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

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

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

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

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

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

This post is the 51st in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” just click HERE

Many “commonly used phrases” in conversation

use the Italian verb
tenere.

See below for how this works.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Let’s Talk About…

The Many Uses of the  Italian Verb

Tenere

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

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

io

tengo

tu

tieni

Lei,lei,lui

tiene

noi

teniamo

voi

 tenete

loro

tengono

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

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

 

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

io

terrò

tu

terrai

Lei,lei,lui

terrà

noi

terremo

voi

 terrete

loro

terranno


 

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

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

     

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

     

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

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

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

     

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

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

       

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

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

       

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

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

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

       

       

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

      for “to consider.”

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

       

       

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

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

       

       

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

       

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

       

       

      6. Common Italian phrases with [tenere + a] 

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

       

       

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

       

       

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

       

       

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

       

       

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

       

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

       

       

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

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

       

       

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

       

       

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

       

       

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

       

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

       

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

       

       


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

       

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

       

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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! How to Say, “I miss you…” with Mancare

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      This post is the 49th in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” just click HERE

      Many “commonly used phrases” in conversation

      use the Italian verb
      Mancare

      See below for how this works.

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Overview of Italian Verbs

      that take

      Indirect Object Pronouns

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

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

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

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

      Piacere

      to like

      Servire

      to need

      Mancare

      to miss

      Mancare

      to miss

      Mancare

      to miss

      Mancare

      to miss

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

      mi

      to me

      ti

      to you (familiar)

      Le

      to you (polite)

      le

      to her

      gli

      to him

         

      ci

      to us

      vi

      to you all

      gli

      to them

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

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

      How to Say, “I miss you!”

      with Mancare

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

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

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

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

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

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

                    I         +     miss      +      John.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Mancare = To Be Missing (To)

      io

      manco

      I am missing (to…)

      tu

      manchi*

      you (fam.) are missing (to…)

      Lei

      lei/lui

      manca

      you (polite) are missing (to…)

      she/he/it is missing (to…)

       

       

       

      noi

      manchiamo*

      we are missing (to…)

      voi

      mancate

      you all are missing (to…)

      loro

      mancano

      they are missing (to…)

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

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

      Example Sentences with Mancare 

      (Tu) Mi manchi.

      (You are missing to me.)

      I miss you.

      (Lei/Lui) Mi manca.

      (She/he is missing to me.)

      I miss her/him.

       

      (Io) Ti manco?

      (Am I missing to you?)

      (Do you) miss me?

      (Lei/Lui) Ti manca?

      (Is she/he missing to you?)

      (Do you) miss her/him?

       

      (Io) Gli manco.

      (I am missing to him.)

      He misses me.

      (Io) Le manco.

      (I am missing to her.)

      She misses me.

      (Tu) Gli manchi.

      (You are missing to him.)

      He misses you.

      (Tu) Le manchi.

      (You are missing to her.)

      She misses you.

      Gli manca (Maria).

      (Maria is missing to him.)

      He misses Maria.

      Le manca (Maria).

      (Maria is missing to her.)

      She misses Maria.

      Gli manca (Paolo).

      (Paul is missing to him.)

      He misses Paul.

      Le manca (Paolo).

      (Paul is missing to her.)

      She misses Paul.

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

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

      See below for the passato prossimo conjugation of mancare:

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

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

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

      See below for the imperfetto conjugation of mancare:

      Singular forms: mancavo, mancavi, mancava

      Plural forms: mancavamo, mancavate, mancavano

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

       

      (Tu) Mi sei mancato(a).

      (You were missing to me.)

      I missed you.

      (Lei/Lui) Mi è mancato(a).

      (She/he was missing to me.)

      I missed her/him.

       

      (Io) Ti sono mancto(a)?

      (Was I missing to you?)

      (Did you) miss me?

      (Lei/Lui) Ti è mancato(a)?

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

      (Did you) miss her/him?

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


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

      Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! 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.

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

      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

         

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

         

        Our Italy — Tropea, Calabria: Italy’s Most Beautiful Village, by Karen Haid

        A white castle in the city of Tropea, Calabria, sits atop a sheer cliff of white stone. There is a small park behind the castle and at the foot of the cliff a beach with people enjoying the sun and sea.

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

        Ciao a tutti! Since 2020, I have been posting the series of blogs, “Our Italy.” In this series, I share bloggers’ experiences of Italy, a country whose culture has captivated the world for thousands of years. I think now is the time to share these memories, knowing that one day we will all be able to return, inspired anew by the Italian people and their land.

