Talking about MATHS in Italian: plus, minus, times, divided by, percent…

Who likes Maths? Oh yeah… That’s true… Many people don’t like Maths… However, in today’s lesson we are not going to teach you Maths (we are not able to), but we are going to teach you how to talk about Maths in Italian! That’s a lesson you may have never thought about, but it will be really useful in your everyday life! Stay with us! It is worth it!

MATHS in Italian: operations, percentage and measuring system

The first thing you need to know are the 4 main operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

In order to ask someone the result of a calculation, for any of the 4 operations, we use the expression “Quanto fa…?” (How much is…?), while we use “Fa…” (It’s…) to answer.

For example:

– Quanto fa 147 + 345? (How much is 147+345?)

– Fa 492! (It’s 492!)

Review the numbers in Italian!

ADDITION in Italian

Addition is a sum, that is, we add one (or more) quantities to another one.

The symbol that characterises the addition is this: +, that is read “più” (plus). Moreover, before the result we usually add the symbol =, that is read “uguale” (equals).

For example:

12 + 5 = 17 is “dodici più cinque uguale diciassette” (twelve plus five equals seventeen)

The result of the addition is called “somma” (sum).


Subtraction means to take a quantity (or more) from another one.

Its symbol is: , that is read “meno” (minus).

For example:

120 – 34 = 86 is “centoventi meno trentaquattro uguale ottantasei” (one hundred and twenty minus thirty-four equals eighty-six)

The result of the subtraction is called “differenza” or “resto” (difference).


“Parlare del più e del meno”: make small talk.


Multiplication means to repeat a quantity (or more) as many times as the other one indicates.

Its symbol is: x, that is not read “ics”, as if it was the letter of the alphabet, but, in Maths, it is read “per” (times).

Per esempio:

56 x 45 = 2520 is “cinquantasei per quarantacinque uguale duemilacinquecentoventi” (fifty-six times forty-five equals two thousand five hundred and twenty)

The result of the multiplication si called “prodotto” (product).

DIVISION in Italian

Division means to divide a quantity as many times as the other one indicates.

Its symbol is: :, that is read “diviso” (divided by). Sometimes, however, it is also written with a dash between the two dots: ÷

For example:

36 : 3 = 12 is “trentasei diviso tre uguale dodici” (thirty-six divided by three equals twelve)

If the result of the division has no remainder (like in the example above), it is called “quoto“; instead, it is called “quoziente” if the division has remainder.

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Now we’ll see another problematic aspect coming from Maths: %. This symbol is read “percento” (percent).

For example:

25% is “venticinque percento” (twenty-five percent)

However, when you have to add percentage data to your text or while you’re speaking, then you have to add the definite article… and the verb in the singular! In fact, even if the percentage refers to more than one thing or person, we think of it as a whole (like what happens with the words “gruppo”, “gente”, “classe” and so on), for this reason the verb is singular!

For example:

Il 50% dei candidati non ha superato il colloquio. (50% of the candidates didn’t pass the interview)


Let’s pretend you have to buy a frame for your picture… How do you tell the measures to the shop assistant? In Italian, when we speak about height, length e width, we use the symbol “x” (per) to separate them!

For example:

– Mi servirebbe una cornice da 18×7 cm. Ce l’avete? (I would like a 18×7 cm frame. Do you have it?)

– Mi dispiace, ma ne abbiamo solo da 18×9 cm. Le va bene lo stesso? (I’m sorry, we only have 18×9 cm frames. Is that okay for you?)

Now, before concluding our lesson, we decided to make a short summary about…

The main and most problematic units of measure in Italian! 

1. In this regard, should you write “chilometro” or “kilometro” (kilometre)?

The abbreviation is KM because CM is centimetres, but when we want to write it in full, we can use either “chilometro”, that is the main form, or “kilometro”, that is less common!

The same goes for “chilogrammo” and “kilogrammo” (kilogram), whose abbreviation is KG.

We suggest you to always use the version with CH!

2. Now, you probably don’t know – especially if you don’t live in Italy – that when we talk about screens of TVs, smartphones, computers and so on, we use pollici (inches)!

For example:

Il nostro televisore è 20″ (20 pollici). (We have a 20-inch TV)

3. When you find the small number 2 up next to metres or kilometres, it is read “quadrato” (square) in the singular and “quadrati” (square) in the plural!

For example:

1 m² = 1 metro quadrato (one square metre)

10 km² = 10 chilometri quadrati (ten square kilometres)

Finally, to indicate the dimensions of a land, in agriculture we use ettaro (hectare)! One hectare equals 10.000 m²!

If there are other Maths doubts, write them in the comments and we’ll answer as soon as possible!

Do you know all the ways of saying “YOU’RE WELCOME” in Italian? 

5 thoughts to “Talking about MATHS in Italian: plus, minus, times, divided by, percent…”

  1. Piccola correzione per l’inglese: quello che in italiano si chiama il “resto” di una divisione, in inglese si chiama “remainder” e non “rest”. Grazie comunque per la spiegazione!

  2. Ciao tutti,
    ho trovato questo articolo molto interessante. Vi ringrazio.
    Sono inglese, e usiamo la parola “maths” quasi esclusivamente qua. Penso che sia un’ abbreviazione di “mathematics”

    Ancora una volta, grazie.


  3. Cari Graziana e Rocco,
    Congratulazioni per i vostri ottimi YouTubes ed esercizi per imparare meglio la bellissima lingua Italiana. Avete costruito
    un edificio utilissimo (sto pensando adesso alla frase del somma Poeta Orazio : “exegi monumentum aere perennius!”)
    Un piccolo edit: in inglese non usiamo il plurale “Maths,”’infatti
    non esiste. Usiamo solo la parola “Math”’(o la parola Mathematics) per identificare qualsiasi cosa che si riferisce alla matematica.
    Ad maiora sempre !
    Vincent de Luise (un americano, nato qui, di genitori
    italiani, che ama l’italiano).

    1. Ciao Vincent! Sei per caso degli Stati Uniti? Se la memoria non ci inganna, nel Regno Unito si usa “Maths”. Correggici se ci sbagliamo! 🙂

      1. Ciao, Graziana e Rocco, per la vostra veloce risposta!
        Sono dagli Stati Uniti. Non sapevo che la parola Maths si usi nel Regno Unito invece di Math. Interessante. Da qui in America non so perché ma non “suona bene.” Comunque, dato che esiste così’ in Inghilterra come Maths, certamente lasciarla stare.
        Che continuiate insegnare l’italiano, la più bella lingua nel mondo!

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