Do you speak English?

How do you say do you speak English in Italian?

Parla inglese?

Words you should knowParlare (to speak) + inglese (English)
When to use thisWith 1 person you’re not on familiar terms with
When NOT to use thisWith groups of people

Languages and nationalities are not capitalized in Italian.

Lei parla inglese? / Parla inglese?
Do you speak English? (formal)

lei parla inglese? - two boys talking and laughing - how do you say do you speak english in italian

Parli inglese?

When to use thisWith 1 person you’re on familiar terms with
When NOT to use thisWith groups of people

Tu parli inglese? / Parli inglese?
Do you speak English? (informal)

Let’s say you’re in a crowded room and you can’t go around asking everyone if they speak your language. What should you do? There’s a specific formula you can use in both informal and formal settings.

C’è qualcuno che parla inglese?
Is there anyone who speaks English?

C’è is the shortened form of ci è, but you will only ever find it as c’è. Ci è is NEVER used, not even in the written language. Qualcuno translates both someone and anyone.

If you want to sound a little more polite, you can say:

C’è qualcuno che parla inglese, per favore?
Is there anyone who speaks English, please?

With per favore meaning please. Literally for favor.

is there anyone who speaks...? - gang of 5 people, two crouching on the ground

Parlate italiano?

When to use thisWith a group of people
When NOT to use thisWith 1 person

Parlate inglese?
Do you speak English? (plural)


Parla inglese?No, mi dispiace

Keep in mind that language skills vary widely throughout Italy and you may not always get a yes when you ask do you speak English in Italian.

Tourist areas may be full of people who speak a second language, but smaller villages and towns are more likely to be inhabited by older people who probably don’t speak a word of English.

If you’re traveling through the Italian countryside, it might be a while before you run into someone who speaks your language! You might hear a lot of…

No, mi dispiace.
No, sorry.

Mi dispiace, non parlo inglese.
I’m sorry, I don’t speak English.

Sometimes, you may be asked if you speak Italian:

Parla italiano? / Parli italiano?
Do you speak Italian? (formal/informal)

With italiano translating Italian in Italian. Remember, nationalities are not capitalized!

two friends chatting and travelling by train - do you speak italian?

You can answer with:

Mi dispiace, non parlo italiano.
I’m sorry, I don’t speak Italian.

But wait, maybe you speak a third language!

If you want to ask any person if they speak a certain language, you can use the Parla…? formula we saw earlier on and add any language from this list:

  • spagnolo (Spanish)
  • tedesco (German)
  • francese (French)
  • cinese (Chinese)
  • russo (Russian)
  • arabo (Arabic)

Parla arabo?
Do you speak Arabic? (polite)

Parlare arabo and parlare turco (speak Turkish) are popular Italian expressions that mean to be impossible to understand.
If someone tells you that you parli arabo, it means they don’t understand a single word you’re saying!

Parlate tedesco?
Do you speak German? (plural)

Parli cinese?
Do you speak German? (informal)

That’s the end of our lesson, now you know everything you need to know to ask do you speak English in Italian. Don’t be shy and ask away: we love to have a good chit-chat with foreigners, and if we really can’t find a common “spoken means of communication”, we can always speak with gestures! 😉


More free Italian resources

You might want to keep learning Italian online with these free Italian resources:

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