Level 5: Pensare

A1: Love (5)

A2: Italian Cuisine (5)

B. Action Words

Sextets of –are action words (Group 1)

Being polite

Imperative: Orders and advice

Important note

Dare + stare

stare + Gerundium

C. Words

Preview of Level 6

D. Rules

1. ‘O-A | I-E‘ and nouns

2. ‘O-A | I-E’ and the definite article

3. ‘O-A | I-E’ and the indefinite article

4. ‘O-A | I-E’ and adjectives

5. ‘O-A | I-E’ and personal object pronouns

6. ‘O-A | I-E’ and possessive adjectives

7. ‘O-A | I-E’ and demonstrative adjectives

8. Acrobatics

9. che (1)

E. Dialogue

La Festa di Compleanno

The Birthday Party

Words

F. Results & Preview

 

 * * *

If you want to acquire the basics of the Italian language, continue with the next episode of Giulia, Giacomo and their friends (‘A1: Love’) and Pasta alla Carbonara (‘A2: Italian Cuisine’). Download the audio files from www.4Elisa.com and listen until you know them by heart. Then go onto Level 6.

However, if you want to acquire a more thorough knowledge of the Italian language, continue with sections B, ‘Action Words’, C, ‘Words’, D, ‘Rules’, etc.

Today is harvest time – after the rough Levels 3 and 4 you will get a hefty return on investment. What you have seen with the multiple variants of avere and essere will now project you on a formidable discovery orbit of thousands of Italian action words. As you are familiar with 14 Italian tenses and their endings, you will rapidly explore the three major groups of Italian action words: Group 1 words ending in –are, Group 2 ending in –ere, and Group 3 ending in –ire.

Let’s begin with Group 1 (–are) that includes amare to love, pensare to think, parlare to speak/talk, arrivare to arrive, and studiare to study. Group 2 words (-ere) will be presented in Level 6 and Group 3 (-ire) in Level 7. The three groups differ very little between each other; so what you learn today can easily be applied to Group 2 -ere and Group 3 -ire action words.

As always, make extensive use of the audios. Listen to them until you can understand every single word.

 

A1: Love (5)

{AUDIO} Giulia and Sara observe Giacomo and Luca talking to Valeria.

Sara: Vedi, te l’avevo detto…

S.: Do you see, I told you so…

Giulia: Ma cosa trova Giacomo in quella ragazza? È forse carina? Ti piacciono i suoi capelli? E quel trucco osceno?

G.: What does he find so attractive in that girl? Is she that pretty? Do you like her hair? And that make-up isn’t obscene?

Sara: Non devono piacere a me. Ma se piacciono a Giacomo…

S.: They don’t have to please me. But if they please Giacomo…

Giulia: Non piacciono neanche a lui, ne sono sicura. Questa ragazza non è il suo tipo.

G.: Even he doesn’t like them, I’m sure. This girl isn’t his type.

Sara: Dai, andiamo via. Non stare qui a torturarti. Prendiamoci una bella cioccolata calda al Caffè Savoia.

S.: Come on, let’s go. Don’t stay here and torture yourself. Let’s get a nice hot chocolate at the Café Savoia.

Giulia: Ma guarda com’è vestita! Bah, meno male che ho lasciato Giacomo!

G.: But look how she’s dressed! Bah, thank goodness I left Giacomo!

Sara: Ecco una cosa sensata l’hai detta. Toglietelo dalla testa. Vieni, ti offro io la cioccolata.

S.: Finally you say something sensible. Get him out of your head. Come on, I’ll buy you a hot chocolate.

Words

{AUDIO}

te l’ho detto

I told you so

cosa?

what?

trovare

to find

forse

maybe, perhaps

piacere

to be liked, appreciated

il capello

hair

il trucco

make-up; trick

osceno/-a

obscene, indecent

se

if

neanche

not even

il tipo

type

andare via

to go away

stare

to stay, remain

non stare

don’t stay

qui

here

torturare

to torture, inflict pain

prendere

to take

prendiamoci

let’s take

la cioccolata

chocolate

caldo/-a

hot

come

how

essere vestito/
-a

to be dressed

bah  [interjection]
meno male che

thank goodness

(good thing)

sensato/-a

reasonable

togliere (p.p.: tolto)

to remove, get off, take off

la testa

head

offrire (p.p.: offerto)

to offer

 

A2: Italian Cuisine (5)

{AUDIO} Pasta alla Carbonara – for hungry people…

Per 4 persone: 500 g di spaghetti. Condimento: 200 g di pancetta affumicata tagliata a cubetti (7-8 mm), 3 uova intere e 2 tuorli, 2 spicchi d’aglio, 20 g di parmigiano, 100 ml di latte, sale, pepe.

For 4 people: 500 g spaghetti. Dressing: 200 g smoked streaky bacon, cut into cubes (7-8 mm), 3 eggs and 2 egg yolks, 2 cloves of garlic, 20 g parmesan, 100 ml of milk, salt, pepper.

