Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! Pensare (Part 1) What I am thinking…

Burano in Venice, Italy and Everyday Italian phrases
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

The Christmas season is upon us and soon it will be a new year! Have you thought about making a New Year’s resolution to speak Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2019? Well, it is never too late to start to learn Italian, and  I think my blogs can help you with your goal this coming year!

For the last 2 years, we’ve been learning 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 important thoughts – our own thoughts – just as we do in our native language!  Read below and you will see what I mean.

This post is the 17th 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 will help us talk more easily describe
 “What I am thinking…”

We will discuss the Italian expressions for our everyday experiences:
“I think…”, “It came to mind…”, “I changed my mind…”
   “I’ll take care of it!”

 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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Pensare…

What I Am Thinking in Italian

Many, many Italian expressions use the verb pensare, which is most often translated as “to think”.  You can imagine how this verb will come up often in conversation – with family and close friends, of course, but also with acquaintances.  

In fact, the Italian verb pensare has so many uses in Italian, many of which do not translate directly into English, that we must really learn to think in Italian to master the use of this verb. But, once mastered, speaking with these phrases will truly help one to sound like a native!

Because this verb is so important, we will give the full conjugation below. You will notice that pensare is conjugated as a regular -are verb. As always, remember that the most important forms for conversation will be the first three, singular forms io, tu, Lei/lei/lui, and the noi form for the plural. The stressed syllable has been underlined.

Pensare – to think

io penso I think
tu pensi you (familiar) think
Lei/lei/lui pensa you (polite) she/he thinks
     
noi pensiamo we think
voi pensate you all think
loro pensano they think

 

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Read below for many (but certainly not all) of the phrases that use the verb pensare. These phrases have been put into groups in our table to aid in understanding the different situations in which pensare can be used.

First, some common expressions that use pensare with the meaning of to think are listed below. You will also notice that we’ve included  the phrase “I realized” in one of our expressions.  If you need help understanding this phrase, refer to our blog, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! What I realized…”

I should also note that the pronouns “ci” and  “ne” are an important component of many of the expressions that use the verb pensare.  These pronouns have been highlighted in red when they are attached to a verb, in order to make them easy to recognize and to separate them from the verb itself.  You may want to brush up on your understanding of how the  pronouns “ci” and “ne”  are used in sentences with the meaning of  “about it” and “of it” in  our Conversational Italian for Travelers text book or “Just the Grammar” book!

Che ne pensi? What do you think about it?
Pensaci bene! Think about it! / Really think it over!
Fammi pensare.
Fammici pensare.
Let me think.
Let me think about it.
Ora che inizio a pensare…
Ora che ho iniziato a pensare…
Now that I start to think…
Now that I’ve started to think…
Ora che ci penso bene…
Ora che ci ho pensato bene…
Now that I really think about it…
Now that I’ve really thought it over…
Che pensi? 
Che stai pensando?!
A cosa stavi pensando?!
Stavo pensando…
Pensandoci, mi sono reso(a) conto di…
What are you thinking?
What are you thinking?!
What were you thinking?!
I was thinking…
Thinking about it, I realized that…
Non serve a niente pensarci adesso. It doesn’t help thinking about it now.
Che ne pensavi?

 

What were you thinking about it?

 

Penso di/che…* I  think that…
Pensavo di/che…* I was thinking that…
Ho pensato di/che…* I thought that…

*How to use “di” and “che” with the verb pensare will be the topic of the another blog!

 

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Below are some expressions where pensare is directly translated into English with the meaning of  to take care of it.”   The verb itself does not actually mean “to take care of” but rather the expressions as a whole do mean that someone is taking care of something . I call these “idiomatic expressions,” but really these expressions just show the difference that sometimes occurs when one tries to expresses the same idea in English and Italian.

Another interesting thing to know about Italian, is that in order to emphasize who is doing what, or to signify one’s intent to do somethingthe subject pronoun (io, tu, lei/lui, etc…) is placed after the verb!

Here is an example situation for when to invert the usual Italian subject pronoun/verb order. Let’s say I am sitting in a room and having a conversation, eating, playing cards, etc. with a group of people when the doorbell to the house rings. I want to signify that I will get up and go to answer the door.  In this case,  I will say, “Vado io,” to mean, I will be the one to go to answer the door right now.” This concept is expressed a lot more concisely in Italian, isn’t it?

 

Ci penso io. I’ll take care of it. 
Ci pensi tu? Will you take care of it? 
Ci pensavo io.
Ci ho pensato io.
I was taking care of it.
I took care of it.

 


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Finally, let’s say we want to describe the circumstances around which our thought/thoughts  (pensiero/pensieri)  or idea/ideas (idea/idee) are based.  (Please note that when the English word idea is used in a phrase to mean a “guess” or “impression,” the Italian word, “impressione” is the correct translation.)

For instance, we can talk about how a thought or idea has come to our mind (mente) or into our head (testa) using the verb to come (venire), just as we would in English, and then go on to describe our thought.

Or, perhaps we have been thinking about something and want to talk about why we have changed our mind! It should be noted that Italians express a change of mind differently than an English speaker. To an Italian, the idea (idea) always changes, rather than one’s mind. But to an English speaker, it is the “mind” itself that changes.

If you want to say what you have changed your mind about, just add “su”, which in this case means “about” to the phrase and describe the change!

Mi viene in mente. (It) comes to mind.
Mi vengono in mente, tante cose. Many things came to mind.
Lots of things came to mind.
Ti vengono in testa, certe cose/ certe pensieri. Certain things/ Certain thoughts came into his head.
Mi è venuto in mente. It came to mind.
Cambio idea ogni giorno. I change my mind every day.
Ho cambiato idea su… I’ve changed my mind about…
Hai cambiato idea?  Have you changed your mind?
Ho cambiato idea su… I’ve changed my mind about…

 

If you can learn to use the verb pensare in these expressions,
you will have really learned to think in Italian!

Remember these phrases, and I guarantee you will use them every day!

*Some of this material has been reprinted from our Conversational Italian for Travelers books.

Stay tuned for more blog posts on this topic!

 

"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

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! Sperare (Part 2) – What I wish for the holidays…

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 2018?  Well, the end-of-the year festivities and a new year are just around the corner!  I hope this blog will help you celebrate and bring good wishes to your family and friends.

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 express important feelings – like our  good wishes – just as we do in our native language!  We’ve already learned some important new conversational and  email phrases in Italian in our first blog  about the verb sperare.  Today we will expand on what we have already learned and wish a good holiday season and Happy New Year to all! Read below and you will see what I mean.

This post is the 16th 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 allow us to describe our feelings
start with the phrases
“I hope…” or  “I wish…”

 If we are hopeful for someone else,  in Italian we must say
“I  hope that…” or  “I wish that…

which will lead us to the Italian subjunctive mood.
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.

