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This page contains information about:: Italian Present Tense, Plural, Italian Definite and Indefinite Articles, Numbers, Italian Alphabet, and some Italian Expressions.

Italian Lesson 7

Level 2 Lesson 7: Italian False Friends, Wrong Italian Words in English

Many words sound similar in Italian and English, yet their meaning is different and could lead to funny, embarrassing or awkward situations.

 








ITALIAN

ITALIAN MEANING

WRONG MEANING (Italian translation of the wrong meaning)

Attualmente

currently

actually (in realtà)

Camera

room

camera (macchina fotografica)

Cocomero

watermelon

cucumber (cetriolo)

Comprensivo

understanding

comprehensive (completo)

Confetti

sugared almond

Confetti (coriandoli)

Confrontare

To compare

To confront (affrontare)

Crema

Custard

Cream (panna)

Crudo

Raw

Crude (volgare)

Educato

Polite

Educated (istruito)

Educazione

Good manners

Education (istruzione)

Eventuale

Any

Eventual (finale)

Fabbrica

Factory

Fabric (tessuto)

Fastidioso

Annoying

Fastidious (pignolo)

Fattoria

Farm

Factory (fabbrica)

Firma

Signature

Firm (azienda)

Gentile

Nice

Gentle (delicato)

Libreria

Bookstore

Library (biblioteca)

Magazzino

Warehouse

Magazine (rivista)

Morbido

Soft

Morbid (morboso)

Noioso

Boring

Noisy (rumoroso)

Parente

Relative

Parent (genitore)

Patente

License

Patent (brevetto)

Pretendere

To expect

To pretend (fare finta)

Rumore

Sound/noise

Rumor (voce)

Sensibile

Sensitive

Sensible (ragionevole)

Simpatico

Nice

Sympathetic (comprensivo)

 

Other words are present in everyday English use and are derived from Italian, but they have taken meanings or spellings that are not found in Italian and would sound really awkward to Italians.

For example if you order a pizza with pepperoni or peperoni, you will receive a pizza with capsicums and not with a spicy sausage (salame piccante).

Many other examples can be found, unsurprisingly in the realm of food and drinks.

ITALIAN WORD IN THE ENGLISH DICTIONARY

REAL ITALIAN WORD

Bravo, used to applause a performance.

Correct if used for a single male performer, wrong if used for a female performer (brava) or for many performers (bravi or brave)

Al dente, used for all foods cooked to perfection and by extension to say that something has been done to perfection

Al dente is really used only for pasta, very rarely for rice.

Pesto pasta

"Pasta al pesto". Incidentally, pesto is not really used as a spread on sandwiches in Italy.

Bolognaise

"Bolognese" or better still "ragù alla bolognese"

Ciao

Correct, although it must be noted that in Italian it is used both for hello and goodbye, while in English it is mostly used for goodbye

Stiletto (the heel of a shoe)

Not used, the word is "tacchi a spillo".

Macaroni

Maccheroni. Although in English "macaroni" are usually cooked with a cheese sauce, in Italian this is only one of the way to eat them.

Latte

As already mentioned in lesson 5, latte is simply milk in Italian. If you want the drink known as latte in the English world, you have to order a caffélatte.

Cappuccino, espresso, pizza

These are of course correct, but pay attention to use the correct plural form (cappuccini, espressi, pizze) when ordering more than one.

Panini, salami

Correct if you are ordering more than one sandwich or buying more than one sausage, otherwise it should be a panino or a salame. Note that when ordering a panino in a bakery (panetteria) you might get just a bread roll, instead of a sandwich.

Linguini

The correct form is linguine, and it is already plural.

Al fresco

Not used with the same meaning. You would use an expression such as "fuori" (out) or "all'aperto" (in the open). “Al fresco” could mean also “in jail”.

Casino

In Italian is Casinò (emphasis on the o), if you mean the gambling house. If you say casino, it means brothel.

Grotto

Grotta (as in cave)

Zucchini

Not entirely wrong, however zucchine is much more common. One of them is called zucchina

Studio (apartment)

Monolocale. Studio in Italian means a room inside a larger house, set aside as an office or a study area.

 

ITALIAN PROVERBS AND IDIOMS

Porca miseria!

Damn it

Roba da matti

Hard to believe - That's crazy

Sei sicuro/a?

Are you sure?

Senz'altro

Certainly

Siamo alle solite

There we go again

Stiamo freschi

And now what?

Sul serio?

Really?

Tanto di guadagnato

So much the better

Tanto meglio

So much the better

Tanto peggio

So much the worse

Tieni presente...

