Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! How to Make Comparisons in Italian with “Di”

Burano in Venice, Italy and Everyday Italian phrases
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently in 2022?

Why not set a goal to learn Italian, starting today, for the year 2022? I will try to help you with this goal by posting a new blog every month in the series “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” In these blogs, I discuss how Italians use their language on a daily basis and in so doing help you to “think in Italian.” 

To speak fluently in another language, it is important to know how to make comparisons. Every day we all compare the characteristics of one thing to another — larger vs. smaller, better or worse — often to describe what we prefer.  The Italian language uses precise sentence structures and specific prepositions when making comparisons that are not always identical to English. The good news is that Italian is consistent, and it is easy to learn the “Italian way” of thinking to compare the things in the world we live in!

In a prior blog  in this series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! – How to Use ‘Di’ in Italian,we learned that the Italian preposition di can mean “of, from, or by.” Now, we will put di to use in another way — to replace the English word than when making comparisons! 

Let’s continue our new series on Italian prepositions with another blog about the essential Italian preposition “di.” If we learn how to use the Italian preposition “di” to make comparisons, we will truly sound like a native Italian!

This post is the 56th 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 use

  the preposition “di”
to make comparisons

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.

*The material in this blog has been adapted from the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and  the reference book “Just the Grammar.”

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 Use “Di” to Compare
Italian Nouns and Verbs

To speak fluently in another language, it is important to know how to make comparisons. Every day we all compare the characteristics of one thing to another — larger vs. smaller, better or worse — often to describe what we prefer.  The Italian language uses precise sentence structures and specific prepositions when making comparisons that are not always identical to English. In this blog, we will explore several ways to make comparisons that use the Italian preposition di.  The good news is that Italian is consistent, and it is easy to learn the “Italian way” of thinking to compare the things in the world we live in!

To compare two different nouns — people, places, or things — where one has a superior or inferior characteristic, use the following Italian phrases below. Note that the Italian preposition di will combine with the definite article the (il, la, lo, l’, etc.) according to the usual rules, if a definite article is needed in the sentence.

In this case, the Italian preposition di is translated into English with than. Notice that “the” is often used in Italian but is not needed in English, due to the different way the two languages express possession (see the first example below). If you need a refresher on the Italian preposition di, visit a prior blog in this series, “How to Use “Di” in Italian.”

Also, the translation into English will not match the Italian word for word when making comparisons. English uses the irregular “larger” and “smaller” and therefore the Italian “more large” and “more small” cannot be translated directly into English.

Comparison of Two Different Nouns

 

più… di more… than
meno… di less… than

Comparison sentences with two different nouns (person, place, or thing) are given below. The nouns that are being compared are red.

Pietro ha più soldi
di Caterina.
Peter has more money
than Kathy.
Caterina ha meno soldi di Pietro. Kathy has less money than Peter.
   
La casa di Pietro è più grande
del
la casa di Caterina.
Peter’s house is larger
than Kathy’s house.
Firenze è più piccola di Roma. Florence is smaller than Rome.

This Italian sentence structure using di also works
when making comparisons with verbs, adverbs, and adjectives
that have different characteristics.

Let’s look into how to make comparisons with the verb piacere.  Piacere is how Italians say they like something. (If you need a refresher on how to conjugate the verb piacere, visit our blog, “Piacere — How Italians Say, ‘I like it!'”)  

Piacere often comes into play to describe how much we like doing something compared to something else. For instance, in a prior blog, “Let’s Talk About… TV and Movies in Italian.” we discussed how to state a preference for one film over another. The two lines below give the correct Italian sentence structure and again use più di and meno di. 

Mi piace… (film)  più di + definite article… (film).
Mi piace…
(film) meno di + definite article…
(film).

Mi piace La Vita è Bella più del Commissario Montalbano.
I like Life is Beautiful more than Detective Montalbano.
 
Mi piace Pane e Tulipani meno di La Vita è Bella.
I like Bread and Tulips less than Life is Beautiful.

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Use “Di” with
Irregular Adverbs

Comparative sentences that use adverbs are common, since people often discuss how well (bene) — or how badly (male) — something is going. To compare how one action is better or worse compared to another, use the irregular comparative adverbs meglio and peggio with the preposition di and the same sentence structure described in the last section of this blog.

In the examples below, the adverb that is used in the comparison is in brown and its verb in green. 

Caterina parla italiano bene.        Kathy speaks Italian well.    
Caterina parla italiano meglio di Francesca. Kathy speaks Italian better than Frances.
   
Francesca parla italiano male.    Frances speaks Italian badly.    
Francesca parla italiano peggio di Caterina.  Frances speaks Italian worse than Kathy.

                           

To express the relative superlative “the best” or “the worst” in Italian, one can simply use the comparative sentence structure we have learned with the Italian phrases “meglio di tutti” or peggio di tutti.”

Caterina parla italiano meglio di tutti Kathy speaks Italian better than  everyone.
  Meaning: Kathy speaks Italian the best.  
   
Francesca parla italiano peggio di tutti. Frances speaks Italian worse than everyone.
  Meaning: Frances speaks Italian the worst.

Meglio is used in the same way when talking about a thing, rather than a person. For instance, to compare a recent film with a well-known TV series, see the example below from our blog “Let’s Talk About… TV and Movies in Italian.”

This film is better than…

Questo film è meglio di + definite article…

Questo film è meglio del Commissario Montalbano, sono sicuro!
This film is better than Detective Montalbano, I am sure.

                

Equally important are comparisons made with the adverbs very (molto) or little (poco). People have a tendency to make comparisons between doing something more (più) or doing something less (meno). We have seen the Italian adverbs piu and meno in action in the first section as part of the sentence structure for making a comparison. When used with the meaning of “more” or “less,” piu and meno are considered irregular adverbs. 

However, when making a comparison in Italian using più or meno with the meanings of more or less, speakers often don’t mention the second term.  This is common in every day conversation when both speakers already know the topic under discussion. When the second term in the comparison is omitted, the preposition di is added before più or meno to complete the sentence.

Use di più or di meno, rather than simply più or meno
when the second term of the comparison is not stated.

In the examples below, the adverb used in the comparison is in brown and its verb in green. 

Pietro ha mangiato molta pizza. Peter ate a lot of pizza.
Pietro ha mangiato più pizza di Michele. Peter ate more pizza than Michael.
Pietro ha mangiato di più.    Peter ate more.
   
Michele ha mangiato poca pizza.  Michael ate a little pizza.
Michele ha mangiato meno pizza di Pietro. Michael ate less pizza than Peter.
Michele ha mangiato di meno.  Michael ate less.

To express “the most” or “the least” in Italian, one can simply use the comparative sentence structure we have learned with the Italian phrases “più di tutti” or meno di tutti.”

Pietro ha mangiato più di tutti. Peter ate more than  everyone.
                                                                      Meaning: Peter ate the most.
   
Michele ha mangiato meno di tutti. Michael ate less than everyone.
                                                                      Meaning: Michael ate the least.

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Use “Di” with
Irregular Adjectives

See the irregular comparative adverbs we have just discussed in the previous section in the table below, along with their relative superlative adjectives and phrases.

Adverb   Comparative
Adverb
  Relative Superlative Adjective/Phrases  
bene well meglio better
il migliore
the best
male badly peggio   il peggiore the worst
molto very più

 

di più

more più
la maggior parte di
il maggior numero di
the most
poco a little meno

 

di meno

less meno
il minimo di
la minima parte di
the least

  

Now let’s talk about the relative superlative adjectives in the third column of our table above.

The Best and the Worst in Italian:

Earlier in this blog, we mentioned that to express the relative superlative adjective “the best” in Italian, one can simply use the Italian phrase “meglio di tutti” to state “better than everyone.” 

However, when we use the irregular adjective “il migliore” to state someone or something is “the best,” a different sentence structure is required. One might say Italian is more precise than English since Italian expresses the difference between Frances the person and Frances’ knowledge of Italian. In English, this difference is simply understood. (If you need a refresher on how to state possession with the Italian preposition di, visit a prior blog in this series, “How to Use “Di” in Italian.”) 

In short, an Italian sentence that uses the adjective migliore must start with the noun that migliore modifies. Once again, we encounter differences in the English and Italian way of thinking — in this case about how to be the best!

Below are examples from the prior section again, with the addition of a sentence with “il migliore” for comparison. The last example also includes “the worst,” or “il peggiore,” which follows the same sentence structure. The adverb that is being compared is in brown and its verb in green. The noun described as “the best” or “the worst” is in red.

Caterina parla italiano meglio di tutti Kathy speaks Italian better than  everyone.
  Meaning: Kathy speaks Italian the best.
L’italiano di Caterina è il migliore. Meaning: Kathy’s Italian is the best.
   
Francesca parla italiano peggio di tutti. Frances speaks Italian worse than everyone.
  Meaning: Frances speaks Italian the worst.
L’italiano di Francesca è il peggiore Meaning: Frances’ Italian is the worst.

 

The Most in Italian:

Previously in this blog, we mentioned that to express the relative superlative adjective “the most” in Italian, one can simply use the Italian phrase “più di tutti” to state “more than everyone.”  

We can also use più in a sentence that starts with a noun followed by quello(a,i,e) to express the idea of “the most.” Use this Italian way of speaking to refer to the greatest quantity of something, measure of something (tangible or intangible), or number of something. The Italian sentence structure is similar to the examples given for how to use migliore and peggiore. English speakers tend to express the same idea in a different way, as noted by the translations below. 

