Il “cheat sheet” delle frasi italiane: tutto quello che devi sapere per falsificarlo OR The Cheat Sheet of Italian Phrases: All You Need To Know To Fake it

Tesoro Irlandese: Day -63  (July 30, 2021) 

Worried about not having Italian under your belt yet? 

No problem! (Nessun problema!)

I’ve got you covered. This blog post has most of the things you’re gonna need to know in certain situations (in certe situazioni) to get you out of hot water (le difficoltà) or to appear as though you can speak Italian fluently (parlare italiano fluentemente), you just choose not to. 
I will be updating this post with more phrases as I learn, so feel free to check back soon to learn more! 
You can learn these phrases off by heart (puoi imparare a memoria) in a painful reel like your schooldays or you can do what I do: 

1) Copy and paste these lists into your own documents in their categories.


2) Print these sheets off and stick them to prominent spaces in your house. I put mine on the backs of doors (le porte), on mirrors (gli specchi), hanging off shelves I use everyday etc. You could even put a screenshot of some of these phrases as your home-screen on your phone or laptop. 

(This is also how I learn everyday vocabulary (vocabolario quotidiano); literally sticky notes EVERYWHERE)


3) Before you get to open a door, look in the mirror, reply to a text, whatever it is, read and repeat to yourself the phrases or words you’re going to need. (This can even be counting in Italian 0-10, or 20, 30, 40… so on)


4) Pretend you’re trying to buy something in a shop and need to know what size it is, or asking a waiter if there is milk as an ingredient, or to just quickly apologise to someone you’ve bumped into. These are the everyday things that will get you feeling more and more comfortable in your spoken Italian. Try to recall what you already know, or try to speak around it. If you can’t, whip up the sheet and rehearse the ‘scene’ again. 


When I first started learning Italian, I lacked motivation (la motivazione). It just seemed an absolutely mammoth task to learn a whole new language. So, I looked for some free resources to help me get my foot in the door…

FutureLearn have (or at least had at time of writing) a great course on Beginners Italian ran by the University for Foreigners of Siena. I found this really useful for getting started and picking up some elementary vocabulary and phrases. Some of these phrases can be found below. 


Duolingo, of course, is great for developing your language skills and building vocabulary. However, I wouldn’t recommend only using Duolingo to learn. Italian is a complicated language (L’italiano è una lingua complicata) to begin with, and I found that Duolingo lacks a lot of clarity (molta chiarezza) in why Italian grammar functions as it does. It marries well with doing a grammar-based course alongside, but I think if I were to have relied solely on Duolingo, I’d have really struggled to get a basic functioning level of Italian. 


A textbook I really enjoy using is Language Hacking: A Conversation Course for Beginners by Benny Lewis. It is a no-nonsense approach to learning languages where what you learn is really what you will use in real life. He also recommends to develop personal scripts to practice which is the method that I find most useful (il più utile) for developing fluency in language learning. 

Okay, now to the good stuff… 

Meeting New People and Introductory Phrases: 

Greetings: 

– Ciao        (Hi/Bye)

– Buongiorno        (Good morning [used till 12pm])

– Buonasera        (Good Evening)

– Buona Notte        (Good night)

– Piacere        (Pleasure to meet you)    

– Piacere mio!        (The pleasure is mine)

– Come va?        (How’s it going?)        

– Come stai?        (How’s it going?)

– Come te la passi?        (What’s up with you?)                

– Salve!        (Hi)

– Bene/male        (Good/bad)        

– Sto bene/sto male        (It’s going good/bad)   

– Molto bene, grazie        (Very good thank you)    

– Tutto bene, grazie        (All good, thank you)

– Non molto bene, grazie        (Not great, thanks)     

– Così e così        (So so)

– Non c’è male, grazie        (Not too bad, thanks)

– Abbastanza bene, grazie        (Grand, thanks)

– E tu?        (And you?) [The ultimate phrase for me! Nothing says ‘fluent’ like bouncing a question back lol]

Farewells:

– Ciao        (bye)

– Arrivederci        (Goodbye)

– A dopo        (See you later)

– A domani        (See you tomorrow)

– Alla prossima        (See you next time) 

– A presto        (See you soon)

– Ci vediamo!        (We’ll see each other again)

Apologies and Polite Responses/Requests:

– Mi dispiace!        (I’m sorry!)

