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 47th in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” just click HERE

Many “commonly used phrases” in conversation

use the Italian 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.

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

     

    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

     

     

    Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! How to say “I feel…” in Italian with “Stare”

    Burano in Venice, Italy and Everyday Italian phrases

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

    Buon anno a tutti! How do you feel now that 2021 is upon us? For me, anticipation of the year ahead always brings with it a sense of hope. Hope that old problems can be solved. Hope that new  achievements can be realized.

    I believe that the hope most people feel with each new year springs from the opportunity to make a fresh start and to set new goals. And setting a goal is, of course, the first step one must take on the road to any destination.

    Why not set a goal to learn Italian, starting today, for the year 2021? 

    Of course, a goal to learn Italian may not be as life-changing as a goal to find a lasting relationship or a fulfilling job.  But, it has been shown in many studies that learning a new language can help us to set an intellectual and emotional foundation that will boost the enjoyment of our other endeavors.  And Italian is one of the most commonly studied languages in the world, perhaps because the rewards of delving into the rich Italian language and culture are so great!

    But I started this blog asking how you, the reader feel now.  If you want to express your feelings in Italian, the verb stare is essential!  This verb is a part of many commonly used phrases in Italian. 

    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 how we feel in Italian with the verb stare, we will be able to communicate with the same complexity as we do in our native language!

    This post is the 40th 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 feel” 

    and use the verb

    Stare

    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 — to stay (to be)

    The verb stare has an interesting history. 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.

    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.  Stare is a verb that will truly be used every day, so each conjugation should be committed to memory.

    Stareto stay (to be) 

    io

    sto I stay/(am)
    tu stai you (familiar) stay/(are)
    Lei

    lei/lui

    sta you (polite) stay/(are)

    she/he stays/is

         
    noi stiamo we stay/(are)
    voi state you all stay/(are)
    loro stanno

    they stay/(are)

     

    As most of us learn early on in our Italian studies, the familiar greeting, “How are you?” originates with the verb stare.

    “Come stai?” is used with family and friends and “Come sta?” with acquaintances, and both mean, “How are you?”

    In order to answer this common meeting and greeting question, let’s use our conjugations in the table above and describe in general if we are feeling well (bene) or badly/sick (male).  

    Stare bene to feel well

    io sto bene I am well
    tu stai bene you (familiar) are well
    Lei

    lei/lui

    sta bene you (polite) are well

    she/he is well

         
    noi stiamo bene we are well
    voi state bene you all are well
    loro stanno bene they are well

     

     Stare maleto feel badly/sick

    io sto male I feel badly I am sick
    tu stai male you (familiar) feel badly you (familiar) are sick
    Lei

    lei/lui

    sta male you (polite) feel badly

    she/he feels badly

    you (polite) are sick

    she/he is sick

           
    noi stiamo male we feel badly we are sick
    voi state male you all feel badly you all are sick
    loro stanno male they feel badly they are sick

     

    If you would like to change-up your answer a bit, and be more descriptive about how you feel, of course there are many other options than simply “well” or “badly.” The phrases listed in the table below describe general feelings, from the best to the worst.

    Note that not all of the replies to “Come stai?” or “Come sta?” use stare.

    If you really want to speak like a native Italian, choose one of the “-issimo” endings for your reply, which are very common in spoken Italian today. Or, choose “non c’è male,” which many superstitious members of my family use so as not to be too happy about things and bring on bad luck!

    Also, it should be mentioned that in informal situations, it is very common to substitute “Come va?” or “How’s it going?” for “Come stai?”  In this case, a simple answer would be,“Va bene,” for “It’s going well/fine.” 

    Come stai?
    Come sta?
    How are you? Familiar/Polite
    Sto benissimo! I am feeling great!
    I am really well!
    The best ever!
    Sto molto bene. I am very well.
    Sto bene. I am well/fine.
    Così, così. So, so.
    Non c’è male. Not so badly.
    Sto male. I am feeling badly/sick.
    Sto molto male. I am feeling very badly.
    I am very sick.
    Sto malissimo! I am very feeling very badly.
    I am really sick!
    I am feeling the worst ever!
    Come va? How’s it going?
    Va bene. It’s going well/fine/good/OK.

