Learning Basic Italian Phrases

If you’re going to Italy, you might find that you want to brush up a little on your Italian. If you know any Italian, anyway. If not, don’t worry. If you know Spanish or French, it might be easier for you to pick up a few basic Italian phrases. But if you don’t know any other language, don’t despair. It’s definitely not the end of the world.

Here are some basic Italian Phrases and overused Italian words:

Buon giorno
bwon zhor-no
Hello / Good morning/afternoon

Buona sera
bwoh-nah seh-rah
Good evening
Buona notte
bwoh-nah noht-teh
Good night
Ciao
chow
Hi / Hello / Bye (informal)
Arrivederci
ah-ree-vuh-dehr-chee
Goodbye
ArrivederLa
ah-ree-vuh-dehr-lah
Goodbye (formal)
A più tardi
ah pyoo tar-dee
See you later
A presto
ah press-toh
See you soon
A domani
ah doh-mahn-ee
See you tomorrow
Per favore / Per piacere
pehr fah-voh-reh / pehr pee-ah-cheh-reh
Please
Grazie (mille)
graht-zee-eh (mee-leh)
Thank you (very much)
Prego
preh-goh
You’re Welcome
Mi dispiace
mee dee-spyah-cheh
Sorry
Scusi / Scusa
skoo-zee / skoo-zah
Excuse me (formal / informal)
Andiamo!
on-dee-ah-mo
Let’s go!
Come sta? / Come stai?
koh-meh stah / koh-meh sty
How are you? (formal / informal)
Sto bene.
stoh beh-neh
I am fine / well.
Non c’è male.
nohn cheh mah-leh
Not bad.
Abbastanza bene.
ah-bah-stahn-tsah beh-neh
Pretty good.
Così così.
koh-zee koh-zee
So so.
Sì / No
see / noh
Yes / No
Come si chiama?
koh-meh see kee-ah-mah
What’s your name? (formal)
Come ti chiami?
koh-meh tee kee-ah-mee
What’s your name? (informal)
Mi chiamo…
mee kee-ah-mo
My name is…
Piacere / Molto lieto.
pee-ah-cheh-reh / mohl-toh lee-eh-toh
Pleased / Nice to meet you.
Signore, Signora, Signorina
seen-yoh-reh, seen-yoh-rah, seen-yoh-reen-ah
Mister, Misses, Miss
Di dov’è?
dee doh-veh
Where are you from? (formal)
Di dove sei?
dee doh-veh seh-ee
Where are you from? (informal)
Sono di…
soh-noh dee
I am from…
Quanti anni ha?
kwahn-tee ahn-nee ah
How old are you? (formal)
Quanti anni hai?
kwahn-tee ahn-nee ah-ee
How old are you? (informal)
Ho ______ anni.
oh ______ ahn-nee
I am _____ years old.
Parla italiano?
par-lah ee-tahl-ee-ah-no
Do you speak Italian? (formal)
Parli inglese?
par-lee een-gleh-zeh
Do you speak English? (informal)
[Non] parlo…
[non] par-lo
I [don't] speak…
Capisce? / Capisci?
kah-pee-sheh / kah-pee-shee
Do you understand? (formal / informal)
[Non] capisco.
[non] kah-pees-koh
I [don't] understand.
Non so. / Lo so.
non soh / low soh
I don’t know. / I know.
Può aiutarmi? / Puoi aiutarmi?
pwoh ah-yoo-tar-mee / pwoh-ee ah-yoo-tar-mee
Can you help me? (formal / informal)
Certamente / D’accordo.
cher-tah-mehn-teh / dah-kohr-doh
Sure / OK.
Come?
koh-meh?
What? / Pardon me?
Desidera? / Desideri?
deh-zee-deh-rah / deh-zee-deh-ree
May I help you? (formal / informal)
Come si dice ____ in italiano?
koh-meh see dee-cheh ____ een ee-tah-lee-ah-noh
How do you say ____ in Italian?
Dov’è / Dove sono…?
doh-veh / doh-veh soh-noh
Where is / Where are… ?
Ecco…
eh-koh
Here is / Here are…
C’è / Ci sono…
cheh / chee soh-noh
There is / There are…
Cosa c’è?
koh-zah cheh
What’s the matter? / What’s wrong?
Non importa. / Di niente.
nohn eem-por-tah / dee nee-ehn-teh
It doesn’t matter.
Non m’importa.
nohn meem-por-tah
I don’t care.
Non ti preoccupare.
nohn tee preh-ohk-koo-pah-reh
Don’t worry. (informal)
Ho dimenticato.
oh dee-men-tee-kah-toh
I forgot.
Devo andare adesso.
deh-voh ahn-dah-reh ah-des-soh
I have to go now.
Ho fame. / Ho sete.
oh fah-meh / oh seh-teh
I’m hungry. / I’m thirsty.
Ho freddo. / Ho caldo.
oh freh-doh / oh kal-doh
I’m cold. / I’m hot.
Mi annoio.
mee ahn-noh-ee-oh
I’m bored.
Salute!
sah-loo-teh
Bless you!
Congratulazioni!
kohn-grah-tsoo-lah-tsee-oh-nee
Congratulations!
Benvenuti!
behn-veh-noo-tee
Welcome!
Buona fortuna!
bwoh-nah for-too-nah
Good luck!
Tocca a me! / Tocca a te!
tohk-kah ah meh / tohk-kah ah teh
It’s my turn! / It’s your turn! (informal)
Ti amo.
tee ah-moh
I love you. (informal)
È pazzo! / Sei pazzo!
eh pats-soh / seh-ee pats-soh
You’re crazy! (formal / informal)
Sta zitto! / Stai zitto!
stah tseet-toh / sty tseet-toh
Be quiet / Shut up! (formal / informal)
Va bene!
vah beh-neh
OK!

pantheon

The important thing to remember when learning some basic Italian phrases is that you only need to know enough to get by. Don’t worry about learning the entire language overnight. It’s not necessary, so why stress yourself out right before you go on vacation? Don’t you have a job to do that?

When going to another country, like Italy, it’s not necessary to learn their language. Most of them speak many languages, including English. It is, however, the polite thing to do. Who doesn’t think it’s a better tourist when they’ve tried to learn some basic Italian phrases before they visit? No one wants a tourist coming to their country acting like a fool and demanding that everyone learn their language so that they communicate with them. No. As a tourist, you will be more appreciated by the natives if you attempt to learn a few basic Italian phrases. Of course, if you say it wrong, and it’s a very real possibility that you will, you may even provide a source of entertainment for them. One thing you might want to remember if you do learn some basic Italian phrases is that some words have similar sounds. If you’re not sure, use your handy little translating manual. It’s much better to embarrass yourself than offend any of the natives.

Of course, you might not know which words and phrases you should learn. Face it. For such a short trip, you know you’re not going to become fluent. And then there are words that you know you’ll never use. But then, there are words that are very important to know. Like bathroom. If you’re in the middle of nowhere and in danger of flooding yourself, you’re going to wish you had known the basic Italian phrase for bathroom.

vaticanmuseum

A few ways you might consider learning some basic Italian phrases is to try your local bookstore or library for audio tapes or books on the language. If not, then you might even ask any friends or family that may have visited Italy in the past. Usually, if someone has been to a place they know which words were most helpful to them. This helps because it gives you an idea and helps you think of other basic Italian phrases that might be beneficial as well.

If all else fails, throw yourself on the mercy of the residents or the hotel staff where you’re staying. No matter where you go, people are usually decent to tourists. So be polite and show respect. You never know when you might need some native hospitality.

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