How to learn Italian numbers

Italian numbers 1 to 10

One of the first items on the list if you wish to learn Italian is the numbers. These are mostly easy to grasp, have a predictable pattern and, in no time, you will be able to count from 1 to a trillion.

In this blog you will learn:

  • Italian numbers from 1 to a million and beyond
  • how to write and how to pronounce the numbers in Italian
  • the rules of exceptions of Italian numbers
  • a few tricks to make them easy to remember
  • the simple and predictable pattern of Italian numbers
  • the Italian (European) number formatting
  • interesting idioms about numbers
  • and you will also get some practice

 The numbers 1 to 10

Language learning would not get off on the right foot, without learning the 1, 2, 3. So lets start with learning the first basic set from 1 to 10 and see how they are written.

Italian numbers 1 to 10
Italian numbers 1 to 10

However, it is important to learn how to pronounce them. Take a look at this short video. After the first listening, you can play the video again, and pronounce the number in the pause between each of them. Practise makes perfect!

The number 0

Also note, that the number 0 is ‘zero’ and the z is pronounced /ds/ so the sounds is: /dsee-roh/

So now that you have learned the first ten numbers, let’s have a little practice.

Practice 1:

What is the result of:

uno + tre =

quattro + cinque =

nove + uno =

sette – due =

sei + due =

uno + cinque =

dieci – sette =

Write the answers in letters and then see them at the bottom of the blog.

 

The numbers 11 to 20

After mastering the first set of numbers, you are now ready to learn the numbers from 11 to 20. Here is a short video to hear how to pronounce and write them:

As you can see, you need to learn these numbers by heart, however, there is a pattern with these numbers. For example, the numbers from 11 to 16 start with the second digit and end in ‘dici’ as in undici, dodici, tredici, and so on.

I’d like to add a quick note about the number 15. Unlike the others, 15 is slightly different and for that it is usually less memorable. A quick memory trick is to think of the word ‘queen’ and imagine the number with a crown, as it sounds a bit like it:  15 = quindici.

Unlike the others, the numbers from 17 to 19 take the opposite pattern, they start with ‘dici’ and finish with the second digit, for example: diciassette, diciotto, diciannove.

So now that you have mastered the numbers up to 20, let’s have a little practice.

Practice 2:

What is the result of (write the answers in letters and check them at the end of the blog):

uno + tredici =

quattro + undici =

sei + dodici =

quattordici + due =

diciannove – cinque =

venti – otto =

sedici – quindici =

diciassette – otto =

diciannove – diciotto =

 

The numbers 20 to 100

Thirdly, even if you must learn the first 20 numbers, the rest are pretty easy. They work like the number in English so you simply combine the two digit together. For example for 22 you simply put together 20 (venti) and 2 (due) to form ventidue. If you need the number 35 again you combine 30 (trenta) and 5 (cinque) to form trentacinque. The two numbers become one word so no spaces or hyphens required.

So now, it is time to see and hear the tens (le dicine) to help you combine these with the previous set:

Exceptions

There are two exceptions when putting numbers together and this is when the unit starts with a vowel. This is the case with uno (1) and otto (8).

In this case there is an elision of the previous word. For example to form 21 you need venti (20) and uno (1), so venti loses the vowel at the end and you will get ventuno. 28 is ventotto, 31 is trentuno, 38 is trentotto, and so on.

The accent

In Italian the graphical accent is required only in very few cases. One of these is when a number greater than 20 ends with 3. In this case you have to write the 3 (tre) with the accent which is an acute accent. For example: 23 = ventitré, 33 = trentatré, 43 = quarantatré, etc.

Practice 3:

Can you write the result of these addition and subtractions in letters? Then check if you are correct at the end of the blog:

venti + nove =

ottanta + otto =

trentadue + ventisei =

novantaquattro – trentatré =

tredici + venti =

 

Number 100 to a 1000

To conclude this first part, you should now be able to count from 0 to 100. Going from 100 to 900 is fairly simple. As you already know from the previous video, 100 is cento. To form the other hundreds simply add the unit to cento, for example 200 = duecento, 300 = trecento, 400 = quattrocento, and so on. Until you get to 1000, which is mille.

To count in thousands is also very simple, you start with mille (1000) and then you use the basic digit adding mila at the end. 2000 is duemila, 3000 is tremila, 4000 is quattromila, and so on.

However, please note that in Italian is not possible – as it is in English – to say 11 hundred but you must say millecento (1100), duemiladuecento (2200), etc.

 

The very large numbers

Before we conclude, here

our final list of the very large numbers. See how they are written and play the video for hearing their pronunciation.

 

Number formatting in Italian

Last but not least, a note about commas and full stops when writing your numbers in digits.

