The Italian Subjunctive Mode: Easy to Conjugate but Tricky to Use!

Italian for Fun and Travel Class displayed with Conversational Italian Books

This blog about the Italian subjunctive mode, or il congiuntivo, is the first in a series on this topic that I’ve created for advanced students and teachers of Italian. Each blog will focus on real-life situations and give examples for when the Italian subjunctive mode should be used. Below is an excerpt from the original post.

Visit the Learn Italian!  blog from April 25, 2016 to read the entire article, and get started learning how to express yourself more naturally and fluently in Italian!

 How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mode

Can you speak Italian? By now, many of you have passed the beginning stages of learning how to speak Italian and can read and comprehend quite a bit of the language. Meraviglioso!

But have you tried to take the next step to speak Italian fluently? Can you use the Italian subjunctive mode in the correct situations? To express complex feelings in Italian correctly, it is important to use the Italian subjunctive mode. Using the subjunctive mode is difficult for English speakers, as we only rarely use this tense in English, and it’s something that I am always working on! The next three blogs in the “Speak Italian” blog series will focus on how to conjugate and use the Italian subjunctive mode, or “il congiuntivo.”

To take that giant step from simple beginning sentences to more complex and fluid sentences in Italian using the subjunctive, in this segment, we will discuss the phrases that take the subjunctive mode and the how to conjugate the subjunctive mode for avere, essere and stare. Example sentences to follow!

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In each blog in the “Speak Italian” series about the Italian subjunctive mode (“il congiuntivo”), phrases that take the Italian subjunctive mode will be presented. Then we will review the Italian conjugation for the subjunctive mode in the present and past tenses. Finally, examples of common phrases used in daily life with the Italian subjunctive mode will be presented. Remember these examples as “anchors” in your knowledge for when you must speak Italian and try out the subjunctive mode in your next Italian conversation!

Click on the link and enjoy the first blog in this series, Italian Subjunctive Mode (Part 1): Speak Italian!
—Kathryn Occhipinti

Some of this material is adapted from our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC, found on www.learntravelitalian.com. Special thanks to Italian instructors Simona Giuggioli and Maria Vanessa Colapinto.

Italian Language… Read All About “Ema”

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

Interesting fact I found out recently: Italian words that end in “ema” like “problema” are masculine even though they end in the letter “a” and therefore should be feminine in Italian. The reason is because they originally come from the Greek language.

So today I have solved un problema”! The “un” I used is the masculine word for “a” and needs to precede all of these feminine-looking but actually masculine Italian words.

Remember to use “il,” which is the masculine word for “the” before masculine words that begin with a consonant and “l” for those that begin with a vowel.

Last week, I asked the Conversational Italian! Facebook group, “How many more commonly used Italian words that end in “ema” can everyone think of?” Below are some replies. I’d love to hear more! Continue the conversation on this blog, and join us on our Facebook group if you like!

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Italian Words That End in “EMA”

“You can say, “Ho un problema.” (I have a problem.) or “Ho dei problemi.” (I have some problems.) 😉 (wink emoticon) Now you have no more problems! =D (grin emoticon)”
C’è un dilemma.   
This is a dilemma/predicament.
“Un po’ di crema se si screma non crea patema e non c’è problema, cara Kathryn!”
A little bit of cream if you skim it doesn’t create worries, and there is no problem, dear Kathryn!
Non c’è problema!  
There is no problem!

 

 

 il tema  the subject, topic, theme
il sistema the system
l’anatema the anathema
il teorema  the theorem, theory, hypothesis
il cinema the film, films, movies, movie theater, film industry
il schema the tactic, method, strategy, outline
il poema the epic, epic poem
il clima the climate
il fantasma  the ghost

 

Italian Appetizers, Anyone?

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

Last week on the Conversational Italian! Facebook group, we talked about what appetizers, or “antipasto” we like to serve for Easter and other holidays.

Antipasto simply means “before the meal” in Italian and refers to small dishes served before “Il Primo” or “the first course” of pasta, an Italian rice dish of risotto, or  Italian potato dumplings called gnocchi.

Below is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC, which lists our favorite “antipasti” served in Italy.

Notice, by the way, the pronunciation of a very common Italian appetizer served here in America— bruschetta slices of toasted bread with various toppings, most commonly tomato and basil. The Italians pronounce it very differently than most Americans! What is your family’s favorite antipasto dish? Write and let us know!

If you want to read more about this topic, the textbook is available for delivery from Learn Travel Italian.com. The rights to purchase the book in PDF format on two electronic devices can also be purchased at Learn Travel Italian.com.

