How to talk about the Weather in Italian

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

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

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

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

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

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

Most of the examples in this blog are from my reference book, Conversational Italian for Travelers, Just the Grammar, found on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com.

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

How to Talk about the Weather in Italian

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

il tempo the weather

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

            or

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

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

Notice the different meanings for each type of past tense.

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Advertisements

Learn Italian Cognates— The last of our Italian/English Best Friends!

Italian Cognates on via Dante, Milan
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

As we’ve discussed  about Italian -English cognates before… anyone who has studied Italian for even a short time has probably noticed how many Italian words are very similar to English. This is because both languages have words with origins that date back to the Latin language spoken by the Romans. These words are called cognates—words that have a common origin and a similar meaning.

Italian-English cognates can be the best friend of one who is trying to learn either language. But beware! Not all words that sound alike have the same meaning in both languages. There is a pattern, though, and if you can recognize the different groups of cognates, your vocabulary will greatly increase with very little effort.

For words that are similar in Italian and English, the stem of the word will provide a clue to the actual meaning, and the ending will also follow a common pattern.

See how this works below with an excerpt reprinted from the grammar section of our Conversational Italian for Travelers  textbook, courtesy of publisher Stella Lucente, LLC.

For an easy-to read reference book on grammar, the same section is found in the  reference book Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Grammar.

 

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

Grammar Note: Cognates

Adjectives Ending in -oso(a), -ia, -ica

 

Many adjectives that describe personality traits are cognates that end in oso or -osa in Italian, which corresponds to the English -ous.

ambizioso(a) = ambitious
corragioso(a) = courageous
curioso(a) = curious
generoso(a) = generous
nervoso(a) = nervous
spiritoso(a) = funny, witty, facetious

 

 

The ending ia in Italian is equivalent to the ending y in English.

archeologia

=

archeology
biologia = biology
famiglia = family
filosofia = philosophy
fisiologia = physiology
geologia = geology
psicologia = psychiatry
radiologia = radiology

 

 

The ending –ica in Italian is equivalent to the endings –ic or –ics in English.

musica = music
politica = politics
repubblica = republic

                                    

If you can think of another cognate to add to these lists, please join our Conversational Italian! Facebook group and leave a post, or leave a message below. I’d love to hear from you!

 

Just the Grammar from Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Grammar

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

Learn Italian Cognates—More of Our Italian/English Best Friends!

Italian Cognates on via Dante, Milan
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Anyone who has studied Italian for even a short time has probably noticed how many Italian words are very similar to English. This is because both languages have words with origins that date back to the Latin language spoken by the Romans. These words are called cognates—words that have a common origin and a similar meaning.

English/Italian cognates can be the best friend of one who is trying to learn either language. But beware! Not all words that sound alike have the same meaning in both languages. There is a pattern, though, and if you can recognize the different groups of cognates, your vocabulary will greatly increase with very little effort.

For words that are similar in Italian and English, the stem of the word will provide a clue to the actual meaning, and the ending will also follow a common pattern.

See how this works below with an excerpt reprinted from the grammar section of our Conversational Italian for Travelers  textbook, courtesy of publisher Stella Lucente, LLC.

For an easy-to-read reference book on grammar, the same section is found in the reference book Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Grammar.

 

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

Grammar Note: Cognates

Adjectives Ending in -zione, -za, -izziare, -ia

 

The ending –zione in Italian is equivalent to the ending –tion in English. All nouns with this ending are feminine and take the definite article la, which means the. Make the plural as usual, by changing the –e at the end of the noun to an –i and use the definite article le, as in “le lezioni.”

applicazione = application*
attenzione = attention
informazione = information
lezione = lesson
nazione = nation
prenotazione = reservation
situazione = situation

*Note: In order to describe the process of filling out a form to apply for a position, do not use applicazione, which does mean application, but is a “false friend” if used in this way!  Instead, use the phrase “fare una domanda.”  A work application would be “la domanda di lavoro.”      

 

 

 

The ending –za in Italian is equivalent to the ending –ce in English.

eleganza = elegance
importanza = importance
influenza = influence
violenza = violence

 

 

The ending –izzare in Italian is equivalent to the endings –ize or –yze in English.

analizzare = analyze
organizzare = organize
simpatizzare = sympathize

 

 

If you can think of another cognate to add to these lists, please join our Conversational Italian! Facebook group and leave a post, or leave a message below. I’d love to hear from you!

