Italian Lessons


When Accents Make a Difference

Let’s talk about some other common Italian words containing written accents. In case you missed the lesson in which we started talking about accents, read it here.


The accent on the u at the end of più (more) tells us that the accent of the word doesn’t fall on the iwhich is where it would naturally fall. 

Più gli ingredienti sono freschi e più è buono.
The fresher the ingredients, the better it is.
Caption 14, Andromeda: in - Storia del gelato - Part 2 of 2


A similar-looking word is pio (pious) where the accent does fall on the i, and indeed there is no accent on any letter.

È pio, eh di, di nome e di fatto.
He's Pio [pious], uh in, in name and in fact.
Caption 40, Il Commissario Manara 1: Un delitto perfetto - Ep. 1 - Part 1


In the same manner, ciò  (that, what) has an accent on the to tell us the accent is not on the i where it would normally fall.

È uno che di fronte a una bella donna si dimentica di ciò che è giusto e ciò che è sbagliato.
He's someone who, faced with a beautiful woman, forgets what's right and what's wrong.
Caption 20, Il Commissario Manara 1: Rapsodia in Blu - Ep 3 - Part 10 


All the days of the week except il sabato (Saturday) and la domenica (Sunday) have an accent on the i at the end: lunedì (Monday), martedì (Tuesday), mercoledì (Wednesday),giovedì (Thursday), venerdì (Friday). In fact,  is another word for "day" (normally giorno).

Un bel dì vedremo.
One beautiful day we'll see.
Caption 12, Anna presenta: Madama butterfly di Giacomo Puccini 


Without the accent on the i, it's di (of).

Eppure io non ho mai smesso né di aspettarlo né di amarlo.
Nonetheless, I never ceased to wait for him or to love him.
Caption 10, Anna presenta: Madama butterfly di Giacomo Puccini


Similarly, da (of, from, to, at) has no accent, but when we conjugate the third person singular of the verb dare (to give), we use an accent to distinguish it from da.

Invito una mia studentessa a farvelo sentire in modo da mettere in evidenza ogni sillaba che  il nome alle note.
I invite a student of mine to let you hear it such a way as to highlight each syllable that 
gives its name to the notes.
Caption 37-39, scuola di musica: con Alessio - Part 1 of 3


Remember that except for e, where the accent may be either grave (è) or acute (é) to distinguish between an open (è) or closed (ée, all the accents will be “grave,” that is, going down from left to right (àìòù). 


Try learning these words one by one, making the accent part of the word as you learn it. Needless to say, taking advantage of the Yabla games, from multiple choice to Scribe, will help you nail it.

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