experience with additional materials, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Learning Italian, Second Edition,
was written specifically for the independent study of Italian.
Any idiot can speak Italian, and lots of them do. The word “idiot” comes from the Greek root
idios and means “of a particular person, private, own.” In Latin, an idiota simply refers to a pri-
vate person. You see this root in the words “idiom” and “idiosyncrasy.”
Beware of the idiots! Lame and suffering from a speech impediment, Claudius (10 B.C.–54 A.D.)
is remembered as a scholar and a competent administrator during the time he reigned. Against
all odds, this “idiot” rose up to become Roman Emperor, making a fool of everyone.
The fact is, you’re not an idiot, or you wouldn’t be reading this book.
Contents at a Glance
Part 1 The Basics 1
1 Why You Should Study Italian 3
Imagine the reality of speaking Italian and see all the reasons.
2 Immerse Yourself 11
Learn about dialect, the history of Italian, and using your dic-
tionary. In addition, there’s a quick grammar refresher to get
your language studies started on the right foot.
3 Sound Like an Italian 25
Learn the basic rules of Italian pronunciation.
4 You Know More Than You Think 39
Tie English and Italian together using cognates.
5 Expressively Yours 53
In this chapter you’ll learn the fundamentals: how to say hello
and good-bye, your days of the week, and idiomatic expressions.
6 Almost Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex 69
In Italian all nouns are assigned a gender—learn what to do
7 What’s the Subject? 85
Study the different ways of expressing “you” in Italian. Learn
how to determine the subject in a sentence.
Part 2 You’re Off and Running 91
8 An Action-Packed Adventure 93
Learn about the different verb families and regular rules of con-
9 Being There 111
See all the different ways of using “to be” with the verbs essere
and stare, and learn how to construct several idiomatic expres-
sions using the verb avere (to have).
10 Tell Me About Your Childhood 129
Learn how to express possession using adjectives and the prepo-
sition di, as well as how to describe things with adverbs.
11 Finally, You’re at the Airport 149
Now that you’ve landed, you’ll be given helpful vocabulary to
enable you to get around. Learn about prepositions and the im-
perative verb tense.
12 Moving Around 165
Drive away with the terms you need to make your journey
safe. Study your numbers to log those kilometers and talk about
time. Also find out how to use the verb fare (to do/to make).
13 Hallelujah, You’ve Made It to l’Hotel 187
Get comfortable inside your room using the practical vocabulary
lists. Express your desires with volere (to want), your potential
with potere (to be able to), and what you’ve got to do with
dovere (to have to).
14 Rain or Shine 205
Talk about the weather, make a date, and discuss your horo-
Part 3 Fun and Games 221
15 I Can’t Believe My Eyes! 223
See the sights and study the verbs you need to get around and
make suggestions, as well as how to use the present progressive
16 Shop ’Til You Drop 241
Learn everything you wanted to know about objects and object
pronouns while perusing Italy’s wonderful shops.
17 Bread, Wine, and Chocolate 261
Visit the market and sample the many culinary delights while
improving your linguistic abilities. Express your pleasure with
the verb piacere.
18 Shall We Dine? 281
Chew on the terms and learn how to read an Italian menu and
order special meals. See how reflexive verbs work.
19 Having Fun Italian Style 303
You can sing, dance, and paint the town red with these
terms. Learn how to talk about what you had been doing using
the passato prossimo.
Part 4 Getting Down to Business 323
20 You’re Not Having Un Buon Giorno 325
Cope with life’s little nuisances, get your hair done, and learn
how to make comparisons.
21 Is There a Doctor in the House? 341
Tell the doctor where it hurts with these terms. Learn how to
talk about what used to be with the imperfect tense.
22 Can You Read Me? 355
Make a telephone call, send a package, and write a letter. See
how to use the future tense to talk about what will be.
23 Home Sweet Home 369
In the market to own a home? Want to rent a villa? Talk about
the conditional and learn how to express what you would like.
24 Money Matters 381
Learn the international language of money with these helpful
banking terms. Also learn the subjunctive and past absolute.
A Answer Key 395
B Glossary 411
C Map of Italy 441
D An Idiot’s Guide to Additional Resources 443