Let’s Talk About… An Italian Christmas Celebration

Photo of two Conversational Italian for Travelers books downloaded on smart phones with smiling snow man next to the books.
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Buon Natale a tutti voi!

Christmastime is a magical time in Italy. The colorful decorations and holiday lights that adorn every Italian town bring with them a feeling of celebration that inspires children and adults alike. Italians of Jewish faith celebrate Chanukah in December as well, with glowing candles that bring their own special beauty to the December evenings. Chanukah was celebrated earlier this month, and if you’d like to learn more about how Chanukah is celebrated in Italy, please visit the blog “Our Italy — Celebrating Chanukah in Italy. 

 

But what really makes the December holidays special,
both in Italy and around the world? For most, it is the gathering of family and friends. 

For 2021, my hope is that all people who celebrate the Christmas holiday (le vacanze di Natale) or another holiday of their faith this December, can gather with their loved ones. As of this writing, there is a good possibility that the new normal will continue to expand to include Christmas parties (le feste di Natale) and gatherings for Chanukah dinners, instead of online meetings where people are together, yet distant. Extended families and friends should be able to celebrate the joy of being in each others’ presence and even have the opportunity to introduce new friends to old ones during the holidays  for 2021.

This post is the 52nd 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” in Italian

are used during the 
Christmas  Holiday Season

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 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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Christmas in Italy

There are several important holidays that Italians celebrate during the Christmas season (periodo di Natale), which begins on December 8th with L’Immacolata and ends on January 6th with L’Epifania. The feast of Santa Lucia on December 13th is also an important holiday in northern Italy and this saint day is celebrated with candles, special pastries, and presents for children who have been good during the year.

 

Young girl with ring of candles on her head celebrating Santa Lucia Day
Young girl celebrating Santa Lucia Day

See the table below for a list of the important celebrations that take place in Italy during the Christmas season and some common phrases that Italians use to wish each other “happy holidays.” We first encountered these phrases in our blog What I wish… for the holidays! 

L’Immacolata Feast of the Immaculate Conception: Catholic holiday that celebrates mother Mary. 
Vigilia di Natale
Natale
Christmas Eve
Christmas
Buon Natale!
Buone Feste!
Merry Christmas!
Happy Holidays!
Auguri di buon Natale! Best wishes for a merry Christmas!
Tanti Auguri! / Auguri! Best wishes!
Il biglietto di auguri Natalizi
Regalo di Natale

 

 

Christmas greeting card
Christmas gift

 

 

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!
L’Epifania Epiphany: Catholic holiday that celebrates when “Wise Men” visited the baby Jesus. In Italy, gifts are exchanged on this day.   Italian tradition holds that a friendly witch, La Befana, brings gifts to children on this day, although Santa Claus is also celebrated.

 

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 An Italian Holiday Party Conversation

 

When at a holiday party where Italian is spoken,
one will surely encounter the introductory phrases and  polite responses below.

Introductions:

The most common Italian introduction at a gathering is a familiar phrase — a phrase used when a person introduces one of their friends to another. For example, let’s assume Pietro and Caterina are friends. Pietro wants to introduce Caterina to another of his friends, Paolo. He will do this with the simple sentence, “Caterina, ti presento il mio amico Paolo.” Pietro uses the informal “ti” since he is already friends with Caterina, the person to whom he is speaking. 

In a more formal situation, Pietro may want to introduce someone he does not know well to one of his friends. In this case, if Pietro is addressing a woman, he will need to use “Le” (“polite you” indirect object pronoun). To stay in the polite mode of conversation, Pietro will likely introduce one guest to another using their last names with a polite title, such as Signor (Mr.), Signora (Mrs.), or Signorina (Miss).

Keep in mind that in English we do not use the same sentence structure as in Italian, so the English translation of these phrases will not follow the Italian word for word. We may start out with “Let me” or “I would like to” and then add “introduce you to…” Also, in an informal situation, English speakers in America tend to omit the “Let me introduce you to” altogether! Instead, an English speaker might just say something like, “Kathy, meet my friend Paul.”

Several options to use when making an introduction are listed below.

Caterina, ti presento il mio amico Paolo.

Kathy, let me introduce you to my friend Paul.
Kathy, meet my friend Paul.

 

Signor Rossi, Le presento il Signor Manzini.

Mr. Rossi, let me introduce you to Mr. Manzini.

Signora Rossi, Le presento il Signor Manzini.

Mrs. Rossi, let me introduce you to Mr. Manzini.

Signorina Rossi, Le presento il Signor Manzini.

Miss Rossi, I would like to introduce you to Mr. Manzini.

 

Responses:

At first glance, the responses to an Italian introduction listed below may seem a bit complicated, because they have several variations. The most important key to understanding which of these variations to choose is the formality of the situation. 

In the initial phrases in this table, “Piacere di conoscerla and “Piacere di conoscerti, the difference between the two phrases will depend on whether one is speaking in the polite (pol.) or the familiar (fam.). The polite phrases are given first in our example list, as it is the norm in Italy to use the polite form with a new acquaintance. The familiar form of this phrase is often be used between younger people, who tend to be less formal, and may also be appropriate among older adults of the same age or social status. If you need a refresher on when to use polite and formal Italian phrases, please refer to our blog Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! – Getting from polite to familiar with “Dare del tu.”

The other reason there are so many variations to learn when introductions are made is the Italian use of masculine and feminine nouns and adjectives.  Every Italian student learns early on that nouns and adjectives must agree in gender and number.*  At first, it may not be obvious that one is using an adjective at the beginning of the sentence, Lieto(a) di conoscerla/ti,” since these phrases are used so often in Italy that the subject and verb of the sentence, “I am…” have been left out! The full sentence, “I am delighted to meet you,” though, makes it clear that the verb essere (to be) is in use, and of course the ending for the adjective lieto(a) for delighted must reflect back to the gender of the speaker to make sense. 

The easiest thing for the Italian student to do, of course, is to pick out the phrase that corresponds to their own situation and memorize the endings. But these phrases provide a good opportunity to learn how to change Italian endings quickly and easily and can provide a pattern for more complicated sentences. For the examples below, the verbs are in green, the polite/familiar pronouns in red, masculine adjectives in blue and feminine adjectives in brown.

Piacere di conoscerla.
Piacere di conoscerti.

Pleased to meet you (pol.).
Please to meet you (fam.).

Piacere mio.

The pleasure is mine.

Lieto di conoscerla.
Lieta di conoscerla.
Lieto di conoscerti.
Lieta di conoscerti.

Delighted (masc. speaker) to meet you (pol.).
Delighted (fem. speaker) to meet you (pol.).
Delighted (masc. speaker) to meet you (fam.).
Delighted (fem. speaker) to meet you (fam.).

Molto lieto!
Molto leita!

Delighted! (masc. speaker)
Delighted! (fem. speaker)

Sono molto contento di vederla.
Sono molto contenta di vederla.
Sono molto contento di vederti.
Sono molto contenta di vederti.

(I) am very happy (masc. speaker) to see you (pol.).
(I) am very happy (fem. speaker) to see you (pol.).
(I) am very happy (masc. speaker) to see you (fam.).
(I) am very happy (fem. speaker) to see you (pol.).

Sono felice di riverderla.
Sono felice di rivederti.

(I) am happy to see you (pol.) again.
(I) am happy to see you (fam.) again.

*Italian nouns are assigned a gender, either masculine or feminine. Italian adjectives, which modify nouns, will change their endings to match the noun modified. In general, Italian nouns will end in -o if masculine and -a if feminine. A noun that ends in -e can be either masculine or feminine. There are, of course, many exceptions to these rules!

 

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Below is an excerpt from the Conversational Italian for Travelers story found on the website www.learntravelitalian.com.  This short dialogue will allow us to put together all we have discussed about what to say when introducing and meeting others at an Italian holiday party. In this dialogue, Pietro introduces his cousin Caterina to his friends Luigi and Paolo. This simple conversation uses phrases that are repeated over and over again at Italian gatherings of every type.

At the end of the dialogue printed here is a common transition phrase that takes Caterina into the familiar form with Pietro’s friends, “Diamoci del tu, per favore!” We have discussed this phrase and others used to make the transition from a polite to a formal situation in a previous blog, “Getting from Polite to Familiar in Italian with ‘Dare del tu!'”  With this simple line, a friendly conversation can truly begin! To listen to the remainder this conversation in its entirety, just click on the link It’s a Party! 

 

Pietro:

Caterina, ti presento il mio amico Paolo.

 

Kathy, (I) introduce to you (fam.) my friend Paul.

   

Caterina:

Piacere di conoscerla.

 

(It is a) pleasure to meet you (fam.).

 

(Caterina uses the polite form for a person she has just met,
even though Paolo is Pietro’s friend.)

   

Pietro:

E questo è il mio amico Luigi.

 

And this is my friend Louis.

   

Caterina:

Piacere.

 

(It is) a pleasure.

 

 

Luigi:

Piacere mio. Io sono professore dell’italiano, come Pietro.

 

Paolo è un medico.

 

(The) pleasure is mine. I am (an) Italian professor, like Peter.

 

Paul is a physician.

 

 

Caterina:

Molto interessante.

 

Very interesting.

   

Paolo:

Io sono di Novara, una città vicino a Milano.

 

Diamoci del tu, per favore!

 

I am from Novara, a town near to Milan.

 

Let’s use the familiar form of you with each other, please!

 

(Paolo officially asks if he can use the familiar,
or “tu” form with Caterina.)

 

 

Caterina:

Va bene. Volentieri!

 

O.K. Gladly!

Warm wishes for a Merry Christmas
and a Happy New Year
filled with treasured time
together with family and friends!

Auguri a tutti voi!

