Italian Lessons


Il Mutuo and La Mutua


A current episode of Provaci ancora prof brings to mind a noun that is easily mixed up with a similar one, by non-native speakers of Italian.

Il mutuo and la mutua

These are nouns Italians use a lot in day-to-day conversation. One is about money and one is about health (and money too, in a roundabout way), both very common topics of conversation. They're also hard to guess the meaning of. 


Il mutuo

This is a word you need if you want to buy a house, or just take out a loan from the bank. If you're buying a house, then people will understand you're talking about a mortgage. For any other use, it's the equivalent of a loan. We also notice that when mutuo means mortgage, we use a definite article and when we mean "loan," we'll likely use an indefinite article. To mean "loan," you can also use un prestito or un finanziamento.



Roberta mi ha aiutato quando ho fatto il mutuo sulla casa e sa... insomma, dovrà, dovrà riavere.

Roberta helped me when I took out a mortgage on the house and she knows... basically, she should, she should get it back.

Captions 36-37, L'Eredità -Quiz TV La sfida dei sei. Puntata 1 - Part 14

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Io ho ancora da parte millecinquecento euro, però dovrei pagare il mutuo alla banca.

I still have fifteen hundred euros put aside, but I should pay the mortgage to the bank.

Captions 54-55, Provaci Ancora Prof! S1E2 - Un amore pericoloso - Part 3

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Il parrucchiere, quello più caro, quello in fondo al paese. Una messa in piega ci vuole un mutuo, eh. E poi non solo,

The hairdresser, the most expensive one, the one at the edge of town. To get one's hair done, you need to take out a loan, huh. And then, that's not all.

Captions 37-39, Il Commissario Manara S2EP1 - Matrimonio con delitto - Part 4

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la mutua

If you hang out in Italy long enough, like many ex-pats, you will get to know another important noun, la mutua. This is the national health service. You can benefit from this service if you are a legal resident. You don't need to be an Italian citizen.


Here's a scenario. 

Mi devo fare un intervento al femore (I have to get my hip operated on).

-Costerà caro, no? (that will be expensive won't it?)

No. Per fortuna, paga la mutua (No, fortunately national health insurance will pay for it).


Here's another scenario.

Non vado al lavoro oggi. Sono alla mutua.

I'm not going to work today. I'm on sick leave.


This is an informal noun, and may not be used all over Italy, but it the common name Italians give to this service. There are rules for different kinds of jobs (state or private) whereby your sick leave is paid for if you are an employee, but you need a certificate signed by your doctor (il medico della mutua, or il medico curante) and you have to make sure to be home during certain hours of the day, such as from 10 AM to 12 PM, and 5 PM to 7 PM. That way, the health authorities can check to see if you are really sick.


Getting sick and making mortgage or loan payments are never divertenti (fun), but at least you know the words to describe these things now! 

P.S. mutuo is also an adjective corresponding to "mutual."

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Combining Conjugated Verbs and Infinitives Part 2

When we talk about verbs, we distinguish between conjugated verbs and verbs in the infinitive. In Italian, verbs in the infinitive are easily recognizable most of the time because they end in either -are, -ire, or -ere. Exceptions occur when verbs in the infinitive are combined with particelle (particles), when they are reflexive, or when they are truncated. Then, admittedly, they may be harder to recognize.

In this lesson, we are talking about the specific case of when we want to use a conjugated verb followed by a verb in the infinitive. How do we connect them?

In some cases, we connect them directly

In part 1, we talked about combining a conjugated verb with an infinitive where no preposition is necessary. This typically occurs with the modal verbs potere (to be able to), volere (to want to) e sapere (to know how to, to be able to). Here's an example that can be useful if you are traveling in Italy.

Posso andare in bagno?

May I use (go to) the bathroom?


But there are also other, non-modal verbs where we don't need a preposition. See Daniela's series for examples.

Lascia fare a me!

Let me do it!



In other cases, we need a preposition between the conjugated verb and the verb in the infinitive

If we want to say the same thing we did above with a different verb, we might need a preposition, as in this example:

Permettimi di aiutarti.

Let me help you (allow me to help you).


There are two main prepositions we will use to connect a conjugated verb to a verb in the infinitive: di and a. Roughly, di corresponds to "of" or "from," while a corresponds to "to" or "at." These translations are not much help, though. One general rule (with many exceptions) is that verbs of movement use a to connect with a verb in the infinitive. The bottom line is, however, that you basically just have to learn these combinations little by little, by reading, by listening, and (sigh) by being corrected. 

In some cases, the same verb will change its meaning slightly by the use of one preposition or the other.


Non penserai mica di andare via senza salutare!

You're not thinking of leaving without saying goodbye, are you?


Ci penso io a comprare i biglietti.

I'll take care of buying the tickets.


Verbs that take the preposition a before an infinitive

In this lesson, we'll look at some important verbs that need the preposition a.

Here's the formula:

verbo coniugato + preposizione "a" + verbo all’ infinito (conjugated verb + the preposition [to, at] + verb in the infinitive)


aiutare (to help)

Per esempio, io ho un amico e lo aiuto a fare qualcosa dove lui ha difficoltà, lo aiuto a riparare la bicicletta, lo accompagno in aeroporto...

For example, I have a friend and I help him in doing something he has difficulty with, I help him repair his bicycle, I take him to the airport...

Captions 28-30, Corso di italiano con Daniela Approfondimento Verbi Modali - Part 2

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cominciare (to begin)

Comincia a fare il nido il povero cucù

The poor cuckoo starts making his nest

Caption 8, Filastrocca Il canto del cucù

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continuare (to continue, to keep on) 

E si continua a pestare.

And you keep on crushing.

Caption 53, L'Italia a tavola Il pesto genovese - Part 2

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riuscire (to manage, to succeed, to be able)

Così riesco a seguire meglio la faccia eh... e le labbra di chi sta parlando.

That way, I manage to follow the face better, uh... and the lips of whoever is speaking.

Captions 41-42, Professioni e mestieri il doppiaggio - Part 1

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insegnare (to teach) 

Oggi, ti insegno a cucinare la parmigiana di melanzane.

Today, I'm going to teach you to cook eggplant Parmesan,

Caption 2, Marika spiega La Parmigiana di melanzane - Part 1

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andare (to go)

Sì, lo diciamo a tutti e dopo andiamo a ballare. Andiamo anche a ballare.

Yes, we'll tell everyone, and afterwards we'll go dancing. We'll go dancing, too.