In Italy, as it is the case in most of the European countries, the full stop and the comma are used in the opposite way as the British and Americans do. So the comma is used as a decimal marker and the full stop is used to separate groups of three digits in larger numbers.

So for example in Italian, one point five is written like this: 1,5 and a thousand is written like this: 1.000. Can be confusing if you don’t know it and it takes a bit to get used to it.

 

Essential vocabulary:

Numeri cardinali

Numeri ordinali

Numeri primi

Numeri dispari

Numeri pari

Numeri decimali

 

Common idioms with numbers

1. Farsi in quattro (per qualcuno)

This means to work hard to help someone, to do all that you can to help someone.

Example: Antonella si è fatta in quattro per aiutare il fratello.

2. Su due piedi

This means immediately, without preparation. At once or on the spot.

Example: Non so rispondere alla tua domanda su due piedi, ma posso fare un po’ di ricerca.

3.  Sudare sette camicie

This means to work really hard for something. To go through a great deal of trouble for something or someone.

Example: Ho sudato sette camicie per insegnare i pronomi combinati.

For more idioms, please follow me on instagram, where I publish daily content for Italian students:

Parla Italiano’s school on instagram

 

Answers to practice 1:

quattro/nove/dieci/cinque/otto/sei/tre

Answers to practice 2:

quattordici/quindici/diciotto/sedici/quattordici/dodici/uno/nove/uno

Answers to practice 3:

Ventinove/ottantotto/cinquantotto/sessantuno/trentatré

Lesson 1 Italian for beginners – Introductions

introduction in italian language

Introduction in Italian language

Here are the basic phrases that you need to get you started in Italian:

  1. Your very first phrases…

(click on the pictures to enlarge)

introduction in italian language

For example:

Ciao, mi chiamo Laura e sono Italiana.

Can you write something about yourself?

2) Three questions to get to know someone…

introduction in italian language

  • Come ti chiami? Mi chiamo Laura
  • Di dove sei? Sono Italiana
  • Quanti anni hai? Ho 22 anni

Now it is your turn. Can you write something about yourself?

3) Three more questions, to know them better…

introduction in italian language

Here are their meaning and possible answers:

introduction in italian language

In order to remember, it is good to practice. Can you write a short paragraph about yourself?

Example:

Ciao, mi chiamo Laura e sono Italiana.

Ho 22 anni e abito a Milano. I miei hobby sono: tennis, golf e dipingere.

Do you know how to talk about hobbies? If not, click on the next blog which is all about hobbies, sports and free time!

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The Italian alphabet – l’alfabeto italiano

The Italian alphabet

Italian alphabet

What is a phonetic language?

Italian is a phonetic language and this means that – for the most part – it is pronounced as it is written. This is good news if you are learning Italian. Consequently, compared to other non-phonetic languages, writing in Italian is fairly straightforward.

If you are an English speaker, it might take a little time to get used to correctly pronouncing the last vowel of Italian words. Therefore, practising the actual sound of them helps, as well as practising the whole alphabet.

21 letters only

The Italian alphabet, as compared to the English, only has 21 letters:
16 consonants and 5 vowels.
Here is how to pronounce each letter:

(click on the pictures to enlarge)

The Italian alphabet
The Italian alphabet

So, what about the other letters that are missing: j, k, w, x, y.?

Well, they don’t belong to the Italian alphabet and so are considered foreign letters. Consequently, they are used to spell foreign words which have been adopted from other languages. For example: jolly, kayak, web, xilofono, yogurt.

Here is how to read them:

Please watch this video to hear the pronunciation of each letter of the alphabet:

The letter H

A note must be added about the letter h. This letter is not pronounced in Italian. The h is used as a diacritical mark, which means that it is added to other letters, namely c and g, to change their pronunciation.

The rule of pronunciation for c and g

The sound c can be pronounced in two different ways, as in the words ciao and casa.
In ciao the sound c is soft like the English ch as in Charlie and in casa, the sound is hard as the English k as in kayak.

Here is the rule of pronunciation of c:

Here is the rule of pronunciation of g:

In the same way, g can have a soft sound like in gelato, pronounced as j in jelly and hard sound as in Gatto, pronounced as the g in Gary.

The double consonants

Double consonants are also a characteristic of the Italian language. Double consonants are pronounced differently than the single consonants. They are pronounced with more emphasis and for longer but also the length of the vowel preceding the double consonant is shorter as in this example of the palla (ball) and longer before the single consonant: pa:la (shovel).

Any consonant can be doubled in a word with the exception of the h, as it is not pronounced. The double letter q is present in the Italian alphabet only in the word ‘soqquadro’ which means to turn upside down/to create havoc, chaos.