Il bicchiere di Marco è quello che ha più vino.    Mark has the most wine in his glass.
Anna è quella della famiglia che è più bella.  Ann is the most beautiful of all of us in the family.
Quest’albero è quello che ha più mele.    This tree is the one with the most apples. 

 

Two other phrases, la maggior parte di” and “il maggior numero di” can also mean “the most,” regarding “the greatest quantity” and “the greatest number” of something.

Also, “Per la maggiore parte…” is commonly used to say, “For the most part…”

Our original examples are listed below again, with additional ways to say “the most.” Notice how the meaning changes with the use of the last two phrases. Also that “fetta di” is itself a separate phrase, so that di is not combined with the definite article.

Pietro ha mangiato più di tutti.
Peter ate more than  everyone/the most.

Pietro ha mangiato la maggior parte della pizza.
Peter ate most (the most part of) of the pizza.

Pietro ha mangiato il magior numero di fette di piazza.
Peter ate most (the most number of) of the pieces of the pizza.

 

The Least in Italian:

Finally, to say “the least,” one can use “meno” with quello(a) and the same sentence structure as described above for più.

Michele è quello della famiglia che ha mangiato meno pizza.
Michael has eaten the least pizza of all of us in the family.

 

“Il minimo di” and “la minima parte di” can also be used to describe “the least.” See examples below. Remember to change the ending of minimo(a) to match the gender of the noun that is modified.

Michele ha mangiato meno di tutti.
Michael ate less than everyone/the least pizza.

 

Michele ha mangiato la minima parte della pizza.     Michael ate the least (amount of) pizza.

Michele ha mangiato il minimo del pane.                  Michael ate the least (amount of) bread.

 


Remember how to make comparisons with
the Italian preposition “di” in conversation 
and I guarantee you will use the Italian “di” 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

 

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! – The many uses of the Italian verb “Mettere”

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 in 2022?

 Have you set a goal to learn Italian? I will try to help you by posting a new blog every month in the series “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” In these blogs, I discuss how Italians use their language on a daily basis and in so doing help you to “think in Italian.” 

For instance, many Italian verbs have a similar use to those in English, which simplifies translation from one language to the other. However, often 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. Mettere (along with its reflexive form mettersi) is one of those verbs that is used in many ways in Italian and is important to “put to” good use if you want to speak like an Italian.

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 mettere, we will be able to communicate just as we do in our native language!

This post is the 55th  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
use the verb

  Mettere 

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

Mettere

The Italian verb mettere and its reflexive counterpart mettersi are used in many colloquial expressions in Italy today.  It is important to “put in” the time to learn how to use mettere, both literally and figuratively, if one wants to speak Italian like a native!

The Italian verb mettere is most often translated into English as “to put” or “to place.”  It can be used in a simple way, to describe moving an object from one place to another.

Mettere is commonly used with the prepositions a, da, in and su  in many Italian expressions that have the connotation of “putting” or “placing” something or someone in a place or situation. One commonly heard expression is, “Metti su l’acqua!” for “Put on the water!” which, of course refers to boiling a pot of water in preparation for making pasta! The Internet also provides another  opportunity to use mettere su.

Mettersi a and mettere in are used to relay that an individual is “going to” initiate an action  such as starting to cook dinner or starting a car. Mettersi a can also be used in the impersonal third person to describe an act of nature starting up on its own. Finally, use mettere in to describe the emotional state or situations you have been “put into.”

Italian uses mettersi to describe the act of getting dressed. In English, we combine the verb “put” with the preposition “on” to make “put on” with reference to clothing. The preposition “on” does not have any other purpose than to change the meaning of the verb “put,” in the same way that the reflexive form of an Italian verb is used to modify or even change that verb’s original meaning. Messo, the past participle of mettere, is important to describe what one was wearing in the past. Several examples of how to use mettere and mettersi to describe getting dressed will be given in the next section.  For additional information on this topic, visit a previous blog in this series: How We Dress in Italian.

Mettere can be used in the figurative sense, meaning, “I suppose” or “I presume.” Mettere can also be used figuratively to ask how something “looks.” If you are more sure of yourself, use ammetere and admit/confirm whatever is under discussion at the moment.

Use the pronominal verb phrase “mettercela tutta” as an informal way to describe that you’ve “put in” the most effort you can/are doing your best, or to encourage another to “give it their all.”

Finally, many Italian sayings incorporate mettere.  Some of the most popular have been listed at the end of this blog.

 

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Let’s talk about how to conjugate mettere in the present, past, and future tenses before using it in some example sentences. Luckily, mettere is regular in all tenses except for the passato prossimo, due to its irregular past participle, which is messo.

Present tense: Mettere is a regular -ere verb in the present tense. The present tense conjugation is below.

io metto
tu metti
Lei/lei/lui mette
noi mettiamo
voi  mettete
loro mettono

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

Mettere has a regular conjugation in the imperfetto past tense (mettevo, mettevi, metteve, mettevamo, mettevate, mettevano).

Future tense: mettere is regular in the future tense (metterò, metterai, metterà, metteremo, metterete, metteranno). 


 

1. Use mettere to describe the simple act of moving an object from one place and “putting” or “placing” it in another place.

  • Mettere is commonly followed by a noun and then a preposition to describe the act of  “putting”  or “placing” an object somewhere in one’s household.
  • The singular familiar command form of mettere, which is metti is also important to remember when directing family or friends where to put an object.
  • The past participle messo is important when one has remembered (or is trying to remember) where they have put an object.
  • The direct object pronouns “them”(le) and “it”(lo) are red, so as not to confuse them with a verb ending. 
Ho messo i piatti sulla tavola per la cena.
I put the plates on the table for dinner.
 
Brava! Ora, pian piano, metti i bicchieri di cristalleria vicino a i piatti!
Great! Now, carefully place the crystal wine glasses next to the plates!
Ho messo le chiavi nella mia borsa, ma ora non riesco a trovarle!
I put the keys in my purse, but now I can’t find them!
 
Mettilo di là, in stanza mia. 
Put it over there, in my room.  

 

2. Use mettere su to describe “putting” food “on” the stove, to “put on” something in figurative sense, or to “put up a post on” the Internet

  • Mettere with the preposition su is a commonly used expression in home cooking. For instance, when a family is ready for dinner, one can direct another to “put” a pot of water “on” the stove to boil.  No other details are necessary, for every Italian knows that  boiling, salted water is essential for making pasta! Specific foods one would like to encourage another to cook can also follow mettere su, and one can be asked more directly simply to make la pasta. Of note: with expressions of this type, the preposition su is not combined with the definite article. 
  • Mettere su is used in common expressions to mean “to put on weight” or “to put (someone) on a pedestal,” just like in English.
  • Use mettere su in the figurative sense, as in to “put on a show” of something, or to “organize” or “create” an event.
  • To sound like a native Italian when speaking about the internet, use mettere su or mettere in rete instead of postare for “putting up” with the meaning of “posting” or “publishing on line. Along these lines, “mettere in coppia” means “to copy someone” on an email.
Sono arrivato! Metti su l’acqua! 
I’m home! Put on the (pot of) water (to boil to make the pasta)!
 
Metti su la pasta! / Metti su la carne! 
Start cooking the pasta! / Start cooking the meat!
Lui ha meso su pancia quest’anno.
He has put on belly fat this year!
 
Anna mette su un piedistallo il suo fidanzato Marco.
Ann puts her fiancé Mark on a pedastal.
Lui ha meso su uno spettacolo per tutti ieri sera con i suoi scherzi.
He put on a show for everyone last night with his jokes.
 
Marco ha messo su un bel viaggio per tutti.
Mark has organized a nice trip for everyone.

 

Metti su internet una foto del tuo viaggio!
Put up a photo of your trip on the Internet!
Post a photo of your trip on the Internet!
 
Lei ha messo su un blog su internet questa settimana.
She has put up/posted a blog on the internet this week.

 

3. Use mettersi a, mettersi in the third person, or mettere in moto to describe initiating an action

  • Mettersi a is used to tell someone you are “about to/starting to” do something, such as starting to cook dinner. The Italian phrase is [mettersi a + infinitive verb]. The English translation is  [to be + going to] when mettersi is used in this way.
  • Mettersi a followed by an infinitive verb can also be used in the third person to describe an inanimate object or an act of nature starting up something by itself.  There is a popular Italian saying, “Da Santa Lucia, il freddo si mette in via,” which means, “From Saint Lucia’s Day, the cold is on its way.” The two verbs that mean “to start,” cominciare and iniziare cannot be used in the third person this way.  For a more detailed discussion on the topic of how to use impersonal reflexive verbs, visit a previous blog in this series Impersonal Statements and Reflexive Verbs.: “Come si dice?”
  • Mettere in moto is a commonly used expression to describe starting a car but can also be used figuratively with the meaning of “to embark on” or “set off on” a journey.
Sono arrivato! Ora mi metto a cucinare la cena.
I’m home! Now I am going to cook dinner.
 
Finalmente lui si mette a lavorare con noi stamattina.
Finally he is going to work with us this morning.
L’eruzione del vulcano si mette a fare la terza eruzione oggi.
The volcano starts the third eruption today.
 
L’acqua si mette ad alzarsi a Venezia a febbraio.
The water starts to rise in Venice in February.
Michele mette in moto la macchina.
Michael starts the car.
 
Dopo aver lasciato Anna, Michele mette in moto una vita nuova.
After leaving Ann, Michael sets off on a new life.

 

4. Use mettere in and mettere a/di to describe negative or positive emotional states or figurative positions you have been “put into.”

