I like it, you like me, we liked them… in this episode you’ll learn how to use the verb PIACERE in all its different forms, just like an Italian would. 

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Vocabulary: Piacere in Italian

  • Mi piace = I like it (lit. to me, it pleases)
  • Ci piace cucinare = We like cooking. (lit. to us, it pleases)
  • Ci = to us
  • Piace = it pleases
  • Cucinare = cooking
  • Mi piace = I like it (lit. to me, it pleases)
  • Ci piace = we like it (lit. to us, it pleases) 
  • Ti piace = you like it (lit. to you, it pleases)
  • Gli piace = He likes it, they like it (to him/them, it pleases) 
  • Le piace = She likes it, you formal like it (to her, you formal, it pleases) 
  • Ci piace = We like it (to us, it pleases) 
  • Vi piace = You plural like it (to you plural, it pleases)
  • Mi piacciono = I like them (to me, they please)
  • Ti piacciono = You like them (to you, they please)
  • Gli piacciono = He/they likes them (To him/them, they please)
  • Le piacciono = She likes them, you formal like them (To her/you formal, they please)
  • Ci piacciono = We like them (To us, they please). 
  • Vi piacciono = You plural like them (To you plural, they please). 
  • Mangi = you eat
  • Piaci = you please
  • Mi piaci = I like you (lit. to me, you please)
  • Piacete = you plural please
  • Mi piacete = I like you guys (lit. to me, you plural please)
  • Mangio = I eat
  • Piaccio = I please
  • Ti piaccio = You like me (lit. to you, I please)
  • Piacciamo = we please
  • Ti piacciamo = you like us (lit. to you, we please)
  • Mi sta simpatico = I like him (clearly platonic)
  • Mi sta simpatica = I like her (clearly platonic)
  • Mi piace cucinare = I like cooking (lit. to me, it pleases, cooking) 
  • Mi piace andare al cinema = I like going to the cinema (lit. to me it pleases, going..)
  • Mi piace mangiare = I like eating (to me, it pleases, eating). 
  • A mia mamma piace = my mum likes it (lit. to my mum, it pleases)
  • A mia sorella piace = my sister likes it (lit. to my sister, it pleases)
  • A Katie piace = Katie likes it (lit. to Katie, it pleases)
  • A Matteo piace = Matteo likes it (lit. to Matteo, it pleases)
  • A me piace = I like it (lit. to me, it pleases) for emphasis
  • A te piace = You like it (lit. to you, it pleases) for emphasis 
  • A lui piace = he likes it (lit. to him, it pleases) for emphasis
  • A lei piace = she likes it (lit. to her, it pleases) for emphasis
  • A noi piace = we like it (lit. to us, it pleases) for emphasis
  • A voi piace = you plural like it (lit. to you plural, it pleases) for emphasis
  • A loro piace = they like it (lit. to them, it pleases) for emphasis. 
  • Ti è piaciuto? = did you like it? (lit. to you, it is, pleased). 
  • Ti = to you
  • È = it is
  • Piaciuto = pleased
  • Mi è piaciuto = I liked it (to me, it is, pleased). 
  • Piaciuta = pleased, for feminine things, “la pasta”
  • Mi è piaciuta = I liked it, for feminine things like “la pasta”. 
  • Mi sono piaciuti = I liked them
  • Mi = to me
  • Sono = they are
  • Piaciuti = pleased (masculine plurals, like “i biscotti”)
  • Piaciute = pleased (feminine plurals, like “le torte”)
  • Mi sono piaciute = I liked them (le torte)
  • Mi sei piaciuto = I liked you (lit. to me, you are, pleased). 
  • Mi sei piaciuta = I liked you, when talking to a woman.
  • Ti sono piaciuto = Did you like me? (lit. to you, I am, pleased?) 
  • Ti sono piaciuta = Did you like me? When you’re a woman. 
  • Ci siete piaciuti = We liked you guys. (lit. to us, you are, pleased). 
  • Ci siete piaciute = We liked you guys. When talking to a group of women. 
  • Vi siamo piaciuti? = Did you guys like us? (lit. to you plural, we are, pleased?)
  • Vi siamo piaciute? = Did you guys like us? When we’re a group of women. 
  • Mi piaceva = I liked it (lit. to me, it pleased) long lasting. 
  • Ti piaceva = You liked it (lit. to you, it pleased) long lasting. 
  • Gli piaceva = He/they liked it (lit. to him/them it pleased) long lasting. 
  • Le piaceva = She/you plural liked it (lit. to her/you plural it pleased) long lasting. 
  • Ci piaceva = We liked it (lit. to us, it pleased) long lasting. 
  • Vi piaceva = you guys liked it (lit. to you plural, it pleased) long lasting. 
  • Mi piacevano = I liked them (lit. to me, they pleased) long lasting. 
  • Mi piacevi = I liked you (lit. to me, you pleased) long lasting. 
  • Ti piacevo = You liked me (lit. to you, I pleased) long lasting. 

Quiz: Piacere in Italian

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Flashcards: Piacere in Italian

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Transcript: Piacere in Italian

Please note, this is not a word for word transcript.

Katie: Ciao a tutti e benvenuti a 5 Minute Italian. I’m Katie. 

Matteo: And I’m Matteo. Ciao! 

K: Over the last few lessons we’ve gone into a lot of depth about how to talk about liking stuff in Italian and how the phrase changes, for example, if the thing you like is singular or plural, to talk about different people liking things and how to use it in the past. 

In this episode, we’re going to review all the individual episodes and pull it all together. 

M: As this is an ultimate guide, we’re going to go into a lot of detail so you have all the information to use this verb like an Italian would.

K: For this reason, it will be a bit longer than our usual episodes, but we hope you find it useful to have everything in one place. Let’s get started: 

M: Cominciamo. 

K: Let’s start with the present tense. To say I like it in the present we say: 

M: Mi piace. 

K: And this leads us to the most important thing if you want to use this verb correctly. Mi piace is not a direct translation of “I like”. It literally means “to me, it pleases”. So in Italian, we don’t say that we like a thing, but rather, the thing pleases us. 

M: This knowledge is fundamental for when you want to talk about different people.

K: For example, in the first episode in this mini series (82), we talked about things Matteo has (or doesn’t) have in common with his family. Matteo said: 

M: Ci piace cucinare

K: We like cooking. Can you remember what that little “ci” means? It’s a shortened version of “to us”

M: 

Ci = to us

Piace = it pleases

Cucinare = cooking

K: Here we see that when we change the person, we don’t change the verb. Piace stays the same for different people, because it’s always “it pleases”. We change that little word at the beginning. So we’ve got: 

M: 

Mi piace = I like it (lit. to me, it pleases)

Ci piace = we like it (lit. to us, it pleases) 

K: Let’s go through all of them one by one. I like it, literally “to me, it pleases” is: 

M: Mi piace 

K: You like it, literally, to you, it pleases is: 

M: Ti piace

K: He likes it (to him, it pleases)

M: Gli piace 

K: That’s spelt g – l – i  and pronounced like an L but the tongue is flat and glides across the roof of your mouth. Gli. 

K: He likes it is also the same as “they like it”, when talking about men, women or mixed groups: 

M: Gli piace.

K: Next, she likes it (to her it pleases)

M: Le piace. 

K: And this is the same form that we use in the formal address, for men or women. So if you wanted to say “you like it” addressing someone you don’t know, like a hotel receptionist, how would you say that? 

M: Le piace. 

K: And if the receptionist is a man? 

M: Le piace. In the formal address, it’s the same for men and women.

K: Next we like it (lit. to us, it pleases) 

M: Ci piace.

K: In Italian, we have the plural address too, for when we’re talking to more than one person, like saying “you all” or “you both” or “y’all” like it: 

M: Vi piace

What about when we like more than one thing? Or, more specifically when it’s more than one thing that pleases us? It doesn’t make sense to say “it pleases” any more. We have to say “they please”. 

They please is “piacciono”. So to say “I like them” (to me, they please) we get:

M: Mi piacciono. 

K: Let’s try it with other people. You like them, lit. to you, they please: 

M: Ti piacciono.

K: He likes them. To him, they please: 

M: Gli piacciono 

K: And we know that “to them” is the same. So how would you say: to them, they please?

M: Gli piacciono. 

K: She likes them. Lit. To her, they please: 

M: Le piacciono. 

K: Which is the same as the formal. So how would you say “you like them” if you’re using the formal address? 

M: Le piacciono

K: We like them. Lit. To us, they please. 

M: Ci piacciono 

K: You like them, when talking to more than one person? To you plural they please: 

M: Vi piacciono. 

K: What about if you want to talk about liking people? You already know a couple of forms. 

K: To say I like him or her, it’s the same as the third person “it”. To me, he, she or it pleases: 

M: Mi piace

K: And you already know how to say “I like them” (to me, they please)

M: Mi piacciono. 

K: But what about if you want to say “I like you”? As you know, we literally say “to me, you please”. So we need to know how to say “you please”. How does the “you” form normally end? For example, how would you say “you eat”? 

M: Mangi. 

K: Ending in -i, pronounced as -i. Mangi. So how might you say “you please”? 

M: Piaci 

K: Again, with the “you ending” -i, pronounced as -i. Piaci. So to say “I like you”, literally, to me you please: 

M: Mi piaci

K: What about the plural? As in “I like you guys”. A little trick to get the you plural, just take the baseform of the verb (the one that ends in ARE, ERE or IRE) and change the R to a T. In this case, the verb is PIACERE. So we change the last R to a T and we get…

M: Piacete. 

K: And how would you say “I like you guys”. To me, you please (plural form): 

M: Mi piacete 

K: Let’s change things around a bit. What if I want to say “you like me”? In this case, we’d need to say “to you” I please. Let’s start with “I please”. So we need to get the i form of the verb. To jog your memory, how would you say “I eat”?

M: Mangio 

K: Great, ending in -o. So can you start to guess how you might say “I please”?

M: piaccio

K: Spelt p – i – a – double c – i – o. This verb is a little irregular in the spelling because the c doubles up in the “I” form: piaccio and the they form “piacciono”. But for now, the most important thing to know is that the “I please” form is: 

M: Piaccio. 

