A great question to ask your Italian friends is “Cosa fai nel tempo libero?” What do you like to do in your free time?
This is the best conversation starter on earth, period. Everyone knows what they like to do when they have a moment to themselves, and, odds are, the verbs you’ll use during this conversation are some of the first you’ll learn when beginning to study Italian.
The most basic answers begin with mi piace, or “I like.”
Simply combine mi piace with the infinitive of a verb. Here are some examples:
Mi piace cantare. – I like to sing.
Mi piace ascoltare della musica. – I like to listen to music.
Mi piace suonare la chitarra. – I like to play the guitar.
Mi piace disegnare. – I like to draw.
Mi piace leggere. – I like to read.
Mi piace cucinare. – I like to cook.
The possibilities are endless, and of course these simple phrases can spawn a whole conversation.
After you tell someone you like to read, cook or listen to music, they’re bound to ask you more about that hobby.
So how do you tell someone what your FAVORITE book, recipe or singer is?
The word for “favorite” in Italian is preferito/a.
My favorite book is The Little Prince. Il mio libro preferito è ”Il piccolo principe”.
My favorite song is “Ti Porto Via Con Me.” La mia canzone preferita è “Ti porto via con me”.
To distinguish something as your favorite, you follow a simple formula:
Article (Il) + Possessive Pronoun (mio) + Noun (libro) + Preferito/a (it coincides with the noun)
Notice that preferito becomes preferita if the subject of the sentence (in the second example, SONG) is feminine. It’s kind of like saying “the my song favorite is…”
You can also say “Sono un’ammiratrice di…” to say that you are a fan of something.
Sono un’ammiratrice di Jovanotti. I’m a fan of Jovanotti.
And you can add molto, tanto or tantissimo immediately after mi piace to make your LIKE of playing the guitar that much stronger.
Mi piace molto suonare la chitarra. I really like playing the guitar.
Mi piace tantissimo fare lunghe passeggiate al parco. I really like taking long walks in the park.
Mi piace tanto correre. I really like to run.
Mi piace tanto fare jogging. I really like to go jogging.
But what about if you want to talk about how much you love someone instead of something?
In Italian, there are two main ways to say “I love you.”
You can say ti voglio bene or ti amo.
Ti voglio bene is most frequently used for friends, family and girlfriends/boyfriends that aren’t that serious. It literally translates to “I wish you well,” and although it CAN be used in romantic situations, it isn’t used that frequently.
CPF: Italian teenagers use “TVB” in text messages the same way American teens use “ILY.”
Ti amo is most frequently used for romantic love, and is considered much more serious than ti voglio bene by Italians.
The way I remembered the difference is that ti voglio bene means I love you, but ti amo means I’m IN love with you. You can even say “ti voglio bene, ma non ti amo.”
The verb amare, however, has many different uses to express your love of someone or something.
Amare can mean romantic love, deep emotional love (like the love a mother has for her children) or it can simply mean you really enjoy something.
Fabrizio mi ama. Fabrizio loves me.
Una madre ama i suoi figli. A mother loves her children.
Amo la pizza margherita. I (really) love pizza margherita.
There are lots of ways “amare” can be modified to express how passionately you love or enjoy someone or something.
Here are some examples:
- Amare alla follia – To be madly in love
- Amare alla pazzia – Another way to say to be madly in love
- Amare fervidamente – To dearly love
- Amare profondamente – To love deeply or to dote upon
When you talk about how much you love your mother or brother or father, you can use the verb “adorare” to express your love, in addition to the phrase “volere bene.”
- Adoro mia mamma. – I adore my mother.
- Adoro il mio cane – I love my dog. (You can use the same verbs for animals as for humans.)
- Voglio bene a mio fratello. – I love my brother.
- Papà, mi vuoi bene? – Dad, do you love me?
I’m glad you added this section in here. I don’t have anything about this on the site, and I’ve been meaning to show the difference.
Tell us what you like, love, adore or enjoy doing in the comment section below.
Hannah Jackel spent nine lovely months in Viterbo, Italy studying abroad, where she fell in love with the Italian language, culture and food. She shares her passion for all things Italian by writing and editing for The Iceberg Project.