Today we’re talking about two important words that people tend to forget about in Italian – lo and gli. Learn how to use them in this episode of 5 Minute Italian.

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Today’s Italian Vocabulary

Che cosa ti piace fare nel tuo tempo libero? = What do you like doing in your free time?

Che cosa = what

ti piace = you like

fare = to do

nel tuo tempo libero = in your free time?

Cucinare = Cooking

Spesso faccio gli spaghetti alla carbonara = Often I make “Spaghetti alla carbonara”, which is sometimes just called “Carbonara”.

Spesso = often

faccio = I make

gli spaghetti = the spaghetti

alla carbonara = carbonara style

E recentemente ho imparato come fare gli gnocchi a mano = And recently, I learned how to make gnocchi by hand, which is a type of pasta with potato in the dough.

E = and

recentemente = recently

ho = I have

imparato = learnt

come = how

fare = to make

gli gnocchi = the gnocchi

a mano = by hand

E mi piace viaggiare, prendere lo zaino e partire = And I like travelling, taking my backpack and setting off.

E = and

Mi piace = I like

Viaggiare = travelling

Prendere = taking

lo zaino = the backpack

e = and

partire = leaving

E tu? = And you? (What about you?)

Mi piace fare sport, soprattutto lo yoga = I like doing sport, especially yoga

Mi piace = I like

fare = doing

sport = sport

soprattutto = especially

lo yoga =  the yoga

E imparare le lingue = And learning languages

In questo momento sto imparando lo spagnolo = At the moment, I’m learning Spanish.

E = and

Imparare = learning

le lingue = the languages

in = in

questo = this

momento = moment

sto imparando = I’m learning

lo spagnolo = the Spanish

Gli spaghetti = (the) spaghetti

Gli gnocchi = (the) gnocchi

Lo yoga = (the) yoga

Lo spagnolo = (the) Spanish

Lo stato = the state

Lo spazio = the space

Lo studente = the student

gli studenti = the students

Lo stomaco = the stomach

Lo sport = the sport

Gli stati = the states

Gli spazi = the spaces

Gli studenti = the students

Lo zaino = the backpack

Lo zucchero = the sugar

Lo zio = the uncle

Lo zoo = the zoo

Lo zenzero = the ginger

Gli zaini = the backpacks

Gli zii = the uncles

Gli zuccheri = the sugars

Lo gnomo = the gnome

Gli gnocchi = gnocchi

Lo yoga = the yoga

Lo yogurt = the yogurt

Gli yogurt = the yogurts

Gli ingredienti = the ingredients

Lo studente = the student

Gli studenti = the students

Lo zucchero = the sugar

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Flashcards

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Transcript

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

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

M: And I’m Matteo. Ciao! 

K: And today we’re going to get into how to say “the” in Italian. This week, with the ones that everyone forgets: “lo” and “gli”. Let’s listen to the dialogue.

M: Cominciamo.

K: Matteo, che cosa ti piace fare nel tuo tempo libero?

M: Cucinare. Spesso faccio gli spaghetti alla carbonara. E recentemente ho imparato come fare gli gnocchi a mano. E mi piace viaggiare, prendere lo zaino e partire.

E tu?

K: Mi piace fare sport, soprattutto lo yoga. E imparare le lingue. In questo momento sto imparando lo spagnolo.

K: So I first asked Matteo:

M: Che cosa ti piace fare nel tuo tempo libero?

K: What do you like doing in your free time?

M:

Che cosa = what

ti piace = you like

fare = to do

nel tuo tempo libero = in your free time?

K: And Matteo replied

M: Cucinare.

K: Cooking. Then you heard:

M: Spesso faccio gli spaghetti alla carbonara.

K: Often I make “Spaghetti alla carbonara”, which is sometimes just called “Carbonara”.

M: A dish which comes from Rome with eggs, pancetta, pepper and pecorino, which is a hard, salty Italian cheese.

K: And I can confirm that Matteo’s Carbonara is molto buona! 

Word for word, that sentence was:

M:

Spesso = often

faccio = I make

gli spaghetti = the spaghetti

alla carbonara = carbonara style

Next, you heard:

M: E recentemente ho imparato come fare gli gnocchi a mano

K: And recently, I learned how to make gnocchi by hand, which is a type of pasta with potato in the dough.

Word for word:

E = and

recentemente = recently

ho = I have

imparato = learnt

come = how

fare = to make

gli gnocchi = the gnocchi

a mano = by hand

K: Next, Matteo said:

M: E mi piace viaggiare, prendere lo zaino e partire.

K: And I like travelling, taking my backpack and setting off.

M:

E = and

Mi piace = I like

Viaggiare = travelling

Prendere = taking

lo zaino = the backpack

e = and

partire = leaving

K: Then, Matteo asked:

M: E tu?

K: And you? What about you? And I said:

M: Mi piace fare sport, soprattutto lo yoga.

K: I like doing sport, especially yoga

M:

Mi piace = I like

fare = doing

sport = sport

soprattutto = especially

lo yoga =  the yoga

K: Finally, I said:

M: E imparare le lingue.

K: And learning languages

M: In questo momento sto imparando lo spagnolo.

K: At the moment, I’m learning Spanish.

M:

E = and

Imparare = learning

Le lingue = the languages

In = in

questo = this

momento = moment

sto imparando = I’m learning

lo spagnolo = the Spanish

In this dialogue, we had lots of examples of “lo” and “gli”, which are ways to say “the” in Italian. Firstly, we can see that Italians use “the” more often than in English. For example, we heard “gli spaghetti” (spaghetti), “gli gnocchi” (gnocchi), “lo yoga” (yoga) and “lo spagnolo” (Spanish).

K: When do we use “lo”?  And when do we use “gli”?

M: We know that with most masculine singular words, we use “il”, for example “il libro”. But there are some exceptions, when we use “lo”. For example:

We say “lo spagnolo”.

K: And it’s all because of the first sound of the word. We use “lo” when a masculine word starts with an “impure sound”. Italian has lots of vowels, which is why people say that it sounds so nice and musical. This means that they don’t like to smush too many consonants together. So if a word starts with s + consonant, we can’t say “il spagnolo”, because we’d have 3 consonants, l + s + p, which doesn’t sound right in Italian. So when we have words which start with “s + consonant”, like “p or t” we use “lo”. For example:

M:

Lo stato = the state

Lo spazio = the space

Lo studente = gli studenti

Lo stomaco = the stomach

Lo sport = the sport

K: And we use “gli” for these words in the plural form. For example:

M:

Gli stati = the states

Gli spazi = the spaces

Gli studenti = the students

Related episode: how to pronounce “gli” in Italian

K: We also use “lo” before masculine words which start with “z”, for the same reason. Let’s take the word “backpack” in Italian. Lo zaino. If we used “il zaino”, we’d have ilz, which sounds awkward in Italian. We need a vowel in there to make it smoother. So we say:

M: Lo zaino.

K: Other examples are:

M:

Lo zucchero = the sugar

Lo zio = the uncle

Lo zoo = the zoo

Lo zenzero = the ginger

K: And we use “gli” for these words in the plural.

M:

Gli zaini = the backpacks

Gli zii = the uncles

Gli zuccheri = the sugars

K: For the same reason, we use this for words that start with “gn” in Italian, and have the “gn” sound. Now these are not very common, so don’t worry too much about this one, but an example is.

M: Lo gnomo = the gnome.

K: And in the plural we have a word that’s more common:

M: Gli gnocchi = gnocchi.

K: Finally, we also follow this rule for words which start with “y”. Now the letter “y” doesn’t really exist in Italian, so this only happens for a couple of foreign import words. For example,

M:

Lo yoga = the yoga

Lo yogurt = the yogurt

K: In the plural, we’d have “gli” yogurt.

Finally, picking up from last week, remember that we also use “gli” for masculine plurals which start with a vowel, for example:

M: Gli ingredienti = the ingredients.

K: How can you learn all of these complex details? My advice for this is the same as last week – don’t stress too much about the logic, as it’s really hard to remember all this stuff while you’re speaking! The best way to learn them is by memorising the most common ones as phrases:

Lo studente, gli studenti, lo zucchero….

The more you listen to and practise speaking Italian, the more you’ll be able to generalise the rule to the less common ones.

Remember you can practise chatting in Italian with us in our 5 Minute Italian facebook group, follow the link in the show notes and we’ll let you in as soon as we see your request. We’d love to see you in there and chat in Italian with you. You can also get bonus materials, like a quiz, flashcards, and see all the phrases for today’s lesson written down by going to  joyoflanguages.com/italianpodcast and scrolling down to episode 66. Or just follow the link in the show notes.

