11 Best Italian Podcasts for Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced Learners
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How to Learn with Italian Podcasts
How to choose the right podcast for you? Simple! Follow the “70% rule”: make sure the input is easy to understand and concise for you. At the very least, you should be able to understand 70% of the content. It means that input you’re listening to should be challenging, but not overwhelming.
Listen actively: don’t your waste time listening to your podcasts in your car or while doing something else (not if you are an a beginner o intermediate learn at least). Instead, listen actively, take notes on how the phrases are structured, interesting vocabulary or ideas.
Work with transcripts. If you are a beginner or intermediate learner work with scripts. Reading and listening at the same time for a few times will help you connect a sound to a word, improving your pronunciation and listening abilities at the same time.
Learn the smart way: bring the podcast content into your Italian class and have a conversation about it with your tutor. In this way, you’ll be able to activate and apply what you’ve listened to and learned so far. As an alternative, you can write a short text summarizing the podcast’s subjects in your own words.
Podcasts for Beginners and Intermediate Italian Learners (A2-B1)
1. Italian Podcast 101
This is a multi-level podcast developed by innovative languages. Italian Podcast101 is particularly suitable for beginners (includingcomplete beginners) and lower-intermediate students. Why? Because each podcast is bite-sized and includes transcripts in Italian and English, vocabulary lists, and examples that are ready to use in your flashcards set.
The majority of podcasts are in the form of two-person dialogues, which is significantly more efficient than learning from a single-person podcast. Another advantage is that the episodes are organized by level and theme (e.g. speaking about the weather, introducing yourself, speaking Italian at the office).
This is a beginner and lower-intermediate level podcast . It was created by a professional Italian language teacher and releases a new episode every week about all things Italian (places, recipes, famous Italian personalities, etc). Each episode is roughly 5 minutes long, and the transcript can be purchased individually. This is excellent material for independent Italian learners as well as teachers who want to incorporate it into their Italian classes.
Italiano Bello is a podcast hosted by two Italian teachers who speak in simple and clear Italian and explain grammar rules, vocabulary, and many aspects of Italy and Italian culture. Each episode runs for around 10-20 minutes and is structured around a specific topic. It is good for beginners and intermediate learners.
Coffee Break Italian is an ideal podcast for learners at the lower-intermediate to intermediate levels. Each 15-minute episode features real-life conversations that help you learn key phrases and grammar. The podcast is hosted by a of native English speaker and an Italian native speaker who is also a teacher. Topics covered in the podcast range from Italian culture and society to travel.
Podcasts for Intermediate and Advanced Italian Learners (B1-B2)
5. Easy Italian News
Easy Italian News is, in my opinion, the best free audio news source for intermediate or advanced Italian learners because it is simple to use and does not overwhelm. Each episode run for fiveminutes and covers a wide range of Italian and international news events, and comes with free transcriptions of the audio files.
Italian con Amore is a podcast run by Eleonora that will take you around Italy from the comfort of your home. She tackles a number of topics touching on all things Italian culture, from cities and food to famous Italian people and traditions. The episodes are pretty long (around 20 minutes) and are narrated slowly enough to make the podcast good for lower-intermediate learners but also advanced learners.
Simple Italian Podcast is a lovely podcast that, as its host states, is narrated in comprehensible Italian. The episodes are around 30 minutes and the host speaks slowly enough that they are suitable for lower-intermediate to advanced Italian learners. I enjoy this podcast because it covers fresh and contemporary topics, rather than the typical “all things Italian” approach. The host shares insights on personal growth, learning strategies, and even some of their personal life experiences from their travels around the world. It’s definitely a great podcast for Italian enthusiasts.
Pensieri e Parole is a podcast is a dive into all things Italian, with a focus on culture and literature. The host, Lidia, is a professional Italian teacher who shares her knowledge and passion for the language in each episode. On her website, you can purchase scripts of the episodes to help you learn more effectively. I highly recommend this podcast for upper-intermediate to advanced learners, as it provides useful content to integrate into your Italian language classes.
Arkos Academy is a long-running podcast that explores various aspects of Italian culture, society, and literature. It is primarily designed for intermediate and advanced Italian students and taught by a professional Italian teacher. Each audio episode has varying speeds. Transcripts are available on their website. What I like about this podcast is that each episode runs for five to ten minutes, making it easy to consume during our busy days.
The Italian Coach is a podcast designed for upper–intermediate and advanced students who want to improve their Italian language skills. Moreno, the podcast’s host, applies his passion for movies and languages to a variety of modern and interesting topics. Every episode runs for around 10-12 minutes. Transcriptions are available for purchase on his website too.
This podcast takes the form of a casual chat between three Italian instructors who discuss various aspects of their lives and Italy. The pace is fairly natural and fast, making it suitable for intermediate and advanced Italian learners who can use the podcast alongside a transcript, available for purchase on their website.
Più, di più, in più, non…più: The Difference and How to Use Them
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What does più mean in italian?
Più it’s a common italian words meaning “more”
What drives my students crazy is when it’s appropriate to use “più” and when “di più” or “in più”. They all mean “more”, but they’re used in different sentences.
Lucky there’s an easy rules to follow, let’s delve into this:
There is a grammatical error in the text. Here’s a corrected version:
Più means more in several contexts, such as in comparative statements.
Questa casa è più caro di quella – This house is more expensive than that one
Carla guadagna più di suo marito – Carla make more money than his husband
Di più is an adverbial phrase used after verbs and means “more.” For example:
Voglio allenarmi di più quest’anno – I want to train more this year
Voglio studiare di più – I want to study more
The opposite phrase is “di meno,” which means “less.” For example:
Voglio bere di meno quest’anno. (I want to drink less this year.)
In più is a noun phrase that means “more” or “in addition,” and it is used to indicate that something is added to an existing quantity. The phrase can be used to refer to both tangible and intangible things.
Vorrei una bottiglia d’acqua in più – I would like one more bottle of water
Non più means “not…anymore” and is used in negative sentences. The pattern to follow is “non + verb + più.”
Non viaggio più – I don’t travel anymore
Non dormo più – I don’t sleep anymore
“Piu” is also spelled with an accent on the last vowel (più), which means that you have to stress the pronunciation of the “u”. It sounds like this: “pyuh”.
Far fare? Fammi vedere! – Three Different Uses of “Fare” with the Infinitive Verb
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1. The “fare” causativo
Are you struggling to understand the construction of the Italian language that uses “fare” and infinitives? Don’t worry, it can be a bit confusing at first, but with some practice, you can easily learn to recognize and use it.
“Fare” is one of the most commonly used verbs in the Italian language and can be used in combination with another infinitive verb (such as “fammi vedere” or “lo faccio fare”). However, the translation of these phrases into English can be difficult, as it is not always straightforward.
Let’s take a look at an example to better understand this construction:
Faccio riparare il frigo a mio fratello translates to I will have the fridge repaired by my brother.
You may have noticed the unique use of the verb “fare” and the infinitive in this sentence.
This combination is commonly referred to as the “fare causativo,” and it is frequently used in conversational Italian to express the idea of having something done by someone else.
There are two possible constructions:
Verb “fare” + action verb + “a” + person carrying out the action (e.g., “Faccio riparare il frigo a mio padre” – “I will have my fridge repaired by my father.”)
Indirect object + action verb + “da” + person carrying out the action (e.g., “Mi faccio riparare il frigo da mio padre” – “I am having my fridge repaired by my father.”)
With a bit of practice, you can easily learn to recognize and use this construction in your own Italian conversations.
More examples :
Ho fatto pulire l’appartamento a mio marito – I had the flat cleaned by my husband
Mi faccio tagliare i capelli da mia zia – I have my hair cut by my auntie
Non preoccuparti! Lo faccio fare a mio marito – Don’t worry! I’ll have hassled do it
Of course, this specific construction of fare+infinitive can occur in all the different Italian tenses.
Mi faccio tagliare i capelli (present tense)
Mi sono fatto tagliare i capelli (passato prossimo)
Mi facevo tagliare i capelli (imperfect)
Mi farò tagliare i capelli (future tense)
Mi farei tagliare i capelli (present conditional)
Mi faccio tagliare i capelli (present tense)
Fammi tagliare i capelli, mamma! (imperative)
2. Fare = make someone to do something
Another use of the construction “fare + infinitive” expresses the idea of getting someone to do something and is a translation of the English ‘get or make someone to do something”. For example:
Fa’ leggere tuo figlio – Get your/tell your son to read
Fa’ fare sport a tuo figlio – Get your/tell your son to do sport
Fa’ giocare tuo figlio – Get your/tell your son to play
Another common use of the verb “fare” and the infinitive is a translation of the English “let”
Fammi vedere – Let me see
Fammi provare – Let me try
Fammi sentire – Let me hear
Puoi farmi vedere? – Can you let me see?
Mi fai sentire? Can you let me hear?