K: So to say “you like me” lit. To you I please? 

M: Ti piaccio. 

K: Next let’s try “you like us”. Lit. to you we please. Can you add the “we” ending thi time? How would you say we please? 

M: Piacciamo. 

K: You like us: to you, we please? 

M: Ti piacciamo. 

K: So now you know how to talk about different people liking different people. Am I right in thinking that when talking about people, piace sometimes has more of a romantic connotation compared to in English? When I first moved to Italy I remember a misunderstanding, I was talking to my friend about people in my class and I meant it as in “he’s a nice guy” but my friend thought I was giving her gossip about someone I was into. 

M: Not always, but yes, if you want to be clear that you like a person in a platonic way, you can say “mi sta simpatico” for a man or “mi sta simpatica” for a woman. 

K: Next, sometimes the thing you like isn’t really a thing at all, it’s an activity. Like “to cook” or “to go to the cinema” or “to eat”. To cook, to go, to eat, these are all doing words, also known as verbs. In this case, no need to worry about word endings, we always use “piace”. For example: 

M: 

Mi piace cucinare = I like cooking (lit. to me it pleases cooking) 

Mi piace andare al cinema = I like going to the cinema (lit. to me it pleases going..)

Mi piace mangiare = I like eating (to me, it pleases eating). 

K: So far, we’ve seen the shortened versions: mi, ti, ci etc, which are the most common. But we don’t always say “me, he or she”. Sometimes we give the name or title of someone, for example: My mother likes it or my sister likes it, Matteo likes it, or Katie likes it etc. 

In this case, we spell it out. So we literally say “to my mum it pleases” 

M: 

A mia mamma piace = my mum likes it (lit. to my mum, it pleases)

K: “Sister” is “sorella”. How would you say “my sister likes it”? 

M: A mia sorella piace

K: Katie likes it? 

M: A Katie piace.

K: Matteo likes it. 

M: A Matteo piace. 

K: There are other times when we spell out the full version, for example, if we want to give emphasis. In English, we often do it with a tone of voice. For example: SHE doesn’t like it, but I do. 

Let’s imagine someone’s talking about a film they don’t like. You could say “I like it” (as in YOU might not like it but I do). 

So to say “I like it” when giving emphasis, we say it word for word: “to me it pleases”:

M: A me piace

K: You like it

M: A te piace

K: He likes it

M: A lui piace

K: She likes it

M: A lei piace

K: We like it

M: A noi piace

K: You like it, in the plural, when addressing more than one person. 

M: A voi piace

K. They like it

M: A loro piace

K: Phew! That’s it for the present. What about the past? In the episode, I asked Matteo if he liked the last Star Wars film. To ask him “did you like it”? I said: 

M: Ti è piaciuto? 

K: Literally “to you, it is, pleased”. And here we see how to make the past with this phrase. The mi, ti, ci part stays the same. 

To make the past in Italian, we need a helper verb, either “to have” or “to be”. For piacere, the helper verb is “essere” (to be). 

We’re talking about “it” as in “the film” so we need to say “it is” which in Italian is è. So far, we’ve got “ti è”. Then we need to turn piacere into the past, a bit like turning like to liked, or more accurately please to pleased. The past form of piacere is “piaciuto”. All together we get:

M: Ti è piaciuto = You liked it (to you, it is pleased). 

K: How would you say “I liked it”? 

M: Mi è piaciuto = I liked it (to me, it is pleased). 

When we make the past with the helper verb “to be” (essere), the last letter has to agree with number and gender. In this case, I asked about the film, so I said “piaciuto”. But if I was asking about “la pasta”, I’d say… 

M: Piaciuta

K: So how would you say “I liked it” when referring to the pasta? 

M: Mi è piaciuta. 

K: Now, what about if I’m talking about more than one thing that pleased us, for example, I liked the biscuits? Let’s start with “to me”. 

M: Mi

K: Now è doesn’t work here, because we’re talking about them, the biscotti, they pleased me. So we need to say “they are”. Do you know how to say this? 

M: Sono 

K: Finally, we need to turn piacere into the past: 

M: Piaciuto. 

K: But there’s one last step. Here we’re talking about i biscotti. Masculine plural. The last letter has to agree with the gender and number. So we’d get: 

M: Piaciuti

K: All together? 

M: Mi sono piaciuti 

K: What about if it’s a feminine plural, like “the cakes”? Le torte. How would the word piaciuto end? 

M: Piaciute

K: With the feminine plural ending -e, pronounced as -e. So to say I liked them, as in “I liked the cakes?”

M: Mi sono piaciute. 

K: Now time for some pro grammar. I mean this was already pro grammar, but we’re going to take it up to olympic athlete level. How might you say “I liked you”? Literally, that would be… to me, you pleased. Let’s start with “to me”: 

M: Mi

K: Now in this part, we don’t need è, which means “it is”. We don’t need “sono” which means “they are”. We need “you are” which is…

M: Sei

K: So to say “I liked you”, when talking to a man: 

M: Mi sei piaciuto. 

K: What about a woman? What would happen to the last letter? 

M: Mi sei piaciuta. 

K: And sometimes people say this related to merit – if you did something really well, for example, you gave a great presentation, you might hear “mi sei piaciuto”. But I think it’s kind of slangy, is that right? 

M: 

K: What about to ask “did you like me?” Literally, to you, I am, pleased? To you is: 

M: Ti

K: I am is (the same as “they are”)

M: Sono

K: pleased, if I’m a man: 

M: Piaciuto.

K: If I’m a women:

M: Piaciuta. 

K: All together: 

M: Ti sono piaciuto or ti sono piaciuta. 

K: What about “we liked you guys” you plural. To us you guys are pleased. To us is: 

M: Ci

K: To say “you are” in the plural we get:

M: Siete

K: Then pleased, if the people who pleased or did a great job is a masculine or mixed plural?

M: piaciuti. 

K: all together

M: Ci siete piaciuti.

K: And for a group of women?

M: Ci siete piaciute. 

K: And to ask: Did you like us? Lit. to you plural, we are, pleased. To you plural is: 

M: Vi

K: We are: 

M: Siamo 

K: So how would you say “did you like us” to a group? Lit, to you plural, we are, pleased.

M: Vi siamo piaciuti? 

K: Group of women? 

M: Vi siamo piaciute? 

K: If this all feels a bit overwhelming, don’t stress, these sentences are actually quite rare – it’s not actually that common that people ask “did you like us”, so if you decide your brain is not ready to take that in, feel free to skip it for now. You can just see it as a little way to start to get used to the logic of how all the pieces slot into each other. 

Finally, in the last episode, we talked about how to use piacere in the past for feelings that lasted for a while or were repeated. For example, I was talking about how I didn’t like Milan at first (a long-lasting feeling) and I said “non mi piacEVA”. 

This contrasts with a short event, such as watching a film, when I’d say “non mi è piaciuto”. 

For long lasting feelings we use a tense called the imperfetto. It’s the one that has a V in it. The “he, she it” form ends in -EVA. So to say “I liked it”, to me it pleased is: 

M: Mi piaceva.

K: And we can change around the people in this tense too, just like we did before. So let’s imagine we’re talking about something you liked for a long time in the past, for example, a city. How would you say “you liked it”? To you, it pleased? 

M: Ti piaceva.

K: He liked it? Or they liked it? To him or to them, it pleased? (it’s the same)

M: Gli piaceva.

K: She liked it? Or you formal liked it? To her or to you formal, it pleased? (it’s the same)

M: Le piaceva. 

K: We liked it? To us, it pleased? 

M: Ci piaceva

K: You plural liked it? To you plural, it pleased? 

M: Vi piaceva. 

And when we want to talk about liking different things, so different things pleasing us, which part do we change? As usual, we change the word endings of piacere. It pleased is: 

M: Piaceva. 

K: They pleased is… 

M: Piacevano. 

K: So how would you say “I liked them” for something that lasted a long time, for example, a pair of shoes you had. 

M: Mi piacevano = I liked them (lit. to me, they pleased). 

K: And we can do this for people too. As we know, the “you” ending often ends in -i. You pleased is: 

M: Piacevi.

K: I liked you? When I’m talking about an emotion that lasted for a long time in the past? Lit. to me, you pleased? 

M: Mi piacevi. 

K: What about the opposite. You liked me. Literally, to you, I pleased. To you is: 

M: Ti

K: I pleased? How does the “I” form usually end? With the letter -o. 

M: Piacevo. 

K: You liked me? To you, I pleased? 

M: Ti piacevo. 

K: Learning how to use PIACERE in all of its different forms requires a lot of mental gymnastics, so don’t worry if it hasn’t sunk in perfectly yet. As long as you’ve got the basic concept, that in Italian, we say “to me, it pleases” and that there are lots of variations in the past, with different people etc that center around this logic, you’re already a long way to mastering it. The rest will fall into place as you become more comfortable with the different forms. 

There’s a lot to take in with this episode, so I’d suggest putting aside around an hour, making yourself a nice caffè and printing off the transcripts so that you can really start to make sense of all the different forms. 

To get the transcripts for this episode and other bonus materials like a quiz and flashcards to help you remember the phrases. Go to www.joyoflanguages.com/italianpodcast and scroll down to episode 86. If you’d like to join our Italian club and get free mini Italian lessons every week, we’d love to see you there. You’ll find the link in the show notes. 

See you next time, or as we say in Italian

Alla prossima!

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Related episodes

How to use “piace” in Italian

I liked it. Piace in the past – part I

I liked it. Piace in the past – part II

I liked it. Piace in the past – part III

Think about something you really liked in the past. Maybe a place you lived in or something tasty you used to eat. 

In today’s episode, learn how to talk about things you liked (or didn’t like) when they lasted for a while in the past.

