The adjective "free" in English means several things, so when you're wondering how to translate it, you may have to stop and think. So let's have a look at some of the different ways to say "free" in Italian.
The first way we translate the adjective "free" is with libero. Think of the word "liberty" as meaning "freedom," and you'll be all set.
Nel tempo libero mi piace uscire con i miei amici.
In my free time, I like to go out with my friends.
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One occasion in which you'll need this word is when looking for a seat on a train. You can simply ask, while using a gesture:
È libero (is it free)?
È libero questo posto/quel posto (is this/that seat free)?
Tip: Learn to use questo and quello in this week's lesson with Daniela!
Do you know the opposite of libero in this case?
Questo posto è occupato (this seat is occupied).
No, è occupato (it's occupied).
We also use libero to talk about ourselves. In this case the person in question is a girl or a woman.
Sei libera venderdì sera (are you free Friday night)?
Si, sono libera (yes, I'm free).
Mi dispiace, sono occupata (sorry, I'm busy).
An adjective that's close to "free" in this sense is "available." It translates as disponibile. If you look at the context in the following example, both libero and free would also work. Disponibile is a handy, very useful word to know, as it is extremely common in everyday conversation.
L'unico tavolo sotto la cassa sei riuscito a trovarlo tu! -Per favore, per favore! Ho prenotato, l'unico disponibile era questo. Che vuoi da me?
You succeeded in getting the only table right under the loudspeaker! Please, please! I reserved, the only one available was this one. What do you want from me?
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A completely different meaning of "free" is that of not costing anything. There are two closely related ways to say this in Italian:
Gratis and gratuito. They are interchangeable. Gratis comes directly from the Latin, meaning "grace," "favor."
Ma se fosse per me, lo sport dovrebbe essere gratis per tutti. Ma la palestra costa.
But if it were up to me, sports should be free for everyone. But the gym costs money.
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Gratuito is Italian, and is a common choice when it comes after to the noun it modifies, as in the following example.
Ma oggi c'è il Wi-Fi gratuito dappertutto, per cui è un posto che si può assolutamente vivere quotidianamente anche nel ventesimo secolo, anzi ventunesimo.
But today there's free wi-fi everywhere, so it's a place one can absolutely experience on a daily basis, even in the twentieth, or rather twenty-first century.
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Fun fact: gratuito can be pronounced correctly with the accent on either the u or the i. You'll probably find more people who place the accent on the u, but it's not wrong the other way.
Another important translation of "free," when it means something you don't pay for, is omaggio.
The cognate of omaggio, as a noun, is "homage," and in fact omaggio is also used to mean "homage." But it is also used to mean a free sample, or free gift. The shopkeeper is paying you homage by giving you a gift!
Dimenticavo che mi hanno portato quattro biglietti omaggio per dei massaggi, interessa?
I almost forgot: Someone brought me four free coupons for some massages. Interested?
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Omaggio can be used as an adjective (that doesn't change with gender and number) as in the previous example.
Otherwise, omaggio is a noun that means "complimentary gift."
When you get a free gift at the checkout counter, a shopkeeper or cashier might simply say un omaggio.
Lastly, "free" can be translated as senza (without), as in "gluten-free" or "sugar-free."
Questi biscotti sono senza zucchero, senza glutine e senza grassi.
This cookies are sugar-free, gluten-free, and fat-free.
See you in the next lesson! Alla prossima!