Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! How to Make Comparisons in Italian with “Come” and “Tanto…Quanto”

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 in 2023?

Why not set a goal to learn Italian, starting today, for the year 2023? I will try to help you with this goal by posting a new blog every month in the series “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” With these blogs, I discuss how Italians use their language on a daily basis and in so doing help you to “think in Italian.” 

To speak fluently in another language, it is important to know how to make comparisons. Every day, we all compare the characteristics of one person, place or thing to another — and many times these characteristics are similar or the same.  The Italian language uses precise sentence structures and specific adverbs when making equivalent comparisons, similar to what is done in English.

In a prior blog  in this series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! – How to Make Comparisons in Italian with “Di,” we learned how to make comparisons between two nouns when one thing is liked more or is better or worse than the other. In this blog, we will discuss how to make comparisons nouns with equivalent characteristics. For instance, in Italy there are so many places are beautiful, one may be as beautiful as another! Or one place in Italy may have as many important sites of interest as another. In these cases, to make a comparison we must use the Italian adverbs come and tanto/quanto in the correct sequence to relay the meanings “as,” “as well as,” and “as much as.”

Let’s continue to learn how to make comparisons in Italian using the Italian adverbs come, tanto/quanto  to learn how to express ourlseves like a native Italian!

This post is the 63rd  in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” just click HERE.

Many “commonly used phrases”
in Italian use

  the adverbs
come
and
 tanto… quanto
to make comparisons

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.

*The material in this blog has been adapted from the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and  the reference book “Just the Grammar.”

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 Use “Come” and “Quanto”
to Compare
Italian Nouns

Every day, we all compare the characteristics of one person, place or thing to another — and many times these characteristics are similar or the same. For instance, there are so many places in Italy that are beautiful, and  one may be as beautiful as another! Or one place in Italy may have as many important sites of interest as another. In these cases,  to make a comparison we must use the Italian adverbs come and tanto…quanto to relay the meanings “as,” “as well as,” and “as much as.”

When comparing two different nouns — people, places, or things — using the same adjective or adverb, the effect will be a statement that their description is equivalent. It is as if you are saying one person, place or thing is “just like” the other.

Use the following Italian adverbs in the table below when you want to make a comparative statement of equality:

Comparison of Two Nouns with Equivalent Descriptors
come
così come
as, like, just like
is as 
tanto…. quanto as…as, like, just like,
as well as

It should be noted that the definitions of the adverb come encompass those of many English adverbs and adverbial phrases, such as: “as,” “same as,” “like,” or “just like.” In effect, then, the single adverb come can relay all of these meanings when comparing two nouns. The combination “così come”  is used specifically to say someone or something “is as” expected. And remember that when così is used alone, without making a comparison between one noun and another, the meaning is “so.”

The alternate method of comparing two is  nouns with equivalent adjectives is to use  tanto…. quanto.

In the tables below, we start with an example that uses così to make a general statement. Then, examples of how to use the adverbs come and tanto… quanto  as comparatives of equity are listed.  Two examples using così come are also provided. Notice that the comparisons made are between nouns — two persons, places, or things.

Comparison of two persons with the same adjective (equivalent characteristics):

Francesca è così bella. Frances is so beautiful.
Francesca è bella come Anna. Frances is beautiful, (just) like Ann.
Francesca è tanto bella quanto Anna. Frances is as beautiful as Ann.
Francesca è così come te l’ho descritta. Frances is as I have described to you.
   
Marco è così intelligente. Mark is so smart.
Marco è intelligente come Franco. Mark is smart, (just) like Frank.
Marco è tanto intelligente quanto Franco. Mark is as smart as Frank.
Marco è così come lo immaginavo. Marco is as I had expected.

Comparison of two places with the same adjective (equivalent characteristics):

Milano è così rumorosa. Milan is so noisy.
Milano è rumorosa come Roma. Milan is noisy, (just) like Rome.
Milano è tanto rumorosa quanto Roma. Milan is as noisy as Rome.
Il Colloseo a Roma è così importante.        
The Colosseum in Rome is so important.
Il Colloseo a Roma è importante come il Duomo a Firenze.
The Colosseum in Rome is important, like the Cathedral in Florence.
Il Collosseo a Roma è tanto importante, quanto il Duomo a Firenze.
The Colosseum in Rome is as important as the Cathedral in Florence.

Comparison of two things with the same adjective (equivalent characteristics):

La mia sedia preferita è così comoda.    
My favorite chair is so comfortable.
La mia sedia è comoda come le sedie fatto in America.
My chair is comfortable, (just) like the chairs made in America.
La mia sedia è tanto comoda quanto le sedie fatto in America. 
My chair is as comfortable as the chairs made in America.

Use tanto… quanto to compare nouns with equivalent adverbs. For instance, to say one machine works as well as another similar machine.  In this case, quanto can stand alone to represent the full meaning, “as well as.  

La mia Camaro va tanto bene quanto la tua Ferrari.       

My Camaro runs as well as  your Ferrari.

                            – or-

La mia Camaro va bene quanto la tua Ferrari.


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Use “Tanto… Quanto”
Equivalent Italian Comparisons

Use tanto… quanto to describe two characteristics of a single individual, in order to say someone is as (much) one way as he/she is another way. As an example, if someone is both smart and handsome, one might want to emphasize the special nature of this individual by putting both characteristics in one statement. In this case, the verb essere is used for the comparison to “link” both characteristics to the subject. This works for places and things as well. Note that tanto cannot be omitted in this situation.

Two Equivalent Characteristics
for a single individual, place, or thing
tanto… quanto as…  as
Marco è tanto intelligente quanto bello. Mark is as smart as handsome.
Il film era tanto lungo quanto noioso. The film was as long as it was boring.
Roma è tanto rumorosa quanto grande. Rome is as noisy as it is large.

When comparing the quantity of things two people have, to state that different individuals have an equivalent quantity, use the adverbs tantoquanto. Note that in this situation tanto must always be used with quanto and tanto must agree in gender and number with the noun that it modifies. 

Comparison of Two Equivalent Quantities
tanto(a,i,e)…. quanto  as many… as
as much…as

    

This adverbial phrase will usually appear with the verb avere to describe in general how much or how many things someone has.   Since we are now speaking of quantities, we need to include the pronoun ne, which means, “of it,” “of this,” or “of that” in this situation, and ne will appear before the conjugated form of avere in the second phrase.

           

Caterina ha tante amiche quanto  ne ha Anna. Kathy has as many friends as Ann.
Pietro ha tanti parenti quanto ne  ha Caterina. Peter has as many relatives as Kathy.
Le persone a Milano hanno tanti soldi
     quanto ne ha la gente a Roma.
The people in Milan have as much money
as the people in Rome.

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“Come” 
in Italian Sayings

Along with the frequent use of the adverb come to make comparisons daily life, Italians often pepper their conversations with well-known sayings that use come. Many Italian sayings, or figures of speech that describe one thing by comparing it to another, have been passed down for generations and are still in use throughout Italy today. Therefore, learning about the adverb come will help us to understand both the Italian language and Italian culture!

With a figure of speech that describes one thing being “like” or “as” another using come, Italians are able to express their point in a creative and often humorous way. In other cases, a comparison can add emotion or depth to a statement. In grammatical terms, a figure of speech that uses like, or its Italian equivalent come, is called a simile. A short statement that uses a simile is often called a saying. The descriptor “saying” is often used in interchangeably with “proverb,” although proverbs tend to make a more strong association between two points, using a metaphor with the  verb “is” to create a universal statement.

Let’s see how Italians use the adverb come with the meaning of “like” or “as” to make a simile and underscore a point that is important to the speaker.

Probably the most common simile used in Italy today is, “Buono come il pane.” The literal meaning is, “Good like the bread.” An outsider may wonder why a person is being compared to bread. What point could this make? Similes, like proverbs, do not always make sense when translated word for word. In this case, bread is alluded to because of the central place bread has had in sustaining life in Italy throughout the ages. An English an equivalent saying might be, “Heart of gold,” or “Good of heart,” to describe someone who is  particularly caring and understanding and supportive of another’s needs.

A few more well-known Italian sayings are listed below. You’ll notice that the similes used in these sayings also compare a particular type of person to a particular type of food. Do you know any other situations in which Italians compare people to food to make a point? If you’d like, leave any I have not included in the comments below so we all can enjoy the Italian sensibility!

Ognun dà pane ma non come mamma.

Translation: Everyone gives bread but none does it like a mother.
Meaning: A mother’s love is special.

Sono pieno come un uovo.

Translation: I’m full like an egg.
Meaning: I am stuffed! I ate a lot and now am as full as can I can be. An egg is a good comparison because the thin shell is completely filled with the yolk and white; no space is left for anything else.

Sei come il prezzemolo!

Translation: You are like parsley!
Meaning: You turn up everywhere! I seem to encounter you everywhere I go! Parsley is a well-known herb in Italy, both for its ability to grow everywhere and also because a little parsley is used here and there in many Italian dishes.

Spuntare come funghi.

Translation: Sprouting up like mushrooms.
English: How did you get here already? To show up or emerge from somewhere quickly. Mushrooms are known for their ability to sprout quickly after a period of rain — so quickly that it seems like one day there is nothing and the next day there are clumps of fully grown mushrooms everywhere.

Remember how to make comparisons with
come and tanto/quanto and I guarantee you will use these
Italian phrases and Italian sayings  every day!

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Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar” and “Just the Verbs” books: Available on  amazon.com  and Learn Travel Italian.com
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Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! How to Use the Preposition “Da” in Italian

Colorful homes on a block in Burano with a garden and a park bench out front
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Have you been trying to speak Italian more easily and confidently in 2022?

I will try to help you with this goal by posting a new blog every month in the series “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” With these blogs, I discuss how Italians use their language on a daily basis and in so doing help you to “think in Italian.” 

To speak fluently in another language, it is important to know how to introduce an object, or to describe direction, location or time. We do this naturally in our own language with prepositions — short words like of, to, at/in/from, and by. All languages use prepositions but the choice of preposition in a given situation will differ from one language to another. This is the case for English and Italian; English and Italian often use prepositions in a different way. Also, in some situations Italian sentence structure may require a preposition where English does not!

Let’s continue our series about Italian prepositions with the essential Italian preposition “da.” The Italian preposition “da” can be translated into the English prepositions from” and “by.Da serves as an essential link between Italian nouns, is used in Italian phrases that describe time in a complex way, and is also integral to many common expressions. If we learn how to use the Italian preposition “da,” we will truly sound like a native Italian!

This post is the 62nd in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” just click HERE

Many “commonly used phrases”
in Italian use

  the preposition “da”

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.

*This material adapted from the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and reference books Just the Verbs and Just the Grammar 

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

 Use “Da” to Say
Where You are From

Let’s continue our series about Italian prepositions with the essential Italian preposition “da.” The Italian preposition “da” can be translated into the English prepositions from” and “by.Da serves as an essential link between Italian nouns, is used in Italian phrases that describe time in a complex way, and is also integral to many common expressions. If we learn how to use the Italian preposition “da,” we will truly sound like a native Italian!

One of the most frequent questions asked during polite conversation is, “Where are you from?” We learned how to use the preposition di to ask and answer this question in an earlier blog in this series, “How to Express ‘Di’ in Italian.”   You will remember that phrases with the preposition di are used to inquire about one’s place of birth, with the understanding that this place is often the same town the person is still living in. The examples from our previous blog:

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

The second way to ask, “Where are you from?” in Italian uses the preposition da and the formula below:

Da + dove + venire from + where + to come

The phrase created with the preposition da uses the action verb venire and may come up in conversation when someone is visiting or has moved to a new place. The reply will most often use the io form of venire, which is vengo (I come) and da (from), followed by a city, town, region/state, or country.  Once again, the question may be asked politely or in a familiar way.

Da dove viene? Where are you (polite) from?
Da dove vieni? Where are you (familiar) from?
Vengo da Chicago. (I) am from Chicago.

Remember that when speaking of a region, state, or country, the Italian definite article (il, lo, la, l’, gli. le) must be used. The preposition da is then combined with the definite article to make dal, dallo, dalla, dall’, dagli or dalle, which all mean “from the.” (Note: not all definite articles and combinations have been listed here, and the rules for combining the Italian definite articles are beyond the scope of this blog, but can be found in Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammnar” book.) For now, just look up and remember the correct way to describe the region, state, or country in which you are living.

If you are from the United States of America, the most common reply when conversing in Italian is even easier — “Sono americano!” for males. Of course, following the usual gender rules, females will have to say, “Sono americana.” Another possible reply, Vengo dall’America,” is grammatically correct but probably sounds a bit awkward to the Italian ear. Vengo dagli Stati Uniti,” would be considered a better choice if one wants to precisely state their origin in North America rather than South America. 

Those of Italian descent may want to mention their family’s origin in Italy and therefore that they are “italo-americano(a).”  This comment can be prefaced with the sentence, “La mia famiglia viene dall’Italia,” in this case conjugating venire according to the third person singular used for the collective noun famiglia.

Some examples:

Sono americano.
Sono americana.
(I) am American. (male speaker)
(I) am American. (female speaker)
Sono italo-americano.
Sono italo-americana.
La mia famiglia viene dall’Italia.
(I) am Italian-American. (male speaker)
(I) am Italian-American. (female speaker)
My family comes from (originates in) Italy. 
Vengo dagli Stati Uniti. (I) come from the United States.
Vengo dall’Illinois. (I) come from Illinois.
Vengo dalla California. (I) come from California.
Vengo dal New Jersey. (I) come from New Jersey.

Vengo dalle (isole dell’) Hawaii. 

(I) come from (the islands of) Hawaii.

By the way, have you noticed that nationalities are not capitalized in Italian, although the names of countries are?

 


 

Use “Da” or “A” to Describe
Visiting an Office or Home

We have just seen that the verb venire requires the preposition da to describe where an individual “comes from,” or lives, in the first section of this blog. This idea can be expanded to include people one visits during daily life.

Da is also used to describe going to visit a person if that person is associated with a particular place. For instance, the dentist, doctor, and lawyer are professionals who hold consultations in an office. Therefore, the verb andare is followed by [da + definite article + professional].

Odio andare dal dentista!
I hate going to the dentist!

Domani devo andare dal dottore.
Tomorrow I have to go to the doctor.

Vado dall’avvocato spesso per discutere sui problemi del mio divorzio.
I go to the lawyer often to discuss the problems of my divorce.

 

Two examples regarding one’s home:

To work from home is “lavorare da casa.”
To “drop in for a minute/few minutes” is “passare un attimo da casa.”

A causa di COVID, io devo lavorare da casa questa settimana.
Due to COVID, I have to work from home this morning.

Domani, passo un attmo da casa.
Tomorrow, I (will) drop in for a few minutes.

 

However, when someone is to be visited in their home, use a casa. This construction also works for family, friends or acquaintances you plan to visit at their home. Remember that “to go to visit a person” is “andare a trovare una persona” and “to come to visit a person” is “venire a trovare una persona.” Visitare is only used when one visits a place.  See below for how this works:

Oggi, vado a trovare mia mamma a casa sua.
Today, I will go to visit my mother at her house.

Pietro, posso andare a trovarti a casa tua?
Peter, can I visit you at your house?

Certo! Puoi venire a trovarmi a casa mia Domenica!
Certainly! You can come to visit me at my house Sunday.

 

 


 

Expressing Purpose with “Da”

In Italian, unlike in English, two nouns cannot be linked together in a phrase without a preposition to clarify their relationship.  Take the English word “sunglasses,” for instance.  The noun “sun” in this case acts as an adjective that modifies the noun “glasses.” In English, we think nothing of stringing nouns together to create new words that give a descriptive name to a particular entity. But in Italian, this is never the case.  When one noun is used as an adjective to describe the purpose of another, the two nouns must be linked by the preposition da.  It makes sense, then, that the Italian translation of the English sunglasses is occhiali da sole! 

Listed below are a few Italian noun combinations that are used to give a descriptive name to things like common household items, rooms in a home, clothing, and clocks. This construction is also used frequently in Italian to describe different types of tickets or cards, beach items, and items that have to do with sports. Most of the items listed below, but not all, use da to connect two nouns, as will be discussed below. The original noun has been listed along with its modifications for some of the items.  Some of these descriptive names are written as one word in English, while others are written as two separate words. How many more examples can you think of? 

 

spazzolino da denti toothbrush
crema da barbara shaving cream
   
piatto plate
piattino da dessert dessert plate
   
bicchiere glass for drinking
bicchiere da vino wine glass
bicciere per l’acqua water glass
   
cucchiaio spoon
cucchiaio da minestra soup spoon
cucchiaio da caffè coffee spoon
   
fork forchetta
forchetta da tavola dinner fork
forchettone per insalata salad fork
forchetta da dolce dessert fork
   
coltello knife
coltello da tavola dinner knife
coltello da scalco carving knife

camera da letto

bedroom

sala da pranzo

dining room

vestito

dress

vestito da sera

evening dress

vestito da sposa

wedding dress

   

camicia

shirt

camicia da notte

nightgown

camicia da uomo

man’s shirt

   

orologio

watch

orologio da polso

wrist watch

orologio a pendolo

grandfather clock
scarpe shoes
scarpe da ginnastica sneakers
scarpa da neve snow shoes
scarponi da trekking hiking boots
scarponi da sci ski boots

tuta da sci

ski suit

biglietto

ticket/note/paper money

biglietto da visita

business card

biglietto di auguri
di compleanno

birthday card

   

carta d’imbarco

boarding pass (plane)

carta d’identità

identification card

carta di credtio/debito

credit/debit card

carte da gioco

playing cards

occhiali da sole

sunglasses

costume da bagno

bathing suit

telo da spiaggia

beach towel

ombrellone da spiaggia

beach umbrella

   

barca a vela

sail boat

   

giacca da sci

ski jacket

pantaloni da sci

ski pants

bastoncini da sci

ski poles

campo

field

campo da calcio/
tennis/golf/basket

soccer field/
tennis/golf
basketball field

pallone da calcio

soccer ball

pallone da rugby

soccer/rugby ball

racchetta da tennis

tennis racket

mazza da golf

golf club

mazza da baseball

baseball bat

Did you notice the use of prepositions other than da to link nouns in the list above? The Italian name for a dessert fork is forchettone per insalata and for a water glass is a bicchiere per l’acqua. In these two cases, the Italian preposition per, which means for, is used to create a name that describes the purpose of these items.