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Antipasto

il pane bread
una fetta
di pane
slice of bread
la bruschetta toasted bread slices rubbed with garlic; can be topped with chopped tomatoes or chopped liver, and so on. (It’s pronounced br/oo/ske/ta because “che” is pronounced like the English word “key.”)
l’olio (d’oliva) olive oil
l’aceto vinegar (balsamic; aged vinegar from Modena/red wine vinegar)
l’antipasto misto assorted appetizers
l’insalata verde/mista mixed lettuce greens and vegetables
i calamari fritti fried squid
la panzanella tomato and bread salad, usually made with leftover bread cubes
la caprese  fresh tomato slices, basil, and mozzarella sprinkled with salt and drizzled with olive oil (from Capri)
le olive olives
le verdure (sottaceto) assorted vegetables (pickled)
i peperoni (sottaceto) peppers (pickled)
i funghi (sottaceto) mushrooms (pickled)
i carciofi (sott’olio) artichoke hearts (preserved in olive oil)
la caponata Sicilian eggplant and olive appetizer, cooked and then served cold
le acciughe anchovies
la bagna cauda warm olive oil, garlic, and anchovy dip for fresh or boiled vegetables, from the Piedmont region of Northern Italy
le sardine sardines
la mortadella  special type of bologna, from the city of Bologna
il salame
i salumi
salami—a variety of dried/smoke-cured meats that vary by region
il fritto misto assorted batter-fried vegetables, assorted fish and seafood, or a combination of both vegetables and seafood
il prosciutto special air-dried/cured ham from the city of Parma
prosciutto
e melone
special cured ham served on top of a cantaloupe slice, often drizzled with balsamic vinegar
lo speck special smoked ham from the region of Tyrol in Austria
il formaggio cheese—made from cow, sheep, or goat milk in Italy (See Chapter 18 of Conversational Italian for Travelers for a chart of the most common Italian cheeses and their region of origin.)

 

Learn Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers Textbook

Available on www.Learn Travel Italian.com

 

Conversational Italian for Travelers: Book Review

Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn for Learntravelitalian.com

Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Important Phrases Thank you, Margie, for a wonderful review on your blog, MargeinItaly!

Note redesigned cover for 2019! Same great Italian phrases you love!

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 http://www.LearnTravelItalian.com

 

margieinitaly

Photoby Kathy Occhipinti

Occasionally I like to introduce an author or  feature a book about Italy or anything Italian. Today I am honored to recommend a book I recently discovered, and I think you’ll like it too.

Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrasesby Kathryn Occhipinti is the perfect travel companion for your trip to Italy. Concise and well organized, only 4 inches by 6 inches, this pocket-sized Italian language book can travel with you wherever you go in Italy. Beginning with pronunciation of the Italian alphabet this book is full of practical information about every aspect of travel in Italy.

Conversational Italian is what you need in Italy and you can learn it so quickly here  with the author’s focus on “just the important phrases.”

From meeting people to transportation, to renting a car, to shopping, to ordering food in a restaurant,  to money, all topics of importance are…

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Learn Italian: “How much does it cost?”

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

Last week on the Conversational Italian! Facebook group, we learned how to ask, “How much does it cost?” in Italian.

Do you like to barter? Did you know that the merchants in the piazzas of Italy (and some stores) actually expect you to barter with them? Don’t pay full price for your Italian treasure if you don’t have to! And the sellers always appreciate it if you pepper your English with a few friendly Italian phrases to help the deal go through!

Below is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC, on the topic of how to barter in Italy. If you want to read more about this topic, the textbook is available for delivery from Learn Travel Italian.com. The rights to purchase the book in PDF format on two electronic devices can also be purchased at Learn Travel Italian.com.

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Quanto Costa?

When asking a shopkeeper in Italy how much one thing costs, you can point to the item and ask:

Quanto costa? =  How much does (it ) cost?

When asking a shopkeeper in Italy how much more than one thing costs, you can point to the items and ask:

Quanto costano? = How much do these things cost?

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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!)

 

Unless the article happens to be:

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

 

And here we go with bartering… If you’ve tried this in Italy, leave a comment describing your method and let us know how it worked! 

Quanto costa? How much (does it) cost?
Venti euro. (It costs) 20 euro.
Troppo caro! Quindici euro, invece! (That is) too expensive! 15 euros instead!
Non è in saldo… ma, diciannove va bene. (It) is not on sale… but 19 is good.
No, è costoso! Forse 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!)
D’accordo. Agreed.

 

Learn Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers Textbook

Available on  www.Learn Travel Italian.com

How to say “I love you”… in Italian!