Mentre cuoce la pasta (vedi Level 1), sbattere in un recipiente (possibilmente di vetro) le 5 uova con il parmigiano, il latte, sale e pepe. In un’ampia padella soffriggere per 5 minuti la pancetta e l’aglio.

While the pasta is cooking (see Level 1), “stir vigorously” into a container (preferably glass) 5 eggs with parmesan cheese, milk, salt and pepper. In a large pan, sauté the bacon and garlic for 5 minutes.

Scolare la pasta e mescolarla con le uova; poi, per due minuti, finire la cottura nella padella della pancetta.

Drain the pasta and mix with the eggs mixture; then (put it all back into the pan with the bacon and) continue to cook the spaghetti for two more minutes while stirring.

Alla fine, rimettere la pasta nel recipiente di vetro. Servire e aggiungere pepe e parmigiano secondo il gusto.

Finally, put the pasta back in the glass container. Serve and add pepper and parmesan cheese to taste.

 

Words

{AUDIO}

la pancetta

streaky bacon

affumicato/-a

smoked

tagliare

to cut

il cubetto

cube

l’uovo,
pl.: le uova

egg

intero/-a

whole, entire

il tuorlo

egg yolk

il latte

milk

sbattere

to beat

il vetro

glass

ampio/-a

large

soffriggere

to sauté

mescolare

to mix

finire

to finish, end

la cottura

cooking

rimettere

to put back

secondo

here: according to

il gusto

taste

 

B. Action Words

Group 1 action words, those ending in–are, include words such as amare to love, pensare to think, parlare to speak/talk, arrivare to arrive, and studiare to study. Because you are one of those people who use their brain day to day in life, pensare to think will guide you through Group 1.

Sextets of –are action words (Group 1)

Here is the overview of Group 1 action words. As always, you’ll find 1) the 7 simple tenses and 2) the passato prossimo as an example for the compound tenses.

 

{AUDIO}

Infinito

pensare

Participio passato

pensato

Gerundio presente

pensando

Imperativo

pensa | pensi | pensiamo | pensate | pensino

 

Presente

Passato prossimo

Imperfetto

io

penso

ho pensato

pensavo

tu

pensi

hai pensato

pensavi

lui/lei

pensa

ha pensato

pensava

noi

pensiamo

abbiamo pensato

pensavamo

voi

pensate

avete pensato

pensavate

loro

pensano

hanno pensato

pensavano

 

Futuro semplice

Condizionale pres.

Passato remoto

io

penserò

penserei

pensai

tu

penserai

penseresti

pensasti

lui/lei

penserà

penserebbe

pensò

noi

penseremo

penseremmo

pensammo

voi

penserete

pensereste

pensaste

loro

penseranno

penserebbero

pensarono

 

Congiuntivo
presente

Congiuntivo
imperfetto

che io

pensi

pensassi

che tu

pensi

pensassi

che lui/lei

pensi

pensasse

che noi

pensiamo

pensassimo

che voi

pensiate

pensaste

che loro

pensino

pensassero

 

With the exception of the congiuntivo presente (pensi-pensi-pensi, etc.) and the passato remoto (pensai-pensasti-pensò | pensammo-pensaste-pensarono), most forms are familiar.

1. Presente and Passato prossimo

{AUDIO} In the left column, you see the presente of pensare, in English I think, you think, he/she thinks, etc. How do you obtain the six different forms? You cut the infinitive ending –are and add to the root pens– the endings –o, -i, -a | -iamo, -ate, -ano.

Presente

Passato prossimo

I, you think, he/she thinks
we, you, they think

I, you, he/she thought
we, you, they thought

(io)

penso

(io)

ho pensato

(tu)

pensi

(tu)

hai pensato

(lui/lei)

pensa

(lui/lei)

ha pensato

(noi)

pensiamo

(noi)

abbiamo pensato

(voi)

pensate

(voi)

avete pensato

(loro)

pensano

(loro)

hanno pensato

 

Penso dunque sono.

Cogito ergo sum.
I think, therefore I am.

 

Building the passato prossimo (I thought, etc.) is straightforward: combine ho-hai-ha | abbiamo-avete-hanno with the past participle. A single thought is sufficient to memorize it.

Now build the presente and passato prossimo sextets of the following action words:

amare / amato

to love / loved

parlare / parlato

to speak / spoken
to talk / talked

trovare / trovato

to find / found

lavorare / lavorato

to work / worked

 

2. Imperfetto and Trapassato prossimo

{AUDIO} Do you remember the imperfetto endings of avere: avevo-avevi-avevo | avevamo-avevate-avevano?

The imperfetto endings of the –are group are only slightly different, they just exchange the first –e with an -a: –avo, avi, ava | avamo, avate, –avano.

Imperfetto

Trapassato prossimo

I, you, he/she thought/used to think
we, you, they thought/used to think

I, you, he/she had thought
we, you, they had thought

(io)

pensavo

(io)

avevo pensato

(tu)

pensavi

(tu)

avevi pensato

(lui/lei)

pensava

(lui/lei)

aveva pensato

(noi)

pensavamo

(noi)

avevamo pensato

(voi)

pensavate

(voi)

avevate pensato

(loro)

pensavano

(loro)

avevano pensato

 

Pensavo dunque ero.

