Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! – Speaking About the Past: Imperfetto or Passato Prossimo?

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.” 

If we learn how to incorporate “commonly used phrases”  in the past tense with the  imperfetto and the passato prossimo   in our conversations, we will be able to speak about an event in the past in Italian, just as we do in our native language!

Previous blogs in this series have discussed the basics of how to conjugate and use the imperfetto  and the passato prossimo to speak about the recent past.* As we’ve mentioned before, the conjugation of these verb forms is fairly straightforward; the tricky part is knowing which past tense to choose to describe a particular event.   

To make matters more complex, a compound sentence can be created using only the imperfetto, only the passato prossimo, or a combination of both. And in many situations, the same event can be described in Italian using either the imperfetto or the passato prossimo! Given this complexity, how is a non-native speaker to know how to create Italian sentences to describe what has happened the past?

As a general rule, the circumstances surrounding the event will determine which past tense to use. Luckily, imbedded in many Italian sentences about past events are certain words and phrases that will  indicate whether the imperfetto or the passato prossimo are necessary.  The intent of the speaker will be signaled by these phrases, which will then trigger use of the correct Italian past tense.

This post is the 59th 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

signal the intent of the speaker to use

the imperfetto or the  passato prossimo.

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 imperfetto is not used only with the passato prossimo. In fact, the imperfetto is the only past tense form that can be used in combination with every other Italian past tense — whether speaking about the recent past or the remote past.

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 Imperfetto
Adverbs and Phrases of Frequency

In a previous blog in this series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! – Past Tense Imperfetto, we discussed that to make general statements about the past in Italian, or to describe a general state of being, one needs to master the imperfetto past tense. If you need a refresher on how to conjugate the imperfetto past tense, please visit the prior blog.  In this section, we will focus on phrases that trigger the use of the imperfetto past tense.

Italians often use the imperfetto to express an action that was done habitually in the past but is no longer being done.  Can you think of some things that might take place every day? For instance, reading the paper, going to school, going to work, and eating breakfast, lunch and dinner?  If you want to talk about how you’ve done these things in the past, use the imperfetto!

Sentences that use the imperfetto in this way are translated either into the simple present tense or as “used to” and often include an adverb of frequency. Several adverbs of frequency are listed in the following table, with examples to follow:

Italian Adverbs of Frequency

di solito usually/often times
spesso very often
quasi sempre almost always
sempre always

 

Di solito, io finivo la lezione all’una il lunedì.
Usually, I used to finish/finished the class at one o’clock on Mondays.

Quando ero piccolo, andavo a casa di mia nonna molto spesso.
When I was small, I went to my grandmother’s house very often.

Quasi sempre mi sentivo male quando viaggiavo in barca.
I almost always felt sick when I traveled by boat.

In short, if an adverb of frequency is part of an introductory phrase, this gives the sense of repetition  about an event in the past.  Therefore, the speaker is preparing the listener for the imperfetto!  Notice that in the last two examples,  the second verb in the sentence follows the intention of the first, and also uses the imperfetto. To sound like a native Italian, incorporate adverbs of frequency into your sentences with the imperfetto!

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Introductory Phrases for Repetitive Actions

There are, of course, many introductory phrases that give the same idea of repetition as the adverbs of frequency, and Italians make good use of these phrases.  Describe any general time of day, month, or year, and use the imperfetto! 

If one had a particular habit during the morning, he or she could say, “Di mattina…” Similarly, if a habitual action was done at night, the phrase, “Di notte…” can be used. Other repetitive actions might happen, “Tutte le mattine…”  or Tutte le notti…” for every morning” and every night.” Or perhaps, according to the season: d’ inverno, in primavera, d’estate, in autunno.

“Negli anni Settanta…” means, “In the seventies…”  or any nonspecific period of time during the years between 1970 and 1979. If one uses introductory phrases of this type, it is his or her intention to state that something was done habitually but during a nonspecific period of time. Of course, the word “habit” is left out of both the Italian sentence and the usual English translation but is be translated using “used to,” as noted above for the adverbs of frequency, to give this idea. The intention of the speaker is understood by his or her use of the imperfetto! 

For example:

Di mattina/Tutte le mattine… aiutavo mia mamma a preparare la prima colazione.
In the mornings/Every morning…   I helped/used to help my mother prepare breakfast.

Di notte/ Tutte le notti… facevo la doccia.
At night/Every night… I took/used to take a shower.

Or, perhaps one previously went to church every week.  Introduce this fact with, “La domenica…” Remember that when Italians place a definite article before any day of the week, it is their way of describing a recurring event on that day. “On Sundays…” means every week on Sunday.  You can even add an adverb of frequency for additional emphasis.

La domenica, andavo in chiesa spesso.
On Sundays, I used to go to church often.

Two often used introductory phrases, “Quando ero piccolo…”  and “C’era una volta…”  serve as a reminder that the imperfetto is the past tense of choice for description and narration.

“Quando ero piccolo…”  “When I was young…” was used in the first group of example sentences in this blog.  This phrase is usually followed by another verb in the imperfetto, as already noted, to follow the circumstances surrounding the event have been set up initially. This phrase also reinforces the idea that the imperfetto is used to describe a general state of being.

“C’era una volta…” translates as the nonspecific, “Once upon a time…” This phrase is a good way to remember the function of the imperfetto to recount imaginary tales, whether codified as a fairy tale or fable, a “tall tale” one has made up to impress others,  or a dream one has had at night. Since they are imaginary, of course these happenings don’t have a specific time frame in which to occur!

You will notice a common thread in the reasoning behind when to use the imperfetto:
use the imperfetto when making generalizations about the past.


 Passato Prossimo
Specific Periods of Time

The passato prossimo is used to describe past events that have been completed  within a specific time frame, including multiple events in succession. For multiple completed actions in succession, the most remote event is listed first, and then the events that follow are stated according to the time line in which they occurred.

Helpful words or phrases that introduce the passato prossimo often emphasize a specific time frame by giving the actual time period using dalle… alle… (from… to…) or implying an action of short duration, such as subito (right away), subito dopo (right after), or al improvviso (suddenly).

Certain verbs that describe actions of short duration, usually with a precise starting and ending point, are more commonly used with the passato prossimo than the imperfetto. Below is a list of several commonly used verbs of this type.

  1. Verbs of movement from one place to another:  andare (to go),  venire (to come), entrare (to enter), partire (to leave), etc.
  2. Verbs of beginning and ending: cominciare/iniziare (to start), finire (to finish), etc.
  3. Verbs that describe actions known to usually be of short duration: bussare (to knock, such as on the door), chiamare (to call), etc.
  4. Verbs of communication: chiedere/domandare (to ask), rispondere (to answer), etc.
  5. Changing emotions from one state to another: arrabbiarsi (to get angry), etc.

Let’s create a compound sentence using these verbs in the passato prossimo to describe a series of completed events in a sequence.

Marco è andato alla festa con Maria, dove loro hanno bevuto birra e mangiato una pizza, e dopo hanno ballato la loro canzone preferita.

Mark went to the party with Maria, where they drank beer and ate a pizza and after danced to their favorite song.

Note, however, that the list of verbs above is a general list and all of the verbs in this list can also be used with the imperfetto, depending on the circumstances and the intention of the speaker!  Take bussare, for instance.  Most times, a person would knock on the door once and wait for the door to be opened. This one time event, started and completed in a short time, would be described with the passato prossimo. For instance, we can imagine what happened in our last example when Mark went to pick up Mary prior to the party: 

Marco ha bussato alla porta e Maria è venuta subito ad aprire.
Mark knocked on the door and Mary came quickly to open (it).

Let’s create different circumstances for our story with Mark and Mary. Perhaps instead of having fun, Mark and Mary had an argument at the party and Mary left early. Mark decided to apologize and comes to Mary’s house and knocks continuously on the door to get her to open it. In this situation, remember the translation of the imperfetto as “was/were-ing” to describe and action that started in the past and continued for a nonspecific amount of time.

Below are example sentences from our hypothetical story that use the imperfetto to emphasize that Mark knocked on the door for an unusually long,  but nonspecific period of time. Note the addition of the adverb continuamente in this example sentence to reinforce the idea that the event took longer than usual.

Also the words “subito dopo” alert one to use the passato prossimo in the first phrase. The actions of becoming angry, going home, and opening a door are normally of short duration.

Maria si è arrabbiata con Marco e Maria è andata a casa.
Mary became angry with Mark and Mary went home. 

Subito dopo, Marco è andato a casa di Maria e poiché bussava alla porta
continuamente, Maria ha aperto.

Shortly after, Mark went to Mary’s house and seeing as how he was knocking on the door continuously, Maria opened it.

Now let’s look at the verb chiamare.  If we called someone once, we can use the passato prossimo. But if we called that person habitually, on a certain day or at a certain time, we need to use the imperfetto! Again, circumstances will determine the use of this verb. And by the use of the past tense, we in turn understand the intent of the speaker!

Ho chiamato mia mamma ieri sera.   I called my mother last night.
                                                     – but –
Chiamavo mia mamma ogni sera.     I used to call my mother every night.

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When Tutto Means “the Whole”

Another important point:  Don’t be confused by the use of tutto!

When used with nouns that refer to the days of the week, such as “tutti i giorni”  the meaning of tutti  is usually “every,” which implies repetition, and the imperfetto is the past tense of choice.