The Italian vowels

In Italian, we have 5 written vowels: a, e, i, o and u. However, in fact, we have seven sounds as ‘e’ and ‘o’ can be pronounced opened or
closed producing two different sounds for each letter. Here is a rough way of understanding how to pronounce these sounds if you speak English:

A a (Anna) 

pronounced /a/ as in father

E e (Elefante)

E is pronounced either /e/ as the a in chaotic (Close sound)

or /ɛ/ as the e in red (Open sound)

I i (Italia)

Pronounced /i/ as in ee in feet

O o (Orso)

Pronounced /o/ as in ow in owe (close sound) as in Orso

O o (Otto)

Pronounced /ɔ/ as in ou in ought (American pron.) (open sound) as in otto

U u uva

Pronounced /u/ as in oo in boot

Please watch this video to hear how to pronounce the vowels:

The grave and acute accents

The accent in this case is usually a grave accent as in papà, caffè, lunedì, però, più, ecc. All vowels can have a grave accent, however only the letter e can have an acute accent for example perché, poiché, etc.

In standard Italian, the pronunciation of the e varies according to the grave/acute accents. The acute accent is pronounced closed, and the grave opened.

Some native speakers – including myself – however, might not differentiate, in the north for example the word perché is pronounced incorrectly with a grave accent.

Relevant vocabulary:

L’alfabeto italiano – the Italian alphabet
L’alfabeto inglese – the English alphabet
La lettera – the letter
La lettera straniera – the foreign letter
Il suono – the sound
La consonante – the consonant
The vowel – La vocale
La doppia – the double consonants
L’Accento – the accent
L’accento acuto – the acute accent
L’accento grave – the grave accent

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Le vecchie decorazioni (livello A2)

italian christmas decorations

Italian christmas decorations

11 Dicembre 2020

Il blog

Ecco un’altra puntata del nostro blog. Questo può essere complementare alla vostra lezione di italiano (Italian class). Può aiutarvi a capire la cultura italiana (Italian culture) e la lingua italiana (Italian language).

Come inizia la nostra storia

Sono un’insegnante di italiano come lingua straniera e ho vissuto a Londra per decenni. Sono sposata con un uomo inglese e abbiamo due figli. Nel settembre 2020 abbiamo deciso di trasferirci nel mio paesino originario che si trova in Italia fra il Lago di Como e le Alpi.

Adoro il Natale

Io amo il Natale, amo decorare la casa, comprare i regali, pianificare il pranzo e cucinare. In particolare, amo le decorazioni di Natale sia dentro casa che fuori. A Londra abbiamo tantissime decorazioni perché ogni anno non resisto e compro sempre qualcosa di nuovo. In Italia invece, non abbiamo niente. Cosí quest’anno ho deciso di creare delle decorazioni con i bambini.

Le decorazioni di Natale

Ogni anno i bambini portano a casa dall’asilo o da scuola delle decorazioni fatte da loro. Ricordo l’anno in cui mia figlia ha portato a casa una decorazione a forma di piede che doveva rappresentare la renna Rudolf. Purtroppo il lavoretto non aveva avuto un terribile successo o cosí ho pensato quell’anno. Eppure, con il passare del tempo, ho iniziato ad amare profondamente quella decorazione e l’appendo con affetto ogni anno al nostro albero di Natale.

Lavoretti con i bambini

Proprio per questo, quest’anno ho deciso di realizzare delle decorazioni con i bambini. Perciò abbiamo ritagliato cuori di carta, dipinto renne, incollato brillantini su stelline, e cosí via.

Le decorazioni del passato

Mio fratello Silvio, che abita al piano di sotto, ha visto cosa stavamo facendo. E` andato a casa sua e mi ha portato una scatola di sue decorazioni e di quelle ereditate da mia mamma. Ho aperto la scatola ed ecco che, con grande sorpresa, ho trovato delle decorazioni di carta che io avevo creato il mio ultimo anno in Italia, prima di andare a vivere a Londra. Quell’anno vivevo con i miei genitori e mia madre deve aver conservato le mie decorazioni per tutti questi anni! Mia madre purtroppo ci ha lasciato, ma il ritrovare i miei lavoretti, mi ha fatto pensare a lei e al suo amore. Forse anche lei ha provato le mie stesse emozioni, anno dopo anno, a riappendere le decorazioni fatte dalla figlia. Chissà!

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A year to forget and a learning revolution to continue

how difficult is italian to learn

How difficult is italian to learn

A year we will remember

2020 has been a year that most of us will remember; a sad time for some and a difficult time for most. To say that the virus has changed our lives is an understatement. The way people live has been revolutionized both in terms of their working life, their social life and the way people learn. Although we cannot deny the negative effects of the pandemic, some people have been able to find something positive in it such as being able to spend more quality time with their families, consider their travels more carefully as well as their shopping routines. Working from home will probably stay with us after the pandemic and so too will be the way we learn and lead our lives.

