Some of the most common errors made by Italian speakers learning English

Do you speak #italinglish?

  • 27-10-2015
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Tags: learning | tips

...Do you speak #Italenglish, #Italinglish or #Englasiano?

<< Last year I asked some informations about the courses at Wimbledon School of English to take a course for 6 months.  My family thought I just wanted a long holiday and that I wouldn’t learn nothing.  At the beginning I did many mistakes but after a few weeks I improved greatly because both the classes and the teachers were really funny!  One week we were also ‘Class of the Week’ as we really applied ourselves and worked hard.  One of my classmates was so happy that she said “Sorry teacher, can you do a photo with us?” so we all ended up on the school notice board, it was exciting!  When I went to home my English was so much better that all my parents wanted to send their children to study at WSE as well. Now I am doing a stage in London, hoping I will help me improve my professional English too and that I will find a job after. >>.

Does the above paragraph make sense and look mostly correct? Sorry, mi dispiace, but you might need a little help identifying some of the most common mistakes that Italian students make while learning English – there are 10 so this one should definitely farvi rizzare i peli, make your hair stand on end!

Informations: the word information, without s, is an uncountable noun and is always singular.

E.g. “The information you have is correct”

Wouldn’t learn nothing:  while in Italian the double negative is fine, in English a negative construction in English is built with NOT plus ANY- 

E.g. “I don’t know anything about Italians making mistakes”.

Did many mistakes: This is a classic error!  Since fare translates as do and make in English, this is always a tricky one. Isn’t it hilarious that it refers to the word ‘mistake’? The correct one to use before a mistake is “make”. Think of M&Ms, Make & Mistake, and now that you know, don’t make the same mistake again!

Funny: “funny” and “fun” equally translate in Italian as divertente. In English however the two have slightly different connotations:  “funny” is used for something that causes laughter, e.g. “she told a funny joke”; “fun” is used for something which entertains but doesn’t necessarily cause laughter, e.g. “surfing is really fun”. In everyday English, funny is also used to express something bizarre and even weird – so it’s not always a compliment!  When talking of someone or an activity, it’s better to use the word “fun”.

E.g. “Your classmate is really fun, we should hang out with him more”.

Sorry vs Excuse me: Sorry = mi dispiace, mostly to apologise for something; Excuse me = scusa/ scusi/scusate, to get someone’s attention.  Shouting “mi dispiace” to a bunch of strangers will not help you getting through a crowd or get someone to answer your question!

Do a photo: no, no, no. You take a photo of someone, you don’t do or make one. End of.

Went to home: why, oh why is this an exception? You go to work, to the gym, to school, to the hospital, to church, to class... but you never ‘go to home’. I guess so many people want to get there as quickly as possible after a long day out, so just remember to cut out the extra word, and your commute will seem shorter. Are you ready to go home and make yourself a cup of tea?

All my parents: how many parents do Italian people have? In most countries everyone normally has two... maybe you meant relatives, i parenti?

Stage: unless you work in a theatre and you are part of the team that is physically building the stage where the actors will stand during the performance, then what you’re doing is an internship, normally unpaid work experience. The good news is that you can use the word ‘stage’ to explain the same concept as internship to French people.

Find a job after:  after... what? The words ‘before’ and ‘after’ in English require you to specify what.  E.g. “I’ll see you before/after dinner”, ci vediamo prima di / dopo cena or “I’ll see you later”, ci vediamo dopo/piu’ tardi. “I’ll see you after” is not an option... or at least, not a correct one!

...And one last thing: ifyou ever wish to compliment someone about their hair, make sure you say "Your hair is beautiful” because hair, capelli, is singular in English.  Unless of course you genuinely want to compliment them on their arm and leg hairs, i peli :)


*The above testimonial is completely made up for the purpose of entertainment and teaching, but the mistakes are very real.  

If you learned something, leave us a comment!


Your Comments: (2)

    Date Added: | Author:
Many thanks Cristina, because your article is funny and useful at the same time.
    Date Added: | Author:
I think it is acceptable to use "See you after", e.g. If you have the choice to see someone before or after an event, you can tell them "I'll see you after"; or, if you meet someone at a concert and then get a phone call which calls you away, you can say to your friend, before you leave them, "I'll see you after". Maybe not exactly correct but acceptable and used in everyday language.
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