Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! What I Know…

Kathryn for
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel

Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2017?

I believe that “commonly used phrases” are the key for how we can all build fluency in any language in a short time.

If we learn how to incorporate “commonly used phrases” when we speak Italian, we will be able to express ourselves more easily and quickly. We will be on our way to building complex sentences and speaking more like we do in our native language!

This post is the 6th in a series that will originate in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group. After our group has had a chance to use these phrases, I will post them on this blog for everyone to try.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!  just click HERE.

Another of our “commonly used phrases,” that will help us talk more easily is
 “What I know..”

leading into
“Do you / Does he/she know?”

 See below for how this works.

As we all master these phrases, so will you. Try my method and let me know how it works. What sentences will you create with these phrases?

Please reply. I’d love to hear from you! Or join our Conversational Italian! group discussion on Facebook.

This material was adapted from the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and reference books  Just the Important Phrases and Just the Grammar  

                       found on and Learn Travel

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


What I Know …

in Italian

If you remember from our last blog, “Italians Know – ‘Sapere’ and ‘Conoscere’, “there are two verbs that translate into English as “I know.”  When an Italian wants to describe a fact or the knowledge of how to do something, he/she uses the verb sapere, and this is the verb that will be the topic of our blog today.


Sapere:  So, Sai, Sa

The present tense form for “I know…” from sapere is “Io so…” but of course, we leave out the subject pronoun, so the word that Italians use is conversation is just, “So…”

For the phrase, “Do you know…?” use the conjugated verb, ” (tu) Sai…?” for someone you are familiar with, or, “Lei sa…?” for someone you have just met, using the pronoun Lei in this case to be polite.

“Does she or he know?” is,(lei, lui) Sa…?In order to emphasize the masculine or feminine subject, the subject pronouns lei or lui can also be used to start the sentence in this case, but this is usually not necessary in a conversation if both speakers know who they are talking about.

Remember, there is no need to use the word “do” when asking a question in Italian.  Just these three simple, short Italian words, “so,” “sai” or “sa,” will suffice.  Use these short words to tell someone what you know or to ask what someone else knows!

“Lei sa dov’è…” which means, “Do you (polite) know where is the…?” (Or in correct English: where the… is?”) is an important phrase to know when traveling, as it is used to ask for directions.  In this case, it is customary to precede the question with the polite, “Mi scusi,” for “Excuse me.”

Here are some examples of  travel phrases that we can make with the verb sapere.           

Mi scusi, Excuse me,
…Lei sa dov’è… …(do) you (pol.) know where is…

…(do) you know where the… is?

…l’albergo? …the hotel?
…il ristorante? …the restaurant?
…la metro/metropolitana? …the subway?
…la fermata dell’autobus? …the bus stop?
…la stazione dei treni? …the train station?
…la banca? …the bank?
…l’ufficio postale? …the post office?
…il museo? …the museum?

If the answer to these questions involves a particular street, the answer you will hear will use the phrase in… via, for the English on… street.

La banca è in via Verde.           The bank is on Green Street.     

Use a similar format to ask questions about schedules using sapere when traveling.

Mi scusi, Excuse me,
…Lei sa quando… …(do) you (pol.) know when…
…arriva il treno? …the train arrives (lit. arrives the train)?
…arriva l’autobus? …the bus arrives?
…parte il treno? …the train leaves (lit. leaves the train)?
…parte l’autobus? …the bus leaves?
…apre il museo? …the museum opens (lit. opens the museum)?
…chiude il museo? …the museum closes?

Finally, here are some commonly used, everyday phrases using the verb sapere. 

Note the use of the subjunctive mode conjugation “sappia” and the imperfetto conjugation “sapevo” in our last two examples.  Commit these phrases to memory, even if you haven’t fully mastered all of the verb forms, as I am sure they will come up often in conversation.  Knowing these two verbs will also impress your Italian friends!

So (qualcosa) a memoria. I know (something) by heart.
Chi si sa?
Non si sa mai!
Who knows?
One never knows!
Come ben sai. As you well know.
Si sa che… Everyone knows that…
Non ne sa niente. He/she knows nothing about it.
Lo so. I know (it).
Non lo so. I don’t know (it).
Che io sappia.
Che lei/lui sappia?
As far as I know.
What does he/she know?
Lo sapevo! I knew it!

Remember these phrases, and I guarantee you will use them every day!


Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases
Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases (with Restaurant Vocabulary and Idiomatic Expressions) is YOUR traveling companion in Italy! All the Italian phrases you need to know to enjoy your trip to Italy are right here and fit right into your pocket or purse.


Available on and Learn Travel

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