Learn Italian Expressions Made Better – or Worse – with Italian Suffixes

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

Have you ever noticed that native Italian speakers often give “unusual” endings to many common words and expressions?

That’s because a native speaker of Italian knows intuitively how to change the ending of a word to emphasize the point that they want to make.  This quick and easy “shortcut” gives shades of meaning to many Italian expressions and makes the Italian language colorful and rich.

But, don’t worry if you don’t know these tricks in Italian – the “unusual” endings you are hearing actually follow a pattern, which makes them easy to learn!

For instance, there are certain endings that can be added to a word in order to emphasize how small or endearing someone or something is.

There are also endings that have the opposite effect, and emphasize the largeness of a person or a thing.  In this case, the connotation may be positive; for instance, suffixes can be used to emphasize the importance of an individual.  In other cases, the connotation is  negative if emphasis is given to a characteristic considered to be bad or unflattering.

In theory, these endings can be added to any noun or adjective, but in practice, only certain words are used in this way, so it is best to listen to native speakers and use only words that are familiar to you.

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.

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Grammar Note: Common Italian Suffixes

The meaning of an Italian noun or adjective can be altered by attaching particular endings, called “suffixes”, to the original word.

Simply drop the final vowel of the noun or adjective to be modified, and add the endings described in each section. Common examples are given below in this blog for each “rule”.

Remember, not all words can be modified in this way, so in this case it is very important to use native speakers as a guide!

Small and Endearing

The endings -ino(a) and-etto(a) in Italian render the ideas of smallness and endearment.

Cara = dear Carina = cute
Casa = house Casetta = cute little house
Piccolo(a) = small Piccolino(a) = very small/cute
Povero(a) = poor Poverino(a) = poor thing
Sorella = sister Sorellina = dear little sister

 

 

Large and Important or More Negative

The ending –one in Italian renders the idea of largeness and importance, but can also be used to make a negative trait more prominent as well.

Bacio = kiss Bacione  = big kiss
Cena = dinner Cenone = big/important dinner

Cenone di Natale = Christmas dinner

Cenone di Capodanno = New Year’s Eve dinner

Chiacchiera = gossip Chiacchierone = gossiper/chatterbox/long-winded
Mamma = mamma Mammone = mama’s boy
Naso = nose Nasone = big nose
Pigro(a) = lazy Pigrone = very lazy/couch potato

 

 

Negative  or Bad

The endings –accia and -accio in Italian are negative endings, used to indicate that something or someone is or has become bad.

Giornata = day Giornataccia = bad day
Parolaword Parolaccia = dirty word
Ragazzo = boy Ragazzaccio = bad boy
Tempo = weather Tempaccio = very bad weather

 

 

If you can think of another word with a common ending change 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

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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

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.

 

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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.”

 

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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