Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! The many uses of the Italian Verb “Prendere”

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? 

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. Prendere, the  Italian verb that most commonly means “to take” is one of those verbs that is used in many ways in Italian and is important to “take seriously” 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 prendere, we will be able to communicate just as we do in our native language!

This post is the 37th in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” just click HERE

Many “commonly used phrases” in conversation

use the Italian verb
prendere.

See below for how this works.

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

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

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

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

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

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Let’s Talk About…

The Many Uses of the  Italian Verb

Prendere

Prendere  most commonly means “to take,” but can also be translated as “to bring,” “to pick up,” “to get,” or “to buy/acquire.”  The past participle preso can also be used to describe liking someone or something a lot. This use stretches the meaning of prendere a bit, but there is a similar expression in English — being “taken with” someone — that also expresses the same idea.  In its reflexive form, prendersi is used to convey how a person can  “catch/come down with” an illness.

When you are able to visit Italy, use prendere when ordering food in a restaurant to really sound like a native! Prendere is also commonly used by Italians in reference to earning money, taking medicine, or being “overtaken” by an emotional or physical condition. Finally, the Italian expressions for “to tease” and “to sunbathe” use prendere. As you can see, this verb is used in many ways in Italian! 

The present tense, familiar imperative (command) tense, and future tenses of prendere have a regular conjugation, and are used frequently in daily conversation.

Prendere is also commonly used in the past tense in order to describe what we “took,” “brought,” “picked up,” “got,” or “caught.” 

To describe a one-time event that occurred in the past with prendere, we will most often use the helping verb avere (to have) with the irregular past participle preso.

For conversation, we will focus on the io and tu forms. We can begin a statement with the io form, such as,“Ho preso….” for “I took…” We can ask questions with the tu form by simply stating, “Hai preso…?”

In the expressions that describe the subject “liking,” or “being taken with” a person or a thing, essere (to be) is used as verb that links the subject with the past participle preso. 

The  passato prossimo for the reflexive verb prendersi needs the helping verb essere, as do all reflexive Italian verbs.  Remember to leave out the subject pronoun io when you want to say, “Mi sono preso un raffredore ieri.” (I caught a cold yesterday.)

And, of course, when using essere as the helping verb with prendere, 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 preso to presa, presi, or prese!

Examples follow below for the many ways to use the Italian verb prendere:

 

1. Use prendere to describe the act of  “taking,” “bringing” or “picking up” something

  • In order to direct someone to take something and put it in a different place, use prendere. This includes when the object is on the ground or resting on another object, and you must literally “pick it up” from that place.
  • When directing someone to take something in Italian, it is important to use the command form of prendere, which has the same “i” ending as the tu form in the present tense. (To use the familiar command form, just use the present tense subjunctive mood ending.  The familiar command form will not be used in our examples, but more information can be found at Italian Subjunctive (Part 7): Italian Subjunctive Commands). 
  • Remember that for events in the recent future, Italians use the present tense.  To emphasize that something will happen for sure in the recent future or well into the future, use the future tense.
  • Notice that in the past tense we must use avere as the helping verb with the irregular past participle preso to describe what we “took,” “brought,” or “picked up.”
“Prendi quella roba che nessuno vuole e mettila lì!”
“Take that stuff that no one wants and put it there!”
 
“Prendi il vino a tavola per cena!” (Porta il vino a tavola.)
“Take/Bring the wine to the table for dinner!”

 

“Quando faccio la spesa domani, prendo la tua macchina. Non voglio camminare con troppi bagagli pesanti.
“When I go grocery shopping tomorrow, I (will take) your car.  I don’t want to walk with so many heavy bags.
 
Prenderò tante cose da portare alla famiglia quando viaggerò in America tra cinque anni.
I will take many things to bring to the family when I travel to America in 5 years.
“Prendi il piatto che tu hai lasciato cadere per terra!
“Pick up the plate that you let drop on the floor!”
 