************************************************

What I Wish…

For the Italian Winter Holiday Season

When an Italian wants to describe a hope or a wish  he has, either for himself or someone else, he  must use the verb sperare, and this is the verb that will be the topic of our blog today.

Sperare works a bit differently from the “typical” Italian -are verb.  To review what we’ve learned in our last blog about sperare:

  • When using the verb sperare to express a hope or a wish one person or a group has for themselves, sperare must be followed by the preposition “di”.
  • “Di” will often be followed by a verb in the infinitive form (to see, to start, etc.), which will start the phrase that follows to describe the hope or wish.

Sperare + di + infinitive verb

So, “I hope…” or, “I wish…”  would be, ” Io spero di…” But, of course, we leave out the subject pronoun in Italian, so the phrase becomes,  “Spero di…”  “We hope… ” or, “We wish…”  would be, “Speriamo di…”

Or, one can just say, “Speriamo!”  for, “Let’s hope so!” or,  “Let’s wish!” in order to express a hope or wish that is shared  with someone else.

Below are listed important Italian holidays and some common phrases that Italians use to wish each other “happy holidays”.  We will learn how to use the verb sperare for our holiday wishes in the next section.

 

Vigilia di Natale Christmas Eve
Natale  Christmas
Buon Natale!
Buone Feste!
Merry Christmas!
Happy Holidays!
Auguri di buon Natale!  Best wishes for a merry Christmas!
Tanti Auguri!
Auguri!
Best wishes!
Le tradizioni Natalizi
Le luci Natalizie Il biglietto di auguri Natalizi
Regalo di Natale
“Spero di ricevere un buon regalo di Natale dal mio fidanzato quest’anno.”
Christmas traditions
Christmas lightsChristmas greeting card
Christmas gift
“I hope/wish to receive a wonderful Christmas gift from my boyfriend this year.”

 

L’ultimo dell’anno New Year’s Eve
La notte di San Silvestro December 31st is the feast day of San Silvestro for the Catholic church
Capodanno New Year’s Day
Buon anno nuovo!
Buon anno!
Happy New Year!  (used most often)
Felice anno nuovo!  Happy New Year!
Epifania

 

Catholic church holiday, which celebrates when “Wise Men” visited the baby Jesus.  In Italy, gifts are exchanged on this day.  Italian traditions: a friendly witch, La Befana, brings gifts to children, although Santa Claus is also celebrated.

 

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Now that we are familiar with Italian end-of-the-year holidays and  greetings, lets go on and see how sperare can help us to express our good wishes. A short review is necessary from our previous blog as a reminder that…

  • When one uses the verb sperare to express a hope or a wish he has for someone else or something else, he must follow the verb with the conjunction “che”, which means “that”. In fact, the word “che” can never be left out of an Italian sentence of this type and must be used to link the two phrases!
  •  “Che” will then be followed by a verb in the subjunctive mood, which will start the phrase that follows to describe this hope or wish.

Sperare + che + subjunctive present tense verb

Just what is the “subjunctive mood”?  The subjunctive mood is the type of verb form that Italians use to express a wide range of emotions, such as hopes and wishes.

In order to express our good wishes for the holidays, we must first review the commonly used present tense form of the subjunctive mood for the verb avere, which means “to have”.

Che is included in parentheses in the first column of our table below as a reminder that these verb forms are typically introduced with  the conjunction che.  Also,  make sure to include the subject pronoun in your sentence after che for clarity, since the singular verb forms are identical. The stressed syllables have been underlined for you.

Practice the subjunctive verbs out loud by saying che , the subject  pronoun and then the correct verb form that follows!

Avereto have – Present Subjunctive Mood

(che) io abbia I have
(che) tu abbia you have
(che) Lei (che) lei/lui abbia you have
she/he has
     
(che) noi abbiamo we have
(che) voi abbiate you all have
(che) loro abbiano they have

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Phrases of Good Wishes Using “Avere” in the Present Tense Subjunctive Mood

Example phraes that use avere (to have)  in the subjunctive mood to express good wishes are listed below.  Many of these phrases are a good way to end a conversation before departing a friend’s company.  These phrases are also commonly used to sign off emails to family and friends  in order to express hopes for a good week or weekend.

You will notice that for the phrases in the first column of the list below, the Italian verb passare, which refers to “passing time” or “spending time,” is used.   In English, the verb “to have” is used in these situations, so we must “think in Italian” in order to remember the proper Italian phrase!

Also, notice that the English translation is the same for the present tense and the Italian subjunctive forms used in the sentences below.

 

Present Tense
Phrase
Present Tense
Subjunctive Phrase
Passa una buona settimana! Have a good week! Spero… che tu abbia una buona settimana. I hope that you have a good week!
Passa un buon fine settimana! Have a good weekend! Spero… che tu abbia un buon fine settimana. I hope that you have a good weekend!
Buona giornata.

Buona serata.

Have a good day.

Have a good evening.

Spero… che tu abbia una buona giornata/buona serata. I hope that you have a good day/evening.

 

Finally, in the last table of examples, we will provide Italian phrases that can be used to express good wishes for the winter holidays! In later blogs, we will discuss the subjunctive endings for passare and fare.  For now, just remember the endings to use in these often-used phrases of good wishes for the holiday season!

Present Tense
Phrase
Present Tense
Subjunctive Phrase
Buon Natale!  Merry Christmas! Spero che tu passi
un buon Natale.
Spero che voi passiate
un buon Natale. 
I hope that you have a merry Christmas!

I hope that you all have a merry Christmas!

Buone feste!  Happy holidays! Spero che tu faccia  buone feste!

Spero che  voi  facciate  buone feste!

I hope that you have happy holidays!
I hope that your holidays are happy!I hope that you all have happy holidays!
I hope that your (to a group) holidays are happy!
Buon anno! Happy New Year! Spero che tu abbia
un buon anno!
Spero che voi abbiate
un buon anno!
I hope that you have a happy New Year.

I hope that you all have a happy New Year.

 

Remember these phrases and the Italian subjunctive mood, and I guarantee you will use them to bring good wishes to your family and friends for the holidays and every day!

Buone feste!

 

Learn Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers Textbook

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! Sperare (Part 1) – What I hope…

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 2018? Well, it is now September and I hope my blogs have been helping you so far with your goal this year!

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 express important feelings – like our  hopes – just as we do in our native language!  This will help us with our “email Italian” as well.  Read below and you will see what I mean.

This post is the 15th 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 allow us to describe our feelings
start with the phrase
 “I hope …”

 If we are hopeful for someone else,  in Italian we must say
“I hope that …

which will lead us to the Italian subjunctive mood.
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.