Captions 11-12, Serena vita da universitari

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We've talked about several verbs that take the preposition a before a verb in the infinitive. Why not try forming sentences, either by improvising ad alta voce (out loud) or by writing them down? Take one of these verbs (in any conjugations you can think of) and then find an verb in the infinitive that makes sense.

Here are a couple of examples to get you started:

Mi insegneresti a ballare il tango (would you teach me to dance the tango)?

Non riesco a chiudere questa cerniera (I can't close this zipper).


To find charts about verbs and prepositions, here is an excellent reference.

Stay tuned for when we talk about verbs that take the preposition di.

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How to hurry up in Italian

We may think of Italians as being relaxed, but they have to rush around just like the rest of us. And since they do so much rushing around, there is some variety in how they talk about it. There are verbs, nouns, and adverbs to choose from. Let's take a look.


The verb sbrigarsi (to hurry, to hurry up)

It's common to use the familiar form with a family member or friend. The following example is in the second person singular, so don't forget to stress the first syllable, not the second! The three consonants in a row make it fun to say. The "s" always has a "z" sound when it comes before "b."

Dai, sbrigati che ci perdiamo l'inizio del film.

Come on, hurry up, otherwise we'll miss the beginning of the movie.

Caption 47, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 23

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By the way, dai (come on) is just an interjection that is generally used in the second person singular regardless of whom you are talking to (although you wouldn't say it at all to someone you need to be formal with. 


If I want to tell two or more friends or family members to hurry up, then I need to say sbrigatevi. Here, the stress is on the second syllable (the "a")!


Io vado avanti, vi aspetto là, eh, sbrigatevi. Ah, ricordatevi le cinture di sicurezza!

I'm going ahead, I'll wait for you there, eh, hurry. Oh, remember your seat belts!

Captions 40-41, Un medico in famiglia s.1 e.1 - Casa nuova - Part 2

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If we need to say the same thing using the polite form, it's si sbrighi in the singular. This might be used by a police officer who is asking to you move your car out of the way. The plural would be si sbrighino.

So this verb isn't super easy to use, but if you memorize the second person singular familiar, it will come in very useful.


One more thing: sbrigare in its non-reflexive form means to "to deal with." 


Va be', noi andiamo che abbiamo un sacco di lavoro da sbrigare.

All right, we're going, because we have a lot of work to get done.

Caption 37, Il Commissario Manara S1EP6 - Reazione a Catena - Part 10

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La fretta

Another way to tell someone to hurry is fai in fretta. Note that here the verb is fare which means both "to make" and "to do."

Fai in fretta, ti prego.

Be quick, please.

Caption 57, Il Commissario Manara S1EP5 - Il Raggio Verde - Part 12

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La furia

Often fretta goes hand in hand with furia. In fretta e furia (in a big hurry)

Se tu trovi un cadavere in una stanza d'albergo e scopri che l'occupante della stanza ha pagato per altri due giorni in anticipo, però se ne va prima in fretta e furia, ti insospettisci, no? -Eh!

If you find a dead body in a hotel room and you discover that the occupant of the room had paid in advance for two more days, but he leaves beforehand in a big hurry, you become suspicious, don't you? -Yeah.

Captions 11-14, Il Commissario Manara S1EP7 - Sogni di Vetro - Part 5

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If you see someone rushing out of the house, you might say:

Dove vai così in fretta e furia (where you are off to all of a sudden)?


In some parts of Italy, in Tuscany, for instance, people just say ho furia to mean ho fretta, sono di corsa. I'm in a hurry.

Non è neanche passato a salutarlo? No. Dovevo andare via, c'avevo furia [toscano: fretta].

You didn't even stop by to say goodbye? No. I had to leave. I was in a hurry.

Captions 9-10, Il Commissario Manara S2EP8 - Fuori servizio - Part 7

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You might get asked if you are in a particular rush, for example, when someone wants to talk to you or spend some time with you. If you're in Tuscany they might say:

Hai furia o possiamo fermarci per prendere un caffè (are you in a rush or can we stop for a coffee)?

Anywhere else in Italy, they would probably say:

Hai fretta o possiamo fermarci per prendere un caffè (are you in a rush or can we stop for a coffee)?

Di corsaa compound adverb

"Scusa, ma vado di corsa". "Parliamo più tardi".

"Sorry, but I'm in a rush." "We'll talk later."

Captions 55-56, Marika spiega Gli avverbi di modo

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We shouldn't think that these are the only ways to talk about being in a hurry, or telling someone to hurry up. But they will give you a good start. In substance, they have similar meanings, but they are used differently, and that's where it can get a bit tricky. Vado di fretta or ho fretta both work. Vado di corsa works, but not ho corsa. So keep your antennae up, and you will gradually absorb these words into your vocabulary. You'll have your favorites, too. 

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2 Ways to Cheat in Italian

Whether you're cheating or being cheated, you'll want to know the words Italians use to talk about cheating. In this lesson we will discuss two words that have come up in Yabla videos.

Take your pick! Truccare or Taroccare

Whichever verb you choose, it's about cheating.

There are two fun words in Italian that mean essentially the same thing. They seem to come from different roots, but Italians use them pretty much interchangeably as we will see. But let's look at these two words separately.



The noun form trucco is better known to us with its English cognate "trick." Its usual meaning in Italian is "expedient," as in the following example.

Un buon trucco è quello di lavare i piatti usando l'acqua di cottura della pasta, che ha un alto potere sgrassante e detergente.

A good trick is to wash the dishes using the water from cooking pasta, which is a powerful de-greaser and detergent.

Captions 23-25, Non beviamoci su Risparmio dell'acqua - Part 2

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We also use il trucco to mean "makeup." We are, in a way, falsifying how we really look when we use makeup. We try to enhance our physical appearance. It's used as a collective noun, as is "makeup."

Bene. Allora vatti a provare il vestito e le scarpe. Ma non ho finito con il trucco.

Good. Then go and try on the dress and the shoes. But I haven't finished with the makeup.

Captions 53-54, La Ladra Ep. 5 - Chi la fa l'aspetti - Part 4

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In fact, falsifying is what truccare is all about. Putting makeup on is a socially acceptable way of falsifying one's facial aspect, of course, but there are other more sinister ways to falsify things. In a recent episode of La Ladra, there is a corrupt mechanic who soups up cars for illegal races. The car has been enhanced. 

