Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! – Let’s Talk About… TV and the Movies in Italian

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

Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2020? 

One of the most common topics people discuss is what they have watched lately on their TV. But whether the discussion is about a made-for-TV series or a classic movie, the conversation usually revolves around the same topics: our likes and dislikes, intriguing points in the plot, and, of course, those fabulous actors. These common topics lead to common phrases we can learn in Italian to talk to our Italian friends!

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

If we learn how to incorporate “commonly used phrases”  when we talk about the weather in Italian we will be able to communicate just as we do in our native language!

What TV series have you watched lately?  On what site? were you thrilled, bored, or was it just an OK experience?  Or maybe you have just streamed (or put in your own DVD for the umpteenth time) a favorite classic movie.  Why is this movie your favorite?  What about the characters attracts you to this movie time and time again?

This post is the 36th 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 used to talk about
the weather.

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…

TV and the Movies in Italian

How do I say, “TV show” and “movies” in Italian?

The programs we watch on a television set (il televisore) or on a screen (lo schermo) are referred to most commonly in both English and Italian as “TV.” The pronunciation, of course, is different in each language. In Italian, the abbreviation “TV” is pronounced as an Italian would pronounce the letters “t” and “v,” which sounds like “tee-vooh.” Notice from the table below that there is an Italian word for TV programs in general (la televisione), and therefore the Italian abbreviation TV is feminine as well, and takes the feminine definite article la, as in la TV.

TV La TV / La televisione
Cable TV La TV via cavo
Satellite TV La TV sattelitare
RAI-TV Italian state television
(Radio-Televisione Italiana)
Television set Il televisore
TV or computer screen Lo schermo
TV show Un programma 
Un programma televisivo
TV series Una serie TV
Un telefilm
Episode Una puntata
Situation Comedy Una serie TV sitcom
Una commedia
Comedy show Un programma comico

Back in the day, Italians used to refer to a movie as “una pellicola,” but that word is no longer in common usage. Nowadays, Italians most often refer to a movie with the American word “film.” For instance, Voleva la pena il film?” means, “Was it worth it to watch the movie?”

Movies in general are either “i film,” with the borrowed English word preceded by the plural masculine definite article “i” in Italian, or “il cinema,” which is a collective masculine noun. 

The usual Italian verbs for to watch (guardare) and to see (vedere) describe the act of watching a screen to see a TV show or movie.

Movie theater  Il cinema
Film studio Lo studio cinematografico
Movie Il film (La pellicola)
Movies I film / Il cinema
to capture an image for a film filmare / riprendere / girare
to be recorded essere filmato
to watch a movie guardare un film
to watch a movie vedere un film

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Using piacere to say we like a TV show or movie

In Italian, a few simple sentences will suffice to say if we liked what we saw — or not.  You may recall that Italians use the irregular verb piacere to convey the idea that they like something. For a refresher on how this verb works, please refer to past blogs, “Piacere — How Italians Say, ‘I like it!”  and “Piacere: How Italians Say, ‘I liked it!’

The most important thing to remember is that the conjugation of piacere
will have to agree with the number of things that are being liked. 

So, when speaking in the present tense, if one thing is liked, simply use the third person singular conjugation piace.

If many things are liked in the present, use the plural third person, which is piacciono.

For the past tense, we can use the passato prossimo third person singular forms è piacuto and è piaciuta for the one-time event when we liked something.

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

Then put the indirect object pronoun mi before the verb to make the simple sentence: “To me, this is pleasing!” Or, as we would say in English, “I like/liked this!”  

To ask a friend if they like or liked something, put ti before the verb, for: “Is/was this pleasing to you?” Or, as we would say in English, “Do/Did you like this?”

If, for some reason, you do NOT like what you have watched, just start your Italian sentence with the word non.

What we might say about our favorite TV show or movie that we like:

Mi piace questo film. I like this movie.
Mi è piaciuto questo film. I liked this movie.
Mi piace molto questo film. I really like this movie.
Mi è piaciuto molto questo film. I really liked this movie.
Ti piace questo film? Do you like this movie?
Ti è piaciuto questo film? Did you like this movie?

What we might say about our favorite TV show or movie that we did NOT like: 

Non mi piace questo film. I don’t like this movie.
Non mi è piaciuto questo film. I didn’t like this movie.
Mi piace molto questo film. I really don’t like this movie.
Mi è piaciuto molto questo film. I really didn’t like this movie.
Ti piace questo film? Don’t you like this movie?
Ti è piaciuto questo film? Didn’t you like this movie?