– Spiacente        (Sorry) [formal]

– Grazie mille        (Thanks a million)

– Molte grazie        (Many thanks)

– Grazie tanto        (Thanks so much)

– Prego!        (You’re welcome/No problem/Ready?)    

– Di niente!        (It’s nothing!) 

– Nessun problema        (Not a problem!)  

– Certo!        (Certain!/Of course!)

– Va bene        (Very well)     

– Più piano, per favore?        (Slower please)

– Tranquilla!        (No worries)  

– Capisco/Non capisco        (I understand/I don’t understand)

– Mi dispiace, ma non parlo bene l’italiano        (Sorry, but I don’t speak Italian well)

– Puoi ripetere, per favore?        (Could you repeat that please?)

– Non lo so        (I don’t know)

– Ecco!        (That’s it)

– Allora        (Well/Okay)

– Forse        (Maybe) 

– Aspetta un momento, per favore        (Please wait a minute)

– Che bello/a!        (How lovely!)

– Stupendo/a!        (Great!)     

– Che figata!        (How cool!)  

– Magnifico/a        (Magnificent!)

– Sei brava/bravo!        (You’re great!)

– Caspita!        (Wow!)

– Non proprio        (Not exactly)

– Mi dispiace tantissimo!        (I’m so sorry!)   

– Mi scusi        (Excuse me) 

– Senta, scusi        (I beg your pardon)       

– Che cosa?!        (What?!)

– Che hai detto?        (What did you say?) (informal)

– Scusi, come? (What did you say?) (più formale)

– Ma figurati!        (Don’t mention it) 

– Non c’è problema        (Not a problem)

– Davvero?        (Really?)

– Sul serio?        (Seriously?)

– Scusa per il disturbo/per il ritardo        (Sorry to disturb/for being late)

– Mi dispiace, ma non lo so dov’è        (Sorry, but I don’t know where it is)

– Dici seriamente?        (You’re serious?)

– Veramente?        (Really?)

– Mi dispiace ma non ti sento        (I’m sorry but I can’t hear you)

– Torno subito!        (Back soon)

– Permesso        (When passing others on street or entering a home) 

– Dov’è il/la….        (Where is the…?)

– Dov’è il bagno?        (Where is the bathroom?)

– Dov’è il biglietteria?        (Where is the ‘ticket-shop’?)

– Dov’è la stazione?        (Where is the station?) 

– Per favore, puoi dirmi…        (Please, can you tell me…) 

At The Shops or Restaurant/Bar:

– Quanto costa?        (How much does it cost?)

– Quali sono?        (Which are they?)

– Cos’è?        (What is it?)

– Com’è?        (How is it?)

– Sai dov’è…?        (Do you know where..)

– A che ora apre/chiude?        (What time does it open/close?) 

– È chiuso/aperto?        (It is closed/open?)

– Che ore sono?        (What time is it?)

– Il negozio        (The store)

– Voglio comprarla        (I want to buy it)  

– Voglio comprare…        (I want to buy…)     

– Non ho bisogno di questo        (I don’t need this)

– Mi servono        (I need…)

– Eccoqui        (Here you go)

– Devo pagare/Dobbiamo pagare        (I must pay/we must pay)

– Posso/Possiamo pagare a Lei o devo/dobbiamo andare alla cassa?        (Is it possible to pay you or must I/we go to the till to pay?)

– Quant’è?        (How much is it?)

– ___ di resto        (__ of change)

– Sono sette euro cinquante        (It is €7.50)

– Che cosa prendi?        (What will you have?)

– Prendo…        (I’ll have…)

– Sconto        (Discount)

– Il bancomat        (The credit card)

– Posso pagare con il bancomat?        (Can I pay by card?)

– Vi posso aiutare?        (Can I help you?)

– Puoi aiutarmi?        (Can you help me?)

– Che taglia porta?        (What size do you wear?)

– Lo posso provare?        (Can I try it on?)

– Posso provare questo vestito?        (Can I try on this dress?)

– Quella è la cabina        (That is the dressing room)

– Come mi sta?        (How’s it on me?)

– Molto carina        (Very pretty)

– Compro        (I buy)

– Avete il gelato al cioccolato?        (Have you chocolate ice cream?)