 

Just the Grammar from Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Grammar

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

Learn Italian Cognates—Even More Italian/English Best Friends!

Italian Cognates on via Dante, Milan
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Anyone who has studied Italian for even a short time has probably noticed how many Italian words are very similar to English. This is because both languages have words with origins that date back to the Latin language spoken by the Romans. These words are called cognates—words that have a common origin and a similar meaning.

English/Italian cognates can be the best friend of one who is trying to learn either language. But beware! Not all words that sound alike have the same meaning in both languages. There is a pattern, though, and if you can recognize the different groups of cognates, your vocabulary will greatly increase with very little effort.

For words that are similar in Italian and English, the stem of the word will provide a clue to the actual meaning, and the ending will also follow a common pattern.

See how this works below with an excerpt reprinted from the grammar section of our Conversational Italian for Travelers  textbook, courtesy of publisher Stella Lucente, LLC.

For an easy-to read reference book on grammar, the same section is found in the  reference book Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Grammar.

 

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

Grammar Note: Cognates

Adjectives Ending in -ista, -ologo(a), -ore, -essa/ice, -ario

Chapter 9 of Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Grammar contains examples of the many different types of jobs available today.

Many of the words that describe the professions in Italian and English are cognates—they have a common origin, share a common stem, and have equivalent endings. The Italian ending will be invariable for some professions, as it is in English, but for others, it will change to reflect the gender of the professional

The ending –ista in Italian is equivalent to the ending –ist in English. The –ista ending is invariable, but the definite article (il, la, or l’) will change to reflect the gender. For more than one professional, change the –a ending to the plural –i for men and –e for women and use the plural definite articles (i, gli, or le), of course!

l’artista = artist    
il farmacista = pharmacist = la farmacista
il pianista = pianist = la pianista
il socialista = socialist = la socialista
il turista = tourist = la turista

 

The masculine ending –ologo and the feminine ending –ologa in Italian are also equivalent to the ending –ist in English.

il biologo = biologist = la biologa
il geologo = geologist = la geologa
il psicologo = psychologist = la psicologa
il radiologo = radiologist = la radiologa

 

The ending –ore in Italian is equivalent to the ending –or in English. You will notice that these nouns refer to masculine professions. The corresponding profession in the feminine is either –essa or –ice. 

l’attore = actor = l’attrice
il conduttore = driver/chauffeur = la conduttrice
il dottore = doctor = la dottoressa
il professore = professor = la professoressa

 

The endings –aria and –ario in Italian are equivalent to the ending –ary in English.

il segretario = secretary = la segretaria
il salario = salary    
il vocabolario = vocabulary    

 

If you can think of another cognate to add to these lists, please join our Conversational Italian! Facebook group and leave a post, or leave a message below. I’d love to hear from you!

 

Just the Grammar from Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Grammar

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

How to talk about relationships and love… in Italian!

Italian Terms of Endearment
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Valentines Day will be here again soon, and so will the need to say, “I love you,” in Italian! For the last couple of years, I’ve focused on finding important phrases  about dating and relationships in Italian when I read Italian novels or watch Italian movies, since these are phrases that are not usually listed in textbooks. Once I find these phrases, I run them by my Italian friends and instructors to see if and how they are really used.  After all, language is a “living thing,” and I’ve always been fascinated by how people use their language.

I’ve managed to piece together the following information how Italians talk about relationships, which is reprinted from my blog where I post what I have been learning for advanced students of Italian.  Italian Subjunctive (Part 4): Italian Hypothetical Phrases of Love.

For these advanced blogs, I typically provide a dialogue or story that uses the theme phrases, and then an explanation of the grammar needed to understand what I have written.  Feel free to click on the link to the blog above to read a dialogue about a girlfriend/boyfriend relationship and learn a bit about the subjunctive mood if you like!

Finally, I will leave a few phrases from Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and the Just the Important Phrases travel pocket book on  Amazon.com and www.Learn Travel Italian.com   and Amazon.com to help with your Valentine’s celebration!