I thought, therefore I was.

 

To build the trapassato prossimo (I had thought, etc.), combine avevo-avevi-aveva | avevamo-avevate-avevano with the past participle.

Please form the imperfetto and trapassato prossimo sextets of the following action words:

chiamare / chiamato

to call / called

comprare / comprato

to buy / bought

guardare / guardato

to look / looked

scusare / scusato

to excuse / excused

sperare / sperato

to hope / hoped

 

3. Futuro semplice and Futuro anteriore

{AUDIO} Remember the future of avere: avrò-avrai-avrà | avremo-avrete-avranno. The future endings are the same for all action words: –ò, ai, –à | emo, ete, -anno. Just attach them to the future stem penser(cut –are and add –er).

Futuro

Futuro anteriore

I, you, he/she will think
we, you, they will think

I, you, he/she will have thought
we, you, they will have thought

(io)

penserò

(io)

avrò pensato

(tu)

penserai

(tu)

avrai pensato

(lui/lei)

penserà

(lui/lei)

avrà pensato

(noi)

penseremo

(noi)

avremo pensato

(voi)

penserete

(voi)

avrete pensato

(loro)

penseranno

(loro)

avranno pensato

 

Penserò dunque sarò.

I’ll think, therefore I’ll be.

 

To build the futuro anteriore (I will have thought, etc.), combine avrò-avrai-avrà | avremo-avrete-avranno with the past participle.

Please build the futuro and futuro anteriore sextets of the following action words:

Future stem

ricordare / ricordato

ricorder

to remember / remembered

ascoltare / ascoltato

ascolter

to listen / listened

trattare / trattato

tratter

to treat / treated

aspettare / aspettato

aspetter

to wait / waited

portare / portato

porter

to bring / brought

 

4. Condizionale presente and Condizionale passato

{AUDIO} Do you remember the avere endings of the condizionale presente: avrei-avresti-avrebbe | avremmo-avreste-avrebbero? Just take them as they are and attach them to the future stem penser(cut –are and add –er). The condizionale presente endings are the same for all action words!

Condizionale presente

Condizionale passato

I, you, he/she would think
we, you, they would think

I, you, he/she would have thought
we, you, they would have thought

(io)

penserei

(io)

avrei pensato

(tu)

penseresti

(tu)

avresti pensato

(lui/lei)

penserebbe

(lui/lei)

avrebbe pensato

(noi)

penseremmo

(noi)

avremmo pensato

(voi)

pensereste

(voi)

avreste pensato

(loro)

penserebbero

(loro)

avrebbero pensato

 

Penserei dunque sarei.

I’d think, therefore I’d be.

 

To build the condizionale passato (I would have thought, etc.), combine avrei-avresti-avrebbe | avremmo-avreste-avrebbero with the past participle.

Please build the condizionale presente and condizionale passato sextets of the following action words:

Future stem

funzionare / funzionato

funzioner

to function, to work

cambiare / cambiato

cambier

to change

usare / usato

user

to use

continuare / continuato

continuer

to continue

mandare / mandato

mander

to send

 

5. Congiuntivo presente and Congiuntivo passato

{AUDIO} Finally, something entirely new. For the congiuntivo presente, you need to cut the infinitive ending –are and add –i, i, –i | iamo, iate, -ino.

Congiuntivo presente

Congiuntivo passato

that I, you think, he/she thinks
…that we, you, they think
that I, you, he/she thought
…that we, you, they thought

che io

pensi

che io

abbia pensato

che tu

pensi

che tu

abbia pensato

che lui/lei

pensi

che lui/lei

abbia pensato

che (noi)

pensiamo

che (noi)

abbiamo pensato

che (voi)

pensiate

che (voi)

abbiate pensato

che (loro)

pensino

che (loro)

abbiano pensato

 

Penso che non pensiate.

I think that you don’t think.

 

To build the congiuntivo passato (generally translated into English with a simple that I thought, etc.), combine abbia-abbia-abbia | abbiamo-abbiate-abbiano with the past participle.

Please form the congiuntivo presente and the congiuntivo passato with

liberare / liberato

to free / freed

to release / released

provare / provato

to prove / proved
to try / tried

calmare / calmato

to calm / calmed (down)

incontrare / incontrato

to meet / met

aiutare / aiutato

to help / helped

 

Please remember: the congiuntivo is used after action words that express doubts, thoughts, wishes, beliefs, and worries; in other words: after action words which express the idea that things can happen or not; that things could happen or not; or that things could have happened or not. In Level 4, you saw

Penso che…

I think that…

Credo che…

I believe that…

Immagino che…

I imagine that…

Here are some more phrases and action words that require the congiuntivo:

Mi piace che…

I’d like that…

Non suggerisco che…

I’m not suggesting that…

Non sono certo che…

I’m not sure that…

Ho l’impressione che…

I have the impression that…

Temo che…

I’m afraid that…

Voglio che…

I want that…

Dubito che…

I doubt that…

6. Congiuntivo imperfetto and Congiuntivo trapassato

{AUDIO} The congiuntivo imperfetto is charted territory: take the avere endings (avessi-avessi-avesse | avessimo-aveste-avessero) and exchange the initial -e with an -a: –assi, –assi, –asse | –assimo, –aste, –assero.