  • Mettere is often used figuratively. There are many expressions that describe the negative emotions and situations one can be “put into” by completing the phrase “mettere in…” An Italian can be put into a difficult position, doubt, embarrassment, ridicule, risk, danger, or even “to their knees” or  “on the run”! On the other hand, to be saved is to be “mettere in salvo.” The phrase that means “to be quarantined” is “mettere in quarantena.”
  • Mettere a or mettere di, conversely, are used in many expressions that describe positive interactions, such as: putting someone at ease, putting things in order, being available to help out, and helping to reach an agreement. Mettere insieme means “to put together” but also “to bring together.” And remember to say, “Sono d’accordo!” for “I agree!” once you have come to an understanding with others!
  • When describing an event,  “mettere in…” can simply mean “to put into play” (gioco) or “to put on a show” (mostra).  “Mettere in vendita” means “to put up for sale.”
  • There are many other common Italian phrases that start with mettere! Listen for how Italians use this versatile verb and you will hear it often!
Mettere in…    
  difficoltà to put in a difficult position
to hinder
  dubbio to doubt
  imbarazzo to embarrass
to make someone uncomfortable
  ridicolo to ridicule
  rischio to put someone at risk
to put in danger
  ginocchio to bring someone to their knees
  fuga
quarantena
to put someone on the run
to put someone in quarantine

 

Mettere a… proprio agio to put somebody at ease
  posto to put in order
to clean up
to put away
  disposizione to make available
  servizio to put at one’s disposition
Mettere d’…
Sono d’…
accordo to help reach an agreement
I agree!

 

5. Use mettersi to describe the act of getting dressed

  • There are several Italian verbs that are used to convey the act of wearing clothing and getting dressed. Mettersi is an important verb to know in this regard. For more information on this topic, visit a previous blog in this series: How We Dress in Italian.

Mettersi can be used to convey three different types of English sentences: I put on my dress,” “I put my dress on,” and “I put on the dress.” In general, Italian uses reflexive verbs to describe daily actions we all must perform to keep up “la bella figura.” English instead uses a [verb + preposition +possessive adjective] sentence structure. Although the last English example is correct, we most often default to using the first two examples, with the possessive “my.”

Although the sentence structure that describes getting dressed differs in Italian and English, in both cases there is a straightforward formula to follow.  For Italian, the reflexive pronoun mi (myself) is placed before the conjugated form of mettersi and the article of clothing to be put on is then placed after the verb. The subject pronoun is omitted, as usual. So the final translation for “I put on my dress” is, “Mi metto il vestito.” 

Just remember the simple phrase “mi metto” and replace il vestito with your chosen article of clothing and you will be able to describe getting dressed!

To describe action in the tu (you) form, just conjugate mettersi normally and then add the article of clothing, as in “ti metti.” For the lei/lui (she/he) form, use “si mette,” and so on.

(Io) Mi metto il vestito. I put on my dress./I put my dress on./I put on the dress.
(Tu) Ti metti l’anello. You put on your ring.
(Lei/Lui) Si mette le scarpe. She/He puts on his shoes.

In order to describe what they have worn in the past, most Italians use mettersi and  its irregular past participle messo

Remember to use the helping verb essere for the passato prossimo with the reflexive verb mettersi.  And, of course the last vowel of the past participle must agree in gender with the person wearing the clothing, since we are using essere as the helping verb (see the red vowels in the examples). The table below shows how this all works:

Marco si è messo un completo oggi.

Mark wore a suit today.
Maria si è messa una gonna oggi. Maria wore a skirt today.

 

6. More figurative uses for mettersi and mettere

  • Mettersi can be used figuratively to ask how something “looks,” such as the weather or an interpersonal situation.
  • Mettere can be used in the figurative sense, meaning, “I suppose,” or “I presume” in a compound sentence with a subjunctive mood verb.  In the examples below, abbia is the subjunctive for avere and sappia is the subjunctive for sapere (singular first, second, and third persons). These are two helpful verbs to remember, even if one is not versed in the subjunctive mood. If you are more sure of yourself, use ammetere and admit/confirm whatever is under discussion at the moment, also with the subjunctive mood.
  • Remember that the noi conjugation of a verb is also used in the imperative to mean “let’s.” (See the last example.)
Come si mette il tempo oggi? 
How does the weather look today?
 
Come si mette la situazione con Clara?
How does the situation with Clara look?
Tu sai la situazione meglio di me.  Quindi, ammetto che tu abbia ragione.
You know the situation better than me. Therefore, I admit/confirm that you are right.
 
Mettiamo che Marco sappia più di noi.
Let’s presume that Mark knows more than us. 

 

7. Use the pronominal verb phrase mettercela tutta” as an informal way to describe that you have “put in your best effort.”

  • Mettercela is a pronominal verb, recognized by the ce and la tacked on to the end of metter, which is just mettere without the last “e.” Conjugate this verb exactly as you would mettere, then add the pronominal particles ce and la, following the usual rules for pronouns. 
  • The pronominal particles ce and la change the meaning of mettere.  “Mettercela tutta” means “to put in your absolute best effort” or “to give it your all,” as in strength and determination, in order to achieve a goal. 
  • The speaker can use the phrase “mettercerla tutta” in the present tense to describe an ongoing effort. “Ce la messo tutta…” means, “I am putting in my best effort.”  This phrase is also commonly used in the past tense when the speaker wants to emphasize that the outcome wasn’t for lack of trying. In this case, the passato prossimo conjugation for this completed event is, “Ce l’ho messa…”
  • Mettercela tutta can be preceded by devo, which means “I must” for an even more forceful statement. In this case, there is no need to conjugate mettercela. Just leave it in the infinitive form, as usual for verbs that follow dovere. 
  • Or, the speaker can encourage another to try as hard as they can and keep making their best effort.  Use the familiar command form of mettere, which is metti, and attach ce and la to the end of the verb for “Metticerla tutta!” To stress the importance of the effort needed, precede metticela tutta with, “Dai!” for “C’mon!”  
  • Notice another pronominal verb in our examples, farcela, which in this case means “to succeed.”
  • Follow these simple formulas for using mettercela to really speak like a native Italian!
Ce la metto tutta. Spero di farcela!
I putting in everything I have! I hope to succeed!
 
Devo mettercerla tutta questa settimana per trovare un cliente nuovo.
I must focus all my effort this week into finding a new client.
Ce l’ho messa tutta, ma non ho superato l’esame lo stesso!
I gave it my all but I failed (didn’t pass) the exam anyway!
 
Dai! Dobbiamo vincere questa partita. Metticela tutta!
C’mon! We have to win this match. Give it all you’ve got!

*To make sense of the construction “Ce l’ho messa,” we must remember that the l’ stands in for ” la”  and therefore is feminine. La drops its “a” in the passato prossimo before ho, to make l’ho, which is easier to say. Then, this dropped “a” reappears as the new ending for the past participle! These rules are explained in detail in our Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Verbs” book.

 

8. Common Italian sayings that use mettere

Mettere i soldi in cassa = to make money (literally to put money in the cash register)

Mettere a pane e acqua = a harsh punishment (literally to give someone only bread and water)

Mettere i piedi in testa a = walk over/trample over somebody

Mettere il carro davanti ai buoi = put the cart in front of the horse

Mettere in piazza qualcosa = to be open about something/lay your cards on the table

Mettere in primo piano = make a priority of something/ emphasize/focus on

Mettere il becco in = to stick your nose in/interfere

Mettere bocca su tutto = always commenting on/have an opinion on everything

Mettere i puntini sulle “i” = dot your i’s/ be nitpicky

 

There are even more ways to use the Italian verb mettere than space in this blog! 
Practice listening for the Italian phrases that use mettere and
try them out in your own Italian conversations!

 

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! How to Use “Di” 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 in 2022?

Why not set a goal to learn Italian, starting today, for the year 2022? I will try to help you with this goal by posting a new blog every month in the series “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” With these blogs, I discuss how Italians use their language on a daily basis and in so doing help you to “think in Italian.” 

To speak fluently in another language, it is important to know how to introduce an object, or to describe direction, location or time. We do this naturally in our own language with prepositions — short words like of, to, at/in/from, and by. All languages use prepositions but the choice of preposition in a given situation will differ from one language to another. This is the case for English and Italian; English and Italian often use prepositions in a different way. Also, in some situations Italian sentence structure may require a preposition where English does not!

Let’s start our new series on Italian prepositions with the essential Italian preposition “di.” If we learn how to use the Italian preposition “di,” which can be translated into the English prepositions “of, from,” and “by,” we will truly sound like a native Italian!

This post is the 54th 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 use

  the preposition “di”

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.

*This material adapted from the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and reference books Just the Verbs and Just the Grammar 

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

 Use “Di” to Say
Where You are From

One of the most frequent questions asked during polite conversation is, “Where are you from?” This is expressed in Italian with the verb to be (essere) and di, which is translated in English to the preposition from in this situation. The Italian sentence structure is, “From where are you?”

di + dove + essere from + where + to be

In proper English, of course, we would say, “Where are you from?” Although the Italian sentence sounds awkward in English, the rule in Italian is never to end a sentence with a preposition; in effect, the English sentence likely sounds awkward to Italians!  The answer in Italian will also use di and is followed by the town of one’s birth. Notice that the subject pronoun io (I) is usually left out of the answer, as it is understood from the ending of the verb. For instance:

Di dov’è Lei?

Where are you (polite) from?

Di dove sei?

Where are you (familiar) from?

Sono di Chicago.

(I) am from Chicago.

