Top Italian Survival Phrases

With its beautiful architecture, rich history, and delicious food, Italy is a popular destination for vacationers. Whether you’re traveling to Italy for business or leisure, learning a few basic Italian phrases will make your trip go much more smoothly. Here are some essentials for anyone who plans to spend time in an Italian-speaking country.

Before reviewing the items on this list, it’s a good idea to brush up on your pronunciation of Italian. The bad news is that this involves the notoriously tricky rolled R. The good news is that, unlike English, Italian is a phonetic language: all Italian words are pronounced exactly as they’re spelled.

The basics

Just like other Romance language, Italian has two forms of “you” — an informal one, and a polite one. For the sake of this list, we’ll use the polite forms, as doing so minimizes the risk of offending anyone.

Hello/Goodbye – Ciao

Thank you – Grazie

You’re welcome – Prego

Please – Per favore

Excuse me – Mi scusi

I’m sorry – Mi dispiace

What’s your name? – Come si chiama?

I don’t speak Italian – Non parlo italiano.

Do you speak English? – Parla inglese?

Speak slowly, please. – Parli piano, per favore.

Please repeat that. – Ripeta, per favore.

Where’s the bathroom? – Dov’è la toilette?

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At the restaurant

If you’re in Italy, you’d better take advantage of their famously tasty cuisine. Here are some useful words and phrases that you’ll use at a restaurant.

Restaurant – il ristorante

Food – il cibo

Wine – il vino

Table – il tavolo

Menu – il menù

Plate – il piatto

Knife – il coltello

Fork – la forchetta

Spoon – il cucchiaio

Napkin – il tovagliolo

Breakfast – la colazione

Lunch – il pranzo

Dinner – la cena

Dessert – i dolci

A table for two, please. – Un tavolo per due, per favore.

Can I see the menu? – C’è un menù per bambini?

What do you recommend? – Cosa ci consiglia?

Navigating public transit

Finding your way around an unfamiliar public transportation system isn’t easy. Here are some useful words related to transportation and directions.

Car – l’automobile

Bus – l’autobus

Train – il treno

Subway/Metro – la metropolitana

Street – la strada/la via

Right (direction) – destra

Left (direction) – sinistra

Ahead – dritto

Close to – vicino a

I’m lost. – Mi sono perso if the speaker is male; Mi sono persa if the speaker is female

How do I get to . . . – Come si arriva a . . . ?

Where’s the subway? – Dov’è la metropolitana?

When it comes to learning the basics of a new language, a little goes a long way. Even if your accent isn’t quite perfect, these phrases will help you communicate more readily with Italians, and can save you from some embarrassing situations.

Of course, there’s no better way to prepare for your travels to Italy than to take personalized courses from a native Italian speaker, whether you’re looking for quick survival classes or more in-depth study. Send us a quick inquiry to find out how we can best help you learn Italian.