Kathryn for learntravelitalian.comThere are many phrases in Italian for those relationships that are friendship or more… and, of course, many ways to say to that special someone, “I love you,” in Italian! Here are 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.comAmazon.com to help you out!

*Featured photo from thereadables.tumblr.com

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All About Italian Love

l’amicizia friendship
l’amico the friend (male)
gli amici the friends (male group or male + female group)
l’amica the friend
le amiche the girlfriends

 

Tu sei… You are…
il mio amico del cuore.
la mia amica del cuore.
my close friend.
(Italians call many their close friends!)
il mio migliore amico.
la mia migliore amica.
my best friend. 
(There is only one best friend!)

 

Mi vuoi bene?  Do you love me/care for me?
(for family and friends, and also your true love)
Ti voglio bene.  I love you/care for you/wish you well.

 

amare to love in a romantic way
l’amore romantic love
innamorato(a)  in love
Mi ami? Do you love me?
Ti amo!  I love you!
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 www.Learn Travel Italian.com

 

Italian style… Let’s talk about it!

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

For the last week on our Conversational Italian! Facebook group, we have been discussing how to talk about what we are wearing. With so many shops that carry beautiful clothing in Italy, you will probably want to talk about what you are wearing in Italian! It seems tricky at first, but just follow our method, and you will have it down in no time!

Here is a summary of this topic, adapted from the “Important Phrases” section in Chapter 10 of our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC,  available on Amazon.com and www.Learn Travel Italian.com

Here are some important verbs to know and how to use them when talking about Italian clothing. Look for the shop signs that say saldi for “sale” and get started buying some fabulous clothes in Italy!

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How to Wear Italian Clothes

Vestirsi = to get dressed. Notice that getting dressed is reflexive in Italian. Remember that with reflexive verbs, we drop the subject pronoun (io, tu, lei, lui, noi, voi, loro) and understand who is getting dressed from the reflexive pronoun and verb ending.

Mi vesto.  (I) get dressed.
Ti vesti. (You) get dressed.
Si veste. (She/He) gets dressed.

Don’t confuse the verb vestirsi with the noun vestito, which means dress!

 

Mettersi = to put on. Notice the many English phrases that are simply spoken with short Italian phrases using mettersi.

Mi metto il vestito. (I) put on the dress.
(I) put the dress on.
(I) put on my dress.
Ti metti l’anello. (You) put on the ring.
Si mette le scarpe. (She/He) puts on the shoes.

 

If you want to say “I am wearing…” or “I take the size…” use the regularly conjugated verb portare, which in other situations means “to bring” or “to carry.”

Porto il mio vestito preferito.     (I) am wearing my favorite dress.

Porto la taglia quarantotto.        (I) take size 48.

 

If you really want to be a part of Italian culture, use this idiomatic expression, which refers to shoes and means something fits perfectly. It is the equivalent of the English saying, “It fits me like a glove,” or, “It fits me to a T”!

Mi calza a pennello!      It fits me perfectly!… Like a glove! …To a “T”!

Learn Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers Textbook

Available on  www.Learn Travel Italian.com

 

Parla italiano?

The Old Market, Rome, Italy
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

For the last week on our Conversational Italian! Facebook group, we have been discussing how to answer the question, “Parla italiano?” “Do you speak Italian?” Of course, this will be an important phrase to know how to answer when in Italy! Have an answer handy that works for you. Even more importantly, learn the phrases listed below just in case you have difficulty following the Italian spoken to you once you start up your Italian conversation!

Here is a summary of this topic, adapted from the “Important Phrases” section of Chapter 2 of our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC, now available on  Amazon.com and www.Learn Travel Italian.com

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Do You Speak Italian?

If you are asked:
Parla italiano?                     (Do) you (polite) speak Italian?

You may reply:

Si, un po’. Yes, a little.
Si, molto bene. Yes, very well.
No, mi dispiace!  No, I am sorry!
 Parla inglese? (Do) you (polite) speak English?

 

An Italian may say:
No, parlo soltanto italiano.      No, (I) only speak Italian.

You may want to ask:
Dov’è un interprete?                 Where is an interpreter?

 

If you are having difficulty understanding fluent Italian, you may want to say:

Che cosa? What?
Non capisco. (I) don’t understand.
Non capisco che cosa ha detto. (I) didn’t understand what you (polite) said.
Non ho sentito. (I) didn’t hear (you).
Lei parla troppo veloce (per me)! You (polite) speak too fast (for me)!

 

To ask for help you could try:

Per favore, può… Please, could you (polite)…
…parlare più lentamente …speak more slowly?
…parlare più piano?  …speak more slowly?
…parlare più forte? …speak more loudly?
…parlare in inglese? …speak in English?
Non parlare troppo veloce. Don’t speak too quickly.
Può ripetere? Could you (polite) repeat (that)?