 

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

Talking About Italian Relationships and Love

 

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

Of course, to “court” a woman was common in past centuries, and the Italian language still reflects this. When a man tries to show he is interested in a woman, the phrase “fare la corte a…” is used from the verb corteggiare or “to court.”

If a woman wants to refer to dating a man, the following phrases can be used:

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

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

The usual Italian phrases used to refer to two people who have become romantically involved and are getting together regularly before marriage are “to go out with someone”“uscire con qualcuno”—or “seeing each other”“frequentarsi.”

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

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

“Ti voglio bene” is an idiomatic expression in Italian, which translates roughly as, “I wish you well,” or better, “I care for you.”  It originates from the verb volersi, which takes on a different meaning than the verb volere.  The meaning of this verb is not easily translated into English, but is used often in Italy for many different situations.

“Ti voglio bene” is an old expression that is still used for platonic forms of caring and loving among family members and close friends in Italy today. The expression can be used between a boyfriend and a girlfriend and is also used between a husband and a wife. Watch some older Italian movies, and you will hear this expression often!

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

 

The verb amare, which means “to love,” is reserved for romantic love—that one true love held between fiancée and fiancé, wife and husband.

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

 

Just the Important Phrases from Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” (with Restaurant Vocabulary and Idiomatic Expressions)

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

Piacere: How Italians Say “I Liked It!”

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

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

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

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

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

This material and more on this topic are available in the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and reference book, Just the Verbs on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com.

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

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

Use the Italian Verb Piacere to Say…

“I Liked It!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Gli/le è piaciuto l’automobile.

The necklace was pleasing to you. (pol.)

The car was pleasing to him/her.

You liked the necklace.

He/she liked the car.

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

 

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

 

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

Gli/le sono piaciuti gli automobili.

The necklaces were pleasing to you. (pol.)

The cars were pleasing to him/her.

You liked the necklaces.

He/she liked the cars.

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Learn Italian Cognates—More Italian/English Best Friends!

Italian Cognates on via Dante, Milan
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Anyone who has studied Italian for even a short time has probably noticed how similar to English many Italian words are. This is because both languages have words with origins that date back to the Latin language spoken by the Romans. These words are called cognates—words that have a common origin and a similar meaning.

English/Italian cognates can be the best friend of one who is trying to learn either language. But beware! Not all words that sound alike have the same meaning in both languages.  There is a pattern, though, and if you can recognize the different groups of cognates, your vocabulary will greatly increase with very little effort.

For words that are similar in Italian and English, the stem of the word will provide a clue to the actual meaning, and the ending will also follow a common pattern.

See how this works below with an excerpt reprinted from the grammar section of our Conversational Italian for Travelers  textbook, courtesy of publisher Stella Lucente, LLC.

For an easy-to read reference book on grammar, the same section is found in the  reference book Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Grammar.

 

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

Grammar Note: Cognates

Adjectives Ending in -ale, -ico, -etto, -atto

 

 

Here are more examples of cognates—words that have a common origin and a similar meaning in Italian and English. Recognizing these words should greatly increase one’s vocabulary with very little effort!

 

The ending –ale in Italian is equivalent to the ending –al in English. 

originale = original
personale = personal
speciale = special
tradizionale = traditional

 

 

The ending –ico in Italian is equivalent to the ending –ical in English.

classico = classical
fisiologico  = physiological
politico  = political
tecnico = technical
tipico = typical
turistico = touristy

 

The ending –etto in Italian is equivalent to the ending –ect in English. 

corretto = correct
dialetto = dialect
diretto = direct
perfetto = perfect

 

The ending –atto in Italian is equivalent to the ending –act in English.

contatto  = contact (to touch)
   = to know someone (in a business)
contratto = contract
fatto = fact
tratto = tract of land/pamphlet
tratto digestivo = digestive tract

 

 


If you can think of another cognate to add to these lists, please join our Conversational Italian! Facebook group and leave a post, or leave a message below. I’d love to hear from you!

 

Just the Grammar from Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Grammar

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

Learn Italian Cognates – Italian/English Best Friends!

Italian Cognates on via Dante, Milan
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Anyone who has studied Italian for even a short time has probably noticed how similar to English many Italian words are.  This is because both languages have words with origins that date back to the Latin language spoken by the Romans.  These words are called cognateswords that have a common origin and a similar meaning.

