Italian FAQs

A list of frequently asked questions concerning Italian and learning Italian. If you don't find the answer to your question, please get in touch, we're happy to help!

Where is Italian spoken?

The Italian language is the official language of Italy, San Marino, Vatican City, Switzerland and the Western Istria region of Slovakia and Croatia. Albania, Monaco and Malta had Italian as an official language at one point.

There is a relatively sizable number of Italian speakers in Albania, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, Malta, Egypt, Eritrea, France, Germany, Israel, Libya, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Paraguay, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, the United States and Venezuela.

How many people speak Italian?

Approximately 63 million people in the world speak Italian as their first language. 60 million of them are residents of Italy.

An additional 3 million speak Italian as a second language. Various sources differ slightly in their estimates, but Italian is around the 20th most-spoken language in the world.

What makes Italian difficult to learn?

The difficulty of learning Italian depends on your native language or other foreign languages you know. For instance, if you know some Spanish, Latin, Portuguese, French or Romanian already, you’ve got a bit of a head start and learning Italian will be a bit easier for you.

Here are some of the things that can make learning Italian difficult. It is a gendered language requiring lots of agreements, there are lots of verb forms, with many irregular verbs and surprisingly fluid word order. There is also quite a complex pronoun system; native speakers of Italian often ‘play it by ear’ when it comes to pronouns, but the shades of meaning can be difficult for a non-native speaker to grasp.

On the other hand, the pronunciation and spelling are pretty straightforward and there are a lot of cognates between Italian and English, Spanish, French, and some other Indo-European languages, which makes learning a bit easier.

Is Italian the same as Latin?

Italian is a Romance language of the Indo-European language family. Italian descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire and, together with Sardinian, is by most measures the closest language to it of the Romance languages.

However, Italian is not the same as Latin. Over the years, the Italian language changed and evolved, and it developed quite a few differences from Latin: Italian uses articles, doesn’t have cases, has only two genders (there are 3 in Latin), and so on.

How similar is Italian to French?

French and Italian are both Romance languages. That means that they are derived from Latin which was the language of the Roman Empire. Having evolved from the same ‘source’, the two languages have many things in common: there is a lot of shared vocabulary (lexical similarity between Italian and French is almost 90%), some similar grammatical principles.

However, the two languages are not mutually intelligible and there are quite a few differences between them. There are differences in grammar, such as, for instance, differences in the use of articles, the formation of plural forms, direct pronouns, negative structures, etc. There are also many differences in pronunciation. Italian pronunciation is mostly phonetic, and in French, there are a lot of silent letters.

How similar is Italian to Spanish?

Spanish and Italian are both Romance languages. That means that they are derived from Latin which was the language of the Roman Empire. Having evolved from the same ‘source’, the two languages have many things in common: there is a lot of shared vocabulary, some similar grammatical principles. It is quite possible for speakers of Spanish and Italian to have a mutually intelligible conversation on a simple topic as long as they speak clearly

However, there are still many differences between the two languages. Conjugation of verbs and formation of plurals are different, as well as the use of tenses.

How similar is Italian to Portuguese?

Portuguese and Italian are both Romance languages. That means that they are derived from Latin which was the language of the Roman Empire. Having evolved from the same ‘source’, the two languages have a few things in common: there is some shared vocabulary, some similar grammatical principles.

However, the two languages are not mutually intelligible and there are quite a few differences between them. There are significant differences in grammar, such as, for instance, the formation of plural forms, and in pronunciation.


Italian Vocabulary Books

Learn Italian - Quick / Easy / Efficient

Learn Italian - Quick / Easy / Efficient

This vocabulary book is a curated Italian word frequency list with 2000 of the most common Italian words and phrases. Following the Pareto principle (80/20 rule), this book is built to streamline the learning process by concentrating on the core words and sentence structures. The result is a unique book ideal for driven learners and language hackers.
Italian Vocabulary Book

Italian Vocabulary Book

This Italian vocabulary book contains more than 3000 words and phrases and is organized by topic to make it easier for you to pick what to learn first. It is well suited for learners of all levels who are looking for an extensive resource to improve their vocabulary or are interested in learning vocabularies in one particular area of interest.

Italian Flashcards

Italian Quizlet Flashcards

Italian Quizlet Flashcards

These Italian flashcard sets contain 1300 of the most important Italian vocabularies sorted by topic. Each set represents one topic which allows you to dive deeper into areas depending on your priorities and interests.

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