Italian Connectors & Conjunctions: useful Italian linking words

A language’s main purpose is to translate our thoughts. Far from being isolated and unrelated, our thoughts are usually interconnected to each other. So, how is this interconnection mirrored in the language? Well, the answer is easy: through connectors and conjunctions!

These linking words, or phrases, create a bridge between groups of words. Their aim is to establish logical relationships among different parts of a sentence, or paragraphs.

Connectors make a text more coherent, cohesive, and fluid. Besides, Italian connectors are invariable: their form stay the same, regardless of the gender and number of the nouns and adjectives with which they coexist in the sentence.

Classification of Italian connectors & conjunctions

There are plenty of connectors and conjunctions in Italian, some more frequently used than others. The best way to learn and distinguish them is by looking at the logic relation that they create in a sentence.

Here is a list of categories of Italian connectors and conjunctions:

Their category names refer precisely to the logical function they carry with them. In the next section, we will go through the most used Italian connectors belonging to each of the above categories.

Italian Coordinating connectors

These linking words are known to be the ones that enable the addition of several elements to the same sentence. In Italian, they are called ‘copulativi’, and the most frequently used are ‘e, anche, neanche, nemmeno’.

A beginner student of Italian might already encountered the conjunction ‘e’, meaning simply ‘and’. Its role is to add on one or more equal components to the sentence.

Look at this example:

“Giulia e Cristina sono due ragazze Italiane” = “Giulia and Cristina are two Italian girls.”

The connector ‘anche’ plays a similar role, but it means ‘too’:

Anche Giulia è una ragazza Italiana” = “Giulia is an Italian girl too.”

In this sentence, ‘anche’ functions as some sort of leveller. It adds up another element (Giulia) and establishes an equal field system. Giulia and the other – non-mentioned – person are both Italian. They share something together: in this case, their nationality.

Bear in mind: while in English the word ‘too’ is always placed at the end of a sentence, in Italian that is not the case! In fact, ‘anche’ is usually placed at the beginning.

Two or more elements can be connected through a negative relation as well: in this case, Italian speakers use ‘neanche’, which translates to the English ‘either’ when used in a negative sentence:

Neanche io sono andata alla festa” = “I didn’t go to the party either

The connector ‘nemmeno’ is just a synonym of ‘neanche’: they are interchangeable...so, just pick one!

Italian disjunctive conjunctions

Disjunctive conjunctions are called « disgiuntivi » in Italian. Here are the main ones:

While the previous connectors’ function is to unite, these ones aim to divide. In this light, ‘disgiuntivi’ connectors can be seen as the opposite of the ‘copulativi’ ones. Instead of welcoming new elements in the sentence, they exclude them by imposing an alternative options system.

The team leader of the English disjunctive connectors’ team is ‘or’, which in Italian translates to: ‘o, oppure.’

“Mi piacerebbe studiare ingegneria o architettura” = “I would like to study engineering or architecture.”

Please note: ‘o’ and ‘oppure’ are synonyms, so it doesn’t really matter which one you opt for!

Italian contrastive conjunctions

Contrastive conjunctions are called « avversativi » in Italian. Here are the main ones:

The so-called ‘avversativi’ connectors establish a relation based on opposition. They introduce an argument, or an element, which contrasts with what has been presented already. ‘Pero’ is similar to ‘ma’, and both mean ‘but’, whereas ‘invece’ means ‘instead’:

“Sono felice, ma stanca” = “I’m happy, but tired.” Invece del latte, stamattina ho bevuto un succo d’arancia” = “Instead of milk, this morning I had orange juice.”

Explanatory connectors in Italian

The aim of the ‘esplicativi’ connectors is to give additional explanations. They provide clarification so that the whole sentence sounds more complete and fluid. ‘Cioè, ovvero, infatti’ translate to ‘that is, as a matter of fact.’

Cioè’ and ‘ovvero’ are akin to each other, and they both mean ‘that is’:

“Mia sorella è vegetariana, cioè non mangia carne” = “My sister is vegetarian, that is she doesn’t eat meat.”

Infatti’, besides clarifying a point, gives also a justification to what has been said:

“La scorsa notte non sono riuscita a dormire, infatti sono molto stanca.” = “Last night, I couldn’t sleep, as a matter of fact, I’m very tired.”

Conclusion connectors in Italian

As suggested by the category’s term, ‘perciò, quindi, insomma’, are used to introduce a conclusion or a consequence of what has been said. The first two mean ‘so, therefore’, and they are very similar to each other.‘Insomma’ means ‘hence / in short.’

“Oggi fa molto freddo, perciò mi metto una sciarpa” = “Today it’s very cold, so I will wear a scarf”

Insomma’ is somehow similar to the previous ones, but a bit more formal. Moreover, here the element of conclusion is much stronger:

“Roberto ama la logica ed i numeri. Insomma, è molto bravo in matematica!” = “Roberto loves logic and numbers. Hence, he’s very good at maths!”

Insomma’ is also used to wrap up a speech. In this case, the best translation would be ‘in short.’

Italian correlative conjunctions

Let’s match pairs! In order to establish relations between two elements, Italian speakers use the ‘correlativi’ connectors. In English these would be: ‘both...and’, ‘neither...nor’, ‘not only...but also.’

Here are example sentences which show how Italian correlative conjunctions are used in practice:

“Questo film è adatto sia agli adulti sia ai bambini” = “This movie is appropriate both for adults and for children.” “Non sono triste felice” = “I’m neither sad nor happy.” Non solo Federica, ma anche Marco non si è ancora laureato” = “Not only Federica, but also Marco hasn’t graduated yet.”

Italian causal conjunctions

Italian causal conjunctions are used when introducing a subordinate clause which expresses the cause. They are equivalent to the English ‘because, since’.