Ciao for now, see you next time or as we say in Italian,

M: Alla prossima!

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Related episodes

How to pronounce “gli” in Italian

How to pronounce “gn” in Italian

How to say “the” in Italian (the basics)

How to say “the” in Italian (before vowels)

Why is Italian food so tasty? In this lesson, Matteo reveals the very simple secret. You’ll also learn how to say “the” in Italian, before words which start with a vowel. Find out more in episode 65 of 5 minute Italian.

To remember what you learnt in today’s lesson, below you’ll find bonus materials including word lists, quizzes and flashcards. But first…

Become a 5-minute Italian member (it’s free!)

Learn to speak and understand Italian faster by joining the 5 minute Italian club! When you sign up, you’ll get:

  • 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.

Today’s Italian Vocabulary

Gli italiani cucinano molto bene = Italians cook really well.

Qual è il vostro segreto? = What’s your secret?

Gli = the

italiani = Italians

cucinano = they cook

molto bene = very well

Qual è = which is

il vostro segreto = your secret

Gli ingredienti sono la chiave = Ingredients are the key.

Gli = the

ingredienti = ingredients

sono = are

la chiave = the key

Con ingredienti freschi, tutto è buono = With fresh ingredients, everything is tasty.

Con = with

ingredienti = ingredients

freschi = fresh

tutto = everything

è = is

buono = good or tasty

In Italia abbiamo molto sole = In Italy, we have lots of sun

In Italia = in Italy,

abbiamo = we have

molto sole = lots of sun

Quindi è facile trovare prodotti buoni come le olive, le arance ecc. = So it’s easy to find good produce like olives, oranges, etc.

quindi = so

è facile = it’s easy

trovare = to find

prodotti = produce

buoni = good

come = like

le olive = the olives

le arance = the oranges

ecc = etc

Poi, la presentazione è molto importante = Then, presentation is very important.

Poi = then

La presentazione = the presentation

è = is

molto importante = very important

Mangi prima con gli occhi = You eat first with the eyes.

Mangi = you eat

Prima = first

Con = with

Gli = the

Occhi = eyes

Poi con lo stomaco = Then with the stomach

poi = then

con = with

lo stomaco = the stomach

L’oliva = the olive

L’arancia = the orange

L’olio = the oil

Le olive = the olives

Le arance = the oranges

Gli italiani = the Italians

Gli ingredienti = the ingredients

Gli americani = the Americans

Take the quiz

How much did you learn? Find out in the 5-minute Italian quiz!

Click here to take the quiz for this episode: How to say “the” in Italian: before a vowel

Flashcards

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Transcript

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

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

M: And I’m Matteo. Ciao! 

K: And today we’re going to continue learning how to say “the” in Italian. In this episode, we’re going to look at words which start with vowels. Let’s listen to the dialogue first.

M: Cominciamo. Let’s start.

K: Gli italiani cucinano molto bene. Qual è il vostro segreto?

M: Gli ingredienti sono la chiave. Con ingredienti freschi, tutto è buono. In Italia abbiamo molto sole, quindi è facile trovare prodotti buoni come le olive, le arance ecc.

K: Giusto.

M: Poi, la presentazione è molto importante. Mangi prima con gli occhi, poi con lo stomaco.

K: So I first asked Matteo:

M: Gli italiani cucinano molto bene. Qual è il vostro segreto?

K: Italians cook really well. What’s your secret? Word for word, that’s:

M:

Gli = the

italiani = Italians

cucinano = they cook

molto bene = very well

Qual è = which is

il vostro segreto = your secret

K: And Matteo’s answer was:

M: Gli ingredienti sono la chiave.

K: Ingredients are the key. Word for word, that’s

M:

Gli = the

ingredienti = ingredients

sono = are

la chiave = the key

K: Next, you heard:

M: Con ingredienti freschi, tutto è buono.

K: With fresh ingredients, everything is tasty. So that’s

M:

Con = with

ingredienti = ingredients

freschi = fresh

tutto = everything

è = is

buono = good or tasty

K: Next…

M: In Italia abbiamo molto sole

K: In Italy, we have lots of sun

M:

In Italia = in Italy,

abbiamo = we have

molto sole = lots of sun

K: next…

M: quindi è facile trovare prodotti buoni come le olive, le arance ecc.

K: so it’s easy to find good produce like olives, oranges, etc.

quindi = so

è facile = it’s easy

trovare = to find

prodotti = produce

buoni = good

come = like

le olive = the olives

le arance = the oranges

ecc = etc

K: Then, Matteo said:

M: Poi, la presentazione è molto importante.

K: Then, presentation is very important.

M:

Poi = then

La presentazione = the presentation

è = is

molto importante = very important

K: Finally, you heard Matteo say

M: Mangi prima con gli occhi

K: You eat first with the eyes. Word for word…

M:

Mangi = you eat

Prima = first

Con = with

Gli = the

Occhi = eyes

K: and….

M: poi con lo stomaco.

K: then with the stomach

M:

poi = then

con = with

lo stomaco = the stomach

K: In this conversation, we had lots of examples of words starting with vowels. For example: gli italiani, le olive and le arance. So what happens to the word “the” when it’s before a vowel? If the word is singular, it’s simple, just add “l”. For example, if “olive” is oliva in the singular, how would you say “the olive”?

M: L’oliva

K: And orange is “arancia”. So how would you say “the orange”?

M: l’arancia

K: Oliva and arancia are feminine words, but it’s the same for masculine words. For example, olio (oil). How would you say “the oil”?

M: L’olio

K: Next, let’s look at plurals. For feminine nouns, it’s simple, you just use the same word as we talked about in the last lesson “le”. So if I wanted to say “the olives”, what would I say?

M: Le olive

K: What about “the oranges”?

M: Le arance.

K: So far so good. There is just one part of this which is a bit tricky. It’s worth paying a lot of attention to because it feels irregular, which can cause people trouble right up to advanced levels. When you have a masculine plural that starts with a vowel, we don’t say “i”, as we do with other masculine plurals in Italian. Instead, we say “gli”. For example, in the conversation, we heard “the Italians”. Just a little reminder that in Italian, when we have a mixed group of men and women together, we still use the masculine plural = italiani. So how would you say “the Italians?”

M: Gli italiani

K: Ottimo. And we also heard “the ingredients” can you remember how Matteo said it?

M: Gli ingredienti

K: So now, I can hear you thinking – OK Katie, I get that for masculine plurals with vowels, you’re supposed to use “gli”. But how on earth am I supposed to remember all that information when I’m speaking? And you’re absolutely right, I remember thinking the same thing, and this is why it’s normal to make mistakes with this even at advanced levels. My tip is to start by memorising the most important ones that you’ll probably say quite often. For example:

M:

Gli italiani

Gli americani

Gli occhi

Once you get used to these, you’ll find it easier to generalise to less common words.

K: Finally, why did we say “lo stomaco” for the stomach? We’ll talk about that in the next episode!

So that’s it for today, remember you can practise chatting in Italian with us in our 5 Minute Italian facebook group, follow the link in the show notes and we’ll let you in as soon as we see your request. We’d love to see you in there and chat in Italian with you. You can also get bonus materials, like a quiz, flashcards, and see all the phrases for today’s lesson written down by going to  joyoflanguages.com/italianpodcast and scrolling down to episode 65. Or just follow the link in the show notes.

Ciao for now, see you next time or as we say in Italian,

M: Alla prossima!

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Related episodes

#64: How to say “the” in Italian: the basics

Do you know how to say “the” in Italian?

It’s a simple question, with a complicated answer.

There are actually 7 different ways to say “the” in Italian! One of the reasons people find them so tricky is that they try to learn them all together, which isn’t usually a good idea as it could make your brain explode.

Today, let’s start by reviewing the basics: il, la, i and le. We’ll show you using examples of the food we ate in Milan recently when we met up with one of our favourite Italian teachers, Stefano. Find out more in episode 64 of 5 Minute Italian.

In our Facebook group, you’ll find the original conversation with Italian nibbles. You can watch the video here – click on join and we’ll let you in 🙂

To remember what you learnt in today’s lesson, below you’ll find bonus materials including word lists, quizzes and flashcards. But first…

Become a 5-minute Italian member (it’s free!)

Learn to speak and understand Italian faster by joining the 5 minute Italian club! When you sign up, you’ll get:

  • 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.

Today’s Italian Vocabulary

il formaggio = (the) cheese

Mi piace il formaggio = I like (the) cheese

il prosciutto crudo = (the) Parma ham (a cured meat)

prosciutto = ham

crudo = raw

i pomodorini = (the) cherry tomatoes

il pomodorino = the cherry tomato

il grissino = the breadstick

i grissini = (the) breadsticks

La pancetta = (the) bacon

La mortadella = a type of Italian cold cut from Bologna.

