Basic Italian learning: 50+ words and phrases you need to know

What are the most common Italian words? How can you combine them to have a basic Italian conversation? How can you start learning Italian? Discover all you need to know about basic Italian learning.
basic italian learning
I want to learn:

How to start learning Italian?

You’ve decided you want to start learning Italian. What comes next?

Learning a new language is a gradual process that requires patience, motivation, and commitment.

You can’t expect immediate results, but if you pour the right amount of effort, you will progress constantly and become fluent in the language you want to speak.

Here are the basic things to do if you want to learn Italian.

Find your motivation

Having a strong motivation is a solid basis for learning Italian.

Why do you want to learn Italian? Once you have a reason, you can also set realistic goals.

Let’s suppose you want to travel to Italy. Perhaps, you want to learn how to order food, book a hotel, and a few simple sentences to speak with locals.

You will have a different reason to learn Italian than someone who needs Italian for work.

Be sure about why you want to learn Italian: do you need it for your job? Are you traveling to Italy? Or are you doing it for passion?

You can set your “how” only if you have your “why”.

Choose reliable resources

Once you know why you want to learn Italian, you can select the resources you need.

This will guide you in choosing the best resources according to your purpose.

If you want to learn Italian grammar, you will need textbooks.

If you want to have a basic Italian conversation, maybe textbooks won’t help you that much: it is better to speak a lot and practice your fluency.

And if you need to learn Italian for work, you might need an intensive Italian language course.

As you see, there’s not a standard method to learn Italian. You can use different tools and resources according to your goals.

Learn more about the best resources to learn Italian.

Set a schedule

You can’t expect to learn anything if you don’t dedicate enough time to it.

Are you serious about learning Italian? Then, you need to be organized.

Set a schedule and a study routine and be committed to them.

For example, you can dedicate 30 minutes a day to Italian. It is better to practice every day – even for a short time – than to do an intensive Italian lesson from time to time.

You can be even more organized and choose to practice a different aspect of the language each day: Italian grammar, readings, audio lessons, conversations, etc.

Basic Italian learning: tips to learn faster

Is it possible to learn Italian fast?

You can, of course. But it depends on the time you dedicate to it and the method you use.

Otherwise, you risk pouring your efforts in the wrong direction, and your practice won’t lead you to improvement.

If you want to learn Italian fast, there’s no secret: you need to choose a proper method and practice constantly.

Here are some basic tips for learning Italian faster.

Speak a lot

Most basic Italian learners want to learn the language to speak it.

Then, what’s better than speaking a lot to learn Italian?

Set the fear of making mistakes apart and try to speak Italian every time you have the chance.

Only speaking allows you to expand your Italian vocabulary and improve your pronunciation and fluency.

How can you practice your spoken Italian? There are really many ways you can do it.

You can have Skype lessons with a language tutor, find a language exchange partner, or – if no one around you speaks Italian – you can even talk to yourself.

Be committed

Learning any language requires commitment. You can’t expect to become fluent in Italian if you don’t dedicate enough energy to the process of learning.

If you’ve decided you want to learn Italian, be serious about it.

Set small and realistic goals and reward yourself when you achieve them.

For example, you can decide you will have dinner in your favorite restaurant every time you learn a set of new words or complete a module of an online Italian course.

It is a nice way to keep your motivation high and make learning more engaging.

Listen to spoken Italian

Listening to spoken Italian is the best way to get used to the language and to learn how Italians use words and expressions in their daily life.

The benefits of listening are countless: you improve your comprehension, enhance your Italian pronunciation, and learn new words easier than if you’d memorized them.

Italian podcasts and Italian audio lessons are among the best resources to listen to Italian speakers: they allow you to listen to a native Italian speaker and mimick his pronunciation.

What’s more, they’re often very engaging and make learning smoother.

One of my favorite audio courses is Ripeti con me!, which is designed by a native Italian speaker and consists of short audio lessons about real-life situations.

You have the chance to listen to a native speaker and repeat what you hear, and this will help you progress effortlessly.

One of the features that make Ripeti con me! stand out is the fact that it is based on a specific learning pattern.

You won’t just learn randomly: the course is designed to make you discover new grammar topics and retain the vocabulary you need.

Learn more about Ripeti con me audio lessons.

Basic Italian words for beginners

The Italian language is composed of about 450000 words, but you don’t have to learn all of them.

Neither Italian people do know all the Italian words. Instead, they select the words they use in their daily life from a “database” of about 6500 words.

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Still too much? Don’t panic.

