Lesson One / Lezione uno
Dialogue / Dialogo
- Maria : Ciao, Giuseppe! Come stai? audio name (help·info).
- Giuseppe : Ciao, Maria! Sto bene, grazie mille. E tu? italian pronunciation (help·info).
- Maria : Sto bene. Ti presento Bianca. audio name (help·info).
- Giuseppe : Buon giorno, Bianca. italian pronunciation (help·info).
- Bianca : Salve, Giuseppe. Come sta? italian pronunciation (help·info).
- Giuseppe : Sto bene, e Lei? italian pronunciation (help·info).
- Bianca : Sto bene. Arrivederci. italian pronunciation (help·info).
- Giuseppe : Ci vediamo! italian pronunciation (help·info).
- Maria : Ciao! italian pronunciation (help·info).
Vocabulary / Vocabolario
- ciao (informal), buon giorno, salve (formal) — hello, good day
- come stai (tu)*? — how are you? (informal)
- come sta (Lei)*? — how are you? (formal)
- ti presento... — I introduce to you / This is... (e.g. ti presento Bianca - This is Bianca)
- sto bene — I'm fine
- grazie mille — many thanks
- e Lei? (formal)? (informal) — and you?
- arrivederla (formal), arrivederci, ci vediamo, ciao (informal) — goodbye, see you later
*In Italian, you rarely express the subject pronoun unless you either want to stress the importance of the subject or you want to eliminate an ambiguity regarding the subject.
Grammar / Grammatica
Formal vs. Informal / Formale vs. informale
In Italian, there are two pronouns that mean you in the singular. One is informal, to be used with a person with whom you are familiar, and the other is formal, which is to be used with a person of a status superior to yours or with a person you have just met. The informal form is tu and the formal form is Lei (note that it is only capitalized here to distinguish between the word for 'she'). The plural of tu is 'voi', and the plural of Lei is Loro. Knowledge of the difference between these the formal and informal forms is important because they take different verb forms.
In addition, especially in the south of Italy, you can also use the second person plural ('voi') when addressing an older person to whom you wish to show respect.
Exercise One / Esercizio uno
- Signor Berti has just walked in. He says buon giorno to you. How do you ask him how he is? Come stai?
- Your friend has gotten a new haircut. When telling them how much you like it, will you use the tu form or the Lei form?Tu
- It is your first day of school and your teacher asks how you are. After responding, you wish to say 'and you?'. Which pronoun do you use?Sto bene.
Subject Pronouns and Essere / Pronomi personali soggetto e essere
Subject pronouns are used to show the subject of a sentence. In English subject pronouns are: I, you, he, she, it, we and they. Take a look at the following table which contains the corresponding pronouns in Italian.
Note that lei can mean either she or the formal, singular you, which is used both for masculine and feminine subjects. In written Italian Lei, written with a capital L, is used to represent a formal you. Note also that, unlike in English, io used for the first person in singular is not capitalized. Subject pronouns (io, tu etc.) are not always used in Italian because, unlike English, the grammatical person is indicated by the declension. Thus, while in English we would say I sing, in Italian we would normally use canto rather than io canto.
Essere (and also stare) is an equivalent of the verb to be in English. It is very irregular; the conjugation for the present indicative tense follows:
|Essere (to be)|
|io sono |
|tu sei |
|egli/ella è |
|noi siamo |
|voi siete |
|essi sono |
The pronouns Lei and Loro take the same verb form as egli/ella and essi.
Exercise Two / Esercizio due
- How do you say you are (informal singular? Tu sei.
- Come stai tu? - Is the pronoun formal or informal in this question?informal.
- When I say Lei è, am I talking about you (my close friend) or my teacher?close friend.
- If you want to say Bob and I are, which verb form do you use?voi
- Joan and Kim are good friends. Would they use tu or Lei when talking to each other?lei