You know what they say… When in Rome, do as the Romans do. And if you’re going to Italy, you should learn some basic Italian phrases so you can speak like an Italian! It isn’t too hard to quickly learn basic Italian. In fact, you could learn Italian phrases for your trip with just a week or two of preparation. It’s even easier if you have experience in Spanish or French! Even if you have no language learning experience, you can start learning to speak Italian now. All you need are some simple Italian phrases and words for everyday situations. Learning phrases is a great place to start when learning any language and is one of my language hacking techniques. Simple Italian phrases help you begin to grasp the vocab and grammar patterns of the language while allowing you to start speaking right away. And, if you’re travelling to Italy, it’s a great way to get the most out of your trip. Let’s dive right in.
Basic Italian Phrases and Italian Greetings to Get StartedLet’s start with the main phrases in Italian you should know. First, learn how to greet others with some polite phrases to get started so you can say “hello”!
“Hello” in ItalianYou’ve most likely heard this one before. “Hello” in Italian is ciao. But, this is the informal way to greet someone. If you’re in a situation where you need to speak in a formal way, try saying salve. If you meet someone for the first time, use salve over ciao. That said, the most common greeting for “hello” is buongiorno. This is usually followed by a kiss on both cheeks.
“How Are You?” in ItalianTo ask how someone is doing, you say Come va? It’s common for someone you know to come up to you, grab you by the arms or face, kiss both cheeks, all while saying Buongiorno, amore mio! Come va? Sometimes, you’ll hear Come stai? instead.
“I’m Good” / “I’m Not Good” in ItalianWhen replying to come va, you can say bene for “good”. If you aren’t doing well, you say non bene for “not good” or così così for “so-so”.
“Please” in Italian“Please” in Italian is per favore. It goes at the end of a sentence, usually when requesting something.
“Thank You” in ItalianGrazie is “thank you” in Italian. You could also use molte grazie for “many thanks” or grazie mille for “thanks a lot”.
“You’re Welcome” in ItalianPrego means “you’re welcome”. But you could also use di niente, which means both “you’re welcome” and “it’s nothing”.
“Good Morning” in ItalianBuongiorno means both “good morning” and “hello”, so it’s used often throughout the day. If it’s later in the day, though, you could instead say buon pomeriggio for “good afternoon”. And buonasera is “good evening”.
“Good night” in ItalianWhen you’re off to bed, say “good night” with buonanotte.
“Goodbye” in ItalianCiao is both “goodbye” and “hi” in Italian for informal situations. But you could also use arrivederci. Some other ways to say goodbye:
- “See you later”: A più tardi
- “See you next time”: Alla prossima
- “See ya later then”: Allora a dopo
“Yes” and “No” in ItalianThese are straightforward. “Yes” is sì and “no” is no. Simple.
“Excuse me” in ItalianIf you need to get someone’s attention or ask to get by them, you can say mi scusi. If you’re talking to friends or family, though, you can use scusa, which is informal.
“Sorry” in ItalianYou can use scusa for “sorry” in Italian as well. But a more polite way to apologize, especially if you made a mistake, is to use mi dispiace.
Useful Sentences in Italian to Speak Italian NowUse these common Italian phrases to get by in your first conversation. From asking more about the other person, to figuring out what something means, these Italian sentences will help you get by.
“Do You Speak…” in Italian“Do you speak English?” would be Parli inglese? And “Do you speak Italian?” Parli italiano? You can take parli (“do you speak”) and add any language you want to it. Here are some other phrases you’ll find useful as a beginner Italian speaker:
- “I only speak a little Italian”: Parlo solo un po’ di italiano
- “Yes, I speak a little bit”: Parlo solo un pochino
- “No, I don’t speak it”: No, non lo parlo
- “How do you say….”: Come si dice...
- “Could you repeat that?”: Potrebbe ripetere?
- ”Can you say it slowly?”: Puoi dirlo lentamente?