Photo of two Conversational Italian for Travelers books downloaded on smart phones with smiling snow man next to the books.
Make it a “Conversational Italian” Christmas! “Just the Phrases” makes a great stocking stuffer. Or Just download the Conversational Italian for Travelers books on your phone for easy reference anywhere you go! Download at www.learntravelitalian.com. Purchase books at Amazon.com

Our Italy — Celebrating Chanukah in Italy

Images of all the things for a traditional Chanukah celebration are presented with "Happy Hanukkah" in the center of the image.
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Ciao a tutti! Since 2020, I have been posting the series of blogs called, “Our Italy.” In this series, I share bloggers’ experiences of Italy, a country whose culture has captivated the world for thousands of years. I think now is the time to share these memories, especially since now some of us have started to return, inspired anew by the Italian people and their land.

Today I am happy to share a blog of my own about how Italians celebrate Chanukah. Read on for a bit of history about how the Jewish community was established in Rome and the special way they celebrate Chanukah today.

Afterwards, please enjoy a recipe for how to make fried chicken courtesy of the Italian Jewish community in Rome, Pollo Fritto alla Giudia, a delicious main dish that is traditional for Chanukah and can be enjoyed any time of the year.  Watch me make this special fried chicken on a short Instagram video if you like at Conversationalitalian.french!

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Chanukah in Italy

The Jewish holiday Chanukah, also known as the festival of lights (le feste delle luci), is celebrated for a period of 8 days, and on today’s calendar falls sometime in the month of December. On the Hebrew calendar, (based on the phases of the moon), Chanukah begins on the evening of the 25th day of the ninth month, which is the month of Kislev.  This holiday is also commonly spelled Hanukkah when translated into English from the Hebrew (l’ebraico) characters.  During Chanukkah, those of Jewish faith set aside eight days to commemorate the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem in 165 BCE. It is said that a miracle occurred at that time, when only a small amount of Holy oil found in the temple, enough for only one day, burned for instead for eight days.

The date of the Chanukah celebration will change each year on the Gregorian calendar we use today (which is based on the sun).  In 2021, Chanukah will begin the evening of November 28 and end on the evening of December 6. It should be no surprise that Chanukah is celebrated in Italy, since the first Jewish settlers arrived in Rome from their homeland in Israel as far back as 160 BCE, after fleeing from the rule of the Syrian King Antiochus. The Jewish settlement in Rome is probably the oldest outside of the Middle East in the world. In 1555, by decree of Pope Paul IV, the Jewish people of Rome (gli ebrei) were enclosed within the walls of  a portion of Rome situated across the Tiber River. This area (quartiere ebraico) came to be called the Jewish ghetto (ghetto) in reference to the poor living conditions at the time, but it was, and still is, the center of Jewish life in Rome today. Other ancient Jewish settlements can be found in Venice, Milan, Florence,  Palermo and in many other cities in Sicily.

 

Images of all the things for a traditional Chanukah celebration are presented with "Happy Hanukkah" in the center of the image.
The Hanukkah or Chanukah celebration includes a religious ceremony with the lighting of Menorah each night, traditional fried foods for dinner and sweet foods for dessert, games played with a dreidel (spinning top) and presents. 

Image by kristyna_pixel from Pixabay

 

To celebrate Chanukah, those of the Jewish faith gather with the family each evening before dinner to say prayers and light a special candelabra with nine arms, called a Menorah (candelabro ebraico a nove bracci).  The ninth candle, from the tallest arm in the center of the Menorah, is lit first and then used to light the other eight. One additional candle is lit each night, until the entire Menorah is glowing on the last night. In Rome, there is a grand, 20 foot tall Menorah in the Jewish section at Piazza Barberini that is lit every year and followed by a street party with dancing. At home, children are typically given one present (un regalo) each evening and play with a Driedel, which is a type of spinning top (una trottola) with Hebrew letters on each side. To wish someone a Happy Chanukah in Italian simply say, “Auguri!” (Best wishes!), “Buon Chanukah!” or Felice Chanukah!” 

 

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The Italian Chanukah Dinner 

As with all holidays celebrated in Italy, there are traditional Italian foods served at  Chanukah dinners each night, with an emphasis on fried foods, including Italian fried chicken (Pollo Fritto). This fried chicken is first marinated in olive oil with garlic and lemon,  then rolled in flour and dipped in beaten egg to create a light coating before  frying. See below for the recipe and a link to conversationalitalian.french to watch a video as I fry up this simple but delicious way to make fried chicken. 

Brisket (la punta di petto) is also popular. Simple accompaniments include applesauce, bread, and dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and sour cream.

Special Italian side dishes (contorni) popular for Chanukah have existed for centuries in the Roman Jewish culinary history and include artichokes and eggplants fried in olive oil and garlic (Carciofi alla Giudia and Melanzane alla Giudia). Unfortunately for those of us who live outside of Italy, the variety of Italian artichoke that is necessary to make Carciofi alla Giudia is not usually available. This particular variety of artichoke is small, and all leaves are tender, so it can be flattened and then fried whole.  

Traditional dishes served throughout the world for Chanukah are also served in Italy, and include latkes, or potato fritters (Frittelle di Patate) and blintzes, or fried crepes filled with cheese. (Crepes al Formaggio Fritte).

A typically Italian Chanukah dessert is a pie with ricotta and cherry or chocolate chip filling (Torta di Rocotta). Other popular Italian desserts include fried donuts, poppy seed cookies shaped like stars, or fried bread shaped like a diamond and flavored with anise and raisins (Fritelle de Chanuka)

 

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Pollo Fritto alla Giudia

(Roman Style Fried Chicken)

Bowl of crispy, golden brown fried chicken made Roman style.
Fried Chicken Roman Style for Chanukah — crispy, golden brown and ready to serve.

Ingredients
(Serves 4)

One frying chicken, cut into serving pieces
Olive oil for frying

For the marinade:
1/2 cup olive oil
1 large clove of garlic, chopped finely
1 lemon, juiced
1 bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper

For the coating:

flour to coat the chicken
2  large eggs

 

Method

Rinse the frying chicken and pat dry. (Note: make sure to use a frying chicken, which will have a breast that is small enough to finish cooking at the same time as the rest of the chicken pieces.)

Cut the frying chicken into serving pieces as follows: (1) separate the legs from the thighs, (2) Cut each breast along the breast bone lengthwise and then in half crosswise to make 4 pieces of breast meat total, (3) cut the tips off the wings and discard the tips. 

Make the marinade by combining all ingredients and pour over the chicken pieces. Roll each piece of chicken so it is coated with the marinade and then let rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Remove the chicken, rinse off the marinade and pat dry.

Set two shallow dishes next to each other, one with flour and the second with 2 eggs. Lightly beat the eggs with a fork. 

Heat oil halfway up a large (10-12″), deep frying pan. (A deep fryer works as well, of course, if you have one.) Check that the oil is hot enough for frying by sprinkling with a tiny drop of water. When the water fizzles, the oil is ready. Do not over heat the oil or it will start to smoke.

Salt and pepper the chicken lightly. Then dredge in flour. Shake off excess flour and then roll in egg mixture.

Immediately put into the hot oil and fry, turning every 5 – 10 minutes to make sure the chicken cooks evenly. 

Cooking time will vary between 30 and 40 minutes, depending on the temperature of the oil and piece of meat. Generally, wings will cook the most quickly, then drumsticks, thighs, and breasts. I always pierce thicker pieces with a thin knife to make sure juices run clear and are safe to eat. 

Cook until chicken coating is a dark, golden brown. 

Remove from heat, pat with  paper towels and then  drain on more paper towels or on a baking rack if you have one.

Sprinkle with a pinch of salt if desired.

Serve your fried chicken while hot with applesauce and potatoes of your choice!

 

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Visit www.learntravelitalian.com for more of my Italian and Italian-American recipes, cultural notes and  advanced Italian language blog posts updated monthly. Click on the link “our blog” in the upper right hand corner to reach blog.Learn Travel Italian.com.

Thanksgiving Appetizers for an Italian-American Dinner

Still life with pumpkins and a basket and Black Eyed Susans in a vase
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Thanksgiving appetizers — a few bites to nibble on while the main meal is being prepared — are great for guests and keep up a cook’s energy in the kitchen as well!

The Italian method of topping a slice of crusty Italian bread with a savory treat works well for Thanksgiving. Below are two recipes for crostini toppings that can be prepared ahead of time. The first is a white bean puree and prosciutto with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. The second crostini topping is my version of a liver appetizer that I had once during lunch at a farmhouse in Tuscany, using turkey liver and caramelized onions.

If you have a chance during this busy time, leave a note and let me know what your Italian-American Thanksgiving will be like this year. Does your family make pasta along with the turkey? Or even skip the turkey entirely?

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

Buona Festa del Ringraziamento!
Happy Thanksgiving!

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Thanksgiving Appetizers


Crostini with turkey liver and caramelized onions

 

Bake the crostini:

Slice the bread thinly and brush with olive oil.
Rub a piece of garlic on the bread or brush a very little bit of garlic in the jar on the bread.
Bake in the oven at 400° until the edges brown.

Caramelize the onions:

For 1 medium onion: Cut the onion into thin, small crescents as follows:
Cut the onion crosswise. Put cut side down and cut in half lengthwise. Continue to cut slivers of onion lengthwise to form small, thin crescents of onion.
Put the onion slices into a frying pan with 1 Tb butter, 1 Tb olive oil, and a pinch of salt.
Cook on low heat, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes, until onions have completely softened and lightly browned.

Cook the turkey liver:

Rinse the turkey liver and put it into a small frying pan with 1 Tb butter and 1 Tb olive oil.
Add a small clove of garlic that has been crushed.
Heat the liver and garlic over medium high heat, turning to brown the liver and then reduce heat to medium/medium low in order to cook through.
Remove garlic.
When the liver is just cooked through (cut in half to check), add 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar or Marsala wine and turn the liver in the vinegar.
Let cool. Break up the liver with a fork into small crumbles.

Assemble the crostini:

For each piece of garlic toast: Put onions and then cover with liver crumbles.