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Vocabulary: Piace in the past – part III

  • Ti piace Milano? = Do you like Milan?
  • Ti = to you
  • Piace = it pleases
  • Milano = Milan
  • Sì, molto = Yes, a lot. 
  • All’inizio non mi piaceva = In the beginning I didn’t like it
  • All’inizio = in the beginning
  • Non = not
  • Mi = to me
  • Piaceva = it pleased
  • Mi piaceva il mio lavoro = I liked my job (lit. to me it pleased). 
  • Mi piaceva andare al pub = I liked going to the pub (lit. to me it pleased). 
  • Mi è piaciuto il film = I liked the film (short, one time event)
  • Perché? = Why? 
  • Mi piacevano le città meno moderne come Roma. = I liked cities that were less modern like Rome. 
  • Mi piacevano le città. = I liked the cities. 
  • Mi = to me
  • Piacevano = they pleased
  • La città = the city
  • Non mi piaceva il freddo in inverno. = I didn’t like the cold in winter. 
  • Non = not
  • Mi = to me
  • Piaceva = it pleased, this time in the singular again because it refers to… 
  • Il freddo = the cold
  • In inverno = in the winter
  • Ma ora mi piace molto lo stile di vita qui = But now I like the lifestyle here a lot.  
  • Ma = but
  • Ora = now 
  • Mi = to me
  • Piace = it pleases (this time in the present)
  • Molto = a lot
  • Lo stile = the style 
  • Di vita = of life

Quiz: Piace in the past – part III

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Click here to take the quiz for this episode: Piace in the past – part III

Flashcards: Piace in the past – part III

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Transcript: Piace in the past – part III

Please note, this is not a word for word transcript.

Katie: Ciao a tutti e benvenuti a 5 Minute Italian. I’m Katie. 

Matteo: And I’m Matteo. Ciao! 

K: Let’s continue our series on how to talk about stuff we like in Italian. We’ll listen to the conversation first:

M: Ti piace vivere a Milano? 

K: Sì, molto. Ma all’inizio non mi piaceva. 

M: Perché? 

K: Mi piacevano le città meno moderne come Roma e non mi piaceva il freddo in inverno. Ma ora mi piace molto lo stile di vita qui.

K: So you first heard: 

M: Ti piace Milano? 

K: Do you like Milan? And as we know, this phrase follows a different structure in Italian. It’s literally: 

M: 

Ti = to you

Piace = it pleases

Milano = Milan

K: Then you heard: 

M: Sì, molto.

K: Yes, a lot. 

M: All’inizio non mi piaceva. 

K: In the beginning I didn’t like it

M: 

All’inizio = in the beginning

Non = not

Mi = to me

Piaceva = it pleased

K: And here we see an example of piace in the past, but it’s different to the ones we’ve been looking at in the last couple of episodes. So why do we use “piacEVA” here with the E – V – A ending? 

M: We use “piaceva” when we talk about descriptions or things that lasted for a while in the past. 

K: In this example, I’m talking about when I first moved to Italy, so a time period that lasted for a while, and I’m giving a description of how I felt at the time. This tense is called the “imperfetto”, but for now all you really need to know is this: 

When we’re talking about something that lasted for a while in the past, we say “piaceva” which could be  a description, an ongoing feeling or repetition. For example, talking about the time we lived in London, Matteo could say: 

M: Mi piaceva il mio lavoro

K: I liked my job (lit. to me it pleased). 

M: Mi piaceva andare al pub

K: I liked going to the pub (lit. to me it pleased). 

Compare these examples to something that was short and only happened once: 

M: Mi è piaciuto il film

K: I liked the film. In this case, we use the simple past that we talked about in the two last episodes. 

K: Then Matteo asked:

M: Perché? 

K: Why? 

K: And I replied: 

M: Mi piacevano le città meno moderne come Roma. 

K: I liked cities that were less modern like Rome. 

K: This time with “piacevano”. 

M: Mi piacevano le città. 

K: I liked the cities. Can you guess why we say “piacevano” here? It’s because it’s plural. Le città. As we know in Italian, we literally say: 

M: 

Mi = to me

Piacevano = they pleased

Le città = the cities

Because in Italian we talk about something pleasing us, when the thing that pleases is plural, like “le città” (the cities) we have to say “they pleased” which in Italian is piacevano. 

K: Then you heard: 

M: Non mi piaceva il freddo in inverno. 

K: I didn’t like the cold in winter. 

M: 

Non = not

Mi = to me

Piaceva = it pleased, this time in the singular again because it refers to… 

Il freddo = the cold

In inverno = in the winter

M: Ma ora mi piace molto lo stile di vita qui.

K: But now I like the lifestyle here a lot.  

Ma = but

Ora = now 

Mi = to me

Piace = it pleases (this time in the present)

Molto = a lot

Lo stile = the style 

Di vita = of life

K: So to recap, when you’re talking about something that lasted for a little while, an ongoing or repeated feeling, use “piaceva” when the thing that pleased you is singular and “piacevano” when the thing that pleased you is plural. 

To help you remember the lessons in this podcast, head over to our website you’ll find the transcripts for this episode and other bonus materials like a quiz and flashcards. Go to www.joyoflanguages.com/italianpodcast and scroll down to episode 85. You can also get a mini Italian lesson delivered to your inbox every week, by joining our Italian club – click the link in the description to learn more. 

See you next time, or as we say in Italian

Alla prossima!

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Related episodes

How to use “piace” in Italian

I liked it. Piace in the past – part I

I liked it. Piace in the past – part II

Indirect object pronouns in Italian (mi, ti, le, gli, ci, vi)

In Italian, objects can be masculine or feminine. This means that: 

Bread is un signore 🎩

Pizza is una signora 🎀

This is good to know, because it helps us use the past correctly, especially when we’re talking about things we liked. Learn how to do this in today’s episode.

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Vocabulary: Piace in the past – part II

  • Ti è piaciuta la cena? = Did you like dinner? 
  • Sì, molto = Yes, a lot. 
  • Mi è piaciuta la pasta = I liked the pasta. 
  • Mi è piaciuto il pane = I liked the bread.
  • E mi sono piaciuti i carciofi = And I liked the artichokes. 
  • Mi è piaciutA la pizza = I liked the pizza. 
  • Sono = they are
  • Mi sono piaciuti = I liked them (i biscotti) 
  • Mi sono piaciute = I liked them (le torte)

Quiz: Piace in the past – part II

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Click here to take the quiz for this episode: Piace in the past – part II

Flashcards: Piace in the past – part II

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Transcript: Piace in the past – part II

Please note, this is not a word for word transcript.

Katie: Ciao a tutti e benvenuti a 5 Minute Italian. I’m Katie. 

Matteo: And I’m Matteo. Ciao! 

K: In today’s episode, we’re going to carry on learning how to talk about things you like in the past. This is a follow up from episodes 82 and 83, so if you haven’t listened to those yet, it’s a good idea to do that first, so that you can get the foundation for today’s lesson. For now, let’s listen to the mini conversation: 

K: Ti è piaciuta la cena? 

M: Sì, molto. Mi è piaciuta la pasta, mi è piaciuto il pane e mi sono piaciuti i carciofi. 

K: Let’s get the general gist first, then we’ll break it down and talk about the individual words. So we started with: 

M: Ti è piaciuta la cena? 

K: Did you like dinner? Then Matteo replied:

M: Sì, molto.

K: Yes, a lot. Next, he said: 

M: Mi è piaciuta la pasta

K: I liked the pasta. 

M: Mi è piaciuto il pane. 

K: I liked the bread.

M: E mi sono piaciuti i carciofi. 

K: And I liked the artichokes. 

K: Here, we’ve got lots of examples of piace in the past, and you may have noticed that it’s not always the same. It changes depending on whether the thing you like (the thing that “pleases” you) is masculine, feminine, singular or plural. Let’s look at this in more detail now. The first line was: 

M: Ti è piaciuta la cena

K: Did you like dinner? Literally: 

M: 

Ti = to you

È = it is

Piaciuta = pleased

La cena = the dinner

K: You may remember from the last episode that this is how we talk about something we liked in the past. Let’s do a quick review. We literally say that “it pleased us”. In this case, I’m asking, did it please YOU? In Italian, we say the person first, so I say: 

M: 

Ti = to you

K: Then we need the helper verb: 

M: 

È = it is

K: Then we need to turn piacere (to please) into the past form, which is: 

M: 

Piaciuto = pleased

But there’s something different about this sentence. You heard “ti è piaciutA” la cena. In Italian, when we talk about liking things, or as we say it in Italian, things pleasing us, everything has to agree with the thing that pleases us. Here, we’re talking about “la cena”, feminine singular, so we say: 

M: PiaciutA. Ti è piaciutA la cena?

K: And what about la pizza. How would you say: “I liked the pizza”? Lit. to me, the pizza pleased. 

M: Mi è piaciutA la pizza. 

K: And in fact, the next line from the conversation was: 

M: Mi è piaciutA la pasta. 

K: I liked the pasta. Lit. 

M: 

Mi = to me

È = it is

Piaciuta = pleased, here with the feminine ending piaciutA because we’re talking about LA pasta. 

La pasta = the pasta. 

K: Then you heard: 

M: Mi è piaciuto il pane.

K: I liked the bread. And this time, because we’re talking about “il pane”, masculine singular, we get “piaciutO”

M: 

Mi = to me

È = it is

Piaciuto = pleased, with the masculine singular ending, piaciutO, because we’re talking about IL pane. 

Il pane = the bread. 

K: Then you heard: 

M: Mi sono piaciuti i carciofi.

K: I liked the artichokes. 

M: Here we see another difference. Mi SONO piaciuti. Why do we use SONO here, instead of è like before? It’s because carciofi (artichokes) is plural. 

K: And remember, in Italian, we’re always focusing on the thing that pleases us NOT the person who likes something. Here, as carciofi is plural, we no longer say “it is”, but we say “they are”. In Italian, “they are” is…

M: Sono. 

K: So to say “I liked them”, literally, “to me, they are, pleased” is:  

M: Mi sono piaciuti. 

Mi = to me

Sono = they are

Piaciuti = pleased, with the masculine plural ending, -i. (spelt as an i)

So for the plurals, we have two steps. We use “sono” instead of è and we also change the last letter to agree with the gender and number. Here, we’re talking about i carciofi, so we use the masculine plural ending “-i” . Mi sono piaciuti

K: Let’s try another masculine plural: i biscotti (the biscuits or cookies). To say I liked them, or they pleased me: 

M: Mi sono piaciuti

Mi = to me

Sono = they are

Piaciuti = pleased, with the masculine plural ending. 

