In this tutorial we’ll continue learning about Italian verbs.

“Liking Something” in Italian in italian

Mi piace questa birra in Italian means I like this beer.

Mi piace questa birra
  • “Mi” is the Italian for “me”. While in English we use “I”, as in “I like”, in Italian you have to use “mi” here (and not “io”!).
  • Technically “mi” in Italian is a “reflexive pronoun”. “Mi” is used to indicate that the action expressed by the verb directly involves the person who performs it.
  • As “mi piace” is a reflexive pronoun, another translation of “mi piace would be “I like it myself”.
  • Remember, in Italian if “c” is followed by “e”, it is pronounced like “ch”, just like in the English word “chapter”.
  • Technically, the word “piace” is the first person present tense of “piacere”. “Piacere” is an irregular verb, meaning that the verb does not follow the general rules for verb forms, which we’ll see later.

Italian for “I don’t Understand”

Non ho capito in Italian means I haven’t understood.

Non ho capito

While in English it’s more common to say “I don’t understand” if you don’t understand, in Italian it’s more common to say “I haven’t understood”.

“Ho” means literally “I have”. “Non ho”, on the other hand, means “I have not”. Non is the Italian for “not”. Non ho capito literally means I haven’t understood.

Since “ho” in Italian means “I have”, you can also use it to indicate possession (I have a househo una casa)

If someone says something to you in Italian but you don’t understand it, just say “non ho capito”.

  • The letter “h” in Italian is never pronounced. It’s always silent.
  • Remember, in Italian “c” followed by any letter apart from “e” or “i” is pronunced like “c” in cake.
  • Technically the word “ho” is the first person present tense of “avere” (to have).

“I Am” in Italian

Io sono Marco in Italian means I am Marco.

Io sono Marco

Simply replace Marco with your name to introduce yourself in Italian to people.

There are other ways of introducing yourself in Italian, which we are going to look at later on.

  • The word “sono” means “I am”. But it can also mean “they are”, as we’ll see later on.

A Verb in the Second Person: He Drinks

Lui beve caffè means He drinks coffee.

Lui beve caffè
Later on we’ll see in detail how verb forms work in Italian, but for the moment, here’s an example of a verb in the second person present tense (he/she or it).
  • Lui means “he”. If you want to say “she”, you have to use lei (pronounced a lot like “lay” in English). We’ll see lei later on.

“He Eats Cake” in Italian

Lui mangia la torta means He eats cake.

Lui mangia la torta
  • If “g” is followed by “e” or “i” in Italian, it’s pronounced soft, like “g” in “general”. Otherwise it’s pronounced hard, like “g” in “got”.
  • In Italian, “la” or “il” (the) is often used before the names of food items that someone’s eating. So while the literal translation here would be “he eats the cake”, it’s used where we would say “he eats cake” or “he is eating cake” in English.
Later on we’ll have a more systematic introduction to Italian verbs. For the moment, we’re just introducing you to a few simple verbs and verb forms, so it’s less scary later on.

Exercises

Translate the following sentences into Italian.

Click the link below to view the answers. Don’t forget to also read all the examples out loud at least two or three times.

  1. Mi piace questo cane.
  2. Vorrei quella birra, per favore.
  3. Mi piace la pizza.
  4. (Io) ho un gatto.
  5. Non ho capito.
Show answers »
  1. I like this dog.
  2. I’d like (to have) that beer, please.
  3. I like pizza.
  4. I have a cat.
  5. I don’t understand. (Literally, “I haven’t understood”).

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