All roads lead to Rome

Hi all - In February I decided to learn Italian and along the way I have been learning as much about learning as I have about learning Italian. The title of this post refers to the idea that I can’t control how something will be said to me in a conversation, which means a lot of input is required for a real conversation.

However, I can control which road take out of Rome, i.e. how I say something. This has got me looking at chunking or lexical grammar - set multiword units used to construct sentences.

Are there any good resources out there for Italian chuncking? I haven’t found any, yet. Have you found this method useful?


Use bilingual translation in English and follow along in Italian while reading. I am learning German, that’s how I come across collocations naturally. e.g “all in all” in English equates to “alles in allem” in German. Also, start watching television series, not movies in your target language(Italian). Certain chunks/collocations are used in every episode by the time you watch a few seasons of the same television series you will have encountered enough “scenarios” to use them naturally in a conversation. Yes, I can vouch for the fact that German native speakers have acquired a lot of collocations naturally. A week ago I noticed that a German mom was speaking a fixed collocation with her toddler on the street (which I picked up a long time ago through watching dubbed television series in German.) I am sure it goes the same for Italian native speakers.


Hi! I know this doesn’t really have a lot to do with Italian, but you really should try Latin. It should help you learn Italian. Ancient Rome was centered in Italy, so the relation is close.

Have to agree with asad here. Use bilingual resources where you can see the equivalent translations that translators will use. Something like the learning languages with netflix app would allow you to do this quite nicely. I would say that books are great here too, but you’d have to find something with a lot of dialogue to find the expressions that you’re looking for. I’m assuming based on your post that you’re looking for the really colloquial stuff. One other thing you could do is talk with an an Italian speaker about what they view as similar expressions to Italian ones. Sometimes the expression is so similar to your language that you think you’re mistaken and other times they just seem so weirdly abstract that you may want someone to explain some situations where they would use certain expressions. It’s nice to know the general contexts where people are likely to say certain phrases, and it’s one of the social skills that’s hard to develop without really interacting with people in those perfect situations. Just think about how every store that you visit operates a bit differently based on what products they sell. The people working in the store will generally ask you very different questions, but anyone familiar with the general topics that come up will be more comfortable than someone going for the first time.

I’ve been learning Italian for about a year now. My advice is to just read a lot, listen to a lot of simple videos. The cool thing is that most things people say are really repetitive. That means if you listen enough you will pick up on them. The figures of speech really aren’t used that often or necessary to learn. The other thing is that reading about many topics will prepare you to have better conversations. In my opinion, there is no “conversational Italian” without just being able to talk generally about a bunch of topics. The little nuances of conversation get picked up way later and are not at all important. For example, I could memorize “piacere di conoscerti”, but how often do you use that? Once and it’s still optional. Learning a language is really really time consuming and there is no way around it. Also, respectfully disagree with Kwall1, learn what you want to learn. Learning one language so that you can learn another is a recipe for failure.

Focusing on a single topic for a few months at a time will help you develop a strong vocabulary with that topic. Only study what you enjoy and will use. I travel alot to Mexico so I do focus on content about covid as there are many restrictions and people what to talk about it. I also spend a great deal of time with teachers and at the ocean swimming or fishing so I focus on reading about topics that I participate in. Yes, I do read alot of other content and through volume alone I pick up on more words and phrases.