Italian Dialogue Practice: Shopping in Italy

Italian Dialogue Practice: Shopping in Italy

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog               Use our Italian practice tips to go shopping in Italy! Listen to our Italian dialogue about two cousins in an Italian shop!

Italian Dialogue Practice: Shopping in Italy

Can you speak Italian? By now, many of you have passed the beginning stages of learning how to speak Italian and can read and comprehend quite a bit of the language.  Meraviglioso!

But have you tried to take the next step to communicate in Italian fluently? Are you familiar with the vocabulary to use when shopping in Italy?

Our third Italian Practice blog includes an audio dialogue recorded with native Italian speakers! We will continue with the story of Caterina and Francesca, two Italian cousins who are living in different cities and trying to reconnect. In the dialogue that follows, Caterina visits Francesca in Rome, and they go shopping to buy Caterina some new clothes.

Click on the “PLAY” button below and listen to the Italian dialogue from Conversational Italian for Travelers, “Chapter 10 – Shopping in Milan,” right on this blog. Read along on the printed page that follows the dialogue button. Afterward, click on the website link and interact with the same recorded audio on our website. Listen to individual lines over and over again—as many times as needed!

After the dialogue, we will present information about how to use Italian reflexive verbs to refer to dressing oneself and trying on clothes. We will also describe how to use questo and quello to point out to the shopkeeper which of those wonderful Italian items will make the perfect souvenir to remember a trip to Italy!

This material is adapted from our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC, found on

Italian Dialogue Practice: Shopping in Italy

Italian Dialogue: Chapter 10: Shopping in Milan

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Francesca Caterina, abbiamo

molto da fare oggi.

Kathy, (we) have

a lot to do today.

  È giovedì, e il giovedì

io vado a fare la spesa.

(It) is Thursday, and on Thursdays

I go to do the grocery shopping.

  E poi, la mia amica Anna

ci invita a prendere un caffé

in un bar.

And then my friend Ann

invites us to (take) have coffee

in a bar.

  Ti piace fare la spesa? (Do) you like to do the grocery shopping?

(lit. Is it pleasing to you…?)

Caterina Si, mi piace fare la spesa

al supermercato.


Yes, I like to do the grocery shopping at the supermarket.


  Ma, mi piace di più

andare a comprare vestiti.

But, I like more

to go to buy clothes.

(lit. It is pleasing to me more…)

  Ho bisogno di

un vestito nuovo e

vorrei comprare anche

qualcosa per mia sorella

in America.

(I) need

a new dress and

also (I) would like to buy

something for my sister

in America.

Francesca Molto bene.

Andiamo a fare shopping!

Very well.

Let’s go shopping (for clothes)!

  Ci sono molti bei negozi a Milano. There are many nice shops in


Francesca (Dopo un po’…

Francesca e Caterina entrano

in un negozio di vestiti e

incontrano la commessa Laura.)

(After awhile…

Frances and Kathy enter

a dress shop and

meet the salesgirl





(a Caterina):

Buon giorno.

Posso aiutarla?

Good day.

May (I) help you?

(polite greeting to a customer)

Caterina Cerco un vestito da sera,

carino ma elegante.

(I) am look(ing) for an evening dress,

cute, but elegant.

Mi piace molto ballare.

Avete vestiti neri?

I like dancing very much.

(lit. Dancing to me is pleasing…)

(Do) you all have black dresses?

(plural (voi) form of “you” used to address salespeople politely)

Laura Certamente.

Che taglia porta?


What size (do) you take?

(polite question)

Caterina Porto la (taglia) quarantasei. (I) take (the) size 46 (Italian).
Laura Questo vestito è alla moda. This dress is in style.
Caterina Francesca, ti piace? Frances, (do) you like (it)?

(lit. Is it pleasing to you…?)

Francesca Si, ma anche questo (vestito) e bello.  Provali tutti e due. Yes, but also this (dress)

is nice. Try them both on.


(a Laura):

Avete taglie più grande? (Do) you all have larger sizes?

(plural (voi) form of “you” used to address salespeople politely)

  Mia sorella porta la (taglia) quarantotto. My sister takes (the) size

48 (Italian).

Laura Si, questo, o forse quel vestito. Yes, this, or maybe that dress.


Francesca Caterina, ti piace questa gonna per tua sorella? Kathy, (do) you like this

skirt for your sister?

(lit. Is this skirt pleasing to you…?)

