The Italian language is the twentieth most spoken language in the world, with approximately 61 million speakers worldwide. Growing up eating traditional Italian dishes, our family learned to appreciate the beauty and history of one of the world’s most cherished languages. To spread our love for Italian food and culture, these are 30 basic Italian words and phrases you need to know.
THE HISTORY OF THE ITALIAN LANGUAGE
The Italian language is considered a Romance language, meaning it directly derives from Latin, which was spoken by the ancient Romans and those under their ruling. Italian is unique because out of all of the Romance languages, it most closely resembles traditional Latin. Today, there are several Italian dialects, with the Tuscan dialect considered to be the most widely spoken. Italian is also recognized as an official language in Italy, Croatia (Istria Country), San Marino, Slovenia and Switzerland.
There are many ways to say hello and goodbye in every language. In Italian, there are a variety of words to greet one another (some can even be used to say both hello and goodbye!), including:
- Ciao – hello; goodbye
- Piacere – nice to meet you
- Come va – how are you?
- Buongiorno – good morning
- Buona giornata – good day
- Buona sera – good evening
- Buona notte – goodnight
- Arrivederci – goodbye
- Ci vediamo – see you later
SAYING PLEASE AND THANK YOU
As a child, you were probably taught to say please and thank you to others. In Italian, we show our gratitude for one another by saying:
- Per favore – please
- Grazie – thank you
- Grazie mille – thank you very much
- Prego – you’re welcome
- Mi scusi – excuse me
ITALIAN WORDS FOR FOOD
It’s a known fact that Italians love to share a meal around the dinner table with family. The next time you’re sitting down to dinner, practice your Italian with these words and phrases for food (You can even try your hand at some authentic pici pasta):
- Cibo – food
- Carne – meat
- Vino – wine (Check out our vino selections here!)
- Insalata – salad
- Ora di cena – dinner time
- Buon appetito – enjoy your meal
- Mangiamo – Let’s eat!
- Passa il sale – pass the salt
- è delizioso – this is delicious!
- Posso assaggiare – can I have a taste?
OTHER COMMON ITALIAN PHRASES
Every language has its own unique phrases and slang. Here are some common Italian words you can use in conversation amongst friends and family:
- Che figo – that’s cool
- Allora – so, well or therefore
- Mamma mia – used in Italian like “Oh my gosh!”
- Buon compleanno – Happy birthday
- Felice anniversario – Happy anniversary
- Ti amo – I love you
At Mici, we consider each customer to be part of our famiglia, or family. That’s why we make each dish with wholesome, fresh ingredients that we use in our own homes. Bring the entire family to Mici to practice some common Italian words and enjoy some delicious food (or carry-out an order perfect for an Italian picnic). As we like to say, “Questo è ciò che facciamo per la famiglia,” or it’s what we do for family!
Want to learn more about Italian culture? Check out our latest blog on Italy superstitions