to convey these two tenses, we use the verb stare which literally means to stay in English but it has to be translated as to be.
Marco: Exactly. So stare in this case translated as to be plus
Cinzia: Gerundio.
Marco: The gerund of the main verb that never changes its ending.
Cinzia: Yes so if in English, we have the ing form, in Italian, we have the gerundio but let’s see an example of presente progressivo now.
Marco: Sto andando a pranzo.
Cinzia: I am going for lunch. As we can see, we have sto which is the first person singular of the verb stare plus the gerund of the verb andare, andando. So we have sto andando, I am going.
Marco: And it is sort of present progressive right?
Cinzia: Yes.
Marco: What about for the past progressive?
Cinzia: The only difference in the past progressive is just that instead of the present of the verb stare, we have the imperfetto. So we have stavo.
Marco: So for example stavo uscendo quando mi hai telefonato.
Cinzia: I was going out when you called me.
Marco: Sto uscendo, I am going out and
Cinzia: Stavo uscendo, I was going out.
Marco: So only sto and stavo change because the tense changes.
Cinzia: The present progressive, it’s very similar to presente progressivo in Italian and the only difference that we have in the passato progressivo is just regarding the imperfetto of the verb stare. So to recap for present progressive, we have the present indicative of the verb stare
Marco: Plus
Cinzia: Gerundio.
Marco: And for the passato progressivo, we have the
Cinzia: Imperfetto indicativo.
Marco: Plus
Cinzia: Gerundio.
Marco: So not so difficult.
Cinzia: No very straightforward.
Marco: Yes. Now the change subject talking about something a little bit more interesting maybe. In Italian, we often hear the expression ti andrebbe di plus the infinitive form to tell people, tell friends if they want to do something with us, invite them.
Cinzia: Yes if they are in the mood to do something with us like going out, going to the movies, going to a restaurant.
Marco: And how would you translate this in English?
Cinzia: Well, there is no literal translation because ti andrebbe comes from the verb andare to go but we of course translate it, do you fancy or do you like plus the ing form.
Marco: For example
Cinzia: Ti andrebbe di andare a Rimini per il fine settimana?
Marco: Do you fancy going to Rimini this weekend?
Cinzia: So as you can see, we use the condizionale presente, andrebbe.
Marco: Cinzia. What other expression can we use to say the same thing?
Cinzia: Oh yes, in Italian we have another expression that has the similar meaning
Marco: And it is
Cinzia: Cosa ne dici di plus the infinitive form.
Marco: For example Cosa ne dici di andare a Rimini per il fine settimana? would be
Cinzia: What about going to Rimini this weekend?
Marco: So very, very similar meanings.
Cinzia: Yes very similar meanings and they can be interchangeable.


Marco: This was a very fruitful first lesson. Wasn’t it?
Cinzia: Yes but even very interesting and fun. See you next time.
Marco: And don’t forget to check the learning center.
Cinzia: Grazie a tutti, ciao ciao.
Marco: Ciao.