Before you head to Italy, take the time to research basic phrases, questions, and vocabulary. Even a small bit of the Italian language and knowledge of customs and traditions will make the trip more enjoyable and interactive.
As you learn to speak, read, and hopefully even write in Italian, you will find yourself more engaged with what is happening around you and able to pick up on small subtleties that otherwise would have passed you by.
How To Conjugate Italian Verbs
One of the first things any Italian learner needs to know is how to conjugate Italian verbs. Once you have a handle on this, moving between tenses and mastering vocabulary will come much more naturally.
These three YouTube videos cover the basic process, and you can take quick notes on them:
Possessive Italian Adjectives
If you plan to travel to Italy and want to speak a bit of Italian while there, this video from Live Lingua Italian teacher Luisa. She covers possessive Italian adjectives in a friendly and approachable manner, with English translations and
Consistent use, both with speaking and listening, of the language is the best way you can memorize possessive Italian adjectives. If you have access to any Italian media — such as television, movies, Italian learning podcasts, or newspapers, this can substitute for times when you don’t have anyone to speak to.
Soft Z or Hard Z?
The Soft Z is usually written as “long z” in phonetical dictionaries. It comes from latin, of course.
Here are some examples: prandium – pranzo (lunch); radius – razzo (rocket).
Here the Z with a soft sound:
1) when it is followed by two vowels, but the first one is not an “I”:
zoo, zuavo (zuave), zaino (backpack), Zeus, Zaira.
2) When It is at the beginning of a word and the second syllable has a voiced consonant as a first letter:
B: zabaione, zibibbo, zibaldone, zebra. (eggnog, raisins, medley, zebra).
D: zodiac (zodiac).
G: zigrino, zigomo, zigote (shagreen, cheekbone, zygote). Exception: zigano (gypsy)
L: zelo, zulù, zelante(zeal, Zulu, zealous).
M: zimarra, zumare (zimarra, to zoom)
N: zona (zone) , Zeno
R: zero, Zara
V: zavorra (ballast)
Z: zan-zara, zen-zero, Zan-zibar, zuz-zurellone (mosquito, ginger, Zanzibar, playful idler)
3) Between 2 vowels:
nazareno, ozono, azalea, azoto, Azeglio (Nazarene, ozone, azalea, nitrogen, Azeglio).
Exception: nazismo (Nazism)
4) verbs end in “izzare” :
organizzare, armonizzare, penalizzare, concretizzare, sintetizzare (organize, harmonize, penalize, realize, synthesize).
Exception: rizzare (to raise)
The Z with a hard sound
Again, latin plays an important role. Here some examples: facetia – facezia (pleasantry); pretium – prezzo (price); tertium – terzo (third);
1) When is followed by “I” within a diphthong:
zio, pazzia, dizione, razzia, agenzia, polizia, polizia, vizio, tizio, razionale, anziano, divorzio, grazia, grazie, dazio, strazio, malizia, Lucrezia, ozio, astuzia.(uncle, madness, diction, pillaging, agency, police, police, vice, dude, rational, older, divorce, grace, thank you, duty, torment, malice, Lucrezia, leisure, cunning).
2) When it is at the beginning of a word and the second syllable is an unvoiced consonant:
C: zucchero, zucca, zucchina, zuccotto, zinco, zoccolo, zecca (sugar, pumpkin, zucchini, skullcap, zinc, windowsill, brand)
F: zuffa, zaffata, zufolo, zolfo (scuffle, whiff, whistle, sulfur )exceptions: zafferano, zefiro, zaffiro (saffron, zephyr, sapphire)
P: zampa, zappa, zuppa, zampogna, zampina, zoppo, zeppo.(paw, hoe, soup, bagpipes, paw, lame, chock).
T: zitto, zittire, zattera (silent, silence, raft) ; exceptions: zeta, zotico (zed, lout)
3) When the Z is immediately after “l”:
alzare, calza, scalzo, calzolaio, milza, infilzare, mascalzone, filza, sfilza.(raise, stocking, barefoot shoemaker, spleen, spearing, scoundrel, string, string)
Exceptions: elzeviro, belzebù (elzeviro, Beelzebub)
4) words end in “zione”:
terminazione, direzione, colazione, addizione, frazione, posizione. (termination, management, breakfast, addition, fraction, location).
