1.) Ciao bella / bello! – Hi there! Bye!
This is an expression you’ll hear all day long in Italy.
Ciao just means “hello” and “goodbye.” Ladies, get used to feeling like a princess because you think you’re being called beautiful all day long. I know some who don’t like it, but I am all for being called bella 24/7.
As long as they’re referring to beautiful and not Twilight, I’m a happy camper.
The male version is bello. When you say it, it’s just another way to say hello to a friend. There are no romantic shades involved.
2.) Va bene! – Good. Okay. Agreed. Sounds good.
In the different regions, this is said differently, and Italians often shorten it. But it’s said A TON.
For example, if a friend asks you, “Vuoi uscire con me stasera?” (You want to go out with me tonight?), you could say “Va bene” like you’re agreeing with it. In the North, it sounds more high pitched and something like ‘Va beenie.”
In central Italy, they tend to say “Va ben,” and in the South, particularly Calabria, you’ll hear “Va bonu.”
3.) Permesso! – Excuse me! Coming through!
You’ll hear this a lot on busy sidewalks, trains, airports, and subways. Pretty much anywhere with a crowd. It’s just a polite way to ask to get through. You’ll often hear a shortened ‘messo‘ too.
4.) Grazie! – Thanks! Thank you!
Self-explanatory. Say it. People will like you more.
5.) Prego! – You’re welcome! Please (in the sense of ‘please come through’).
Prego is something you’ll hear during polite exchanges often.
Also, say it after someone says grazie ’cause you’re polite. Another way that it’s used is if you’re walking up to a door and someone opens for you. They’ll say ‘Prego,’ as in ‘Please come through,’ and you’ll say ‘grazie‘.
6.) Mi Scusi / Scusami! – Excuse me!
This phrase comes in two forms for informal and formal.* Mi scusi is formal, and mi scusa is informal. You can also take off the ‘mi’ and just say scusi / scusa.
For the ENTIRE time during my trip in Italy, I mixed the two up. #Italianfail.
*There are two forms of speaking in Italian, just like Spanish and French and pretty much every language in the world. Formal and informal. Want to learn more about it? Discover it here.
7.) Arrivederci / Arrivederla! – Goodbye!
Same story with these two. Arrivederci is the informal, and arrivederla is the formal.
8.) Un pezzo di questo. – A piece of this. (while you point at some food)
This one is important because it involves pizza and supplì. If you know the name of the pizza, you can also try to say the name of it instead of ‘questo.’
For example, un pezzo di margherita ( a piece of margherita pizza).
CPF (cocktail party fact): Do you know what supplì is? No? It’s a beautiful thing. It’s rice with marinara sauce and a big block of mozzarella cheese deep fried. It looks like this.
There’s also it’s family member arancini, which has meat in the middle and is more circular in form.
[photo credit: kennejima]
9.) Mi sento… – I feel
With this phrase, you can let people know how you’re feeling.
For example, mi sento male (I’m not feeling good) or mi sento bene (I’m feeling good). Depending on the phrase you choose, you can get directions to either a farmacia (pharmacy) or a bar (bar).
10.) Mi dispiace. – I’m sorry.
This is said in more extreme situations, like if you committed a wrong to someone in some way. I used to say ‘mi dispiace‘ a lot whenever I pronounced a word wrong, but my Italian friend eventually corrected me and told me that ‘scusa‘ was more appropriate for the situation.
11.) Mi piace… – I like
You’ll be saying this a lot for general conversations. Get used to it. It changes when the word you’re referring to is singular or plural.
Need to know more about singular and plural nouns? Head over to this article.
For example, mi piace il gelato ( I like gelato – ice cream) OR Mi piacciono le fragole. – I like strawberries.
Questions? Leave a comment below!