“Prendo tutta la spazzatura nella tua stanza e la butto via domani.”
” I will pick up all the garbage in your room and throw it out tomorrow.”

“Hai preso il vino da portare alla nonna per la cena?”
“Did you take the wine to bring to grandma for dinner ieri?”
 
“Si, ho preso una buona bottiglia di vino specialmente per la nonna ieri sera.”
“Yes, I took/brought a nice bottle of wine especially for grandma last night.”

 

 

2. Use prendere to describe “picking up” someone

  • Use prendere with the verb passare when you want to “pass by” and “pick someone up.” As we’ve already seen in our blog about passare, these two verbs are combined to make the important every day expression “passare a prendere,” which means “to pick (someone) up.” The reference now-a-days is usually to driving in a car, but the same expression could be used when taking someone on a walk.
  • In the examples given below, the pronouns ti and mi are given in red to demonstrate that they are attached to the end of prendere.
“Passerò/Passo a prenderti alle otto.”
“I will (pass by and) pick you up at 8 AM.” 
 
Grazie! Passa a prendermi alle otto! Sto aspettando!
Thanks!  Pick me up at eight.  I (will be) waiting!

Side note: if you want to ask someone to “pick you up” from a particular place, venire is used with prendere:

“Può venire alla stazione a prendermi?”
“Can you (polite) come to the station and get me?”

 

 

3. Use prendere when describing what food you would like to order/eat

“Prendo un piatto di spaghetti per il primo piatto.”
“I will take (have) a plate of spaghetti for the first course.
 
“Stammatina prendo un buon caffè prima di andare al lavoro.”
“This morning I will take (have) a good (cup of) coffee before going to work.”

“Dai, prendi l’ultima fetta di pane!”
“Come on, take the last slice of bread!”
 
“Che cosa vuole prendere per dolce, signore?”
“What would you like to have (take) for dessert, sir?”

 

 

4. Use prendere to describe the act of taking medicine

“Devo prendere una pillola ogni mattina per l’ipertenzione .”

“I have to take one pill every morning for hypertension.”

 

5. Use prendere to describe buying, acquiring or earning something

“Ho preso un chilo di mele ieri dal fruttivendolo in piazza.”
“I bought a kilogram of apples yesterday from the fruit vendor in the piazza.”
 
Lui ha preso la casa per pochi soldi la settimana scorsa.
He aqcuired (bought) the house for very little money last week.
Ho preso cinquanta euro al lavoro iera sera.”
“I earned 50 euros at work last night.”
 
Lui non ha preso molti soldi l’anno scorsa a vendere le scarpe.
He did not earn much money last year selling shoes.

 

 

6. Use the past participle preso with these expressions to describe liking something or someone a lot. 

  • The phrase “Sono preso da…” is similar to the phrase “Sono innamorato di…” and conveys the ideas of “I really like/I’m in love with…” 
  • Other Italian expressions that describe the different ways we can like someone are: “Sono cotto di…” ” I have a crush on…” and “Sono colpito da…” “I am impressed with..”
  • Notice that some of these phrases take the conjunction da, while others use the conjunction di.
  • To form the past tense for these phrases, we must add the past participle of essere, which is stato, and change the ending of stato to (a,i,e) as necessary to reflect the gender and number of the subject.
“Sono preso(a) da questo libro.”
“I  like this book a lot.”  (I am really taken with this book.)
 
“Sono preso(a) da te.”
“I like you a lot!”  (“I am really taken by you!”)

 

“Sono stato(a) preso da questo libro.”
“I  liked this book a lot.”  (I was really taken with this book.)
 
“Sono stato(a) preso da te.”
“I liked you a lot!”  (“I was really taken by you!”)
“Io e Anna  siamo presi molto l’uno dall’altra.”
“Ann and I (we)  like each other very much.”
 
Anna e Michele non sono presi molto l’uno dall’altra.
Ann and Michael (they) don’t like each other very much.

