Tips to Have a Basic Conversation in Italian
Learning a new foreign language is a gradual experience that starts from the easier concepts up to the most complex ones.
What do you need to know to learn the basics of the Italian language?
Firstly, a basic Italian sentence is made up of a subject and a verb.
In this case, the subject is io (I), but there’s no need to say it because the verb conjugation shows that.
Every sentence must express a complete thought. Otherwise, it wouldn’t make sense.
Then, the sentences can become more or less complex. If you don’t feel confident about your language skills, you can split complex sentences into simpler ones.
Ho fame. Mangio un panino.
I’m hungry. I’ll eat a sandwich.
In general, Italian speakers are very polite. They always start a conversation with someone they don’t know with mi scusi (“excuse me”), and whenever they meet someone, they greet them.
Mi scusi, sa dirmi che ore sono?
Excuse me, could you tell me what time it is?
Buongiorno, ho appuntamento con il dentista alle 10:00.
Good morning, I have an appointment with the dentist at 10 o’clock.
It may sound cliché, but Italians love hand gestures. It’s part of their culture. So, don’t be surprised if Italian people use body language during a conversation!
Italian people have a gesture to express almost everything: surprise, anger, worry, fear, happiness, etc.
Learning some of them could help you communicate with Italian people: sometimes, body language can be more effective in expressing concepts than words!
Learn more about Italian hand gestures.
Italian people use different personal pronouns according to whom they’re talking to.
They use the informal tu for friends, relatives, and young people.
They use the formal lei in different situations:
- For people they don’t know well, old people, or professors;
- In stores, hotels, restaurants, or pharmacies.
When they meet someone for the first time, Italians shake hands.
When they meet people they already know, they greet them with two or three kisses on their cheeks or shake their hands.
Ciao! Da quanto tempo!
Hi! It’s been a long time!
Learn the Most Common Italian Phrases to Speak Italian
If you want to learn Italian, you don’t have to memorize all the Italian words and sentences.
The good news is that you can have an Italian conversation by knowing only some of the many words and useful phrases. There’s no need to go through it all!
To begin, you can learn new words and merge them into short sentences.
You can combine all the Italian phrases you’ve learned to create new sentences. It is a funny and useful exercise, which will enhance your confidence in speaking.
With little effort, you can manage to have a basic conversation in Italian.
Some of the basic Italian phrases you need to know concern how to greet someone, be polite, and introduce yourself.
Once you know the basics, you’ll be surprised about how many things you can say!
Here are some of the first Italian words and phrases you can learn:
Come ti chiami?
What’s you name?
My name is…
Come va?/Come stai?
How are you?
Thank you very much
Prego/non c’è di che
Learn more Italian phrases for beginners.
Learn through basic Italian conversations and short stories
Studying Italian grammar and learning new vocabulary is essential, but you need to combine it to actively speak and apply all that you’ve learned in a community forum for Italian students, for example.
You can do so through the help of basic Italian conversations and short stories, which describe typical situations that can happen during your stay in Italy (for example, going to the doctor, asking for information, answering the phone).
What are the benefits of this practice?
Reading or listening to a dialog helps you understand the language and the meaning of each phrase and memorize words easily.
Improve your listening skills
For sure, listening is one of the skills that will benefit the most from this practice: you need to catch up with what people are saying and understand the meaning.
Mi scusi, non ho capito!
Excuse me; I didn’t understand!
Expand your vocabulary by learning new words
You will learn new words and memorize them easily.
It’s easier to remember the last word you’ve learned in a specific context (for example, how to order food) rather than looking for its meaning in the dictionary.
Being able to apply the new word to a new situation is one of the best ways to memorize it and expand your vocabulary.
Master grammar patterns and idioms
Learning how to say something, ask for information, communicate your feelings, etc. will make you learn new language structures easily, faster than you’d do if you studied from a grammar book.
Naturally, improve pronunciation
By actively listening and mimicking a native speaker, you will improve your Italian pronunciation and accent.
How does it work?
How can you improve your Italian through conversations and short stories?
First of all, start with a proper difficulty level. If you’re a beginner, don’t go directly to the C1 level!
Find the examples that inspire you the most and will be more useful for you.
If you’re planning a holiday, read stories about booking a hotel, going to the restaurant, asking for information, etc.
If you want to move to Italy, you can focus on authentic conversations about daily life tasks, such as going to the doctor, having a phone call, or introducing yourself.
Each short story is structured in:
- Italian transcript;
- English transcript.
Read the text and try to understand its meaning. Don’t focus on the details at first.
Instead, try to recognize the main plot behind the story: where’s the setting? What are the characters? What is the story about?
Then, read it again carefully. Underline unknown words or key phrases.
Look for grammar patterns that you don’t know. Write them in a notebook.
Read the Italian transcript along with the audio: this helps you understand better.
The English transcript helps you find the meaning of the words you don’t know.
A tip for memorizing new words and grammar constructs is to write down a summary of the story.
Writing helps you memorize new words and phrases and deeply understand their meaning.
Most important: don’t be anxious to learn! It takes time.
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