        Today I am happy to share a guest blog entitled: Tropea, Calabria: Italy’s Most Beautiful Village — It’s Official! from the blog “Calabria: The Other Italy,” written by author, blogger and tour guide Karen Haid.

        Karen Haid is a multifaceted person, who was raised by parents who had lived in Italy for 5 years after their marriage and returned to the United States as Itaophiles. They transferred their love of Italian cuisine and culture to their children. Karen’s primary focus was the world of classical music prior to her immersion in Italian language when she visited Italy as an adult. Karen remained in Italy, where, on her way to becoming fluent in Italian, she has earned the Dante Alighieri Society’s certification of mother-tongue equivalency and a diploma in the teaching of Italian language and culture.

        Several years ago, Karen’s primary focus became the regions of Basilicata and Calabria. Karen lived in Calabria and so she was able to experience the Italian culture in that region firsthand. Given her advanced level of Italian, when she now returns to Calabria as a tour guide, she is able to have many meaningful and wonderful conversations with locals, in which nothing gets lost in translation. Karen now promotes and has written about Calabria in her blog and book of the same name, Calabria: The Other Italy. The explanation for Karen’s fascination with Calabria, from her blog:

        …from the moment she set foot on Calabrian soil, the author was intrigued by the characteristic determination of the Calabrese people, the wealth of its history and art, the beauty and variety of its landscape, and its rich culture, most often celebrated in terms of extraordinary culinary offerings. Calabria: The Other Italy grew out of her four-year immersion, observing, interacting and absorbing the wonders of the people and the place.

        Recently, the rest of Italy has recognized Calabria’s beauty as well. From Karen’s blog:

        Tropea, Calabria has just been voted the Borgo dei Borghi, the Village of the Villages, in a contest that asked Italians to choose the most beautiful amongst the Borghi più belli d’Italia, or Italy’s most beautiful villages. A difficult choice, to be sure, but Tropea isn’t called la Perla del Mediterraneo for nothing. Let’s have a look at this Pearl of the Mediterranean!

        Click on the link below to read more about Tropea and view photos of one this picturesque village, built into sheer cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean sea: Tropea, Calabria: Italy’s Most Beautiful Village — It’s Official!

        The cover of Conversational Italian for Travelers "Just the Important Phrases" book is viewed on a smartphone
        Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” book is now available to download on your cell phone. No APP needed!  Purchase the rights today from our website at: www.learntravelitalian.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! – 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 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

        Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! – Let’s Talk About… The Weather 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? 

        If I am making small talk with someone I’ve just met, or conversing with a friend or family member, I find that knowing a little bit about how to describe the weather in Italian is very useful.  And, now that the warm weather is upon us in Chicagoland, I’m betting that we will all spend more time than usual talking about the weather.

        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!

        This post is the 34th 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
        the weather.

        See below for how this works.

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Let’s Talk About…

        The Weather in Italian

        For a general assessment of the weather, Italians use the ever-popular verb fare in the third person singular, which you will remember is fa. (If you need a refresher on how to conjugate the verb fare, you will find this in our Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Verbs”  reference book.)

        In English, the verb to be is used to directly refer to “it,” meaning “the weather,” and how “it” actually “is” outside Instead, Italians speak of the weather “it” is making with the verb fa. So, it is very important to think in Italian if we want to talk about the weather in Italian!

        Remember that the reference to “it” in the Italian sentence will be left out, as usual.

        Below are some examples of how this works, with the correct English translation in black and the literal Italian translation in gray, so we can understand the Italian language approach to this topic.

        If you want to ask someone how the weather is, rather than telling them, you can use many of the same phrases, but just raise your voice at the end of the sentence. There is no need to invert the subject and the verb, as we do in English.

        Notice that in Italian the same word means both time and weather — il tempo.

        Che tempo fa?
        What is the weather?  (lit. What weather does it make?)

        Fa caldo.
        Fa molto caldo!
        Fa caldo?
        It is warm/hot.
        It is very hot!
        Is it warm/hot?
        (lit. It makes heat.)
        Fa fresco.
        Fa fresco?
        It is cool.
        Is it cool?
        (lit. It makes cool.)
        Fa freddo.
        Fa freddissimo!
        Fa freddo?
        It is cold.
        It is very cold!
        Is it cold?
        (lit. It makes cold.)
        Fa bel tempo.
        Fa bel tempo?
        It is nice weather.
        Is it nice weather?
        (lit. It makes nice weather.)
        Fa bello.

        Fa bellissimo.

        It is nice/very nice out. (lit. It makes nice/very nice weather.)
        Fa brutto tempo.
        Fa brutto tempo?
        It is bad weather.
        Is it bad weather?
        (lit. It makes bad weather.)
        Fa brutto. It is bad outside. (lit. It makes bad weather.)