But tutto also means “the whole.” When the intent is to say “the whole” of a particular time period, we have given the time period a beginning and an end and then we need to use the passato prossimo!

Again, the circumstances the speaker is describing will determine the type of Italian past tense to use.  Often specific details about a time or place will be given to signal the intent to use tutto to mean “the whole” with the passato prossimo.

Tutte le mattine d’estate, andava al mare per fare il bagno.
Every morning during the summer, I used to go to the sea to swim.

– but –

Ho passato tutto la mattina, dalle nove a mezzogiorno a fare il bagno al mare.
I spent all morning, from 9 AM until noon, swimming at the seashore.

In fact, if we take any of the introductory phrases for repetitive actions given in the first section and change them to refer to a specific period of time, then we will need to use the passato prossimo! Let’s change “negli anni settanta” to make this phrase more specific:

Negli anni settanta portavo i jeans con il “bel bottoms.”
In the 1970s, I wore jeans with “bell bottoms.”

– but –

Per tutti gli anni settanta, ho portato i jeans con il “bel bottoms.”
For all of the 1970s, I wore jeans with “bell bottoms.”

Durante gli anni settanta, dal 1970 al 1974, sono andato all’Università.
During the 1970s, from 1970 to 1974, I went to college.

You will notice a common thread in the reasoning behind when to use the passato prossimo:
use the passato prossimo for a specific, time-limited activity.


Expressions of Time in the Past


The expressions of time in the past listed below add valuable information to a sentence. For instance, the adverb ieri can be used to modify a verb in the imperfetto to give a general reference about when an event occurred. “Sometime yesterday” is implied when the speaker chooses to pair ieri with the imperfetto.

Ieri can also be used with the passato prossimo, but in this case, a specific time of day is usually included in the sentence, given that the passato prossimo requires events to have taken place within a defined period of time. It is possible to use ieri alone with the passato prossimo, with the understanding that the defined period of time is “the entire day.”

The table below lists some common expressions of past time that use ieri (yesterday). Notice that ieri is invariable (the ending does not change) when modifying different times during the day.

Expressions of Time in the Past with Ieri

stamattina this morning
ieri yesterday
l’altro ieri the day before yesterday
ieri mattina
ieri pomeriggio
ieri sera
yesterday morning
yesterday afternoon
yesterday evening

The next table lists some common expressions of past time that use scorso (last). The ending for scorso changes to match the gender and number of the noun it modifies. Remember that the days of the week are not capitalized in Italian.

Expressions of Time in the Past with Scorso

scorso(a) last
la notte scorsa last night
la settimana scorsa last week
il mese scorso last month
l’anno scorso last year
   
lunedì scorso last Monday
martedì scorso last Tuesday
mercoledì scorso last Wednesday
giovedì scorso last Thursday
venerdì scorso last Friday
sabato scorso last Saturday
domenica scorsa last Sunday

Expressions such as “da tempo,” “da un’ora, “da due mesi,” “da un anno,” etc. are used mainly with the imperfetto to indicate the beginning of an ongoing activity that started in the past. The definition of the imperfetto in this case is was/were-ing. The passato prossimo can also be used with these expressions if the intent is to say that the activity has begun and also concluded during that period of time. However, the preposition per is more commonly used with the passato prossimo for an event that has concluded. See the examples below.

L’insegnante parlava da due ore e gli studenti erano stanchi.
The teacher was speaking for two hours and the students were tired.

L’insegnante ha parlato per due ore e finalmente ha permesso agli studenti di andare via.
The teacher spoke for two hours and finally let the students leave.


Era or È Stato?

Students of Italian commonly have difficulty deciding when to use the imperfetto and passato prossimo forms of essere. However, this is really not very complicated; the rule for choosing the correct form of essere is the same as for any other Italian verb! If the state of being described is not qualified with a specific time frame, use the imperfetto; if a specific time frame is referred to in the phrase, use the passato prossimo.

The imperfetto conjugation is: ero, eri, era, eravamo, eravate, erano. 

The passato prossimo conjugation is sono stato(a), sei stato(a), è stato(a), siamo stati(e), siete stati(e) and sono stati(e).

Some examples are below.

In the first example below, it is the intention of the speaker only to describe a state of happiness in the past — not when or for how long. This calls for the imperfetto form of essere. In the second example a time-limited reason is given, which is the speaker’s birthday, and the exact date is even listed. Of course, the specific date requires the speaker to use the passato prossimo.

Ero molto contento.
I was very happy.

– but –

Sono stato molto contento per il mio compleanno il 25 maggio scorso.
I was very happy on my birthday last May 25th.

Let’s look at two more similar situations rendered in two different ways in Italian with the imperfetto and the passato prossimo. In the first example below, the imperfetto is used to mean that generally, sometime during the day, the weather was nice. Perhaps the speaker was just trying to relay some general information. Or possibly,  the conversation would continue after giving this setting with the imperfetto and the speaker would describe a particular event or how the day made him or her feel. In the second example, it is understood that the speaker is talking about a fixed time that occurred during the day while he or she was attending a party. And, during that period of time, the speaker really enjoyed him/herself, as stated with the passato prossimo!

Era un bel giorno.
It was a beautiful day.

– but –

È stata una bella festa; mi sono molto divertito.
It was a wonderful party; I really enjoyed myself.


 

Imperfetto and Passato Prossimo
Combined

In the first two sections of this bog, we discussed phrases that signal when to use the imperfetto and when to use the passato prossimo.  We’ve also learned the rules to create a compound sentence with each past tense individually . Finally, it should also be noted that situations will arise that  require the use of both the imperfetto and the passato prossimo in one sentence. But don’t worry, there are general rules to follow to build these Italian sentences and the phrases themselves will also contain clues as to how to do this!

Below is a summary of this concept,
which will be discussed in more detail in the next blog in this series.

As a general rule, when creating a compound sentence in Italian, use the imperfetto to describe the setting. Start the imperfetto phrase with mentre (while) if you like, or just refer to the general time or the weather, or to an action without giving a specific time frame. This is often, but not always, the first phrase.

Then, describe the completed action with the passato prossimo. See the second section of this blog for a short list of verbs often used to describe completed actions. If mentre is not used in the introductory phrase, use quando (when) with the phrase in the passato prossimo. This is often, but not always, the second phrase.

Important note:

  Mentre is always used with the imperfetto!

Therefore, when you start a phrase with mentre, you must use the imperfetto for the verb in that phrase! 

Quando can be used with either the imperfetto or the passato prossimo phrase.  Quando often introduces the passato prossimo phrase in a compound sentence when mentre is omitted.

Three examples that combine the imperfetto and passato prossimo in one sentence are below.

Mentre io ero in vacanza in Italia,
il mio capo di lavoro mi ha telefonato per parlare di un problema importante.

While I was on vacation in Italy, 
my boss telephoned to talk about an important problem.

Mentre guardavo il mio programma preferito in TV, mia mamma ha finito di prepare la cena.
While I was watching my favorite program on TV, my mother finished preparing dinner.

C’era sole quando Maria è venuta a trovarci a Roma.
It was sunny when Mary came to visit us in Rome.

As a final note: we have already combined the imperfetto and passato prossimo in several examples in the first two sections. Can you find these examples?

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Remember how to talk about the past using
the
Italian imperfetto and the passato prossimo
and I guarantee
you will use the Italian past tense every day!

Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Verbs”

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! Italian Preposition “A” or “In”?

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 when English does not!

Let’s continue our series on Italian prepositions with the Italian prepositions “a” and “in.” Both prepositions can be used to describe where someone is going and where a person or thing is located. The Italian “a” can be translated as both “to” or “in” in English.  The Italian “in” is translated the same as in English — “in”! If we learn how to use the Italian prepositions “a” and “in,” we will truly sound like a native Italian!

This post is the 58th 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 prepositions “a”  and  “in.”

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 

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 Use the Italian “a” or “in”
for a Country, Region, or City

As mentioned in the introduction, both Italian prepositions “a” and “in” can be used to describe where someone is going, as well as their destination when they arrive. The Italian “a” can be translated as both “to” or “in” in English.  The Italian “in” is translated the same as in English — “in”! 

Americans and Italians use the prepositions that mean to and in differently. For instance, when Americans travel, they travel to a place – to Italy, to Tuscany, to Florence. American English speakers always use to as the preposition, whether they mention that they are traveling to a general region or a specific town. Of course, when an American reaches their destination, he or she will be located in that place and then say, “I am in Italy, in Tuscany, or in Rome,” meaning that he or she can be found there.

In Italian, however, the type of place is linked to the preposition used; there is no distinction made in Italian between traveling “to” a place or being “in” the place itself.

Italians travel directly into (in) a country, region, or large island,
but to (a) a city, town, or small island.

Once an Italian has arrived at a certain place, the same preposition that was used to describe traveling to that place applies. Or, if one is living in a place, the prepositions “a” and “in” will be used according to the size of the place, as described in the rule in quotes above. Again, the Italian prepositions “a” and “in” are linked to the place that is being described.

Let’s see how an Italian would answer the polite question, “Dove va per il suo viaggio?” “Where are you going on your trip?” The answer in Italian for someone taking a trip to America, depending on how specific they would like to be, is as follows: “Vado in America, in Illinois, e a Chicago.” “I am going to America, to Illinois, and to Chicago.” Notice that the English prepositions are the same, although the Italian prepositions change, depending on the size of the place that the preposition is linked to.

