Practice makes perfect, they say; however, while we’re learning, we may run into Italian mistakes we may be even unaware of. If we are singling out some of the most common mistakes or errors (there’s a difference), it means we can measure their occurrence by the lot.
In fact, we have made a mistake when what we say was not mindfully said and we get to acknowledge it doesn’t “sound well”. We can correct ourselves in many cases, at times after a good laugh. Errors are a somewhat more tragic scenario: not only are we tearing the language apart, but we are really convinced that our way is “right”.
Be open to feedback: that’s the only path to true improvement.
MISTAKES IN ITALIAN:
No, you are not getting a standing ovation –yet. The expression Bravo! has been incorporated in the English language and used when someone has accomplished a formidable feat: a football player leads his/her team to a championship against all odds. An operatic singer hits the highest notes with passion during a La Traviata show. We may have so many reasons to show our admiration for others but, please, let’s not forget grammar in the heat of the night!
Because Bravo needs to agree with gender and number. And even though in English we don’t apply any shifts on that word, in Italian we must do so. So, when a girl scores the winning goal, the word to scream your lungs out with is… Brava!! And if we want to show our appreciation for an all-girl team, we say Brave!! Same rules are applied on masculine words –then we get Bravo and Bravi.
How many panini do you want?
An additional one is this very frequent food order from starving tourists whose hunger may have wiped all grammar off the face of Earth. A panino –yes, only one panino for starters– is the word for sandwich – please, unless you’re intending to bring upon utter chaos, confusion and an ordeal nobody asked for, avoid sandwich. Nah, at most they won’t understand what you’re talking about, and that is bad news for you. Order panini if you’re so hungry you’d eat and be able to afford more than one.
Ti piace oppure ti piacciono?
Again, when it comes to number agreement, things like this may come up. In Italian, to express that something causes a desirable effect on you, you use Mi piace if it’s only one thing (you may say so to express that a person is likeable to you). But if you are speaking of scarpe (shoes), then you should say Mi piacciono le tue scarpe (I like your shoes). You will find this very tricky expression in Spanish, too.
Per instead of da
Because of the native language’s mindset, one of the most frequently made Italian mistakes you is to say per instead of da to speak about time periods. But the right thing to say in such cases would be: “DA quando vivi a Taranto?” (Since when have you lived in Taranto?). “Sono qua DA circa sei mesi” (I’ve been here FOR nearly six months)
It’s July and your dearest wish while the clock closes in on noon is to bare it all in your own house. Granted, it’s your right. But if your partner or companion is Italian and you shoot “Sono caldo”, you will be either triggering a very physical response from your partner/companion or getting him/her run the hell off for their lives. You meant to say “I’m hot” and for such cases, “Ho (un po’ di) caldo” it’s more convenient and better for you.
COMMON MISTAKES ITALIAN SPEAKERS MAKE IN ENGLISH:
Well, we have had some fun together at your expenses, but now it’s time for you to get even. Italians do have their share of mistakes when they speak English.
Three or tree?
Italians have a hard time blowing a strong “h” sound out of their mouths, so it’s sometimes quite difficult to understand the word the are trying to pronounce. For example, the words three and tree are pronounced in the same way by some Italian speakers, and this can create some misunderstandings in a conversation.
What are you doinGGG?
Some Italians tend to overstress the ending –g in gerund, which should be nearly soundless, very much gulped.
We hope our article will help you avoid the most common Italian mistakes. If you want to learn Italian, remember that our school offers Italian lessons online and face-to-face Italian lessons in London with native and qualified Italian teachers.