ES.S41 | Spring 2012 | Undergraduate

Speak Italian With Your Mouth Full

Lesson 3

Lesson 3: Language Instruction

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Lezione Numero Tre/Lesson Number Three

Watch a video:

Lesson 3, Part 1: Opening Lecture

Come State?/How Are You?

  • Come state? (Literally “How do you stay?”)/How are you?"
    • Spero bene! /I hope well!

You may be wondering whether am I talking to you as a single person, or to you as a group. In English you would know it from the context. In Italian you would know it from the structure of the sentence itself, because I would use a different form of the verb stare.

(voi) come state? You-plural
(tu) come stai? You-singular
(lei) come sta? You-singular, formal (like Usted in Spanish)

Here is how you can answer:

Bene. Or benissimo/molto bene. Very well.
Non c’è male, grazie. Not bad, thank you. (Literally “There isn’t bad.”)
Cosi cosi. So so.
Male Bad.
Note: If we are in a formal relationship, you should say E Lei? instead of E tu?

Listen to Dialogue: Come Stai?

Come Stai? (MP3 - 2.7MB)

Essere O Stare? Questo è il Dilemma!/Using the Verbs Essere or Stare? That is The Question!

  • We ask come stai, not come sei.
  • As a general rule, essere means “to be”, and stare means “to stay”.
  • However, stare, not essere is always used, when followed by the adverbs bene, male, meglio, or peggio (worse). Stare bene with an indirect pronoun (dative) means “it suits you”.
  • Questo vestito ti (=a te) sta bene/This dress suits you. (Literally “this dress stays well to you”).

Stare followed by the gerundive expresses the continuous tenses:

Sto cucinando. (I) am cooking.
Stavo leggendo. (I) was reading.

Essere is used in general to indicate more permanent aspects of people or things.

Sono Daria. I am Daria.
Sono di New York. I am from New York.
Mike è Americano. Mike is American.
Mia mamma è bionda. My mom is blond. (Used with identity, origin, nationality, aspect, religion, etc.)

Sometimes it’s also for transitory conditions/emotions.

Giovanni è ammalato. (not sta ammalato) John is sick.
Alice è innamorata. Alice is enamored (in love).
Sei felice? Are you happy?

Essere is also used as a verbo ausiliare (auxiliary verb, or helper) in the passive form:

  • La pizza è cotta nel forno./The pizza is baked (literally “cooked”) in the oven.

When talking about a location, essere and stare are mostly the same:

Siamo in cucina or stiamo in cucina./We are in the kitchen.

Listening Exercise

Essere e stare: Indicativo presente

Ascolta come si coniuga l’indicativo presente dei verbi essere e stare./Listen to how the verbs _essere and stare are used.

Essere e stare (MP3- 1.8MB)

 Il Verbo “Essere” / The Verb “To Be”

(io) sono. (I) am.
(tu) sei (informal)/ (Lei) è (formal). (you) are.
(lei/lui) è. (she/he) is. (We don’t have the neutral pronoun “it”.)
(noi) siamo. (we) are.
(voi) siete. (you) are.
(loro) sono. (they) are.

Il Verbo “Stare”/The Verb “To Stay”

Sto. (I) stay.
stai (informal) sta (formal). (you) stay.
sta. (she/he) stays.
stiamo. (we) are.
state. (you) stay.
stanno. (they) stay.

If you want to talk about something you enjoy doing, you use the verb piacere followed by the infinitive:

A Giorgio piace cucinare./George likes cooking. (Literally “cooking is pleasing to George.”)

As we started planning what to cook next, we made the list of what toppings we like on pizza.

Cosa ti (= a te) piace sulla pizza? What do you like on your pizza? (Literally “What is pleasing to you on pizza?”)
Mi (=a me) piace la mozzarella. I like mozzarella. (Literally “Mozzarella is pleasing to me.”)
Mi piacciono le melanzane e i peperoni, I like eggplant and peppers. (Literally “Eggplants and peppers are pleasing to me.”)


Lesson 3 Assignments (PDF)

Listening Exercise

Mi piace!/I like it!

Listen and repeat.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2012
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Videos
Activity Assignments
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