Learn to ask and give personal information in Italian. Talk about work, relationships, nationality. Understand when it is appropriate tu use the formal “lei” instead of the friendly “tu”. Audio lesson.
Learning to ask and give personal information in Italian is quite easy. You need to learn some basic sentences and vocabulary. All basic information, as it happens in many languages, is provided using the important verbs essere (to be) and avere (to have). In case you don’t know them, here you can see their presente indicativo conjugation. Have a look before proceeding further.
- IO sono
- TU sei
- LUI /LEI è
- NOI siamo
- VOI siete
- LORO sono
- IO ho
- TU hai
- LUI /LEI ha
- NOI abbiamo
- VOI avete
- LORO hanno
Tu or Lei?
You can address someone in Italian using the informal “Tu” or the formal “Lei”. We already said that the choice of dare del Lei, addressing someone informally, depends on common sense. When you don’t know the person you are are going to talk with, or when this person is senior by age or status, you should use Lei. For example, “What’s your name” is:
Come ti chiami? (Tu) / Come si chiama (Lei?)
Mind, “Lei” in this case is not synonym of “she”, but just a formal way to replace “tu”, you. When you will know people well or won’t be the case to use the formal Lei, you will be invited to switch from “Lei” to “Tu”.
“Diamoci del tu” or “Possiamo darci del tu”
Normally, young people will skip the “lei” and use directly the informal “tu”.
Chi è Mario?
When we talk about our relationship with someone, we often use Italian possessive adjectives. So, if I talk to you about “Mario”, you may ask: “Chi è Mario?”
Mario è un mio… (Maria è una mia…)
amico / amica (friend)
Se Mario (Maria) è un parente, if Mario is a relative, we can describe our degree of kinship. In this case we have to omit the article. We don’t say “Mario è il/un mio fratello”. We say “Mario è mio fratello” Mario is my brother. Have a look and listen to the audio lesson “La mia famiglia”, my Italian family for a complete overview. Some nouns about the family in Italian:
Mario è mio… (Maria è mia…)
padre = father
madre = mother
papà = dad
mamma = mom
nonno = grandpa
zio = uncle
zia = aunt
figlio = son
figlia = daughter
fratello = brother
sorella = sister
nipote = nephew / niece
marito = husband
moglie = wife
suocero = f. in law
suocera = m. in law
cognato = b. in law
cognata= s. in law
cugino = cousin (m)
cugina = cousin (f)
genero = son in law
nuora = daughter in law
matrigna = step mother
fidanzato = fiancé
If you want to say “I have a brother, sister etc”, in Italian we say “Io ho / Lui-Lei ha – un/una… fratello/sorella/marito/moglie etc. with the verb AVERE.
Di dove sei (tu)? Di dov’e (lui/lei)?
In order to provide complete personal information in Italian, you must know your nationality. People usually want to know where you come from and where you live.
When we ask “Di dove sei?” where are you from, we mean the nationality for foreigners and the region of Italy or city of origin for Italians. Just like in English, we have two main groups:
Io sono … – Lui/Lei è …
- -ESE (Giapponese, Francese, Inglese – and Milanese)
- -ANO (Italiano, Americano, Australiano – and Romano).
There is no automatic correspondance between Italian and English names of Nationality. For example, we say Canadese and not “Canadiano”, Olandese and not Dutch, Tedesco and not “Germano”. Like all the other Italian adjectives, the ones ending in -E don’t vary according to the gender, the ones ending in -O change with the gender. So we say:
- Io sono Giapponese, Mike è Americano e Lucy è Australiana.
If you want to name your city of origin, you can of course do that saying:
Sono di … (Roma, Tokyo, New York etc…)
Literally, I am of…Historically, European cities and some others around the world have an italianized name. For example: Parigi, Londra, Lisbona, Barcellona, Berna, Vienna, Berlino, Varsavia, Stoccolma, Atene, Belgrado, Dublino, Città del Messico, Pechino, Nuova Delhi, Città del Capo and many others. We used to say Nuova York, but it’s obsolete now.
Che lavoro fai (tu) – Che lavoro fa (Lui/Lei)?
Nowadays, there are so many job titles that the matter can’t be liquidate with the usual doctor/nurse/clerk basic vocabulary. We will dedicate a post to jobs and working-related Italian language. Your job is of course something you want to say or know as personal information in Italian. We will help you to identify the name of your job in Italian, just ask in the comments. The question is: “Che lavoro fai?”, What is your job:
Faccio il/la … dottore/dottoressa
Sono un/una … dentista
Fa il/la … dottore/dottoressa
È un/una … dentist
The “formula” then is:
Fare il/lo/la + job title = Essere un/uno/una + job title
We explained HOW you should ask or provide personal information in Italian. If you want to find out WHAT and learn new words, please explore this blog and find your answers. If you need some help in describing your job, nationality or other information in Italian, please leave a comment and we’ll answer your questions. Subscribe to our mailing list for more articles!
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