In the previous blog, “How to Express ‘Di’ in Italian,”  we discussed briefly how to use di with camicia di seta and castello di sabbia.  It was noted that some of Italian noun combinations must be linked with di if the descriptive term represents what the main item is made of. We have several additional  examples for when di is used to link a descriptive noun with another noun in the lists above.

The Italian name for grandfather clock, orologio a pendolo, is a name that describes the means by which the clock functions. The pendulum swings in order to keep time. Therefore, the preposition a is used to link pendolo to orologio, since Italian uses the preposition a to describe what makes something run.  And a sailboat is a “boat that runs on the wind” — barca a vela. Remember from our blog in this series “Italian Preposition ‘A’ or ‘In’? that the preposition a is used to describe how other, more common items function, such as by battery, by solar energy, etc.

To summarize…

Italian is a very precise language,
and the Italian use of prepositions
is a paramount example of this precision!

 


 

Use the Italian “Da” 
in Reference to Time 

When Italians reference a point in time, several prepositions may be used, including da, which in this case means “from” or “since.”  

In a previous blog in this series, “How to Use ‘Di’ in Italian, we discussed that the preposition di is used to refer to the general time of day with the phrases di mattina, di pomeriggio, di sera, and di notte.

We also mentioned in the same blog that both di and in are used to refer to the seasons: d’estate, d’inverno, in primavera, in autunno.

The Italian prepositions a and in also have a role to play when describing units of time, which was discussed in another blog in this series, Italian Preposition ‘A’ or ‘In’?” .  When referring to the month a particular event takes place, either a or in can be used. The Italian a or in replaces te English in. Also, the prepositionis used to refer to a precise time with the formula  [alle + time] which corresponds to the English [at +time].

 

In contrast to the prepositions di and a,
which are linked to a distinct period of time,

da is used to make generalizations about time
as it relates to one’s life experiences.

Da is a more difficult Italian preposition for the English speaker to learn how to use than di or a because its meaning of “from” or “since” makes reference to a period of time that started in the past and continues in the present. Although the idea behind these phrases is “from or “since,” the English translation most commonly uses the preposition “for” to start these phrases. But the real difficulty comes in the choice of verbs; the Italian choice is to link da with present tense verbs for a period of time that refers back to the past and does not translate directly into English!

 

Let’s go through this Italian way of thinking step by step…

Phrases that use da in reference to a period of time can be non-specific, such as, “da anni” (for years), da molti anni” (for many years), or mention an exact period of time, such as “da uno, due, tre… settimane, mese, anni… etc.” These phrases translate into English as “for many years,” or “for one, two, three weeks months, years, etc.,” although in Italian they really mean, “Since/From many years ago and continuing into the present…”

[Da + period of time] can begin an Italian sentence, or be placed in the middle or the end, along with the phrase that describes what has been happening during this time.  Since the action linked to these phrases is considered ongoing, Italian uses the present tense for all phrases in the sentence. English, instead uses the continuous past tense for the phrase that describes the beginning of the action that extends into the present and the present tense for the main action.

In the examples below, the phrase with da has been underlined, the present tense verbs are green, and the past tense verbs are brown. Notice how sperare is linked to another verb with di and riuscire with a, as discussed in previous blogs.

Studio l’italiano da tanti anni  , ma non riesco  a capire i film italiani molto bene.
I have been studying Italian for many years, but I can’t understand Italian films very well.
[Note: Verb tenses in Italian and English differ.]

Da tre settimane non fumo e spero di riuscire a smettere completamente.
I haven’t been smoking for three weeks and I hope to be able to stop completely.
[Note: Verb tenses in Italian and English differ.]

 

 If you need a refresher on how to use any of these prepositions in reference to time, you can also review our Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook or the Just the Verbs” and Just the Grammar” reference books. 

 


 

Use the Italian “da quanto” 
in Reference to Time

The  adjective “quanto,” which means “how much” or “how many” is commonly used to refer to a period of time, and is always preceded by da, as in the formula;

Da + quanto + tempo for + how much + time

The formula [da + quanto + tempo] can be used to ask a question about “how much time” an activity has been taking. Or, the noun tempo (time) can be replaced with a unit of time, such as days, months, or years. As in the preceding section, use of da in this formula implies that the action has started in the past and is still going on in the present. Therefore, whenever a question is asked regarding “how much time” with “da quanto tempo,” Italian uses a present tense verb for all phrases in the sentence.  English, instead, uses the continuous past tense. 

See examples below from a dialogue taken from the Conversational Italian for Travelers story, “Caterina Travels to Italy” and note the different ways Italian and English express this idea of time.

Elena asks:
Da quanto tempo
stai viaggiando in Italia?

For how much time (how long) have you been traveling in Italy?
[Note: Verb tenses in Italian and English differ.]

Caterina replies:
Sto viaggiando in Italia da un mese.
I have been traveling in Italy for a month.
[Note: Verb tenses in Italian and English differ.]

 

The same rules described above for “da quanto tempo” apply to the phrase “da quando,” which means, “since when.” To answer the question “Since when?” for “Since… ” use [da + the specific date] and remember to combine da with the definite article il when stating the date.

Example: In order to say the date in Italian, one must say, “Il sedici agosto.” Therefore, the translation for, “since the 16th of August” is “dal sedici agosto.”  Again, from the dialogue from “Caterina Travels to Italy”:

Elena asks:
Da quando sei a Stresa?

Since when have you been staying in Stresa?
[Note: Verb tenses in Italian and English differ.]

Caterina replies:
Sono a Stresa dal sedici agosto
I have been staying in Stresa since August 16th.
[Note: Verb tenses in Italian and English differ.]

 


 

Use the Italian preposition “Per” 
for a Completed Action

In contrast to the use of the preposition da in reference to time, the use of the preposition per is straightforward. Per means for and is used with the passato prossimo form of the past tense to describe a past action that has been completed. The description of time may be general, such as “for many years,” or specific, the same as with da. The past tense verbs are again brown in the examples below.

Ho vissuto per molti anni a Roma.
I lived for many years in Rome.

Ieri ho lavorato in casa per tre ore.
Yesterday, I worked at home for three hours.

 


 

Use the Italian Prepositions “Per, Fra, Tra”
for Future Events

Per can replace the English preposition by when describing a task that must be completed in the future.

Marco, dobbiamo finire questo progetto per domani!
Mark, we must finish this project by tomorrow!

 

To describe other actions that will take place in the future, Italian uses either fra or tra. These two prepositions are interchangeable, although native Italian speakers may intuitively favor one preposition over the other to keep the language flowing smoothly. The English translation will be the preposition in. Remember that the present tense often substitutes for the near future in Italian, so the future tense is not a requirement when using fra or tra.

Il treno parte fra cinque minuti.
The train will leave/leaves in 5 minutes.

Andrò in Italia fra un mese.
I will go to Italy in one month.

 


 

General Uses for “Da”

1. Use the preposition da to express an attribute of a person, to say he or she is acting in a certain way or like a character. 

In some cases, the preposition da substitutes for a longer introductory phrase.  For instance, the common phrase “da giovane” means, “as a child,” and it is understood to mean that general period of time “when I was young.” This also works for other Italian descriptors of the phrases of life, such as da bambino(a), da ragazzo(a), da piccolo(a) or da adulto(a), da grande (grown up).

To say someone is “acting like…” use da.  A common characteristic combined with da is stupido, as in “da stupido” for when one is “acting like a stupid person.” 

If a man is living well, he is living as “da gran signore,” or like royalty or like God or da re, like a king.

If one dresses like a particular character in a fable, book or movie, or is pretending to be a professional, they can be referred to with da, such as da Pinocchio, da Cenerentola (Cinderella), da cowboy, or da dottore.

 Another personal attribute connected with da is matti, for crazy, as in the exclamation, “Roba da matti!” which loosely translated means, “Stuff for crazy people!” and refers to a crazy or unbelievable situation. 

“Da morire” when used alone or in a sentence describing someone or something is an expression that describes a feeling of extreme liking, similar to the English expression, “It’s to die for!”  Or, this expression can be used to take a negative feeling to the extreme, as in, “Sono annioato(a) da morire!” for “I am bored to death!”

 

Some examples:

Da giovane, ho vissuto in campagna.
When I was young, I lived in the countryside.

Non comportarti da stupido!
Don’t act like an idiot!

Per lo spettacolo, Maria si veste da Cenerentola.
For the show, Mary is dressed as Cinderella.

Ti è piaciuto quel film? Si, da morire!
Did you like that film? Yes, It was to die for!

 

2. To describe the cause of an action or feeling. Some common examples might include why you are tired, hot, cold, or nervous. Da translates into from and [da + definite article] translates into “from the.”

 

Sono stanco morto dal lavoro.
I am dead tired from work.

Ho sudato dal caldo inferno durante tutto agosto.
I sweated from the infernal heat during all of August.

Sono nervosa dal pensiero che forse tu non tornerai mai.
I am nervous from the thought that maybe you will not ever return.

 

But be careful to use the preposition di to connect one verb to another to express feelings that are related to an action — not da!  The many phrases that take di as the connecting preposition were discussed in the first blog in this series.  The idea in the first example above can also be stated as follows:

Sono stanco morto di lavorare questa settimana.
I am dead tired from working this week.

 

3. To describe the distance from one place to another, use da, which translates as from.
To describe distance in general or numerical terms, or when giving the directions from a compass, use the preposition a.  The preposition a is used in English when describing distance in general terms, but not before a number or for directions from a compass (north, south, east, west, etc.)

L’ufficio postatale è a pochi isolati da casa mia.
The post office is a few blocks from my house.

La scuola si trova a cinque chilometri da Roma centrale.
The school is five kilometers from central Rome.

Canada è a nord degli Stati Uniti.
Canada is north of the United States.

 


Common Expressions with “Da”

  1. Other important phrases that refer to time:

da allora

since then

da allora in poi

from then on
from that time
thenceforth

da ora in poi

from now on

da quel momento

da quel momento in poi

since that moment

from that moment on

 

da qui in poi

from here on
henceforth

da domani

starting tomorrow

da subito

starting now
immediately

da sempre

always

da un pezzo

since a while ago
for a while now

2. Phrases that begin with “C’è… da” for “There is…”

C’è poco da dire.

There’s not much to say about it.

C’è poco da fare.

There’s not much one can do about it.

C’è poco da stare allegri.

 There’s little to rejoice about.

3. Miscellaneous phrases with da:

 

da niente

of little or no importance

da quattro soldi

cheap

da zero

from scratch

da favola

like a fairy tale

da sogno

like a dream/very nice/wonderful 

vacanza da sogno

dream vacation

da incubo

nightmarish/very unpleasant

dare da mangiare

to feed

dare da mangiare al cane

to feed the dog

tempo da ladri

bad weather

tempo da lupi

bad weather

da solo/ da sola

to be all alone, by yourself

va da sé

it goes without saying

vita da cane

a dog’s life

Remember how to use
the Italian preposition “da” in conversation
and I guarantee you will use the Italian “da” every day!

Conversational Italian for Travelers books are shown side by side, standing up with "Just the Verbs" on the left and "Just the Grammar" on the right
Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar” and “Just the Verbs” books: Available on  amazon.com  and Learn Travel Italian.com
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Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! Let’s Combine the Imperfetto and Passato Prossimo

Colorful homes on a block in Burano with a garden and a park bench out front
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently in 2022?

Why not set a goal to learn Italian, starting today, for the year 2022? I will try to help you with this goal by posting a new blog every month in the series “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” With these blogs, I discuss how Italians use their language on a daily basis and in so doing help you to “think in Italian.” 

If we learn how to combine “commonly used phrases” with the imperfetto and the passato prossimo, we will be able to speak about events in the recent past, just as we do in our native language!

In our most recent blog, Speaking About the Past: Imperfetto or Passato Prossimo? we discussed in detail adverbs and phrases of frequency used to signal when to use the imperfetto and when to use the passato prossimo. At the end of the previous blog is a short summary of how to combine the imperfetto and the passato prossimo in a two phrase sentence using the adverbs mentre and quando. This blog will build on the previous information we have learned about the imperfetto and the passato prossimo and demonstrate a step-by-step process that can be used to create compound sentences with two or more phrases that contain both past tenses.  

This post is the 60th in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” just click HERE

Many “commonly used phrases” in Italian

signal the intent of the speaker to use both

the imperfetto and the  passato prossimo.

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.

*The imperfetto is not only used with the passato prossimo. In fact, the imperfetto is the only past tense form that can be used in combination with every other Italian past tense — whether speaking about the recent past or the remote past.

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

 

Choosing an Italian Past Tense

Let’s start our blog about how to combine the imperfetto and the passato prossimo by reviewing some general rules of Italian grammar. We learned in our last blog, on this topic, that the circumstances surrounding the event will determine which Italian past tense to use. Luckily, imbedded in many Italian sentences about past events are certain words and phrases that will  indicate whether the imperfetto or the passato prossimo is needed.  The intent of the speaker will be signaled by these phrases, which will then trigger use of the correct Italian past tense. 

To describe a past event in a complex way — in Italian as well as in our native language — we must create a compound sentence. Compound sentences contain more than one phrase separated by commas or conjunctions, such as: and, while, when, but, or. In Italian, to create a compound sentence about a recent past event, we will have to decide which verb tense to use — the imperfetto or passato prossimo. 

Of course, when speaking about an event of interest that happened in the recent past, a compound sentence can be created using only the imperfetto or only the passato prossimo, as noted in our last blog.  Our focus in this blog will be on the situations that require both the imperfetto and the passato prossimo.

 


 

Combine the Imperfetto and Passato Prossimo
with Mentre and Quando

One of the most common reasons to combine the imperfetto and the passato prossimo is to give background information for an action under discussion.  In this case, the imperfetto is the past tense of choice to describe the setting and the completed action is relayed with the passato prossimo.

 

What Italian words or phrases can I use to introduce the setting for a past event?

 

As every actor knows, the setting is defined as the time and place in which an action occurs. Since the imperfetto is used to describe the setting for a past event in Italian, expressions of time in the past are important triggers for the imperfetto.

Some common expressions of past time are given in the tables below using ieri (yesterday),scorso(a) (last), and the preposition da (for). (Note: There are, of course, other meanings for the preposition da. Also, these expressions can also be used with the passato prossimo, but generally additional, more specific information is required, as discussed in our last blog.)

Expressions of Time in the Past with Ieri

stamattina this morning
ieri yesterday
l’altro ieri the day before yesterday
ieri mattina
ieri pomeriggio
ieri sera
yesterday morning
yesterday afternoon
yesterday evening

Expressions of Time in the Past with Scorso

scorso(a) last
la notte scorsa last night
la settimana scorsa last week
il mese scorso last month
l’anno scorso last year
   
lunedì scorso last Monday
martedì scorso last Tuesday
mercoledì scorso last Wednesday
giovedì scorso last Thursday
venerdì scorso last Friday
sabato scorso last Saturday
domenica scorsa last Sunday

Use of “da…” in Italian

da tempo

for some time

da un’ora
da due ore
ecc.

for one hour
for two hours
etc.

da un mese
da due mesi
ecc.

for one month
for two months
etc.

da un anno
da due anni
ecc.

for one year
for two years
etc.

The description of the place in which an action occurred can include general interior or exterior surroundings, the weather, or even a prior event. Luckily, language students generally learn the vocabulary to describe various locations early on in their studies, which is also an important first step to learn about any culture. The larger cities and regions in Italy are important to commit to memory. Some common local places where events may take place include at home, at school, at work, or in one of the many shops in the piazza! 

 

How else can I start a phrase to talk about the setting of a past event with the imperfetto?

Mentre, which means “while” in Italian, is a specific sign that a setting or background action is to be relayed in a phrase. Mentre is not required in compound sentences that use both the imperfetto and passato prossimo, but when used it is very helpful. This is because mentre is only used with the imperfetto! 

 

How can use of the imperfetto affect the meaning of a descriptive phrase in Italian?

It is also important to remember that the imperfetto can be translated into English in three ways:  the simple past tense,  used to,” or “was/were-ing.” The translation “used to” refers to a habitual action in the the past that is no longer being done. The translation “was/were-ing” is used to describe an action that started in the past but may or may not have been completed. 

Just as the Italian present tense can be translated as “I go” or “I am going,” in the past tense, the imperfetto can be translated as, “I went” or “I was going.” For emphasis, one could use stare in both situations to create a compound verb with sto andando (I am going) or stavo andando (I was going). But it is so much easier and so much more common in Italian to use both the simple present tense or the imperfetto past tense without creating a compound verb!

