Where are you from?
It’s the most popular conversation starter of all time and an essential topic to master if you want to make small talk with Italians.
In today’s lesson, you’ll learn how to ask people where they’re from and tell them about your nationality. By the end, you’ll know:
1. Three different ways to ask someone where they’re from
2. How to talk about different nationalities
3. One very simple way to ask questions
Here’s a link to last week’s episode on when to use formal and informal forms: Italian greetings – How Italians really say hello to each other.
To help you remember what you learnt in today’s lesson, below you’ll find bonus materials like 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.
Remember and practice using what you learnt with the bonus materials for today’s episode.
Today’s Italian words
Di dove sei? = Where are you from? (informal)
Di = from
Dove = where
Sei = you are (informal)
è = you are (formal)
Di dov’è? = where are you from? (formal)
Siete = you both/all are
Sono = I am
Inglese = English
Americano/a = American
Australiano/a = Australian
Italiano/a = Italian
E tu? = And you? (informal)
E lei? = And you? (formal)
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: Where are you from? in Italian + other small talk questions
Remember the vocabulary from your 5 Minute Italian lessons by downloading the digital flashcard pack.
- Download the flashcards: 5 Minute Italian Flashcard Deck
- Not sure how it works? Click here to watch the tutorial.
Please note: This is not a word-for-word transcript.
Katie: What’s the first question most Italians ask when making small talk? Where are you from? is probably the most common. Find out how to ask people where they’re from and tell them about your nationality, in this week’s episode of 5 minute Italian.
Ciao a tutti e benvenuti a 5 minute Italian, hi everyone and welcome to 5 minute Italian. I’m Katie…
Matteo: And I’m Matteo. Ciao.
Katie: Today’s lesson is the first in a mini-series on how to have a basic conversation in Italian. In this lesson you’ll learn how to ask someone where they’re from, and talk about your own nationality in Italian. We’re also going to learn how to use one of the most important verbs in Italian, which is “to be”.
Matteo: To ask someone where they’re from, you can say: di dove sei?
Katie: Italians say it backwards: di means from, dove means where and sei means “you are”. They literally say “from where are you” di dove sei?. So far, we’ve learned that sei means “you are”. But Italian actually has three different ways to say you are, depending on who you’re talking to.
Matteo: Right, we have: Di dov’è. The last part: è means “you are” in formal situations, for example, with receptionists, or people who are older.
Katie: Again we’ve got di which is “from”, and dove, which is “where”, but this time we say è, the formal way to say “you are”, which is written as the letter e with a little sloping accent on the top. Dove and è are contracted together, we remove the e at the end of dove, so it becomes di dov’è.
We went into a bit more depth about when to use the formal form in last week’s episode, so if you want to find out more we’ll put that link in the show notes too.
There was one more way right?
Matteo: Yes. In English, when you want to say you to more than one person, you say “you both” for two people, or “you all” for three or more. But Italians have a special form for the plural of you. So to say you both, or you all are in Italian is siete.
Katie: Great, so taking the same structure that we used before di dove sei, (informal) and di dov’è (formal), how would you say where are you all/both from?
Matteo – di dove siete.
Katie: now let’s look at how to answer this question. How do you say “I am”
Katie: And English is inglese. So how would you say “I’m English”?
Matteo: Sono inglese.
Katie: Inglese, ends with the letter e, so it’s the same for males and females. But some words, like Americano or Italiano, change, depending on whether you’re a male or a female. So if a woman wants to say “I’m American”, she would say…
Matteo: Sono Americana.
Katie: with an A ending. And what about if a man wants to say “I’m American”
Matteo: Sono Americano.
Katie: How would a woman say “I’m Australian”
Matteo: Sono Australiana
Katie: And how would a man say “I’m Australian”
Matteo: Sono Australiano.
Katie: And how would a woman say “I’m Italian”
Matteo: Sono Italiana
Katie: And how would a man say “I’m Italian”
Matteo: Sono Italiano
And we’ll put a link to a list of other nationalities in the comments box so you can find out how to say yours if we missed it.
And finally, we need to know how to say the all-important “and you”? If it’s an informal situation, “you” is tu. The word “and”, is “e” So to say “and you” we say.
Matteo: E tu?
Katie: And the formal word for you is “Lei”. So if you’re speaking to someone older than you, to say “and you”, you’d say…
Matteo: E Lei?
K: That’s all we have time for today, thanks for listening. And if you’d like to get more mini Italian lessons delivered to your inbox, don’t forget to subscribe by following on the link in the below. Grazie, and ciao for now, see you next time, or as we say in Italian, 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.