Anyone who has studied Italian for even a short time has probably noticed how similar to English many Italian words are. This is because both languages have words with origins that date back to the Latin language spoken by the Romans. These words are called cognates – words that have a common origin and a similar meaning.
English/Italian cognates can be the best friend of one who is trying to learn either language. But beware! Not all words that sound alike have the same meaning in both languages. There is a pattern, though, and if you can recognize the different groups of cognates, this will greatly increase your vocabulary with very little effort.
For words that are similar in both Italian and English, the stem of the word will provide a clue to the actual meaning, and the ending will also follow a common pattern.
See how this works below with an excerpt reprinted from the grammar section of our Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook, courtesy of publisher Stella Lucente, LLC.
For an easy-to read reference book on grammar, the same section is found in the reference book Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar.”
Grammar Note: Cognates
Italian Nouns Ending in -tà
Some Italian -ire Verbs
The ending –tà in Italian is equivalent to the ending –ty in English.
All of the nouns in the group listed in this group are feminine and invariable; therefore, these words will take the definite article la for the singular form and le for the plural form, although the ending of these nouns remains –à. For instance, one city is la città and many cities is le città.
|facoltà||=||faculty, department course of study
For some –ire verbs, the –ire ending will be equivalent to the ending –ish in English.
If you can think of another cognate to add to either of these lists, please join our Conversational Italian! Facebook group and leave a post, or leave a message below. I’d love to hear from you!