Most common mistakes English speakers make in Italian

Making mistakes is one of the most important things while learning a new language. Only by making mistakes you can improve your language skills and get better. However, some mistakes are more common than others so why not fix them right away?

In today’s article, we are going to look at some common mistakes English speakers make in Italian. I will talk about English speakers specifically only because most of my students come from English-speaking countries and because I speak English fluently but maybe these mistakes also apply to other languages. If that’s the case, let me know!

Do you want to take your Italian to the next level? Check out my Online Italian course for beginners "Be Italiano" and start learning today to become a real Italiano, like me!

1. Misgendering nouns

Using a feminine article with masculine words is very common but I want to talk about two words in particular: problema and paese.

Problema is a weird one because it ends in -a but it’s actually masculine. Let me tell you that this exception actually applies to several -ma ending words like tema (essay, topic). Since problema is masculine you are going to say IL PROBLEMA.

Then we’ve got the word paese (country). Honestly, -e ending words are the worst because they could be either masculine or feminine and you can’t really know. You can find some tipis to understand the gender of nouns in this article. Anyway, one of the most misgendered words in Italian is, in fact, paese. It’s not LA PAESE, but IL PAESE (country) as PAESE is masculine.

2. PER instead of DA

Another very common mistake is the use of the preposition PER instead of DA to express how long you have been doing something (for). Let’s say you started studying Italian 4 months ago, so you’ve been studying Italian FOR four months. Well, that FOR in Italian does not translate PER, but actually DA. And also, and that’s actually good news for you, you don’t need to use any past tense but the present will do just fine, and that makes sense because the action is still ongoing in the present as you started studying 4 months ago but you still do now. So we would say: studio italiano da 4 mesi. Not per!

P.S. Here's an article on DA vs PER.

3. Mi piace VS Mi piacciono

Remember that the verb ‘like’ works in a completely different way in Italian compared to English. I’ve made two videos on this topic (here and here): one to say that you like things and the other one you like people. Just to do a quick recap, remember that if you want to say that you like something you’re going to say mi piace if the thing you like is singular and mi piacciono if the thing you like is plural. So:

  1. Mi piace la pasta

  2. Mi piacciono le lasagne

4. Makes sense?

How would you say makes sense in Italian? Well, for sure you’re not going to say fa senso. That’s because:

  1. Fa senso: it’s gross (for example when looking at a gory scene in a movie)

  2. Ha senso: it makes sense

5. Frustrato

This word is too strong in Italian. If you’re frustrated because you can’t speak Italian very well yet, don’t say sono frustrato/frustrata but say sono triste, sono un po' arrabbiato instead.

Frustrato is too strong, and when we say frustrato we generally apply that to describe a person for their life-style (very very general and extremely negative) rather than frustrated for a specific reason. It’s too strong, tend to avoid it.

6. È bene

Do not use è bene. Bene can't be used with the verb essere (except in one specific case that we are not going to cover today) because it’s an adverb.

Bene means well.

So many times my students watch my videos and then they say that è bene or era bene. Would you say that in English this video is well? No.

So try to say è bello, è interessante.

Ok, we are done with today’s lesson, I hope you liked it! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me in the contact section of my website.

Do you want to take your Italian to the next level? Check out my Online Italian course for beginners "Be Italiano" and start learning today to become a real Italiano, like me!

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