La carota = (the) carrot.

Le carote = (the) carrots.

La mela = (the) apple.

Le mele = (the) apples.

Take the quiz

How much did you learn? Find out in the 5-minute Italian quiz!

Click here to take the quiz for this episode: How to say “the” in Italian: il, i, la, le

Flashcards

Remember the vocabulary from your 5 Minute Italian lessons by downloading the digital flashcard pack.

Transcript

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

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

M: And I’m Matteo. Ciao! 

K: And today, we’re going to talk about something that feels like it should be simple, but it’s actually not… all of the different ways to say “the” in Italian. But don’t worry, we’re going to break it down over the next few episodes so by the end it will be much clearer.

M: And we’re going to give you the examples by talking about some Italian food we ate recently when we met our friend Stefano.

K: Yes, I hope you’re not hungry! If you like, you can watch a video of the Italian conversation we had, with transcripts in our Facebook group, you’ll find the link in the show notes.

M:  In the video, I’m explaining all the Italian food that we have on the table in front of us.

K: Sì. What was on the table? Let’s listen in Italian first.

M:

  • il formaggio
  • il prosciutto crudo
  • i pomodorini
  • i grissini
  • la pancetta
  • la mortadella

K: Alright, so we started with:

M: il formaggio

K: The cheese. One of the first things to notice here, is that Italians use the word “the” much more often than we would in English. In the video, Matteo sometimes omits “il” and “la”, because it’s a list, but generally, Italian words are sociable, they don’t like to hang around alone, so you almost never say a word like “formaggio” on its own. It’s usually “il formaggio”.

M: Per esempio: Mi piace il formaggio.

K: For example, I like cheese. In Italian, we say “il formaggio”. I like the cheese. And we see our first “the”, which is “il”. We use “il” to say “the” for masculine words. We know that Italian assigns gender to words – a word can either be masculine or feminine. And for this, I would say, don’t worry too much about logic – why a word is masculine or feminine – just remember that Italian has two groups of words. With the masculine group of words, you should use “il”. What else did we have on the table?

M: il prosciutto crudo.

K: Parma ham. Which is cured ham, that’s not cooked. In fact, prosciutto means ham, and crudo means raw, so Italians literally say “ham raw”. And it’s buonissimo.

M: Sì.

K: Poi, what else?

M: We also had “i pomodorini”

K: i pomodorini. Pomodorini literally means “little tomatoes”. We’d call them “cherry tomatoes” in the UK. And here, we have our first plural. The singular “il pomodorino” is masculine. And as a plural it becomes “i”. i pomodorini. You may also notice that the “o” at the end of the word becomes i: pomodorini.

M: We had another word like this on the table too.

K: Yes, I’ll tell you the singular word and we’ll see if you can guess the plural. So the word was breadsticks. For one breadstick, we say “il grissino”. So how would you turn this into a plural?

M: “i grissini”

K: Perfect. What else did we eat?

M: La pancetta.

K: Bacon. La pancetta. And here, we have our first example of a feminine word, which takes the word “la”. La pancetta.

K: This means that when you learn a new word, you should always learn its word for “the” too, so you know whether to say “il” or “la”. What else is on the table?

M: La mortadella

K: Another feminine word, la mortadella. What’s mortadella, Matteo?

M: It’s another type of Italian cold cut from Bologna. It’s cooked, made from pork, and sometimes comes with bits of pistacchios in it, which is my favourite.

K: Finally, what about feminine plurals? Well, we didn’t have any on the table, unfortunately, but we can give you a few examples: How about “la carota” (the carrot) which is feminine. What’s the plural?

M: Le carote.

K: With feminine plurals, we use “le”: Le carote. And the “a” at the end of the word becomes “e”. So carota becomes “carote”. Let’s try with “la mela” (the apple). How would you make it plural?

M: Le mele.

K: Perfetto. So that was a nice review of the basics, next week, we’ll explain a couple more ways. You can watch the video from today’s lesson and practise chatting in Italian with us in our 5 Minute Italian facebook group, follow the link in the show notes and we’ll let you in as soon as we see your request. We’d love to see you in there. You can also get bonus materials, like a quiz, flashcards, and see all the phrases for today’s lesson written down by going to  joyoflanguages.com/italianpodcast and scrolling down to episode 64, or by following the link in the show notes.

Ciao for now, see you next time or as we say in Italian,

M: Alla prossima!

Get more 5-minute Italian

To get more 5 minute Italian, including lessons delivered to your inbox, access to the private Facebook group and invites to speaking workshops, click here to become a 5 Minute Italian member.

Related episodes

#27: Basta così? How to order food at the deli counter

Do you know how to say “time” in Italian?

The word “time” can be translated in two different ways in Italian: tempo and volta.

But be careful – these can’t be used interchangeably. Learn the difference between tempo and volta in episode 63 of 5 Minute Italian.

To remember what you learnt in today’s lesson, below you’ll find bonus materials including word lists, quizzes and flashcards. But first…

Become a 5-minute Italian member (it’s free!)

Learn to speak and understand Italian faster by joining the 5 minute Italian club! When you sign up, you’ll get:

  • 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.

Today’s Italian Vocabulary

il tempo vola = time flies

il tempo = time (literally: the time)

vola = flies

Non ho tempo = I don’t have time

Non ho = I don’t have (literally: not, I have)

tempo = time

Tutto il tempo

Tutto = all

il = the

tempo = time

Tempo è denaro = time is money

il tempo = time (“the” time)

è = is

denaro = money

il tempo è un’illusione = time is an illusion

il tempo = time (literally “the time”)

è = is

un’illusione = an illusion.

Una volta = one time/once

Una = one

Volta = time

Due volte = two times/twice

Due = two

Volte = times

La prossima volta = next time

La prossima = next (literally “the next”)

Volta = time

La scorsa volta = last time

La scorsa = the last

Volta = time

Ogni volta = every time

Ogni = every

Volta = time

Molte volte = many times

Molte = Many

Volte = times

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Transcript

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

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

M: And I’m Matteo. Ciao! 

K: And today we’re going to talk about the words “tempo” and “volta” in Italian. Now, these can both be translated with the word “time” in English, but in Italian, they represent quite different concepts.

So what’s the difference between “tempo” and “volta”? Before we give you the answer, let’s listen to some example sentences to see if you can figure it out.

M: Yes, here’s a phrase with “tempo”. Il tempo vola.

il tempo = time (literally: the time)

vola = flies

K: Time flies. Any more?

M: Non ho tempo

Non ho = I don’t have

tempo = time

K: I don’t have time. Any more?

M: Tutto il tempo

Tutto = all

il = the

tempo = time

K: All the time

M: il tempo è denaro

il tempo = time (literally “the” time)

è = is

denaro = money

M: il tempo è un’illusione

il tempo = time (literally “the” time)

è = is

un’illusione = an illusion.

K: Time is an illusion.

K: Now let’s listen to phrases with “volta” and see if you can figure out the difference.

M: Una volta

Una = one

Volta = time

K: One time, or once

M: Due volte

Due = two

Volte = times

K: Two times, or twice. And here we see “volte”, which finishes with an “e”. This is the plural of “volta”, because we’re talking about “times”, something that happened more than once.

M: La prossima volta

La prossima = next (literally “the next”)

Volta = time

K: Next time. Any more?

M: La scorsa volta

La scorsa = the last

volta = time

K: Last time

M: Ogni volta

Ogni = every

Volta = time.

M: Molte volte

Molte = Many

Volte = times

K: Many times. And here we see “volte” again, because we’re using “volta” in the plural.

K: So can you guess the difference? Tempo refers to clock time, in the sense of a period of time. Or even in the scientific/philosophical sense of the word, as in “time” is an illusion.

Volta is “time” in the sense of a singular occasion, one time, two times, three times, every time, next time.

One good way to tell them apart, is that “tempo” as in “clock time” is almost always singular. There is only one “clock time”. It’s time in the sense of “time is on my side” in the Rolling Stones song.

K: Time is on my side

“Volta” as in occasion, can often be plural – we can have one time, two times: una volta, due volte etc. Like the “time” in the Cindy Lauper song “time after time”.

So that’s it for today, remember you can practise chatting in Italian with us in our 5 Minute Italian facebook group, follow the link in the show notes and we’ll let you in as soon as we see your request. We’d love to see you in there and chat in Italian with you. You can also get bonus materials, like a quiz, flashcards, and see all the phrases for today’s lesson written down by going to  joyoflanguages.com/italianpodcast and scrolling down to episode 63. Or just follow the link in the show notes.