 

Once I know the setting, about mentre, and about how to relay information using the imperfetto, am I ready to create a compound sentence about the past in Italian? 

With all of this in mind… the easiest way to create a compound sentence about the past in Italian is…

Start the first phrase with mentre and give the setting with a verb in the impefetto. Or, just refer to the general time, the weather, or to an action without giving a specific time frame. Note: the descriptive phrase with the imperfetto is often, but not always, the first phrase.

There are, of course, innumerable examples of introductory phrases one can create. Four examples are given below to get us started, with the imperfetto verb underlined.

  1. Mentre leggevo il giornale stamattina…           While I was reading the newspaper this morning…
  2. Mentre visitavo Firenze l’anno scorso…            While I was visiting Florence last year…
  3.  Lunedì scorso,  pioveva…                                  Last Monday, it was raining
  4. Da due anni abitavo con mia zia…                    For two years I lived with my aunt…

Now, let’s add a phrase with a completed action to each example above. The passato prossimo is required for this second phrase. See the previous blog on this topic for a short list of Italian verbs that are often used to describe completed actions.

If mentre is not used in the introductory phrase,  use quando (when) with the phrase in the passato prossimo. However, quando is not a specific trigger for the passato prossimo phrase, as quando can be used with either the imperfetto or the passato prossimo phrase. The completed action is often, but not always, the second phrase. 

 

Let’s complete the first two examples that start with mentre. The passato prossimo verb used in the completed phrase is in green.

  • 1. Mentre leggevo il giornale stamatina, la cameriera è arrivato.
        While I was reading the newspaper this morning, the maid arrived.
  • 2.  Mentre visitavo Firenze l’anno scorso, ho incontrato Maria per caso al Ristorante Paoli.   
         While I was visiting Florence last year, I happened to meet Maria at Ristorante Paoli.

Below is our third example that omits mentre in the imperfetto phrase. Notice how quando is used in the passato prossimo phrase that completes the sentence.

  • 3. Lunedì scorso, pioveva quando sono andato a trovare mia mamma.
        Last Monday, it was raining when I went to visit my mother.

An alternate rendition of the same phrase that uses quando with the imperfetto phrase:

  •    Quando pioveva lunedì scorso, sono andato a trovare mia mamma.
        When it was raining last Monday, I went to visit my mother.

Our final example in a completed sentence:

  • 4. Da due anni, abitavo con mia zia quando ho trovato un appartamento perfecto per me.
        For two years, I was living with my aunt when I found an apartment perfect for me.

This last example implies the speaker has not yet moved into her new apartment. Remember from our last blog on this topic that if those two years had been completed and the speaker was already in the new apartment, we would need to use the preposition per with the passato prossimo! The introductory phrases would read: “Per due anni, ho abitato con mia zia…” In short, the imperfetto was chosen to give the circumstances of the situation, so the speaker does not have to give the details of where he or she is currently living; this extra information is included with the use of the imperfetto!

 

Can I put the imperfetto phrase second and the passato prossimo phrase first in a compound sentence?

All four of the example sentences given above work with the phrases reversed. We have already done this with the third example. The first example sentence is reprinted here. Try the rest on your own if you like!

Mentre leggevo il giornale stamatina, la cameriera è arrivato.
 While I was reading the newspaper this morning, the maid arrived.

-or-

La cameriera è arrivato mentre leggevo il giornale stamattina.
The maid arrived while I was reading the newspaper this morning.

 

How do I create a compound sentence about the past in Italian using three phrases?

Of course, it is possible in Italian to create a compound sentence in the past tense with more than two phrases, as the case in English (and most every other language).  For Italian, just continue to follow the Italian grammar we have learned for the imperfetto and passato prossimo for each phrase in your sentence!

Remember that the imperfetto is also used to describe a state of being and it is common to describe how one feels about a situation that has occurred in the past. In fact, if the speaker has chosen to use the imperfetto in combination with the passato prossimo, this implies that the past event still affects their emotions or their life in some way. So in some cases, a sentence may start with the imperfetto, the second phrase use the passato prossimo, and the third phrase again use the imperfetto!

 

In short, any combination of phrases that use the imperfetto and passato prossimo is possible,
as long as the verb in each phrase follows the rules for each.

The circumstances surrounding each event and intent of the speaker
will determine which rules apply.

Let’s provide even more detail about the past situation in our original four examples above by adding a second completed or a description of how the speaker felt at the time.

  • 1. Mentre leggevo il giornale stamatina, la cameriera è arrivato e ha pulito tutta la casa.
    While I was reading the newspaper this morning, the maid arrived and cleaned the entire house.
  • 2. Mentre visitavo Firenze l’anno scorso, ho incontrato Maria per caso al Ristorante Paoli ma non abbiamo avuto tempo per cenare insieme.
    While I was visiting Florence last year, I happened to meet Maria at Ristorante Paoli but we didn’t have time to dine together.
  • 3. Lunedì scorso, pioveva quando sono andato a trovare mia mamma e mi sono bagnata molto!
    Last Monday, it was raining when I went to visit my mother and I got very wet!
  • 4. Da due anni, abitavo con mia zia quando ho trovato un appartamento perfecto per me e dopo ero molto contento.
    For two years, I was living with my aunt when I found an apartment perfect for me and afterwards I felt very happy.

In summary:

Mentre is only used with the imperfetto phrase!

Quando can be used with either the imperfetto or the passato prossimo phrase. 

 

When creating a compound sentence in Italian,
 simply remember the rules for the imperfetto and the passato prossimo.


 

Combine Imperfetto and Passato Prossimo
with Perché and Poiché

Another important reason to combine the imperfetto and the passato prossimo  is to describe the cause behind a past event. In this case, the element mentioned in the imperfetto phrase (the cause) is the reason behind the action/result (the effect) given in the passato prossimo phrase. This makes intrinsic sense, since the imperfetto is used for descriptive purposes and the passato prossimo is used to relate a completed event.

Cause/effect phrases that combine the imperfetto and passato prossimo often start with the effect in the first phrase (with the passato prossimo) and then give the cause behind the past event in the second phrase (with the imperfetto). The two phrases are usually linked with the conjunction perché, In this case, perché means because/since/so that.

However, an Italian sentence can also start with the cause for a completed event (effect) that will be mentioned in a second phrase. In this case the most common conjunction to use is poiché, which is translated as “considering that” or “because/since.” Even when poiché is translated as because/since, the meaning underlying poiché is “considering that” — the issue has been taken into consideration prior to  the response.

Although, to the outsider, this change in conjunctions to describe cause and effect may seem minor, it actually originates with an important rule of Italian grammar that determines how to use perché. Perché is used to start a sentence when one wants to ask the reason why.  Perché also means because when linking phrases. Perhaps to avoid confusion between these two definitions, perché can only be used at the beginning of a sentence with the meaning of because in direct answer to a question that starts with perché (why) or come mai (how come). In this case, the subject of the sentence is understood, and to repeat it would be unnecessary; this understanding effectively “bumps” perché from its usual role as a conjunction between to phrases to the beginning of the sentence!

An example of how perché can change its meaning with simple question/answer sentences:

Perché sei andato a Roma?
Why did you go to Rome?
 
(Sono andato a Roma) Perché avevo un meeting lì.
(I went to Rome) Because I had a meeting there.

 

In short,  other Italian conjunctions besides perché are required to start a sentence with a causation phrase, including when one combines the imperfetto and the passato prossimo. Poiché (considering that/seeing as how/because/since) is the most common conjunction used in conversation. Other options include: “per quale regione” (for that reason/because), and in a more formal situation or writing: siccome (given that/seeing as how/because), dato che (seeing as/since), visto che (given that/considering that/seeing that), dal momento che (seeing as/since). 

Now that we know some basic rules about Italian conjunctions used to describe causation, let’s finally combine the imperfetto and the passato prossimo to talk about the past. In the examples below, the cause behind a past event with the imperfetto is given in blue, the conjunction is in red, and the effect/completed event given in the passato prossimo is green. Notice how the imperfetto and the passato prossimo verbs (which are underlined) are linked to the cause and effect phrases.

Example 1:

Sono rimasto a casa ieri perché avevo la febbre alta.
I remained at home yesterday because I had a high fever.

-or-

Poiché avevo la febbre alta, sono rimasto a casa ieri. 
Because I had a high fever, I remained at home yesterday.

 

Example 2:

Maria ha comprato quel vestito nero ieri perché era in saldo.
Maria bought that dress because it was on sale.

-or-

Poiché era in saldo, Maria ha comprato quel vestito nero ieri.
Because it was on sale. Maria bought that dress yesterday.

 

An example in our last blog on this topic also combines the imperfetto and the passato prossimo in a sentence to describe causation, although this fact was not mentioned in the blog. Below is the scenario again, with the second sentence that begins with “subito dopo” serving as the cause/effect example.

Notice in the cause/effect example below that the passato prossimo is used in phrases both before and after the imperfetto phrase. In this example, we have combined three phrases that describe the past in one sentence!

The words “subito dopo” emphasize the short duration of the action in the first phrase. In  the second phrase. the imperfetto sets up the action for the third phrase; the cause is listed first with poiché. Of course, act of opening a door described in the third phrase is normally an event of short duration and so uses the passato prossimo.

Maria si è arrabbiata con Marco ed è andata a casa.
Mary became angry with Mark and Mary went home. 

Subito dopo, Marco è andato a casa di Maria e poiché bussava alla porta
continuamente, Maria ha aperto.
Shortly after, Mark went to Mary’s house and seeing as how he was knocking on the door continuously, Maria opened it.

 

 

Remember how combine imperfetto and the passato prossimo
and I guarantee
you will use these Italian past tenses every day!

 

Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Verbs”

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! – Speaking About the Past: Imperfetto or Passato Prossimo?

Colorful homes on a block in Burano with a garden and a park bench out front

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

Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently in 2022?

Why not set a goal to learn Italian, starting today, for the year 2022? I will try to help you with this goal by posting a new blog every month in the series “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” With these blogs, I discuss how Italians use their language on a daily basis and in so doing help you to “think in Italian.” 

If we learn how to incorporate “commonly used phrases”  in the past tense with the  imperfetto and the passato prossimo   in our conversations, we will be able to speak about an event in the past in Italian, just as we do in our native language!

Previous blogs in this series have discussed the basics of how to conjugate and use the imperfetto  and the passato prossimo to speak about the recent past.* As we’ve mentioned before, the conjugation of these verb forms is fairly straightforward; the tricky part is knowing which past tense to choose to describe a particular event.   

To make matters more complex, a compound sentence can be created using only the imperfetto, only the passato prossimo, or a combination of both. And in many situations, the same event can be described in Italian using either the imperfetto or the passato prossimo! Given this complexity, how is a non-native speaker to know how to create Italian sentences to describe what has happened the past?

As a general rule, the circumstances surrounding the event will determine which past tense to use. Luckily, imbedded in many Italian sentences about past events are certain words and phrases that will  indicate whether the imperfetto or the passato prossimo are necessary.  The intent of the speaker will be signaled by these phrases, which will then trigger use of the correct Italian past tense.

This post is the 59th in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” just click HERE

Many “commonly used phrases” in Italian

signal the intent of the speaker to use

the imperfetto or the  passato prossimo.

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.

*The imperfetto is not used only with the passato prossimo. In fact, the imperfetto is the only past tense form that can be used in combination with every other Italian past tense — whether speaking about the recent past or the remote past.

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

 Imperfetto
Adverbs and Phrases of Frequency

In a previous blog in this series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! – Past Tense Imperfetto, we discussed that to make general statements about the past in Italian, or to describe a general state of being, one needs to master the imperfetto past tense. If you need a refresher on how to conjugate the imperfetto past tense, please visit the prior blog.  In this section, we will focus on phrases that trigger the use of the imperfetto past tense.

Italians often use the imperfetto to express an action that was done habitually in the past but is no longer being done.  Can you think of some things that might take place every day? For instance, reading the paper, going to school, going to work, and eating breakfast, lunch and dinner?  If you want to talk about how you’ve done these things in the past, use the imperfetto!

Sentences that use the imperfetto in this way are translated either into the simple present tense or as “used to” and often include an adverb of frequency. Several adverbs of frequency are listed in the following table, with examples to follow:

Italian Adverbs of Frequency

di solito usually/often times
spesso very often
quasi sempre almost always
sempre always

 

Di solito, io finivo la lezione all’una il lunedì.
Usually, I used to finish/finished the class at one o’clock on Mondays.

Quando ero piccolo, andavo a casa di mia nonna molto spesso.
When I was small, I went to my grandmother’s house very often.

Quasi sempre mi sentivo male quando viaggiavo in barca.
I almost always felt sick when I traveled by boat.

In short, if an adverb of frequency is part of an introductory phrase, this gives the sense of repetition  about an event in the past.  Therefore, the speaker is preparing the listener for the imperfetto!  Notice that in the last two examples,  the second verb in the sentence follows the intention of the first, and also uses the imperfetto. To sound like a native Italian, incorporate adverbs of frequency into your sentences with the imperfetto!

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Introductory Phrases for Repetitive Actions

There are, of course, many introductory phrases that give the same idea of repetition as the adverbs of frequency, and Italians make good use of these phrases.  Describe any general time of day, month, or year, and use the imperfetto! 

If one had a particular habit during the morning, he or she could say, “Di mattina…” Similarly, if a habitual action was done at night, the phrase, “Di notte…” can be used. Other repetitive actions might happen, “Tutte le mattine…”  or Tutte le notti…” for every morning” and every night.” Or perhaps, according to the season: d’ inverno, in primavera, d’estate, in autunno.

“Negli anni Settanta…” means, “In the seventies…”  or any nonspecific period of time during the years between 1970 and 1979. If one uses introductory phrases of this type, it is his or her intention to state that something was done habitually but during a nonspecific period of time. Of course, the word “habit” is left out of both the Italian sentence and the usual English translation but is be translated using “used to,” as noted above for the adverbs of frequency, to give this idea. The intention of the speaker is understood by his or her use of the imperfetto! 

For example:

Di mattina/Tutte le mattine… aiutavo mia mamma a preparare la prima colazione.
In the mornings/Every morning…   I helped/used to help my mother prepare breakfast.

Di notte/ Tutte le notti… facevo la doccia.
At night/Every night… I took/used to take a shower.

Or, perhaps one previously went to church every week.  Introduce this fact with, “La domenica…” Remember that when Italians place a definite article before any day of the week, it is their way of describing a recurring event on that day. “On Sundays…” means every week on Sunday.  You can even add an adverb of frequency for additional emphasis.

La domenica, andavo in chiesa spesso.
On Sundays, I used to go to church often.

Two often used introductory phrases, “Quando ero piccolo…”  and “C’era una volta…”  serve as a reminder that the imperfetto is the past tense of choice for description and narration.

“Quando ero piccolo…”  “When I was young…” was used in the first group of example sentences in this blog.  This phrase is usually followed by another verb in the imperfetto, as already noted, to follow the circumstances surrounding the event have been set up initially. This phrase also reinforces the idea that the imperfetto is used to describe a general state of being.

“C’era una volta…” translates as the nonspecific, “Once upon a time…” This phrase is a good way to remember the function of the imperfetto to recount imaginary tales, whether codified as a fairy tale or fable, a “tall tale” one has made up to impress others,  or a dream one has had at night. Since they are imaginary, of course these happenings don’t have a specific time frame in which to occur!

You will notice a common thread in the reasoning behind when to use the imperfetto:
use the imperfetto when making generalizations about the past.


 Passato Prossimo
Specific Periods of Time

The passato prossimo is used to describe past events that have been completed  within a specific time frame, including multiple events in succession. For multiple completed actions in succession, the most remote event is listed first, and then the events that follow are stated according to the time line in which they occurred.

Helpful words or phrases that introduce the passato prossimo often emphasize a specific time frame by giving the actual time period using dalle… alle… (from… to…) or implying an action of short duration, such as subito (right away), subito dopo (right after), or al improvviso (suddenly).

Certain verbs that describe actions of short duration, usually with a precise starting and ending point, are more commonly used with the passato prossimo than the imperfetto. Below is a list of several commonly used verbs of this type.

  1. Verbs of movement from one place to another:  andare (to go),  venire (to come), entrare (to enter), partire (to leave), etc.
  2. Verbs of beginning and ending: cominciare/iniziare (to start), finire (to finish), etc.
  3. Verbs that describe actions known to usually be of short duration: bussare (to knock, such as on the door), chiamare (to call), etc.
  4. Verbs of communication: chiedere/domandare (to ask), rispondere (to answer), etc.
  5. Changing emotions from one state to another: arrabbiarsi (to get angry), etc.

Let’s create a compound sentence using these verbs in the passato prossimo to describe a series of completed events in a sequence.

Marco è andato alla festa con Maria, dove loro hanno bevuto birra e mangiato una pizza, e dopo hanno ballato la loro canzone preferita.

Mark went to the party with Maria, where they drank beer and ate a pizza and after danced to their favorite song.

Note, however, that the list of verbs above is a general list and all of the verbs in this list can also be used with the imperfetto, depending on the circumstances and the intention of the speaker!  Take bussare, for instance.  Most times, a person would knock on the door once and wait for the door to be opened. This one time event, started and completed in a short time, would be described with the passato prossimo. For instance, we can imagine what happened in our last example when Mark went to pick up Mary prior to the party: 

Marco ha bussato alla porta e Maria è venuta subito ad aprire.
Mark knocked on the door and Mary came quickly to open (it).

