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Lesson One / Lezione uno[edit | edit source]

[edit | edit source]

Maria : Ciao, Giuseppe! Come stai? About this sound audio name .
Giuseppe : Ciao, Maria! Sto bene, grazie mille. E tu? About this sound italian pronunciation .
Maria : Sto bene. Ti presento Bianca. About this sound audio name .
Giuseppe : Buon giorno, Bianca. About this sound italian pronunciation .
Bianca : Salve, Giuseppe. Come sta? About this sound italian pronunciation .
Giuseppe : Sto bene, e Lei? About this sound italian pronunciation .
Bianca : Sto bene. Arrivederci. About this sound italian pronunciation .
Giuseppe : Ci vediamo! About this sound italian pronunciation .
Maria : Ciao! About this sound italian pronunciation .

Vocabulary / Vocabolario[edit | edit source]

Italian English Formality
ciao hello / goodbye informal
buon giorno hello / good morning formal
salve hello formal
come ti chiami what is your name?
mi chiamo... my name is...
ti presento...* I introduce you to / This is...
grazie mille many thanks
e tu? and you? informal
e Lei? and you? formal
arrivederci goodbye formal
ci vediamo see you later informal

*(e.g. ti presento Bianca - This is Bianca)

Grammar / Grammatica[edit | edit source]

Formal vs. Informal / Formale vs. informale[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]
  1. Signor Berti has just walked in. He says buon giorno to you. How do you ask him how he is? Come stai?
  2. 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
  3. 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? Lei

Subject Pronouns and Essere / Pronomi personali soggetto e essere[edit | edit source]

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.

Subject pronouns
io I
tu you
lui/lei he/she
noi we
voi you (all)
loro they

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.

The verb 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 || I am
tu sei || you are
egli/ella è || he/she is
noi siamo || we are
voi siete || you (all) are
essi sono || they are

The pronouns Lei and Loro take the same verb form as egli/ella and essi.

[Note] Subject pronouns (io, tu etc.) are not mandatory in Italian, especially spoken Italian. This is because the subject pronoun is implied by the form of the verb used, also known as its declension. Thus, while in English we would say "I am", in Italian we would normally just say sono rather than io sono. When an Italian speaker explicitly uses the subject pronoun, it is usually to place special emphasis or clarity on who the pronoun is referring to.

Exercise Two / Esercizio due[edit | edit source]

  1. How do you say you are (informal singular)? Tu sei.
  2. Come stai tu? - Is the pronoun formal or informal in this question? informal.
  3. When I say Lei è, am I talking about you (my close friend) or my teacher? my teacher.
  4. If you want to say Bob and I are, which verb form do you use? siamo
  5. Joan and Kim are good friends. Would they use tu or Lei when talking to each other? tu

How are you? / Come sta?[edit | edit source]

Italian English Formality
come stai (tu)* how are you? informal
come sta (Lei)* how are you? formal
sto bene I'm fine
sto male I'm feeling bad
sto benissimo I'm very well

*Remember, 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.