************************************************

What I Hope…

In Italian Conversation and Email

When an Italian wants to describe a hope  he has, either for himself or someone else, he  must use the verb sperare, and this is the verb that will be the topic of our blog today.

Sperare works a bit differently from the “typical” Italian -are verb.

  • When using the verb sperare to express a hope one person or a group has for themselves, sperare must be followed by the preposition “di”.
  • “Di” will often be followed by a verb in the infinitive form (to see, to start, etc.), which will start the phrase that follows to describe this hope.

Sperare + di + infinitive verb

So, “I hope…” would be ” Io spero di…” But, of course, we leave out the subject pronoun in Italian, so the phrase becomes,  “Spero di…”  “We hope… ” would be, “Speriamo di…”


Or, one can just say, “Speriamo!”  for, “Let’s hope so!” in order to express a hope that is shared  with someone else.

Below are some every day phrases that use the verbs sperare to express a hope for something we would like to see happen.  Notice how the subject  is expressing the hope he or the group has for themselves with the sentence structure provided below.  You can add on additional qualifiers at the end of the sentence to describe “when” you hope something might occur.

There are, of course, many more things one can hope for during the course of an ordinary day! How many more can you think of?  

Spero di “si.” I hope so.
Speriamo! Let’s hope so.
Spero di … vederti di nuovo presto. I hope… to see you again soon.
Lei spera di… viaggiare a Roma d’estate.  She hopes… to travel to Rome
in the summer.
Speriamo di… iniziare il progetto domani.  We hope… to start the project tomorrow.
Spero di… andare a trovare* mia nonna quando ho un giorno libero. I hope… to visit my grandmother
when I have a day free.

*andare a trovare = to visit a person you know 
visitare= to visit a place

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You’ve probably already noticed that our example sentences for the verb sperare can become fairly long and express complex ideas. By connecting phrases we can learn build more meaningful sentences in Italian!  But we are not done yet!  Because…

  • When one uses the verb sperare to express a hope he has for someone else or something else, he must follow the verb with the conjunction “che” which means “that”. In fact, the word “che” can never be left out of an Italian sentence of this type and must be used to link the two phrases!
  •  “Che” will then be followed by a verb in the subjunctive mood, which will start the phrase that follows to describe this hope.

Sperare + che + subjunctive present tense verb

Just what is the “subjunctive mood”?  The subjunctive mood is the type of verb form that Italians use to express a wide range of emotions: hopes (as we have just seen), thoughts, beliefs, doubts, uncertainty, desire or a feeling.  There is a long list of phrases that trigger the subjunctive mood, and many of these phrases will be the subject of later blogs.

For now, let’s review the commonly used present tense form of the subjunctive mood for the verb stare, which means “to stay” but is used with the meaning of “to be” in situations regarding one’s health.

Che is included in parentheses in the first column of our table below as a reminder that these verb forms are typically introduced with  the conjunction che.  Also,  make sure to include the subject pronoun in your sentence after che for clarity, since the singular verb forms are identical.  The stressed syllables have been underlined for you.

Practice the subjunctive verbs out loud by saying che, the subject  pronoun and then the correct verb form that follows!

Stareto stay (to be) – Present Subjunctive Mood

(che) io stia I stay (am)
(che) tu stia you (familiar) stay (are)
(che) Lei(che) lei/lui stia you (polite) stay (are)
she/he stays (is)
     
(che) noi stiamo we stay (are)
(che) voi stiate you all stay (are)
(che) loro stiano they stay (are)

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Example Phrases Using “Stare” in the Present Tense Subjunctive Mood

Sentences using stare (to stay/to be) in the subjunctive mood come up very commonly in this modern life in conversation, and especially in email.  In this era of technology, it seems like not a day goes by without an email being sent and received. The old formalities of opening and closing a letter have returned!

After the greeting in an email, especially if there has not been recent communication, it is customary to mention a hope that all is well with friends and family. Here is a case for the subjunctive!

To follow are some examples when the Italian subjunctive mood in the present tense might be used in conversation during daily life.

Notice that the English translation is the same for the present tense and the Italian subjunctive forms used in the sentences below.

Present Tense
Phrase
Present Tense
Subjunctive Phrase
Tu stai bene. You (familiar) are well. Spero… che tu stia bene. I hope… that you (familiar) are well.
Lei sta bene. You (polite) are well.
She is well.
Spero… che Lei/lei stia
bene.
I hope… that you (polite) are well.
I hope that she is well.
Lui sta bene. He is well. Spero… che lui stia bene. I hope… that he is well.
La famiglia sta bene. The family is well. Spero… che la tua famiglia* stia bene. I hope… that the family* is well.
Tutti stanno bene. Everyone/body
is well.
Spero… che tutti stiano bene.  I hope… that everyone/everybody is well.

*Famiglia = family and is a collective noun and takes the third person singular.

Remember these phrases and the Italian subjunctive mood, and I guarantee you will use them 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’s the Weather? Fare (Part 3)

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 2018?

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 14th in a series that originated in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group. Our group has had a chance to use these phrases.  Now I am posting them on this blog for everyone to try! 

Many “commonly used phrases” that will help us talk more easily describe
 “How is the weather?”

This will lead into:
“What was the weather like?”

 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 was adapted from 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.

************************************************

Fare (Part 3):

What is the Weather Doing ?

(English: How is the Weather?)

As noted in the first two blogs on the topic of the verb fare…

Many, many Italian expressions use the verb fare, which is most often translated as “to do” or “to make.” This short, simple verb comes up often in conversation.

In fact, the Italian verb fare has so many uses in Italian, many of which do not translate directly into English, that we must really learn to think in Italian to master the use of this verb. But, once mastered, speaking with these phrases will truly help one to sound like a native!

If you need a review on how to conjugate the verb fare,  visit our first blog on this topic: Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! Fare (Part 1): What I am doing.

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Now that we have the preliminaries out of the way, let’s learn how to describe what the weather is “doing” in Italian!

For a general assessment of the weather, Italians use the ever popular verb fare in the third person singular, which you will remember is fa.  In English, the verb to be is used to directly refer to “it,” meaning “the weather,” and how “it” actually “is” outside Instead, Italians speak of what weather “it” is making with the verb fa.

Below are some examples of how this works.  Notice that in Italian the same word means both time and weather – il tempo.

Che tempo fa?                  What/How is the weather? (lit. What weather does it make?)

 

Fa fresco. It is cool. (lit. It makes cool.)
Fa freddo. It is cold. (lit. It makes cold.)
     
Fa bel tempo. It is nice weather. (lit. It makes nice weather.)
Fa bello.

Fa bellissimo.

It is nice/very nice out. (lit. It makes nice/very nice weather.)
     
Fa brutto tempo. It is bad weather. (lit. It makes bad weather.)
Fa brutto. It is bad outside. (lit. It makes bad weather.)