Ciao for now, see you next time or as we say in Italian,

M: Alla prossima!

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Related episodes

#31: Che ore sono? How to tell the time in Italian

Give it to me. I’ll buy it for you.

To say these sentences in Italian, you need a “double object pronoun”. Find out what they are and how to use them in episode 62 of 5 Minute Italian.

To remember what you learnt in today’s lesson, below you’ll find bonus materials including word lists, quizzes and flashcards. But first…

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Double Object Pronouns in Italian

1. For masculine words, like “il libro” (the book)

Double Object Pronouns for masculine words

it = lo

Example
Me lo

(for me, it)

Me lo compri

You buy it for me (literally: for me, it, you buy)

Te lo

(for you, it)

Te lo compro

I buy it for you (literally: for you, it, I buy)

Glielo

(for him, it)

(for her, it)

(for them, it)

(for you formal*, it)

Glielo compro

I buy it for him (literally: for him, it, I buy)

I buy it for her (literally: for her, it, I buy)

I buy it for them (literally: for them, it, I buy)

I buy it for you* (literally: for you*, it, I buy)

*The formal you, when speaking to people over 40-ish you don’t know very well or in formal situations like work, hotels and restaurants.

Ve lo

(for you plural*, it)

Ve lo compro

I buy it for you* (literally, for you plural, it, I buy)

* the plural “you”, when speaking to two or more people. 

Ce lo

(for us, it)

Ce lo compro

I buy it for us (literally, for us, it, I buy)

2. For feminine words, like “la torta” (the cake)

Double Object Pronouns 

for feminine words

it = la

Example
Me la

(for me, it)

Me la compri

You buy it for me (literally: for me, it, you buy)

Te la

(for you, it)

Te la compro

I buy it for you (literally: for you, it, I buy)

Gliela

(for him, it)

(for her, it)

(for them, it)

(for you formal*, it)

Gliela compro

I buy it for him (literally: for him, it, I buy)

I buy it for her (literally: for her, it, I buy)

I buy it for them (literally: for them, it, I buy)

I buy it for you* (literally: for you*, it, I buy)

*The formal you, when speaking to people over 40-ish you don’t know very

well or in formal situations like work, hotels and restaurants.

Ve la

(for you plural*, it)

Ve la compro

I buy it for you* (literally, for you all, it, I buy)

* the plural “you”, when speaking to more than one person.

Ce la

(for us, it)

Ce la compro

I buy it for us (literally, for us, it, I buy)

Indirect Object Pronouns in Italian: Vocabulary

Quel libro, me lo compri? = That book, can you buy it for me? (literally: that book, for me, it, you buy?)

Quel =that

Libro = book

Me = for me

Lo = it

Compri = you buy

Compro = I buy

Lo compro = I buy it. Literally: it, I buy (For masculine things, like “il libro”)

La compro = I buy it. (la = for feminine things, like “la torta”)

Ti compro un libro = I buy a book for you (literally: for you, a buy a book)

Te lo compro = I buy it for you (literally: for you, it, I buy)

Me lo compri = You buy it for me (literally: for me, it, you buy)

Me la compri = You buy it for me (la = for feminine things, like “la torta”)

Me lo dai = You give it to me (literally: to me, it, you give)

Me la dai = You give it to me (la = for feminine things, like “la torta”)

Te lo compro = I buy it for you (literally: for you, it, I buy)

Te la compro = I buy it for you (la = for feminine things, like “la torta”)

Te lo do = I give it to you (literally: to you, it, I give)

Te la do = I give it to you (la = for feminine things, like “la torta”)

Glielo compro = I buy it for him/her/them/you formal (literally, for him/her/them/you formal, it, I buy)

Gliela compro = I buy it for him/her/them/you formal (la = for feminine things, like “la torta”)

Glielo do = I give it to him/her/them/you formal (literally, to him/her/them/you formal, it, I give)

Gliela do = I give it to him/her/them/you formal (la = for feminine things, like “la torta”)

Ce lo compro = I buy it for us (literally, for us, it, I buy)

Ce la compro = I buy it for us (for feminine things, like “la torta”)

Ve lo compro = I buy it for you all/both (literally: for you all/both, it, I buy)

Ve la compro = I buy it for you all/both (la = for feminine things, like “la torta”)

Ve lo do = I give it to you all/both (literally: to you all/both, it, I give)

Ve la do = I give it to you all/both (la = for feminine things, like “la torta”)

Indirect Object Pronouns in Italian: Take the quiz

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Indirect Object Pronouns in Italian: Transcript

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

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

M: And I’m Matteo. Ciao! 

K: Matteo, quel libro. Me lo compri?

M: OK

K: This is an example of a real sentence that I said to Matteo last week. That book, can you buy it for me?

M:

Quel =that

Libro = book

Me = for me

lo = it

compri = you buy

I wanted to buy a Chinese book for my trip, but it wouldn’t arrive in time, so I asked Matteo if he could get it for me because he has a subscription where he gets stuff delivered faster. And this sentence is the perfect example of what we’re going to learn about today. The “me lo” part.

The official name for these things is “double object pronouns”, but all you need to know is that it’s a combination of words that we use when we want to talk about buying something for someone (buy it for me), doing something for someone (do it for me), or giving something to someone (give it to me). Basically, if you’ve got something and someone in the sentence, you can use these double object pronouns. This will all become clear in this lesson, which is a little bit longer than usual, so that we can explain all the combinations. And you can see everything from this lesson written down by going to joyoflanguages.com/italianpodcast and scrolling down to episode 62.

So let’s start with “it” in Italian. If we’re talking about a masculine thing, with “il”, for example, “il libro”, then we use “lo”. I buy in Italian is…

M: Compro

K: In Italian, we say things backwards: “it, I buy”. So to say I buy it, when talking about a masculine word like book, we’d say:

M: Lo compro

K:  If it was a feminine word, like “la torta”, it becomes “la”. So how would you say “I buy it” if you’re talking about something feminine, like a cake?

M: La compro

K: So far, so good. But what if you want to say “I buy it for you”?  The “for you” part is what we call an indirect pronoun in Italian. If you feel a bit unsure about these, I’d recommend you go back and listen to the last episode 61 – Indirect Pronouns in Italian, the Ultimate Guide, because this will give you a really good foundation for the rest of this lesson. For now, let’s say that in Italian, to say “for you”, we say “ti”. And this goes at the beginning of the sentence. So for example, to say I buy a book for you, we say “for you, I buy a book”

M: Ti compro un libro.

K: But we don’t want to say “a book”. We want to say “it”. This means, instead of a book, we can say “lo”. And this is where things get a bit crazy in Italian. Because when we have “for you” (ti) and “it” (lo), in Italian, we combine them and we get:

M: Te lo compro.

K: Literally, for you, it, I buy. Or in plain English, I buy it for you. When we combine these indirect object pronouns like “ti” or “mi” with “lo”, the “i” becomes “e”. So it becomes “te lo”. “me lo” etc. To complicate matters further, if the “it” is feminine, like “la torta”, the cake, we say “te la”, “me la” etc.

Let’s practise. We’ll go through the main combinations with the words “comprare” (to buy) and “dare” (to give).

To say “you buy” we say “compri”.

K: If we want to say “you buy it for me”, we literally say: for me, it you buy. And we change “mi” to “me”.

M: Me lo compri

K: And if we’re talking about a feminine noun, like “la torta”?

M: Me la compri

K: You give is “dai”, spelt d-a-i. So how would you say “you give it to me?” (to me, it you give)

M: Me lo dai.

K: And if the thing is feminine, like “la torta”

M: Me la dai.

K: I buy is “compro”. For you is “ti”. Can you remember how to say “I buy it for you”? Literally, for you, I buy. Remember to change “ti” to “te”.

M: Te lo compro

K: For feminine words, like “la torta”?

M: Te la compro

K: I give is “do”. So how would you say “I give it to you” (to you, it I give)

M: Te lo do.

K: For feminine nouns?

M: Te la do.

K: Perfect. Now, I’ve got some bad news and some good news. The next one is a little complicated, but you can use it in loads of different situations, so once you learn it, you can use it all the time. To say “for him”, we say “gli”, spelt “g-l-i”. Pronounced by making a big smile and squashing the top of your tongue flat against the roof of your mouth, gli. Now, when we combine “for him” (gli) with “it” (lo) we add an e on the end of gli, so we get “g-l-i” = gli plus e. glie. Then we attach “lo” to the end.

M: glie lo

K: So to say “I buy it for him” (for him, it I buy”) we say:

M: Glielo compro.

K: If it’s feminine?

M: Gliela compro

K: And I give it to him?

M: Glielo do

K: If it’s feminine?

