You’re going to Italy, but you don’t know how to speak Italian. It might help to have some basic Italian phrases in your pocket to help make your trip run more smoothly. It goes a long way as a traveller to show that you’re at least making an effort in the local language.
Let’s learn a few basic Italian words and phrases to help you get by. We’ll have you saying si (yes) to speaking Italian in no (no) time.
A great way to start is with a greeting. Ciao is one of the words most commonly associated with Italian and serves as both a informal “hello” and “goodbye.” You may also want to use greetings associated with different times of the day such as buongiorno (good morning), buonasera (good evening), and buonanotte (good night).
Before we learn full Italian phrases, we’ll want to cover how to respond politely and how to ask questions in Italian. To say “please” you’ll want to use per favore. For “thanks” you can use grazie, or if you’re finding yourself really thankful grazie mille. Let’s not forget how to say “you’re welcome” either which is prego. “Pardon me” is mi scusi, which can also come in handy.
On to questions.
One that you often ask while travelling - “How much?” : Quanto?
Then the other major questions.
“Who?” : Chi?
“What?” : Che?; Cosa?
“Where?” : Dove?
“When?” : Quando?
“Why?” : Perché?
“How?” : Come?
Now we will learn Italian phrases based on these question words.
Who is coming to the party? : Chi viene alla festa?
What is your name? : Come si chiama?
Where is the bathroom? : Dov’è il bagno?
When does the bus leave? : Quando parte il autobus?
Why is the train late? : Perché il treno è in ritardo?
How are you? : Come sta?
Now we can focus on some other phrases that may come in useful while you’re travelling.
Do you speak English? : Parla inglese?
How much does it come to? : Quanto viene?
I don't understand. : Non capisco.
What flavors? : Quali gusti?
I don’t speak Italian. : Non parlo Italiano.
I would like… : Vorrei…
My name is… : Mi chiamo…
What about numbers?
1 – uno
2 – due
3 – tre
4 – quattro
5 – cinque
6 – sei
7 – sette
8 – otto
9 – nove
10 – dieci
11 – undici
12 – dodici
13 – tredici
14 – quattordici
15 – quindici
16 – sedici
17 – diciassette
18 – diciotto
19 – diciannove
20 – venti
30 – trenta
40 – quaranta
50 – cinquanta
60 – sessanta
70 – settanta
80 – ottanta
90 – novanta
100 – cento
1,000 – mille
Remember if you don’t hear something clearly you can always ask:
Repeat, please. : Ripeta, per favore.
You might also clarify:
I only speak a little Italian. : So soltanto un po' di italiano.
This should be a good guide for how to speak Italian for beginners, whether you need to speak it oggi (today), domani (tomorrow), dopodomani (the day after tomorrow), or maybe even ieri (yesterday).