Saturday, February 16, 2019

How to Use Buono and Buona in Italian to Mean Enjoy Something

How to Use Buono and Buona in Italian to Mean Enjoy Something


All the phrases given below are ones we’ve heard used while speaking with Italians. Many of these phrases can be translated roughly to “have a” or “enjoy your” followed by a noun. In some of the phrases, the translation to English is more simply “Good” or “Happy” followed by a noun, that is, the “have a” or “enjoy your” part can be left off especially in an imperative statement that is a wish. For example, we commonly say “Happy Birthday!”, “Merry Christmas!” and “Goodnight!” with the “have a” understood.  However, we don’t typically say “Good stay”, “Good walk” and “Good weekend” when we mean “have a good stay”, “have a nice walk”, “have a nice weekend”. It sounds incomplete without the “have a” part. However, in Italian it is normal so that these three examples, respectively, are buon proseguimento, buona passeggiata, buon weekend. That’s not to say you couldn’t add the equivalent of “have a”, to say “Have a good weekend” or Ti auguro un buon weekend. The latter case is a statement and not an imperative.

The Enjoy List

Notice in the list below that sometimes the final letter O of buono is dropped. This is due to a process called apocope as described in the section following the list.

Think of the phrases below as imperatives expressing a wish and followed with an exclamation mark if that helps as in Buono studio!

Buon anno Happy New Year
Buon appetitoEnjoy your meal; have a nice meal
Buona Befana – Happy Epiphany
Buon ascoltoEnjoy listening; have a good listen
Buon cammino – Have a good journey, safe travels 
Buona cavalcataEnjoy the ride; have a good ride
Buona cenaHave a good dinner
Buon compleannoHappy Birthday
Buona continuazioneEnjoy your stay, have fun
Buon divertimentoEnjoy yourself; have fun
Buona domenicaHave a good Sunday (Said on Saturday and Sunday.)
Buona festa
  • della Mamma – Happy Mother’s Day
  • dell’Immacolata – Enjoy this day of the Immaculate Conception? (Not heard often in English.)
  • della Repubblica – Equivalent to Happy Fourth of July
  • della Donna – Happy (International) Women’s Day (8th of March)

Buon fine settimanaHave a good weekend; enjoy your weekend (Said mostly on Friday.)
Buon inizioHave a good start
Buon inizio settimanaHave a good start to your week
Buona fortunaGood luck
Buona giornataHave a good/nice day (Don’t greet someone with buona giornata!)
BuongiornoHello; good morning, hi
Buona letturaEnjoy your reading/book/etc.. (We don’t usually say “good reading”).
Buon lunedìHave a good Monday (Days of the week are masculine except Sunday.)
Buon NataleMerry Christmas
Buona notte – Good night
Buona PasquaHappy Easter
Buona passeggiataHave a nice/good walk
Buon passeggioHave a nice/good walk
Buona permanenzaEnjoy your stay, have a nice stay
Buon pomeriggioHave a good afternoon; good afternoon
Buon pranzoEnjoy your lunch; have a nice lunch
Buon proseguimentoHave a good visit / stay; enjoy your stay
  • Note that Buon proseguimento di has a lot of different meanings depending on the word the follows. For example, buon proseguimento di giornata as “have a nice rest of the day”.

Buon rientroHave a great trip back, have a safe journey back
Buon riposo - Good night, sleep well
Buono a sapersi - Good to know
Buon San ValentinoHappy Valentine’s Day
Buona sciataHave a good time skiing
BuonaseraGood evening (greeting)
Buona serataGood evening, good night (upon leaving)
Buona settimanaHave a good/great week
Buono studio o buon studioHave a good time studying.

  • See the end of this post for the difference between the two.
Buon tutto – Good everything
Buone vacanzeHave a great vacation; happy holidays
Buon ventoGood winds literally, but better translated as best wishes for your sailor friends.
Buon viaggioHave a safe trip; safe travels; happy trails; bon voyage
Buona Vigilia di Natale - Merry/Happy Christmas Eve 
Buona visione – Enjoy the show; have a good time watching
Buon voloHave a good/nice flight


Apocope (also spelled the same in Italian) “is the loss (elision) of one or more sounds from the end of a word, especially the loss of an unstressed vowel.” It's relevant because it is often the case with buono that you drop the letter O. Examples include: buon ragazzo, buongiorno, buon giorno.

Even in English you may not have given much thought to apocopation but use it regularly. From this List of English apocopations here are a few English examples: bud(dy), info(rmation), mic(rophone), sax(ophone), trig(onometry) vet(eran), and vet(erinarian).

Besides the case of buono, apocopation or truncation (a less pretentious word) happens in other cases as well, which we will now discuss. In English, the truncation typically involves many dropped letters. At least we could not think of a truncation of just one letter. In Italian, just one dropped letter is common and the distinction between one letter dropped or multiple is precisely defined. A single dropped vowel is a troncamento vocalico and more than one letter dropped – usually a consonant and a vowel – is a troncamento sillabico (a dropped syllable).

Some general rules for truncation:
  • The consonant preceding the truncated single vowel must be an L, M, N, or R.
    • Examples: quel ragazzo, andiam via, un buon amico, far soldi.
  • The word following the truncated word must not start Z, S (before a consonant), GN, PS, or X.
    • Examples: un buon dottore, un buono zio, un bel posto, un bello spettacolo.
  • You don’t truncate in the plural or feminine.
    • Examples: il buon parroco, i buoni parroci (never i buon parroci), buona giornata (feminine).
    • An exception for feminine where the letter A is dropped is with the proper name suor Paola – “Sister Paola”.
  • Adjectives and adverbs are not truncated when following a noun or verb.
    • Examples: un buon compleanno but un compleanno buono; and ben fatto but fatto bene.
  • The difference between truncation and elision is that truncation can occur when the second word begins with a consonant or a vowel, whereas for elision, truncation with an added apostrophe is required with a vowel.
    • Truncation: un buon vino and un buon anno.
    • Elision: un bell’albero.
Truncation of one vowel is obligatory with:
  • buono, bene
    • Examples: un buon lavoro, ben detto.
  • uno, alcuno, nessuno, ciascuno
    • Examples: un spettacolo, alcun incidente, nessun problema, ciascun progetto.
  • signore, professore, dottore, ingegnere, cavaliere, commendatore, suora followed by a proper name.
    • Examples: il Signor Rossi (however it is il Signore degli Anelli)
    • Related to signore: signorsì, signornò

Truncation of one vowel is optional with:
  • tale, quale
    • Examples: in tal modo, qual è la situazione.
  • Infinitive verb forms.
    • Examples: cantar vittoria, andar bene, prestar fede, far soldi, parlar chiaro.
  • Idiomatic sayings.
    • Examples: man mano, fior fiore, amor sacro, in fin di vita, mal di testa

Truncation of more than one letter is obligatory with:
  • bello, grande
    • Examples: un bel libro, un gran casino
  • santo, fratefollowed by a proper name.
    • Examples: San Sebastiano, San Pietro, Fra Cristoforo
    • But with Sant’Antonio and Sant’Anselmo it’s elision.
  • poco, modowhen used in expressions meaning “like” or “in the manner of”.
    • Examples: un po’ di gente, a mo’ di conclusione

There are more nuances and subtleties that are not covered here, and you should consult other references. Many of the examples are taken from the Accademia della Crusca article Buon studio o buono studio? and  Grammatica italiana di base by Trifone and Palerma.

Answer from Accademia della Crusca: buono studio is correct but buon studio is acceptable.

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