M: Gliela do.

K: I think this is probably one of the hardest words to pronounce and understand grammatically in the Italian language, so don’t worry if you find it tricky at first! With practice it will come. Now, that’s the complicated bit done. It’s about to get a lot simpler. Because in Italian, “glielo”, can be used for “him”, “her”, “them” and “you” in the formal address. You get 4-in-one.  So to say “I buy it for her”, we say:

M: Glielo compro

K: I buy it for them?

M: Glielo compro

K: I buy it for you, if you’re talking to someone using formal address?

M: Glielo compro.

K: Now the feminine version, for words like “la torta”. I buy it for her

M: Gliela compro

K: I buy it for them?

M: Gliela compro.

K: I buy it for you (formal address?)

M: Gliela compro.

K: Let’s try now with I give (do). Talking about masculine things, like “il libro”.

K: I give it to her?

M: Glielo do

K: I give it to them?

M: Glielo do

K: I give it to you (formal)?

M: Glielo do.

K: And with feminine things, like “la torta”? I give it to her.

M: Gliela do

K: I give it to them?

M: Gliela do.

K: I give it to you formal?

M: Gliela do.

K: So we’re nearly there, just a couple more combos to go. To say “for us”, we say “ci”. In a double object pronoun, ci becomes “ce”. So how would you say “I buy it for us”?

M: Ce lo compro.

K: And if we’re talking about a feminine word, like “torta”?

M: Ce la compro

K: Finally, in Italian, we have a plural word for you, when we’re speaking to two or more people, a bit like saying “you both” or “you all”. To say, for you all or you both, we say “vi”. In a double object pronoun, this becomes “ve”. So how would you say “I buy it for you” to a group of two or more people?

M: Ve lo compro.

K: And if the thing is feminine, like “la torta”?

M: Ve la compro.

K: And what about “I give it to you”. Literally “to you plural, it, I give.

M: Ve lo do

K: And if it’s feminine, like “la torta”, we say:

K: Ve la do

Phew! We sweated today! Well done for getting to the end, and do bear in mind that this is one of the trickiest parts of Italian grammar, that causes people problems right up to advanced levels. So don’t worry at all if it feels confusing at first, it is complicated, it’s not you, it’s the grammar! Try to notice these combinations being used as much as you can, keep practising and over time it will come.

Remember, if you want to see these written down in a table, which I think is especially useful for today’s lesson, you can find these and get bonus materials by heading over to joyoflanguages.com/italianpodcast and scrolling down to episode 62. Or just follow the link in the show notes for this episode. You can also practice chatting in Italian with us in our 5 Minute Italian Facebook group – click on join and we’ll let you in as soon as we see your request. Ciao for now, see you next time or as we say in Italian,

M: Alla prossima!

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#61: Indirect Object Pronouns in Italian: The Ultimate Guide

#5: How to pronounce the Italian “gli” like in famiglia

Gli, le, mi, ti….

These little words are everywhere in Italian and they can be a bit tricky – it’s not always easy to know what they mean and how to use them. Today’s lesson will clear up the mystery so that you can understand and use them yourself in conversation. Find out more in episode 61 of 5 Minute Italian.

To remember what you learnt in today’s lesson, below you’ll find bonus materials including word lists, quizzes and flashcards. But first…

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Indirect Object Pronouns in Italian

 

Object Pronoun Example
Mi (to/for me) Mi dai questo

You give this to me (literally: to me, you give this)

Mi compri questo

You buy this for me (literally: for me, you buy this)

Ti (to/for you) Ti do questo

I give this to you (literally: to you, I give this)

Ti compro questo

I buy this for you (literally: for you, I buy this)

Vi (to/for you – plural)

Use “vi” when you speak to two or more people.

Vi do questo

I give this to you – plural (literally: to you, I give this)

Vi compro questo

I buy this for you – plural (literally: for you, I buy this)

Gli (to/for him)

Gli (to/for them)

Gli do questo

I give this to him/them (literally: to him/them, I give this)

Gli compro questo

I buy this for him/them (literally: for him/them, I buy this)

Le (to/for her) Le do questo

I give this to her (literally: to her, I give this)

Le compro questo

I buy this for her (literally: for her, I buy this)

Ci (to/for us) Ci dai questo

You give this to us (literally: to us, you give this)

Ci compri questo

You buy this for us (literally: for us, you buy this)

Indirect Object Pronouns in Italian: Vocabulary

Mi = to me/for me

Ti = to you/for you

Gli = to him/for him

Le = to her/for her

Ci = to us/for us

Vi = to you/for you (plural “you”, when speaking to two or more people)

Gli = to them/for them

Do = I give

Questo = this

Ti = to you/for you

Ti do questo = I give this to you

Compro questo = I buy this

Ti compro questo = I buy this for you

Vi = To you/for you (plural – when speaking to two or more people)

Vi do questo = I give this to you (plural)

Vi compro questo = I buy this for you (plural)

Gli = to him/for him

Gli do questo = I give this to him

Gli compro questo = I buy this for him

Gli = to them/for them

Gli do questo = I give this to them

Gli compro questo = I buy this for them

Le = to her/for her

Le do questo = I give this to her

Le compro questo = I buy this for her

Mi = to me/for me

Mi fai questo = you do this to me

Perché mi fai questo?! = Why are you doing this to me?

Perché = why

Mi = to me

Fai = you do

Questo = this

Ci = to us/for us

Ci fai questo = you do this to us

Perché ci fai questo? = Why are you doing this to us?

Indirect Object Pronouns in Italian: Take the quiz

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Click here to take the quiz for this episode: Italian Object Pronouns – The Ultimate Guide (Quiz)

Indirect Object Pronouns in Italian: Flashcards

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Indirect Object Pronouns in Italian: Transcript

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

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

M: And I’m Matteo. Ciao! 

K: Today, we’re going to reopen a big can of worms and talk about indirect object pronouns in Italian. If you’re thinking “a what now”, “indirect object pronoun” is just the name of those little words like “mi” “ti”, “gli” and “le” that you may see floating around. They can cause lots of problems when you’re learning Italian because it’s sometimes tricky to know where they come from and how to use them.

In today’s lesson, we’re going to go through them really clearly, step by step, so by the end, you’ll be able to recognise them and use them yourself in conversation. Remember, if you want to see these words written down and get bonus materials like quizzes, you can get the notes for this episode at joyoflanguages.com/italianpodcast and scroll to episode 61.

M: Comminciamo! Let’s start.

K: An indirect object pronoun in Italian is just a fancy way of saying “to someone” or “for someone”. So for example, if I say “I give this to you”. The “to you” bit would be the indirect object pronoun in Italian. Similarly, if we say “I buy this for you”, the “for you” bit would be the indirect object in Italian. The indirect object pronouns in Italian are:

Matteo:

Mi – to me/for me

Ti – to you/for you

Gli – to him/for him

Le – to her/for her

Ci – to us/for us

Vi – to you/for you (plural “you”, when speaking to two or more people)

Gli – to them/for them

K: You’ll find a table of these over on our website joyoflanguages.com/italianpodcast episode 61. For now, let’s practise using these in some sentences. How would you say “I give this to you” in Italian?

M: “I give” is “do”. “This” is “questo”. I give this is “do questo”.

K: Now, we need the “to you” bit. Can you remember how to say “to you” or “for you” in Italian?

M: Ti.

K: In Italian, we put this at the beginning of the sentence, so we literally say “to you” I give this. How would you say that?

M: Ti do questo.

K: Great. I buy this is “compro questo”. So how would you say “I buy this for you”? Literally “for you, I buy this”

M: Ti compro questo.

K: Next, in Italian we have the “you plural”, for when we speak to two or more people. It’s a bit like saying “to you both” or “to you all”. So to say “to you” or “for you” to two or more people, we say:

M: Vi.

K: So how would you say “I give you this” to two or more people? Literally, “to you, I give this”

M: Vi do questo

K: And how would you say “I buy this for you” to two or more people? Literally, “for you, I buy this”

M: Vi compro questo.

K: Now let’s try with “to him” can you remember how to say “to or for him” in Italian?

M: Gli.

K: So how would you say “I give him this”? Literally “to him, I give this”.

M: Gli do questo

K: I buy this we know is “compro questo”. So how would you say “I buy this for him” literally “for him, I buy this”

M: Gli compro questo.

K: Now let’s try with “them”. Can you remember how to say “to them” or “for them” in Italian? It’s actually the same as “to him” or “for him”

M: Gli

K: So how would you say “I give this to them”? (To them, I give this)

M: Gli do questo.

K: What about “I buy this for them”? (For them, I buy this)

M: Gli compro questo.

