What are the most frequent mistakes Italians make when speaking or writing in Italian?
Some weeks ago I talked about mistakes concerning accent and apostrophe – Common mistakes Italians make in Italian – today I’ll talk about some others.
1. VOWEL I
The Italian vowel i can be tricky both for Italians and for Italian learners. Indeed, when this vowel is preceded by letter c or g and followed by another vowel, its sound is usually silent.
So, it’s not surprising that vowel i is included in the list of the most frequent mistakes Italians usually make.
Sometimes Italians do not add an i when it’s necessary and some others they add it when it’s not.
- Some Italian words requiring an i are: scienza, coscienza, superficie, sufficiente, efficiente.
- Some Italian words that don’t require an i are: province, conoscenza, beneficienza.
2. THE SUBJUNCTIVE
The subjunctive is probably one of the most hated topics among people that learn Italian. So, it will make you feel a little bit better knowing that even Italians sometimes make mistakes when using the subjunctive.
When Italians use the subjunctive, one of the most common doubts they have is whether to use desse or dasse, and stesse or stasse.
Which is the correct form?
Try yourself with these examples. Which is the right sentence a or b? And then, c or d?
a. Speravo mi desse il suo numero di telefono ma non l’ha fatto
b. Speravo mi dasse il suo numero di telefono ma non l’ha fatto
I hoped she would give me her phone number but she didn’t
c. Credi che stesse dicendo la verità?
d. Credi che stasse dicendo la verità?
Do you think he was telling the truth?
If you answered a and c, congratulations, you’re right. If not, it’s better you start reviewing the subjunctive in Italian.
One of the most frequent mistakes Italians make concerns pronouns, in particular the pronouns gli and le.
The difference between these two atonic personal pronouns isn’t difficult at all, still there are Italians that use them in the wrong way.
Both pronouns refer to the third person singular – gli can also refer to the third person plural both for feminine and masculine words. The difference between le and gli – when referring to the singular person – is that while le refers to females, gli refers to males.
Ho incontrato Maria. Le ho chiesto come stava
I met Maria. I asked her how she was
Ho incontrato Gianni. Gli ho chiesto come stava
I met Gianni. I asked him how he was
Now, test yourself. Which is the correct sentence, a or b, c or d?
a. Ha telefonato a Stefania e le ha detto che era in ritardo
b. Ha telefonato a Stefania e gli ha detto che era in ritardo
He called Stefania and told her that he was running late
c. Ha parlato con Francesco e le ha chiesto di prestargli la macchina
d. Ha parlato con Francesco gli ha chiesto se poteva prestargli la macchina
He talked to Francesco and asked him if he could lend him his car
4. LETTERS C AND Q
Choosing between letters c and q can be tricky when you write in Italian. Indeed when c and q are followed by the vowel u, the sound they have is the same.
So, be sure you know how to write the most common Italian words that have this combination of letters: cu, qu.
- Italian words that require letter q: quadro, quadrato, quando, aquila, colloquio, questura, equilibrio, etc.
- Italian words that require letter c: cuore, cuoco, scuola, riscuotere, cuocere, discussione, cuscino, etc.
- Italian words that require both: acqua, acquistare, piacque, nacque, etc.
What are the most frequent mistakes you make in Italian?
Original image by Tumisu