– Avete un momento?        (Have you a moment?)
– Le misure        (The measurements)

– Centimetri        (Centimetres)

– Un grammo        (A gram)

– I grammi        (The grams)

– Un litro di/d’        (A litre of)

– Un metro        (A metre)

– Un chilogrammo di/d’        (A kilogram of)

– Un miglio        (A mile)

– Un quarto        (A quarter)

– Un chilometro        (A kilometre)

– Un po’ di..        (A little bit of)

– Un quarto del totale        (A quarter of the total)

– Non ho niente        (I have nothing) 

– Vorrei mezzo chilo di…        (Can I have ½ a kilo of…) –

Poi?        (Then?)

– Volevo anche di …        (I would also like some) 

– Questo un po’più caro        (This is a bit expensive)

– Questo un po’più economico        (This is a bit cheaper)

– Fatto in casa        (Homemade) 

– Va bene questa?        (Is this good?)

– E dove lo trovo?        (& where can I find it?)

– Lo scaffale        (The shelves) 

– Basta così        (That’s enough)

– Etto/Etti        (100g)

– Bottiglia/bottiglie        (Bottle/s)

– Pacco        (Packet)

– Lattina        (Can)

– Cosa offre il menu?        (What does the menu offer?)

– Sono allergico ai latticini e alle uova e l’olio di colza        (I am allergic to dairy and eggs and rapeseed oil)

– Non posso mangiare il latte, il formaggio, l’uovo o l’olio di colza        (I cannot eat milk, cheese, eggs or rapeseed oil)    

– Senza glutine, per la persona che è allergica al glutine        (Without gluten, for the person who is allergic to gluten)

Questions and responses for making plans:

-Che fai per questo fine settimana?        (What are you doing this weekend?) 

– Sì        (Yes)

– No        (No)

– Cosa fai stasera?        (What are you doing tonight?) 

– Ti va venire alla cena con me?        (You want to go for dinner with me?) 

– Sono libero/a stasera        (I am free tonight) 

– Vuoi venire al cinema con me?        (You want to go to the cinema with me?)

– Dov’è populare?        (Where is popular?) 

– Non sono interessato/a        (I am not interested)

– Non posso stasera, ma la sera prossima?        (I can’t tonight but tomorrow night?)

– Proveró se abbia tempo        (I try if I have time) 

Why are you in Italy? Why Rome? 

– Voglio imparare l’italiano perché…        (I want to learn Italian because…)

– Voglio parlare una bella lingua        (I want to speak a beautiful language)

– Voglio capire la cultura italiana        (I want to understand the Italian culture)

– Voglio vivere e lavorare in Italia nel futuro        (I want to live and work in Italy in the future)

– Per me, le antiche civiltà sono molto interessante/affascinante        (For me, the ancient civilisations are very interesting/fascinating)

– La cultura è diversa qui        (The culture is different here)

– Dopo, vorrei imparare il latino e il greco antico. Forse, anche dopo, imparei l’arabo         (Later, I wish to learn Latin and Ancient Greek. Maybe, even later, I will learn Arabic)

– E per il cibo italiano, certo!        (And for the Italian food, of course!)

Numbers 1-19

– zero (0)

– uno (1)

– due (2)

– tre (3)

– quattro (4)

– cinque (5)

– sei (6)

– sette (7

– otto (8)

– nove (9)

– dieci (10)

– undici (11)

– dodici (12)

– tredici (13)

– quattordici (14)

– quindici (15)

– sedici (16)

– diciassette (17)

– diciotto (18)

– diciannove (19)

– venti (20)

Compound Numbers and Tens

– ventuno (21)                 [venti (20)]

– ventidue (22)

– trentatré (33)                 [trenta (30)]

– quarantaquattro (44)     [quaranta (40)]

– cinquantacinque (55)    [cinquanta (50)]

– sessantasei (66)             [sessanta (60)]

– settantasette (77)           [settanta (70)]

– ottantotto (88)               [ottanta (80)]

– novantanove (99)          [novanta (90)]

– cento (100)

This may seem like a huge chunk, but like I said, take the phrases you’re most likely to use and create a script for yourself in a new document.