K: And how do you say “to her/for her”?

M: Le

K: So how would you say “I give her this”? Literally “to her, I give this”

M: Le do questo.

K: And what about “I buy this for her” (for her, I buy this)

M: Le compro questo.

K: And if you’d like more practise with “gli” and “le”, you can also go back and listen to episodes 56 – 58.

K: Next, we know that “to me” or “for me” is:

M: Mi

K: Same as in English, but spelt mi. You do is “fai”. So how would you say “you do this to me” in Italian? Literally “to me, you do this”.

M: Mi fai questo.

K: Great, and in Italian, a sentence you hear quite often is “perché mi fai questo?!” Which is “why are you doing this to me?” Literally:

M:

Perché = why

Mi = to me

Fai = you do

Questo = this

K: Finally, can you remember how to say “to us” or “for us” in Italian?

M: Ci

K: So how would you say “you do this to us?” (to us, you do this).

M: Ci fai questo.

K: And how would you say “Why are you doing this to us?” (why, to us, you do this)

M: Perché ci fai questo?

That’s it from us for now, to practise using what you learnt today, you can get bonus materials including transcripts, quizzes and flashcards by going to joyoflanguages.com/italianpodcast and scrolling down to episode 61. Or just follow the link in the show notes for this episode. You can also practice chatting in Italian with us in our 5 Minute Italian Facebook group – click on join and we’ll let you in as soon as we see your request. Ciao for now, see you next time or as we say in Italian,

M: Alla prossima!

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Related episodes

#56: How to use gli in Italian (to him, for him)

#57: How to use gli in Italian (to them, for them)

#58: How to use le in Italian (to her, for her)

Buon Anno! Happy New Year!

Are you feeling ready to learn Italian this year?

If so, this episode is for you. We’ve got a special extended interview with Italian teacher and language expert Stefano, who will give you tips on how to learn Italian, including how to:

  • Learn Italian grammar
  • Make great progress
  • Stay motivated all year

Our conversation is in Italian too, so you can learn some in Italian and get some tips at the same time. If you’d like to read the conversation as you listen, below, you’ll find the transcript (+ other bonus materials).

To remember what you learnt in today’s lesson, below you’ll find bonus materials including word lists, quizzes and flashcards. But first…

Become a 5-minute Italian member (it’s free!)

Learn to speak and understand Italian faster by joining the 5 minute Italian club! When you sign up, you’ll get:

  • 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.

Transcript

See below for translations and a breakdown of each sentence/word

Buon 2019 a tutti! Oggi parliamo di cosa ci vuole per imparare bene l’italiano in questo nuovo anno appena iniziato. Innanzitutto, bisogna sapere ascoltare, per poi ripetere e imitare. Inoltre, ci vuole pazienza: meglio progredire piano e bene, che non rapidamente ma male. Infine, serve una forte motivazione: la nostra passione è il motore che può portarci lontano!

English Translation

Buon 2019 a tutti! Oggi parliamo di cosa ci vuole per imparare bene l’italiano in questo nuovo anno appena iniziato.
Happy 2019 to everyone! Today, we’re talking about what’s needed to learn Italian well in this new year (that’s) just begun.

Innanzitutto, bisogna sapere ascoltare, per poi ripetere e imitare.
First of all, it’s necessary to know how to listen in order to then repeat and imitate.

Inoltre, ci vuole pazienza: meglio progredire piano e bene, che non rapidamente ma male.
Furthermore, you need (it’s needed) patience. (It’s) better to progress slowly and well, rather than quickly but badly

Infine, serve una forte motivazione: la nostra passione è il motore che può portarci lontano!
In the end, you need (it’s needed) a strong motivation: our passion is the engine that can take us far!

Today’s Italian words

Buon 2019 a tutti! = Happy 2019 everyone
Buon = good
A = to
Tutti = everyone
Oggi parliamo di cosa ci vuole per imparare bene l’italiano = Today, we’re talking about what’s needed to learn Italian well.
Oggi = today
Parliamo = we speak
Di = about
Cosa = what
Ci vuole = is needed
Per = in order to
Imparare = learn
Bene = well
l’italiano = Italian (literally “the Italian”)
In questo nuovo anno appena iniziato = In this new year (that’s) just begun.
In = in
Questo = this
Nuovo = new
Anno = Year
Appena = just
Iniziato = started
Innanzitutto, bisogna sapere ascoltare = First of all, it’s necessary to know how to listen
Innanzitutto = first of all
Bisogna = it’s needed/necessary
Sapere = know how to
Ascoltare = listen
Per poi ripetere e imitare = in order to then repeat and imitate.
Per = in order to
Poi = then
Ripetere = repeat
e = and
Imitare = imitate
Inoltre, ci vuole pazienza = Furthermore, you need patience
Inoltre = furthermore
Ci vuole = it’s needed
Pazienza = patience
Meglio progredire piano e bene, che non rapidamente ma male = It’s better to progress slowly and well, rather than quickly but badly.
Meglio = better
Progredire = progress
Piano = slowly
e = and
Bene = well
Che non = rather than
Rapidamente = quickly
Ma = but
Male = badly
Infine = in the end
Serve = it’s needed
Una forte = a strong
Motivazione = motivation
La nostra passione è il motore che può portarci lontano = our passion is the engine that can take us far
La = the
Nostra = our
Passione = passion
è = is
Il motore = the engine
Che = that
Può = can
Portare = take
Ci = us
Lontano = far

Take the quiz

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Click here to take the quiz for this episode: How to learn Italian (tips from a polyglot)

Italian flashcards

Remember the vocabulary from your 5 Minute Italian lessons by downloading the digital flashcard pack.

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Related episodes

Why Italian is Easier than you Think

Ask to her! Listen me! Sounds a bit funny in English, doesn’t it? But that’s how they say it in Italian. Learn more expressions like this, and how to use them correctly in episode 59 of five minute Italian.

To help you remember what you learnt in today’s lesson, below you’ll find bonus materials including word lists, quizzes and flashcards. But first…

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Learn to speak and understand Italian faster by joining the 5 minute Italian club! When you sign up, you’ll get:

  • 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.


Today’s Italian words

Tua mamma impara l’italiano, vero? = Your mum is learning Italian, right?
Tua mamma = your mum
Impara = learns
L’italiano = the italian
Vero = true
Le dai una mano? = Do you give her a hand?
Le = to her
Dai = You give
Una mano = a hand.
Si, a volte = Yes sometimes.
Che cosa fai? = What do you do?
Le chiedo: “che cosa fai oggi” = I ask her “what are you doing today”
E scambiamo un paio di parole in italiano = And we exchange a few words in Italian.
Le = to her
Chiedo = I ask
Che cosa = what
Fai = you do
Oggi = today
E = and
Scambiamo = we exchange
Un paio = a pair
Di = of
Parole = words
In italiano = in Italian.
Le chiedo = I ask her (literally = to her, I ask)
Gli chiedo = I ask him (literally = to him, I ask)
Poi, le insegno un po’ di grammatica = Then, I teach her a little grammar.
Le = to her
Insegno = I teach
Un po’ = a bit
Di = of
Grammatica = grammar
Le insegno = I teach her (literally = to her, I teach)
Gli insegno = I teach him (literally = to him, I teach)
Come studia l’italiano? How does she study Italian?
Di solito ascolta un CD e 5 minute Italian ovviamente! = Usually she listens to a CD and 5 minute Italian obviously!
Di solito = usually
Ascolta = she listens
Un CD = a CD

Take the quiz

How much did you learn? Find out in the 5-minute Italian quiz!

Click here to take the quiz for this episode: Ask to her! Listen me! (When Italian and English are different)

Italian flashcards

Remember the vocabulary from your 5 Minute Italian lessons by downloading the digital flashcard pack.

Become a 5-minute Italian member (it’s free!)

Learn to speak and understand Italian faster by joining the 5 minute Italian club! When you sign up, you’ll get:

  • Mini Italian lessons + bonus materials delivered to your inbox.
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Transcript

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

K: Ciao a tutti e benvenuti a 5 Minute Italian. I’m Katie.
M: And I’m Matteo

K: In the last couple of episodes, we’ve been learning how to say “to her” and “to him” But Italian can be sneaky sometimes – there are some situations where we use “to him” and “to her”, where we wouldn’t in English. And vice versa. In today’s episode, you’ll learn about these differences. Remember you can see the words written down and get bonus materials for this episode, including a quiz and flashcards, by going to our website joyoflanguages.com/italianpodcast and scrolling down to episode #59.

M: For now, ascoltiamo la conversazione.

K: Let’s listen to the conversation.

M: Katie, tua mamma impara l’italiano, vero?

K: Si.

