In a previous lesson we talked about the preposition in, and in a subsequent lesson we talked about how we modify the preposition in when a definite article follows it. The preposition a works in a similar way, and sometimes means the same thing as in, but certainly not always.
A is used to refer to places, both going somewhere and being somewhere. Sound familiar? Yes. Just like in, a can mean "to" (indicating direction to a place) or "at" (indicating being in a place). Consider this short example.
OK, ho finito. Vado a casa (OK, I'm done. I'm going home).
Che bello! Finalmente sono a casa (how great! I'm finally home)!
Note that if I say sono in casa, I imply that I am inside the house, whereas if I say sono a casa, it might mean I am at home, but outside in the garden!
If we look at the preposition a in the dictionary, there's a long list of meanings, or rather, uses. But in this lesson, we'll look at just a few of the most common ways you need to know how to use this preposition.
We also say a scuola with no article. This is similar to English.
Sono a scuola (I'm at school)
Sto andando a scuola (I'm going to school).
Although these locations without an article are exceptions, they are important ones, since most of us have a home and many of us go to school or have kids or friends who go to school. Another perhaps less crucial one is a teatro ("to" or "at the theater").
In most other cases regarding places, we do need a definite article after the preposition, as in:
A me e a Vladi piace andare a ballare la sera, uscire con gli amici, andare a vedere qualche bel film al cinema e fare molto sport.
Valdi and I like to go dancing at night, going out with our friends, going to see a good film at the movies and playing a lot of sports.
Captions 17-20, Adriano la sua ragazzaPlay Caption
Dall'Umbria alla Toscana, il passo è breve.
From Umbria to Tuscany, it's but a short way.
Caption 2, Alberto Angela - Meraviglie EP. 4 - Part 6Play Caption
But for now, let's look at some other ways we use the preposition a.
We use a to talk about "when" or "until when."
For example, when we talk about "at what time" something is going to happen, we use a and in this case we use a definite article when talking about "at what time."
La mattina mi sveglio intorno alle otto.
In the morning I wake up at around eight o'clock.
Caption 5, Adriano GiornataPlay Caption
Why is it le otto? Isn't that plural? Yes. We use the feminine plural definite article (le) because there's a "hidden" word: le ore (the hours). Think of a clock striking the hours. So, yes. Time, when considered by the clock, is expressed in the plural, and of course, it takes some getting used to. For more about telling time, see this video from Marika.
But if we are talking about noon or midnight, then it's in the singular and there is no article.
Io mi ricordo che a casa mia si mangiava, allora, il, a mezzogiorno si mangiava: il primo, la carne, il contorno e la frutta,
I remember that at my house we'd eat, then, the, at noon we'd eat: the first course, meat, vegetable and fruit,
Captions 33-35, L'arte della cucina La Prima Identitá - Part 14Play Caption
We also use a when we talk about until what time something will go on.
Sì, ma fino a mezzanotte il commissario sono io.
Yes, but until midnight, I'm the commissioner.Play Caption
When we mention the months or a holiday, we use a:
Sembrava che la nebbia ci fosse anche a Ferragosto.
It seemed as though there was fog even at/on Ferragosto (national holiday on August 15th).Play Caption
E si possono pagare con varie rate, anche non tutte insieme. Varie rate che scadono ogni semestre, perché l'anno dell'u'... l'anno in cui si frequenta l'università è diviso in due semestri. -Il primo che va da settembre a gennaio, e il secondo, va da? -Il secondo va da febbraio a luglio.
And you can pay in various installments, not all at once. Different installments that are due every semester, because the school year... the year in which you attend university is divided into two semesters. -The first that goes from September to January, and the second, goes from? -The second goes from February to July.
Captions 18-22, Serena sistema universitario italianoPlay Caption
And finally, we use a when we say what something is like, what something is made of, or in what way something is done. We often use "with" for this in English, or we use an adjective. This topic is addressed in the Yabla lesson: A Righe or a Quadretti?
We talk about olio di oliva spremuto a freddo (cold-pressed olive oil).
In the following example, Monica Bellucci is describing how she goes about her career. Note that since istinto (instinct) starts with a vowel, she adds a d to the a!
Ma io non ho una formula, guarda, vado a m'... vado avanti molto ad istinto.
Well I don't have a formula, look, I go... I go along very much by instinct.
Caption 47, That's Italy Episode 1 - Part 3Play Caption
Here are two expressions, one with a and one with in, that essentially mean the same thing. You just have to remember which is which. They are worth memorizing.
Ad ogni modo, mi piace tanto.
In any case, I like her a lot.
Caption 36, Adriano la sua ragazzaPlay Caption
In ogni caso, anche se sapevo che era veramente una cosa folle, ho deciso di prendere Ulisse,
In any case, even though I knew it was really a crazy thing, I decided to take Ulisse,
Captions 28-29, Andromeda La storia di UlissePlay Caption
Looking forward to seeing you in the next lesson. A presto!
We recently talked about the preposition in: what it means and how to use it. While we don't always use an article with the noun following it, we often do. And when we do use in with a definite article, we combine the preposition and the article to form what we call una preposizione articolata (an "articled" preposition).
Basically, the n, instead of being at the end of the preposition in, gets moved to the beginning of the word and is followed by an e. After that, the ending will change according to the gender and number of the definite article, as well as whether the word following it starts with a vowel.
Here's the list:
(in + il) nel
(in + lo) nello
(in + l') nell'
(in + la) nella
(in + i) nei
(in + le) nelle
Nel frattempo, riempiamo una pentola d'acqua
In the meantime, we'll fill a pot with waterPlay Caption
We say nel because it's il frattempo. But here's a tip. Actually, we rarely say il frattempo. Most of the time you will find the noun frattempo together with the preposition nel. It's curious because the noun frattempo already comes from another preposition fra (between) and the noun tempo (time). In English we can say "in the meantime" or "meanwhile," which mean almost the same thing. But we need to translate both of these as nel frattempo or, alternatively, nel mentre, which means the same thing.
Questo è fondamentale quando ci si trova appunto nello studio di doppiaggio a dover affrontare un, un testo oppure un personaggio.
This is fundamental when you find yourself, in fact, in the dubbing studio and need to deal with a script or a character.
Captions 16-17, Arianna e Marika Il lavoro di doppiatricePlay Caption
We say nello because we say lo studio (the studio). So here, you have to pay attention to the first letter of the word following the preposition. It will start with an S plus a consonant, or a Z, and sometimes Y.
"Quanti libri hai nello zaino?
"How many books do you have in your backpack?
Caption 9, Marika spiega La particella NE - Part 2Play Caption
Oppure nello yogurt, la mela sciolta diciam'... ridotta a polpa nello yogurt, sempre sul viso, è idratante.
Or else in some yogurt, an apple dissolved, let's say... reduced to a pulp in some yogurt, again on the face, is moisturising.
