Learn Italian! Blog on the Imperfetto Subjunctive for the Past Tense

Just the Verbs in Conversational Italian for Travelers
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

The Italian subjunctive mood – easy to conjugate but difficult to use!

This  fall, I’ve returned to my blog series about how to use the Italian subjunctive mood or il congiuntivo on my website blog,  blog.learntravelitalian.com.

On this blog I post about the intermediate and advanced Italian that I am currently learning.  For me, writing is the way that I come to a true understanding of how to use the Italian language – which for me is what it means to  learn Italian.

I write, and then one of my Italian instructors and I  discuss, I write, we discuss again, the instructor corrects and new points come to light, I write again… until I am satisfied I have Italian phrases I will use in real life on a particular topic.

I’ve been leaning about how to use the Italian subjunctive mood in daily conversation over the last three years and have found that – contrary to popular belief – the Italian subjunctive mood comes up often!  I find the Italian subjunctive in all written publications, from Italian novels to newspapers to “Oggi” magazine (the “People” magazine of Italy). And anyone who thinks that the Italian subjunctive doesn’t come up in conversational Italian should check their email greetings!

To read my earlier blogs about the Italian subjunctive mood, click here for a summary page on my blog,  blog.learntravelitalian.com.

The blog below is the first in my fall 2018 series about how to use the Italian subjunctive mood in the past tense.  Visit the Learn Italian!  blog post from September 10, 2018 to read the entire blog and get started learning how to express yourself more naturally and fluently in Italian – in the past tense!

 

Can you use the imperfetto subjunctive mood when you are speaking in the past tense? To express complex feelings in Italian correctly, it is important to use the Italian subjunctive mood. Using the subjunctive mood is difficult for English speakers, as we only rarely use this tense in English, and this is something that I am always working on! The next three blogs in the “Speak Italian” series will focus on how to conjugate and use the imperfetto Italian subjunctive mood, or “il congiuntivo” for speaking in the past tense.

In each blog in the “Speak Italian” series about the  imperfetto subjunctive mood (“il congiuntivo”),  we will first present phrases in the past tense that take the imperfetto subjunctive mood.

Then,  we will review how to conjugate the imperfetto subjunctive mood.

Finally, we will present common phrases from daily life that take the Italian subjunctive mood.

Remember these examples as “anchors” in your knowledge for when you must speak Italian and try out the imperfetto subjunctive mood in your next Italian conversation!

Enjoy the first blog in this series, “Imperfetto Subjunctive for Past Tense (Part 1): Speak Italian!”  —Kathryn Occhipinti

To read the full blog, click HERE.

 

For a reference book on Italian verbs, with an introduction on how to use the Italian subjunctive mood, try my Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Verbs book.

Coming in 2019 is an entire book on the Italian subjunctive mood that will cover all the material in my blogs!
Contact: info@learntravelitalian.com for preorders with the promo code: MOOD.

"Just the Verbs" from Conversational Italian for Travelers books
Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Verbs”a

Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

How to talk about the Weather in Italian

Florence, Italy the Piazza Signoria
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Do you know how to talk about the weather in Italian? 

Whether making small talk with someone I’ve just met, or conversing with a friend or family member, I find that knowing a little bit about how to describe the weather in Italian is very useful.  And, now that the (usually) sun-filled days of summer are here, I’m betting that we all are spending more time than usual talking about the weather.

In a blog from last month, Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! How’s the Weather? Fare (Part 3), we learned how to make general statements about if the weather is “good” or “bad” in the present and past tense.

But, what if we want to be more descriptive?  In this blog, I list some simple conversational Italian phrases that we can use to describe actual weather conditions. The simple present tense is used in Italian to refer to the near future, when we in English need to insert the word “will” before our action verb.  So, the present tense examples that I give in Italian can be used to talk about the weather of the day and to make plans for the immediate future!

Talking about how the weather has been in Italian to describe our day is a bit more tricky, so I’ve listed the identical phrases about the weather in the past tense as well.

Most of the examples in this blog are from my reference book, Conversational Italian for Travelers, 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.

How to Talk about the Weather in Italian

Common expressions to describe the weather are given below.  In Italian, the weather conditions are described in the third person singular, with the reference to “it” left out, as usual.  Notice that in Italian the same word means both time and weathertempo.

il tempo the weather

 

piovere to rain
Piove. (It) is raining. / It rains.
Viene a piovere. (It) is going to rain.
(lit. Here comes the rain.)

 

tirare  to cast / to throw
Tira vento. (It) is windy.
C’è sole. It is sunny.
(lit. There is sun.)
C’è nebbia. It is foggy.
(lit. There is fog.)
È nuvoloso. It is cloudy.
È sereno. It is clear.
È umido. It is humid.
L’umidità è molto alta oggi. The humidity is very high today.
L’umidità è molto bassa oggi. The humidity is very low today.

