Sentences that Drive Italians CRAZY! (never use them!)

In this article we will find out which are the phrases that it would be better not to say to Italians if you don’t want to provoke their anger! As many people know, Italians tend to accentuate and emphasize all their emotions… But, in order to avoid unpleasant experiences, below you will find the phrases to avoid to escape their wrath!

11 Phrases YOU should NEVER say!

Let’s start with the dreaded:

1 – Vabbè… [Fine…]

This answer will make any Italian quite nervous… Why?

You should know that this exclamation has two different meanings and uses:

A) The first meaning is that of closing exclamation, used to close a speech when you want to express haste, impatience, irritation, or when you want to emphasize that you don’t care about what has just been said.

For example: a friend is going to do something stupid, we try to make him understand that he is wrong and we give him good advice, he seems to want to ignore them, then we can tell him “Vabbè, fai come ti pare!” [“Fine, do as you please”], which can stand for “I don’t care, I tried to make you understand that it’s not a good idea and that you’re wrong, but if you don’t listen to me you have to accept the consequences”.

Or, if someone goes too far in an explanation or a description, we can say, in a rather rude way, “Vabbè, arriva al dunque” [“Fine, get to the point”], that is, we rush them so that they can get to the important part of the matter.

B) The second meaning is that of exclamation of resignation, which expresses a concession or admission, usually reluctantly granted.

For example, imagine that there is snow outside, that your fireplace is lit up and that you have already planned your evening, made take-away food, a good glass of wine and a TV series, but you get a call from a friend: “Would you like to go to the movies?”. You don’t really want to go out in the cold, but you know she’s a good friend, who has done you so many favors, so you accept, but without enthusiasm”Vabbè, però appena finisce il film torniamo dritti a casa!” [“Fine, but when the movie ends we go home straight away!”].

2 – Decidi tu! [You decide!]

Let’s face it! All Italians (and not only) like to make decisions and do what we want, but when we are told to decide openly, paradoxically, it bothers us.

How come? Because it seems to us that the person in front of us is showing indifference, little interest and enthusiasm towards us or what we would like to do.


G: “In quale ristorante andiamo?” [“In which restaurant do you want to go?”]

R: “Ah boh! Decidi tu!” [“I don’t know! You decide!”]

G: “Che entusiasmo…” [“Such enthusiasm…”]

3 – Fai come vuoi/Fai come ti pare! [Do what you want!/Do as you please!]

These two expressions seem to say one thing, but, in fact, they are actually used to indicate the exact opposite! And it is precisely this that annoys people: knowing that these answers imply that you will not really be able to do what you want, without any possible repercussions.

It is important to always try to establish a constructive dialogue and communication, avoiding annoying people!


R:”Oh mi è arrivato un messaggio, un secondo!” [“Oh I got a message, a second!”]

G: “Proprio adesso devi rispondere?” [“Do you have to answer right now?”]

R: “Ah, è Jessica… più tardi faccio un salto a casa sua per aiutarla con una traduzione in inglese… ti dispiace? [“Ah, it’s Jessica… later I will stop at her house to help her with an English translation… do you mind?”]

G: “Fai come ti pare!” [“Do as you please!“]

4 – Ti devo parlare [I need to talk to you]

This sentence has the extraordinary ability to immediately anger or terrify the person to whom it is addressed because all Italians know that a speech that begins like this never leads to anything good.

Ti devo parlare” is one of those phrases that no one would ever want to hear, especially from their partner, friends or someone you care about.

In fact, this sentence often heralds a quarrel or bad news… In most cases, it is the beginning of a speech that could end a relationship. Just hearing it puts the other person on alert and leads them to face the discourse that will come with a negative attitude.

Therefore, if you need to say something bad to someone, just say it without using the infamous notice: “Ti devo parlare“.

5 – Ho da fare [I’m busy]

I think this phrase annoys not only the Italians, but anyone!

Imagine that you need a favor, you ask someone and what is their answer? “Ho da fare“.

Without turning around, that person is telling you, in a rather rude way, that s/he has no time to devote to you because s/he has many other things to do.

Which is fine, of course, but there are so many kinder ways to say it, like:

  • “Mi dispiace, al momento non posso, ma dimmi cosa ti serve e cercherò di aiutarti non appena mi sarà possibile!” [“I’m sorry, I can’t at the moment, but tell me what you need and I will try to help you as soon as I can!”]
  • “Ti aiuterò volentieri, ma non nell’immediato, perché c’è qualcos’altro che dovrei fare prima” [“I’ll gladly help you, but not right now, because there’s something else I should do first”]

And many others, certainly nicer that “Ho da fare“!

