Italian Lessons


The verb aspettare and its nuances

If you look up the verb aspettare in the dictionary, the first English translation you will find is "to wait." Or almost. You might see "to await." That is because, even though we don't use the verb "to await" much in general conversation, it's a transitive verb, and so is aspettare. They can line up. So that's something to remember.


Aspettare is transitive most of the time (except when it means something like "Hey wait!"). We don't need a preposition after it as we do in English — "to wait for." This lesson isn't about English, but let's just mention that lots of people use "to wait on" in certain contexts, and other people use "to wait for." In Italian, we don't have to worry about that. 

Adesso bisogna aspettare il risultato dell'autopsia e poi finalmente potrete organizzare il funerale.

Now we have to wait for the results of the autopsy and then, finally, you'll be able to organize the funeral.

Captions 21-22, Il Commissario Manara S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto - Part 4

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Waiting with aspettare


Just as in English, we can use the imperative form aspetta! (informal singular), aspettate! (informal plural), aspettiamo (first person plural) or aspetti (formal, singular) on its own to mean "Wait!"

Aspetta, aspetta, ti levo il cerotto piano piano. Aspetta, aspetta.

Wait, wait, I'll remove the band-aid slowly, slowly. Wait, wait.

Caption 55, Il Commissario Manara S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto - Part 12

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Aspettate, lascio il libro sul tavolo

Wait, I'll leave the book on the table

Caption 3, Corso di italiano con Daniela Il futuro - Part 4

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Dottor Barale, aspetti!

Mister Barale, wait!

Caption 29, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 18

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In a question, let's remember again that aspettare is transitive. So if you want to ask the common question: "What are you waiting for?" you don't need the preposition. 

Mai. -E che aspetti?

Never. -And what are you waiting for?

Caption 44, Questione di Karma Rai Cinema - Part 8

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Expectations with aspettarsi


When we use aspettare reflexively, in other words — aspettarsi — the meaning changes. It becomes "to expect." 

Cioè, il ladro può essere entrato in biblioteca senza aspettarsi che Fazi fosse lì.

That is, the thief could have gone into the library without expecting Fazi to be there.

Caption 11, Il Commissario Manara S1EP4 - Le Lettere Di Leopardi - Part 7

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So when the verb is conjugated rather than in the infinitive, we have to look for an object pronoun (or noun). Here are two examples. The first is not reflexive so aspettare here means "to wait."

Erano cinque anni che aspettavo questo momento.

I'd been waiting five years for this moment.

Caption 16, L'Oriana film - Part 15

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If we find an object pronoun nearby (in this case mi), then we're likely looking at the reflexive version of aspettare and it will mean "to expect." And in many cases, we'll see some sort of preposition afterwards. In the examples below, first we have di and then, in the next example, we have da. We also often find the conjunction che, as in the third example below. 

Grazie. -E non mi aspettavo di rivedervi così presto.

Thank you. -Uh, I wasn't expecting to see you again so soon.

Caption 21, Imma Tataranni Sostituto procuratore S1EP1 L'estate del dito - Part 19

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Cosa ti aspetti da questo Real Madrid?

What do you expect from this Real Madrid [team]?

Caption 12, Spot Sky Sport con Perrotta, Totti, Marchisio

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Mi aspettavo che tu fossi più sincera,

I expected that you'd be more sincere,

Caption 30, Anna e Marika Il verbo essere - Part 4

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And, since an expectation is often tied to uncertainty, and che triggers the subjunctive, we will likely find the subjunctive form of the verb in the subordinate clause. 


The nuance


But... sometimes the difference is nuanced. For example, when a person is pregnant, we use "expecting" in English. In Italian, not necessarily. 


We usually hear the non-reflexive form of aspettare

È vero, aspetto un bambino da Arturo.

It's true, I am expecting a baby of Arturo's.

Caption 6, I Bastardi di Pizzofalcone EP1 I Bastardi - Part 21

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When you're expecting a package, or sometimes a person, you'll likely use the non-reflexive version. 

Senta, Lei è un bel tipo, io non lo posso negare, però io sto aspettando una persona molto importante.

Listen, you're a cute guy, I can't deny it, but I'm expecting a very important person.

Captions 6-7, Il Commissario Manara S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto - Part 6

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Another case in which English might use "expect," is when you invite someone and then you expect them at a certain hour. "I'll be expecting you!" Italians just use aspettare. Think of the end of a video when Marika talks about seeing you in the next video. She might say: 

Io ti lascio lavorare in pace e ti aspetto nel prossimo video!

I'll leave you to work in peace, and I'll be waiting for you in the next video!

Caption 56, Marika spiega I verbi riflessivi e reciproci

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We've translated this with the verb "to wait," because there is no reflexive, but it could have been, "I'll be expecting you in the next video" or "I look forward to seeing you in the next video." 


If we look at the Italian translation of the verb "to expect," we can see that there are all sorts of nuances. But what we can say is that when it's about waiting for something to arrive, as in expecting a package, expecting a child, or expecting a guest, we can use aspettare


This is one more thing to have fun paying attention to when you watch Yabla videos!


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Talking about the seasons in Italian

Do you already know the 4 seasons in Italian? Here they are.

L'inverno (the winter)

La primavera (the spring)

L'estate (the summer)

L'autunno (the autumn)


Check out this beginner video.

Ciao, sono Marika e oggi ti insegnerò i giorni della settimana, le stagioni e i mesi dell'anno.

Hi, I'm Marika and today I'm going to teach you the days of the week, the seasons and the months of the year.

Captions 1-2, Marika spiega Settimana, stagioni e mesi

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Adriano talks about the 4 seasons, what to wear, the colors he associates with each, his favorites, and so on. 

Oggi vi parlerò delle stagioni.

Today I'm going to talk to you about the seasons.

Caption 2, Adriano Le stagioni dell'anno

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Grammar tip: The noun la stagione is one of those nouns that ends in E. We don't think of it automatically as being feminine because it doesn't end in A as the majority of feminine nouns do. But it is indeed feminine, so when we form the plural we have to add an I at the end (there's already an e in the singular!). La stagione, le stagioni. We just have to think a bit harder when using these kinds of nouns. 


So if you aren't familiar with the seasons, the videos mentioned above will help out. But in this lesson, we're going to talk about words that have to do with the seasons, or words or expressions that include the Italian word for season: stagione.  


In the following example, Marika is talking about an Italian household ritual, often left to la mamma (the mom). It's a common excuse for not going out with friends on a weekend at the end of April or October. It's a thankless job, but also a good opportunity for throwing things away — eliminare (to eliminate), scartare (to discard), dar via (to give away). It's il cambio degli armadi (the closet switching), or il cambio di stagione.

Come tu ben sai, eh, l'Italia, come anche altri paesi del mondo, è soggetta alle stagioni, e quindi noi ogni sei mesi facciamo il cambio di stagione, che vuol dire che svuotiamo il nostro armadio dei vestiti invernali e le [sic] prepariamo a quelli primaverili ed estivi, oppure autunnali.

As you well know, uh, Italy, like other countries in the world, is subject to the seasons, and so every six months, we do a season change, which means that we empty our closet of winter clothes and we prepare them [sic] for the spring or summer ones, or else the fall ones.

Captions 24-27, Marika spiega L'abbigliamento - Part 1

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***A note about how things work in Italy. In apartments and homes, it's not so common for there to be built-in closets. You have to buy one, and they take up a lot of space in the bedroom. The bigger ones are often called quattro stagioni (four seasons) because you put the things up high that you don't need for the current season, and do some rotating during the year, to have the clothes you need handy. 


When we talk about the seasons, we tend to first think about the more extreme ones, summer and winter, with their relative temperatures, caldo (hot) and freddo (cold). The seasons in between — spring and fall — have their characteristics, too. La primavera (spring) is often referred to as la bella stagione. La bella stagione can also simply refer to "the warm weather," or the season in which the weather is nice and warm.

A risvegliarsi dal torpore invernale, sono uomini ed animali, decisi a sfruttare la bella stagione per esplorare nuovi sentieri in una natura selvaggia, ma accogliente.

Awakening from the winter torpor are men and animals, determined to take advantage of the "beautiful season" [spring] to explore new paths in a wild but welcoming nature.

Captions 24-26, Formaggi D'autore - Part 3

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Another way to think about the in-between seasons of primavera and autunno, is by calling them "half-seasons" or "in-between seasons," La mezza stagione. This applies primarily to what to wear. La mezza stagione is when we tend to dress a cipolla (like an onion, in layers) and be ready for anything. But it can also refer to "mid-season."

Ma l'ultima neve ha i giorni contati. In un paesaggio da mezza stagione, la transizione verso la primavera è iniziata.

But the days of the last snow are numbered. In a mid-season landscape, the transition to spring has begun.

Captions 21-23, Formaggi D'autore - Part 3

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The best time to buy clothes for less is a fine stagione (at the end of the season). That's when shops have saldi (sales).

Tigrotto, non avevo più niente da mettermi e ho comprato due cosine ai saldi. -Hai fatto bene, ma...

Tiger Cub, I had nothing to wear and I bought two little things at the sales. -You did the right thing, but...

