Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! – How We Dress in Italian

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 2019? Well, now more than half the year has passed, and I’m sure you are trying to talk about your every day activities with family and friends!  One of the most common topics of conversation in any language is about clothes and how we dress.

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 we speak Italian, we will be able to tell others how we dress and make “small talk” about how well others are dressed — part of “fare la bella figura” (looking fabulous) in Italian — just as we do in our native language!

In Italian we need to learn how to use three important verbs and we are all set to talk about what we are wearing—vestirsi, mettersi, and indossare. 

This post is the 24th 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” that describe what we are doing

are about
  “Putting on clothing…” or  “What we are wearing…”

 If I want to describe what we are wearing in Italian,

we must learn how to use the Italian verbs
Vestirsi, Mettersi, and Indossare

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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What We Are Wearing in Italian


Vestirsi, Mettersi, Portare and Indossare

In Italian we need to learn how to use three important verbs and we are all set to talk about what we are wearing—vestirsi, mettersi, and indossare.  If we learn how to use these verbs properly, we will be able to tell others how we dress and make “small talk” about how well others are dressed — part of “fare la bella figura” ( looking good or making a good impression) in Italian — just as we do in our native language!

Vestirsi

Let’s start with the Italian verb “vestirsi,” which carries the general meaning of “to get dressed.” To use this verb, just conjugate it as you would any other reflexive verb to make a simple sentence.

We need to remember that for reflexive verbs, the subject pronoun of the sentence, (io, tu, Lei/lei/lui, noi, voi, loro), must be in the same person as the reflexive pronouns (mi, ti, si, ci, vi, si).

This sounds simple enough.  But, we also have to remember that the sentence structure in conversational Italian does not generally include the subject pronoun; the subject pronoun is understood from the verb ending, which will be unique for each speaker in the present tense.  So, for conversational Italian—even for reflexive verbs— the subject pronoun is left out of the sentence.  In our example table using reflexive verbs, the Italian subject pronoun will be given in parentheses for teaching purposes only.

In English, we do not convey this idea with a reflexive pronoun.  So the reflexive pronoun included in the Italian sentence will be given in parentheses in the English translation.

 

(Io) Mi vesto. I get (myself) dressed.
(Tu) Ti vesti. You get (yourself) dressed.
(Lei/Lui) Si veste. You (polite) get (yourself)…
She/He gets (herself, himself)… dressed.

 

(Noi) Ci vestiamo. We get (ourselves) dressed.
(Voi) Vi vestite. You all get (yourselves) dressed.
(Loro) Si vestono. They get (themselves) dressed.

 

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Mettersi 

When talking about putting on a particular article of clothing, such as a dress or suit (vestito)* for instance,  we must learn to use yet another Italian reflexive verb— mettersi, which means to put on oneself. 

Here is how it works:

Mettersi can be used to convey three different types of English sentences: I put on the dress,” “I put on my dress,” and “I put my dress on.” The reflexive pronoun mi (myself) is placed before the conjugated form of mettersi, as usual, and the article of clothing to be put on is then placed after the verb. The subject pronoun is omitted, as usual. So the final translation for “I put on the/my dress” is, “Mi metto il vestito.” 

If this all sounds complicated, just remember the simple phrase “mi metto” and replace il vestito with the article of clothing of your choice and you will be able to describe getting dressed with any article of clothing!

To describe action in the tu (you) form, just conjugate mettersi normally and then add the article of clothing, as in “ti metti.” For the lei/lui (she/he) form, use “si mette,” and so on.

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

*A note: Don’t confuse the verb vestire with the noun vestito, which means dress and also suit (pants and jacket or skirt and jacket).  These words are similar but have different meanings!  Also,  it should be mentioned that the plural noun, vestiti, means clothing.(Other words for suit that can be used for both sexes are abito and completo.)

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Portare

In order to say I am wearing…”  or I take the size…”  the verb portare, which is not reflexive, is usually used in the  simple present tense. You no doubt remember that portare is also commonly used to mean to bring”  or to carry.” 

Porto il mio vestito preferito. I am wearing my favorite dress.
Porto la (taglia) quarantotto. I take size 48.