    To take this one step further, there is an important a part of the ritual of Italian greetings that should be followed. After stating how you feel,  you should add a quick thanks and an inquiry into the the health of another.

    For instance, “Sto bene, grazie. E tu?” or “E Lei?” for “I am well, thank you. And you?  How are you?”

    Or, if you know an individual’s family, it is considered polite to ask about them: “E la famiglia, come sta?” “And how is the family?

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

    We can also use stare in  many common expressions to tell someone else how we would like them to feel or even how to behave. In Italian, when we direct someone to do something, we must use the command form of a verb. For our purposes here, we will only discuss the familiar command forms of stare, which will be the same as the present tense tu and voi forms we have just reviewed. A negative command is given in the infinitive form in both English and Italian.

    We can use stare to ask someone to remain calm (calmo),  to be still (fermo), to be careful (attento), or to be silent (zitto). Remember to  change the ending of each adjective to reflect the gender of the person who is being addressed.

    A command is usually clear from the tone of voice when any language is spoken. In written English and Italian, a command is generally followed by an exclamation point.

    Stare calmo(a)(i,e)! to be calm/to remain calm
    Stare fermo(a)(i,e)! to stay still/to keep still
    Stare zitto(a)(i,e)! to be silent/to be quiet
    Stare attento(a)(i,e)! to be careful/watchful/pay attention

    Some example sentences are given below.  How many more can you think of from your daily life?
    If you’d like, leave some examples in the comment section.

    Annina, stai calma! Non piangere più!
    Little Ann, calm down!  Don’t cry any more.

    Non muoverti! Stai fermo, Giovanni!
    Don’t move (yourself)! Stay still, John!

    Sono le undici di sera. Stai zitto! I miei genitori stanno dormendo.
    It is 11 o’clock at night. Be quiet! My parents are sleeping.

    State attenti quando scendete dal treno!
    Be careful when you all get off the train!

    By the way…

    In order to ask someone to keep quiet in a rude way, or as we would say in English, “Shut up!” you can use the Italian expression,“Chiudi il becco!”

    And if you want to use the expression “shut up” to mean, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” or “You don’t say!” there are several interjections to choose from in Italian: “Ma dai!” “Non mi dire!” or “Ma non mi dire!”

    Remember how to use stare to describe
    how you feel in Italian.

     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! – Let’s Talk About… TV and the Movies in Italian

    Burano in Venice, Italy and Everyday Italian phrases

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

    Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2020? 

    One of the most common topics people discuss is what they have watched lately on their TV. But whether the discussion is about a made-for-TV series or a classic movie, the conversation usually revolves around the same topics: our likes and dislikes, intriguing points in the plot, and, of course, those fabulous actors. These common topics lead to common phrases we can learn in Italian to talk to our Italian friends!

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

    If we learn how to incorporate “commonly used phrases”  when we talk about the weather in Italian we will be able to communicate just as we do in our native language!

    What TV series have you watched lately?  On what site? were you thrilled, bored, or was it just an OK experience?  Or maybe you have just streamed (or put in your own DVD for the umpteenth time) a favorite classic movie.  Why is this movie your favorite?  What about the characters attracts you to this movie time and time again?

    This post is the 38th in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” just click HERE

    Many “commonly used phrases” in Italian

    are used to talk about
    TV and movies 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…

    TV and the Movies in Italian

    How do I say, “TV show” and “movies” in Italian?

    The programs we watch on a television set (il televisore) or on a screen (lo schermo) are referred to most commonly in both English and Italian as “TV.” The pronunciation, of course, is different in each language. In Italian, the abbreviation “TV” is pronounced as an Italian would pronounce the letters “t” and “v,” which sounds like “tee-vooh.” Notice from the table below that there is an Italian word for TV programs in general (la televisione), and therefore the Italian abbreviation TV is feminine as well, and takes the feminine definite article la, as in la TV.

