External Resources Edit

Basics 1Edit

Welcome to the Italian course! Remember that you can click on the words to see tips of possible translations.

Personal pronouns Edit

The subject pronouns in Italian are:

  • Io - I
  • Tu - Singular You
  • Lui - He
  • Lei - She
  • Esso/Essa - It (archaic and literary)
  • Noi - We
  • Voi - Plural You / You all
  • Loro - They (speaking of people)
  • Essi/Esse - They (archaic and literary)

The verb is always conjugated to match the subject, and the subject is only specified for clarity or emphasis.

Articles Edit

Articles have to match gender and number of the noun they refer to.

The singular determinate articles (the) are:

  • Lo - masculine, used before Z, S+consonant, GN, and some rarer consonant clusters.
  • Il - masculine, used before consonants except the above.
  • La - feminine, used before all consonants.
  • L' - an elision of the above used before vowels.

The indeterminate articles (a/an) are:

  • Uno - masculine, used before Z, S+consonant, GN, and some rarer consonant clusters.
  • Un - masculine, used in all other cases.
  • Una - feminine, used before all consonants.
  • Un' - feminine, used before vowels.

Basics 2Edit

Plural articles Edit

  • The plural definite articles (the) are:
  • Gli - for masculine nouns before vowels, Z, S+consonant, GN and some rarer consonant clusters.
  • I - for masculine nouns in all other cases.
  • Le - for feminine nouns.

Articulated prepositions Edit

When some prepositions are followed by a definite article they merge into a single word.

  • Article: il, lo, la, l', i, gli, le
  • Di + article: del, dello, della, dell', dei, degli, delle
  • A + article: al, allo, alla, all', ai, agli, alle
  • Da + article: dal, dallo, dalla, dall', dai, dagli, dalle
  • In + article: nel, nello, nella, nell', nei, negli, nelle
  • Su + article: sul, sullo, sulla, sull', sui, sugli, sulle

The compounds formed by con and per are archaic and literary, with the exception of col (con + il) for which the contraction is optional.


Negations Edit

In this section you'll use negations for the first time.

The English no has two main uses:
Particle (e.g. "no!"): this translates directly to the Italian no.
Determiner (e.g. "no one"): you'll learn the translations for this in a later section.

The English not almost always translates to the Italian non. However, while not often follows the verb it negates or its auxiliary, the Italian non always precedes it.

Greetings Edit

  • Ciao is used both ways in Italian: when meeting (also salve) and when parting (also arrivederci or addio).
  • Buongiorno and buonasera are normally used when meeting, although they can be used when parting as well: the first is used in the first half of the day and the latter in the remaining half.
  • Buonanotte is always used when parting, as it presumes that the day is over (same as "good night").
  • Prego is a courtesy form used in many occasions to accompany a kind action, and it's the customary answer to reply to received thanks.
  • Per favore, per piacere and per cortesia are courtesy forms used when asking for something.


Ingredients Edit

Italian has three ways to express the presence of an ingredient in the name of a dish: Dish di ingredient: the ingredient is the main or only component of the dish, e.g. "succo di limone" (lemon juice). In this case the article is never used before the ingredient.

  • Dish con ingredient: the ingredient is a visible component of the dish or used as garnish, e.g. "fragole con panna" (strawberries with cream). In this case a definite article can be used before the ingredient.
  • Dish a ingredient: the dish has been flavored with the ingredient, or tastes like the ingredient, e.g. "gelato al cioccolato" (chocolate ice cream). In this case the definite article is mandatory before the ingredient, forming an articulated preposition with a.

When there is no room for confusion the three can occasionally be mixed up, e.g. "panino al salame" is as common as "panino con salame"; however, in many cases using one instead of the other can give hints on the dish's composition.

Questions Edit

In this section you'll meet the first proper questions. In Italian word order doesn't change in a question, meaning that the question mark at the end and the raising tone of voice are usually the only differences between a question and a statement.

Tips Edit

It's important to keep in mind that the English idiom of "having food" being synonymous with "eating food" doesn't apply to Italian, where "avere cibo" simply means owning food.


You already met some noun variations in gender and number in the past lessons.

The most common noun classes in Italian are the following: Nouns ending in a in the singular and e in the plural, e.g. "la ragazza" / "le ragazze": most nouns in this class are feminine.

  • Nouns ending in o in the singular and i in the plural, e.g. "il ragazzo" / "i ragazzi": most nouns in this class are masculine.
  • Nouns ending in e in the singular and i in the plural, e.g. "il pesce" / "i pesci": nouns in this class can be any gender.
  • Nouns ending in a in the singular and i in the plural, e.g. "il problema" / "i problemi": most nouns in this class are masculine

Animals (No Notes)Edit

Food 2 (No NotesEdit


Italian possessives are in the form definite article (il, la, i, le) + possessive adjective. They agree with the gender and number of the thing they describe:

  • My/Mine: "il mio", "la mia", "i miei", "le mie"
  • Your/Yours (sing): "il tuo", "la tua", "i tuoi", "le tue"
  • His/Hers/Its/Your (formal)/Yours (formal): "il suo", "la sua", "i suoi", "le sue"
  • Our/Ours: "il nostro", "la nostra", "i nostri", "le nostre"
  • Your/Yours (plur): "il vostro", "la vostra", "i vostri", "le vostre"
  • Their/Theirs: "il loro", "la loro", "i loro", "le loro"

il mio cane My dog ("Cane" is masculine singular, so we use "il" and "mio.")

la mia pizza My pizza ("Pizza" is feminine singular, so we use "la" and "mia.")