“Ho visitato Granada tante volte perché amo la musica flamenca” = “I have visited Granada many times because I love flamenco music.”

‘Poiché’ has a similar meaning, but it’s more flexible than ‘perché’: in fact, it can also be placed at the beginning of a sentence:

Poiché amo la musica flamenca, ho visitato Granada tante volte” = “Since I love flamenco music, I have visited Granada many times.”

Dato che’ is no different. It’s just slightly more formal than the others. But, wait, not that formal! You can definitely use it when talking to your friends. It’s completely fine to type in a text to a friend:

Dato che non mi hai risposto al telefono, aspetto che mi richiami tu” = “Since you didn’t pick up the phone, I’ll wait for you to call me back.”

Italian connectors to give reasons

When the subordinate clause expresses the purpose, then the so-called ‘finali’ connectors can be spotted in the sentence. ‘Per’ is definitely the most common one in Italian, and very similar to ‘al fine di’. However, the latter is 75% more formal. They mean ‘in order to.’ Meanwhile, ‘affinché’ pairs with the English ‘so that.’

“Ti ho inviato tutti i documenti via email, affinché tutto sia più chiaro” = “I sent you all the documents by email, so that everything is clearer.”

Similarly:

Per arrivare all’aeroporto, bisogna prendere un treno” = “In order to reach the airport, you need to take a train.”

And, here’s the formality treat:

Al fine di ridurre il numero incidenti, abbiamo aggiunto più semafori” = “In order to reduce the number of accidents, we have added more trafficlights.”

Italian temporal conjunctions

The Italian term ‘tempo’ means ‘time.’ The aim of this group of connectors is to inform us about the tempo of a certain situation or action expressed. Time is usually thought as divided in three parts: past, present, future. Consequently, ‘temporali’ connectors usually refer to:

There are many of these connectors in Italian, but we will focus on ‘prima’, ‘dopo’, and ‘mentre’. They respectively translate to ‘before’, ‘after’, and ‘while’.

Here are some examples:

Prima di uscire, ho messo in ordine la mia stanza” =Before going out, I tidied up my room.” Dopo aver letto quel libro, ho le idee più chiare a riguardo” = “After having read that book, I have a clearer idea about it.” Mentre stavo studiando, qualcuno ha bussato alla porta” = “While I was studying, someone knocked at the door.”

Italian conditional conjunctions

Hypotheses are expressed by using some specific connectors such as ‘se, nel caso, qualora.’

That magic word we use to talk about hypotheses is ‘if’, which becomes ‘se’ in Italian. So, let’s look at an example:

Se vuoi parlare di ipotesi, avresti bisogno di usare dei connettori specifici, come ‘se, nel caso, qualora.’” = If you want to talk about hypotheses, you’d need to use some specific connectors, such as ‘se, nel caso, qualora.’

What about the Italian conditional conjunctions: ‘nel caso’ and ‘qualora’? They are very similar to ‘se’, but a better translation for them would be ‘in case’:

Nel caso ne voglia parlare, puoi chiamarmi domani” = “In case you want to talk about it, you can call me tomorrow” Qualora dovessi cambiare idea, fammi sapere!” = “In case you’ll change your mind, let me know!”

Have you noticed the mood of the verbs (‘dovessi’ and ‘voglia’)? Yes, these connectors require the use of the subjunctive verbs. In this regard, we warmly suggest a recap of the hypothetical clauses and of the Italian subjunctive!

Concession connectors in Italian

Concession connectors – concessivi, in Italian – are needed when giving a complete picture of your views and opinions. These linking words enable the revelation of some important information that was hiding somewhere:

“Sono d’accordo con te, anche se non su tutto ciò che hai detto” = “I agree with you, even though not with everything you said”

The most used connector is ‘anche se’, and it means ‘even though, although, though.’ The other one, ‘sebbene’, is slightly less used, but it’s definitely a sign of Italian language fluency!

Sebbene io abbia capito la lezione, ho ancora difficoltà a svolgere gli esercizi” = “Although I understand the lecture, I still have a hard time doing the homework.”

Italian connectors to show limitation

In the Italian language, just as in many other languages and domains, exceptions are the rule! They underline the complexity of things. When it comes to expressing limitation and exclusivity, a group of connectors known as ‘eccettuativi and limitativi’ can come in handy!

The most important ones are ‘tranne, eccetto’, and they mean ‘except, except for.’

“Sono rimasti tutti a casa, tranne Caterina” = “Everybody, except Caterina, stayed home.” “Mangio tutti i tipi di verdure, eccetto i broccoli” = “I eat all kinds of vegetables, except for broccoli”

Sequencing connectors in Italian

When speaking, it is important to structure our sentences. It is always necessary to connect the dots properly and give linearity to a speech… except when embracing the stream of consciousness technique!

This is even truer when we intend to explain a process to someone: “how to cook pasta?”, “How to clean a dirty iron plate?”, or even “how to tie a tie?”

In all these cases, and more, we are called to organize our words meticulously…

Can you think of some adverbs used to structure a discourse? Well, in English, these are ‘firstly, secondly, lastly.’ In Italian, they turn into ‘prima di tutto (or in primo luogo), in secondo luogo, infine.’

Let’s consider something Italians really have at heart: the process of cooking pasta!

“To cook pasta, firstly you need to boil water. Secondly, you put the pasta in. Finally, when it is cooked, you drain the water.”

Now, in Italian:

“Per cucinare la pasta, prima di tutto bisogna portare l’acqua ad ebollizione. In secondo luogo, calare la pasta. Infine, quando la pasta è cotta, scolare l’acqua.”

Smooth and organized, isn’t it? With the help of all these connectors, you can surely achieve optimal communication, and reach a higher stage in the Italian language learning process!