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FAQ/Frequently Asked Questions


Does speaking Spanish help in learning Italian?

Yes and no. Italian and Spanish are both Latin languages, two sister languages, but they both have many differences and many words, although similar, may not have the same use or meaning. The grammatical structure or the use of verbs, for example, can be very different,
and we sometimes find there’s a greater difference with Spanish than there is with French which sometimes seems just as different.


Is Italian a difficult language?

Italian is a language like many others. It may well seem complicated and difficult for someone whose mother tongue is English but it has many stable features and its irregularities are subject to rules and similarities


Do Italians make frequent use of the present tense?

Yes, they do. The present tense, the presente, is used a lot in current Italian and often substitutes for the future tense when the phrase cites a specific temporal limit (i.e. tomorrow, next year, in two months’ time, etc.)
Example: Ho deciso! L’anno prossimo mi sposo.  I’ve made up my mind! Next year I marry!


Is it true the remote past tense (passato remoto like the simple past tense in English) is seldom used?

This is not exactly correct. In fact it is used a lot in the southern Italian regions, and particularly in Sicily. On the contrary in the North it seldom occurs in speech. The most balanced and correct use is found in Tuscany where grammatical rules are well respected and the situations in which this tense should be used are well established.

The remote past tense is used in written Italian in stories, novels, biographies, and in texts of an historical nature.


Should we use the present conditional or the past conditional tense when expressing the impossibility of doing something?

The present conditional always suggests a small percentage of probability, so if what is wanted is impossible the past conditional must be used.
Example: Sarei venuto volentieri  alla tua festa ma non posso. I would have happily come to your party but I wasn’t able to.


Which is better Che Cosa, Che or Cosa?

It’s exactly the same. In general people in Italy prefer to use Cosa, but in Tuscany and especially in Florence the use of Che is more common. Che becomes obligatory when it has to be associated with something else.
Example: Che tipo di auto preferisci? Che scuola frequenti? What type of car do you prefer? Which school do you go to?


What’s the conjunctive used for? Do Italians use it?

My dear friends, the conjunctive represents the limits of speaking good Italian and is clearly communicative. Italians who speak well and expressively and who love our beautiful language use it often and happily.

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