Valentine’s Day Vocabulary translated by Alanna Quintyne

In today’s article called “Valentine’s Day Vocabulary”, I am going to explain how to use some particular words and expressions related to relationships and love. I decided to talk about this because Valentine’s Day is getting closer and closer and I want you to be ready to speak of love with your special one in Italian! If you want to know more, keep reading! :)

Valentine’s Day is by definition the holiday of lovers, and since it is coming up again this year, I thought it would be a good idea to take this opportunity to discuss some of the terms and expressions related to it.

In this article, you will find some information that, although simple, sometimes surprises my students, often because they had not stopped to think about the correct usage or the actual meaning of some of the vocabulary or phrases, or did not have the need or opportunity to delve further into them.

I will divide this article into two parts:

  • The first section in which I will examine some terms and
  • The second section in which I will discuss some extremely common phrases with which you may already be familiar.

At this point, let’s not waste any more time and get to the heart of this explanation.

Terms of Love

In this section I would like to talk about a few vocabulary terms that relate to the bond that exists between two people, and I would like to do so starting with English.

1. Boyfriend/Girlfriend = Il mio ragazzo/La mia ragazza

Pay attention to the use of the article and the possessive adjective. They allow us to avoid any ambiguity since we are not referring to just any boy or girl, but to someone with whom you have a closer bond.

2. Fiancé = Fidanzato/Fidanzata

Beware of these words because fidanzato and fidanzata can also translate simply to boyfriend and girlfriend.

In fact, in Italian there is no real transition from to be in a relationship (avere una relazione) and to be engaged (essere fidanzati). Therefore, using the word fidanzato does not equal being in an official relationship, nor does it equal being one step away from marriage.

For the record, I would like to point out that the words fidanzato and fidanzata are also used in the very early stages of a relationship and even with more or less young children, who are asked if they have already found someone special at school.

In fact, in Italian, it is not uncommon to hear adults ask them:

  • Ce l’hai il fidanzato? (Do you have a boyfriend?)
  • Ce l’hai la fidanzata? (Do you have a girlfriend?)

3. Partner in life = Compagno/Compagna

It is interesting to see how the term compagno in Italian changes its meaning depending on the context in which it is used. Since childhood, all of us Italians have used this word to specify different situations. For example:

  • compagno di giochi (playmate),
  • compagno di banco (classmate),
  • compagno di scuola (schoolmate), up to the famous
  • compagno di sventure (companion in misfortune)!

Here in Italian, the term compagno also makes its appearance in the context of love.

But when is compagno or compagna used?

This word is mostly used when there is a serious relationship between two people adult people (it is not usually used between kids). It is possible that they are living together and have children, but they are not married.

N.B. If you want an alternative to compagno or compagna in Italian, you could also use the English term partner. In fact, as the Wordreference dictionary states:

The term partner has become part of Italian vocabulary and is commonly used in reference to il compagno/la compagna of the couple.”

Having said that, all I can do is leave the choice up to you!! 🙂

4. Husband/Wife = Marito/Moglie

When two people get married it goes without saying that it is no longer possible to use the terms fidanzato/fidanzata or let alone compagno/compagna. In such cases, the correct words are marito and moglie.

Remember, as I explained in the article “Quando non si usano gli articoli in italiano(“When NOT to Use Articles in Italian”), never use the article with family members in their singular form when they are accompanied by the possessive adjectives. Therefore:

  • This is okay: Mia moglie/Mio marito
  • This is not okay: La mia moglie/Il mio marito

 

5. Groom/Bride = Sposo/Sposa

Beware of these two terms because many people, especially Spanish speakers, use them as a translation of wife and husband. Actually, sposo and sposa in Italian are used at a specific moment in a couple’s life: on their wedding day.

In fact, before this, they would call themselves “fidanzati”, but after this day, they can call themselves “coniugi” (spouses): marito and moglie (husband and wife) to be exact.

 

6. Lover = Amante

Last but not least, in Italian, amante can be either one who is passionate about something, for instance:

  • amante dell’arte (art lover),
  • amante della letteratura (literature lover),
  • amante della musica (music lover),

but in this specific case, talking about relationships between people, we are referring to a person involved in an extramarital, secret or illicit relationship.

Expressions of Love

Let us now look at the second part of this article in which I will introduce what I have called expressions of love. I have already previously mentioned two of them:

  • To be in relationship: avere una relazione,
  • To be engaged: essere fidanzati.

However, before these more serious stages of the relationship there is also the time we spend getting to know each other, the famous:

  • To date someone: translated as frequentare qualcuno or uscire con qualcuno or even vedersi con qualcuno.

Having said that, let us now deal with some phrases you can use with your sweethearts:

  • I like you: mi piaci!

Speaking of the verb piacere, if you need a refresher, take a look at my article Come si usa piacere in italiano, (How to Use Piacere in Italian).

You might find it really useful! :)

 

  • I love you

I love you in Italian is translated in two different ways depending on the person you are speaking to:

    1. Ti voglio bene: used with friends and family to emphasize a strong affection for these people.
    2. Ti amo: used with your partner, the person with whom you have a romantic relationship.

Because of the depth of this phrase, it is used at a more advanced stage of the relationship. In fact, in the beginning, it is more common to use the simpler “mi piaci!.

  • I’m in love: mi sono innamorato.

Here is the last phrase I want to introduce: sono innamorato o mi sono innamorato, to be used when you become aware of your feelings toward the person you are dating.

One thing I would like to point out is that in English you use the preposition with (con in Italian), for example: “I am in love with you!”, but in Italian we use the preposition di: Mi sono innamorato di te!

Remember, these are two different languages, so favour semantic translation instead of literal or word for word translation, just to avoid formulating inaccurate sentences!

 

Conclusion

If you have been reading my blog and listening to my podcasts for a while, you might have noticed that I often use events and holidays to explain Italian customs and traditions.

In this case, I decided to use Valentine’s Day to my advantage by delving into some vocabulary and some “love expressions” that you might use with your partner.

I hope this article was interesting and provided you with information that you were not yet aware of or needed to learn more about.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you!

Buon av Valentino a tutti voi!

ila firma

Credits photo: Catania.liveUniversity

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Listen to this episode in Italian! You can find the script here!