English/Italian cognates can be the best friend of one who is trying to learn either language.  But beware!  Not all words that sound alike have the same meaning in both languages.  There is a pattern, though, and if you can recognize the different groups of cognates, this will greatly increase your vocabulary with very little effort.

For words that are similar in both Italian and English, the stem of the word will provide a clue to the actual meaning, and the ending will also follow a common pattern.

See how this works below with an excerpt reprinted from the grammar section of our Conversational Italian for Travelers  textbook, courtesy of publisher Stella Lucente, LLC.

For an easy-to read reference book on grammar, the same section is found in the  reference book Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar.”

 

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

Grammar Note: Cognates

Italian Nouns Ending in -tà

Some Italian -ire Verbs

 

The ending –tà in Italian is equivalent to the ending –ty in English.

All of the nouns in the group listed in this group are feminine and invariable; therefore, these words will take the definite article la for the singular form and le for the plural form, although the ending of these nouns remains –à.  For instance, one city is la città and many cities is le città.

città = city
communità = community
elettricità  = electricity
facoltà = faculty, department course of study
ability/power
festività  = religious holiday
identità  =  identity
località  =  locality/place/small town
nazionalità = nationality
ospitalità = hospitality
società = society
company (business)
specialità  = speciality
unità = unity
università  = university

For some –ire verbs, the –ire ending will be equivalent to the ending –ish in English.  

finire  = to finish
punire  = to punish

 If you can think of another cognate to add to either of these lists, please join our Conversational Italian! Facebook group and leave a post, or leave a message below. I’d love to hear from you!

 

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

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

 

Italians Know – “Sapere” vs. “Conoscere”

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

To be “in the know” about how the Italian language works, we must know how to use the verb sapere and be acquainted with the verb consoscere.  As summer comes to a close and the new school season begins here in America, we had a request to spend a little time focusing on the verbs sapere and conscere  in our Conversational Italian! group on Facebook.

Once we tap into the Italian way of thinking and learn a few simple examples, it becomes easy to express what we know in Italian! Read below to see how this works.  The excerpt is adapted from our Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and reference books
Just the Verbs and Just the Grammar. To listen to these Italian verbs in action, go to the audio tab for Chapter 5 on our website LearnTravelItalian.com.

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

This material and more on this topic are available in the
Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and reference 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.

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

To Know in Italian – 

Sapere vs. Conoscere

 

Sapere is an irregular verb that ends in -ere.  It means to know.  Think about how many times each day we say, “I know,” or, “you know,” or, “Do you know?”  In Italy, these expressions are also used frequently.  Since sapere is irregular, the root will be different from the infinitive verb for all forms except the voi form.  Interestingly, the root for the noi form differs by only a single letter from the regular root – with the addition of a second letter p.  As usual, try to remember the most commonly used io, tu and noi forms.

Sapereto know (a fact)

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

lei/lui

sa you (polite) know

she/he knows

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

 

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

Conoscere is a regular -ere verb.  This verb also means to know, but is used differently, more along the lines of to become acquainted with a person or a place.  The regular conjugation will be given here for completeness.  Notice that the pronunciation of the ending changes, with a “hard c” sound for the io and loro forms due to the endings of sco/–scono, and the “sh” sound for the forms that have the –sci and –sce combination.

 

Conoscereto know (be acquainted with)

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

lei/lui

conosce you (polite) know

she/he knows

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

 

As an aside:  Later, in Chapter 7, we will learn how to conjugate the –ire verb capire, which means to understand (capisco, capisci, capisce, capiamo, capite, capiscono). Back in the 70’s, a common phrase among Italian-Americans in New York used between family members and friends was, “Capisci?” (“ka-peesh” in New Yorkese) meaning, “Do you get it?”  Don’t confuse the different forms of capire with the conjugations of conoscere!

 

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

Technically, both sapere and conoscere can be translated as to know, although they are used in different situations.  To follow are some examples of how each verb is used.

 

  1. Sapere is used to indicate knowledge of something, such as a fact. For instance, if we tell someone that we know a language very well we are stating a fact and use sapere. Notice how the definite article (the) (l’) is used after the verb sapere to describe the Italian language in this case.
Io so l’italiano molto bene.
I know (the) Italian language very well.