 

 

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Of course, we may want to know how the weather was during a certain event or at a certain time.  Maybe you’ve returned from Italy and want to describe how the weather was while in a certain town during your visit.

To talk about the weather in the past tense, we must return to our two well known past tense forms – the imperfetto and the passato prossimo.

The imperfetto third person singular form of fare, which is  faceva, is the most commonly used form with our general expressions.

Of course, if we want to refer to a specific time frame, the passato prossimo third person singular form of fare, which is  ha fatto, should be used.

Below are typical questions about the weather, this time in the past tense: 

Che tempo faceva? What was the weather? (lit. What weather did it make?)
Come era il tempo? How was the weather?  

 

 And our answers, depending on the situation…

Faceva caldo. It was hot. (lit. It made heat.)
Ha fatto caldo tutto il giorno.  It was hot all day.  
     
Faceva fresco. It was cool. (lit. It made cool.)
Ha fatto fresco ieri. It was cool yesterday.  
     
Faceva freddo. It was cold. (lit. It made cold.)
Ha fatto freddo quest’inverno. It was cold all winter.  

 

Faceva bel tempo. It was nice weather. (lit. It made nice weather.)
Faceva bello. It was nice outside. (lit. It made nice weather.)
     
Faceva brutto tempo. It was bad weather. (lit. It made bad weather.)
Faceva brutto tempo. It was bad outside. (lit. It made bad weather.)

If you can learn to use the verb fare in these expressions that describe the weather,
you will have really learned to think in Italian!

Remember these phrases, and I guarantee you will use them every day!

 

Conversational Italian for Travelers: “Just the Verbs”

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

 

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! Fare (Part 2): Let’s go shopping!

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 2018?

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 13th in a series that originated in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group. Our group has had a chance to use these phrases.  Now I am posting them on this blog for everyone to try! 

Many “commonly used phrases” that will help us talk more easily describe
 “Going shopping…”

We will discuss the Italian expressions for our everyday experience:
Going shopping for… what we need

 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 was adapted from 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.

************************************************

Fare…

Going Shopping in Italian

As noted in the first blog on the topic of the verb fare…

Many, many Italian expressions use the verb fare, which is most often translated as “to do” or “to make.” This short, simple verb comes up often in conversation.

In fact, the Italian verb fare has so many uses in Italian, many of which do not translate directly into English, that we must really learn to think in Italian to master the use of this verb. But, once mastered, speaking with these phrases will truly help one to sound like a native!

If you need a review on how to conjugate the verb fare,  visit our first blog on this topic: Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! Fare (Part 1): What I am doing.

********************

Now that we have the preliminaries out of the way, let’s learn how to describe the act of “shopping” in Italian!

While Americans use the simple phrase “go shopping,” for any shopping that they do, Italians often “go to do the shopping,” bringing into use the verb fare, with the expression “andare a fare la spesa.”  This interesting expression, fare la spesa, refers only to grocery shopping.  A phrase denoting the location of the shopping, such as “al supermercato,”   which means, “at the supermarket” can be used to complete the sentence.  In most cases, the place to obtain groceries is known by both speakers, and so the actual place is omitted.

If one is going to shop for non – grocery items, there are several phrases that can be used.  “Fare spese” is similar to the phrase we have just learned for grocery shopping, but instead means “to go shopping for clothes, shoes, or other personal items,” usually in the piazza or shopping district in town known to the speakers.

Two phrases can be used for shopping in general, for any purchase: “fare compere” and “fare acquisti.”  A very popular phrase in Italy today that can be used for any type of shopping is simply “fare shopping”!

Otherwise, to shop for a specific item, use “andare a comprare…” for, “I go/ I am going to buy…” and mention what you are going to buy; for instance, complete this phrase with the word vestiti for clothes.

Below are tables that summarize the above discussion.

 

Grocery Shopping

fare la spesa to do the grocery shopping

to do some grocery shopping

 

General Shopping

fare spese to do the shopping
(clothes, shoes, or other personal items)
fare compere to do the shopping
(any purchase = la compera)
fare acquisti to do the shopping
(any purchase = l’acquisto)
fare shopping to do the shopping

 

********************

Below are some examples of what I would say to convey that I am going” shopping” in Italian. 

Notice that the English translations are all basically the same, although in Italian it is possible to convey what type of shopping is being done by the phrase chosen.

Also, it is important to remember that the present tense in Italian can always “stand in” or be translated as, three different English present tense expressions.  So, in this case, all of our shopping expressions can be translated as: I shop, I do shop, I am shopping.

Faccio la spesa. (I) do the (grocery) shopping.
Vado a fare la spesa. (I) go/ am going to do the (grocery) shopping.
   
Faccio spese. (I) do the shopping.
Vado a fare spese. (I) go/ am going to do the shopping.
Faccio compere. (I) do the shopping.
Vado a fare compere. (I) go/ am going to do the shopping.
Faccio acquisti. (I) go shopping.
Vado a fare acquisti. (I) go/ am going to do the shopping.
Faccio shopping. (I) do the shopping.
Vado a fare shopping. (I) go/ am going to do the shopping.

 

********************

And finally, if you happen to be shopping for some wonderful Italian clothes in a small Italian shop, here are some useful expressions from our Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases book:

Mi può mostrare… Could you show me… (polite)
Mi fa vedere… Could you show me… (polite)
Posso? May I?
Che taglia porta? What size do you wear? (polite)
Porto la taglia…/Porto la… I take the size…/I take the…
Qual’è la taglia italiana per la taglia dieci americana? What is the Italian size for (the) size 10 American?
Mi provo…/Ti provi… I try on (myself)
You try on (yourself)… (familiar)
Mi metto…/Ti metti… I put on (myself)
You put on (yourself)… (familiar)
Mi metto… I am trying on (myself)
I am going to try on (myself)…
Mi sta bene. (It) looks good on me. (lit. stays well)
Ti sta bene. (It) looks good on you. (lit. stays well)
Mi va bene. (It) fits me well.
La/Lo prendo! I’ll take it! (fem./masc. direct object  for the thing you are buying)

 

 

If you can learn to use the verb fare and these shopping expressions,
you will have really learned to think in Italian!

Remember these phrases, and I guarantee you will use them every day!


Stay tuned for even more blog posts on this topic!

Conversational Italian for Travelers: “Just the Verbs”

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

 

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! Fare (Part 1): What I Am Doing

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 2018?

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 12th in a series that originated in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group. Our group has had a chance to use these phrases.  Now I am posting them on this blog for everyone to try! 

Many “commonly used phrases” that will help us talk more easily describe
 “What I am doing…”

We will discuss the Italian expressions for our everyday experiences:
“I do…”, “I make…”, and “I take…”

 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 was adapted from 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.