Side note: if you want to describe how someone or something has so enthralled or dazzled you, in effect “blinding you” literally or figuratively (abbiagliarsi) so that you make a mistake, use the expression prendere un abbaglio.

“Ha preso un abbaglio.
“I made a mistake.”

 

 

7. Use prendersi to describe getting sick, as in “catching a cold,” or “coming down with” an illness

  • Remember the Italian use of reflexive verbs to indicate “to get” in English.  If you would like to review this topic, check out our blog How to Say “To Get” in Italian.
“Mi sono preso un brutto raffredore improvvisamente.”
“I caught a bad cold all of a sudden.”
 
“Mi sono preso l’influenza ieri.”
“I came down with the flu yesterday.”

 

 

8. Use prendere to describe “being overtaken” by an emotion or sickness, and prendersela when offended/angered

“Sono stato preso(a) da un grand tristezza  quando ho incontrato il mio amore perduto.”
“I was overtaken by a great sadness when I met my lost love again.
 
Me la sono presa con te ieri sera durante la riunone!
I was offended by you last night during the meeting!

 

 

9. Two more common phrases that use prendere 

Prendere in giro = to make fun of, to tease

Mio fratello maggiore mi prende sempre in giro.
My big brother is always teasing me.

Non mi prendere in giro! (negative command)
Don’t make fun of me!

Prendere il sole = to sunbathe

Oggi prendo il sole sulla spiaggia per tutta la mattina.
Today I will sunbathe on the beach all morning.

Remember how to use the Italian verb prendere 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

Conversational Italian for Travelers Book Review: “Linguistic Gem”

Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases

Grazie mille Fra Noi Magazine, the largest circulation Italian-American Magazine in Chicagoland, for your review of Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Important Phrases in your magazine!

Read below for a reprint of the November 2019 Fran Noi Magazine review of Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases book
right here in this blog.

 

There is also an online version of Fra Noi Magazine, which can be viewed by clicking here: Fra Noi Online Magazine.

Bonus: My language blogs are found here,  with the same click for free!

About Fra Noi Magazine:

In a previous blog,  Fra Noi Magazine — Read and become “a little bit Italian today!” I mentioned that the pages of Fra Noi Magazine are filled with interesting interviews about the Italian-Americans who are making a difference in our world today and informative articles about the community here in Chicagoland and in our Italian homeland.

Along with the timely Italian-American news Fra Noi Magazine provides, the magazine’s reviews of music and movies keep me up-to-date, and their travel section features great travel tips and beautiful photographs of a different region and city each month.

Important  to know: for Italian language students: 

Fra Noi Magazine now features five pages written entirely in Italian!  This is a wonderful opportunity for those learning Italian to increase their knowledge of the Italian spoken today, while at the same time reading timely and entertaining material about Italy.  The Italian articles feature Italian movies, Italian history,  Italian artists, and Italian sports.

Get your copy of Fra Noi Magazine: Just click on the link and subscribe to Fra Noi Magazine here: Order my copy of Fra Noi Magazine today! 

Read below for the November 2019 Fra Noi Magazine review of Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases with it’s newly designed cover!

A review article entitled "Linguistic Gem" was reproduced from Fra Noi Magazine for the reader
Fra Noi Magazine review article, November 2019 for “Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Important Phrases” pocket travel book

 

And remember… Conversational Italian for Travelers books are
Available on   
Amazon.com  and www.LearnTravelItalian.com 

Fra Noi Magazine – Read and become “a little bit” Italian today!

Conversational Italian in Fra Noi 2018

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

Ciao a tutti!  Fra Noi Magazine, a gorgeous, glossy magazine, featuring Italian-Americans, is the subject of my blog today because…

This already wonderful magazine has just undergone a “make-over”, and the first  “new” edition has just come just out this week!

Fra Noi is the only magazine I receive that I actually wait for with great anticipation each month! It’s pages are filled with interesting interviews about the Italian-Americans who are making a difference in our world today and informative articles about the community here in Chicagoland and in our Italian homeland.

