Connectors are an important part of any language, but especially, it has to be said, learning Italian. There are an amazing number of Italian connectors, which may seem daunting, at first. But most of them are really simple and easy to remember, as you’ll see.
Some of the connectors I mention below look like they mean the same exact thing. But there are subtle differences in these words and when you would use them.
Sometimes, these differences can’t really be explained. But you’ll get the hang of using them right through practice. And that’s what I'm here to help you do!
Don’t worry if these feel overwhelming, at first. It can be said that most Italian connectors — connettivi — don’t count as a basic level of language learning.
This is not because connectors are especially difficult. But because not all of them are really necessary to make yourself understood. You can skip using many of them if you’re just starting out, and then pick them up bit by bit.
In any case, here are 34 to get you started, grouped from basic to more complex so you can choose the ones that suit your needs best. By the end of the post, you'll be dropping connettivi into your speech like you were born speaking that way!
By the way, if you're getting started in Italian and want to make progress fast without the grammar headaches, I recommend Italian Uncovered, my story-based beginner course that will teach you the essentials of Italian through a page-turning tale.
Italian connectors make sentences sound better by tying them together. Speech becomes smoother, and relations between the things said become more clear. This is true for English, and most other languages, as well.
Here’s a simple example. You could, for instance, say:
Or you could say:
Both of those make sense and really say the same thing. But while the first version is a little chunky, the second one just sounds better.
Imagine if instead of two statements, you had five or six. As the things you learn to say in a language become more complex, connectors become increasingly useful. They are the key to fluency.
Now, let’s look at some of the other examples used in Italian, a language that loves their connettivi.
Let’s start with a list of connectors you’re most likely to encounter when learning italian. These are the most important ones to know and, luckily, the easiest to learn.
Insomma can also be used on its own, so say something like “it’s better than nothing”, or “it’s not all that bad”:
Infatti can informally be used on its own, as an answer, to express agreement.
Often written as tralaltro even by Italians, that’s actually not right. Tra l’altro comes from tra lo altro, for “among the other”.
*neppure means not even — see below for pure.
Sometimes, these two are interchangeable. Ma needs to be in the beginning of the statement (which can be in the middle of a sentence, as long as it is followed by a statement), while però can be at the end, as well.
Invece can also be used, in slang, to emphasize disagreement.
This is somewhat like when children say “I did too” in America.
Fun fact: temporali is also the plural form of [thunder]storm, temporale. But here, we’re talking about connectives of time, tempo.
These are used to put a sentence in relation to something in time, meaning to say that something happened before, or during, or after something. These, especially the short ones, are pretty important.
Note that andare in giro — lit. “going around” — does not signify dating, but going places together generally. Here, going out would be stavamo insieme, or “we were together”.
This is one of the most versatile and most often used connectives in italian. It can mean a lot of things, from “and then”, to “so what?”.
Most of the time, allora is sprinkled all over speech with no real meaning, as a sort of filler. Note that when spoken, the word for “at the time” sounds the same. Just keep in mind that it’s spelled differently: all’ora.
These two can be used interchangeably.
Often used informally as a question meaning “so then?” Or at the end of sentences, to say “basically”, which means something like “let’s be honest here”.
See also: alla fine della fiera – literally “at the end of the fair”, this means “at the end of the day”.
These connectors are grouped together here because they are either:
Poiché can sometimes be used as a synonym for perché, as in the case above. But only when it is used in the sense of “because”, not in the sense of why. Easier: just don’t use poiché in a question.
It can also be used as a question by itself, as in “what does that mean?” or “what is that supposed to mean?”
(per – for, ciò – this, that)
This is a word that’s easy to use, and is also used very often. But because it has so many subtle differences in meaning, I’ve put it down here with the more complex ones.
The good thing about comunque is that you can use it as much as you like, and it’ll most likely be correct. The closest thing to comunque in English is “anyway”.
Then, comunque can also mean something like “nevertheless”. This is only a slight difference from anyway, and could be translated as that, in some cases.
Comunque sometimes also means “however” or “no matter which way”. This is sort of like “any way” rather than “anyway”, which is different but still similar, in a way.
Finally, in slang, it can be used as meaningless filler, just like “anyway” is in English. Which is why, as mentioned, you can really put it almost anywhere.
You would use this all the time as a question, meaning “so what?”, but also to say something like “so then I did this or that”.
Quindi can also mean then or next:
But the best thing about quindi is that because it means such a small thing, “so”, you can use it almost anywhere, almost always – just like allora or comunque.
You can put it in the beginning of a sentence, in the middle, at the end. It’s the one thing that will make you sound more Italian than any other, quindi…
Pure is somewhat complicated, which is why I’ve chosen it as the last entry. The good news is that there is almost no time where you have to use this and can’t substitute it.
But there is a unique joy in mastering this little connector. And it’s not that hard: just use it in one form, at first, and the rest will follow.
Pure can be used to express doubt, uncertainty in the face of something obvious:
Or signal that you’re welcome to go ahead with something:
Easily enough, it is used wherever you’d use “even” in English:
*the e is missing at the end of pure here because the next word is a so-called gerundio, or gerund. This is a verb used as a noun, which is essentially a word that ends with “ing” in english.
Pure, like the articles in German or the different sounds letter combinations make in English (through or tough, trough, cough, and so on it goes) is often a matter of feeling.
This gives it an intuitive quality that isn’t easily explained, but that doesn’t mean it is hard to get your head around. Practice and listen, and it’ll come to you sooner than you think.
Italian is a famously expressive language. Lots of body language is involved, a healthy amount of exaggeration and emphasis.
Italian connectors help this beautiful language bloom in all its dramatic glory. And they will serve you better in becoming fluent in Italian than any other type of word.
That's right, you don't need perfect Italian grammar or a vocabulary of 10,000 words to sound like an Italian. Sometimes, it really is the little things, like these Italian connectors, that count.
So get out there and start using them in your Italian conversations. And make sure you try to spot them whenever you're reading in Italian. Or in whatever medium you like to use to immerse yourself in the language, like Italian podcasts or Italian movies.