Congiuntivo imperfetto

Congiuntivo trapassato

that I thought, etc. that I had thought, etc.

 

che io

pensassi

che io

avessi pensato

che tu

pensassi

che tu

avessi pensato

che (lui/lei)

pensasse

che (lui/lei)

avesse pensato

che (noi)

pensassimo

che (noi)

avessimo pensato

che (voi)

pensaste

che (voi)

aveste pensato

che (loro)

pensassero

che (loro)

avessero pensato

 

Pensavo che non pensaste mai a niente.

I thought that you never thought of anything.

 

To build the congiuntivo trapassato (to be translated into English with a simple that I had thought, etc.; in some cases: that I would have thought), combine avessi-avessi-avesse | avessimo-aveste-avessero with the past participle.

Please repeat the same exercise with the following action words:

abitare / abitato

to dwell / dwelt

to live / lived

cantare / cantato

to sing / sung

lavare / lavato

to wash / washed

alzare / alzato

to lift / lifted

to raise / raised

imparare / imparato

to learn / learned

 

7. Passato remoto and Trapassato remoto

{AUDIO} Finally, a second entirely new set of endings, the passato remoto: -ai, -asti, | -ammo, -aste, arono. You’ll find it mostly in prose or in history books, in particular the third person singular and plural (pensò he thought; pensarono they thought).

Passato remoto

Trapassato remoto

I, you, he/she thought
we, you, they thought

I, you, he/she had thought
we, you, they had thought

(io)

pensai

(io)

ebbi pensato

(tu)

pensasti

(tu)

avesti pensato

(lui/lei)

pensò

(lui/lei)

ebbe pensato

(noi)

pensammo

(noi)

avemmo pensato

(voi)

pensaste

(voi)

aveste pensato

(loro)

pensarono

(loro)

ebbero pensato

 

To build the trapassato remoto (I had thought, etc.), combine ebbi-avesti-ebbe | avemmo-aveste-ebbero with the past participle. The trapassato remoto is rarely used.

Being polite

You is not only you, and if you know any other language than English, you know that. In Italian, when you speak to just one person, ‘you’ is tu, but when you speak to more than one person, ‘you’ becomes voi. Thus, you are crazy translates into (tu) sei pazzo when you talk to a single person and (voi) siete pazzi when you have to deal with two or more crazy people.

In Italian, things are even more complicated than that, because tu is for family members, children or close friends only. When speaking to a person you don’t know (especially older people), or in formal situations, you must use Lei for both male and female. By capitalizing Lei, you distinguish it from lei she. When someone says to you lei|Lei è molto gentile, the meaning can be 1) she is very kind or 2) you are very kind, for example, when you are the professor, a stranger or the Presidente della Repubblica.

In very formal situations, for example in a court of justice, even voi is inadequate. In these rare cases you must use Loro when adressing two or more people (again capitalized to distinguish it from loro they).

You are has therefore four possible translations: tu sei–voi siete | Lei è–Loro sono. Please note that Lei requires the 3rd person singular (Lei è, ha, pensa, etc.) and Loro requires the 3rd person plural (Loro sono, hanno, pensano, etc.).

One person

2 or more persons

1) Family and friends; young people

tu sei

voi siete

2) People you don’t know or who are much older than you

Lei è

voi siete
or
Loro sono (only in very formal situations)

Imperative: Orders and advice

{AUDIO} Orders and advice are part of everyday life: come here, give me that, don’t do that again. While the English system of orders and advice is as easy as one can imagine – think! versus don’t think! –, the Italian language enjoys a menagerie of six different forms. Allow yourself some time to become familiar with it, enjoy it!

Positive advice
or order

Think!’

Negative advice
or order
Don’t think!’

Singular (1)

you (informal)

pensa!

non pensare!

you (formal)

pensi!

non pensi!

Plural (>1)

we

pensiamo!

non pensiamo!

you (informal)

pensate!

non pensate!

you (formal)

pensino!

non pensino!

 

You have noticed that in formal situations, when giving polite orders to your professors, strangers or to the Presidente della Repubblica Italiana, you must use the congiuntivo presente (pensi! | pensino!).

Important note

Whenever you see and learn an infinitive such as pensare to think, please be extremely vigilant. Behind EVERY SINGLE seemingly innocuous infinitive lies a hidden world of some 40 variants. Please get in the habit of ‘expanding’ action words to a few sextets. Somebody talks about amare to love? Think amo-ami-ama | amiamo-amateamano or amerò-amerai-amerà | ameremo-amerete-ameranno. A person proposes accarezzare to caress? Think accarezzerei-accarezzeresti-accarezzerebbe | accarezzeremmo-accarezzereste-accarezzerebbero. That sounds terrifying, doesn’t it? Anyway, do it! This exercise will help you become comfortable with the Italian action words within weeks.