Caterina È bella, ma

a mia sorella non piace

il colore marrone.

(It) is nice, but

my sister doesn’t like

the color brown.

(lit. To my sister, the color brown

is not pleasing…)

Francesca E quella (gonna)? And that one (skirt)?
Caterina Oh, quella (gonna) è perfetta.

Le piace di più il rosso del marrone.

Oh, that (skirt) is perfect.

She likes red more than


(lit. To her, red is more pleasing than brown.)

  La prendo! I’ll take it!

(a Laura):

Dov’è posso trovare

il camerino?

Where can (I) find

the fitting room?

Laura Eccolo. Here it is.
Francesca (Dopo pochi minuti…) (After a few minutes…)
Caterina Allora, Francesca.

Mi metto il vestito.

Now, Frances.

I put on (myself) the dress.

  Che pensi?

Mi sta bene?

What (do you) think?

(Does it) look good on me?

(lit. Does it stay well on me?)

Francesca Ti sta benissimo!

Ma com’è l’altro?

(It) looks wonderful on you!

But how (about) the other?



Caterina L’altro non mi va bene.

È troppo stretto.

The other did not fit me well.

(idiomatic expression)

(It) is too tight.


(a Caterina):

Desidera altro? (Do) (you) want anything else?
Caterina No, mi piacciono questi (vestiti). No, I like these (clothes).

(lit. These clothes are pleasing to me.)

  Quanto costano questo vestito e questa gonna? How much is (costs) this dress and this skirt?
Laura Sono cinquantadue euro per il vestito e ventitre euro per la gonna. (They are) 52 euros for the dress and 23 euros for the skirt.
Caterina Non c’è male. That’s not too bad.
Laura Ecco la cassa.

Come vuole pagare?

Here is the cashier’s counter.

How (do) (you) want to pay?

Caterina Posso pagare con un assegno? Can (I) pay with a check?
Laura Mi dispiace.

Non accettiamo assegni.

I’m sorry.

(We) don’t accept checks.

  Accettiamo la carta di credito o il bancomat. (We) accept (a) credit card or (a) debit card.
Caterina Va bene.  Pago in contanti. Very well. (I will) pay in cash.
  Mi può dare la ricevuta, per favore? Can you give me the receipt, please?
Laura Ma, certo!  Grazie mille! But certainly! Thank you very much!




Italian Dialogue Practice: What You Will Need to Know…

Italian Dialogue Practice: Shopping in Italy

For Italian Dialogue You Will Need to Know…
Expressions That Describe Shopping

Many important expressions describe the act of shopping in Italian. Notice from the tables below how the phrases differ depending on the type of shopping to be done. Examples follow.

Grocery Shopping 

fare la spesa to do the grocery shopping

to do some grocery shopping

General Shopping

fare spese to do the shopping (clothes, shoes, or other personal items)
fare compere to do the shopping (any purchase) (la compera = purchase)
fare acquisti to do the shopping (any purchase) (l’acquisto = purchase)
fare shopping to do the shopping


We have seen in the dialogue for this chapter that although Americans use the simple phrase “go shopping” for any shopping that they do, Italians often “go to do the shopping,” with the expression “andare a fare la spesa.” This interesting expression refers only to grocery shopping. A phrase denoting the location of the shopping, such as “al supermercato” (“at the supermarket”) can be used to complete the sentence. In most cases, both speakers know the place to obtain groceries, so the actual place is omitted.

If one is going to shop for non-grocery items, several phrases can be used. “Fare spese” is similar to the phrase we have just learned for grocery shopping, but it instead means “to go shopping for clothes, shoes, or other personal items,” usually in the piazza or shopping district in town known to the speakers. Two phrases can be used for shopping in general, for any purchase: “fare compere” and “fare acquisti.” A very popular phrase in Italy today that can be used for any type of shopping is simply “fare shopping!”

Otherwise, to shop for a specific item, use “andare a comprare” and mention what you are going to buy; for instance, complete this phrase with the word vestiti for clothes, like Caterina did in our dialogue.