Caption 7, Il Commissario Manara S1EP2 - Vendemmia tardiva - Part 17

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If you are traveling to Italy and want to save money, you'll go during la bassa stagione (the off-season). Prices are cheaper. We can also talk about fuori stagione ("out of the season" or "off-season") indicating the non-tourist season. 

Questa bella piscina, che non è sempre così perché siamo fuori stagione e di solito è più ricca di persone, perché è sempre pieno qua di persone. Questa casa vacanze che è, insomma, è per poter [sic] ospitare delle famiglie,

This beautiful swimming pool, which isn't always like this because we're in the off season... and usually it's more crowded with people, because here it's always full of people. This vacation rental that is, in short, is to be able to host families,

Captions 41-44, Sicilia - Marsala Casa vacanze Torre Lupa

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Thanks for reading. 




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2 kinds of prepositions and articles combined

In this lesson, we're going to try to clear up something that can be confusing: two combinations of a preposition and article that look alike but have different meanings and functions. You can get by just fine not knowing the names of these grammatical elements, but knowing how they work and when to use them can help you figure out what's going on in an Italian conversation.



1) Preposizione articolata (articulated preposition)


You might already know that in Italian, instead of saying di il paese (of the town), you say del paese (of the town). In other words, the preposition di (of) gets combined, in a special way, with the definite article il (the). It turns into del (of the). This is called una preposizione articolata (an articled preposition).


As with English, what follows a preposition is usually an indirect object. See our lesson about la preposizione articolata or search the topic preposizioni articolate in the lessons tab. 


Here, the important word in the combination is the preposition. The article just goes with the noun.

Sa, la banda del paese si riunisce qui per provare.

You know, the band of the town gets together here to rehearse.

Caption 22, Il Commissario Manara S1EP3 - Rapsodia in Blu - Part 2

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If the indirect object is feminine, then the preposizione articolata changes according to gender and number, just like a definite article would:

Sì, si chiamava Lorenzo Poggiali, trent'anni, primo clarinetto della banda,

Yes, his name was Lorenzo Poggiali, thirty years old, first clarinet of the band.

Caption 20, Il Commissario Manara S1EP3 - Rapsodia in Blu - Part 2

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If you have been following Yabla videos, or have watched Italian movies and TV shows, you have witnessed this phenomenon hundreds of times. And It works with other prepositions, too, such as in (to, at, in), a (to, in, at), da (from, since, at), and su (on, above).  


2) Articolo partitivo


There is another way we combine a preposition with an article, but here, the meaning is different, as well as the purpose. Perhaps the easiest way to think of this is that it often means "some." In short, it's a way to talk about an imprecise quantity of something.


What's different from the preposizione articolata?


a) For one thing, with the articolo partitivo, the only preposition that is used is di (of). It's combined with a definite article (in all its forms):

del, dell', dello, dei, della, delle, degli.


b) What follows the articolo partitivo is not an indirect object but a direct object. Hai dei soldi per fare la spesa (do you have some money for the grocery shopping)? 


c) If you just use a plain definite article, the sentence still functions grammatically.


d) You can replace the articolo partitivo with un po' di  (a little, a bit of), or alcuni/alcune (some, several).


Here's an example where Adriano uses un po' di

Aggiungiamo un po' di parmigiano grattugiato.

We'll add a bit of grated Parmesan.

Caption 46, Adriano Spaghetti pomodoro e aglio

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But he could have used del.  

Aggiungiamo del parmigiano grattugiato.


Here, Adriano does use del, but he could have said un po' di sale

Quando l'acqua bollirà, potrò aggiungere del sale.

When the water boils, I can add some salt.

Caption 34, Adriano Spaghetti pomodoro e aglio

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Taglio del pane e poi, e poi forse un bicchiere di vino prima?

I'll cut some bread and then, maybe a glass of wine beforehand?

Caption 6, Escursione Un picnic in campagna - Part 3

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Here's an example in the plural where Andromeda is talking about her dog. 

Mi hanno portato una casetta, mi hanno portato delle coperte...

They brought me a little house, they brought me some blankets...

Caption 36, Andromeda La storia di Ulisse

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So to test the meaning, we can use alcune or alcuni. They both mean "some" but can also mean "a few" or "several." So Andromeda could have said:

Mi hanno portato una casetta, mi hanno portato alcune coperte...


We hope this sheds some light on this sometimes confusing aspect of the Italian language. 


Keep in mind that sometimes, in English, we don't bother to say "some" if it isn't necessary, but as with articles, Italians tend to use a partitive article more often than we would think. To boost your Italian skills, try paying special attention to partitive articles this week as you watch Yabla videos. Feel free to bring them to the attention of fellow learners in a comment to the video. 

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Che ne so: Let's take it apart

We see the word che meaning "that" or "which" all the time in sentences. It's a very common conjunction. 

Ad Ercolano, c'è un pomodoro che è diventato simbolo di un'importante voglia di cambiamento.

In Ercolano, there is a tomato that has become a symbol of an important desire for change.

Captions 21-22, Pomodori Vulcanici Pomodori del Vesuvio - Part 7

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But che does more. Here is a lesson about using che to say things with simplicity, a great asset when you're just learning. It helps make conversation. Here, it means "how."

Che carino, Però adesso devo scappare, altrimenti mio fratello mi uccide.

How sweet. But now I have to run, otherwise my brother will kill me.

Caption 29, Il Commissario Manara S2EP9 - L'amica ritrovata - Part 11

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Che can also mean "what." See this lesson

Scusa, ma io che ci faccio qui? Non conto niente.

Sorry, but what am I doing here? I don't count for anything.

Caption 3, Moscati, l'amore che guarisce EP1 - Part 2

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In our featured expression che ne so?, che basically stands for "what." We can often translate che ne so as "What do I know?" Sometimes we might translate it as, "How should I know?" It's often a rhetorical question. 

Nilde, ma che mangia il bambino la mattina? -Ma che ne so?

Nilde, but what does the child eat in the morning? -How should I know?

Captions 2-3, Un medico in famiglia Stagione 3 S3 EP1: Ciao famiglia - Part 3

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We've taken care of che. But what about that little word ne? Ne is a particle, called una particella in Italian, and if we look ne up in the dictionary we see it means several things. But mostly, it encompasses both a preposition and the indirect object pronoun "it" or "them." See this lesson about ne.


As mentioned in the lesson, we often don't even notice the word ne because it's so short and because we are not looking for it if we're thinking in English. Once you start thinking in Italian, it will become easier to use and notice. Italians will be very tolerant and understand you anyway, even if you don't use it, so don't worry about it too much. But learning an expression with ne will already make you sound more fluent. 


In our expression, ne means "about it." The tricky thing is that we don't bother with "about it" in English, but in Italian, not always, but in general, we will hear that little ne in there. 

Che ne so? What do I know [about it]?


Finally, we get to so, which is simply the first person singular of the verb sapere (to know).


You might have already learned how to say "I know" and "I don't know" in Italian. Italians add the direct object pronoun lo ("it" or "that").

Sì, lo so (yes I know [that].

Non lo so (I don't know [that]).


But che ne so can also be used in the middle of a sentence, as we would use "I don't know." It's a kind of filler phrase. We can leave it out and the meaning doesn't change much. 

perché, diciamo... -comunque devono sostenere il peso. -Devono sostenere il peso, più che altro devono fare, che ne so, la stessa cosa per un'ora.

because, let's say... -anyway they have to support the weight. -They have to support the weight, more than that, they have to, I don't know, do the same thing for an hour.

Captions 50-51, Francesca Cavalli - Part 2

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Ma tu ti devi aggiornare, sarai rimasto sicuramente, che ne so, ai Pooh.

But you have to get up to date. You must have remained, I don't know, at Pooh.

Caption 66, Un medico in famiglia Stagione 1 EP5 Lele, ti presento Irene - Part 2

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Allora, due colleghi decidono di scambiarsi il posto, firmano un modulo, e se non ci sono problemi, ma gravi, eh, tipo, che ne so, uno deve essere sotto inchiesta.

So, two colleagues decide to switch places, they sign a form, and if there are no problems, but serious huh, like, I don't know, one [of them] has to be under investigation.

Captions 38-40, Il Commissario Manara S1EP8 - Morte di un buttero - Part 12

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Dice, chissà se c'ha un lenzuolo da piegare, se ti manca... che ne so? C'è un tubo che perde acqua...

Saying, who knows if she has some sheets to fold, if you're out of... I don't know... There's a pipe that leaks...

Captions 39-40, Il Commissario Manara S2EP8 - Fuori servizio - Part 1

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For more about particles ci and ne, see Daniela's video lessons (in Italian)

In this video, Marika explains the particle ne.

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Pronunciation tips for the letter E

In a previous lesson, we looked at the vowel, A. In this lesson, we'll focus on the vowel, E. 


We'll talk a little bit about this vowel from an English speaker's point of view, but the truth is that the best way to start pronouncing this vowel like a native is to listen carefully to the videos and then do each exercise except multiple choice. Each has its way of aiding you. Make it your mission to focus on E. 

Fill-in-the-blank. You hear a word and have to write it. Connecting the sound of E with the written E will set you on your way to getting it. 

The vocabulary review always provides you with the pronunciation of each word on your list. Listen for the E. So many words will contain one! One part of the vocabulary review entails writing the Italian word. 

