“Prego” is Italian for “You’re welcome” and so much more!

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Most everyone who is familiar enough with Italian culture to want to visit Italy will know a few basic Italian words, like grazie” for “thank you,” for instance. But what is the proper reply?  Why, it is the word “prego,” of course! Anyone who visits Italy, even for a short time, will certainly hear the Italian word prego, and in more situations than they might expect at first!

Here is a summary, adapted from our pocket book Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Important Phrases © 2014, of the many ways the word prego is used in Italian,  which was shared with our Conversational Italian! Facebook group this month.

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How to Use “Prego”

Prego is the direct response to grazie and means, “You’re welcome.” It is derived from the verb of politeness pregare, which has several meanings.

Pregare can be translated as “to pray,” which lends itself to the connotation of asking or requesting something. English phrases like, “I pray of you,” “I beg of you,” or “Pray tell,” carry the same idea, although these are no longer commonly used.

In a similar way, a simple, “Prego…” can also be used, usually with a gesture,* to address someone when on line in a crowded place, as in, “Go ahead of me, I beg you, if you please…”

“Sono pregati di” is a polite expression derived from pregare that may also be heard when someone in charge, such as a flight attendant or tour guide, for instance, is directing a group of people.

Finally, if an Italian waiter comes to your table at a restaurant with a wonderful dish for you to try, he may put it in front of you with a flourish and say, “Prego!” as in “There you go!”

Below is a summary of all the uses of that short, simple Italian word with many uses: “Prego!”

Prego. You’re welcome.
Prego…  If (you) please…
Sono pregati di…  Are requested/asked/begged to…
Prego! There you go!

*To really learn Italian, one must also learn the gestures that are a part of the language!

Just the Important Phrases from Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” (with Restaurant Vocabulary and Idiomatic Expressions)

Available on Amazon.com and www.Learn Travel Italian.com

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