If you’re going to be in Italy for a holiday with friends (con amici), you’re probably not going to need to know the vast majority. But if, like me, you can already envision yourself getting lost on your way back home from Trastevere, or finding yourself in need of an Italian-speaker in the grocery store (il negozio di alimentari) to discern what is in the products (i prodotti), then I urge you to build your own scripts. 

A Litttttle Extra…

I have prepared below some phrases to learn and listen to because you might be asked by an Italian authority (un’autorità italiana) for your passport (il tuo passaporto) or relevant documents during your stay. As I will be enrolled in a language learning programme throughout my stay in Rome, I have prepared a few extra scripts for when I am inevitably thrust into an awkward speed-friending exercise within the first few lessons. Adapt my scripts to suit your needs, and hey presto, you’re good to go! 

Introductions and essentials for travel:

– Mi chiamo Ciara OR Sono Ciara        (My name is Ciara OR I am Ciara)

– Sono Irlandese di Dublino        (I am Irish from Dublin)

– Adesso, vivo/abito a Roma        (Now, I live/I live in Rome)

– Ho ventitre anni        (I am twenty three years old)

– Il mio compleanno è il ___ ottobre        (My birthday is the ___ of October)

– Faccio la scrittrice        (I work as a writer) –

Quando ero all’università, ho studiato la letturatura inglese        (At Uni, I studied English Literature)

– Sopratutto, la letteratura per bambini        (Especially, Children’s Literature)

– Spero che sia ______ nel futuro        (I hope to be _____ in the future) 

– Il numero del mio cellulare/telefono è zero, zero, tre, cinque, tre…        (My phone number is 00353…)

– Il mio indirizzo e-mail è ______ (chiocciola – @) gmail punto com        (My email address is ____@gmail.com)

– C’è il mio passaporto/il mio documento di identità        (It is my passport/my identity document)

– Una mascherina        (face mask)

– Disinfettante per le mani        (hand sanitiser) 

– Il tuo nome è sulla domanda?        (Is your name on the application?) 

– Come scrivo il tuo cognome?        (How do I write your surname?) 

My Hobbies and Interests, Likes and Dislikes: 

– Quando ho tempo…        (When I have time)

– Mi piace fare ginnastica e esercizi calistenici        (I like to do gymnastics and callisthenics)

– Mi piace andare al cinema o al teatro        (I like going to the cinema or theatre)

– Mi piace visitare i musei perché io ho studiato la storia antica all’università e mi piace vedere l’arte antica        (I like to visit the museums because I studied ancient history at Uni and I like to see the ancient art

– Sono appassionata di pole-dancing        (I am passionate about pole dancing)

– Ho iniziato quasi due anni fa ed è stato incredibile per la mia salute mentale e fiscale        (I started almost 2 years ago and it has been incredible for my mental and physical health)

– Non bevo l’alcool ma bevo le bevande analcoliche quando sono al bar        (I don’t drink alcohol but I drink nonalcoholic drinks when I’m at the bar)

– Mi piace fare i miei propri abbigliamenti        (I like to make my own clothes)

– Non sono una sarta professionale ma trovo l’attività piacevole        (I am not a professional seamstress but I find the activity enjoyable)

I hope you find these phrases and script-blocks useful! Remember, I’ll be updating this blog post as I go through my script-building process, so check back for more useful Italian phrases.

Alla prossima!

– Ciara O’Síoráin (chi desidera diventare la bella donna figa come gli italiani)

Here are my top tips: 

  • Fill your script with phrases that are going to be helpful in a messy, unprepared situation, like mi dispiace ma non capisco or non parlo l’italiano. Parlete inglese? These can help you while you’re out in the big bad world and not expecting to be spoken to. 
  • Practice with a friend if you can, or sign up to a language swap course. There are plenty of Italian speakers who would like to improve or learn English (if that is what you speak!) that you could negotiate a swap-for-swap with. 
  • If you can’t remember the word (la parola) for something, do as Benny Lewis suggests, and try to work your way around the word. If I don’t know the word for ‘sweater’ (una maglia) I would say, la cosa…. Lo metto quando ho freddo… In this way, I have said to the person I am speaking to that I am looking for the word (by hesitating and saying, ‘a thing…’) and then offering the person an associated action to help me to find the word (‘I put it on when I’m cold). In this way, you can pick up new vocabulary, but not panic and fall back into English-thinking. 

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