Caption 22, Enea Mela - Part 2Play Caption
Il tasto "play" e "pause" si trova esattamente nello stesso punto del pannello di controllo.
The "play" and "pause" button is located in exactly the same spot on the control panel.
Captions 15-16, Italian Intro SerenaPlay Caption
We use l' when the first letter of the word following the article starts with a vowel. We double the L and add an apostrophe.
Nell'ultimo ventennio, i coronavirus si sono imposti all'attenzione del mondo in tre momenti precisi:
In the last twenty years, coronaviruses have caught the attention of the entire world in three precise moments:
Captions 27-29, COVID-19 Domande frequenti - Part 1Play Caption
Allora, può intagliare così, può intagliare un pomodoro così, mettere una pentola d'acqua a bollire e tenere i pomodori nell'acqua bollente per dieci minuti.
So, they can make an incision like this, they can cut a notch in a tomato like so, put up a pot of water to boil, and keep the tomatoes in the boiling water for ten minutes.
Captions 10-14, L'Italia a tavola La pappa al pomodoro - Part 2Play Caption
È da circa otto minuti che i nostri spaghetti stanno cuocendo nella pentola.
It's been about eight minutes that our spaghetti has been cooking in the pot.
Caption 38, Adriano Spaghetti pomodoro e aglioPlay Caption
E due luoghi sacri si trovano proprio nei punti più alti della città:
And two sacred places are found right at the highest points of the city:
Caption 12, Alberto Angela - Meraviglie EP. 1 - Part 10Play Caption
Leonardo, molto spesso, nelle sue opere, faceva le figure centrali quasi fossero delle piramidi e poi i dodici apostoli sono suddivisi in gruppi di tre.
Leonardo, very often in his works, made the central figures almost as if they were pyramids and then, the twelve apostles are divided into groups of three.
Captions 10-13, Alberto Angela - Meraviglie EP. 3 - Part 12Play Caption
Olivetti è sempre riuscito nelle cose che ha intrapreso.
Olivetti has always succeeded in the things he has undertaken.Play Caption
In future lessons, we will talk about other common prepositions that follow these same principles.
One thing that's always tricky when learning a new language is how to use prepositions. We are especially aware of this when we hear Italians speaking English, since they often get prepositions mixed up.
In your own language you rarely get it wrong. You just know.
What's confusing for English speakers learning Italian, is that in can translate as different prepositions depending on the situation.
Lots of times in means "in."
Buongiorno. Oggi siamo in Toscana.
Hello. Today we're in Tuscany.
Caption 1, In cucina con Arianna la panzanella - Part 1Play Caption
OK. "We're in Tuscany - Siamo in Toscana. That's easy, but look at the title of the video. In cucina. In Italian, there is no article in this case, but in English there is.
Dov'è Arianna (where is Arianna)?
È in cucina (she's in the kitchen).
The kitchen is a place in the house. The same goes for lots of other places.
The following example uses in zona, a great way to say "in the area." You might ask someone on the phone it they are in zona. Then you can meet up! Zone - zona is a nice true cognate, even though we will translate it as "area" in many cases.
Siamo nati qui in zona, in un paese qui vicino di Praia a Mare.
We were born in this area, in the nearby village of Praia a Mare.
Captions 3-4, Gente al Porto di MarateaPlay Caption
We also use in to mean "in" when talking about the seasons:
Probabilmente preferirei una bella vacanza in montagna, allora. Un po' d'aria fresca, i boschi, i ruscelli. -Eh be', qualcosa della montagna piace anche a me. Ad esempio, in autunno, andare a prendere i funghi.
I'd probably rather have a nice vacation in the mountains, then. A bit of fresh air, the woods, streams. -Oh well, I like some things about the mountains too. For example, in autumn, going to get mushrooms.
Captions 21-24, Escursione Un picnic in campagna - Part 2Play Caption
We can also note from the previous example that to talk about going on vacation in the mountains, Italians not only leave out the article, they use the singular: "mountain" — montagna. Also, not in the example, Italians use in vacanza to mean "on vacation." They could also say in ferie to mean the same thing.
Andiamo in vacanza la settimana prossima.
Were going on vacation next week.
Lavora in banca (he works at the bank).
Sono in spiaggia (I'm on the sand by the waterfront)
In can mean "by" when we are talking about a means of transportation:
A Parigi ci vai in treno o in aereo (are you going to Paris by train or by plane)?
Vado al lavoro in bici (I go to work by bike) ma quando piove vado in macchina (but when it rains I go by car).
This is where it gets tricky because Italians use in when they are going someplace but they use the same preposition when they are already there!
Devo andare in banca (I have to go to the bank).
Non posso parlare al telefono perché sono in banca (I can't talk on the phone because I'm at the bank).
Le donne anziane del villaggio vanno in chiesa tutte le sere (the elderly women of the village go to church every evening).
Quando sono in chiesa, mi copro le spalle (when I am in a church, I cover my shoulders).
All the cases above have in common the absence of an article between the preposition in and the noun following it. They mostly have to do with places, seasons, or means of transportation.
But sometimes we do need need an article, for example:
in un attimo (in an instant)
When we have an indefinite article following in, both the preposition in (in, at, by, to) and the indefinite article un or una (a) stay separate and intact.
However when in is followed by a definite article in the singular or plural, the in gets combined with the article as follows:
(in + il) nel
(in + lo) nello
(in + l') nell'
(in + la) nella
(in + i) nei
(in + le) nelle
Ciao ragazzi e benvenuti nella mia cucina.
Hi guys and welcome to my kitchen.
Caption 1, Adriano Pasta alla carbonara - Part 1Play Caption
These prepositions merit a lesson of their own, so stay tuned!
Some languages use one word to say something, another might need 2 or more to say the same thing. In the case of "living together," Italian has a word that sums it up nicely: la convivenza as a noun, or convivere as a verb. In modern English, we call it "living together," but a more official but perhaps outdated noun would be "cohabitation." The question comes up in the TV movie Sposami, where a young couple is having trouble planning their marriage in a way that will satisfy both sets of parents.
Perché non pensi a una bella convivenza, eh? Dai!
Why not think about just living together, huh? Come on!
Caption 58, Sposami EP 1 - Part 18Play Caption
Taking apart this verb and noun makes it easy to understand:
vivere (to live) + con (with) = convivere (to live with, to live together)
The verb convivere is used to mean "to coexist." So not necessarily "together," but at the same time, in the same space.
Ora, i resti dell'antico tempio e della primitiva cattedrale sono incastonati all'interno e all'esterno: elementi pagani e cristiani che si fondono, convivono...
Now, the remains of the ancient temple and the early cathedral are built-in on the inside and the outside: pagan and Christian elements that fuse together, that coexist...
Captions 9-10, Itinerari Della Bellezza Basilicata - Part 4Play Caption
We also use convivere when we have to bear, endure, tolerate, accept, or live with a situation or condition. Right now people are "living with" the presence of the coronavirus.