K: Now the feminine ending, which is -e (spelt with an e). For example, le torte, the cakes. So we wouldn’t say piaciuti, but rather: 

M: piaciutE. 

K: And to say “I liked them” as in “the cakes”

M: Mi sono piaciute.

K: Literally: 

M: 

Mi = to me

Sono = they are

Piaciute = pleased, with the feminine plural ending.

K: That’s it for today’s episode. We hope you liked it. 

M: Yes, we hope “ti è piaciuto”. 

K: There’s just one last little thing that can be useful if you really want to use piace in the past like a pro, and we’ll talk about this in the next lesson. 

K: To help all this stuff sink in, it can be really helpful to see it all written down. If you head over to our website you’ll find the transcripts for this episode and other bonus materials like a quiz and flashcards to help you remember. Go to www.joyoflanguages.com/italianpodcast and scroll down to episode 84. And if you’d like to get a free mini Italian lesson like this one every Sunday, you can sign up to our newsletter too – you’ll find the link in the show notes. 

See you next time, or as we say in Italian

Alla prossima!

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Related episodes

I liked it. Piace in the past part I

How to use “piace” in Italian

Indirect object pronouns in Italian (mi, ti, le, gli, ci, vi)

Mi piace. It’s simple enough to remember this phrase in the present, but in the past, things get a little tricky! Learn how to talk about things you liked in this episode. By the end, you’ll be able to say things like: “I liked it” and ask people: “did you like it?”

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Vocabulary: Piace in the past

  • Qual è l’ultimo film che hai visto = What’s the last film you saw? 
  • Qual = which
  • È = is
  • L’ultimo = the last
  • Film = film or movie
  • Che = that
  • Hai = you have
  • visto = seen
  • Ti è piaciuto? = Did you like it? 
  • Ti = to you
  • È = it is
  • Piaciuto = pleased
  • Gli è piaciuto = he, they liked it
  • Gli = to him, them
  • È = it is
  • Piaciuto = pleased
  • Le è piaciuto = she, you formal liked it
  • Le = to her, you formal 
  • È = it is
  • Piaciuto = pleased
  • Ci è piaciuto = we liked it
  • Vi è piaciuto = you liked it (plural, for speaking to more than one person)

Quiz: Piace in the past

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Click here to take the quiz for this episode: Piace in the past

Flashcards: Piace in the past

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Transcript: Piace in the past

Please note, this is not a word for word transcript.

Katie: Ciao a tutti e benvenuti a 5 Minute Italian. I’m Katie. 

Matteo: And I’m Matteo. Ciao! 

K: In today’s episode, you’ll learn how to talk about things you liked (and ask other people about things they liked) in the past. Let’s start with a mini conversazione.

K: Matteo, qual è l’ultimo film che hai visto? 

M: L’ultimo di Star Wars. 

K: Ti è piaciuto? 

M: Non molto.

K: The first line you heard was: 

M: Qual è l’ultimo film che hai visto. 

K: What’s the last film you saw? Literally: 

Qual = which

È = is

L’ultimo = this is broken down into two words: L apostrophe which means “the” and ultimo which means last. 

Film = film or movie

Che = that

Hai = you have

visto = seen

K: And the film was: 

M- L’ultimo di Star Wars. 

K: The last, or most recent Star Wars. 

K: Then I asked Matteo:

M: Ti è piaciuto? 

K: Did you like it? And he said

M: Non molto. 

K: Not much. 

Let’s come back to the question, Ti è piaciuto? If you listened to the last episode, you’ll know that in Italian, this phrase is actually a little more like saying “did it please you?”. Literally:

M: 

Ti = to you

È = it is

Piaciuto = pleased

K: And here we come to the main theme of today’s lesson. Using the word “piace” in the past. The first thing we need to do is stop thinking of it in an English way, as in “like” and think of it more in the Italian way: the thing pleases us, or in this case, it pleased us. 

I want to know, did you like the film? In Italian, the structure would be, to you, it pleased? We start with the person, in this case, “to you”, which in Italian is: 

M: Ti

K: Then we need to change the verb into the past. To make the past in Italian, we need a helper verb that comes before the main verb. For piacere, we use è, which literally means “it is”. So we get: 

M: 

Ti = to you

È = it is

K: Then we need to change the ending of piacere to make it a past form. Kind of like changing it from “please” to “pleased”. To change piacere into the past, we get: 

M: Piaciuto.  

K: Peee – aaaa – chooo – toh. 

M: Piaciuto. 

K: So again, did you like it, or “to you, it pleased?”, we start with the person, to you: 

M: Ti 

K: Then we add the helper verb, in this case “it is”: 

M: è 

K: Then we change piacere (to please) into the past, to get “pleased”

M: Piaciuto. 

K: Ti è piaciuto? 

M: Ti è piaciuto? 

K: And just like last week, we can change the person, to talk about different people liking things, or literally, things pleasing different people. So how would you say “I liked it”. Literally, to me, it pleased: 

M: Mi è piaciuto

Mi = to me

È = it is

Piaciuto = pleased

K: You liked it? 

M: Ti è piaciuto 

Ti = to you

È = it is

Piaciuto = pleased

K: He liked it? To give you a little reminder from the last lesson, to say “he liked it”, we need to say “to him, it pleased”. “To him” is an indirect object and it starts with the letter g (even if we don’t pronounce it like a g.). 

M: Gli. 

K: G – L – I – pronounced like an L that glides across the top of your mouth. To him is gli. 

K: So he liked it “to him it pleased”? 

M: Gli è piaciuto

Gli = to him

È = it is

Piaciuto = pleased

K: And we know that the indirect object for “to him” is exactly the same as “to them”. This means that to say “he liked it” and “they liked it”. “To him it pleased” and “to them it pleased” is exactly the same. So to say “they liked it”, we’d say… 

M: Gli è piaciuto 

Gli = to him or to them

È = it is

Piaciuto = pleased

K: Now let’s talk about “she liked it”. Can you remember the indirect object for her? To say “to her” in Italian, we say.. 

M: Le

K: Spelt L – E. To say “she liked it”, we’d get… 

M: Le è piaciuto

Le = to her

È = it is

Piaciuto = pleased. 

K: And we have a formal “you” – that’s used in Italian when you’re speaking to older people you don’t know very well or customers etc. It’s exactly the same as the “she” form. So how might a receptionist in a hotel or a waiter ask you “did you like it?” 

M: Le è piaciuto? 

K: And in the formal, that’s the same for both men and women. 

M: Le è piaciuto? 

K: Next, we liked it, literally “to us, it pleased”. I’ll give you a little hint, first… can you remember how to say “to us”? It’s “ci”. 

M: Ci è piaciuto

Ci = to us

È = it is

Piaciuto = pleased

K: Finally, time for the “you plural”, which is when you’re speaking to two or more people in Italian. To say “to you” in the plural, we get…. 

M: Vi. 

K: So to say “you liked it”, as in, you all or both liked it, we’d get: 

M: Vi è piaciuto 

Vi = to you plural

È = it is

Piaciuto = pleased. 

M: Let’s review all these quickly. 

K: Buona idea. I liked it is: 

M: Mi è piaciuto

K: You liked it: 

M: Ti è piaciuto

K: He, or they liked it: 

M: Gli è piaciuto

K: She liked it, or you liked it in the formal address: 

M: Le è piaciuto 

K: We liked it: 

M: Ci è piaciuto 

K: You liked it, when you’re speaking to two or more people? 

M: Vi è piaciuto. 

K: We’ve just covered the basics, but there are a few more details that are good to know in order to use “piace” correctly in the past, and we’ll talk about these in the next lesson. 

Remember, if you’d like to see all this stuff written down, on our website you’ll find the transcripts for this episode and other bonus materials like a quiz and flashcards to help you remember the phrases. Go to www.joyoflanguages.com/italianpodcast and scroll down to episode 83. If you’d like to get a free mini Italian lesson like this one every Sunday, you can join our newsletter too – you’ll find the link in the show notes. 

See you next time, or as we say in Italian

Alla prossima!

Get more 5-minute Italian

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Related episodes

How to use “piace” in Italian

Indirect object pronouns in Italian (mi, ti, le, gli, ci, vi)

Did you know that mi piace doesn’t really mean “I like”? This mistranslation is one of the reasons that learning this expression can be so tricky in Italian. Once you clear it up and learn the true meaning, everything becomes easier. Learn how to use “piace” in episode #82 of 5 Minute Italian.

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  • Mini Italian lessons + bonus materials delivered to your inbox.
  • Access to the private Facebook group where you can practice chatting in Italian.
  • Invites to free speaking workshops.

If you’d like to join us, click here to become a member of 5 Minute Italian.