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Using common expressions to say we like a TV show or movie

Of course, there are many common expressions that go beyond the simple, “I like it,” or “I don’t like it.” In English, for instance, we might say, “It was cool,” or “It was out of this world.” It seems like new English expressions are invented almost every day for how we feel about things! So, it should come as no surprise that Italians have also created expressions for feelings that go deeper than simply liking.  Let’s discuss a few that you may hear when carrying on a conversation with your Italian friends.

To get a conversation started, you can use the phrases, “Vale la pena?” for “Is it worth it?”  “Voleva la pena il film?” means, “Was the film worth it?” as mentioned earlier.

In the table below are some answers that you might hear from a native Italian who has enjoyed a film. Try them out and surprise your Italian friends!

Mi piace un sacco! I like it a lot! (lit. a sack full)
Mi è piaciuto un sacco! I liked it a lot!
È  stato bello! It was great!
È / È stato meraviglioso! It is / was wonderful!
È / È stato stupendo! It is / was amazing / cool!
È / È stato  fantastico! It is / was fantastic / cool!
È / È stato fico / figo! It is / was cool!
È /  È stato fichissimo / fighissimo! It is / was the coolest!
È / È stato da paura! It is / was cool!
È / È stato  il meglio! It is / was the best!
È il migliore film che io abbia mai visto. It is the best film that I have ever seen.

Some common movie genres

Action Film d’azione
Adventure story Storia d’avventura
Costume drama (historical TV show with costumes) Sceneggiato in costume
Costume drama (historical film with costumes) Film in costume
Comedy Film comico / commedia
Comedy drama Commedia drammatica
Dark comedy Commedia nera
High comedy Commedia sofisticata / da intenditori
Low comedy (bawdy) Commedia popolare
Slapstick comedy Farsa / Pagliacciata*
Musical comedy Commedia musicale
Romantic comedy Commedia romantica
Documentary Un documentario
Drama Storia drammatica
Drama movie Film drammatico / Dramma
Detective movie Un poliziesco / Un giallo**
Film noir (thriller genre) Film noir
Foreign Film Film straniero
Horror  Film horror / Film dell’orrore
Mystery Un giallo**
Science Fiction / Sci-fi Film di fantascienza
Psychological thriller Thriller psicologico
Thriller (suspense film) Thriller / Giallo
Western Film Western

*Reference to the opera Pagliacci, whose main character is a clown that performs slapstick humor with puppets.

**Mystery books and films are referred to by the color giallo, which is derived from the yellow cover all mystery books were given in the past.

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Using common expressions to say what we prefer

The verb preferire means “to prefer,” which is a regular -isc conjugated -ire verb.“I prefer…” is “Io preferisco…” To ask a question of someone else, say, “Tu preferisci…?”

If you want to say you prefer one movie genre over another, just use the adjective preferito. This also works for your favorite movie, TV show, color, etc. Just make sure to change the ending of preferito (a,i,e) to reflect what it is you are describing, whether masculine or feminine, singular or plural.

Here are examples from the dialogue below:

È il tipo di film che io preferisco.
It’s the type of film that I prefer.

Non per me.  Il mio film preferito è un buon giallo.
Not for me. My favorite movie is a good mystery movie.

If you want to say, “I liked (film) better than…” use the sentence construction:

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

Ma mi piace La Vita è Bella più del Commissario Montalbano.
I like La Vita è Bella more than Detective Montalbano.

Another way to make a comparison between films is to say:
“This film is much better than…”

“Questo film è molto meglio di + definite article…”

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

Finally, to mention who has written or directed a movie, use the conjunction “di” to mean “by.”

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Below is a simple dialogue between two friends, Maria and Anna, talking about their favorite movie and TV show.  There are, of course, many variations.  Think about your favorite movie and create phrases describe your own feelings in Italian!

