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Useful Phrases
  • Greetings
    The standard greeting in Italy is "Buon Giorno". After midday it should really change to "Buona Sera" but not everybody does. In fact, in Italy, not many people stick to rules at all! When greeting someone you don't know well, you would use "Salve" rather than "Ciao". To family and friends, "Ciao" is used as both "Hello" and "Goodbye". You might also hear: "Come stai?"; "Tutto bene?"; "Come va?"; "Tutt'a posto?". Which are all ways of asking how you are...
  • Please & Thank you
    Contrary to what is taught in most Italian courses, the phrase "Per Favore" is not often used by Italians to say "Please" except in a very formal way, i.e. "Excuse me Madam, could I please borrow your pencil?" or in a slightly sarcastic way. i.e "Do you think you could possibly move your car... please".

    It is more common to use:
    1. "Per piacere"
    2. "Per cortesia" (if you are asking a favour).

    Italians also rarely use "Please" if they are asking for something. i.e "Two coffees please" would be simply "Due Caffè". However, they always say "Thank You" which is "Grazie" and the response will always be "Prego" which means "You're welcome".

    "Prego" also means "Please", as in "After You" if you are letting someone go first, or in "Please do" if a waiter asks "Posso?" which means "Is it all right for me to clear your plates away".

  • Useful questions:
    Where is...? - Dov'è...?
    At what time? - A che ora?
    How much does it cost? - Quanto costa?
    How much is the bill? - Quanto pago?
    How long? - Quanto tempo?
    How long will it take? - Quanto tempo ci vuole?
    How do you say...? - Come si dice...?
    Where is the toilet? - Dov'è il bagno?
    Is there a toilet? - C'è il bagno?
    Where is a cashpoint? - Dov'è il bancomat?

  • Traveling:
    Airport - Aeroporto
    Station - Stazione
    Train - Treno
    Platform - Binario
    Ticket - Biglietto
    Return ticket - Biglietto andata e ritorno
    One way ticket - Biglietto solo andata
    Parking - Parcheggio
    Car hire - Noleggio auto
    Garage (fuel) - Distributore
    Bus - Pulman (Autobus)
    Bus stop - Fermata
    Ferry - Traghetto
    Timetable - Orario

  • Food & Drink:
    Sandwich - Panino
    Drink (soft) - Bibite
    The bill - Conto
    Change - Resto
    Starter - Primo
    Main course - Secondo
    Sweet - Dolce
    Fruit - Frutta
    Sugar - Zucchero
    Water - Acqua
    Still water - Acqua liscia
    Sparkling water - Aqua frizzante
    Red wine - Vino rosso
    White wine - Vino bianco
    Glass - Bicchiere
    Plate - Piatto
    Knife - Coltello
    Fork - Forchetta
    Spoon - Cucchiaio
    Teaspoon - Cucchiaino
    Cutlery - Posate
    Knapkin - Tovagliolo
    Beer - Birra
    Draught beer - Birra alla spina
    Half pint (approx) - Piccola
    Pint (approx) - Media

  • Coffee:
    The bewildering array of different coffees in Italy is something of an illusion. There is one basic ingredient - a slug of strong espresso coffee. The issue is how much milk you want with it:

    Espresso - small and black
    Lungo - double dose
    Macchiato - small with a dash of milk
    Espressino - slightly more milk
    Cappuccino - Normal cup size with frothy milk (and cacao)
    Latte Macchiato - Large cup with frothy milk

    In Italy, nobody drinks a milky coffee in the afternoon. You might get away with a Macchiato, but anything more than that and you give yourself away as a foreigner immediately!

  • Useful statements:
    See you later - Ci vediamo
    Talk to you later - Ci sentiamo
    I am a foreigner - Sono straniero (straniera) if female
    I don't speak Italian - Non parlo l'Italiano
    Do you speak English? - Parli l'Inglese?
    HELP! - Aiuto!
    Posso...? - Can I... ?
    Puoi...? - Can you...?
    Possono...? - Can they...?

