Speaking with many foreigners who are studying Italian, we noticed some common mistakes they make during their learning process! But no worries: after having seen this lesson, these mistakes will only be a memory!
5 most COMMON MISTAKES made by foreigners learning Italian
1) “favorito” instead of “preferito”
When they refer to something they like the most, many foreigners tend to say that it is their “favorita” thing (probably due to the influence of the English favorite):
Il mio colore
favorito è il blu.
However, this adjective sounds weird to Italians!
Actually, this use of the adjective “favorito” is not completely wrong according to the grammars, but if you want to speak as Italians do, then the adjective you should use to indicate something you like the most is preferito.
Il mio colore preferito è il blu. (My favorite color is blue)
La mia serie preferita è Il Trono di Spade. (My favorite TV series is Game of Thrones)
But then what’s the best context to use “favorito“?
Italians use “favorito” to indicate the expected winner of a competition.
Messi è il calciatore favorito a vincere il Pallone d’Oro. (Messi is the favored footballer to win the European Footballer of the Year Award)
Cristiano Ronaldo è il mio calciatore preferito. (Cristiano Ronaldo is my favorite footballer)
2) “qualche” + plurale
Never make this mistake! Although “qualche” indicates more than one thing, it must always be followed by a singular noun!
Ho comprato qualche libro interessante questa mattina. (I bought some interesting books this morning)
Ci hanno raccontato qualche storia divertente. (They told us some funny stories)
N.B. “Qualche” always refers to an indefinite quantity! (Doubts about indefinite adjectives? Not with us!)
We don’t know, indeed, the exact number of the books bought and of the stories told, but they are with no doubt more than 1.
3) improper use of the preposition “in”
Many foreigners use the Italian preposition “in” to refer to events that will happen in a specific time of the future. However, it is a wrong influence from the English language!
Il mio compleanno è
in due settimane.
In this case, instead, in Italian we use another preposition: tra.
Il mio compleanno è tra due settimane. (My birthday is in two weeks)
Generally, “tra” refers to something that is in the middle of two other things (“between” in English).
But actually, if you think about that, even in this use it has the same meaning! In the case of the previous sentence, in fact, the period of time of “two weeks” is between the moment in which we speak (today) and the future event (the birthday).
It’s easy, isn’t it? 😀
Review Italian prepositions!
4) “fa” senso
Many foreigners, in order to say that a reasoning is logical, use the expression “fa senso“, because of the English language, again (to make sense → to make = fare → fare senso). WRONG!
In Italian, to express something logical, we say”avere senso“!
Il tuo ragionamento ha senso. (Your reasoning makes sense)
In Italian, the expression “fare senso” exists, but it has a different meaning! It is used, indeed, to indicate something disgusting.
I ragni mi fanno senso! (Spiders are disgusting for me)
5) “essere” + torto / ragione
“Sei torto!”, “Sei ragione!”… These expressions are often used among those who are studying Italian, probably because they come from the English ones: “you are wrong“, “you are right“. But in Italian they are wrong! In these cases, in fact, it is used the verb “avere” + a noun.
you are wrong → hai torto
you are right → hai ragione
Learn how to use “essere” and “avere”!
6) io piace / io manco
In Italian, there are two “problematic” verbs: piacere and mancare. In fact, they both completely reverse the structure of the sentence!
In English, we have “regular” expressions such as:
I like you
I miss you
But when we have to express these sentences in Italian, we can’t keep the same order, as sometimes foreigners do: “io piace te”, “io manco te” and so on… they are big mistakes!
The correct forms, in fact, are:
qualcuno / qualcosa piace a me (te, lui, lei…)
qualcuno / qualcosa manca a me (te, lui, lei…)
I like you → Mi piaci (= Tu piaci a me)
I miss you → Mi manchi (= Tu manchi a me)
So, with these two verbs in Italian the subject is the reason of feeling something (liking or missing), the verb agrees with this subject, while the person who feels becomes the indirect object (a me, a te, a lui, a lei, a noi, a voi, a loro).
Do you want to avoid these “dangerous” expressions? Then you can use alternative verbs to tell the same thing, but with a more regular structure!
- adorare, amare → instead of piacere
Mi piace la pizza → Io adoro la pizza / Io amo la pizza (I like pizza → I adore / love pizza)
- sentire la mancanza di → instead of mancare
Mi manca la mia ragazza → Sento la mancanza della mia ragazza (I miss my girlfriend)
… and you? Do you make these mistakes? 😛
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Let’s see if you’ve mastered the contents of this class. Have a go at completing the exercises!