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Common expressions that describe the weather in the past tense use both the imperfetto as well as the passato prossimo.

(Note: Detailed explanations that describe when it is appropriate to use these past tenses in general situations can be found in our Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook  and reference book, Conversational Italian for Travelers, Just the Verbs.)

When using the passato prossimo, the verbs piovere, nevicare, and tirare can be conjugated using either avere or essere, as in:

Ieri ha piovuto per due ore.         Yesterday, it rained for two hours.

            or

Ieri è piovuto per due ore.          Yesterday, it rained for two hours.

The expressions we have already encountered in the first part of this blog are given below again, this time in the imperfetto in the first column and in the passato prossimo in the second column.

Notice the different meanings for each type of past tense.

The words gia (already) and appena (just) are commonly used with the passato prossimo to give additional information.

 

Pioveva.
It was raining.
Ha già piovuto.
It already rained.
Nevicava.
It was snowing.
Ha appena nevicato.
It has just snowed.
Tirava vento.
It was windy.
Ha tirato vento tutto il giorno.
It was windy all day.
C’era sole. It was sunny.
C’era nebbia. It was foggy.
Era nuvoloso. It was cloudy.         
Era sereno. It was clear.
Era umido. It was humid.
L’umidità è stato molto alta oggi. The humidity was very high today.
L’umidità è stato bassa oggi. The humidity was very low today.

Can you think of more phrases to talk about the weather in Italian?
Please reply. I’d love to hear from you!
Or join our Conversational Italian! group discussion on Facebook.

Just the Grammar from Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar”

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

 

Piacere: How Italians Say “I Liked It!”

Rome's via dei Fori Imperiali
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

As we noted in our first blog post on this topic in December 2016, “piacere” is a very important verb for the Italian traveler to know. There are so many people, places, and things “to like” in Italy that we will use this verb often when we are there! 

We have been focusing on the verb piacere again for the new year 2018 in our Conversational Italian! group on Facebook. This time, we have been creating sentences in the past tense, so when we come back from Italy, we will be able to tell our family and friends what we “liked”—speaking in Italian!

At first glance, it may seem difficult for English speakers to use the verb piacere, which literally means “to be pleasing to” when translated into English. But this verb is actually the way Italians express the idea that they like something. Once we tap into the Italian way of thinking and learn a few simple examples, it becomes easy to express how much we have liked things in Italian! Read below to see how this works.  

How many more ways can you think of to use the verb piacere? Please reply. I’d love to hear! Or join our Conversational Italian! group discussion on Facebook.

This material and more on this topic are available in the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and reference book, Just the Verbs 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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Use the Italian Verb Piacere to Say…

“I Liked It!”

First, let’s review some general information about the verb piacere. Then, we will focus on how to use this verb in the past tense.

As we’ve already mentioned in our first blog post on this topic, the irregular verb piacere literally means to like, as in “to be pleasing to.” Italians use this verb when they want to express the idea that they like something. In English, when we say we like something, we mention two things: what thing is being liked and by whom. So in English, we would say, I like the car and fulfill these two requirements with the subject pronoun “I” and the direct object “car.”

But in Italian, the indirect object is used instead of the direct object, to describe by whom the thing is liked or to whom it is pleasing. If we wanted to change this same English phrase into the Italian way of thinking, we could say, “The car is pleasing to me.” You will hopefully find the mixed Italianized-English phrase “is pleasing to” to be very helpful to understand how piacere really works!

The tricky thing about this type of phrase in Italian is that the conjugation of piacere will have to agree with the number of things that are being liked.

So, if one thing is liked, or an infinitive verb follows, piace is used for the present tense. 

For the past tense, we can use the passato prossimo third person singular forms “è piacuto” and “è piaciuta” for the one-time event when we liked something. The ending of the past participle piaciuto changes, as always for the passato prossimo form, and in this case will depend on whether the thing that is liked is masculine or feminine. If the thing that is liked is masculine, piacuto will keep its “o” ending;  if feminine, then the ending will be changed to an “a” ending to make piaciuta. 

If many things are liked, the third person plural forms “sono piaciuti” for the masculine plural and “sono piaciute” for the feminine plural are used.

Italians then put an indirect object pronoun (mi, ti, Le, le, gli, ci, vi, or gli) before the verb, at the beginning of the sentence, to denote to whom the thing was pleasing.

 

É piaciuto(a)was pleasing to
Use these phrases if one thing was liked before the infinitive verb.

 

Mi è piaciuto il vestito. The dress was pleasing to me. I liked the dress.
Ti è piaciuto il libro. The book was pleasing to you. (fam.) You liked the book.
Le è piaciuta la collana.

Gli/le è piaciuto l’automobile.

The necklace was pleasing to you. (pol.)

The car was pleasing to him/her.