Also, what we call “states” in America are treated as the same as “regions” in Italy when assigning a preposition in Italian. Simply use the Italian preposition in prior to describing an American state. Notice that  “in Illinois” is given in the example above. 

New York State is the only exception in the United States of America to the Italian rule used to describe regions in other countries. The reason for the exception is that the Italian focus tends to be on New York City, rather than the rural areas that make up most of in New York State. But, as in America, the word “city” is left out of ordinary conversation.  “Vado a New York,” means, “I am going to New York City.”  To emphasize that one is traveling to the state of New York, i.e. somewhere outside of New York City, by convention the phrase would be, “Vado allo stato di New York,” for “I am going to the state of New York.” In this case, the preposition a is combined with the definite article lo to make “allo, according to the usual rule [a+lo = allo].

The polite question, “Dove abita?” forWhere do you live?” when answered uses the same prepositions for each location as described above. Here is an answer someone who lives in Italy might give, with the different options: Abito in Italia, in Toscana, e a Firenze.” “I live in Italy, in Tuscany, and in Florence.” Notice that the Italian prepositions have not changed compared with our example in the last paragraph!

Islands have their own special preposition rules in Italian. One travels “into” the large islands — in Sicilia or in Sardegna — but “to” the smaller islands using “a.” For instance, to go to the small Italian island of Capri one would say, “a Capri.” When traveling to a group of islands, such as Hawaii, the convention is to use [alle + island], leaving out the plural noun isole that alle modifies. Example: “ Vado alle (isole di) Hawaii.” “I am going to Hawaii.” Of course, the same prepositions  apply if one is living on the islands mentioned. Notice again that with alle we have combined our preposition with a definite article. A  detailed explanation of the procedure used for all prepositions is found in the textbook Conversational Italian for Travelers and the reference book of the same series, “Just the Grammar.”  

Check out the table for a summary of the examples above. Of course, where someone is traveling to or is located at during a particular time comes up often in conversation, and there are many variations on these questions! The answers will, of course, follow the rules for Italian prepositions outlined above.

Dove va per il suo viaggio? Where are you going on your trip?
Vado in America. I am going to America.
Vado in Illinois/
allo stato di New York.
I am going to Illinois/
the state of New York.
Vado a Chicago/
a New York.
I am going to Chicago/
New York City.
Dove abita? Where do you live?
Abito in Italia. I live in Italy.
Abito in Toscana. I live in Tuscany.
Abito a Firenze. I live in Florence.
Abito in Sicilia. I live in Sicily.
Abito in Sardegna. I live in Sardinia.
Abito a Capri. I live on Capri.
Abito alle Hawaii. I live on (the islands of) Hawaii.

Italian Definite Article
with Countries

By convention, the definite article (the) (il, la, or l’) is used to refer to countries, except when talking about traveling directly into them!  So if someone should ask politely, “Da dove viene?” “Where are you from?” an Italian would answer, “L’Italia,” and an American would say, “L’America” or “Gli Stati Uniti.” 

Below is a table that lists many of the countries in the world and the Italian definite article that applies to each, along with the Italian names for several capital cities. To remember this important point, gather some friends and sit around a table in front of a map of the world. Take turns asking a question about each country’s location, such as, “Dov’è l’America?” A friend can answer, “Ecco l’America!” while pointing to America on the map. This exercise will also reinforce the idea that the word “ecco” for “here is/here are” is used to point out something in plain site.

Of course, there is no need to memorize this entire table. Just remember the correct definite article for where you and your family and friends are from for easy conversation!

Europe l’Europa Africa l’Africa
Austria l’Austria Asia l’Asia
Belgium il Belgio Central America l’America Centrale
 Brussels  Bruxelles Europe l’Europa
Denmark la Danimarca Middle East il Medio Oriente
England       l’Inghilterra North America l’America del nord
 London  Londra South America l’America del sud
France la Francia Australia l’Australia
 Paris  Parigi
Germany la Germania Argentina l’Argentina
 Berlin  Berlino Brazil il Brasile
Greece la Grecia Canada il Canada*
 Athens  Atene Chile il Cile
Holland l’Olanda China la Cina
 Amsterdam  Amsterdam Egypt l’Egitto
Ireland l’Irlanda Cairo  il Cairo**
 Dublin  Dublino India l’India
Italy l’Italia Indonesia l’Indonesia
 Rome  Roma Japan il Giappone
Norway la Norvegia Korea la Corea
Poland la Polonia Mexico il Messico
Portugal il Portogallo Pakistan il Pakistan
 Lisbon  Lisbona Russia la Russia
Scandanavia la Scandanavia Moscow  Mosca
Spain la Spagna Turkey la Turchia
 Madrid  Madrid United States gli Stati Uniti
Sweden la Svezia Viet Nam il Vietnam
Switzerland la Svizzera

*Il Canada uses the masculine definite article.

**In this case, il Cairo is the name of the city, rather than the noun Cairo alone, by convention.


Use the Italian “a” or “in”
for Places Around Town

As mentioned in the first section, in the Italian language, every place is linked to its own preposition, which describes both going to and being located in the place — either “a” or “in.” Remember, there is no distinction made in Italian between traveling “to” a place or being “in” the place itself. This rule is important when inviting someone to join you for activities around town.  In Italian, you’ll need to ask someone if they want to go to a certain place, with “a,” or in a certain place, with “in.”

When using the Italian preposition “a,” the preposition a must be combined with the Italian definite article (il, lo, la, l’) that precedes the noun for the name of the place. The only exceptions to this rule are the Italian words for theater and house or home, which do not take a definite article. For all other nouns of place, the best way to remember the Italian preposition and definite article is to memorize both when learning the meaning of the noun. 

It is tempting to try to find a pattern for preposition use for Italian stores and other venues around the piazza. But there is no grammatical rule to fall back on in this instance.

It should also be noted that many verbs of going and returning, such as andare and venire, are automatically followed by the Italian preposition a when linked to another verb (see the next section).

Use the common phrases below  to invite a friend out for a good time in order to remember which preposition to use! They have been reprinted from the Conversational Italian for Travelers “Important Phrases” Section of Chapter 11, entitled “Making Friends.”  Included are several helpful introductory lines that can be used prior to the invitation. As you can see, knowing your Italian prepositions can even help to build a closer friendship!

Perché non ci vediamo? Let’s get together.
(lit. Why don’t we get together/see each other?)
Hai tempo domani? Do you have time tomorrow?
Posso rivederti domani? May I see you again tomorrow?
Sei libera(o) domani, Are you free (to female/male) tomorrow,
domani sera, tomorrow night,
la settimana prossima? next week?
Posso invitarla/ti a cena? May I invite you (pol.)/(fam.) to dinner?
al bar? to a (coffee) bar?
al caffé? to a cafe?
in pizzeria? to a pizzeria?
a casa mia? to my house?
Ti piacerebbe/Vuoi… Would you like to/Do you want to…
andare in piazza? go to the piazza?
andare in chiesa? go to church?
andare al cinema?
andare a teatro?
go to the movies?
go to the theater?
andare al concerto? go to the concert?
andare allo spettacolo? go to the show (performance)?
andare alla mostra? go to the show (exhibit)?
andare al museo? go to the museum?
andare a ballare? go dancing?
andare in ufficio? go to the office?
 
Ti piacerebbe/Vuoi … Would you like to/Do you want to…
venire con noi… come with us…
in spiaggia / al mare? to the beach / to the sea?
in montagna? to the mountains?
in campagna? to the countryside?

When to use “a”
to Link Italian Verbs

There are some Italian action verbs that need to be followed by the preposition a before an infinitive verb is added to complete the sentence. This may seem a little redundant to the English speaker, since in English infinitive verbs already include the word “to.”  For instance, the translation of the Italian infinitive verb andare is “to go.” To the Italian speaker, though, it is natural to insert the preposition a between certain conjugated verbs and an infinitive verb — Italian phrases just sound correct this way!

As examples, remember the important phrases “andare a trovare” and “venire a trovare” that mean “to go to visit” and “to come to visit.”  These phrases are used to describe visiting people; to visit a place, use visitare.  Riuscire is also used on a daily basis to describe the effort one has been putting into a specific action. Try to listen for the “a” when you hear the verbs in the list below and soon it will become natural for you, also, to combine these verbs correctly.

aiutare to help
Aiuto mia mamma a.…cucinare la cena.
I help my mother to cook (the) dinner.
 
andare to go
Mamma va a.…fare la spesa ogni mattina.
Mother goes grocery shopping every morning.
cominciare to start
Comincio a.…cucinare la cena.
I start (am starting) to cook (the) dinner.
divertirsi to enjoy onself
Mi diverto a…suonare il violino.
I enjoy playing the violin.
imparare to learn
Tutti imparano a.…parlare italiano.
Everyone learns to speak Italian.
insegnare to teach
Lei insegna a.…scrivere la lingua francese.
She teaches (how to) write French.
invitare to invite
Lui  mi invita a…mangiare al ristorante.
He invites (is inviting) me to eat at the restaurant.
mandare to send
Io mando Pietro a…prendere una pizza.
I send Peter to get a pizza.
prepararsi to get ready
Mi preparo ad…andare in Italia.
I am getting ready to go to Italy.
riuscire to be able to/manage
Non riesco a… trovare le chiavi.
I can’t manage to find the keys.
venire to come
Caterina viene a… trovare i suoi cugini.
Kathy comes to visit her cousins.