Learning online

During the pandemic, people started to take a great variety of classes online including languages. Learning a language online with a dedicated teacher is easy, accessible and convenient. Even people who loved attending a regular class have discovered the convenience of distance learning and the pleasure of doing it in their familiar environment.

Online classes at Parla Italiano

Parla Italiano responded to the Coronavirus crisis by closing our face-to-face classes following Government guidelines and opening online classes. We dedicated time to choose the application from which our virtual classes are delivered. All our classes are small and our courses are structured by level. All material presented during the lesson is made available before or after class as required. We have a white board that we share with our students. We use a variety of tools to make the classes truly engaging including numerous games. There is plenty of speaking practice during the lesson as students are split into smaller groups and enabled to interact with each other, making the most of the time available.

Our personal touch

I personally like to get to know our students before they join so that I can advise the best course for them. I like to discuss with my students their learning history and what they wish to achieve. Free trials are also available. Please get in touch by phone (UK number +44 7941092593) or by email laura@parlaitaliano.co.uk. I look forward to speaking with you!

New classes starting soon

Our new Italian classes, including complete beginners, are opening soon, places are limited, please get in touch now to avoid disappointment. Our classes are listed on our website www.parlaitaliano.co.uk. If you cannot find what you are looking for, please contact us.

Our blog in Italian

If you are not a complete beginner and have reached the level A2, please read our blog in Italian about my adventure of moving to Italy: joys and tribulations

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La riscoperta di casa (livello A2/B1)

italian landscape

Italian landscape

30 ottobre 2020

Ecco un’altra puntata del nostro blog. Questo può essere complementare alla vostra lezione di italiano (Italian class). Può aiutarvi a capire la cultura italiana (Italian culture) e la lingua italiana (Italian language).

Sono un’insegnante di italiano come seconda lingua e ho vissuto a Londra per decenni. Sono sposata con un uomo inglese e abbiamo due figli. Nel settembre 2020 abbiamo deciso di trasferirci nel mio paesino originario che si trova in Italia fra il Lago di Como e le Alpi.

Per più di vent’anni ho vissuto a Londra, ne sono stata attratta, l’ho desiderata, mi sono immersa con piacere nel suo ritmo frenetico. L’ho conosciuta pian piano, l’ho amata, l’ho criticata e infine è diventata casa. Non avevo nostalgia dell’Italia nè il desiderio di tornare, o forse sì.

Ora che sono tornata in Italia, anche qui mi sento a casa. Si tratta però di una senzazione strana fatta di familiarità ma anche di sorpresa e di scoperta. Mi sorprendo a guardare dalla finestra, vedo la montagna che sovrasta tutte le altre ed è come se la vedessi per la prima volta. Non ho mai notato i suoi colori che cambiano drammaticamente con il cambio di stagione. La trovo bellissima. La natura mi circonda, e ogni volta che la guardo la sento sussurrare. Le montagne in particolare mi parlano della sua maestà, del suo potere e della sua protezione.

Care montagne mi siete mancate!

Annunceremo il nostro prossimo blog sulla pagina Facebook:

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What to expect from your Italian class

learn italian classes

Learn italian classes

So, what can you expect from our Parla Italiano classes, what can you expect to learn after a term, and what kind of teachers and methods are used in our classes? Here is the answer:

Parla Italiano, led by myself, has been providing Italian classes since 2006. The success of our school is due to our professional approach. First of all, our native teachers must have a qualification for teaching Italian and experience. Just being a mother tongue is not enough to be able to analyse language, prepare lessons plans with specific aims and deliver it successfully.

Second of all, at Parla Italiano we believe that learning a language is all about motivation and fun.

So the environment created in class is stress-free and non-critical, even if the lesson includes correction stages. The role of our teachers is to guide and make it possible for students to learn. Our teachers are able to make the learning process simple, effective and fun by using a variety of activities and material, including games, role plays and so on.

Last but not least, we give students the opportunity to speak. Our classes are small, so students can expect interaction and speaking from lesson one. We don’t expect our students to have previous knowledge, however they will acquire enough of it each lesson to be able to use it straight away. Students are never put on the spot and are given help at each stage.

After a term of classes, students should be able to talk about themselves, ask basic questions, order at the bar and at the restaurant, express preferences and so on. You would have learnt some basic grammar such as the present tense, articles, and so on. And most importantly, have gained some confidence.

Learn Italian classes: The atmosphere in class is positive and encouraging. Mistakes are considered part of the journey.

Each person will develop their language skills at their pace and although we give all the tools and advice to work on outside of the class, this is by choice, you don’t have to do it. We understand that the Italian class means different things to different students and we respect that. Please get in touch if you wish to know more!

For our full list of classes please visit our website: www.parlaitaliano.co.uk and click on Group Italian Classes. If you wish to speak with us, please write to: laura@parlaitaliano.co.uk or phone: 07941 092593