A First Italian Lesson from gbarto.com


For our introduction to French, we will start by teaching you to introduce yourself to someone and say one or two words about yourself.


Here is the opening of a simple conversation:


Buon giorno

(bwohn jurnoh)

How are you?

Come sta?

(koh-may stah)

They should answer…



Very well, thank you.

Bene, grazie.

(bay-nay, grahts-ee-ay)

And you?

E Lei?

(ay lay)

You respond…



Very well, thank you.

Bene, grazie.

(bay-nay, grahts-ee-ay)

You continue…



I am [your name]

Mi chiamo [your name]

(mee kee-ah-moe)

And who are you?

Come si chiama ?

(koh-may see kee-ah-mah)

They give their name and answer…



Pleased to meet you.



To which you respond:



Pleased to meet you.




The dialogue sketched above is simple and the pronunciation guide is a rough approximation created for ease of use by a native speaker of American English, not for a precise representation of standard Italian. Native Italian speakers may add in some words or put some of the words in a different order. Do not worry about this for the time being. The information above should be enough for you to exchange names with an understanding Italian speaker.


Once you have met someone, you may want to learn more about them and to tell them about yourself.


Above, you learned that to say, “I am,” you say, “Mi chiamo...” This expression literally means, “I am called,” or “They call me.” To literally say, “I am,” you say, “Sono...” (there’s one other possibility but that comes later.) The table below shows a few things you can say about yourself.

I am…



from San Francisco.

di San Francisco

(dee san fran-see-skoh)

an American man/



an American woman.



a lawyer.



a government worker.



a doctor.



Note that the Italians often don’t say “a/an” where we do.


To ask about the other person, you can say, “Lei è?” The table below shows a few possibilities.

You are… ?

Lei è… (the Lei is often left out)

(lay ay)

Italian (to a man)



Italian (to a woman)



from Rome?

di Roma?

(dee roe-mah)

a secretary*



a professor (to a man)



a professor (to a woman)



 *Just as English distinguishes between actor and actress, so Italian sometimes has different nouns for males and females. This is much more common in Italian. Most of the time, the distinction is between an ending in –o (for men) and an ending in –a (for women). However, as with the words for professor, sometimes the difference is more complicated.


This concludes the first Italian lesson from gbarto.com. Stay tuned. A second lesson is coming soon. And if you are in the San Francisco Bay area and would like lessons, why not visit gbarto.com/languages for information on our private tutors.