************************************************

Fare…

What I Am Doing in Italian

Many, many Italian expressions use the verb fare, which is most often translated as “to do” or “to make.” This short, simple verb comes up often in conversation.

In fact, the Italian verb fare has so many uses in Italian, many of which do not translate directly into English, that we must really learn to think in Italian to master the use of this verb. But, once mastered, speaking with these phrases will truly help one to sound like a native!

Because this verb is so important, we will give the full conjugation below. As always, remember that the most important forms will be the first three, singular forms io, tu, Lei/lei/lui, and the noi form for the plural. The stressed syllable has been underlined.

Fare – to do/to make 

io faccio I do/make
tu fai you (familiar) do/make
Lei/lei/lui fa you (polite) she/he does/makes
     
noi facciamo we do/make
voi fate you all do/make
loro fanno they do/make

********************

Read below for many (but certainly not all) of the phrases that use fare.* These phrases have been put into groups to aid in understanding the different situations in which fare should be used.

First, some common expressions that use fare with the meaning of to do are listed below. Notice the use of the conjunction “da” to signal intention in these phrases.

Ho molto da fare. I am busy. (I have many (things) to do.)
Ho altro da fare. I have other (things) to do.
Non ho niente da fare. I have nothing to do.
Non so cosa fare. I don’t know what (thing) to do.
Facciamo così.  Let’s do (it) like this!
Fai come vuoi. Do it the way you want.
Fallo! Do it! (command)
Che cosa posso fare per Lei?     What can I do for you?
(polite) (salesperson asks customer)
C’è poco da fare. There’s not much one can do about it.
Faccio tutto il possibile. I (will) do everything possible.

******

Below are some expressions where fare is directly translated into English with its alternative meaning of to make. Sometimes, though, when English would not use the verb to make or to do, Italians still use fare. See especially the last two very important expressions for daily life that use fare with English translations that show the differences in thinking between the two languages.

Faccio una telefonata. I make a telephone call.
Posso fare una telefonata? May I make a telephone call?
Mi può fare una telefonata? Could you make a telephone call for me?
Lei fa una bella figura. She makes a good impression. 
Lui fa una brutta figura. He makes a bad impression.
Faccio la dieta. I am on (making) a diet.
Facciamo sport. We are (making) playing sports.
Fallo/falla entrare! Show him/her in! Let him/her in! (command)
(Lit. Make him/her come in!)
Fare qualche domanda. To ask (make) some questions.

Do you remember these phrases from our blog: Everyday Italian Phrases… What I Asked? We revisit these important phrases now that we are discussing fare! 

“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.)

******

Many other expressions related to going and doing something use fare, with the translation of to take, as follows. In English, we would sometimes use “I am going to take” in the same sentences. Both meanings are expressed with the same Italian phrase.

You can precede these expressions with “vado a” for “I go to,” if you like, before adding the infinitive form of fare.

Vado a fare un giro in macchina. I go to take a drive in the car.
Faccio un giro in macchina. I take (am going to take) a drive.
Faccio una passeggiata. I take a walk.
Faccio due passi.  I take a short stroll. (lit. I take two steps.)
Faccio un salto da Maria. I drop by (lit. take a hop over to) Maria’s.
Faccio un viaggio. I take a trip.
Faccio la doccia/il bagno. I take a shower/bath.
Facccio il pisolino. I take a nap.
Vorrei fare una pausa. I would like to take a break.

The last group of phrases are helpful for tourists if they want help taking a picture of their favorite location or making a telephone call.

Faccio una foto.* I take a picture.
Posso fare una foto? May I take a picture?
Mi può fare una foto? Could you take a picture of/for me?

*From the Italian la fotografia.

If you can learn to use the verb fare in these expressions,
you will have really learned to think in Italian!

Remember these phrases, and I guarantee you will use them every day!

*Much of this material has been reprinted from our Conversational Italian for Travelers books.
Stay tuned for more blog posts on this topic!

Conversational Italian for Travelers: “Just the Verbs”

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! What’s Happening?

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 2018?

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 11th in a series that originates from our Conversational Italian! Facebook group. Our group has had a chance to use these phrases. Now I am posting them on this blog for everyone to try! 

A “commonly asked question” that will help us talk more easily is
 “What’s happening?”
We will discuss the Italian expressions used to ask this question,
which will lead to some answers such as:
“Everything is fine.” and “I understand.” 

 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 was adapted from 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.

************************************************

What’s Happening?

in Italian

The English verb “to happen” is rendered in Italian with several different verbs: succedere, accadere, and capitare. However, the verb used to convey the idea that something is about to happen, especially to somebody, is succedere. Watch any Italian movie, and you will probably hear this verb at least once when one character asks another character to explain what is going on.

Therefore, for the simple question, “What is happening?” we have our verb of choice—succedere. The conjugation is regular in the present tense, so the third-person singular form that we will need for “it” to happen is succede.

The passato prossimo (past tense) can be used as well, for a one-time event that has just happened in the past. The helping verb will be essere, and the past participle is the irregular successo. So to ask what has happened in the past, we will need to use è successo.

Now,  to complete the question we want to ask, we must also learn the different ways to say “what” in Italian.

Che is commonly used as an interrogative expression meaning “What?” Again, anyone who has watched an Italian movie has no doubt heard all of the different variations on how to say “What?” in Italian. “Che?” “Che cosa?” and “Cosa?” all mean “What?” and are used interchangeably.

In fact, three of the most commonly spoken phrases where che is used in this way are the ones we are working on! Here they are:

Che succede? What’s happening?
Che è successo? What happened?
Che c’è? / Cosa c’è? What’s up? What’s going on?
(informal between friends)

 

Many times, when Italians ask a question, they start the sentence with the verb and leave out che, as in these common phrases:

È successo qualcosa? Did something happen?
È tutto a posto? Is everything all right?

 

********************

 

Whenever someone asks a question in Italian, of course, they will expect to hear an answer! Let’s say you have asked, “What’s happened?” and it turns out everything is OK. You may receive one of the general answers below:

Non preoccuparti! Don’t worry (yourself)!
Non succede niente. Nothing is happening.
Non è successo niente. Nothing happened.
Non lo so. I don’t know.
Niente importante. Nothing important.
È tutto a posto.

Va tutto bene.

Everything is all right.

Everything is going well.
Everything is fine.

Ho sistemato tutto. I’ve put everything in order. (as in “I’ve fixed the problem.”)

 

********************

 

Or, maybe you already know the information someone is talking about.  A relative or a friend, perhaps, has done something that is no surprise to you.  In this case, we can use expressions that include “che c’è” to convey a bit of irony.

Che c’è di nuovo? What else is new?
E che c’è di nuovo? And what else is new?
E allora, che c’è di nuovo? And now, what else is new?