Bear in mind

Tutt'altro

On the contrary

Vale la pena

It's worth it

Tra moglie e marito non ci mettere il dito

Don't go between the tree and the bark

Chi non risica non rosica

Nothing ventured - nothing gained

 

AN ESSENTIAL DICTIONARY OF ITALIAN - PART 7

Solito

Usual

solo

Only, alone

soltanto

Only

soluzione

Solution

sonno

Sleep

sopra

Above

soprattutto

Above all

sorella

Sister

sorgere

To rise (of the sun)

sorprendere

To surprise

sorridere

To smile

sorriso

Smile

sostenere

To support

sottile

Thin

sotto

Under

spalla

Shoulder

spazio

Space

speciale

Special

specie

Species

spegnere

To turn off

speranza

Hope

sperare

To hope

spesa

Expense

spesso

Often

spettacolo

Show

spiegare

To explain

spingere

To push

spirito

Spirit

sposare

To marry

stabilire

To establish

staccare

To detach

stagione

Season

stamattina

This morning

stampa

Press

stanco

Tired

stanza

Room

stare

To stay

stasera

Tonight

stato

State

stazione

Station

stella

Star

stesso

The same

storia

History

storico

Historical

strada

Street, road

straniero

Stranger, foreign

strano

Strange

straordinario

Extraordinary

stringere

To tighten

strumento

Instrument, tool

studiare

To study

studio

Study

stupido

Stupid

su

On, up

subito

Immediately

succedere

To happen

successo

Success

sud

South

suonare

To play (a musical instrument), to ring (a bell)

superare

To overtake, to pass

superiore

Superior

svegliare

To wake up

sviluppo

Development

svolgere

To develop

tacere

To stay silent, to shut up

tagliare

To cut

tardi

Late

Tavola/tavolo

Table

teatro

Theatre

tecnico

Technical

tedesco

German

temere

To fear

tempo

Time or weather

tenere

To hold

tentare

To try, to attempt

termine

End

terreno

Terrain, ground, soil

territorio

Territory, landscape

terzo

Third

testa

Head

tipo

Type

tirare

To throw or to pull

titolo

Title

toccare

To touch

togliere

To remove

tono

Tone

tornare

To come back, to return

tranquillo

Tranquil, quiet

trasformare

To transform

trattare

To treat

tratto

Segment

treno

Train

triste

Sad

troppo

Too much

trovare

To find

tu

You

tuttavia

However

tutto

All

uccidere

To kill

udire

To hear

ufficiale

Official, officer

ufficio

Office

uguale

Equal, identical

ultimo

Last

umano

Human

unico

Unique

unire

To unite

università

University

uno

One

uomo

Man

usare

To use

uscire

To exit

uso

Usage

utile

Useful

valere

To be worthy

valle

Valley

valore

Value

vario

Various

vasto

Wide, ample

vecchio

Old

vedere

To see

vendere

To sell

venire

To come

vento

Wind

veramente

Truly, really

verde

Green

verità

Truth

verso

Toward

vestire

To dress

vestito

Dress, clothing

viaggio

Travel, trip

vicino

Nearby

villa

Villa

vincere

To win

vino

Wine

visita

Visit

viso

Face

vista

Sight

vita

Life

vivere

To live

vivo

Alive

voce

Voice

voglia

Desire

volare

To fly

volere

To want

volontà

Willingness

volta

Time

voltare

To turn

volto

Face

vuoto

Empty

zia

Aunt

zio

Uncle

zitto

Shut up

zona

Area, zone

 

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Level I

Lesson1: Italian Present Tense, Plural, Articles, Italian Numbers, Alphabet

Lesson2: Italian Irregular Verbs, Italian Reflexive Verbs

Lesson3: Italian Past Participle, Comparative, Superlative, Demonstrative Pronouns

Lesson4: Italian Past Tense, Present Perfect, Interrogative, Possessive, Pronouns

Lesson5: Italian Prepositions, Model Verbs, Italian Future Tense

Lesson6: Italian Adjectives, Negation, Past Perfect in Italian

Lesson7: Italian Gerund Imperative and Adverbs

Level II

Lesson1: Italian Past Tense, Imperfetto, Perfect, and Remote Past

Lesson2: Conditional, Italian Idioms and Proverbs

Lesson3: Subjunctive, More Italian Idioms, Proverbs, and Essential Dictionary

Lesson4: Italian Conjunctions, Italian Ci and Ne, and More Italian Vocabulary

Lesson5: Surviving in Italy, Eating, Drinking in Italy. More Italian Words To Know.

Lesson6: Getting Around Italy Transport, Italian Trains, Buses, and Traffic

Lesson7: Italian False Friends, Wrong Italian Words in English

Italian Expressions

Emergency in Italy

Hotel, Museum, Guided Tour, Shopping

Sentence Quiz

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