Maria:  Ieri sera, ho guardato il film, La Vita è Bella, di Roberto Benigni.
Last night, I watched the movie, “Life is Beautiful,” by Roberto Benigni.
Anna: Ne è valsa la pena?
Was it worth it?
Maria: Si, vale la pena.
Mi è piaciuto molto questo film!
Yes, it is worth it.
I really liked this film!
Anna: È una storia drammatica?
Is it a drama?
Maria: Si, è una storia drammatica, ma la prima parte è anche un po’ comica.
Yes, it is a drama, but the first part is also a bit funny.
Anna: Ah, una commedia drammatica.
I see, a comedy drama.
Maria: È il tipo di film che io preferisco.
It’s the type of film that I prefer.
Anna: Non per me.
Il mio film preferito è un buon giallo.
Not for me.
My favorite movie is a good mystery movie.
Commissario Montalbano è figo.
Detective Montalbano is cool.
Maria: Boh. Ho visto molte puntate del Commissario Montalbano sul TV.
Well. I have seen many episodes of Detective Montalbano on TV.
Ma mi piace La Vita è Bella più del Commissario Montalbano.
  I like La Vita è Bella more than Detective Montalbano.
   
  Questo film è molto meglio del Commissario Montalbano, sono sicuro!
This film is much better than Detective Montalbano, I am sure.
Anna: Allora, devo guardare La Vita è Bella un giorno.
Well, then, I will have to watch La Vita è Bella one day.

Remember how to talk about TV and the Movies in Italian and I guarantee
you will use these phrases every day!

Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases
Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases (with Restaurant Vocabulary and Idiomatic Expressions) is YOUR traveling companion in Italy! All the Italian phrases you need to know to enjoy your trip to Italy are right here and fit right into your pocket or purse.

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! Piacere: How Italians say, “I like it!”

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

Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2019? Well, let’s start-off running toward our goal this January by learning how to use the Italian verb piacere to say, “I like it!” in Italian.

The Italian verb piacere will allow us to describe an important part of our feelings – our likes and dislikes.  And, piacere is a very important verb for the traveler to Italy to know because there are so many places and things “to like” in Italy!

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 to form sentences in Italian describing the places and things that we like, we will be on our way to building  own personal vocabulary of “commonly used phrases.”    Read below and you will see what I mean.

This post is the 18th in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!”  just click HERE

Many “commonly used phrases” that allow us to describe our feelings
start with the phrase
 “I like …”

 In order to describe what we like in Italian,
we must learn how to use the verb
Piacere

Piacere will also allow us to describe what we don’t like!

See below for how the Italian verb piacere works. Then see how many more ways you can think of to use piacere?

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

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

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

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

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How to Use the Italian Verb Piacere to Say…

“I Like It!”

The Italian verb piacere literally means “to be pleasing.” Italians use this verb when they want to express the idea that they like something. It is how Italians say, “I like it!”

It should first be noted that piacere has an irregular conjugation.  Also, because the verb piacere  is most often used to refer to one or many things that we like, it works  differently than the regular Italian verbs that have an -ere ending.  In effect, the subject of the sentence that uses the verb piacere will be the thing or things that are liked, and therefore  the conjugated forms of piacere  that will be used most often are the singular and plural third person. 

The singular third person form of piacere is piace and the plural is piacciono.

So, rather than conjugate the verb piacere in its entirety,  for now we will focus on the two most important conjugations of piacere listed above.  Simple enough! But, the tricky part is actually how to use the verb piacere! First, we will discuss how we approach the topic in English.  Then, read on to see how we must really learn to think in Italian when we use piacere to say, “I like it!”

 

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In English, when we say we like something, we mention two things: what thing is being liked and by whom. So in English, we would say, I like the car, and fulfill these two requirements with the subject pronoun “I” and the direct object “car.”

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

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

So, if one thing is liked, piace is used.

If many things are liked, piacciono is used.

Italians then put one of the indirect object pronouns – mi, ti, Le, le, gli, ci, vi, or glibefore the verb, at the beginning of the sentence, to denote to whom the thing is pleasing

As a refresher, here is the meaning of the indirect object pronouns in this situation:

mi to me
ti to you (familiar)
Le to you (polite)
le to her
gli to him
ci to us
vi to you all
gli to them

 

Now, lets put this all together!

For our examples below, let’s pretend we are in a store to buy a new dress – either for ourselves or someone we know.  The actual object we like is not important – the only thing that matters is if there is one or many of them.  The grayed out lettering is mixed Italianized-English to help us to understand how the verb piacere works.  