Let’s create different circumstances for our story with Mark and Mary. Perhaps instead of having fun, Mark and Mary had an argument at the party and Mary left early. Mark decided to apologize and comes to Mary’s house and knocks continuously on the door to get her to open it. In this situation, remember the translation of the imperfetto as “was/were-ing” to describe and action that started in the past and continued for a nonspecific amount of time.

Below are example sentences from our hypothetical story that use the imperfetto to emphasize that Mark knocked on the door for an unusually long,  but nonspecific period of time. Note the addition of the adverb continuamente in this example sentence to reinforce the idea that the event took longer than usual.

Also the words “subito dopo” alert one to use the passato prossimo in the first phrase. The actions of becoming angry, going home, and opening a door are normally of short duration.

Maria si è arrabbiata con Marco e Maria è andata a casa.
Mary became angry with Mark and Mary went home. 

Subito dopo, Marco è andato a casa di Maria e poiché bussava alla porta
continuamente, Maria ha aperto.

Shortly after, Mark went to Mary’s house and seeing as how he was knocking on the door continuously, Maria opened it.

Now let’s look at the verb chiamare.  If we called someone once, we can use the passato prossimo. But if we called that person habitually, on a certain day or at a certain time, we need to use the imperfetto! Again, circumstances will determine the use of this verb. And by the use of the past tense, we in turn understand the intent of the speaker!

Ho chiamato mia mamma ieri sera.   I called my mother last night.
                                                     – but –
Chiamavo mia mamma ogni sera.     I used to call my mother every night.

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When Tutto Means “the Whole”

Another important point:  Don’t be confused by the use of tutto!

When used with nouns that refer to the days of the week, such as “tutti i giorni”  the meaning of tutti  is usually “every,” which implies repetition, and the imperfetto is the past tense of choice.

But tutto also means “the whole.” When the intent is to say “the whole” of a particular time period, we have given the time period a beginning and an end and then we need to use the passato prossimo!

Again, the circumstances the speaker is describing will determine the type of Italian past tense to use.  Often specific details about a time or place will be given to signal the intent to use tutto to mean “the whole” with the passato prossimo.

Tutte le mattine d’estate, andava al mare per fare il bagno.
Every morning during the summer, I used to go to the sea to swim.

– but –

Ho passato tutto la mattina, dalle nove a mezzogiorno a fare il bagno al mare.
I spent all morning, from 9 AM until noon, swimming at the seashore.

In fact, if we take any of the introductory phrases for repetitive actions given in the first section and change them to refer to a specific period of time, then we will need to use the passato prossimo! Let’s change “negli anni settanta” to make this phrase more specific:

Negli anni settanta portavo i jeans con il “bel bottoms.”
In the 1970s, I wore jeans with “bell bottoms.”

– but –

Per tutti gli anni settanta, ho portato i jeans con il “bel bottoms.”
For all of the 1970s, I wore jeans with “bell bottoms.”

Durante gli anni settanta, dal 1970 al 1974, sono andato all’Università.
During the 1970s, from 1970 to 1974, I went to college.

You will notice a common thread in the reasoning behind when to use the passato prossimo:
use the passato prossimo for a specific, time-limited activity.


Expressions of Time in the Past


The expressions of time in the past listed below add valuable information to a sentence. For instance, the adverb ieri can be used to modify a verb in the imperfetto to give a general reference about when an event occurred. “Sometime yesterday” is implied when the speaker chooses to pair ieri with the imperfetto.

Ieri can also be used with the passato prossimo, but in this case, a specific time of day is usually included in the sentence, given that the passato prossimo requires events to have taken place within a defined period of time. It is possible to use ieri alone with the passato prossimo, with the understanding that the defined period of time is “the entire day.”

The table below lists some common expressions of past time that use ieri (yesterday). Notice that ieri is invariable (the ending does not change) when modifying different times during the day.

Expressions of Time in the Past with Ieri

stamattina this morning
ieri yesterday
l’altro ieri the day before yesterday
ieri mattina
ieri pomeriggio
ieri sera
yesterday morning
yesterday afternoon
yesterday evening

The next table lists some common expressions of past time that use scorso (last). The ending for scorso changes to match the gender and number of the noun it modifies. Remember that the days of the week are not capitalized in Italian.

Expressions of Time in the Past with Scorso

scorso(a) last
la notte scorsa last night
la settimana scorsa last week
il mese scorso last month
l’anno scorso last year
   
lunedì scorso last Monday
martedì scorso last Tuesday
mercoledì scorso last Wednesday
giovedì scorso last Thursday
venerdì scorso last Friday
sabato scorso last Saturday
domenica scorsa last Sunday

Expressions such as “da tempo,” “da un’ora, “da due mesi,” “da un anno,” etc. are used mainly with the imperfetto to indicate the beginning of an ongoing activity that started in the past. The definition of the imperfetto in this case is was/were-ing. The passato prossimo can also be used with these expressions if the intent is to say that the activity has begun and also concluded during that period of time. However, the preposition per is more commonly used with the passato prossimo for an event that has concluded. See the examples below.

L’insegnante parlava da due ore e gli studenti erano stanchi.
The teacher was speaking for two hours and the students were tired.

L’insegnante ha parlato per due ore e finalmente ha permesso agli studenti di andare via.
The teacher spoke for two hours and finally let the students leave.


Era or È Stato?

Students of Italian commonly have difficulty deciding when to use the imperfetto and passato prossimo forms of essere. However, this is really not very complicated; the rule for choosing the correct form of essere is the same as for any other Italian verb! If the state of being described is not qualified with a specific time frame, use the imperfetto; if a specific time frame is referred to in the phrase, use the passato prossimo.

The imperfetto conjugation is: ero, eri, era, eravamo, eravate, erano. 

The passato prossimo conjugation is sono stato(a), sei stato(a), è stato(a), siamo stati(e), siete stati(e) and sono stati(e).

Some examples are below.

In the first example below, it is the intention of the speaker only to describe a state of happiness in the past — not when or for how long. This calls for the imperfetto form of essere. In the second example a time-limited reason is given, which is the speaker’s birthday, and the exact date is even listed. Of course, the specific date requires the speaker to use the passato prossimo.

Ero molto contento.
I was very happy.

– but –

Sono stato molto contento per il mio compleanno il 25 maggio scorso.
I was very happy on my birthday last May 25th.

Let’s look at two more similar situations rendered in two different ways in Italian with the imperfetto and the passato prossimo. In the first example below, the imperfetto is used to mean that generally, sometime during the day, the weather was nice. Perhaps the speaker was just trying to relay some general information. Or possibly,  the conversation would continue after giving this setting with the imperfetto and the speaker would describe a particular event or how the day made him or her feel. In the second example, it is understood that the speaker is talking about a fixed time that occurred during the day while he or she was attending a party. And, during that period of time, the speaker really enjoyed him/herself, as stated with the passato prossimo!

Era un bel giorno.
It was a beautiful day.

– but –

È stata una bella festa; mi sono molto divertito.
It was a wonderful party; I really enjoyed myself.


 

Imperfetto and Passato Prossimo
Combined

In the first two sections of this bog, we discussed phrases that signal when to use the imperfetto and when to use the passato prossimo.  We’ve also learned the rules to create a compound sentence with each past tense individually . Finally, it should also be noted that situations will arise that  require the use of both the imperfetto and the passato prossimo in one sentence. But don’t worry, there are general rules to follow to build these Italian sentences and the phrases themselves will also contain clues as to how to do this!

Below is a summary of this concept,
which will be discussed in more detail in the next blog in this series.

As a general rule, when creating a compound sentence in Italian, use the imperfetto to describe the setting. Start the imperfetto phrase with mentre (while) if you like, or just refer to the general time or the weather, or to an action without giving a specific time frame. This is often, but not always, the first phrase.

Then, describe the completed action with the passato prossimo. See the second section of this blog for a short list of verbs often used to describe completed actions. If mentre is not used in the introductory phrase, use quando (when) with the phrase in the passato prossimo. This is often, but not always, the second phrase.

Important note:

  Mentre is always used with the imperfetto!

Therefore, when you start a phrase with mentre, you must use the imperfetto for the verb in that phrase! 

Quando can be used with either the imperfetto or the passato prossimo phrase.  Quando often introduces the passato prossimo phrase in a compound sentence when mentre is omitted.

Three examples that combine the imperfetto and passato prossimo in one sentence are below.

Mentre io ero in vacanza in Italia,
il mio capo di lavoro mi ha telefonato per parlare di un problema importante.

While I was on vacation in Italy, 
my boss telephoned to talk about an important problem.

Mentre guardavo il mio programma preferito in TV, mia mamma ha finito di prepare la cena.
While I was watching my favorite program on TV, my mother finished preparing dinner.

C’era sole quando Maria è venuta a trovarci a Roma.
It was sunny when Mary came to visit us in Rome.

As a final note: we have already combined the imperfetto and passato prossimo in several examples in the first two sections. Can you find these examples?

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Remember how to talk about the past using
the
Italian imperfetto and the passato prossimo
and I guarantee
you will use the Italian past tense every day!

Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Verbs”

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! – Let’s talk about… Making reservations in Italian

Colorful homes on a block in Burano with a garden and a park bench out front

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

Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently in 2022?

I hope you are on your way to meet this goal! I will try to help you by posting a new blog every month in the series “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” With these blogs, I describe how Italians use their language on a daily basis and in so doing  help you to “think in Italian.” 

As of this writing, it is easier to travel to Europe than it has been for the last two years. But of course, even if travel becomes restricted again, it is never to early to start to learn Italian travel phrases. In fact, the earlier the better! So for this blog I focus on Italian phrases for making reservations at a restaurant or hotel in Italy.

Prior to beginning the lesson for this blog, I acknowledge that in the larger cities of Italy it is not usually necessary to make reservations completely in Italian; the Italian staff usually speak basic English and often the languages of their European neighbors, French, Spanish or German.  Also, of course, most times reservations can now be made over the internet on one’s computer or smart phone, without any human interaction at all! But I’ve found that a few phrases in Italian are always warmly welcomed by Italian servers and hotel receptionists, even in the larger cities, and can serve to put the traveler at ease in their new surroundings. In the smaller  Italian towns, basic Italian expressions can still be essential when relating one’s needs in family-run restaurants and hotels.

In short, if we learn the few phrases needed when making reservations in Italian, we will feel more comfortable during our stay in the “bel paese.” 

This post is the 57th  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”
describe

  making reservations in Italian

See below for how this works.

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

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

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

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

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

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Let’s Talk About… Making Reservations in Italian

La prenotazione means “the reservation.” The Italian verbs prenotare and riservare translate into English as: “to make/book a reservation.”  The use of these Italian verbs varies with the situation.

Most commonly, when asking to make a reservation at a restaurant or a hotel, Italians use the noun prenotazione with the verb fare and “make a reservation,” which is “fare una prenotazione.”

It is customary to start a request with either vorrei (I would like) or desidero (I desire/want/wish). Notice that vorrei is the conditional form of volere (to want). It is also possible to use the first person present tense form volgio (I want) but vorrei is considered more polite and is the preferred conjugation to use. The phrase “ho bisogno di” for “I need” is yet another way to introduce any request made in Italian.

Some example sentences to get us started making a reservation:

Vorrei fare una prenotazione. I would like to make a reservation.
Desidero fare una prenotazione. I desire/want/wish to make a reservation.
Ho bisogno di fare una prenotazione. I need to make a reservation.

Once we have stated our desire to make a reservation, three important pieces of information will need to be relayed to the receptionist: the number of people, the date and the time.

Generally, the receptionist will ask: “Per quante persone?” “For how many people?” 

For a restaurant reservation, it will be important to state how many adults (adulti) as well as how many children (bambini) will be dining. A simple answer for a family of two adults and two children would be: “Due adulti e due bambini.” The receptionist may ask if a child seat (una sedia speciale) is needed. A table will be chosen next to other families dining in the restaurant; this ensures that adults who are without children and want a more intimate dinner will not be disturbed.  

An interesting note about children and Italian culture: a child is considered a bambino or bambina (baby/ child) in Italy until about 14, when he or she can then be called a ragazzo or ragazza (young man/young woman). The appellation ragazzo(a) lasts into the 20s. The usual Italian masculine and feminine  endings need to be applied to these nouns; the “o” ending signifies a male child and the “a” ending a female child. For the plural, the usual “i” ending is used for a group of all males or a mixed group and “e” for an all female group.

Remember also that the Italian number “one” changes when modifying a noun. So a family may have un bambino or una bambina. 

To make a reservation in an Italian restaurant, it is not necessary to differentiate the bambini from the ragazzi. But Italian hotels do differentiate between children of different ages when booking a room. Most Italian hotels have a room rate that will vary depending on the number of adults who occupy the room. Families traveling with children between the ages of 12-14 (and even up to16 years of age) may be able to receive a family discount (uno sconto famiglia). 

In short, it is helpful to memorize the correct Italian for the children in your family when making reservations at a restaurant and hotel to be comfortable and to be sure you are not overpaying for accommodations!

Some variations on the simple conversation we have created so far:

Vorrei fare una prenotazione. I would like to make a reservation.
Per quante persone? For how many people?
Un‘adulto/Due adulti  One adult/Two adults 
Un bambino/Una bambina
Un ragazzo/ Una ragazza
One baby or young child (male/female)
One young man/ One young woman
Due bambini/ Due bambine Two children (group of males or males+females/
group of all females)
Due ragazzi/ Due ragazze Two boys or [1 boy + 1 girl]/ Two girls

By the way, if you need to cancel a reservation, use the same sentence structure as when you have made the reservation. However, use the verb annullare, and say, “Vorrei annullare una prenotazione,” for “I would like to cancel a reservation.”

Or, if a reservation needs to be changed, use the verb cambiare, as in, “Vorrei cambiare una prenotazione.”


Stating the date in Italian:

To state the date and time of a reservation, we will need to know how to say numbers in Italian up to 31 (assuming reservation is in the present year). If you still need to learn how to count in Italian, purchase my Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook or download the PDF for tips on how to remember Italian numbers into the billions.

Below is the sentence structure needed to state the date.

definite article + number + di +month

This is actually a lot easier than it may look! Below are a few examples. You will notice that in English we say, “January second,” for “January 2,” while in Italian the phrasing and word order reads: “the two of January.”

The exception to the above rule is the first day of the month. In this case, the word primo, which means first, must always be used, instead of uno (one).

When writing the date, remember the order of the day and the month are reversed in Italy (as in Europe): dd/mm/yyyy. The days of the week and the months of the year are not capitalized in Italian.

Oggi è il due di gennaio. Today is January 2.
Domani è il tre di gennaio. Tomorrow is January 3.
Dopodomani è il quattro di gennaio. The day after tomorrow is January 4.
Oggi è il primo di agosto. Today is August 1.

Finally, in everyday conversation, to say, “On Mondays…” referring to something that happens every Monday, just use the definite article il (the) at the beginning of the sentence for all the masculine weekdays ending in ì and la for the feminine Sunday (domenica).

Il lunedì vado al lavoro. / La domenica vado in chiesa.
On Mondays, I go to work. / On Sundays, I go to church.


Stating the time when making a reservation in Italian:

Expressions used to tell time in Italian are given below up to 12 o’clock. For a more detailed explanation of the Italian sentence structure used when telling time, purchase my Conversational Italian for Travelers  textbook or download the PDF.  Note: there is no “o’clock” in Italian. Simply state the hour “it is” for one o’clock or the  number of hours “there are” from two o’clock onward. You will need to learn Italian numbers up to 24 to understand the time tables for Italian trains, buses and airlines, which are given in “military time” with the 24 hour clock. Italian museums and theaters also operate based on the 24 hour clock.

È l’una.                                    (It is)              one. (1 o’clock)

Sono le due.                           (They are)      two. (2 o’clock)

Sono le tre.                            (They are)      three. (3 o’clock)

Sono le quattro.                    (They are)      four. (4 o’clock)

Sono le cinque.                      (They are)      five. (5 o’clock)

Sono le sei.                             (They are)      six. (6 o’clock)

Sono le sette.                         (They are)      seven. (7 o’clock)

Sono le otto.                          (They are)      eight. (8 o’clock)

Sono le nove.                         (They are)      nine. (9 o’clock)

Sono le dieci.                         (They are)      ten. (10 o’clock)

Sono le undici.                       (They are)      eleven. (11 o’clock)

Sono le dodici.                       (They are)      twelve. (12 o’clock)

One can emphasize the time of day, such as morning, afternoon, evening, or night, by adding the following expressions after the numerical time: di mattina, di pomeriggio, di sera, or di notte, as below.

1,00 (AM)                           È l’una di mattina.                 It is one in the morning.

1,00 (PM)                            È l’una di pomeriggio.          It is one in the afternoon.

6,00 (PM)                           Sono le sei di sera.                It is six in the evening.

10,00 (PM)                          Sono le dieci di notte.          It is ten at night.

When the receptionist at a restaurant asks what hour you wish to dine, the question will usually be phrased as such:
A che ora…?                                       (At) what time…?

The response to the question will also use the word at, which will be attached to the definite article (the).  Use (l’) for one o’clock and (le) for all other hours to agree with the number of hours in the answer.

A mezzogiorno                                  At noon

A mezzanotte                                    At midnight

All’una.                                               At one o’clock.

Alle sette.                                           At seven o’clock.

All’una e cinque.                               At 1:05 AM.

Alle sette e mezzo.                            At 7:30 AM.