Use the Italian “a” or “in”
in Reference to Time

In a previous blog in this series, “How to Use ‘Di’ in Italian, we discussed that the preposition di is used to refer to the general time of day with the phrases di mattina, di pomeriggio, di sera, and di notte.

We also mentioned in the same blog that both di and in are used to refer to the seasons: d’estate, d’inverno, in primavera, in autunno.

The Italian prepositions a and in also have a role to play when describing units of time.

When referring to the month that something is going to happen, either a or in can be used. English always uses in.


Andiamo a Roma a giugno / in giugno.
We will go to Rome in June.

The question, “A che ora succede (qualcosa)?” “At what hour does (something) happen?” is answered with the phrase [alle + number]. In this case, the Italian “a” means “at.” If you need a refresher on how to tell time in both the present and the past, visit the numbers section of our Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook or the Just the Verbs” and Just the Grammar” reference books. 

Andiamo alle sei e trenta. / Andiamo alle sei e mezzo.
Let’s go at 6:30.


When “a” Means “By”

Sometimes the Italian preposition “a” is translated into “by” in English. For instance, we say that an article of clothing is made “by hand” to refer to human, rather than machine labor. In Italian, the phrase is “a mano.” A similar phrase is “fatto a casa” for “homemade.” 

To learn something “by heart” is to “imparare a memoria.” 

Also use “a” in Italian to describe what type of energy something “runs by/on.”

Quest’orologio funziona a batteria. 
This watch runs by battery.

Other types of combustible energy a machine can run on include: a energia solare, a benzina, a gas, a legno forby… solar energy, benzine, gas, wood.

One can also run on “people energy” when walking by foot (a piedi) or take advantage of an animal’s energy when riding a horse (a cavallo).

Note: electric energy does not require a preposition! L’elettricità = the electricity and una macchina elettrico = an electric machine.


When “in” Means “Made of”

In the previous blog, “How to Use ‘Di’ in Italian, we discussed how to use the preposition di to describe what something is composed of, as well as the exception with materials that require “in” as the preposition. To repeat, by convention, for all metals that are not gold (oro) and for the cloth velvet (veluto) use the Italian preposition in prior to mentioning the material.

Questa è una scultura in bronzo.
This is a sculpture made of bronze.

La vecchia poltrona è stata rivestita in velluto.
The old chair was restored with velevet cloth.


Using “a” to Refer to Age

In a previous blog in this series, “How to Use ‘Di’ in Italian, we discussed that the preposition di is used to state the age of an acquaintance or even a bottle of wine; Use di as part of a phrase before the number of years as in  una signora di 82 anni.” 

One can also simply say, “at [number of] years,” in Italian, just like in English, by using the preposition “a” for “at.”

Pietro si è laureato all’Università a ventidue anni.
Peter graduated from college at 22 years.

Mi sono sposata a venticinque anni.
I got married at 25 years old.

Remember when saying the specific phrase, “at your age” that Italian requires the “a” for “at” to be combined with the definite article to make the possessive “your.”

Per favore, nonna, alla tua età, non lavorare più!
Please, grandma, at your age, don’t work any more!


Getting  “in” and “out”
of Transportation

Note that different prepositions are used for cars vs. other forms of transportation when using the Italian verb salire to describe getting in. Salire has an irregular conjugation, with two forms given below. Note also and how the preposition su (on) is combined with the different forms of the (il, la, l’).

Salgo in macchina.                               I get into the car.
Sali in macchina                                 Get into the car! (fam. command)

Salgo su                                            I get on/I board/I go aboard…

Salgo… sull’autobus, sul treno, sulla motocicletta, sulla bicicletta, sull’areo.

I get onto… the bus, the train, the motorcycle, the bicycle, the airplane. 

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! – Let’s talk about… Making reservations in Italian

Colorful homes on a block in Burano with a garden and a park bench out front
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

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

I hope you are on your way to meet this goal! I will try to help you 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.” 

As of this writing, it is easier to travel to Europe than it has been for the last two years. But of course, even if travel becomes restricted again, it is never to early to start to learn Italian travel phrases. In fact, the earlier the better! So for this blog I focus on Italian phrases for making reservations at a restaurant or hotel in Italy.

Prior to beginning the lesson for this blog, I acknowledge that in the larger cities of Italy it is not usually necessary to make reservations completely in Italian; the Italian staff usually speak basic English and often the languages of their European neighbors, French, Spanish or German.  Also, of course, most times reservations can now be made over the internet on one’s computer or smart phone, without any human interaction at all! But I’ve found that a few phrases in Italian are always warmly welcomed by Italian servers and hotel receptionists, even in the larger cities, and can serve to put the traveler at ease in their new surroundings. In the smaller  Italian towns, basic Italian expressions can still be essential when relating one’s needs in family-run restaurants and hotels.

In short, if we learn the few phrases needed when making reservations in Italian, we will feel more comfortable during our stay in the “bel paese.” 

This post is the 57th  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”
describe

  making reservations 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… Making Reservations in Italian

La prenotazione means “the reservation.” The Italian verbs prenotare and riservare translate into English as: “to make/book a reservation.”  The use of these Italian verbs varies with the situation.

Most commonly, when asking to make a reservation at a restaurant or a hotel, Italians use the noun prenotazione with the verb fare and “make a reservation,” which is “fare una prenotazione.”

It is customary to start a request with either vorrei (I would like) or desidero (I desire/want/wish). Notice that vorrei is the conditional form of volere (to want). It is also possible to use the first person present tense form volgio (I want) but vorrei is considered more polite and is the preferred conjugation to use. The phrase “ho bisogno di” for “I need” is yet another way to introduce any request made in Italian.

Some example sentences to get us started making a reservation:

Vorrei fare una prenotazione. I would like to make a reservation.
Desidero fare una prenotazione. I desire/want/wish to make a reservation.
Ho bisogno di fare una prenotazione. I need to make a reservation.

Once we have stated our desire to make a reservation, three important pieces of information will need to be relayed to the receptionist: the number of people, the date and the time.

Generally, the receptionist will ask: “Per quante persone?” “For how many people?” 

For a restaurant reservation, it will be important to state how many adults (adulti) as well as how many children (bambini) will be dining. A simple answer for a family of two adults and two children would be: “Due adulti e due bambini.” The receptionist may ask if a child seat (una sedia speciale) is needed. A table will be chosen next to other families dining in the restaurant; this ensures that adults who are without children and want a more intimate dinner will not be disturbed.  

An interesting note about children and Italian culture: a child is considered a bambino or bambina (baby/ child) in Italy until about 14, when he or she can then be called a ragazzo or ragazza (young man/young woman). The appellation ragazzo(a) lasts into the 20s. The usual Italian masculine and feminine  endings need to be applied to these nouns; the “o” ending signifies a male child and the “a” ending a female child. For the plural, the usual “i” ending is used for a group of all males or a mixed group and “e” for an all female group.

Remember also that the Italian number “one” changes when modifying a noun. So a family may have un bambino or una bambina. 

To make a reservation in an Italian restaurant, it is not necessary to differentiate the bambini from the ragazzi. But Italian hotels do differentiate between children of different ages when booking a room. Most Italian hotels have a room rate that will vary depending on the number of adults who occupy the room. Families traveling with children between the ages of 12-14 (and even up to16 years of age) may be able to receive a family discount (uno sconto famiglia). 

In short, it is helpful to memorize the correct Italian for the children in your family when making reservations at a restaurant and hotel to be comfortable and to be sure you are not overpaying for accommodations!

Some variations on the simple conversation we have created so far:

Vorrei fare una prenotazione. I would like to make a reservation.
Per quante persone? For how many people?
Un‘adulto/Due adulti  One adult/Two adults 
Un bambino/Una bambina
Un ragazzo/ Una ragazza
One baby or young child (male/female)
One young man/ One young woman
Due bambini/ Due bambine Two children (group of males or males+females/
group of all females)
Due ragazzi/ Due ragazze Two boys or [1 boy + 1 girl]/ Two girls

By the way, if you need to cancel a reservation, use the same sentence structure as when you have made the reservation. However, use the verb annullare, and say, “Vorrei annullare una prenotazione,” for “I would like to cancel a reservation.”

Or, if a reservation needs to be changed, use the verb cambiare, as in, “Vorrei cambiare una prenotazione.”


Stating the date in Italian:

To state the date and time of a reservation, we will need to know how to say numbers in Italian up to 31 (assuming reservation is in the present year). If you still need to learn how to count in Italian, purchase my Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook or download the PDF for tips on how to remember Italian numbers into the billions.

Below is the sentence structure needed to state the date.

definite article + number + di +month

This is actually a lot easier than it may look! Below are a few examples. You will notice that in English we say, “January second,” for “January 2,” while in Italian the phrasing and word order reads: “the two of January.”

The exception to the above rule is the first day of the month. In this case, the word primo, which means first, must always be used, instead of uno (one).

When writing the date, remember the order of the day and the month are reversed in Italy (as in Europe): dd/mm/yyyy. The days of the week and the months of the year are not capitalized in Italian.

Oggi è il due di gennaio. Today is January 2.
Domani è il tre di gennaio. Tomorrow is January 3.
Dopodomani è il quattro di gennaio. The day after tomorrow is January 4.
Oggi è il primo di agosto. Today is August 1.

Finally, in everyday conversation, to say, “On Mondays…” referring to something that happens every Monday, just use the definite article il (the) at the beginning of the sentence for all the masculine weekdays ending in ì and la for the feminine Sunday (domenica).