M: Le dai una mano?

K: A volte si!

M: Che cosa fai?

K: Le chiedo: “che cosa fai oggi” e scambiamo un paio di parole in italiano. Poi le insegno un po’ di grammatica.

M: Come studia l’italiano?

K: Di solito ascolta un CD. E 5 minute Italian ovviamente!

K: Matteo asked:

M: Tua mamma impara l’italiano, vero?

K: Your mum is learning Italian, right?

M:

Tua mamma = your mum

Impara = learns

L’italiano = the italian

Vero = true

K: This “Vero?” (true) is often used in Italian to say right? vero? Then Matteo asked:

M: Le dai una mano?

K: Do you give her a hand?

M:

Le = to her

Dai = You give

Una mano = a hand.

K: I replied:

M: Si, a volte.

K: Yes sometimes. Then Matteo asked:

M: Che cosa fai?

K: What do you do? I replied:

M: Le chiedo: “che cosa fai oggi”

K: I ask her “what are you doing today”

M: E scambiamo un paio di parole in italiano.

K: And we exchange a few words in Italian.

M:

Le = to her

Chiedo = I ask

Che cosa = what

Fai = you do

Oggi = today

E = and

Scambiamo = we exchange

Un paio = a pair

Di = of

Parole = words

In italiano = in Italian.

K: So I ask my mum “what are you doing today” in Italian (che cosa fai oggi). Here’s an example of a word that’s a bit different in Italian. In Italian, we don’t say “ask her” we say “ask to her”. “To her” is ”le”, and that Italians say it backwards “to her, I ask”.

M: Le chiedo.

K: And it’s the same for men. “To him” is “gli”. So I ask him (to him) would be?

M: Gli chiedo.

K: Then I said:

M: Poi, le insegno un po’ di grammatica.

K: Then, I teach her a little grammar.

M:

Le = to her

Insegno = I teach

Un po’ = a bit

Di = of

Grammatica = grammar

K: And here we can see that in Italian, we use insegnare (to teach) with “le”. To her, I teach.

M: Le insegno.

K: And the same with “to him”, “gli”

M: Gli insegno.

K: Next, you heard:

M: Come studia l’italiano?

K: How does she study Italian? I replied:

M: Di solito ascolta un CD e 5 minute Italian ovviamente!

K: Usually she listens to a CD and 5 minute Italian obviously! Let’s zoom in on the first bit.

M:

Di solito = usually

Ascolta = she listens

Un CD = a CD

K: In Italian, we don’t “listen TO something”, we “listen something”. So we don’t say “ascoltare a” (listen to), like in English. We just say “ascolta” + the thing.

K: Another example of this is when Matteo says “ascoltiamo la conversazione” at the beginning. Literally: Let’s listen the conversation (without to).

M: So, Ascoltiamo la conversazione?

K: Si!

M: Katie, tua mamma impara l’italiano, vero?

K: Si.

M: Le dai una mano?

K: A volte si!

M: Che cosa fai?

K: Le chiedo: “che cosa fai oggi” e scambiamo un paio di parole in italiano. Poi le insegno un po’ di grammatica.

M: Come studia l’italiano?

K: Di solito ascolta un CD. E 5 minute Italian ovviamente!

Remember you can get bonus materials for today’s lesson by heading over to joyoflanguages.com/italianpodcast and scrolling down to episode 59.

That’s it from us for today, and for duemila diciotto! (2018) We’ll be back in gennaio with some more episodes of 5 minute Italian. Buone feste, happy holidays. See you next time, or as we say in Italian

M: Alla prossima!

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Related episodes

#53: Direct object pronouns in Italian: Mi, Ti, Lo, La, Ci, Vi, Li, Le

#52: Direct object pronouns in Italian: Lo and La

#50: I like it! I miss you! Talk backwards like an Italian.

Recently Matteo’s sister, la sorella di Matteo has just moved to Milan, and is living with us while she finds a flat.

Like most brothers and sisters, they have a love – hate relationship!

Find out more, and learn how to use the word “le” which means “to her” or “for her” in episode 58 of 5 minute Italian.

To help you remember what you learnt in today’s lesson, below you’ll find bonus materials including word lists, quizzes and flashcards. But first…

Become a 5-minute Italian member (it’s free!)

Learn to speak and understand Italian faster by joining the 5 minute Italian club! When you sign up, you’ll get:

  • 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.


Today’s Italian words

Che cosa fai quando finisci il latte di soia di tua sorella? = What do you do when you finish your sister’s soy milk?

Che cosa = what

Fai = you do

Quando = when

Finisci = you finish

Il latte = the milk

Di soia = of soia

Di tua sorella = of your sister?

Le compro un’altra bottiglia = I buy another bottle for her.

Le = for her

Compro = I buy

Un’altra = another

Bottiglia = bottle

Quando lascia le cose in giro? = When she leaves things hanging around?Quando = when

Lascia = she leaves

Le cose = the things

In giro = around

Le dico di mettere in ordine! = I tell her to tidy up!

Le = to her

Dico = I say

di = to (literally of)

Mettere = put

In = in

Ordine = order

Le dico = I tell her/say to her

Gli dico = I tell him/say to him

Quando è raffreddata? = when she has a cold?

Le faccio un tè con miele = I make a tea with honey for her.

Le = for her

Faccio = I make

Un tè = a tea

Con miele = with honey.

Le do il mio passaporto = I give you my passport (formal)

Le do = I give her OR I give you (formal)

Le offro un caffè = I offer you a coffee (formal)

Le offro = I offer her OR I offer you (formal)

 

More examples with “le”

Verb Example
Dire

To say

Che cosa le dico?

What shall I say to her? (Literally: What to her I say?)

Dare

To give

Le ho dato il mio numero

I gave her my number (Literally: To her, I gave my number)

Offrire

To offer

Le offro una beer

I offer her a beer (Literally: To her, I offer a beer)

Parlare

To talk

Le parlo tutti i giorni

I talk to her every day (Literally: To her, I speak every the days)

Portare

To bring/take

Le porto un caffè

I bring/take her a coffee (Literally: To her, I take a coffee)

Fare

To make/do

Le faccio un caffè

I make her a coffee (Literally: for her, I make a coffee)

Scrivere

To write

Le scrivo una lettera

I write a letter to her (Literally: to her, I write a letter)

Prestare

To lend

Le presto un libro

I lend her a book (Literally: to her, I lend a book)

Take the Quiz!

How much did you learn? Find out in the 5-minute Italian quiz!

Click here to take the quiz for this episode: How to use “le” in Italian (to her, for her)

Italian flashcards

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Learn to speak and understand Italian faster by joining the 5 minute Italian club! When you sign up, you’ll get:

  • 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.

Transcript

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

K: Ciao a tutti e benvenuti a 5 Minute Italian. I’m Katie.
M: And I’m Matteo.

K: In today’s episode, we’ll be learning how to use the word “le” which means “to her” or “for her”.

M: Ascoltiamo la conversazione (let’s listen to the conversation).

K: Matteo, che cosa fai quando finisci il latte di soia di tua sorella?
M: Le compro un’altra bottiglia.

K: Quando lascia le cose in giro?
M: Le dico di mettere in ordine!

K: Quando è raffreddata?
M: Le faccio un tè con miele.

I asked Matteo:

M: Che cosa fai quando finisci il latte di soia di tua sorella?

K: What do you do when you finish your sister’s soy milk? Word for word:

M:

Che cosa = what
Fai = you do
Quando = when
Finisci = you finish
Il latte = the milk
Di soia = of soia
Di tua sorella = of your sister?

K: Here’s a good example of how in Italian, we often use “of” (di) to talk about the quality of something “what kind of milk?” “di soia” (of soia). We also use it for possession. So who’s milk? Di tua sorella (of your sister). This isn’t the focus of today’s lesson so we won’t go into details here, but it’s good to notice when you hear it. So we had the question:

M: Che cosa fai quando finisci il latte di soia di tua sorella?

K: And Matteo replied:

M: Le compro un’altra bottiglia

K: I buy another bottle for her.

M:

Le = for her
Compro = I buy
Un’altra = another
Bottiglia = bottle

K: Here’s our first example of “le” which means “to her” or “for her”. And Italians say it backwards, so they say “for her, I buy”

M: Le compro.

K: Next, I asked Matteo:

M: Quando lascia le cose in giro?

K: When she leaves things hanging around?

M:
Quando = when
Lascia = she leaves
Le cose = the things
In giro = around

K: Here we meet a very common Italian phrase “in giro”. It’s quite difficult to translate in English, but it means something similar to “out and about”. If you call your friend and you ask what they’re doing, they could say “sono in giro” (I’m out and about). Maybe they’re doing errands or just hanging around and it doesn’t make sense to give a specific location (or maybe they’re being mysterious!). You can also use it to talk about things that are left hanging around (not tidied away). So what does Matteo do, quando sua sorella lascia le cose in giro?