Making a Reservation in Italian: Restaurants and Hotels

Now that we know an introductory sentence and how to tell the receptionist at a restaurant or hotel the date and time of our appointment, we can summarize this information in the short conversation below:

Vorrei fare una prenotazione. I would like to make a reservation.
Per quante persone? For how many people?
Quattro.
Due adulti e due bambini.
Four.
Two adults and two children.
Data e ora/orario? Date and time?
Ristorante:
Il cinque di giugno alle otto di sera.
Restaurant:
July 5th at 8 PM.
Hotel:
Dal cinque al sette di giugno.
Hotel:
From the 5th through the 7th of June. 

Restaurants in Italy normally open for dinner at 7 PM and most Italians go out to eat at 8 PM or later. After making a reservation, when one enters the restaurant, all the information the receptionist needs to know can be conveyed in two easy lines:

Buona sera.
Good evening.

Abbiamo una prenotazione per quattro persone alle otto di sera. 
We have a reservation for four people for 8 PM.

In colloquial Italian, it is also considered correct to say:
Abbiamo una prenotazione per quattro persone per le otto di sera. 
We have a reservation for four people for 8 PM.

For just one person, the following is fine:
Ho una prenotazione alle otto/ per le otto.
I have a reservation for 8 PM

Additional requests may need to be made for hotel reservations.  When asking a question of the receptionist, use the “you all” form of avere, which is avete, since you are asking the representative of the hotel if they have what you need. The receptionist will answer in the noi form, and mention “we have” or “we don’t have” what you are requesting.

Example:

Avete una camera singola?
Do you all have a room with a single bed?

Mi dispiace, non abbiamo una camera singola disponibile. 
I’m sorry, we don’t have a room with a single bed available. 

Siamo al completo/ tutti prenotati stasera.
We are full/completely booked tonight.

Below is a list of vocabulary that includes the type of Italian hotel (l’albergo) you may want to choose and the type of room (la stanza) you may need. A few hotel amenities one might ask about when making a reservation are also included.

Almost all hotels in Italy provide breakfast for their guests gratis (free), so it is not usually necessary to ask if la prima colazione (breakfast) is included in the fee for the room. However, it can be helpful to check the internet for images of the dining room and the food served (along with the types of rooms available) prior to making reservations at a hotel. Italian hotels offer a wide range of morning meals — from a simple continental breakfast of coffee, juice and a pastry, to a large buffet with specialty breads and pastries, eggs, cereal, yogurt, lunch meat and cheeses to choose from.

And just in case things are not quite what you expected during your stay at an Italian hotel, you can always ask for l’albergatore or l’albergatrice (hotel manager, masculine and feminine). If you need help choosing where to make dinner reservations, call la reception (reception/front desk) or visit il concierge (the concierge).

l’albergo hotel
la pensione
il bed and breakfast
boarding house
bed and breakfast
l’ostello (della gioventù) youth hostel
il pernottamento overnight stay
la pensione completa room and board (includes three meals a day)
la mezza pensione room, breakfast, and one meal (half board)
la camera/la stanza room
la camera singola room with a single bed
la camera matrimoniale room with a double bed
le camere adiacenti adjacent rooms
il letto bed
il letto supplementare additional bed
la culla crib
servizio in camera room service
la piscina swimming pool
la sauna sauna
la vasca idromassaggio Jacuzzi*
il campo da golf golf course
il campo da tennis tennis court

*Italian-American history: Jacuzzi Brothers was a company founded in 1915 by seven Italian-American brothers with the surname Jacuzzi, whose family origins were in Casarsa della Delizia in Northern Italy. They initially developed propellers for the military and experimented with the manufacture of aircraft. In 1956, the company developed a pump that could be submerged under water to provide hydrotherapy.  Candido Jacuzzi, third generation in the family, invented the whirlpool bath using the company’s hydrotherapy pump to treat his young son’s rheumatoid arthritis. The Jacuzzi tubs we know today were trademarked in 1968.


Making a Reservation in Italian: Train or Theater

Remember that reservations for the train or theater in Italy are made using the military, or 24 hour clock. Once  you have made a reservation, here are a few tips on how to proceed when arriving at your destination:

When boarding a train or entering a theater with a ticket that has a reserved seat, one would have “un biglietto con la prenotazione” or “a ticket with the reservation.”

To say you are checking your seat, use the phrase, “Controllo il biglietto con la prenotazione,” for “I am checking the ticket with the reservation.”

However, the actual seat on a train or theater is referred to as “reserved” as in, “Il posto è riservato.” The seat or room has been booked, and no one else can use it. If someone else has made a prenotazione before you, your request might be denied due to un posto riservato.

Remember to use the verbs cambiare and annullare to change or cancel a reservation, as mentioned in the very first section!

Remember that making reservations in Italian
can enhance your experience every day while visiting Italy!

For “All the Italian you need to know to enjoy your trip to Italy,” click on the links below to purchase my Conversational Italian for Travelers books – Kathryn Occhipinti

Conversational Italian for Travelers books are shown side by side, standing up with "Just the Verbs" on the left and "Just the Grammar" on the right
Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar” and “Just the Verbs” books: Available on  amazon.com  and Learn Travel Italian.com

The cover of Conversational Italian for Travelers "Just the Important Phrases" book is viewed on a smartphone
Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” book downloaded onto a cell phone from www.learntravelitalian.com

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! How to Make Comparisons in Italian with “Di”

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 in 2022?

Why not set a goal to learn Italian, starting today, for the year 2022? I will try to help you with this goal by posting a new blog every month in the series “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” In these blogs, I discuss how Italians use their language on a daily basis and in so doing help you to “think in Italian.” 

To speak fluently in another language, it is important to know how to make comparisons. Every day we all compare the characteristics of one thing to another — larger vs. smaller, better or worse — often to describe what we prefer.  The Italian language uses precise sentence structures and specific prepositions when making comparisons that are not always identical to English. The good news is that Italian is consistent, and it is easy to learn the “Italian way” of thinking to compare the things in the world we live in!

In a prior blog  in this series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! – How to Use ‘Di’ in Italian,we learned that the Italian preposition di can mean “of, from, or by.” Now, we will put di to use in another way — to replace the English word than when making comparisons! 

Let’s continue our new series on Italian prepositions with another blog about the essential Italian preposition “di.” If we learn how to use the Italian preposition “di” to make comparisons, we will truly sound like a native Italian!

This post is the 56th in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” just click HERE

Many “commonly used phrases”
in Italian use

  the preposition “di”
to make comparisons

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.

*The material in this blog has been adapted from the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and  the reference book “Just the Grammar.”

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

 Use “Di” to Compare Italian Nouns 
and for Comparisons with Piacere

To speak fluently in another language, it is important to know how to make comparisons. Every day we all compare the characteristics of one thing to another — larger vs. smaller, better or worse — often to describe what we prefer.  The Italian language uses precise sentence structures and specific prepositions when making comparisons that are not always identical to English. In this blog, we will explore several ways to make comparisons that use the Italian preposition di.  The good news is that Italian is consistent, and it is easy to learn the “Italian way” of thinking to compare the things in the world we live in!

To compare two different nouns — people, places, or things — where one has a superior or inferior characteristic, use the following Italian phrases below. Note that the Italian preposition di will combine with the definite article the (il, la, lo, l’, etc.) according to the usual rules, if a definite article is needed in the sentence.

In this case, the Italian preposition di is translated into English with than. Notice that “the” is often used in Italian but is not needed in English, due to the different way the two languages express possession (see the first example below). If you need a refresher on the Italian preposition di, visit a prior blog in this series, “How to Use “Di” in Italian.”

Also, the translation into English will not match the Italian word for word when making comparisons. English uses the irregular “larger” and “smaller” and therefore the Italian “more large” and “more small” cannot be translated directly into English.

Comparison of Two Different Nouns

 

più… di more… than
meno… di less… than

Comparison sentences with two different nouns (person, place, or thing) are given below. The nouns that are being compared are red.

Pietro ha più soldi
di Caterina.
Peter has more money
than Kathy.
Caterina ha meno soldi di Pietro. Kathy has less money than Peter.
   
La casa di Pietro è più grande
del
la casa di Caterina.
Peter’s house is larger
than Kathy’s house.
Firenze è più piccola di Roma. Florence is smaller than Rome.


This Italian sentence structure using
di also works
when making comparisons using piacere between two nouns 
that have different characteristics.

Let’s look into how to make comparisons with the verb piacere.  Piacere is how Italians say they like something. (If you need a refresher on how to conjugate the verb piacere, visit our blog, “Piacere — How Italians Say, ‘I like it!'”)  

Piacere often comes into play to describe how much we like doing something compared to something else. For instance, in a prior blog, “Let’s Talk About… TV and Movies in Italian.” we discussed how to state a preference for one film over another. The two lines below give the correct Italian sentence structure and again use più di and meno di. 

Mi piace… (film)  più di + definite article… (film).
Mi piace…
(film) meno di + definite article…
(film).

Mi piace il film La Vita è Bella più delle serie Commissario Montalbano.
I like the film Life is Beautiful more than  the series Detective Montalbano.
 
Mi piace il film Pane e Tulipani meno di La Vita è Bella.
I like Bread and Tulips less than Life is Beautiful.

 

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

Use “Che” to Compare
I
talian Verbs, Adjectives and Adverbs 

However, to combine two different verbs, adverbs or adjectives where one has a superior or inferior characteristic, or one  is liked more than another, substitute che for di. The two lines below use più che and meno che with the verbs correre and nuotare in green, and the adjectives giallo and rosso in brown. Notice that the subject is the same in these comparisons — in this case, the subject is what one likes but of course one can substitute “mi piace” with a noun (person, place or thing). 

The English transition when comparing two verbs uses the present progressive tense (-ing verb).

Mi piace correre più che nuotare.
I like running more than swimming. 
 
Mi piace giallo meno che rosso.
I like yellow less than red.

 

Finally, use più che or meno che if making a comparison that uses a preposition.

Rosa è più contenta con te che con me.
Rose is happier (more happy) with you than with me.

 

Or  use che alone to express a preference.
Preferisco partire il 7 che il 5 di mattina.
I prefer to leave at 7 than at 5 in the morning.

 

 

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

Use “Di” with
Irregular Adverbs

Comparative sentences that use adverbs are common, since people often discuss how well (bene) — or how badly (male) — something is going. To compare how one action is better or worse compared to another, use the irregular comparative adverbs meglio and peggio with the preposition di and the same sentence structure described in the last section of this blog.

In the examples below, the adverb that is used in the comparison is in brown and its verb in green. 

Caterina parla italiano bene.        Kathy speaks Italian well.    
Caterina parla italiano meglio di Francesca. Kathy speaks Italian better than Frances.
   
Francesca parla italiano male.    Frances speaks Italian badly.    
Francesca parla italiano peggio di Caterina.  Frances speaks Italian worse than Kathy.

                           

To express the relative superlative “the best” or “the worst” in Italian, one can simply use the comparative sentence structure we have learned with the Italian phrases “meglio di tutti” or peggio di tutti.”

Caterina parla italiano meglio di tutti Kathy speaks Italian better than  everyone.
  Meaning: Kathy speaks Italian the best.  
   
Francesca parla italiano peggio di tutti. Frances speaks Italian worse than everyone.
  Meaning: Frances speaks Italian the worst.

Meglio is used in the same way when talking about a thing, rather than a person. For instance, to compare a recent film with a well-known TV series, see the example below from our blog “Let’s Talk About… TV and Movies in Italian.”

This film is better than…

Questo film è meglio di + definite article…

Questo film è meglio del Commissario Montalbano, sono sicuro!
This film is better than Detective Montalbano, I am sure.

                

Equally important are comparisons made with the adverbs very (molto) or little (poco). People have a tendency to make comparisons between doing something more (più) or doing something less (meno). We have seen the Italian adverbs piu and meno in action in the first section as part of the sentence structure for making a comparison. When used with the meaning of “more” or “less,” piu and meno are considered irregular adverbs. 

However, when making a comparison in Italian using più or meno with the meanings of more or less, speakers often don’t mention the second term.  This is common in every day conversation when both speakers already know the topic under discussion. When the second term in the comparison is omitted, the preposition di is added before più or meno to complete the sentence.

Use di più or di meno, rather than simply più or meno
when the second term of the comparison is not stated.

In the examples below, the adverb used in the comparison is in brown and its verb in green. 

Pietro ha mangiato molta pizza. Peter ate a lot of pizza.
Pietro ha mangiato più pizza di Michele. Peter ate more pizza than Michael.
Pietro ha mangiato di più.    Peter ate more.
   
Michele ha mangiato poca pizza.  Michael ate a little pizza.
Michele ha mangiato meno pizza di Pietro. Michael ate less pizza than Peter.
Michele ha mangiato di meno.  Michael ate less.

To express “the most” or “the least” in Italian, one can simply use the comparative sentence structure we have learned with the Italian phrases “più di tutti” or meno di tutti.”

Pietro ha mangiato più di tutti. Peter ate more than  everyone.
                                                                      Meaning: Peter ate the most.
   
Michele ha mangiato meno di tutti. Michael ate less than everyone.
                                                                      Meaning: Michael ate the least.

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

Use “Di” with
Irregular Adjectives

See the irregular comparative adverbs we have just discussed in the previous section in the table below, along with their relative superlative adjectives and phrases.

Adverb   Comparative
Adverb
  Relative Superlative Adjective/Phrases  
bene well meglio better
il migliore
the best
male badly peggio   il peggiore the worst
molto very più

 

di più

more più
la maggior parte di
il maggior numero di
the most
poco a little meno

 

di meno

less meno
il minimo di
la minima parte di
the least

  

Now let’s talk about the relative superlative adjectives in the third column of our table above.

The Best and the Worst in Italian:

Earlier in this blog, we mentioned that to express the relative superlative adjective “the best” in Italian, one can simply use the Italian phrase “meglio di tutti” to state “better than everyone.” 

However, when we use the irregular adjective “il migliore” to state someone or something is “the best,” a different sentence structure is required. One might say Italian is more precise than English since Italian expresses the difference between Frances the person and Frances’ knowledge of Italian. In English, this difference is simply understood. (If you need a refresher on how to state possession with the Italian preposition di, visit a prior blog in this series, “How to Use “Di” in Italian.”) 

In short, an Italian sentence that uses the adjective migliore must start with the noun that migliore modifies. Once again, we encounter differences in the English and Italian way of thinking — in this case about how to be the best!

Below are examples from the prior section again, with the addition of a sentence with “il migliore” for comparison. The last example also includes “the worst,” or “il peggiore,” which follows the same sentence structure. The adverb that is being compared is in brown and its verb in green. The noun described as “the best” or “the worst” is in red.

Caterina parla italiano meglio di tutti Kathy speaks Italian better than  everyone.
  Meaning: Kathy speaks Italian the best.
L’italiano di Caterina è il migliore. Meaning: Kathy’s Italian is the best.
   
Francesca parla italiano peggio di tutti. Frances speaks Italian worse than everyone.
  Meaning: Frances speaks Italian the worst.
L’italiano di Francesca è il peggiore Meaning: Frances’ Italian is the worst.

 

The Most in Italian:

Previously in this blog, we mentioned that to express the relative superlative adjective “the most” in Italian, one can simply use the Italian phrase “più di tutti” to state “more than everyone.”  

We can also use più in a sentence that starts with a noun followed by quello(a,i,e) to express the idea of “the most.” Use this Italian way of speaking to refer to the greatest quantity of something, measure of something (tangible or intangible), or number of something. The Italian sentence structure is similar to the examples given for how to use migliore and peggiore. English speakers tend to express the same idea in a different way, as noted by the translations below. 

Il bicchiere di Marco è quello che ha più vino.    Mark has the most wine in his glass.
Anna è quella della famiglia che è più bella.  Ann is the most beautiful of all of us in the family.
Quest’albero è quello che ha più mele.    This tree is the one with the most apples. 

 

Two other phrases, la maggior parte di” and “il maggior numero di” can also mean “the most,” regarding “the greatest quantity” and “the greatest number” of something.

Also, “Per la maggiore parte…” is commonly used to say, “For the most part…”

Our original examples are listed below again, with additional ways to say “the most.” Notice how the meaning changes with the use of the last two phrases. Also that “fetta di” is itself a separate phrase, so that di is not combined with the definite article.

Pietro ha mangiato più di tutti.
Peter ate more than  everyone/the most.

Pietro ha mangiato la maggior parte della pizza.
Peter ate most (the most part of) of the pizza.

Pietro ha mangiato il magior numero di fette di piazza.
Peter ate most (the most number of) of the pieces of the pizza.

 

The Least in Italian:

Finally, to say “the least,” one can use “meno” with quello(a) and the same sentence structure as described above for più.

Michele è quello della famiglia che ha mangiato meno pizza.
Michael has eaten the least pizza of all of us in the family.

 

“Il minimo di” and “la minima parte di” can also be used to describe “the least.” See examples below. Remember to change the ending of minimo(a) to match the gender of the noun that is modified.

Michele ha mangiato meno di tutti.
Michael ate less than everyone/the least pizza.

 

Michele ha mangiato la minima parte della pizza.     Michael ate the least (amount of) pizza.

Michele ha mangiato il minimo del pane.                  Michael ate the least (amount of) bread.

 


Remember how to make comparisons with
the Italian preposition “di” in conversation 
and I guarantee you will use the Italian “di” every day!

