In a previous lesson, we talked about the noun conto as part of the phasal verb rendersi conto (to realize). A learner has written in asking if this can be synonymous with accorgersene (to notice, to realize). The answer is yes, sometimes, depending on the context. There is a lesson on the pronominal, reflexive verb accorgersene, so check it out.
In this lesson, we will continue to look at the noun il conto and how it fits into various expressions, with meanings that might seem to depart from the cognate "account." But let's keep in mind that in many cases, although English speakers prefer different turns of phrase, we can connect these with "account," if we look hard enough. After all, in English, we use the word "account" in lots of different ways, too.
Here are some examples from Yabla videos of how people use conto or conti in authentic speech.
Dopotutto bisogna fare i conti con i propri limiti ogni tanto, o no?
After all, one has to come to terms with one's own limits, every now and then, right?
Caption 2, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 9Play Caption
The previous example is from the biopic about Adriano Olivetti, which has been proven to be quite popular with subscribers. At the Olivetti typewriter factory, they're talking about selling it!
In the example below, the subject is Covid-19, and the fact that we have to come to terms with it, to reckon with it. Different translations but a similar concept.
Come ormai tutti sapete, non solo l'Italia,
As everyone knows by now, not only Italy
ma tutto il mondo sta cominciando a fare i conti
but the whole world is starting to have to reckon
con questa [sic: questo] assassino invisibile.
with this invisible killer.
Captions 7-9, COVID-19 - Andrà tutto benePlay Caption
So we're talking about dealing with something, facing something, taking something into consideration, taking something into account, or even taking stock.
Here's a practical situation in which one might use fare i conti. This time it does have to do with money.
Let's say I have someone do a job for me, say, getting a swimming pool up and running after the winter, and afterwards, I want to know how much I have to pay for it. Instead of just saying quanto ti devo? (how much do I owe you?), I can be a bit more roundabout. I can leave the door open for a conversation and allow for a justification of the fee I will be paying, compared to the initial preventivo (estimate), or for talking about a discount. I am letting the person I hired know that I am ready to settle up or at least to determine how much it will come to.
Dobbiamo fare i conti (we have to tally up, or "Let's figure out how much I owe you").
We can make the act of tallying up more casual, perhaps less about money, by using un po' (a little, a few) or due (two), which doesn't really mean the number 2, but is a generic low-grade plural to mean "some." In the following example, the number due (two) could replace un po'.
Che poi se facciamo un po' di conti,
Which, after all, if we do the math here,
sono sempre io a perdonare per prima.
I'm always the first one to forgive.
Captions 10-11, La Ladra - EP. 8 - Il momento giustoPlay Caption
Uno si fa due conti e inizia a pensare
You add things up and start thinking
che se tutti si vogliono innamorare, un motivo ci sarà.
that if everyone wants to fall in love, there must be a reason.
Captions 42-43, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP10 - Un morto di troppoPlay Caption
Another expression with conti comes from math and accounts, but has to do with summing up. It's a way of saying, "All in all," "in the end," "all things considered," "after all is said and done..."
Be', in fin dei conti, si tratta solo di ratificare uno stato di fatto.
Well, in the end, it's just a matter of ratifying a state of affairs.
Caption 15, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep.2 - Part 5Play Caption
An expression that is used both in talking about money and about pretty much anything, is the the equivalent of "things don't add up."
E hai scoperto qualcosa?
And did you discover anything?
-Non ancora, ma i conti non tornano.
-Not yet, but things don't add up.
Captions 20-21, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP11 - Beato tra le donnePlay Caption
There is still plenty to say about the noun conto, but we'll save it for next time! So stay tuned, and thanks for reading.