Vocabulary: Using piace in Italian

  • Hai molto in comune con la tua famiglia? = Do you have a lot in common with your family?
  • Hai = you have
  • Molto = a lot
  • In comune = in common 
  • Con = with 
  • La tua famiglia = your family
  • Dipende = It depends
  • Per esempio = For example
  • Ci piace cucinare = we like cooking
  • Ci = to us
  • Piace = it pleases
  • Cucinare = cooking
  • Ma a mia sorella piace fare i dolci = But my sister likes making desserts
  • Ma = but
  • a mia sorella = to my sister
  • piace = pleases
  • fare = making
  • I dolci = the sweets
  • Mentre a me piace fare la pasta = while I like making pasta
  • Mentre = while
  • A me = to me
  • Piace = pleases
  • Fare = making
  • La pasta = the pasta 
  • Ci piacciono i film = we like films
  • Ci = to us
  • Piacciono = they please
  • I film = the films
  • Ci piace la pizza = We like the pizza (lit. to us, it pleases, the pizza)
  • Ci piacciono le pizze = we like the pizzas (lit. to us, they please, the pizzas)
  • A me piacciono i film fantascienza, e a mia sorella piacciono i film Disney = I like sci fi films, while my sister likes Disney films. 
  • A me = to me
  • Piacciono = they please
  • I film = the films
  • Fantascienza = sci fi
  • E = and 
  • A mia sorella = to my sister
  • Piacciono = they please
  • I film Disney = Disney films
  • E a tua mamma? = And your mom? (lit. And to your mom?) 
  • Le piacciono i film classici, come cantando sotto la pioggia = She likes classic films, like singing in the rain. 
  • Le = to her
  • Piacciono = they please
  • I film = the films
  • Classici = classic
  • Come = like 
  • Cantando = singing 
  • Sotto = under
  • La pioggia = the rain
  • A lei = to her
  • A me piace = I like it (lit. to me, it pleases: full, for emphasis)
  • Mi piace = I like it (lit. to me, it pleases: short, most common)
  • A te piace = You like it (lit. to you, it pleases: full, for emphasis)
  • Ti piace = You like it (lit. to you, it pleases: short, most common)
  • A lei piace = She likes it (lit. to her, it pleases: full, for emphasis)
  • Le piace = She likes it (lit. to her, it pleases: short, most common)
  • A lui piace = He likes it (lit. to him, it pleases: full, for emphasis)
  • Gli piace = He likes it (lit. to him, it pleases: short, most common)
  • A loro piace = They like it (lit. to them, it pleases: full, for emphasis)
  • Gli piace = They like it (lit. to them, it pleases: short, most common)
  • A noi piace = We like it (lit. to us, it pleases: full, for emphasis)
  • Ci piace = We like it (lit. to us, it pleases: short, most common)
  • A voi piace = You plural like it (lit. to you plural, it pleases: full, for emphasis)
  • Vi piace = You plural like it (lit. to you plural, it pleases: short, most common)
  • Con = with 
  • La tua famiglia = your family

Quiz: Using piace in Italian

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Click here to take the quiz for this episode: Using piace in Italian

Flashcards: Using piace in Italian

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Transcript: Using piace in Italian

Please note, this is not a word for word transcript.

Katie: Ciao a tutti e benvenuti a 5 Minute Italian. I’m Katie. 

Matteo: And I’m Matteo. Ciao! 

K: In today’s lesson, we’re going to learn about a word that can be tricky for Italian learners because it works in a very different way compared to in English. That word is piace. One of the main reasons that it can be tricky is that piace doesn’t really mean what we think it does – it doesn’t mean like. 

Once you know the real meaning, it all becomes a lot easier to understand and use correctly. You’ll find out more soon – let’s start by listening to the conversation. 

K: Matteo, hai molto in comune con la tua famiglia? 

M: Dipende. Per esempio, ci piace cucinare. Ma a mia sorella piace fare i dolci mentre a me piace fare la pasta. Ci piacciono i film, ma a me piacciono i film di fantascienza, e a mia sorella piacciono i film Disney. 

K: E a tua mamma? 

M: Le piacciono i film classici, come cantando sotto la pioggia. 

K: Let’s take a closer look at the conversation. In the first line, I asked Matteo: 

M: Hai molto in comune con la tua famiglia? 

Hai = you have

Molto = a lot

In comune = in common 

Con = with 

La tua famiglia = your family

K: And the answer was: 

M: Dipende

K: It depends

M: Per esempio

K: For example

M: Ci piace cucinare

K: In English, we’d say “we like to cook”. And here we have our first example of piace in Italian. Let’s break it down: 

M: 

Ci = to us

Piace = it pleases

Cucinare = cooking

K: So in Italian, we don’t say that we like cooking, it’s the cooking that pleases us. And this point is really important – even though we often learn it this way, piace doesn’t really mean “to like”. It means to please. 

We don’t like the thing, but rather it’s the thing that pleases us. When you think that piacere means like, it can lead to common mistakes, for example, if you want to say “we like” you might naturally add the “we” ending and say *piacciamo, which means we please. 

That doesn’t make sense in Italian, because it’s not us who is doing the pleasing, it’s the thing that pleases us. This means that we don’t want to say “we please” but we say “it pleases”.

From piacere we remove the -ere, and add the he/she/it ending, which is -e. Then we get piace. 

So to say “we like” we literally say:

M: Ci piace

K: To us, it pleases. Ci is what’s known as an indirect object pronoun, and we’ll talk more about these at the end. But in the meantime, just know that this little word “ci” means “to us”, and Italians speak a little like yoda, so it comes at the beginning. Let’s continue with the conversation: 

M: Ma a mia sorella piace fare i dolci

K: But my sister likes making desserts

M: 

Ma = but

a mia sorella = to my sister

piace = pleases

fare = making

I dolci = the sweets

K: So here, to talk about Matteo’s sister liking something, we have the same structure. To my sister pleases. A mia sorella piace. We use this structure with A whenever we give someone’s name. So for example: A Matteo piace cucinare = to Matteo pleases cooking (Matteo likes cooking). We also use it when we want to give emphasis. It’s the full version. For example, Matteo said: 

M: Mentre a me piace fare la pasta. 

K: While I like making pasta. Literally: 

M: 

Mentre = while

A me = to me

Piace = pleases

Fare = making

La pasta = the pasta 

K: It’s also correct to use “mi piace” and in fact, that’s the most common way to say I like. The little “mi” in “mi piace” is like a shortened version of “a me” (to me). But in this case, Matteo is making a contrast, saying: my sister likes making desserts and I like making pasta. He wants to add emphasis, so we get the full version in Italian, which is: 

 “To my sister pleases making sweets, to me pleases making pasta” 

M: A mia sorella piace fare i dolci, a me piace fare la pasta. 

K: Similarly, the little “ci” you heard earlier in ci piace (to us, it pleases – we like) is actually a shortened version of “a noi” (to us). We know, we know, it doesn’t sound even remotely similar, so you’ll have to forgive us for that one, but that’s just one of those little quirks of the Italian language. So to say “we like” in a normal way, without emphasis, we’d use the short “ci” as we did before. 

M: Ci piace cucinare. 

K: We like cooking. – To us, pleases cooking. But if you want to add emphasis, for example, if you were comparing and saying “we like cooking, and you like eating”. you could use the full version of to us and say: “a noi piace cucinare”. Let’s continue the conversation…

M: Ci piacciono i film

K: We like films. 

M: 

Ci = to us

Piacciono = they please

I film = the films

K: And here, we see another example of why it’s important to understand that in Italian, we don’t like the thing, but the thing pleases us. Because in this case, the thing that is pleasing – the films – is plural. We don’t say “it pleases”, but we say “they please” = piacciono. And if you want a quick review of why “they please” is piacciono, you can head to episode 44: the complete guide to the present tense

But for now, the main thing is to understand that the word “piace” changes depending on whether the thing that pleases is singular or plural. So we get: 

M: Ci piace la pizza

K: We like the pizza (lit. to us, it pleases, the pizza)

M: Ci piacciono le pizze 

K: We like the pizzas (lit. to us, they please, the pizzas)

K: Next, you heard: 

M: A me piacciono i film di fantascienza, e a mia sorella piacciono i film Disney.

A me = to me

Piacciono = they please

I film = the films

di fantascienza = sci fi

E = and 

A mia sorella = to my sister

Piacciono = they please

I film Disney = Disney films

K: Finally, I asked: 

M: E a tua mamma? 

K: The reason we have this “a” is because we’re still using this structure. I’m literally saying “and to your mom?” Then Matteo said: 

M: Le piacciono i film classici, come cantando sotto la pioggia. 

K: She likes classic films, like singing in the rain. Literally: 

M: 

Le = to her

Piacciono = they please

I film = the films

Classici = classic

Come = like 

Cantando = singing 

Sotto = under

La pioggia = the rain

K: So here, le means “to her”. It’s the shortened version of “a Lei”, which is the literal translation of “to her”. If we wanted to give emphasis, we’d say:

M: A lei piacciono i film classici. 

K: These little shortened versions, like “le” which is the short version of “a Lei” and “ci” which is the shortened version of “a noi” (to us) are called indirect objects. 

These are important to know if you want to use the expression piace, because the literal structure is “to me, it pleases” “to you it pleases” “to her” it pleases etc. And unless we’re adding emphasis, we almost always use the shortened version, like ci and le. 

So let’s learn these now. To say “I like” we literally say: “to me, it pleases”. The full version for emphasis is: 

M: A me piace

K: And the shorter version, most common version is: 

M: Mi piace. 

K: To say “you like”, we literally say “to you, it pleases”. The full version is: 

M: A te piace

K: But the short, most common version is: 

M: Ti piace

K: To say “she likes”, we say “to her, it pleases”. The full version is: 

M: A lei piace

K: And the short, most common way? 

M: Le piace

K: Next, to say “he likes” we say “to him, it pleases”. The full version is: 

M: A lui piace

K: And the short version is: 

M: Gli piace

K: Spelt gli, gli piace. And this is a handy word, because it’s also the same as “to them”. To say “they like” we have “to them it pleases” the full version is: 

M: A loro piace

K: But the short version is the same as to him: 

M: Gli piace. 

K: So the expression “gli piace” could mean “he likes” or “they like.” This is great because it’s one fewer thing to remember. It doesn’t cause confusion as it’s normally clear from the context. Next, to say “we like” we get “to us, it pleases”. The full version for emphasis is: 

M: A noi piace

K: And the shorter, more common version: 

M: Ci piace

K: Finally, Italian has a plural you for when you’re talking to two or more people. To say “you like it” in this case, the full version is “to you plural, it pleases”:

M: A voi piace

K: And voi here is the word that refers to you in the plural. And the shorter version is: 

K: Vi piace. 

If you’d like to go into more detail about these little words like mi, ti, ci, vi, le and gli, you can find out more about indirect objects by listening to episode 61: The ultimate guide to indirect object pronouns. 

K: That’s it for today’s lesson, don’t worry if it feels a bit complicated at first, that’s because it is! It takes time and lots of repetition to start to feel natural. One thing that I find helps is everytime you come across an expression like this, go over the logic in your head and see if you can work it out. Who is the person? Is the object that’s pleasing singular or plural? And if after today’s lesson, you start seeing “piace” as “it pleases”, you’re already halfway there. 

