Italian Lessons | Italian Grammar
Lesson One / Lezione uno
Dialogue / Dialogo
Maria: Ciao, Giuseppe! Come stai?
Giuseppe: Ciao, Maria! Sto bene, grazie mille. E tu?
Maria: Sto bene. Ti presento Bianca.
Giuseppe: Buon giorno, Bianca.
Bianca: Salve, Giuseppe. Come sta?
Giuseppe: Sto bene, e Lei?
Bianca: Sto bene. Arrivederci.
Giuseppe: Ci vediamo!
Vocabulary / Vocabolario
- ciao (informal), buon giorno, buon giorno (formal) — hello, good day
- come stai (tu)*? — how are you? (informal)
- come sta (Lei)*? — how are you? (formal)
- ti presento — I introduce to you
- sto bene — I’m fine
- grazie mille — many thanks
- e Lei? (formal)/ e tu? (informal) — and you?
- arrivederla (formal), arrivederci, ci vediamo, ciao (informal) — goodbye, see you later
*In Italian, you rarely express the subject unless you either want to stress the importance of it or it’s ambiguous.
Grammar / Grammatica
Formal vs. Informal / Formale vs. informale
In Italian, there are two pronouns that mean ‘you’. One is informal, to be used with people you are familiar with, and formal, which is to be used with people of a superior status to you or people you have just met. The informal form is ‘tu’ and the formal form is ‘Lei’ (note that it is only capitalized here to distinguish between the word for ‘she’). The plural of ‘tu’ is ‘voi’, and the plural of ‘Lei’ is ‘Loro’. Knowledge of the difference between these two forms is important because they do not take the same verbs forms.
In addition, especially in the south of Italy and with older texts/people, you can also use the second person plural (‘voi’) to express respect.
Exercise One / Esercizio uno
- Signor Berti has just walked in. He says buon giorno to you. How do you ask him how he is?
- Your friend has gotten a new haircut. When telling them how much you like it, will you use the tu form or the Lei form?
- It is your first day of school and your teacher asks how you are. After responding, you wish to say ‘and you?’. Which pronoun do you use?
Subject Pronouns and Essere / Pronomi personali soggetto e essere
Subject pronouns are used to show the subject of a sentence; in English, they are I, you, he/she/it, we, and they. In Italian, they are as follows:
|tu||you (informal singular)|
|lui/lei||he/she and also you (formal singular)|
|voi||you (plural, also old-fashioned formal singular)|
Note that lei can mean “she” or “you” (formal, both masculine and feminine).
Essere is the verb “to be”. It is irregular in virtually all tenses. Here is the conjugation for the present indicative tense:
|Io sono||I am|
|Tu sei||You are|
|Lui/Lei è||He/She is|
|Noi siamo||We are|
|Voi siete||You are|
|Loro sono||They are|
Exercise Two / Esercizio due
- How do you say you (informal singular) are?
- Is the pronoun formal or informal in the question ‘come stai tu?’?
- When I say ‘Lei è’ am I talking about you (my best friend) or my teacher?
- If you want to say ‘Bob and I are’, which verb form do you use?
- Joan and Kim are good friends. Would they use the tu form or Lei form with each other?