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How to Make Small Talk in Italian

Making small talk in Italian is just the same as in English. Touch on familiar topics like jobs, sports, children — just say it in Italian! Small talk describes the brief conversations that you have with people you don't know well. Small talk is where friendships are made. If you know how to make small talk in Italian you'll be able to "break the ice" and get to know some of the people you meet during your trip.

Small talk generally consists of greetings and introductions and descriptions of personal information and interests. If you are able to hold your own in each of these areas, you'll be able to handle most small talk situations.

Greetings and introductions

Although the Italians are often more formal than we are in America, you don't need to wait around to be introduced to someone. Take the initiative to walk up to someone and say hello.

The most common ways to greet someone is to simply say hello (Salve or Buon giorno). Introductions don't have to be complicated or stuffy. The following phrases are all you need to get a conversation started.

  • Mi chiamo . . . (My name is . . .)

  • Lei come si chiama? (What's your name? [Formal])

  • Permette che mi presenti mia moglie, Fabiana? (May I introduce my wife, Fabiana?).

Greetings and introductions are usually accompanied by a Come sta? (How are you? [Formal]) There are many possible responses, but the most common would be to say I'm doing well (Sto bene!) or I'm so-so (Così così.).

Personal information

After the necessary introductions, small talk is really just a question of sharing information about yourself and asking the other person questions about themselves. The following phrases will come in handy when you're chitchatting with someone new.

  • Sono degli . . . (I am from . . .)

  • Di dov'è Lei? (Where are you from?)

  • Che lavoro fa? (What is your profession?)

  • Quanti anni hai? (How old are you?)

  • Dove vite? (Where do you live?)

  • Sono uno studente/ studentessa. [M/F] (I'm a student.)

  • Sono insegnante. [M]/Faccio l'insegnate. [F] (I'm a teacher.)

  • Sei sposato? [M]/Sei sposata? [F] (Are you married?)

  • Hai dei figli? [Informal] (Do you have any children?)

  • Ho tre figli. (I have three children.)

  • Sono uno studente. [M]/Sono una studentessa. [F] (I'm a student.)

Remember to use the formal Lei version of you when meeting someone for the first time.

Personal interests

Many friendships are forged on the bond of common interests. You can use the following phrases to compare interests when making small talk.

  • Cosa ti piace fare per divertimento? [Informal] (What do you like to do for fun?)

  • Che tipo di musica ti piace? (What kind of music do you like?)

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