Learn Italian and Describe Your Needs!

Italian town of Stresa on Lago Maggiore, Italy

In the last few weeks in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group, we have been practicing how to use the phrase “Ho bisogno di,” which means “I need…” in Italian. This phrase is very useful in some situations, but in others, it is necessary to use the word “voglio” instead to express the same meaning.

Special thanks to Facebook group members Grace, Sandro, Rita, and Andu for providing some excellent examples and for reminding me that the phrase “Mi serve…” also means “I need…” This last phrase is very often used in Italy, and I have just heard this phrase twice on the latest Detective Montalbano episode I watched.

It is amazing how easy it is to hear phrases in Italian during normal conversation once we know them! Try it yourself and see how often you can hear these common phrases in Italian movies, TV series, or RAI.

Read on below from this excerpt published on July 17, 2016, on the LearnTravelItalian.com blog to find out how to talk about what you need in Italian! Read the entire post for more on the subjunctive mode. Listen for the examples and try some from our group. Join our group if you like at Conversational Italian!


How to Use the Phrase “Avere bisogno di…” in Italian

Before we go on to discuss more complex uses of the phrases in the table below, here are a few words about the very popular phrase “ho bisogno di…,” which means “I need…” Any student of Italian no doubt has come across this phrase many times in general conversation and has needed to use it themselves to express what they want.

While I was learning how to use the subjunctive mode properly, I took the opportunity to learn how to use “ho bisogno di” properly as well. After many question-and-answer sessions with native Italian speakers, here is what I’ve found out about the different uses of this phrase in English and Italian.

First, use of the phrase “ho bisogno di” is limited to describing a need one has for a person, a thing, something, or a physical need. Remember to conjugate the verb avere used in this phrase (“ho” is the io form of avere) if someone else besides you needs something, of course! Leave out the word “di,” which means “of” in this phrase if it is used at the end of the sentence.

The phrases “Mi serve…” and “Mi servono…” can also mean, “I need…” and are often used in the negative sense. (This verb conjugates similar to piacere – see below.)

If a person needs to do something, but it is also necessary that he does it—if he has to do it—then the verb dovere is used. See some examples in the table below:

avere bisogno di… to have need of…  
…a person Ho bisogno di… te.
…a thing/ something Ho bisogno di… una macchina nuova.
  Ho bisogno di… prendere una vacanza.
…a physical need Ho bisogno di… riposare.
Mi serve…

Mi servono….

I need… Mi serve 1 millione di euro.

Mi servono tante cose.

dovere for what you have to do

(and need to do)

Devo cucinare il pranzo ogni sera.


When we come to more complex sentences and now must express what the subject would like another person to do, the phrase “ho bisogno di” is not used. In other words, if I want someone to do something, I must use the verb voglio with the subjunctive, as in “Voglio che tu…”  This was an important point for me to learn, because in English I am constantly asking my children or family to do things by saying, “I need you to…”

For instance, take the sentence “I need you to take care of the cats when I am on vacation.” I am not sure if the phrase “I need you to…” is used commonly in other parts of the America, but it has become habitually used in the Northeast and Midwest. The Italian translation would be “Voglio che tu ti prenda cura dei gatti quando io sono in vacanza.” So to use the phrase “ho bisogno di,” we must really learn how to think in Italian!

Enjoy some more examples for how to use our phrases to express a need or want in Italian, and then create your own!


Ho bisogno di un grande abbraccio! I need a big hug!
Abbracci e baci sono due cose che ho bisogno! Hugs and kisses are two things that I need!
Non mi serve niente. I don’t need anything.
Non mi serve nient’altro. I don’t need anything else.
Mi serve di più caffè. I need more coffee.
Devo andare al mercato. I need to/have to go to the (outdoor) market.

Non abbiamo  bisogno di giorni migliori,

ma di persone che rendono migliori i nostri giorni!

We don’t need to have better days; instead, we need people who make our days better!

Buona Festa della Donna 2017

Today’s Italian saying is about a truly Italian holiday, the Festa della Donna, which was celebrated on March 8 this year. It is a simple holiday started by Rita Montagnana and Teresa Mattei after World War II (dopoguerra)during which men give the mimosa flower to all the women in their lives as a show of appreciation and love.

The saying below is a tribute to Sicilian women that was written by my favorite, and world-renowned Sicilian author, Andrea Camilleri. His mystery series has been made into the hugely successful BBC television series Inspector Montalbano, segments of which I watch almost every day to keep up on my “local” Italian.

Buona Festa della Donna!

Il 8 di Marzo

Festa della Donna 2017
Buona Festa della Donna! A tribute to Sicilian women from renown Sicilian author Andrea Camilleri.

Featured image photo by Dénes Emőke – London, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15200409

Italian Terms of Endearment

Italian Terms of Endearment
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

According to one legend, St. Valentine’s Day started after the Italian saint of the same name left a note to his beloved. The note was written from prison just before he died, and it is not known if she ever received this note or even knew of his love. Such is the stuff of legends! But the way Valentine’s Day is celebrated around the world today is truly an American invention.  

In our Conversational Italian! group on Facebook, we took this opportunity to discover the ways Italians tell their romantic love that they really care. I have copied over some tried and true phrases and pet names and even learned a few new ones myself! Special thanks to my Italian friend Atanasio in this group for keeping me current on this important topic!


How many more ways can you think of to say you care about your romantic love? 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.


