When you learn Italian, you’ll naturally spend a lot of time focusing on Italian grammar and Italian vocabulary. A lot of the process of learning Italian vocabulary involves committing lists of lone words and their translations to memory. And these individual words are, of course, important when you want to describe the world around you.
But so much of what makes the Italian language rich and engaging are the many Italian phrases that add flavor to the language, the ones you can’t necessarily get from a teacher or a textbook. Learning key Italian phrases can take you out of the classroom and into actual conversations. Knowing what to say in real-life contexts when you’re introducing yourself, making new friends, making a purchase at a store or even finding your way around on your next vacation is often more important than knowing how to recite vocabulary lists or how to use Italian syntax effectively (though all these elements of course play a part in mastering Italian in their own ways).
When you learn Italian phrases, you also get a window into the idiomatic and slang Italian phrases that take on a colorful meaning all of their own, one more vibrant than the sum of the individual words that make them up. These Italian slang phrases make Italian language learning all the more fun!
How To Learn Italian Phrases
There’s no wrong way to learn and practice Italian phrases, and it all depends on your learning style and preferences. When it comes to learning individual Italian vocabulary words, many people like to use flashcards or the sticky note method. But these learning techniques often work better for long lists of vocab, not necessarily for long phrases made of many words or without one-to-one translations.
If you really want to learn how Italian phrases are used in different contexts, spending time interacting with Italian media is a great way to do just that. Italian TV shows and Italian movies feature dialogue that’s full of the types of Italian phrases and expressions you’d hear in real-life contexts, so your exposure to Italian is richer than what you’d get from a textbook. The same goes for Italian podcasts, Italian songs and Italian YouTube videos — anything that lets you hear Italian spoken by native speakers who are having real conversations.
And if you want to explore how Italian phrases are used in writing, reading Italian books is a fantastic way to build up your language skills and to see how authors use Italian phrases in all sorts of genres and literary styles.
By and large, the best way to practice Italian phrases is by having real Italian conversations, either with native speakers or with a teacher or tutor who can give you real-time feedback. To know the Italian that’s spoken in the world, you’ve got to get out into the world and practice!
Essential Conversational Italian Phrases
When you have conversations in Italian (and isn’t that the goal of learning a new language?), you’re going to rely on a handful of conversational Italian phrases that will become like second nature to you. They’ll become your go-to Italian phrases in many situations, so they’re important to master from the beginning of your Italian journey. From “Hello!” to “How are you?” to “Where’s the bathroom?” and everything in between, here’s our list of essential Italian phrases for conversation.
Italian Phrases For Travel
When you explore the Italian-speaking world, you’ll need a repertoire of Italian travel phrases, whether you’re using them to ask for directions, order at a bar or make that connection at the train station.
- Io vado al Colosseo. — I’m going to the Colosseum.
- Tu vai a Roma? — Are you going to Rome?
- Dov’è un supermercato? — Where is a supermarket?
- Dov’è il bagno? — Where is the bathroom?
- Vorrei andare a vedere il museo. — I would like to go to the museum.
- Conosci un albergo in centro? — Do you know a hotel in the center?
- Dove posso comprare un biglietto? — Where can I buy a ticket?
- Scusi, per andare all’aeroporto? — Excuse me, how do I get to the airport?
- C’è una fermata qui vicino? — Is there a bus stop near here?
- Quale autobus va all’aeroporto? — Which bus goes to the airport?
- A che ora parte il treno per Milano? — At what times does the train to MIlan leave?
- Possiamo parcheggiare qui la macchina? — Can we park our car here?
- Dove trovo un bancomat? — Where do I find an ATM?
- all’angolo — on the corner
- Giri a sinistra. — Turn left.
- Giri a destra. — Turn right.
- Continui dritto! — Continue straight ahead!
Slang Italian Phrases, Italian Expressions And Italian Idioms (That Native Italian Speakers Actually Use)
To sound like an authentic Italian speaker, you’ve got to know the Italian phrases that real people in the Italian-speaking world actually use. Here’s a selected list of some wacky, eccentric and wonderful Italian slang phrases and expressions that will make you sound like a native Italian speaker.
- Non ci piove. — There’s no doubt about it. (literally, “It doesn’t rain on it.”)
- stare con le mani in mano. — to sit on your hands and do nothing. (literally, “to hold your hands with your own hand”)
- Acqua in bocca! — Keep that to yourself! (literally, “Keep the water in your mouth!”)
- non avere peli sulla lingua — to make no bones about something, to be honest about something (literally, “to have no hair on the tongue”)
- Chiodo scaccia chiodo. — You’ll get over it. (literally, “One nail drives out the other.”)
- avere un diavolo per capello — To be mad as hell. (literally, “to have a demon for hair”)
- É il mio cavallo di battaglia. — It’s my forte/expertise. (literally, “It’s my battle horse.”)
- Ci fai o ci sei? — Are you crazy or what? (Literally, “Are you pretending to be like that, or are you actually like that?”)
- Non t’allargare. — Don’t go too far. (literally, “Don’t expand/widen yourself.”)
- Parla come mangi. — Keep it simple. (literally, “Speak the way you eat.”)
- Non esiste! — No way! Forget about it! (literally, “It doesn’t exist!”)
- Chissenefrega! — Screw it! Who cares?
- Dopo facciamo i conti. — We’ll settle this later. (literally, “We are going to cash up later.”)
- Magari! — If only (that were true)!
Learn Italian Phrases With Babbel
When it comes to teaching you the most important Italian phrases you’ll need for real-life conversations — and making sure they stick — Babbel has you covered.
Babbel is designed by more than 150 linguists and language experts whose goal is to get you speaking Italian in real conversations with confidence. Our interactive lessons cover all the aspects of learning Italian — reading, writing, listening, and speaking — with multimedia content to train your ears and eyes. Our speech recognition feature even helps you hone your pronunciation, too.
In addition to the vocabulary and grammar you’ll need to know to speak Italian, Babbel places an emphasis on teaching you Italian phrases that you’ll hear and use in the Italian-speaking world outside of the classroom. Almost all Babbel Italian lessons feature a real-life dialogue to help you put the Italian phrases you’re learning into practice in actual conversations.
With Babbel, you can pick and choose the topics and themes that are most relevant to you. Taking a trip soon? Brush up on the Italian phrases you’ll need for travel and navigating new places. Need to sharpen your Italian for an upcoming business meeting? Our courses have you taken care of.
Try a free Italian lesson with Babbel and see for yourself how quickly you’ll be on your way to speaking Italian with confidence — like you’ve always wanted to!