Family is no doubt one of the most important elements in an Italian’s life. That’s why the Studentsville staff chose to focus our second lesson on how to say family in Italian, and the words used for different family members

Ready for a fascinating journey through Italy’s warmest, most welcoming, and noisiest asset?!

Here we go!

Family members

grandma and nephew

How do you say brother in Italian? 

First and foremost: “famiglia” is the term for family in Italian. Specifically, the Italian for “my family” is “la mia famiglia”. As regards the Italian words that define family members, some are familiar (!) to everybody. Case in point: with the thousands of restaurants called “Mamma’s Kitchen” or similar scattered everywhere around the world, hardly anyone ever asks how to say mom in Italian!

How do you say father in Italian?

But, while the term “mamma” is quite renowned, not everyone knows that the more formal term, the equivalent of mother, is “madre”. And what about dad? How do you say father in Italian? “Padre” is the word you use to say father in Italian, but people commonly use the informal terms, equivalent to dad or daddy, “babbo” or “papà”.

How do you say cousin in Italian? 

The word for brother in Italian is “fratello”, while “sorella” is the one for sister. Wondering how you say uncle in Italian? “Zio” is the term for uncle, and “zia” is the word to use if you want to say aunt in Italian. The word for cousin is “cugino” for a male and “cugina” for a female. If you’re talking about all your cousins, male and female, you’ll say “i miei cugini”, and if you’re introducing both your aunt and uncle you’ll say “ti presento i miei ziii”.

How do you say grandfather in Italian?

I’m sure you’ve noticed we’re missing two essential family members, much loved in Italian families and very important to daily family life too. “Nonno” is the Italian word for grandfather, and “nonna” is the one for grandmother. When you speak of both, you’ll say “i nonni”. The etymology of these terms is fascinating: “nonno” derives from the Latin “nonnus” = monk, caretaker, and wise elder person in general.

family words italian

How do you say good evening in Italian?

Let’s say an Italian friend has asked you over to grandma’s (“dalla nonna”) for Sunday dinner, and the whole family is going to be there. You’re going to need to know a few basic phrases, right? Wondering how you say good evening, in Italian? The right term is “buonasera”. 

Other useful phrases 

Thank you for having me, is “grazie dell’invito!” And what if you want to ask your hostess what she is preparing in the kitchen? How do you say what are you doing in Italian? You can say “che cosa sta preparando?” or, better still, “cosa sta preparando di buono?” (you might get a taste before everyone sits down at the table!). Whatever “nonna” is cooking, it’s bound to be delicious, and the atmosphere will certainly be filled with love, light, and laughter.

The many words for “dark” in Italian

Talking about light, one of the questions our English-speaking friends often ask is “how do you say dark, in Italian?” It’s a great question because it gives us a chance to point out a fascinating fact about languages, in general, and Italian in particular: in many cases, each word counts more than one correct translation. This is often true for the Italian translation of English adjectives, “dark” in Italian, for instance.

It all depends on what you’re describing

In all languages, nouns identify persons, things, places, and concepts, while adjectives serve the purpose of describing them. Now, there are two fascinating things about the word “dark”. The first is that both in Italian and in English, it can be a noun or an adjective; the second is that, as an adjective, it depicts and portrays a variety of characteristics. 

A dark complexion or dark powers?

For example, a person can have dark hair (“capelli scuri”) and dark eyes (“occhi scuri”), it can be a dark night (“notte buia”), and sometimes dark clouds (“nuvole scure”) are looming above, or dark powers (“poteri oscuri”) acting in the shadows. As regards the noun, children are sometimes afraid of the dark (“paura del buio”), and parents generally would want you to be home “before dark” when you were young. The fun thing about Italian is that each of the above translates differently. Doubtful? See the list below!

Common ways to say dark in Italian

  • Dark hair, eyes, complexion, or a color: “scuro/a”, plural “scuri/e”.

Examples: “capelli scuri” is the Italian for dark hair, “occhi scuri” means dark eyes, “blu scuro” dark blue, “grigio scuro” dark grey, and so on.

  • Dark clouds are “nuvole cupe” (“gloomy”) or “nuvole scure”. Both can be used in a literal and figurative sense alike.
  • Dark as in devoid of light is “buio” in Italian, both if it is an adjective or a noun 

Examples: “una notte buia” = a dark night, “quando fai il bucato dividi i chiari dagli scuri“= when you do your laundry divide your lights from your darks, “torna a casa prima che faccia buio!” = come home before dark!

Italian colours names

colours italian

How do you say black in Italian?

Thinking about “dark” one can’t help but picture “black”…so how do you say “black” in Italian? And what about other colors? Read on to learn the Italian term for “black” and other main colors.

  • Black = nero
  • Green= verde
  • White = bianco
  • Yellow = giallo
  • Red = rosso
  • Blue = blu
  • Pink = rosa
  • Purple = viola

Wanna more?

Here you have the previous lesson #1.

Following this link you’ll get our articles regarding Italian slang and expressions.


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