Have you ever been in a situation where you want to tell something interesting that happened to you and you know exactly what to say in your head (it’s easy in our own language, isn’t it?) but, when you try to say it in Italian, your tongue seems to instantaneously tie itself into a big knot? As you probably already know, in any language it is very important to be able to tell a story or an anecdote and respond to it. This article is an action-packed collection of useful Italian expressions to kick-start your fluency improvement routine.
How to Tell Your Story
Ok, you have an incredible story to tell your Italian friend and you really want to be understood and sound natural. How can you do that? Well, first of all your story should be quite short and with simple grammar so that it is easy to follow. When telling a story, it is very important to try using sequencing and linking words, which show the chronological sequence of events. Here are some examples:
|Italian version | English equivalent | | :---------- | :---------- | | Anzitutto / per prima cosa (ho fatto la valigia) | First of all, I (packed my suitcase) | |Dopo, (ho controllato di avere tutti i documenti) | Then, (I checked I had all my documents) | | Prima di fare la valigia, (ho cambiato dei soldi) | Before that, (I changed some money). | | Dopo (aver cambiato dei soldi, sono andata a bere un caffè) |After (changing some money, I went to the bar for a coffee) | | Poi (ho chiamato un taxi per l'aereoporto) | Then (I called a taxi for the airport) | | Più tardi (mentre ero bloccata nel traffico mi sono resa conto che…) | Later / Later on (when I was stuck in traffic, I realised that…) | | Ma prima di tutto ciò (avevo controllato la mia prenotazione) | But before all that (I double checked my reservation) | | Alla fine (sono arrivata all'aereoporto ma in quello sbagliato e per un volo che non sarebbe partito fino al giorno dopo!) | Finally (I arrived at the wrong airport for a flight that didn't leave until the next day!) |
Setting the context
Imagine that you are watching the first scene of a movie. Where does it take place? Who are the principal characters? When you tell a personal anecdote, strive to create a “movie-like” experience, planting your audience deeply into the moment. This basically means that you should provide a brief background to lay the foundation of your story so that your listeners can imagine themselves in the situation and really synchronize with you.
|Italian version | English equivalent | | :---------- | :---------- | | Be' è stato un po' di tempo fa | Well, it was a while ago | | Conosci (una persona o un luogo)? | Do you know (person or place)? | | Hai presente la casa rossa vicino alla mia? | Do you know the red house near mine? | | Ti ricordi di quella volta che sono andata in vacanza in Sardegna? | Do you remember that time that I went on holiday in Sardinia? | | Sarà stato circa due anni fa | It must have been about 2 years ago | | Be' lo sai che avevo prenotato un volo per l’Alaska, no? | Well, you know I bought a flight to Alaska, right? |
Telling the story
Imagine you are a movie director, moving your camera and tracking the movements of a character or zooming in on an object. Frame your story, take the listener on a journey and unleash your creativity! And most importantly, experiment with new expressions and words and have fun with it! Here are some suggestions to help you develop your story.
|Italian version | English equivalent | | :---------- | :---------- | | Be', eravamo a casa | Well, we were at home | | Praticamente / in pratica (stavo andando a lavoro, quando improvvisamente) | Basically I was on my way to work, when all of a sudden | | Ho notato che / Mi sono resa conto che (una persona mi stava seguendo) | I noticed that/ I realised that (a person was following me) | | Era una donna strana; mi ha fermato e mi ha chiesto | It was a strange woman; she stopped me and she asked me | | E per qualche motivo | And for some reason | | Pensa che proprio in quel momento ha iniziato a piovere, che sfortuna! | Consider that, right in that moment, it started raining, tough luck! | | E di colpo, mi sono girato e ho visto questa donna vicino a me | And suddenly, I turned around and I saw this woman next to me | | Allora io le ho detto | Then I said to her | | Ti immagini? | Can you imagine? | | Ho pensato che fosse un po' strano | I thought it was a bit strange | | E poi, dopo essersene andata | And then, after she went away | | Non potevo crederci! | I couldn’t believe it! | | E comunque | and by the way | | Per fortuna avevo il cellulare con me | Luckily, I had my mobile with me | | È successo tutto così in fretta | It all happened so quick | | Alla fine sono arrivato a casa | Finally I got home | | È stato come in un film | It was like in a movie |
Telling stories is the most powerful way to improve your communication skills. To boost your confidence and get used to speaking fluently in Italian, practise talking about your personal anecdotes in front of a mirror. Say every sentence out loud to yourself and focus on speaking fluently instead of correctly. Even if you have nobody to talk to in Italian, you can still build confidence and master fluency on your own time.