Piace — to be pleasing
Use these phrases if one thing is liked
Mi piace il vestito. The dress is pleasing to me. I like the dress.
Ti piace il vestito. The dress is pleasing to you. (fam.) You like the dress.
Le piace il vestito.

Gli/Le piace il vestito.

The dress is pleasing to you. (pol.)

The dress is pleasing to him/her.

You like the dress.

He/she likes the dress.

     
Ci piace il vestito. The dress is pleasing to us. We like the dress.
Vi piace il vestito. The dress is pleasing to you all. You all like the dress.
Gli piace il vestito. The dress is pleasing to them. They like the dress.

 

 

Piacciono — to be pleasing
Use these phrases 
if more than one thing is liked
Mi piacciono i vestiti. The dresses are pleasing to me. I like the dresses.
Ti piacciono i vestiti. The dresses are pleasing to you. (fam.) You like the dresses.
Le piacciono i vestiti.

Gli/le piacciono i vestiti.

The dresses are pleasing to you. (pol.)

The dresses are pleasing to him/her.

You like the dresses.

He/she likes the dresses.

     
Ci piacciono i vestiti. The dresses are pleasing to us. We like the dresses.
Vi piacciono i vestiti. The dresses are pleasing to you all. You all like the dresses.
Gli piacciono i vestiti. The dresses are pleasing to them. They like the dresses.

 

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Now that we understand the Italian way of thinking used to describe the things we like, we can use the same method to describe how  much we like what we are doing. 

 Simply follow the indirect object and the verb piacere in the third person singular – piace – with an infinitive verb! Notice that the infinitive Italian verb can be translated two different ways in English. 

Mi piace viaggiare in Italia. I like to travel/traveling to Italy.
Ti piace studiare l’italiano. You like to study/studying Italian.
Gli piace guidare la macchina nuova. He likes to drive/driving the new car.

 

And, to say that we do not like something, or something we are doing, just add “non”  before piace.  Below are our same three example sentences in the negative.

Non mi piace viaggiare in Italia. I don’t like to travel/traveling in Italy.
Non ti piace studiare l’italiano. You don’t like to study/studying Italian.
Non gli piace guidare la macchina nuova. He doesn’t like to drive/driving the new car.

 

Finally, if you really like something, add molto after piace!

Mi piace molto il vestito!  I really like the dress!

Remember how to use the Italian verb piacere, and I guarantee you will use it every day!

 

Conversational Italian for Travelers: “Just the Verbs”

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

Piacere: How Italians Say “I Liked It!”

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

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

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

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

How many more ways can you think of to use the verb piacere? Please reply. I’d love to hear! Or join our Conversational Italian! group discussion on Facebook.

This material and more on this topic are available in the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and reference book, Just the Verbs on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com.

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

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Use the Italian Verb Piacere to Say…

“I Liked It!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Gli/le è piaciuto l’automobile.

The necklace was pleasing to you. (pol.)

The car was pleasing to him/her.

You liked the necklace.

He/she liked the car.

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

 

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

 

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

Gli/le sono piaciuti gli automobili.

The necklaces were pleasing to you. (pol.)

The cars were pleasing to him/her.

You liked the necklaces.

He/she liked the cars.

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

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

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

 

"Just the Verbs" from Conversational Italian for Travelers books
Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Verbs

 

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

Italians Know – “Sapere” vs. “Conoscere”

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

To be “in the know” about how the Italian language works, we must know how to use the verb sapere and be acquainted with the verb consoscere.  As summer comes to a close and the new school season begins here in America, we had a request to spend a little time focusing on the verbs sapere and conscere  in our Conversational Italian! group on Facebook.

Once we tap into the Italian way of thinking and learn a few simple examples, it becomes easy to express what we know in Italian! Read below to see how this works.  The excerpt is adapted from our Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and reference books
Just the Verbs and Just the Grammar. To listen to these Italian verbs in action, go to the audio tab for Chapter 5 on our website LearnTravelItalian.com.

How many ways can you think of to use the verbs sapere and conoscere? Please reply. I’d love to hear! Or join our Conversational Italian! group discussion on Facebook.

This material and more on this topic are available in the
Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and reference 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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To Know in Italian – 

Sapere vs. Conoscere

 

Sapere is an irregular verb that ends in -ere.  It means to know.  Think about how many times each day we say, “I know,” or, “you know,” or, “Do you know?”  In Italy, these expressions are also used frequently.  Since sapere is irregular, the root will be different from the infinitive verb for all forms except the voi form.  Interestingly, the root for the noi form differs by only a single letter from the regular root – with the addition of a second letter p.  As usual, try to remember the most commonly used io, tu and noi forms.