Il lunedì vado al lavoro. / La domenica vado in chiesa.
On Mondays, I go to work. / On Sundays, I go to church.


Stating the time when making a reservation in Italian:

Expressions used to tell time in Italian are given below up to 12 o’clock. For a more detailed explanation of the Italian sentence structure used when telling time, purchase my Conversational Italian for Travelers  textbook or download the PDF.  Note: there is no “o’clock” in Italian. Simply state the hour “it is” for one o’clock or the  number of hours “there are” from two o’clock onward. You will need to learn Italian numbers up to 24 to understand the time tables for Italian trains, buses and airlines, which are given in “military time” with the 24 hour clock. Italian museums and theaters also operate based on the 24 hour clock.

È l’una.                                    (It is)              one. (1 o’clock)

Sono le due.                           (They are)      two. (2 o’clock)

Sono le tre.                            (They are)      three. (3 o’clock)

Sono le quattro.                    (They are)      four. (4 o’clock)

Sono le cinque.                      (They are)      five. (5 o’clock)

Sono le sei.                             (They are)      six. (6 o’clock)

Sono le sette.                         (They are)      seven. (7 o’clock)

Sono le otto.                          (They are)      eight. (8 o’clock)

Sono le nove.                         (They are)      nine. (9 o’clock)

Sono le dieci.                         (They are)      ten. (10 o’clock)

Sono le undici.                       (They are)      eleven. (11 o’clock)

Sono le dodici.                       (They are)      twelve. (12 o’clock)

One can emphasize the time of day, such as morning, afternoon, evening, or night, by adding the following expressions after the numerical time: di mattina, di pomeriggio, di sera, or di notte, as below.

1,00 (AM)                           È l’una di mattina.                 It is one in the morning.

1,00 (PM)                            È l’una di pomeriggio.          It is one in the afternoon.

6,00 (PM)                           Sono le sei di sera.                It is six in the evening.

10,00 (PM)                          Sono le dieci di notte.          It is ten at night.

When the receptionist at a restaurant asks what hour you wish to dine, the question will usually be phrased as such:
A che ora…?                                       (At) what time…?

The response to the question will also use the word at, which will be attached to the definite article (the).  Use (l’) for one o’clock and (le) for all other hours to agree with the number of hours in the answer.

A mezzogiorno                                  At noon

A mezzanotte                                    At midnight

All’una.                                               At one o’clock.

Alle sette.                                           At seven o’clock.

All’una e cinque.                               At 1:05 AM.

Alle sette e mezzo.                            At 7:30 AM.


Making a Reservation in Italian: Restaurants and Hotels

Now that we know an introductory sentence and how to tell the receptionist at a restaurant or hotel the date and time of our appointment, we can summarize this information in the short conversation below:

Vorrei fare una prenotazione. I would like to make a reservation.
Per quante persone? For how many people?
Quattro.
Due adulti e due bambini.
Four.
Two adults and two children.
Data e ora/orario? Date and time?
Ristorante:
Il cinque di giugno alle otto di sera.
Restaurant:
July 5th at 8 PM.
Hotel:
Dal cinque al sette di giugno.
Hotel:
From the 5th through the 7th of June. 

Restaurants in Italy normally open for dinner at 7 PM and most Italians go out to eat at 8 PM or later. After making a reservation, when one enters the restaurant, all the information the receptionist needs to know can be conveyed in two easy lines:

Buona sera.
Good evening.

Abbiamo una prenotazione per quattro persone alle otto di sera. 
We have a reservation for four people for 8 PM.

In colloquial Italian, it is also considered correct to say:
Abbiamo una prenotazione per quattro persone per le otto di sera. 
We have a reservation for four people for 8 PM.

For just one person, the following is fine:
Ho una prenotazione alle otto/ per le otto.
I have a reservation for 8 PM

Additional requests may need to be made for hotel reservations.  When asking a question of the receptionist, use the “you all” form of avere, which is avete, since you are asking the representative of the hotel if they have what you need. The receptionist will answer in the noi form, and mention “we have” or “we don’t have” what you are requesting.

Example:

Avete una camera singola?
Do you all have a room with a single bed?

Mi dispiace, non abbiamo una camera singola disponibile. 
I’m sorry, we don’t have a room with a single bed available. 

Siamo al completo/ tutti prenotati stasera.
We are full/completely booked tonight.

Below is a list of vocabulary that includes the type of Italian hotel (l’albergo) you may want to choose and the type of room (la stanza) you may need. A few hotel amenities one might ask about when making a reservation are also included.

Almost all hotels in Italy provide breakfast for their guests gratis (free), so it is not usually necessary to ask if la prima colazione (breakfast) is included in the fee for the room. However, it can be helpful to check the internet for images of the dining room and the food served (along with the types of rooms available) prior to making reservations at a hotel. Italian hotels offer a wide range of morning meals — from a simple continental breakfast of coffee, juice and a pastry, to a large buffet with specialty breads and pastries, eggs, cereal, yogurt, lunch meat and cheeses to choose from.

And just in case things are not quite what you expected during your stay at an Italian hotel, you can always ask for l’albergatore or l’albergatrice (hotel manager, masculine and feminine). If you need help choosing where to make dinner reservations, call la reception (reception/front desk) or visit il concierge (the concierge).

l’albergo hotel
la pensione
il bed and breakfast
boarding house
bed and breakfast
l’ostello (della gioventù) youth hostel
il pernottamento overnight stay
la pensione completa room and board (includes three meals a day)
la mezza pensione room, breakfast, and one meal (half board)
la camera/la stanza room
la camera singola room with a single bed
la camera matrimoniale room with a double bed
le camere adiacenti adjacent rooms
il letto bed
il letto supplementare additional bed
la culla crib
servizio in camera room service
la piscina swimming pool
la sauna sauna
la vasca idromassaggio Jacuzzi*
il campo da golf golf course
il campo da tennis tennis court

*Italian-American history: Jacuzzi Brothers was a company founded in 1915 by seven Italian-American brothers with the surname Jacuzzi, whose family origins were in Casarsa della Delizia in Northern Italy. They initially developed propellers for the military and experimented with the manufacture of aircraft. In 1956, the company developed a pump that could be submerged under water to provide hydrotherapy.  Candido Jacuzzi, third generation in the family, invented the whirlpool bath using the company’s hydrotherapy pump to treat his young son’s rheumatoid arthritis. The Jacuzzi tubs we know today were trademarked in 1968.


Making a Reservation in Italian: Train or Theater

Remember that reservations for the train or theater in Italy are made using the military, or 24 hour clock. Once  you have made a reservation, here are a few tips on how to proceed when arriving at your destination:

When boarding a train or entering a theater with a ticket that has a reserved seat, one would have “un biglietto con la prenotazione” or “a ticket with the reservation.”

To say you are checking your seat, use the phrase, “Controllo il biglietto con la prenotazione,” for “I am checking the ticket with the reservation.”

However, the actual seat on a train or theater is referred to as “reserved” as in, “Il posto è riservato.” The seat or room has been booked, and no one else can use it. If someone else has made a prenotazione before you, your request might be denied due to un posto riservato.

Remember to use the verbs cambiare and annullare to change or cancel a reservation, as mentioned in the very first section!

Remember that making reservations in Italian
can enhance your experience every day while visiting Italy!

For “All the Italian you need to know to enjoy your trip to Italy,” click on the links below to purchase my Conversational Italian for Travelers books – Kathryn Occhipinti

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! 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

 

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Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” book downloaded onto a cell phone from www.learntravelitalian.com

 

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

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

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

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

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

If we learn how to incorporate “commonly used phrases”  when use the Italian verb tenere, we will be able to communicate just as we do in our native language!

This post is the 50th in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” just click HERE

Many “commonly used phrases” in conversation

use the Italian verb
tenere.

See below for how this works.

As we all master these phrases, so will you. Try my method and let me know how it works. What sentences will you create with these phrases?

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

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

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

The rights to purchase the Conversational Italian for Travelers books in PDF format on two electronic devices can also be obtained at Learn Travel Italian.com.

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Let’s Talk About…

The Many Uses of the  Italian Verb

Tenere

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

io

tengo

tu

tieni

Lei,lei,lui

tiene

noi

teniamo

voi

 tenete

loro

tengono

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

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

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

io

terrò

tu

terrai

Lei,lei,lui

terrà

noi

terremo

voi

 terrete

loro

terranno


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

       

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

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

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

       

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

      for “to consider.”

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

       

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

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

       

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

       

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

       

      6. Common Italian phrases with [tenere + a] 

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

       

       

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

       

       

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

       

       

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

       

       

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

       

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

       

       

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

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

       

       

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

       

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

       

       

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

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

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


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

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

      Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!-The many uses of the Italian verb “Riuscire”

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

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

      Many Italian verbs have a similar use to those in English, which simplifies translation from one language to the other. However, many times the use of an Italian verb will vary  from the usual English connotation.  And in many situations, the same verb can have many different meanings in both languages, depending on the context. Riuscire, the  Italian verb that is commonly followed by “a” to mean “to be able to do something” is one of those verbs that is used in many ways in Italian and is important to “manage to learn” if one wants to use it correctly.

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

      If we learn how to incorporate “commonly used phrases”  when use the Italian verb riuscire, we will be able to communicate just as we do in our native language!

      This post is the 46th 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
      riuscire.