Si convive (one lives with it).
Dovremo convivere con il coronavirus per parecchio tempo ancora (we will have to live with the coronavirus for some time yet).
People who are living together may be called conviventi. It describes the state
La parete divisoria è abusiva, quindi per lo Stato noi siamo già conviventi.
The dividing wall is illegal, so for the State, we're already living together.
Captions 6-7, La Tempesta film - Part 16Play Caption
Conviventi is actually the present participle of convivere. We don't think about the present participle in English much, but it does exist. It is part of the present continuous or progressive tense and ends in "-ing." It looks just like a gerund but works differently.
We could put the previous example in the present continuous, but we would need a different verb (stare instead of essere, both translating to "to be").
La parete divisoria è abusiva, quindi per lo Stato noi stiamo già convivendo.
The dividing wall is illegal, so for the State, we are already living together.
Here's the difference:
A gerund is a form of a verb used as a noun, whereas a participle is a form of verb used as an adjective or as a verb in conjunction with an auxiliary verb. In English, the present participle has the same form as the gerund, and the difference is in how they are used.
Why is this important to know? In English it doesn't matter much--we know how to use these words and we don't much care what they are called. But it can help us understand the Italian present participle, which, unlike English, does have a different form, and often causes confusion for learners.
If you look at a conjugation chart, at the top you will see something like this:
convivereIt is conjugated like: vivereinfinite: conviveregerundio: convivendoparticipio presents: conviventeparticipio passato: convissutoforma pronominale: (n/a)
For those of you following Daniela's lessons, there is one about participles.
Il participio anche ha due tempi, il presente e il passato. Al presente, il participio è "andante" e al passato sarebbe "andato".
The participle has two different tenses, the present and the past. In the present, the participle is "going" and in the past it would be "gone."
Captions 7-10, Corso di italiano con Daniela Modi Indefiniti - Part 2Play Caption
That's it for this lesson. We hope you have learned something useful, and we encourage you to write to us with questions, doubts or ideas. firstname.lastname@example.org.
It seems like there's no end to the uses of the little particle ci. We've done several lessons on it, and here we are again.
As we have seen in previous lessons, ci can mean various things and often has to do with reflexive and reciprocal verbs. It can also be an indirect pronoun that incorporates its preposition within it, and it can be attached to a verb or detached from it. Whew!
This time, we are talking about a pronominal verb — the kind of verb that has pronouns and particles connected to it that change the meaning of the verb. In this case, the particle is ci.
With the pronominal verb volerci, we're talking about the amount of something that's necessary to carry something out — time, money, courage, ingredients, attitudes, etc. In the following example, pazienza (patience) is the substance and molto (a lot) is how much you need of it. One way we can translate volerci is "to be necessary," "to be needed," "to be required." Of course, in everyday conversation, we often use "it takes" or "you need," in English, to express this idea.
Ci vuole molta pazienza
You need a lot of patience [a lot of patience is necessary].
It takes a lot of patience.
A lot of patience is required.Play Caption
One very important feature of this particular pronominal verb is that it is always in the third person and can be either singular or plural. If we are talking about "patience" as in the previous example, it's singular. If we're talking about ore (hours), as in the following example, it's plural.
Quante ore ci vogliono per andare da Roma a Milano?
How many hours does it take to go from Rome to Milan?
How many hours are necessary to go from Rome to Milan?
Caption 17, Marika spiega La particella NE - Part 2Play Caption
We can use it in the negative:
Non ci vuole l'articolo in singolare. In plurale ritorno a volere l'articolo.
You don't need the article in the singular. In the plural I go back to needing the article.
The article is not necessary in the singular.
Captions 20-21, Corso di italiano con Daniela Aggettivi Possessivi - Part 6Play Caption
If in translating volerci, we use the passive voice, we can match it up as far as singular and plural go, and it might make better sense to us.
I pinoli, che sono davvero speciali e ci vogliono i pinoli italiani, ovviamente.
The pine nuts, which are really special, and Italian pine nuts are required, obvously.
Captions 50-51, L'Italia a tavola Il pesto genovese - Part 1Play Caption
Although volerci is always in the third person, we often translate it into English with the first or second person: "I/we need" or you need."
Volerci is very popular in the expression:
Non ci voleva (it would have been better if that hadn't happened, I really didn't need that, that's all I needed).
That's what you say when, say, one bad thing happens after another.
Volerci can also be used as an expression of relief when something good happens. It's like saying, "That's just what the doctor ordered."
A Dixieland ci si diverte con poco e nulla e un numero di magica magia era proprio quel che ci voleva per chiudere in bellezza la festa.
At Dixieland one has fun with next to nothing and a number with magical magic was exactly what was needed to conclude the party nicely.
Captions 30-33, Dixieland La magia di TriboPlay Caption
Another fun way to use volerci is when you want to say, "How hard can it be?"
Che ci vuole (how hard can it be)?
Le mucche muggiscono. -Embè? Vanno munte. Ahi. -Scusa, scusa, scusa, scusa. -Sei sicura? -E sì, che ci vuole? L'avrò visto mille volte su National Geographic.
The cows are mooing. -So what? They have to be milked. Ow! -Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry. Are you sure? -Yeah, how hard could it be? I must have seen it a thousand times on National Geographic.
Captions 37-42, Sei mai stata sulla luna? film - Part 11Play Caption
We hope you have a bit more insight into this supremely common and useful pronominal verb (verb+pronoun+preposition all in one).
If you found this lesson helpful, you might very well say, Ci voleva! (that's exactly what I needed!).
We must also mention that not every time you see volerci (conjugated or in the infinitive) will it mean what we have set out to describe in this lesson. Since, at the outset, we mentioned that ci has a way of working its way into so many kinds of verbs and phrases, context is key. Little by little you will start distinguishing, but it will take time and practice. Watching Yabla videos will give you tons of examples so you can start sorting out the meanings. And don't forget: When you have a doubt, write it in the comments. Someone will get back to you within a few days. If you have a question or doubt, chances are, someone else will have the same one!
In a coming lesson, we will discuss a similar but unique pronominal verb metterci. Get a head start by watching Daniela's video lesson about both of these pronominal verbs.
We've been looking at conjugated verbs followed by verbs in the infinitive. Some can be connected directly as we saw in Part 1, some are connected with the preposition a, as we saw in Part 2, and others are connected with the preposition di, which we will look at in this lesson.
Let's start with an example.
Ti ho portato il millefoglie. Mentre lo mangi, io finisco di prepararmi e poi usciamo, eh?
I brought you a millefeuille. While you're eating it, I'll finish getting ready and then we'll leave, huh?
Captions 18-20, La Ladra Ep. 5 - Chi la fa l'aspetti - Part 13Play Caption
Finisco is the conjugated verb (finire) and preparare is in the infinitive. We have the formula: conjugated verb + di + verb in the infinitive. Attenzione: The verb preparare is attached to the personal pronoun mi (myself) because in this case, the verb prepararsi is reflexive and means "to get [oneself] ready."