If you’d like to see all this stuff written down, on our website you’ll find the transcripts for this episode and other bonus materials like a quiz and flashcards to help you remember the phrases. Go to www.joyoflanguages.com/italianpodcast and scroll down to episode 82. You can also practice chatting Italian with us in our facebook group, you can find the link in the show notes. 

See you next time, or as we say in Italian

Alla prossima!

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The complete guide to the present tense

The ultimate guide to indirect object pronouns

In English, we “have” lunch and dinner. But Italians don’t say it like this – they lunch and dine.  Find out how to talk about having lunch and dinner in episode #81 of five minute Italian.

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Vocabulary: How to talk about lunch and dinner in Italian

  • Mangio un panino = I have/eat a sandwich
  • Mangio = I eat
  • Un = a
  • Panino = sandwich
  • Bevo una birra = I drink a beer
  • Bevo = I drink
  • Una = a
  • Birra = beer
  • Pranzare = to have lunch (lit. to lunch)
  • Pranzo = I have lunch (lit. I lunch)
  • Pranzi = You have lunch (lit. You lunch)
  • Pranza = he/she/you formal has lunch (lit. he/she lunches)
  • Pranziamo = We have lunch (lit. we lunch)
  • Pranzate = You plural have lunch (lit. you plural lunch)
  • Pranzano = They have lunch (lit. they lunch)
  • Pranzo all’una = I have lunch at one
  • Pranziamo all’una = We have lunch at one
  • In Italia pranziamo all’una = In Italy, we have lunch at one
  • In Italia pranzano all’una = In Italy, they have lunch at one
  • In Italia pranzano a casa = In Italy, they have lunch at home
  • Cenare = to have dinner (lit. to dine)
  • Ceno = I have dinner (lit. I dine)
  • Ceni = You have dinner (lit. you dine)
  • Cena = He/she/you formal has dinner (lit. he/she dines) 
  • Ceniamo = We have dinner (lit. we dine)
  • Cenate = You plural have dinner (lit. you plural dine)
  • Cenano = they have dinner (lit. they dine)
  • Ceno alle otto = I have dinner at eight
  • Ceniamo alle otto = We have dinner at eight
  • In Italia ceniamo alle otto = In Italy, we have dinner at eight
  • In Italia cenano alle otto = In Italy, they have dinner at eight
  • In Italia cenano tardi = In Italy, they have dinner late

Quiz: How to talk about lunch and dinner in Italian

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Transcript: How to talk about lunch and dinner in Italian

Please note, this is not a word for word transcript.

Katie: Ciao a tutti e benvenuti a 5 Minute Italian. I’m Katie. 

Matteo: And I’m Matteo. Ciao! 

K: Last week, we talked about how in Italian, you can’t use “have” to talk about consuming food and drink. You have to give the specific word. So if you want to say “I have a sandwich” you’d actually say “I eat a sandwich” 

M: Mangio un panino 

Mangio = I eat

Un = a 

Panino = sandwich 

K: And if you want to say “I have a beer”, you’d actually say “I drink a beer”. 

M: Bevo una birra. 

Bevo = I drink 

Una = a

Birra = beer

K: Something similar happens with lunch and dinner. We can’t say “have” lunch or “have” dinner in Italian. We have special words for these. We have them in English too, but they’re not used much anymore. For example, to have lunch, we can say “I lunch”. For example, ladies who lunch. In Italian, that’s still the most common way to say it. To say “have lunch” we literally say “to lunch” and to say “have dinner”, we literally say “to dine”. 

To lunch in Italian is….

M: Pranzare. 

K: And we can change the endings to tell us who is lunching. For example, I lunch would be: 

M: Pranzo

K: You lunch: 

M: Pranzi

K: He/she lunches, or you lunch in the formal address (they’re all the same) 

M: Pranza

K: We lunch

M: Pranziamo 

K: In Italian, we have a plural “you” for when we’re talking to two or more people. So to say “you lunch” when you’re talking to two, or a group of people? 

M: Pranzate.

K: And they lunch would be: 

M: Pranzano. 

K: And if you want more information on how verbs change depending on who is doing the action, you can check out episode 44: The complete guide to the Italian present tense. But for now, let’s practice: 

K: Can you remember how to say “I have lunch”, literally “I lunch”

M: Pranzo. To say “at one o’ clock” we say “all’una”. 

K: So how would you say “I have lunch” or “I lunch” at one? 

M: Pranzo all’una. 

K: Can you remember how to say “we lunch”? 

M: Pranziamo

K: How would you say “we have lunch” or “we lunch” at one? 

M: Pranziamo all’una. 

K: In Italy is “in Italia” so how would you say “in Italy, we have lunch at one”

M: In Italia pranziamo all’una.

K: And can you remember how to say “they have lunch”?

M: Pranzano

K: In Italy, they have lunch at one? 

M: In Italia pranzano all’una. 

K: And “at home” is “a casa”. So how would you say “In Italy, they have lunch at home”?

M: In Italia pranzano a casa.  

K: And this used to be true in Italy didn’t it? 

M: Yes, it used to be normal to have a long break, go home and cook lunch, have a sit down meal, then go back to work. Some people still do this, especially in smaller towns or in the South, but it’s becoming less common sadly. But lunch is still very important, and if we don’t have time to go home, we normally have a sit down meal with our colleagues – in fact, that’s a good tip to save money in Italy, go out for lunch instead of dinner, because the lunch menus are normally cheaper for this reason. 

K: Now let’s look at how to say “have dinner” in Italian, or literally “to dine”. 

M: To say “have dinner” in Italian, we say “cenare”. 

K: So to say “I have dinner” or literally “I dine”, we’d say: 

M: Ceno

K: You dine

M: Ceni

K: He/she dines or you formal dine? 

M: Cena

K: We dine

M: Ceniamo

K: You dine in the plural, when we’re speaking to more than one person? 

M: Cenate

K: They dine

M: Cenano

K: Can you remember how to say “I have dinner”, literally “I dine”?

M: Ceno. To say “at eight o’ clock” we say “alle otto”. 

K: So how would you say “I have dinner” or “I dine” at eight? 

M: Ceno alle otto. 

K: Can you remember how to say “we dine”? 

M: Ceniamo

K: How would you say “we have dinner” or “we dine” at eight? 

M: Ceniamo alle otto. 

K: In Italy is “in Italia” so how would you say “in Italy, we have dinner at eight”

M: In Italia ceniamo alle otto. 

K: And can you remember how to say “they have dinner”?

M: Cenano

K: In Italy, they have dinner at eight? 

M: In Italia cenano alle otto. 

K: And what time do Italians have dinner normally Matteo? A che ora cenano gli italiani? 

M: It depends on the region. Normally the further south you go, the later it is. For example, people from Milan often have dinner any time from 7 onwards. But in Naples, we don’t normally start thinking about dinner until around 9. And in Sicily, it can be as late as 10 or 11. I think it depends on the sun, in the South, it’s light and sunny for longer, so people tend to eat later.  

K: So can you remember how to say “they have dinner”

M: Cenano. 

K: How would you say “In Italy they have dinner (or they dine) late?” Late is “tardi”. 

M: In Italia cenano tardi. 

K: That’s it for today’s mini lesson, if you’d like to see all this stuff written down, on our website you’ll find the transcripts for this episode and other bonus materials like a quiz and flashcards to help you remember the phrases. Go to www.joyoflanguages.com/italianpodcast and scroll to episode 81. You can also practice chatting Italian with us in our facebook group, you can find the link in the show notes. 

See you next time, or as we say in Italian

Alla prossima!

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What does casino mean in Italian? It might not be what you think

In this episode, you’ll learn how to avoid a common mistake that English speakers make really often when they speak Italian. In English, you can “have” a coffee or “have” lunch. But in Italian, we don’t say it that way.

Find out how to talk about having food and drink in episode #80 of five minute Italian .

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Vocabulary: How to say “have a coffee” in Italian

  • Prendere un caffè = have a coffee (lit. to take a coffee)
  • Prendere = to take
  • Un = a
  • Caffè = coffee
  • Cosa prendi? = What are you having? (lit. what are you taking?)
  • Cosa = what
  • Prendi = you take
  • Prendo il pesce = I’m having the fish
  • Prendo = I take
  • Il = the
  • Pesce = fish
  • Mangio un panino = I have a sandwich (lit. I eat a sandwich)
  • Mangio = I eat
  • Un panino = a sandwich
  • Bevo una birra alle sei = I have a beer at 6 (lit. I drink a beer)
  • Bevo = I drink
  • Una birra = A beer
  • Alle sei = at six o clock
  • Prendo il caffè a casa = I have coffee at home (lit. I take coffee at home)
  • Prendo = I take
  • Il caffè = the coffee
  • A casa = at home
  • Bevo il caffè a casa = I drink coffee at home
  • Prendo una birra = I take a beer
  • Prendo il pesce = I take the fish
  • Mangio un panino = I eat a sandwich
  • Bevo una beer = I drink a beer

Quiz: How to say “have a coffee” in Italian

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Transcript: How to say “have a coffee” in Italian

Please note, this is not a word for word transcript.

Katie: Ciao a tutti e benvenuti a 5 Minute Italian. I’m Katie. 

Matteo: And I’m Matteo. Ciao! 

K: In today’s episode, we’re going to talk about a really common mistake that pretty much everyone makes when they start learning Italian, and that is, using “have” when talking about food and drink. 

M: In English, we can say “I had a coffee” or “what shall we have for dinner”. But in Italian, we have a different way of expressing things. We can’t use have in this way. 

K: So what do you say instead?

M: Often, we use the word “prendere”, which means “to take”. 

K: So to say “to have a coffee”, we actually say “take a coffee”. 

M: Prendere un caffè. 

Prendere = to take

Un = a

Caffè = coffee. 

K: And we use this particularly when we’re in cafés and restaurants, to talk about ordering things. So for example, imagine you’re at a restaurant with your friend, and you ask “what are you having?” in Italian, you’d actually say “what are you taking?”. You take is “prendi”. That’s because the end of the word “prendere” changes depending on who’s doing the taking. If you want to go into this rule in more detail, I’d recommend going back and listening to episodes 39 and 40. But for now, we know that “you take” is prendi. So to ask your friend “what are you having?” (literally “what are you taking”?) we’d say: 

M: 

Cosa = what

Prendi = you take

K: And your friend could reply: 

M: Prendo il pesce

K: I’m having the fish. Here, we can see that to talk about me, as in “I take”, we say “prendo”. 