Eh, che dice? Dice che c'ha un giro de [romanesco: di] auto truccate e de [romanesco: di] corse clandestine. Lo sospettavo.

Hey, what does he say? He says he has an operation involving souped-up cars and illegal races. I suspected that.

Captions 71-73, La Ladra EP. 8 - Il momento giusto - Part 7

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In shady businesses, the books will likely be falsified. There are colorful words we can use in English, such as "to doctor," "to cook," "to fix," "to load the dice." One choice in Italian is truccare.

Allora Natoli, Salmastri ha truccato i bilanci e questo è chiaro. Però non capisco perché.

So, Natoli, Salmastri has doctored the financial statements and this is clear. But I don't understand why.

Captions 1-2, La Tempesta film - Part 23

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The verb taroccare , on the other hand, comes from the plural noun tarocchi, which means none other than "tarot cards." It's important to realize that tarot cards started out as cards to play card games with. It was only later that they were used specifically for divination. Tarot cards or tarocchi are still used throughout much of Europe to play conventional card games without divinatory associations. Learn more about this here

Cheating at cards and games has most likely always existed and this concept might contribute to the use of taroccare to mean "to falsify." As we can see in the following example and the one mentioned above, Paolo in La Tempesta uses both truccare and taroccare when talking about falsifying the books. They sound pretty similar, too. 


Paolo, che succede, eh? Sei una serpe, sei una viscida serpe! Hai taroccato i bilanci dell'azienda per spaventare gli azionisti.

Paolo, what's going on, huh? You're a snake, a slimy snake. You falsified the financial statements of the company to scare the stockholders.

Captions 12-14, La Tempesta film - Part 23

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You can't go wrong, but...

Whichever word you decide to use, Italians will understand just fine. If we want to be more refined, we could say that if you are thinking of putting some fake license plates on a car, you would probably use taroccare, but if you are just beefing up a motor, or adjusting a few numbers in a register, you might go for truccare. If you are enhancing the sound of a recording by adding artificial reverb, or photoshopping a photo, truccare is fine to use without going to jail. Taroccare can be left to illegal or shadier enterprises.

The video example from La Ladra could have used the verb taroccare just as well, since it often refers to cars, motorcycles, etc. It's a matter of personal choice, as well as regional, local, societal tradition.



If you haven't seen La Tempesta, it's available in its entirety on Yabla, with subtitles in both Italian and English (that you can see or hide as you go), and plenty of exercises to help you retain what you hear in the video. It's a fun movie for learning Italian, and takes place in Treviso, a city in the Veneto region of Italy.

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Legno or Legna ?

It's coming on winter, at least in the northern hemisphere, where Italy is located.

In many places in Italy, people heat their houses using wood. or, In the country and in small villages, lots of people have fireplaces in their kitchens. 


Wood is Wood, right?

Right and wrong. In English, we think of wood as wood, whatever its use. But in Italian, there are two similar but different words, depending on what we do with the wood.



To construct something we use legno (wood), a masculine noun. This has its root in the Latin noun "lignum." 


Interestingly, Italians use two basic prepositions with legno to correspond to "wooden": in and di which can both mean "of."

Questo meraviglioso piano in legno si chiama spianatoia e serve proprio per impastare la nostra pasta fresca.

This marvelous wooden surface is called a pastry board and it's used exactly for making our fresh pasta dough.

Captions 90-92, L'Italia a tavola Culurgiones D'Ogliastra - Part 1

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Veniva impastato in casa, proprio su quella superficie di legno e poi messa [sic: messo], questo impasto, su quella specie di tavola, veniva portato al forno, perché in casa non c'erano dei forni.

The dough was worked at home, right on that wooden surface and then this dough was put on that type of wooden board and brought to the oven, because there were no ovens in houses.

Captions 64-68, Alberto Angela - Meraviglie Ep. 1 - Part 12

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To build a fire for heating or cooking, we use the feminine noun la legna. This comes, again from the Latin, from the plural of "lignum": "ligna." In fact, la legna, just like the collective noun "firewood," usually refers to a collection of pieces of wood to be used for burning. 


If we ask what kind of wood is used, then we can use legno. In the following example, someone is asking the pizzaiolo what kind of wood he uses in his forno a legna.


Quello è il forno a legna. Che legno usate?

That's the wood oven. What kind of wood do you use?

Captions 39-40, Antonio presenta la Pizzeria Escopocodisera

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To be even more specific, we can expand on legna: legna da ardere (wood for burning/firewood). The following example is from a fascinating video on Yabla about olive trees and making olive oil.


Quando avveniva questo distacco delle due parti dell'ulivo, una della due parti veniva sacrificata come legna da ardere.

When this detachment took place of the two parts of the olive tree, one of the two parts was sacrificed as firewood.

Captions 47-48, Olio Extra Vergine Pugliese Introduzione e cenni storici

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What are some contexts for legna?

The fireplace is often called il camino (note the single M) and more often than not, the diminutive is used:  il caminetto. The chimney is the canna fumaria (the smokestack). 


In place of la  caldaia (furnace, hot water heater), some people have una stufa a legna (wood stove).


And let's not forget that the best pizza is said to be made in a forno a legna (wood-burning oven). In these cases the preposition a is used, referring to the function. What makes it run?


Peppe ha infornato la pizza nel forno a legna, che è un forno tradizionale.

Peppe has put the pizza in the wood oven, which is a traditional oven.

Caption 48, Antonio presenta la Pizzeria Escopocodisera

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This goes for bread, too.

Antico a lievitazione naturale, cotto a legna, ci sono altri tipi...

Traditional sourdough, baked in a wood oven, there are other kinds...

Caption 64, Anna e Marika Il pane

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Now you know the difference between legno and legna. They are both right; you just need to know the context. 

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How to address your teacher in Italian

In a foreign country, knowing how to address people can be a challenge.


Formal or Informal?

First of all, you need to know whether to be formal or informal. Italians may refer to this as dare del lei (to give the formal "you") or dare del tu (to give the informal "you"). Check out this lesson about the ins and outs of this. 


Some History: Fascism and Italian language

During the period of Italian Fascism, there were strict rules about how to address other people. It's a fascinating story and Yabla has featured a documentary about Fascism and Italian language. Check out the relative lesson: What's the Story on Voi in the Singular?


Signora and Signore

It's interesting that Italians very often use the equivalent of "ma'am" and "sir" instead of using someone's name: signora and signore.