5) When there are two following Z:
pizza, pazzo, pozzo, strozzare, strozzino, struzzo, carrozza, spruzzo, bellezza, carezza, prezzemolo, durezza, purezza, prezzo, pezzo, nozze, piccozza (pizza, crazy, well, choke, loan shark, ostrich, carriage, spray, beauty, caress, parsley, hardness, purity, price, piece, wedding, ice ax)
Exceptions: azzardo, azzurro, brezza (gambling, blue, breeze)
6) verbs end in “azzare” :
ammazzare, scorazzare, stramazzare, strapazzare, starnazzare. (kill, run around, collapsing, scramble, quacking)
7) words end in in “anza”, “enza” :
assenza, senza, risonanza, costanza, mancanza, stanza, coerenza, apparenza, divergenza, violenza, partenza.
(absence, without, resonance, perseverance, lack room, consistency, appearance, divergence, violence, starting)
8) words end in “orzo”, “orza”, “erzo”:
forza, sforzo, scorza, sfarzo, sterzo. (force, strain, peel, glitz, steering)
9) words end in “onzolo” :
Frónzolo, pretónzolo, medicónzolo, girónzolo (embellishment, poor little priest, medicónzolo, wander).
Household Items in Italian
Perhaps you’re renting an Airbnb for your stay and want to hone up on Italian language skills to impress your host.
Or maybe you just want to speak a
Either way, this video from Live Lingua Italian teacher Luisa covers household items in Italian and includes English translations. She covers each item in a slow memorable and even provides some handy tricks for
Take it away, Luisa!
If you found this video on household items in Italian to be helpful, please share on social media and be sure to subscribe to Live Lingua’s YouTube channel!
Each week our language teachers — all native speakers in the languages they teach — post instructional videos which typically go live on Wednesdays.
Learn Italian: Italian Monuments
In this series of two videos, Live Lingua Italian teacher Luisa guides us through many of the most famous Italian monuments. She pronounces them and walks you through how to say their names, tying them into useful Italian sentences that you can use on your trip to Italy.
Her Italian phrasing is accompanied by English translation, making memorization a breeze. Luisa also runs through tips for visiting the monuments including cost, appropriate dress, and how to beat the crowds.
Check out the video, and please share!
Once you’ve had a chance to work through the first video, continue on to this next one:
Learn the Italian Alphabet
The best way to learn Italian is to memorize the alphabet and go from there. This video covers the Italian alphabet:
How Italian evolved from Latin
When we think of the Italian language, we think of classic beauty, romance and elegance. We imagine the time-honored ladies and gentlemen of ancient Rome speaking in this elegant and graceful language. However, the reality of the founding of this romance language is quite different; actuality, Italian is an indirect descendant of one of the vulgar dialects that evolved from Classic Latin.
Sounds odd, doesn’t it? Well, as the story goes, Latin was actually a descendant of Indo-European languages,and old Latin dates from about 700 B.C. Be that as it may, throughout the centuries, there were many variations of the Classic Latin language. In fact, Romans from the Classical period found it difficult to understand the older Carmen Saliare (early Latin form 750 B.C.), because of the way the language evolved. In a way, it can be compared to our understanding and reading of English from the Renaissance period.
According to Roman legend, the language descended from the Trojans, who landed in Italy after the fall of Troy, although there is no documentation to this fact. The documentation and development of Classic Latin began in Central Italy, an area known as Latium, hence the name, and gradually began to expand. During the political height of the Roman Empire, it was used in its pure Classical form, and to this day is still used by the Roman Catholic Church in this version.
As time progressed and the Romans began to expand their empire throughout Italy, around 14B.C, a vulgar type of Latin began to emerge. It was this Latin, that was taken to the Italian provinces by Roman settlers.
Over the centuries’ local conditions, the influence of other existing languages and invasions also played a part in the different versions of Latin dialects throughout the Roman Empire. Eventually, the dialect or vulgar Latin was substantially distinct from the classical Latin, until there came a point where they became two different languages.
Classic Latin continued over the centuries and became a stylized language of art, science and religion. The dialects continued to evolve, and over time developed into 30 different modern languages.
The Beginning of Italian
By 600 A.D., Latin dialects were so different from Classical Latin, that it was impossible for one speaker to understand the other. We can say this was the beginning of the romance languages we know today. However, linguists do clarify that the Proto-Romance language that evolved into Italian was still significantly distanced from the modern language we speak today.
Current Italian Language
Although Italian is one of the 30 romance languages descended from Latin, unlike the other, it still retains the Latin contrasts in short and long consonants, making it the romance language that most closely resembles the original Latin.
Today, Italian is spoken by 60 million people in the EU, which is about 13 percent of the EU population. Likewise, there are another 14 million people that speak it as a second language and by people who are not of the EU, such as Switzerland and Albania.
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