 

Conversational Italian for Travelers books are shown side by side, standing up with "Just the Verbs" on the left and "Just the Grammar" on the right
Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar” and “Just the Verbs” books: Available on  amazon.com  and Learn Travel Italian.com
The cover of Conversational Italian for Travelers "Just the Important Phrases" book is viewed on a smartphone
Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” book downloaded onto a cell phone from www.learntravelitalian.com

 

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! – The many uses of the Italian verb “Mettere”

Colorful homes on a block in Burano with a garden and a park bench out front
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently in 2022?

 Have you set a goal to learn Italian? I will try to help you by posting a new blog every month in the series “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” In these blogs, I discuss how Italians use their language on a daily basis and in so doing help you to “think in Italian.” 

For instance, many Italian verbs have a similar use to those in English, which simplifies translation from one language to the other. However, often the meaning of an Italian verb will vary  from the usual English connotation.  And in many situations, the same verb can have several different meanings in both languages, depending on the context. Mettere (along with its reflexive form mettersi) is one of those verbs that is used in many ways in Italian and is important to “put to” good use if you want to speak like an Italian.

As I’ve said before, I believe that “commonly used phrases” are the key for how we can all build fluency in any language in a short time.

If we learn how to incorporate “commonly used phrases”  when use the Italian verb mettere, we will be able to communicate just as we do in our native language!

This post is the 55th  in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” just click HERE

Many “commonly used phrases” in Italian
use the verb

  Mettere 

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.

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

Let’s Talk About…

The Many Uses of the  Italian Verb

Mettere

The Italian verb mettere and its reflexive counterpart mettersi are used in many colloquial expressions in Italy today.  It is important to “put in” the time to learn how to use mettere, both literally and figuratively, if one wants to speak Italian like a native!

The Italian verb mettere is most often translated into English as “to put” or “to place.”  It can be used in a simple way, to describe moving an object from one place to another.

Mettere is commonly used with the prepositions a, da, in and su  in many Italian expressions that have the connotation of “putting” or “placing” something or someone in a place or situation. One commonly heard expression is, “Metti su l’acqua!” for “Put on the water!” which, of course refers to boiling a pot of water in preparation for making pasta! The Internet also provides another  opportunity to use mettere su.

Mettersi a and mettere in are used to relay that an individual is “going to” initiate an action  such as starting to cook dinner or starting a car. Mettersi a can also be used in the impersonal third person to describe an act of nature starting up on its own. Finally, use mettere in to describe the emotional state or situations you have been “put into.”

Italian uses mettersi to describe the act of getting dressed. In English, we combine the verb “put” with the preposition “on” to make “put on” with reference to clothing. The preposition “on” does not have any other purpose than to change the meaning of the verb “put,” in the same way that the reflexive form of an Italian verb is used to modify or even change that verb’s original meaning. Messo, the past participle of mettere, is important to describe what one was wearing in the past. Several examples of how to use mettere and mettersi to describe getting dressed will be given in the next section.  For additional information on this topic, visit a previous blog in this series: How We Dress in Italian.

Mettere can be used in the figurative sense, meaning, “I suppose” or “I presume.” Mettere can also be used figuratively to ask how something “looks.” If you are more sure of yourself, use ammetere and admit/confirm whatever is under discussion at the moment.

Use the pronominal verb phrase “mettercela tutta” as an informal way to describe that you’ve “put in” the most effort you can/are doing your best, or to encourage another to “give it their all.”

Finally, many Italian sayings incorporate mettere.  Some of the most popular have been listed at the end of this blog.

 

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

Let’s talk about how to conjugate mettere in the present, past, and future tenses before using it in some example sentences. Luckily, mettere is regular in all tenses except for the passato prossimo, due to its irregular past participle, which is messo.

Present tense: Mettere is a regular -ere verb in the present tense. The present tense conjugation is below.

io metto
tu metti
Lei/lei/lui mette
noi mettiamo
voi  mettete
loro mettono

Past tense: When used in the passato prossimo to describe a single event, avere is the helping verb and the past participle is messo.

Mettere has a regular conjugation in the imperfetto past tense (mettevo, mettevi, metteve, mettevamo, mettevate, mettevano).

Future tense: mettere is regular in the future tense (metterò, metterai, metterà, metteremo, metterete, metteranno). 


 

1. Use mettere to describe the simple act of moving an object from one place and “putting” or “placing” it in another place.

  • Mettere is commonly followed by a noun and then a preposition to describe the act of  “putting”  or “placing” an object somewhere in one’s household.
  • The singular familiar command form of mettere, which is metti is also important to remember when directing family or friends where to put an object.
  • The past participle messo is important when one has remembered (or is trying to remember) where they have put an object.
  • The direct object pronouns “them”(le) and “it”(lo) are red, so as not to confuse them with a verb ending. 
Ho messo i piatti sulla tavola per la cena.
I put the plates on the table for dinner.
 
Brava! Ora, pian piano, metti i bicchieri di cristalleria vicino a i piatti!
Great! Now, carefully place the crystal wine glasses next to the plates!
Ho messo le chiavi nella mia borsa, ma ora non riesco a trovarle!
I put the keys in my purse, but now I can’t find them!
 
Mettilo di là, in stanza mia. 
Put it over there, in my room.  

 

2. Use mettere su to describe “putting” food “on” the stove, to “put on” something in figurative sense, or to “put up a post on” the Internet

  • Mettere with the preposition su is a commonly used expression in home cooking. For instance, when a family is ready for dinner, one can direct another to “put” a pot of water “on” the stove to boil.  No other details are necessary, for every Italian knows that  boiling, salted water is essential for making pasta! Specific foods one would like to encourage another to cook can also follow mettere su, and one can be asked more directly simply to make la pasta. Of note: with expressions of this type, the preposition su is not combined with the definite article. 
  • Mettere su is used in common expressions to mean “to put on weight” or “to put (someone) on a pedestal,” just like in English.
  • Use mettere su in the figurative sense, as in to “put on a show” of something, or to “organize” or “create” an event.
  • To sound like a native Italian when speaking about the internet, use mettere su or mettere in rete instead of postare for “putting up” with the meaning of “posting” or “publishing on line. Along these lines, “mettere in coppia” means “to copy someone” on an email.
Sono arrivato! Metti su l’acqua! 
I’m home! Put on the (pot of) water (to boil to make the pasta)!
 
Metti su la pasta! / Metti su la carne! 
Start cooking the pasta! / Start cooking the meat!
Lui ha meso su pancia quest’anno.
He has put on belly fat this year!
 
Anna mette su un piedistallo il suo fidanzato Marco.
Ann puts her fiancé Mark on a pedastal.
Lui ha meso su uno spettacolo per tutti ieri sera con i suoi scherzi.
He put on a show for everyone last night with his jokes.
 
Marco ha messo su un bel viaggio per tutti.
Mark has organized a nice trip for everyone.

 

Metti su internet una foto del tuo viaggio!
Put up a photo of your trip on the Internet!
Post a photo of your trip on the Internet!
 
Lei ha messo su un blog su internet questa settimana.
She has put up/posted a blog on the internet this week.

 

3. Use mettersi a, mettersi in the third person, or mettere in moto to describe initiating an action

  • Mettersi a is used to tell someone you are “about to/starting to” do something, such as starting to cook dinner. The Italian phrase is [mettersi a + infinitive verb]. The English translation is  [to be + going to] when mettersi is used in this way.
  • Mettersi a followed by an infinitive verb can also be used in the third person to describe an inanimate object or an act of nature starting up something by itself.  There is a popular Italian saying, “Da Santa Lucia, il freddo si mette in via,” which means, “From Saint Lucia’s Day, the cold is on its way.” The two verbs that mean “to start,” cominciare and iniziare cannot be used in the third person this way.  For a more detailed discussion on the topic of how to use impersonal reflexive verbs, visit a previous blog in this series Impersonal Statements and Reflexive Verbs.: “Come si dice?”
  • Mettere in moto is a commonly used expression to describe starting a car but can also be used figuratively with the meaning of “to embark on” or “set off on” a journey.
Sono arrivato! Ora mi metto a cucinare la cena.
I’m home! Now I am going to cook dinner.
 
Finalmente lui si mette a lavorare con noi stamattina.
Finally he is going to work with us this morning.
L’eruzione del vulcano si mette a fare la terza eruzione oggi.
The volcano starts the third eruption today.
 
L’acqua si mette ad alzarsi a Venezia a febbraio.
The water starts to rise in Venice in February.
Michele mette in moto la macchina.
Michael starts the car.
 
Dopo aver lasciato Anna, Michele mette in moto una vita nuova.
After leaving Ann, Michael sets off on a new life.

 

4. Use mettere in and mettere a/di to describe negative or positive emotional states or figurative positions you have been “put into.”

  • Mettere is often used figuratively. There are many expressions that describe the negative emotions and situations one can be “put into” by completing the phrase “mettere in…” An Italian can be put into a difficult position, doubt, embarrassment, ridicule, risk, danger, or even “to their knees” or  “on the run”! On the other hand, to be saved is to be “mettere in salvo.” The phrase that means “to be quarantined” is “mettere in quarantena.”
  • Mettere a or mettere di, conversely, are used in many expressions that describe positive interactions, such as: putting someone at ease, putting things in order, being available to help out, and helping to reach an agreement. Mettere insieme means “to put together” but also “to bring together.” And remember to say, “Sono d’accordo!” for “I agree!” once you have come to an understanding with others!
  • When describing an event,  “mettere in…” can simply mean “to put into play” (gioco) or “to put on a show” (mostra).  “Mettere in vendita” means “to put up for sale.”
  • There are many other common Italian phrases that start with mettere! Listen for how Italians use this versatile verb and you will hear it often!
Mettere in…    
  difficoltà to put in a difficult position
to hinder
  dubbio to doubt
  imbarazzo to embarrass
to make someone uncomfortable
  ridicolo to ridicule
  rischio to put someone at risk
to put in danger
  ginocchio to bring someone to their knees
  fuga
quarantena
to put someone on the run
to put someone in quarantine

 

Mettere a… proprio agio to put somebody at ease
  posto to put in order
to clean up
to put away
  disposizione to make available
  servizio to put at one’s disposition
Mettere d’…
Sono d’…
accordo to help reach an agreement
I agree!

 

5. Use mettersi to describe the act of getting dressed

  • There are several Italian verbs that are used to convey the act of wearing clothing and getting dressed. Mettersi is an important verb to know in this regard. For more information on this topic, visit a previous blog in this series: How We Dress in Italian.

Mettersi can be used to convey three different types of English sentences: I put on my dress,” “I put my dress on,” and “I put on the dress.” In general, Italian uses reflexive verbs to describe daily actions we all must perform to keep up “la bella figura.” English instead uses a [verb + preposition +possessive adjective] sentence structure. Although the last English example is correct, we most often default to using the first two examples, with the possessive “my.”

Although the sentence structure that describes getting dressed differs in Italian and English, in both cases there is a straightforward formula to follow.  For Italian, the reflexive pronoun mi (myself) is placed before the conjugated form of mettersi 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 my dress” is, “Mi metto il vestito.” 

Just remember the simple phrase “mi metto” and replace il vestito with your chosen article of clothing and you will be able to describe getting dressed!

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 my dress./I put my dress on./I put on the dress.
(Tu) Ti metti l’anello. You put on your ring.
(Lei/Lui) Si mette le scarpe. She/He puts on his shoes.

In order to describe what they have worn in the past, most Italians use mettersi and  its irregular past participle messo

Remember to use the helping verb essere for the passato prossimo 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, since we are using essere as the helping verb (see the red vowels in the examples). The table below shows how this all works:

Marco si è messo un completo oggi.

Mark wore a suit today.
Maria si è messa una gonna oggi. Maria wore a skirt today.

 

6. More figurative uses for mettersi and mettere

  • Mettersi can be used figuratively to ask how something “looks,” such as the weather or an interpersonal situation.
  • Mettere can be used in the figurative sense, meaning, “I suppose,” or “I presume” in a compound sentence with a subjunctive mood verb.  In the examples below, abbia is the subjunctive for avere and sappia is the subjunctive for sapere (singular first, second, and third persons). These are two helpful verbs to remember, even if one is not versed in the subjunctive mood. If you are more sure of yourself, use ammetere and admit/confirm whatever is under discussion at the moment, also with the subjunctive mood.
  • Remember that the noi conjugation of a verb is also used in the imperative to mean “let’s.” (See the last example.)
Come si mette il tempo oggi? 
How does the weather look today?
 
Come si mette la situazione con Clara?
How does the situation with Clara look?
Tu sai la situazione meglio di me.  Quindi, ammetto che tu abbia ragione.
You know the situation better than me. Therefore, I admit/confirm that you are right.
 
Mettiamo che Marco sappia più di noi.
Let’s presume that Mark knows more than us. 

 

7. Use the pronominal verb phrase mettercela tutta” as an informal way to describe that you have “put in your best effort.”

  • Mettercela is a pronominal verb, recognized by the ce and la tacked on to the end of metter, which is just mettere without the last “e.” Conjugate this verb exactly as you would mettere, then add the pronominal particles ce and la, following the usual rules for pronouns. 
  • The pronominal particles ce and la change the meaning of mettere.  “Mettercela tutta” means “to put in your absolute best effort” or “to give it your all,” as in strength and determination, in order to achieve a goal. 
  • The speaker can use the phrase “mettercerla tutta” in the present tense to describe an ongoing effort. “Ce la messo tutta…” means, “I am putting in my best effort.”  This phrase is also commonly used in the past tense when the speaker wants to emphasize that the outcome wasn’t for lack of trying. In this case, the passato prossimo conjugation for this completed event is, “Ce l’ho messa…”
  • Mettercela tutta can be preceded by devo, which means “I must” for an even more forceful statement. In this case, there is no need to conjugate mettercela. Just leave it in the infinitive form, as usual for verbs that follow dovere. 
  • Or, the speaker can encourage another to try as hard as they can and keep making their best effort.  Use the familiar command form of mettere, which is metti, and attach ce and la to the end of the verb for “Metticerla tutta!” To stress the importance of the effort needed, precede metticela tutta with, “Dai!” for “C’mon!”  
  • Notice another pronominal verb in our examples, farcela, which in this case means “to succeed.”
  • Follow these simple formulas for using mettercela to really speak like a native Italian!
Ce la metto tutta. Spero di farcela!
I putting in everything I have! I hope to succeed!
 
Devo mettercerla tutta questa settimana per trovare un cliente nuovo.
I must focus all my effort this week into finding a new client.
Ce l’ho messa tutta, ma non ho superato l’esame lo stesso!
I gave it my all but I failed (didn’t pass) the exam anyway!
 
Dai! Dobbiamo vincere questa partita. Metticela tutta!
C’mon! We have to win this match. Give it all you’ve got!

*To make sense of the construction “Ce l’ho messa,” we must remember that the l’ stands in for ” la”  and therefore is feminine. La drops its “a” in the passato prossimo before ho, to make l’ho, which is easier to say. Then, this dropped “a” reappears as the new ending for the past participle! These rules are explained in detail in our Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Verbs” book.

 

8. Common Italian sayings that use mettere

Mettere i soldi in cassa = to make money (literally to put money in the cash register)

Mettere a pane e acqua = a harsh punishment (literally to give someone only bread and water)

Mettere i piedi in testa a = walk over/trample over somebody

Mettere il carro davanti ai buoi = put the cart in front of the horse

Mettere in piazza qualcosa = to be open about something/lay your cards on the table

Mettere in primo piano = make a priority of something/ emphasize/focus on

Mettere il becco in = to stick your nose in/interfere

Mettere bocca su tutto = always commenting on/have an opinion on everything

Mettere i puntini sulle “i” = dot your i’s/ be nitpicky

 

There are even more ways to use the Italian verb mettere than space in this blog! 
Practice listening for the Italian phrases that use mettere and
try them out in your own Italian conversations!

 

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! How to Use the Preposition “Di” in Italian

Colorful homes on a block in Burano with a garden and a park bench out front
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently in 2022?

Why not set a goal to learn Italian, starting today, for the year 2022? I will try to help you with this goal by posting a new blog every month in the series “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” With these blogs, I discuss how Italians use their language on a daily basis and in so doing help you to “think in Italian.” 

To speak fluently in another language, it is important to know how to introduce an object, or to describe direction, location or time. We do this naturally in our own language with prepositions — short words like of, to, at/in/from, and by. All languages use prepositions but the choice of preposition in a given situation will differ from one language to another. This is the case for English and Italian; English and Italian often use prepositions in a different way. Also, in some situations Italian sentence structure may require a preposition where English does not!

Let’s start our new series on Italian prepositions with the essential Italian preposition “di.” If we learn how to use the Italian preposition “di,” which can be translated into the English prepositions “of, from,” and “by,” we will truly sound like a native Italian!

This post is the 54th in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” just click HERE

Many “commonly used phrases”
in Italian use

  the preposition “di”

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.

*This material adapted from the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and reference books Just the Verbs and Just the Grammar 

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

 Use “Di” to Say
Where You are From

One of the most frequent questions asked during polite conversation is, “Where are you from?” This is expressed in Italian with the verb to be (essere) and di, which is translated in English to the preposition from in this situation. The Italian sentence structure is, “From where are you?”

di + dove + essere from + where + to be

In proper English, of course, we would say, “Where are you from?” Although the Italian sentence sounds awkward in English, the rule in Italian is never to end a sentence with a preposition; in effect, the English sentence likely sounds awkward to Italians!  The answer in Italian will also use di and is followed by the town of one’s birth. Notice that the subject pronoun io (I) is usually left out of the answer, as it is understood from the ending of the verb. For instance:

Di dov’è Lei?