The Ultimate Guide to Italian Pronominal Verbs (Verbi Pronominali): 9 Must-Know Rules
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1. What ‘s a pronominal verb in Italian? A pronominal verb is a type of verb in which a pronoun is used as an integral part of the verb. In Italian, a pronominal verb is a combination of a basic verb and one or more pronouns, which together create a new verb with a different meaning than the basic verb alone. For example, let’s take the verb “andare” which means “to go”. If we add the pronouns “si” and “ne” to “andare”, we create the pronominal verb “andarsene” which means “to go away” or “to leave”.
Me ne vado – I’m leaving, I’m going a way
2. The pronouns attached to the infinitive of the verbs slightly or entirely change the original meaning of the verb. For example, the verb “sentire” means “to hear” in Italian. But if you add the reflexive pronouns “si” and “la” to it, as in “sentirsela”, it becomes “to feel like” or “to have the courage of doing something”.
Scusa, ma non me la sento di scalare quella montagna – Sorry, but I don’t feel like climbing that mountain
3. Pronominal verbs are vastly used in conversational Italian, especially in everyday speech and informal situations. As with any language, it’s important to be aware of context and the level of formality when using pronominal verbs in Italian.
Examples of pronominal verbs used in Italian slang.
Non ce le faccio più = I’m exausted
Me ne frego = I don’t care
Me la spasso = I’m having a blast
4. Italian pronominal verbs are hard to translate into your native language as they don’t have a sole translation, and the meaning can slightly vary from one context to the next. Let’s take the example of the verb farcela (which is a combination of fare+ce+la). It has two principal meanings: to manage and not to manage.
5. Pronominal verbs are easy to conjugate, yes they are. When conjugating pronominal verbs in Italian, it’s important to separate the pronouns from the infinitive form of the verb. After doing so, you can conjugate the verb as you normally would, placing the pronouns before the verb. For example, let’s take the verb “andarsene”. To conjugate it, separate the pronouns from the infinitive (in this case, “se” and “ne”), and then conjugate the verb “andare” as you normally would, placing the pronoun before the verb.
FARCELA (to manage) = FAR(E) + CE + LA
io ce la faccio
tu ce la fai
lui/lei ce la fa
noi ce la facciamo
voi ce la fate
loro ce la fanno
In the conjugation of pronominal verbs, the attached pronouns ce, ne, la do not change. However, when it comes to the pronominal verbs incorporating “se” onto the infinitive (e.g., sentirsela, bersela, andarsene), you will need to decline the “se”, which stands for the reflexive pronoun, into me, te, se, ce, ve, se. Like in the verb “andarsene”
ANDARSENE (to leave, to go away) = ANDAR(E) + SI + NE
Io me ne vado
Ty te ne vai
Lui/ Lei se ne va
Noi ce ne andiamo
Voi ve ne andate
Loro se ne vanno
Most common Italian pronominal verbs list
Italian pronominal verbs with “CI“
Entrarci con – to have to do with something
Entrarci in – to fit in something
Volerci – to take time (with no subject, impersonal
Metterci – to take time (with a subject)
Arrivarci – to understand
Italian pronominal verbs with “NE“
Non poterne più – can’t put up with something or someone anymore
Italian pronominal verbs with “SELA“
Sentirsela di – to have the courage of doing something or to feel like
Cavarsela in + noun / A + infinitive – to be good at something or at doing something
Prendersela con – to be irritated with someone
Passarsela bene o male – to be good or bad
Spassarsela – to have a blast
Sbrigarsela – to sort out a situation in a short time
Cavarsela – to come out of difficult situations, easily
Tirarsela – to show off
Italian pronominal verbs with “CELA“
Mettercela tutta – to do one’s best
Avercela con – to be upset with someone
Italian pronominal verbs with “SENE“
Fregarsene di – to not care about something or someone
Andarsene – to go away somewhere
6. In Italian, pronominal verbs that end in “-sela” or “-sene” always require the auxiliary verb “essere” in compound tenses. Consequently, the past participle agrees with the pronoun or subject, as shown in the following examples.
Non me la sono sentita (agreement with the feminine pronoun la) – I didn’t have the courage (to do something)
Me ne sono andata (agreement with the feminine subject) – I left
7. If the pronominal verb ends in -ci, -ne, -cela, -cena the auxiliary verb to use in compound tenses is “avere”.
Non ce l’ho fatta (agreement with the feminine pronoun la) – I didn’t manage it
Me la sono presa (agreement with the feminine pronoun la) – I got upset (with something or someone)
8. Some verbs are always matched with fixed prepositions, for example:
Farcela a – to manage
Sentirsela di – to have the courage to do something
Avercela con – to be upset with someone
Riuscire a – to be able to
Smetterla di – to stop doing something
9. Pronominal verbs are commonly used in informal and colloquial Italian speech. Using them can make your Italian sound more natural. Here are a few examples of colloquial Italian sentences that use pronominal verbs:
Passarsela means “stare (bene/male)”
Come te la passi? – How are you doing?
Fregarsene means “not to give a damn about something”
Me ne frego di quello che pensi – I don’t care about what you think
Farcela (positive) means “to manage”
Ce la facciamo a finire questo lavoro entro oggi? – Can we manage to finish this work within today?
Arrivarci means “to understand something (colloquial)”
Me lo puoi ripetere? Non ci arrivo – Can you repeat it? I don’t get it
Farcela (negative) means “to be fed up, to be exhausted or to be unable to cope with something”
Non ce faccio più! – I am exhausted!
Spassarsela means “to have a blast”
Ce la siamo spassata l’altra sera- we had a blast the other night
When using the imperative tense to give commands or advice in Italian, a general rule of thumb is to place the pronouns after the verb and attach them to it.
Smettila! – Enough!
Metticela tutta! – Do your best!
Vattene! – Go away!
Non andartene! – Don’t go!
Non avercela con me! – Don’t be mad at me!
What’s the most effective to learn Pronominal Verbs in Italian?
The most effective way to learn how to use Italian pronominal verbs is through a technique called “shadowing“. How does it work? First, it’s important to understand how they work and how to conjugate them correctly. Once you have a good grasp of the grammar, you’ll start listening for pronominal verbs in natural Italian conversations or reading them in context. Since many pronominal verbs don’t have a direct translation and are highly contextual, the best way to learn them is by observing how native speakers use them in different situations. In other words, learning with visual and contextual examples can be very beneficial
Are you an intermediate Italian learner and want to brush up on your Italian grammar but don’t know where to start? This course by the renowned language expert Olly Richards will help you stop translating in your head and internalize grammar through Controlled Immersion. You will find 15 engaging short stories in Italian that will teach you in small chunks (so that you don’t get bogged down by difficult words or long sentences) and in an easy-to-understand format with plenty of examples. Olly Richards’ courses take a similar approach to what I teach in my private classes: the learning materials you use must be understandable, without long, overbearing sentences, but just the right level of difficulty to push you forward.
Italian Grammar Hero is best suited for students at the B1 to B2 CEFR level, or intermediate to upper intermediate. This is a self-paced course designed for people who want to improve their Italian but can’t commit to regular lessons.
16 Great Italian TV shows on Netflix (2023 updated)
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How to Watch Italian TV Shows on Netflix in the US, in the UK or outside of Italy?
Not all Italian TV series and movies may be available in your country, but there’s a simple and cost-effective solution to watch them from anywhere. It’s called a VPN, which lets you access Netflix’s Italian library by masking your IP address to make it appear as if you are located in Italy. All you need to do is subscribe to a VPN service and log in to your Netflix account to start streaming your favorite Italian TV shows. I personally use Express VPN to watch French shows on both my TV and Netflix.
Un medico in famiglia
Un medico in famiglia is an Italian TV show from the 90s and one of the longest-running Italian television series. The series follows the Martini family, initially composed of a widowed doctor with three children and his father, as they move to Poggio Fiorito where the doctor works in an experimental healthcare facility. The series received enormous audience and critical acclaim until its sixth season and has become a cult phenomenon and one of the most popular series in Italy.
Viola come il mare
Viola come il mare is an Italian TV show from 2022 set in Sicily, which follows the life of Viola, who after several years of working in the fashion industry in Paris, moves back to Palermo, her hometown, to search for the father she never knew. She starts working as a crime journalist for a web editorial and there she meets the chief inspector of police, Francesco Demir, a man with great investigative talent but with little trust in human nature. The two collaborate together on homicide cases, with Viola as the journalist and Francesco as the police officer. The show is a mix of drama and romance.
Mare Fuori s possibly the most popular Italian TV show on Netflix in 2023. However, it’s worth noting that the show is mostly shot in Neapolitan dialect and many Italians watch it with Italian subtitles (yes, it’s common in Italy). While it may not be the best option for practicing Italian listening skills, I still highly recommend it because it’s one of the greatest Italian productions of recent years. If you’re advanced in Italian, you could watch it with Italian subtitles. Otherwise, English subtitles are available and you could use the show’s storyline as content for your Italian speaking class.