 

  1. Sapere is used to describe knowlege of something tangible that we can see or feel. In our dialogue for Chapter 5 of Conversational Italian for Travelers, Caterina and Susanna describe what they do (and do not) know about the corn that they can see growing in northern Italy using the verb sapere. In order to say specifically, “I know that,” in Italian, Caterina includes che, which means that, in her sentence.  The word che cannot be omitted in these types of sentences, as we often do in English.  Here are two examples that use sapere to describe something that we can see.
“Ma ora so che anche voi avete il granturco in Italia.”
“But now (I) know that you all have (the) corn in Italy.”
 
Io so che il cielo è blu.
I know that the sky is blue.

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

  1. Sapere is used to describe the ability to do something. Notice in the translations below that the English phrase how to” is not necessary in Italian. Instead, and an infinitive verb follows directly after “io so.”

 

Io so guidare la macchina.
I know (how to) drive a car.

 

  1. Sapere is also used when asking questions. If asking directions from a stranger, it is customary to begin with, “Mi scusi,” or just, “Scusi,” for the polite (command) form of “Excuse me.” Then follow with the polite, “Lei sa…”.

 

Mi scusi; Lei sa quando arriva il treno?
Excuse me; (do) (you pol.) know when arrives the train?
Do you know when the train arrives?
 
Mi scusi; Lei sa dov’è il binario tre?
Excuse me; (do) (you pol.) know where is (the) track three?
Do you know where track three is?                

 

  1. Conoscere means to know, as in to be acquainted with a person or a place. In our dialogue from Chapter 5 in Conversational Italian for Travelers, when Susanna asks Caterina if she knows any people other than her cousin in Italy, they both use the verb conoscere.

 

Susanna:        Tu conosci altre persone a Milano?
(Do) you know (any) other people in Milan?
Caterina:        Si, io conosco mio zio Salvatore e mia zia Rosa.
                        Yes, I know my Uncle Salvatore and my Aunt Rose.

 

Here are some additional examples of when to use conoscere:

 

Io conosco Julia, la nonna di Paolo.
I know Julia, Paul’s grandmother. (lit. the grandmother of Paul)
 
Io conosco Milano molto bene.
I know Milan very well.

 

  1. Conoscere is also used in reference to meeting/getting to know someone for the first time.

 

Caterina vuole conoscere suo cugino Pietro in Italia.
Kathy wants to meet/get to know her cousin Peter in Italy.

 

Learn Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers Textbook

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

Learn Italian Expressions: Allora?

Italy, Stresa Promenade on Lago Maggiore

Kathryn for learntravelitalian.comMany of my friends in our Conversational Italian! group on Facebook have been lucky enough to travel to Italy already this summer, and I know more will soon follow. Some have also moved to Italy this year, and it is so nice to see their lovely photos and hear all about their experiences.

The news from Italy made me think about my past trips to Italy and the fun my children and I had learning the many Italian expressions we encountered for the first time. I distinctly remember my daughter, who knows only a little bit of Italian, asking me in an exasperated way one day, “So, Mom, what is this ‘allora’ I keep hearing all the time?!!!”

I’ve put together a quick list of some common, short Italian expressions that have meanings that seem to defy explanation to the English speaker at first. Many of these expressions also change their meaning depending on the context, which also makes them confusing! But just watch the expressions on people’s faces and, of course, the hand gestures that are an important part of the Italian language, and before you know it, you will be using these expressions yourself. Ma dai!

How many more Italian expressions can you think of that were difficult or funny to understand when you encountered them? Please reply. I’d love to hear! Or join our Conversational Italian! group discussion on Facebook.

If you need a travel companion to Italy, remember my Conversational Italian for Travelers pocket phrase book, “Just the Important Phrases,”  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.

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

(A Few) Italian Expressions for Fun and Travel 

Allora… Well, Well then, So, In that case…
Ebbene… So, Well
Figurati! (in response to thanks received for performing a favor):
No problem, You’re welcome, It was my pleasure
Magari! If only! I wish!
Magari fosse vero! If only it were true!
Ma dai! (persuading tone) Come on!
(encouraging tone) Come on!
(exasperated tone) Come on!
Ma quando mai? When did I ever? Since when?  
(meaning: I never!)
Ma va! But really? You don’t say?
Ma và! (incredulous) Go away! Go on!

 

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.