Then we have Speak. This is an exercise you can do at any stage, and sometimes it's best to do it first. After all, you don't have to write anything. All you have to do is repeat what you hear. Then you will see it and be able to make the connections. And the best part is that you can play back what you've said and see how close it comes to the version you hear. This is good for any level!

Finally, there is Scribe. You listen and then write down what you hear, a dictation exercise, in short. 


As you might have heard, there are two different pronunciations of E's in Italian. One with no diacritical accent and one with an accent: è. The one with the accent is considered open and the plain e is considered closed. This is not always easy for English speakers to discern, so be patient with yourself, but try to listen and repeat. 


One of the shortest words in the Italian language is the word for "and." It's e, all by itself, no accent. Pick just about any video and you'll hear it (sometimes it goes by quickly). 

Sì, e noi facciamo su e giù da Roma a Pomezia con la moto,

Yes, and we go back and forth from Rome to Pomezia on the motorcycle,

Caption 26, Amiche Anna e Marika raccontano...

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When we see or hear two items, they are often connected by either e (and) or o (or). So this is a good way to practice this e. Find two things that go together, like fruits and vegetables. 

Qui, di solito, tutti i giorni si vendono frutta e verdura e anche altre cose.

Here, usually, every day, fruits and vegetables are sold, and other things, too.

Captions 27-28, In giro per l'Italia Firenze - Part 2

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What other things go together? Prosciutto e melone or prosciutto e mozzarella.

Prosciutto e mozzarella! -Prosciutto e mozzarella, giusto, un altro antipasto classico. Come prosciutto e melone poi del resto, però la mozzarella...

Cured ham and mozzarella! -Cured ham and mozzarella, right, another classic appetizer. Like cured ham and melon, for that matter, but mozzarella...

Captions 22-23, Anna e Marika La mozzarella di bufala - La produzione e i tagli - Part 1

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Marito e moglie...

E poi tra moglie e marito è quasi impossibile sapere come vanno le cose.

And besides, between wife and husband, it's almost impossible to know how things go.

Caption 18, Il Commissario Manara S2EP11 - Uno strano incidente di caccia - Part 10

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 Destra e sinistra

Ci sono le botteghe a destra e a sinistra... C'è una macchina dietro!

There are shops on the right and on the left... There's a car back there!

Caption 39, In giro per l'Italia Firenze - Part 5

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When we see è, that is, e with a grave accent (descending from left to right), then the meaning changes to "is," "it is," "he is," or "she is." In other words, it's the third person singular of the verb essere (to be).


You'll need this verb when asking and answering questions, such as "Who is that?" "What's that?"


"Chi è quella ragazza?"

"Who is that girl?"

Caption 41, Marika risponde Risposta 1 Pronomi e aggettivi interrogativi

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Sì, è vero, è una ricetta segreta,

Yes, it's true. It's a secret recipe,

Caption 6, Adriano L'arancello di Marina

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If you listen carefully, you might be able to hear that pronouncing è is a little different from e, but it's more important to understand the context and meaning than to get the pronunciation exactly right. It will come with time.  


Sometimes we need an acute accent on an e (rising from left to right) to show which part of the word is stressed. The most common example of this is perhaps the word for "why" and "because": perché. Keep in mind that the pronunciation is not the same as è. It's more like e, but above all, it's stressed. To hear multiple examples of how it's pronounced, see the Yabla dictionary and type in the word you want to hear. Anywhere you see the audio icon, you'll hear the word spoken, either by itself, or in context by clicking on it. 

Perché ti lamenti?

Why are you complaining?

Caption 7, Acqua in bocca Mp3 Marino - Ep 2

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Ah, a proposito c'è un pane che proprio non mi piace che è quello Toscano perché è senza sale.

Ah, by the way there's a bread that I really don't like which is the Tuscan kind because it's without salt.

Captions 23-24, Anna e Marika Il pane

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In the previous example, you will also hear different e's. Note the very slight difference between the è in c'è and the e in che. But don't worry if you don't hear the difference. 


More about the double-duty word perché here.


Keep in mind that not all Italians pronounce their vowels exactly the same way. This happens in English too. Once you start hearing the differences, you'll see that it's kind of fun to guess where someone is from. 


See you in the next lesson!


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50 good-to know adjectives part 5

We've come to the final 10 adjectives of the list of 50 good-to-know Italian adjectives. If you can learn these and use them in a sentence, you will have a good basis for conversation in many situations. Of course, there are many more and we'll feature new lists from time to time. 


41) simpatico (likeable, congenial, nice)

This is such a great Italian adjective, but it’s hard to translate into English. It describes a person that you want to get to know, someone who is attractive as a person, rather than physically, someone with a great personality, and a warm smile. More about simpatico here.

E poi il cuoco è uno simpatico, stava simpatico pure a te.

And besides, the cook is a nice guy. You liked him, too.

Caption 62, La Ladra EP. 8 - Il momento giusto - Part 9

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41a) antipatico (unpleasant, troublesome, nasty)

The opposite of simpatico, antipatico can describe a person, but also behavior or a situation.

È severo e pure un po' antipatico.

He is stern and also a bit unfriendly.

Caption 41, Provaci ancora prof! S1E4 - La mia compagna di banco - Part 4

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Ti devo dare una notizia un po’ antipatica (I have to give you some unpleasant news).

Il mio insegnante di Italiano è veramente antipatico (my Italian teacher is really not very nice).


42-42a) Educato (polite, well-behaved, good-mannered) and its opposite, maleducato (rude, ill-mannered, impolite) have nothing, or very little, to do with going to school and getting an education. They have to do with manners and behavior, and also training as regards children and animals.

È una ragazza madre ed è una persona tanto carina, tanto gentile, educata.

She's a single mother and is a very nice person, very kind, polite.

Caption 43, La Ladra EP. 1 - Le cose cambiano - Part 6

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Non si azzardi più a chiamarmi a quest'ora, maleducato!

Don't you dare call me again at this hour, how rude!

Caption 69, Il Commissario Manara S1EP5 - Il Raggio Verde - Part 12

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In other words, educato and maleducato are generally false friends. They do not mean "educated" and "uneducated."


43) Sospettoso mostly describes a person. For something that’s suspicious-looking, the adjective sospetto is normally used. Il sospetto is a noun that means  “the suspect.”

No, il barone era sospettoso e faceva assaggiare il cibo prima di mangiare alla moglie,

No, the baron was suspicious and had the food tasted, before eating it, by his wife,

Captions 14-16, Caravaggio EP1 - Part 20

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44) affettuoso (affectionate, loving, tender)

Un tipo affascinante, simpatico, affettuoso.

A charming, friendly, affectionate type.

Caption 42, Il Commissario Manara S2EP8 - Fuori servizio - Part 10

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45) ingenuo (naive, gullible, inexperienced, innocent)

Someone who is ingenuo isn’t all that familiar with the ways of the world. They may be too trustful and might easily get conned.

Mi crede così ingenuo da affidare a Lei un compito così delicato?

Do you think I'm so naive that I would entrust such a delicate task to you?

Caption 47, Il Commissario Manara S1EP4 - Le Lettere Di Leopardi - Part 3

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46) tranquillo (tranquillo, calm, with no worries)

This very useful adjective covers a lot of ground, so it’s a good one to have in your Italian vocabulary. If you travel in Italy, you’ll undoubtedly hear this expression a lot: Stai tranquillo. It means, “Don’t worry.” The polite version is Stia tranquillo. It can also mean, “Stay calm.”

Lei non è incriminato di niente, deve stare tranquillo, va bene?

You haven't been incriminated of anything, you can rest easy, all right?

Caption 20, Il Commissario Manara S1EP5 - Il Raggio Verde - Part 7

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47) preoccupato (worried, concerned)

This adjective looks like it should mean “preoccupied,” but it basically means “worried.” 

Sono molto preoccupato per mio figlio (I’m very worried about my son).

And someone might say to you:

Non ti preoccupare (Don’t worry). 

And if the situation is formal:

Non si preoccupi (Don’t worry [formal]).

More about worrying in Italian, here.

48) intelligente (intelligent)
This is an easy cognate and it means just what you would think!


49) stupido (stupid)
This is another adjective that means just what you would imagine it would.


50) pazzo (crazy)

This is a fun word and primarily describes a person or animal. Note that just as in English we can be crazy about something or someone, Italian uses this adjective, too.

Sono pazza/pazzo di te (I’m crazy about you).

And “to go crazy” is diventare pazzo (to become crazy).


When we are talking about something, on the other hand, we need the adjective pazzesco. Pazzo is only for humans and animals.

Hai avuto un successo pazzesco, eh?

You were wildly successful, huh?

Caption 1, Provaci ancora prof! S2EP2 Una mina vagante - Part 2

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51) furbo (clever, cunning, shrewd)

Ho detto: "Non fare il furbo".

I said "Don't be a wise guy."

Caption 39, L'Italia a tavola Interrogazione sul Piemonte

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This adjective can either be positive or somewhat pejorative, depending on the context. It is sometimes transformed into a noun, as in the example above.