If you want to see for yourself, click on the link for the Fra Noi Magazine November 2018 issue  that Fra Noi has generously provided to promote their magazine this month.

Along with the timely Italian-American news Fra Noi provides, their reviews of music and movies keep me up-to-date, and their travel section features great travel tips and beautiful photographs of a different region and city each month.  I also love to turn to my favorite columnists: Zia Maria, who has a witty Italian saying for every situation, and Mary Ann Esposito,  whose recipes are perfect for the home cook, whether making dinner for her family or a for a special occasion.

I am also honored to report that…

I have been included in the Fra Noi Magazine’s expansion of  coverage for Italian language!  

Fra Noi magazine now features five pages written entirely in Italian!  Check out pages 93-97 in this month’s magazine. This is a wonderful opportunity for those learning Italian to increase their knowledge of the Italian spoken today, while at the same time reading timely and entertaining material about Italy.  The Italian articles feature Italian movies, Italian history,  Italian artists, and Italian sports.

On page 85 of  Fra Noi magazine, I am introduced as a website columnist for Fra Noi. Each month on the Fra Noi website – FraNoi.com Language Tab – I will provide a blog from my popular series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!”

 

Take a look at the Fra Noi website, and you will find even more reasons to love this magazine!

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And remember Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Important Phrases on Amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com if you need a compact, lightweight pocket guidebook to take on your next trip to Italy! Free Cultural Notes, Italian Recipes, and Audio to help you practice your Italian are also found on Learn Travel Italian.com.

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

Italian Lamb Roast for Easter Dinner

Roasted Lamb for Easter

 

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

Buona Pasqua a tutti!  I am a new convert to celebrating Easter the traditional Italian way, with Easter lamb, as you will discover if you read on below.  But  now I enjoy Easter lamb just as much as any Italian, and – more importantly – my family does, too! The method I developed for roasted Easter lamb was originally posted on March 21, 2018 on the Learn Italian! blog for Stella Lucente, LLC  and www.learntravelitalian.com. Below is an excerpt. Click on the link for the entire method!

I’d love to hear if your family makes Lamb for Easter dinner and your favorite method!

Share your comments below if you like, or in our Conversational Italian Facebook group.

The Easter holiday and the Easter lamb for dinner have been linked together in Italy far beyond recorded years.  But, I have to admit that here in America, my Italian-American family’s own tradition for Easter was (for many years) a special Sunday brunch with friends at our favorite restaurant.  My children loved greeting the Easter bunny as he walked through, the Easter egg hunt, and of course, the special (and the children’s second) Easter basket filled with chocolate goodies provided with dessert.

Now that my family is a bit older, and the charm of the Easter bunny has faded (although not the love of chocolate, mind you),  we prefer to meet at home for Easter.  Since the matriarch of the family, my mother, has had to give up cooking, making our Italian Easter dinner – which, as we all know should feature lamb – has fallen to me.

Another confession – I’ve never really liked the particular “gamy” taste of lamb.  But, luckily, I’ve taken up this family challenge with years of Italian cuisine to fall back on.  I’ve tried several ways to make lamb known to  Italians of different regions.  And I think I’ve found a method that my family all agrees makes our lamb moist and delicious. (Hint: you may find some similarities between this recipe and the pot roast recipe I posted from February.) I hope if you try this recipe for Easter, or for another special family dinner, that your family will agree with mine that it is the most delicate and flavorful lamb you’ve tried. Click here to read on for the recipe!

Everyday Italian Phrases: What I Saw, What I See, What I Am Looking At…

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 2017?

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 speak Italian, we will be able to express ourselves more easily and quickly. We will be on our way to building complex sentences and speaking more like we do in our native language!

This post is the fifth in a series that will originate in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group. After our group has had a chance to use these phrases, I will post them on this blog for everyone to try.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!  just click HERE.

