Use the Italian Verb “Può” to Ask for… Everything!

Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

“Può” is a little Italian word that means a lot! We have been focusing on the verb può this August at the Osher Center for Lifelong Learning in Peoria, Illinois, where I was the moderator for a conversational Italian study group called “Italian for Fun and Travel.”

We can use the handy verb può, which means “could you?” to politely ask for whatever we need in Italy. With this trick, there is no need to conjugate! Read below to see how this works and for some examples.  

How many more ways can you think of to use the verb può? Please reply. I’d love to hear! Or join our Conversational Italian! group discussion on Facebook.

This material and more on this topic are available in the Conversational Italian for Travelers pocket phrase book, “Just the Important Phrases,” on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com.

The rights to purchase the Conversational Italian for Travelers books in PDF format on two electronic devices can also be obtained at Learn Travel Italian.com.

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Use the Italian Verb Può to Ask for… Everything!

Most Italians are quite friendly and helpful to tourists, especially if a polite phrase is used to initiate the conversation, such as “Mi scusi…” or “Per favore…” Once you have someone’s attention, the word, “Può?” (“Could you?” from the verb potere), when followed by an infinitive verb,* will enable you to ask politely for whatever you need.

Some examples we learned in Chapters 5 and 6 of Conversational Italian for Travelers include the phrases, Mi può dire?” (“Could you tell me?”) and “Mi può portare?” (“Could you take me?”) “Puo chiamare…?” means “Could you call…?” a taxi, for instance, or a person. And, of course, a nice way to end the conversation would be to say, “Mille grazie!”

*Remember, our Italian infinitive verbs end in -are, -ere, -ire and translate as “to be, to do,” and so on.

Può parlare… Can you speak…
…più lentamente?

…più piano?**

…more slowly?
…più forte? …more loudly?
…in inglese? …in English?
   
Può chiamare…? Can you call?
   
Può fare… Can you make…
…una prenotazione? …a reservation?
   
Può controlloare… Can you check… (for a car)
…l’olio? …the oil?
…le gomme? …the tires?
…l’acqua? …the water?
Può cambiare la gomma? Can you change the tire?
Può fare il pieno?
Il pieno, per favore!
Can you fill it up?
Fill it up, please!

**The word piano also means softly in Italian.

Mi può dire… Can you tell me…
…dov’é …where is
…la metro?*** …the subway?
…la stazione dei treni? …the train station?
…la fermata dell’autobus? …the bus stop?
…il duomo? …the cathedral?
…la piazza? …the town square?
…il museo? …the museum?
…la banca? ….the bank?
   
Mi può portare… Can you take me…
…in via Verde 23? …to 23 Green Street?
   
Mi può aiutare con… Can you help me with…
…le valigie? …the suitcases?
   

***The word metro is an abbreviation from the feminine metropolitana. 

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