The series follows the story of a group of teenagers who find themselves in the Minor Offenders Institute in Naples. In this hostile and freedomless environment, the young inmates strive to find their place in the world. While some have unintentionally made mistakes, others have acted with premeditation, but all share the common experience of having been deprived of their freedom. Perched on the sea, the institute is a symbol of hope and freedom that seems out of reach for these young inmates. Through their stories, the series explores the boundaries between good and evil, the challenges of growing up in a hostile environment, and the search for one’s true identity.
Cuori is an Italian tv series from 2022 set in the 1960s, which follows the story of three heart surgeons working at a hospital in Turin, Northern Italy. The plot revolves around the arrival of Delia, a brilliant heart surgeon who joins the team and finds herself working with Alberto, her old flame and best friend of her husband Cesare, the head of the cardiology department. The show develops through a mix of drama, emotions, and comedic moments. The series was broadcasted on television in Italy and is now available on Netflix.
Guida Astrologia per Cuori Infranti
Based on the best-selling books by Silvia Zucca (which I recommend for advanced students), Guida astrologica per cuori infranti, explores friendship, passion, work, weird meetings, and tragicomic occurrences through Alice Bassi’s eyes. Alice, who is in her early thirties and single (by choice), works as a production assistant for a tiny television network. With few professional prospects, she is looking for genuine love and work fulfillment.
Fedeltà (Fidelity) is a Netflix Italian miniseries loosely based on Marco Missiroli’s best-selling novel of the same name, which is also available in English translation. The drama tackles the themes of desire and betrayal, as well as the consequences of both, via the story of a couple who live and work in Milan.
Incastrati /Framed! A Sicilian Murder Mystery is a 2022 Italian television series starring the popular Italian comedians Ficarra e Picone.
The show follows the adventures of Valentino and Salvatore, two unlucky TV technicians who happen to be at the scene of a crime by chance. To avoid being suspected, they clean up the scene and leave it undisturbed, using their knowledge of crime TV shows. Naturally, this will result in a series of (hilarious) misadventures in their lives.
As a Sicilian, I loved this series because it sends important messages of criticism to the Italian / Sicilian society behind the lightheartedness of the comedy.
Blanca was a popular TV show on the Italian Rai in 2021 and is now available on Netflix.
Blanca is a young police consultant who specializes in audio file decoding and is hired as an intern at a police station in Genoa, Northern Italy. The woman became blind at the age of twelve as a result of a tragic fire in which her older sister Beatrice perished. Her tragedy instilled in her a strong sense of justice, prompting her to join the police force. The characters in the show don’t use a special dialect or accent, making it a great source for honing your Italian listening skills.
Generazione 56K is a new and exciting Italian television series from 2021 about Matilda and Daniele, who met when they were teenagers and the Internet was still only available at work or via slow modems (from which the title of the show comes).
They started dating again in their early thirties after a chance encounter, thanks to the internet, which has changed everything, especially the way people date and work.
Boris is an Italian show released between 2007 and 2010 on Italian TV. The plot revolves around the making of an Italian series behind the scenes. When a new intern arrives, he finds out that the TV world is very different from what he thought it would be. This Italian series shows how often the race for money and success impacts the quality of what we see on TV. The show was top-rated in Italy, and it’s now available, having recently been released on Netflix too.
This is an extremely addictive and entertaining thriller from Rome with a brilliant Italian cast. Last year, I watched the entire two seasons in three days because I was sick with the flu.The series follows the stories of some mafia gangs whose interests are entwined with corrupt politicians and the Vatican clergy. The plot is likely to be inspired by real events. Suburra will catch your attention, especially if you want to know more about the dark side of Italy.
Disclaimer: the main characters of Suburra are dodgy criminals and peculiar characters from the Roman suburbs. That’s why they use the Rome dialect and slang, which might be very challenging to catch for a non-native Italian speaker.
Still, the series is indeed worth watching. Make sure you pull up the Italian or English subtitles.
Disclaimer: the main characters of Suburra are dodgy criminals and peculiar characters from the Roman suburbs, that’s why they use the Rome dialect and slang, which might be very challenging to catch for a non-native Italian speaker.
Still, the series is indeed worth watching. Make sure you pull up the Italian or English subtitles.
The Medici: Masters of Florence
The Medici is, in my view, the best Italian TV show of the last few years. It’s an Italian and British production, and so the series has been shot mostly in English. However, the Italian-dubbed version is great and has been a big hit in Italy for the whole three seasons.
This is a highly addictive and intriguing historical drama series. It centers on the rise and fall of the Medici family, the most potent Italian family during the Italian Renaissance period. The series will show you a bit of how life used to be at those times, the wars, the political intrigues with the Vatican state, and, of course, the strong ties of the Medici Family with the most prominent creators of those times, like Michelangelo, Raffaello, and Leonardo, who used to work in the palace.
Baby is a Netflix Italian teen drama set in the neighborhood of Parioli, one of the most exclusive and trendy areas of contemporary Rome. The series follows the stories of a group of students at an elite high school that get involved in prostitution. The story has been inspired by real events that happened in Rome some years ago.
La Luna Nera (The Black Moon)
Luna Nera (Black Moon) is a 2020 Italian show on Netflix and the first Italian fantasy TV show on the platform.
It takes place in the 17th century and centers on a 17-year-old teen who finds out that the members of her family are witches. On the flip side, her boyfriend’s father is a witch hunter—no wonder who he is hunting for.
Carlo e Malik
This is a 2018 Italian TV show created in collaboration between the RAI (Italian public television) and Netflix, which became a success in It’s a crime drama show that follows the story of a veteran detective from Rome who holds plenty of prejudices against the vast immigrant community in Rome. He is teamed up with an Ivory-coast born officer, and together, they have to resolve a string of murder cases very much connected with the subculture of immigrants in the capital. The show centers on the very vast and controversial contemporary Italian topic of immigration.
The Name of The Rose
It’s the TV adaptation of one of the most relevant masterpieces of Italian literature, The Name of the Rose (Umberto Eco). It follows the stories of a friar and his young apprentices who investigate a string of mysterious deaths, risking the wrath of a powerful inquisitor. The story takes place at an abbey in the Middle Ages.
How to Make the Most of Watching Italian Shows: 3 Simple Tips
How can watching an Italian show become a proactive learning experience?
Getting hooked on an Italian TV show or movie is a fantastic way to not only improve your Italian listening skills and expand your vocabulary like never before, but also to gain real-world exposure to Italian culture, dialects, slang, and even architecture! However, how can watching an Italian show become a proactive learning experience?My two cents is to concentrate on the dialogues that are taking place in the shows. Take notes on what is said and how it is said; don’t fall into the trap of only noting new words in isolation. Instead, scribble down entire sentences or questions that you can use as patterns when writing your own sentences.
Don’t stick only to Italian original TV shows
In this post, I’ve gathered a list of the best Italian shows available on Netflix.
Nonetheless, I would encourage everyone to look for their favorite TV shows in Italian (or any language).Every American show, for example, has an Italian dubbed version; look for it. I’m a big fan of FRIENDS, and I thought watching the German/French (my target languages) dub would be entertaining and educational, so it’s been.
Do the same thing with your favorite shows. The Italian dubbing is usually excellent. Finding fun ways to spend time with your target language is the best (and smartest) way to learn Italian.
Is it better to watch a show in Italian with or without subtitles?
If you aren’t having fun, you aren’t learning.Would the show you are watching be entertaining if you didn’t understand most of what you were hearing? If your Italian is advanced, or at least upper-intermediate, I recommend watching it with Italian subtitles. On the other hand, if you’re a beginner or intermediate learner, use subtitles in your native language.
Do you enjoy watching videos to learn Italian?
Lingopieis a Netflix-like platform that allows you to improve your Italian by watching TV shows, documentaries, and vlogs (separate by genre and level). They offer a beginner-friendly option too.
Italian Phrases and Words to Use at a Restaurant in Italy
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On this page, you will find a list of sentences that will make your life easier when you’re at a restaurant in Italy.
Before going through the list, you might also want to know that it is customary to be seated or make a reservation, especially on weekends.
Tipping in Italy
When it comes to paying, unlike many other countries, a tip is not expected because it is included in the bill under the voice “coperto.” However, if the service was excellent, you can leave a tip to show your satisfaction.
Types of restaurants in Italy
There are mainly fou different types of restaurants, in Italy:
Ristorante: This is a place where you can expect full service, a touch of gourmet, a professional staff, and higher prices. It’s the place to experience more sophisticated food. The atmosphere should also be more sophisticated.
Trattoria: Less pricey and less formal than a restaurant, a trattoria is usually a family-owned business. It’s the place to enjoy traditional and comforting Italian food. The atmosphere is usually rustic.
