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

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

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

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

If we learn how to incorporate “commonly used phrases” when we speak Italian, we will be able to express ourselves more easily and quickly. We will be on our way to building complex sentences and speaking more like we do in our native language!

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

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

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

 See below for how this works.

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

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

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

                       found on and Learn Travel

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



Going Shopping in Italian

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Below are tables that summarize the above discussion.


Grocery Shopping

fare la spesa to do the grocery shopping

to do some grocery shopping


General Shopping

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



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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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

Stay tuned for even more blog posts on this topic!

Conversational Italian for Travelers: “Just the Verbs”

   Available on and Learn Travel


Shopping for Italian Fashion!

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

“Saldi” means “sale” in Italian! When visiting Italy, one encounters wonderful shops that sell everything imaginable. In most cities, beautiful, stylish clothing made by well-known designers hangs in the shop windows of the grand boulevards and larger piazzas. Think Via Monte Napoleone in Milan or the Piazza di Spagna in Rome. Now that the fall season is upon us, the cooler weather will bring with it the exciting new Italian fashions of the season.

But one must be prepared to shop Italian. Sizes in Italy are different from those in the United States and from those in other European countries. How does one know what size clothing to bring to the dressing room? Also, when talking about Italian style, it should be mentioned that there are still dedicated craftsmen who make high-quality leather goods. There is such a dazzling variety of shoes in the shop windows that it is always tempting to buy a pair to bring home. But what size to tell the shopkeeper to get?

If you are like me and can’t resist shopping when you visit Italy, click on the Learn Italian! link for Italian size charts and for some important shopping tips. I’ve reprinted shoe sizes here again because this is a priority for me—I can’t resist bringing at least one or two pairs home every trip!

This blog post was originally published on September 27, 2016, on Learn Italian! for Stella Lucente, LLC, and

Leave a comment and share about YOUR favorite Italian city or place to go shopping! 


The tables that follow list European and Italian sizes and how they (roughly) correspond to the sizes in the United States.

Please note that this is only a general guide, and it is best to always try on any item of clothing before making a purchase!

Women’s and Men’s Shoe Sizes*

American Shoe Sizes (inches) 5 ½ 6 6 ½ 7 7 ½ 8 8 ½ 9 9 ½ 10 10 ½
European/Italian Women’s Shoe Sizes 35 ½ 36 36 ½ 37 37 ½ 38 38 ½ 39
European/Italian Men’s Shoe Sizes 37 37 ½ 38 38 ½ 39 40 41 41 ½ 42 42 ½ 43

*Hint: Subtract 30 from European shoe sizes to get the equivalent of the American size for women’s shoe sizes 5 to 9.

Learn Italian: “How much does it cost?”

Kathryn for
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel

Last week on the Conversational Italian! Facebook group, we learned how to ask, “How much does it cost?” in Italian.

Do you like to barter? Did you know that the merchants in the piazzas of Italy (and some stores) actually expect you to barter with them? Don’t pay full price for your Italian treasure if you don’t have to! And the sellers always appreciate it if you pepper your English with a few friendly Italian phrases to help the deal go through!

Below is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC, on the topic of how to barter in Italy. If you want to read more about this topic, the textbook is available for delivery from Learn Travel The rights to purchase the book in PDF format on two electronic devices can also be purchased at Learn Travel


Quanto Costa?

When asking a shopkeeper in Italy how much one thing costs, you can point to the item and ask:

Quanto costa? =  How much does (it ) cost?

When asking a shopkeeper in Italy how much more than one thing costs, you can point to the items and ask:

Quanto costano? = How much do these things cost?


Start a conversation with a shopkeeper by asking:

Quanto costa… How much is…
(literally: How much costs…)


Of course, the listed price will be:

troppo caro too expensive
costoso  expensive, costly
proprio costoso  really expensive
Costa un occhio della testa! Costs an arm and a leg!
(lit. Costs an eye out of the head!)


Unless the article happens to be:

in vendita/in saldo, saldi on sale/on sale for a reduced price
in svendita  in a closeout sale
sconto/scontato  discount/discounted
a prezzo basso at low/lowered price


And here we go with bartering… If you’ve tried this in Italy, leave a comment describing your method and let us know how it worked! 

Quanto costa? How much (does it) cost?
Venti euro. (It costs) 20 euro.
Troppo caro! Quindici euro, invece! (That is) too expensive! 15 euros instead!
Non è in saldo… ma, diciannove va bene. (It) is not on sale… but 19 is good.
No, è costoso! Forse diciassette? No, (it) is expensive! Perhaps 17?
Diciotto. Non posso fare più sconto! 18. (I) can’t discount it any more! (lit. I can’t make it (any) more discounted!)
D’accordo. Agreed.


Learn Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers Textbook

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