    TV La TV / La televisione
    Cable TV La TV via cavo
    Satellite TV La TV sattelitare
    RAI-TV Italian state television
    (Radio-Televisione Italiana)
    Television set Il televisore
    TV or computer screen Lo schermo
    TV show Un programma 
    Un programma televisivo
    TV series Una serie TV/Due Serie
    Un telefilm
    Episode Una puntata
    Situation Comedy Una serie TV sitcom
    Una commedia
    Comedy show Un programma comico

    Back in the day, Italians used to refer to a movie as “una pellicola,” but that word is no longer in common usage. Nowadays, Italians most often refer to a movie with the American word “film.” For instance, Voleva la pena il film?” means, “Was it worth it to watch the movie?”

    Movies in general are either “i film,” with the borrowed English word preceded by the plural masculine definite article “i” in Italian, or “il cinema,” which is a collective masculine noun. 

    The usual Italian verbs for to watch (guardare) and to see (vedere) describe the act of watching a screen to see a TV show or movie.

    Movie theater  Il cinema
    Film studio Lo studio cinematografico
    Movie Il film (La pellicola)
    Movies I film / Il cinema
    to capture an image for a film filmare / riprendere / girare
    to be recorded essere filmato
    to watch a movie guardare un film
    to watch a movie vedere un film

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

    Using piacere to say we like a TV show or movie

    In Italian, a few simple sentences will suffice to say if we liked what we saw — or not.  You may recall that Italians use the irregular verb piacere to convey the idea that they like something. For a refresher on how this verb works, please refer to past blogs, “Piacere — How Italians Say, ‘I like it!”  and “Piacere: How Italians Say, ‘I liked it!’

    The most important thing to remember is that the conjugation of piacere
    will have to agree with the number of things that are being liked. 

    So, when speaking in the present tense, if one thing is liked, simply use the third person singular conjugation piace.

    If many things are liked in the present, use the plural third person, which is piacciono.

    For the past tense, we can use the passato prossimo third person singular forms è piacuto and è piaciuta for the one-time event when we liked something.

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

    Then put the indirect object pronoun mi before the verb to make the simple sentence: “To me, this is pleasing!” Or, as we would say in English, “I like/liked this!”  

    To ask a friend if they like or liked something, put ti before the verb, for: “Is/was this pleasing to you?” Or, as we would say in English, “Do/Did you like this?”

    If, for some reason, you do NOT like what you have watched, just start your Italian sentence with the word non.

    What we might say about our favorite TV show or movie that we like:

    Mi piace questo film. I like this movie.
    Mi è piaciuto questo film. I liked this movie.
    Mi piace molto questo film. I really like this movie.
    Mi è piaciuto molto questo film. I really liked this movie.
    Ti piace questo film? Do you like this movie?
    Ti è piaciuto questo film? Did you like this movie?

    What we might say about our favorite TV show or movie that we did NOT like: 

    Non mi piace questo film. I don’t like this movie.
    Non mi è piaciuto questo film. I didn’t like this movie.
    Mi piace molto questo film. I really don’t like this movie.
    Mi è piaciuto molto questo film. I really didn’t like this movie.
    Ti piace questo film? Don’t you like this movie?
    Ti è piaciuto questo film? Didn’t you like this movie?

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

    Using common expressions to say we like a TV show or movie

    Of course, there are many common expressions that go beyond the simple, “I like it,” or “I don’t like it.” In English, for instance, we might say, “It was cool,” or “It was out of this world.” It seems like new English expressions are invented almost every day for how we feel about things! So, it should come as no surprise that Italians have also created expressions for feelings that go deeper than simply liking.  Let’s discuss a few that you may hear when carrying on a conversation with your Italian friends.

    To get a conversation started, you can use the phrases, “Vale la pena?” for “Is it worth it?”  “Voleva la pena il film?” means, “Was the film worth it?” as mentioned earlier.