Note: there is another way of asking where someone is from in Italian — the phrase, “Da dove viene?” This phrase uses the conjunction da with the verb venire, and is a more general reference to where one has been living in prior years. The answer is “Vengo da…” for “I am from…” This phrase will be discussed in more detail in a future blog about the preposition da.

 


 

Expressing Possession with “Di”

In Italian, the word di is used to expresses possession, and in this situation, di means of. To describe ownership of a car in Italian, for instance, one would use di to create the sentence: “Questa è la macchina di Pietro.”

We can translate the Italian way of thinking into English with the following sentence: “This is the car of Peter.”  To the American ear, though, this sounds formal and too wordy. We have the option of expressing this thought with [apostrophe + the letter s] (‘s) tacked onto the name of the person doing the possessing. The English version of our example above would be, “This is Peter’s car.”  In Italian, though, if we want to use someone’s name to describe possession, we have only the very first sentence structure: “Questa è la macchina di Pietro.”

 


 

General Uses for “Di”

1. In order to express authorship of a work, Italians use di, which in this case corresponds to the English word by.  Also use di with the verb conoscere to describe “knowing someone by” their appearance or their name. Notice we may render these ideas a bit differently in English.

8 ½ è un film di Frederico Fellini.

8 ½ is a film by Fredrico Fellini.

Conosco Marco di vista, ma non ci siamo mai incontrati.

I know what Mark looks like, but we have not (ever) met.

Conosco Marco di nome, ma non ci siamo mai incontrati.

I know Mark’s name, but we have not (ever) met.

2. In order to express what something is composed of, Italians use di. In English, we say “made of,” and in Italian the past particle fatto can be used as an adjective to make the corresponding phrase fatto(a,i,e) di.” However, in Italian the adjective fatto is optional and the entire meaning of the phrase is usually conveyed just with the preposition di. This is why it is so important to learn how to use Italian prepositions correctly. A short, simple preposition can change the meaning of an entire sentence! 

Note: for all metals that are not gold (oro) and for the cloth velvet (vellutouse the preposition in instead of di. These exceptions are simply by convention.

Questa sedia fatta di legno è dura.

This chair made of wood is tough.

Ho comprato un camicia di seta oggi.

I bought a silk blouse today.

Mio marito mi ha regolato un’anello d’oro.

My husband bought me a ring made of gold.

—–but-—-

Questa è una scultura in bronzo.

This sculpture is made of bronze.

La vecchia poltrona è stata rivestita in velluto.

The old chair was restored with velvet cloth.

3. In order to relate that a topic is being talked about, or discussed/argued about, Italians use di to link certain verbs with the subject matter under discussion. The most common verbs used in this way are: parlare (to talk), discutere (to discuss) and trattarsi, (concerning or regarding).   

For the verb parlare, the Italian preposition di is translated as “about” in English. When a verb follows parlare di or discutere di to complete the sentence, Italian simply adds an infinitive verb after di. English uses [about + gerund of the verb]. You remember, of course, that the gerund is the commonly used “-ing” form of a verb in English. Below are two examples using parlare and discutere. 

Caterina parla di viaggiare, non di politica.

Kathy talks about traveling, not about politics.

Marco discute di politica troppo!

Mark discusses/talks about politics too much!

Trattarsi di is generally used in the third person as “Si tratta di…” to ask and answer the question “What is this regarding?” Parlare often starts a conversation of this type, when one person asks to speak to another about something, someone, or an action. Two example conversations are below; the first could take place between a boss and a worker, the second perhaps between two family members. To add a feeling of urgency or importance to the conversation, the examples start with “devo” for “I have to.”  Notice again how  the Italian preposition di is always placed at the beginning of a question, just like in the first section examples that ask where someone is from.

Devo parlarti.

I have to talk to you.

Di cosa si tratta?

What is this regarding?

Si tratta del tuo stipendio.

It is regarding your salary.

Devo parlarti di una cosa importante;

I must speak to you about something important;

…si tratta di Paolo.

…it’s concerning Paul.

…si tratta della mia macchina vecchia.

…it’s regarding my old car.

…si tratta di viaggiare in Italia insieme.

…it’s regarding traveling in Italy together.

To complete our discussion, note a change in use of the preposition di required in Italian that is not evident in English: when talking about a person or something by name, the Italian preposition su is used in the following construction: [su + definite article + noun]. The English translation “about” is the same.

Sto leggendo un bel libro su DaVinci.
Ho guardato un bel film su DaVinci.

I am reading a good book about DaVinci.
I watched a good film about Da Vinci.

Ho imparato molto sul Rinascimento all’Università.

I’ve learned a lot about the Renaissance at college.

4. The verb pensare has a special relationship with the preposition di.  When saying, “I think so,” to agree with someone, or “I don’t think so,” to disagree, one might say pensare is being used as a verb of discussion, as in #3 above. In this situation, the conjugated form of pensare is followed by “di si” or “di no.”

Also use [pensare di+ infinitive verb] when thinking about an action you may want to carry out.  But, use [pensare a +noun] when thinking about a person, place, or thing. 

For the sake of completeness, it should be mentioned that [pensare che + subjunctive mood verb] is used to link to phrases with different subjects in a single sentence. However, use of the subjunctive mood is beyond the scope of this blog!

Penso di si.

I think so.

Penso di no.

I don’t think so.

Penso di viaggiare in Italia l’anno prossimo.

I am thinking about traveling to Italy next year.

                                                                  —–but-—-

Penso a te, a Rosa, e alla vostra famiglia.

I am thinking about you, Rose, and your family.

Penso a Roma ogni giorno.

I think about Rome every day.

Penso a tutti i bei vestiti fatti a Roma.

I am thinking about all the beautiful dresses made in Rome.

5. To mention an acquaintance’s age in conversation, use di as part of a descriptive phrase about the individual before giving their age in years. The phrases “all’età di (at the age of) or “a girl/woman, boy/man, etc. of precede the age type of sentence. This sentence structure also works for the age of an inanimate object, such as a bottle of wine!

Lei è una signora di ottantadue anni.

She is a lady of 82 years.

Ho una bottaglia di vino rosso di 10 anni.

I have a ten-year-old bottle of red wine.

6.  To say something happened “in” or “at” a particular time of day, use di before the Italian words for morning (mattina), afternoon (pomeriggio), evening (sera), or night (notte)

Ci vendiamo di mattina.

We’ll see each other in the morning.

Di pomeriggio, vado al lavoro.

In the afternoon, I go to work.

Io e mio marito ceniamo alle sei di sera.

My husband and I eat dinner at 6 in the evening.

“Buona notte!” dice mia figlia preciso alle undici  di notte.  

“Good night,” my daughter says at precisely 11 o’clock at night.

7. To say something happened “in” the summertime or wintertime, use di before the Italian words for summer (estate) and winter (inverno). Use the Italian preposition in for spring (primavera) and autumn (autunno).  This is by convention.

D’estate, andiamo spesso alla spiaggia.

In the summer, we go to the beach often.

Andiamo in montagne a fare sci d’inverno.

We go to the mountains to ski in the winter.

In primavera, tutti i fiori fioriscono.

In springtime, all the flowers are in bloom.

In autunno, le foglie cadono dagli alberi.

In autumn, the leaves fall from the trees.


 

Common Expressions with “Di”
Avere and Essere 

There are several Italian phrases used to express one’s feelings that require the preposition di to link the conjugated form of the verb avere with the infinitive form of the verb of action that will complete the sentence. In English, replacing the Italian preposition di with the translation of is variable. In some cases, the English infinitive verb will be used alone or the English expression may use a gerund instead of an infinitive verb. You must really learn to think in Italian to use these expressions! Some examples of how to use these phrases are given in the last column. How many more can you think of?

avere bisogno di

 to have need of

Ho bisogno di… riposare.

   

I need to rest.

avere paura di

to be afraid/have fear of

Ho paura di… guidare.

   

I am afraid of driving/to drive.

avere voglia di

to feel like

Ho voglia di… mangiare una pizza.

   

I feel like eating a pizza.

There are several expressions of feeling that use the verb essere and take the preposition di prior to adding an infinitive verb to complete a sentence. Again, in English, we do not always use an additional preposition for these phrases, aside from the word to that is already a part of the infinitive verb.  

essere certo di

to be certain of

Sono certo di… ricordare il tuo nome.

   

I am sure to remember your name.

essere sicuro di

to be certain of

Sono sicuro di… ricordare questo posto.

   

I am sure to remember this place.

essere contento di

to be happy to

Sono conteno di… stare qui.

   

I am happy to be here.

essere felice di

to be happy to

Sono felice di… incontrare mio cugino oggi.

   

I am happy to meet my cousin today.

essere fortunato di

to be lucky to

Sono fortunato di… mangiare questa cena.

   

I am so lucky to be eating this dinner.

essere libero di

to be free to

Sono libero di… viaggiare.

   

I am free to travel.

essere stanco di

to be tired of

Sono stanco di… volare.

   

I am tired of flying.


 

When to Use “Di”
to Link Italian Verbs

When we link two Italian verbs together in the present tense, the first verb, or helping verb, is conjugated and the second verb, or action verb, is left in the infinitive form. For instance, “Tomorrow, I have to go to work,” is a simple statement that can be translated as, “Domani, devo andare al lavoro.” “I have to” meaning, “I must,”  is the first person present tense of dovere, which is devo. Andare means “to go.”

Other helping verbs, such as potere and volere work the same way in the present tense. In fact, using the polite first person of potere, which is può, followed by an infinitive verb, is a simple way to ask for what you need while traveling in Italy. Once you remember “Mi può…” no further conjugation is necessary using this method Just tack on the infinitive verb for what you need and finish the sentence!

