Hunting down your food

April 6th, 2008, by Francesca

hunting down your food

Before you can eat your food, you must of course find it. So, here's a couple of useful phrases for the next time you find yourself in Italy on an empty stomach.

Scusi, dov'è il mercato?
Excuse me, where is the market?

C'è un ristorante qui vicino?
Is there a restaurant nearby?

Hai fame?
Are you hungry?

Si, ho fame.
Yes, I'm hungry.

Andiamo a mangiare.
Let's go eat.

Andiamo a prendere un caffè.
Let's go get an espresso.

A few words to help you understand where something is located.

sempre dritto (keep going) straight
a destra (on the) right
a sinistra (on the) left
dietro l'angolo around the corner

And some examples of how to use them:

Dopo il semaforo, giri (gira) a destra.
After the traffic light, turn right.

Il ristorante è sulla sinistra, di fronte alla banca.
The restaurant is on the left, in front of the bank.

Subito dopo il Bancomat.
Right after the ATM.

And when you get to the restaurant:

Scusi, dov'è il bagno?
Excuse me, where is the bathroom?

If you speak American English, don't try to translate "restroom" into Italian. You could end up saying something close to "retirement home", where you may find some interesting characters, but no gourmet food.

Just as in English, some expressions are contractions and the apostrophe indicates where something has been removed. [Words between brackets show the non-contracted forms.]

dov'è [dove è] where is
l'angolo [lo angolo] the corner

And some expressions simply cannot be translated literally. [Words between brackets show word-by-word translations.]

qui vicino [here close] nearby
ho fame [I have hunger] I am hungry
a destra [at right] on the right
a sinistra [at left] on the left

Giri a destra = turn right.
"Giri" is the formal expression; "gira" is informal. To be on the safe side, use informal expressions only with young people and close friends.

By now, you should have noticed that personal pronouns are not as pervasive in Italian as they are in English. In fact, they can generally be omitted. The reason is that, for most tenses, the subject of the verb is already identified by the verb ending, therefore making the personal pronoun redundant. Take for instance the present tense of the verb mangiare (to eat). See how every person has a distinct ending?

(io) mangio I eat
(tu) mangi you eat
(lui/lei) mangia he/she eats
(noi) mangiamo we eat
(voi) mangiate you eat
(loro) mangiano they eat

That's it for today. Check back in a couple of days for the audio files and, if you are curious about what's next, keep an eye on the table of content (permanent "toc" link in the top right menu).

5 Responses to “Hunting down your food”

  1. karen Says:
    these are the essentials: Andiamo a mangiare. Let's go eat.Andiamo a prendere un caffè. Let's go get an espresso. I'm ready to travel NOW!
  2. Francesca Says:
    Yes, Karen, I agree. But don't forget "dov'è il bagno?". :)
  3. janet Says:
    I can't tell you how many times this phrase: Scusi, dov'è il got us where we were going in Italy. We would ask (butchering it, I'm sure) anybody we encountered, and they would usually respond in machine-gun-rapid Italian which we would not understand. But they would *always* point! Amazing what can be accomplished with a few "polite" words and a big smile. Good luck tomorrow, F!
  4. Lydia Says:
    What a lot of work that was to post; the written stuff is enough to keep us busy for a while until your voice comes back. I hope it's better by now.
  5. Allison Says:
    Wow, thanks Francesca for the great language lesson. I really do wonder though how a language that must have come fairly directly from Latin can look *so* different. Now -- Andiamo a mangiare!