 

 

********************

 

To continue the conversation even further, the verb capire, which means “to understand” is also very helpful. Once someone has conveyed to you what has happened, you will want to let them know that you understand the situation!

Capire is an -ire verb of the -isco type, meaning that the io,tu, lei/lui, and loro forms add -isc before the usual -ire ending. For more on the verb capire and other important -ire verbs with -isco endings, please see Chapter 7 of our Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and Just the Verbs book.

Below are some easy answers you can give to relay the idea that you have understood what is going on. At the end of the list, there are additional questions you can use to ask someone else if they have understood something. Remember that, as usual, we will leave out the “io” (I) and “tu” (you familiar) subject pronouns for these verbs because these verbs are easily understood solely by their endings.

Capisco. I understand.
Ho capito. I understood. / I have understood.
Capisci? Do you understand?
Hai capito? Did you understand? Have you understood?

 

Remember these phrases, and I guarantee you will use them 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

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! What I realized…

Burano in Venice, Italy and Everyday Italian phrases
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

It’s already been one year since I started posting blogs for the series,“Italian Phrases We Use Every Day!” I hope this series has been helpful to those of you trying to learn Italian, and I plan to continue with new Italian phrases for these blogs for 2018.  So… I guess I have to change my introductory line to…

Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2018?

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 10th  in a series that originates in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group. Our group has had a chance to use these phrases.  Now I am posting them on this blog for everyone to try! 

Another of our “commonly used phrases,” that will help us talk more easily is
 “I realize..”

This will lead into:
“I realized,” “I notice” and “I noticed”

 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.

Some of this material was adapted from 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.

************************************************

What I Realized…

in Italian

It seems that almost every day I discover something that I did not know about before.  Often, this leads to a “realization” –  about myself or others, or about how I must change my old way of thinking.  One of the most important aspects about being human is that we are able “to realize” – to discover and learn – and then discuss our realizations with others.  

To realize is rendered in Italian with the reflexive verb phrase  rendersi conto.  In order to say, “I realize,” we must conjugate the verb rendersi, which has a regular -ere conjugation in the present tense, and then add the word conto to finish the phrase.  So, “I realize…” is  “Io mi rendo conto…” But, of course, we always leave out the Italian subject pronoun, so the phrase that Italians use is conversation is just, “Mi rendo conto…”  

To complete the sentence, just add what you realize in the phrase that follows! The following phrase will most commonly be in the present or past tense, but of course, there are times when we may need to use the conditional or future tenses, depending on our realization.

Link what you realize about yourself with the Italian conjugation “di” before adding an infinitive verb.  Note: you don’t always have to use “di” in this case if you are talking about yourself.  But if you do chose to use “di,” the verb in the next phrase must be in the infinitive form.

—-or—-

Link what you realize about yourself, someone or something else with the Italian conjugation “che” before adding a verb conjugated in the appropriate tense. Remember, if the subject is different in the original phrase and the phrase that follows, you MUST use “che” to link the two phrases.

In English, both “di” and “che” are translated as “that.”

Below are example sentences to show how this all works.  These example sentences are true for me.  To think of more examples, and try to describe what you realize about yourself!

Mi rendo conto di avere un’ora per preparare la cena.
I realize that I have an hour to make dinner.

Mi rendo conto che ho un’ora per preparare la cena.
I realize that I have an hour to prepare dinner.

Mi rendo conto che hai un’ora per preparare la cena.
I realize that you have an hour to prepare dinner.

Mi rendo conto che desidero sempre imparare di più sulla lingua italiana.
I realize that I will always want to learn more about the Italian language.

********************

Now, let’s say that we recognize something without really understanding what it is about, or what is going on – that is, we notice something.  In this case, we can use the reflexive verb accorgersi.  This verb also has a regular -ere conjugation and will be followed by either di or che,  for the same reasons as we have just described above.  To say, “I notice that,” then, use the phrase, “Mi accorgo di/che…” 

Again, an example from my life, taking from a time when I was when talking a good friend of mine about a certain movie.  Try to think of some examples from your own life!

Mi accorgo che ti piace molto questo film.  Vuoi andare a vederlo con me?
I notice that you really like this film. Do you want to go to see it with me?

********************

How to say, “I realize,” or “I notice,” seems simple enough!  But wait… we most commonly use the past tense to talk about something that we have realized or have noticed.  This, of course, involves conjugating our two verbs in the past tense! 

We will use the passato prossimo forms of these verbs for the one time events of realizing or noticing something, which you will remember is formed for reflexive verbs with essere + the past participle. (If you need a general refresher on how to form the passato prossimo, please refer to our book Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Verbs ).

The past participle for rendersi is the irregular verb reso, and the ending will need to change to reflect the speaker when using the passato prossimo.

The past participle for accorgersi is the irregular verb accorto, and the ending will need to change to reflect the speaker when using the passato prossimo.

So, when I want to talk about what I have realized, I can say, “Mi sono resa conto di/che…” Similarly, a male would say, “Mi sono reso conto di/che…”

And, when I want to mention what I have noticed, I can say, “Mi sono accorta di/che…” Similarly, a male would say, “Mi sono accorto di/che…”

To complete the sentence, just add what you have realized in the phrase that follows!  The following phrase will most commonly be in the present or past tense, but of course, there are times when we may need to use the conditional or future tenses, depending on our realization.

Below is a table to summarize these phrases of realizing and noticing. I’ve made the verbs in the phrase green to differentiate them from the other words in the phrase.  Most Italians use these verb  phrases so frequently, though, that they say them quickly, and the words usually run together in real-time conversation.   Listen carefully for these phrases and then try to use them yourself!

Mi rendo conto di/che… I realize that…
Mi sono reso conto di/che… I realized that... (male speaker)
Mi sono resa conto di/che… I realized that… (female speaker)
Mi accorgo di/che… I notice that...
Mi sono accorto di/che… I noticed that… (male speaker)
Mi sono accorta di/che… I noticed that… (female speaker)

We  had fun in our Conversational Italian! group  “discussing” what we all realized  during the year 2017 for our talking point this new year.  Below are some example sentences that I’ve made up thinking back to New Year’s Eve of 2018.  (Notice that as a female I have to use resa and accorta.)  How many more examples can you think of?

Ieri sera, a Capodanno, mi sono resa conto di essere molto fortunata.
Last night, on New Year’s Eve, I realized that I am very lucky.

Ieri sera, a Capodanno, mi sono resa conto che sono molto fortunata.
Last night, on New Year’s Eve, I realized that I am very lucky.

Mi sono resa conto di avere amici molto cari.
I realized that I have many dear friends.

Mi sono resa conto che ho molti cari amici.
I realized that I have many dear friends.

Mi sono resa conto di avere imparato tante cose importanti dalla mia famiglia.
I realized that I have learned so many important things from my family.

