How to learn Italian vocabulary?
According to the most comprehensive dictionary of the current Italian language, there are over 260,000 words in Italian.
That sounds like a lot of words, right?
Don’t get discouraged, though! Here’s the good news: knowing as little as 100 words helps you understand half of the words in an article or book written in Italian.
Once you learn the most common 1000 words, you’ll understand 75% of texts in Italian.
The best way to learn Italian is by listening to native speakers. This way you’re exercising your brain which is like a sponge: it absorbs new words without you even realizing it.
We designed an audio course for you to learn Italian words in a natural way!
In this post, we’re going to give you an insight into the most common words in Italian and how they’re used.
So it’s the best option to learn Italian vocabulary online.
Let’s start with greetings!
Greetings in Italian
Learning how to say hello and goodbye will help you have a very basic conversation with Italians.
Here’s a list of the most common Italian greetings with a bit of context:
Ciao is probably the most used Italian words. It basically means “hello” and “goodbye”.
Ciao is mainly used in informal situations, especially with family members and friends.
Salve is the formal version of ciao.
It’s a safe choice whenever you have doubts about what greeting to use.
Piacere means “nice to meet you” and you can use it whenever you meet someone for the first time.
Buon giorno, buona sera
Buon giorno literally means “good day” and is used as “good morning” or “good afternoon”.
You can use it in formal and informal situations.
Buona sera can be used as a good evening greeting.
You can use it when it’s getting dark, so it’ll depend on the month of the year.
Ci vediamo means “see you”.
You can combine this expression with a time expression, as in the examples below:
- Ci vediamo dopo (see you later)
- Ci vediamo domani (see you tomorrow)
- Ci vediamo presto (see you soon)
Arrivederci literally means “until we meet again”.
We use it to say “goodbye” in a formal way, for instance when you want to say goodbye to your teacher.
If you’re with a friend you can just say ciao, ci vediamo domani!
Introducing yourself in Italian
Let’s now focus on words and expressions you can use to introduce yourself:
Mi chiamo literally means “I call myself”, but we use it as “my name is…” or “I’m…”.
So, mi chiamo is followed by your name, as in the example below:
Mi chiamo Eleonora.
We can also just say io sono followed by your name:
Io sono Francesca.
In Italian, instead of using the verb to be (essere) – as in “I’m 20 years old” – we use the verb avere (to have), as you can see below:
Ho trentacinque anni.
So, we literally say “I have… years old”.
If you want to say which city you’re from, you can say sono di followed by the name of the city, as in:
Sono di Roma.
I’m from Rome.
However, if you want to specify your nationality you can just say sono followed by the nationality, as in:
Note that in Italian we don’t capitalize nationalities.
Sono + profession
If you want to say what your profession is you can just say sono followed by your profession.
I’m a doctor. (female)
I’m a teacher.
If you want to talk about what you like doing you can say mi piace followed by a verb in the infinitive (its base form ending in -are, -ere, or -ire).
Mi piace leggere romanzi in inglese.
I like to read novels in English.
Mi piace ballare il tanto.
I like to dance tango.
How to introduce yourself in Italian?
Here’s an example of someone introducing themselves:
Ciao, (io) mi chiamo Elena. Ho 25 anni e sono di Torino. Sono biologa e mi piace cucinare.
Hello, my name is Elena. I’m 25 and I’m from Turin. I’m a biologist and I like to cook.
You can use this as a sample for you to write and talk about yourself.
The most common words in Italian
Here’a a list of the most common Italian expressions or nouns that you might find useful if you want to have a basic conversation:
- Ciao: hi and bye
- Cosa: thing
- Giorno: day
- Grazie: thanks
- Prego: you’re welcome
- Scusa: sorry (informal)
- Scusi: sorry (formal)
- Tempo: time
Here’s a list of the most common Italian verbs:
- Andare: to go
- Avere: to have
- Essere: to be
- Fare: to do
- Venire: to come
- Dire: to say
These are irregular verbs so we recommend our posts on how to conjugate them:
Two common Italian idioms
We’re now going to have a look at two common idiomatic expressions in Italian.
To make it more fun, we’ve also included literal translations which sounds very funny/random.
Non vedo l’ora!
It literally means “I don’t see the hour”.
We use it when we want to say “I can’t wait (to…)”.
The verb vedo is the conjugated form for io (I).
You can also conjugate it however you want, depending on who cannot wait for something.
Non vedo l’ora di vederti!
I can’t wait to see you!
Literally: I don’t see the hour of seeing you.
In bocca al lupo!
It literally means “into the mouth of the wolf!”.
It is an informal way to say “buona fortuna!” (good luck!).
We never reply with “thank you” but rather “crepi il lupo!” (may the wolf croak!)
Where to learn Italian vocabulary?
If you want to learn more about Italian vocabulary, we recommend checking out all of our lessons.
We also recommend our following blog posts:
In bocca al lupo!