    In the table below are some answers that you might hear from a native Italian who has enjoyed a film. Try them out and surprise your Italian friends!

    Mi piace un sacco! I like it a lot! (lit. a sack full)
    Mi è piaciuto un sacco! I liked it a lot!
    È  stato bello! It was great!
    È / È stato meraviglioso! It is / was wonderful!
    È / È stato stupendo! It is / was amazing / cool!
    È / È stato  fantastico! It is / was fantastic / cool!
    È / È stato fico / figo! It is / was cool!
    È /  È stato fichissimo / fighissimo! It is / was the coolest!
    È / È stato da paura! It is / was cool!
    È / È stato  il meglio! It is / was the best!
    È il migliore film che io abbia mai visto. It is the best film that I have ever seen.

    Some common movie genres

    Action Film d’azione
    Adventure story Storia d’avventura
    Costume drama (historical TV show with costumes) Sceneggiato in costume
    Costume drama (historical film with costumes) Film in costume
    Comedy Film comico / commedia
    Comedy drama Commedia drammatica
    Dark comedy Commedia nera
    High comedy Commedia sofisticata / da intenditori
    Low comedy (bawdy) Commedia popolare
    Slapstick comedy Farsa / Pagliacciata*
    Musical comedy Commedia musicale
    Romantic comedy Commedia romantica
    Documentary Un documentario
    Drama Storia drammatica
    Drama movie Film drammatico / Dramma
    Detective movie Un poliziesco / Un giallo**
    Film noir (thriller genre) Film noir
    Foreign Film Film straniero
    Horror  Film horror / Film dell’orrore
    Mystery Un giallo**
    Science Fiction / Sci-fi Film di fantascienza
    Psychological thriller Thriller psicologico
    Thriller (suspense film) Thriller / Giallo
    Western Film Western

    *Reference to the opera Pagliacci, whose main character is a clown that performs slapstick humor with puppets.

    **Mystery books and films are referred to by the color giallo, which is derived from the yellow cover all mystery books were given in the past.

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

    Using common expressions to say what we prefer

    The verb preferire means “to prefer,” which is a regular -isc conjugated -ire verb.“I prefer…” is “Io preferisco…” To ask a question of someone else, say, “Tu preferisci…?”

    If you want to say you prefer one movie genre over another, just use the adjective preferito. This also works for your favorite movie, TV show, color, etc. Just make sure to change the ending of preferito (a,i,e) to reflect what it is you are describing, whether masculine or feminine, singular or plural.

    Here are examples from the dialogue below:

    È il tipo di film che io preferisco.
    It’s the type of film that I prefer.

    Non per me.  Il mio film preferito è un buon giallo.
    Not for me. My favorite movie is a good mystery movie.

    If you want to say, “I liked (film) better than…” use the sentence construction:

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

    Ma mi piace La Vita è Bella più del Commissario Montalbano.
    I like La Vita è Bella more than Detective Montalbano.

    Another way to make a comparison between films is to say:
    “This film is much better than…”

    “Questo film è molto meglio di + definite article…”

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

    Finally, to mention who has written or directed a movie, use the conjunction “di” to mean “by.”

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

    Below is a simple dialogue between two friends, Maria and Anna, talking about their favorite movie and TV show.  There are, of course, many variations.  Think about your favorite movie and create phrases describe your own feelings in Italian!

    Maria:  Ieri sera, ho guardato il film, La Vita è Bella, di Roberto Benigni.
    Last night, I watched the movie, “Life is Beautiful,” by Roberto Benigni.
    Anna: Ne è valsa la pena?
    Was it worth it?
    Maria: Si, vale la pena.
    Mi è piaciuto molto questo film!
    Yes, it is worth it.
    I really liked this film!
    Anna: È una storia drammatica?
    Is it a drama?
    Maria: Si, è una storia drammatica, ma la prima parte è anche un po’ comica.
    Yes, it is a drama, but the first part is also a bit funny.
    Anna: Ah, una commedia drammatica.
    I see, a comedy drama.
    Maria: È il tipo di film che io preferisco.
    It’s the type of film that I prefer.
    Anna: Non per me.
    Il mio film preferito è un buon giallo.
    Not for me.
    My favorite movie is a good mystery movie.
    Commissario Montalbano è figo.
    Detective Montalbano is cool.
    Maria: Boh. Ho visto molte puntate del Commissario Montalbano sul TV.
    Well. I have seen many episodes of Detective Montalbano on TV.
    Ma mi piace La Vita è Bella più del Commissario Montalbano.
      I like La Vita è Bella more than Detective Montalbano.
       
