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Italian Lesson – March


It’s been awhile since we have looked at very basic Italian greetings and salutations. So, let’s review some common greetings and the proper way to address people and some common greetings.

Unlike modern-day English, Italian has three subjective pronouns that all translate into English as the word “you.” Tu is the informal way to address as the word “you.” Tu is the informal way to address a family member, a friend, and anyone with whom you have an informal relationship. “Lei” is the formal way to address superiors, professionals and someone with whom you don’t have an informal relationship. Finally, there is “voi,” which is used at all times when addressing more than one person. (In the southern part of Italy, voi is sometimes used as a way to address one person respectfully.

Now let’s review some simple phrases using these forms:

Tu come stai? Lei come sta? Voi come state?
All three mean, “How are you?”

Come ti chiami tu?
What is your name?

Come si chiama Lei?
What is your name?

Come vi chiamate voi?
What are your names?

Parli italiano tu? Parla italiano Lei? Parlate italiano voi?
All three mean, “Do you speak Italian?”

Learn these phrases and we’ll examine this concept a laittle more in depth in future lessons.

Now let’s look at some common Italian greetings and salutations.

Buon giorno
Good morning or good day (Generally used until 4 p.m.)*

Buona sera
Good evening (Generally used after 4 p.m.)*

Buona note
Good night

*In general, the expression buon pomeriggio (good after-noon) is not in common usage. It is used most frequently on TV, radio, and public gatherings by the announcer or lecturer to greet the audience.

Other greetings and/or salutations include:

A general greeting meaning hello.

This well-known word means hello and goodbye.

However it should only be used informally. Never use in formal conversations.

A più tardi!
See you later!

A domani!
See you tomorrow!


Good-bye! (very formal)

Goodbye (Specifically used when saying goodbye to someone who you don’t expect to see for an extended period.)

This month’s falso amico
This month’s falso amico in some cases is a falso amico and in some cases it is not. The word is gelato. As is a known fact, Italy is famous for gelato, which in English best translates to as ice cream, but truthfully isn’t ice cream. Ice cream is made with cream and is 10 to 20 percent fat.

Gelato is made from milk and a small amount of cream. It is 4 to 9 percent fat. Ice cream is also churned for a greater amount of time, which incorporates more air into the product, making it lighter. Gelato is denser, so it feels silky smooth on the tongue.

Gelato is also served at a higher temperature, to accentuate its silky smooth texture. Ice cream is held at lower temperatures, which makes it very firm and complements its mouthfeel. The flavor of gelato is also more intense, since it isn’t intensely cold, and doesn’t numb the tongue. In any event the most common and accepted translation of gelato in English is ice cream. Now comes the case where gelato becomes a falsissimo amico (very false friend) when consumers erroneously use the word gelati to sell a product that no Italian would even want to look at, let alone to eat. Gelati, best loosely translated, would be ice creams. An example: How many ice creams should I order? Quanti gelati dovrei ordinare? In conclusion, depending on how this word is used in English, its classification as a falso amico is more as a matter of opinion, rathere as a matter of opinion, rather than a matter of major linguistic proportion.

This month’s proverb
It comes from Sardinia.
Sardu: Marzu entosu, Abrili proidosu.
Italiano: Marzo ventoso, Aprile piovoso.
English: Literal: Windy March, rainy April. Equivalent: March, in like a lion, out like a lamb.ch, in like a lion, out like a lamb.

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