Dare + stare

{AUDIO} The present tense of dare to give and stare to be/stay.

dare to give
I give, etc.
stare to be/stay
I am / I stay, etc.

io

do

sto

I

tu

dai

stai

you

lui/lei

sta

he/she

noi

diamo

stiamo

we

voi

date

state

you

loro

danno

stanno

they

 

stare + Gerundium

{AUDIO} You’ll find stare often in combination with the gerundio (gerund) of action words. The gerundio is the same as the -ing form in English. stare + gerundio describe an action in progress:

Sto mangiando.

I am eating.

Stavo scrivendo.

I was writing.

Starò dormendo.

I will be sleeping.

 

As you see, the gerundio has the endings –ando for Group 1 action words and –endo for Group 2 and 3 (more about these two groups in levels 6 and 7):

Group 1: mangiare/mangiando

Group 2: scrivere/scrivendo

Group 3: dormire/dormendo

Some actions verbs have an irregular gerundio, for example fare (facendo) to do, dire (dicendo) to say, tradurre (traducendo) to translate. More about the gerundio in Level 11.

C. Words

Preview of Level 6

{AUDIO} In Level 6, you’ll find these words and their past participles (detto, venuto, creduto, etc.); please take a look:

dire / detto

to say / said

venire / venuto

to come / come

credere / creduto

to believe / believed

vedere / visto

to see / seen

perdere / perso

to lose / lost

uccidere / ucciso

to kill / killed

discutere / discusso

to discuss / discussed

 

chiedere / chiesto

to ask / asked

prendere / preso

to take / taken

vivere / vissuto

to live / lived

insistere / insistito

to insist / insisted

scrivere / scritto

to write / written

decidere / deciso

to decide / decided

ricevere / ricevuto

to receive / received

 

leggere / letto

to read / read

mettere / messo

to put / put

smettere / smesso

to stop / stopped

chiudere / chiuso

to close / closed

piangere / pianto

to weep / wept

correre / corso

to run / run

rispondere / risposto

to answer / answered

 

rompere / rotto

to break / broken

nascondere / nascosto

to hide / hidden

ridere / riso

to laugh / laughed

sorridere / sorriso

to smile / smiled

difendere / difeso

to defend / defended

D. Rules

In Level 4, we introduced the ‘o-a | i-e‘ scheme which is fundamental to Italian grammar. Please remember:

    o denotes generally the singular masculine, one boy, one man, one (male) cat

    a denotes generally the singular feminine, one girl, one woman, one female cat

    i is generally the sign of the plural masculine, two or more boys, two or more men, two or more (male) cats

    e is generally the sign of the plural feminine, two or more girls, two or more women, or two or more female cats.

 

Put into a table, these elements look like this:

Masculine

Feminine

Singular

-o

-a

Plural

-i

-e

 

{AUDIO} We’ll now see in detail how to apply the ‘o-a | i-e’ scheme to

1. Nouns

(little) child:

bambino–bambina

bambini–bambine

2. Definite articles

the: il/lo–la | i/gli-le

3. Indefinite articles

a: un(o)-una

4. Adjectives

good: buono–buona | buoni–buone
5. Personal object pronouns (POPs) him/her/them: lo–la | li–le

6. Possessive adjectives

my: mio–mia | miei–mie

your: tuo–tua | tuoi–tue

his/her: suo–sua | suoi–sue

our: nostro-nostra | nostri-nostre
your (pl): vostro-vostra | vostri-vostre

7. Demonstrative adjectives

this: questo–questa | questi–queste

that: quello–quella | quelli–quelle

 

{AUDIO}

1. ‘O-A | I-Eand nouns

Let’s explore the ‘o-a | i-e’ scheme with the word bambino little boy and bambina little girl. With the plural forms, i.e., when you have more than one little boy or girl, the –o becomes –i and the –a becomes –e:

bambino        little boy

bambini         little boys

bambina        little girl

bambine        little girls

 

In synthesis:

Masculine

Feminine

Singular

bambino

bambina

Plural

bambini

bambine

 

Following these transformational rules (o ð i  |  a ð e), you can now form the plural of tens of thousands of Italian nouns.

The exception to the rule? Nouns ending in –e which may be masculine or feminine and which form the plural in –i.: la situazione, le situazioni. You’ll find more exceptions in Level 12.