Crostini with turkey liver and caramelized onions

Bake the crostini as in the first recipe

Prepare the beans:

Put the following into a small saucepan:
1 (15 oz.) can of white beans, 4 fresh sage leaves, 1 clove of garlic, smashed (skin off)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt/white pepper
A little water, and more water as needed for cooking.
Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer.
Cook about 30 minutes or more so flavors can blend.
Cook off most of water by the end so puree won’t be too thin.
Off heat, remove garlic. Puree beans.
Adjust salt/pepper and swirl in 1 Tb extra virgin olive oil.

Assemble the crostini:

For each piece of garlic toast:
Put white bean puree on bottom of toast and then top with prosciutto curled up.
Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

 

Buona Festa del Ringraziamento!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Conversational Italian for Travelers books are shown side by side, standing up with "Just the Verbs" on the left and "Just the Grammar" on the right
Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar” and “Just the Verbs” books: Available on  amazon.com  and Learn Travel Italian.com
The cover of Conversational Italian for Travelers "Just the Important Phrases" book is viewed on a smartphone
Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” book downloaded onto a cell phone from www.learntravelitalian.com

 

 

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! — The many uses of the Italian verb “Tenere”

Colorful homes on a block in Burano with a garden and a park bench out front
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2021? 

Many Italian verbs have a similar use to those in English, which simplifies translation from one language to the other. However, many times the meaning of an Italian verb will vary  from the usual English connotation.  And in many situations, the same verb can have several different meanings in both languages, depending on the context. Tenere (along with its reflexive form tenersi, and the pronominal verb tenerci) is one of those verbs that is used in many ways in Italian and is important to “keep in mind” if one wants to use it correctly.

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 use the Italian verb tenere, we will be able to communicate just as we do in our native language!

This post is the 51st 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” in conversation

use the Italian verb
tenere.

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 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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Let’s Talk About…

The Many Uses of the  Italian Verb

Tenere

The Italian verb tenere has a wide range of meanings and its use lends a bit of sophistication to one’s Italian. It is important to “keep in mind” the nuances of the verb tenere to create sentences as we would in our native language.

The Italian verb tenere is most often translated into English as “to hold” or “to keep.”  It can be used in a simple way, to describe holding an object or holding another’s hand. As in English, the verb tenere can also mean “to hold,” with reference to capacity, as in how many objects or people can occupy or be contained in a certain space or place. The word “hold” in English can also take on the connotation of “to support” something (as a column holds up a roof) or someone (as a fan supports his team). So it is with tenere, which can mean “to support.”

Tenere is an important verb to use when dining at an Italian restaurant to tell someone to “keep the change.” 

When the verb tenere is combined with the phrase “conto di,”  it takes on different shades of meaning. [Tenere + conto di] is used to describe the concepts of keeping something in mind, keeping track of something, or being aware of something. The phrase can also have the connotation of considering or taking to heart important issues.

Combining the verb tenere with conto che,as in [tenere + conto che],  adds yet another nuance to the original ideas of “to keep” or “to hold,” and is used to convey the idea of to consider. [Tenere in conto + noun] means to consider something.

Tenersi, the reflexive form of tenere, is also often used in the important everyday phrase “keep/stay in contact” and is a nice way to end a conversation or an email with a friend. Tenersi is often used when giving another instructions to hang/hold onto something or abide by/follow certain rules and regulations. If your emotions get the best of you and you can’t keep from laughing or crying, then use [tenersi + da] to get this point across!

There are many common Italian expressions that combine tenere with the preposition “a.” A few of these expressions will be listed in example sentences below.

When the verb tenere is combined with the preposition “a” and an adverb or adjective, as in [tenere +a +molto] the meaning changes once again. [Tenere + a] means to care about someone or something. You might think of using tenere in this way as being similar to the English phrase “to hold someone dear.” Consider also that the adjective tenero(a) is used to describe the following characteristics: tender, sensitive, or warm. For full emphasis, the pronominal verb tenerci followed by “a” [tenerci + a] can be used to stress the importance of something. A description of pronominal verbs and their uses is beyond the scope of this blog, but rest assured, if you add the pronoun “ci” before “tengo a,” you are telling someone that something is important to you!

Finally, in some important Italian phrases, tenere can be used interchangeably with the verb avere, and take on the meaning of “to have.”* Using tenere in this manner is a subtle way to emphasize that you are “keeping” or “holding close” the thing that you have.

 


Let’s talk about how to conjugate tenere in the present, past, and future tenses before using it in some example sentences. 

Present tense: tenere is an irregular -ere verb in the present tense, since it has an irregular stem in all forms but the noi and voi forms. The present tense conjugation is below. The irregular stem is in brown:

io

tengo

tu

tieni

Lei,lei,lui

tiene

noi

teniamo

voi

 tenete

loro

tengono

Past tense: When used in the passato prossimo to describe a single event, avere is the helping verb and the past participle is tenuto

Tenere is regular in the imperfetto past tense (tenevo, tenevi, teneva, tenevamo, tenevate, tenevano).

 

Future tense: Tenere is irregular in the future tense due to it’s irregular stem. 

io

terrò

tu

terrai

Lei,lei,lui

terrà

noi

terremo

voi

 terrete

loro

terranno


 

1. Use tenere to describe the simple act of holding something or holding someone’s hand.

  • Tenere can also be used to refer to the capacity of something, or “how much” a certain thing or a place can hold.
  • Tenere can mean “to support” something or somebody.
Tieni stretto questo biglietto; tienilo in mano; non lasciarlo!
Hold this ticket tightly; hold it in your hand; don’t lose it!
 
Mi piace tenere la mano del mio fidanzato quando camminiamo in piazza.
I like to hold my fiance’s hand when we take a walk in the piazza.

     

    L’Allianz Stadium a Torino tiene 41,507 spettatori.*
    The Allianz Stadium in Turin holds 41,507 spectators.
     
    Ho raccolto tutti i fiori che posso tenere in una mano!
    I have collected all the flowers that I can hold in one hand!

     

    Vengo da Turino. Tengo per la Juve / Tifo per la Juve. **
    I am from Turin. I support/root for the Juventus soccer team.
     
    Le mure sono molto vecchie. Grazie di Dio le colanne tiene il tetto!
    The walls are very old. Thank goodness the columns support the roof!

    * Regarding the use of tenere with  the meaning of “to have/to own/to possess”: the verb tenere is used mostly in the south of Italy, while in the north they would simply use the verb avere (example: Lo stadio ha 41,507 spettatori.).

    **Regarding the use of tenere to describe support for a sports team: “tengo per” is used in the south of Italy. “Tifo per” is used in the north.

     

    2. Use tenere to mean “to keep” — the simple act of keeping something in a place. 

    • In a restaurant, a common phrase spoken by the customer to the waiter in both English and Italian is, “Keep the change!” In Italian, the polite command (subjunctive) form of tenere is used for this phrase, often with the addition of the Italian word pure which serves to encourage the server to keep the tip. Use of the subjunctive is beyond the scope of this blog. Just memorize this simple phrase, which should come up often!
      Tengo gli attrezzi per cucinare di là.
      I keep the cooking utensils over there.
       
      Tenga pure il resto!
      Keep the change, please!

       

      3. Use [tenere + conto di] with the figurative meanings listed below. 

      • to keep something in mind
        • [tenere a mente] also means “to keep something in mind”
      • to keep track of something
      • to consider (See also #4, listed below)
        • [tenere in conto + noun] and [tenere conto che] also mean “to consider”
        • “non tenere in sufficiente considerazione a…”  means
          not to give sufficient consideration to…
      • to take to heart
      Ho dovuto tenere conto di tutte le regole che tu mi hai detto al lavoro.
      I have to keep in mind all the rules you told me at work. 
       
      Tieni conto dei clienti e dagli quello che vogliono!
      Keep track of the clients and give them what they want!

       

      Terrò conto del fatto che il gruppo ha lavorato molto quando gli darò gli incentivi.

       I will consider that the group has worked hard when I give them the bonuses.

      Mi raccomando, tieni conto di quello che io ho detto!
      I insist/demand/ (that you) take to heart what I have said!
       
      Ho tenuto conto di tutto che tu hai detto. E sono d’accordo!
      I’ve considered all that you have said. And I agree!

       

       

      4. Use [tenere + conto che] or  [tenere in conto + noun]

      for “to consider.”

      • “non tenere in sufficiente considerazione a…”  means
        not to give sufficient consideration to
      • [tenere conto di] can also mean “to consider” (See #3).
      Devo tenere conto che ci sono molte opinioni in questo gruppo prima di prendere una decisione.
      I have to consider that there are many opinions in this group before making a decision.
       
      Devo tenere in conto anche le altre regole.
      I must also consider the other rules.

       

       

      5. Use the reflexive verb tenersi to ask someone to “keep/stay” in touch or give a command to “follow/abide by” a rule.

      •  Other translations of tenersi include “hang onto” and “hold onto”.
      • [Tenersi + da] can also be used to express the phrase “to keep from…” doing something, such as laughing or crying. In this case, tenere is often combined with the verb riuscire, which means “to manage to,” and further emphasizes the effort one has put into trying to “keep from” doing something.  To learn more about how to use the verb riuscire, visit another blog in this series: “The Many Uses of the Italian Verb “Ruscire.”
      Teniamoci in contatto!
      Let’s keep in touch (with each other)!
       
      Ragazzi, tenetevi al regolamento o non vincerete la partita!
      Boys, follow the rules or you all will not win the game!

       

       

      Tieniti il tuo cappello; è molto ventoso oggi!
      Hang onto your hat; it’s very windy today!
       
      Tieniti alla ringhiera bambini!
      Hold onto the handrail, children!

       

      Questo film è molto triste. Non riesco a tenermi dal piangere.
      This film is very sad. I can’t manage to keep from crying.
       
      Quello attore era molto divertente. Non riuscivo a tenermi dal ridere.
      That actor was very funny. I couldn’t keep from laughing.

       

       

      6. Common Italian phrases with [tenere + a] 

      Tenere a bada              =  Tieni a bada i tuoi animali domestici.
      To keep under control =  Keep your pets under control.
       