Mi sono resa conto che ho imparato tante cose importanti dalla mia famiglia.
I realized that I have learned so many important things from my family.

Mi sono accorta che era molto freddo a Capodanno.
I noticed that it was very cold on New Year’s Eve.

Remember these verb phrases, and I guarantee you will use them every day!

Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Verbs”

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

Piacere: How Italians Say “I Liked It!”

Rome's via dei Fori Imperiali
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

As we noted in our first blog post on this topic in December 2016, “piacere” is a very important verb for the Italian traveler to know. There are so many people, places, and things “to like” in Italy that we will use this verb often when we are there! 

We have been focusing on the verb piacere again for the new year 2018 in our Conversational Italian! group on Facebook. This time, we have been creating sentences in the past tense, so when we come back from Italy, we will be able to tell our family and friends what we “liked”—speaking in Italian!

At first glance, it may seem difficult for English speakers to use the verb piacere, which literally means “to be pleasing to” when translated into English. But this verb is actually the way Italians express the idea that they like something. Once we tap into the Italian way of thinking and learn a few simple examples, it becomes easy to express how much we have liked things in Italian! Read below to see how this works.  

How many more ways can you think of to use the verb piacere? 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 textbook and reference book, Just the Verbs 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 Piacere to Say…

“I Liked It!”

First, let’s review some general information about the verb piacere. Then, we will focus on how to use this verb in the past tense.

As we’ve already mentioned in our first blog post on this topic, the irregular verb piacere literally means to like, as in “to be pleasing to.” Italians use this verb when they want to express the idea that they like something. In English, when we say we like something, we mention two things: what thing is being liked and by whom. So in English, we would say, I like the car and fulfill these two requirements with the subject pronoun “I” and the direct object “car.”

But in Italian, the indirect object is used instead of the direct object, to describe by whom the thing is liked or to whom it is pleasing. If we wanted to change this same English phrase into the Italian way of thinking, we could say, “The car is pleasing to me.” You will hopefully find the mixed Italianized-English phrase “is pleasing to” to be very helpful to understand how piacere really works!

The tricky thing about this type of phrase in Italian is that the conjugation of piacere will have to agree with the number of things that are being liked.

So, if one thing is liked, or an infinitive verb follows, piace is used for the present tense. 

For the past tense, we can use the passato prossimo third person singular forms “è piacuto” and “è piaciuta” for the one-time event when we liked something. The ending of the past participle piaciuto changes, as always for the passato prossimo form, and in this case will depend on whether the thing that is liked is masculine or feminine. If the thing that is liked is masculine, piacuto will keep its “o” ending;  if feminine, then the ending will be changed to an “a” ending to make piaciuta. 

If many things are liked, the third person plural forms “sono piaciuti” for the masculine plural and “sono piaciute” for the feminine plural are used.

Italians then put an indirect object pronoun (mi, ti, Le, le, gli, ci, vi, or gli) before the verb, at the beginning of the sentence, to denote to whom the thing was pleasing.

 

É piaciuto(a)was pleasing to
Use these phrases if one thing was liked before the infinitive verb.

 

Mi è piaciuto il vestito. The dress was pleasing to me. I liked the dress.
Ti è piaciuto il libro. The book was pleasing to you. (fam.) You liked the book.
Le è piaciuta la collana.

Gli/le è piaciuto l’automobile.

The necklace was pleasing to you. (pol.)

The car was pleasing to him/her.

You liked the necklace.

He/she liked the car.

     
Ci è piaciuto il vestito. The dress was pleasing to us. We liked the dress.
Vi è piaciuto i libri. The book was pleasing to you all. You all liked the book.
Gli è piaciuta la collana. The necklace was pleasing to them. They liked the necklace.

 

Sono piaciuti(e)was pleasing to
Use these phrases 
if more than one thing was liked.

 

Mi sono piaciuti i vestiti. The dresses were pleasing to me. I like the dresses.
Ti sono piaciuti i libri. The books were pleasing to you. (fam.) You liked the books.
Le sono piaciute le collane.

Gli/le sono piaciuti gli automobili.

The necklaces were pleasing to you. (pol.)

The cars were pleasing to him/her.

You liked the necklaces.

He/she liked the cars.

     
Ci sono piaciuti i vestiti. The dresses were pleasing to us. We liked the dresses.
Vi sono piaciuti i libri. The books were pleasing to you all. You all liked the books.
Gli sono piaciute le collane. The necklaces were pleasing to them. They liked the necklaces.

For more practice using piacere in the past tense, you might want to try listening to the Conversational Italian for Travelers Chapter 17 interactive audio dialogue “Dinner at the Restaurant.” In our Conversational Italian for Travelers story line, which runs through the 18 chapters of the textbook, the Italian-American girl Caterina goes to visit her Italian family in Italy. They end their time together in Chapters 16–18 with a family dinner at a wonderful restaurant, where they describe to the waiter all the dishes that they have liked.

As always, the more we read, listen, and try to speak about what we have liked, the easier it will be to remember these phrases automatically. Buon divertimento!

 

"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.

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! Christmas Season – Sounds and Scents

Burano in Venice, Italy and Everyday Italian phrases
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Christmas-time is still my favorite time of the year. I have to admit that, even as an adult, I still marvel at the sparkle that Christmas lights bring  to my neighborhood in the early evening darkness.  Excitement builds at my home in the beginning of December with the familiar sounds of decorations being hauled out of storage and fixed to their usual places on the fireplace and the stairway.  We listen to our favorite music as we trim the Christmas tree (and try not to argue too much about where each ornament should go). 

And, of course, every Sunday from Thanksgiving until the New Year, smells of the traditional Italian cookies that my mother, children, and I prepare as Christmas treats permeate the household.

So, for this month, I asked the Conversational Italian! Facebook group to describe the sounds and scents of the Christmas season in their households. We will use these examples for our last blog on “commonly used phrases” for this year in order to understand how to use the Italian verb “sentire.”

By the way, we are approaching the end of 2017.  Did you set a goal to speak Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2017?

As I’ve stressed this year, 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 9th  in a series that originates in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group. Our group has had a chance to use these phrases.  Now I am posting 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.

Two more of our “commonly used phrases” are
 “I hear…” and “I smell…”
 We will discuss the Italian expressions for Christmas season experiences,

leading into
“What I heard…” and “Scents of Christmas…” 

 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 was adapted from 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 I hear… and… What I heard

this Christmas – in Italian

The present tense form for “I hear…” is rendered in Italian with the verb  sentire,  and is, “Io sento…” But, of course, we always leave out the Italian subject pronoun, so the phrase that Italians use is conversation is just, “Sento…” 

(You will notice the similarity of sentire to the verb sentirsi, which means “to feel,” as we’ve discussed in our last two blogs in this series.  But remember, Italian verbs and their reflexive counterparts will have different meanings, despite appearing to have the same stem!)