 

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Past Tense Verb Choices

When speaking in the past tense, portare can also be used to say, I wore…” But perhaps because portare is used so commonly with its other meaning of to bring”  in the present tense, in order to describe what they have worn in the past, most Italians prefer to revert to mettersi and use its (irregular) past participle messo

Remember to use the helping verb essere for the passato prossimo past tense form with the reflexive verb mettersi.  And, of course the last vowel of the past participle must agree in gender with the person wearing the clothing (see the red vowels), since we are using essere as the helping verb. The table below shows how this all works:

(Io) Mi sono messo un completo.
(Io) Mi sono messa una gonna.
I wore a suit. (masculine)
I wore a skirt. (feminine)
Ho portato una gonna. I wore a skirt.

 

 

Another way to describe how someone was dressed is to use the imperfetto past tense of essere  with the descriptive past participle vestito(a,i,e).   This type of phrase can be used to make generalizations, as well as to refer to a specific article of clothing.  When being specific, the preposition con (with) is used in these phrases, as in the examples below.

Era vestito con un abito grigio. He was dressed in a gray suit.
Era vestita con una gonna blu. She was dressed in a blue skirt.
Eravamo vestiti tutti in rosso per la festa. We were dressed all in red for the party.

 

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Indossare

The verb indossare also means “to wear” and “to put on.”  This verb is used in exactly the same way as portare or mettersi.  To the Italian ear, however, the verb indossare is said to have a more elegant sound than portare or mettersi, and perhaps this is why indossare is more common in written Italian than in conversation.

Just like the other two verbs that have the same meaning, indossare must always be followed by the article of clothing that the person is wearing.

Caterina indossa un abito rosso. Kathryn is wearing a red dress.
La signora indossava un cappotto molto elegante. The lady was wearing a very elegant coat.

 

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Finally, when something fits perfectly on you or another, to really fit into Italian society, use the common expression calzare a pennello.”  Calzature refers to the art of making shoes, or “footwear,” so this Italian saying is the equivalent of  the English saying, It fits you like a glove” or It fits you to a T.”

 

Mi calza a pennello! It fits me perfectly!
Ti calza a pennello! It fits you perfectly!
Gli/Le calza a pennello! It fits (on) him/her perfectly!

 

Remember how to the Italian verbs vestirsi, mettersi, portare and indossare when talking about clothing and I guarantee you will use the every day!

Conversational Italian for Travelers: “Just the Verbs”

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

 

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! – How to Say “Get” in Italian

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 2019? Well, now half the year has passed and  I know you will have to get ready for even more complex Italian in the future!

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 we speak Italian, we will be able to form descriptive sentences about what we have to get done, or what we have got to do during the course of a regular day — just as we do in our native language!

The concept of  little verb “get” is rendered differently in Italian than in English, and this is a bit tricky to get used to at first.  Instead of inserting a verb that is the equivalent of “get” into a sentence, Italians instead use the precise verb that describes exactly what it is they must “get” to do. The chosen Italian verb is often in the reflexive form, as we often refer to ourselves when we use the verb “get.”  So, we must “get ourselves ready” for this concept by remembering our Italian reflexive verbs!

Luckily, Italian reflexive verb conjugation is not difficult and once the concept is mastered that Italian renders the concept of “get” with a reflexive verb when we describe our own actions, telling others  that we “get” this idea should come easily!

This post is the 23rd 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” that describe what we are doing

during the course of an ordinary day

use the words
  “Get…” or  “Got…”

 If I want to describe our day in Italian we must learn to use
Reflexive Verbs.

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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How to Say “Get” in Italian

with

Italian Reflexive Verbs

At first glance, it seems easy to say “to get” in Italian.  The verb prendere translates as “to get.”  But, the verb prendere actually has the specific meaning of “to procure something.” 

In English conversation, which is typically less formal than written English,  the verb to get is used in many more ways and conveys many more meanings than the verb prendere does in Italian.  We English speakers rely on our basic understanding of what is going on in any given conversation to come up with the meaning of the verb to get. Instead, in both written and conversational Italian, the use of the verb to get is more specific than it is in English.

Many Italian verbs are used to translate the different meanings behind the English verb to get. Here are a few Italian verbs lifted from the Italian — English dictionary Word Reference (www.wordreference.com) as examples: ricevere (to receive/get something), portare (bring/get something), arrivare (arrive/get somewhere), capire and comprendere (understand something).