      Tenere a cavezza                                  = Marco tiene a cavezza i suoi figli.      
      To keep someone under one’s thumb =Mark keeps his children under his thumb.

       

       

      Tenere a freno              =  La famiglia di Anna tiene a freno tutte le ragazze.
      To keep a tight rein on = Ann’s family keeps a tight rein on all the girls.
      To hold back          
       
      Tenere a battesimo                       = Anna teneva a battesimo la sua nipote.
                                                                                                                                
      To sponsor a child at baptism       = Ann sponsored her niece at the baptism.                                               
      To be a godfather or godmother     Ann became her niece’s godmother.

       

       

      Tenere a distanza       =  Maria tiene a distanza da Marco perché non le piace.
      To keep at a distance =  Maria stays away from Mark because she doesn’t like him.
      Tenere a balia                           = Marco teneva a balia questo lavoro
                                                            perché lui è pagato a ore.                                                                      
      To drag out                               = Mark dragged out this job                                              
      To take longer than necessary     because he was paid by the hour.

       

       

      Tenere a pane e acqua                =Marco tiene a pane e acqua Maria oggi.
      To punish somebody                   =Marco punished Maria today.
      (lit. to keep somebody on bread and water)
       
      Tenere a pigione          = Caterina tiene a pigione la sua casa in campagna ai suoi cugini.      
      To have as tenants       =Kathy is renting her house in the country to her cousins.
      To rent 

       

       

      Tenere aggiornata                         = Marco tiene aggiornato Maria sulle notizie ogni giorno.
      To keep somebody updated         =Marco keeps Maria updated on the news every day.
      To keep somebody posted/in the loop about something
       
      Tenere all’oscuro di                                                 = Marco teneva all’oscuro Anna dalla notizia.   
      To keep somebody in the dark about something  =Mark kept Ann in the dark about the news.

       

      Tenere alto il morale                                      = Marco ha tenuto alto il morale della sua squadra anche
                                                                                 se stavano perdendo
      To lift up someone’s spirits                            = Mark lifted up the spirits of his team even when they were losing.
       
      Tenere alta la bandiera                                  = Teniamo alta la bandiera della nostra città.
      To honor your homeland or city              =      We honor/bring honor to our city.
      (lit. to hang the flag high)            

       

       

      7. Use [tenere + a + adverb/adjective] or [tenerci + a] to describe caring about something very much 

      • Remember another way to talk about platonic love and caring among family members and friends is to use the verb volerci, with the phrase, “Ti voglio bene.” For a review of the many ways to express one’s feelings of love, visit our blog in this series: “How to Talk About Relationships and Love in Italian.”
      • [Tenerci + a] can also be used in an introductory phrase when the speaker wants to emphasize the importance of what they will talk about or what they have done. Therefore, this phrase is often followed by the verb dire or fare.
      La mamma tiene molto ai suoi bambini.
      The mother cares very much for her children.
       
      La mamma ci tiene a loro.
      The mother cares very much for them.

       

       

      Ci tieni a me?
      Do you care about me?
       
      Si! Ci tengo a te! 
      Yes! I care about you! 

       

       

      Ci tengo a dire che studiare la cultura è l’unico modo di capire un altra lingua.
      It’s important to me to say that studying the culture is the only way to understand another language.
       
      Ci tengo a fare la cosa giusta. 
      It’s important to me to do the right thing.

       

       

      8. Use the tenere in place of avere for certain expressions. 

       

      Avere famiglia / tenere famiglia    = Ho/Tengo una famiglia con tre figli a Roma.
      To have a family                              =I have a family with three children in Rome.
       
      Avere sotto il braccio / tenere sotto il bracchio  =Ho/Tengo il pane sotto il braccio e cammino a casa.
      To carry underarm                                                 =I carry the bread underarm and walk home.

       

      Avere in serbo / tenere in serbo    =Ho/Tengo una speciale bottiglia di vino per te.
      To set something aside                  =I have set aside a special bottle of wine for you.
       
      Avere in serbo / Tenere in serbo                                 =Ho/Tengo una sorpresa per te!
      To have something in store for someone (figurative) =I have a surpise for you!

       

       


      Remember how to use the Italian verbs tenere, tenersi, and tenerci in conversation 
      and I guarantee you will use these verbs every day!

       

      Conversational Italian for Travelers books are shown side by side, standing up with "Just the Verbs" on the left and "Just the Grammar" on the right
      Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar” and “Just the Verbs” books: Available on  amazon.com  and Learn Travel Italian.com

       

      The cover of Conversational Italian for Travelers "Just the Important Phrases" book is viewed on a smartphone
      Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” book downloaded onto a cell phone from www.learntravelitalian.com

       

      Our Italy – How to Celebrate “The Day of the Dead” in Sicily, by Ettore Grillo

      Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
      Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

      Ciao a tutti! Since 2020, I have been posting the series of blogs, “Our Italy.” In this series, I share bloggers’ experiences of Italy, a country whose culture has captivated the world for thousands of years. I think now is the time to share these memories, especially since now some of us have started to return, inspired anew by the Italian people and their land.

      Today I am happy to share a guest blog entitled: Bones of the Dead, Typical Sicilian Cookies by Ettore Grillo. Learn a bit about how “The Day of the Dead” is celebrated in Sicily on November 2 in his blog and about how bakeries make the special holiday cookies that are shared when remembering loved ones. Grillo even explains this holiday in more detail in his book, which you can find on Amazon.                       

      Ettore Grillo's Blog

      November 2 is drawing near and in all bakeries in Sicily it is possible to buy the typical cookies for this day, “the bones of the dead.” They look like human bones, are hollow and hard to eat.

      Today, after buying some, I asked the baker to tell me the secret to making them so hard and hollow. He said that he leavens dough for two days on a canvas to make it lose its moisture, and then he bakes them at a low temperature, about 140 degrees. During the process, they lose sugar and become hollow.

      On November 2, children receive gifts from the dead. Obviously, this is a fiction, for parents actually buy the gifts and pretend that the dead brought them. This way, children are taught to respect and love the souls of those who are no longer with us.

      November 2nd is a day of celebration…

      View original post 71 more words

      Let’s talk about… Soccer in Italian!

      Colorful homes on a block in Burano with a garden and a park bench out front
      Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
      Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

      Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2021? 

      Why not try to learn a few words about a sport that is an integral part of Italian society?  Of course I am referring to soccer, or calcio as the Italians call the popular sport, derived from the verb calciare, which means “to kick.”

      After Italy’s thrilling victory at the UEFA EURO 2020 this past July, I decided to revisit a couple of blogs I’ve written about Italians and their passion for soccer.  I’ll expand on these blogs today to give a brief history of the sport, talk about Italy’s most popular soccer team and the Italian victories at the FIFA and UEFA competitions, all while focusing on basic Italian words and phrases about the game. 

      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 talk about soccer in Italian, we will be able to communicate just as we do in our native language!

      Were you able to watch EURO 2020 this past summer? Was it your first introduction to Italian soccer or were you already a lifelong fan? If you are in a soccer league here in the United States or just like to watch soccer at home, knowing a few Italian words and phrases will certainly add to the excitement of being involved in this truly Italian sport!

      This post is the 50th 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” in Italian

      are used to talk about
      Italian Football, or Calcio.

      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 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.

      ************************************************

      Let’s Talk About…

      Soccer in Italian

      Italy’s thrilling victory over England at the UEFA EURO 2020 soccer championship this past July sparked a week-long, country-wide celebration.  Why not try to learn a few words about a sport that is an Italian passion? Calcio, as the Italians call this popular sport, is derived from the verb calciare, which means “to kick.” If you are in a soccer league here in the US or just like to watch soccer at home, knowing a few Italian words and phrases will certainly add to the excitement of being involved in this Italian passion!

       

      Soccer — a brief history of the game 

      The basic idea behind soccer — a game of skill that involves kicking a ball — is said to date back as far as 2500 B.C., as a form of the game we know today was played by the Greeks, Egyptians and Chinese. The Roman game of Harpastum and the ancient Greek game of Episkyros were ball games that involved two teams kicking a ball but also allowed the use of hands or sticks, similar to today’s rugby. 

      According to the blog “The Origin, History, and Invention of Soccer”:

      “The most relevant of these ancient games to our modern day “Association Football” is the Chinese game of Tsu’Chu (Tsu-Chu or Cuju, meaning “kicking the ball”). Records of the game began during the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.–220 A.D.) and it may have been a training exercise for soldiers. 

      Tsu’Chu involved kicking a small leather ball into a net strung between two bamboo poles. The use of hands was not permitted, but a player could use his feet and other parts of his body. The main difference between Tsu’Chu and soccer was the height of the goal, which hung about 30 feet from the ground.

      From the introduction of Tsu’Chu onwards, soccer-like games spread throughout the world. Many cultures had activities that centered on the use of their feet, including Japan’s Kemari, which is still played today. The Native Americans had Pahsaherman, the Indigenous Australians played Marn Grook, and the Moari’s had Ki-o-rahi, to name a few.”           

      ********************************************************                                           

       

      “Soccer began to evolve in modern Europe from the medieval period onwards. Various forms of what is now known as “folk football” were played (in England). The codification of soccer began in the public schools of Britain at the beginning of the 19th century. The word soccer was derived from an abbreviation from the word association. The -er suffix was popular slang at the Rugby School and Oxford University and used for all sorts of nouns the young men shortened. The association came from the formation of the Football Association (FA) on October 26, 1863.

      Over the years, more clubs joined the FA until the number reached 128 by 1887. (England) finally had a nearly uniform rule structure in place.

       

      Italian Soccer Victories

      The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) was formed in Paris in 1904 with seven members. This included Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. Germany announced its intention to join the same day. 

      In 1930, the first-ever FIFA World Cup was held in Uruguay. There were 41 members of FIFA at the time and it has remained the pinnacle of the soccer world ever since. The championship has been awarded every four years since the first tournament in 1930, except in 1942 and 1946, due to World War II.”