Some examples that use [può + infinitive verb] useful for traveling are given below:

Mi può portare a Piazza Navona?

Could you take me to Piazza Navona?

Mi può parlare in englese?

Could you speak to me in English?

Mi può chiamare un tassì?

Could you call a taxi for me?

Although the traveler to Italy can get by with simple phrases, it is important to understand how to create a more complex sentence if one truly wants to be fluent in Italian. This is where the preposition di becomes important. There are some action verbs that need to be followed by the Italian preposition di before an infinitive verb is added to complete the sentence.

Most of the verbs that must use di prior to an infinitive verb describe speaking, thinking, or an activity that needs to be completed. We have already discussed parlare and pensare. Other actions, such as  trying to (cercare di), finishing (finire di), and waiting (aspettare di) need the preposition di to join them to an additional verb of activity. 

In the case of cercare, the meaning will change when di is used to link this verb to another. By itself, cercare means to look for, but cercare di means to try to. For the Italian speaker, it is natural to insert the preposition di after certain verbs; it just sounds correct when one has grown up with the Italian language.  For the Italian student, listening to Italian will also be important. Listen for the word di when these phrases come up in Italian movies and songs and soon it will become natural to say these phrases correctly!

Accettare

to accept

Accetto di… lavorare duro perché è necessario.

   

I accept working hard because it is necessary.

Aspettare

to wait

Aspetto di… ricevere un regalo dal mio fidanzato.

   

I am waiting to receive a present from my fiancée.

Cercare di

to try to

Cerco di… studiare bene.

   

I am trying to study well.

Credere

to believe

Credo di… avere ragione.

   

I believe I am correct.

Decidere

to decide

Decido di… lavorare con attenzione agli dettagli.

   

I decide to pay attention to every detail while working.

Dimenticare

to forget

Non dimenticare di… prendere la medicina! (command)

   

Don’t forget to take the medicine!

Dire

to say/tell

Dico di… no. Non sono d’accordo.

   

I say no. I don’t agree.

Finire

to finish

Finisco di… lavorare per oggi alle sei di sera.

   

I finish working every day at 6 PM.

Occuparsi di

to work at

Mi occupo di… medicina.

   

I work as a doctor/nurse/in the medical field.

Ordinare

to order

Ordino di… prendere la mia prima colazione alle sei di mattina.

   

I order to take my breakfast at six AM.

Pensare

to think

Penso di… si. 

   

I think so.

Pregare

to pray/beg

Prego di… andare in Italia l’anno prossimo.

   

I pray to go to Italy next year.

Ricordare
Ricordarsi

 to remember

Ricordati di… prendere la medicina! (command)

   

Remember to take the medicine!

Scegliere

to choose

Sceglo di... prendere un caffé con un biscotto ogni mattina.

   

I choose to take coffee with an Italian cookie every day.

Scrivere

to write

Scrivo di… viaggiare in tutto il mondo.

   

I write about traveling all over the world.

Smettere

to stop

Smetti di… bere il vino! (command)

   

Stop drinking the wine!

Sperare

to hope

Spero di… trovare la strada giusta.

   

I hope to find the right road.


Remember how to use the Italian preposition “di” in conversation 
and I guarantee you will use the Italian “di” 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

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! Let’s Talk About… Dating in Italian

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

Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently in 2022?

Why not set a goal to learn Italian, starting today, for the year 2022? I will try to help you with this goal by posting a new blog every month in the series “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” With these blogs, I describe how Italians use their language on a daily basis and in so doing  help you to “think in Italian.” 

February is the month we in America celebrate Valentines Day, a holiday that originated in Italy and is still popular there today, as described in last years’ February blog “How to Say… ‘I feel’ on Valentines Day with Sentirsi.” Since the Italian phrases that describe a romantic relationship are not usually listed in textbooks, I’ve focused on Italian novels and movies to learn how Italians talk about falling in love. Once I discover a phrase about dating or romance, I check with my native Italian friends and instructors for authenticity and to verify how the phrase is used today.

I’ve managed to piece together the following information about how Italians talk about dating and romantic relationships in this blog, some of which is reprinted from my blog for advanced students of Italian: Italian Subjunctive (Part 4): Italian Hypothetical Phrases of Love.   After reading this introductory blog, you may want to check out the dialogue I have created in Italian Hypothetical Phrases of Love, where these phrases are put to use!

If we learn a few phrases to describe dating in Italian, we will be able to talk to others about the person who has become the “special someone” in our life!

This post is the 53rd  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 describe

  Dating in Italian

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… Dating in Italian

Today in America, we “date,” “go out on a date,” or refer to two people who are “dating,” from the first romantic encounter until they become married. After marriage, a couple can still go out on “date nights.” But be careful when translating American romantic experiences into Italian! The English verb “to date” as used in America today to refer to a romantic relationship does not have a literal translation in Italian.

Of course, “to court” a woman was common in past centuries, and the Italian language still reflects this. When a man tries to show he is interested in a woman, the phrase “fare la corte a…” is used from the verb corteggiare or “to court.” For instance, “Marco fa la corte a Maria,” is translated literally as “Mark is courting Maria,” with the connotation that he is “pursuing” her or trying to “win” her love.

The verb corteggiare can also be used figuratively, between any two adults, to describe when one is trying to cajole, flatter, or entice another, usually to “convince” them to do something. “Marco corteggia il proprietario alla festa perché vuole un aumento di stipendio.” “Mark flattered the owner at the party because he wanted an increase in his salary.”

There is a verb still in use in Italy today that refers to a man seducing, or “winning over,” a woman: “conquistare… ” such as, “Marco ha conquistato Maria.” If Maria lets herself be “won over” or “captivated” by Marco, she can use the phrase, “Mi lascio conquestare da Marco.”

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

In today’s vernacular, if one wants to allude to the fact that they are dating, or “seeing” someone special in the Italian language, the following phrases can be used:

“Mi vedo con un ragazzo.”
“Mi vedo con una ragazza.”
“I’m seeing a boy.”
“I am seeing a girl.”
“Esco con un ragazzo.”
“Esco con una ragazza.”
“I’m going out with a boy.”
“I’m going out with a girl.”
“Il ragazzo con cui ho/avevo appuntamento/date.”
“La ragazza con cui ho/avevo appuntamento/date.”
“The boy with whom I have/had an appointment/date.”
“The boy with whom I have/had an appointment/date.”

It should be noted that ragazzo and ragazza also translate into boyfriend and girlfriend. To let another know you have a boyfriend or girlfriend, simply say, “Ho un ragazzo,” or “Ho una ragazza.” 

Also, you’ll notice that from the above translations that the Italian noun appuntamento does double duty, since it  corresponds to both appointment and date. In English, the word appointment is generally used to refer to a business meeting or a formal meeting in general, often between people who do not know each other well. The noun “date” can be used to describe a general meeting between friends, and is always used when one wants to imply a romantic interest.

Italian can be used to refer to regular romantic “get togethers” before marriage with the phrase “to go out with someone”“uscire con qualcuno.”  “Io esco con Marco ogni sabato sera,” means, “I go out with Mark every Saturday night,” and implies, “I go out on a (romantic) date with Mark every Friday night.” 

The Italian verb “frequentarsi,” which means “to spend time with each other” can also be used to describe a special relationship. Frequentarsi can also be translated as “to see each other” or “to date each other” in the romantic sense or simply to “to hang out with” friends. The non reflexive form, frequentare, means “to frequent” or “to visit” a certain place.

Some examples of how to use the Italian verbs that describe a special relationship are listed in the table below. Remember that ci and si in these examples stand for “each other.” For a refresher on how to use reciprocal reflexive verbs, visit our blog in this series called Italian Reciprocal Reflexive Verbs.

Marco e io ci frenquentiamo. Mark and I are spending time with each other. (romantically)
Mark and I are seeing each other (romantically)
Mark and I are dating each other.
Noi ci frequentiamo il sabato sera. We are seeing each other/dating every Saturday night.
   
Marco e Maria si fequentano. Mark and Maria are dating each other.
Loro si frequentano ogni venderdì sera. Mark and Maria see each other/
going out on a date every Friday night.
Marco frequenta il Ristorante Paolo il sabato. Mark frequents/goes to Ristorante Paolo on Saturday nights.
Marco si frequenta con i suoi amici in piazza quando non ha niente da fare. Mark hangs out with his friends in the piazza when he doesn’t have anything to do.
Marco si fequenta con Maria spesso. Mark often hangs out with Maria. (as friends)
   
Marco e i suoi amici frequentano il Ristorante Paolo. Mark and his friends hang out at Ristorante Paolo.
Loro si frequentano ogni vender sera. They see each other every Friday night. (as friends)

Finally, to express a close romantic relationship in Italian, we can use the word “rapporto.” Any relationship in general is considered a “relazione.” But be careful, as an “affair” outside of marriage is also a “relazione,” whereas “affari” refers to more general personal and business “affairs.”

 

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Now that we have learned the Italian needed to talk about dating, let’s review how to say, “I love you” to that special someone on Valentines Day.

“Ti voglio bene” is an old Italian expression that is still used for both platonic and romantic love. The meaning of this phrase is not easily translated into English, but it is used often in Italy to express one’s feeling of  closeness to another. This expression has its origin in the Italian phrasal verb “volere bene (a qualcuno).” “Ti voglio bene” can been translated as, “I care for you” or,”I wish you well,” but really, it is the way Italians tell others that they love them.