M: 

Prendo = I take

Il = the

Pesce = fish

So predere (to take) works really well in cafés and restaurants. But what about if you eat at home or at a friends’ house? 

M: Normally if we’re talking about food or drink that you make or someone makes for you (you don’t buy it in a café or restaurant) we normally have to give specific words. 

K: So if someone asks you what you eat for lunch and you want to say “I usually have a sandwich”, in Italian, you’ll need to give the specific word “eat”. I eat a sandwich. 

M: Mangio un panino

Mangio = I eat

Un panino = a sandwich

K: Or to say “I normally have a beer at 6 o’clock”, it’s better to give the specific word “I drink”, which is “bevo”. 

M: 

Bevo = I drink 

Una birra = A beer

Alle sei = at six o clock

M: There is one little exception to this rule, with coffee. If it’s coffee, you can use “prendere” all the time, whether you’re in a café or at home. For example, you can say: 

M: Prendo il caffè a casa

K: I have coffee at home. Literally, I take coffee at home

M: 

Prendo = I take

Il caffè = the coffee

A casa = at home

K: But it’s also correct to give the specific verb – “I drink” 

M: Bevo il caffè a casa. 

K: So to recap quickly, Italians don’t use “have” when talking about consuming food and drink. 

M: If you’re talking about coffee, or you’re buying food and drink, for example in a café or restaurant, you can use “prendere” (to take). 

K: For example “prendo una birra” (I’ll have a beer – literally “I take a beer”) and “prendo il pesce” (I’ll have the fish – literally “I take the fish”). 

M: 

Prendo una birra = I take a beer 

Prendo il pesce = I take the fish

M: If you’re talking about food and drink that you make, or someone else makes for you, we normally give the specific words, either “eat” or “drink”. 

K: For example: Mangio, means “I eat” so to say “I have a sandwich”, I actually I’d say “I eat a sandwich” = “mangio un panino”. Bevo means I drink. So to say “I have a beer”, I’d actually say “I drink a beer” = bevo una birra

M:

Mangio un panino = I eat a sandwich

Bevo una beer = I drink a beer

K: In the next episode, we’ll talk about “having lunch” and “having dinner”, which is also a little different in Italian, but easy to get used to once you have all the details. 

M: We’ll see you then! 

K: Yep, if you’d like to see all this stuff written down, on our website you’ll find the transcripts for this episode and other bonus materials like a quiz and flashcards to help you remember the phrases. Go to www.joyoflanguages.com/italianpodcast and scroll down to episode 80. You can also practice chatting Italian with us in our facebook group, you can find the link in the show notes. 

See you next time, or as we say in Italian

Alla prossima!

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A quick trick to remember Italian verbs

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Fare = the magic word that will help you sound more Italian

In this episode, you’ll learn about my favourite Italian word of all time, that isn’t even really a word, it’s more like a sound: Boh! But what does it mean? 

Find out in episode #79 of five minute Italian

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Vocabulary: What does “boh” mean in Italian?

  • Sono contenta = I’m happy
  • Cosa mangiamo a pranzo? = What shall we have for lunch?
  • Cosa = what
  • Mangiamo = we eat
  • A = at
  • Pranzo = lunch
  • Boh! = an informal way of saying “I don’t know” (similar to “I dunno”)
  • Non lo so = normal way to say “I don’t know”
  • Non = not
  • Lo = it
  • So = I know
  • Cosa mangiamo a cena? = what shall we have for dinner?
  • Cosa = what
  • Mangiamo = we eat
  • A = at
  • Cena = dinner
  • Boh = I dunno
  • Cosa guardiamo? = what shall we watch?
  • Cosa = what
  • Guardiamo = we watch
  • Boh!
  • Boh = I dunno
  • Bottiglia = bottle
  • Banana = banana
  • Quattro = four
  • Mano = hand

Quiz: What does “boh” mean in Italian?

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Flashcards: What does “boh” mean in Italian?

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Transcript: What does “boh” mean in Italian?

Please note, this is not a word for word transcript.

Katie: Ciao a tutti e benvenuti a 5 Minute Italian. I’m Katie. 

Matteo: And I’m Matteo. Ciao! 

K: Sono contenta – I’m happy because today’s episode is all about my favourite word in Italian, boh! Listen to this very common conversation in our house and see if you can figure out the meaning: 

M: Cosa mangiamo a pranzo? 

K: Boh! Cosa mangiamo a cena? 

M: Boh! 

K: So the first sentence you heard was: 

M: Cosa mangiamo a pranzo? 

K: What shall we have for lunch? Literally: 

M: 

Cosa = what

Mangiamo = we eat

A = at

Pranzo = lunch 

K: And the answer was: 

M: Boh! 

K: Which is an informal way of saying “I don’t know!”. The closest translation is probably “I dunno”. As a foreigner I find something really satisfying about this sound – you can shrug your shoulders in a very Italian way, make a face as if you don’t really mind and say “boh!”. What do you think, Matteo? Is it even a word?

M: No, it’s a sound – but Italians use it all the time. If you want to say “I don’t know” in a more formal way, you can say the phrase “Non lo so”. Which is literally: 

Non = not

Lo = it 

So = I know 

But if you want to sound really Italian with your friends, try this one: “boh!”

K: So the first question was “cosa mangiamo a pranzo” (what shall we eat for lunch) and the answer was “boh!” Then quite predictably, the other conversation you heard that happens a lot in our house is: 

M: Cosa mangiamo a cena? 

Cosa = what 

Mangiamo = we eat

A = at 

Cena = dinner

K: And the answer: 

M: Boh! 

K: Boh! I dunno, boh! 

Another example is: 

M: Cosa guardiamo? 

K: Boh! 

K: Cosa guardiamo, means “what shall we watch”? And this is another conversation that happens a lot in our house. Literally: 

M: 

Cosa = what

Guardiamo = we watch

K: And the answer

M: Boh! 

This word is also quite useful to start to understand some of the differences between English and Italian sounds. Because if we were to pronounce this word in English, we’d probably say something like “boh” – like the sound oh (o – h), but with a B in front. And there are two main differences. 

M: The first is that in English, the B is a lot softer. 

K: Yeah, in English, we’d say a little light “b”. 

M: The Italian B is really strong. 

K: Listen for example, in boh, bottiglia, banana. Can you say those words for us Matteo, with the strong b so that we get the native pronunciation?

M: 

Boh = I dunno

Bottiglia = bottle

Banana = which is obviously, banana. 

Practice saying them after Matteo, making the b nice and strong. 

M: Boh… bottiglia … banana

K: Then the next difference is that in English, when we pronounce the oh, we often have two sounds like an “o” and a “u”. Oouuu. For example in the word “go” or “toe”. Italians don’t do this.

M: Listen, for example, to the word “boh”. It’s just one long strong sound. Boh. 

K: Let’s listen to some more examples: 

M: Quattro 

K: Which is the number four. Listen to the last sound – it’s not quattro, with an ou sound as we’d have in English, it’s just one long o sound. 

M: Quattro. 

K: Another example is: 

M: Mano, which means “hand”. 

K: Listen carefully again to the last letter: 

M: Ma – no. Mano. 

K: Now listen to Matteo again, and try to practice making the same sound: 

M: Boh, quattro, mano. 

K: That’s it for today, if you’d like to see all this stuff written down, on our website you’ll find the transcripts for this episode and other bonus materials like a quiz and flashcards to help you remember the phrases. Go to www.joyoflanguages.com/italianpodcast and scroll down to episode 79. You can also practice chatting Italian with us in our facebook group, you can find the link in the show notes. 

See you next time, or as we say in Italian

Alla prossima!

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What does magari mean?

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Have you ever heard the word “magari” and wondered what it meant? The confusion can come from the fact that it actually has 2 very different meanings. Once you know them, it’s simple.

And if this word is new to you, it’s well worth learning because Italians use it all the time. 

Learn more in episode #78 of five minute Italian

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Vocabulary: What does “magari” mean?

  • Cosa fai stasera? = what are you doing tonight?
  • Magari esco con le amiche = maybe I’ll go out with my friends
  • Cosa = what
  • Fai = you do
  • Stasera = this evening
  • Magari = maybe
  • Esco = I go out
  • Con = with
  • Le amiche = the female friends.
  • Forse = another word for maybe
  • Ho mal di testa = I’ve got a headache
  • Magari è perché hai bevuto troppo whiskey ieri sera = maybe it’s because you drank too much whiskey last night.
  • Ho = I have
  • Mal = bad
  • Di = of
  • Testa = head
  • Magari = maybe
  • È = it is
  • Perché = because
  • Hai = you have
  • Bevuto = drunk
  • Troppo = too much
  • Whiskey = Whiskey
  • Ieri = yesterday
  • Sera = evening
  • Chiamami domani, magari non troppo presto = call me tomorrow, preferably not too early.
  • Chiamami = call me
  • Domani = tomorrow
  • Magari = maybe, preferably
  • Non = not
  • Troppo = too
  • Presto = early
  • Magari non bere così tanto whiskey la prossima volta = Maybe don’t drink so much whiskey next time (maybe you shouldn’t drink so much whiskey next time).
  • Magari = maybe
  • Non bere = don’t drink
  • Così tanto = so much
  • Whiskey = Whiskey
  • La prossima = the next
  • Volta = time
  • Sabato vinceremo la lotteria = On Saturday we’re going to win the lottery
  • Magari! = I wish! If only! 
  • Oggi è venerdì? = is it Friday today?
  • Magari! È solo giovedì = I wish! It’s only Thursday.
  • Oggi = today
  • È = is
  • Venerdì = Friday
  • Magari = I wish! If only!
  • È = it’s
  • Solo = only
  • Giovedì = Thursday

Quiz: What does “magari” mean?

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Flashcards: What does “magari” mean?

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Transcript: What does “magari” mean?