Pizzeria: In Italy, a pizzeria works just like any other restaurant. You make a reservation for a table and then order from the menu. Often, antipasti are also served.
Rosticceria (mainly in the South of Italy): This is an informal takeaway place with few or no tables, where Italians love to buy ready-to-eat comfort fried food such as arancini, calzoni, mozzarelle in carrozza, and the likes.
Reserving a table on the phone (Prenotare un tavolo al telefono)
Vorrei prenotare un tavolo per… – I would like to book at table for…
domani sera alle 19 – tomorrow night at 7 pm
domani a mezzogiorno – tomorrow at midday
domani alle 13 – tomorrow at 1 pm
il 27 aprile alle 20
The person on the other end of the phone might also ask you:
Per quante persone? – for how many people?
Mi lascia un recapito telefonico? – can you leve with me your phone number?
Il suo nome per favore? – your name, please
At the restaurant (al ristorante)
Posso avere il menù? – Can I have the menu?
Posso vedere il menù? – Can I see the menu?
Potrei avere la carta dei vini? – Could I have the wine list?
Potrei avere il menù dei dolci? – Could I have the dessert menu?
Avete un menù per bambini? – Do you have a children’s menu?
Avete un menù del giorno? – Do you have a daily menu?
Qual è il piatto del giorno? – What is the dish of the day?
Sul menù c’è ‘un antipasto della casa’, che cos’è? – On the menu I read ‘Antipasto della casa’, what is it?
Per me / Prendo / Vorrei… (I’ll have)
Per cominciare, prendo… (to start with, I’ll have)
Come antipasto, prendo… (as a starters, I’ll have)
Come primo, prendo… (as first course, I’ll have)
Come secondo, prendo… (as first course, I’ll have)
Una porzione di… (a portion of)
Un piatto di.. (a dish of)
Una fetta di.. (a slice of)
Un pezzo di.. (a piece of)
How to order meat in Italian
If the waiter asks you “Come preferisce la cottura della carne,”? (How would you like your meat cooked?), you should answer like this:
(carne) al sangue – rare meat
(carne) poco cotta – medium rare
(carne) ben cotta – well-done meat
Asking questions to the waiters
Scusi, mi può portare (del pane? Una bottiglia d’acqua? Dell’olio? ) – Excuse-me, could I have some…(bread? A bottle of water? Some olive oil?)
Cosa mi consiglia? – What would you recommend me?
Cosa ci consigliate? – What would you recommend us?
Sono allergico (or allergica) – I am allergic..
ai latticini – to dairy products
al glutine – gluten
Sono vegetariano – I am a vegetarian
Sono vegano – I am a vegan
Non mangio carne di maiale – I don’t eat pork
Questions a waiter might ask you
Siete pronti per ordinare? – Are you ready to order?
Avete già prenotato? – Have you reserved a table?
Posso portarvi da bere? – Can I get you something to drink?
L’acqua gasata o naturale? – The water sparkling or still?
Ha qualche allergia/intolleranza? – Do you have any allergies/intolerances?
La pizza è bruciata – the pizza is burned
L’insalata è scondita – the salad is undressed
La zuppa è fredda – the salad is cold
La pasta è fredda – the pasta is cold
C’è ancora molto da aspettare? –is our food long?
Stiamo aspettando da troppo tempo – we are waiting too long
Pagare e il conto (paying and the bill)
Il conto, per favore – The bill, please
Paga in contanti o con carta? – Do you pay cash or by card?
Pagate insieme o separatamente? – Do you pay all together or separately?
Posso pagare con carta di credito? – Can I pay by credit card?
Dividiamo il conto – Les’s split it
Cosa che potresti sentire in un ristorante
Posso offrirle un caffè o un amaro? – Can I buy you an espresso or a liquor?
Il pranzo /la cena è di vostro gradimento? – Did you like the meal?
Tutto apposto? – Was everything alright?
Vuole qualcos’altro? No grazie – Do you want anything else?
The Difference between: Bene, Bravo, Bello and Buono
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In a nutshell…
Bene is an adverb and is used only after verbs – Paolo parla inglese bene (Paolo speaks English well).
Bravo is used just with people and means “skilled, talented, good at” – Paolo è molto bravo a lavoro (Paolo is very good at his job).
Buono refers to the interior qualities of things or people – Paolo è buono, questo piatto è buono (Paolo is good at heart, this dish is good).
Bello refers to the exterior qualities of things or people –Paolo è bello, questo tavolo è bello (Paolo is handsome, this table is beautiful).
How to use bene
One of the most common mistakes I hear from English native speakers when speaking Italian is misusing the word “bene.” While it is often used to mean “good,” this usage is incorrect. In fact, “good” only translates to “bene” in the phrase “sto bene,” which means “I’m good.”
Never say: il libro è bene ❌
Otherwise, “bene” should be used as an adverb and only after a verb, such as in the sentences:
Marco cucina bene – Marco cooks well
Lucia disegna bene – Lucia draws well
Intensifiers of “bene”
Molto bene, benissimo = very well
How to use bravo
Bravo is an adjective which is often misused too.
Bravo means, indeed, good. But, it’s just used for a person and with the meaning of talented, skilled, or good at something.
Luca è bravo a disegnare (or Luca è bravo in disegno) – Luca is good at drawing
Luca è bravo a cucinare (or Luca è bravo in cucina) – Luca is good at cooking
Note that you can use the adverb bravo in two different ways, like the above phrases.
Essere bravo + a + verb – Luca è bravo a cucinare
Essere bravo + in + noun – Luca è bravo in cucina
In other words, we can say that bravo is used when someone has a talent, a skill, or is simply good at doing something.
Bravo has a secondary meaning too.
Bravo is also used to indicate the moral qualities of a person.
Una brava persona, a person with ethical values and a good morale.
Common Italian expressions using “bravo”
Chebravo!– Well done!
Bravo! – Well done!
Bravissimo– Way to go!
How to use bello
Bello is a versatile Italian adjective that can describe both people and things. When applied to things, it can mean “nice” or “beautiful,” while when applied to people, it can mean “beautiful” or “handsome.” In either case, bello denotes the external qualities of the person, thing, or place being described.
Questo tavolo è così bello – This table is so beautiful
Marta è una bellissima dona – Marta is a beautiful woman
Firenze è bellissima – Florence is very beautiful
Intensifiers of bello
Molto bello, bellissimo – very beautiful, awesome, gorgeous
Strabello (colloquial) – super beautiful
More examples with bello
Quel palazzo è bellissimo – That building is gorgeous
Buono means good and is used to give an opinion about the interior qualities of something or someone.
If a person is buona, we mean that this person has ethical qualities.
Marco è buono – he is good-hearted or a person with good moral qualities
If something is buono, we mean that this thing has a good quality.
Quella pasta è buona – That pasta is good
Questo prodotto è buonissimo – This product is very good
Questo legno è buono – This wood is good
Intensifiers of buono
Molto buono, buonissimo – very good
Strabuono (colloquiale) – super good
Popular Italian expressions using buono.
Che buono! – It’s delicious! (when referring to food or drinks)
Buono a sapersi – good to know
The Italian Direct Object Pronouns
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What’s a pronoun?
Pronouns are an essential part of speech that allow us to replace something that has already been said and avoid repeating ourselves. Pronouns are widely used in conversation as they help us to be more concise and speak faster. Italian, just like English, makes extensive use of pronouns.
For instance, in the sentence “I know it”, the word “it” represents a pronoun that replaces something that was already mentioned. Similarly, in the sentence “let’s meet them”, the word “them” is a pronoun that replaces the people who were mentioned before.
In Italian and many other languages, there’s a clear distinction between direct and indirect object pronouns. In this post, we’ll touch on the direct ones.
What’s a direct object pronoun?
Direct object pronouns are used to replace a direct object, which is a part of the sentence that answers the question “what?” or “who?” For example, in the sentence “I want a coffee,” the phrase “a coffee” is the direct object because it answers the question “what?” Similarly, in the sentence “I’m going to meet my friends,” the phrase “my friends” is the direct object because it answers the question “who?”
Sometimes, when we speak we don’t need to repeat something that was previously said, and so we use a pronoun.
Vuoi il caffè? Sì, lo voglio → Do you want some coffee? Yes, I want it.
Vedi i tuoi amici stasera? Sì, li vedo → Are you seeing your friends tonight? Yes, I’m seeing them.
For instance, instead of saying “Yes, I want some coffee” in response to “Do you want some coffee?” we can use the direct object pronoun “it” and say “Yes, I want it.” Similarly, when asked “Are you seeing your friends tonight?” we can respond with “Yes, I’m seeing them,” using the direct object pronoun “them” to replace the noun phrase “my friends.
Pronouns can be used in statements, questions, and answers. It’s important to pay attention to the use of mi, ti, ci, and vi, as they often get mixed-up.