The expression “ti voglio bene” can be used between family members and friends, as well as a boyfriend and girlfriend or husband and a wife. Watch some older Italian movies, and you will hear this expression often!

Mi voui bene? Do you care for/about me?
Ti voglio bene. I care for/about you.

 

The verb amare, which means “to love” is reserved for romantic love — that one true love held between a couple who are dating, fiancée and fiancé, or wife and husband. Remember the simple expressions with amare in the table below to use with someone special this Valentines Day!

Mi ami? Do you love me?
Ti amo. I love you.
Ti amo per sempre. I will always love you.

If you learn to talk about dating in Italian
and how to use the verb amare 
you will really have learned to think in Italian!

 

Buona Festa del San Valentino!

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! Impersonal Statements and Reflexive Verbs: “Come si dice…?”

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 in 2022?

Now that 2022 is upon us, why not set a goal to learn Italian, starting today, for the year 2022? I will try to help you with this goal by posting blogs that describe how Italians use their language on a daily basis and in so doing  help you to “think in Italian.” 

For instance, did you know that Italians still use impersonal constructions? By “impersonal constructions” I mean sentences that describe what “one” is doing, in order to make a general statement.

A common example of an Italian impersonal construction is the phrase, “Come si dice…” This simple Italian phrase is used by every Italian student at one point or another when asking for help with their vocabulary.  The literal translation of “Come si dice…?” is, “How does one say…”  In spoken English, this construction is only rarely used today, and usually in formal situations. Instead, to generalize, English speakers often use the collective “you” — directed both at no one in particular and at everyone at the same time! Especially in an informal conversation, “Come si dice…” would be translated as, “How do you say…?” But in Italian, when one generalizes, he or she cannot replace the “si” for “one” with “tu” for “you” the way we do in English.

If we learn how to use impersonal phrases in Italian, with  Italian reflexive verbs, we will be able to ask general questions, give directions, and even express how mechanical objects work!

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 Impersonal Statements
that describe general interactions
and use

  Italian Reflexive Verbs 

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.

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

Italian Reflexive Verbs

Knowing how to use Italian reflexive verbs is extremely important for conversation, since Italian reflexive verbs often describe activities and emotions that are encountered every day. Reflexive verbs are recognized by the –si ending of their infinitive form. Let’s review a bit about reflexive verbs before going on to discuss how they are used to make impersonal statements.

Direct reflexive verbs, as their name suggests, are used when an action refers back directly to the speaker in the subject of the sentence. For example, if one wants to describe the everyday act of falling asleep in Italian, they must use the reflexive verb addormentarsi. Italian reflexive verbs are also used to express the English concept of “to get,” as we’ve seen in a prior Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day blog. When one “gets mad,” they must express this concept in Italian with the verb arrabbiarsi. Consider also the every day activity of “getting dressed,” with mettersi, which was the focus of another blog in this series, How We Dress in Italian.

All Italian students are introduced  to a direct reflexive verb of the –arsi type at the very beginning of their studies, when they learn how to introduce themselves with the reflexive verb that means “to be named,” which is chiamarsi.  There are, of course, also reflexive verbs of the –ersi and –irsi types as well, such as mettersi (to put on clothes/to get dressed) and divertirsi (to enjoy oneself).

The necessary component of all reflexive verbs is the reflexive pronoun (myself, yourself,  himself, etc.), which is what actually  corresponds to and refers directly back to the subject.

To review, the reflexive pronouns are:

mimyself
ti – yourself (familiar)
si – yourself (pol.)/ herself, himself, itself, oneself

ciourselves
 vi – yourselves (familiar)
si – themselves

 

To conjugate a reflexive verb, start with the subject pronoun and follow with the corresponding reflexive pronoun. However, remember that for conversational Italian the subject pronoun is usually left out of the sentence and is only sometimes included for emphasis.

Our first table below starts us on our way to the complete conjugation of a reflexive verb by pairing each subject pronoun with its corresponding reflexive pronoun:

io mi I myself
tu ti you (familiar) yourself
Lei

lei/lui

si you (polite)

she/he

yourself

herself, himself,
itself, oneself

       
noi ci we ourselves
voi vi you all yourselves
loro si they yourselves (polite)
themselves

All we need to do now is to add our verb to create the action!  Notice that the English translation adds the reflexive pronoun after the verb, while in Italian the reflexive pronoun comes before the verb (except for familiar commands). This may take a little time to get used to!

Let’s conjugate divertirsito have fun / enjoy oneself — as an example:

io mi diverto I enjoy myself
tu ti diverti you (familiar) enjoy yourself
Lei

lei/lui

si diverte you (polite) enjoy yourself

she/he enjoys herself, himself

       
noi ci divertiamo we enjoy ourselves
voi vi divertite you all enjoy yourselves
loro si divertono they enjoy themselves

How to Make  Impersonal Statements
Italian Reflexive Pronouns

Generalizations in the third person, called impersonal statements, are used sparingly in English but are common in Italian. An Italian impersonal statement is created by using the reflexive pronoun si, along with a verb in the singular or plural third person (either the lei/lui or the loro form).

As noted from the conjugation tables from the first section…

  • when the reflexive pronoun si is used in the singular third person, the reference is to a single, unnamed person, and the subject can be translated as one.”
  • when the reflexive pronoun si is used in the plural third person, the reference is to a group of unnamed people and the subject can be translated as they.”

In both situations, the speaker is referring in general to someone,
without a individual or group of people in mind.
It makes sense, then, that these statements are called  “impersonal statements.”

A common example of an Italian impersonal statement is the phrase, “Come si dice…” This simple Italian phrase is used by every Italian student at one point or another when asking for help with their vocabulary.  The literal translation of “Come si dice…?” is, “How does one say…”  This construction is only rarely used in spoken English today, and usually in formal situations. Instead, when an English speaker wants to generalize, he or she often uses the collective “you” — directed both at no one in particular and at everyone at the same time! Especially in an informal conversation, “Come si dice…” would be translated into English as, “How do you say…?” But in Italian, when one generalizes, he or she cannot replace the “si” for “one” with “tu” for “you” the way we do in English.

Some generalizations that come up frequently in Italian conversation are listed below. The direct Italian translation is given first, with the English phrase more commonly used to express the same idea in the following translation. You may want to remember the first example when asking for help with your Italian!

Come si dice…? How (does) one say…?
How do you say…?
Come si dicono…? How (do) they say…
How (do) you all say...
In Italia, si parla italiano. In Italy, one speaks Italian.
In Italy, Italian is spoken.
In America, si parlano molte lingue. In America, they speak many languages.
In America, many languages
are spoken.
Si può fare? Can one do it?
Can it be done?
Can you do it?
Si sa che… One knows that…
You know that…
Non si sa mai! One never knows!
You never know!

Impersonal statements can also be used to describe a rule and are often found in Italian sayings or proverbs.

Si deve obbedire alla legge. One must obey the law.
You have to obey the law.
Non si paga per parcheggiare la domenica. One doesn’t pay for parking on Sundays.
You don’t pay for parking on Sundays.
Qualche volta, uno si trova a un bivio della propria vita. Sometimes, one finds himself at a crossroads of his life.
Vivendo s’impara. One learns by living.

Use Italian impersonal statements when giving directions, such as when talking a friend through a recipe for a favorite dish. For instance, to describe how to make your family’s Italian tomato sauce, use the common verbs aggiungere (to add) and mettere (to put) in the third person singular with the reflexive pronoun “si” to describe how “one” cooks. For examples, see the first table below. In English, of course, we default to “you” when giving directions to someone in conversation, and this is reflected in the translation. To follow are a few pointers about how to cook pasta to go with that delicious pot of tomato sauce!

Prima, si taglia a pezzi una cipolla e uno spicchio d’aglio. First, one chops an onion and a clove of garlic into small pieces.
First, you chop…
Poi, si mette la verdura in pentola  con l’olio di oliva. Then, one puts the vegetables in a pot with olive oil.
Then, you put…
Li si cuoce, si mescola bene, fino a quando tutti e due sono morbidi. One cooks them, sautéing well, until both are soft.
You cook them…
Si aggiunge la passata di pomodoro, l’acqua, e il basilico. One adds tomato puree, water, and basil.
You add…
Si agguinge un po’ di sale e pepe. One adds a little bit of salt and pepper.
You add…
Si cuoce la salsa per almeno un’ora, e si mescola bene. One cooks the sauce for at least one hour, stirring well.
You cook the sauce… and you mix…
Per la pasta perfetta, si deve seguire questo metodo: For the perfect pasta, one must follow this method:
For the perfect pasta, you must…
Si mette una pentola grande con tanta acqua sui fornelli. One puts a large pot with lots of water on the stovetop.
You put…
Si copre e si riscalda l’aqua fino a bollire. One covers it and heats up the water until it is boiling.
You cover it… you bring the water to boil…
Si aggiunge una manciata di sale, si ricopre la pentola, e si riscalda l’aqua fino a fare bollire di nuovo.  One adds a handful (lots) of salt, one covers the pot, and brings the water to boil again.
You add… you recover the pot… and you bring the water to boil…
Quando l’acqua sta bollendo, scoperchiare la pentola e aggiungere la pasta.
Si deve mescolare bene a questo punto.
When the water is boiling, uncover the pot and add the pasta.
One must mix well at this point.
You must mix well…
Si fa bollire la pasta secondo le istruzioni nella scatola della pasta. One must boil the pasta according to the directions on the pasta box.
You must boil the pasta…
Quando la pasta è al dente, scolare l’acqua e aggiungere la salsa! When the pasta is “al dente,” drain the water and add the sauce!