One important verb we use with the preposition di is decidere (to decide).
Anita, per migliorare il suo livello di italiano, ha deciso di trascorrere le sue vacanze estive in Italia, dove ha la possibilità di comunicare, conversare con i miei amici, i miei familiari, i miei parenti e di conoscere più a fondo la vera cultura italiana e la vera cultura della Sicilia, la regione da cui io provengo.
Anita, in order to improve her level of Italian decided to spend her summer vacations in Italy, where she has the possibility of communicating, conversing with my friends, my family, my relatives, and to get a deeper understanding of the true Italian culture and the true culture of Sicily, the region I come from.
Captions 36-41, Adriano Adriano e AnitaPlay Caption
There are plenty of important and useful verbs that take the preposition di before the infinitive, and you can find a list here, but here are a few more examples from Yabla videos:
Oppure: chiudo l'ombrello, perché ha smesso di piovere.
Or else, “I close the umbrella because it has stopped raining.”
Caption 7, Marika spiega Il verbo chiuderePlay Caption
Let's remember that although cercare basically means "to look for," "to seek," it also means "to try" or, we could say, "to seek to." We use the preposition di in this case.
Quando vai in paese, cerca di scoprire qualcosa di interessante.
When you go into town try to find out something interesting.Play Caption
Another great verb is credere, which basically means "to believe," but when it's used in conjunction with a verb in the infinitive, we often translate it with "to think," as in:
Ferma! Sta ferma! Dove credi di andare?
Stop! Stand still! Where do you think you're going?
Captions 46-47, Provaci Ancora Prof! S1E1 - Il regalo di Babbo Natale - Part 15Play Caption
In fact, you could say the exact same thing with the verb pensare, which also takes the preposition di before an infinitive.
Dove pensi di andare?
Sperare is another great verb that works the same way, and to close, we'll say:
Speriamo di vedervi presto su Yabla (we hope to see you soon on Yabla)!
If you're not signed up to receive our weekly newsletter announcing new videos and new lessons, you can do that here.
When we talk about verbs, we distinguish between conjugated verbs and verbs in the infinitive. In Italian, verbs in the infinitive are easily recognizable most of the time because they end in either -are, -ire, or -ere. Exceptions occur when verbs in the infinitive are combined with particelle (particles), when they are reflexive, or when they are truncated. Then, admittedly, they may be harder to recognize.
In this lesson, we are talking about the specific case of when we want to use a conjugated verb followed by a verb in the infinitive. How do we connect them?
In part 1, we talked about combining a conjugated verb with an infinitive where no preposition is necessary. This typically occurs with the modal verbs potere (to be able to), volere (to want to) e sapere (to know how to, to be able to). Here's an example that can be useful if you are traveling in Italy.
Posso andare in bagno?
May I use (go to) the bathroom?
But there are also other, non-modal verbs where we don't need a preposition. See Daniela's series for examples.
Lascia fare a me!
Let me do it!
If we want to say the same thing we did above with a different verb, we might need a preposition, as in this example:
Permettimi di aiutarti.
Let me help you (allow me to help you).
There are two main prepositions we will use to connect a conjugated verb to a verb in the infinitive: di and a. Roughly, di corresponds to "of" or "from," while a corresponds to "to" or "at." These translations are not much help, though. One general rule (with many exceptions) is that verbs of movement use a to connect with a verb in the infinitive. The bottom line is, however, that you basically just have to learn these combinations little by little, by reading, by listening, and (sigh) by being corrected.
In some cases, the same verb will change its meaning slightly by the use of one preposition or the other.
Non penserai mica di andare via senza salutare!
You're not thinking of leaving without saying goodbye, are you?
Ci penso io a comprare i biglietti.
I'll take care of buying the tickets.
In this lesson, we'll look at some important verbs that need the preposition a.
Here's the formula:
verbo coniugato + preposizione "a" + verbo all’ infinito (conjugated verb + the preposition a [to, at] + verb in the infinitive)
aiutare (to help)
Per esempio, io ho un amico e lo aiuto a fare qualcosa dove lui ha difficoltà, lo aiuto a riparare la bicicletta, lo accompagno in aeroporto...
For example, I have a friend and I help him in doing something he has difficulty with, I help him repair his bicycle, I take him to the airport...Play Caption
cominciare (to begin)
Comincia a fare il nido il povero cucù
The poor cuckoo starts making his nest
Caption 8, Filastrocca Il canto del cucùPlay Caption
continuare (to continue, to keep on)
E si continua a pestare.
And you keep on crushing.
Caption 53, L'Italia a tavola Il pesto genovese - Part 2Play Caption
riuscire (to manage, to succeed, to be able)
Così riesco a seguire meglio la faccia eh... e le labbra di chi sta parlando.
That way, I manage to follow the face better, uh... and the lips of whoever is speaking.
Captions 41-42, Professioni e mestieri il doppiaggio - Part 1Play Caption
insegnare (to teach)
Oggi, ti insegno a cucinare la parmigiana di melanzane.
Today, I'm going to teach you to cook eggplant Parmesan,Play Caption
andare (to go)
Sì, lo diciamo a tutti e dopo andiamo a ballare. Andiamo anche a ballare.
Yes, we'll tell everyone, and afterwards we'll go dancing. We'll go dancing, too.
Captions 11-12, Serena vita da universitariPlay Caption
We've talked about several verbs that take the preposition a before a verb in the infinitive. Why not try forming sentences, either by improvising ad alta voce (out loud) or by writing them down? Take one of these verbs (in any conjugations you can think of) and then find a verb in the infinitive that makes sense.
Here are a couple of examples to get you started:
Mi insegneresti a ballare il tango (would you teach me to dance the tango)?
Non riesco a chiudere questa cerniera (I can't close this zipper).
To find charts about verbs and prepositions, here is an excellent reference.
Go to Part 3 where we talk about verbs that take the preposition di.
How do we refer to punctuation or use punctuation terms when speaking Italian?
When we start a new paragraph, we say punto e a capo (period, new paragraph). This can happen if we are dictating.
Punto is how we say "full stop" or "period" in Italian.
Capo means "head," and so we are at the head of a new paragraph.
But we also use punto e a capo and similar terms metaphorically in everyday speech. Here's a lesson about that!
A comma, on the other hand, is una virgola. While a comma works somewhat similarly between English and Italian, there is an important peculiarity to note, as we see in the following example. Instead of a decimal point, Italian employs the virgola (comma). If we look at it numerically, it's like this: English: 5.2 km, Italian: 5,2 km.
Con i suoi cinque virgola due chilometri quadrati, Alicudi è una delle più piccole isole delle Eolie,
With its five point two square kilometers, Alicudi is one of the smallest islands of the Aeolians,
Captions 9-10, Linea Blu Le Eolie - Part 18Play Caption
By the same token, Italian employs the comma in currency: $5.50, but €5,50.