       

      Statistics about Italian Soccer Victories from “Wikipedia: Italy at the FIFA World Cup”

      Italy is one of the most successful national teams in the history of the FIFA World Cup,
      having won four titles (1934193819822006), just one fewer than Brazil. 

      The UEFA, or the Union of European Football Associations dates back to 1927, when the French Football Federation’s administrator Henri Delaunay first proposed a pan-European football tournament. The UEFA Champions League is an annual club football competition organized by the Union of European Football Associations and holds annual competitions. 

       

      Statistics about Italian Soccer Victories from “Sports Adda”:

      Prior to their championship win of the EURO 200  in 2021,
      the Italy national football team had reached the European Championship final in 1968, 2000 and 2012.
      And Italy’s (last) title win in the UEFA Euros came in 1968,
      when the Blues had beaten Yugoslavia over two matches (in Rome).

       

       

      What do Italians call the different games of foot ball played around the world?

       

      Football (UK)

      il calcio

      Soccer (US)

      il calcio

      To play soccer

      giocare a calcio

      To enjoy playing soccer

      divertirsi  giocando a calcio

      Football (AU)    

      football australiano

      Football (US)

      il football americano

      College football ( US)

      il football universiatrio

      Rugby

      la palla ovale

       

       

      Juventus – the most well-known soccer team in Italy

      Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy
      Allianz Arena in Turin, Italy. Home of the Juventus soccer team.

      From a previous Conversational Italian! blog entitled “Italian Soccer, anyone?”

      Juventus was founded in 1897 by a group of male students from an elite school in the city of Turin, the Liceo Classico Massimo d’Azeglio. The Latin word for “youth” is “iuvenis,” and is where the name of this team comes from. For years, I wondered why the letter “J” starts the name of this famous Italian team when “J” doesn’t exist in the Italian language. It turns out that the name was translated from Latin into the dialect spoken in the Piedmont region of northern Italy at the time, which does use the letter “J.”

      Over the years, the Juventus team has been called by many nicknames. Perhaps the most famous is “Vecchia Signora,” which means “Old Lady” in Italian. I’ve heard many explanations for this, but the most plausible seems to be that it is a reference to the history and greatness of the team — the team is like royalty over in Italy, and signora means both “Mrs.” and “royal lady.” Of course, this name can also be taken ironically because the team includes young men.

      Juventus, the most successful Italian soccer team of all time, plays in the top Italian football league, which is the Serie A League. The winner of this league is awarded the Scudetto (“little shield” or “coat of arms” of the Italian tricolors worn on the uniform the next season) and the title Campioni d’Italia (Champions of Italy), along with a trophy called the Coppa Campioni d’Italia. In the 2016–2017 season, Juventus made history with their sixth consecutive Scudetto. They went on to play in the European Champions Cup but did not win a European title that season.

       

       

      The Italian Soccer Team and Soccer Match

      Juventus Soccer players
      Juventus soccer players at Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy

       

      For those who are new to the game of soccer, below is some Italian vocabulary and an explanation of the basic rules.

      A soccer tournament is called un torneo di calcio. A soccer commentator is called un critico di calcio or un/un’ opinionista di calcio.

      A soccer match, or partita di calcio, is played by two teams. Each soccer team, or soccer club, is called una squadra di calcio.

      When playing a soccer game, 11 players can be on the field at any one time, one of whom is a goalkeeper. A soccer match lasts 90 minutes. There is a halftime break, called l’intervallo, after 45 minutes. If the score is tied, the game may go into overtime — as happened just this summer at the exciting conclusion of the EURO 2020.

      The object of soccer is for a player to get the ball into the other team’s goal by using
      any part of the body except the player’s hands and arms — and then only while he is
      located in his own penalty area. 

      The referee, or l’arbitro, is in charge of the soccer game. The calls the referee makes may be a bit confusing to the new soccer fan. Some penalties are more severe than others.  Yellow and red cards are given to players who violate certain basic rules. This will determine the type of penalty imposed for a given infraction. For further explanation of these rules, I suggest the blog “The 17 Basic Rules of Soccer.” 

       

      A typical soccer field, or campo da calcio, from “The 17 Basic Rules of Soccer”: 

      soccer_rules_1 soccer field labeled

       

      The art of the game:

      la palla / il pallone
      calciare
      soccer ball
      to kick

      calcio d’inizio
      calcio d’angolo
      calcio di rigore
      calcio di punizione
      deviare la palla

       

      kick off
      corner kick
      penalty kick
      free kick
      deflect the ball

       

      la rete

      gol
      fare gol
      segnare
      marcare

      net used for the goal

      the goal
      to make a goal/to score
      to score

      to score

      l’allenatore soccer coach
      il giocatore soccer player
      il calciatore soccer player
      il portiere goal keeper/goalie
      l’arbitro referee/umpire
      la gara competition
      il fallo di mano foul for using one’s hands
      il fallo di reazione retaliatory foul
      il fallo da ultimo uomo last man foul
      il fallo a gamba tesa studs-up tackle
      la scorrettezza foul play/rudeness
      scorretto(a) improper/rude
      l’insulto insult
      il cartellino giallo yellow “caution” card is given for improper play, hand foul, or unsportsmanlike or rude behavior
      l’espulsione expulsion from a soccer game occurs if a player receives two yellow cards
      il cartellino rosso red “expulsion” card occurs for a serious foul using violence, a retaliatory foul, a last man foul, insults, or when two yellow cards have been received

       

       

       

      The Italian Soccer Fan

      The Italian phrases that describe an Italian soccer fan echo the passion that they feel for the sport: appasionato di calcio, fanatico del calcio, and fan del calcio/tifoso di calcio.

      A popular exhortation to encourage a team to score is “Rete!”  “Score!” / “Into the net!”

      When at a Juventus soccer game, the popular chant is Forza Azzuri!, which is a reference to the team’s blue uniforms. The word forza literally means strength but is also used in this case as an exhortation, to mean , “Come on!” The Italians also wear blue uniforms during international competition, so this chant is appropriate at FIFA and European matches as well. (By the way, Italians do not chant “Forza Italia!” as this phrase has been usurped by an Italian political party, which took the name “Forza Italia” when led by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.)

      Another popular chant includes the name of a team player:

      Solo noi, solo noi, (name of player) ce l’abbiamo solo noi!
      Only us, only us, (name of player) only we have him!

       

       

       

       

      Have fun playing soccer!

      For anyone inspired to play soccer by Italy’s recent win at the EURO 2020, below are a few Italian terms to urge on your teammates! 

       

      I’ve got him!

      Mio! Quello è mio!

      One on one

      uno contro uno

         

      I’m marking that man (I have him)

      Ce l’ho!

      Try to avoid the marking of an opponent

       Smarcati! /Liberati!

         

      Go on wing

      Vai sulla fasica! / Allargati!

      Pass the ball to the wingman right/left

      apri a destra/sinestra

         

      From one side of the field to the other

      da porta a porta

      Pass it through the defenders!

      In mezzo!

         

      Corner!

      Calcio d’angolo

      Leave it!

      Lasciala!

       

      If you are a fan of Italian soccer, leave a comment about your favorite Italian team
      or the most exciting game you’ve watched.
      I’d love to hear from you! 

       

       

      Conversational Italian for Travelers books are shown side by side, standing up with "Just the Verbs" on the left and "Just the Grammar" on the right
      Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar” and “Just the Verbs” books

       

      The cover of Conversational Italian for Travelers "Just the Important Phrases" book is viewed on a smartphone
      Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” book downloaded onto a cell phone

      Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

       

      Your Italian-American Gardening Tips – Growing Tomatoes and Making Caprese and Panzanella Salads

      Large bowl of just-picked tomatoes of various sizes and colors in the shade.
      Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
      Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

      All Italian gardeners I know spend the summer diligently watering and weeding in eager anticipation of their favorite crop — the tomato. For most of us, the tomato is the reason we create a garden at all. Yes, it is wonderful to grow eggplants, zucchini, and peppers so that these vegetables are a short walk from our kitchen when we need them.  But for those who love fresh tomatoes, there is nothing like a warm, juicy tomato pulled fresh from the vine after ripening in the sun. Tomatoes are a fruit, and those left to ripen to their full potential will have a complex balance of acidity and sweetness. Each variety will have its own subtle variation in flavor.  It is impossible to describe the feeling eating such a delicious fruit brings to one who has only eaten commercially grown store-bought tomatoes, except to say that for many of us it is close to heaven.  

      Since I live around the corner from a family-run nursery, I am lucky to find over 20 varieties of tomato plants every spring that are ready to plant. Each of these is listed as determinate (the tomato plant will stop growing after it reaches a certain size) and indeterminate (the tomato plant will not stop growing and will need side stems, a.k.a. “suckers” pruned).  In a previous blog, Your Italian-American Gardening Tips (with Recipes) – Tomatoes, Zucchini… I discussed how to grow tomatoes and gave several tips about what to do if you should run into difficulties.  In a You-Tube Video, I posted about how to prune suckers from an indeterminate tomato plant. Growing Tomato Plants: Pinching off side stems.

      Let’s talk a bit more about tomatoes for the end of the summer season this year!

       

      “What is the purpose of growing different types of tomatoes?” you may ask. In one of my Instagram posts, I share a picture of the tomatoes I grew this year and list the uses for each.

      Four bowls that contain various types of tomatoes and peppers
      Recent harvest of different varieties of tomatoes, including plum, pear, and cherry tomatoes. Italian peppers also included in the photo.

      In short, we all know that medium to large tomatoes, the largest of which are called “Beefsteak” are great for cutting into slices or wedges and eating on sandwiches, in salads, or just by themselves. Some people like to add a sprinkle of salt or a drizzle of olive oil to their plate of tomato wedges to create the perfect summertime snack. Dried oregano can be added to wedges of tomatoes along with olive oil for a “tomato salad,” with or without red onion.  These tomatoes come in many shades of red, as well as pink, yellow, and even “zebra” yellow and green. The different colored varieties add visual interest to a salad and those other than the bright red tend to have less acidity.