Sì, signora, dica. -E mio marito non è rientrato stanotte e non ha nemmeno avvertito... e... non è mai successo. Sono molto preoccupata. -Venga nel mio ufficio, signora.

Yes, ma'am, what is it? -My husband didn't come home last night and he didn't even let me know... and... it's never happened before. I'm very worried. -Come into my office, ma'am.

Captions 15-19, Il Commissario Manara S1EP6 - Reazione a Catena - Part 2

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Keep in mind that often, signora and signor are commonly used before a first name. It's midway between formal and informal.

Signora Caterina, non si preoccupi per Brigadiere, perché l'ho portato alla pensione Abbaio Giocoso e starà benissimo.

Miss Caterina, don't worry about Brigadiere, because I took him to the kennel "Playful Barking" and he'll be just fine.

Captions 39-40, Il Commissario Manara S2EP6 - Sotto tiro - Part 14

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He's no doctor!

We've also talked about the fact that Italians use the term dottore (doctor) when wishing to treat someone with respect, regardless of whether the person is an actual doctor, or whether he has a PhD. The Dottore is In.


And, like dottore, they will use a title without the name of the person. For instance, in the story of Adriano Olivetti, he was an engineer, so people — especially people who worked with him — would just call him Ingegnere (engineer), without his name. 

Ingegnere, Lei mi sta facendo una proposta incredibile.

Sir, you are making me an incredible offer.

Caption 46, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 12

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At school

Lastly, at school, the actual name of the teacher seems to be of relatively minor importance when addressing him or her directly. You simply call your teacher Prof, short for professore (professor, teacher) if you are allowed to by the teacher. When speaking more formally, students will use professore or professoressa, once they leave primary school. If they are still in primary or elementary school, they will use maestra (schoolmistress) to refer to a female teacher. On the subject of the schoolroom, Yabla offers an original content series about the regions of Italy. It's set in a classroom with Anna as the student and Marika playing the (often mean) teacher. How does Anna handle this? It might depend on the mood of the professoressa.  Check out the videos here

Guardi, Lei ha studiato, perché Lei ha studiato, ma mi sta antipatica oggi e quindi Le metto sette. -Ma prof, ma sono venuta volontaria. -E ho capito, però mi gira così.

Look, you've studied, because [and I see] you've studied, but I find you disagreeable today and so I'll put down a seven. But teacher, I volunteered. -Uh, I get it, but that's how it's hitting me today.

Captions 88-91, L'Italia a tavola Interrogazione sulla Liguria

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Yabla offers the TV series, Provaci ancora Prof as part of its growing library. The title is a takeoff on Woody Allen's "Play it Again, Sam."


A student is speaking to his teacher:

Prof, si unisca a noi.

Teach, join us.

Caption 57, Provaci Ancora Prof! S1E2 - Un amore pericoloso - Part 1

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Of course in American English, we would use Mr., Mrs., Ms, or Miss and the last name of the teacher. The translation we have given is very informal, and calling a teacher "teach" would likely be frowned upon in most schools. But in Italy, it's the norm in many school situations. Good to know!


More about meeting and greeting formally and informally here: I say hello; you say goodbye


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The Panzanella Crossword Puzzle

This lesson is simply a crossword puzzle in Italian, especially for you, inspired by the Yabla video: In cucina con Arianna - la panzanella - Part 1. The puzzle will be easier if you have watched the video, but not essential.


Do the crossword


Divertitevi!  Have fun!


Buongiorno. Oggi siamo in Toscana. Su questo tavolo potete vedere tanti e coloratissimi ingredienti e voi vi chiederete "per fare cosa?" Per, ehm, preparare una buonissima ricetta della tradizione toscana.

Hello. Today we're in Tuscany. On this table, you can see lots of very colorful ingredients and you must be asking yourself, "to do what?" To, uh, make a really good recipe from the Tuscan tradition.

Captions 1-4, In cucina con Arianna la panzanella - Part 1

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Here is a link to the solutions.


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Solutions to Crossword "La Panzanella"

Here you will find the answers to La Panzanella crossword puzzle:

If asked for the passcode it's: yabla


 La Panzanella crossword puzzle answers



non ha un particolare sapore, sa solo di pane ed è l'ingrediente principale per preparare la panzanella.

it doesn't have a particular taste. It just tastes like bread and is the principal ingredient for making panzanella [bread salad].

Captions 10-11, In cucina con Arianna la panzanella - Part 1

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In case you have trouble accessing the completed crossword, here are the answers:



4) per togliere il sapore forte della cipolla, la si mette nell' ______ acqua

9) il contrario di "facile" difficile

10) in nessun momento mai

11) in un paese straniero: all'______ estero

12) con piacere volentieri

14) ovunque dappertutto

15) il sapore di questa verdura è forte cipolla



1) fare una domanda chiedere

2) una parola toscana per "radici" barbe

3) la regione da dove viene la panzanella toscana

5) un altro modo di dire "veramente" addirittura

6) non fresco quando si parla di pane raffermo

7) un verbo che vuol dire "avere il gusto", e anche "avere conoscenza di" sapere

8) un modo per tagliare il pane: a ________ fette

13) la panzanella si fa con il ______ pane



We look forward to your feedback! Troppo facile? Troppo difficile? Funziona bene?


A presto!


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Addirittura: A handy one-word expression


There's a wonderful word that is a bit tricky to say, because there is a double "d," then a single "r", then a double "t" and then a single "r". Whew! But it's worth the trouble (and worth practicing). Addirittura. It means several things and is simply a great word to have handy, for instance, when expressing astonishment:




Caption 34, Chi m'ha visto film - Part 22

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The man saying this, if speaking English, might have said, "Seriously?"


It can mean, "as a matter of fact":


E mi sembrava addirittura che i toscani lavorassero troppo poco.

And as a matter of fact, it seemed to me that Tuscans worked too little.

Caption 42, Gianni si racconta Chi sono

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We can often translate addirittura with a simple "even." 

E questa sera mi ha addirittura raggiunta in studio la mamma del povero Martino.

And this evening, poor Martino's mom even came to the studio to join me.

Caption 43, Chi m'ha visto film - Part 18

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A less word-for-word translation might have been:

Poor Martino's mom came all the way to the studio to join me.


But it's a strong word and "even" doesn't always do it justice. 

It can mean "as far afield as," "as much as,"  "as little as," "to the point that," "downright," and more.


Sembri la Befana. Eh! Addirittura!

You look like a witch. Hey! That bad?