      Questo film è molto meglio del Commissario Montalbano, sono sicuro!
    This film is much better than Detective Montalbano, I am sure.
    Anna: Allora, devo guardare La Vita è Bella un giorno.
    Well, then, I will have to watch La Vita è Bella one day.

    Remember how to talk about TV and the Movies in Italian and I guarantee
    you will use these phrases every day!

    Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases
    Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases (with Restaurant Vocabulary and Idiomatic Expressions) is YOUR traveling companion in Italy! All the Italian phrases you need to know to enjoy your trip to Italy are right here and fit right into your pocket or purse.

       Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

    Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! How to say “I know” in Italian: Sapere vs. Conoscere

    Burano in Venice, Italy and Everyday Italian phrases

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

    Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2020?

    To be “in the know” about how the Italian language works, we must know how to use the verb sapere and be acquainted with the verb conoscere.  

    If we learn how to incorporate “commonly used phrases” with the verb sapere, we will be able to speak about what we know in Italian; and with the verb conoscere we will be able to to describe who are friends are. We will be on our way to building complex sentences and speaking more like we do in our native language!

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

    If we learn how to incorporate “commonly used phrases”  when we ask for what we need in Italian, we will be able to communicate just as we do in our native language!

    This post is the 37th 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 know” 
    and use the verbs

    sapere and conoscere

    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 verbs?

    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.

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

    How to Say “I know ” in Italian  

    Sapere 

    To be “in the know” about how the Italian language works, we must know how to use the verb sapere and be acquainted with the verb conoscere.  

    Let’s start with sapere.

    Sapere is an irregular verb that ends in -ere.  It means to know,” as in to know a fact.

    Since sapere is irregular, the root will be different from the infinitive verb for all forms except the voi form.  Interestingly, the root for the noi form differs by only a single letter from the regular root — with the addition of a second letter p. The irregular conjugations are given in the table below in brown and the regular conjugation in green. The syllable to be accented in each conjugation has been underlined.

    Sapereto know (a fact)

    io so I know
    tu sai you (familiar) know
    Lei

    lei/lui

    sa you (polite) know

    she/he knows

         
    noi sappiamo we know
    voi sapete you all know
    loro sanno they know

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

    How do we use the verb sapere

    Just remember: “so, sai, sa”!

    The present tense form for “I know…” from sapere is “Io so…” but of course, we leave out the subject pronoun, so the word that Italians use in conversation is just, “So…”

    For the question, “Do you know…?” use the conjugated verb,  (tu) “Sai…?” for someone you are familiar with. Or: “Lei sa…?” for someone you have just met (including the subject pronoun Lei) to be polite.

    “Does she or he know?” is, (lei, lui) “Sa…?” In order to emphasize the masculine or feminine nature of the subject, the subject pronouns lei or lui can also be used, for: “Lei sa?”  or “Lui sa?”  Most times, though, the subject is known to  the speakers from earlier in the conversation and therefore left out of the sentence.

    Remember, there is no need to use the word “do” when asking a question in Italian.  Just these three simple, short Italian words, “so,” “sai,” or “sa” will suffice.  Use these short words to tell someone what you know or to ask someone what they know!

    “Lei sa dov’è…” means, “Do you (polite) know where is the…?” (Or, in correct English: where the… is?”) This is an important Italian phrase to know when traveling in order to ask for directions. When approaching a stranger, it is customary to precede this question with the polite phrase “Mi scusi” for “Excuse me.”