      Plum tomatoes are fleshier than other tomatoes and have less juice. These are the tomatoes that undergo processing to create tomato paste. San Marzano plum tomatoes from the region around Naples are the most sought-after plum tomatoes.

      Cherry tomatoes are a favorite of mine because they ripen early and produce tomatoes all through the summer and into the fall. They are a great snack for eating out of hand and are wonderful to add to lettuce salads as they are already bite-size and will not loose their juices and soften the lettuce. Grape tomatoes are slightly larger than cherry tomatoes.  This year I had cherry tomato plants that produced red, yellow and brown tomatoes. All were delicious!

       

       For tips on how to create an authentic Caprese Salad with tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, basil and extra-virgin olive oil, visit Your Italian-American Gardening Tips with Recipes: Basil (Basilico).  Be creative! 

       

      Caprese salad in a large serving bowl made with alternating red and yellow tomatoes, basil and mozzarella.
      Caprese salad in a large serving bowl made with alternating red and yellow sliced tomatoes, basil and mozzarella.

       

      Caprese salad made with alternating red and yellow tomatoes, basil and mozzarella.
      Caprese salad made with alternating red and yellow cherry tomatoes, basil and mozzarella.

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

      What about Panzanella salad?” you may ask.
      Isn’t this another wonderful Italian tomato salad I can create with my fresh tomatoes?

      I have also blogged about making Panzanella salad before, and included tomatoes in this salad, in the blog for my learn Travel Italian website entitled, Caprese and Panzanella Salads with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil.   Here is an image from that blog of my initial idea of what this salad should be like:

      Bowl of Panzanella salad with bread, tomatoes, basil and mozzarella.
      Bowl of Panzanella salad with bread, tomatoes, basil and mozzarella.

      I recently updated that blog to include a little known fact (at least to me). The original Panzanella salad did not include tomatoes!  Here is a photo I posted on Instagram of the Panzanella salad I made after I learned of a recipe from the great writer of the Decameron, Giovanni Boccaccio, from the 1300s.

      Plate of cucumbers, red onions, reconstituted bread and basil for Panzanella salad
      Panzanella Salad made in the 1300s according to Giovanni Boccaccio: Stale bread (softened), cucumber, red onion, basil and mixed greens.

      My family did not make Panzanella salad when I was growing up.  As an adult, I had tried this salad in in restaurants and thought it a nice change from the usual Caprese salad, so I added it to my post.  Caprese and Panzanella salads, I thought, were the two important Italian tomato dishes.  Recently, I learned from a blog by Emiko Davies titled  “Bronzino’s Panzanella,” that Panzanella salad is indeed a popular and traditional Italian salad in Tuscany, mentioned by the writer Bronzino himself in a poem, prior to the appearance of tomatoes in Italy. 

      We can assume that Panzanella salad started out as a way to use up old bread, as stale Tuscan bread lends itself well to being softened with a sprinkle of water. A little red onion, perhaps some basil, and olive oil and red wine vinegar might have been all an Italian housewife had available to lend some flavor her bread salad.  According to the recipe provided by Bronzino, cucumbers and even some arugula could be added to magically turn the bounty of summer into a crunchy and refreshing summer treat.

      Serendipitously, I had been growing Armenian cucumbers in my garden for the very first time this year, when I came across Davies’ blog. When I read about Bronzino’s version of Panzanella salad, I made it myself and posted the result on Instagram on Conversationalitalian.french.   

      Panzanella salad made Bronzino’s way, with cucumbers, was truly a revelation. The seeds of the Armenian cucumber were easy to remove from the center of the vegetable, and without the skin this variety of cucumber was light, crunchy, and flavorful. There are no real proportions to this salad; use as much reconstituted bread as you like and as much cucumber and other ingredients as you have on hand.  Now THAT’s Italian!

      Below is my method for making Panzanella salad with cucumbers, originally posted on Instagram on  Conversationalitalian.french.   and the method for making Panzanella salad with tomatoes, originally posted on blog.learntravelitalian.com. 

      Try Panzanella salad both ways.  I ‘m sure you won’t be disappointed!


       

      Today’s Panzanella Salad with Tomatoes

      Tomato and bread Panzanella salad
      Italian Panzanella salad with halved cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh torn basil and bread

      Ingredients
      (Serves 1-4)

       

      Dry Italian bread, cubed, or large croutons
      Sprinkle the dried Italian bread with water to soften
      (see comments about the proper bread to use below*)

      1-2 large, vine-ripened tomato, cut into small wedges
      or several cherry tomatoes, halved
      sprinkle lightly with sea salt

      1/2 red onion, sliced thinly into crescents

      Extra-virgin Italian olive oil
      Italian red wine vinegar

      Large, freshly picked basil leaves, hand torn

      Mozzarella, preferably soft, cubed or small bocconcini (optional)

      Method

       

      In a large dish, combine small wedges of fresh tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes and dry Italian bread (as pre-processed as above) and red onions.

      Drizzle on extra virgin Italian olive oil and red wine vinegar and combine.  Make sure the bread has softened enough to be edible. If not, you may want to let the ingredients sit for a bit before finishing the salad.

      Then add the optional mozzarella and torn basil leaves.

      Mix gently.

      Taste and drizzle with extra olive oil and vinegar if needed.

      Mix again gently to combine all and enjoy!

      *About the bread for any Panzanella salad: be sure to use a crusty loaf of  good* Italian bread that is at least two days old and has dried out and hardened. Bread that has become stale naturally will need to be sprinkled with water to soften a bit prior to making this salad. Place the bread in a small bowl and sprinkle it with water the morning before you are planning to make the salad. The end result should not leave the bread mushy; the bread should spring back to life after the water is added if you are truly working with real Italian bread. If the crust is still too hard, it can be removed. Remember that the bread will continue to soften when it is combined with the vinegar and tomato juice when you make the salad.

      If you want to make Panzanella salad with fresh Italian bread, you can always cut it into slices and dry it out in the oven just enough to be crunchy, or even add a bit of olive oil and brown it a bit to make croutons.

       

      ************************************************************

       

      Traditional Cucumber Panzanella Salad

       

      Plate of cucumbers, red onions, reconstituted bread and basil for Panzanella salad
      Panzanella Salad made in the 1300s according to Giovanni Boccaccio: Stale bread (softened), cucumber, red onion, basil and mixed greens.

       

       

       

      Visit www.learntravelitalian.com for more of my Italian and Italian-American recipes, cultural notes and  advanced Italian language blog posts updated monthly. Click on the link “our blog” in the upper right hand corner to reach blog.Learn Travel Italian.com.

      Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! How to Say, “I miss you…” with Mancare

      Colorful homes on a block in Burano with a garden and a park bench out front
      Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
      1Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

      Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2021? 

      Then one verb you will need to learn how to use is mancare (to miss). This is the verb Italians use when they have not been able to visit a loved one. Of course it is important to be able to tell those we care about that we miss them!

      In this blog, we will discuss how to use the verb Italian mancare, which part of a group of Italian verbs that always take an indirect object pronoun and therefore “work” differently from your typical Italian verb.  

      Previously, we have spoken about piacere (to like), the prototype for this unique group of Italian verbs in our blog “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day: Piacere, How Italians Say, “I like it!.” We have also covered another verb of this type, servire (to need) in our blog “How to Say, “I need…” in Italian: Mi serve…”

      After this blog, we can add mancare to our list of important Italian verbs discussed that only take indirect object pronouns. Piacere, servire, and mancare all work in the same way, but we will go over once again how to conjugate and translate a verb of this type.

      Note: in our very last blog, we made a list of verbs of communication and giving that take an indirect object pronoun when referring to a person. These verbs are in a different group than piacere, servire, and mancare, since they take a direct object pronoun when referring to things, but are a very important group to understand as well!

      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 use the Italian verb mancare, we will be able to communicate just as we do in our native language!

      This post is the 49th 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” in conversation

      use the Italian verb
      Mancare

      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 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.

      ************************************************

      Overview of Italian Verbs

      that take

      Indirect Object Pronouns

      A short review of Italian verbs that take indirect object pronouns:

      In our very last blog, we made a list of verbs of communication and giving that take indirect object pronouns when referring to a person.

      Previously, we have spoken about piacere (to like), the prototype for verbs that always take indirect object pronouns, in our blog “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day: Piacere, How Italians Say, “I like it!”  We have also talked about another Italian verb that uses only indirect object pronouns, the verb servire (to need), in our blog “How to Say, “I need…” in Italian: Mi serve…”

      After this blog, we can add mancare to our list of important verbs that only take indirect object pronouns. All three of these verbs work in the same way, but we will go over once again how to conjugate and translate a verb of this type with mancare. Full disclosure: there are other Italian verbs that only take indefinite articles, along with the three already mentioned! Below is a short list of the most important Italian verbs that only take indefinite articles.

      Piacere

      to like

      Servire

      to need

      Mancare

      to miss

      Mancare

      to miss

      Mancare

      to miss

      Mancare

      to miss

      A short review of the Italian indirect object pronouns and their meanings:*

      mi

      to me

      ti

      to you (familiar)

      Le

      to you (polite)

      le

      to her

      gli

      to him

         

      ci

      to us

      vi

      to you all

      gli

      to them

      *Of course, mi, ti, ci, and vi do double duty as direct object pronouns. Also, with reflexive verbs mi stands for “myself” and ti stands for “yourself, etc.

      ******************************

      How to Say, “I miss you!”

      with Mancare

      The Italian verb mancare has many meanings: to miss/to lose/to lack/to be lacking/to omit/to fail. Perhaps the most common way mancare is used is to convey the idea of “to miss someone,” so it is important to learn the conjugation and sentence structure for this verb for everyday conversation.

      To start off, you should know that the sentence structure used for mancare is the same as for the verb piacere, the prototype for Italian verbs that only take an indirect object pronoun. You should also realize that this group of Italian verbs works differently from its English counterparts. Therefore, the English translation will not match the Italian word for word. The idea will remain the same, however.

