If you plan on moving to Italy, or spending a fair amount of time here, be prepared to make “auguri”, in its many uses and forms, an integral part of your vocabulary. “Auguri” comes from the verb “augurare”, which means “to wish”. Here in Italy the word is used with great enthusiasm and frequency. And, for English speakers, thankfully it’s one of those Italian words that rolls off the tongue quite easily. You can master it quickly.
Here’s a quick guide to a few uses for birthdays, new births, anniversaries, christenings, holidays, engagements, weddings, new jobs, graduations, etc.):
“Auguri” – “Best wishes.”
“Tanti auguri” – “Many well wishes.”
If you want to be be a little more formal, or specific, you could say something like:
“Ti faccio i miei auguri.” – “My best wishes/congratulations to you.” (literally “I make to you my best wishes”)
What if someone is wishing you “auguri” or “tanti auguri” as part of a holiday – one that you are both enjoying?
“Altrettanto.” – “Also to you.” or “To you, too.” (A more formal response with people you don’t know well)
“Anche a te.” – means the same as “altrettanto” but used informally – with people you know well.
If someone is offering their best wishes or congratulations to you as part of an important event or accomplishment you made (getting married, graduating, getting a promotion, etc.) you simply reply to them “Grazie” or “Grazie mille” – “Thank you” or “Thank you very much.”
When NOT to use “auguri”…
Well, if you don’t already know this, Italians as a general rule are superstitious creatures. So, it’s not common practice to say “auguri” to someone heading into an exam, performance, or other important endeavor. That’s when you’ll want to shift into something like “In bocca al lupo!” or “In the mouth of the wolf!”. Confused by that one? Be sure to refer to my post about wishing someone luck, Italian-style.
In closing, I want to point out that I’m really just scratching the surface with how to wish someone well here in Italy. There are many more forms and variations, but I think you’ll be well-armed if you familiarize yourself the with the examples above.
Tanti auguri to you, my friends and faithful followers, of my wonderful Italian journey. I can’t wait to see what Italy has in store for me in the coming year. As always, I’ll be sure to share!