    Here are some examples of  travel phrases we can make with the verb sapere:       

    Mi scusi, Excuse me,
    …Lei sa dov’è… …(do) you (pol.) know where is…

    …(do) you know where the… is?

    …l’albergo? …the hotel?
    …il ristorante? …the restaurant?
    …la metro/metropolitana? …the subway?
    …la fermata dell’autobus? …the bus stop?
    …la stazione dei treni? …the train station?
    …la banca? …the bank?
    …l’ufficio postale? …the post office?
    …il museo? …the museum?

    Note: If the answer to these questions involves a particular street, the answer you will hear will use the phrase in… via, for the English on… street.

    La banca è in via Verde.           The bank is on Green Street.     

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

    Use a similar format to ask questions about schedules using sapere when traveling.

    Mi scusi, Excuse me,
    …Lei sa quando… …(do) you (pol.) know when…
    …arriva il treno? …the train arrives (lit. arrives the train)?
    …arriva l’autobus? …the bus arrives?
    …parte il treno? …the train leaves (lit. leaves the train)?
    …parte l’autobus? …the bus leaves?
    …apre il museo? …the museum opens (lit. opens the museum)?
    …chiude il museo? …the museum closes?

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

    Finally, here are some commonly used, everyday phrases that you can make with the verb sapere. The word “Chissà” is a popular adverb and interjection used in Italian conversation. It is a word that can be used d in many different situations. Chissà can be used alone or in phrases that end with perché, se, or che (why, if, or what). Try to complete the questions that start with “Chissà…” in the table below on your own, using the simple present tense. 

    Note the use of the subjunctive mode with the conjugation sappia and the imperfetto conjugation sapevo in our last two examples. Commit these phrases to memory, even if you haven’t fully mastered their verb forms, as they will come up often in conversation.  Knowing these two verbs will also impress your Italian friends!

    So (qualcosa) a memoria. I know (something) by heart.
    Chissà?
    Chissà perché…?
    Chissà se…?
    Chissà che…?
    Non si sa mai!
    Who knows?
    Who knows why…?
    Who knows if…?
    Who knows what…?
    One never knows!
    Come ben sai. As you well know.
    Si sa che… Everyone knows that…
    Non ne sa niente. He/she knows nothing about it.
    Lo so. I know (it).
    Non lo so. I don’t know (it).
    Che io sappia.
    Che lei/lui sappia?
    As far as I know.
    What does she/he know?
    Lo sapevo! I knew it!

    How to Say “I know ” in Italian  

    Conoscere 

    Conoscere is a regular -ere verb.  Conoscere also means to know,  with the connotation  to become acquainted with a person or a place.

    The regular conjugation of conoscere is listed in the table below. Notice that the pronunciation of the ending of the io and loro forms will change once the regular endings are added on to the stem. There is a “hard c” sound with the endings of sco/–scono for the io and loro forms.  These verbs are listed in orange. The remaining forms retain the softer “sh” sound of the infinitive conoscere with their –sci and –sce combinations.

     The stressed syllable for each conjugation is underlined.

    Conoscereto know (be acquainted with)

    io conosco I know
    tu conosci you (familiar) know
    Lei

    lei/lui

    conosce you (polite) know

    she/he knows

         
    noi conosciamo we know
    voi conoscete you all know
    loro conoscono they know

    How to Say “I know ” in Italian  

    Sapere vs. Conoscere

    As we have just described above, sapere and conoscere  are two Italian verbs that both mean, “to know.”  Think about how many times each day we say, “I know,” “you know,” or, “Do you know?”  In Italy, these expressions are also used frequently. But, there are differences in how each of these verbs that means “to know”  is used. If we learn which situations use the verb sapere and which use conoscere, we will be able to speak about what we know and who are friends are in Italian!

    To follow are some specific examples of how each verb is used.