2. ‘O-A | I-E’ and the definite article

You have two types of articles, both in English and in Italian: definite articles and indefinite articles. The definite article the has four standard equivalents (il-i | la-le) plus some exceptions and complications (see below):

il bambino    the young boy

i bambini       the young boys

la bambina   the young girl

le bambine    the young girls

 

In synthesis:

Masculine

Feminine

Singular

il bambino la bambina

Plural

i bambini le bambine

 

Exception 1

Because il and i don’t like to be in front of z or s+consonant (for example st, sp, sc[a,u,o], etc.) or complex consonant clusters (psicologo), you’ll use lo and gli:

Singular:        lo studente         the student

Plural:            gli studenti         the students

 

Exception 2

Il, la and i don’t like to be in front of a vowel, so il and la become l’ and i becomes gli:

l’antipasto    the starter (menu)

l’arancia        the orange

gli antipasti  the starters

 

Further complications

To express the English the, you seem to get away with 7 article variants (il-i | la-le + lo-gli-l’), but there is another major complication: Italian articles tend to fuse with the five so-called prepositions a, da, di, in and su:

Article

 

il

i

la

le

l’

lo

gli

a

al

ai

alla

alle

all’

allo

agli

da

dal

dai

dalla

dalle

dall’

dallo

dagli

di

del

dei

della

delle

dell’

dello

degli

in

nel

nei

nella

nelle

nell’

nello

negli

su

sul

sui

sulla

sulle

sull’

sullo

sugli

 

What do you see?

a+il fuse to form al,

a+i fuse to form ai,

a+la fuse to alla,

a+le fuse to alle, etc.

For today, it will be sufficient that you take a look at the a and di rows, because these two are the most frequent prepositions. Di often describes ownership or possession, a often indicates a direction. Some examples:

il giardino della casa

the garden of the house

la macchina dell’amico

the car of the friend (the friend’s car)

andremo al Poetto

we’ll go to the Poetto (Cagliari city beach)

torniamo alla spiaggia!

let’s go back to the beach!

 

3. ‘O-A | I-E’ and the indefinite article

The indefinite article a has two equivalents in Italian:

un bambino        a young boy

una bambina     a young girl

 

Exception 1: un does not like to stay in front of z or s+consonant (for example, st, sp, sc[a,u,o], etc.) or complex consonant clusters (psicologo) and becomes uno:

uno studente      a student

Exception 2: una doesn’t like to be in front of a vowel and becomes un’:

un’arancia          an orange

4. ‘O-A | I-E’ and adjectives

Do you remember Level 2? The adjectives felice, gentile, dolce, etc., ending in –e, being both masculine and feminine and having a plural always ending in –i?

Singular

Plural

felice

felici

happy

gentile

gentili

kind

dolce

dolci

sweet

crudele

crudeli

cruel

divertente

divertenti

funny

superficiale

superficiali

superficial

 

Those are the so-called group 2 adjectives. Most adjectives, however, are in group 1 and follow the classical ‘o-a | i-e’ scheme. Here is contento happy, glad, with the standard ending in –o.

Masculine

Feminine

Singular

contento

contenta

Plural

contenti

contente

 

5. ‘O-A | I-E’ and personal object pronouns

When you say, ‘I see him’, ‘I see her’, or ‘I see them’, you use the so-called ‘personal objective pronouns’ (POP) him, her and them. Following the ‘o-a | i-e’ scheme, the Italian POPs of the third person are lo-la | li-le:

Masculine

Feminine

Singular

lo

la

Plural

li

le

 

Lo amo.  I love him.

La amo.  I love her.

Li amoI love them (boys or men).

Le amoI love them (girls or women).

 

As you see, them translates into li and le, depending on the gender of the people you are talking about. You’ll find more about these very important personal object pronouns (mi-ti-lo/la | ci-vi-li/le) in Level 6.

6. ‘O-A | I-E’ and possessive adjectives

So-called ‘possessive adjectives’ indicate ownership or possession: my, your, his/her/its | our, your, their.

Singular

Plural

Masculine

Feminine

Masculine

Feminine

my

il mio

la mia

i miei

le mie

your

il tuo

la tua

i tuoi

le tue

his/her/its

il suo

la sua

i suoi

le sue

our

il nostro

la nostra

i nostri

le nostre

your

il vostro

la vostra

i vostri

le vostre

their

il loro

la loro

i loro

le loro

 

Three important rules govern the use of the possessive adjectives:

Rule #1: Possessive adjectives are generally preceded by definite articles.

la mia macchina my car
la tua casa your house

 

Rule #2: Possessive adjectives are NOT preceded by definite articles when you talk about family members such as figlio son, figlia daughter, padre father, madre mother, fratello brother, sorella sister, marito husband, moglie wife etc.

mia moglie my wife
tuo nonno your grandfather

 

Rule #3: The sex (gender) and the how many (number) of suo, sua, suoi, sue depend on the object, not on the owner. What does that mean? If father Thomas owns a car, we would talk about that car as la sua macchina his car. If Thomas’ daughter Johanna also owns a car, we would still say la sua macchina her car. Why? Well, what counts is the gender of the car (la macchina), not the gender of Thomas or Johanna, the respective owners. More examples:

il suo mestiere his/her profession
la sua casa his/her house
I suoi amici his/her friends
le sue macchine his/her cars

 

7. ‘O-A | I-E’ and demonstrative adjectives

The so-called ‘demonstrative adjectives’ indicate whether an object is near (questo; see below, row #1) or far (quello; row #2), both in space and in time. In English, they are generally translated with this/these and that/those.