Captions 8-9, La Ladra Ep. 7 - Il piccolo ladro - Part 13

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Ce ne sono due grandi internazionali eh... a Pisa e Firenze, ma addirittura altri sette piccoli aeroporti.

There are two large international ones uh... in Pisa and Florence, but in fact there are seven other small airports.

Captions 69-70, L'Italia a tavola Interrogazione sulla Toscana

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As you might have figured out, addirittura can have to do with extreme measures or something exceptional. It can be useful when complaining or when justifying something you did: 

L'ho controllato addirittura tre volte (I went so far as to check it three times).


Tip: Go to the videos page and do a search of addirittura. You will get dozens of examples where addirittura is a stand-alone expression and others that will be part of a sentence. To get even more context plus the English translation, go to "Transcripts" and do the same kind of search with command-F. The word will be highlighted. Reading the sentence out loud will give you plenty of practice. 


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A Leftover Jukebox Word

In this week's episode of La Ladra, there's a curious adjective (in the form of a past participle). Eva and Dante are discussing the popularity of their dishes, a ginger risotto and seafood couscous.


The adjective is gettonatissimo, the superlative form of gettonato. It comes from the verb gettonare. But let's backtrack a moment and talk about the noun the verb comes from: il gettone.


Depending on your age, and if you have travelled to Italy, you may or may not have heard of a gettone, the special token people would use, back in the day, to make phone calls in a bar or cabina telefonica (phone booth). It was a coin with a groove on either side.


In addition to using gettoni for making phone calls, people used them for playing songs on the juke box. It was common to go to the bar to make phone calls, and there would often be a little booth where you could use the phone in private. In the same bar where you might make a phone call, there might also be a jukebox. 


So if lots of people put a gettone in the juke box for a particular song, we could say that song is gettonata. These days, gettoni are used at laundromats, for supermarket carts, and at carwashes, but little else. The term gettonato has remained, however, to describe something as popular, something that people choose over other things.

Stasera sei tu in vantaggio, i tuoi piatti sono gettonatissimi.

Tonight you're ahead. Your dishes are hugely popular.

Caption 2, La Ladra EP. 8 - Il momento giusto - Part 4

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If we backtrack even further from the noun gettone, we find the verb gettare (to throw, to cast). If you have learned how to say "to throw" in Italian, you have most likely learned buttare. It is a synonym for gettare in many cases, and is a more informal word in general, when it means the physical act of throwing. But gettare is used in specific situations such as the one in the example below. 


Ammetto che è la prima volta in vita mia che ho voglia di mettere radici in un posto. -Ahi ahi ahi. Hai deciso di gettare l'ancora? Ebbene sì, lo ammetto.

I admit that it's the first time in my life that I have the desire to put down roots in a place. -Uh oh. Have you decided to drop anchor? Well, yes, I admit it.

Captions 24-27, La Ladra Ep. 7 - Il piccolo ladro - Part 6

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As we have seen, verbs and nouns may be used to form new words. One modern-day example of this is in the description of a single-use item or something disposable.

Vola, vola, vola sulla bicicletta Contro la cultura del consumo "usa e getta"

Fly, fly, fly on the bicycle Against the culture of "disposable" consumption

Captions 40-41, Radici nel Cemento La Bicicletta

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You will see usa e getta crop up in ads for and labels on dustcloths, latex gloves, contact lenses, etc. From two verbs: usare (to use) and gettare (to throw), a compound adjective was born: usa e getta (use and throw/single-use).



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Tutti Quanti

Do you know how to use the word tutto, or the plurals tutti and tutte? You may have heard the term "tutti frutti" that has made its way into English, as seen in this dictionary entry. It usually describes a variety of flavors. Literally it means "all fruits."


Tutto basically means "all" and can be used both as a pronoun and as an adjective. What's tricky is that depending on what it represents, it will change its ending according to number and gender. 

Dici la stessa cosa tutte le volte (you say the same thing every time).


Ci manchi tanto, a tutti noi (we miss you alot, all of us do).


Così fan tutte (that's what they all [feminine] do). [This is the title of a Mozart opera.]


Abbiamo caricato tutte le bici in macchina (we've loaded all the bikes in the car).


Ho messo tutti i piatti nella lavastoviglie (I put all the plates in the dishwasher).


Note that after tutto, tutti, or tutte, we use the article of the noun if there is a noun.


Let's look at some of the words we can tack onto tutto/tutti/tutte to add clarity.

First, let's look at tutto quanto, tutti quanti and tutte quante.

In the example below, Alberto Angela is talking about a fact, a situation, so he uses the singular, and likewise, quanto becomes singular. Tutto quanto: "the sum of this," "all that there is."


Tutto quanto risale all'Alto Medioevo, cioè a un'epoca, eh, in cui Longobardi e Bizantini si scontrarono.

All of this dates back to the early Middle Ages, that is, to an era, uh, in which the Lombards and the Byzantines were in conflict.

Captions 16-17, Alberto Angela - Meraviglie Ep. 1 - Part 10

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Let's say we are buying tomatoes. We want all the tomatoes in the crate. Pomodoro is a masculine noun. Pomodori is the plural. So we need the plural masculine, tutti as a pronoun.


To make sure we get the point across that we really want all those tomatoes, we add quanti to say, not just "all" but "all of them," "all that there are," "every last one."


Here's a little dialog that could occur at the market:


Vorrei qualche pomodoro (I'd like some tomatoes).

Quanti ne vuoi? (how many [of them] would you like?

Fammi pensare... li prenderò tutti quanti (let me think... I'll take all of them).


If you don't add "quanti" it still means basically the same thing, but quanti sends it home. If the vendor is not sure you really want all of them, he might ask, to confirm, tutti quanti (the whole lot)?


In English we have to distinguish between "everything" and "everybody." In Italian, we use the same word — tutto/tutti/tutte for things and people, but we need to pay attention to number and gender.


In the following example, tutti happens to refer to persons, not things, but what stands out is the use of quanti after tutti. As in the previous example, it's a way of emphasizing that you really mean "all":


Non fare il piccione. Ovunque sei andato, è il momento di tornare. -Oh, stanno tutti quanti qua.

Don't be a pigeon. Wherever you went, it's time to come back. -Hey. Everyone is here [they are all here].

Captions 49-50, Chi m'ha visto film - Part 20

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When we're talking about two things or persons in English, we often use "both." In Italian, we still use tutti but we qualify it. If we are talking generically the default is masculine — tutti e due (both), but if the nouns or people are feminine, then it's tutte e due (both).