In English we use a comma in writing "one thousand": $1,000.00, but in Italian, a point or period is used. €1.000,00.
It can also be omitted. 1000,00.
Virgolette, on the other hand are little commas, and when we turn them upside down, they become quotation marks, or inverted commas.
So, in conversation, we might make air quotes if people can see us talking, but in Italian it's common to say tra virgolette (in quotes, or literally, "between quotation marks"). We can translate this with "quote unquote," or we can sometimes say "so-called" (cosìdetto).
...cioè delle costruzioni, tra virgolette temporanee
in other words, quote unquote temporary buildings —
Caption 38, Alberto Angela - Meraviglie EP.2 - Part 12Play Caption
e perché poi erano facili da smontare, tra virgolette,
uh, because they were in any case easy to quote unquote dismantle,
Caption 45, Alberto Angela - Meraviglie EP.2 - Part 12Play Caption
Versace è nata da un ritorno alla tradizione, tra virgolette,
Versace was created as a, quote unquote, return to tradition,
Caption 13, That's Italy Episode 2 - Part 1Play Caption
One more important thing about virgolette: In American English, most punctuation marks go inside quotation marks, but in Italian, they go on the outside. If you pay attention to the captions in Yabla videos, you will see this regularly.
Thanks for reading and a presto!
Il talento è un dono enorme. Il talento è... è un dovere morale coltivarlo.
Talent is an enormous gift. Talent is... it's a moral duty to cultivate it.
Captions 75-76, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 12Play Caption
Piazza del Popolo è una piazza molto importante di Roma,
Piazza del Popolo is a very important square of Rome,
Caption 1, Anna presenta Piazza del PopoloPlay Caption
...e che invece adesso è una delle parti più eleganti, più signorili della capitale, dove ci sono le case più belle
...and which now though, is one of the most elegant, most exclusive parts of the capital, where there are the most beautiful houses
Captions 4-5, Anna presenta il ghetto ebraico e piazza matteiPlay Caption
In italiano abbiamo due tipi di aggettivi: noi li chiamiamo aggettivi positivi e aggettivi neutri.
In Italian, we have two kinds of adjectives. We call them positive adjectives and neutral adjectives.Play Caption
An example of a positive adjective is caro (expensive).
An example of a neutral adjective is grande (big).
È un tipico teatro diciamo shakespeariano, con il palco rotondo al centro
It's a typical, let's say, Shakespearean theatre, with a round stage in the center
Caption 18, Anna presenta Villa Borghese - Part 2Play Caption
La spiaggia è molto pulita.
The beach is very clean,
Caption 19, In giro per l'Italia Pisa e dintorni - Part 3Play Caption
Ci siamo ricordati tutti i momenti belli della nostra storia.
We remembered all the beautiful moments of our romance.
Caption 17, Anna presenta La Bohème di Puccini - Part 2Play Caption
Si aggiustano le scarpe rotte, se ne creano nuove su misura.
They repair broken shoes; they custom make new ones.
Caption 5, Marika spiega Il nome dei negozi - Part 1Play Caption
Use the dictionary if you're not sure how to form the plural of a noun.
Write to us if you have questions!
Stay tuned for the next part of this lesson about adjectives, when will discuss aggettivi neutri (neutral adjectives), or those adjectives that end in "e" and do not change according to gender: they only change according to singular and plural. Thus, they have only 2 possible endings.
Did you watch last Wednesday's episode of Commissario Manara? You might have noticed that there's an excellent example of a pronominal verb.
Review pronominal verbs here.
Ce l'hai ancora con me. E perché mai dovrei avercela con te, scusa? Sono in vacanza.
You're still mad at me. And why on earth should I be mad at you, pardon me? I'm on vacation.
Captions 6-7, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP8 - Fuori servizio - Part 1Play Caption
There are plenty of pronominal verbs Italians use constantly, and avercela is one that has a few different nuanced meanings. The verb avere (to have) combines with the direct object la (it) and the indirect object ci which can mean so many things, such as "to it/him/, for it/him/us" and it still doesn't make sense to an English ear, but it can mean to get angry, to feel resentment and more.
The meaning can be aggressive, as in "to have it in for someone." Avercela con qualcuno (to have it in for someone) happens to fit fairly well into a grammatically reasonable English translation, but avercela can also have a milder connotation, as in the example above, "to be mad at someone." And in this case, grammar pretty much goes out the window.
When you sense that something is not right with a friend, that they are not their usual talkative self, you wonder if you had done or said something wrong. This is the time to ask:
Ce l'hai con me? (Are you mad at me?)
Using the pronominal verb avercela, it becomes very personal and often implies resentment or placing blame. The feeling of anger or resentment has to be directed at someone, even oneself.
Non ce l'ho con te. So che non era colpa tua. Ce l'ho con me stesso.
I'm not blaming you. I'm not holding it against you. I know it wasn't your fault. I have only myself to blame. I'm mad at myself.
There's a more official word for feeling resentful, too, risentire, but as you see from the dictionary, this verb has several meanings, so it isn't used all that often in everyday conversation. When you're mad, you want to be clear!
Let's look at the classic word for getting or being angry: fare arrabbiare (to make someone angry, to anger), arrabbiarsi (to get angry), arrabbiato (angry, mad), la rabbia (the anger).
If a parent, teacher, or boss is angry with a child, student, employee who did something wrong, then the word arrabbiarsi is the more suitable and direct term. It doesn't normally make sense to be actually resentful in these cases. In the following example, a colleague is talking to her co-worker about the boss.
Alleluia! -Guarda che questa volta l'hai fatta grossa. Era veramente arrabbiato.
Halleluja! -Look. This time you really blew it, big time. He was really mad.
Captions 20-21, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP7 - Alta società - Part 14Play Caption
Closely related to avercela con qualcuno is prendersela, another pronominal verb! We've discussed this here, and as you will see, in some cases, both avercela and prendersela are used in similar situations.
But prendersela contains the verb prendere (to take). It might be helpful to think of "taking something badly."
Non te la prendere (don't feel bad, don't take this badly).
Unlikle avercela,which is direct towards someone, prendersela is reflexive, with se (oneself), as in prendersi (to take for oneself)— You're more on the receiving end of an emotion, which you then transfer to someone else.
Me la sono presa con Giuseppe (I took it out on Giuseppe, [but I shouldn't have]. I lost it).
One last expression bears mentioning. Arrabbiare is the correct word to use for getting angry, but lots of people just say it as in the following example. We are replacing the more vulgar term with the polite version: incavolarsi (to get angry), fare incavolare (to get someone angry).
E questo l'ha fatto incazzare tantissimo,
And this made him extremely angry.Play Caption
Now you have various ways to get angry in Italian, but we hope you won't need to resort to them too often.
