Italian Grammer Help Please

Reply Thu 29 Jul, 2004 10:15 pm
I'm teaching myself Italian (which doesnt help because I can read it fine but have no one to speak it with, but anyway)
Wish to check a few things:

La matita e sopra la tavola e il libro e sotto la sedia,
In plural form would become
le matite sono sopra le tavole ed i libri sono sotto le sedie.
Correct? (the 'sono' and the 'ed'??)

And what do you do with words such as Lo Zio and Lo Specchio because of the 'i'? I Zii and I Specchii??

And things such as
'la sala da pranzo' and 'la camera da letto' what parts do you change for plurals?
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Reply Fri 30 Jul, 2004 08:59 am
Re: Italian Grammer Help Please
Polarbear wrote:
La matita e sopra la tavola e il libro e sotto la sedia,
In plural form would become
le matite sono sopra le tavole ed i libri sono sotto le sedie.
Correct? (the 'sono' and the 'ed'??)

Yes on "sono." Not sure on "ed" (I believe that "ed" is used before vowels, but the usage is not consistent).

Polarbear wrote:
And what do you do with words such as Lo Zio and Lo Specchio because of the 'i'? I Zii and I Specchii??

These are "impure" S's, so the plural definite article is "gli."

Polarbear wrote:
And things such as
'la sala da pranzo' and 'la camera da letto' what parts do you change for plurals?

I don't have my reference materials here: someone else will have to answer this one.
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Reply Fri 30 Jul, 2004 08:45 pm
thanks so much for the help!

But with the words zio ans specchio, because they have an 'i' before the 'o', what do you do when you make it a plural? Drop the 'o' and do you add another 'i'? so gli specchi'i'?
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Reply Sat 31 Jul, 2004 02:44 pm
The plural form of nouns ending in -io with a stressed -i- is -ii: lo zio, gli zii (pronounced tsee-ee, with a slight glottal stop between the two i's).

Nouns ending in -io with an unstressed -i- change to -i: lo specchio, gli specchi.
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Reply Sun 1 Aug, 2004 03:19 pm
The conjunction 'e' takes an 'euphonic d' in front of words starting with another 'e'. You can find it even in front of words starting with a different vowel but, as it was written in a previous post, the usage isn't consistent. I myself never pronounce that extra d when speaking nor I write it very often. My advice: don't bother about this 'd', no one will ever correct you on this.

And now the plurals: le sale da pranzo, le camere da letto.
Unfortunately Italian compound words are tricky.
Is it 'i capotreni' or 'i capitreno'? (capotreno = chief conductor). The answer is: both are right.
But what about 'capostazione' (= stationmaster)? Only 'i capistazione' is correct.
And 'capodanno' (= new year's day) or 'capodoglio' (= sperm whale)? Here the correct plural forms are: 'capodanni' and 'capodogli'.
Don't look for a rule, you will find the correct form only looking it up in a dictionary!
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Reply Sun 1 Aug, 2004 04:14 pm
And I thought Italian was fool-proof!
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Reply Mon 2 Aug, 2004 02:25 am
Thanks again everyone!
Ok, Im now up to verbs... It looks bloody difficult. (how aussie of me).
I dont quite understand how to change them or when, plus the differences for other people (he she them, polite etc etc)...
Anyone know where I can get anything off the net that is quite simple to follow regarding the rules? I've been looking, but its all nonsense to me.
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Reply Mon 2 Aug, 2004 02:48 am
Italian verbs are difficult, and I'm not so sure that learning any rule by heart will make them look easier. Unfortunately I don't know anything in English with an easy explanation of the Italian verb system, but I can surely try and see if I can find anything.
If you post some examples of things you find odd or even senseless, I'll gladly help you make sense out of nonsense Smile
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Reply Tue 3 Aug, 2004 01:48 am
Very Happy Hey, thanks Luukas, you're a champ.
Ok, Im on the page of:
egli, lui, esso
ella, lei, essa
loro, esse
etc etc etc....
It explains what each of them is, but not when to use which of them. Do I say "egli parla" or lui parla"? Confused
Basically, can you give me a very easy example of each so I get a feel for them and how to use them?
Anche, it starts on 'are' verbs which is fine, but I dont know what of the previous subject pronouns to use with the different versions of 'are' verbs. The example used is Parlare, and its in present tense (?)