      In English, we say the subject of the sentence misses someone using the person who is missed as a direct object. Example: I (subject) miss (verb) John (direct object).

      In Italian,  however, there are two significant differences from the English way of thinking.  Below are English and Italian sentence structures with examples that have identical meanings. We will change the Italian sentences into the most commonly used Italian structure with an indirect object pronoun step by step, in order to aid in understanding how both languages can say the same thing in a different way. For these examples, the English translation is given in the Italian way of thinking, and is in parentheses. Notice the color coding that follows throughout the examples: subject in brown, verb in green, direct object pronoun in blue, and indirect and stressed object pronouns in red.

      First, let’s look at the English way of thinking. The subject is the person talking and the direct object is who they miss:  

      English: [subject: person missing someone+ mancare conjugated to reflect subject + direct object: person missed]

                    I         +     miss      +      John.

      Now, let’s turn this English idea around to make an Italian sentence. To Italians, the person who is being missed is the subject of the sentence.  With this logic in mind, the person missing someone must be expressed by a stressed object pronoun or an indirect object pronoun. The sentence with a stressed object pronoun:

      Italian:  [subject: person missed +  mancare conjugated to reflect subject + stressed object pronoun: person missing someone]

                  Giovanni   +    manca    +    a me.
                  
      (John           is missing          to me.)

      Although our Italian example above is grammatically correct, those conversing in Italian most commonly use an indirect object pronoun instead of the stressed pronoun,* and place the indirect object pronoun pronoun before the verb.

      Italian:  [indirect object pronoun: person missing someone mancare conjugated to reflect subject + subject: person missed]

                  Mi        +         manca      +    Giovanni.
                  
      (To me             is missing           John).

      To make matters more confusing to the English speaker, the subject of the sentence — which in this case is Giovanni — can be left out entirely as long as the person who is being discussed is known from the context. But, in most cases the subject is then added to the end of the sentence for clarification.

      *The stressed pronoun is handy to use for emphasis, as its name suggests.

      ******************************

      Below is the present tense conjugation of mancare. Notice that the tu and noi forms have irregular spelling to keep the hard “c” sound that we hear when we pronounce the infinitive verb. These are marked with an asterisk.

      Mancare = To Be Missing (To)

      io

      manco

      I am missing (to…)

      tu

      manchi*

      you (fam.) are missing (to…)

      Lei

      lei/lui

      manca

      you (polite) are missing (to…)

      she/he/it is missing (to…)

       

       

       

      noi

      manchiamo*

      we are missing (to…)

      voi

      mancate

      you all are missing (to…)

      loro

      mancano

      they are missing (to…)

      The sentences below give some common examples of how to use the verb mancare in the present tense. To aid the English speaker in understanding this Italian way of thinking, the Italian subject pronouns are included in parentheses. But remember that Italian subject pronouns are usually left out of a sentence, unless needed for clarification. Also, the word-for-word Italian to English translation is given in parentheses, with the correct English translation in the third column in bold black.

      If the idea behind how to use mancare seems too complicated at first, just memorize the first four examples, as you will likely use these the most!

      Example Sentences with Mancare 

      (Tu) Mi manchi.

      (You are missing to me.)

      I miss you.

      (Lei/Lui) Mi manca.

      (She/he is missing to me.)

      I miss her/him.

       

      (Io) Ti manco?

      (Am I missing to you?)

      (Do you) miss me?

      (Lei/Lui) Ti manca?

      (Is she/he missing to you?)

      (Do you) miss her/him?

       

      (Io) Gli manco.

      (I am missing to him.)

      He misses me.

      (Io) Le manco.

      (I am missing to her.)

      She misses me.

      (Tu) Gli manchi.

      (You are missing to him.)

      He misses you.

      (Tu) Le manchi.

      (You are missing to her.)

      She misses you.

      Gli manca (Maria).

      (Maria is missing to him.)

      He misses Maria.

      Le manca (Maria).

      (Maria is missing to her.)

      She misses Maria.

      Gli manca (Paolo).

      (Paul is missing to him.)

      He misses Paul.

      Le manca (Paolo).

      (Paul is missing to her.)

      She misses Paul.

      ******************************

      Mancare is often used in the past tense. Consider the phrase “I missed you!” This implies that a definite period of absence has passed, and now the individuals are finally together and are able to talk about their feelings. The past tense of mancare is regular in the passato prossimo and takes essere. This is the past tense form for mancare that is most commonly used during conversation.

      See below for the passato prossimo conjugation of mancare:

      Singular forms: sono sei, è, + mancato(a)

      Plural forms: siamo, siete sono + mancati(e)

      The imperfetto form of mancare is regular as well, and is used most often for narration. Remember when telling a story about something that has happened without mentioning a specific period of time to use the imperfetto past tense.  If you need a refresher on when to use the passato prossimo and imperfetto, refer to our previous blogs about the Italian past tense.  In the case of mancare, the reference is often to a nonspecific amount of time that people missed each other in the past. 

      See below for the imperfetto conjugation of mancare:

      Singular forms: mancavo, mancavi, mancava

      Plural forms: mancavamo, mancavate, mancavano

      Find four common examples below of how to use the verb mancare, in past tense, with the passato prossimo. As in the examples for the present tense, the subject pronouns are included in parentheses, but remember that they are usually often left out of a sentence unless needed for clarification. Also, the direct Italian to English translation is given in parentheses, with the correct English translation in the third column in bold black. How many more examples can you think of?

       

      (Tu) Mi sei mancato(a).

      (You were missing to me.)

      I missed you.

      (Lei/Lui) Mi è mancato(a).

      (She/he was missing to me.)

      I missed her/him.

       

      (Io) Ti sono mancto(a)?

      (Was I missing to you?)

      (Did you) miss me?

      (Lei/Lui) Ti è mancato(a)?

      (Was she/he missing to her/him?)

      (Did you) miss her/him?

      Remember how to use the Italian verb
      mancare in Italian
      when missing someone dear to you!


      Conversational Italian for Travelers books are shown side by side, standing up with "Just the Verbs" on the left and "Just the Grammar" on the right
      Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar” and “Just the Verbs” books: Available on  amazon.com  and Learn Travel Italian.com
      The cover of Conversational Italian for Travelers "Just the Important Phrases" book is viewed on a smartphone
      Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” book downloaded onto a cell phone from www.learntravelitalian.com

      Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! – “He Said/She Said” and Object Pronouns

      Colorful homes on a block in Burano with a garden and a park bench out front

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

      Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2021? 

      Two of the most popular every day phrases are, “He said to me… ” or  “She said to me…” In fact, the equivalent phrase in Italian, “Mi ha detto.”  is used so often that it usually comes out in quickly, in one breath! 

      In this blog, we will discuss the popular phrase “Mi ha detto,” and use it as a springboard into a discussion of indirect object pronouns that can be used with the verb dire and many other Italian verbs as well.

      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 use the Italian verb dire, we will be able to communicate just as we do in our native language!

      This post is the 48th 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” in conversation

      use the Italian past tense verb + indirect object pronoun
      Mi ha detto…

      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 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.

      ************************************************

      What He Said… What She Said…

      in Italian with Object Pronouns

      Let’s begin by looking at the verb dire — to say — in our important phrases “he said” and “she said” for discussion in this blog. The past tense for “he said” and “she said” in Italian, a one-time event, uses the passato prossimo, and is “ lui/lei ha detto.” This Italian past tense verb also translates into the less commonly used English past tense, “he has said” and “she has said.” 

      Since the subject pronoun is generally left out of an Italian sentence, we are left with “ha detto” to describe both what he said and what she said. The subject pronouns lui (he) or lei (she) may be added before the verb for emphasis in this case, but generally those having a conversation know who they are talking about.

      Because the phrases “he said” and “she said” are used frequently in everyday conversation, we should commit the Italian passato prossimo verb “ha detto” to memory. 

      To make a complete sentence using the verb dire to describe what was said, use either “di” or “che  to link the subject  and verb to the topic that was discussed. Di is used as the conjunction in the examples in the table below to answer a question in the affirmative or negative. Of course, even though our focus in this blog is on how to use the verb ha detto, it should be noted that one usually answers “yes,” or “no,” for themselves with ho detto, although they can also relay someone else’s answer using a different conjugation of dire, such as ha detto, abbiamo detto, etc. In all situations, when answering “yes” or “no” in Italian, the conjunction di is required.  

      Ho detto di si.

      I said yes.

      Ho detto di no.

      I said no.

         

      Ha detto di si.

      He/She said no.

      Ha detto di no.

      He/She said no.

       

       

      Abbiamo detto di si.

      He/She said yes.

      Abbiamo detto di no.

      He/She said no.

      ****************************************

      Adding an indirect object pronoun before the verbs ho detto, abbiamo detto, or ha detto will allow the speaker to describe to whom something was said.  For this section, though, our discussion will focus only on “ha detto” and  Italian indefinite articles.

      Why focus on “ha detto? One of the most popular every day phrases is, “He/She said to me,” which is, “Mi ha detto”  in Italian. In fact, the phrase “mi ha detto” is  used so often that it usually said in one breath! We can build on this simple, easy to remember phrase to describe more complex situations.  For instance, we can substitute other indirect object pronouns for mi (to me), such as ti (to you), gli (to him), or le (to her).  

      In English, when we use the indirect object pronouns “to me,” “to you,” “to him/her,” they are placed after the verb, while in Italian, they are placed before the verb.  This may take some time to get used to. In the summary table below, the indirect object pronouns are in red.

      Ha detto

      He said / She said

      Mi ha detto

      He said / She said to me

      Ti ha detto

      He said/ She said to you

      Gli ha detto

      He said / she said to him

      Le ha detto

      He said / She said to her

      The next table uses our verb ha detto and indirect object pronouns in example sentences.  For these examples (and for  all other instances in Italian except those given in the table in the previous section regarding a “yes” or “no” answer), “che is used as the conjunction.

