Are you still afraid of making mistakes when you talk about yourself in Italian? In this article you will learn how to make small talk without making any mistakes. You will also learn new vocabulary and how to ask questions to keep the conversation going smoothly.   


It’s the beginning of every kind of relationship: to say who you are, what you do in your life, where you are from, what you like and so on. In this article, I am going to use informal Italian.


This is the sample that we will follow:


  • Hello, my name is...
  • I’m from... (city/country)
  • I live in… (city/country)
  • I’m… years old.
  • My birthday is on…
  • I’m a student at… / I work as…
  • My favorite sport is…
  • My favorite animal is…
  • My favorite drink is…
  • My favorite city is…
  • My hobby is…
  • In my spare time, I also like…
  • I don’t like…


We will break it up sentence by sentence in order to understand how to translate each expression and how to express ourselves correctly in Italian.


Let’s begin!


Hello, my name is…


I’m quite sure you already know how to greet people in Italian: Ciao!


Ciao is an informal way to greet people, therefore, you can use it with family, friends, or close colleagues. You can use it both when you meet or greet the other person and also when you say goodbye to each other.


The literal translation of “my name is” would be il mio nome è + your name.


However, it is very unlikely that somebody would introduce himself in this way. A more natural Italian expression is Mi chiamo.


It comes from the reflexive verb chiamarsi, literally, to call oneself.


Here is its conjugation:


So we have: Hello, my name is… = Ciao, mi chiamo


Useful questions:


  • Come ti chiami? = What’s your name?


I’m from… (city/country)


To express where you are from, you can simply use the present tense of the verb essere (to be) + the simple preposition di.


So some examples could be:


  • sono di Milano, sono di Roma, sono di Venezia, sono di Firenze.


You can use the verb essere also to express your nationality. In this case, you will have sono + adjective of nationality.


Some examples:


  • sono tedesco/a, sono inglese, sono cinese, sono spagnolo/a, sono americano/a, sono indiano/a, sono francese


And so on…


To express where you are from, you can also use the verb venire (to come). It’s an irregular verb and its first person form is vengo.


Then you need a preposition. Yes, here it is, one of your biggest fears: Italian prepositions. You have two possibilities:


Possibility #1: If you want to specify your city, you will need the preposition da. So, some examples could be:


  • vengo da Milano, vengo da Roma, vengo da Venezia, vengo da Firenze.


Possibility #2: If you want to specify your country, you will need one of the preposizioni articolate. Don’t be scared; just think of them as a beautiful marriage between an article and a simple preposition. So:


If the name of the country starts with a vowel, you will have dall’:


  • vengo dall’Italia, vengo dall’Australia, vengo dall’Ecuador and so on.


If the name of the country starts with a consonant and it’s feminine, you will have dalla:


  • vengo dalla Francia; vengo dalla Cina; vengo dalla Colombia and so on.


If the name of the country starts with a consonant and it’s masculine, you will have dal:


  • vengo dal Senegal, vengo dal Belgio, vengo dal Libano and so on.


Most names of countries in Italian are singular but we have some exceptions:


If the name of the country is plural and feminine, you will have dalle:


  • vengo dalle Filippine.


If the name of the country is plural and masculine, you will have dagli:


  • vengo dagli Stati Uniti.


How can you find out the name of your country in Italian? Here, you can find some of them Europe, America, Africa and Asia. It’s not a complete list but it’s a good start.


I’m from… (city/country) = sono di + city.


  • Sono + adjective of nationality.
  • Vengo da + city.
  • Vengo dal / dalla / dall’ / dalle / dagli + country.


Useful questions:


  • Da dove vieni? = Where are you from?
  • Di dove sei? = Where are you from?
  • Da quale paese vieni? = What country are you from?
  • Da quale città vieni? = What city are you from?


I live in… (city/country)


If the city or country in which you are living now is different to the city/country where you come from, you can use one of these two verbs vivo (from the verb vivere) or abito (from the verb abitare). Both can be translated to “to live.”