“I Don’t Know” in ItalianIf you’re asked a question and don’t know the answer, you can say non lo so for “I don’t know”. To make sure you’re understood in Italian, ask Capisci? To answer that question, you could say capisco for “I understand”, “capito” for “understood”, or non capisco for “I don’t understand” in Italian. If someone starts talking to you at a rapid pace in Italian, you can say Scusa, non parlo italiano for “Sorry, I don’t speak Italian.”
- “What does _ mean?”: Cosa significa __?
- “I know”: Lo so
- “What did you say?”: Cosa hai detto?
- “What do you mean?”: Cosa intendi?
“What’s Your Name?” in ItalianTo say “My name is…” in Italian, say Mi chiamo... or just Sono… for “I’m __”. Some other questions you can ask:
- “Where are you from?”: Di dove sei?
- “I’m from...”: Sono di…
- “How old are you?”: Quanti anni hai?
- “I’m 35 years old.”: Ho trentacinque anni.
- “What do you do for work?”: Che lavoro fai?
- “I’m a…”: Sono un/uno/una…
- “Nice to meet you”: Piacere
Key Phrases to Know in Italian -- Conversation FillersConversation fillers help your conversations to sound more natural. Plus, they help fill in gaps where you need to think of what to say next.
- “Well…”: Be’...
- “To be honest”: A dire la verità
- “By the way”: A proposito
- “So”: Allora
- “Anyway”: Comunque
Learn Simple Italian Phrases for Going OutThese phrases are good to know when going out to eat or exploring the city while travelling in Italy. I’d also recommend learning how to haggle when you go shopping!
- “I’d like the menu, please”: Vorrei il menu, per favore
- “I’d like…”: Mi piacerebbe…
- “Delicious!”: Buono!
- “The bill, please”: Il conto per favore
- “I’ll take this one”: Mi piacerebbe questo
- “That one, please”: Quello, per favore
- “What do you recommend?”: Che cosa mi consiglia?
- “Another one, please”: *Un altro, per favore.”
- “How much is it?”: Quanto costa?
- “Where is….”: Dov'è…
- “Could you help me?”: Potresti aiutarmi?
- “What’s this?”: Che cos'è questo?
- “Let’s go!”: Andiamo!
Italian Words to Expand Your VocabNow use these words below to plug and play in some of the phrases above. This way, you can customize this list to your own needs. Talking about time in Italian:
- Today: oggi
- Yesterday: ieri
- Tomorrow: domani
- o’Clock: in punto
- One: uno
- Two: due
- Three: tre
- Four: quattro
- Five: cinque
- Six: sei
- Seven: sette
- Eight: otto
- Nine: nove
- Ten: dieci
- Water: l’acqua
- Coffee: il caffè
- Tea: il tè
- Beer: la birra
- Wine: il vino
- Chicken: il pollo
- Fish: il pesce
- Vegetables: le verdure
- Chocolate: il cioccolato
- Supermarket: il supermercato
- Bank: la banca
- Post office: il ufficio postale
- Police station: la stazione di polizia
- Hospital: l'ospedale
- Restaurant: il ristorante
- Teacher: insegnante
- Cook: cuoco
- Employee: dipendente
- Writer: scrittore
- Doctor: medico
- Nurse: infermiera
Italian Slang and Sayings to Spice Up Your ConversationYour studies wouldn’t be complete without throwing in a few fun expressions and slang phrases to really make you sound like a local. Impress your Italian friends with these Italian slang words. I’ve included the literal meaning of the phrases, too.
- “To the T” | Lit.: “to the bean”: A fagiolo
- “That’s it, I’ve had it!” | Lit.: “enough”: Basta
- “No worries” | Lit.: “to appear”: Figurati
- “Thank God” | Lit.: “less bad”: Meno male
- “Hotshot” | Lit.: “to do the big”: Fare il grande
- “Take a drink” | Lit. “to raise an elbow”: Alzare il gomito