Just to make things a little more complicated… in an ordinary conversation, we all often  describe what we have “got” to do.  And, when we refer to activities of daily living in Italian, this means that the verb refers back to ourselves.  And therefore… the Italian verb that we use must be reflexive.

I’ll try to get you  to see how this works by first listing some common Italian reflexive verbs that translate as “to get” in Italian.  Take a look at the table below:

alzarsi to get up
annoiarsi to get bored
arrabbiarsi to get angry
bagnarsi to get wet
to take a bath
laurearsi to get a university degree
to graduate
mettersi
mettersi qualcuno nei guai
to put on clothing
to get (oneself) in trouble
preoccuparsi to get worried
to worry
prepararsi (per) to get ready (for)
riprendersi to get better
 to recover
spogliarsi to get undressed
sposarsi to get married
vestirsi
svestirsi
to get dressed
to get undressed

 

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Below are some example sentences taken from what we all do in a normal day, many of which use the reflexive verbs from the previous table. The Italian subject pronoun “io,” meaning “I” is included in the Italian examples, although io is almost always omitted with reflexive verbs (as in most general conversation). Parentheses have been used in the Italian sentences as a reminder of this fact.

In the same way, parentheses are used in the English translation to indicate Italian reflexive pronouns that are not necessary in English. But, hopefully it will be useful to learn to think in Italian before translating into correct English.

Also remember that the simple present tense in Italian can have several different meanings in English.  The simple phrase“Io vado,” for instance, can be translated as: “I go,” “I am going” or “I do go.”

Now, I think we understand enough about how Italian works that we are ready to get going with our examples!

 

Getting up in the morning:

(Io) Mi sveglio. I wake up. (lit. I wake myself up.)
(Io) Mi alzo. I get up. (lit. I get myself up.)
(Io) Mi alzo presto. I get (myself) up early.
(Io) Mi alzo alle sei. I get (myself) up at 6 AM.
(Io) Mi alzo tardi domani. I am going to get (myself) up
late tomorrow.

 

Getting ready to go out for the day:

(Io) Mi faccio il bagno.
(Io) Mi faccio una doccia.
I take a bath. (lit. I make myself the bath.)
I take a shower. (lit. I make myself a shower)
(Io) Mi lavo. I wash myself.
(Io) Mi asciugo. I dry myself off.
(Io) Mi pettino. I comb (myself) my hair.
(Io) Mi preparo per il lavoro. I get (myself) ready for (the) work.
(Io) Mi vesto. I get (myself) dressed.
(Io) Mi metto i vestiti. I put on (myself) the clothes.
(Io) Mi trucco. I put on (myself) makeup.
(Io) Mi metto la giacca e le scarpe. I put on (myself) the jacket and the shoes.
(Io) Mi sento molto bene! I feel very well!
Vado al lavoro./ Vado a lavorare. I go to work.

 

At the end of the day:   

Torno a casa. I return home.
(Io) Mi tolgo la giacca. I take off (myself) the jacket.
Preparo la cena per la famiglia. I make the dinner for the family.
Alle nove (io) mi svesto. At nine I get (myself) undressed.
(Io) Mi tolgo le scarpe. I take off (myself) my shoes.
(Io) Mi metto il pigiama e le ciabatte. I put on (myself) (the) pajamas and slippers.
(Io) Mi rilasso. I relax (myself).
(Io) Mi riposo. I rest (myself).
(Io) Mi addormento. I fall (myself) asleep.

 

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Three more important examples are listed below.  The first example is interesting because one might be tempted to translate the phrase — incorrectly of course — “I have decided to marry myself!” But, now that we know that an important function of Italian reflexive verbs is to render the idea “to get,” the sentence structure in Italian for “Ho deciso di sposarmi,” makes perfect sense.  Notice that the reflexive pronoun mi is attached to the end of the infinitive verb sposarsi.

The second examples are about “getting in trouble.”  These are phrases that are good to know but hopefully they will not have to be used on a daily basis!

Ho deciso di sposarmi. I have decided to get married.
   
Non metterti nei guai! Don’t get (put) yourself in trouble!
Mi sono messo nei guai. I got (put) myself in trouble.

 

Remember how to use Italian reflexive verbs when talking about things you have ” to get”  and I guarantee you will use the every day!

 

Conversational Italian for Travelers: “Just the Verbs”

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com