Italian Terms of Endearment


Tried and true…

amore (mio) my love, or simply “love”  
dolcezza sweetie
gioia mia my joy
pucci sweetie (also refers to a person who is tender or affectionate*)
tesoro mio my treasure


References to cute animals and…

cricetino little hamster 
cucciolo puppy
gattina kitten
patatina little potato (Yes, apparently this is really a pet name!)


Some phrases to use every day to let the one you know you care…

Sei tutto per me. You are everything to me.
Tu sei il mio amore. You are my love.
Per sempre tua. Forever yours.


*Stai attento! (Be careful!) This word is also part of the phrase “Facciamo pucci pucci,” which means, “Let’s have sex.”

To revisit the important phrases Ti vogio bene and Ti amo, see my first blog post on this topic from February 2016: How to Say “I Love You”… in Italian!


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

Everyday Italian Phrases: What I Asked (Part 2)

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 second 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.

Our second “commonly used phrases,” that will help us talk more easily will focus on  What I asked…”

leading into

“I asked (to) you, (to) her, (to) him…” and so on. 

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 reference book, Just the Grammaron 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.


What I Asked…

in Italian

Let’s review for a second before we go on to our topic for today. In our last blog post in this series, we learned the Italian past tense verb for “I said,” which is, “Ho detto.”

Let’s build on this! Besides saying or stating a fact, we often relay that we have asked a question of/to someone. And if we travel to Italy, we will certainly be asking many questions about all the wonderful places we visit!

In this second blog post in our series, we will use the same tables from our first blog post but substitute, “I asked,” which is, “ho chiesto,” for the passato prossimo form of the past tense. This Italian past tense verb also translates into the less commonly used English form “I have asked.”*  

Because the phrase “I asked” is frequently used in everyday conversation, we should commit the Italian verb “ho chiesto” 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 following table for how this works.

Ho chiesto I asked
Ti ho chiesto I asked… (to) you 
Gli ho chiesto I asked… (to) him 
Le ho chiesto I asked… (to) her 

If you want to ask for something directly, think of the verb chiesto as meaning asked for,” because there is no need to use the Italian preposition per with this verb in this type of situation. An indirect or direct object (a/an or the) is used with the noun that follows, though.

If you want to add that you’ve already asked someone something, put the word “già,” which means “already,” between the two verbs we use for the passato prossimo past tense.

Notice that informazione is feminine and singular in Italian. It is used when you want only one answer to one question. Use the feminine plural informazioni if you’d like a more detailed explanation. In English, of course, the translation does not change.

Ho chiesto un’informazione. I asked for (some) information.
Ho chiesto il signor Rossi dov’è la piazza. I asked Mr. Rossi where the piazza is.
Ti ho già chiesto . I already asked you.
Gli ho chiesto. I asked him.
Le ho chiesto. I asked her.

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

Mi ha chiesto… He asked (to) me…
  She asked (to) me…
  You (polite) asked (to) me…

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

*A quick note here: 

For conversational reasons, I’ve chosen the verb chiedere, with its irregular past participle, chiesto, to use in the past tense. But it should be noted that the verb domandare also means to ask/to inquire, and the noun domanda means question.

If you have a question to ask of someone, you might say, “Ho una domanda,” which means, “I have a question.”  

An investigator inquiring about something might say,

“Posso fare qualche domanda?” meaning, “May I ask some questions?” 

Or “Gli ho fatto qualche domanda,” meaning, “I asked him some questions.”

(Notice how qualche is always followed by a singular noun.)

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

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

Felice Anno Nuovo 2017!

To all my friends… May all your Italian dreams come true in 2017!

Auguri di Buon Anno!

Best Wishes for a Happy New Year!

Il Primo di Gennaio

Auguri di Buon Anno!
Felice Anno Nuovo! means Happy New Year! in Italian. To wish someone a happy new year, say, “Buon anno!”
I hope you have enjoyed my blog as much as I’ve enjoyed sharing about the Italian language and Italian traditions. Please visit me at this blog in 2017 and invite your friends to join in for more Italian language tips, Italian sayings, and Italian cultural notes.
And remember, this blog is part of our open Facebook page, Conversational Italian!, which is a great place to share about all things Italian. Practice your Italian on this page, ask questions, and share pictures from your trips to Italy.   I’d love to hear from you!
—Kathryn Occhipinti 
It’s never too late to learn Italian or too early to plan your trip to Italy!
For Advanced Italian Language materials, Italian Cultural Notes, and Italian Recipes, visit our sister blog at Learn Italian!
Visit our website www.LearnTravelItalian.com, which has FREE Online Interactive Italian Dialogues recorded by native Italian speakers. Follow Caterina on her trip through Italy! Listen to all you need to know about transportation in Italy, making friends, and of course, how to read those Italian menus!
All blogs and Internet materials courtesy of the Conversational Italian for Travelers series of books.

Buone Feste! Happy Holidays in Italian!

Sicilian Christmas cookies called cuccidati

To all my friends who love all things Italian… Wishing you a wonderful holiday season. 

Buone Feste!

Happy Holidays!

Il 24 di Dicembre

Buon Natale
Love is the most beautiful Christmas gift.

This special Italian saying for the December holidays was originally posted by Luisella in Italy from our Conversational Italian! Facebook group. We would love to hear what you have to say about your experiences learning Italian and visiting or living in Italy. Join our open Facebook group and share about all things Italian! —Kathryn Occhipinti

Luisa: Se tutti donassero amore nel giorno di Natale tutti conoscerebbero la gioia di vivere.
 Kathryn: For all that give love on the day of Christmas, they will be given (by God) the joy of life.