You just have to pay attention to the preposition you need to use. Again prepositions?! Yes my dears, but it’s so easy!


You need the preposition a if you are talking about a city.




  • vivo/abito a Roma; vivo/abito a Milano; vivo/abito a Firenze.


You need the preposition in if you are talking about a country:




  • Vivo/abito in Germania; vivo/abito in Italia; vivo/abito in Francia.




  • Vivo/abito negli Stati Uniti; vivo/abito nelle Filippine.


I live in… (city) = abito/vivo a + city, abito/vivo in/negli/nelle + country.


Useful questions:


  • Dove vivi? = Where do you live?
  • Dove abiti? = Where do you live?


I’m… years old


Remember that in Italian, we express our age with the verb avere (to have) and not with the verb essere (to be). Therefore, you need the construction avere + number + anni that correspond to “to be… years old.”


I’m… years old = io ho… anni.


Don’t know numbers in Italian? Here you can find numbers from 0 to 20 and here you can find the other numbers.


Useful questions:


  • Quanti anni hai? = How old are you?


My birthday is on...


Now for something even easier! This is the first part of the sentence il mio compleanno è il. The translation is literal (in Italian there is a definite article in addition).


Then, you need to say when your birthday is, the construction is simply number + month. Some examples:


  • Il mio compleanno è il cinque gennaio.
  • Il mio compleanno è il venti aprile.
  • Il mio compleanno è il tredici dicembre.





  • Il mio compleanno è il primo febbraio.
  • Il mio compleanno è l’otto maggio.


My birthday is on… = il mio compleanno è il number + month


Useful questions:


  • Quando è il tuo compleanno? = When is your birthday?


I’m a student at… / I work as…


Let's start with students.


You can use two expressions: the first one is studio (from the verb studiare) + what you study.


Some examples:


  • Studio giurisprudenza = I study law.
  • Studio lingue = I study languages.
  • Studio medicina = I study medicine.
  • Studio ingegneria = I study engineering.


Or you can say sono uno studente di (if you are a man) or sono una studentessa di (if you are a woman) + what you study.


  • Sono uno studente di giurisprudenza.
  • Sono una studentessa di lingue.
  • Sono uno studente di medicina.
  • Sono una studentessa di ingegneria.


You have two different possibilities even if you want to talk about your job. You can say sono + profession. Some examples:


  • Sono dottore / sono dottoressa = I am a doctor.
  • Sono infermiere / sono infermiera = I am a nurse.


Or you can use the verb fare. Fare means “to do / to make” but we can also use it to talk about our profession. The construction is fare + article + profession.


  • Faccio l’insegnante = I work as a teacher.
  • Faccio il dottore / faccio la dottoressa = I work as a doctor.
  • Faccio il giornalista / faccio la giornalista = I work as a journalist.


Here you can find more professions.


I’m a student at… = sono uno studente di + subject / sono una studentessa di + subject / studio + subject.


I work as… = sono + profession / faccio + article + profession.


Useful questions:


  • Cosa fai nella vita? = What do you do for a living?
  • Qual è il tuo lavoro? = What is your job?


My favorite sport is…, My favorite animal is…, My favorite drink is..., My favorite city is...

We agree on the fact that all these expressions have different meanings. However, they are all here because you construct them in the same way:


Article (il/la) + possessive adjective (mio/mia) + noun + preferito/a (everything agrees with the noun).


So you will have:


  • Il mio [noun] preferito è… If it’s a masculine noun.
  • La mia [noun] preferita è... If it’s a feminine noun.


Let’s clarify this with some examples:


If you want to talk about your favorite sport, you need the noun sport (yes! We use this word in Italian too) and it is masculine so you we’ll say:


  • Il mio sport preferito è il calcio.
  • Il mio sport preferito è la pallavolo.
  • Il mio sport preferito è il tennis.

If you want to talk about your favorite city, you need the noun città which is feminine, so you would say:


  • La mia città preferita è Roma.
  • La mia città preferita è Parigi.
  • La mia città preferita è Londra.