Sapereto know (a fact)

io so I know
tu sai you (familiar) know
Lei

lei/lui

sa you (polite) know

she/he knows

     
noi sappiamo we know
voi sapete you all know
loro sanno they know

 

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Conoscere is a regular -ere verb.  This verb also means to know, but is used differently, more along the lines of to become acquainted with a person or a place.  The regular conjugation will be given here for completeness.  Notice that the pronunciation of the ending changes, with a “hard c” sound for the io and loro forms due to the endings of sco/–scono, and the “sh” sound for the forms that have the –sci and –sce combination.

 

Conoscereto know (be acquainted with)

io conosco I know
tu conosci you (familiar) know
Lei

lei/lui

conosce you (polite) know

she/he knows

     
noi conosciamo we know
voi conoscete you all know
loro conoscono they know

 

As an aside:  Later, in Chapter 7, we will learn how to conjugate the –ire verb capire, which means to understand (capisco, capisci, capisce, capiamo, capite, capiscono). Back in the 70’s, a common phrase among Italian-Americans in New York used between family members and friends was, “Capisci?” (“ka-peesh” in New Yorkese) meaning, “Do you get it?”  Don’t confuse the different forms of capire with the conjugations of conoscere!

 

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Technically, both sapere and conoscere can be translated as to know, although they are used in different situations.  To follow are some examples of how each verb is used.

 

  1. Sapere is used to indicate knowledge of something, such as a fact. For instance, if we tell someone that we know a language very well we are stating a fact and use sapere. Notice how the definite article (the) (l’) is used after the verb sapere to describe the Italian language in this case.
Io so l’italiano molto bene.
I know (the) Italian language very well.

 

  1. Sapere is used to describe knowlege of something tangible that we can see or feel. In our dialogue for Chapter 5 of Conversational Italian for Travelers, Caterina and Susanna describe what they do (and do not) know about the corn that they can see growing in northern Italy using the verb sapere. In order to say specifically, “I know that,” in Italian, Caterina includes che, which means that, in her sentence.  The word che cannot be omitted in these types of sentences, as we often do in English.  Here are two examples that use sapere to describe something that we can see.
“Ma ora so che anche voi avete il granturco in Italia.”
“But now (I) know that you all have (the) corn in Italy.”
 
Io so che il cielo è blu.
I know that the sky is blue.

By the way, if  you don’t know something, you must say,
“Non lo so.”“I don’t know it.” 

  1. Sapere is used to describe the ability to do something. Notice in the translations below that the English phrase how to” is not necessary in Italian. Instead, and an infinitive verb follows directly after “io so.”

 

Io so guidare la macchina.
I know (how to) drive a car.

 

  1. Sapere is also used when asking questions. If asking directions from a stranger, it is customary to begin with, “Mi scusi,” or just, “Scusi,” for the polite (command) form of “Excuse me.” Then follow with the polite, “Lei sa…”.

 

Mi scusi; Lei sa quando arriva il treno?
Excuse me; (do) (you pol.) know when arrives the train?
Do you know when the train arrives?
 
Mi scusi; Lei sa dov’è il binario tre?
Excuse me; (do) (you pol.) know where is (the) track three?
Do you know where track three is?                

 

  1. Conoscere means to know, as in to be acquainted with a person or a place. In our dialogue from Chapter 5 in Conversational Italian for Travelers, when Susanna asks Caterina if she knows any people other than her cousin in Italy, they both use the verb conoscere.

 

Susanna:        Tu conosci altre persone a Milano?
(Do) you know (any) other people in Milan?
Caterina:        Si, io conosco mio zio Salvatore e mia zia Rosa.
                        Yes, I know my Uncle Salvatore and my Aunt Rose.

 

Here are some additional examples of when to use conoscere:

 

Io conosco Julia, la nonna di Paolo.
I know Julia, Paul’s grandmother. (lit. the grandmother of Paul)
 
Io conosco Milano molto bene.
I know Milan very well.

 

  1. Conoscere is also used in reference to meeting/getting to know someone for the first time.

 

Caterina vuole conoscere suo cugino Pietro in Italia.
Kathy wants to meet/get to know her cousin Peter in Italy.

