Do you know the excitement that makes your heart pound in the minutes leading up to the starting bell?
The anticipation that brings you to attention as you wait for the signal to go?
The way it feels to know you’re about to embark on a fabulous adventure?
In English, we say, “Ready, set, go!”
And then we take off running, right?
Italians have a way of saying the same thing. They say, “Pronti… attenti… via!” (Ready, set, go!)
Then they, too, set off at a run!
Being ready for something exciting and wonderful is good. Being able to cue others to be ready (and then set to go!) is also super.
But knowing when to use the word pronto (ready) is even better!
The versatile pronto is intensely useful and applicable to many situations.
You’ll find this word in the home, on the go, on shopping expeditions, out to dinner… wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, count on pronto to make the conversation even better!
Oh, and to sound like an authentic Italian speaker, practice pronouncing pronto to power up your conversational readiness.
Let’s see how to use this bit of basic Italian!
Ready, Set, Learn: How to Use Pronto in Italian Conversation
Here are all the situations in which you’d use the Italian word pronto:
When You Answer a Phone
As you may already know from watching videos or reading books, it’s customary to answer the phone in Italy by saying, “Pronto!” This actually means that you’re ready to begin conversing—which is a brilliant method for encouraging conversation!
If you can’t recall anything past “Pronto!” that’s fine, too. The person on the other end is sure to get the conversational ball rolling.
A side note—this is used when you answer a phone rather than when you call someone. If you’re making the call, just begin the conversation (after the responding “Pronto!” is announced).
Pronto! Chi parla? (Hello! Who’s calling?)
To Ask if Someone Is Ready
Pronta is the feminine form of this word. If you need to question a female’s readiness, use pronta.
È pronta? (Is she ready?)
È pronta per andare alla partita di calcio? (Is she ready to go to the soccer game?)
The male form of this word is the one most recognize, pronto. To inquire about a male’s readiness, use pronto.
È pronto? (Is he ready?)
È pronto per la festa? (Is he ready for the party?)
To Discuss Readiness for an Event
The events that most of us prepare for can be discussed using pronto. In particular, this word makes it a breeze to say whether or not you’re ready to do something or go somewhere.
You can use pronto to discuss readiness for many things, like an exam, a marriage or a good night’s sleep.
Sono pronto per il mio esame di guida. (I’m ready for my driving test.)
Non sono pronto per il matrimonio della prossima settimana. (I’m not ready for next week’s wedding.)
To Indicate if You’re Willing to Do Something
The willingness to do something can also be expressed using this great little word. This applies to either a physical willingness, as in doing a task or providing a service, or a mental willingness, as when we forgive or forget.
Sono pronto a insegnare l’inglese ai bambini. (I am willing to teach the children English.)
È pronta a dimenticare il suo errore se lui promette di non ripeterlo. (She is willing to forget his mistake if he promises not to repeat it.)
When You Discuss the Speediness of a Situation
If something happens consistently in a short time, use pronto to indicate so. In this case, you’re expressing that this particular readiness is the norm rather than an exception.
Ha sempre la macchina pronta in anticipo. (He always has the car ready early.)
Ha sempre una domanda pronta. (He always has a fast question ready.)
To Say “Get Well Quickly” Formally
It’s a bit more formal than the usual “Guarisci presto!” (“Get well soon!”) expression but pronto can be used to wish someone a rapid recovery from an illness.
Le facciamo gli auguri per una pronta guarigione. (We are sending her wishes for a speedy recovery.)
Spero che tu abbia una pronta guarigione. (I hope you have a speedy recovery.)
To Comment on a Person’s Reflexes
Expressing an opinion about a person’s reflexes can be done with the word pronto. You’re essentially saying that they have “ready reflexes”—they’re ready to react at a moment’s notice!
Il portiere ha riflessi pronti. (The goalkeeper has quick reflexes.)
Non ha mai avuto riflessi pronti. (She has never had quick reflexes.)
To Declare That Something Is Done
To say something is complete and ready to be eaten, use pronto. This usage is a handy one to have in your conversational skill set!
La cena è pronta. (Dinner is ready.)
La torta è pronta, quindi ora mangeremo il dolce. (The cake is ready so now we will eat dessert.)
Some Italian words are very versatile but that doesn’t mean they’re used often, does it? It just makes them usable—but they may not offer lots of occasions to use them.
If you’re wondering about the history of this handy word, Italica School has a video that’s very helpful.
Pronto is both versatile and hugely useful. Many situations can be covered by this one word, making it an important vocabulary item in your language skillset.
Some Italian language learners get the words presto (soon) and pronto confused. To avoid that happening to you, take a peek at this explanation from Italian Encounter to learn the difference between the two!
Now that you know how to use it, practice using pronto in every applicable situation. If you don’t have occasion to conversationally slip this one in, take the examples in this post and build your own practice conversations. Form sentences with these examples as guides, and then use those sentences!
Practice feeling comfortable with the applications. When the time comes to converse you’ll be ready to pull pronto into many conversations!
Ready, set, go—and have fun!