M: Le dico di mettere in ordine!

K: I tell her to tidy up!

M:
Le = to her
Dico = I say
Di = to
Mettere = put
In = in
Ordine = order

K: So in Italian, tidy up is “mettere in ordine”, literally “put in order”. And we’ve got another example of “Le”. “Le dico”, literally: “to her, I say”. In Italian, the word “dire” means both “say” and “tell”. If we want to say “say to her” or “tell her” we say:

M: Le dico.

K: And the same for “to him” which we learnt last lesson, which is “gli”. So say to him or tell him is:

M: Gli dico.

K: Finally, I asked Matteo:

M: Quando è raffreddata?

K: When she has a cold? In Italian, we use “to be” (è) in this expression. È raffreddata. It’s a bit like saying “to be colded”. And Matteo replied

M: Le faccio un tè con miele.

K: I make a tea with honey for her.

M:

Le = for her
Faccio = I make
Un tè = a tea
Con miele = with honey.

K: So that was our last example of “le”, “le faccio” (for her, I make). Let’s listen to the conversation again.

K: Matteo, che cosa fai quando finisci il latte di soia di tua sorella?
M: Le compro un’altra bottiglia.

K: Quando lascia le cose in giro?
M: Le dico di mettere in ordine!

K: Quando è raffreddata?
M: Le faccio un tè con miele.

K: Before we go, I’d like to give you a little bonus word. In Italian, the formal “you” is exactly the same as the “she/her form”. If you need to say “to you” or “for you” in a formal situation, you can use what you learnt today. Imagine you’re in a hotel reception. If “I give” is “do” and “my passport” is “il mio passaporto”, how would you say: “I give you my passport”

M: Le do il mio passaporto.

K: I offer is “offro”. So how would you say, I offer you a coffee, if you’re speaking to someone you don’t know very well?

M: Le offro un caffè.

K: And this is the same for both males and females in the formal you. “Le do” (I give you formal), Le offro etc.

So if you’d like to get bonus materials for today’s episode, including a table with more example sentences, remember to go to joyoflanguages.com/italianpodcast and scroll down to episode 58.

We’ll see you next time, as we say in Italian:

M: Alla prossima!

Get more 5-minute Italian

To get more 5 minute Italian, including lessons delivered to your inbox, access to the private Facebook group and invites to speaking workshops, click here to become a 5 Minute Italian member.

Related episodes

#53: Direct object pronouns in Italian: Mi, Ti, Lo, La, Ci, Vi, Li, Le

#52: Direct object pronouns in Italian: Lo and La

When Matteo gets the train from Milan to Naples, he puts something very odd in his bag.

Find out what it is and learn more about how to use the word  “gli” in episode #57 of 5 Minute Italian.

To help you remember what you learnt in today’s lesson, below you’ll find bonus materials including word lists, quizzes and flashcards. But first…

Become a 5-minute Italian member (it’s free!)

Learn to speak and understand Italian faster by joining the 5 minute Italian club! When you sign up, you’ll get:

  • 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.


Today’s Italian words

Che cosa porti a tua mamma e tua sorella quando torni a Napoli? = What do you bring your mum and your sister when you go back to Naples?

Che cosa = what

Porti = “you bring” or “you take” (Italians don’t differentiate)

A = to

Tua mamma = your mum

E = and

Tua sorella = Your sister

Quando = when

Torni = you return

A = to

Napoli = Naples

Gli porto una zucca = I take them a pumpkin.

Gli = To them

Porto = I take

Una Zucca = A pumpkin.  

E ai tuoi amici = And to your friends?

Niente, gli compro da bere = Nothing, I buy them something to drink.

Niente = nothing

Gli = for them

Compro = I buy

Da bere = to drink

 

More examples with “gli”

Verb Example
Dire

To say

Che cosa gli dico?

What shall I say to them? (Literally: What to them I say?)

Dare

To give

Gli ho dato il mio numero

I gave them my number (Literally: To them, I gave my number)

Offrire

To offer

Gli offro una birra

I offer them a beer (Literally: To them, I offer a beer)

Parlare

To talk

Gli parlo tutti i giorni

I talk to them every day (Literally: To them, I speak every the days)

Portare

To bring/take

Gli porto un caffè

I bring/take them a coffee (Literally: To them, I take a coffee)

Fare

To make/do

Gli faccio un caffè

I make them a coffee (Literally: for them, I make a coffee)

Scrivere

To write

Gli scrivo una lettera

I write a letter to them (Literally: to them, I write a letter)

Prestare

To lend

Gli presto un libro

I lend them a book (Literally: to them, I lend a book)

Take the Quiz!

How much did you learn? Find out in the 5-minute Italian quiz!

Click here to take the quiz for this episode: How to use “gli” (to them, for them)

Italian flashcards

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  • Mini Italian lessons + bonus materials delivered to your inbox.
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  • Invites to free speaking workshops.

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

Transcript

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

K: Ciao a tutti e benvenuti a 5 Minute Italian. I’m Katie.
M: And I’m Matteo

K: Last week, we learnt how to use “gli” to mean “to him” or “for him”. For example. To say “I cook something for him” we say:

M: Gli cucino qualcosa.

Gli = For him
Cucino = I cook
Qualcosa = something

K: We know that the “gli” comes first in the sentence – literally, for him, I cook something. Today, we’re going to learn the other meaning of “gli” – “to them” or “for them”. Remember you can find all the bonus materials for today’s episode, including flashcards a quiz and more example sentences over at our website, joyoflanguages.com/italianpodcast and scrolling down to episode 57.

M: Ascoltiamo la conversazione. Let’s listen to the conversation.

Katie: Matteo, che cosa porti a tua mamma e tua sorella quando torni a Napoli.
Matteo: Gli porto una zucca.
Katie: E ai tuoi amici?
Matteo: Niente, gli compro da bere.

K: So you heard me ask

M: Che cosa porti a tua mamma e tua sorella quando torni a Napoli?
K: What do you bring your mum and your sister when you go back to Naples? Literally…

M:
Che cosa = what
Porti = “you bring” or “you take” (Italians don’t differentiate)
A = to
Tua mamma = your mum
E = and
Tua sorella = Your sister
Quando = when
Torni = you return
A = to
Napoli = Naples

K: We live in Milan, but Matteo is originally from Naples. When he goes home, he takes something unusual to his mum and sister. Did you catch what it was?

M: Gli porto una zucca

K: Matteo said “gli porto una zucca” I take them a pumpkin. Why do you take them a pumpkin?

M: Because the pumpkins in the North of Italy are usually much sweeter than the pumpkins in the South. But the Mozzarella is better in Naples. So when I go from Milan to Naples I take a pumpkin with me and when I go from Naples to Milan I bring some mozzarella.

K: Let’s listen to the sentence “I take them a pumpkin” again.

M:
Gli = To them
Porto = I take
Una Zucca = A pumpkin.

K: So here we see this “gli”, which means “to them”. And this is true for all groups – male, female or mixed. Here we have two women, but we still use “gli”.

In lots of learn Italian resources, you may see “to them” or “for them” as “loro”. For example “porto loro una zucca”. In reality, this use is quite outdated now – you might come across it in very formal situations, but it’s almost never used in conversations. People are much more likely to use “gli”.

M: Gli porto una zucca.

Next, I asked Matteo:

M: E ai tuoi amici?
K: And to your friends?

K: And he replied

M: Niente, gli compro da bere
K: Nothing, I buy them something to drink. Literally:

M:
Niente = nothing
Gli = for them
Compro = I buy
Da bere = to drink

K: And here we see another example of “gli” meaning “for them”, gli compro da bere – for them, I buy, to drink. This time it’s used for Matteo’s friends, a group of men and women.

M: Gli compro da bere.

K: Let’s listen to the conversation again.

Katie: Matteo, che cosa porti a tua mamma e tua sorella quando torni a Napoli.
Matteo: Gli porto una zucca.
Katie: E ai tuoi amici?
Matteo: Niente, gli compro da bere.

K: That’s it for today. If you’d like to learn more about how to use “gli” in Italian, head over at our website, joyoflanguages.com/italianpodcast and scroll down to episode 57. Alternatively, you can follow the link in the show notes for this episode. Don’t forget you can also practice chatting in Italian with us in our 5 Minute Italian Facebook group – click on join and we’ll let you in as soon as we see your request. Ciao for now, see you next time or as we say in Italian,

M: Alla prossima!

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