Let’s look at turning positive sentences into negative ones in Italian. We might have to switch gears a bit because the word order for negatives is different from what we have in English. We have to think negative. The negative word, in this case non (not), generally comes before the verb, and that means it is frequently the first word in a sentence.
Let’s consider some simple negative expressions we use every day.
Problems: We all have problemi (problems), but sometimes we have to say "no problem." We certainly use it to mean "You're welcome" after someone says "Thank you." In English, it's so easy! But in Italian we say, "there's no problem." It's part of the expression. Non c'è problema is an important phrase to have ready for any situation.
Sì, non c'è problema. -Grazie. -Prego.
Yes, no problem. -Thanks. -You're welcome.
Caption 24, Adriano - Pizzeria Pinocchio - Part 2Play Caption
Actually, there is another way to say this, more similar to English.
Nessun problema (no problem [at all]).
Or we can put both expressions together and say, with the wonderful double negative we can use in Italian:
Non c'è nessun problema (there's really no problem).
Non c'è nessunissimo problema. (There is absolutely no problem at all)!
Time: Nobody has any time anymore! So negative sentences about time can come in handy.
Non c’è tempo (there isn’t time).
Non ho tempo (I don’t have time).
Il tempo non ce l’ho (I don’t have time for that).
Non c’è più tempo da perdere (there’s no more time to waste).
Non ho avuto il tempo per farmi i capelli (I didn’t have time to get my hair done).
and a possible comment to that:
Non stanno male, però (your hair looks pretty good, though/it doesn't look bad,though).
Knowing stuff: There are plenty of things we know and understand but plenty we don’t know or understand! Let’s remember that whereas in English we just say "I don’t know," Italians usually add the object pronoun lo (it), so they are literally saying "I don't know it."
Non lo so (I don’t know).
Non so a che ora devo venire (I don’t know what time I should come).
Non ho capito! Puoi ripetere (I didn't get it. Can you repeat)?
Remember, Italians often put this phrase in the past tense even though they are saying "I don’t get it."
Forgetting stuff, or rather, not remembering things: The verb ricordare is often but not always in its reflexive form ricordarsi when it means "to remember" and in its regular form when it means "to remind." See these lessons.
Adesso non mi ricordo se era proprio a forma di carciofo.
Right now, I can't remember if it was exactly artichoke shaped.Play Caption
And if you need an object pronoun instead of a noun, don't forget to change mi (to me) to me (me):
Adesso non me lo ricordo.
Right now, I can't remember [it].
Doing stuff, or rather, not doing stuff: We procrastinate.
Dovevo scrivere un articolo, ma non l'ho fatto (I was supposed to write an article but I didn't do it).
Non l’ho ancora fatto (I haven't done it yet).
Here we have the object pronoun lo (it) but it is partially buried in the contraction. So you have to listen carefully!
Speaking of listening, a great way to hone your listening skills is to use Scribe (in the games menu in the Yabla player). It will definitely help you start recognizing and hearing these short words and little but important details. And although some Italian you hear is rapid-fire (like Luca Manara, to name one example), most of the time, all the syllables are pronounced. You can slow down the speech to be able to hear better. Have you tried Scribe? What did you like? What didn't you like? Let us know!
As we learn to speak Italian with disinvoltura (nonchalance), it’s easy to forget to add these little words. Don’t worry, you will most likely be understood anyway! Foreigners spend years speaking Italian leaving out the little words, and they get by just fine. (It takes one to know one.)
If you get your word order wrong, people will understand anyway, but now you have a chance to get it right!
After telling us about the different relative pronouns, which in some cases are interchangeable, Daniela finishes up by telling us that in certain cases, when we are talking about a place or situation, we can use dove (where) instead of in cui (in which). To back up a moment, we're talking about object relative pronouns, indeed, indirect object pronouns, because in the case of cui (which), we often need a preposition right before it. Here's how she summarizes cui. If you can watch the lesson it might be helpful!
Indipendentemente dal genere o dal numero, io uso sempre "cui", che è invariabile, sempre preceduto da una preposizione semplice, quindi da "di", da "da", o da "a".
Regardless of the gender or the number, I always use "which," which is invariable, always preceded by a simple preposition, so by "of," by "from," or by "to."
Captions 43-46, Corso di italiano con Daniela - Pronomi relativi - Part 3Play Caption
The good news here is that we don't have to consider gender when we use cui. Getting stuck mid-sentence looking for the right article can hamper the telling of a good story. So cui is a good relative pronoun to be familiar with. But many of us might not feel so comfortable using cui. Indeed, you don't need to think about gender, but you do have to think about which preposition to use: There is an alternative that you might like.
Using dove (where) can simplify life, actually. Certainly, Italians use dove (where) as a relative pronoun, even when we're not strictly talking about places and situations. And we do this in English, too, so it won’t seem too odd!
Following are some examples from Yabla videos. Let's remember that dove (where) is not always a relative pronoun, and it is not always a relative pronoun taking the place of in cui, but the following examples have been selected because they do fit into this category.
E, invece, oggi, come potete vedere, è una giornata molto tranquilla dove si può prendere il sole in santa pace.
And, on the other hand, today, as you can see, it's a very quiet day in which one can get some sun in blessed peace.
Captions 39-40, Francesca - sulla spiaggia - Part 1Play Caption
Vengo qui da lei, perché so di poter trovare un ambiente tranquillo, calmo, dove potermi riposare.
I come here to her place, because I know I'll find a peaceful, calm atmosphere, where I can rest.
Captions 36-37, Adriano - NonnaPlay Caption
Noi ora stiamo entrando nel cuore della Reggia di Caserta, il luogo dove si gestiva il potere.
We're now entering into the heart of the Caserta Royal Palace, the place where power was administered.
Captions 36-38, Alberto Angela - Meraviglie - Ep. 1 - Part 3Play Caption
Sono due posti qui vicino Roma, dove si producono questi tipi di pane casareccio [casereccio].
They're two places near Rome, where they produce these types of home-style bread.
Captions 49-50, Anna e Marika - Il panePlay Caption
Mi piacciono anche i libri antropologici, per esempio, dove ci sono scoperte...
I also like books on anthropology, for example, where there are discoveries...
Captions 44-45, Arianna e Marika - L'importanza di leggerePlay Caption
Poi c'è un giorno a settimana dove i negozi sono chiusi.
Then, there's one day a week when the shops are closed.Play Caption
Un altro caso dove uso il congiuntivo è quando abbiamo dei verbi impersonali...
Another case in which I use the subjunctive is when we have impersonal verbs...
Captions 40-41, Corso di italiano con Daniela - Il congiuntivo - Part 11Play Caption
Now that you have looked at all these examples, why not try transforming them into sentences with in cui? If that is too easy, try the same thing with nel quale, nella quale, nei quale, or nelle quale. For this, you will need to consider gender and number! Here’s the link to suggested solutions. Non barare (don't cheat) — unless you have to!