      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…

      The Many Uses of the  Italian Verb

      Riuscire

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

      The Italian verb riuscire, when linked by the conjunction a to another verb, is translated into English as “to be able to” or “to manage to.”  The meaning is similar to potere, with an important exception: riuscire lends an undertone of personal effort on the speaker’s part. Hence the translation into English as “to manage to.”  In the negative sense, the use of riuscire a  implies that despite maximal work beforehand, it was not possible to make something happen.

      In short, the use of  riuscire is in a way more sophisticated than the use of poterePotere is used to make a simple statement about whether something is possible, without stating if the issue is under one’s control or not. There is no reason given or backstory implied with the verb potere. Specifically, with potere, there is no reference as to the ability of a person to make something happen.  Riuscire is commonly used in Italy, even by children, when they want to include a personal emphasis in their statement.

      Riuscire a can also mean “to turn out” or “to come out.”  When something has turned out well, the veb riuscire is commonly followed by the phrase “alla perfezione.” 

      When riuscire is conjugated and followed by [bene + verb], riuscire takes on the meaning of  “to be good at” something. Riuscire can also be used when describing that one is successful at something.

      In two situations, when riuscire is followed by the adjectives simpatico/antipatico or difficile/facile, the meaning changes again, to: “to seem” or “to come across as.” This is a colloquial use of riuscire.

      Finally, riuscire can be used to mean “to succeed” and also as [ri + uscire] to mean “to go out again.”


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

      Present tense: riuscire is an irregular -isco verb in the present tense. The present tense conjugation is below:

      io

      riesco

      tu

       riesci

      Lei,lei,lui

      riesce

      noi

      riusciamo

      voi

       riuscite

      loro

      riescono

      Past tense: When used in the passato prossimo to describe a single event, essere is the helping verb and the past participle is riuscito. And, of course, remember our usual rule for past participles: if you are female, or your subject is a group of people, make sure to change the past participle riuscito to riuscita, riusciti, or riuscite!

      Riuscire is regular in the imperfetto past tense (riuscivo, riuscivi, riusciva, riuscivamo, riuscivate, riuscivano).

      Future tense: Riuscire is regular in the future tense (riuscirò, riuscirai, riuscirà, riusciremo, riuscirete, riusciranno).

      Finally, an important grammar rule: use indirect object pronouns (le = to her /gli = to him/ gli = to them) with riuscire. 


      1. Use [riuscire a + action verb] to describe “being able to do” something

      • Notice that when linking the verb riuscire with a action verb, the preposition ais required.
      • Common daily phrases link riuscire a with trovare, prendere, or fare to describe if one has been able to find, get, or do something.
      • Note that a substitute verb for riuscire a would be potere, which also means “to be able to,” although riuscire a  is often used to emphasize one’s efforts beforehand (as described above). Potere, on the other hand, is used to make a simple statements regarding whether something is or is not possible, without taking into account if a situation is under one’s control or not.
      “Ho guardato in tutta la casa. Ma non riesco a trovare il mio telefonino da nessuna parte!”
      “I’ve looked all over the house. But I can’t find my telephone anywhere!” 
       
      “Sei riuscito a prendere un appuntamento con il dottore?”
      “Have you been able to get an appointment with the doctor?”

         

        2.  Use [riuscire a + action verb] to describe “managing to do” something

        • Use riuscire a with the meaning of “to manage to do” something, often in the past tense. As in our examples in #1, the use of riuscire emphasizes that the speaker has been struggling beforehand, and is the verb used to communicate that one has or has not “managed to” get something done.
        • Riuscire a can also be used with the future tense to emphasize one’s willingness to “manage to” get something done.
        • Riuscire a can be used in place of farcela, which means, “to make it,” but can also mean “to manage to” or “to succeed.”
        “Sono riuscito a trovare i documenti necessario per la riunione di domani.”
        “I managed to find the necessary documents for the meeting tomorrow.” 
         
        “Sono riuscito a fare la spesa per la cena stasera dopo il lavoro.”
        “I managed to go grocery shopping for dinner tonight after work.”

        “Non sono riuscito a parlare con Maria alla festa ieri; lei era molto occupata.”
        “I didn’t manage to talk with Maria at the party yesterday; she was very busy.”
         
        “Sei riuscito a finire ancora il progetto? È passato già un mese!”
        “You haven’t managed to finish the project yet? It’s been a month already!”

         

        “Ho molto da fare la settimana prossima, ma riuscirò a venire a trovarti!”
        “I have a lot to do next week, but I will manage to visit you!”
         
        “Nostro figlio riuscirà a risparmiare i soldi per una macchina nuova.
        Anzi, dovrà riuscire; non gli diamo una lira!”
        “Our son will manage to save money for a new car.
        Actually, he will have to manage; we will not give him a cent!”

         

        “Marco sta male stamattina. Non ce la farà ad andare a scuola oggi.”
        “Mark is not feeling well this morning. He will not make it to school today.” 
         
        “Marco sta male stamatina. Non riesce ad andare a scuola oggi.
        “Mark does not feel well this morning. He cannot manage to go to school today.”

         

        3. Use riuscire to describe how something has “turned out.”

        “A mia nonna riesce alla perfezione la pasta al forno ogni volta.”
        “My grandmother turns out perfect baked pasta every time.” 
         
        “Molte persone sono riuscite a venire alla la festa ieri sera.”
        “Many people turned out for the party last night.”

         

         

        4. Use [riuscire + bene] to describe if someone is “good at” something

        • The verb riuscire is followed directly by bene when using the verb to describe what someone is “good at.” An alternative method would be to use bravo(a) + a to describe that a person is very talented or knowledgeable in their field.
        • When using riuscire,  the verb that describes exactly what a person’s special talent is can be placed at the end of the sentence in it’s infinitive form.
        • Or, the action verb describing what someone is “good at” can start the sentence and riuscire can be placed at the end. With this sentence structure, “a” should be placed before a name, to signify “to + name.” An indirect object pronoun should be placed before the verb risucire if an individuals’ name is not mentioned.
        “Maria riesce bene a cucinare.  Ma lei non riesce bene a far cuocere il pane.”
        “Maria is good at cooking. But she is not good at baking bread.”
         
        “Cucinare a Maria riesce bene.  Ma cuocere il pane non le riesce bene.”
        “Maria is good at cooking. But she is not good at baking bread.”

         

        5. Use riuscire to describe being successful at something.

        “La mia mostra è riuscita. Ho venduto dieci dipinti!”
        “My show was a success. I sold ten paintings!”
         
        “Giovanni è un bravo atleta; lui riesce in ogni sport che prova.”
        “John is a talented athlete; he is successful at every sport he tries.”

         

        6. Use riuscire with the adjectives simpatico/antipatico or difficile/facile colloquially to describe how someone or something “seems” or “comes across.”

         

        “Maria mi è riuscito simpatico.”  / “Giorgio mi è riuscito antipatico.”
        “Mary seems nice to me.”           / “George comes across as nasty to me.”
         
        “Mi riesce facile immaginare di vivere in Italia.”  /  “Mi riesce difficile immaginare di vivere senza te.”
        “It seems easy for me to imagine living in Italy.” / “It seems difficult for me to imagine living without you.”

        7. Use the riuscire to describe “going out” again. 

        • There are many Italian verbs that begin with “ri” to signify repetition of an action. Of note: ripetere  means to repeat
        • Ri + uscire can mean “to go out again.” Therefore, the words “di nuovo” or “ancora” are not necessary.
        • Riuscire is not used in the sense of “going out” on a date, which instead in Italian is simply, “Ho un appuntamento con…” for “I have an appointment/date with…”
        “Devo riuscire di casa per sprigare commissioni.”
        “I have to go out of the house again to run errands.”
         
        “Sono appena tornato da fare la spesa ma ho dimenticato il vino per cena stasera.
        Devo risucire e comprarlo subito!”
        “I just returned from grocery shopping but forgot the wine for dinner tonight.
        I have to go out again and buy it right away!”


        Remember how to use the Italian verb riuscire in conversation 
        and I guarantee you will use this verb every day!

        "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 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

         

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        Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day – “As far as I know” with Sapere in the Subjunctive Mood

        Burano in Venice, Italy and Everyday Italian phrases

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

        Buon giorno a tutti! Today we will discuss how to use sapere in the common subjunctive mood form “sappia” for those uncertain times in our lives. 

        As I’ve said before in this blog series, 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 what we may know in Italian with the verb  sappia, the singular subjunctive mood of  sapere, we will be able to communicate with the same complexity as we do in our native language!

        This post is the 44th 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

        start with “As far as I know…” 

        and use the subjunctive form of the verb sapere,
        which is s
        appia  

        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 this verb?

        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.

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

        Sappia — Subjunctive Mood of Sapere 

        As we’ve seen in a previous blog about the verb sapere,it is important to understand how to conjugate sapere in the present tense if one wants to describe what he or she knows. Sapere in the present tense is a verb of certainty; when one uses the Italian verb sapere, they do so to describe a fact or something they believe to be true.  

        But there are times when one may not be certain he or she is talking about a fact. In order to convey different shades of meaning, Italian uses the subjunctive mood. And to convey uncertainty about what one knows in the present, it is necessary to use the present subjunctive (presente congiuntivo) of sapere.

        Sapere is an irregular verb. However, the presente congiuntivo is easier to conjugate than the present tense, as the first three persons of the presente congiuntivo are identical — all three are the commonly used form sappia.”

