Helpful Italian Vocab
Morgan, SAI Ambassador
November 26, 2014


Morgan spent her Spring 2014 term in Sorrento, Italy. Upon her return home, she became an SAI Ambassador at her home school, the University of South Carolina. Below she gives us some helpful vocabulary to help you better fit in while in Italy.

When I arrived in Sorrento in January 2014, the extent of my Italian language skills was “ciao,” “pasta,” and “pizza.” After spending five months in Italia, here is a list of words and phrases that I found most helpful and used more often.

  • Hello and goodbye – Ciao
  • How are you? – Come stai? (Addressing one person)
  • How are you? – Come state? (Addressing more than one person)
  • Thank you! – Grazie! It’s three syllables: “grat-see-aye.” Saying, “grat-zie” pegs you as a tourist. But good job for trying!
  • You’re welcome – Prego (also used when presenting you with food, holding a door, etc.)
  • Why not? – Perche no? Especially useful when someone offers you seconds :)
  • Eat! – Mangia! A command you must follow obediently
  • Where – Dove Very useful when asking for directions. Point at a map and ask, “dove è questo/questa?
  • Stop – Basta! I had a 7 year old host sister who used this frequently
  • Good morning/good afternoon – Buon giorno
  • Good evening – Buona sera
  • Goodnight – Buona notte
  • Excuse me – Scusi/miscusi/scusami
  • I’m sorry – Mi dispiace
  • How much is… – Quanto costa…
  • I like it! – Mi piace! Helpful when asked how you like the food
  • This – Questo/a Helpful when ordering from a menu or a pastry counter – you can point to what you want

Quick phrases to learn before traveling to other countries:

  1. Where. I used this numerous times in each country I visited.
  2. Excuse me. Approaching someone in the local language is a great way to gain their respect. Even if you have to ask your question in English, they will appreciate the effort.
  3. Please and thank you. Manners will take you far.

Italians are some of the friendliest people in the world! They are patient and kind as you stumble through their language. Don’t be afraid to use it!

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