And with that, we’ve given you more than 50 (but who’s counting?) good-to-know Italian adjectives to put in your pocket. Try them out for size — practice them as you go about your day, observing your human, animal, and physical surroundings.

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Practical examples of these adjectives can be found throughout Yabla videos available with a subscription. Yabla offers you the possibility of learning at your own pace and through videos pertaining to your interests. Expand your horizons by learning one of the most romantic languages in the world.


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Using suffixes for emphasis

When you are learning a language, you tend to pay attention to what people say (unless you are tuning it out). I don't know about you, but when I hear a word for the first time, I know it's a first and put a mental asterisk next to it. Often, I just say, "Hey, I have never heard that word. What does it mean?" But much of the time I can figure out what a word means just by the context.


Italians use a variety of suffixes. There are various reasons to use a suffix, and sometimes it's just a personal preference to give a little emphasis to the word. Suffixes may change according to the area of Italy, so be prepared to learn some new ones depending on where you go.



I still remember the first time I heard the suffix -uccio in Italian. Many years ago, I happened to be near Rome in a house where a group of young music students were making lunch. That was already very interesting to watch, of course. But it was summer, it was hot, and one of the girls said, Che calduccio!  It stuck in my mind. Isn't the word for "hot" just caldo? That one I knew, or thought I did. Why does she say calduccio? And is it a noun or an adjective? I might have been too shy to ask about that word, but I never forgot it. 


I also had to figure out that sometimes there's a fine line between adjectives and nouns, that che can mean "what," as in "What tremendous heat!" or "how," as in "How tremendously hot it is!"


In the following example, we can sense the enveloping positive heat with the suffix -uccio. So, -uccio isn't necessarily positive or negative, but it's a way of reinforcing the adjective and providing it with something personal. 


Adding -uccio is a way of emphasizing the quantity, quality, or intensity of heat being felt. Caldo by itself might be felt as neutral, but adding the -uccio assures you that things are going to be cozy.

E io farò un bel calduccio.

And I will make some nice heat.

Caption 50, PIMPA S3 EP 5 Il signor Inverno

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Sometimes -uccio is a suffix of endearment.


I have been called tesoruccio (dear/little treasure) or amoruccio (dear/little love) in the past. Translated literally, it sounds very stilted in English but it is pretty common in Italian and is a kind of equivalent of "sweetheart," darling," or "honey." It just adds some endearment and is more personal.

Tesoruccio mio, ti prego, perdonami.

Little treasure of mine, I beg you to forgive me.

Caption 33, La Ladra EP. 4 - Una magica bionda - Part 12

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Sometimes -uccio is diminutive, such as in minimizing un difetto (a defect).

Quando si parla troppo bene delle persone, senza neanche trovargli un difettuccio... Significa essere innamorata, zia.

When you talk too positively about people, without finding even one teensy flaw... It means being in love, Aunt.

Captions 35-37, Il Commissario Manara S2EP12 - La donna senza volto - Part 1

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We can use the suffix -uccio for emphasis with the adverb male (bad, badly). It can mean something like "kind of badly," or "pretty badly."

Com'è andata l'audizione? -Maluccio.

How did the audition go? -Pretty badly.


If the audition had gone really badly, the person might have answered: Male male, malissimo, or molto male. 


There are lots of suffixes Italians use all the time, such as "-etto," "ino," "one," but It's impossible to predict, right off the bat, which suffixes go with which adjectives or nouns. You just have to listen a lot and adopt the ones that stick. 


For more about parole alternate (modified or altered words) see this lesson


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50 Italian good-to-know adjectives part 4 - emotions

Good-to-know Italian Adjectives Describing Someone’s Mood or Feelings

31) felice (happy)

Apart from its most common meaning, felice can also mean “fitting” or "well-chosen.” We can also make this adjective into its opposite by adding the prefix in: infelice = unhappy.

Sono felice di averLa conosciuta.

I'm happy to have met you.

Caption 48, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 1

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32) triste (sad)

Il canile è un luogo molto triste per un cane.

The dog pound is a very sad place for a dog.

Caption 11, Andromeda La storia di Ulisse

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Whereas infelice is a general state, triste more often describes a momentary feeling or something that brings on feelings of sadness, such as a sad story.

33) arrabbiato (angry)

When you eat in an Italian restaurant, you often find penne all’arrabbiata on the menu. The color is red, and it’s hot with peperoncino (hot pepper). The color red is associated with anger. The adjective comes from the verb arrabbiare (to get angry).

È arrabbiato con la moglie, allora se la prende con tutti.

He's angry with his wife, so he takes it out on everyone.

Caption 18, Il Commissario Manara S2EP11 - Uno strano incidente di caccia - Part 1

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34) fiducioso (hopeful, confident, optimistic, trusting)

Italian doesn’t have a cognate for “hopeful,”— or rather, it does — speranzoso, but it is rarely used. As a result, fiducioso is a good bet, especially when you are optimistically hopeful. Fiducioso comes from the reflexive verb fidarsi (to trust) and the noun la fiducia (the trust).

Ma io sono fiduciosa.

But I am confident.

Caption 17, Sei mai stata sulla Luna? film - Part 13

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35) volenteroso (willing)

Non l'ho fatta io questa palla di neve, ma sicuramente qualcuno molto più volenteroso di me.

I didn't make this snowball, but for sure, somebody much keener than me.

Captions 39-40, Francesca neve - Part 3

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This adjective is used to describe a person who pitches in and helps, or is willing to learn. It comes from the verb volere (to want, to want to). Someone who is volenteroso will likely offer his or her services as a volunteer, a cognate to help you remember its meaning. See this Yabla lesson: Being Willing with Volentieri. When someone asks you to do something you would like to do, you can answer, Volentieri (I'd love to).

36) scoraggiato (discouraged, disheartened)

The s prefix turns incoraggiare (to encourage) into scoraggiare (to discourage), and the adjective scoraggiato comes from the past participle of the verb scoraggiare.

Sì, ma guarda, ne ho sentiti trentadue, un disastro. Sono veramente scoraggiata.

Yes, but look, I have heard thirty-two of them, a disaster. I am really discouraged.

Captions 9-10, Un medico in famiglia Stagione 3 S3EP4 Lo stagno del ranocchio - Part 10

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37) stufo (fed up, sick and tired)

This is a great adjective to have in your toolbox, and comes from stufare (literally, “to stew”). It’s commonly used in the reflexive — stufarsi (to get fed up with) — but the adjective is good to know, too.

Fabrizio, basta. Basta. Sono stufa delle tue promesse.

Fabrizio, that's enough. Enough. I'm sick of your promises.

Captions 67-68, Il Commissario Manara S2EP9 - L'amica ritrovata - Part 5

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38) svogliato (unenthusiastic, listless)

Svogliato has the s prefix, indicating the opposite of the original word (often making it negative) and comes from the verb volere (to want). This is a great word for when you really don’t feel like doing what you have to do.

Oh, guarda un po' se c'è un programma per riattivare un marito svogliato?

Oh, look and see if there's a program for reactivating a listless husband.

Caption 49, Il Commissario Manara S1EP3 - Rapsodia in Blu - Part 5

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39) nervoso (tense, irritable, stressed out)

False friend alert! Nervoso really seems like a great translation for “nervous,” and it does have to do with nerves, but when you are nervous, there’s a different word (next on our list). Nervoso is more like when your kids are acting up and you have work to do and you are having trouble staying calm and collected. Irritable is a good equivalent. Stressed out works, too. See this Yabla lesson: Emozionato or Nervoso? What’s the Difference? 

Non ti innervosire, mica... -No, non sono nervoso, Toscani.

Don't get stressed out... it's not as if... -No, I'm not stressed out, Toscani.

Caption 14, Il Commissario Manara S2EP5 - Mondo sommerso - Part 1

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40) emozionato (nervous, excited, moved, touched, thrilled).

Diciamo, adesso sono un po' emozionato, è la prima volta, vedo la cinepresa, registi, ciak, cose, insomma per me è una grande emozione questo momento.

Let's say, right now, I am a bit nervous. It's my first time. I see the camera, the directors, the clapperboard, in short, for me this is a moment of great excitement.

Captions 14-16, Volare - La grande storia di Domenico Modugno Ep. 1 - Part 7

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See part 1

See part 2

See part 3

Learn more!
Practical examples of these adjectives can be found throughout Yabla videos. Yabla offers you the possibility of learning at your own pace through videos pertaining to your interests. Expand your horizons by learning one of the most romantic languages in the world.


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50 good-to-know Italian adjectives part 2 — negatives

Here are some good-to-know Italian adjectives that express something negative: for positive adjectives (numbers 1-10) see this lesson.

11) brutto (ugly, bad)

Brutto is the opposite of bello, and works the same way. We use brutto to talk about a movie we didn’t like, or something that is physically unpleasant to look at. Just like bello, brutto is more than ugly. It’s often used to mean "bad," for instance: un brutto incidente (a bad accident). 

Che brutto incidente!
What a terrible accident!

12) cattivo (bad, mean, nasty, evil)

This is another kind of “bad,” but often has more to do with non-physical things. Someone can be una cattiva persona (a nasty person).


13) pessimo (really bad, awful)

This is a wonderful adjective to have in your repertoire when you really need to call something “awful.”


