Learn these Italian phrases before you visit

Adam Jones | 26/11/2018
Basic phrases when travelling to Italy. Train travel in Italy.
young woman, travelling by train

You’re going to Italy, but you don’t know how to speak Italian. It might help to have some basic Italian phrases in your pocket to help make your trip run more smoothly. It goes a long way as a traveler to show that you’re at least making an effort in the local language. 

Let’s learn a few basic Italian words and phrases to help you get by. We’ll have you saying si (yes) to speaking Italian in no (no) time.

A great way to start is with a greeting. Ciao is one of the words most commonly associated with Italian and serves as both an informal “hello” and “goodbye.” You may also want to use greetings associated with different times of the day such as buongiorno (good morning), buonasera (good evening), and buonanotte (goodnight). 

Before we learn full Italian phrases, we’ll want to cover how to respond politely and how to ask questions in Italian. To say “please” you’ll want to use per favore. For “thanks” you can use grazie, or if you’re finding yourself really thankful grazie mille. Let’s not forget how to say “you’re welcome” either which is prego. “Pardon me” is mi scusi, which can also come in handy.

On to questions.

One that you often ask while traveling - “How much?” : Quanto?

Then the other major questions. 

“Who?” : Chi?

“What?” : Che?; Cosa?

“Where?” : Dove?

“When?” : Quando?

“Why?” : Perché?

“How?” : Come?

Family travelling on train. Travelling through Italy by Train.

Now we will learn Italian phrases based on these question words.

Who is coming to the party? : Chi viene alla festa?

What is your name? : Come si chiama? 

Where is the bathroom? : Dov’è il bagno?

When does the bus leave? : Quando parte il autobus?

Why is the train late? : Perché il treno è in ritardo?

How are you? : Come sta?

Now we can focus on some other phrases that may come in useful while you’re traveling.

Do you speak English? : Parla inglese? 

How much does it come to? : Quanto viene?

I don't understand. : Non capisco. 

What flavors? : Quali gusti?

I don’t speak Italian. : Non parlo Italiano.

I would like… : Vorrei…

My name is… : Mi chiamo…

What about numbers?

1 – uno

2 – due

3 – tre

4 – quattro

5 – cinque

6 – sei

7 – sette

8 – otto 

9 – nove

10 – dieci

11 – undici

12 – dodici

13 – tredici

14 – quattordici

15 – quindici

16 – sedici

17 – diciassette

18 – diciotto

19 – diciannove

20 – venti

30 – trenta

40 – quaranta

50 – cinquanta

60 – sessanta

70 – settanta

80 – ottanta

90 – novanta

100 – cento

1,000 – mille

Young Man travelling on Train. Travelling Italy by train

Remember if you don’t hear something clearly you can always ask:

Repeat, please. : Ripeta, per favore.

You might also clarify:

I only speak a little Italian. : So soltanto un po' di italiano. 

This should be a good guide for how to speak Italian for beginners, whether you need to speak it oggi (today), domani (tomorrow), dopodomani (the day after tomorrow), or maybe even ieri (yesterday).