Here are some examples to help understand their usage in questions and answers:
Mi vedi? Sì, ti vedo. (Do you see me? Yes, I see you.)
Ci vedi? Sì, vi vedo. (Do you see us? Yes, I see you all)
Mi sentite? No, non ti sentiamo. (Do you all hear me? No, we don’t hear you.)
Ci sentite? No, non vi sentiamo. (Do you all hear us? No, we don’t hear you all)
Stressed vs. unstressed direct object pronouns (pronomi tonici vs.pronomi atoni)
Italian distinguishes between stressed and unstressed direct object pronouns or pronomi tonici and pronomi atoni (see the table below). The stressed forms are typically placed after the prepositions.
Stressed forms (pronomi tonici)
Unstressed forms (pronomi atoni)
Lui / Lei
The stressed forms are typically used with prepositions.
“I’m speaking with you” becomes “Parlo con te” and not “parlo con ti”
“I’m eating with her” becomes “Mangio con lei” and not “mangio con la”
What’s the position of the direct object pronoun in a sentence?
The general rule is that the pronouns always precede the conjugated verbs, which is the opposite of English. For example:
Lo prendo – I it take
Lo vedo – I him see
Mi chiami? – Can you me call?
However, there are a few exceptions to the general rule when the pronouns are placed after the verb. This happens with modal verbs, infinitiveverbs, and the imperative form.
If you are a beginner, you can skip this part for now.
The direct pronouns and the modal verbs
With modal verbs (dovere, potere, volere), the direct pronouns can take two different positions: either before the modal verb or at the end of the infinitive following the modal verb, after dropping the last “e” of the infinitive.
Let’s see it in practice.
“La voglio vedere ” is the same as “Voglio vederla” – I want to see her
“Ti posso chiamare? is the same as “Posso chiamarti?” – Can I call you?
“Lo vogliamo comprarlo” is the same as “Vogliamo comprarlo” – We want to buy it
Either way works perfectly in Italian, and there is no preference between the two forms. Italians use both equally.
The direct pronouns and the infinitive
Another exception concerns the infinitive verbs. When a verb is not conjugated, the direct pronouns are joined to the end of the infinitive after dropping the last “e.” The typical example is with modal verbs or with unconjugated verbs used after a preposition.
Ho bisogno di ripeterlo – I need to repeat it
Ho finito di leggerlo – I finished reading it
Ho cominciato a studiarlo – I started studying it
The direct pronouns and the imperative
Informal imperative: the pronoun goes at the back of the verb → mangialo! (eat it!)
Negative informal imperative: two possibilities, either before or at the end of the verb → non lo mangiare! / non mangiarlo! (don’t eat it!)
Formal imperative: the pronoun goes in front of the imperative → lo mangi! (eat it!)
Negative formal imperative: the pronoun goes in front of the verb → non lo mangi! (don’t eat it!)
The Direct Object Pronouns with the Passato Prossimo
If you are a beginner, you can skip for now.
If you’ve studied the passato prossimo in Italian, you’ll know that the past participle of the “avere” verbs remains the same (e.g., Ho mangiato, abbiamo finito, etc.). However, there’s a big exception to this rule when it comes to direct object pronouns.
Let’s take a look at some examples:
Ho preparato un dolce – L‘ho preparato (I prepared it – the object, il dolce, is masculine singular)
Ho preparato una torta – L’ho preparata (I prepared it, the object, la torta, is feminine singular)
Ho preparato gli spaghetti – Li ho preparati (I prepared them, the object, gli spaghetti masculine plural)
Ho preparato le tagliatelle – Le ho preparate (I prepared them, the object, le tagliatelle, is feminine plural)
As you can see from the examples, the past participle changes and agrees with the gender and number of the direct object pronoun when used with the passato prossimo of verbs that use “avere” as the auxiliary verb.
It’s important to note that singular direct object pronouns always use an apostrophe, while plural forms do not. By understanding this exception and practicing with examples, you can improve your use of direct object pronouns in the passato prossimo in Italian.
The 49 Most Common -ARE Verbs
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The -are conjugation is the most common one in Italian.
As a beginner, a good practice to build up vocabulary in days is to make a list of the high-frequency verbs and words that Italians use every day.
When it comes to verbs, the most frequent ones are from the first group (the “are” group”).
If you don’t know what a verb is and how to conjugate it in the present form (the most common verb tense in Italian, check out this post).
Verbs ending in -are have only four irregular verbs (fare, dare, stare, andare and their derivatives). Remember, the irregular verbs are those which don’t follow the regular conjugation pattern.
Here is a list of the top common verbs in -ARE:
andare – to go (irregular verb)
dare – to give (irregular verb)
stare – to stay (irregular verb)
fare – to do, to make (irregular verb)
mangiare – to eat
parlare – to speak
arrivare – to arrive
amare – to love
trovare – to find
lavorare – to work
giocare – to play
iniziare – to start
cominciare – to start
comprare – to buy
studiare – to study
guardare – to watch
ascoltare – to listen
camminare – to walk
pensare – to think
tornare – to return
abitare – to live, to reside
cercare – to seek, to look for
telefonare – to call
chiamare – to call
passare – to spend time
lasciare – to leave
cantare – to sing
lavare – to wash
incontrare – to meet
dimenticare – to forget
ricordare – to remember
preparare – to prepare
aiutare – to help
viaggiare – to travel
guidare – to drive
mandare – to send
visitare – to visit
usare – to use
cucinare – to cook
spiegare – to explain
continuare – to continue
cenare – to eat dinner
pranzare – to eat lunch
accettare – to accept
imparare – to learn
insegnare – to teach
fumare – to smoke
regalare – to give as gift
litigare – to argue
All the verbs in this list (except for the first four) are regular verbs, which means they follow the regular conjugation pattern in the present tense and all other verb forms. By memorizing the verb endings of one verb, you can apply the same pattern to all the remaining -are verbs. For example:
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How to Learn Italian as a Complete Beginner
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1. Determine Your Learning Style
To learn a foreign language efficiently, it’s important to understand your learning style. Are you a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner? Knowing this information can help you identify the best way to absorb information.
Think back to your days as a student in high school or college. How did you best retain information? Did you learn better through listening, reading, or hands-on experience?
This is critical information when choosing a language learning program. For example, many beginner Italian courses are audio-based, which works well for auditory learners but may not be the best fit for visual learners. Before committing to a program, take a moment to consider your learning style and find an approach that suits you.
It’s important to remember that what works for one person may not work for another. Don’t just copy someone else’s best practices. They may have succeeded because the method matched their learning style, but it may not be effective for you.
If you want to learn more about different learning styles, read my article on the subject here.
2. Follow a Structured Learning Plan
When it comes to learning a romance language like French, Spanish, or Portuguese, it’s important to follow a structured learning plan that includes grammar rules and patterns. While some may claim that you can learn Italian without grammar, it’s essential to have a strong understanding of the language’s foundational structure in order to achieve fluency.
Knowing (a little) grammar will pave your way to fluency. Mastering the basics of Italian grammar will provide you with a solid framework to build upon as you continue to learn the language. Understanding grammar rules and patterns will allow you to form sentences correctly and communicate more effectively with native speakers.
While it can be tempting to try to learn a language through immersion or without a structured plan, this approach often leads to confusion and frustration. A structured learning plan will help you stay on track and ensure that you are building your language skills in a logical and effective way.
To achieve fluency in Italian (or any language), it’s important to prioritize grammar as a fundamental aspect of your language learning journey. By mastering the foundations of Italian grammar, you’ll be well on your way to fluency in no time.
When they are suggesting you should learn Italian without grammar, run away. They are scamming you.
“Do it makes sense? “ (Joking here!)
To get a sense of how grammar can help you build-up your Italian fluency, let’s have a look at simple verb conjugation, the present tense conjugation of the verb “viaggiare” which means, to travel.
All regular verbs ending in “- are” follow the same conjugation pattern.
Once you learn the grammar pattern for Italian verbs like “viaggiare” (to travel), you can apply it to other verbs as well. Most Italian verbs are similar to viaggiare. Learning the pattern once allows you to use it repeatedly in the future for any verb that follows the same pattern.
My Two Cents:
Having a strong foundation in the grammar of Italian or any other language will make you an independent learner. Grammar patterns are like the bricks needed to build a house. Once you master the grammar, you can create your own language and express your own thoughts.
Understanding the foundations of the language will help you become a more independent speaker. Simply memorizing random sentences from language learning apps or courses will only result in repeating someone else’s words or thoughts.
To truly develop fluency in a foreign language, it’s important to learn the ability to put sentences together instead of just memorizing phrases. After all, who wants to sound like a parrot? 🙂
Italian Grammar Topics to learn as a Complete Beginner
Mastering these topics will take your Italian a long way, promise!
