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Italian Made Fun & Simple


After three lessons dedicated to the various holidays, it’s time to get back on track with regular lessons for learning Italian. Since it’s been such a long period, we thought it best to review some very basic greetings and salutations. So, let’s move on to with our lesson that will provide an insight into 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 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.

Let’s look at some simple phrases using these forms:

Tu come stai?

Lei come sta? (All three mean “How are you?”)

Voi come state?

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? (All three mean, “Do you speak Italian?”)

Parlate italiano voi?

Learn these phrases and we’ll examine this concept a little 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 Notte Good night

* In general the expression Buon pomeriggio, Good afternoon 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:

Salve! A general greeting meaning hello.

Ciao! 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!

Arrivederci! Goodbye!

ArrivederLa! Goodbye! (Very formal)

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

The next lesson will be dedicated to Valentine’s Day.  

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