Quel risotto era pessimo. (That risotto was really awful.)


14) scorretto (unfair, unjust, rude)

This is one of those wonderful adjectives that, by merely adding the “s” prefix, becomes the opposite of the original word, in this case, corretto.

Va be', ma non ti sembra scorretto nei confronti del mio Cicci? -No.

OK, but don't you think it's unfair to my Cicci? -No.

Caption 32, La Ladra EP. 8 - Il momento giusto - Part 9

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15) terrible  (terrible, awful, horrendous)

Here’s a partially true friend. We add it because it will be an easy word to call on if you need a negative adjective. It is not the first choice for Italians, though, and usually describes something as extraordinarily intense.

Qui, in seguito a una terribile frana, non abita più nessuno.

Here, following a big landslide, no one lives here anymore.

Caption 48, Basilicata Turistica Non me ne voglio andare - Part 2

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16) terrificante (dreadful, horrifying, terrifying, scary)

False friend alert. Terrificante does not mean “terrific.” It is a negative adjective, often used to mean “terrible,” but also “terrifying,” — inspiring fear.

Cioè, viviamo in un mondo che è brutale, terrificante... -Aspro, sì.

That is, we live in a world that's brutal, terrifying... -Bitter, yes.

Caption 6, Fellini Racconta Un Autoritratto Ritrovato - Part 8

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17) orrendo (horrible, hideous, horrendous, dreadful, awful, terrible)

This is a strong, extreme (negative) adjective, but it’s there when you need it, as a true “friend.” Eyebrows up, eyes wide open in horror.

18) noioso (boring, annoying, tedious, irritating)

This is a great adjective because, as well as describing a boring movie, it can also describe something or someone that’s annoying you or being a nuisance:

Quel film era molto noioso. Mi sono addirittura addormentato (That film was boring. I even fell asleep).
Non essere noioso (Don’t be so irritating, don’t annoy me).


Eh, povero Dixi, il singhiozzo è noioso

Oh, poor Dixi, the hiccups are bothersome

Caption 15, Dixiland Il singhiozzo

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19) negato (hopeless, useless, incapable, decidedly ungifted)

This is a useful adjective for admitting someone does something badly because they have no talent, no gift, not because they aren’t trying.

Negato describes a person (or possibly an animal), not an action or thing. Negato comes from the verb negare (to deny, to negate) but here, we are talking about the talent of a person.

Sono negato per la cucina. (I’m no good at cooking. I’m a disaster at cooking.)

Il maestro dice che non ha mai visto nessuno più negato di me.

The teacher says he has never seen anyone less gifted than me.

Caption 41, Questione di Karma Rai Cinema - Part 9

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20) tirchio (stingy, miserly)

This describes a person who holds onto his or her money or possessions. However, in English, we might sooner use a noun such as “tightwad.”

Quanto sei tirchio (what a tightwad you are).


We hope these words will help you describe events, people, food, and more. 

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50 good-to-know adjectives, part 3 — size and strength

Here are some good-to-know Italian adjectives that describe size and strength:

21) grande (big, large, tall, adult, great, grand)

This is a basic adjective that covers several bases, which means there is also room for doubt about what someone means. Hand gestures help, of course. Generally speaking, grande is a very positive adjective.

22) grosso  (big, large, major, coarse, arduous)

As you can see, grande and grosso are equivalents in some cases, but not all. If you say someone is grande, that’s fine. You might mean “tall” or you might mean “adult.” If you use grosso, you are talking about size, and might be implying they are also grasso (fat). Reading and watching Italian language videos will help you develop a sense for which adjective to use.

il sale grosso (coarse salt). Sale grosso is what most Italians use to salt the water for cooking pasta or vegetables. Good to know! We also need to consider the figurative meanings of both grande and grosso.

È stato un grande lavoro can imply the positive quality of a job. Grande also means “great.”

È stato un grosso lavoro implies that there was a lot of work to do.

Sometimes we describe someone as grande e grosso. In this case, it’s (often) a big, tall man with broad shoulders and possibly also a paunch. Grosso might give the impression of strength too.

È un omone grande e grosso, però è come un bambino,

He's a tall and big man, but he's like a child,

Caption 70, Il Commissario Manara S1EP4 - Le Lettere Di Leopardi - Part 2

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23) grasso  (fat, fatty, greasy, oily)

We use this adjective to describe a person or animal, but also to describe the fat content of food. Even oily or greasy hair can be described with grassoCapelli grassi (oily hair). Boldface letters are called in grassetto because the letters are thicker than normal ones.

24) robusto (strong, sturdy, hardy, robust, heavyset)

Here’s a word to use when you don’t want to call someone grasso (fat).

Era una donna robusta. (She was a heavyset woman.)

25) forte (strong, loud, intense, gifted)


This adjective is important to know, but it can also be ambiguous sometimes. See this Yabla lesson about this ambiguity.

In estate qui il sole è molto forte.

In summer, the sun here is very strong.

Caption 40, Adriano Le stagioni dell'anno

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Forte can also be the opposite of negato, therefore describing someone who is very good at something. Here are two examples with forte, but where it means something different in either example.

Abbassa la musica; è troppo forte. (Lower the volume of the music. It’s too loud.)

Certo che se vai tantissimo [tanto] forte, devi saper frenare per tempo!

For sure, if you go super fast, you have to know how to brake in time!

Caption 11, Dixiland In bicicletta

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26) piccolo (small, little)

If you are ordering a beer, the waiter might ask you grande o piccola? large or small?

Una birra piccola, per cortesia (a small beer, please).


Piccola can also mean very young, just as grande, especially when used comparatively, can describe someone older, like an older brother.

Mio fratello è più piccolo di me (my brother is younger than me).

27) debole (weak)

Sono troppo debole per sollevare questo peso. I’m too weak to lift this weight.


28) sottile (thin, subtle, fine)

The cognate for sottile is “subtle,” but sottile also means "thin," as when you want thin slices of something like cheese or prosciutto.

La nostra cipolla va affettata in modo molto sottile.

Our onion is to be sliced very thinly.

Caption 6, L'Italia a tavola Penne alla Toma Piemontese - Part 2

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29) basso (low, short, shallow, soft [in volume])

Here’s another adjective with different meanings that can lead us astray, so consequently, we have to pay careful attention to context. Sometimes it’s hard to know!

Ha il fondo piatto cosicché può navigare anche sui canali più bassi e sui fondali anche di pochi centimetri.

It has a flat bottom so it can navigate even the shallowest canals and over depths of even just a few centimeters.

Captions 20-21, In giro per l'Italia Venezia - Part 5

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30) alto (high, loud, tall)

The same ambiguity applies to this adjective. If you know all the meanings, you can try to figure out which meaning is intended, according to context. As with basso and forte, sometimes it’s hard to be 100% sure of the meaning.

Il sole doveva già essere alto in cielo, e invece era scomparso.

The sun should have already been high in the sky, but instead it had disappeared.

Captions 14-15, Dixiland Sole dormiglione

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Learn more!

Practical examples of these adjectives can be found throughout Yabla videos available here.   Yabla offers you the possibility of learning at your own pace and through videos pertaining to your interests. Expand your horizons by learning one of the most romantic languages in the world.


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2 basic verbs: essere (to be) and avere (to have)

In this lesson, we're going to look at two of the most common verbs in the Italian language: essere (to be) and avere (to have). They are both irregular verbs so they merit some special attention.


Here's how we conjugate essere (to be):

Io sono (I am)

Tu sei (you are)

Lei è (you are - polite form)

Lui è (he/it is)

Lei è (she/it is)

Noi siamo (we are)

Voi siete (you are plural)

Loro sono (they are)




And here is how to conjugate avere (to have):

Ho (I have)

Hai (you have)

Ha (he, she, it has)

Abbiamo (we have)

Avete  (you [plural] have)

Hanno (they have)


And here's an example of how they sound, in the first person singular:

Ciao, io sono Anna e ho quasi trent'anni. -Ciao, io sono Marika e ho trentasei anni.

Hi, I'm Anna and I am almost thirty years old. -Hi, I'm Marika and I am thirty-six years old.

Captions 1-2, Amiche Anna e Marika raccontano...

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There are some things to notice right away. If we look at the translation, we see that when we talk about age, the Italian verb is avere (to have) but in English the verb is "to be." That's a quirk. In Italian, you have an age and in English, you are an age. 


The second thing we might notice is that we see an h in the word ho, but we don't hear it. Yup, most of the time, the H is silent in Italian. It has an effect on other letters when following them, but at the beginning of a word, it's silent.


The third thing we notice is that Anna doesn't say io ho quasi trent' anni. Neither does Marika. That's because it's common and correct to leave out the personal pronoun because the conjugation of the verb already indicates who we're talking about. It's not always the case, but it is something to get used to and it happens with all verbs!


As you watch this video, you'll see that sometimes the personal pronoun is present, but it's often absent! Here's an example. Anna is clearly talking about Thomas, so she doesn't have to say lui è italiano. She can say è italiano.

Il mio fidanzato si chiama Thomas, ma è italiano.

My boyfriend's name is Thomas, but he's Italian.

Caption 20, Amiche Anna e Marika raccontano...

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They are still talking about Thomas, so Marika doesn't need the personal pronoun lui.