 

Come si dice…?  How (do) you (polite) say…?
(literally: How does one say?)
Come si dice in italiano? How (do) you (polite) say (it) in Italian?
Cosa significa?  What does (it) mean?
Come si chiama in italiano? What is it called in Italian?

 

Learn Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers Textbook

Available on  www.Learn Travel Italian.com

 

How to ask and answer the question, “Where are you from?” in Italian

The Grand Canal and the Piazza San Marco

 

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

For the last couple of weeks on our Conversational Italian! Facebook group, we have been discussing how to ask and answer the question, “Where are you from?” in Italian. It is a bit complicated, but what I always recommend is just to remember how the question will be asked and the answer in Italian as it applies to you!

Here is a summary of this topic, adapted from the “Grammar Note” in Chapter 2 of our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers ©2012,  found on Amazon.com and www.Learn Travel Italian.com

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 Describing Where You Are From

One of the questions most frequently asked of travelers during polite conversation is, “Where are you from?” Two phrases can be used to ask this question in Italian. There are subtle differences in the meaning of these two questions, and in the reply for each.

The first phrase uses the combination:

di + dove + essere = from + where + to be

This phrase is most often used to inquire about an individual’s place of birth. In Italian, when the verb to be (essere) is used, the idea of “from” is expressed with di, as in, “From where are you?” In proper English, of course, we would say, “Where are you from?” The answer in Italian will also use di and will be followed by the town of one’s birth. Notice that the subject pronoun io (I) is usually left out of the answer, as it is understood from the ending of the verb.

Di dov’è Lei? Where are you (polite) from?
Di dove sei? Where are you (familiar) from?
Sono di Chicago. (I) am from Chicago.

 

 

The second phrase uses the combination:

Da + dove + venire = from + where + to come

This phrase uses the action verb venire and is usually used in conversation when someone is visiting or has moved to a new place. The reply will use the io form of venire, which is vengo, and da for “from,” followed by a city, town, region/state, or country.

Also, remember that when speaking of a region, state, or country, the Italian definite article (il, lo, la, l’, gli) must be used. The preposition da is then combined with the definite article to make dal, dallo, dall’, dalla, or dagli, which means “from the.”

For now, don’t worry about these rules. Just look up and remember the correct way to say where you are living in case you are asked!

Da dove viene?

Da dove vieni?

Where do you come from? (polite)

Where do you come from? (familiar)

Vengo dall’America. (I) come from America./I am from America.
Vengo dagli Stati Uniti.  (I) come from the United States.
Vengo dall’Illinois.  (I) come from Illinois.
Vengo dalla California. (I) come from California.
Vengo dal New Jersey. (I) come from New Jersey.
Vengo da Chicago. (I) come from Chicago.

 

Learn Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers Textbook

Available on www.Learn Travel Italian.com

“Prego” is Italian for “You’re welcome” and so much more!

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Most everyone who is familiar enough with Italian culture to want to visit Italy will know a few basic Italian words, like grazie” for “thank you,” for instance. But what is the proper reply?  Why, it is the word “prego,” of course! Anyone who visits Italy, even for a short time, will certainly hear the Italian word prego, and in more situations than they might expect at first!

Here is a summary, adapted from our pocket book Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Important Phrases © 2014, of the many ways the word prego is used in Italian,  which was shared with our Conversational Italian! Facebook group this month.

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How to Use “Prego”

Prego is the direct response to grazie and means, “You’re welcome.” It is derived from the verb of politeness pregare, which has several meanings.

Pregare can be translated as “to pray,” which lends itself to the connotation of asking or requesting something. English phrases like, “I pray of you,” “I beg of you,” or “Pray tell,” carry the same idea, although these are no longer commonly used.

In a similar way, a simple, “Prego…” can also be used, usually with a gesture,* to address someone when on line in a crowded place, as in, “Go ahead of me, I beg you, if you please…”

“Sono pregati di” is a polite expression derived from pregare that may also be heard when someone in charge, such as a flight attendant or tour guide, for instance, is directing a group of people.

Finally, if an Italian waiter comes to your table at a restaurant with a wonderful dish for you to try, he may put it in front of you with a flourish and say, “Prego!” as in “There you go!”

Below is a summary of all the uses of that short, simple Italian word with many uses: “Prego!”

Prego. You’re welcome.
Prego…  If (you) please…
Sono pregati di…  Are requested/asked/begged to…
Prego! There you go!

*To really learn Italian, one must also learn the gestures that are a part of the language!

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 www.Learn Travel Italian.com