Italian All-in-One For Dummies
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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?)

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Antonietta Di Pietro is a coauthor of Italian All-in-One For Dummies. Francesca Romana Onofri lived several years abroad and has worked as an Italian and Spanish teacher, as well as a translator and interpreter at cultural events. She was an Italian coach and teacher at the Opera Studio of the Cologne Opera House. In Italy, Francesca has edited several Berlitz Italian books and is working as a translator of art books, as well as a cultural events organizer and educator. Teresa L. Picarazzi, PhD, teaches Italian at The Hopkins School and has lived and worked in Cortona, Florence, Ravenna, Siena, and Urbino. Karen Antje Möller is a veteran language teacher and author. She has worked with Berlitz Publishing on German-Italian projects and Italian exercise books. Daniela Gobetti is a coauthor of Italian All-in-One For Dummies. Beth Bartolini-Salimbeni is a coauthor of Italian All-in-One For Dummies.

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