Quale disegno ti piace (which design do you like)?

Tutti e due (both of them).


Quale felpa metto in valigia, quella beige o quella blu scuro? (Which sweatshirt should I put in my suitcase? The beige one or the dark blue one?)

Ci le metto tutte e due, in fin dei conti, ce spazio a sufficienza. (I'll put both of them in, anyway there is enough room.).

When we're talking about just two things, we can also say entrambi or entrambe (both). When using tutti e, we can tack on any quantity we want.

Quale risposta delle cinque è corretta (which of the five answers are correct)?

Tutte e cinque sono giuste (all five of them are right).

Avete capito tutto quanto (have you understood all of this)?



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What does "proprio" actually mean?

If we listen to an Italian speaking, either formally or informally, one word we will hear constantly is proprio. With its various meanings, it can be confusing to start using. Proprio sounds a lot like "proper," of course, and that is one meaning, although not the most common.

Let's start with one of the few cases in which proprio can connote "proper": the expression vero e proprio. Literally, "true and proper," it always comes as two words connected by the conjunction e (and). The expression can mean "proper" or "veritable" (as in the case of the example below). "Genuine," "real," or "actual" can work, too. Italians really like to say vero e proprio "true and proper." Think of it as one word.

Il Duomo di Siena è un vero e proprio scrigno,

The Duomo of Siena is a veritable treasure chest,

Caption 1, Alberto Angela - Meraviglie Ep. 3 - Part 5

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Very often, proprio means "just," or "exactly," as in the following example. 

A volte molto freddo, specie a gennaio e a febbraio. Ecco perché bisogna vestirsi pesanti, proprio come me.

Sometimes, very cold, especially in January and February. That's why we need to dress in heavy clothing, just like me.

Captions 12-13, Adriano Le stagioni dell'anno

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Proprio can mean "actually" or "indeed."

Vedrete come la prima sillaba di ogni verso è proprio il nome che poi è rimasto alle sette note. In quel caso erano sei, l'esacordo di Guido D'Arezzo. "Ut", "re", "mi", "fa", "sol", "la".

You'll see how the first syllable of each line is indeed the name which has since remained, for the seven notes. In that case they were six, the hexachord of Guido of Arezzo. "Ut" (C), "re" (D), "mi" (E), "fa" (F), "sol" (G), "la"(A).

Captions 29-32, A scuola di musica con Alessio - Part 1

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We use proprio to give more emphasis to an adjective.

Proprio buono!

Really good!

Caption 46, Adriano Il caffè

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We also use proprio when in English, we would say "right" as an adverb, for example, proprio lì (right there).

Ciao, ragazzi e ragazze [ragazze e ragazzi]. Mi trovo proprio al ristorante Pinocchio.

Hi guys and gals, I'm right in the Pinocchio restaurant.

Caption 3, Adriano Pizzeria Pinocchio - Part 2

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We also use propio to indicate ownership. We add this example so that you know about this use. Not all Italians uses this properly, so don't worry about it too much, but if you don't know this meaning, there may be cause for confusion. We'll talk about this more in a future lesson.


Una città dove non c'è più egoismo e ognuno fa il proprio dovere di creare e agire.

A city where there's no more egotism and everyone does one's own duty — to create and act.

Captions 11-12, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 24

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One way to take advantage of Yabla is to do a search of proprio on the videos page.  You'll see example after example of this word in various contexts. If there are examples you don't quite understand, let us know! We're here to help.

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Strappare: to tear, to rip


Strappare (to tear, to yank, to rip) is an interesting Italian verb, with a useful, related noun uno strappo (the act of ripping up) that goes hand in hand with it.


Sembrerebbe un tuo capello. Va be', dai, strappami il capello, forza. Strappa 'sto capello. Dai, ai!

It seems like one of your hairs. OK, come on, pull out a hair, come on. Yank this strand out. Come on, ow!

Captions 37-40, Il Commissario Manara S2EP3 - Delitto tra le lenzuola - Part 2

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The previous example is literal and you can easily visualize the act. The following example could be literal, but not necessarily. It describes a somewhat violent act, but this grandfather might be speaking figuratively.

Insomma, mi hanno strappato via la mia nipotina dalle braccia.

In short, they tore my little granddaughter from my arms.

Caption 84, Un medico in famiglia s.1 e.1 - Casa nuova - Part 6

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Even when we're talking about hair, strappare can be used figuratively. 

Guarda, mi strappo i capelli da, proprio...

Look, I'm really tearing my hair out from, right...

Caption 24, L'Eredità -Quiz TV La sfida dei sei. Puntata 1 - Part 14

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In this week's segment of La Ladra, there is a wonderful Italian expression with the noun strappo

Ma sono vegetariano. Ma non fai mai uno strappo alla regola? -Qualche volta. E... allora potresti venire nel mio ristorante, naturalmente saresti mio ospite. -Con piacere.

But I am a vegetarian. But don't you ever make an exception to the rule? -Sometimes. And... so you could come to my restaurant, you'll be my guest, naturally. -With pleasure.

Captions 61-64, La Ladra EP. 8 - Il momento giusto - Part 1

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Did you hear the percussive T, the well-articulated R, and the double, percussive P? It's a fun word to say. Remember that in Italian a double P sounds different from a single P. To hear the difference, go back to the examples about hair. There's a double P in strappare, or strappo, but there is a single P in capello or capelli. Tricky!

Strappare (to tear, to rip, to yank) is very close to rompere (to break) or even spezzare (to break, to snap, to split)So fare uno strappo alle regole, means "to break a rule," "to make an exception." 


Another expression with the same noun — strappo — is dare uno strappo (to give [someone] a lift). 

Ti do uno strappo a casa?

Shall I give you a lift home?

Caption 51, Il Commissario Manara S1EP9 - Morte in paradiso - Part 7

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The more conventional word would be un passaggio. Read more about passaggio here.



Here are some situations in which you might want to use the verb strappare or the noun strappo:


You want someone to tear off a page from their notebook or pad. Mi strappi una pagina? (Would you tear off a page for me?)

You want someone to give you a lift home. Mi dai uno strappo? (Will you give me a lift?)

You hardly ever eat ice cream, but today, you'll make an exception. Faccio uno strappo alla regola. Mangerò un gelato! (I'll make an exception. I'm going to have ice cream!)

