Italian 101 – How to say please, thank you and you’re welcome in Italian

Good manners are extremely important in Italy. Its all part of the “bella figura” or making a good impression. Italians put great emphasis on using please and thank you – they’ll even thank you for thanking them! So if you’re heading to Italy you really need to know how to do it! Here’s a quick guide!

Fare una bella figure means to make a good impression and is very important in Italy!

Fare una bella figura – Make a good impression! (Courtesy of http://en.wiktionary.org)

Please

The simplest way to say please is Per favore (pronounced per fav-or-ray) literally meaning As a favour or If you please?

It’s polite to use per favore when asking a question or requesting something.

e.g I would like a coffee please becomes Vorrei un caffé per favore (pronounced Vorray un café per fav-or-ray)

Good manners cost nothing - always say please and thank you when ordering in a cafe or restaurant!

Good manners cost nothing – always say please and thank you when ordering in a cafe or restaurant!

Per favore is the most commonly used form of Please but there are other forms including Per piacere, pronounced per pee-ah-chair-ray, and Per cortesia, pronounced per cor-te-zee-ah. These are equivalent to asking Would you be kind enough in English although confusingly they are actually less formal ways to say Please!

If you’re not sure whether the situation you are in is formal or informal though, or you just want to play it safe, stick to Per favore!

Thank you

Grazie or Thank You, comes from Grazia meaning gratitude or consideration. But, sadly, it’s one of the most commonly mispronounced words by non-Italians.

A lot of visitors say Graht-see. Italians, however, pronounce all the letters in words (except maybe the odd g or h here and there, but we’ll save that for another time!). So to make a “bella figuraGrazie should be pronounced Graht-see-eh, running the syllables into eachother and even rolling the r if you’re feeling super-Italian – grrrrraht-see-eh!!

Grazie means Thank you in Italian

Grazie or Thank you

And depending on how thankful you are for something, you can embellish your Grazie.

Grazie Mille, pronounced Graht-see-eh Meel-leh, literally means a thousand thank yous or thanks a lot.

Grazie mille - a thousand thanks

Grazie mille – a thousand thanks

Grazie Tante, pronounced Graht-see-eh Tan-teh, means thank you very much.

Grazie di tutto, pronounced Graht-see-eh di too-toh, means thanks for everything.

Grazie di cuore, pronounced Graht-see-eh dee qwor-ay, is the equivalent of thanks from the bottom of my heart or sincere thanks.

And if you are REALLY grateful you could go stratospheric and use the slightly over the top Grazie infinite, pronounced Graht-see-eh in-fin-neet-ay, to mean infinite thanks!! This is super-polite but use it sparingly unless you’re infinitely thankful for everything!!

You’re welcome

You’ll hear this a lot in Italy but confusingly the word Prego, pronounced pray-go, can also mean a number of things depending on the situation.

Prego means You're welcome in Italian!

Prego – You’re welcome!

If you’ve just said Grazie to someone, they may reply with Prego literally meaning You’re welcome or My pleasure.

Waiters may also come to your table to take your order and open with Prego, which in that situation would mean something like Can I help you or Please?

During your meal the waiter may come to your table to clear your plates asking Posso, pronounced pohs-so, meaning May I (clear the table) to which you can reply Prego, to mean Please do.

Or you may be queuing to get off a bus and someone will indicate you can get off in front of them by saying Prego, in this instance to mean After you.

Prego can be a confusing one to get used to but if you use it, it will earn you more lovely brownie points for good manners!

Other alternatives also include Non c’è problema, pronounced Non chay proh-bleh-ma, or Di niente, pronounced Dee knee-ehn-tay, meaning No problem.

And finally….

So, now there is no excuse for not making a bella figura! All that remains is for me to say grazie di cuore for your company and to ask if there are any other useful phrases that I can help you with, per favore? Leave me a comment below if you’d like some help with a word or phrase?

One last thing – I am super, super-excited to confirm that DreamDiscoverItalia has been shortlisted for Italy Magazine’s 2015 Blogger Awards in the “Best Art & Culture” category! Thank you for all the nominations! So if you’ve ever enjoyed reading this blog now is the time to vote for DreamDiscoverItalia to win by clicking below and then clicking on the vote bar under DreamDiscoverItalia

CLICK HERE TO VOTE

Voting runs until Christmas 2015 and you can vote from any mobile device – each one counts as a separate vote, from what I understand, so you can vote once from your laptop, plus once from your phone, plus once from your iPad, once from your work PC etc etc, you get the picture! Grazie mille!! 

