Level 0: Who are you?

Chi sei?
Da dove vieni?
Cosa fai qui?

Who are you?
Where do you come from?
What are you doing here?

These are the questions you are likely to hear on a trip to Italy as soon as the people around you notice that you speak some Italian. To answer them, you will end up talking not only about your present, but also about past experiencies and your future projects. Past, Present, Future – your life is a timeline.

Timeline

Of course, life has been, is and will be a succession of entangled and complex events, and you’ll need precise instruments to narrate them. Happily, Italian action words (or verbs) have 14 time slots to describe the events of your life. The first four time slots will be presented in Level 1.

To populate your timeline, you need people. For conversational purposes, three groups do it all: In Group 1, the pole position, there is nobody other than yourself and you refer to yourself as ‘I’. Now divide the 7 billion human beings who share planet Earth with you into Groups 2 and 3. In Group 2, put the person you are currently talking to (you refer to him or her as ‘you’), whereas in Group 3 you’ll put the rest of the world, the people you may be talking about with your conversation partner (you’ll refer to them as ‘he/she’).

Triangle1

The result is a triangle. ‘I’ talks to ‘you’, ‘you’ responds; and ‘I’ and ‘you’ talk about ‘he/she/it’ (see the hollow arrows). As only one person is involved in each case, I, you, he/she/it are so-called singular personal pronouns. Here they are with their Italian counterparts:

io I
tu you
lui/lei he/she/it

 

A second triangle describes situations with more than one person. We talk to you, you respond, and together, we talk about them. In these cases, we use the so-called plural personal pronouns.

Triangle2

noi we
voi you
loro they

 

Taken together, the three singular forms and the three plural forms condense into a sextet. Later, you will meet dozens of these sextets, so try to become familiar with their structure:

 

  Singular
1st person singular io I
2nd person singular tu you
3rd person singular lui/lei he/she/it*
  Plural
1st person plural noi we
2nd person plural voi you
3rd person plural loro they

* The Italian language has no equivalent for it.

 

Please memorize io-tu-lui/lei | noi-voi-loro.

 

Audio 0.1

You have learned your first seven Italian words!

You have been promoted to Level 1.