In this lesson we’ll look at two everyday Italian expressions and we’ll begin to look at adjectives. We’ll take a look at two adjectives: ‘big’ and ‘small’ in Italian.

  • Adjectives express the appearance or the quality of something; big, small, blue, happy, fast and so on.

In this lesson we’ll see:

  • come va
  • a presto
  • vorrei
  • grande
  • piccolo
  • “How’s it Going” in Italian

    Come va? in Italian means How’s it going?

    Come va?

    “Come va?” is an informal way of asking “how are you?”. “Come” means ‘how’ and “va” means ‘it is going’ or ‘it goes’.

    Italians often use this expression when greeting each other. And they often say “Ciao!” followed by “Come va?” which simply means “Hi, how’s it going?”

    The reply might be “Bene, grazie.”.

    • In Italian if the letter ‘c’ is followed by any letter other than ‘i’ or ‘e’ then it is pronounced like hard, like ‘c’ in ‘come’ or like ‘k’. Therefore ‘come’ is pronounced with hard ‘k’ sound.
    There are other ways of asking “How are you?” in Italian which we’ll be looking at soon.

    See You Soon in Italian

    A presto! means See you soon!

    A presto

    ‘Presto’ means ‘soon’. The “a” before presto means ‘to’.

    It’s a common way of saying ‘bye!’ in Italian.

    • Try to reduce the puff of air that English speakers make after ‘p’, as described in a previous lesson. You’ll feel it if you hold your hand in front of your mouth when you say ‘presto’. Try not to create that puff of air!
    • Try to roll the ‘r’ just a little bit. But if you say it in an English way, you’ll still be understood.

    How to Say “I Would Like …” in Italian

    Vorrei in Italian means I would like ….

    Vorrei

    We have already learned a few words that we can use to make new sentences with “vorrei”.

    For example with ‘vorrei’ you could ask for a coffee:

    “Vorrei un caffè per favore.”. “Vorrei una birra per favore.”

    Note that if you ask for a coffee in Italian, you’ll likely get an espresso. You can try asking for an “americano” or “caffè lungo” (“long coffee”, or coffee with some water) if you like your coffee less strong!

    • The “r” sound in “vorrei” is rolled a bit longer than the “r” sound in “presto”, because it’s a double “r”.

    “Big” in Italian

    Grande in Italian means big or large.

    Grande

    Lets take a look at a few examples with “grande”.

    You could say:

    “Una casa grande” which means “a big house”

    “Una birra grande” which means “a big/large beer”

    “Un cane grande” means “a big dog”

      Notice the adjective in Italian often comes after the noun it applies to; “un cane grande” in Italian, but “a big dog” in English. “Grande” (big) comes after “cane” (dog).

      As we’ll see, the endings of adjectives usually have to change, depending on the gender of the noun they apply to. But adjectives ending in “e” generally don’t change. So we say “un cane grande” (cane is a masculine word) and “una casa grande” (casa is a feminine word) — ‘grande’ doesn’t change.

    The Italian for “Small”

    Piccolo means small.

    Piccolo

    The ending of “piccolo” changes depending on the gender of the noun it applies to. It ends in ‘o’ for masculine words, but ‘a’ for feminine words.

    Some examples:

    • Un gatto piccolo – A small cat
    • Una casa piccola – A small house
    • Una birra piccola – A small beer

    A Short Summary

    • In Italian usually the adjective comes after the the noun. Remember “una casa grande” and “un gatto piccolo.”
    • The adjective usually has to have the same gender as the noun except when the adjective finish in “e”. This often means that nouns ending in ‘a’ are going to be paired with an adjective ending in ‘a’, while nouns ending in ‘o’ are often going to be paired with an adjective ending in ‘o’, making Italian a sort of rhyming language … For example, “una casa piccola”; notice all the words here end in “a”.

    Exercises

    Translate the following sentences into Italian.

    Click the link below to view the answers. But have a go first! Don’t forget to say your answers out loud if possible.

    1. I would like a large espresso, please.
    2. How’s it going? Fine, thanks.
    3. I’d like a small table.
    Show answers »
    1. Vorrei un caffè grande, per favore.
    2. Come va? Bene, grazie.
    3. Vorrei un tavolo piccolo.

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