And finally! If you’ve found this useful, you might also want to check out more of our DreamDiscoverItalia Italian 101 ideas, for example, such as How to say hello,  How to ask do you speak EnglishHow to say Happy Birthday or How to say I love you, all of which are easy to learn! I can’t promise that we’ll make you fluent in Italian overnight, but with the help of our Italian 101 posts you can learn a little and often and hopefully have a bit of fun doing it! Grazie mille!!

A Hole In My Shoe

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25 Responses to Italian 101 – How to say please, thank you and you’re welcome in Italian

  1. Ruth Mayer says:

    grazie. tanti auguri.

  2. Fantastico!!! You covered all the different meanings of the expressions and phrases:) Prego is my favorite… So versatile!
    Ciao da NYC!

    • lizbert1 says:

      Thanks – there are so many different meanings and applications that its sometimes difficult to know where to stop but I try to think of real examples of situations we might find ourselves in! But I agree, prego is very versatile little word and can be used for almost anything!! Saluti da Perugia’s Eurochocolate festival!!! :o)

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  5. and grazie di cuore to you for this post

  6. Bryna says:

    Thanks for the lesson on bella figura (what a pretty phrase!). I love all the different ways of saying thank you! Grazie Tante for the post 🙂

    • lizbert1 says:

      Having so many ways to say things certainly makes life more interesting Bryna! Thank you so much for popping by and leaving a comment – hope to see you again soon!! ;o)

  7. Elaine says:

    I love the ‘culture’ lesson along with the actual Italian phrases. It is important to me to not just know a few words but to try and convey a slight understanding of the people and how they really communicate too. Grazie Mille!

    • Thanks Elaine and I agree – language and culture are intertwined in Italy and you can’t have one without the other! Italians put great store by good manners and making a good impression but I’ve only really learnt that since I moved here! Hope it helps!! :o)

  8. Yvonne says:

    Thank you so much, I have just gained a friend and she is italian and I would like to try and learn her cullture, and the way they say basic things too. This is really useful. Grazie xx

    • Thank you so much Yvonne, its good to know that its going to help cement your friendship!! And if there are any aspects of Italian that you’d like me to explain with another post, do let me know?! Passa una buona giornata – have a nice day!! ;o)

  9. Daniel says:

    Like Elaine above, I also appreciate the ‘extra’, cultural info you provide to really make the lessons clear. Bravo and grazie di tutto!

    • Grazie mille Daniel! Thanks so much for your lovely comments and I’m glad you like the extras that I’ve learnt along the way! What would you like to hear about next? Have a think and let me know if there are any phrases that would be useful for you when travelling in Italy! Grazie di nuovo!

      • Daniel says:

        Actually, I’ve never been to Italy and will probably never make it over there. But I play trombone with the Italo-Canadian Concert Band (Hamilton, Ontario). Some of the members have been coaching me in common phrases, but it’s sometimes hard to remember an unfamiliar language, so Hooray for Google.

        It would be nice to hit them with joke phrases. How about
        “Hi, I’m a pencil.”
        “Where can I rent a washroom for the night?”

      • Never say never Daniel!! But there are lots of joke phrases that I can think of – for example Italians don’t say its raining cats & dogs, they say its raining sinks!! – so I’ll have a think and put some together into a blog post for you! Keep your eyes peeled and in the meantime keep up the great work with the trombone!! ;o)

  10. Jim Duffy says:

    Thank you very much, grazeray? Very helpful loving this to bits.

  11. Jim Duffy says:

    Lovely helpful site grazie millie.

  12. Grazie!

    I ordered some food and drinks in faltering Italian today, and the waitress was very patient and helpful. So I said, “Grazie per l’aiuto con il menu”. (Aware this may not be great grammar, only been learning for a few days!). She laughed and replied with something that sounded like “commo di fiche” [com-mo di feesh]. What did she say?

    • DreamDiscoverItalia.com says:

      Well done for giving your Italian a go Anne-Marie – the best way to learn is to just dive in! As for the waitress’s reply, I’m not sure what she was saying, but at least she sounds like she was encouraging which is always a good sign!!! Keep up the good work – its a wonderful language!!! :o)

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