(did ANY of that make sense??) Embarrassed
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Reply Tue 3 Aug, 2004 03:42 am
First of all I'm going to say something that you already know but it may be useful to repeat it once again. In Italian you don't alway need a subject in front of a verb. That's because verbs inflect in such a way that you can always understand what the verb's subject is.
Therefore you won't need a personal pronoun in front of the verb:

parlo con Anna - I talk to Anna (it's clear that the subject is io/I, you understand it from the final -o of the verb form, so I don't need to say io parlo)

Anyway, sometimes you want to put emphasis on the subject. Let's say we are watching a picture and I tell you:

io sono quello con la maglietta bianca - I'm the one with the white t-shirt

But if you had asked me

quale sei tu? - which one is you?

I could have answered:

sono quello con la maglietta bianca (but io sono quello... would be correct too)

The use of the 3rd personal pronoun is not very clear, even to us. We are taught that the subject forms are:
egli (male person), ella (female person), esso (male thing or animal), essa (female thing or animal).
I rarely use the 3rd personal pronoun as a subject. Most of the times the subject has a name, so it's clear whom you're talking about. Here's a short dialogue:

A: Ieri ho incontrato Paola.(1)
B: Dove l'hai incontrata?(2)
A: In libreria, stava comprando alcuni libri.(3)
B: Pensavo che fosse già in vacanza. (4)
A: No, parte la prossima settimana, me l'ha detto lei(5)

(1) I don't need to say that it's me who met Paola
(2) The subject tu is not expressed, but I need an object pronoun (la) that refers to Paola
(3) Here we already know who the subject of this sentence is, so you don't need to say it.
(4) See n. 3
(5) The first sentence (parte...) is like n.3 and 4. In the second sentence the subject is always Paola but I need to express it because it's like I'm saying: she told me that, not someone else!

I used lei because no one ever says ella. Of course grammatically speaking lei is the object form but you use it even as subject.
Egli is more frequent than ella but is often replace by lui.
Esso and essa are seldom used, at least in spoken language.

I think that we use lui, lei instead of egli, ella because when we use them we want to specifically put emphasis on them. Egli, ella wouldn't work and so almost only lui, lei are used, when we really need them.

The same happens with the plural pronoun. Essi, esse are the proper subject pronouns, but we use loro instead (without any distiction between masculine and feminine gender)

A: Chi sono loro? (Who are they?) (1)
B: Sono i miei cugini (They are my cousins)

(1) Imagine we have two groups of people in front of us, I would ask you this question while pointing at one of the groups. But if there were only a group of people I would ask chi sono? (= who are they?).
Of couse chi sono can be translated in English also with who am I?, but the situation would be clear enough to avoid misunderstanding.

Hm, I'm not so sure this will help you much, and I didn't answer the second part of your question, because I didn't really understand what you don't understand (but it's my fault, Italian grammar is obvious to me, even when I don't understand it, so it's not always easy to undestand what foreigners find difficult in it).
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Reply Tue 3 Aug, 2004 04:48 am
Im learning mainly for speaking when I get to Italy, so if I use Io, tu, lui, lei and loro, (and for the moment forget the others) I should do ok? What about noi and voi?
Io: parlo
tu: parli
Lui, lei: parla
noi: parliamo
So if I stick to this mould, I can use it on other verbs and start practising?
You have been such a great help!
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Reply Tue 3 Aug, 2004 06:57 am
When you speak Italian, I think you can simply forget about them all, of course when they are used as subjects of a sentence.
Anyway, apart from io, tu, noi, voi, you will always hear and use only lui, lei and loro as 3rd person subject pronouns, but I repeat, most of the times you won't simply use them at all.
(just out of curiosity I can tell you, that if I had to conjugate the simple present of the verb parlare, I would recite:
io parlo, tu parli, egli parla, noi parliamo, voi parlate, essi parlano)

Italian verbs have three possible endings in their infinitive form: -are, -ere, -ire.
Regular verbs of the first group (-are) are conjugated according to the pattern you wrote.
Basically these are the pesonal endings:

io - /o
tu - /i
egli (or lui, lei, I hope you have understood) - /a
noi - /iamo
voi - /ate
essi - /ano

All you have to do is take the infinitive (parlare), remove the ending -are and add the ending you need according to the verb's subject.
There are of course a lot of irregular forms and verbs that are completely irregular.
Consider these two verbs of the 1st group (-are): mancare (to be missing) and mangiare (to eat)
The roots we need are: manc- and mangi-

The simple present of these verbs is:

io manc-o
tu manc-h-i(*)
egli manc-a
noi manc-h-iamo(*)
voi manc-ate
essi manc-ano

(*) you need an extra 'h' in order to pronounce 'c' always like in 'call'

io mangi-o
tu mangi (1)
egli mangi-a
noi mangi-amo (2)
voi mangi-ate
essi mangi-ano

(1) here the root already ends with -i and this is enough to mark the second person singular form of the verb
(2) since there's already an -i in the root, the ending is simply -amo

Only three verbs in the first group are completely irregular: andare, dare, stare.