You are very frustrated with listening to someone complain. Quando comincia con certi discorsi mi viene voglia di strapparmi i capelli. (When he/she starts up with that story, I get the urge to tear my hair out.)


Try fitting in these new words to your Italian practice. Send in your suggestions and we'll correct them or comment on them.

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Animali and Animalisti

People love to talk about their pets. So being able to talk about pets and animals can be a great way to start a conversation with someone as you travel around Italy on your next trip. Let's look at some words you might want to have handy.


Un cane! Un cane! Si dice sempre che il cane è il migliore amico dell'uomo ed è veramente così.

A dog! A dog! They always say that a dog is man's best friend, and that's really the way it is.

Captions 33-34, Animali domestici Oscar

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The title of the previous video example is Animali Domestici. This is how Italians say "pets." It's easy to figure out, as animale is a cognate of animal, and the adjective domestico is very much like "domestic." A domestic flight is within the homeland, and a domestic helper helps out in the home. Domestico comes from the Latin "domesticus" from "domus" meaning "home." 


Animale can be both a noun or, as in the following example, an adjective. This is true in English, too, where nouns can often be used as adjectives. Occhio alla posizione (watch out for its position). In Italian, the adjective follows the noun, whereas in English the adjective precedes the noun.


Le corna, lo sappiamo tutti, fanno parte del mondo animale. Ce le hanno i cervi, i tori, le alci.

Horns, we all know, are part of the animal world. Deer, bulls, moose have them.

Captions 52-53, Marika commenta -La Ladra Espressioni idiomatiche - Part 4

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In one of this week's many videos, we hear about a dog that gets rescued. Andromeda is clearly un amante degli animali (an animal lover)


Per chi mi conosce qui su Yabla, sono un amante degli animali e infatti troverete altri due video* dei miei gatti.

For those who know me here on Yabla, I'm an animal lover and in fact, you will find two other videos* of my cats.

Captions 2-4, Andromeda La storia di Ulisse

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*See them here

Andromeda refers to the canile, in this case, "dog pound," where Ulisse was destined to live unless he was rescued. But canile has some different meanings. In the next example, Anna is actually describing a spot in Rome where cats are given food and shelter. 


È un canile per gatti.

It's a dog kennel for cats.

Caption 6, Anna presenta Largo Argentina e "Il Gattile"

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A person who raises hunting dogs, for example, will also have un canile. But it simply indicates kennel, or place where dogs are kept, often in large numbers. It's not necessarily a derogatory term, although it can be.


Ma io non lo sapevo che il canile era [fosse] così schifoso.

But I didn't know that the dog pound was so disgusting.

Caption 8, Provaci Ancora Prof! S1E1 - Il regalo di Babbo Natale - Part 28

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If you have a dog at home, he might sleep outside. In this case, his shelter is called la cuccia. It's where he can lie down.


Per esempio, io so che il mio c'... [sic], il mio cane chiederebbe di avere una cuccia doppia con patio.

For example, I know that my do'... my dog would ask to have a double dog house with a patio.

Captions 59-60, Marika e Daniela Il verbo chiedere - Part 2

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If you do encounter a stray dog, he might stop bothering you if you give him the command: A cuccia (go lie down)!

A cuccia, tu!

Lie down, you!

Caption 41, La Ladra Ep. 3 - L'oro dello squalo - Part 13

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Animal-rights activists are called animalisti in Italian. 


Solo per... Ma avete visto quanti animali ci vanno per fare una pelliccia?

Just to... But have you seen how many animals it takes to make a fur coat?

Caption 6, Animalisti Italiani Parla Romina Power

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If you would like to know more about how to talk about animals in Italian, send us your questions!

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Solutions to Exercises from "Servire a Tricky Verb to Use"


Here are the solutions to the exercise in the lesson. The task was to change sentences with bisogno to ones with servire or the contrary, adding personal pronouns where necessary or desirable. In some cases, you can even use the verb bisognare (adding a verb). If you have an answer that you think is right, but isn't present here, write to us at We'll get back to you.


Meanwhile, here's another example of when to use the verb servire. Here, it's in the conditional.

Allora... che ti metti per uscire? -Stasera? Possiamo andare a fare shopping! OK, a me... servirebbe un paio di scarpe, un paio di ballerine.

So... what are you wearing to go out? -Tonight? We can go and do some shopping. OK, I... could use a pair of shoes, a pair of ballerinas.

Captions 41-43, Serena vita da universitari

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Per questa ricetta, ho bisogno di tre uova (for this recipe, I need three eggs).

Per questa ricetta, servono tre uova.

Per questa ricetta, mi servono tre uova.


Di che cosa hai bisogno (what do you need)?

Che cosa ti serve?

Ti serve qualcosa?


Non c'è bisogno di prendere l'autobus, il posto è a due passi a piedi (no need to take the bus. The place is well within walking distance).

Non serve prendere l'autobus. Il posto è a due passi a piedi.


Che bisogno c'era di essere così cattivo (Why did you need to be so mean)?

A che cosa serviva essere così cattivo?


Servirà un ombrello, visto il cielo (judging from the sky, an umbrella will be necessary).

Avremo bisogno di un ombrello, visto il cielo.

Avrai bisogno di un ombrello, visto il cielo.

Ci sarà bisogno di un ombrello, visto il cielo.

Bisogna prendere l'ombrello, visto il cielo.


Serve un altro posto a tavola, perché viene un mio amico (we need another place at the table, because a friend of mine is coming).

Abbiamo bisogno di un altro posto a tavola, perché viene un mio amico.

C'è bisogno di un altro posto a tavola, perché viene un mio amico.

Bisogna aggiungere un posto a tavola, perché viene un mio amico. 

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Servire: a surprisingly tricky verb to use


A recent user comment prompted this lesson about servire when it's used to express need. The Italian approach to expressing need bears some explaining. In fact, we have already addressed this before. 


One way to express need is with the noun il bisogno (the need) and the odd verb bisognare only ever used in the third person singular impersonal. See this previous lesson. We can also use the verb servire (to be necessary, to be useful, to be used). In fact, we have already had a look at this interesting verb in this lesson. Take a look at these two lessons to get up to speed. In the present lesson, we will talk some more about how to use servire. It can be tricky!


There has been some discussion about a caption in a recent Yabla video. It's the story of Adriano Olivetti —Yes, that Olivetti: the typewriter guy. This is a fictionalized RAI production, starring Luca Zingaretti, famous as Commissario Montalbano in the well-known Italian TV series of the same name.