      The subject pronoun is included in some of the examples in the table below for clarity. Again, the Italian and English indirect object pronouns are in red. In all cases except the first, when the subject is directly quoting what someone else has said to them, English uses a direct object pronoun, and this is given in green. Notice how many permutations of the same sentence are possible with only the singular indirect object pronouns! 

      Lui ha detto che il film era bello.
      Lei ha detto che il film era bello.

      Mi ha detto: “Il film era bello.”   

      He said that the film was good.
      She said that the film was good.

      He/She said to me: “The film was good.”

      Mi ha detto che il film era bello.

      He/She told me that the film was good.

      Ti ha detto che il film era bello?

      Has he/she told you that the film was good?

       

       

      Giovanni gli ha detto che il film era bello.

      John told him that the film was good.

      Anna gli ha detto che il flim era bello.

      Ann told him that the film was good.

       

       

      Giovanni le ha detto che il film era bello.

      John told her that the film was good.

      Anna le ha detto che il film era bello.

      Ann told her that the film was good.

      ****************************************

      Our example sentence, Mi ha detto che il film era bello,” and its translation, “He/She told me that the film was good,” brings up an important difference between Italian and English verbs and object pronouns; not all Italian verbs that take indirect object pronouns do so in English!

      We have just seen the the Italian verb dire takes an indirect object pronoun that goes before the verb, whereas its English counterpart “to say,” in general conversation usually takes a direct object pronoun that goes after the verb. We would not say, “He told to me that the film was good,” although this is correct in Italian!

      This adds to the difficulty in choosing when to use an Italian indirect object pronoun, since the correct English translation will not always reflect the indirect object pronoun choice in Italian. 

      The difference in the Italian and English [object pronoun-verb] combination may not be immediately apparent in the phrase “mi ha detto,” since the Italian pronoun mi plays double duty as both an indirect and direct object pronoun! The Italian pronoun mi can be translated as both “me” (direct object pronoun) and “to/for me” (indirect object pronoun).*

      The same goes for the Italian pronoun ti, which is translated as “you”(direct object pronoun) as well as “to you (indirect object pronoun).

      Choosing between an indirect and direct Italian object pronoun when conversing about others in Italian becomes important in the masculine third person, as one must decide between lo (him) and gli (to him). For females, the choice is between la (her) and le (to her).

      So how does an English speaker know when to choose an indirect object pronoun in Italian?

       Italian verbs of communication and giving
      take indirect object pronouns
      when referring to a person.

      The table below is a short list of the verbs of communication that take Italian indirect object pronouns when referring to other people in conversation. You will recognize the example verb in this blog, dire, at the top of the list.

      Note that if one of these verbs is followed by a person’s name, the Italian pattern to follow is [verb + a + name].  The Italian indirect object pronoun can be though of as substituting for the a placed before a person’s name. 

      In some cases, both Italian and English verbs take an indirect object pronoun but in other cases the English translation uses a direct object pronoun, as we’ve already mentioned. Unfortunately, there is no rule that connects the Italian way of speaking to the English way, so the Italian verbs that take [a + name] or indirect object pronouns just need to be memorized. In short, in order to speak Italian, we must think in Italian!

      *And, of course with reflexive verbs mi stands for “myself” and ti stands for “yourself.” 

      Some Italian verbs of communication that take indirect object pronouns:

      Dire

      to say

      Parlare

      to talk

      Telefonare

      to call

      Scrivere

      to write

         

      Domandare

      to ask

      Chiedere

      to ask

         

      Insegnare

      to teach

      Spiegare

      to explain

      Consigliare

      to give advice

      Examples that use Italian verbs of communication with indirect object pronouns are given below. The indirect object pronouns are in red, the direct object pronouns are in green, and the person to whom the object pronoun refers to is underlined. Of course, there are a infinite number of combinations! Try to create your own sentences, taking situations from your own life!

      Ho detto a Maria che…                  I told Maria that…
      Le ho detto che…                           I told her that…

      Ho domandato a Franco se…            I asked Frank if…
      Gli ho domandato se…                      I asked him if…

      La Signora Rossi ha spiegato a me che…   Mrs. Rossi explained to me that…
      La Signora Rossi mi ha spiegato che…       Mrs. Rossi explained to me that…

      Some Italian verbs of giving that take indirect object pronouns:

      Dare

      to give

      Offrire

      to offer

      Regalare

      to gift

      Mandare

      to send

      Portare

      to bring/deliver

      Examples that use Italian verbs of giving with indirect object pronouns are given below. The indirect object pronouns are in red, the direct object pronouns are in green, and the person to whom the object pronoun refers to is underlined. Of course, there are a infinite number of combinations! Try to create your own sentences, taking situations from your own life!

      Ho dato a Maria il vino.                 I gave Maria the wine.
      Le ho dato il vino.                          I gave her the wine.

      Ho offerto a Franco un lavoro.      I offered Frank a job.
      Gli ho offerto un lavoro.                I offered him a job.

      La Signora Rossi ha mandato a me…  Mrs. Rossi gave me…
      La Signora Rossi mi ha mandato…      Mrs. Rossi gave me…

      *And, of course with reflexive verbs mi stands for “myself” and ti stands for “yourself.” 

      Remember how to use the phrase
      “mi ha detto” in Italian and I guarantee
      you will use this phrase every day!

      Conversational Italian for Travelers books are shown side by side, standing up with "Just the Verbs" on the left and "Just the Grammar" on the right
      Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar” and “Just the Verbs” books: Available on  amazon.com  and Learn Travel Italian.com

      The cover of Conversational Italian for Travelers "Just the Important Phrases" book is viewed on a smartphone
      Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” book downloaded onto a cell phone from www.learntravelitalian.com

      Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – New Author on the Shelves – #Languages – Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Important Phrases (with Restaurant Vocabulary and Idiomatic Expressions) by Kathryn Occhipinti

      The cover of Conversational Italian for Travelers "Just the Important Phrases" book is viewed on a smartphone

      A great big GRAZIE MILLE to SALLY from the Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore for her review of my Conversational Italian for Travelers series reprinted below!

      Delighted to welcome Kathryn Occipinti to the Cafe and Bookstore with her language books in Italian and French. Very useful now that the world is opening up again.

      About Conversational Italian for Travelers

      Your traveling companion in Italy! Truly different from other phrase books – this book is friendly, humorous, and also provides a method to understand and remember important Italian phrases. There are many tips for the reader on how to create their own phrases and how to ask questions to get around Italy comfortably. Includes sections not found in other phrase books so the traveler can really fit into the culture of Italy. Light weight book of phrases slips easily into a pocket or purse. Keep handy simple phrases of greeting, how to change money, or how to take the train. Learn about how to communicate politely in any situation. And, of course, learn how to read those Italian menus and order at an Italian restaurant! This book is contains excerpts from the larger work, Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook. All the phrases you need to know with tips on how to create your own!

      One of the reviews for the book
      P. Zoro4.0 out of 5 stars Effective learning guide Reviewed in the United Kingdom

      Travelling to a foreign country can be a terrible experience if you don’t know how to communicate. Kathryn thus solved this potential problem for all foreign visitors to Italy with her book picking on just the important phrases.

      To start with, the book is both exciting and humorous. The reader discovers the Italian alphabethas 21 letters and borrows some additions from Latin. There are surprising differences from English, like z becomes zeta and is pronounced zeh-tah. I spent some time translating my name and found the result amusing. Learning to pronounce the words correctly was an enjoyable experiment in which I found myself closer and closer to sounding very foreign and learned.

      I discovered “buongiorno” is all I need to say from morning to early evening, and if I am not yet in my hotel then “buonasera” will do until bedtime. For hi and bye to friends there is just one word to learn – “ciao”, but there are so many ways to say goodbye you really have to take your time to learn them. “Millie Gracie” means thanks a lot (a thousand) though I expected it to be “thanks a million”.

      The writer takes the reader through the basic everyday conversational Italian in an interesting manner. You learn to be polite and formal and at the same time to be friendly and appreciative of any assistance. You also learn how to form important phrases, how to ask for the important things and making friends. The book teaches you to get comfortable at the hotel, at a restaurant and when sightseeing. It is indeed a comprehensive guide I would recommend to anyone travelling to Italy who does not speak Italian.

      As for me if someone says “Parla italiano?” (Do you speak Italian?), I will just say “Si, un po’” (Yes, a little) even though sono di Zimbabwe (I am from Zimbabwe).
      Si, I loved this book.  

      Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US – And:Amazon UK  – Electronic copies: Learn Travel Italian

      Also by Kathryn Occhipinti

      Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – More reviews: Goodreads – Websites:  French and Italian: StellaLucente.com – Blogs: Beginning Italian: Conversational Italian! – Twitter: StellaLucente@travelitalian1 and @travelfrench1

      About Dr. Kathyrn Occhipinti

      Dr. Kathryn Occhipinti is a radiologist of Italian-American descent who has been leading Italian language groups in the Peoria and Chicago areas for about 10 years. During that time, she founded Stella Lucente, LLC, a publishing company focused on instructional language books designed to make learning a second language easy and enjoyable for the adult audience.

      Using her experiences as a teacher and frequent traveler to Italy, she wrote the “Conversational Italian for Travelers” series of books, which follow the character Caterina on her travels through Italy, while at the same time introducing the fundamentals of the Italian language.

      Nada Sneige Fuleihan is a native French speaker and translator who now resides in the Chicago area.

      The two writers have teamed up to create the pocket travel book, “Conversational French for Travelers, Just the Important Phrases,” using the same method and format as found in the Italian pocket book for travelers “Conversational Italian for Travelers,” originally created by Kathryn Occhipinti.

      You can connect to Kathryn on her websites, blogs and social media at these links

      Facebook group: Conversational Italian!
      Facebook pages: Stella Lucente Italian and Stella Lucente French             
      Instagram: Conversationalitalian.French
      YouTube Channel: Learn Conversational Italian
      Pinterest: StellaLucenteItalian and StellaLucenteFrench

      Thank you for dropping in today and it would be great if you could share Kathryn’s books on your own network.. thanks Sally.