Andare forms the simple present using both the regular root (and-) and a different root. So you have:

io vado; tu vai; egli va; noi andiamo, voi andate, essi vanno


io do; tu dai; egli dà (remember the accent!!); noi diamo, voi date, essi danno (two n's)

Stare is similar to dare:

io sto; tu stai, egli sta (no accent); noi stiamo; voi state; essi stanno

The verb fare belongs to the 2nd group (verbs ending with -ere in the infinitive form) even if it ends with -are, but its conjugation is irregular both according to the 1st and the 2nd group:

io faccio; tu fai; egli fa; noi facciamo; voi fate; essi fanno

...and this is only the simple present of verbs in the 1st group!
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Reply Thu 26 Aug, 2004 02:54 am
Io (o 'sono'?) studio molto questa settimana. Non parlo l'italiano ancora, ma imparo, e leggere è più facile.
è questo corretto?

This is my first attempt at writing Italian by myself, so be nice...
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Reply Thu 26 Aug, 2004 03:16 am
I just reread that post above... Its daunting. What made me want to learn Italian anyway???
Oh yeah, that little thing about wanting to live there...
That'll do it.
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Reply Thu 26 Aug, 2004 03:23 am
Hi 'orso polare'
hmm your sentence is probably understandable but it's not correct.
Let's start from the first sentence you wrote:

'sono studio molto questa settimana' - I think you wanted to write
I have studied a lot this week
'I have studied' in Italian is '(io) ho studiato'.
This is present perfect or 'passato prossimo' in Italian.
Unlike English that uses only the verb 'to have' to form the present perfect, in Italian both 'essere' (to be) and 'avere' (to have) can be used.
You use 'essere' with intransitive verbs (ex. 'andare' to go), while you use 'avere' with transitive verbs (ex. 'leggere' to read).
'Studiare' is transitive, so you have:
(io) ho + studiato (past participle of the verb 'studiare'): ho studiato

In the second sentence I would write:
non parlo ancora l'italiano ma sto imparando (I'm learning)

I don't really understand what you mean in the last part of your second sentence: [...] leggo è più facile.
If with 'leggo' you mean 'the act of reading' you should use the infinitive:
leggere è più facile (reading is easier)
Otherwise, if 'leggo' means 'I read' you should say 'leggo più facilmente'.
Anyway I think you wanted to write something like 'reading is easier', right?
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Reply Thu 26 Aug, 2004 03:31 am
*tears and more tears, and a few sighs...*
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Reply Thu 26 Aug, 2004 03:37 am
oh, wait! It wasnt that bad!
I edited it a bit more I think before you read it. I went back to look, and I had, so only half of it was wrong. Well still most of it, but not all.
Im not up to past tenses or anything yet, so that could be why I didnt know it. I'll get there.

"sto imparando?"
I dont have anything with me (dictionary etc) so why this and not simply 'imparo' I am learning. And whats a 'sto' anyway?

This is going to take forever (not dejected, just tired enthusiasm!)
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Reply Thu 26 Aug, 2004 04:06 am
You're right, my corrections came before you redited your post.
With your corrections the only wrong sentence is the first, and I've already explained you what verb form you should have used.

sto imparando is what you call in English present progressive.
It's built with the verb stare and the gerund of the main verb (gerund is that verb form that ends in -ndo)
sto leggendo - I'm reading
stanno mangiando - they are eating
stavi dormendo - you were sleeping
staremo scrivendo - we'll be writing

Don't worry, Italian isn't the easiest language on earth but it's not even the most difficult. Trust me.
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Reply Thu 26 Aug, 2004 04:43 am
No, its fine. Because I only learn a little each day, it makes me want to to know more and more. I think it is quite easy to understand most of it, I just dont have a very good memory!
Thanks for all your help, and I'll be back with more problems later.
Can I ask where in Italy you are? How many languages do you speak?
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Reply Fri 27 Aug, 2004 02:33 am
Whats the difference between 'stare' and 'essere'?

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