Where are you (polite) from?

Di dove sei?

Where are you (familiar) from?

Sono di Chicago.

(I) am from Chicago.

Note: there is another way of asking where someone is from in Italian — the phrase, “Da dove viene?” This phrase uses the conjunction da with the verb venire, and is a more general reference to where one has been living in prior years. The answer is “Vengo da…” for “I am from…” This phrase will be discussed in more detail in a future blog about the preposition da.


 

Expressing Possession with “Di”

In Italian, the word di is used to expresses possession, and in this situation, di means of. To describe ownership of a car in Italian, for instance, one would use di to create the sentence: “Questa è la macchina di Pietro.”

We can translate the Italian way of thinking into English with the following sentence: “This is the car of Peter.”  To the American ear, though, this sounds formal and too wordy. We have the option of expressing this thought with [apostrophe + the letter s] (‘s) tacked onto the name of the person doing the possessing. The English version of our example above would be, “This is Peter’s car.”  In Italian, though, if we want to use someone’s name to describe possession, we have only the very first sentence structure: “Questa è la macchina di Pietro.” 


 

General Uses for “Di”

1. In order to express authorship of a work, Italians use di, which in this case corresponds to the English word by.  Also use di with the verb conoscere to describe “knowing someone by” their appearance or their name. Notice we may render these ideas a bit differently in English.

8 ½ è un film di Frederico Fellini.

8 ½ is a film by Fredrico Fellini.

Conosco Marco di vista, ma non ci siamo mai incontrati.

I know what Mark looks like, but we have not (ever) met.

Conosco Marco di nome, ma non ci siamo mai incontrati.

I know Mark’s name, but we have not (ever) met.

2. In order to express what something is composed of, Italians use di. In English, we say “made of,” and in Italian the past particle fatto can be used as an adjective to make the corresponding phrase fatto(a,i,e) di.” However, in Italian the adjective fatto is optional and the entire meaning of the phrase is usually conveyed just with the preposition di.  This is why it is so important to learn how to use Italian prepositions correctly. A short, simple preposition can change the meaning of an entire sentence! 

Note: for all metals that are not gold (oro) and for the cloth velvet (vellutouse the preposition in instead of di. These exceptions are simply by convention.

Questa sedia fatta di legno è dura.

This chair made of wood is tough.

Ho comprato un camicia di seta oggi.

I bought a silk blouse today.

Mio marito mi ha regolato un’anello d’oro.

My husband bought me a ring made of gold.

—–but-—-

Questa è una scultura in bronzo.

This sculpture is made of bronze.

La vecchia poltrona è stata rivestita in velluto.

The old chair was restored with velvet cloth.

There are also many descriptive nouns in English that are composed of two nouns, one of which acts as an adjective to describe the other. Some of these descriptive noun/adjectives must be linked with di in Italian if the descriptive term represents what the main item is made of. For instance the two English words that represent one item from the example silk blouse given above is translated  into Italian as camicia di seta. The single English word sandcastle is il castello di sabbia in Italian, or “the castle made of sand.”  Descriptive nouns will be covered in more detail in a future blog about da.

3. In order to relate that a topic is being talked about, or discussed/argued about, Italians use di to link certain verbs with the subject matter under discussion. The most common verbs used in this way are: parlare (to talk), discutere (to discuss) and trattarsi, (concerning or regarding).   

For the verb parlare, the Italian preposition di is translated as “about” in English. When a verb follows parlare di or discutere di to complete the sentence, Italian simply adds an infinitive verb after di. English uses [about + gerund of the verb]. You remember, of course, that the gerund is the commonly used “-ing” form of a verb in English. Below are two examples using parlare and discutere. 

Caterina parla di viaggiare, non di politica.

Kathy talks about traveling, not about politics.

Marco discute di politica troppo!

Mark discusses/talks about politics too much!

Trattarsi di is generally used in the third person as “Si tratta di…” to ask and answer the question “What is this regarding?” Parlare often starts a conversation of this type, when one person asks to speak to another about something, someone, or an action. Two example conversations are below; the first could take place between a boss and a worker, the second perhaps between two family members. To add a feeling of urgency or importance to the conversation, the examples start with “devo” for “I have to.”  Notice again how  the Italian preposition di is always placed at the beginning of a question, just like in the first section examples that ask where someone is from.

Devo parlarti.

I have to talk to you.

Di cosa si tratta?

What is this regarding?

Si tratta del tuo stipendio.

It is regarding your salary.

Devo parlarti di una cosa importante;

I must speak to you about something important;

…si tratta di Paolo.

…it’s concerning Paul.

…si tratta della mia macchina vecchia.

…it’s regarding my old car.

…si tratta di viaggiare in Italia insieme.

…it’s regarding traveling in Italy together.

To complete our discussion, note a change in use of the preposition di required in Italian that is not evident in English: when talking about a person or something by name, the Italian preposition su is used in the following construction: [su + definite article + noun]. The English translation “about” is the same.

Sto leggendo un bel libro su DaVinci.
Ho guardato un bel film su DaVinci.

I am reading a good book about DaVinci.
I watched a good film about Da Vinci.

Ho imparato molto sul Rinascimento all’Università.

I’ve learned a lot about the Renaissance at college.

4. The verb pensare has a special relationship with the preposition di.  When saying, “I think so,” to agree with someone, or “I don’t think so,” to disagree, one might say pensare is being used as a verb of discussion, as in #3 above. In this situation, the conjugated form of pensare is followed by “di si” or “di no.”

Also use [pensare di+ infinitive verb] when thinking about an action you may want to carry out.  But, use [pensare a +noun] when thinking about a person, place, or thing. 

For the sake of completeness, it should be mentioned that [pensare che + subjunctive mood verb] is used to link to phrases with different subjects in a single sentence. However, use of the subjunctive mood is beyond the scope of this blog!

Penso di si.

I think so.

Penso di no.

I don’t think so.

Penso di viaggiare in Italia l’anno prossimo.

I am thinking about traveling to Italy next year.

                                                                  —–but-—-

Penso a te, a Rosa, e alla vostra famiglia.

I am thinking about you, Rose, and your family.

Penso a Roma ogni giorno.

I think about Rome every day.

Penso a tutti i bei vestiti fatti a Roma.

I am thinking about all the beautiful dresses made in Rome.

5. To mention an acquaintance’s age in conversation, use di as part of a descriptive phrase about the individual before giving their age in years. The phrases “all’età di (at the age of) or “a girl/woman, boy/man, etc. of precede the age type of sentence. This sentence structure also works for the age of an inanimate object, such as a bottle of wine!

Lei è una signora di ottantadue anni.

She is a lady of 82 years.

Ho una bottaglia di vino rosso di 10 anni.

I have a ten-year-old bottle of red wine.

6.  To say something happened “in” or “at” a particular time of day, use di before the Italian words for morning (mattina), afternoon (pomeriggio), evening (sera), or night (notte)

Ci vendiamo di mattina.

We’ll see each other in the morning.

Di pomeriggio, vado al lavoro.

In the afternoon, I go to work.

Io e mio marito ceniamo alle sei di sera.

My husband and I eat dinner at 6 in the evening.

“Buona notte!” dice mia figlia preciso alle undici  di notte.  

“Good night,” my daughter says at precisely 11 o’clock at night.

7. To say something happened “in” the summertime or wintertime, use di before the Italian words for summer (estate) and winter (inverno). Use the Italian preposition in for spring (primavera) and autumn (autunno).  This is by convention.

D’estate, andiamo spesso alla spiaggia.

In the summer, we go to the beach often.

Andiamo in montagne a fare sci d’inverno.

We go to the mountains to ski in the winter.

In primavera, tutti i fiori fioriscono.

In springtime, all the flowers are in bloom.

In autunno, le foglie cadono dagli alberi.

In autumn, the leaves fall from the trees.


 

Common Expressions with “Di”
Avere and Essere 

There are several Italian phrases used to express one’s feelings that require the preposition di to link the conjugated form of the verb avere with the infinitive form of the verb of action that will complete the sentence. In English, replacing the Italian preposition di with the translation of is variable. In some cases, the English infinitive verb will be used alone or the English expression may use a gerund instead of an infinitive verb. You must really learn to think in Italian to use these expressions! Some examples of how to use these phrases are given in the last column. How many more can you think of?

avere bisogno di

 to have need of

Ho bisogno di… riposare.

   

I need to rest.

avere paura di

to be afraid/have fear of

Ho paura di… guidare.

   

I am afraid of driving/to drive.

avere voglia di

to feel like

Ho voglia di… mangiare una pizza.

   

I feel like eating a pizza.

There are several expressions of feeling that use the verb essere and take the preposition di prior to adding an infinitive verb to complete a sentence. Again, in English, we do not always use an additional preposition for these phrases, aside from the word to that is already a part of the infinitive verb.  

essere certo di

to be certain of

Sono certo di… ricordare il tuo nome.

   

I am sure to remember your name.

essere sicuro di

to be certain of

Sono sicuro di… ricordare questo posto.

   

I am sure to remember this place.

essere contento di

to be happy to

Sono conteno di… stare qui.

   

I am happy to be here.

essere felice di

to be happy to

Sono felice di… incontrare mio cugino oggi.

   

I am happy to meet my cousin today.

essere fortunato di

to be lucky to

Sono fortunato di… mangiare questa cena.

   

I am so lucky to be eating this dinner.

essere libero di

to be free to

Sono libero di… viaggiare.

   

I am free to travel.

essere stanco di

to be tired of

Sono stanco di… volare.

   

I am tired of flying.


 

When to Use “Di”
to Link Italian Verbs

When we link two Italian verbs together in the present tense, the first verb, or helping verb, is conjugated and the second verb, or action verb, is left in the infinitive form. For instance, “Tomorrow, I have to go to work,” is a simple statement that can be translated as, “Domani, devo andare al lavoro.” “I have to” meaning, “I must,”  is the first person present tense of dovere, which is devo. Andare means “to go.”

Other helping verbs, such as potere and volere work the same way in the present tense. In fact, using the polite first person of potere, which is può, followed by an infinitive verb, is a simple way to ask for what you need while traveling in Italy. Once you remember “Mi può…” no further conjugation is necessary using this method Just tack on the infinitive verb for what you need and finish the sentence!

Some examples that use [può + infinitive verb] useful for traveling are given below:

Mi può portare a Piazza Navona?

Could you take me to Piazza Navona?

Mi può parlare in englese?

Could you speak to me in English?

Mi può chiamare un tassì?

Could you call a taxi for me?

Although the traveler to Italy can get by with simple phrases, it is important to understand how to create a more complex sentence if one truly wants to be fluent in Italian. This is where the preposition di becomes important. There are some action verbs that need to be followed by the Italian preposition di before an infinitive verb is added to complete the sentence.

Most of the verbs that must use di prior to an infinitive verb describe speaking, thinking, or an activity that needs to be completed. We have already discussed parlare and pensare. Other actions, such as  trying to (cercare di), finishing (finire di), and waiting (aspettare di) need the preposition di to join them to an additional verb of activity. 

In the case of cercare, the meaning will change when di is used to link this verb to another. By itself, cercare means to look for, but cercare di means to try to. For the Italian speaker, it is natural to insert the preposition di after certain verbs; it just sounds correct when one has grown up with the Italian language.  For the Italian student, listening to Italian will also be important. Listen for the word di when these phrases come up in Italian movies and songs and soon it will become natural to say these phrases correctly!

Accettare

to accept

Accetto di… lavorare duro perché è necessario.

   

I accept working hard because it is necessary.

Aspettare

to wait

Aspetto di… ricevere un regalo dal mio fidanzato.

   

I am waiting to receive a present from my fiancée.

Cercare di

to try to

Cerco di… studiare bene.

   

I am trying to study well.

Credere

to believe

Credo di… avere ragione.

   

I believe I am correct.

Decidere

to decide

Decido di… andare a visitare la mia amica mentre in giro.

   

I decide to visit my friend while I am out and about.

Dimenticare

to forget

Non dimenticare di… prendere la medicina! (command)

   

Don’t forget to take the medicine!

Dire

to say/tell

Dico di… no. Non sono d’accordo.

   

I say no. I don’t agree.

Finire

to finish

Finisco di… lavorare per oggi alle sei di sera.

   

I finish working every day at 6 PM.

Occuparsi di

to work at

Mi occupo di… medicina.

   

I work as a doctor/nurse/in the medical field.

Ordinare

to order

La mamma ordina ai bambini di… studiare.

   

The mother orders the children to study.

Pensare

to think

Penso di… si. 

   

I think so.

Pregare

to pray/beg

Prego di… andare in Italia l’anno prossimo.

   

I pray to go to Italy next year.

Ricordare
Ricordarsi

 to remember

Ricordati di… prendere la medicina! (command)

   

Remember to take the medicine!

Scegliere

to choose

Sceglo di... prendere un caffé con un biscotto ogni mattina.

   

I choose to take coffee with an Italian cookie every day.

Scrivere

to write

Scrivo di… viaggiare.

   

I write about traveling.

Smettere

to stop

Smetti di… bere il vino! (command)

   

Stop drinking the wine!

Sperare

to hope

Spero di… trovare la strada giusta.

   

I hope to find the right road.


Remember how to use the Italian preposition “di” in conversation 
and I guarantee you will use the Italian “di” every day!

Conversational Italian for Travelers books are shown side by side, standing up with "Just the Verbs" on the left and "Just the Grammar" on the right
Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar” and “Just the Verbs” books: Available on  amazon.com  and Learn Travel Italian.com
The cover of Conversational Italian for Travelers "Just the Important Phrases" book is viewed on a smartphone
Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” book downloaded onto a cell phone from www.learntravelitalian.com

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! Let’s Talk About… Dating in Italian

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

Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently in 2022?

Why not set a goal to learn Italian, starting today, for the year 2022? I will try to help you with this goal by posting a new blog every month in the series “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” With these blogs, I describe how Italians use their language on a daily basis and in so doing  help you to “think in Italian.” 

February is the month we in America celebrate Valentines Day, a holiday that originated in Italy and is still popular there today, as described in last years’ February blog “How to Say… ‘I feel’ on Valentines Day with Sentirsi.” Since the Italian phrases that describe a romantic relationship are not usually listed in textbooks, I’ve focused on Italian novels and movies to learn how Italians talk about falling in love. Once I discover a phrase about dating or romance, I check with my native Italian friends and instructors for authenticity and to verify how the phrase is used today.

I’ve managed to piece together the following information about how Italians talk about dating and romantic relationships in this blog, some of which is reprinted from my blog for advanced students of Italian: Italian Subjunctive (Part 4): Italian Hypothetical Phrases of Love.   After reading this introductory blog, you may want to check out the dialogue I have created in Italian Hypothetical Phrases of Love, where these phrases are put to use!

If we learn a few phrases to describe dating in Italian, we will be able to talk to others about the person who has become the “special someone” in our life!

This post is the 53rd  in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” just click HERE.

Many “commonly used phrases”
in Italian describe

  Dating in Italian

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.

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

Let’s Talk About… Dating in Italian

Today in America, we “date,” “go out on a date,” or refer to two people who are “dating,” from the first romantic encounter until they become married. After marriage, a couple can still go out on “date nights.” But be careful when translating American romantic experiences into Italian! The English verb “to date” as used in America today to refer to a romantic relationship does not have a literal translation in Italian.

Of course, “to court” a woman was common in past centuries, and the Italian language still reflects this. When a man tries to show he is interested in a woman, the phrase “fare la corte a…” is used from the verb corteggiare or “to court.” For instance, “Marco fa la corte a Maria,” is translated literally as “Mark is courting Maria,” with the connotation that he is “pursuing” her or trying to “win” her love.

The verb corteggiare can also be used figuratively, between any two adults, to describe when one is trying to cajole, flatter, or entice another, usually to “convince” them to do something. “Marco corteggia il proprietario alla festa perché vuole un aumento di stipendio.” “Mark flattered the owner at the party because he wanted an increase in his salary.”

There is a verb still in use in Italy today that refers to a man seducing, or “winning over,” a woman: “conquistare… ” such as, “Marco ha conquistato Maria.” If Maria lets herself be “won over” or “captivated” by Marco, she can use the phrase, “Mi lascio conquestare da Marco.”

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

In today’s vernacular, if one wants to allude to the fact that they are dating, or “seeing” someone special in the Italian language, the following phrases can be used:

“Mi vedo con un ragazzo.”
“Mi vedo con una ragazza.”
“I’m seeing a boy.”
“I am seeing a girl.”
“Esco con un ragazzo.”
“Esco con una ragazza.”
“I’m going out with a boy.”
“I’m going out with a girl.”
“Il ragazzo con cui ho/avevo appuntamento/date.”
“La ragazza con cui ho/avevo appuntamento/date.”
“The boy with whom I have/had an appointment/date.”
“The boy with whom I have/had an appointment/date.”

It should be noted that ragazzo and ragazza also translate into boyfriend and girlfriend. To let another know you have a boyfriend or girlfriend, simply say, “Ho un ragazzo,” or “Ho una ragazza.” 

Also, you’ll notice that from the above translations that the Italian noun appuntamento does double duty, since it  corresponds to both appointment and date. In English, the word appointment is generally used to refer to a business meeting or a formal meeting in general, often between people who do not know each other well. The noun “date” can be used to describe a general meeting between friends, and is always used when one wants to imply a romantic interest.

