How to Understand Common Italian

The Italian language is a beautiful language, as they say. You can learn how to speak most of the common words, which will get you around when you take a trip to Italy. You will need to know all this when shopping in an outdoor Italian Marketplace.


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    Learn some common greetings. It will show people that you are friendly.
    • Good Morning = Buongiorno (Boo-on-Jor-No)
    • Good Afternoon = Buon Pomeriggio (Boo-on-po-mer-i-jo)
    • Good Evening = Buona sera (boo-on-a-say-ra)
    • Good Night = Buona notte (Boo-on-a-not-te)
    • Hi/Bye = Ciao (chow) (informal)
  2. Image titled Understand Common Italian Step 2
    Remember that after you say hello, you will leave eventually, so learn the next important word.
    • Goodbye = arrivederci (a-reev-a-der-chee) (informal)
    • ArrivederLa (a-reev-a-der-La) (formal)
    • Ciao (chow) (informal)
  3. Image titled Understand Common Italian Step 3
    Have dinner or lunch out, or make a date to meet a special someone, and you may want to learn these words to pay the bill and not be cheated.
    • 1 = uno
    • 2 = due (doo-eh)
    • 3 = tre
    • 4 = quattro
    • 5 = cinque (chin-queh)
    • 6 = sei (say)
    • 7 = sette
    • 8 = otto
    • 9 = nove (no-veh)
    • 10 = dieci (dee-eh-chi)
  4. Image titled Understand Common Italian Step 4
    Never forget these other words, or you might get into a problem area and not be able to get out.
    • No = no
    • Yes = si (see)
  5. Image titled Understand Common Italian Step 5
    Always be polite. That is always a nice way to make friends, and be invited back.
    • Thank you = grazie (gra-tsee-eh)
    • You're welcome = prego
    • Buongiorno is used from the morning until 2pm (1:00 -14:00).
    • Buon pomeriggio is used in the afternoon (14:00-evening).
    • Buona sera is for the evening.
    • Buona notte is either after 24:00 or when you are going to bed.
  6. Image titled Understand Common Italian Step 6
    If you don't understand, try to say this: Non parlo italiano.
  7. Image titled Understand Common Italian Step 7
    This is only basic Italian. Don't stop learning the language. It is beautiful and melodic.


  • "chi" is pronounced "kee"
  • "ci" is pronounced "chi"
  • Roll your tongue when making "r" sounds. This is important because your words won't sound Italian if you don't roll your tongue.
  • Usually when there is a z, there is a "t" sound before it. For example, ragazzo (boy), sounds like (ra-gat-zo)
  • The vowels have the exact same sound every time:
    • a = ah
    • e = ay
    • i = ee
    • o = oh
    • u = oo
  • Listen to it being spoken. That is a quick way to pick up key words and phrases.
  • Very few people ACTUALLY uses "good afternoon" (at least in the Tuscany region) -- similar to in the states. Yes, it's a greeting, but when is the last time you've greeted a shopkeeper with "good afternoon"? "Buongiorno" is good until about 17:00.
  • Words ending in A are feminine, and when plural end in E (but exceptions exist)
  • There are rarely any "sh" sounds in Italian.
  • gl, if followed by an i or an e, represents a sound similar to ll in million.
  • Words ending in O are masculine, and when plural end in I (but exceptions exist)


  • There are hundreds of Italian dialects, one for each town (town, AND city). Be careful, as one dialect, especially the Bari one, may sound different from another. For example, in northern Italy "babbo" means "father," while in southern Italy (especially in Sicily) "babbo" means "stupid." Pay attention to where your friends are from or where you are in Italy.
  • Some words have multiple meanings that are not based entirely on dialect.

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Categories: Italian