1.) Tranquilla – Don’t worry. It’s all good.
Nobody likes being told to calm down when they’re upset. It just fuels the fire. And for the longest time, I thought that this phrase meant calm down. I don’t know where I got this misconception from, but all of my friends thought so too. Saying ‘tranquilla’ to us always had the opposite effect.
2.) Aspetta! – Wait!
If you’re trying to say ‘wait a moment’, an informal way to say it is un’attimo.
3.) Pronto? – Hello? (when answering the phone)
‘Pronto’ literally means ‘ready’, but it’s used here to say ‘Hello’ when you answer the phone.
If you change it just a tad and add an ‘a’ to the end making it ‘Pronta?’, it means ‘Are you ready?’ to a female.
You could use the ‘Pronto?’ to ask a guy if he’s ready too, which he’ll most likely answer with No as I firmly believe that Italian men take longer to get ready than women.
4.) Come va? – How are you?
You’ll hear this all the time in polite exchanges when people are meeting or bumping into each other on the street. You’ll also hear ‘Come sta? (formal)’ and ‘Come stai? (informal)’, which means the same thing.
5.) Salve – Hello!
This is the formal way to say hello, as opposed to Ciao.
6.) Capito – Understood. I get it. I hear you.
I’m sure you always hear the word ‘Capisce’ since it’s been popularized by the Godfather, which means ‘You understand?’
And this one is similar, but it’s used to show that you understand what someone is saying. It’s used a ton in everyday conversation in the same way that Americans say “I get what you’re saying”
7.) Buona giornata! – Have a good day!
You can either say Buongiorno to say “Good morning/Good afternoon” or “Buona giornata” when you’re leaving someone or somewhere to say “Have a good day!”
8.) Allora – Now, well, then, so
This is the Italian ‘um’, ‘ah’, and ‘so’. They say it ALL of the time. It sounds beautiful with the two L’s and the rolling R, and it’s used for a variety of words. It has no real definition.
BONUS: Va bene, Vabbè – Alright, okay
“Va bene” is the Italian equivalent of saying “okay”, “alright” or “that’s fine.” You might also hear it being shortened as “vabbè.” I have heard some people say that it’s sometimes understood as meaning “whatever” in its shortened form, but I’ve also heard it, particularly in the center of Italy, as meaning the same thing as “va bene.”
In the comments below, tell me what phrases you’ve learned and any you’re curious about.