In a previous lesson, we looked at some Italian words that have to do with "right": retto and its feminine form retta. We mentioned that there are other words that can mean "right" and so in this lesson, we will look at two more: diritto, dritto. Sometimes they mean "right" and sometimes they don't, but they are very good words to know!
If we look at the dictionary entry for dritto, we also find diritto, so they are very closely related and can often be used interchangeably. And sometimes it's hard to tell if someone is saying one or the other. But there are cases where you can't swap them.
When you have rights (or not), then you use diritto as a masculine noun. Dritto won't work in this case!
Mi dice con che diritto ha fermato Stefano?
Will you tell what right you had to detain Stefano?
Caption 48, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP7 - Sogni di VetroPlay Caption
As in English, we can talk about rights in general: equal rights, civil rights, etc., thus using the plural.
Anch'io ho i miei diritti e la mia dignità di lavoratore.
I also have my rights and my dignity as a worker.Play Caption
While a single law is una legge, law in general is referred to as diritto or giurisprudenza. Here, too, dritto won't do.
Mi sono appena iscritto alla facolta di Diritto.
I'm just enrolled in Law school.
Although dritta as a noun almost surely derives from the verb dirigere, it has become a colloquial but widely used feminine noun in itself. In this case, someone is heading you in the right direzione (direction) by giving you some good advice or a tip. Diritta doesn't work here.
Gli ho solamente dato qualche dritta su come tenere
I just gave him a few tips on how to keep
pulito il lastricato dalla gramigna. -Ah!
the flagstones free of weeds. -Ah.
Captions 53-54, La Ladra - Ep. 7 - Il piccolo ladroPlay Caption
We can use the noun form dritto/dritta to describe someone who is sly, a smooth operator.
La dritta can also indicate the right-[hand] side, the one used to direct (dirigere). On a ship, it's the starboard side. On a medal il dritto is the "front" side. In knitting, dritto is a plain stitch.
Just as with "right" in English, diritto can be either an adjective or a noun, but it can also be an adverb.
One thing a parent might tell a child is:
Valentina, sta dritta.
Valentina, stand up straight.
Caption 10, Fellini Racconta - Un Autoritratto RitrovatoPlay Caption
As we found in the lesson on retto, "straight" and "right" are close cousins in English. Think of the word "upright."
One way we use the adverb dritto or diritto is when we give directions, so this is super important. Whether you say diritto or dritto, people will understand you just fine.
Here, Daniela is teaching us about giving directions.
OK? Allora, andare a destra, andare a sinistra,
OK? So, "to go to the right," "to go to the left,"
andare dritto, andare sempre dritto, andare tutto dritto.
"to go straight," "to go straight ahead." "to go straight ahead."
Captions 53-54, Corso di italiano con Daniela - Chiedere informazioniPlay Caption
"Rigare dritto" vuol dire comportarsi bene.
"To toe the line" [to make a straight line] means "to behave."Play Caption
Check out Marika's video where she says a bit more about the expression rigare dritto or filare dritto.
In the following example, we could also say the shot went right to the heart.
Un colpo di pistola dritto al cuore a distanza ravvicinata, ma...
A gunshot direct to the heart at close range, but...Play Caption
There is certainly more to say about these fascinating and important words, but your head must be full by now. Keep your eyes and ears open as you watch Yabla videos. These words will be peppered all through them. Let us know your questions and doubts, and we'll get back to you. Write to us at email@example.com