Language in Italy

by Andrea Segura - Friday, March 3, 2017

How to Say Vowels in Italian

  • A: “ah”
  • E: “say”
  • I: “ me”
  • O: “oh”
  • U: “you”

Simple Phrases

  • When you get up in the morning the first thing you say when you encounter someone is: Buon Giorno! You say buon giorno to people that you don’t know or even to close friends the first time you see them in the morning.
  • In the afternoon (after 2-3 p.m.) you say Buona sera! (Good evening).
  • When you go to bed at night you say (to both friends and formal or casual acquaintances): Buona notte
  • When you thank someone say: Grazie! They may reply: Prego!
  • Dov’è? – Where is?
  • Una birra per favore – “a beer, please”
  • Basta – Perhaps one of the most important Italian commands; use this any time when you’ve had enough (wine, pasta, cycling, etc.)
  • Ancora – is the opposite; it means “more”

Cycling-specific phrases and “Buzzwords”

  • Dai! Dai! – People will say this to you to cheer you on while you are cycling; it means literally, “give, give; give it all you’ve got.”
  • Ale’ Ale’ – Another, “go, go” cheer for cyclists
  • Salve vs. Ciao – “Ciao” is a familiar greeting among friends – you would not normally use it with complete strangers; cyclists, however, like to consider themselves friends so in this instance they might use “salve,” the Latin greeting among friends: it is not formal but it is not familiar either. Other cyclists will often say this to you, especially if you greet them first with “salve”!
  • Bravo & Brava – English speakers often use “Bravo” mistakenly for anybody they wish to applaud. In Italian, you say “bravo” for a male and “brava” for a female. If there is more than one man (or a mixed gender group), you say “bravi”, and for two or more women it is “brave”. Making this distinction will set you apart from most other tourists.

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