How to conjugate verbs in the present tense and the past tense (passato prossimo)
How to build a simple sentence
How to ask a question in Italian
How and when to use the articles
The number and gender of nouns and adjectives and how to much them properly
How to say I want, I need, I can
How to say me, you, him, her, it, us, them.
Common questions, e.g., asking about the time or the weather
Vocabulary Topics for Complete Beginners
How to walk about your free time
How to walk about your work
How to talk about your family
How to describe your neighborhood, house, city
How to buy food or drinks
How to shop for clothes
My rule of thumb here is, spend some time to try out a few different learning approaches or Italian online tutors and stick to the one and only that make your study time super efficient, effective and most importantly enjoyable!
3. Choose only the Best Learning Materials
What materials should you use to learn Italian?
Self-learning is a great option for many, but it’s important to ensure you surround yourself with top-notch learning materials that will keep you motivated and provide a solid foundation for your Italian.
Don’t be too eager to jump from one resource to the next every other day. Building a strong foundation is essential when acquiring a new language or any subject. With a solid framework, the path to fluency will be easier and more efficient.
Here are my top recommendations for beginners. These are all tools that I have personally used and recommended to my students:
If you’re starting out and want to get a feel for learning Italian, a self-paced course may be ideal for you. Rocket Language offers some of the best self-paced courses available, in many different languages. What I like about these courses is that they offer three levels, with the first designed for total beginners. Additionally, the courses are written in English, so you won’t be intimidated by intricate explanations of grammar in a language you’re not yet proficient in. The courses also offer a straightforward and user-friendly learning itinerary, so you know what level you’re at during your learning journey. Finally, unlike some other courses, Rocket Language offers a 60-day money-back guarantee in case you’re not satisfied.
TheAssimil Methodis an excellent resource for absolute beginners and those who are interested in self-study. The core of the Assimil method is learning by intuition, and you can use it to learn virtually any language, including Italian.
The method consists of 100 dialogues presented in Italian and your native language (the most common languages are available). The idea is that by reading and listening to the dialogues simultaneously, you will naturally internalize the language. The level of the content gradually increases, and you learn intuitively and in context. The dialogues are short and natural, and they are followed by concise grammar explanations and a few grammar exercises
My experience: although I find Assimil a viable way to access Italian as an absolute beginner, long term, it will prove not to be a sufficient resource to advance. I suggest starting with Assimil to get an idea of how the language works p and then pair it with other learning methods or a teacher and a grammar textbook.
Pros: excellent pronunciation practice, working on your listening skills, and familiarizing yourself with the most common vocabulary.
Cons: bit expensive, not being sufficient for becoming fluent, and not having extensive grammar instruction. It is also not ideal for those who are not familiar with grammar.
The Michel Thomas Method is another tried and true tool for self-learners who are auditory learners and native English speakers. The Times has described this method as “The nearest thing to painless learning.” The course is entirely audio-based and breaks down the Italian language into easily digestible chunks, making it accessible to those who have little knowledge of Italian grammar or who lack a passion for it. It covers all levels of language learning, and the audio tracks are short enough that you can listen to and study one to three of them each day. This course can be used as a self-study tool or as support for a formal Italian course.
Like Assimil, Michel Thomas’s courses are an effective way to grasp the basics of Italian and become familiar with the language’s logic. I recommend it for those who need to learn through repetition and don’t have much time to do homework or take a formal course.
Pros: learn at your own pace, little emphasis on grammar, a lot of repetition, useful for understanding the logic of the language as an absolute beginner or native English speaker. Excellent for auditory learners, as it is an audio-based course.
Cons: Not sufficient for becoming fluent, minimal emphasis on grammar, limited variety in the presented vocabulary, not ideal for visual learners.
Beginner Italian Books
You can’t help but learn the foundations of grammar when flirting with a romance language, like Italian. Complete Italian Grammar is the best gramma reference for English native speakers available on the market. A solid Italian grammar textbook will helps you understand the logic behind the conjugations, gender and agreements number shortly and sweetly.
I like using New Italian Espresso (Student Book + Workbook) in my typical class for complete beginners and advanced beginners students. Although these books are not intended for independent study, they are still a great resource for learning useful vocabulary for everyday situations and audio lessons with built-in grammar explanations. Additionally, the digital versions of both books come with simple Italian listening tracks and videos. The activities’ prompts are in English, which makes the learning process incredibly user-friendly. This book is great for getting you started on the right track and giving you all the foundational vocabulary and skills you need as a complete beginner learner, unlike any other textbooks I have previously used in my classes. Overall, by finishing these books, you will have reached a solid lower-intermediate level.
Listening practice for Beginners
Being exposed to correct pronunciation and the sound of words, along with the intonation of sentences, is essential for long-term proficiency in any language. I recommend Italian Pod 101 as a valuable resource for listening to short tracks tailored for complete beginners through upper-intermediate speakers.
Reading practice for beginners
Reading is widely considered the most effective way to activate your passive vocabulary and improve your grammar skills, regardless of your level. Imagine your memory as an octopus, with its tentacles holding onto all the bits and pieces of grammatical topics and vocabulary patterns that you have learned here and there. By reading beautiful and flowing Italian sentences, especially in simple Italian found in short stories, you can start making connections between different concepts (the octopus’s tentacles!) Reading can significantly help you piece together sentences and understand the proper order of sentence structure. My List of Best Short Stories for Beginners and Intermediate Italian Learners.
Learning Italian solo, in group lessons or with private tuition
Pros: affordable, allows you to learn at your own pace.
Cons: lack of feedback, structure, and guidance.
If you have a tight schedule or limited budget, or if you prefer to learn on your own terms, solo learning can be an attractive option. The internet provides many opportunities to find online courses for absolute beginners that can help you build a solid foundation in Italian. However, in my experience, it’s best to hire a teacher when you need feedback or to overcome a learning plateau. Using the resources mentioned in this post’s starter kit can provide a bit of structure and guidance, even if you’re learning with a teacher or in a class.
Learning with a private language instructor can be likened to going to the gym and hiring a personal trainer. How much do you want to learn Italian? Do you prefer a formal approach or a more casual one? Undoubtedly, learning with a private instructor is a luxury for many and requires commitment to weekly meetings and homework. However, it can save you a lot of time and help you reach your goal faster.
Choosing the right instructor is also an art in itself. Nowadays, the internet is full of teacher marketplaces where you can find cheap tutors. However, it is important to note that most of these marketplaces charge a high commission to teachers or employ barely qualified and ill-prepared instructors.
My rule of thumb here is to look for an independent teacher and ask for a program with clear goals and structure, rather than individual meetings. Use the teacher marketplaces for conversation practice, tutoring or informal learning.
Italian group lessons
Pros: affordable, structured, learning in a group.
Cons: large groups, lack of individualized attention, fixed class times.
Group lessons offered by language schools can be a good compromise for those who need structure and prefer interactive learning. Attending weekly classes provides a sense of progress and accountability. However, the downside is that your classmates might not be as motivated as you, which can slow down the learning process. Additionally, you may not be exposed to the correct accent, as you’ll mostly hear Italian used and pronounced by other students, rather than the teacher.
4. Get into the Habit of Language Learning
“Learning is a marathon, not a sprint”
My number one piece of advice for fresh Italian learners is to start fast, get a grip on the language, and then slow down. If you start slowly, you will never build up.
After coaching hundreds of students, I have realized that it can be frustrating to move slowly as an absolute beginner or beginner. When taking up something new, you want to see the first results soon. Acquiring a foreign language is still one of those things that you can’t get instantly. It requires time, consistency, and effort. When you start something, you are excited and motivated, but if you don’t see any results coming quickly, it’s easy to lose steam and slowly let it go.
That’s why I believe that putting a little more effort into learning Italian as an absolute beginner or beginner is a smart way to approach it. I always tell my new students to start intensively and slow down once the language makes sense to them. Advancing very slowly as a beginner can be frustrating.
That’s why maintaining momentum is important. To do this, it’s crucial to set up a learning plan, such as meeting with your teachers at the same time every week or setting aside time to study twice a week at the same time, and sticking to it. If you don’t commit to a regular plan and stick to it, it will be harder to build the habit of consistent learning, which is key to mastering any skill, including Italian.
5. Set smart goals
As a seasoned Italian online language teacher, I know that most students are fueled with plenty of motivation when they start learning Italian. However, after a while, they lose the steam to progress. Why? As a teacher of Italian and an avid language learner, I find that the reason lies in the lack of learning structure and clear goals. Without a clear vision of your learning goal, you will hardly know the proper measures to implement to pursue it. Think about what you want to do with your Italian in order to stay motivated and keep your enthusiasm for learning high.
Here are some ideas for language learning goals:
Booking a one- or two-week language immersion trip at a language school in your favorite city
Taking a language certification exam
Committing to finishing a language level by the end of the year (that’s where language textbooks come in handy. For example, commit to finishing the A2 textbook by the end of this year or next summer).