Let us know if you like this system of exercises and their solutions! Write to us at email@example.com
Relative pronouns allow us to combine two shorter sentences that are related to each other into a longer one made up of two clauses. Similarly to English, we distinguish between main or independent clauses and subordinate dependent clauses. And when there is a relative pronoun present, it is part of what's called "a relative clause."
The first relative pronoun that Daniela describes is che (that/which).
In questo esempio, quindi, il pronome relativo fa vece di pronome perché sostituisce la parola "casa" ma fa anche vece di congiunzione perché unisce le due frasi [sic: proposizioni].
In this example, therefore, the relative pronoun stands in for the pronoun because it replaces the word "house," but it also
takes on the role of a conjunction, because it joins two clauses.
Captions 44-48, Corso di italiano con Daniela - Pronomi relativi - Part 1Play Caption
After watching the video, let's look at some further examples of what Daniela is talking about.
Ci troviamo sulla spiaggia di Mondello, che è la spiaggia dei palermitani.
We're on the beach at Mondello, which is the beach used by Palermo's inhabitants.
Caption 3, Adriano - a MondelloPlay Caption
Let's take this sentence apart and put it back together again.
The first sentence could be:
Ci troviamo sulla spiaggia di Mondello.
We're here on the beach at Mondello.
The second sentence could be:
La spiaggia di Mondello è la spiaggia dei palermitani.
The Mondello beach is the beach of the inhabitants of Palermo.
In order to combine these two short sentences, we use a relative pronoun to connect the clauses. We replace la spiaggia di Mondello with che (which), so it's both a pronoun that replaces a noun, and a conjunction that connects two parts of the [new] sentence.
Ci troviamo sulla spiaggia di Mondello, che è la spiaggia dei palermitani.
Let's look at an example in which che translates nicely with "that," but can work fine with "which," too. In English, "that" and "which" are often interchangeable, but we need to keep in mind that "which" needs a comma before it, and "that" doesn't (most of the time).
C'è un ballo tradizionale che si chiama il "salterello" [saltarello].
There's a traditional dance that is called the "saltarello" [literally, little jump].
There's a traditional dance, which is called the "saltarello" [literally, little jump].
Caption 38, L'Italia a tavola - Interrogazione sulle MarchePlay Caption
Gli alpeggi sono le attività agricole zoologiche che si svolgono in estate in montagna.
Alpine grazing is an agricultural, zoological activity that take place in summer in the mountains.Play Caption
In Italian, the relative pronoun che can refer to things or people. So in the following example, we can translate che as "who."
C'è sempre tantissima gente che aspetta di salire su.
There are always plenty of people who are waiting to go up.
Caption 17, In giro per l'Italia - Firenze - Part 5Play Caption
This week, Daniela concludes her lessons on the comparative and the superlative. Let's take a moment and review the series because, coming from English, we might want to put the lessons together in a different way.
As we have seen, the comparative and superlative work a bit differently than in English. In English we have two ways of the comparative and superlative of an adjective: by changing the adjective itself (as in "big," "bigger," "biggest") or by adding "more" or "less" before the adjective, as with the adjective "beautiful." But in Italian, comparatives and superlatives are formed using più (more) or meno (less) plus the adjective. Attenzione! The adjective buono is an exception to this. Learn more here.
In the first lesson, Daniela explains the comparativo di maggioranza (majority), which corresponds to “more” plus the adjective in English. If it's meno (less), we call it comparativo di minoranza (minority).
Even though we don't use these terms in English, they are fairly self-explanatory. In English, after the comparative adjective, we use the conjunction "than" before the second part of the comparison: This book is bigger than that one.
But in Italian, there are two different conjunctions we use when comparing things: di (than, of) or che (than). This is a big deal and somewhat tricky. Daniela starts explaining it in the first video and continues explaining here and here.
Daniela then explains all about comparing things that are equal: comparativo di uguaglianza. We discuss this further here. This is tricky in any language, and Italian is no exception. Daniela begins talking about it here and continues here, here and here.
So if you are interested in getting the scoop on how to say "the best of all," then go straight to this week's lesson, where Daniela shows us how this — the regular old superlative — works in Italian. It called the superlativo relativo, since this superlative is relative to a group of elements. As she explains...
"È l'amico più generoso di tutti". Sto paragonando la qualità dell'essere generoso del mio amico all'essere generoso di tutti.
"He is the most generous friend of all." I am comparing the quality of being generous of my friend, to the generosity of all.
Caption 24, Corso di italiano con Daniela: Superlativo relativo
The superlativo relativo corresponds, roughly, to the superlative in English, in respect to the comparative, as when we add "-est" to an adjective: nice, nicer, nicest.
In Italian, we still use the modifiers più (more) and meno (less) but with the addition of the definite article before it, it becomes "the most" or "the least."
Let's take the adjective bello whose English equivalent "beautiful" needs "more" or "less" to make it comparative.
Margherita è bella (Margaret is beautiful). [positivo]
Margherita è più bella di Barbara (she is more beautiful than Barbara). [comparativo di maggioranza]
Margherita è la piu bella di tutte le quattro sorelle. She is the most beautiful of all four sisters. [superlativo relativo di maggioranza]
Margherita è intelligente (Margherita is intelligent). [positivo]
Margherita è meno intelligente di Barbara (Margherita is less intelligent than Barbara). [comparativo di minoranza]
Elisabetta è la meno intelligente di tutte le sorelle (Elisabetta is the least intelligent of all the sisters). [superlativo comparativo di minoranza]
We hope this helps you make sense of the comparative and superlative in Italian.
We have seen that comparatives work a bit differently in Italian as compared to English. Read more here. For most adjectives and adverbs in Italian, there is no specific comparative form. We use the adverbs più (more) or meno (less) to form the comparative. Notable exceptions are buono (good) and bene (well), which have their own comparative forms. We have discussed them here.
But things get tricky when we compare things that are equal. For the most part, in English, we use the same adverb or conjunction "as" in both parts of the comparison.
You are as tall as I am. We are both the same height.
In Italian, there are basically two pairs of words that are sometimes interchangeable and sometimes not. Tanto (lots, as much) pairs with quanto (how much), and così (like, so) pairs with come (how, as).
Il comparativo di uguaglianza si forma facendo precedere l'aggettivo dall'avverbio "tanto", o "così", seguito dall'aggettivo, più "come" o "quanto".
The comparative of equality is formed by placing the adverb "tanto" [as much] or "cosi" [like, as], followed by the adjective, plus "as" or "as much."
Captions 23-28, Corso di italiano con Daniela - Comparativo - Part 3Play Caption
And sometimes we can omit one of the two words in a pair. Tutto sommato (all in all), it can be a bit confusing.
Here are some examples of complete sentences from Yabla that feature comparatives of equality, so you can become more familiar with them.
Insomma, i ponti sono tanto frequentati quanto sconosciuti ai romani di oggi.
In other words, the bridges are as traveled as they are unknown to the Romans of today.
