Forming a Sentence

Developing your communication skills will require an understanding of basic sentence structure in Italian. Bear in mind that the following guidelines are not carved in stone; you will hear many variations in sentence structure based on context. These basic rules will help get you started.

  • Affirmative statement: Paolo mangia la pizza. (POWH-loh MAHN-jah lah PEETS-ah)

  • Negative statement: Paolo non mangia la pizza. (POWH-loh nohn MAHN-jah lah PEETS-ah)

  • Question: Paolo mangia la pizza? (POWH-loh MAHN-jah lah PEETS-ah?)

The basic structure of an affirmative statement in Italian is subject+verb+object. Making sentences negative in Italian is as easy as placing the word non in front of the conjugated verb.

Paul and Virginia are not from Boston.

Paul e Virginia non sono di Boston.

Paul eh Virginia nohn SOH-noh dee Boston

There are some two-part negative adverbs:

non … ancora not yetnohn ahn-KOH-rahnon … mai nevernohn meyenon … più no longer

nohn pyou

I've never traveled by train.

Non ho mai viaggiato in treno.

nohn oh meye vee-yah-JAH-toh een tray-noh

I am no longer working.

Non lavoro più. nohn lah-VOH-roh PYOU

Asking a question in Italian is as easy as raising the pitch of your voice at the end of any sentence:

Are you American?

Tu sei americano? too say ah-meh-ree-KAH-noh

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