Ah, è proprio di Roma, alla fine.

Oh, he's really from Rome, in the end.

Caption 23, Amiche Anna e Marika raccontano...

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Here, Marika doesn't say the equivalent of "it." It's implied from the third-person singular conjugation of the verb essere (to be).

E quindi non è proprio la vacanza scelta da me,

And so, it's not a real holiday chosen by me,

Caption 12, Amiche Anna e Marika raccontano...

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Here's an example of the second person singular of essere (to be):

Mamma mia quanto sei bella.

Wow, you're so beautiful.

Caption 45, Volare - La grande storia di Domenico Modugno Ep. 1 - Part 27

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Here's an example of the second-person singular of avere (to have): 

Quanti anni hai? -Ventuno.

How old are you? -Twenty-one.

Caption 8, Amiche sulla spiaggia

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Here's an example of the second-person plural of essere:

Voi siete davvero un gruppo molto bello.

You are, really, a very nice group.

Caption 17, Anna e Marika Il verbo essere - Part 1

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And here's an example of the second-person plural of the verb avere:

...per riciclare al meglio la frutta che avete in casa best recycle the fruit you have at home

Caption 92, Andromeda Marmellata anti spreco - Part 2

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Here's an example of the first-person plural of essere:

Non riesco ancora a crederci, siamo i primi al mondo!

I still can't believe it. We're the first in the world!

Caption 6, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep.2 - Part 23

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And here's an example of the first person plural of avere:

Noi abbiamo amici da tutto il mondo.

We have friends from all over the world.

Caption 9, Adriano Matrimonio con Anita - Part 3

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And to finish, here's an example of the third-person plural of essere and avere:

Il flauto, il violino spesso... sono talmente acuti che vanno al di sopra del pentagramma.

The flute, the violin, often... are so high that they go above the staff.

Caption 33, A scuola di musica con Alessio - Part 3

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Molti di loro dormono con gli animali accanto al letto per riscaldarsi e non hanno neanche le scarpe per andare a lavorare, ma sorridono.

Many of them sleep with the animals next to the bed to warm up and they don't even have shoes to go to work, but they smile.

Captions 36-38, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep.2 - Part 12

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Both essere and avere are used as helping verbs, so it's pretty important to learn them. Hope this lesson has helped!


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3 bothersome synonyms: disturbo, fastidio, noia

Let's look at three words that can mean pretty much the same thing. They all have to do with bother.

nouns: il disturbo, il fastidio, la noia  

verbs: disturbare, dare fastidio, dare noia

adjectives: fastidioso, noioso



il disturbo - disturbare

The easiest word to understand is the verb disturbare. It looks similar to the English word "to disturb" and is a true cognate. But the noun il disturbo (the disturbance, the interruption) is used a lot, too. 

Ci scusi il disturbo, il commissario Manara vorrebbe farle qualche domanda.

Please excuse the interruption; Commissioner Manara would like to ask you few questions.

Caption 3, Il Commissario Manara S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto - Part 12

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When we feel we have overstayed our welcome or we feel it's time to leave, we can say:

Noi allora togliamo il disturbo. Dovesse venirvi in mente qualcosa, chiamateci.

We'll leave you then [we'll take away the disturbance]. If anything should come to mind, call us.

Captions 78-79, I Bastardi di Pizzofalcone EP2 Rabbia - Part 3

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When you have a medical problem, such as an upset stomach, you can refer to it as un disturbo (an ailment).


We've learned that it's polite to say Permesso (may I come in or "Is it permissible to come in?") when entering an office or someone's home, but sometimes there is another kind of situation, such as a phone call and you want to know if it's a good time... Disturbo (am I disturbing you)?


Carissima. -Ti disturbo? -Ma quando mai.

Dearest. -Am I disturbing you? -Not in the least.

Captions 33-34, I Bastardi di Pizzofalcone EP1 I Bastardi - Part 7

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We can use disturbare reflexively (disturbarsi) to mean "to go to the trouble."

Ma non ti disturbare, chiamo un taxi.

Don't go to any trouble. I'll call a cab.

Caption 12, Provaci ancora prof! S1E4 - La mia compagna di banco - Part 8

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Il fastidio - fastidioso

Il fastidio is a noun, and we usually say dare fastidio (to be a bother, to bother), literally, "to give bother." 


When a health worker is about to give you an injection, he or she might say,

Questo ti darà un po' fastidio (this will pinch just a bit). 


Eh, finché sono fuori e non danno fastidio, signora.

Eh, as long as they're outside and they're not bothering anyone, Ma'am.

Caption 5, Provaci ancora prof! S2E5 Vita da cani - Part 2

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Ma mica è un gatto, scusa. Che fastidio ti ?

But she's not a cat, pardon me. How is she bothering you?

Caption 4, Sposami EP 2 - Part 4

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We can also use the adjective fastidioso. This can refer to a noise, such as the noise of a blender or coffee grinder, or too much light, when you open the shutters on a sunny morning. It can be a sensation, as when you are testing for Covid and you or someone sticks a swap up your nose. 

È davvero molto fastidioso. Hai ragione".

It's really very bothersome. You are right."

Caption 73, COVID-19 5) I tamponi

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It can often refer to a very specific pain, like a mosquito bite, or the prick of a needle.


Il fastidio and fastidioso are very common words, but in certain parts of Italy, such as Tuscany, they use the la noia and noioso to mean pretty much the same thing. 

Erano alberi che davano noia e basta, e quindi questo è l'ultimo rimasto,

They were trees that were a bother and nothing more, and so this was the last one remaining,

Captions 30-31, Gianni si racconta L'olivo e i rovi

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Ah, quanto siete noiosi.

Ah, you are all so annoying.

Caption 23, Non è mai troppo tardi EP 2 - Part 16

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For more about noioso, see this lesson, because if you look up noioso in the dictionary, it will say "boring." So the context will help you determine if something is annoying, bothersome, or boring. Sometimes it's all three. But perhaps annoying is the most similar word in terms of sound, so it might be the easiest to remember. 


Now that you are tuned into these words, notice how they're used in Yabla videos. When you see and hear a sentence that can be applied to a familiar situation, write it down, say it, try to make it your own. 


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The fine line between adjectives and nouns

When we distinguish between adjectives and nouns, the presence or absence of an article plays its part. Certainly, in the Vocabulary Review exercise, included with all Yabla videos, a noun will have either a definite or indefinite article to distinguish it, and we add an article to the English translation for the same reason. But in real life, the distinction can be kind of fuzzy. 


When you're just speaking Italian, without translating, the difference doesn't matter all that much, but when we translate we have to decide whether a word is a noun or an adjective.



In English, too, the line can be a bit fuzzy. Take the word "elderly." It's an adjective, but we can also use it as a noun, to identify a group: the elderly. We don't think about it, we just use the word correctly. 


If we talk about an old person in Italian, we can use the adjective vecchio [m] or vecchia [f].

Passati i settant'anni, ormai è vecchio.

Being over seventy, he's already old.

Caption 29, Corso di italiano con Daniela Ormai

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But we can use the adjective as a noun by using an article with it. 

È un vecchio.

He's an old guy.

Caption 29, I Bastardi di Pizzofalcone EP1 I Bastardi - Part 16

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When we translate it into English, we need a noun after the adjective. 

Allora le faccio entrare le tre vecchie? -Signore, le... chiamiamole signore. -Le tre vecchie signore.

So should I have the three old [women] come in? Ladies, the... let's call them ladies. The three old ladies.

Captions 68-70, I Bastardi di Pizzofalcone EP2 Rabbia - Part 20

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The sergeant was describing the elderly women in a somewhat pejorative way and Lojacono corrected him. So he just turned the word he was using as a noun into an adjective. We could follow the same model with the adjective giovane (young).This adjective ends in e, so we don't immediately know the gender of the young person. As a noun in the context of the following clip, it usually refers to a male.

No. -Dio bono, Dio... -Eh... giovane, stai molto calmo, eh!

No. -Dear God... -Uh... young man, stay super calm, huh!

Caption 23, Il Commissario Manara S1EP2 - Vendemmia tardiva - Part 10

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When we add a noun after the adjective, we sometimes have a clue as to gender, but after that, we have to use the context to choose our noun wisely. In Italian, there are suffixes that can enhance the noun. Instead of saying una vecchia, we can say una vecchietta. That way it's clear it's a noun. We can say, instead of un giovane, un giovanotto.


We often find this noun-adjective correlation when describing people and their traits.


Pazzo (crazy)

E certamente, quello è pazzo di me.

And of course, that guy is crazy about me.

Caption 20, I Bastardi di Pizzofalcone EP1 I Bastardi - Part 16

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Aragona, guidi come un pazzo.

Aragona, you drive like a maniac.

Caption 13, I Bastardi di Pizzofalcone EP1 I Bastardi - Part 4

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Malato (ill)

E sapevate che era malato?

And did you know that he was ill?

Caption 1, Il Commissario Manara S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto - Part 4

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Molti dei malati vennero ricoverati nel vicino ospedale di Santa Maria della Scala,

Many of the sick were admitted to the nearby Santa Maria della Scala hospital,

Caption 42, Meraviglie EP. 3 - Part 6

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In this particular case, we use "the sick" to mean "sick people" in English, but we can't do it with all adjectives.


