Nod your head if you’re:
— Scared to have a conversation with an Italian for fear of forgetting a word, phrase or conjugation and staring at them in confusion
— Have had conversations where you forgot a word, phrase or conjugation and stared at them in confusion wishing you had something to say
I’ve done both.
So to help you get through those awkward moments with class and ease, below are nine phrases that work like a charm.
— Non mi viene (la parola). – The word isn’t coming to me.
— Non mi viene in mente. – It’s not coming to mind.
— Ce l’ho sulla punta della lingua. – It’s on the tip of my tongue.
— Un attimo. Fammi pensare. – One moment. Let me think.
— Ho perso il filo (del discorso). – I lost the thread. (I lost my train of thought.)
— Come si chiama? – How does one call it?
— Come si dice quando…? – How does one say it when…?
— Non mi ricordo come si dice... – I don’t remember how do you say…
— Come si dice “[foreign term]” in italiano? – How do you say “[foreign term]” in Italian? (Only if the other person knows the foreign language as well, of course.)
There are also two expressions used with ‘fare’ to communicate that you’re trying to think of what to say.
— Fare mente locale – to make an effort and think carefully (to recall something you should know.
— Fare tabula rasa – to forget everything / to have all your thoughts deleted
Literally to do a blank slate.
— Ho dimenticato la parola! – I forgot the word.
If you really can’t think of it, you can say:
— Non lo so. Passiamo avanti. – Boh. I don’t know. Let’s go on.
Have others to add or want to tell me something oh-so-interesting? Leave it in the comments below!