Even though in English the possessive in the third person (his, her, its) varies based on the owner, remember that in Italian the gender and number are determined by the thing being owned:

il cane di Giulia > il suo cane ("Cane" is masculine, so we use the masculine, even though it is her dog.)

In Italian an article is almost always mandatory before a possessive. The exceptions are:

  • It's not used before close family members, in the singular and not modified, e.g. "mio padre" (my father), unless the possessive is "loro" (in which case the article is needed).
  • It's optional when the possessive adjective is alone following a form of "essere," e.g. "è mio" (it's mine).
  • It's not used in a small number of set phrases, e.g. "casa mia" (my home).

Possessive pronouns (possessives acting as a noun) are formed using the definite article and the possessive. They agree with the object they describe, even if it is not explicitly mentioned in the sentence:

Dov'è la tua macchina? La mia è qui. Where is your car? Mine is here. (It is understood that "la mia" refers to my car, so it is feminine.)

Clothing (No Notes)Edit

Questions (No Notes)Edit

Present 1Edit

In this section you'll learn some common verbs; let's have a look at the "tough" ones.

Conoscere vs Sapere Edit

Both verbs translate the English "to know": that means that while the difference is obvious to speakers of other languages (e.g. German kennen vs wissen, Spanish conocer vs saber, Latin cognoscere vs sapere), it might be particularly hard for native English speakers.
Conoscere means to be acquainted or familiar with someone or something: it's the way you "know" persons, places, or news.
Sapere means to possess information about something: it's the way you know or learn most facts.

Piacere Edit

This is the first verb you'll meet with a different transitiveness compared to English: it means "to like" but the one being liked is the subject! Again, this is something that speakers of other languages might be familiar with (e.g. German gefällt mir, Spanish me gusta, Latin placet mihi):

  • (en) Juliet (subject) likes Romeo (direct object)
  • (it) A Giulietta (indirect object) piace Romeo (subject) or
  • (it) Romeo (subject) piace a Giulietta (indirect object).

Note that contrary to Spanish the indirect object doesn't need a reinforcement (A Julieta le gusta Romeo), and instead using one is often regarded as a grammar mistake.


The verb "mancare," when referring to people, works like "piacere": the indirect object misses the subject.

Io (subject) non le (indirect object) manco. She does not miss me.


Most adjectives (like colors) in Italian have a masculine singular ending in either -O or -E. The ones that end in -O have separate feminine and masculine forms. Take for example "rosso":

il libro rosso / la camicia rossa / i libri rossi / le camicie rosse

Adjectives ending in E only have two forms: singular (-E) and plural (-I). They don't distinguish between masculine and feminine. "Verde" works this way:

il libro verde / la camicia verde / i libri verdi / le camicie verdi

With colors, certain words don't change at all (in the dictionary you'll see them called "invariable") because they are nouns, not adjectives. "Rosa" is an example of this, because it is the word for "rose":

il libro rosa / la camicia rosa / i libri rosa / le camicie rosa


Before a vowel (A, E, I, O, U), the conjunctions "e" and "o" and the preposition "a" may add a D (ed, od, ad). In current Italian grammar, this is optional, but is advised if the word following begins with the same letter (ed Elena, od olio, ad Alessandria). "Od" is used almost exclusively with words beginning with O, but you will see the others before other vowels ("ed io," for example).


Prepositions, just like in English, don't always make sense. For example, things that in English are in something, in Italian may be at something. It very much depends on context, and/or on the verb that precedes them (again, just like in English). However, you'll find that most of the time English and Italian are not that different after all!

The main prepositions are di, a, da, in, con, su, per, tra, fra.

Tra and fra both mean between, or among, and they're almost completely interchangeable nowadays. However, it's better not to use tra before a tr sound, or fra before a fr sound.
Tra fratelli. = Between/Among brothers.

Fra tre persone. = Between/Among three people.

They can also mean in, when talking about time:
Incontriamoci tra/fra due ore. = Let's meet in two hours.

The main difference between English and Italian, however, is that some Italian prepositions have to be combined with the article the whenever it ends up next to them. As you can see, di and in change into de- and ne- respectively, but the rest are quite predictable!

Italian English il lo la i gli le
di of, from del dello della dei degli delle
a to, at al allo alla ai agli alle
da from, by, since dal dallo dalla dai dagli dalle
in in, into nel nello nella nei negli nelle
con with con il, col con lo con la con i, coi con gli con le
su on, about sul sullo sulla sui sugli sulle
per for, through per il per lo per la per i per gli per le
tra/fra between, among tra il tra lo tra la tra i tra gli tra le
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