A study revealed that knowing the 1000 most used Italian words will familiarize you with:

  • 76.0% of all vocabulary in non-fiction literature;
  • 79.6% of all vocabulary in fiction literature;
  • 87.8% of vocabulary in oral speech.

This means that you can start speaking Italian if you learn the most common basic Italian words.

Here is a list of the essential Italian words you need to know.

Si

Yes

No

No

Forse

Maybe

Certo

Of course

Ciao

Hi

Buongiorno

Good morning/afternoon

Buonasera

Good evening

Buonanotte

Goodnight

Arrivederci

Goodbye

Piacere!

Nice to meet you!

Grazie

Thank you

Prego

You’re welcome

Di niente!

It’s nothing!

Per favore/per cortesia/per piacere

Please

Scusa

I’m sorry

Mattino

Morning

Pomeriggio

Afternoon

Sera

Evening

Notte

Night

Vicino

Near

Lontano

Far

Destra

Right

Sinistra

Left

Cibo

Food

Bevanda

Drink

Acqua

Water

Caffè

Coffee

Vino

Wine

Birra

Beer

Mangiare

To eat

Bere

To drink

Lavorare

To work

Viaggiare

To travel

Vivere

To live

Bello

Beautiful

Brutto

Ugly

Caldo

Hot

Freddo

Cold

Amore

Love

Felice

Happy

Triste

Sad

Ospedale

Hospital

Dottore

Doctor

Aiuto

Help

Learn more Italian words or take a look at the top 1000 most common Italian words.

Basic Italian phrases: start speaking Italian

Learning new words is the first step to speaking Italian.

You can combine the words you learn to create basic phrases in Italian. With time, you’ll be able to express more complex concepts and communicate with locals.

If you’re planning to move or travel to Italy, learning the most common Italian sentences is essential to express your needs and communicate with people.

Here are some basic Italian phrases you might find helpful:

Mi chiamo…

My name is…

Sono…

I am… (your name)

Di dove sei?

Where are you from? (informal)

Di dov’è?

Where are you from? (formal)

Sono americano

I’m American

Quanti anni hai?

How old are you? (informal)

Quanti anni ha?

How old are you? (formal)

Ho 28 anni

I’m 28.

Che lavoro fai?

What’s your job? (informal)

Che lavoro fa?

What’s your job? (formal)

Faccio l’insegnante

I’m a teacher

Mi scusi, non capisco

I don’t understand

Mi scusi, non parlo Italiano molto bene

I don’t speak Italian very well

Va bene

All right

Mi scusi

I’m sorry

Non importa/non fa niente

Nevermind

Che ore sono?

What time is it?

Sono le 17:00

It’s 5 pm.

Mi scusi, dov’è il bagno?

Excuse me, where is the toilet?

Mi sono perso

I got lost

Può chiamare un taxi, per cortesia?

Can you call a taxi please?

Parla inglese?

Do you speak English?

Non mi sento bene

I don’t feel well

Può chiamare un dottore?

Can you call a doctor?

Learn more basic sentences in Italian.

How to have a basic conversation in Italian?

Once you know the most common Italian words and phrases, you’re ready to speak!

Basic Italian conversations are composed of a subject and a verb and express a complete thought.

Sono felice.

I’m happy.

In this example, the subject is io (I), but it is not expressed because it’s implicit in the verb conjugation.

Italians do not express the subject of the sentence if the verb conjugation shows it.

Italian sentences can become more complex if you want to add further details. You can always split the sentence into smaller ones:

Sono stanco. Vado a dormire.

I’m tired. I’m going to sleep.

With these things in mind, having a basic conversation in Italian is easy.

All you need to do is to combine the basic words and phrases you already know.

With time, you’ll be able to express your thoughts, needs, and feelings.

You’ll be surprised about how many things you can say with just a few words and how easily you can communicate with locals.

And I think this is one of the most rewarding aspects of learning a new language.

Learn more about how to have a basic conversation in Italian.

Basic Italian learning: a wrap-up

  • If you want to start learning Italian, find your motivation and choose reliable resources according to it.
  • Learning takes time and effort: speak a lot, listen to spoken Italian, and practice every day if you want to progress faster.
  • You don’t have to learn a lot of Italian words if you want to start speaking Italian. Instead, you can learn basic words and phrases and combine them.

Still translating in your head? Wanna speak Italian for real? Check out Stefano's courses to think directly in Italian and become fluent fast!

Claudia

100% Italian. Passionate about traveling and languages.

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