Italian can be used to refer to regular romantic “get togethers” before marriage with the phrase “to go out with someone”“uscire con qualcuno.”  “Io esco con Marco ogni sabato sera,” means, “I go out with Mark every Saturday night,” and implies, “I go out on a (romantic) date with Mark every Friday night.” 

The Italian verb “frequentarsi,” which means “to spend time with each other” can also be used to describe a special relationship. Frequentarsi can also be translated as “to see each other” or “to date each other” in the romantic sense or simply to “to hang out with” friends. The non reflexive form, frequentare, means “to frequent” or “to visit” a certain place.

Some examples of how to use the Italian verbs that describe a special relationship are listed in the table below. Remember that ci and si in these examples stand for “each other.” For a refresher on how to use reciprocal reflexive verbs, visit our blog in this series called Italian Reciprocal Reflexive Verbs.

Marco e io ci frenquentiamo. Mark and I are spending time with each other. (romantically)
Mark and I are seeing each other (romantically)
Mark and I are dating each other.
Noi ci frequentiamo il sabato sera. We are seeing each other/dating every Saturday night.
   
Marco e Maria si fequentano. Mark and Maria are dating each other.
Loro si frequentano ogni venderdì sera. Mark and Maria see each other/
going out on a date every Friday night.
Marco frequenta il Ristorante Paolo il sabato. Mark frequents/goes to Ristorante Paolo on Saturday nights.
Marco si frequenta con i suoi amici in piazza quando non ha niente da fare. Mark hangs out with his friends in the piazza when he doesn’t have anything to do.
Marco si fequenta con Maria spesso. Mark often hangs out with Maria. (as friends)
   
Marco e i suoi amici frequentano il Ristorante Paolo. Mark and his friends hang out at Ristorante Paolo.
Loro si frequentano ogni vender sera. They see each other every Friday night. (as friends)

Finally, to express a close romantic relationship in Italian, we can use the word “rapporto.” Any relationship in general is considered a “relazione.” But be careful, as an “affair” outside of marriage is also a “relazione,” whereas “affari” refers to more general personal and business “affairs.”

 

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

 

Now that we have learned the Italian needed to talk about dating, let’s review how to say, “I love you” to that special someone on Valentines Day.

“Ti voglio bene” is an old Italian expression that is still used for both platonic and romantic love. The meaning of this phrase is not easily translated into English, but it is used often in Italy to express one’s feeling of  closeness to another. This expression has its origin in the Italian phrasal verb “volere bene (a qualcuno).” “Ti voglio bene” can been translated as, “I care for you” or,”I wish you well,” but really, it is the way Italians tell others that they love them.

The expression “ti voglio bene” can be used between family members and friends, as well as a boyfriend and girlfriend or husband and a wife. Watch some older Italian movies, and you will hear this expression often!

Mi voui bene? Do you care for/about me?
Ti voglio bene. I care for/about you.

 

The verb amare, which means “to love” is reserved for romantic love — that one true love held between a couple who are dating, fiancée and fiancé, or wife and husband. Remember the simple expressions with amare in the table below to use with someone special this Valentines Day!

Mi ami? Do you love me?
Ti amo. I love you.
Ti amo per sempre. I will always love you.

If you learn to talk about dating in Italian
and how to use the verb amare 
you will really have learned to think in Italian!

 

Buona Festa del San Valentino!

Conversational Italian for Travelers books are shown side by side, standing up with "Just the Verbs" on the left and "Just the Grammar" on the right
Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar” and “Just the Verbs” books: Available on  amazon.com  and Learn Travel Italian.com
The cover of Conversational Italian for Travelers "Just the Important Phrases" book is viewed on a smartphone
Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” book downloaded onto a cell phone from www.learntravelitalian.com

 

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! Impersonal Statements and Reflexive Verbs: “Come si dice…?”

Colorful homes on a block in Burano with a garden and a park bench out front

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

Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently in 2022?

Now that 2022 is upon us, why not set a goal to learn Italian, starting today, for the year 2022? I will try to help you with this goal by posting blogs that describe how Italians use their language on a daily basis and in so doing  help you to “think in Italian.” 

For instance, did you know that Italians still use impersonal constructions? By “impersonal constructions” I mean sentences that describe what “one” is doing, in order to make a general statement.

A common example of an Italian impersonal construction is the phrase, “Come si dice…” This simple Italian phrase is used by every Italian student at one point or another when asking for help with their vocabulary.  The literal translation of “Come si dice…?” is, “How does one say…”  In spoken English, this construction is only rarely used today, and usually in formal situations. Instead, to generalize, English speakers often use the collective “you” — directed both at no one in particular and at everyone at the same time! Especially in an informal conversation, “Come si dice…” would be translated as, “How do you say…?” But in Italian, when one generalizes, he or she cannot replace the “si” for “one” with “tu” for “you” the way we do in English.

If we learn how to use impersonal phrases in Italian, with  Italian reflexive verbs, we will be able to ask general questions, give directions, and even express how mechanical objects work!

This post is the 52nd  in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” just click HERE

Many “commonly used phrases”
in Italian are Impersonal Statements
that describe general interactions
and use

  Italian 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.

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

Italian Reflexive Verbs

Knowing how to use Italian reflexive verbs is extremely important for conversation, since Italian reflexive verbs often describe activities and emotions that are encountered every day. Reflexive verbs are recognized by the –si ending of their infinitive form. Let’s review a bit about reflexive verbs before going on to discuss how they are used to make impersonal statements.

Direct reflexive verbs, as their name suggests, are used when an action refers back directly to the speaker in the subject of the sentence. For example, if one wants to describe the everyday act of falling asleep in Italian, they must use the reflexive verb addormentarsi. Italian reflexive verbs are also used to express the English concept of “to get,” as we’ve seen in a prior Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day blog. When one “gets mad,” they must express this concept in Italian with the verb arrabbiarsi. Consider also the every day activity of “getting dressed,” with mettersi, which was the focus of another blog in this series, How We Dress in Italian.

All Italian students are introduced  to a direct reflexive verb of the –arsi type at the very beginning of their studies, when they learn how to introduce themselves with the reflexive verb that means “to be named,” which is chiamarsi.  There are, of course, also reflexive verbs of the –ersi and –irsi types as well, such as mettersi (to put on clothes/to get dressed) and divertirsi (to enjoy oneself).

The necessary component of all reflexive verbs is the reflexive pronoun (myself, yourself,  himself, etc.), which is what actually  corresponds to and refers directly back to the subject.

To review, the reflexive pronouns are:

mimyself
ti – yourself (familiar)
si – yourself (pol.)/ herself, himself, itself, oneself

ciourselves
 vi – yourselves (familiar)
si – themselves

 

To conjugate a reflexive verb, start with the subject pronoun and follow with the corresponding reflexive pronoun. However, remember that for conversational Italian the subject pronoun is usually left out of the sentence and is only sometimes included for emphasis.

Our first table below starts us on our way to the complete conjugation of a reflexive verb by pairing each subject pronoun with its corresponding reflexive pronoun:

io mi I myself
tu ti you (familiar) yourself
Lei

lei/lui

si you (polite)

she/he

yourself

herself, himself,
itself, oneself

       
noi ci we ourselves
voi vi you all yourselves
loro si they yourselves (polite)
themselves

All we need to do now is to add our verb to create the action!  Notice that the English translation adds the reflexive pronoun after the verb, while in Italian the reflexive pronoun comes before the verb (except for familiar commands). This may take a little time to get used to!

Let’s conjugate divertirsito have fun / enjoy oneself — as an example:

io mi diverto I enjoy myself
tu ti diverti you (familiar) enjoy yourself
Lei

lei/lui

si diverte you (polite) enjoy yourself

she/he enjoys herself, himself

       
noi ci divertiamo we enjoy ourselves
voi vi divertite you all enjoy yourselves
loro si divertono they enjoy themselves

How to Make  Impersonal Statements
Italian Reflexive Pronouns

Generalizations in the third person, called impersonal statements, are used sparingly in English but are common in Italian. An Italian impersonal statement is created by using the reflexive pronoun si, along with a verb in the singular or plural third person (either the lei/lui or the loro form).

As noted from the conjugation tables from the first section…

  • when the reflexive pronoun si is used in the singular third person, the reference is to a single, unnamed person, and the subject can be translated as one.”
  • when the reflexive pronoun si is used in the plural third person, the reference is to a group of unnamed people and the subject can be translated as they.”

In both situations, the speaker is referring in general to someone,
without a individual or group of people in mind.
It makes sense, then, that these statements are called  “impersonal statements.”

A common example of an Italian impersonal statement is the phrase, “Come si dice…” This simple Italian phrase is used by every Italian student at one point or another when asking for help with their vocabulary.  The literal translation of “Come si dice…?” is, “How does one say…”  This construction is only rarely used in spoken English today, and usually in formal situations. Instead, when an English speaker wants to generalize, he or she often uses the collective “you” — directed both at no one in particular and at everyone at the same time! Especially in an informal conversation, “Come si dice…” would be translated into English as, “How do you say…?” But in Italian, when one generalizes, he or she cannot replace the “si” for “one” with “tu” for “you” the way we do in English.

Some generalizations that come up frequently in Italian conversation are listed below. The direct Italian translation is given first, with the English phrase more commonly used to express the same idea in the following translation. You may want to remember the first example when asking for help with your Italian!

Come si dice…? How (does) one say…?
How do you say…?
Come si dicono…? How (do) they say…
How (do) you all say...
In Italia, si parla italiano. In Italy, one speaks Italian.
In Italy, Italian is spoken.
In America, si parlano molte lingue. In America, they speak many languages.
In America, many languages
are spoken.
Si può fare? Can one do it?
Can it be done?
Can you do it?
Si sa che… One knows that…
You know that…
Non si sa mai! One never knows!
You never know!

Impersonal statements can also be used to describe a rule and are often found in Italian sayings or proverbs.

Si deve obbedire alla legge. One must obey the law.
You have to obey the law.
Non si paga per parcheggiare la domenica. One doesn’t pay for parking on Sundays.
You don’t pay for parking on Sundays.
Qualche volta, uno si trova a un bivio della propria vita. Sometimes, one finds himself at a crossroads of his life.
Vivendo s’impara. One learns by living.

Use Italian impersonal statements when giving directions, such as when talking a friend through a recipe for a favorite dish. For instance, to describe how to make your family’s Italian tomato sauce, use the common verbs aggiungere (to add) and mettere (to put) in the third person singular with the reflexive pronoun “si” to describe how “one” cooks. For examples, see the first table below. In English, of course, we default to “you” when giving directions to someone in conversation, and this is reflected in the translation. To follow are a few pointers about how to cook pasta to go with that delicious pot of tomato sauce!

Prima, si taglia a pezzi una cipolla e uno spicchio d’aglio. First, one chops an onion and a clove of garlic into small pieces.
First, you chop…
Poi, si mette la verdura in pentola  con l’olio di oliva. Then, one puts the vegetables in a pot with olive oil.
Then, you put…
Li si cuoce, si mescola bene, fino a quando tutti e due sono morbidi. One cooks them, sautéing well, until both are soft.
You cook them…
Si aggiunge la passata di pomodoro, l’acqua, e il basilico. One adds tomato puree, water, and basil.
You add…
Si agguinge un po’ di sale e pepe. One adds a little bit of salt and pepper.
You add…
Si cuoce la salsa per almeno un’ora, e si mescola bene. One cooks the sauce for at least one hour, stirring well.
You cook the sauce… and you mix…
Per la pasta perfetta, si deve seguire questo metodo: For the perfect pasta, one must follow this method:
For the perfect pasta, you must…
Si mette una pentola grande con tanta acqua sui fornelli. One puts a large pot with lots of water on the stovetop.
You put…
Si copre e si riscalda l’aqua fino a bollire. One covers it and heats up the water until it is boiling.
You cover it… you bring the water to boil…
Si aggiunge una manciata di sale, si ricopre la pentola, e si riscalda l’aqua fino a fare bollire di nuovo.  One adds a handful (lots) of salt, one covers the pot, and brings the water to boil again.
You add… you recover the pot… and you bring the water to boil…
Quando l’acqua sta bollendo, scoperchiare la pentola e aggiungere la pasta.
Si deve mescolare bene a questo punto.
When the water is boiling, uncover the pot and add the pasta.
One must mix well at this point.
You must mix well…
Si fa bollire la pasta secondo le istruzioni nella scatola della pasta. One must boil the pasta according to the directions on the pasta box.
You must boil the pasta…
Quando la pasta è al dente, scolare l’acqua e aggiungere la salsa! When the pasta is “al dente,” drain the water and add the sauce!

How to Describe Movement with
Italian Reflexive Verbs

When an inanimate object does something automatically, this idea is rendered in Italian using the third person of a reflexive verb. In many situations, Italian uses a reflexive verb to describe movement when English relays the same idea by combining the verb with a preposition, such as “on” or “up.” Note that in English, the preposition is added only to change the meaning of the verb. In the same way, Italian uses a reflexive verb, with its reflexive pronoun, to change the meaning of a verb.

Let’s take a simple, everyday situation at home for our first example: “Ann turns on the light.”  The verb that means “turn on” in Italian is accendere and the Italian translation is, “Anna accende la luce.” However, electric lights can be programmed to turn on automatically. In English, I can say, “The automatic light turns itself on when I enter the room.” Although the preposition “on” is required in English, the reflexive pronoun “itself” is optional. To convey the same idea, it is mandatory in Italian to use the reflexive verb accendersi: “La luce automatica si accende quando entro la stanza.” 

In short, English sometimes uses a third person reflexive verb to describe an automatic action but often does not, instead relying on the addition of a preposition.  Italian is more consistent, with a reflexive counterpart to most verbs of action that refer to mechanical movement.

Another simple action that requires a reflexive verb in Italian and a verb + preposition combination in English is that of  “rising up” or “going up.” The verb alzare means “to raise” or “to lift” something. “I lifted the box onto the table,” is a simple sentence that translates as, Ho alzato la scatola sul tavolo.” But if a person “gets up” in the morning, the action becomes reflexive and the verb alzarsi is needed. Similarly, a bird or an inanimate object such as a kite can “rise up” or “go up” into the sky and the verb alzarsi once again comes into play.

Below are some examples of how Italians use reflexive verbs to describe movement of inanimate objects. Notice exceptions to what we have just discussed: the verb cominciare (to start) and cadere (to fall) are not reflexive when speaking about an inanimate object. However, mettersi a followed by an infinitive verb can be used in the third person to describe an inanimate object or an act of nature starting to do something by itself. Also, the verb smettere (to stop) is not used in a reflexive way, although fermare, which also means to stop, does have a reflexive counterpart: the verb fermarsi.

La luce automatica si accende quando entro la stanza. The automatic light turns (itself) on when I enter the room.
Le luci della casa si accendono ogni sera. The house lights turn (themselves) on every night.
Le luci della casa si spengono ogni sera. The house lights turn (themselves) off every morning.
L’acensore si apre. The elevator opens.
L’acensore si chiude. The elevator shuts.
Il treno comincia l’itinerario.

Il treno si mette ad andare velocemente.

The train starts its route.

The train starts to go fast.

Il treno si ferma automaticamente. The train stops automatically.
Il gabbiano si alza e vola via. The sea gull rises up and flies away.
L’aquilone si alza nelle nuvole. The kite rises into the clouds.
Le foglie cadono per terra ogni autunno. The leaves fall to the ground every autumn.

How to Describe Nature and Life with
Italian Reflexive Verbs

We all know the forces of nature well, as they act every day to create the environment in which we live. Since nature is an inanimate being, the actions of the weather are often given with reflexive verbs in Italian. Listen closely to the Italian news and you will hear about how a volcano in Sicily finally stopped erupting, or  how the sea has begun to rise in the Venetian lagoon — all described in the third person with Italian reflexive verbs!

For the common phrases that describe what weather “it” is making, such as, “Fa caldo oggi” (“It is hot today”) or “Fa freddo oggi” (“It is cold today”), Italians use fare in the third person without an indirect object pronoun. But to say, “It is getting late,” or “It is getting dark,” we use the reflexive farsi for the phrases, “Si fa tarde” or “Si fa buio.” (For more of these common phrases, visit our blog in this series, “Lets talk about… the weather in Italian!”)

In the same way, it is often necessary to use Italian reflexive verbs when speaking about abstract forces that can “act” on our lives.  Life itself is often spoken of as “moving” slowly or quickly. However, there is no reflexive verb for passare, so time can be seen as “passing by” without the addition of a reflexive pronoun.  (For more ways to use passare, visit our blog in this series, “The Many Uses of Passare.” )

In short, to understand the nuances of how to use reflexive verbs to describe actions of the weather or make generalizations about life, it is helpful to listen to native Italians as much as possible. In this way, it will eventually become natural to use Italian verbs the way Italians do!

The examples discussed above are listed below.

L’eruzione del vulcano in Sicilia si è fermato. The eruption of the volcano in Sicily has stopped.
L’acqua a Venezia si è alzata due metri
e si sta alzando ancora! 
The water in Venice has risen 2 meters and is still rising!
Fa caldo oggi. / Fa freddo oggi. It is warm today. / It is cold today
Si fa tarde. / Si fa buio. It’s getting late. / It is getting dark.
Nella campagna, la vita si muove lentamente. In the country, life moves slowly.
Il tempo passa lentamente quando si aspetta. Time passes slowly for one who waits (when one is waiting for something.)

Listen carefully to Italians when they speak
and I guarantee you will hear
Italian impersonal statements and  Italian reflexive verbs
every day!

Conversational Italian for Travelers: “Just the Verbs”

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com