To complete the phrase, just add what you sound you are listening to after the verb!  This part of the phrase can be a bit tricky, though, because different Italian words are used to describe the various the sounds that we may hear.

For instance, a telephone ring is often described as “uno squillo”  or “lo squillo,” and the verb to use when a telephone is ringing is squillare. 

To describe how a doorbell rings, use the same word that describes how a church bell rings, which is “un suono” or “il suono.” The verb to use is suonare.  Use suonare to describe the act of “playing” an instrument as well. To sing is cantare.

There are several words to describe the concept of noise, but the most common is “rumore.” A loud noise is, of course, “un gran rumore” and noisy is rumoroso.

If we want to ask someone if they can hear the same thing we do, we can simply say, “Puoi sentire?” for  “Can you hear?” More often, though this question is asked and answered in the past tense.  Below are some examples of how to form questions and answers with sentire in the present and the past tense.

(Io) sento… I hear…
(Tu) senti…? Do you hear…?
Puoi sentire? Can you hear?
Hai sentito…? Have you heard…?
Si, ho sentito… Yes, I have heard…
Yes, I heard…
No, non ho sentito… No, I have not heard…
No, I haven’t heard…

Before going on, we should also now revisit an earlier post in this series, Italian Phrases We Use EVERY day! What I saw… and build upon the phrases we learned in that post to make new phrases about what I heard.

Just like a common reply to “What did you see?” is,  “I saw him/her/it,” a common reply to “What did you hear?” is, “I heard him/her/it.” So, we can just substitute the past tense ho sentito(a,i,e) for the past tense in our previous examples about what we saw.

We have built upon what we already know and have easily added more phrases we can use in Italian conversation!

(If you need a grammar refresher on how to describe “it” in Italian, please visit our previous blog or, for even more detail, our Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Grammar reference book.)  

 

Ho sentito… I heard/I have heard…  
Hai sentito…? Did you hear/Have you heard…?  
     
L’ho sentito. I heard him. I heard it.
L’ha sentita. I heard her. I heard it.
Li ho sentiti. I heard them. (all male or male+female group)  
Le ho sentite. I heard them. (all female group)  

 

Finally, it is difficult to talk about what we hear without mentioning that we are also listening.  After all, it is very important to listen to what we hear!   In order to describe that we are listening in Italian, we must use the verb ascoltare. 

The present tense endings in the first and second person that we are focusing on will be the same as for sentire, and the past tense will also use either ho or hai with the past participle ascoltato.  See the summary chart below for how this works.

(Io) ascolto… I listen…
(Tu) ascolti…? Do you listen…?
Puoi ascoltare? Can you listen?
Hai ascoltato…? Have you listened…?
Si, ho ascoltato… Yes, I have listened…
Yes, I listened…
No, non ho ascoltato… No, I have not ascoltato…
No, I haven’t listened…

 

Now, let’s put  together all of our knowledge of the Italian verbs and phrases that it takes to experience the sounds in our world. We  had fun in our Conversational Italian! group  describing some of the sounds of Christmas.  Below are some examples.  I’ve included both present and past tense phrases. How many more can you think of?

Sento lo squillo del telefono. È nonnna, che vuole invitarci a casa sua.
I hear the telephone ring. It is Grandma, who wants to invite us to her house.
Lo sento.
I hear it.
Sento il suono della campanella d’ingresso quando gli ospiti arrivano.
I hear the doorbell ring when the guests arrive.
La sento.
I hear it.
Sento il suono delle campanelle della chiesa.
I hear the church bells ring.
Le sento.
I hear them.
Sento le canzoni di Natale.
I hear the songs of Christmas.
Le sento.
I hear them.
Hai sentito il rumore in piazza dal presipe vivente?
Have you heard the noise in the piazza from the living nativity scene?
Ho sentito il rumore.
I heard the noise.
L’ho sentito.
I heard it.
Ho ascoltato mio fratello suonare il violino per la festa di Natale.
I listened to my brother play the violin for the Christmas party.
L’ho ascoltato.
I listened to him.
Ho ascoltato la mia sorella cantare le canzoni natalizie per la vigilia di Natale.
I listened to my sister sing Christmas carols for Christmas Eve.
L’ho ascoltata.
I listened to her.

 

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What I smell… and… The scents of

this Christmas – in Italian

The present tense form for “I smell…” is rendered in Italian with the phrase  sentire l’odore di,  and is, “Io sento l’odore di…” But, of course, we always leave out the Italian subject pronoun, so the phrase that Italians use is conversation is just, “Sento l’odore di…” 

If food cooking on the stove smells good, we can say it has, “Un bel profumo,” or “A good smell/aroma.” The word profumo also means scent and the fragrance, and can refer to the scent of a freshly cut Christmas tree or the perfume someone is wearing.

If we want to talk about a lovely scent that we smell, we can use the phrase, “Sento il profumo di…” for “I smell the scent of…” 

To complete the phrases above, just add what it is you smell after the phrase!  Remember to combine di with one of the definite articles that is used to describe the thing you smell.  You will remember that il, lo, i, gli, l’ are our masculine definite articles and la, le, l’ are our feminine definite articles, and all of these Italian words mean “the.”

(If you need a grammar refresher on how to di is combined with the definite articles in Italian, please visit our Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Grammar reference book.)  

If we want to ask someone if they can smell the same thing we do, we can simply say, “Puoi sentire l’odore di…?” for “Can you smell…?” More often, though this question is asked and answered in the past tense.  Below are some examples of how to form questions and answers with sentire odore di in the present and the past tense.

(Io) sento l’odore di…
(Io) sento il profumo di…
I smell…
(Tu) senti l’odore di…? Do you smell…?
Puoi sentire l’odore di? Can you smell?
Hai sentito l’odore di…? Have you smelled…?
Si, ho sentito l’odore di… Yes, I have smelled…
Yes, I smelled…
No, non ho sentito l’odore di… No, I have not smelled… 
No, I haven’t smelled…

 

Now, let’s put all our knowledge of the phrase it takes to describe what we can smell together! We  had fun in our Conversational Italian! group  describing some of the scents of Christmas.  Below are some examples. How many more can you think of?

I biscotti fatti in casa hanno un bel profumo.  Fa molto Natale!
The homemade cookies have a wonderful smell.  It is very Christmassy!
Sento il profumo dell’albero di Natale.
I smell the fragrance of the Christmas tree.
Ho sentito il profumo meraviglioso della cena di Natale a casa di mia nonna.
I have smelled the wonderful scent of Christmas dinner at my Grandmother’s house.
L’ho sentito!
I’ve smelled it!

Remember these phrases, and have fun using them during Christmastime!
Auguri di buon Natale!

Just the Grammar from Conversational Italian for Travelers

Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar”

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com