        Of course, we may want to know how the weather was during a certain event or at a certain time.  Chatting about the weather is a common pastime in any country. Why not chat about how the weather was in Italian?

        To talk about the weather in the immediate past tense, we must return to the imperfetto and the passato prossimo.  We have been learning about these two forms of the past tense recently, in our last two blogs in this series.  For a more in-depth explanation of how to use the imperfetto and passato prossimo forms of the Italian past tense, click on the link for the verb tense you want to learn about.  Or, take a look at our reference book, Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Verbs”.

        The imperfetto third person singular form of fare, which is  faceva, is the most commonly used form with our general expressions.

        Of course, if we want to refer to a specific time frame, the passato prossimo third person singular form of fare, which is ha fatto, should be used.

        Below are general questions about the weather, this time in the past tense: 

        Che tempo faceva? What was the weather? (lit. What weather did it make?)
        Come era il tempo? How was the weather?  

         And our answers, depending on the situation…

        Faceva caldo. It was hot. (lit. It made heat.)
        Ha fatto caldo tutto il giorno. It was hot all day.  
             
        Faceva fresco. It was cool. (lit. It made cool.)
        Ha fatto fresco ieri. It was cool yesterday.  
             
        Faceva freddo. It was cold. (lit. It made cold.)
        Ha fatto freddo quest’inverno. It was cold all winter.  
        Faceva bel tempo. It was nice weather. (lit. It made nice weather.)
        Faceva bello. It was nice outside. (lit. It made nice weather.)
             
        Faceva brutto tempo. It was bad weather. (lit. It made bad weather.)
        Faceva brutto tempo. It was bad outside. (lit. It made bad weather.)

        Now, let’s try to be more specific and descriptive when we talk about the weather in Italian; let’s talk about common weather conditions, such as the rain, snow and wind, and how the weather changes throughout the seasons.

        Below are a few conversational sentences.  Since I am living in the Chicago area, I couldn’t resist a few lines about the show we’ve had to shovel this past winter (although this does seem a long time ago by now).  How many more can you think of?

        È primavera.* It is springtime.
        Ci sono nuvole scure. There are dark clouds.
        Viene a piovere. It is going to rain.
        (lit. Here comes the rain.)
        C’e la pioggia? Is it raining?
        Piove. It’s raining.
        Tira vento. It’s windy.
        I fiori sono in fiore. The flowers are blooming.
        Ho un mazzo di rose rosse che ho colto dal giardino. I have a bunch of red roses that I picked from the garden.
        È estate.* It is summer.
        C’è sole. It’s sunny. (lit. There is sun.)
        È umido.
        Andiamo alla spiaggia!
        Andiamo in montagne!
        It’s humid.
        Let’s go to the beach!
        Let’s go to the mountains!
        È autunno.* It is autumn.
        Fa fresco. It’s cool. (lit. It makes coolness).
        Le foglie cadano dagli alberi. The leaves fall from the trees.
        È inverno.* It is winter.
        È gelido. It’s freezing.
        La gelata è dappertutto. The frost is everywhere.
        C’è la neve? Is it snowing?
        Nevica. It’s snowing.
        C’è la bufera di neve. It’s a snowstorm.
        I fiocchi di neve sono tanti. There are so many snowflakes.
        I bambini fanno un pupazzo di neve. The children are making a snowman.
        Mi piace sciare. Ho gli sci belli. I like skiing. I have wonderful skis.
        Devo spalare la neve ora! I have to shovel the snow now!
        Voglio una pala per la neve. I want a snow shovel.
        Uso sempre uno spazzaneve. I always use a snowblower.

        *In a simple statement about what season it is, the Italian definite article (il, la, l’ = the) is not used after È.  However, in a longer sentence such as, “È l‘inverno che porta la neve,” the definite article (in this case l’) is used. (Translation: It is the winter that brings the snow./Winter brings the snow.)


        Finally, there are a few rules to follow if we want to talk about specific weather conditions in the Italian past tense.

        If we want to talk about a particular instance in time when we experienced a certain weather condition, we must use the passato prossimo form of the past tense.

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

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

                    or

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

        General phrases in the past tense about the sun, clouds, fog or humidity are talked about using the imperfetto. Or, if we want to mention the weather as the “setting” during a certain activity that happened once in the past, we would again use the imperfetto (usually as the first phrase) along with the passato prossimo (usually as the second phrase).

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

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

        Notice the different meanings for each type of past tense. And how the word “it,” as usual, is left out of the Italian phrase, but is necessary for the English translation.

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

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

        Remember how to talk about the weather 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