    1. Sapere is used to indicate knowledge of something, such as a fact. For instance, if we tell someone that we know a language very well we are stating a fact and use sapere. Notice how the definite article (the) (l’) is used after the verb sapere to describe the Italian language in this case.
    (Io) So l’italiano molto bene.
    I know (the) Italian language very well.
    1. Sapere is used to describe knowledge of something tangible that we can see or feel. The word that links the description of what we know to the subject of these types of sentences is the conjunction che.  Che cannot be omitted, as we often do in English.  Below are two examples that use sapere to describe something that we can see.
    Ora so che il primo romanzo scritto in italiano si chiama, “I Promessi Sposi.”
    Now (I) know that the first novel written in Italian is called, “The Betrothed.”
     
    (Io) So che il cielo è blu.
    I know that the sky is blue.

    *By the way, if  you don’t know something, you must say,
    “Non lo so.”“I don’t know (it).” 

    1. Sapere is used to describe the ability to do something. Notice in the translations below that the English phrase how to” is not necessary in Italian. Instead, and an infinitive verb follows directly after “so.”
    (Io) So guidare la macchina.
    I know (how to) drive a car.
    1. Sapere is also used when asking questions, as noted in the first section in this blog. If asking directions from a stranger, it is customary to begin with, “Mi scusi,” or just, “Scusi,” for the polite (command) form of “Excuse me.” Then follow with the polite, “Lei sa…”
    Mi scusi. Lei sa quando arriva il treno?
    Excuse me. (Do) (you pol.) know when arrives the train?
    Do you know when the train arrives?
     
    Mi scusi; Lei sa dov’è il binario tre?
    Excuse me; (do) (you pol.) know where is (the) track three?
    Do you know where track three is?                
    1. Conoscere means to know, as in to be acquainted with a person or a place.  
    Io conosco Julia, la nonna di Paolo.
    I know Julia, Paul’s grandmother. (lit. the grandmother of Paul)
     
    Io conosco Milano molto bene.
    I know Milan very well.

     

    1. Conoscere is also used in reference to meeting/getting to know someone for the first time.
    Caterina vuole conoscere suo cugino Pietro in Italia.
    Kathy wants to meet/get to know her cousin Peter in Italy.
    Remember how to use sapere and conoscere to describe
    what and who you know in Italian.

     I guarantee
    you will use these verbs 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! – How to Say, “I want” with “Volere” and “Desiderare”

    Burano in Venice, Italy and Everyday Italian phrases

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

    Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2020? 

    One of the most important things for any language student to learn is how to ask politely for what they want. In Italy, of course, there are many social interactions that routinely occur between a customer and service people  — clerks, shopkeepers, waiters — and there several commonly used phrases that make these interactions pleasant and polite.

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

    If we learn how to incorporate “commonly used phrases”  when we ask for what we want in Italian, we will be able to communicate just as we do in our native language!

    This post is the 35th 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 want” or “I would like”
    and use the verbs

    volere and desiderare.

    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 verbs?

    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.

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

    How to Say, “I want…”

    with Volere and Desiderare in Italian

    Volere is an Italian verb that means “to want” or “to need.” Volere ends in -ere, which makes it a second conjugation verb.  However, it is also an irregular verb, and the stem will change for all forms except the voi form.  As you can imagine, volere is a very important verb to know in order to communicate what your needs are while in Italy, and you will find the io and tu forms are very important to commit to memory.

    The verb conjugation table below is reprinted from the Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Verbs” book and textbook.  In all Conversational Italian for Travelers books,  material is presented with the visual learner in mind, and this includes color-coding for easy memorization. In the conjugation table below, the irregular verb forms for the present tense of volare are given in brown, and the regular voi conjugation is given in green. Notice also that the stressed syllable for each verb has been underlined.

    Volere – to want (present tense)

    io voglio I want
    tu vuoi you (familiar)want
    Lei

    lei/lui

    vuole you (polite) want

    she/he wants

         
    noi vogliamo we want
    voi volete you all want
    loro vogliono they want

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

    The conditional form of volere is also very useful, since it is a polite way to ask for something from a clerk at a store or a waiter at a restaurant.  The io conditional form of volere is also irregular, and is vorrei, which means, “I would like.”

