Italian Grammar Tips for Speaking Italian

3 Italian Grammar Tips to Help You Speak Italian

Learning a language can seem daunting. But it’s important to build a strong foundation to allow your Italian skills to flourish!

Italian has a sizeable set of personal pronouns. These are inflected for number, case and gender.

Articles are also important in Italian. Learn to use them with the masculine and feminine nouns, as well as their partitive forms.

Numbers

Whether you are shopping in an outdoor market or sharing your phone number with a new friend or explaining to someone where the platform is at the train station, numbers are essential for your Italian journey. So, it’s a good idea to get the hang of them early on.

The good news is that Italian numbers follow a pattern similar to English, making them fairly easy to learn. However, there are some important differences, such as ten (dieci) which is pronounced SEY-ee-cheh. And zero (zeh-roh) which is pronounced the same as in English.

In addition, a space is added before the word for thousand when it follows the multiplier digit, except for one thousand: mille [1,000], duemila [2,000], tremila [3,000] etc. The same pattern applies to the hundreds, tens and units. For the thousands and beyond, the words for each digit are added together to form the whole number (eg, forty-seven is ventenna). The final sum of a division is called differenza or resto.

Articles

Although not one of the easiest aspects of Italian, understanding and using articles will bring you a lot closer to speaking like an Italian. Italian articles are similar to a and an in English but have different forms depending on the noun they reference and their gender.

There are two types of articles in Italian, definite and indefinite. Indefinite articles are used when a noun is introduced for the first time or a generic concept is being discussed. Italian indefinite articles are lo for masculine nouns beginning with a consonant and uno for words that start with gn, pn, ps, s + consonant, x, y or z.

Definite articles are l’, il, gli and le. Note that the l in gli and le drops its vowel when used before certain sounds or letters such as z, s or a or when following a mute h (like in il giorno).

Adjectives

Adjectives are a vital part of any language and in Italian they can be just as colorful as the people, places and things they describe. Generally speaking, adjectives follow the noun they modify in Italian and agree with it in gender and number.

For example, un lingua difficile (a difficult language) or una ragazza generosa (a generous girl). However, there are some exceptions and adjectives that end in -io form their plural by dropping the o (e.g. i padri e le madri italiani, Uli and Adriana).

Positive adjectives such as bello (beautiful) are very useful when talking about architecture or scenery. However, some Italian adjectives are more descriptive and can convey emotions or sentiments. A good example is spaventoso (frightful), which can have either a positive or negative connotation and describes anything that makes you jump or shake your head. Another positive adjective is soleggiato (sunny) used to describe the sunny weather after a long period of rain.

Greetings

Italian greetings go beyond words, involving body language and affection. The classic stereotype is of people kissing each other on the cheeks or holding hands, especially with friends or relatives.

Italians use different greetings depending on who they are talking to, so it is important that you choose the right one. Use ciao with acquaintances and friends, but switch to buon giorno or buona sera with teachers or bosses.

Buon giorno means good morning and can be used throughout the day until around 3-4 p.m, when the afternoon nap, or riposo, begins in Italy. ‘Buon pomeriggio’ is used in the afternoon and ‘buona notte’ when it’s time for bed. ‘Saluto’ is also a nice way to say goodbye. This can be said to friends and family in person or at the end of written correspondence. The r in saluto is trilled, which sounds different from an English rolled ‘r’. It is similar to a French’merci’.

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