Andiamo! Time to plan that trip to Italy.

By Nina Ruggiero
May 20, 2017
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Andrea Wyner

As a traveler with Italian roots, I’m admittedly a little biased. But there is something special about the Italian language. Whether it’s a casual conversation, a heated argument, or an artfully-composed aria, everything just sounds better in Italian.

That being said, it can be daunting to blurt out a butchered Italian phrase when the locals around you are stringing gorgeous words together as effortlessly as a pastaio folds up perfect tortellini or a gondoliere glides through a Venice canal.

But if you’re traveling to Italy, you really should try to learn a few words before you go. While you’ll find plenty of English speakers in any of Italy’s major cities, most Italians will appreciate you trying their language — you may even be surprised how many new friends it makes you as you mingle at aperitivo or linger in a bustling piazza.

OK, pronto? Ready? Here are a few basic words and phrases to get you started. (All phrases are formal unless noted.)

Basic Italian words

Hello: Ciao (informal); Salve (formal)

Goodbye: Ciao (informal); Arrivederci (formal)

Good morning: Buongiorno

Good evening: Buonasera

Goodnight: Buonanotte (use this when you’re going to bed)

Please: Per favore; per piacere

Thank you: Grazie

Thanks so much: Grazie mille

You’re welcome: Prego; Di niente

Beautiful: Bello (masculine); Bella (feminine)

Good: Buono (masculine); Buona (feminine)

Friend: Amico (masculine); Amica (feminine)

Family: Famiglia

Well: Bene

Bad: Male

Yes: Sì

No: No

Who?: Chi?

What?: Che?; Cosa?

Where?: Dove?

When?: Quando?

Why?: Perché?

How much?: Quanto?

Common Italian phrases

I love you: Ti amo (romantic); Ti voglio bene (family, friends)

How are you?: Come sta?

How’s it going?: Come va?

I miss you: Mi manchi

I don’t know: Non lo so

All’s well: Tutto bene

I’m sorry: Mi dispiace

What is your name?: Come si chiama?

My name is…: Mi chiamo...

OK: Va bene

Excuse me: Mi scusi

Excuse me (passing through a crowd): Permesso

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