Italian is a Romance language spoken by about 62 million people, most of whom live in Italy. Standard Italian is based on Tuscan dialects and is somewhat intermediate between the languages of Southern Italy and the Gallo-Romance languages of the North. Italian has double (or long) consonants, like Latin (but unlike most modern Romance languages, e.g. French and Spanish). As in most Romance languages (with the notable exception of French), stress is distinctive.
Italian is an official language in Italy, San Marino and in the Ticino canton of Switzerland. It is also the second official language in Vatican City and in some areas of Istria in Slovenia and Croatia with Italian minority.
Some people claim that Tuscan became the standard language because it's so close to Latin, but other languages spoken in Italy are even closer to Latin (e.g. sardo logudorese as well as some Southern Italian idioms). It was also not the beauty of Dante's language but rather the economic power that Tuscany had at the time, specially considering Pisa's influence. Also, the increasing cultural relevance of Florence in the period of Umanesimo (before Rinascimento) made its vulgare become a standard in art, quickly imported to Rome.
|1st Person||io - I||noi - we|
|2nd Person||tu - you (one person, familiar)||voi - you (plural, familiar)|
lei - she
Lei - you (one person, polite)
lui - he
|loro - they
Loro - you (plural, polite)
Lei and Loro (written with a capitalized L) have special meaning in addition to their meanings as "she" and "they". Lei is the polite form of tu (which is only used for individuals one is familiar with, or for children), and similarly, Loro is the polite form of voi.
infinitives have one of three endings, either -are, -ere, or -ire. Most Italian verbs are regular.
Questions are formed by a rising intonation at the end of the sentence, as in most European languages, possibly with the reversal of the subject and verb also (see examples below).
Example: mangiare, "to eat".
guardare, "to watch"
Example: leggere, "to read"
Some regular -ire verbs conjugate normally, and some conjugate according to the -isco pattern. There is no way to tell other than to memorize which are which.
|-ire (normal form)||Singular||Plural|
Example: partire, "to leave"
|-ire (-isco form)||Singular||Plural|
Example: capire, "to understand".
e, é /e/
e, è /E/
c before velar vowels, ch- before palatal vowels, q before u in some words, k in foreign words /k/
g- before velar vowels, gh- before palatal vowels /g/
c- before palatal vowels; ci- before velar vowels /tS/
g- before palatal vowels, gi- before velar vowels /dZ/
sc- before palatal vowels, sci- before velar vowels /S/
sg- before palatal vowels, sgi- before velar vowels /Z/
gn /n_j/ palatal [n]
gl(i) /l_j/ palatal [l]
/'fato/ - /'fatto/
/'kade/ - /'kadde/
/'kasa/ - /'kassa/
/'pala/ - /'palla/
/'karo/ - /'karro/
/'pena/ - /'penna/
Length is distinctive for all consonants except /ts, dz, S, z, n_j, l_j/.