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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Flashcards: 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:
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”.
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”.
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
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”).
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
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
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