The phrases you'll need to survive at work in Italy

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The phrases you'll need to survive at work in Italy
Vital Italian phrases to use at work in Italy. Photo: Fortune Live Media/flickr

Working in an Italian office can be daunting, especially if you haven't mastered the language. So The Local has come up with some useful phrases to help you along your way, from asking your colleague out for a drink, your boss for a pay-rise or simply venting your frustration. Warning: Some may need to be used with caution!


Greetings/morning chat:

If it’s your first day in the job, remember to address your colleagues - especially those in senior positions - with the more formal “Lei” (“you”), regardless of gender, rather than “tu”. Usually, that means verbs end in 'a' rather than 'i'.

So, for example:

“Lei come si chiama?” (What’s your name?) instead of "Tu come ti chiami?"

"Buongiorno, come va?" (Good morning, how are you?)

Italians don’t tend to keep formalities up for long, so as you settle into some polite banter, you can ask your colleagues:

 “Da quanto tempo lavori qui?” (“How long have you been working here?”)

“Buondì/salve” (less formal ways of saying ‘hello’)

“Hai passato un buon weekend/fine settimana?" (“Did you have a good weekend?”)

“Si! Domenica era bellissima! Sono andato/a al mare!” (Yes! Sunday was beautiful! I went to the beach!”)

“No! Faceva schifo!” (No! It was rubbish!)

“Mi dispiace che sono in ritardo, c’è uno sciopero /non partiva il mio motorino" (“Sorry I’m late, there’s a strike/my scooter wouldn’t start”)

“Ho dimenticato di timbrare, non ero in ritardo ‘sta mattina” (“I forgot to clock-in this morning, I wasn’t late”)

“Dove hai parcheggiato?" (“Where did you park?” is a common question to ask upon arriving at work, due to the fierce competition for parking slots)


“Andiamo a prendere un caffè?” (“Shall we go for coffee?”)

“La macchina del cioccolato ha mangiato le mie monete” (“The chocolate machine swallowed my change”)

“Andiamo a prendere qualcosa al bar?” (“Shall we get something from the bar?”)

Chiamiamo il bar e li chiediamo a portare su tre caffè?” (“Shall we call the bar and ask them to bring up three coffees?”)

“Vai a casa per pranzo?” (“Are you going home for lunch?” is a very common question as Italians often go home to their families for lunch)

“Andiamo fuori a pranzo?” (“Shall we go out for lunch?”)

“Cosa hai mangiato a colazione/pranzo/cena?” (“What did you have for breakfast/lunch/dinner?”)

Italians are always very intrigued about eating habits…and may follow it up with, “E come l'hai cucinato?” (“How did you cook that?)

“Tre ore non è molto per un pranzo d’affari” (“Three hours isn’t that long for a business lunch”)

“Andiamo a fare l'aperitivo?” (“Shall we go for ‘aperitivo’, the equivalent of afterwork drinks, but never beer and it must involve food!)

“Chi è lo stagista? E’ proprio carino” (“Who’s the intern? He’s really cute”)

Office/tech speak:

“Ha la password per la connessione wifi?” (“Do you have the password for wifi?” – a vital question on your first day!)

Quando è la data di consegna?” (“When’s the deadline?”)

“Lo faccio subito” (“I’ll do it straight away”)

“Mi puoi inviare una email?” (“Could you send me an email?)

“Cosa vuol dire/cosa significa?” (“What does this mean?”)

“Non lo so, Googl’are” (“I don’t know, Google it)

“Ok, lo posso Twitt’are” (Ok, I’ll Twitter it)

“Non credo che sia fattibile finire il progetto entro oggi" (“I don’t think it’s feasible to finish the project by the end of today”)

“No, non stavo/ero sul Facebook, hai sbagliato” (“No, I wasn’t on Facebook, you made a mistake”)

“E bloccato/non funziona” (“It doesn’t work” - for computer problems)

“Il tuo internet funziona?” (“Is your internet working?”)

“Che palle! Non funziona internet” (“Oh balls! The internet’s not working”)

“Il capo non è di buon umore” (“The boss isn’t in a good mood”)

“Questo lavoro è noioso da morire” (“This job bores me to death”). Alternatively. and far less elegant, “questo lavoro è una palla! Voglio andarmene!” (“This job is crap! I want to leave!”)

“Non ne posso più di questo lavoro” (“I’m sick of this job”)

“La carta igienica è finita" (“The toilet paper’s run out”)

Tricky conversations:

“Mi è stato offerta un´altra opportunità di lavoro. Ci ho pensato a lungo e alla fine, ho deciso di accettarla.” (“I’ve been offered another opportunity. I’ve thought about it long and hard, and have decided to take it”)

“Vorrei portare alla vostra gentile attenzione la questione di un piccolissimo aumento di stipendio” ("I'd like to discuss the possibility of a small pay-rise)

This article was originally published in 2016


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