    Use the polite vorrei and say, I would like…” instead of the more demanding “Voglio…” when asking for what you need in Italy; politeness is usually rewarded with the same in return. Conditional verb forms are generally studied at the intermediate level, but “vorrei” is one verb that every student of Italian should learn right from the start!

    Volere – to want (conditional tense)

    io vorrei I would like

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

    So, now we know how to tell someone what we want.  Or do we?  After “I want,” we often need to add another verb to express what we want to do – to go, to return, to buy, etc.

    To express what you want, first conjugate the verb volere into one of the first conjugation, or io forms: voglio or vorrei.  Then simply add the infinitive form of the action verb directly after the conjugated form of volere.  This is the same as we would do in English!  The verb volere is known as a helping verb for the way that it modifies, or adds to, the meaning of the main verb in the sentence.

    See below for Italian example sentences that use the helping verb volere. Both the helping verb and the main verb in the sentence have been underlined.

    Notice that the subject pronoun io is left out of the Italian phrases, as usual.  Remember that when going “to” a country, region, or large island in Italy, you must use the Italian preposition “in” (which has the same meaning as the English word “in”). However, when going to a city, town, or a small island in Italy, you must use the preposition “a,” for “to.”

    Voglio andare in Italia.

    Voglio andare a Roma.

     (I) want to go to Italy.

    (I) want to go to Rome.

    Vorrei comprare un biglietto. (I) would like to buy a ticket.
    Voglio tornare lunedì. (I) want to return Monday.

    Of course, the verb volere can also be followed by a noun, the “object of our desire”!  Some examples:

    Voglio un’appartamento a Roma. (I) want an apartment in Rome.
    Vorrei quella macchina rossa! (I) would like that red car!
    Voglio una grande festa quando faccio cinquanta! (I) want a big party when I turn 50!

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

    After learning how a visitor to Italy should express their needs using the verb volere, it is important to realize how the verb desiderare comes into play in every day life.  When one is out and about shopping in Italy, desiderare is the verb most commonly used by a clerk or shopkeeper to ask a customer what they want. Desiderare is most often used with the meaning “to want” in the business setting, but can also mean “to desire” or can have the more forceful meanings of  “to demand” or “to require” (another person to do something).

    Desiderare is a regular -are verb, and the polite “you” form, “Desidera..?” is commonly  by shopkeepers when a customer enters a store. This is a shorthand way to ask, “Can I help you?” Of course, a customer may also hear, “Posso aiutarla?” for the official, polite, “May I help you?”

    An example conversation between a traveler, Caterina, and a ticket clerk, Rosa, is given below from Chapter 4: At the Train station, an excerpt from our Conversational Italian for Travelers story with interactive dialogues.

    In this example, directly after Rosa, the clerk at the ticket counter says, “Buon giorno,” she asks, “Dove desidera andare?” as a way of inviting Caterina to purchase a ticket.  Desidera is now the helping verb and is conjugated into its “polite you” form, while andare follows in the infinitive.

    Caterina answers the initial question in the dialogue with the polite vorrei but then later on uses the io form of desiderare, which is desidero;  desiderare can, of course, be used by the customer as well as a clerk or salesperson!

    Read the dialogue below through as an example of how these words might be used. To hear the full dialogue between Caterina and Rosa on your computer or smartphone, just click here: Chapter 4: At the Train station.

    Rosa:                          Buon giorno.  Dove desidera andare?
                                        Hello.  Where (do) you (pol.) want to go?
    Caterina:                   Vorrei andare a Milano.
                                         (I) would like to go to Milan
    Rosa:                          Prima o seconda classe?
                                        First or second class?
    Caterina:                   Desidero la prima classe, diretto, per Milano, per favore.
                                        (I) want first class, direct, for Milan, please.

    There are, of course, many more situations in which one could ask for what they want using voglio, vorrei, or desiderare.  How many more can you think of?

    Remember how to use the verbs volere and desiderare to ask for what you want in Italian and I guarantee you will use these verbs 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