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How to Turn a Noun into a Verb (and Back) in Italian


Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The verb or the noun? Does it matter? No, it doesn't really matter in speaking Italian, but knowing the verb a noun comes from, or the noun a verb comes from can sometimes help us figure out a word we don't know. Or, it can help us remember a new word. In the case of the words discussed in this lesson, we start with a noun.


The noun il poggio:

Il poggio  the noun is likely less well-known than the verbs that stem from it. A little research on the etymology tells us that poggio comes from the Latin noun "podium" — a raised platform. Hey! We know the word "podium" in English! Poggio is synonymous with colle or collina (hill), but often refers to a rather small, rounded hill — perhaps a podium-shaped hill, like a bluff...


Sorge isolata su di un poggio la chiesa di Santa Maria a Mevale,

Emerging on a bluff is the remote church of Santa Maria in Mevale

costruita nell'undicesimo secolo in stile romanico,

built in the eleventh century in the Romanesque style,

in cui spicca un portale rinascimentale e il portico a cinque arcate.

in which a Renaissance portal and a five-arch portico stand out.

Captions 1-3, Itinerari Della Bellezza - Umbria 

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Fun Expression:

An expression Tuscans like to use is: poggio e buca fan pari (hill and hole come out even).

Fan is short for fanno (they make).

poggio=salita (hill = climb)

buca=discesa (hole = descent) 

salita + discesa = pianura (uphill + downhill = flatland)





There are places that take their name from the noun poggio. They are usually on a hill.

A very famous town (with a famous villa) near Florence is called Poggio a Caiano and one of our Yabla videos takes place in a town called Poggiofiorito (flowering hills):


Scusami, ma c'ho avuto il trasloco da Poggiofiorito e ho fatto male i calcoli.

I'm sorry, but I've moved to Poggiofiorito and didn't gauge it well.

Caption 27, Un medico in famiglia - S1 EP1 - Casa nuova

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You can go a long time in Italy without hearing the noun poggio, but the verbs that come from this noun are much more common. Sometimes verbs are made from nouns by simply adding a verb ending such as  -are, -ire, or -ere



Poggiare certainly exists as a verb. It means "to place." 

Marika uses this verb when describing how she stays safe as she looks out from her balcony.


Per affacciarmi al balcone, io poggio le mani sulla ringhiera.

To look out from the balcony, I place my hands on the railing.

Caption 13, Marika spiega - Il balcone

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But  appoggiare also exists. In this case the prefix a has been added, with the conventional doubling of the first consonant in the original noun. Appoggiare is a more complex verb and has several literal and figurative meanings. Appoggiare is more about support, about leaning, propping. Think of a ladder you prop against a wall. In the following example, Manara uses it reflexively.


E le impronte sul furgone come le spieghi?

And the fingerprints on the truck, how can you explain them?

Mi ci sono appoggiato così, per caso.

I leaned on it, just like that, by chance.

È reato?

Is that a crime?

Captions 57-59, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP7 - Sogni di Vetro

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And here, Anna, who is talking about her new baby, uses the verb appoggiare three times in the same sentence!


Un altro regalo molto utile che ho avuto dal papà è questo.

Another very useful gift that I had from dad [the baby's dad], is this.

È il cuscino da allattamento,

It's a nursing cushion.

ed è utile perché lo utilizzi sia quando allatti,

And it's useful because you use it both when you nurse,

te lo appoggi qui e non fai fatica con le braccia mentre allatti,

you rest it here, and your arms don't get tired while you nurse,

che per appoggiare il bambino,

and for laying the baby on,

che si appoggia qui come un principino e sta molto comodo.

who leans back here like a little prince and is very comfortable.

Captions 42-47, Anna presenta - La gravidanza

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Rather than using the more general mettere (to put) appoggiare is used to mean "to put down" or "to set down." We could also say "lay something down," implying a certain gentleness.


Posso entrare?

May I come in?

Sì, ecco, ecco.

Yes, here we go, here we go.

Uè, Ada... grazie. Appoggialo pure là, va. -Luca!

Hey Ada... thanks. Go ahead and set it down over there, go ahead. -Luca!

Captions 4-6, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP3 - Delitto tra le lenzuola

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If you play music, you might have heard of the term "appoggiatura": a note of embellishment preceding another note and taking a portion of its time. Now you know where it comes from!



And now we come back to a noun that comes from the verb that comes from the noun. Just like in English, "support" is both a noun and a verb.

In the following example, it's used in a physical way.


Mezzo passo avanti, sbilanci l'avversario

A half a step forward, get the opponent off balance,

e via la gamba d'appoggio.

and away with the supporting leg.

Captions 24-25, L'oro di Scampia - film

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But it can also be figurative.


Proprio perché uomini di sinistra,

Precisely because men of the left,

noi stiamo facendo una battaglia in Parlamento,

we're waging battle in Parliament,

abbiamo anche avuto l'appoggio del ministro Brambilla.

we've even had the support of minister Brambilla.

Captions 48-49, Animalisti Italiani - Walter Caporale

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We've gone from the Latin noun "podium" to the ups and downs of Tuscan hills, to propping up a baby, setting down a tray, to playing music, to judo, and to politics. Whew!

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