6 – Italia: mafia, spaghetti e mandolino [Italy: mafia, spaghetti and mandolin]

This is one of those phrases that are most often addressed to Italians by foreigners all over the world! And it’s also one of the most hated (or I’d venture to say it’s the most hated!).

The reason is simple: those are stereotypes, generalized ideas about other countries, their habits, their traditions, customs and behaviors, ideas that clearly don’t come from a personal knowledge, but that simply come from outside, from news, general judgments, gossip, movies, television…

It is always good to bear in mind that you can not put everyone into the same basket, summarizing in 3 words an entire country of 60 million inhabitants!

There is no denying the existence of the Mafia, but that doesn’t mean that all Italians are part of it! Just as it is not true that we all eat pasta, spaghetti and pizza all day long. And the mandolin then… I’ve never seen one!

So, if you don’t know what to say when you meet an Italian, do a little Google search and add new words from time to time, like Michelangelo, Leonardo, Montalbano, Chianti, Sanremo… The list is long and so doing you will not anger anyone!

7 – Non sei tu, sono io [It’s not you, it’s me]

This phrase is often associated with loving relationships.

If the one saying this phrase is our partner, it will certainly make us really mad!

S/He’s basically breaking up with us and we can’t do anything at all! Why?Because “it’s not our fault”, it’s “his/her” fault and there’s nothing to do, because s/he doesn’t want to change or s/he’s already tried, but without success.

In short, not even the person who says it really thinks it’s his fault, but uses this phrase as a way to come out anyway with a good reputation: the reputation of a person who recognizes his/her mistakes, who knows that s/he doesn’t deserve you or that you are too much for him/her and many other fake excuses.

As in everything, it is always better to tell the truth, that you no longer want to be with that person, that you like another person or that the relationship no longer works as before.

But it’s better to tell the truth and get some insult than to make that person seriously angry with this phrase!

8 – Ti faccio sapere [I’ll let you know]

Nothing is more annoying than “Ti faccio sapere” when we ask someone something.

It is well known that in most cases this is a cowardly and indirect way of saying “No”!

So, basically, “Ti faccio sapere” bothers a lot as it’s only used to have a way out or, perhaps, a shelter from future hassle. It’s a way to make a “promise” to please the other person and not to appear indifferent.

It might seem obvious, but always try to choose the bold way: to say that you do not want or maybe you really cannot do what you have been asked to do!

9 – Calmati [Calm down]

If a person is angry, don’t say “Calmati” at all! Otherwise… they will get even angrier!

When a person is really furious, emotions take over and s/he cannot “access” the rational part of their brain. If you try to use reason, inviting them to “keep calm” or “be reasonable”, you risk that your words will fuel even more anger.

If you really want to help them calm down, find other strategies:

  • Try to understand what happened, and if it’s your fault to take responsibility
  • Always keep yourself calm and willing to dialogue
  • Don’t judge, don’t give orders, don’t raise your voice
  • Offer help or possible solutions

But avoid at all costs to say “Calmati!

10 – Non ne voglio parlare [I don’t want to talk about it]

This probably doesn’t make you so angry, even if it still depends on the circumstances and the relationship you have with the person it is addressed to.

In any case, except if something really serious has happened (in that case it would be forgivable), it is still unkind as an answer and puts an end to the conversation, perhaps when the other person is just trying to help you and take an interest in your problem. To be more polite, it would be better to say things like “Ti racconterò tutto quando mi sentirò pronto/a” [“I’ll tell you everything when I feel ready”] or “Ti ringrazio per l’interessamento, ma ancora non mi sento a mio agio a parlarne con qualcuno” [“Thank you for your interest, but I still don’t feel comfortable talking to someone about it.”]

11 – Any offensive or sarcastic phrase aimed at one of your family member 

Family is important for everyone, but for Italians it is a super sacred value! We Italians love our mother, our dad, our brothers, sisters and all our relatives. That’s why we just don’t tolerate anyone making fun of them!

It is not even so elegant to take on someone who is not present and who can not answer: at best, do it with those present and always using appropriate manners.

In this regard, we recommend watching our video on the best sarcastic answers to use with stupid and arrogant people!

Before you leave, let me know in the comments if you have ever angered or irritated someone because of one of these 11 sentences!

Let’s see if you’ve mastered the contents of this class. Have a go at completing the exercises!

Leave a Reply