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Dialogues[edit | edit source]

Languages need verbs and people need to communicate. Every language needs action words and "state of being" words. They tell us what is going on. Sometimes we just need more information, too. In this lesson you will learn the formation of questions and several verbs (with conjugations) plus a few more useful phrases.

Dialogue one / Dialogo uno[edit | edit source]

The setting: Paola and Marco are having breakfast at a bar.

Paola : Salve, vorrei un cornetto e un cappuccino, per favore.
Marco : Per me invece un espresso, grazie.
Barman : Volete altro?
Marco : No, grazie.
Paola : Quanto viene?
Barman : Sono 3 euro e 10.

Vocabulary[edit | edit source]

(io) vorrei... I would like...
cornetto croissant
per me... for me...
invece... instead (however, in this context)
per favore please
volete altro? anything else? (lit. Do you want other?)
quanto viene? how much does it (all) cost?
sono 3 (euro) e 10 (centesimi). it is 3 (euros) 10 (cents).

Dialogue two / Dialogo due[edit | edit source]

The setting: Daniele asks for directions to the Leaning Tower in Pisa.

Daniele : Scusi, dove devo andare per arrivare alla Torre Pendente?
Helper : Allora, vada sempre diritto, poi giri a destra.
Daniele : Grazie.
Helper : Si figuri.

Vocabulary[edit | edit source]

scusi... excuse me...
dove devo andare per arrivare alla Torre Pendente? how can I get to the Leaning Tower? (lit. Where should I go to get to the Leaning Tower?)
allora, ... well, so...
vada sempre diritto, poi giri a destra go straight forward, then turn right.
prego. / si figuri. / di niente. you are welcome / my duty / not at all

How to formulate a sentence in Italian[edit | edit source]

There is not a rigid schema to follow for formulating sentences in Italian. There is actually no difference between questions, answers and affirmations, except for the different spoken pronunciation of questions (indicated by the "?" symbol), but it does not differ particularly from English.

What is different, and often hard to understand, however, is the possible absence of the subject. In these cases, the subject is said to be implied ("sottinteso" in Italian) and is usually understandable by the different form of the verb, that is directly associated to the subject itself. See the auxiliary verbs below for a real example, and keep them in mind, because they are used more often than you would think.

Auxiliary verbs (present form)[edit | edit source]

The auxiliary verbs are two, essere (to be) and avere (to have). They are both irregular ones, and are used for both their actual meaning and for construction of all other non-auxiliary verbs in forms other than the present. Note that the pronouns egli, ella and essi are rarely used in spoken Italian nowadays. Also note that the formal singular you is spelt Lei, with a capital L to differentiate it from lei used for 'she'.

essere (to be)
io (I) sono
tu (you s) sei
egli, lui (he), ella, lei (she), Lei (you s, polite form) è
noi (we) siamo
voi (you pl) siete
loro, essi (they) sono
avere (to have)
io (I) ho
tu (you s) hai
egli, lui (he), ella, lei (she), Lei (you s, polite form) ha
noi (we) abbiamo
voi (you pl) avete
loro, essi (they) hanno

General formulation of phrases[edit | edit source]

Normal form[edit | edit source]

Subject (common form)
- (implied form)
Verb Object(s) (when necessary)

Interrogative form[edit | edit source]

Form 1 (with phrase inversion)

Proposition (when necessary) Subject (common form)
- (implied form)
Verb Object(s) (when necessary) ?

Form 2 (without phrase inversion)

Proposition (when necessary) Subject (common form)
- (implied form)
Verb Object(s) (when necessary) ?

Some Important Verbs[edit | edit source]

Verbs are actually the kernel of a language; without them, it would be impossible to build relevant phrases and talk to a native speaker. Italian has two auxiliary verbs, essere (to be) and avere (to have). In addition to that, the language permits also the use of a number of verbi servili (modal verbs), some auxiliary verbs that may be used in particular cases, and need to be accomplished with another verb in order to have an actual meaning. These verbs are dovere (to have to), potere (to be able), and volere (to want).

Other verbs seen before are:

  • andare (to go)
  • venire (to come)
  • arrivare (to arrive)
  • girare (to turn)
  • stare (to stay, to stand)
  • vedere (to see)
  • chiamare (to call)
  • sapere (to know (something))
  • conoscere (to know (someone))

About how to conjugate these verbs, you should take a look at the dedicated section; of course, there are some verbs which do not fit on these rules: they are called verbi irregolari (irregular verbs). Andare, venire and sapere, for example, are irregular verbs.