Speak Like an Italian: 3 Italian Phrases You Should Know


If you’re planning on visiting Italy anytime soon, you might be worried about the language barrier.  Learning Italian can take some time, and is sometimes easier said than done.

While Rome wasn’t built in a day, there are some easy phrases that will help you communicate in Italy and sound like a natural in front of the locals. Whether you grew up listening to Nonna and Papa’s fluent Italian, you’re trying to remember what you learned in high school, or you’ve never heard a lick of Italian in your life, these four quick tips will provide a boost of confidence when you’re not sure what to say to your new Italian friends!

1. Basic phrases | These words will help you when you’re lost, introducing yourself, or just saying hello!

  • Hello (formal): Buongiornio! (formal)/ Ciao! (familiar)
  • How are you?: Come stai?/Come state? (formal)
  • I’m good, thanks: Bene, grazie! 
  • My name is _____: Mi chiamo _____
  • Can you help me?: Potresti aiutarmi? 
  • Where is the _____?: Dove posso trovare ______?
  • Goodbye: Arrivederci!

2. False cognates | Don’t let these words trip you up. They sound like an English word, but really mean something else entirely!

  • una camera: This word means “room.” The word for camera is “macchina fotographica.”
  • baldo: Courageous. You can describe your taxi driver as “baldo,” but you won’t be referring to his head!
  • morbido: Soft. No, execution by guillotine is not “soft!”
  •  pepperoni: “Peperoni” are peppers in Italian. If you want that spicy sausage on your pizza, make sure you order the “salami piccante.”
  • crudo: Uncooked, not “crude.” You might get some funny looks if you call a person “crudo!”

3. A joke! | This one will take a little more memorizing, but we like to think that humor can relieve stress and tension in any situation. This is especially useful when traveling. After you’ve graduated from basic Italian phrases, impress the locals with a joke!

Due impiegati comunali si incontrano per strada:
– Ciao Mario! Posso offrirti un caffè?
– No, grazie! Il caffè non mi fa dormire.
– Ma come? Sono le otto di mattina!!!
– Appunto… Sto andando in ufficio…
Two civil servants meet on the street:
– Hi Mario! Can I get you a coffee?
– No thanks! I can’t sleep if I drink coffee.
– But it’s only 8 in the morning!!!
– Exactly… I’m on my way to the office…


One response

  1. Pingback: How Many Italian Christmas Songs Do You Recognize? | Live Like an Italian

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