Updated: Apr 5, 2021
So, now you know what to say when you get into a room ( greetings ) but what about that long moment of general awkward silence right after that? What would be your next move?
Who are you? How do you let the other people know that? A rudimentary way of expressing that would be the classic 'Me Tarzan move' but how does it work?
In Italian, the famous encounter scene between the feral young man and Jane got translated into 'io Tarzan, tu Jane'. Even though right now this jungle-love-story doesn't matter to us, this scene gives us two important pieces of information about Italian pronouns :
io - I / tu - you.
The only issue now is that it's quite unlikely that you will need to use Italian in the jungle (spoiler alert : there are no jungles in Italy!) so how can we make it smoother? Well, to do that we can use one of the most powerful tools in languages : verbs.
What is a verb? The word 'verb', in Italian 'verbo' (singular) , comes from Latin (verbum) and it literally means 'word'; nonetheless, verbs are deeply different from other classes of words (such as nouns, adjectives, adverbs, etc). Verbs allow us to express the idea of actions and to place those actions in a time-frame, to give directions, define the grade of formality we want to achieve, and many other features!
Think, for instance, to the word 'ice cream' [eng] / 'gelato' [ita]; it is classified as a noun, and if I suddenly shout it during a conversation you would just look at me puzzled and, in the best of the hypothesis, you would visualise in your mind something like the image on the right.
But if I shout: 'RUN!' [eng] / 'CORRI!' [ita] you would be more likely to think of an impending danger and you would start running:
What's the most important Italian verb?
Languages are easier to learn when they are meaningful to us, and to put ourselves into a conversation we need to use the verb 'essere' (to be). 'Essere' corresponds to a statement of being; Descartes' latin statement : 'Cogito ergo sum' / 'I think therefore I am' stresses how important is for us human beings 'to be'.
The Italian language present the first person of the verb to be (I am) as 'Io sono', while the second one [singular] (you are) as 'tu sei'. This might sound basic but it is kind of useful if you are Tarzan and you are meeting Jane at Starbucks!
In summary :
In Italian we use 'io' and 'tu' to express the first and the second person singular pronouns [e.g. Io Tarzan, tu Jane ];
Verbs (verbo [s], verbi [pl] ) are used to express actions;
The verbo 'essere' (to be) it is used as 'io sono...' to express 'I am', and 'tu sei...' to express 'you are'.
In the next post, we will discuss different ways to introduce yourself and to say your name!