good night in italian

Sweet Dreams! How to Say Good Night in Italian

You’ve mastered your Italian “hello.”

You’re a whiz at ordering an espresso at a café or asking for directions to a museum.

You can have casual, fluent Italian conversations all day long!

Once the sun sets, though, you might find yourself at a loss.

What’s the appropriate thing to say to your new Italian friend as you part ways for the evening?

How do you tell your host family that you’re heading to bed?

Well, we have some good news for you: saying good night in Italian is just as simple as saying good morning. Once you master your nighttime vocab, you’ll be fully prepared to converse with Italian speakers during any time of the day.

Here’s everything you need to know about saying good night like a true Italian.

How to Learn “Good Night” Vocabulary Through Immersion

The words and phrases in this post are essential for learners of Italian. You’ll hear them all the time, and you’ll come to realize that they’re a cornerstone of Italian polite conversation.

Luckily for you, that means there are tons of ways to practice these words “in the wild.” Purely by immersing yourself in Italian, you’ll start to get the hang of these words and phrases until they become second nature. For example, you can listen to Italian podcasts, radio shows or news clips, where you’re likely to hear hosts say “good evening” or “good night” when they sign on or off.

Sweet Dreams! How to Say Good Night in Italian

Saying Good Night in Italian: The Basics

First, we’ll dive right into the basics of saying good night in Italian. Here are some key phrases to keep in your vocabulary toolbox.

Click on any of the following phrases to hear them pronounced by native Italian speakers:

Buona notte

Buona notte (good night) is considered the standard way to say good night in Italian. It’s appropriate to use in both formal and informal settings, making it a versatile phrase to know in almost any type of situation.

Just like in English, buona notte is used when the speaker is going to bed or seeing someone for the last time that day.

Buona serata

Buona serata directly translates to “have a good evening.” Italian speakers typically use this phrase when they’re parting ways with someone for the last time that day, much like in English.

The key difference between buona notte and buona serata is that the former is used during traditional bedtime hours, while the latter tends to be spoken earlier in the evening.

Sogni d’oro

If you’re looking to add an extra garnish to your good night wishes, you can use sogni d’oro. This phrase, which is the Italian equivalent of “sweet dreams,” literally translates to “golden dreams.”

It’s a nice way to let a loved one know that you hope they sleep pleasantly. However, keep in mind that sogni d’oro is typically restricted to informal settings.

Dorma/dormi bene

Depending on who you’re addressing, you can use dormi bene or dorma bene when someone is heading to sleep. This phrase translates to “sleep well.”

In an informal setting, such as a conversation with a friend or family member, use the tu form (dormi bene). In a more formal situation, the appropriate form would be the Lei form (dorma bene).

When to Say Good Night in Italian

To wish someone good night like a native Italian speaker, it’s crucial to know the appropriate timing for each phrase. After all, leaving someone with a buona notte when it’s only 4:00 in the afternoon might create a bit of confusion.

Luckily, there are a few simple ways to make sure that you use the appropriate greetings and parting phrases for the given time of day. Keep these tips in mind before striking up a conversation with an Italian speaker during the evening or nighttime.

Entering vs. Leaving

An important guideline to take note of is that buona notte and buona serata are exclusively used when parting ways with someone.

If you’re meeting a friend at an event that takes place in the evening, you’d greet them using buona sera (good evening).

When the night is over and you’re certain that you won’t be seeing your friend for the rest of the night, it’s safe to leave them with a friendly buona serata or buona notte.

Using the Right Greetings at the Right Times

You might be surprised to learn that “evening” and “night” don’t necessarily mean the same thing in Italy as they do in your home country.

In most cases, Italians start to greet each other with buona sera or leave each other with buona serata after 4:00 pm, since this is when most people are finishing up work.

Buona notte, on the other hand, is more commonly heard at around 10:00 pm or later, when people are getting ready to go to bed.

Be Mindful of Your Audience When Saying Good Night

An essential aspect of saying good night in Italian is being mindful of your audience. Just like when you use English, the type of person you’re speaking to in Italian directly influences the way you address them.

As you likely already know, Italian differentiates between formal and informal ways of saying “you.” Italian also has different words for “you” depending on if you’re talking to one person or multiple people.

A phrase like buona notte doesn’t include any pronouns, but you’ll still want to change the phrase slightly depending on the formality of the situation and the number of people:

  • For an informal situation, such as speaking to a group of friends, you can use the casual phrase “buona notte, amici miei.” (Good night, my friends.)
  • When saying good night to a superior or someone in a formal setting, you can add a more dignified tone by saying “buona notte, signore/signora.” (Good night, Sir/Ma’am.)
  • In most situations where you’re addressing a group of two or more people, a safe bet is to use the phrase “buona notte a tutti.” (Good night, everyone.)

Knowing the difference between formal and informal phrasing and applying it to the relevant situation will allow you to converse more effectively when saying good night in Italian.

Beyond “Good Night”: Helpful Italian Sleep Vocabulary to Know

To truly impress your Italian friends with your vast knowledge of nighttime vocab, you’ll also need to be familiar with several key bedtime words and phrases.

First, we’ll start with some basic verbs:

Dormire (to sleep)
Non ho dormito bene la notte scorsa. (I didn’t sleep well last night.)

Addormentarsi (to fall asleep)
Mi piace leggere prima di addormentarmi. (I like to read before falling asleep.)

Sognare (to dream)
Lui ha sognato di essere famoso. (He had a dream about being famous.)

Svegliarsi (to wake up)
Noi dobbiamo svegliarci presto domani. (We have to wake up early tomorrow.)

These nouns are also helpful tools to have:

Il letto (the bed)
Questo letto è molto comodo. (This bed is very comfortable.)

Il lenzuolo (the bed sheet)
Ho lavato tutte le lenzuola ieri. (I washed all the sheets yesterday.)

Il cuscino (the pillow)
Lei sta sprimacciando i cuscini. (She’s fluffing the pillows.)

Il sogno (the dream)
Il bambino ha fatto un brutto sogno la notte scorsa. (The child had a bad dream last night.)

These key nouns and verbs will help enrich your understanding of saying good night in Italian.

For example, you might hear a parent telling their child: “È ora di andare a letto.” (It’s time to go to bed.)

You can also conjugate the above verbs to talk to people about how you slept, or ask others how they slept.


Learning how to wish someone a good night in Italian can take you far when learning the language.

Whether you’re saying goodbye to a group of friends at the end of a dinner party, or letting your roommate know that you’re heading to bed, these useful additions to your Italian vocabulary toolbox are just what you need to expand your understanding of the language.

Good luck, and sweet dreams!

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