How to Describe Movement with
Italian Reflexive Verbs

When an inanimate object does something automatically, this idea is rendered in Italian using the third person of a reflexive verb. In many situations, Italian uses a reflexive verb to describe movement when English relays the same idea by combining the verb with a preposition, such as “on” or “up.” Note that in English, the preposition is added only to change the meaning of the verb. In the same way, Italian uses a reflexive verb, with its reflexive pronoun, to change the meaning of a verb.

Let’s take a simple, everyday situation at home for our first example: “Ann turns on the light.”  The verb that means “turn on” in Italian is accendere and the Italian translation is, “Anna accende la luce.” However, electric lights can be programmed to turn on automatically. In English, I can say, “The automatic light turns itself on when I enter the room.” Although the preposition “on” is required in English, the reflexive pronoun “itself” is optional. To convey the same idea, it is mandatory in Italian to use the reflexive verb accendersi: “La luce automatica si accende quando entro la stanza.” 

In short, English sometimes uses a third person reflexive verb to describe an automatic action but often does not, instead relying on the addition of a preposition.  Italian is more consistent, with a reflexive counterpart to most verbs of action that refer to mechanical movement.

Another simple action that requires a reflexive verb in Italian and a verb + preposition combination in English is that of  “rising up” or “going up.” The verb alzare means “to raise” or “to lift” something. “I lifted the box onto the table,” is a simple sentence that translates as, Ho alzato la scatola sul tavolo.” But if a person “gets up” in the morning, the action becomes reflexive and the verb alzarsi is needed. Similarly, a bird or an inanimate object such as a kite can “rise up” or “go up” into the sky and the verb alzarsi once again comes into play.

Below are some examples of how Italians use reflexive verbs to describe movement of inanimate objects. Notice exceptions to what we have just discussed: the verb cominciare (to start) and cadere (to fall) are not reflexive when speaking about an inanimate object. However, mettersi a followed by an infinitive verb can be used in the third person to describe an inanimate object or an act of nature starting to do something by itself. Also, the verb smettere (to stop) is not used in a reflexive way, although fermare, which also means to stop, does have a reflexive counterpart: the verb fermarsi.

La luce automatica si accende quando entro la stanza. The automatic light turns (itself) on when I enter the room.
Le luci della casa si accendono ogni sera. The house lights turn (themselves) on every night.
Le luci della casa si spengono ogni sera. The house lights turn (themselves) off every morning.
L’acensore si apre. The elevator opens.
L’acensore si chiude. The elevator shuts.
Il treno comincia l’itinerario.

Il treno si mette ad andare velocemente.

The train starts its route.

The train starts to go fast.

Il treno si ferma automaticamente. The train stops automatically.
Il gabbiano si alza e vola via. The sea gull rises up and flies away.
L’aquilone si alza nelle nuvole. The kite rises into the clouds.
Le foglie cadono per terra ogni autunno. The leaves fall to the ground every autumn.

How to Describe Nature and Life with
Italian Reflexive Verbs

We all know the forces of nature well, as they act every day to create the environment in which we live. Since nature is an inanimate being, the actions of the weather are often given with reflexive verbs in Italian. Listen closely to the Italian news and you will hear about how a volcano in Sicily finally stopped erupting, or  how the sea has begun to rise in the Venetian lagoon — all described in the third person with Italian reflexive verbs!

For the common phrases that describe what weather “it” is making, such as, “Fa caldo oggi” (“It is hot today”) or “Fa freddo oggi” (“It is cold today”), Italians use fare in the third person without an indirect object pronoun. But to say, “It is getting late,” or “It is getting dark,” we use the reflexive farsi for the phrases, “Si fa tarde” or “Si fa buio.” (For more of these common phrases, visit our blog in this series, “Lets talk about… the weather in Italian!”)

In the same way, it is often necessary to use Italian reflexive verbs when speaking about abstract forces that can “act” on our lives.  Life itself is often spoken of as “moving” slowly or quickly. However, there is no reflexive verb for passare, so time can be seen as “passing by” without the addition of a reflexive pronoun.  (For more ways to use passare, visit our blog in this series, “The Many Uses of Passare.” )

In short, to understand the nuances of how to use reflexive verbs to describe actions of the weather or make generalizations about life, it is helpful to listen to native Italians as much as possible. In this way, it will eventually become natural to use Italian verbs the way Italians do!

The examples discussed above are listed below.

L’eruzione del vulcano in Sicilia si è fermato. The eruption of the volcano in Sicily has stopped.
L’acqua a Venezia si è alzata due metri
e si sta alzando ancora! 
The water in Venice has risen 2 meters and is still rising!
Fa caldo oggi. / Fa freddo oggi. It is warm today. / It is cold today
Si fa tarde. / Si fa buio. It’s getting late. / It is getting dark.
Nella campagna, la vita si muove lentamente. In the country, life moves slowly.
Il tempo passa lentamente quando si aspetta. Time passes slowly for one who waits (when one is waiting for something.)

Listen carefully to Italians when they speak
and I guarantee you will hear
Italian impersonal statements and  Italian reflexive verbs
every day!

Conversational Italian for Travelers: “Just the Verbs”

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! – 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 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 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 either a woman or a man, 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 il Signor (Mr.), la Signora (Mrs.), or la 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. Remember to use the direct article before the title for a formal introduction!

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 at the table below, the responses to an Italian introduction 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 nouns, adverbs, and prepositions are black, the verbs are green, the polite/familiar pronouns red, masculine adjectives blue, and feminine adjectives 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 lieta!

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 rivederla.
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

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! – 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 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 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

 

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 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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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 47th 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

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! – Getting from polite to familiar in Italian with “Dare del tu!”

Burano in Venice, Italy and Everyday Italian phrases
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Ciao a tutti! We are on our way to speaking Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2021!

When visiting another country, it is important to understand how to be polite. If one wants to “fare una bella figura” in Italy, that is, “make a good impression,” it is important to know a few polite words in Italian. For those staying in Italy for an extended visit or settling in Italy permanently, it is equally as important to know how to express one’s feelings friendship.

Italian has a special way to bridge the gap linguistically from between two people who start out as acquaintances and become friends. A simple phrase is relayed from one person to the other: “Dare del tu.” If accepted, is a true sign of friendship!

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 build on the “commonly used phrase”  “Dare del tu,” which is Italian for, “Let’s be friends and use the familiar form with each other,” we will be able to communicate the closeness we feel with a friend, just as we do in our native language!

This post is the 45th 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

The “commonly used phrase” in Italian

Dare del tu?
is used to ask,
Let’s be friends and use the familiar form with each other!

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…

Getting from Polite to Familiar in Italian with
Dare del Tu

Italian has three subject pronouns with three different verb conjugations in the present tense for conversing with  acquaintances and friends.  Reflexive verbs include a reflexive pronoun as well. This is less complicated than it may seem at first.

Let’s look at the conjugation table for chiamarsi, the reflexive verb that means “to be named,” or “to call oneself.” This verb is one of the first verbs an Italian student learns to conjugate and contains all the elements to understand polite and familiar verb tenses. A refresher, from our Conversational Italian for Travelers book, “Just the Important Phrases” is given in the section below. 

 

How do we conjugate an Italian verb into the polite or familiar form?

First, let’s conjugate chiamarsi the way we would any other –are  verb. Chiamarsi (to call oneself/to be named) will have the same stem and endings as chiamare (to call someone — directly, or on the phone).  The stem for both chiamare and chiamarsi is chiam. Add the -are endings to the stem chiam to form the new verbs below.  The stress will fall on the second syllable for our first three forms and the loro form. The stressed syllable has been underlined in the table.

Chiamare – to call someone

io

chiamo

I call

tu

chiami

you (familiar) call

Lei

lei/lui

chiama

you (polite) call

she/he calls

 

 

 

noi

chiamiamo

we call

voi

chiamate

you all call

loro

chiamano

they call

To complete the conjugation of chiamarsi, add a reflexive pronoun before each conjugated verb.  Notice that in English the reflexive pronoun goes after the verb, so this may take a little getting used to.

 

Chiamarsi to be called, as in a name/to name oneself 

io

mi

chiamo

I call myself

tu

ti

chiami

you (familiar) call yourself

Lei/lei/lui

si

chiama

you (polite)/she/he calls
yourself, herself, himself, itself

 

 

 

 

noi

ci

chiamiamo

we call ourselves

voi

vi

chiamate

you all call yourselves

loro

si

chiamano

they call themselves


 

How do we use an Italian verb in the polite form?

From the translations in both tables in the last section, we see the the “Lei” form is called the polite form of the verb; this means one addresses someone they have not met before as “you” with “Lei” and the polite verb conjugation. In the case of chiamarsi, one would ask, “Come si chiama?” “What is your name?” in a polite way during introductions.

As with all social conventions, there are rules to follow regarding when one should be polite to another.

 

The polite form Lei is used between adults when they first meet
and to show respect for others.

Using the Lei form of Italian shows that one is a educated person who follows proper social norms.

Lei is especially important to show respect when addressing someone who is older than the speaker or who is in an important  social position, such as a boss at work, a professional such as a teacher, doctor, or lawyer, or a government official. When professionals and government officials who are not friends speak with each other, Lei is also required. 

