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Vital Vocab for Renting an Apartment in Italy
The Italian American Citizenship Assistance Program (ITAMCAP) can help you get your passport and citizenship, which enables you to reside in Italy. Beyond the formalities, there are other words to learn that can help make your experience easier. Read this guide to learn basic Italian words, greetings, and phrases.
The Importance of Learning the Italian Language
It’s vital to learn basic Italian before moving. Learning to speak Italian can help you communicate with landlords and property managers, meet people, and get closer to your Italian roots. Knowing the right Italian phrases can help you navigate through a variety of situations.
Learning basic Italian doesn’t take long. Just by learning simple words and phrases, you can catch on to grammatical structure—we’ll help you get started right now.
In Rome or Venice, you’re likely to find people who speak fluent English. However, this isn’t the case in smaller towns. Therefore, it’s helpful to start learning basic Italian words when apartment hunting outside urban areas.
Even in a bustling city, knowing these words will help you connect with the locals:
- Hello: Ciao (pronounced “chow”) is the informal way to say hello. Salve (sal-vay) is the formal way to greet someone and can be used any time of the day.
- Goodbye: Ciao is also used informally. Arrivederci is the formal way to say goodbye in Italian.
- Thank You: Grazie (grat-see) is the basic way to say “thank you.” If you want to say “many thanks,” it is molte grazie; “thanks a lot” in Italian is grazie mille.
- You’re Welcome: Prego is the simplest way to say “you’re welcome,” but you can also say di niente.
- Sorry: Although you can use scusa, the most polite way to apologize for a mistake is to say “mi dispiace.”
Other basic words to know include:
- Yes: Sì
- No: No
- Please: Per favore
- Love: Amore
- Happiness: Felicità
- Dog: Cane
- Cat: Gatto
- Bad: Male
- Well: Bene
- Job: Lavoro
- School: Scuola
- University: Università
- Train: Treno
- Airplane: Aereo
- Ticket: Biglietto
- Store: Negozio
- Restaurant: Ristorante
- Check, please: Il conto, per favore
Around the House
- Door: Porta
- Table: Tavolo
- Living Room: Salotto
- Floor: Pavimento
- Kitchen: Cucina
- Bedroom: Camera da letto
- Bathroom: Bagno
- Window: Finestra
- Fridge: Frigo
When interacting with people, you’re likely to use more than one- or two-word statements. Here are some key phrases you may use during introductory conversations:
- How Are You?: You may say “Come va?” or “Come stai?” An enthusiastic greeting by someone you know may include a kiss on both cheeks with the phrase “Buongiorno, amore mio! Come va?”
Your response to the question may be bene for “good” or non bene for ”not good” (to answer in the masculine, say “buono” and in the feminine, say “buona”). “OK” is va bene, or you can reply “I’m fine, thank you” by saying “Sto bene, grazie.” You could also say così così to reply “so-so.”
- Good Morning/Good Afternoon/Good Evening/Good Night: Buongiorno is “good morning; buon pomeriggio is “good afternoon”; buonasera is “good evening”; and buonanotte is “good night.”
- What Is Your Name?: Come si chiama?
- My Name Is …: Mi chiamo … (mee kee-amo).
- Nice to Meet You: Piacere (pee-a-chay-ray).
- Welcome!: Benvenuti!
- See you: Ci vediamo.
- See you tomorrow: A domani.
- Have a Nice Day!: Buona giornata!
- Farewell: Addio.
- Good Luck!: Buona fortuna!
- Excuse me: Mi scusi, or permesso if you’re passing through a crowd.
Striking Up a Conversation
Believe it or not, it’s not hard to have a conversation in Italian, even if you’re not that familiar with the language. Here are some common Italian phrases to use with the natives:
- Where Are You From?: Lei di dov’è? (lay dee do-vay?), or Di dov’è sei? The reply would be “I’m from …” or Sono di …
- What Do You Do For Work?: Che lavoro fai? Your reply to such a question would start as “I’m a …” or “Sono Un/uno/una …” Jobs include insegnante (teacher), cuoco (cook), scrittore (writer), medico (doctor), and infermiera (nurse).
- What Are You Studying?: Cosa studi?
- How Old Are You?: Quanti anni hai?
- The Weather Is Lovely Today, Isn’t It?: Bella giornata oggi, vero? (bell ajee-or-na-ta ojji vay-ro?).
- Do You Speak English?: Parla inglese?
- Do You Speak Italian?: Parli italiano?
- Can You Help Me?: Puoi aiutarmi?
- Excuse Me, Can You Help Me?: Scusi, può aiutarmi?
As you’re on your adventure in Italy, you may come across situations where you include basic Italian words into phrases such as:
- I Only Speak a Little Italian: Parlo solo un po’ di italiano.
- Could You Repeat That?: Potrebbe ripetere?
- I Don’t Understand!: Mi scusi, non capisco.
- You Are Speaking Too Fast: Stai parlando troppo velocemente. This is informal, but you can also say “puoi dirlo lentamente?” (Can you say it slowly?)
- How Do You Say …?: Come si dice …?
- What Did You Say?: Cosa hai detto?
- What Does _ Mean?: Cosa signfica_?
- I Don’t Know: Non lo so.
- Never Mind: Non importa.
- I Understand You: Riesco a capirla.
- All Right: Va bene.
- I Am Hungry: Ho fame.
- I Am Thirsty: Ho sete.
- I Am Hot/Cold: Ho caldo/freddo.
- Help, I’m Lost! (Male/Female): Aiuto, mi sono perso!/Aiuto, mi sono persa!
Key Phases to Know When Living in Italy
When you need to ask for help or directions, you may use interrogative words such as:
- Where?: Dove?
- Who?: Chi?
- What?: Che? or Cosa?
- Why?: Perché?
- When?: Quando?
- How Much?: Quanto?
When going out, there are many common phrases you would use at a local restaurant. Since Italy is famous for its restaurants, it helps to know:
- A Table for One/Two Please: Uno tavolo per uno/due, per favore.
- Excuse Me (to a Waiter): Mi scusi!
- Can I Have the Menu Please?: Potrei avere il menu, per favore?
- What Do You Recommend?: Cosa mi consiglia?
- The Check, Please: Il conto, per favore.
- I’m Looking for a Place with Good Food Around Here: Cerco un posto qui in zona dove si mangi bene.
When you go out shopping, you may use phrases such as “I like this” or “Mi piace questo,” or “How much is this?” or “Quanto costa questo?” If there’s something you’re looking for, you can say “Cerco una_” and, if you’re being hassled to buy something and want to say “Thank you, I’ll keep looking,” reply “Grazie, continuo a guardare.”
If you have a medical emergency due to an illness or accident, here are some phrases you need to know:
- I Need to See a Doctor: Devo andare da un medico.
- Is There a Hospital Near Here?: C’è un ospedale da queste parti?
- I Hurts Here (while pointing to where the pain is): Mi fa male qui.
Finally, conversation fillers will help your speech sound more natural in many situations. You can use these while speaking to the natives:
- To Be Honest: A dire la verità
- By the way: A proposito
- Anyway: Comunque
- Well …: Be’…
- So: Allora
Are You Moving to Italy?
If you are, this list of basic Italian words will help. At ITAMCAP, we can assist in getting your dual citizenship and passport and provide translation services. We also help with researching vital records and naturalization records or if you need to get a new tax identification number in Italy. Contact us online or call 305-812-5512 to get started.