Article

 

il

i

la

le

l’*

lo

gli

#1

questo

questi

questa

queste

quest’

questo

questi

#2

quel

quei

quella

quelle

quell’

quello

quegli

* only masc. sing.

 

Some examples:

questo paese

this country

questa città

this city

questi abitanti

these inhabitants

quest’uomo

this man

quell’uomo

that man

quello stato

that state

quegli abitanti

those inhabitants

quella città

that city

quel paese

that country

 

8. Acrobatics

{AUDIO} You have now an overview of nouns, articles, adjectives, personal objective pronouns, possessive adjectives and demonstrative adjectives. Binding them together can be pretty easy or rather complicated. These are easy:

Il ragazzo è contento.  The boy is happy.

La ragazza è contenta.  The girl is happy.

Le ragazze sono contente.  The girls are happy.

However, as soon as you have to deal with longer sentences and exceptions from the ‘o-a | i-e’ rule, things become trickier:

La maggior parte degli animali dello stagno di Molentargius sono selvatici.

The majority of the animals in the Molentargius wet land are wild.

It will take you some time to mount such acrobatic constructions in autopilot mode. Happily, our human brain is hard-wired to achieve these feats in a reasonable time! More about you and your brain hardware in Level 10.

9. che (1)

{AUDIO} Che is a versatile word. For today, let’s just explore che as a relative pronoun. So-called relative pronouns relate to something mentioned earlier: in English, you can often omit them (see the first examples); in Italian you can’t. Che translates into who, whom, which or that.

la pasta alle vongole che abbiamo assaggiato avantieri

the spaghetti with clams [which] we tried the day before yesterday

la partita di tennis che vedremo dopodomani

the tennis match [that] we will see the day after tomorrow

la ragazza che ho incontrato l’anno scorso

the girl [whom] I met last year

la professoressa che preferisco

the professor [whom] I prefer

 

More about che in Level 6.

E. Dialogue

{AUDIO}

La Festa di Compleanno

The Birthday Party

Ti posso fare una domanda? Sei davvero nato il primo gennaio o l’hai semplicemente inventato? May I ask you a question? Were you really born on January 1 or have you simply invented it?
Io non ho inventato niente, ma forse i miei genitori, chi lo sa. Dai, perché non ci prendiamo un cappuccino al Caffè Savoia e parliamo della mia festa di compleanno. [Al barista] Gianni, ci prepari due cappuccini, per favore? I didn’t invent anything, but maybe my parents did, who knows. Come on, why don’t we take a cappuccino at the Savoia Café and talk about my birthday party. [To the bartender] Gianni, will you prepare us two cappuccinos, please?
Quando farai la tua festa, il 31 dicembre o il primo gennaio? When will you have your party, on December 31 or January 1?
Direi di cominciare prima, la notte di Capodanno, e di finire con la prima colazione dell’ 1. I would say to start earlier, on New Year’s Eve, and end with breakfast on the 1st.
E in quanti saremo? And how many of us will there be?
Una cinquantina, non di più. Fifty or so, not more.
Una cinquantina? Come farai entrare 50 persone nel tuo monolocale? Fifty? How will you get 50 people in your studio?
Non preoccuparti, faremo la festa nella casa dei miei a Castiadas. Don’t worry, we’ll make the party in my family’s house at Castiadas.
Wow, nella casa sulla collina? Fantastico! Non avremo vicini, non disturberemo nessuno e nessuno ci disturberà. Wow, the house on the hill? Fantastic! We won’t have neighbours, we won’t disturb anyone and no one will disturb us.
Ecco la lista delle cose che ci occorrono. Cosa ne pensi? Here is the list of things (that) we need. What do you think?
– “Niente bibite preconfezionate, solo succo di frutta.” Succo di frutta… vino? – “No prepackaged drinks, only fruit juice.” Juice… wine?
No, 50 chili di arance per fare una bella spremuta. Ci arriveranno direttamente dal frutteto del nostro amico di Calasetta. Ma avremo anche 50 litri di vino di famiglia e 100 litri di acqua della sorgente di San Pietro. No, 50 kg of oranges to make a nice orange juice. They’ll come directly from the orchard of our friend in Calasetta. But we will also have 50 litres of family wine and 100 litres of water from St. Peter’s.
Hmm, ecologico e sano… E da pappai? Hmm, ecological and healthy… And to eat?
Ognuno porterà un antipasto: frittate ai piselli, involtini di primavera, panzanella, humus, taboulè… insomma, cucina del mondo. E bruschetta con olio di oliva. Everyone will bring an appetizer: omelettes with peas, spring rolls, panzanella, humus, tabouleh… well, world food. And bruschetta with olive oil.
E come primo e secondo? And for ‘firsts’ and ‘seconds’? (‘first’ = pasta, spaghetti, rice, polenta, etc.; ‘second’ = meat or fish)
Niente primo, niente secondo. Dagli antipasti passeremo all’insalata, al pecorino e alla macedonia di Amos. Alla fine, come dolce, avremo una specialità, il famoso… No ‘firsts’, no ‘seconds’. From the appetizers we’ll go to the salad, sheep cheese and Amos’s fruit salad. At the end, for dessert, we’ll have a specialty, the famous…
– …Cappello del Prete! Stravanau! Allora conosci la ricetta? … Priest’s Hat! Extraordinary. You know the recipe?
No, viene Bastianeddu e lo prepara in persona. Lo sai che lui non ha mai dato la ricetta a nessuno. No, Sebastian will be there and he’ll prepare it personally. You know that he’s never given the recipe to anyone.
È vero, me lo ero dimenticato. Il Cappello del Prete è un segreto di Stato! It’s true, I had forgotten about that. The Priest’s Hat is a state secret!