È un bastardo.

He is a bastard.

Caption 27, I Bastardi di Pizzofalcone EP1 I Bastardi - Part 24

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Se fossi più grande, andrei al cantiere, da quel geometra bastardo e gli darei un sacco di botte.

If I were older, I would go to the construction site, to that bastard of a construction supervisor and I'd throw a bunch of punches at him.

Captions 3-5, La Ladra EP. 7 - Il piccolo ladro - Part 3

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Most of us have heard or uttered the adjective stupido (stupid). But we can use it as a noun, too, just like adjectives idiota, cretino, and scemo.

Sì. Sara, io sono uno stupido.

Yes, Sara, I'm an idiot.

Caption 40, Stai lontana da me Rai Cinema - Part 16

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When people call other people names, it's not always clear how to translate them, whether as nouns or adjectives. But in either case, the insult is clear. 

Stupido! Cretino! Deficiente!

Stupid! Idiot! Dumbass!

Caption 44, La Ladra EP. 6 - Nero di rabbia - Part 7

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Nouns and verbs that go together

In Italian, as in other languages, sometimes a verb uses the same root as a noun that's related or vice versa. We don't always know which came first, the verb or the noun, but the good news is that there are plenty of verbs like this and they are pretty easy to learn.


The words we discuss in this lesson originally have to do with plants. So let's learn the Italian word for "plant" right off the bat. It's an easy one. 


Pianta - piantare

La pianta is the noun and piantare is the verb. 

E poi, domenica aveva in progetto di piantare il nuovo vigneto al podere dei Sassi.

And then, Sunday he had planned to plant a new vineyard at the Sassi farm.

Caption 34, Il Commissario Manara S1EP2 - Vendemmia tardiva - Part 1

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Ehm, in questi vasi sono state piantate delle piante molto belle.

Um, in these pots, very beautiful plants have been planted.

Caption 20, In giro per l'Italia Mazara Del Vallo - Sicilia - Part 3

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As we will see with seminare, further on in this lesson, piantare can also be used figuratively. It often means to stop or quit doing something like complaining or lying. It's a strong word to use when you are fed up with how someone is behaving. 

La devi piantare di mentire.

You have to quit lying.

Caption 5, Provaci ancora prof! S1E4 - La mia compagna di banco - Part 21

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In the previous example, the speaker wanted to include the verb dovere (to have to) but otherwise could have just said, Piantala (quit it)! It's as if he wanted to say, "You have to quit it with the lying."


There's more! If you get dropped by a friend or hired help, piantare can be a useful verb.

Pia, la mia colf, mi ha piantato. Dice che non vuole vivere in campagna.

Pia, my nanny, ditched me. She says that she doesn't want to live in the country.

Caption 21, Un medico in famiglia Stagione 1 EP1 - Casa nuova - Part 5

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Seme - seminare

Another noun that goes nicely with its verb is il seme (the seed). 

E poi da questo seme che pianti nasce, come per miracolo, una verdura, un pomodoro, ehm, del peperone.

and then from this seed that you plant, like a miracle, a vegetable, a tomato, uhm, a pepper comes up.

Captions 10-11, Professore Antonio L'orto del Vesuvio

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We often use the verb piantare (to plant), as in the previous example, because it's generic for putting something in the ground, and it can apply to both seeds and plants, but the more accurate word to use, especially when talking about seeds for crops, is seminare (to sow).


The verb is seminare (to sow).

E usiamo i semi. Questa idea mi piace. Eccoli qui, Mirò, sono pronti da seminare.

And we'll use the seeds. I like this idea. Here they are, Mirò. They're ready to plant/sow.

Captions 42-44, Gatto Mirò EP 10 Piantiamo un albero

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In a segment of Provaci ancora, Prof!, Camilla is driving when her daughter, Livietta, sees that a car has been following them for a while. Camilla gives her daughter instructions to tenersi forte (to hold on tight) while she tries to lose the other car. She uses the colloquial term, seminare. Think of someone sowing seeds by tossing them or throwing them. 


Perché c'è una macchina che ci segue, saranno almeno dieci minuti. -Tieniti forte perché cerco di seminarla adesso.

Because there's a car following us, it must be at least ten minutes. -Hold on tight because I'm going to try to lose it now.

Captions 5-7, Provaci ancora prof! S1E3 - Una piccola bestia ferita - Part 20

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And again, in another episode, Camilla is being followed and it is her daughter who notices that. 

Evvai, mamma! Li hai seminati!

Go, Mommy! You lost them!

Caption 66, Provaci ancora prof! S2E4 L'amica americana - Part 19

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A verb related to seminare is disseminare. This is used to mean "to spread out,"  or "to distribute," "to broadcast."

Smembra il cadavere e lo dissemina in punti che sono tutti riconducibili a Lei, signor Romaniello.

He dismembers the corpse and he spreads it around in places that can be traced to you, Mister Romaniello.

Captions 32-33, Imma Tataranni Sostituto procuratore S1EP1 L'estate del dito - Part 27

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Here, too, we can imagine someone holding a basket full of seeds that get sown in the field by tossing them out by the handful, scattering them, broadcasting them, so that they get spread out, they get well-distributed. 


Can you think of other verbs and nouns that go together?


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50 good-to-know Italian adjectives part 1 — positives

It's good to know some basic Italian adjectives so that you can comment on things you see, hear, smell, and taste. We'll be presenting 50 Italian adjectives that people use every day, approximately 10 by 10, so they'll be manageable. Some of these will be easy because they are similar to ones you know in English. Others will be past participles of verbs, just as in English. Yet others will be weird and different and just need to be memorized. And there will be some false friends to watch out for. For more about how adjectives work, see this lesson.



Sometimes An Adjective Is Enough. 

Adjectives are an essential part of speaking a language but the good news is that even if you don't know how to form a sentence or a question, just knowing the appropriate adjective can allow you to communicate something. And that's what language is all about: communication. So if nothing else, just say the appropriate adjective, all by itself, and you will get your message across. 


Adjectives that express something positive:


1) bello (beautiful, great)

beautiful blue sea
We can use this adjective for much more than describing a panorama or person as “beautiful.”


We also use it for a movie or book we liked, a situation like a vacation, an encounter…


Ho visto un bel film (I saw a great movie).


So it can also mean “wonderful.” And, since it’s an adjective that changes its ending according to gender and number, it can be used for both guys and gals or masculine and feminine nouns by just changing the ending from bello to bella. So it also means “handsome!”


You'll have noticed that instead of saying Ho visto un bello film, we chop off the ending when it's followed directly by the noun. We say:

Ho visto un bel film, ho letto un bel libro (I saw a great movie, I read a good book). 


When you see something beautiful, you can simply say Bello! or Che bello!

Bello, l'ha fatto Lei?

b. Did you do it?

Caption 16, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 18

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2) buono (good)

Buono is used a lot for food, for instance, when something tastes good, but it’s also used to mean “valid.” It can also describe a good person.

È una buona persona (He/she is a good person). 


Note that persona is a feminine noun, so even if we are talking about a boy or man, the adjective describing persona has to take a feminine ending. Tricky, right?


See Daniela's video lesson about bello, buono, and bene.

Questo è il gelato artigianale. Più gli ingredienti sono freschi e più è buono.

This is handmade ice cream. The fresher the ingredients are, the better it is.

Captions 15-16, Andromeda in - Storia del gelato - Part 2

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Note: Buono is one of those adjectives that has an irregular comparative. See this lesson and this one, too.


3) carino (nice, pretty, good-looking)

This is another adjective with an “o” ending, changing its ending according to gender and number. In aesthetic terms, it is less extreme than bello. However, carino is often used to mean “nice” or “kind” in describing a person, or what the person has done, for example, if you do someone a favor they didn’t ask you to do.

Eh sì. -Eh sì. Comunque Luca è stato molto carino, eh, ad accompagnare suo figlio Fabio all'istituto.

Oh yes. -Oh yes. However Luca was very sweet, no, to accompany his son Fabio to the institute.

Oh yes. -Oh yes. However, it was really nice of Luca, no, to accompany his son Fabio to the institute.

Captions 26-27, Il Commissario Manara S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto - Part 14

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4) gentile (kind, gentle)

Gentile is a bit more formal than carino. Carino is often used to describe people close to you, but if the bank manager was nice and polite to you, you would use the word gentile. You might also use cortese (courteous) —a great cognate!

E come no, mai una cattiva parola, sempre gentile.

For sure, never a mean word, always kind.

Caption 31, I Bastardi di Pizzofalcone EP2 Rabbia - Part 3

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5) bravo (capable, well-behaved, good at something)

Caro Olivetti, sarai anche bravo a far le macchine da scrivere, ma i tuoi interessi non sono i nostri.

Dear Olivetti, you might be good at making typewriters, but your interests are not ours.

Captions 43-44, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep.2 - Part 20

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False friend alert! Forget about “brave” for the most part. Fai la brava! means “Be a good girl!” 


È un bravo idraulico (he is a very capable plumber. He is a good plumber).


When I want to say, “Good for you!” I say Bravo! (for a guy) or Brava! (for a gal).