        Also, to make remembering the presente congiuntivo easy, note that the noi form is “sappiamo,” which is the same as the present tense!

        In English,  the translation for the presente congiuntivo of sapere is the same as the simple present tense. Today’s spoken and written English uses the subjunctive mood sparingly, most often for hypothetical phrases — statements we make when we wish for something that we know cannot be. Therefore, when Italian requires the presente congiuntivo, English defaults to the simple present tense. See the table below for the full conjugation of sapere. 

        SaperePresente Congiuntivo

        io

        sappia

        I know

        tu

        sappia

        you (familiar) know

        Lei 

        lei/lui

        sappia

        you (polite) know

        she/he knows

         

         

         

        noi

        sappiamo

        we know

        voi

        sappiate

        you all know

        loro

        sappiano

        they know

         

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

        Let’s start our discussion of how to use the verb sapere with some common conversational phrases in the present and past tenses. Then we can go on to describe some situations in which it is necessary to use the sapere in the Italian subjunctive mood.

        Some common phrases that use sapere in the present and past tenses:

        So…/Sai…

        I know…/You know…

        Come sai…/Come sa…

        As you know… (familiar/polite)

        Come sapete…

        As you all know…

        Non si sa mai!

        One never knows!

        Non lo so.

        I don’t know.

        Non lo sapevo.

        I didn’t know.


        It is clear from the above phrases that a fact is being relayed; one either knows or does not know something. With the  phrases that need to be completed, like, “So…,” “Sai…,” “Come sai..,”  or “Come sa..,” since there is no uncertainty involved, a verb in the simple present or past tense can be used to complete the sentence. 

        An example of one friend talking to another is given below, with an introductory phrase that uses sapere in the present tense, and a fact relayed in the following phrase:

        • Come sai, Francesca è partita per Roma ieri.
          As you know, Frances left for Rome yesterday.

        Now, let’s imagine that someone has asked our speaker if they know whether Frances has departed for Rome. And in this case, the speaker does not know if Frances has left prior to their conversation. An Italian in this situation could answer, “Non lo so,” for a simple, “I don’t know.”  But to be a bit more dramatic, there is also the option of answering this question with an exclamation, “Chi lo sa!which means, “Who knows?” 

        To really sound Italian, one can say, “Chissà!” which is a commonly used Italian exclamation that also means, “Who knows?” and  likely evolved from the simple sentence above using sapere.

        Here is our first example again, except this time let’s answer our question about Francesca with our exclamations that use sapere in the present tense.

        • Francesca è partita per Roma ieri?   Chi lo sa!
          Frances left for Rome yesterday?   Who knows?
        • Francesca è partita per Roma ieri?   Chissà!
          Frances left for Rome yesterday?   Who knows?

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

        So, when does the subjunctive mood come into play? Going back to our original question about whether Frances has left for Rome: in some cases, this question might not have a simple “yes or no” answer. And this is when it is necessary to use the subjunctive mood!

        For instance, when answering the question, “Has Frances left for Rome?” the speaker may be fairly certain that Frances has already left. But maybe some detail is bothering him or her. Perhaps the speaker hasn’t seen Frances leave, but knows that Frances always keeps her appointments. The phrases “per quanto ne so” and “per quanto ne sappia,” both mean “as far as I know,” or “to my knowledge,” and are useful if one is feeling a bit unsure of themselves or the situation under discussion. 

        When to use each phrase?  In many English translations, “per quanto ne so” and “per quanto ne sappia,” are interchangeable; but in Italian these two phrases do have different shades of meaning.

        “Per quanto ne so” implies some certainty in one’s knowledge, similar to the  English phrase, “I’m pretty sure.” 

        “Per quanto ne sappia” leans more toward uncertainty, such as, “I’m not really sure, but I think so.”

        Below is our example again, with the subjunctive verb sappia used in the response to the original question asking whether Frances has left for Rome.

        • Francesca è partita per Roma?   
          Has Frances left for Rome?   
        • Per quanto ne sappia, Francesca è gia partita per Roma.
          As far as I know — I’m not really sure, but I think so — Frances has already left for Rome.

        The phrase “per quanto ne sappia” can be shortened to: “che io sappia,” which also means, “as far as I know.” In fact, this shortened phrase is the most common form used in conversation.

        • Che io sappia, Francesca è gia partita per Roma.
          As far as I know, Frances has already left for Rome.

        Other phrases along with “per quanto ne sappia” that mean “as far as” or “for what” or “to what” are: a quanto, per quel che, and a quel che. These introductory phrases are used in the same manner as per quanto, although per quanto is the most common phrase of this group used in conversational Italian.

        But… be careful! “A quanto pare” means “apparently” and does not use the subjunctive mood! Because, in this case, the introductory phrase implies certainty, it should be followed with a verb in the simple present or past tense.

        • Francesca è partita per Roma? 
          Has Frances left for Rome? 
        • Le sue valigie non sono più qui. A quanto pare, Francesca è gia partita per Roma stamattina.
          Her suitcases are no longer here. Apparently, Frances has already left for Rome this morning.

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

        Another useful phrase for when one is feeling uncertain about something is “non che io sappia,” which means “not that I know” or “not that I am aware of,” and is usually followed by the conjunctions “ma” or “pero,” which both mean “but.” So, in effect, this introductory phrase when connected by “but” is a bit of a contradiction; it is a signal that one probably does know something about the situation after all!

        • Francesca è partita per Roma? 
          Has Frances left for Rome? 
        • Non che io sappia con certezza, ma le sue valigie non sono più qui.
          Not that I know for certain, but her suitcases are no longer here.

        Remember how to use sappia, the Italian subjunctive mood of sapere in conversation 
        and I guarantee you will use this verb every day!

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        Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just Grammar” and “Just the Verbs” books are now available to download on your cell phone. No APP needed! Purchase the rights today from our website at: http://www.learntravelitalian.com.

        Books available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

        Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! – Let’s Talk About… How Much Does it Cost? “Quanto Costa?”

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

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

        When visiting another country (and I am sure travelers will one day be able to visit Italy again), it is important to understand the ins and outs of making a purchase. Whether you are dining at a restaurant, visiting an important historical site, or purchasing a souvenir of your trip, knowing a few  words in Italian is always helpful to understand the cost. And if you like to barter, you can pepper your English with a few friendly Italian phrases to help the deal go through!

        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”  “Quanto costa,” which is Italian for “How much does it cost?” we will be able to communicate what we want to purchase, just as we do in our native language!

        This post is the 43rd 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 ask
        Quanto costa?
        How much does it cost?

        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…

        How Much Does it Cost?
        Quanto Costa?

        When visiting another country (and I am sure travelers will one day be able to visit Italy again), it is important to understand the ins and outs of making a purchase. Whether you are dining at a restaurant, visiting an important historical site, or purchasing a souvenir of your trip, knowing a few  words in Italian is always helpful to understand the cost. And if you like to barter, you can pepper your English with a few friendly Italian phrases to help the deal go through!

        How do I use the verb costare?

        In order to ask how much something costs in Italian, we will first need to conjugate the verb costare, which sounds very much like its English counterpart “to cost.” Costare is a regular -are verb, so the verb conjugation  should be easy to remember. When making purchases, the third person singular “it costs,” which is “costa,” and the third person plural “they cost,” which is “costano,” are the two forms of this verb necessary to know.

        Since we leave out the word “it” in conversational Italian, we simply need to put the word for “how much,” which is “quanto,” before costa or costano. This gives us the short sentences, “Quanto costa?” and “Quanto costano?” Remember that there is no need to insert the words “do” or “does” into your phrase when asking a question in Italian, although these words are necessary in English.

        Let’s see how this works.

        First off, it is polite to say, “Buon giorno!” to the shopkeeper when entering a shop in Italy. The shopkeeper will most likely be standing behind a counter near the doorway, and you will receive a polite “Buon giorno!” in return. Also, most shops in Italy have an unspoken rule — or sometimes an actual sign by the merchandise that says, “Non toccare, per favore” — requesting that customers do not handle fragile items themselves.

        If you would like to have a closer look at an item, you can start by asking the shopkeeper, “Posso?” for “May I…” and point to the item you would like to pick up.

        If you are in a shop in Florence, and see a lovely handmade wallet in a display case, if want to know the price, you can simply say, “Quanto costa?” for “How much does it cost?” 

        And if you want to purchase several silk scarves to bring home to your friends, you can ask,  “Quanto costano?” for “How much do they cost?”  

        Quanto costa?

        How much (does) (it) cost?

        Quanto costano?

        How much (do) (they) cost?

        When asking a shopkeeper in Italy how much something costs, the easiest thing to do is to point to the item or items and use the simple sentences above. Most Italian shops are small and the salespeople are usually helpful and accommodating, regardless of one’s knowledge of Italian. But it is also easy to add the Italian word for the item you are interested in at the end of these sentences. Notice the verbs costa and costano are highlighted in green to emphasize how the verb costare will change depending on the  number of items under consideration.

        Quanto costa il portafoglio?

        How much (does) the wallet cost?

        Quanto costano le sciarpe?

        How much (do) the scarves cost?

        As a substitute for the name of the item, you can also point and use the adjective “this” for one item near you or “that” for another item further away. The adjectives “these/those” are used for more than one item. Remember to change the endings of “questo” (this) and quello” (that) to reflect the gender of the item you want to purchase!