Another of our “commonly used phrases” that will help us talk more easily is
“What I saw…”
 which reminds us of phrases that describe

“What I see…” and “What I am looking at…”

 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.

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

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

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What I Saw… What I See… What I Am Looking At…

in Italian

First, to review from our last blog post,“What I Saw…” in Italian.

The past tense for “I saw,” a one-time event, uses the passato prossimo past tense form, which is “ho visto.” This Italian past tense verb also translates into the less commonly used English form “I have seen.”  

A very common question/answer situation arises around “who” we “have seen.” How many times in a family situation does one ask, Did you see/Have you seen…?” The subject in the question is now the familiar “you,” so the Italian phrase will change to “Hai visto…?”

Let’s summarize the phrases used most often to describe what or who I saw… 

I’m also sneaking in a phrase here to describe what or who we have never seen. We start the negative phrase with “non” as usual, then insert the word “mai,” for “never,” between the two past tense verbs.

Ho visto… I saw…
I have seen…
 
Hai visto…? Did you see…?
Have you seen…?
 
Non ho mai visto…  I have never seen…  
L’ho visto. I saw him. I saw it.
(masculine thing)
L’ha vista. I saw her. I saw it.
(feminine thing)
Li ho visti. I saw them. (all male or male+female group)  
Le ho viste. I saw them. (all female group)

Of course, we can also discuss “seeing” things or people in the present or future, not just the past. In fact, the following expressions come up so often that it is helpful to commit them to memory.

Vado vedere. I’ll go see.
Faccio vedere… I’ll show you…
(literally: I’ll make you see…)
Vedrai… You’ll see…
Vedremo… We’ll see…

Now, let’s get to some important expressions that use the verb vedere, which of course means “to see.” The first two can be translated literally, but the others cannot and are what we can call “idiomatic.” This means that we must think of the expression in its entirety to understand the meaning, rather than string together a word-by-word translation.

A prima vista At first glance
Mai visto prima Never seen before
Non vedo l’ora di… I can’t wait to…
Non vedo l’ora di vederti! I can’t wait to see you!
Che piacere di vederti! What a pleasure to see you!
Mi ha fatto piacere vederti! It has been a pleasure to see you!
Mi ha fatto piacere conoscerti! It has been a pleasure to meet you!

Sometimes in America when we are recounting a story or an event, we may end with the phrase, “…and that was that!” There is an idiomatic expression in Italian for this phrase that also uses visto:  “…chi s’è visto s’è visto!”  

Finally, if we want to say we are “looking at” something, we can use the verb guardare, which means “to look at” or “to watch.” Notice that the preposition “at” is included with this verb!

Remember, we can “look,” or use our eyes, but not really “see” or understand! Italians use these two verbs the same way that we use them in English!

Use guardare to point out something to someone else, usually when it is in plain sight. In this case, we will often use the command form of the verb, which is signaled by an exclamation point when we write. The direct object pronouns that mean him, her, and it have been written in red and are attached directly to the verb for the command forms used as follows.

Here are some expressions to get you started.

Guarda! Look!
Guardalo!  Look at him! Look at it!
(masculine thing)
Guardala! Look at her! Look at it!
(feminine thing)
Guardo il televisione. I am looking at/watching the television. 

Remember these phrases, and I guarantee that you will use at least one of them every day!

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

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

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! What I Said…

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 2017?

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 speak Italian, we will be able to express ourselves more easily and quickly. We will be on our way to building complex sentences and speaking more like we do in our native language!

This post will be the first in a series that will originate in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group. After our group has had a chance to use these phrases, I will post them on this blog for everyone to try.

Our very first “commonly used phrases,” that will help us talk more easily will focus  on, “What I said…”
leading into “I said to you, to her, to him… etc. 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.

This material and more on this topic are available in the 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.