Il cane è bravo (he’s a good [well-behaved] dog–he won’t bite you).

6) ottimo (great, excellent)

This looks like “optimal,” and can also mean that sometimes, but primarily, it’s a superlative kind of adjective that means “great.” Consider this exchange:

Ci vediamo alle cinque. -Ottimo.
I’ll meet you at five o’clock. -Great.


È un ottimo posto per fare jogging.

It's a great place to go jogging.

Caption 25, Anna e Marika Villa Torlonia - Casino Nobile

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This is the perfect comment for someone whose work you appreciated:

Ottimo lavoro!
[You did a] great job! 

7) eccellente (excellent)

Here’s a great true friend or cognate. This adjective ends in e, so it doesn’t change with gender, just number.

Questo risotto era da vero eccellente (this risotto was excellent.)

Queste ostriche sono eccellenti (these oysters are great.)


Eccellente can also describe a prominent or eminent person, such as someone in a high position.

8) corretto (correct, fair, right, decent)

Here is a partially false friend. If you get the right answer, la risposta è corretta. That’s easy.  However, the other meaning of “fair,” — “fair-minded,” “sportsmanlike”— is less familiar to non-native speakers, but very important! For instance, corretto can describe a person as well as his or her behavior.

Pensavo che fosse una persona corretta, e invece… (I thought he was a decent, fair-minded person, but instead…)


Ma ti pare corretto, l'esaminatore che si fa venire a prendere dall'esaminando? -No. -Ma dai!

But does it seem right to you for the exam giver to have the exam taker pick him up? -No. -Come on!

Captions 8-9, La Ladra EP. 11 - Un esame importante - Part 4

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9) favoloso (fabulous, magnificent, awesome)

Here is another true friend. We don’t use “fabulous” in English so much anymore — but some of us still remember the “fab four” (The Beatles). In contrast, Italians do use favoloso when they really mean it. Eyebrows go up, eyes get wider.

Allora, io oggi sono arrivata in questa favolosa città, Lucca, però non la conosco, quindi dove posso andare?

So, today I arrived in this fabulous city, Lucca, but I don't know it, so where can I go?

Captions 16-17, In giro per l'Italia Lucca - Part 1

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10) magnifico (magnificent, great, terrific, cool)


Another true friend, this adjective is somewhat over-used in Italian, thus diminishing its value as a superlative:


Ci vediamo alle cinque. -Magnifico. (I’ll see you at five. -Great.)


E tu, come sempre, sei stata magnifica. -E tu un magnifico bugiardo.

And you, as always, were magnificent. -And you, a magnificent liar.

Captions 2-3, La Ladra EP. 12 - Come ai vecchi tempi - Part 14

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Let's add one more adjective (not included in the 50) that is super easy to use, and easy to remember: fantastico. It's used just like "fantastic" in English, so when you're short on vocabulary, try this one. AND even if you say it in English, people will understand. Of course, it can also be connected with "fantasy," but that's another story. 

Sarebbe fantastico andare al concerto tutti insieme. -Un sogno.

It would be fantastic to go to a concert all together. -A dream.

Caption 48, JAMS S1 EP2 - Part 7

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We hope this has been helpful. The next group of adjectives will be about negative adjectives. Stay tuned!



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Business vocabulary and expressions part 3

Previously, we looked at ways to talk about going to work and different positions at the workplace. In Part 3, we will talk about something we often have to do in an office or other workplace, or even just in everyday life: sign documents. Since the words we are looking for are not cognates — in fact, we might be tempted to invent the word "signare," which would be wrong — let's become familiar with the right words.



The verb is firmare (to sign).

Documenti importanti da firmare, giusto.

Important documents to sign, that's right.

Caption 14, Provaci ancora prof! S1E3 - Una piccola bestia ferita - Part 9

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But you can also use the noun la firma (the signature).

Il verbale senza la sua firma non serve a nulla.

The statement without her signature is useless.

Caption 5, Imma Tataranni Sostituto procuratore S1EP1 L'estate del dito - Part 26

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We often use the verb fare (to make, to do) when asking someone for their signature.

Mi fai una firma (will you sign this for me)?


We can also use the verb mettere (to put).

C'è da pagare un'ammenda, se mi mette una firma.

There's a fine to pay if you would put your signature on it for me.

Caption 17, Un medico in famiglia Stagione 3 S3 EP2 - Un nuovo medico in famiglia - Part 12

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These days, we are often asked to create una firma digitale (a digital signature) so that we can send un documento firmato (a signed document) via posta elettronica (email) or messaggino (text). Whatever kind of computer you have, there is likely an application to facilitate this. 


When you just need to initial a document, or, especially, single lines in a document, rather than providing your entire signature, someone might say:

Basta uno scarabocchio (a scribble will suffice).

Fai uno scarabocchio (initial it).


The proper, formal term, is siglare (to initial). 


Did you know that Daniela has a series of lessons on how to write a formal letter in Italian? Check it out here!

Dopo la formula di chiusura, inserisco la firma del mittente.

After the complimentary closing, I insert the signature of the sender.

Captions 27-28, Corso di italiano con Daniela Lettera formale - Part 4

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Two more important words to know, in the office or outside it are il mittente (the sender) and il destinatario (the recipient or addressee).


Let us know if there are particular things you would like to know about using Italian in the workplace. And let's not forget that more and more, English words are being incorporated into business Italian!


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1 important way to translate the verb "to get" in Italian

In our lessons, we often take Italian words and explore them, but sometimes we can switch things around and begin with an English word that's used in so many ways, such as the verb "to get." Let's look at just 1 common and useful way we can translate "to get."


In English, we might say, "I'm getting sleepy. I think I will go to bed." We use the adjective "sleepy," just as we use "hungry," and "thirsty." But in Italian, we usually use the noun, "sleepiness" or "sleep." You might already have learned the Italian for saying, "I'm hungry" (ho fame), "I'm thirsty" (ho sete), "I'm tired or sleepy" (ho sonno). But sometimes we want to talk about getting to that state. That's when we can use the verb venire.


Già mi viene sonno.

I'm already getting sleepy.

Caption 16, PsicoVip Il treno - Ep 3

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Note that the verb used in Italian is venire (to come). We would never say it, but we could say, "To me, sleepiness is coming." In fact, using the verb venire, where in English we say "get," is common, especially in the specific instance of adjectives like the ones we have mentioned. Let's look at some examples.



Quando corro, mi viene sete.

When I run, I get thirsty.


Non ti viene fame? -Oh, sì.

Don't you get hungry? -Oh, yes.

Caption 25, PIMPA S3 Ep 21 Arriva l'autunno

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Here's an example using the future tense of venire. Marika and Anna are about to take us to un panificio (a bakery).

Vi verrà fame eh!

You're going to get hungry huh!

Caption 32, Anna e Marika Il pane

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And here is one in the passato remoto (the remote past tense).

Poi venne sonno anche a lui.

Then he, too, got sleepy.

Caption 6, Dixiland Cometa caduta

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Note that in the examples above, the subject of the sentence or phrase is the condition, in other words, "the hunger," "the sleepiness," "the thirstiness."


Sometimes we don't want to use the verb "to get" in a translation because it is somewhat colloquial. So we use the verb "to become," which seems clearer. In fact, one translation of the verb "to become" is divenire, a verb that is closely related to venire.


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Getting busy with darsi da fare

We can combine two very common verbs into one expression that means "to get busy" or "to work hard." The expression is darsi da fare. We can detect a reflexive ending on the verb dare (to give) with darsi. If we think about it in the first person, it's, "I give myself." What do I give myself? Da fare (stuff to do). 


If I am busy and can't talk to you right now, I might say, Ho da fare (I have stuff to do, I am busy).

Ho detto: "Senta, scusi, eh... io c'ho [ho] da fare, è tardissimo, -Mh.

I said, "Listen, I'm sorry, uh... I'm busy, it's really late," -hmm.

Caption 48, Francesca e Marika Gestualità

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But if you are giving yourself stuff to do, with the verb dare (to give) it's more active. 

Mi do da fare (I keep myself busy, I work hard).



If we are talking about someone else who works hard in general, we might say: 

Si dà da fare (he/she works hard).

Note the accent we place on the third person singular of the verb dare to distinguish it from da, the preposition meaning "of," "to," or "from."


We also use this expression in a command form when we want someone to get to work, to do something, or to get something done. 


Datti da fare! (Get to work!, Do something! Get on it!)

Datti da fare pure tu.

You get on it, too.

Caption 13, Provaci ancora prof! S2E4 L'amica americana - Part 16

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If we are talking to more than one person, it's: 

Datevi da fare.


We might be talking to a group we are included in, we'll say:

Diamoci da fare (let's get to work, let's get busy).


If we are being polite or formal to one person, it's:

Si dia da fare.

If we want to be polite to more than one person, we need to go into the third person plural:

Si diano da fare.


Tip: Note that when we are using the polite form, it's the same as the subjunctive third person (check out the conjugation chart). We can mostly get by fine without using this polite form, unless we are working in a place where our Italian-speaking employees are people we address formally. 


To conclude, da fare can be part of a longer phrase such as Ho tantissime cose da fare (I have lots of things to do), but da fare can be used by itself to just mean "stuff to do."


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