During the Spring 2012 I taught one of many interdisciplinary undergraduate seminars in the Experimental Study Group at MIT. Each class is based on the preparation of a simple delicious dish and on the bite-sized acquisition of parts of the Italian language and culture.
Videography by Graham Gordon Ramsay.

Click here to watch the videos in full resolution.
Buon divertimento!

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Lezione numero tre

For the videos of this class click here.

I haven't seen you for a whole settimana (week): come state? (lit. how do you stay-> how are you?) Spero bene! (I hope well). You may be wondering whether am I talking to you as a single person, or to you as a group. In English you would know it from the context, in Italian you would know it from the structure sentence itself, because I would use a different form of the verb stare:

(voi) come state? refers to you plural
(tu) come stai? refers to you singular, informal
(Lei) come sta? refers to you singular, formal, equivalent to the Spanish Usted

Here is how you can answer:

Bene. Or benissimo/molto bene (very well)
Non c’è male, grazie.(lit. there isn't bad ->Not bad, thank you)
Così così. (So and so)
Sto meglio, grazie. E tu? (I feel better, thank you. And you?)
If we are in a formal relationship, you should say E Lei? instead of E tu?

Come stai?

Essere o stare? Questo è il dilemma!

We ask come stai, not come sei.
As a general rule essere means “to be”, and stare means “to stay”.
However, stare, not essere is always used, when followed by the adverbs bene, male, meglio, or peggio (worse). Stare bene with an indirect pronoun (dative) means “it suits you”:

Questo vestito ti (=a te) sta bene =lit. this dress stays well to you->this dress suits you

Stare followed by the gerundive expresses the continuous tenses:

Sto cucinando =(I) am cooking
Stavo leggendo=(I) was reading

Essere is used in general to indicate more permanent aspects of people or things (sono Daria=I am Daria, sono di New York = I am from NY, Mike è Americano = Mike is American, mia mamma è bionda= my mom is blond, etc)-- i.e. identity, origin, nationality, aspect, religion, etc.

..but not only… sometimes also for transitory conditions/emotions

Giovanni è ammalato (not sta ammalato) = John is sick
Alice è innamorata = Alice is enamored (->in love)
Sei felice? = Are you happy?

Essere is also used as a verbo ausiliare (auxiliary verb, or helper) in the passive form:

la pizza è cotta nel forno = the pizza is baked (lit. cooked) in the oven

When talking about a location, essere and stare are mostly the same:

Siamo in cucina or stiamo in cucina (we are in the kitchen)

Ascolta come si coniuga l'indicativo presente dei verbi essere e stare.

Essere e stare: indicativo presente

Il verbo essere (to be):

(io) sono – (I) am
(tu ) sei (informal)/ (Lei) è (formal) – (you) are
(lei/lui) è – (she/he) is ---- we do not have the neutral pronoun "it"
(noi) siamo – (we) are
(voi) siete – (you) are
(loro) sono – (they) are

Il verbo stare (to stay):

sto - (I) stay
stai (informal) sta (formal) - (you) stay
sta - (she/he) stays
stiamo – (we) stay
state – (you) stay
stanno – (they) stay

Cosa ti piace sulla pizza?

As we started planning what to cook next, we made the list of what toppings we like on pizza.

Cosa ti (= a te) piace sulla pizza? = lit. what is pleasing to you on pizza? ->What do you like..
Mi (=a me) piace la mozzarella = lit. mozzarella is pleasing to me -> I like mozzarella
Mi piacciono le melanzane e i peperoni: lit. eggplants and peppers are pleasing to me

If you want to talk about something you enjoy doing, you use the verb piacere followed by the infinitive:

A Giorgio piace cucinare= lit. cooking is pleasing to George-> George likes cooking

Mi piace!Ascolta e ripeti

More verbs!

We finished our class by reviewing how to conjugate the present tense of another important irregular verb, il verbo avere (to have) and three regular verbs, one per kind, whose infinitive end in are, ere and ire (mangiare, ridere and dormire). Leggi (read), ascolta (listen) e ripeti (and repeat).

Avere, Mangiare, Ridere, Dormire: indicativo presente

Il verbo avere (to have):

hai (informal)/ ha (formal)

Mangi-ARE (to eat) – Remember cucinare?


Rid-ERE (to laugh)


Dorm-IRE (to sleep)



1- Write the indicativo presente of the verbs:
leggere (to read), partire (to leave), aprire (to open), tagliare (to cut), vivere (to live) and parlare (to talk/to speak)

2- Write (in Italian) a list of things you like to eat/you like to do.
Start sentences with mi piace or mi piacciono.

3- Solve this quiz and write down your answers: http://www.tresoldi.pro.br/A05unita1.html

4- I numeri da 11 a 20: listen and repeat

5- Suggested readings on the reasons why i pomodori ti fanno bene and food processing.


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