Learn Italian Cognates— The last of our Italian/English Best Friends!

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

As we’ve discussed  about Italian -English cognates before… anyone who has studied Italian for even a short time has probably noticed how many Italian words are very similar to English. 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.

Italian-English 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, your vocabulary will greatly increase with very little effort.

For words that are similar in 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

Adjectives Ending in -oso(a), -ia, -ica


Many adjectives that describe personality traits are cognates that end in oso or -osa in Italian, which corresponds to the English -ous.

ambizioso(a) = ambitious
corragioso(a) = courageous
curioso(a) = curious
generoso(a) = generous
nervoso(a) = nervous
spiritoso(a) = funny, witty, facetious



The ending ia in Italian is equivalent to the ending y in English.



biologia = biology
famiglia = family
filosofia = philosophy
fisiologia = physiology
geologia = geology
psicologia = psychology
radiologia = radiology



The ending –ica in Italian is equivalent to the endings –ic or –ics in English.

musica = music
politica = politics
repubblica = republic


If you can think of another cognate to add to 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!


Just the Grammar from Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Grammar

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

2 thoughts on “Learn Italian Cognates— The last of our Italian/English Best Friends!

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