You liked the necklace.

He/she liked the car.

     
Ci è piaciuto il vestito. The dress was pleasing to us. We liked the dress.
Vi è piaciuto i libri. The book was pleasing to you all. You all liked the book.
Gli è piaciuta la collana. The necklace was pleasing to them. They liked the necklace.

 

Sono piaciuti(e)was pleasing to
Use these phrases 
if more than one thing was liked.

 

Mi sono piaciuti i vestiti. The dresses were pleasing to me. I like the dresses.
Ti sono piaciuti i libri. The books were pleasing to you. (fam.) You liked the books.
Le sono piaciute le collane.

Gli/le sono piaciuti gli automobili.

The necklaces were pleasing to you. (pol.)

The cars were pleasing to him/her.

You liked the necklaces.

He/she liked the cars.

     
Ci sono piaciuti i vestiti. The dresses were pleasing to us. We liked the dresses.
Vi sono piaciuti i libri. The books were pleasing to you all. You all liked the books.
Gli sono piaciute le collane. The necklaces were pleasing to them. They liked the necklaces.

For more practice using piacere in the past tense, you might want to try listening to the Conversational Italian for Travelers Chapter 17 interactive audio dialogue “Dinner at the Restaurant.” In our Conversational Italian for Travelers story line, which runs through the 18 chapters of the textbook, the Italian-American girl Caterina goes to visit her Italian family in Italy. They end their time together in Chapters 16–18 with a family dinner at a wonderful restaurant, where they describe to the waiter all the dishes that they have liked.

As always, the more we read, listen, and try to speak about what we have liked, the easier it will be to remember these phrases automatically. Buon divertimento!

 

"Just the Verbs" from Conversational Italian for Travelers books
Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Verbs

 

Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com.

Italian Past Tense Verbs to Use EVERY Day! (Part 3)

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 by the end of 2017?

I believe that “commonly used phrases” are the key for how we can all build fluency in any language in a short time.

If we learn how to incorporate “commonly used phrases” when we speak Italian, we will be able to express ourselves more easily and quickly. We will be on our way to building complex sentences and speaking more like we do in our native language!

This post is the third in a series that will originate in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group. After our group has had a chance to use these phrases, I will post them on this blog for everyone to try.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!  just click HERE.

Our third blog post in this series on “commonly used phrases” will help us talk more easily and will build on the phrase structure used at the conclusion of our first two blog posts.

“Mi ha…” meaning “He/she… to me.”
What other past tense verbs can we use in this way every day?

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.

This material and more on this topic are available in the Conversational Italian for Travelers reference book, Just the Verbs, available 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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 What he/she… (to) me

in Italian

As usual, let’s start with a recap of our previous blog posts:

The past tense for “I said,” a one-time event, uses the passato prossimo past tense form, which is “ho detto.” This Italian past tense verb also translates into the less commonly used English form “I have said.”  

Using this past tense verb, the phrase I use most often regarding what someone said to someone else is:

Mi ha detto… He said to me…/He told me
  She said to me…/She told me
  You (polite) said to me…/You told me

Memorize this first phrase, “mi ha detto,” then substitute a different past tense verb, as we did in our second blog post, with “mi ha chiesto.”  

The phrase I use most often regarding what someone asked of someone else is:

Mi ha chiesto… He asked (to) me…
  She asked (to) me…
  You (polite) asked (to) me…

For this third blog post, we will substitute even more Italian past tense verbs into the original phrase.

Soon all of these phrases will just roll off your tongue! See the tables below for how this works, and try to think of some phrases of your own!

Mi ha chiamato He/She/You (polite) called me
Mi ha telefonato He/She/You (polite) called me on the telephone
Mi ha spiegato He/She/You (polite) explained to me
Mi ha informato di He/She/You (polite) informed/updated/told me
Mi ha portato He/She/You (polite) took me
Mi ha invitato He/She/You (polite) invited me

 

Mi ha disturbato He/She/You/(polite) bothered me
Mi ha seccato He/She/You/(polite) annoyed me
Mi ha mentito He/She/You (polite) lied to me
Mi ha giurato He/She/You (polite) vowed to me
Mi ha promesso He/She/You (polite) promised me

 

Mi ha fatto contento(a)

(Mi ha fatto piacere.)

He/She/You(polite)/It made me happy

(I was pleased/happy.)

Mi ha fatto triste He/She/You (polite)/It made me sad
Mi ha fatto ridere He/She/You (polite)/It made me laugh
Mi ha fatto sorridere He/She/You (polite)/It made me smile

 

Finally, below are two important sentences to use when leaving someone’s company.

Mi ha fatto piacere vederti. It was nice to see you.
Mi ha fatto piacere sentirti. It was nice to hear from you.

 

"Just the Verbs" from Conversational Italian for Travelers books
Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Verbs”

Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com.