10 Useful Words for talking about OTHERS in Italian

In this article, we’ll see the meaning and use of some Italian words that are used to talk about others in various contexts. Learners often aren’t familiar with these words or they can’t use them properly. Keep reading to learn more!

How to Talk about OTHERS in Italian

In this article you’ll find 10 useful words for talking about other people depending on context. At the end of the article you can also find a short exercise to test your knowledge.

Get ready to take notes!

1. Pedone

Pedone is a person walking on foot.

This term is mainly used in the context of a city, when describing traffic: according to the traffic code, pedone is anyone who circulates on a street without any means of transport.

It’s no coincidence that we speak, for example, of strisce pedonali, which allow pedestrians to cross, or of aree pedonali, which are streets or squares reserved for pedestrians only.

2. Passante

This term refers to anyone passing through a street or any place.

For example, if we’re lost in a city and want to ask someone on the street for directions, the person we stop to ask for information is a passante, someone who happened to be passing by at that moment.

Or, if there’s an accident between two cars on the street, someone among the passanti could be a witness.

Or again, videos are very popular on YouTube in which a YouTuber asks questions to passanti, people who just happened to be passing by for whatever reason.

3. Inquilino – Coinquilino

These two words can be very useful, but learners are often unfamiliar with them.

Inquilino is a person who lives in a house they’ve rented.

Coinquilino, on the other hand, is the person with whom one shares a house. Generally, the word ‘coinquilini’ doesn’t refer to people who are part of the same family, but to strangers or acquaintances. For example, many young people who study or work in a different city decide to rent a house together with other people to share expenses: they are coinquilini.

If a family of four lives in the same house, its members don’t use the word “coinquilini” to refer to each other.

4. Commensale

This term is used in the context of meals and restaurants. It literally means “one who sits at the same table”, “the one with whom one shares a meal”.

It’s not much used in everyday life: when going to the restaurant with friends, you don’t usually say to the waiter “i miei commensali gradirebbero dell’acqua frizzante”. It’s more common in formal contexts, for example in newspaper articles (L’uomo ha avuto l’infarto al ristorante: i suoi commensali hanno chiamato l’ambulanza).

Or, as is often the case with words with such a solemn tone, it’s used ironically.

5. Interlocutore

If you watch LearnAmo videos frequently, chances are you’ve already encountered this word.

The word “interlocutore” is mainly used in the context of communication, and indicates the person with whom one is talking or, more precisely, who’s taking part in a dialogue, conversation or discussion.

6. Coetaneo

This general term refers to any person who’s the same age as another.

However, this term also refers to someone who lived in the same era as someone else, for example “i coetanei di Dante” are the poets and writers who lived between the 1200s and 1300s, at the same time as Dante.

7. Omonimo

Omonimo is a person (or thing) that has the same name as another.

For example, riso (the cereal) and riso (smile) are omonimi. People in the world named Graziana are omonimi of mine!

8. Addetto (a)

Pay close attention to this word because it might come in handy on many occasions!

The word “addetto” is mainly used in the work context.

Addetto is a person who has been assigned a specific task or function. Such task is introduced by the preposition “a” following addetto.

Let’s see some examples:

L’addetto alle pulizie is the person who does the cleaning in a home, office or hotel.

L’addetto alle pubbliche relazioni is the person who manages and promotes a company’s relations with the public.

In short, as I always tell my students, this word is a lifesaver: whenever you don’t know the name of a job, you can use “addetto a…”.

For example, in front of a bank or shop’s entrance there’s often a person who’s generally in charge of providing and maintaining security, to prevent robberies or theft. If you need to refer to this person, but have no idea what their job is called, you can say “addetto alla sicurezza”.

Here’s more examples: addetto ai lavori, addetto alle vendite, addetto alla dogana… and so on!

9. Testimone

This word is mainly used in the legal and judicial context.

Testimone is someone who witnessed an event or knows how it took place and can therefore report it in order to frame the culprit.

For instance, during a trial, pledging to tell the truth, testimoni are called to report before the judge everything they know about the case, so that the judge has the evidence to punish the guilty party and exonerate any wrongly accused.

In the case of a marriage or other official acts, testimoni are also needed to attest to the validity of the act.

10. Prossimo

“Prossimo” is obviously an adjective, which you may have learnt at the beginning of your journey with Italian (l’anno prossimo, il mese prossimo).

However, “prossimo” can also be used as a noun, in this case with the meaning of “the other”, “the person who’s next to me”.

This word is most often used in a religious context. Its use has been influenced by the Christian religion and its view of prossimo as “every man with respect to another man”, whom one must help and forgive.

This gave rise to some common expressions especially in religious contexts, but not only, such as “ama il prossimo tuo come te stesso” or “aiutare il prossimo”.

Here’s an exercise to put everything you’ve learnt today to the test! You’ll have to fill each blank with the right word, choosing from the ones presented in this article. (You can find the solutions at the bottom of this page)

  1. Con del buon vino tutti i ____________ diventano allegri e simpatici.
  2. Il relatore ha chiesto ai propri ____________ se fosse stato chiaro nell’esporre l’argomento.
  3. Il mio nome è poco diffuso, non credo esistano molti miei ____________.
  4. Il capo ufficio fece i complimenti all’____________ alle pulizie.
  5. Il ____________ di quel processo ha preferito dire che non ricordava.
  6. Normalmente lascio la precedenza ai ____________ sulle strisce pedonali.
  7. Ho conosciuto il mio nuovo collega di lavoro, pensavo fosse mio ____________ e invece è più grande di me!
  8. Aiutare il ____________ era una delle promesse che aveva fatto a se stesso.
  9. Io e i miei ____________ ci dividiamo il costo delle bollette.
  10. Non riuscivamo a trovare il ristorante, quindi abbiamo chiesto indicazioni ad un ____________.

Now that you know how to talk about others in Italian, you might also be interested in the pros and cons of living in Italy or Italian swear words.

solutions: commensali, interlocutori, omonimi, addetto, testimone, pedoni, coetaneo, prossimo, coinquilini, passante

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