How to Hack the Italian Language (3rd in Series): You Had Me at Ciao

The following sample dialogue on how to greet someone and say goodbye in Italian is shared by MyBelPaese community member and Language Corner collaborator Rossella Vicidomini.  Rossella teaches students all over the world Italian online. About learning Italian, she wisely wrote, “Starting to learn a new language is always difficult. Trying to understand new words, hearing a new rhythm in the sentences and having the sense they are all spoken too fast, not to mention the monster of grammar… all these things scare us and often they stop us from even starting. However the best way to start something is… to start!”


Rossella’s article below pairs well with our second article in this series that gives suggestions on how to use common greeting and goodbye words to learn Italian vowel sounds (with voiceovers from Rossella!)  We hope you find them helpful!

The first thing you learn when studying a new language is “how to greet someone“.

In Italian we have many expressions and some are even used in English. Let’s see them.

 To say hello in an informal way we can say ¨Ciao! ¨ which corresponds to the English ¨Hello! ¨

 Let’s see some examples.

 Two friends greet each other:

Marta: Ciao Anna! Hi Anna!

Anna: Ciao Marta! Hi Marta!

 A friend greets her group of friends:

Marta: Ciao a tutti! Hello everyone!

Friends: Ciao Marta! Hi Marta!

To say hello in a more formal way we can say “Buongiorno” which means “Good morning“.

This greeting, as the word suggests, is used during the day while, when the sun sets, we can say ¨Buonasera¨ that is ¨Good evening¨.

Let’s see some examples.

Mr. Rossi: Buongiorno signora Verdi! Good morning Mrs. Verdi!

Mrs. Verdi: Buongiorno signor Rossi! Good morning Mr. Rossi!

 Mrs. Bianchi: Buonasera signor Neri! Good evening Mr. Neri!

Mr. Neri: Buonasera signora Bianchi! Good evening Mrs. Bianchi!

If we are meeting someone for the first time, a useful word to know is “Piacere” or in the longer form “Piacere di conoscerti” which means “Nice to meet you“.

If we want to be more formal it is better to replace the ¨ti¨ with ¨La¨ and then the phrase becomes ¨Piacere di conoscerLa¨.  Let’s see.

 Maria:Ciao, io sono Maria. Hi, I’m Maria.

Luca: Piacere di conoscerti, Maria. Io sono Luca. Nice to meet you, Maria. I’m Luca.

Mr. Verdi: Buongiorno, io sono Mario Verdi. Hello, I’m Mario Verdi.

Mrs. Rossi: Piacere di conoscerLa signor Verdi, io sono Lucia Rossi. Nice to meet you, Mr. Verdi, my name is Lucia Rossi.

When we want to say bye to someone, we can say ¨ Arrivederci ¨ which means ¨ Bye¨ or, if it is night, ¨Buonanotte! ¨ that is ¨Good night! ¨

If we want to say bye in a more informal way we can say ¨Ci vediamo! ¨or ¨A piú tardi! ¨ or ¨A dopo! ¨. All these expressions correspond to the English ¨See you later! ¨

What if we want to say bye to someone we just met? We can modify the previous sentence by saying “É stato un piacere conoscerti/conoscerLa” which translates  to “It was a pleasure meeting you“.

Let’s see some examples.

Marta: Ci vediamo! See you!

Anna: A piú tardi! See you later!

Mr. Verdi:É stato un piacere conoscerla signora Rossi! It was a pleasure to meet you Mrs. Rossi!

Mrs. Rossi: Il piacere é stato mio! Arrivederci! The pleasure was mine! See you later!

Well, now we know all the basic expressions to greet someone, and all that is left for me to do is to say ¨Have a good day!¨ by saying ¨Buona giornata!¨.

The MyBelPaese Language Corner is a collaborative series between an American learning Italian in New York City, and two Italian sisters from Ischia who work as Italian teachers and translators.  We aim to mix the perspectives of a person who has remotely learned Italian to a level of comfortable conversation, with the expertise of professional language teachers who are Italian native speakers.  It’s all about helping people in our community who want to learn Italian, get started with this beautiful language. 

If you’ve decided you’d like to learn Italian, you can swing by the Language Corner and add it to your favorites, we’ll keep you posted on new articles to help you stay on track!


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