When you learn Italian, you learn words like cat, glass en Dolce. But those aren't the words you hear most often in Italian. That's why here's a list of the (stop) words that you encounter in every conversation (and sometimes almost in every sentence).
The words from the list below are often used by Italians as a safe word or they have different meanings depending on the context.
It is useful to know what these words mean, so that you can better understand your Italian interlocutor. But also so that you can use them yourself to gain time if you want to think about your answer or if you are just starting with learn Italian but immediately want to sound like a real Italian.
Here they come.
Table of contents
Allora means 'then', but can be used in almost any sense and situation. Also as a synonym for 'okay' or for 'so'. It's simply one of those words that can draw attention to you before you actually start talking.
Allora, cominciamo la lezione di italiano. (Okay, then we'll start the Italian lesson.)
Another word that punctuates every Italian conversation. Then a has 2 main meanings: therefore/therefore and afterwards.
Fa freddo, quindi resta a casa. (It's cold, so I'm staying home.)
Then can have the same meaning as Than we, but often it is used for 'then, after'.
Cammina a dritto per 5 minutes, poi gira a destra. (Walk straight for 5 minutes, then turn right.)
4. Va bene
The Italian equivalent for 'okay', which you hear after every 5 words in a sentence. Often abbreviated to vabbé. Literally it means 'it's going well'. So you can also answer the question come vai? (how are you?)
It is mainly used as a filler in sentences, to fill in the gaps in the conversation. Like allora en Than we.
Allora, va bene cosi? (Are you okay?)
Ecco literally means 'here', but you can almost always apply it. As a replacement for please, for example. Also in situations like 'here it is' or 'here we go'.
Ecco il menu. (Please, the menu.)
Literally it means 'instead', but you often use it as an alternative to ma (but), to indicate a contradiction. instead can also mean nevertheless, on the other hand, nevertheless or anyway. In short, just as complicated as in Dutch.
Io invece non ti dimenticherò mai. (I, on the other hand, will never forget you.)
'Aspetta, aspetta.' When you walk through an Italian village, you hear it all around you all the time. It simply means 'wait'. And it's used as frequently as our 'wait a minute'.
When you start learning Italian, you will notice that you use this word just as frequently as the Italians do within a short period of time.
Aspetta, come! (Wait, I'm coming!)
Magari is a strange word that is virtually untranslatable. It often means something like 'I hope so'. But it can also mean 'please', 'maybe' or 'unfortunately'. We already have before a whole blog article devoted to this safe word.
Vuoi prendere un caffè? magari! (Would you like a cup of coffee? Please!)
It's not really a word, but more of an exclamation of 'I don't know' or 'I don't know'. You can also indicate that you do not want to discuss it further.
Hi capito cosa ho detto? boo! (Did you understand what I said? I know a lot!)
No, this isn't a goat's exclamation, but another word you hear all the time. It means something like 'well' or 'well' or just 'eh'. Instead of behind would you often allora can say.
Beh, scegli tu. (Well, you choose.)
Also however is used in many different ways. Really a word that you have to hear in context to deduce its meaning. Often it comes down to 'in any case' or 'yet'.
Non sai? Thanks comunque. (Don't you know? Thanks anyway.)
You see it. Italian too – like any language – has its untranslatable words and language idiosyncrasies. Google Translate or a dictionary will not always help you. It is precisely with these words that it pays to get to know them, because you hear them so often.
Yet it is possible tricky to use them yourself, if you don't already have enough knowledge of Italian. Do you need a professional Italian translation for your (business) texts? Then you do well with a certified translator Dutch-Italian who knows the finer points of Italian like the back of his hand.
Do you remember Italian words that belong in the above list? Then leave your comment below.
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Sources: icebergproject.co, thelocal.it, Wikipedia