If you want to talk about your favorite animal, you need the noun animale which is masculine, so you will say:


  • Il mio animale preferito è il cane.
  • Il mio animale preferito è la tartaruga.
  • Il mio animale preferito è il gatto.


If you want to talk about your favorite drink, you need the noun bevanda which is feminine, so you will say:


  • La mia bevanda preferita è la cioccolata.
  • La mia bevanda preferita è la spremuta.
  • La mia bevanda preferita è il tè.


Pay attention to the agreement. Let’s have a look at this sentence:


  • La mia bevanda preferita è il tè.


You have all the feminine elements (la, mia, preferita) because bevanda is a feminine noun. We don’t care that il tè is masculine. You have to make everything agree with the noun of the subject.


My favorite noun is... = il mio [masculine noun] preferito è or la mia [feminine noun] preferita è


Useful questions:


  • Qual è il tuo animale preferito? = What is your favorite animal?
  • Qual è la tua città preferita? = What is your favorite city?
  • Qual è il tuo sport preferito? = What is your favorite sport?


My hobby is…, In my spare time, I also like…, I don’t like…


When somebody asks you cosa fai nel tempo libero? (What do you do in your spare time?), you can reply in several ways:


Firstly, you could say il mio hobby è… (we use the English word hobby but it is pronounced in the Italian way so h is silent). Or, if you want to be 100% Italian, you can say il mio passatempo è… . Il mio hobby è... and il mio passatempo è... are exactly the same.


Then you add the activity that is your hobby.


It’s very likely that you would like to say “I like this,” “I like that” or “I don’t like this.”


How do you do that? You need the Italian verb piacere. The tiny problem is the construction of this verb: in English you like something but, in Italian, it’s not the person that does the liking, it’s the object/thing that pleases me... che mi piace.


So forget the verb “to like and start familiarizing yourself with the construction mi piace = it pleases me.


If you don’t like something just add a non at the beginning of the construction in order to have = non mi piace (it doesn’t please me).


At this point, we just have to understand what your hobbies are and what you like or don’t like.


If you like to go to the gym for example, you can say:


  • Il mio hobby è andare in palestra.
  • Il mio passatempo è andare in palestra.
  • Mi piace andare in palestra.


Or do you like playing football?


  • Il mio hobby è giocare a calcio.
  • Il mio passatempo è giocare a calcio.
  • Mi piace giocare a calcio.


There are many things that you could like:


  • Mi piace cantare = I like to sing.
  • Mi piace ascoltare la musica = I like to listen to music.
  • Mi piace suonare la chitarra = I like to play the guitar.
  • Mi piace disegnare = I like to draw.
  • Mi piace leggere = I like to read.
  • Mi piace cucinare = I like to cook.


You don’t like these activities? Just add a non!


  • Non mi piace cantare; non mi piace leggere; non mi piace cucinare and so on.


You could also like objects like coffee, books and magazines. So how do we say that? You still need a construction with the verb piacere.


Mi piace + singular noun.


  • Mi piace il caffè.
  • Mi piace la pizza.
  • Mi piace la pasta.


What if we have plural nouns like books, movies or magazines?


  • Mi piacciono = They please me.
  • Mi piacciono i libri e le riviste = I like books and magazines.
  • Mi pacciono i film = I like movies.


My hobby is… = il mio hobby èor il mio passatempo è…


In my spare time, I also like…


  • Mi piace + singular noun / infinitive of a verb.
  • Mi piace + plural noun.


I don’t like… = non mi piace…


Useful questions:


  • Qual è il tuo hobby/passatempo? = What is your hobby?
  • Che cosa ti piace fare? = What do you do for fun?
  • Cosa fai nel tempo libero? = What do you do in your free time?




Talk about yourself using as many constructions as you can.


Thank you for reading the article, if you find it useful, you can like it or leave a comment. And don’t forget that you can send me your exercises for correction!


Image Sources


Hero Image by Francisco Antunes (CC BY 2.0)