Did you know that Italian has 3 different ways of saying you? There’s the “singular you”, the “formal you” and the “plural you”. This can feel a bit confusing to English speakers because we only have one! But not to worry, they’re very simple to learn when you know how. Find out more in episode 41 of 5 minute Italian.
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…
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Today’s Italian words
Parlare = to speak
Scrivere = to write
Dormire = to sleep
Parli = you speak
Scrivi = you write
Dormi = you sleep
Parla = he/she speaks; you speak (formal)
Scrive = he/she writes; you write (formal)
Dorme = he/she sleeps; you sleep (formal)
Parlate = you all/both speak
Scrivete = you all/both write
Dormite = you all/both sleep
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Click here to take the quiz for this episode: Three ways of saying “you” in Italian
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- Download the flashcards: 3 different ways to say you in Italian
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Please note, this is not a word for word transcript.
Katie: Did you know that Italian has 3 different ways of saying you? This can feel a bit confusing to English speakers because we only have one! But not to worry, they’re very simple to learn when you know how. Find out more in episode 41 of 5 minute Italian.
K: Ciao a tutti e benvenuti a 5 minute Italian, hi everyone and welcome to 5 minute Italian. I’m Katie…
M: And I’m Matteo. Ciao.
K: And in today’s episode, we’ll be talking about all the different ways to say “you” in Italian. Now back in episode 39, we learnt the most common way to say “you”, which is the informal “you”. The “you” to use with your family, friends and young people. So let’s review that quickly now. Let’s start with an -are verb, parlare (to speak). How do you say “you speak”?
M: Parli. Remove the -are from parlare, and add the “i” sound. Parli
K: Now for an -ere verb, scrivere (to write). How do you say “you write?”
M: Scrivi. Remove the -ere from scrivere and add the “i” sound. Scrivi.
K: Now an -ire verb, dormire, which means to sleep. How do you say “you sleep”?
M: Dormi. Remove the -ire and add the “i” sound. Dormi.
K: So to say the informal “you”, it’s easy. For -are, -ere and -ire verbs, just remove -are, -ere and -ire and add the “i” sound. Now, this “i” sound is actually spelt with the letter i, so if you’re interested in the spelling you can see the words written down in the show notes. Next, Italian has a formal version of “you” that you’d use with older people that you don’t know very well.
M: Good news, it’s really easy! You actually already know how to say it.
K: Remember the last episode, when we learnt how to say “he” and “she”? Well, the formal “you” is exactly the same as the “he” and “she” form. Which kind of makes sense when you think about it because using the formal form is a way of creating polite distance between yourself and the speaker. So instead of looking at them and saying “you”, you look at them and say “he” or “she” instead.
K: Can you remember how to say “he or she speaks”?
K: So how would you say “you speak” In the formal form?
K: Can you remember how to say “he or she writes”?
K: So how would you say “you write”, in the formal way?
K: And “he or she sleeps”?
K: You sleep, in the formal way?
K: But how do you know when to use the formal “you” in Italian?
M: As a general rule, I’d say use it with anyone over 50 that you don’t know very well, and with staff in formal situations like in nice restaurants or hotels, or in business situations when you don’t know the person. But even Italians aren’t always sure when to use it, so don’t feel like not knowing it means that you’re bad at Italian.
K: And people are very forgiving with non-native speakers too!
Next, let’s talk about the third way of saying “you” which exists in Italian, which is the plural “you”, when you’re speaking to more than one person. It’s like saying “you both”, “you guys”, “you all” or “y’all”.
M: And even more good news, it’s also very simple to learn!
K: All you have to do is take the verb in its full form, the replace the “r” with a “t”. So we know that parlare means to speak. To say “you all” or “you both” speak, remove the r from the are part and replace it with a “t”. So instead of parlare, we get parlate. So again, you all or you both speak is…
K: Let’s do the same for scrivere to write. How would you say “you all” or “you both” write?
M: Scrivete. Remove the “r” from scrivere and add “t”. Scrivete
K: And finally, dormire (to sleep). How would you say “you all” or “you both sleep”?
M: Dormite. Remove the “r” from dormire and add “t”. Dormite.
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 the link below. Grazie, and ciao for now, see you next time, or as we say in Italian, alla prossima!
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