  • Communication:
    Telephone - Telefono
    Mobile - Cellulare (telefonino)
    Internet - Internet
    Post office - la Posta
    Letter - Lettera
    Enveloppe - Busta
    Stamp - Francobollo
    International - Internazionale

  • Useful numbers:
    Emergency - 113
    Police - 112
    Ambulance - 118
    Fire Brigade - 115
    Car Breakdown - 116

  • Spelling words on the phone
    (phonetic alphabet used in Italy):

    A come Ancona
    B come Bologna
    C come Como
    D come Domodossola
    E come Empoli
    F come Firenze
    G come Genova
    H come Hotel
    I come Imola
    K come Chilo
    L come Livorno
    M come Milano
    N come Napoli
    O come Otranto
    P come Palermo
    Q come Quadro
    R come Roma
    S come Savona
    T come Torino
    U come Udine
    V come Venezia
    Z come Zeta (or Zara)
  • The Vowels:
    A - ah (as in car)
    E - ay (as in day)
    I - ee (as in feet)
    O - o (as in hot)
    U - oo (as in food)

    Italian peculiarities:
    The letters 'C' and 'G' have a hard or soft sound depending on which letter follows them:

    Ca - Hard as in car
    Ce - Soft as in change
    Ci - Soft as in cheese
    Co - Hard as in cod
    Cu - Hard as in coop
    Che - Hard as in came
    Chi - Hard as in key

    Ga - Hard as in garment
    Ge - Soft as in james
    Gi - Soft as in jeep
    Go - Hard as in gone
    Ghe - Hard as in game
    Ghi - Hard as in gift

  • Alphabet:
    A = Ah
    B = Bee
    C = Chee
    D = Dee
    E = Aye
    F = Effay
    G = Gee
    H = Acka
    I = Eee
    J = Eee lungo
    K = Cappa
    L = Ellay
    M = Emmay
    N = Ennay
    O = O (like not)
    P = Pee
    Q = Coo
    R = Erray
    S = Essay
    T = Tee
    U = Ooo
    V = Voo
    W = Dopia Voo
    X= Ix
    Y = Ipsilon
    Z = Zeta

    Remember, in an Italian word, every letter is pronounced.
  • Main Italian verbs:
    To be - Essere
    To have - Avere
    To go - Andare
    To come - Venire
    To arrive - Arrivare
    To fly - Volare
    To drive - Guidare
    To take - Prendere
    To depart - Partire
    To eat - Mangiare
    To sleep - Dormire
    To speak - Parlare
    To pay - Pagare
    To call (Telephone) - Chiamare
    To send (by post) - Spedire
    To ask - Chiedere
    To do - Fare
  • Italian numbers:
    0 - Zero
    1 - Uno
    2 - Due
    3 - Tre
    4 - Quattro
    5 - Cinque
    6 - Sei
    7- Sette
    8 - Otto
    9 - Nove
    10 - Dieci
    11 - Undici
    12 - Dodici
    13 - Tredici
    14 - Quattordici
    15 - Quindici
    16 - Sedici
    17 - Diciassette
    18 - Diciotto
    19 - Diciannove
    20 - Venti
    21 - Ventuno
    22 - Ventidue
    23 - Ventitré
    24 - Ventiquattro
    25 - Venticinque
    26 - Ventisei
    27 - Ventisette
    28 - Ventotto
    29 - Ventinove
    30 - Trenta
    40 - Quaranta
    50 - Cinquanta
    60 - Sessanta
    70 - Settanta
    80 - Ottanta
    90 - Novanta
    100 - Cento
    200 - Duecento
    1,000 - Mille
    2,000 - Duemilla
  • Italian Days of the Week:
    Monday - Lunedì
    Tuesday - Martedì
    Wednesday - Mercoledì
    Thursday - Giovedì
    Friday - Venerdì
    Saturday - Sabato
    Sunday - Domenica
  • Italian Months of the Year:
    January - Gennaio
    February - Febbraio
    March - Marzo
    April - Aprile
    May - Maggio
    June - Giugno
    July - Luglio
    August - Agosto
    September - Settembre
    October - Ottobre
    November - Novembre
    December - Dicembre

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