In this lesson we are going to learn how to ask for and give directions and nouns of some city places.
During this lesson you will listen to a dialogue and you will learn useful situational expressions. Then you will find easy grammar focuses and vocabulary. If it’s not enough, challenge yourself in our Open Class and talk to our teachers, it’s free!

Listen to this dialogue:

[ragazza] Buongiorno, mi scusi, vorrei andare in piazza Duomo.
[signore] Sì, è facile, deve andare sempre dritto e poi deve girare alla prima strada a destra.
[r.] Ah, grazie… ma è lontano?
[s.] No, sono circa 10 minuti a piedi, ma se vuole può prendere il tram: se attraversa la strada c’è la fermata del 33 che arriva in Duomo.
[r.] Ah, capisco, grazie mille!
[s.] Prego!

Situational Expressions

How to ask for directions

In Italy, when you are lost or you just want to ask for directions you only have to raise your hand to get people’s attention, then use one of the following sentences. In the first column there is a formal way to speak to elder or unknown people, in the second one there is the informal way to talk to a friend or a young passer-by. Too much difficult? Use the third column, it is both formal and informal.

Formal Informal Formal and Informal
“mi scusi, vorrei andare in piazza Duomo”
[vorrei+ infinitive + place]
“scusa, vorrei andare in piazza Duomo”
[vorrei + infinitive + place]
“dov’è piazza Duomo?”
[dov’è + place]
“cerco piazza Duomo”
[cerco + place]
How to give directions

There are many ways to give directions, such the imperative forms of the verb andare (informal vai or va’ / formal vada) but these are usually irregulars: remember that you are now learning the basics, do not demand too much of yourself and make it easy. So by using the modal verb Dovere (to have to) you can add the infinitive of whatever verb you need whithout knowing the conjugation.

Formal Informal Basic directions
deve andare dritto
[deve + infinitive + direction]
deve andare dritto
[deve + infinitive + direction]
diritto [go straight on] ↑
avanti [go on] ↑
a destra [go right] →
a sinistra [go left] ←
indietro [go back] ↓

Focus on Grammar

Modal verbs

Three very important verbs are the so-called modal verbs. They are used in many situations and they are very helpful, because they avoid you to study massive amount of conjugations. First one is Dovere (must / to have to) which always implies a meaning of necessity and is always followed by infinitive. Alike dovere, Potere (can / to be able to / may) which implies a meaning of possibility. Then, Volere (to want to), meaning volition, can be followed by infinitive or a noun, for example, “voglio andare a casa”, “voglio un caffè”. Remember that the first person singular of the present tens of volere is voglio, but if you have a request to make, it is better and more polite use the conditional tens, vorrei. Let’s see the entire conjugations of these irregular but helpful verbs.

Dovere Potere Volere
io devo
tu devi
lui / lei / Lei deve
noi dobbiamo
voi dovete
loro devono
io posso
tu puoi
lui / lei / Lei può
noi possiamo
voi potete
loro possono
io voglio (vorrei)
tu vuoi
lui / lei / Lei vuole
noi vogliamo
voi volete
loro vogliono


C’è / Ci sono

Another commonly used structure in Italian is C’è / Ci sono which mean there is there are and can be reffered to people (chi) or things (cosa). C’è is followed by a singular noun, ci sono is followed by plural nouns or two or more singular nouns.

Questions C’è Ci sono
Cosa c’è?

Chi c’è?


c’è + [singular noun]

“cosa c’è a Milano?”
“c’è piazza Duomo”

ci sono + [plural noun]

“cosa c’è a Milano?”
“ci sono tanti musei”

Singular and Plural Nouns

Italian has a different ending when a noun is singular or plural. There are a lot of exceptions but for the moment remember these important changes. Usually masculine nouns in – o make the plura in – i, feminine nouns ending in – a have the plural in – e. The third group of nouns made of both masculine and feminine singular nouns in – e makes the plural in – i.

Masculine singular nouns in -o Masculine plural nouns in – i
posto posti
Feminine singular nouns in – a Feminine plural nouns in – e
piazza piazze
Masculine / Feminine singular nouns in – e Masculine / Feminine plural nouns in – i





Essential Italian vocabulary about directions and public places

Here the main words you need to know to understand or give directions and move through a city.

in fondo = down / at the bottom
attraversare = to cross
incrocio = crossroad
di fronte = in front of
davanti = ahead
all’angolo= at the corner
alla prima traversa = to the first street
alla seconda via = to the second street
girare = to turn
tornare indietro = to go back
Landmarks / public places
l’ospedale = the hospital
il cinema = the cinema
la posta = the post office
il ristorante = the restaurant
il bar = the bar
il museo = the museum
la piazza = the square
la via = the street
il corso / il viale = the boulevard
la strada = the road
Transitions words
poi, dopo = then / after / next
quando arrivi (tu) = when you get to
quando arriva (Lei) = when you get to
alla fine = finally

If you want to practice, just join our free Open Class with a native teacher! Alternatively, you can subscribe to our full-course live italian classes.

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