Most common mistakes English speakers make in Italian - Part 2

Today we will look at some more mistakes English speakers make in Italian. If you missed Part 1, check it out here!


1. GUIDARE with places

In Italian, we don't drive places. We do not drive home, we don't drive to Rome, we just go there or eventually we go there by car. I hear many students say phrases like "abbiamo guidato a Roma" or "sto guidando a casa". Unfortunately, these sentences are wrong. We could say:

  • Siamo andati in macchina a Roma We drove to Rome.

  • Sto tornando a casa in macchina I am driving home.

If you say "Abbiamo guidato a Roma" it means that you're just driving around in Rome and if you say "Sto guidando a casa" it literally means that you are driving your car inside your house!

We don't drive people either, but we take them places by car or "Accompagnare in macchina" them. For example:

  • Porto mia sorella in stazione in macchina I take my sister to the station by car.

  • Accompagno il mio ragazzo a casa in macchina I take my boyfriend home by car.


2. IN vs TRA

Another very common mistake is using the preposition of time IN instead of TRA. I actually wrote an article on this topic that you can read here. The preposition TRA basically translates IN in English that's why it is a bit confusing. Let's look at two sentences using TRA and then IN:

  • Finirò il progetto tra un mese: here you are saying that you will be done with the project in a month, so a month from now, the project will be over. We are talking about a defined and very specific moment in the future.

  • Finirò il progetto in un mese: here you are saying that it will take you a month to finish the project, no matter when you start. IN is used to tell people how long it takes to do something in the future, present or past!


3. Possessive adjectives and articles

You finally learned that possessive adjectives like "il mio", "il tuo" etc, require a definite article in Italian. Just remember that the definite article is NOT required when you have a possessive adjective preceding the name of a family member when it's singular and not modified. Let's look at this summary:

  • All possessive adjectives take a definite article (according to the object that is owned)

  • If you have a singular family member do NOT use article → mia sorella, tuo padre, nostra zia

  • If the family mamber name is plural, use the article → le mie sorelle, le nostre zie

  • If the name is altered (e.g. adds a suffix), the article comes back → il mio fratellino


4. Excited? Eccitato?

Now let's talk about a very awkward mistake you don't want to be making. In English, you use the word excited a lot and personally I use it too when I speak English. Make sure not to translate this word with ECCITATO. This is because ECCITATO in Italian means something a little different, more sexual! It means sexually aroused, horny. So for sure you don't want to use this while saying how excited you are for your next trip to Italy! What could you use instead?

  • Contento or felice happy

  • Emozionato → this is the actual translation but I find myself saying contento or felice more!

  • Non vedo l’ora! I am looking forward to it, I can't wait


5. The big 4

And now let's end this article with another mistake that is very very common and is about 4 verbs that I call "the big 4": I am talking about the verbs

  • Ascoltare → to listen to

  • Cercare → to look for

  • Guardare → to look at, to watch

  • Aspettare → to wait for

The reason why these verbs are very important is that in English they always take a preposition but in Italian they don't! The fact they don't take a preposition not only changes the way you use them but also tells you that you will have to use a direct object pronoun with them and use the verb avere in passato prossimo. This is because they are transitive verbs. If you don't know what that means, no worries, it can get pretty practical! Just remember these three things:

  • NO PREPOSITION

  • VERB AVERE IN PASSATO PROSSIMO

  • USE A DIRECT OBJECT PRONOUN WITH THEM

Let's look at a few examples

  • Mi piace ascoltare la musica in macchina I like listening to music.

  • Sto cercando un jeans chiaro, mi può aiutare? I am looking for light colored jeans.

  • Ho aspettato i miei amici per 2 ore! I've waited for my friends for 2 hours!


I hope you liked this article and found it useful! If you have any questions, feel free to send me a message in the contact section of my website. Also, make sure to read the first part of this article here!


A presto,


Teacher Stefano

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