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45 Basic Italian Words to Learn As a Beginner (With Translations)

Welcome, or should we say benvenuto to learning Italian! Italian is an excellent choice for English speakers if you want to start speaking right away. That’s because English's Latin language origins make it one of the easiest languages to learn. With Italian being the closest language linked to Latin, English speakers have a built-in advantage.

Whether you plan to use it for travel or to speak with friends and family, Italian is a beautiful language steeped in culture and arts. By learning Italian, you are tapping into the part of "the cradle of Western civilization" where the greats in art, literature, philosophy and so much more blossomed. But to understand what is going on you must first learn the basic words.

By understanding these foundational words, you will soon have a basic grasp of Italian that will help you learn effectively. From there, you can build with your knowledge knowing you have all the pillars of the language supporting you. With that being said, let’s explore the basic Italian words that will get you started on your journey.

Basic Italian Greetings

Like most languages, the greetings you would use in Italian vary in usage. Your words will change when speaking with friends compared to how you speak at work. It’s important to understand the formal and informal greetings. Knowing when to use them properly will be one of your earliest lessons in Italian speaking. It’s best to start just like how your conversations begin: with a greeting. Knowing when to use them properly will be one of your earliest lessons in Italian speaking. It’s best to start just like how your conversations begin: with a greeting.

Here are basic Italian words to use when starting and ending your conversations (English on the left):

Hello/Goodbye (Informal) Ciao!
Hi/Bye (Informal) Salve!
Hello/Goodbye/Good morning (Formal) Buongiorno!
Hello/Goodbye/Good night (Formal) Buona sera!
Bye bye! Ciao! Ciao!
Goodnight (Use when going to bed) Buona notte!
Goodbye! (Informal) Arrivederci!
Goodbye! (Formal) Arrivederla!

When addressing someone, remember to use the proper honorific. These three basic Italian words should help you in your studies while showing respect for those you wish to converse with:

Mister/Sir Signore
Mrs./Madam Signora
Miss Signorina

Basic Italian Pronouns

Pronouns are essential to Italian language learning. Unless you plan on speaking without the words he, she, they, it, me, and so on, pronouns need to be part of your early studies. And let’s be honest, if you don’t plan on using those words, you are going to have some confusing conversations!

These common Italian pronouns may seem basic but can get tricky when you learn conjugation. You will learn that soon enough. For now, let’s focus on the basics. You’ll notice that there are multiple uses and variations of some pronouns. Just like formal and informal, remember what is direct and indirect. Also, classes may teach you the formal way of speaking.

Keep in mind that learning the colloquial versions of words will be essential to your communication growth. While there are a few options for some of the words, the below chart gives you the most commonly used words so you can start chatting with the locals as soon as possible.

Singular

I io
You tu
He lui (Most common version)
She lei (Most common version)
Me me (Direct)
Me mi (Indirect)
  Plural
We noi
You (Addressing 2 or more people) voi
He lui (Most common version)
She lei (Most common version)
They (Masculine) essi
They (Feminine) esse
They (Both genders) loro

Questions

Once you have greetings and pronouns, you'll want to start asking questions. The list below will give you a glimpse into asking questions in Italian. You’ll need to create your own sentences to take these basic Italian words to proper questions. These basic Italian words should serve as a useful foundation for your to build from.

Do you speak English? Parla inglese?
Who? Chi?
What? Cosa?
When? Quando?
Where? Dove?
Why? Perché?
How? Come?
How much? Quanto?

Nouns

A helpful tip when learning basic Italian nouns is to remember the endings. Italian nouns commonly end in -o, -a, -tà, -e. In rare occasions, nouns can also end in -(t)ú. Masculine nouns end in -o, while feminine nouns end in -a. Nouns that end in -e are gender interchangeable. When it comes to inanimate objects, Italian nouns can become trickier as there is no clear cut guide for ending in feminine or masculine.

Child bambino
Man uomo
Woman donna
Father padre
Mother madre
Family famiglia
House casa
City città
Car auto
Taxi taxi
Train treno
Shop negozio
Book libro
Love amore
Work lavoro
Passport passaporto
Art arte

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