Faccio la spesa. (I) do the (grocery) shopping.
Vado a fare la spesa. (I) go to do the (grocery) shopping.
Vado a comprare… (I) go to buy… (any item).
Faccio shopping. (I) go (lit. do/make) shopping (general).
Faccio shopping di vestiti. (I) go (lit. do/make) shopping for clothes.
Faccio compere. (I) go (lit. do/make) shopping (general).
Faccio acquisti. (I) make purchases (usually for non-grocery items).
Mi può mostrare… Could you (pol.) show me…
Mi fa vedere… Could you (pol.) show me…
Posso? May I?
Che taglia porta? What size do you (pol.) wear?
Porto la taglia…/Porto la… (I) take the size…/(I) take the (size)…
Qual’è la taglia italiana per What is the Italian size for
la taglia dieci americana?  (the) size 10 American?
alla moda/di moda in style
di marca designer/brand name
Mi provo…/Ti provi (I) try on (myself)…/(You fam.) try on (yourself)…
Mi metto…/Ti metti… (I) put on (myself)…/(You fam.) put on (yourself)…
Mi metto… (I) am trying on (myself)…/(I) am going to try on (myself)…
Mi sta bene. (It) looks good (lit. stays well) on me.
Ti sta bene. (It) looks good (lit. stays well) on you.
Mi va bene. (It) fits me well.
La/Lo prendo! I’ll take it! (fem./masc. direct object)
Le/Li prendo! I’ll take them! (fem./masc. plural direct object)

Italian Dialogue Practice: Shopping in Italy

 For Itlaian Dialogue You Will Need to Know…
Reflexive Verbs of Dressing Oneself

Italian uses the reflexive verb mettersi (to put on oneself) to convey the ideas of “I put on the dress,” “I put on my dress,” and “I put my dress on.” The reflexive pronoun mi (myself) is placed before the conjugated form of mettersi, as usual, and the article of clothing to be put on is then placed after the verb. The subject pronoun is omitted.

So when Caterina goes to try on her dress in our dialogue, she says, “Mi metto il vestito.” Just remember the simple phrase “mi metto,” and replace vestito with the article of clothing of your choice to describe your own action! To describe action in the tu (you) form, use “ti metti.”


(Io) Mi metto il vestito. I put on the dress./I put the dress on./I put on my dress.
(Tu) Ti metti l’anello. You put on the ring.

Also, remember that stare is used to describe how someone feels? Well, to tell someone “It looks good on you!” follow this simple method: Conjugate stare into the third person, or “it” form, sta, then place an indirect object pronoun before the verb.

This is easier than it sounds, because for routine conversational use of the io and tu forms, Italian words we already know—mi and ti—are again used. (Mi means both me and to me, and ti means both you and to you; the same Italian words are used for both direct and indirect object pronouns for the io and tu forms.)

 So when Francesca told Caterina in our dialogue, “Ti sta bene,” she was saying, literally, “To you, it stays well,” with the meaning, “It looks good on you.” 

To ask someone if an article of clothing you are wearing looks good, use, “Mi sta bene?” If clothing looks really wonderful on someone, reply, “Ti sta benissimo!”

Mi sta bene? Does it (article of clothing) look good on me?
Ti sta bene. It looks good on you.
Ti sta benissimo! It looks wonderful on you!

Finally, the expression “va bene” that we have come to know so well by now is also used to describe how an article of clothing fits on a person. If it fits well, say, “Va bene.” If not, use “Non va bene,” as Caterina does in our dialogue to describe a dress that did not fit her properly.

Italian Dialogue Practice: Shopping in Italy

 For Italian Dialogue You Will Need to Know…

How to Describe Wearing Clothes
 with the Verbs Portare, Mettersi, and Vestire

In order to say I am wearing…”  or I take the size…”  the verb portare, which is not reflexive, is usually used in the present tense. You no doubt remember that portare is commonly used to mean to bring”  or to carry.” 

Porto il mio vestito preferito. I am wearing my favorite dress.
Porto la (taglia) quarantotto. I take size 48.

Portare can also be used to say I wore”  in the past tense. But perhaps because portare is used so commonly with its other meaning of to bring”  in the past tense, to describe what they wore, most Italians prefer to revert to mettersi and use its past participle messo. Here is how it works:

(Io) Mi sono messo una gonna. I wore a skirt.
Ho portato una gonna. I wore a skirt.

Another way to describe how someone was dressed, is to use the past tense verb “essere vestito(a,i,e).”  This verb can be used to make generalizations, as well as to refer to a specific article of clothing.  When being specific, the preposition “con” is used in these phrases, as in the examples below.

Era vestito con un abito grigio. He was dressed in a suit.
Era vestita con una gonna blu. She was dressed in a blue skirt.
Eravamo vestiti tutto in rosso per la festa. We were dressed all in red for the party.