6. Seek Out Honest and Helpful Feedback
Make sure to receive feedback and track your learning progress. Learning without knowing at which stage or level you are, or without being made aware of recurring mistakes or being challenged , can result into a learning plateau.
Get assessed regularly.
Getting feedback is the most efficient way to advance.
Get regularly assessed. Getting feedback, it’s the most efficient way to advance.
7. Use it or loose it
Let’s get this clear: you don’t need to live in Italy to get a good grasp of the language. I know people who have spent years in Italy and still don’t master the language. On the flip side, I know people who haven’t yet set foot in my country or have done so sporadically and speak Italian fluently.
The key is to integrate Italian into your routine, no matter what your Italian level is.
The key is to integrate Italian into your routine, no matter what your Italian level is.
Immersive Italian Learning Ideas for Beginners
Speaking Practice for Beginners
Find a conversation partner or a tutor Preply. Preply is an extremely user-friendly platform that I also personally use to connect with native speakers to practice my German and French. If you don’t live in Italy, it’s probably the most cost-effective way to practice your Italian. With this link you can get a 50% discount on your first lesson.
Free Chat Rooms
HelloTalk and Tandem are both free mobile apps that you can use to find a language conversation partner. Another option is ConversationExchange.com, a free language exchange platform where learners can connect with native speakers to practice speaking with each other You can also us AI with Chat GPT to simuliate dialogues according to your level. Check this video to learn how to do it (link)
Self-paced Courses for Total Beginners
Use a self-paced Italian course such as Mosalingua or Rocket Language to help you lay out a learning itinerary and hold yourself accountable for your language learning journey, especially at the beginner stage.
Don’t spread yourself too thin by using an endless number of learning tools, methods, or strategies. Pick one or two, get into the habit of using them for a consistent period, and move on. Most students that have come to seek my guidance after hitting a learning plateau for months made the mistake of lingering on the same unstructured content for way too long.
Is Italian easy to learn?
Italian is one of the easiest languages to learn due to its well-structured grammar and phonetic nature (meaning you read what is written), making pronunciation very straightforward. While Italian is certainly easier to learn than Arabic, Japanese, or German, it still requires time, dedication, and a budget. Speakers of Romance languages, as well as German and Slavic language, will have an advantage in learning the language, as all of these languages have a solid grammar framework. English native speakers may find approaching the language a bit more complicated because of the different grammar structure and because most English words or patterns don’t have direct translations in Italian. However, this should not discourage you. Italian is a fairly easy language to learn, and the best part is that there are plenty of free and paid learning resources available to access.
Is it possible to learn Italian in months?
I warn you, this may be an unpopular marketing statement, but I believe in what I say (which comes from my voracious language learning experience): I think it takes years to learn a language fluently. You can certainly get a good grasp of the basics in six months, you can get to a solid intermediate level in two years of consistent study, but in order to master the language, it will take more than that. It is impossible to quantify, as it often comes down to one’s commitment and especially the amount of time, words, and budget one can invest. However, I am confident in saying that in six months or so, you can easily gain a solid understanding of the A1 level and learn how to make simple sentences in most daily situations.
What does “ti va” mean in Italian?
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In Italian, “ti va” is a colloquial expression that can be translated to English as “do you want?” or “do you feel like?” It is used to ask someone if they are interested in doing something or if they would like to participate in some activity. For example:
Ti va di venire al cinema stasera? – Do you want to come to the movies tonight?
Ti va di prendere un caffè? – Do you feel like having a coffee?
Note that this expressions use the verb erb “andare” (to go), in the third person singular form “va.”
When asking someone if they would like to do something, use the pattern “ti va + di + infinitive verb.” For example:
Ti va di andare al al ristorante cinese stasera? – Do you want to the Chinese restaurant tonight?
When asking someone if they would like a specific thing, you would use the pattern “ti va + noun.” For example: “
Ti va un gelato? – Do you want a gelato?
What does “mi va” mean in Italian?
Another similar expressions to “ti va” is “mi va” literally means “it goes for me” and it’s used to express if you feel like doing something or not. These expressions that can be translated to English as “I feel like” or “I want or I don’t fell like or “I don’t want”.
Mi va di andare al mare questo weekend – I feel like going to the beach this weekend
Non mi va prendere l’autobus oggi – I don’t feel like taking the bus today
Non mi va di uscire casa oggi – I don’t feel like going out today
The Italian Modal Verbs Explained for Beginners
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What’s the Difference Between the Italian Modal Verbs and Other Types of Verbs?
When your teacher (or your book) is telling you “this is a modal verb,” there’s no need to panic! Saying a verb a is “modal” is just a label to remind you that, in Italian, there are three (modal) verbs that have a lot in common and are kind of different from the other verbs.
Voglio – I want
Posso – I can
Devo – I have to, I need, I must
What do they have in common? Simple. They are followed by infinitive verbs (e.g. non conjugated verbs)
An infinitive verb is a base form of any verb, the way you look it up in a dictionary.
So, we can say that modal verbs are always followed by infinitive verbs.
Voglio vivere in Italia – I want to live in Italy
Posso aprire la porta? – Can I open the window?
Devo andare – I must go or I need to go or I have to go
A common mistake made by beginner Italian learners is to use a conjugated verb after a modal verb, such as in the incorrect phrase “Voglio vado = I want I go,” which should be corrected to “Voglio andare”. The correct way to say “I want to go” in Italian, is by using the infinitive form of the verb “andare” after the modal verb “voglio.”
How to Conjugate an Volere / Potere / Dovere in the Present Tense?
The Italian modal verbs dovere, potere, and volere express necessity, possibility, and desire, respectively. They are also used to request permission, make requests, and offer assistance. Modal verbs are always followed by an infinitive and are irregular, so they need to be memorized. Since they are high-frequency verbs, it’s crucial to know their conjugations.
Conjugation of the modalverbs in the present tense
io voglio tu vuoi lui/lei vuole noi vogliamo voi volete loro vogliono
io posso tu puoi lui/lei può noi possiamo voi potete loro possono
io devo tu devi lui/lei deve noi dobbiamo voi dovete loro devono
Voglio andare al supermercato (modal verb + infinitive + object) – I want to go to the grocery store.
Devo comprare della cioccolata (modal verb + infinitive + object) – I need to buy some chocolate.
Non posso aspettarti (modal verb + infinitive ) –I can’t wait for you.
Let’s see now how to use the Italian modal verbs in-depth…
How to Use the Verb “Dovere”
Dovere + infinitive:must, to have to, to need to
Devo andare in palestra – I must (need, have to) go to the gym.
Dovere is a common Italian verb that has three possible translations into English:
I have to
I need to
English vs. Italian
In English, “I must” and “I need to” have different meanings. However, Italian does not make this distinction. To express the obligation implied by “must” in English, the only option in Italian is to pronounce “devo” more emphatically.
Devo studiare –I need to study
DEVO studiare – I must study
So, remember that there’s no formal difference between “I must,” “I need,” and “I have to” in Italian. They can all be translated with the verb dovere.
Dovere can also be used as a non-modal verb with a different meaning than its modal form. When used as a non-modal verb, “dovere” is followed by a noun instead of an infinitive verb. In this case, “dovere” means “to owe”
Dovere + noun: to owe
Ti devo 5 euro per la piazza – I owe you 5 euros for the pizza
How to Use the Verb “Potere”
Potere means “can or may” when asking for permission or being allowed (or not allowed) to do something.
Posso uscire un momento? – Can I leave for a second?
I bambini non possono guardare la tv di sera tardi – Children are not allowed to watch TV late.
English vs. Italian [sapere vs. potere]
Potere does not express the ability to do something, as it does in English.
To express the ability to do something in Italian, you should use the verb “sapere” which means “to know how to” or “to be able to”.
Io possoparlare italiano means “I am allowed to speak Italian” or “I might be able to speak Italian”.
Io so parlare italiano means “I can speak Italian” or “I know how to speak Italian.”
Posso cantare means “I’m allowed to sing”.
So cantare means “I can sing” or “I know how to sing”.
Avoid the common mistake of using poterein these types of sentences. If you ask someone “puoicucinare?”– you are actually requesting him or her to cook.
Puoi cucinare? – Will you cook? (I want you to cook)
Sai cucinare? – Can you cook? (Do you know how to cook?)
How to Use the Verb “VOLERE”
Volere: to want, to wish
Voglio mangiare giapponese –I want to eat Japanese
Voglio il sushi e la tempura –I want sushi and tempura
The Modal Verbs with the Passato Prossimo
Conjugating modal verbs with the passato prossimo (and other compound tenses*) needs a special construction.
A compound tense is a verb resulting from the combination of an auxiliary verb and a past participle (e.g. past conditional, compound future, past perfect, etc..)
How to Conjugate an VOLERE / POTERE / DOVERE in Passato Prossimo?
