grammar

How to ask about prices when shopping in Italy

hot to ask about prices in italian

A show of hands from those who have never had a craving for shopping. If you are one of the few virtuous, you won't be interested in this article.

However, if you are not one of them, read the sentences below to learn how to ask about prices in Italian.

You can also listen to the recording and practice the pronunciation by yourself.


The most common way for asking about prices is "quanto costa?" / "quanto costano?". Often people mention what they are asking about. For example: "quanto costa questa maglietta?" ("how much is this t-shirt?") or "quanto costano questi pantaloni?" (how much are these trousers?)

How much is this?


How much are these?
 


If you want to sound more formal, you can say "che prezzo ha?" / "che prezzo hanno?" or, with no difference between singular and plural "può dirmi il prezzo?".

What is the price? (singular item)

 

What is the price? (plural items)

 

Can you tell me the price?


Lastly, if you are at the cash desk and you want to know how much is the bill, you can easily ask: "quant'è?"

How much is the bill?


Now you are ready for shopping in Italy. Buoni acquisti! ;)

How to Write an Email in Italian

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Writing an email is one of the first tasks to be carried out by every language learner. Italian language certifications, like CILS or PLIDA test the ability of the student to write an email or a short message. Beyond this situation, it’s easy to be in a position where you need to know how to write an email. Nowadays emails are commonly used to ask for information, apply for a job, make a reservation, etc.

Sounds difficult ? Not so much if you follow a few simple rules. The first thing you have to know is that an email is a text with a particular structure. If you organize your text into functional paragraphs and you use appropriate opening and closing formulas, you are already  half of the way there. Here are some useful expressions for each paragraph that you can use to write a wide range of emails.

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The Opening (Formula di Apertura)

This part of the email can change a lot depending on who your reader is. If you are writing to a friend or to someone you know, you can use Caro/Cara (Dear) or simply Ciao (Hi). If you don’t know your reader, for example when you are writing to a hotel or a school, you can use some adjectives before the name: Gentile direttore/ Gentile insegnante (Gentle director/ Gentle teacher) or Egregio direttore/ Egregio professore and Egregia professoressa. The last are very formal and when you use them you have to pay attention to the gender agreement, using correct feminineand masculine nouns. With the name of a business you must use Spettabile (Respectable). For example: Spettabile Scuola di Italiano.

Buongiorno and buonasera are increasingly used. These  are greetings and should be used only when speaking, but the trend is changing. Very often they are preferred to the other salutations when you can’t say “Ciao” because is too informal, but don’t want to exaggerate. They are a middle ground and an easy solution when we don’t know the name or the gender of the reader.

Introduction (Introduzione)

At this point you can:

1)    Introduce yourself: Sono Michael; Mi chiamo Allison Bay; Mi chiamo Robert Nash e sono un ingegnere elettronico.

2)    Thank the other person for their previous correspondence : Grazie per la tua email (Thanks for your email); Sono stata molto felice di ricevere la tua email (I’m very happy to receive your email); Non vedevo l’ora di leggere tue notizie (I couldn’t wait to hear from you); etc.

3)    Apologize: Scusa se non ho risposto prima ma sono stato molto impegnato/a (I’m sorry I didn’t answer before but I was very busy); È passato tanto tempo dall’ultima volta che ti ho scritto, ho avuto molto da fare ultimamente (It has been ages since I last wrote, I’ve been rushed off my feet recently); etc.

Main Body of the Text (Corpo dell’email)

This is the main part of your email. Here you can explain the reason you are writing: Scrivo perché vorrei qualche informazione sui vostri corsi di italiano (I’m writing to you because I want to know more about your Italian classes); Vorrei prenotare una camera (I would like to book a room); Scrivo per presentare la mia candidatura per il posto di…(I’m writing to apply for the position of); et

The Ending (Formula di Congedo)

Atthe end, you can use Fammi sapere (Let me know); Un abbraccio (A hug); A presto (Write soon). When you are writing a formal email you can choose among Distinti saluti or Cordiali saluti (Yours sincerely / Yours faithfully).

Italian Grammar: Gender of Nouns.

Gender of nouns is a basic aspect of italian grammar. When you use an italian noun you need to know if it is masculine or femenine so that you can make other words that go with it masculine or feminine too. It’s a huge difference from what happened in English and in other languages that don’t use grammatical gender.

How to recognize what gender a noun is?

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Regarding people and animals, grammatical gender is nearly always related to sex. It is much more difficult to define a rule regarding things: the choice between masculine or feminine seems to be totally arbitrary. The reason is historical. Italian nouns retain their gender from the Latin.

Generally, the letter a noun ends is a guide to its gender. Words ending in -o are nearly always masculine. Words ending in -a are nearly always femenine.

 

Masculine

cappuccino

cioccolata

 

Femenine

cioccolata

crostata

 

When a noun ends in -sione or -zione is femenine. For example, una occasione, una lezione. Almost all nouns ending in -tà and in are femenine.

Instead, words ending in a consonant are nearly always masculine: un film, un bar, uno sport. They are almost all nouns with a foreign origin.

Masculine

film

bar

sport

computer

 

Femenine

occasione

lezione

bontà

virtù

 

Nouns ending in –i are femenine (if they are singular): la crisi, la diagnosi.

Words ending in -e can be masculine or femenine. For example caffè is masculine, while notte is femenine.

In this case, you have to remember the gender. A good way to avoid confusion is to learn words with their article: il caffè, la notte. With masculine noun you use il ora un, with femenine noun you use la or una.