Caption 44, I Love Roma - guida della città - Part 8Play Caption
Ed è stata tanto colpa nostra quanto colpa sua.
And it was as much our fault as his fault.Play Caption
The following example uses che, another ingredient of comparatives, as described by Daniela, but here, it's used incorrectly. This just goes to show that comparatives of equality can be tricky for Italians, too.
Disarmonie e contrasti sono ingredienti indispensabili tanto della vita che della cucina.
Disharmonies and contrasts are indispensable ingredients, as much in life as in cuisine.Play Caption
Here is what the speaker should have said.
Disarmonie e contrasti sono ingredienti indispensabili tanto nella vita quanto nella cucina.
Disharmonies and contrasts are indispensable ingredients, in life as well as in the kitchen.
This next example compares two comparatives on equal terms (more=more). Can you wrap your head around it
Quanto più l'impasto è duro, tanto meglio viene la pasta.
The stiffer the dough, the better the pasta will be.
Caption 45, Marino - La maccaronaraPlay Caption
In the following example, Adriano is using così come to compare the adjective intenso (intense) on an equal basis between one day and other days.
Spero che anche voi possiate avere delle giornate così intense come questa.
I hope that you too can have days that are as intense as this one.
Caption 56, Adriano - GiornataPlay Caption
We often find così and come together in a sentence and it can often be translated as "just as" or "just like."
Al verso è docile e al contro è duro, così come la vita.
Along the grain it's soft and against the grain it's hard, just like life.
Captions 11-12, Claudio Capotondi - Scultore - Part 1Play Caption
Here are examples of the two types of pairings, along with versions where the first adverb is omitted, as described by Daniela.
Non conosco nessuno così bravo come te.
I don't know anyone as smart as you.
Non conosco nessuno bravo come te.
I don't know anyone smart like you.
Non conosco nessuno tanto bravo quanto te.
I don't know anyone as smart as you.
Non conosco nessuno bravo quanto te.
I don't know anyone as smart as you.
Try looking around your home and comparing things.
Questa stanza è più grande di quella (this room is bigger than that one).
Quella stanza è meno grande di questa (That room is smaller than this one).
Questo tavolo è tanto grande quanto quel tavolo lì (this table is as big as that one there).
Questo tavolo è grande quanto quello lì (this table is as big as that one there).
La mia poltrona è tanto comoda quanto la tua (my armchair is as comfortable as yours).
La mia poltrona è comoda quanto la tua (my armchair is as comfortable as yours).
Start simple and get comfortable. Hint: In comparisons of equality, it's more common to omit the first adverb than to include it, at least in everyday speech. Whew!
In our last lesson, there was mention of the Italian comparative adjective migliore (better). This brought up an excellent question on the part of one of our readers. What's the difference between migliore and meglio? They both mean "better." When should we use meglio instead of migliore?
It's a great question, because the answer is not so simple. On a very basic level, migliore is an adjective and is the comparative of buono (good). It is also, with the addition of an article, the superlative of buono (good), as in the following example.
La moto è il mezzo migliore per superare il traffico.
The motorbike is the best means of transportation for getting past the traffic.
Caption 27, Adriano - GiornataPlay Caption
Migliore stays the same in both the masculine and the feminine.
Io voglio solo una vita migliore di questa.
I just want a better life than this.
Caption 70, L'oro di Scampia - film - Part 5Play Caption
La mia migliore amica.
My best [girl]friend.Play Caption
But in the plural it's always migliori, for both the masculine and the feminine.
Ed è uno dei vini migliori della Basilicata, è chiamato Aglianico.
And it's one of the best wines of Basilicata, it's called Aglianico.
Caption 2, Milena - al supermercatoPlay Caption
No, veramente le cose migliori le abbiamo fatte insieme, no?
No, actually the best things are the ones we've done together, right?Play Caption
Migliore and its plural form migliori can also be nouns, just like in English.
Sei il/la migliore!
You're the best!
Migliore is either an adjective or a noun — never an adverb.
Meglio, on the other hand, is basically an adverb, so it makes sense for it to be the comparative of bene (well). Meglio often means in modo migliore (in a better way).
Facciamo un esempio così capite meglio.
We'll provide an example, that way you'll understand better.Play Caption
But meglio has a gray area, too, and is much more flexible than migliore. Unlike migliore, which is either an adjective or a noun, meglio, in addition to being an adverb, is often also used colloquially as an adjective or in some contexts as a noun. It's also used in a huge number of expressions.
Note that the verb migliorare exists, too, to mean "to improve," to "get better."
Se posso migliorare, perché non farlo?
If I can improve, why not do so?Play Caption
Il mio italiano è molto migliorato.
My Italian has gotten much better.
We'll focus on meglio next week, but in the meantime, why not compare things with migliorein your home or workplace?
Think about food, movies, books, the time of day/year for doing something.
In questo bar, fanno il miglior caffè della città.
In this bar, they make the best coffee in the city.
Il mio italiano scritto è migliore di qualche anno fa.
My written Italian is better than a few years ago.
Non ero la migliore della classe quando andavo a scuola.
I wasn't the best in the class when I went to school.
Qual è la stagione migliore per visitare la Sicilia?
What's the best month for visiting Sicily?
Daniela is back with some more Italian lessons, classroom-style. This time she will be teaching us how to compare things. And the good news is that apart from a few exceptions like buono (good), migliore (better), il/la migliore (the best), you won't have to learn the comparative forms of an adjective. Basically, you just have to use the adverb più (more) or meno (less).
Sometimes this corresponds to the English, because in English, not all adjectives have a comparative form.
"Arrivederci" [quando vado via] è una forma di saluto più elegante, formale.
"Arrivederci" [when I leave] is a more elegant, formal form of saying "goodbye."Play Caption
But in many cases, there is a specific comparative form in English.
In the following example, a recipe is being described.
Si può personalizzare: più piccante, meno piccante.
You can personalize: sharper or milder.
Caption 38, L'Italia a tavola - Il frico friulano - Part 1Play Caption
So, if you are translating, you have to find the "right" word in English. But as you become more familiar with Italian, you will start thinking in Italian, and the English equivalent won't really come into play.
One tricky thing is that you have to take into account whether you are comparing things or actions. The preposition you use, di (than) as opposed to che (than), will change accordingly.
Lucca è una città più piccola di Firenze (Lucca is a smaller city than Florence). Lucca è meno grande di Firenze (Lucca is smaller than Florence).
A Lucca, è più comodo girare in bici che girare in macchina (in Lucca, it's easier to get around by bike, than to get around by car).
Watch Daniela's video, first of all. Then go around your house, or wherever you happen to be, and compare things.
Questo libro è più grande di quel libro (this book is bigger than that book).
Gain confidence in comparing things using di (than). Then move on to comparing actions. It's a little trickier, with che (than).
Comprare online sarà più veloce che andare al negozio (purchasing online will be quicker than going to the store).