If you have already learned the passato prossimo (the main past tense in Italian), you know that it’s a combination of an auxiliary and a past participle(e.g. ho parlato = I spoke, I’ve spoken).
But, what’s the correct auxiliary to use with modal verbs in the passato prossimo?
When using a modal verb in the past tense, the correct auxiliary to use depends on the main verb that follows the modal verb. In general, both “essere” and “avere” can be used as auxiliary verbs with modal verbs in the passato prossimo.
The auxiliary verb used depends on the main verb that follows the modal verb.
If the main verb is transitive and takes a direct object, such as “mangiare” (to eat), the auxiliary verb used will be “avere”. If the main verb is intransitive and does not take a direct object, such as “andare” (to go), the auxiliary verb used will be “essere”.
If you want to say in Italian– I wanted to eat,you need to chose the correct auxiliary of the verb “mangiare= to eat“, which is avere.
So, I wanted to eat goes to “ho voluto mangiare”
However, if you wanted to say– I wanted to go,you’d need to choose the correct auxiliary of the verb “andare= to go“, which is essere.
Sono voluta andare– I wanted to go
The same rule applies fordovere and potere, of course. For example:
Ho dovuto preparare la cena – I had to prepare the dinner.
Sono dovuta andare in aeroporto in autobus – I had to go to the airport by bus.
Non ho potuto preparare la cena – I could not prepare dinner.
Non sono potuta andare a pranzo –I could not go to the lunch.
In the above examples, “preparare” is transitive and thus uses “avere” as its auxiliary in the passato prossimo, while “andare” is intransitive and takes “essere” as its auxiliary in the passato prossimo.
Note that when the auxiliary verb preceding the modal verb is essere, the past participle of the modal verb agrees in gender and number with the subject of the sentence.
Sono dovuta andare via – I had to leave(dovuta, feminine singular).
Ci siamo alzati tardi – we got up late(alzati, masculine plural)
Non siamo potuti venire – we could not come (potuti, masculine plural)
How to Use the Modal Verbs with the Pronouns
This is more advanced topic, if you are a beginner Italian learner, you can skip it for now.
Modal verbs in Italian allow for the position of pronouns to be flexible. In Italian, a pronoun usually comes before the verb, unlike in English where it comes after. However, with modal verbs, the pronoun can come before the modal verb or after the infinitive verb that follows the modal verb. For example:
Voglio comprarlo – I want to buy it [pronoun attached onto the infinitive]
Lo voglio comprare – I want to buy it [pronoun before the modal verb]
Both structures are interchangeable and commonly used in spoken Italian.
In Italian language, nouns, pronouns, and adjectives can be assigned one of two grammatical genders: masculine or feminine. The gender of a word is arbitrary and does not always have a logical connection to the gender of the person or object it represents.
The gender of most Italian nouns is pretty straightforward.
Nouns ending in “O”, like “il tavolo”, “il ragazzo”, “lo zaino” are masculine, while nouns ending in “A” are feminine, like “la casa”, “la donna”, “la borsa”.
Knowing the gender of a word is important in Italian because it affects the form of articles, adjectives, and pronouns used with it.
Nouns ending – E
However, there’s a pretty conspicuous group of nouns ending in -E and it can be a bit tricky to determine the gender of these nouns, as the gender is often arbitrary and not related to the meaning of the noun. or example, “il fiore” (the flower) is masculine, while “la neve ” (the snow) is feminine.
There are some patterns that can help determine the gender of a noun ending in -e. However, it’s important to keep in mind that these patterns are not absolute and there may be exceptions. Here are a few general guidelines:
Nouns ending -IERE or -ORE are usually masculine.
Nouns ending in -TRICE are usually feminine.
Note that nouns denoting professions that end in –ORE in the masculine form change to –TRICE in the feminine form. For example:
lo scrittore / la scrittrice
l’imprenditore / l’imprenditrice
Nouns ending in -ENTE, -ANTE and -ESE can can be either masculine or feminine. The gender in this case is determined by the article.
il cliente/la cliente
Nouns ending in -SIONE or -ZIONE are feminine.
Nouns ending in -ISTA and -ETA are invariabile in the singular form. However they decline into -ISTI/ISTE and -ETI/-ETE in the plural form.
il/la turista – i turisti/le turiste
il musicista – i musicisti/le musiciste
l’atleta – gli atleti/le atlete
Words- ending in – EMA/-IMA are masculine.
Words winding – ISI/ESI are feminine.
Words ending in -E’/U’ are feminine
Foreign nouns, unless they refer to a female, are generally masculine:
The Polite Form in Italian: Formal vs. Informal Speech
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Italian, like many other languages, has different forms of address that reflect the level of formality in a given situation. The use of “tu” is informal, and it’s typically used between friends, family members, or close acquaintances.
On the other hand, when addressing people you don’t know well, or in more formal settings, such as a business meeting or a letter to a government official, you would use the subject pronoun “Lei” (and conjugate the verb in the third person singular) as a sign of respect. This form is considered more formal and polite, and it shows that you are mindful of the social norms and expectations of the situation.
So, in general, choosing the right form of address and verb conjugation is an important aspect of communicating effectively in Italian, and it can convey a lot about the relationship between the speakers and the level of formality in the interaction.
Example of Informal Speech
Come (tu) stai? – How are you?
Dove (tu) abiti? – Where do you live?
(Tu) confermi l’appuntamento? –Do you confirm the appointment?
Vieni a alla riunione? – Are you coming to meeting?
Example of Formal Speech
Come (Lei) sta? – How are you?
Dove (Lei) abita? – Where do you live?
(Lei) conferma l’appuntamento? –Do you confirm the appointment?
Viene alla riunione? – Are you coming to the meeting?
Informal vs. Formal You
The choice between “tu” and “Lei” reflects the level of familiarity and formality in the relationship between the speakers.
“Tu” is used in informal and familiar contexts, for example if you addressing a child, a colleague, or a schoolmate. In general, someone you’re familiar with or somebody who is much younger than you. Also, we use tu to speak to one person. If we are addressing two or more people, we will switch to the subject pronoun voi.
“Lei” is used in more formal and respectful situations. Generally older people or people with a title like Signor Giorgi, Signora Carli, Dottor Rossi, Avvocata Gialli, etc. or people we meet in formal settings (university professor, doctor’s appointment, an appointment with a real estate agent, etc..)
Addressing people formally, in the plural
“Voi” and “Loro”
It’s also important to note that “voi” is the plural form of “tu” and is used when addressing two or more people in an informal setting. In a formal setting, the third person plural pronoun “Loro” should be used instead. However, the use of “loro” as a formal form of address has declined in recent years and is not as common as it once was. Therefore, it’s naturally to use “voi” both in formal and informal situations.
Italian vs. English
English does not mark this difference in terms of subject pronouns or conjugations.
While there is only one way to address someone in English, regardless of whether the situation is formal or informal, we ask the same questions in two different ways in Italian, depending on whether the conversation is formal or informal, as shown in the following table.
Formal You vs. She
The Italian formalyou (which is “Lei”) and the subject pronoun she (which is “lei, too) shall never be confused. The first one is only used to address someone (one person), and the second one is used in a statement to refer to a third person.
Signora, è pronta? – Are you ready, ma’m?
Lei è pronta – She is ready
What does “dare del tu” mean?
Sometimes a formal conversation can become less formal, and you can hear someone saying: “Possiamo darci del tu?” or “Puoi darmi del tu?“.
Both phrases mean that there is a desire to reduce the formality of the setting.
Generally, we say that “dare del tu“means using the informal subject “tu” and“dare del Lei” means using the formal subject “Lei.”
We typically switch from formal to informal when the atmosphere is friendly and relaxed.
Lei is both used for women and men and is often capitalized (although it is not mandatory to write it with a capital “L”).
When to Use the Polite Formin Italian
They say the lei is preferred and expected in formal settings, but defining what constitutes a formal setting in a foreign culture can be tricky.
This is why I made a list of typical formal settings in Italy. If you ever end up in one of these situations, speaking politely or dare del Lei will be expected and appreciated.
At a job interview
At the government office
At a restaurant
At the post office or bank
When meeting your in-laws for the first time
When speaking to seniors or, in general, older people
With a salesperson in a shop (not if he is a teen or very young)
In the bakery or pastry shop
With officers, doctors, lawyers, and other professionals
A side note goes to greetings…
A meeting with a real estate agent
Formal and Informal Italian Greetings
The choice of greeting can also reflect the level of formality in a given situation. “Ciao” is a very informal greeting and is typically used between friends or close acquaintances.
In a formal setting, such as a business meeting or when addressing someone older or with a title, it would be more appropriate to use the greetings “Buongiorno” (good morning) or “Buonasera” (good evening), depending on the time of day. Similarly, when saying goodbye, the informal “Ciao” would not be appropriate in a formal setting. In these situations, it’s better to use “Arrivederci” (goodbye) as a sign of respect.