Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! Sperare (Part 2) – What I wish for the holidays…


Kathryn for
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel

Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2018?  Well, the end-of-the year festivities and a new year are just around the corner!  I hope this blog will help you celebrate and bring good wishes to your family and friends.

As I’ve said before, 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 important feelings – like our  good wishes – just as we do in our native language!  We’ve already learned some important new conversational and  email phrases in Italian in our first blog  about the verb sperare.  Today we will expand on what we have already learned and wish a good holiday season and Happy New Year to all! Read below and you will see what I mean.

This post is the 16th in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!”  just click HERE

Many “commonly used phrases” that allow us to describe our feelings
start with the phrases
“I hope…” or  “I wish…”

 If we are hopeful for someone else,  in Italian we must say
“I  hope that…” or  “I wish that…

which will lead us to the Italian subjunctive mood.
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.

The basics of the Italian language are introduced in the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and reference books Just the Verbs 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 Wish…

For the Italian Winter Holiday Season

When an Italian wants to describe a hope or a wish  he has, either for himself or someone else, he  must use the verb sperare, and this is the verb that will be the topic of our blog today.

Sperare works a bit differently from the “typical” Italian -are verb.  To review what we’ve learned in our last blog about sperare:

  • When using the verb sperare to express a hope or a wish one person or a group has for themselves, sperare must be followed by the preposition “di”.
  • “Di” will often be followed by a verb in the infinitive form (to see, to start, etc.), which will start the phrase that follows to describe the hope or wish.

Sperare + di + infinitive verb

So, “I hope…” or, “I wish…”  would be, ” Io spero di…” But, of course, we leave out the subject pronoun in Italian, so the phrase becomes,  “Spero di…”  “We hope… ” or, “We wish…”  would be, “Speriamo di…”

Or, one can just say, “Speriamo!”  for, “Let’s hope so!” or,  “Let’s wish!” in order to express a hope or wish that is shared  with someone else.

Below are listed important Italian holidays and some common phrases that Italians use to wish each other “happy holidays”.  We will learn how to use the verb sperare for our holiday wishes in the next section.


Vigilia di Natale Christmas Eve
Natale  Christmas
Buon Natale!
Buone Feste!
Merry Christmas!
Happy Holidays!
Auguri di buon Natale!  Best wishes for a merry Christmas!
Tanti Auguri!
Best wishes!
Le tradizioni Natalizi
Le luci Natalizie Il biglietto di auguri Natalizi
Regalo di Natale
“Spero di ricevere un buon regalo di Natale dal mio fidanzato quest’anno.”
Christmas traditions
Christmas lightsChristmas greeting card
Christmas gift
“I hope/wish to receive a wonderful Christmas gift from my boyfriend this year.”


L’ultimo dell’anno New Year’s Eve
La notte di San Silvestro December 31st is the feast day of San Silvestro for the Catholic church
Capodanno New Year’s Day
Buon anno nuovo!
Buon anno!
Happy New Year!  (used most often)
Felice anno nuovo!  Happy New Year!


Catholic church holiday, which celebrates when “Wise Men” visited the baby Jesus.  In Italy, gifts are exchanged on this day.  Italian traditions: a friendly witch, La Befana, brings gifts to children, although Santa Claus is also celebrated.



Now that we are familiar with Italian end-of-the-year holidays and  greetings, lets go on and see how sperare can help us to express our good wishes. A short review is necessary from our previous blog as a reminder that…

  • When one uses the verb sperare to express a hope or a wish he has for someone else or something else, he must follow the verb with the conjunction “che”, which means “that”. In fact, the word “che” can never be left out of an Italian sentence of this type and must be used to link the two phrases!
  •  “Che” will then be followed by a verb in the subjunctive mood, which will start the phrase that follows to describe this hope or wish.

Sperare + che + subjunctive present tense verb

Just what is the “subjunctive mood”?  The subjunctive mood is the type of verb form that Italians use to express a wide range of emotions, such as hopes and wishes.

In order to express our good wishes for the holidays, we must first review the commonly used present tense form of the subjunctive mood for the verb avere, which means “to have”.

Che is included in parentheses in the first column of our table below as a reminder that these verb forms are typically introduced with  the conjunction che.  Also,  make sure to include the subject pronoun in your sentence after che for clarity, since the singular verb forms are identical. The stressed syllables have been underlined for you.

Practice the subjunctive verbs out loud by saying che , the subject  pronoun and then the correct verb form that follows!

Avereto have – Present Subjunctive Mood

(che) io abbia I have
(che) tu abbia you have
(che) Lei (che) lei/lui abbia you have
she/he has
(che) noi abbiamo we have
(che) voi abbiate you all have
(che) loro abbiano they have


Phrases of Good Wishes Using “Avere” in the Present Tense Subjunctive Mood

Example phraes that use avere (to have)  in the subjunctive mood to express good wishes are listed below.  Many of these phrases are a good way to end a conversation before departing a friend’s company.  These phrases are also commonly used to sign off emails to family and friends  in order to express hopes for a good week or weekend.

You will notice that for the phrases in the first column of the list below, the Italian verb passare, which refers to “passing time” or “spending time,” is used.   In English, the verb “to have” is used in these situations, so we must “think in Italian” in order to remember the proper Italian phrase!

Also, notice that the English translation is the same for the present tense and the Italian subjunctive forms used in the sentences below.


Present Tense
Present Tense
Subjunctive Phrase
Passa una buona settimana! Have a good week! Spero… che tu abbia una buona settimana. I hope that you have a good week!
Passa un buon fine settimana! Have a good weekend! Spero… che tu abbia un buon fine settimana. I hope that you have a good weekend!
Buona giornata.

Buona serata.

Have a good day.

Have a good evening.

Spero… che tu abbia una buona giornata/buona serata. I hope that you have a good day/evening.


Finally, in the last table of examples, we will provide Italian phrases that can be used to express good wishes for the winter holidays! In later blogs, we will discuss the subjunctive endings for passare and fare.  For now, just remember the endings to use in these often-used phrases of good wishes for the holiday season!

Present Tense
Present Tense
Subjunctive Phrase
Buon Natale!  Merry Christmas! Spero che tu passi
un buon Natale.
Spero che voi passiate
un buon Natale. 
I hope that you have a merry Christmas!

I hope that you all have a merry Christmas!

Buone feste!  Happy holidays! Spero che tu faccia  buone feste!

Spero che  voi  facciate  buone feste!

I hope that you have happy holidays!
I hope that your holidays are happy!I hope that you all have happy holidays!
I hope that your (to a group) holidays are happy!
Buon anno! Happy New Year! Spero che tu abbia
un buon anno!
Spero che voi abbiate
un buon anno!
I hope that you have a happy New Year.

I hope that you all have a happy New Year.


Remember these phrases and the Italian subjunctive mood, and I guarantee you will use them to bring good wishes to your family and friends for the holidays and every day!

Buone feste!


Learn Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers Textbook

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