Words

{AUDIO}

il compleanno

birthday

fare una domanda

to ask a question

davvero

really

nascere (p.p.: nato)

to be born

il primo

first

gennaio

January

inventare

to invent, create

i genitori

parents

chi lo sa

who knows

il barista

barman

dicembre

December

direi

I would say

cominciare

to start, begin

la notte

night

finire

to end

in quanti saremo

how many we will be

una cinquantina

around 50

non di più

not more

fare entrare

to make stay, to pile in

il monolocale

studio

preoccuparsi

to worry

Castiadas

town in Sardinia

la collina

hill

il vicino

neighbour

disturbare

to disturb

la lista

list

occorrere

to require, need

niente

nothing; here: no

la bibita

drink, beverage

il succo di frutta

fruit juice

il vino

wine

il chilo

kg

l’arancia

orange

la spremuta

fresh-squeezed juice

il frutteto

orchard, grove

Calasetta

town in Sardinia

il litro

litre

vino di famiglia

home-made wine

l’acqua

water

la sorgente

source

San Pietro

place in Sardinia

ecologico

ecological, eco-friendly

pappai (Sardinian language)

to eat

ognuno

everyone, everybody

l’antipasto

starter, appetizer, antipasto

la frittata

omelette

il pisello

pea

l’involtino

roll

la primavera

spring

panzanella

Tuscan salad of bread and tomatoes

lo hummus (حُمُّص)

Levantine recipe made from chickpeas

taboulè (تبولة)

Levantine vegetarian dish

insomma

therefore, in other words

il mondo

world

la bruschetta

bruschetta

il primo

first’ starter dish with pasta, rice, polenta etc.

il secondo

second’ main dish with meat or fish

passare a

to go ahead with

l’insalata

salad

il dolce

dessert

la specialità

specialty

famoso

famous

il cappello

hat

il prete

priest

stravanau (Sardinian)

extra-ordinary

conoscere

to know

in persona

personally

nessuno

nobody

dimenticarsi

to forget

il segreto

secret

lo stato

state

 

F. Results & Preview

Can you say

parlo-parli-parla | parliamo-parlate-parlano

parlavo-parlavi-parlava | parlavamo-parlavate-parlavano

parlerò-parlerai-parlerà | parleremo-parlerete-parleranno

parlerei-parleresti-parlerebbe | parleremmo-parlereste-parlerebbero?

che parlassi-parlassi-parlasse | parlassimo-parlaste-parlassero?

And have you tried to attach these endings to the following action words?

amare

to love

pensare

to think

studiare

to study

lavorare

to work

arrivare

to arrive

trovare

to find

 

aspettare

to wait

comprare

to buy

guardare

to look

scusare

to excuse

sperare

to hope

ascoltare

to listen

portare

to bring, bear

 

Have you learned how to be polite and how to give orders? And do you know how to apply the all important ‘o-a | i-e’ scheme to words like:

1. Nouns

boy/girl

ragazzo–ragazza | ragazzi–ragazze

2. Definite articles

the

il/lo–la | i/gli-le

3. Indefinite articles

a

un(o)-una

4. Adjectives

in love

innamorato–innamorata
innamorati–innamorate

5. Pronouns

him/her/them

lo–la | li–le

6. Possessive
adjectives

my

mio–mia | miei–mie

your

tuo–tua | tuoi–tue

his/her

suo–sua | suoi–sue

our

nostro-nostra | nostri-nostre

your (pl)

vostro-vostra | vostri-vostre

their

loro-loro | loro-loro

7. Demonstrative
adjectives
this questo–questa | questi–queste
that quello–quella | quelli–quelle

 

Well then, you have been promoted to Level 6!

*  *  *

In Level 6, you will fist explore the group 2 action words in –ere. That will be the easy part. Then, you’ll learn how to do things to yourself with so-called reflexive action words. These come with the so-called POPs (personal object pronouns) mi-ti-si | ci-vi-si and use essere to form the compound tenses. Finally, you’ll get a full demonstration of personal pronouns, both POPs (weak and strong) and PSPs (personal subject pronouns). Mastering them is your last big intellectual challenge in Italian grammar. You’ll discover it all in just five pages. Five pages of headaches, perhaps, but, yes, you can!