Please note, this is not a word for word transcript.

Katie: Ciao a tutti e benvenuti a 5 Minute Italian. I’m Katie. 

Matteo: And I’m Matteo. Ciao! 

K: In today’s episode, we’re talking about a word that Italians use all the time: “magari”. I remember when I first came to Italy, I found this word very confusing because I heard Italians using it all the time, but I couldn’t pin it down to one thing. Then when I asked Italians what it meant, they had a hard time too, so it became this mystical word which felt very difficult to translate. 

Since then, I’ve realised that the reason it can seem so complicated is that it actually has two quite different meanings. When you learn them separately,, it’s fairly straight forward. Let’s give you some examples, and see if you can work it out. 

M: Cosa fai stasera? 

K: Magari esco con le amiche. 

K: Again, Matteo asked: 

M: Cosa fai stasera?

K: What are you doing this evening? Word for word: 

M: 

Cosa = what

Fai = you do

Stasera = this evening

K: And I said: Magari esco con le amiche. Magari I’m going out with friends. What do you think magari means here? Magari esco con le amiche. Magari I’m going out with friends. Can you guess? It means “maybe”. So here’s that whole sentence again: 

M: 

Magari = maybe

Esco = I go out

Con = with

Le amiche = the female friends. 

K: So that’s the first and most common meaning of the word “magari”. It means maybe. You might have also heard “forse”. In this situation, they’re interchangeable. So you could say “magari esco con le amiche” or “forse esco con le amiche”. Let’s hear some more examples: 

M: Ho mal di testa

K: Magari è perché hai bevuto troppo whiskey ieri sera

So Matteo said: 

M: Ho mal di testa

K: I have a headache. Literally: 

M: 

Ho = I have

Mal = bad 

Di = of 

Testa = head 

K: So that’s the rather cute way Italians say headache “mal di testa”. Then you heard: 

M: Magari è perché hai bevuto troppo whiskey ieri sera

K: Maybe it’s because you drank too much whiskey last night

M: 

Magari = maybe

È = it is

Perché = because

Hai = you have

Bevuto = drunk

Troppo = too much

Whiskey = Whiskey

Ieri = yesterday 

Sera = evening

K: Just like in English, sometimes “maybe” or in Italian “magari” is an informal way to say “preferably”. 

M: Chiamami domani, magari non troppo presto.

K: Call me tomorrow, preferably not too early. Literally: 

M:

Chiamami = call me

Domani = tomorrow

Magari = maybe, preferably

Non = not

Troppo = too

Presto = early

Sometimes it’s a bit like saying maybe we should, or maybe we shouldn’t. For example:

M: Magari non bere così tanto whiskey la prossima volta

K: Maybe don’t drink so much whiskey next time (maybe you shouldn’t drink so much whiskey next time)

M: 

Magari = maybe

Non bere = don’t drink

Così tanto = so much

Whiskey = Whiskey

La prossima = the next

Volta = time

K: So the first meaning is “maybe”. Let’s move on to the second, less common meaning. Listen to the dialogue and see if you can work it out. 

M: Sabato vinceremo la lotteria

K: Magari! 

K: Matteo said “Sabato vinceremo la lotteria.” On Saturday, we’ll win the lottery. 

M: 

Sabato = Saturday

Vinceremo = we’ll win 

la lotteria = the lottery

And I rather incredulously said “Magari”. What do you think it means in this situation? The closest translation is “if only” “I wish” or as we say in British English: “chance would be a fine thing!”. So we use it for something that we would love to happen, but we think is pretty unlikely. Here are some more examples: 

M: Oggi è venerdì? 

K: Magari! È solo giovedì. 

K: So Matteo said: “oggi è venerdì”? Is it Friday?

M: 

Oggi = today

È = is

Venerdì = Friday 

K: Then I said “Magari”, which in this case is like “if only” ,“I wish”. Because today is only Thursday: 

M: 

Magari = I wish! 

È = it’s 

Solo = only 

Giovedì = Thursday

K: Time for a quick recap – The word magari has two main meanings. The first one is “maybe” and the second one is “I wish” and “if only” 

If you’re like me and you find it useful to see all this stuff written down, on our website you’ll find the transcripts and other bonus materials like a quiz and flashcards to help you remember the phrases from today’s lesson. Go to www.joyoflanguages.com/italianpodcast and scroll down to episode 78. You can also practice chatting Italian with us in our facebook group, you can find the link in the show notes. 

See you next time, or as we say in Italian

Alla prossima!


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Related episodes

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This week, we’ve got a special guest back with us, Italian Stefano. He speaks loads of languages, so he’s going to give us his tips on how to speak Italian this year. 

Learn more in episode #77 of five minute Italian

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  • Mini Italian lessons + bonus materials delivered to your inbox.
  • Access to the private Facebook group where you can practice chatting in Italian.
  • Invites to free speaking workshops.

If you’d like to join us, click here to become a member of 5 Minute Italian.

Vocabulary: How to practice speaking Italian

  • Per imparare a parlare l’italiano = to learn to speak Italian
  • bisogna usarlo! = you need to use it!
  • Per = in order to
  • Imparare = learn
  • A = to
  • Parlare = speak
  • L’italiano = Italian
  • Bisogna = you need to, lit. it’s necessary to
  • Usarlo = use it
  • Ecco tre suggerimenti su come fare = here are three suggestions on how to do it
  • Ecco = here are
  • Tre = three
  • suggerimenti = suggestions
  • Su = on/about
  • Come = how
  • Fare = to do it (lit. to do) 
  • Per fare pratica = To practice
  • Per = in order to
  • Fare = to do
  • Pratica = practice
  • S: Si può parlare da soli = You can speak to yourself.
  • Si può = you can (lit. “one” can)
  • Da soli = alone
  • Si possono cercare persone con cui parlare di persona = you can look for people to speak to in person
  • Oppure online = or online.
  • Si possono = one can, for when the thing is plural
  • Cercare = look for
  • Persone = people
  • Con = with
  • Cui = whom
  • Di persona = in person
  • Oppure = or
  • Online = which is of course, online.
  • Si può mangiare la pizza = you can eat pizza
  • Si possono mangiare gli spaghetti = you can eat spaghetti (gli spaghetti is plural).
  • Si può viaggiare = you can travel
  • Non si può = you can’t (lit. one can’t)
  • Possiamo parlare in italiano? = Can we speak in Italian?
  • Vorrei imparare! = I’d like to learn!
  • Possiamo = can we
  • In = in
  • Italiano = italian
  • Vorrei = I’d like
  • Imparare = to learn

Quiz: How to practice speaking Italian

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Click here to take the quiz for this episode: How to practice speaking Italian

Flashcards: How to practice speaking Italian

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Transcript: How to practice speaking Italian

Please note that this is not a word for word transcript – in the podcast you’ll get lots more practical tips on how to apply these ideas to your Italian study sessions. 

Per imparare a parlare l’italiano, bisogna usarlo! Ecco tre suggerimenti su come fare.  

Per fare pratica…

Numero 1: Si può parlare da soli. 

Numero 2: Si possono cercare persone con cui parlare di persona, oppure online

Numero 3: Si può viaggiare. 

K: So the first line was: 

S: Per imparare a parlare l’italiano, bisogna usarlo! 

K: To learn to speak Italian, you need to use it!

S:

Per = in order to

Imparare = learn 

A = to 

Parlare = speak 

L’italiano = Italian

Bisogna = you need to, lit. it’s necessary to 

Usarlo = use it

K: Next

S: Ecco tre suggerimenti su come fare.  

K: 

Ecco = here are 

Tre = three 

suggerimenti = suggestions

Su = about 

Come = how 

Fare = to do it (lit. to do)  

S: Per fare pratica…

K: To practice

S: 

Per = in order to

Fare = to do

Pratica = practice

K: Now let’s get into the tips. The first suggestion was: 

S: Si può parlare da soli

K: You can speak to yourself. Now let’s look at the literal translation, because there’s something interesting in there

S: 

Si può = one can

Parlare = speak

Da soli = alone

K: So we can see that sometimes, to say “to yourself” in Italian, you can simply say “alone”. But perhaps more interesting here is the “si può”, which literally means “one can”. This structure sounds very antiquated in English, a little like how the queen speaks, but Italians use this “one can” all the time, so it’s important to get used to it. 

K: Then numero due was: 

S: Si possono cercare persone con cui parlare di persona, oppure online

K: You can look for people to speak to in person, or online. Here’s another example of how Italian uses these more antiquated structures, because we get this “with whom” in the middle. It’s literally: 

S: 

Si possono = one can, for when the thing is plural (more on this soon)

Cercare = look for

Persone = people

Con = with 

Cui = whom 

Parlare = to speak

Di persona = in person

Oppure = or

Online = which is of course, online. 

K: This time, instead of “si può”, we have “si possono”. Why is that? 

S: Basically because the thing that follows is a plural noun. For example: 

In Italia, si può mangiare la pizza

In Italia, si possono mangiare gli spaghetti (in Italian, gli spaghetti is plural). 

K: And the last one, numero tre…

S: Si può viaggiare. 

K. You can travel. Literally one can travel. So here again, we see this “si può” 

S: To make the negative, you can also add “non”. 

Non si può = you can’t (lit. one can’t)

K: And being in the country can be really helpful, but there are loads of pitfalls. Some that I’ve had are: feeling shy or a bit silly or childlike, or maybe even like you’re putting a burden on the other person because the conversation is really slow. And of course the fact that everyone speaks English to you. One way to mitigate these problems that I’ve found useful in the past is to simply say “can we speak Italian, I’d like to learn”. That way you immediately get people on your side, lots of people will be happy to hear that you’re learning Italian and also happy to help. Obviously, if you ask in Italian, it’s even better: 

S: Possiamo parlare in italiano? Vorrei imparare!

Possiamo = can we

Parlare = to speak

In = in 

Italiano = italian

Vorrei = I’d like

Imparare = to learn

That’s it for today, I hope you found this episode useful and these ideas will help you make some progress in speaking Italian this year. Grazie Stefano!

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How to learn Italian: tips from an Italian teacher who speaks 10 languages

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