Italian Phrases Every Girl Should Know

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Ah, Italy! Home to perfect pasta, awe-inspiring antiquities, and one of the most romantic languages on the planet. Although Italy has one of the highest numbers of tourists visit their country every year, you’d be surprised to find that many people don’t speak English well outside of the major cities (if at all), especially if they don’t work in tourism.

In any case, it never hurts to have a few things in your linguistic pocket to use before leaving home, and it’s always a good idea to know a few Italian phrases, including how to say “please” and “thank you” in the local language. And don’t forget: a smile is universal!

A note about spelling and pronunciation: 

Italian is very forgiving in that it’s more or less spelled phonetically. Vowel sounds remain pretty consistent (a “ahh” e “ehh” i “eee” o “oh” u “oo”) and there are only a few times when the letters will mislead you (for example: ci=”chee” ce=”cheh” BUT che=keh as in bruschetta “broosKETtah”).

If you can flip your “R”s, go wild! When there are 2 in a row—roll ‘em!

Note: In the verbs below, we’ve used the formal phrasing rather than the informal “tu” form.

The Basics

Hello!                                                    Ciao!                                                Chow

Goodbye!                                           Ciao!                                                  Chow

Please                                                   Per favore                                     Pair fa-VOR-eh

Thank you                                           Grazie                                               GRAHT-see-eh

My name is…                                     Mi chiamo…                                   Mee kee-AM-oh

What is your name?                       Come si chiama?                           KOH-may see kee-AH-mah?

I’m sorry, I don’t speak Italian      Mi dispiace, non parlo italiano. Mee dees-pee-AH-chay, non PAR-low   ee-tal-ee-AN-oh

Do you speak English?                   Parla inglese?                               PAR-Ia een-GLEH-zeh?

Yes                                                         Si                                                       See

No                                                          No                                                       No

Excuse Me                                          Scusi                                                 SKOOZ-ee

See you later!                                    A dopo!                                          Ah DOPE-oh

Lady Stuff

I need…                                               Ho bisogno di…                           Oh beeSON-yo dee

Tampon                                               Tampone                                        Tam-POHN-ay

Birth control                                       Contraccezione                           KON-tra-chet-zyon-ay

Condom                                               Preservativo                                 Pre-SERV-ah-tee-vo

I have…                                                 Ho                                                     Oh

Yeast infection                                  Candida                                            Can-DEED-ah

Urinary tract infection           Infezione del tratto urinario      een-fet-zyon-ay del TRAH-toe  oor-een-     AHR-ee-oh

Emergencies

Help!                                                     Aiuto!                                            Ay-OO-toe!

Stop it!                                                 Smettila!                                       SMET-ee-lah!

Leave me alone!                             Lasciame in pace                     LAH-sha-meh in PAH-chay

I need a doctor                       Ho bisogno di un dottore          Oh beeSON-yo dee oon dot-TOR-ay

Ordering food/Shopping  (very important in Italy)

I would like…                                      Vorrei…                                  VORray

More, please                                       Ancora, per favore             anKOR-uh, pair fa-VOR-eh

The bill, please                                 Il conto, per favore                eel KONT-oh, pair fa-VOR-eh

How much is it?                                Quanto costa?                          KWAN-toh COAST-ah?

That’s too much                               E’ troppo                                     Eh TROH-po

Listen for…numbers:

1                                                              uno                       OOno

2                                                              due                        DOOay

3                                                              tre                         TRAY

4                                                              quattro               KWATroh

5                                                              cinque                  CHEENkway

6                                                              sei                            SAY

7                                                              sette                      SETTeh

8                                                              otto                        OHtoh

9                                                              nove                       NOVeh

10                                                           dieci                          deeEHchee

20                                                           venti                        VENTee

50                                                           cinquanta                 cheenKWANTah

100                                                         cento                       CHENtoh

Getting Around/Places

Where is?                                            Dov’è                    DOHV-eh

Bathroom                                            il bagno              Eel BAHN-yo

Pharmacy                                            farmacia            Farm-ah-CHEE-ah

Train station                                       la stazione        Lah stat-zee-YON-eh

Ticket                                                    biglietto             Bill-YET-oh

Listen for…directions:

Right                                                      destra                  DESS-trah

Left                                                        sinistra                 see-NEES-trah

Straight                                                 dritto                    DREET-oh

And last, but not least: Romancing

Hey, beautiful                                   Ciao, bella               Chow, bella

Hey, handsome                                 Ciao, bello            Chow, bello

I like you                                              Mi piaci                  Mee pee-AH-chee

I love you                                             Ti voglio bene       Tee VOHL-yo BEH-nay

Do you want to go out with me?     Vuoi uscire con me  Voy oo-SHEE-ray con may

Let’s make love!*                              Facciamo l’amore!         Fah-CHA-mo la-MOR-ay

*This phrase is used completely unironically in Italy. Often.

Of course, learning a language to a conversational level is optimal. Check out these handy websites (a great BBC one here and another decent one here) to practice your Italian, or order a pocket phrasebook like this one before your trip.

And don’t forget–half of communication in Italy is nonverbal. If you don’t know what to say, just use your hands!

Have you ever been to Italy? What did you find yourself saying all the time?

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About Author

Sara learned the value of travel at an early age, on annual family trips in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Not to be relegated to the North American continent, she made her first trip overseas at the age of 13 and has been finding ways to travel ever since. She has explored Etruscan tombs in Italy, made hostel beds in Ireland, and hiked volcanoes in Costa Rica. Follow her travels near and far at www.saramelanie.com

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