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Indietro Non si Torna (You Can’t go Back)

In a new video from Yabla, Adriano tells us about a book he wrote. He uses the verb importare (to matter, to be important) a few times. Importare sounds much like the English adjective “important,” but it’s a verb, and needs to be handled accordingly. If you’re not familiar with importare, take a look at this lesson about it. Adriano adds the indirect object pronoun a me/mi to importare, to mean that something does or doesn't matter to him. It’s a little stronger and more personal than non importa (it doesn’t matter). 

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Ma questo a me non importa.

But this doesn't matter to me.

Caption 5, Adriano - Indietro non si torna

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He could also have said, ma questo non m'importa.

 

Another verb he uses is vivere. It means “to live” but also “to experience,” so see this lesson about how Italians use vivere.

 

Bisogna vivere il presente in maniera intensa.

One needs to experience the present in an intense way.

Caption 47, Adriano - Indietro non si torna

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Let’s talk for a moment about the title of Adriano’s book, Indietro non si torna (One can’t go back). First of all, he turns the phrase around to put the emphasis on indietro (back, backwards). He could have entitled it Non si torna indietro and it would mean the same thing, but it would have less impact. The emphasis would have been on non (not).

 

He uses the impersonal form of the verb tornare (to return, to go back). The impersonal form is peculiar to Latin-based languages and is used quite a bit in Italian, but can be difficult for learners to grasp. See these lessons about the impersonale. To express the same idea in English we often use the passive voice, or, especially in the negative, a general “you” that means anyone and everyone. Although not used much in conversation, English also employs the neutral "one" in the third person singular for the same purpose. In the negative impersonal, the implication is that you shouldn’t or can’t do something. So, we might freely translate Adriano's title as "You can't go back," or "There's no going back."

 

"A me mi" non si dice.

"To me I" isn't said [you shouldn’t say, you can’t say, you don’t say, one doesn't say].

Caption 12, Provaci Ancora Prof! - S1E1 - Il regalo di Babbo Natale - Part 9

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Note how Italians change the word order where in English, it's less common. If we turn the Italian sentence around, it's clearer.

 

Non si dice "a me mi".
One doesn't say "to me, I."

 

In an impersonal positive statement, we often use “they” or the passive voice in English.

 

Si dice che qui il sole spacca le pietre.

It's said [They say] that here, the sun splits rocks.

Caption 41, Adriano - Le stagioni dell'anno

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Hopefully, these words about Adriano's video have helped you understand some of the contents a bit better, or have reinforced what you already knew. Keep up the good work, and thanks for reading.

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To watch other videos featuring Adriano, just do a search with his name. His videos are generally easy to understand, by way of his clearly articulated and well-paced way of speaking.

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