Here's the Italian sentence:

Serviranno dei fondi.

Here's our original translation:

We'll need funds.



A learner wrote in to say the translation should be "They will need funds."


Indeed, serviranno appears in its third person plural form. So, of course, you would think it should be "they."


This comment reminds us that the verb servire doesn't really have a counterpart in English, not one that works the same way, at any rate.

Yabla translators have since modified the translation to be less conversational, but easier to grasp. As a matter of fact, the verb servire is often best translated with the passive voice. As freshly modified, it is easier to see that the third person plural (future tense) serviranno comes from "the funds."



Serviranno dei fondi.

Funds will be needed.

Caption 63, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep.2 - Part 15

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Indeed, Adriano could have said, ci serviranno dei fondi, making it personal, but he didn't (although we can infer it) and that's why it was particularly confusing.


In the following example, the indirect object ci (for us, to us) is present, so it's a bit easier to understand. Serviranno, the third person plural of servire, refers to the utensili (the utensils) listed: lemon squeezer, knife, etc.


Per quanto riguarda gli utensili, ci serviranno, dunque, uno spremiagrumi per i limoni, un coltello per tagliare i limoni

In regard to utensils, we will need, accordingly, a lemon squeezer for the lemons, a knife to cut the lemons,

Captions 40-44, L'Italia a tavola Involtini di alici - Part 1

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In English, especially in speech, we often use "to need" in an active way, as a transitive verb. "I need something." You may have discovered that there is no Italian verb we can use the same way. When we use servire, the thing we need is the subject and we use an indirect object with it. In the following example, Martino is asking himself what he needs to camp out in an old farmhouse. "What is necessary for me to take with me?" 


Che mi può servire?

What do I need?

Caption 30, Chi m'ha visto film - Part 9

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To make things more complicated, servire also means "to be used."  In this case, servire is used with the preposition a (to, for). We may ask the question:


A che cosa serve (what is it used for, what is it for)?

Serve a [insert verb in the infinitive or a noun] (it's used for, it's for [insert a gerund or a noun]).


Ecco a cosa serve il brodo vegetale.

That's what the vegetable broth is for.

Caption 95, L'Italia a tavola La pappa al pomodoro - Part 2

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The following example shows how needing, being useful, or being used are so close that Italians use the same word.


Una fabbrica che funziona, in una società che non funziona, non serve a niente.

A factory that works in a society that doesn't work is useless.

Caption 26, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 8

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We can translate non serve a niente in a couple of additional ways:


Who needs a factory that works, if the society it is part of doesn't work?

A factory that works in a society that doesn't work is of no use to anyone.

A factory that works in a society that doesn't work serves no purpose. 


Note: Servire can also mean "to serve" as in serving someone at the table, or at the counter in a post office, supermarket or any other place. But that's much less complicated and not what this lesson was about.



We hope we have been successful in clarifying the verb servire, at least in part. We'll leave you with a few exercises that may further clarify the verb as you do them.

Change these sentences with bisogno or bisogna to one with servire or the contrary. Add personal pronouns where necessary or desirable.


Per questa ricetta, ho bisogno di tre uova (for this recipe, I need three eggs).

Di che cosa hai bisogno (what do you need)?

Non c'è bisogno di prendere l'autobus, il posto è a due passi a piedi (no need to take the bus. The place is well within walking distance).

Che bisogno c'era di essere così cattivo (Why did you need to be so mean)?

Servirà un ombrello, visto il cielo (judging from the sky, an umbrella will be necessary).

Serve un altro posto a tavola, perché viene un mio amico (we need another place at the table, because a friend of mine is coming).

Have fun. You'll find some possible solutions here. If you think your solution is correct, but isn't present among the possible solutions, let us know at



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Ways to say "free" in Italian

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.

Caption 38, Erica si presenta

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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?

Captions 12-14, Il Commissario Manara S1EP7 - Sogni di Vetro - Part 13

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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.

Captions 41-42, L'oro di Scampia film - Part 3

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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.

Captions 22-24, Anna e Marika Villa Torlonia - Casino Nobile

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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?

Caption 36, La Ladra Ep. 6 - Nero di rabbia - Part 1

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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!

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How to Catch a Cold in Italian

Italians have a reputation for being concerned with drafts, chills, sudden changes of temperature, etc. This translates to parents often being very protective of their kids when it comes to wearing the appropriate clothing for a given situation.

There's a little song featured on Yabla all about this struggle between parents and their children on this subject.


Che senza canottiera

Poi mi prendo il raffreddore

That with no undershirt

I will catch a cold later

Captions 17-18, Zecchino d'Oro Metti la canottiera

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Note the verb used to catch or get a cold is prendere (to take). It's often used reflexively, prendersi Another verb that is often used for getting sick, is beccare as in the following example. 


Ah, buongiorno. Scusate se starnutisco, ma, purtroppo, mi sono beccata l'influenza. L'influenza è un bruttissimo raffreddore, anzi, un po' più di un raffreddore perché ti prende tutto il corpo e senti i brividi e ti senti debole, ti senti stanca.

Ah, good morning. Sorry if I'm sneezing, but, unfortunately, I've caught the flu. The flu is a really awful cold, rather, a bit more than a cold because it affects your whole body, and you feel shivers, and you feel weak, you feel tired.

Captions 1-5, Marika spiega Il raffreddore

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Marika could have said: Mi sono presa un brutto raffreddore (I caught a bad cold).

When a cold is really bad (as described above by Marika) and you have to stay home from work or school, it's often called l'influenza, even though it might or might not technically be the flu as we understand it. 


Note also that l'influenza also means "the influence" and has a verb form influenzare (to influence).

Non credo che la Francia abbia influenzato in modo determinante la mia cucina.

I don't believe that France influenced my cooking in a decisive way.

Caption 13, L'arte della cucina I Luoghi del Mondo - Part 11

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We use the verb beccare to talk about insect bites, too. In this case it isn't reflexive. The mosquito is doing the biting.

M'ha beccato una zanzara.

A mosquito bit me.


When we don't have a full-blown cold, but suspect we're about to because we got a chill, we might say:

Ho preso freddo

(I got a chill).


The verb is still prendere (to take, to get).


Prendere freddo is often the reason given for catching a cold. Things Italians watch out for to avoid this are uno spiffero or corrente (a draft), climatizzatori (air conditioners), ventilatori (fans), and especially not covering up or taking a shower after working up a sweat. 


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