        In the table below that the adjectives questo and quello are in blue, with their endings highlighted in red to match the endings of the nouns each corresponds to. If you need a more in-depth explanation of how to use the adjectives questo and quello, you will find this in the Conversational Italian for Travelers book “Just the Grammar.”

        Quanto costa questo? (portafoglio)

        How much (does) this cost?

        Quanto costa questa? (sciarpa)

        How much does this cost?

        Quanto costano questi? (portafogli)

        How much do these (wallets) cost?

        Quanto costano queste? (sciarpe)

        How much (do) these (scarves) cost?

         

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

        How do I spot a sale in Italy?

        Leather goods Florence

        If you visit Italy at the end of June, and certainly in July and August, shops that sell clothing and accessories will be preparing for the fall season by putting their current items on sale. Large signs appear in shop windows, that say, “In Saldo” or “Saldi” and often list the percentage reduction, such as 25%, 50% or even 75%.  Some additional words and phrases you may see in shop windows are given in the table below. 

        in vendita/ in saldo, saldi on sale/ on sale for a reduced price
        in svendita  in a closeout sale
        sconto/ scontato  discount/ discounted
        a prezzo basso at low/ lowered price

         

        Italian dresses for sale
        Shop window in Rome with Italian dresses for sale up to 50% off.

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

        How do I barter in Italian?

        The price of most smaller purchases in Italian shops is not negotiable, especially when the owner is not on site. But, many of the owners of the leather and jewelry shops in Florence actually expect you to barter with them! Bartering is also expected by many artisans that sell their work in the piazzas of Italy.  Learn some of the phrases below. It may be fun to try out your bartering skills when Italy opens its doors to the world again!

        Start a conversation with a shopkeeper by asking:

        Quanto costa… How much is…
        (literally: How much costs…)

        Of course, the listed price will be:

        troppo caro too expensive
        costoso expensive, costly
        proprio costoso really expensive
        Costa un occhio della testa! Costs an arm and a leg!
        (lit. Costs an eye out of the head!)

        And here we go with bartering… 

        Quanto costa? How much (does it) cost?
        Venti euro. (It costs) 20 euro.
        Troppo caro! Facciamo quindici euro! (That is) too expensive! Let’s make it 15 euros!
        Non è in saldo… ma, diciannove va bene. (It) is not on sale… but 19 is good.
        No, è costoso! Può andar bene diciassette? No, (it) is expensive! Perhaps 17?
        Diciotto. Non posso fare più sconto! 18. (I) can’t discount it any more! (lit. I can’t make it (any) more discounted!)
        Va bene! Very well!/Agreed.

        If you’ve tried bartering in Italy, leave a comment describing your method and let us know how it worked! 


        Remember how ask, How much does it cost?” in Italian with 
        “Quanto costa?” 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

        Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day – “To be about to” with “Stare per”

        Burano in Venice, Italy and Everyday Italian phrases

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

        Buon giorno a tutti! Today we are “about to” learn two more ways to use the verb stare that you can use every day! 

        As I’ve said before in this blog series, 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 what we are about to do in Italian with the verb  stare and the preposition per, we will be able to communicate with the same complexity as we do in our native language!

        And when we are actually in the process of performing an action, we can use the verb stare again as a helping verb to emphasize that we are doing something right now.

        This post is the 42nd 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

        start with “I am about to” 

        and use the verb + preposition combination

        Stare + per 

        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 this verb?

        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.

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

        Stare per — to be about to

        As we’ve seen in a previous blog about the verb stare, although the direct translation of stare is “to stay,” over the centuries stare has also taken on the meaning of “to be” with respect to one’s general health. The verb stare is often used in other ways as well. For instance, with the addition of the preposition per, the stare  per” combination conveys the meaning “to be about to.”

        Stare is an –are verb that has an irregular root in the tu and loro forms. In the table below, the regular conjugations of stare are given in green and the irregular forms in brown, in order to make them easier to recognize. The stare conjugation table has been modified from our first blog on this topic to reflect the different meaning with the addition of the preposition per after the verb.

        Stare perto be about to 

        io

        sto
        per
        I am about to
        tu stai
        per
        you (familiar) are about to
        Lei

         

        lei/lui

        sta
        per
        you (polite) are about to

         

        she/he is about to

             
        noi stiamo per we are about to
        voi state
        per
        you all are about to
        loro stanno
        per

        they are about to

         

        Once we have stare conjugated to reflect the speaker, the rest is easy! Simply follow the conjugated form of stare with per and then the infinitive form of the verb that describes what you are “about to” do.

        What are some things we may be “about to” do during the course of the day?  The actions of going to or returning from a place are very common.  For instance, if I were “about to” go to the store to pick up some wine for dinner, and want to inform a family member, the line may go something like this:

        Sto per andare a comprare una bottiglia di vino. Preferisci rosso o bianco?
        I am about to go to buy a bottle of wine. Do you prefer red or white?

        Or, maybe your friend is putting on his coat, as if he were about to leave a gathering. Instead, you would like him to stay. You may say something like this (using the familiar command form of restare):

        Stai per partire? È troppo presto! Resta qui un ora di più con me!
        Are you about to leave?  It’s very early! Stay here an hour longer with me!

        We can continue in this manner with the other verbs of “coming and going”  like arrivare (to arrive), venire (to come), entrare (to enter), tornare (to return), or rientrare (to come back).

        There are many other daily activities that come to mind where stare per may be useful.  We are often “about to” say (dire) something important, or “about to” answer (rispondere) a question. We may be “about to”  write (scrivere), send (mandare), or read (leggere) an important text or email.  

        After hearing sad news, we may be about to cry (stare per mettersi a piangere).

        Several commonly used verb combinations given above have been listed in the table below. How many more can you think of?

        Stare per andare

        About to go

        Stare per partire

        About to leave

        Stare per arrivare

        About to arrive

        Stare per venire

        About to come

        Stare per entrare

        About to enter

        Stare per tornare

        About to return

        Stare per rientrare

        About to come back

        Stare per dire

        About to say

        Stare per rispondere

        About to answer

        Stare per scivere

        About to write

        Stare per mandare

        About to send

        Stare per leggere

        About to read

        Stare per mettersi a piangere

        About to cry

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

        Now that we know how to say what we are about to do in the present tense, let’s go one a step further and talk about the past tense. In fact, many of the phrases listed in the last section are more commonly used in the past tense during a normal conversation.

        For instance, the phrase, “I was about to say…” is often used when one speaker has interrupted another. “I was about to answer…!” might be used if one feels pressured into saying something too quickly. Or, is one is telling a story about an unfortunate event that has happened to a friend, this story might involve the sentence, “He/she was about to cry…”

        In these cases, we have to conjugate stare in the past tense.  The imperfetto conjugation is given below. The rest of the sentence structure remains the same!

        Stare imperfetto per was about to

        io

        stavo
        per
        I was about to
        tu stavi
        per
        you (familiar) were about to
        Lei

         

        lei/lui

        stava
        per
        you (polite) were about to

         

        she/he was about to

             
        noi stavamo per we were about to
        voi stavate per you all were about to
        loro stavano per

        they were about to

        Stavo per dire la stessa cosa!
        I was about to say the same thing!

        Stavo per rispondere, ma non mi hai dato il tempo!
        I was about to answer, but you didn’t give me time!

        Stava per mettersi a piangere quando le ho detto che nonna è in ospitale.
        She was about to cry when I told her that grandma is in the hospital.

         

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

        Another important use for the verb stare is to convey the idea that one is doing something right now.  Stare plus the gerund of an action verb creates the present progressive form. In English, the present progressive is the “ing” form of a verb  —  I am going, coming, doing, etc.

        In Italian, the present progressive tense is used sparingly; it is reserved for a happening that is going on at the exact same time as the conversation. In short, where in English we commonly say “I am going,” to mean we will leave anywhere from one minute later to sometime in the near future,  in Italian, a simple, “Io vado,” will suffice. To stress that he or she is leaving momentarily, an Italian might instead use stare say, “Sto andando,”** but either tense is correct.

        To form the present progressive tense, simply conjugate stare to reflect the speaker. Then add the gerund of the action verb that is to follow.

        It is fairly simple to create a gerund to create the present progressive tense in Italian. Drop the -are, -ere, and -ire verb endings to create the stem. Then add ando to the stem of the -are verbs and -endo to the stem of the -ere and -ire verbs. Most gerunds are regular, which generally makes for easy conjugation, although, of course, there are some exceptions! For more information on this verb type, check out our reference book, Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Verbs.”  

        Let’s take  a few of our example sentences one step further, from being “about to” do something, to actually doing it “right away.” Notice how the different use of stare changes the meaning of each sentence!

        Sto andando a comprare una bottiglia di vino. 
        I am going (right now) to buy a bottle of wine. 

        Il treno per Roma sta partendo!
        The train for Rome is leaving (right now)!

        Stavo dicendo la stessa cosa!
        I was (just) saying the same thing!

        Stavo rispondendo, ma mi hai interrotto!
        I was answering, but you interrupted me!

         

        A couple more points…

        *Another common way to convey you are leaving right away is with the phrase, “Me ne vado,” from the verb andarsene, but this is a topic for another blog!

        *Instead of saying, “Sto arrivando,” for “I’m coming right now,” Italians commonly say, “Arrivo!” 

         

        Remember how to use the Italian verb combination stare per in conversation 
        and I guarantee you will use this verb every day!

         

        "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