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Fregarsene: To Not Care

The following Italian expression paints a picture of an outside force, either making us do something, or preventing us from doing something. It’s out of our hands.


È più forte di me, non ce la faccio, non ce la faccio.

It's stronger than me [I can't help it], I can't do it, I can't do it.

Caption 90, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP9 - Morte in paradiso

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The expression is used when you know that what you’re doing is a bit overboard, but you still do it. You can’t help it, there's a stronger force at work!


In the expression below, you are throwing your cares to the wind. You might be able to do something about the situation, but you choose not to worry about it!


E se entrano, chi se ne frega?

And if they come in, who cares?

Caption 80, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP9 - Morte in paradiso

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Fregare (to rub, to scrub, to steal, to rip off) is a widely used word, acceptable in casual speech, but should be avoided in formal situations or in writing to anyone but close friends. Originally it meant “to rub” or “scrub” but now, sfregare is more common for those meanings. Nowadays fregare has various colloquial meanings, and has become part of a very popular expression, fregarsene (to not care about something). This long verb with pronouns attached is called a verbo pronominale (pronominal verb). See this lesson to learn more about pronominal verbs.


Grammatically speaking, fregare is used reflexively in this expression, with an indirect object included that means “of it” or “about it.”


fregar(e)se (oneself) + ne (of it)


This tiny ne is quite important, but a bit tricky to use. When the expression crops up in a video, listen carefully and read the captions to assimilate it, as it goes by rather quickly. You won’t hear Daniela and Marika using this expression in their lessons, but you will often hear it in Commissario ManaraL’oro di ScampiaMa che ci faccio qui? and others.


Since the expression is tricky, let’s look at some examples in different conjugations and constructions.


Indicative first person singular/third person singular:

Me ne frego (I don’t care about it).
Se ne frega (he/she/it doesn’t care about it).

Imperative informal:

Fregatene (don’t be concerned about it, ignore it)! [Attenzione, the accent is on the first syllable!]


Che mi frega (what do I care?)
Che ti frega (what do you care?)

Passato prossimo (past tense):

Se n’è fregato (he didn’t care about it, didn’t do anything about it). [Here the accent is on the second syllable.]


Non me ne può fregar di meno (it can’t affect me any less, I don't give a hoot about it).

Note: In English we often use the conditional to say the same thing: "I couldn't care less."

Note the troncamento or shortening, from fregare to fregar. See Marika’s lessons on troncamento!


Avere la puzza sotto al naso or avere la puzza sotto il naso (to have a stink under their noses): These are both ways of saying “to have one’s nose in the air” (to avoid smelling the stink below). It’s a way of calling someone stuck up, or a snob.

The difference between sotto il naso and sotto al naso is a bit like the difference between “under” and “underneath.”  We can use either one.


Va be', però c'hanno la puzza sotto al naso.

OK, but they have the stink underneath their noses [they're stuck up].

Caption 46, L'oro di Scampia - film

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So, now you have a few more expressions to use when the situation calls for it.


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