Italian Dialogue Practice: Shopping in Italy

For Italian Dialogue You Will Need to Know…

How to Describe Wearing Clothes
 with the Verb Indossare

The verb indossare also means “to wear” and “to put on.”  This verb can is used in exactly the same way as portare or mettersi.  To the Italian ear, the verb indossare is said to have a more elegant sound than portare or mettersi, and perhaps this is why indossare is more common in written Italian than in conversation.

Just like the other two verbs that have the same meaning, indossare must always be followed by the article of clothing that the person is wearing.

Caterina indossa un abito rosso. Kathryn is wearing a red dress.
La signora indossava un cappotto molto elegantamente. The lady was wearing a very elegant coat.


Finally, when something fits perfectly on you or another, to really fit into Italian society, use the idiomatic expression calzare a pennello.”  Calzature refers to shoes, or “footwear,” so this Italian saying is the equivalent of  the English saying, It fits you like a glove” or It fits you to a T.”

Mi calza a pennello! It fits me perfectly!
Ti calza a pennello! It fits you perfectly!
Lo/la calza a pennello! It fits him/her perfectly!

Italian Dialogue Practice: Shopping in Italy

 For Italian Dialogue You Will Need to Know…
Questa and Quella

The feminine demonstrative adjectives questa (this) and quella (that) have endings that follow our usual gender rules. Both have the usual –a ending for the feminine singular that changes to an –e ending in the plural, to make queste (these) and quelle (those).

It should be noted that if the singular feminine noun modified begins with a vowel, the usual –a ending of questa or quella can be dropped. The adjective and noun are then combined with an apostrophe to make conversation flow more smoothly.

Unfortunately, there is no hard-and-fast rule for when to drop the –a ending and when to keep it. As usual, listening to the language as it is spoken by a native is the best and most natural way to pick up these phrases. Here are a few examples:

Questa – This (Feminine)
Singular to Plural 

questa casa this house goes to these houses queste case
questa amica this girlfriend goes to these girlfriends queste amiche
quest’altra* this other goes to these other queste altre


 Quella – This (Feminine)
Singular to Plural 

quella casa that house goes to those houses quelle case
quella amica that girlfriend goes to those girlfriends quelle amiche
quell’altra* that other goes to those other quelle altre

*In these last phrases, questo and quello are not followed by a noun, and so they are technically pronouns rather than adjectives… don’t worry about these different labels now, though.


Italian Dialogue Practice: Shopping in Italy

 For Italian Dialogue You Will Need to Know…
Questo and Quello

The masculine demonstrative adjective questo (this) uses the usual –o ending for the masculine singular, which changes to an –i ending for the masculine plural and becomes questi (these).

Notice that if the singular masculine noun to be modified begins with a vowel, the usual –o ending of questo will be dropped and the words combined with an apostrophe to make conversation flow more smoothly.

Questo – This (Masculine)
Singular to Plural 

questo giorno this day goes to these days questi giorni
quest’amico this friend (male) goes to these friends (male) questi amici


 Quello – This (Masculine)
Singular to Plural 

The masculine demonstrative adjective quello (that) does not follow our usual gender rules but instead follows the rules for the masculine definite article “the” when it precedes a noun.

The word quello itself follows the rule for the definite article lo and is only used before the singular form of Italian masculine nouns that begin with s + consonant, z, ps, gn, or pn. This is similar to another adjective that ends in -lo, bello.

Quel (that) is used to modify all singular masculine nouns that begin with a consonant, except for those noted in the last paragraph.

An apostrophe and an additional letter –l are added, to make quell’ (that) for singular masculine nouns that begin with a vowel.

For the plural masculine forms of quello, the usual –i ending is used for plural masculine nouns that begin with a consonant, to make quei (those).

The word quegli (those) is used for plural masculine nouns that begin with s + consonant, z, ps, gn, or pn, and all vowels…

This is not as complicated as it seems, because again, we are following the same rules as for the masculine definite article. The summary table is below:


 Quello – This (Masculine)
Singular to Plural 

quel giorno that day goes to those days quei giorni
quell’amico that friend goes to those friends quegli amici
quello zio that uncle goes to those uncles quegli zii

The above material is adapted from “Chapter 10 – Shopping in Milan” of the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook, © 2012 by Kathryn Occhipinti, courtesy of Stella Lucente, LLC. 


Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

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Italian Dialogue Practice: Shopping in Italy

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