 

Learn Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers Textbook

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Learn Italian Expressions: Allora?

Italy, Stresa Promenade on Lago Maggiore

Kathryn for learntravelitalian.comMany of my friends in our Conversational Italian! group on Facebook have been lucky enough to travel to Italy already this summer, and I know more will soon follow. Some have also moved to Italy this year, and it is so nice to see their lovely photos and hear all about their experiences.

The news from Italy made me think about my past trips to Italy and the fun my children and I had learning the many Italian expressions we encountered for the first time. I distinctly remember my daughter, who knows only a little bit of Italian, asking me in an exasperated way one day, “So, Mom, what is this ‘allora’ I keep hearing all the time?!!!”

I’ve put together a quick list of some common, short Italian expressions that have meanings that seem to defy explanation to the English speaker at first. Many of these expressions also change their meaning depending on the context, which also makes them confusing! But just watch the expressions on people’s faces and, of course, the hand gestures that are an important part of the Italian language, and before you know it, you will be using these expressions yourself. Ma dai!

How many more Italian expressions can you think of that were difficult or funny to understand when you encountered them? Please reply. I’d love to hear! Or join our Conversational Italian! group discussion on Facebook.

If you need a travel companion to Italy, remember my Conversational Italian for Travelers pocket phrase book, “Just the Important Phrases,”  on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com.

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

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(A Few) Italian Expressions for Fun and Travel 

Allora… Well, Well then, So, In that case…
Ebbene… So, Well
Figurati! (in response to thanks received for performing a favor):
No problem, You’re welcome, It was my pleasure
Magari! If only! I wish!
Magari fosse vero! If only it were true!
Ma dai! (persuading tone) Come on!
(encouraging tone) Come on!
(exasperated tone) Come on!
Ma quando mai? When did I ever? Since when?  
(meaning: I never!)
Ma va! But really? You don’t say?
Ma và! (incredulous) Go away! Go on!

 

Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases
Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases (with Restaurant Vocabulary and Idiomatic Expressions) is YOUR traveling companion in Italy! All the Italian phrases you need to know to enjoy your trip to Italy are right here and fit right into your pocket or purse.

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

 

Piacere: How Italians Say “I like it!”

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

“Piacere” is a very important verb for the Italian traveler to know because there are so many people, places, and things “to like” in Italy! We have been focusing on the verb piacere this December holiday season in our Conversational Italian! group on Facebook.

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

How many more ways can you think of to use the verb piacere? Please reply. I’d love to hear! Or join our Conversational Italian! group discussion on Facebook.

This material and more on this topic are available in the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and pocket phrase book, “Just the Important  Phrases,” on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com.

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

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Use the Italian Verb Piacere to Say…

“I Like It!”

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

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

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

So, if one thing is liked, or an infinitive verb follows, piace is used.

If many things are liked, piacciono is used.

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

 

Piace — to be pleasing to
Use these phrases if one thing is liked/before infinitive verbs

 

Mi piace il vestito. The dress is pleasing to me. I like the dress.
Ti piace il vestito. The dress is pleasing to you. (fam.) You like the dress.
Le piace il vestito.

Gli/le piace il vestito.

The dress is pleasing to you. (pol.)

The dress is pleasing to him/her.

You like the dress.

He/she likes the dress.

     
Ci piace il vestito. The dress is pleasing to us. We like the dress.
Vi piace il vestito. The dress is pleasing to you all. You all like the dress.
Gli piace il vestito. The dress is pleasing to them. They like the dress.

 

Piacciono — to be pleasing to
Use these phrases 
if more than one thing is liked

 

Mi piacciono i vestiti. The dresses are pleasing to me. I like the dresses.
Ti piacciono i vestiti. The dresses are pleasing to you. (fam.) You like the dresses.
Le piacciono i vestiti.

Gli/le piacciono i vestiti.

The dresses are pleasing to you. (pol.)

The dresses are pleasing to him/her.

You like the dresses.

He/she likes the dresses.

     
Ci piacciono i vestiti. The dresses are pleasing to us. We like the dresses.
Vi piacciono i vestiti. The dresses are pleasing to you all. You all like the dresses.
Gli piacciono i vestiti. The dresses are pleasing to them. They like the dresses.

 

Learn Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers Textbook

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