The easiest way to train your ear to listen to the polite form is to watch an Italian TV series where the characters are shown in their place of work. In the popular series “Commissario Montalbano” or  “Detective Montalbano” the detective always replies to his superior, the “Questore,” or “Chief of Police,” with the Lei form and usually speaks calmly, with a measured tone. But when the same detective is talking to the policemen that work for him, he uses the tu form and colors his sentences with any number of colloquial exclamations.

An important note about being polite in Italy: remember that children are never addressed with Lei! Even a child that you meet for the first time.

The question comes up, then, when one is “adult” enough to be addressed with the Lei form. This, of course, will vary, but the other person should have attained at least the age of the speaker. Also, keep in mind that in Italy children are called bambini, which we translate into English as “babies” until about 12 years of age and then are ragazzi, or “girls and boys,” until long after the teenage years! 

If both speakers have reached the age of 21, is probably safe to start using the Lei, although, in this case the situation should also be considered.

Younger people tend to be informal with each other in social gatherings, and sometimes even at work! While I was visiting Italy, my older Italian friend once politely reprimanded a 20-something shopkeeper for using the tu form with customers by asking the shopkeeper to revert back to using Lei. (See the last section of this blog for how this is done.)

Keeping all of the above in mind, when entering a shop, it is polite to say, “Buon giorno,” and most shopkeepers will politely greet those entering with a “Buon giorno,” in return and continue the conversation by speaking to the customer with the Lei form. Therefore, it is useful for the Italian student to recognize the polite verb endings for the present tense -are, -ere, and -ire verbs that will be used, which are: (-a, -e, -e).

It will be appreciated if the traveler also speaks to the shopkeeper in the Lei form, but understood if the traveler replies in the tu, or familiar form, given the difficulty of this concept for the non-native speaker. The tu form for all present tense verbs has a single ending, of course, which is “-i.”

A common polite line the shopkeeper may ask the customer after the usual greeting is, “Posso aiutarla?” for “How may I help you?” If you as a customer don’t need anything in particular, but would like to “just look around,” you can answer politely with “No, grazie, Sto solo dando un’occhiata.”

To learn more about shopping in Italy, visit our blog “Quanto costa?” For more phrases you need to know when conversing at an Italian shop, check out our pocket travel book Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” or download Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” into your phone at www.learntravelitalian.com.

 


 

How do we use an Italian verb in the familiar form?

From the translations in both tables in the first section, we see the the “tu” form is called the familiar form of the verb; this means that one addresses people they know well, such as family members or friends with the tu form. As we mentioned in the last section, children are always addressed with tu.

Someone the speaker has just met, who is the same age as the speaker and they feel a friendly connection with can also be addressed as  “you” with “tu” and the familiar verb conjugation.  In the case of chiamarsi, one would ask, “Come ti chiami?” “What is your name?” in a familiar way during introductions.

As with all social conventions, there are rules as to when one should be familiar with another.

 

The familiar form tu is used between family members, friends,
and anyone the speaker has met who is their same age or younger
to whom they feel a friendly connection.

Using the tu form of Italian shows a warmth for an individual the speaker feels close to.

So, in what situation would someone use chiamarsi to ask another’s name in the tu form? This statement seems like a contradiction; if I am using the tu form, I must already know this person, right? So, then why would I be asking their name? As  mentioned before, the tu form is always used with children, even if you’ve just met a child. So to ask a child’s name, use, “Come ti chiami?” If you ask the child’s name with the formal Lei, you will seem overly polite and may elicit a chuckle from the parent or even the child themself! 

The expression “Come ti chiami?” is also helpful between adults. In the adult world, we may meet someone superficially as part of a group on a routine basis, such as in a required business meeting or in the classroom. So when two people know each other superficially, but have not been formally introduced, one may ask another directly, “Come ti chiami?” This assumes, of course, that the two individuals have the same position in the group and are of similar age and feel a connection due to their shared experience.

According to Italian convention, to use the familiar tu with someone you have not officially met is a sign that you feel yourself better than them or that you simply don’t care about being polite. The movie, “The Nights of Caibiria,” by Federico Fellini, is a study in this type of personality. In the beginning of the film, a “famous movie star” character consistently addresses others with the tu form when he is out for the evening visiting night clubs in Rome. After he uses the tu form, others respond with the Lei.  When interacting on a personal level with a women he meets that night, he uses the familiar tu form from their first conversation; she knows that he is famous and does not reprimand him. The self-centered, “famous actor” drives this woman to another night club in Rome before he brings her to his home, and, after several hours finally asks her, “Come ti chiami?” 

However, the traveler who is not Italian and has limited knowledge of the Italian language, any attempt to speak Italian is usually appreciated. It is not normally taken as a sign of disrespect if the traveler replies in the more easily remembered tu familiar form.

 


 

Are there other ways to be polite and familiar in Italian?

Also important to remember are the polite and familiar ways to say “hello” and ” good bye” in Italian. For instance, the Italian word “Ciao!” is now commonly used in America with acquaintances. But Italians only use this expression among close friends, and it is good to remember this social convention when one is a visitor to Italy.

The correct translation of “ciao” is “hi” or “bye,” and not “hello” or “good bye.” This translation shows how informal this Italian expression really is! So when entering a shop keeper’s store, it is proper to say a polite, “Buon giorno!” for “Good day!” and when leaving, “Arrivederci!”  for “Good bye!” and not simply, “Ciao!” When Detective Montalbano speaks with the chief of police on the telephone, and the conversation ends, he uses the ultra formal, “Arrivederla.”

Below is a table reproduced from the book Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases,” with the many (but not all) expressions of meeting and greeting that are used in Italy today. 

Buon giorno.*             Good morning.  (lit. Good day.)         used all day into evening

Buona sera.*               Good evening.                                     early night–time greeting

Buona notte.*             Good night.                                         used when leaving/bedtime

Buona giornata.          (Have a) good day.                             to wish someone a nice (entire) day

Ciao!                          Hi!/Bye!                                                 informal greeting family/friends

Salve.                         Hello._________________________________both familiar and polite

Ci vediamo!                (Until) we see each other (again)!      for family or for a friend you

                                                                                               hope to see again soon

Arrivederci.                 Good bye.                                           familiar polite

Arriverla.                     Good bye.                                           polite, with respect

ArrivederLa.                Good bye.                                           formal written form

 

Come va?                    How (is it) go(ing)?                             a slang greeting used often

Ciao bella!/Ciao bello! Hey, beautiful girl!/Hey handsome!   for someone you know (well)

A dopo!                       (See you) later!                                   good-bye between friends

A più tardi!                 (See you) later!                                   good-bye between friends

A presto!                    (See you) soon!                                   good-bye between friends

 

*Can be written as one word: buongiorno, buonasera, buonanotte.


 

How do I change from the polite to the familiar in Italian?

Since Italian has created a situation where two people can be polite (to show respect for each other) or familiar (to show caring between family and friends), there is also a need for phrases that will take people from a polite relationship to a familiar one.

The verb dare, which means “to give,” is used in important expressions that allow the change to be made from a formal conversation, using the polite verb form for “you” (the Lei form), to a familiar conversation, using the familiar verb form of “you” (the tu form).

Imagine, for instance, that a conversation starts up at a gathering between two people who are of the same age and have just met.  At some point in the conversation, one will say to the other, “Diamoci del tu,” which does not have a good literal translation, but roughly means, “Let’s use the familiar form of you (the tu form) with each other and address each other familiarly.” The reflexive pronoun ci is added to the end of the verb diamo in order to refer to each other.  This is a familiar way to ask the question, and assumes a level of comfort that the feeling of familiarity will be reciprocated. 

An even more familiar way to ask the same question is to use the command familiar form of this phrase, which is, “Dammi del tu!” for “Give me the tu!”  The use of this phrase emphasizes the closeness that the speaker already feels toward the other individual just in the way the question is asked, as familiar command phrases are normally only used between family and close friends.

There are other ways to make this request.  If the person making the request wants to continue in the polite way of speaking when the request is being made, and switch only after consent is given, he or she could use the verb potere and the very useful phrase of politeness we have come across many times before in the Conversational Italian for Travelers books: “Mi può…”  In this case, the phrase would be, “Mi può dare del tu,” for You can use the familiar form of “you” with me.”

Or, perhaps one is speaking to an older individual and is not sure the feeling of familiarity will be reciprocated.  They can use the same phrase in a question form, as in, “Le posso dare del tu?” which means, “Can I use the familiar form of ‘you’ with you?” Or, alternatively, “Possiamo darci del tu?” for “Can we use the familiar form with each other?”

Finally, as noted earlier in this blog, Italians use the polite form of “you” in conversation as a way of showing respect to older individuals, professionals, or those in government.  Between Italians, then, a situation may arise where someone of importance might feel another individual is not showing proper respect or has become too familiar with them by their use of the familiar tu in conversation.  In this case, a conversation may start in the familiar, but revert to the polite at the request of a superior with the polite command, “Mi dia del Lei!” which means, “Use the polite form of “you” with me!

The many ways to ask someone to have a friendly conversation with you are summarized below.

“Diamoci del tu.” ___________________________________________ informal request 

“Dammi del tu!”____________________________________________ informal command

“Mi può dare del tu.” _______________________________________ polite request

“Le posso dare del tu?” ____________________________________ polite question

“Possiamo darci del tu?” ___________________________________polite question

 

If you feel that someone is being too friendly or acting familiar in a formal situation, you can say:

“Mi dia del Lei!” ____________________________________________ polite command

 

If you’ve tried to switch from polite to familiar with friends you’ve made
in Italy, leave a comment describing your
method and let us know how it worked! 


Remember how ask, “Can we speak in the familiar with each other?” in Italian with 
“Dare del tu?” 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