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What I Said…

in Italian

The past tense for “I said,” a one-time event, uses the passato prossimo past tense form, which is “ho detto.” This Italian past tense verb also translates into the less commonly used English form “I have said.” * 

Because the phrase “I said” is frequently used in everyday conversation, we should commit the Italian verb “ho detto” to memory. We can then “build” on this simple, easy-to-remember verb to help us remember other more complex phrases. Memorize one phrase and the others should be easy to remember as well. Soon all of these phrases will just roll off your tongue! See the table below for how this works.

Ho detto I said
Ti ho detto I said… to you/I told you
Gli ho detto I said… to him/I told him
Le ho detto I said… to her/I told her

 To complete the sentences above, use “che if the next phrase has a different subject: This rule will be used again and again in Italian. Here are some sentences:

Ho detto,“si.” I said, “yes.”
Ho detto che il film era bello. I said… that the film was good.
Ti ho detto che il film era bello. I told you… that the film was good.
Gli ho detto che il film era bello. I told him… that the film was good.
Le ho detto che il film era bello. I told her… that the film was good.

Finally, I would say that the phrase I use most often regarding what someone said to someone else and the phrase that actually started this thread in my mind is:

Mi ha detto… He said to me…/He told me
  She said to me…/She told me
  You (polite) said to me…/You told me

Remember this last phrase and I guarantee you will use it every day!

*{For those who like grammar, this passato prossimo verb is derived from:
 avere (to have) + the past participle of the action verb dire (to say).}

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.

Use the Italian Verb “Può” to Ask for… Everything!

Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy © Stella Lucente, LLC for www.learntravelitalian.com

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

“Può” is a little Italian word that means a lot! We have been focusing on the verb può this August at the Osher Center for Lifelong Learning in Peoria, Illinois, where I was the moderator for a conversational Italian study group called “Italian for Fun and Travel.”

We can use the handy verb può, which means “could you?” to politely ask for whatever we need in Italy. With this trick, there is no need to conjugate! Read below to see how this works and for some examples.  

How many more ways can you think of to use the verb può? 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 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.

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Use the Italian Verb Può to Ask for… Everything!

Most Italians are quite friendly and helpful to tourists, especially if a polite phrase is used to initiate the conversation, such as “Mi scusi…” or “Per favore…” Once you have someone’s attention, the word, “Può?” (“Could you?” from the verb potere), when followed by an infinitive verb,* will enable you to ask politely for whatever you need.

Some examples we learned in Chapters 5 and 6 of Conversational Italian for Travelers include the phrases, Mi può dire?” (“Could you tell me?”) and “Mi può portare?” (“Could you take me?”) “Puo chiamare…?” means “Could you call…?” a taxi, for instance, or a person. And, of course, a nice way to end the conversation would be to say, “Mille grazie!”

*Remember, our Italian infinitive verbs end in -are, -ere, -ire and translate as “to be, to do,” and so on.

Può parlare… Can you speak…
…più lentamente?

…più piano?**

…more slowly?
…più forte? …more loudly?
…in inglese? …in English?
   
Può chiamare…? Can you call?
   
Può fare… Can you make…
…una prenotazione? …a reservation?
   
Può controllare… Can you check… (for a car)
…l’olio? …the oil?
…le gomme? …the tires?
…l’acqua? …the water?
Può cambiare la gomma? Can you change the tire?
Può fare il pieno?
Il pieno, per favore!
Can you fill it up?
Fill it up, please!

**The word piano also means softly in Italian.

Mi può dire… Can you tell me…
…dov’è …where is
…la metro?*** …the subway?
…la stazione dei treni? …the train station?
…la fermata dell’autobus? …the bus stop?
…il duomo? …the cathedral?
…la piazza? …the town square?
…il museo? …the museum?
…la banca? ….the bank?
   
Mi può portare… Can you take me…
…in via Verde 23? …to 23 Green Street?
   
Mi può aiutare con… Can you help me with…
…le valigie? …the suitcases?
   

***The word metro is an abbreviation from the feminine metropolitana. 

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.

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