Nonna (Grandma) in Italian

Older woman with a tray of pastaa
Judith Haeusler/Getty Images

Our Italian word of the day is "nonna," which means:

  • Grandma
  • Grandmother
  • Granny
  • Nana

When you think of an Italian “nonna”, what image comes to mind? Generations of recipes passed down through family members that end up deliciously in front of you on the dining room table? Big, Sunday dinners? Listening to countless stories about the old way Italy used to be?

Just as there is the utmost respect for the Italian “mamma”, the “nonna” plays an essential role in the Italian family structure, often looked to as the one to assist with helping to raise children and bringing the family together.

Examples of How to Use the Word “Nonna”

  • Mia nonna mi ha regalato questo libro! - My grandma gifted me this book!
  • Tua nonna è una brava cuoca. - Your grandmother is a great cook.
  • Nostra nonna abita a Bergamot. - Our grandma lives in Bergamot.
  • Dove abita sua nonna? - Where does your grandmother live? (formal)
  • In questa foto, c’è la casa dov’è nata mia nonna. - In this photo, there is the house where my grandmother was born.
  • Ho ricordi bellissimi con mia nonna. - I have beautiful memories with my granny.
  • Siamo stati cresciuti da nostra nonna. - We’ve been brought up by our grandmother.
  • Le nonne (i nonni - grandparents) sono dei grandi aiuti per le famiglie! - Grandmothers are huge helps for families!

Notice how there is no article (la, il, le, i) before “mia nonna” or “tua nonna”. That’s because you don’t need to use the article when the family member you’re talking about is singular (e.g. mia madre, mio padre, tua sorella). You can click here to review your possessive adjectives. If you were talking about grandmothers in the plural, like "le nonne", you would use the the article "le" and it would be, "le mie nonne - my grandmothers". 

If you want to say “grandparents”, the word would be “i nonni”. For more family-related vocabulary, read How to Talk About Family in Italian

Did You Know?

In 2005, La Festa dei Nonni was introduced as a legal holiday, on October 2nd, in Italy. Although it’s not as well-known as Ognissanti L’Epifania, it does have its own flower symbol (the nontiscordardimé - forget-me-not) and its own song (Ninna Nonna).

Popular Proverb

Quando niente sta andando bene, chiama la Nonna. - When nothing is going well, call grandma.