Sapere sapere sapere

Sapere sapere sapere. We keep coming back to the same verbs, but there’s always something more to learn!


We have already covered the verb sapere (to know, to know how to, to have the flavor/smell of) in previous lessons. But this week, Daniela talks about sapere once again. This time she discusses the most common meaning of sapere: to have knowledge of something. She explains how to use sapere in this sense, when followed by a verb in the infinitive rather than by a noun.


She explains about using the preposition di between conjugated sapere and the verb in the infinitive:

Allora diciamo: sappiamo di essere i più forti. I più forti.
So we say, "We know we're the strongest. The strongest."
Caption 22, Corso di italiano con Daniela - Verbo + Verbo all'infinito + preposizione DI - Part 3 of 3

So di essere in ritardo.
I know I am late. (Or, I know that I’m late.)

The preposition di is generally translated as "of," but the trick here is that in English we don’t use the preposition “of” in this kind of situation. We either use “that,” as in “I know that I am late,” or we don’t use any preposition at all, as in “I know I am late.” All in all, sapere plus di plus infinitive is a construction that is difficult to match up in English, so we just have to assimilate it as best we can.


Let’s look at some more examples of sapere plus di, so you can get a feel for it.

Uno stupido non sa di essere stupido (an idiot doesn’t know he’s stupid).

Sappiamo di doverti delle scuse (we know we owe you an apology).

Sai di essere l’unica persona in grado di risolvere il problema (do you know you are the only person able to solve the problem)?

Sapete di camminare in mezzo alla strada (do you know you are walking in the middle of the road)?

Sanno di infrangere la legge, ma non gli importa niente (they know they are breaking the law, but they don’t care).

Leonardo sa di essere stato scorretto con me (Leonardo knows he has not been fair with me).


One of the other ways sapere gets used is to mean “to know how to.” Daniela has explained this in another video lesson:

Per esempio, io posso dire: Luca sa nuotare.
For example, I may say, "Luca knows how to swim."
Caption 19, Corso di italiano con Daniela: Verbo + Verbo all'infinito - Part 1


Here are some additional examples of this meaning. It should be mentioned that in this case, sapere acts like a modal verb, such as “can,” “must,” “may,” etc. Remember that with modal verbs, there is no preposition before the infinitive.

Non so parlare spagnolo (I don’t know how to speak Spanish).

Roberto non sa cucinare (Roberto doesn’t know how to cook).

Non sapete leggere fra le righe (you don’t know how to read between the lines).

miei genitori non sanno ballare (my parents don’t know how to dance).


And let’s not forget that we can also use sapere before a noun.

Sai l’ora (do you know the time)?

So quello che dico (I know what I’m saying). 

So l’inglese (I know English.)

Di quella canzone, Gianna non sa abbastanza bene le parole (Gianna doesn’t know the words to that song well enough). 

Continue Reading

The Verb Ricordare (to Remember) in Context

Daniela has talked about the fact that ricordare (to remember) takes the preposition di. In a recent episode of Stai lontana da me, there is a scene where the verb ricordare appears a number of times. Let’s take a closer look.

In the following example, Simona is using ricordare reflexively: ricordarsi (to remember), but very generally, in that there is no direct object at all. She’s just saying, “You don’t remember, do you?”

È incredibile, sono passati trent'anni e sei identico. -Identico a chi? -Sono Simona, non ti ricordi, eh?
It's incredible, thirty years have passed and you are the same. -The same as who? -I'm Simona, you don't remember, do you?
Captions 14-15, Rai Cinema: Stai lontana da me - Part 15 of 17 

But then, as they keep talking, we start hearing some direct object pronouns as well.

Ma figurati, ma io manco me la ricordo 'sta maledizione.
But are you kidding? But I don't even remember it, this curse.
Caption 25, Rai Cinema: Stai lontana da me - Part 15 of 17

Of course in English, we don’t normally include the direct object pronoun together with the direct object noun.


'Sta maledizione (this curse) is the actual direct object of the above example and the one below.

Ma come non te la ricordi? -Ma non me la ricordo, era alle elementari, Jacopo. -Eh!
But what do you mean you don’t remember it? -But don't remember it, it was at elementary school, Jacopo. -Yeah.
Captions 26, Rai Cinema: Stai lontana da me - Part 15 of 17


In the following example, just the indirect object pronoun (mi in this case) is used because what was remembered (the fact of being sweethearts) is then explained in a separate clause.

Eh, mi ricordo che eravamo fidanzatini, poi, non so, è successo qualcosa e...
Uh, I remember that we were sweethearts and then something happened and...
Captions 27, Rai Cinema: Stai lontana da me - Part 15 of 17

So when we don’t need to be specific, mi ricordo or non mi ricordo (I remember/I don’t remember) will do.

When there is no direct pronoun, just an indirect pronoun, we can ask the question:

Ti ricordi?
Do you remember?

But when we specify what is being remembered, we either insert a direct object noun:

Ti ricordi quel viaggio...?
Do you remember that trip...?

Or a verbal phrase:

Ti ricordi di aver fatto quel viaggio nel settantanove?
Do you remember having made that trip in seventy-nine?

Attenzione! This is when we need di, as Daniela has explained in a recent video lessonRicordare is a verb that takes the preposition di when followed by a verb in the infinitive, whether or not it is reflexive.


We can also insert a direct object pronoun. Attenzione! This causes a shift. In this case, the indirect pronoun changes from an i ending to an e ending. The direct pronoun will be lo (it), la (it), li (them), or le (them): In this particular case the object is viaggio (trip), a masculine noun.

Te lo ricordi?
Do you remember it?
Me lo ricordo
I remember it.
Se lo ricordano.
They remember it.

You can practice forming sentences with only an indirect pronoun. Then add a direct object pronoun corresponding to a noun you are thinking of, and make the shift, as above.


Continue Reading

Remembering and Forgetting with Ricordare and Dimenticare

In Italian, “to remember” and “to forget” go well together: Ricordare/dimenticare


Ricordare may be easy to remember if we think of making a mental record of something.​
Dimenticare, if you take it apart, is kind of a fun word. Di, just like “dis” in English, often undoes something. Mente is the Italian word for mind. You undo something from your mind!

Duemilaseidici è stato un anno da ricordare o da dimenticare?
Was two thousand sixteen a year to remember, or a year to forget?


Think of things you want to remember or forget from last year:

Vorrei ricordare un bellissimo viaggio in Italia.
I would like to remember a great trip to Italy.
Vorrei dimenticare quanti soldi ho dovuto spendere
I would like to forget how much money I had to spend.


In the above examples, we have treated ricordare and dimenticare as ordinary transitive verbs. They are followed by a noun. This is the most basic way to use these verbs. But ricordare and dimenticare are, more often than not, used reflexively.

Ricordati (remember)!! When a verb is reflexive, the subject and object of the verb are one and the same:

Mi sono tagliato (I cut myself).


For more about reflexive verbs see this lesson and this video.


In the following example, ricordare is used reflexively, and is followed by a noun, not a verb.

Daniela, tu per caso ti ricordi i nomi degli altri colli di Roma?
Daniela, do you, by chance, remember the names of the other hills of Rome?
Caption 6, Marika e Daniela: Il Foro Romano 


Ricordiamoci (let’s remember) that when a verb, not a noun, follows a verb in this category, we need the preposition di in between, as in the following example. You may notice that the verb decidere (to decide) behaves the same way!

Il tuo amico ha deciso di portarti in giro con il suo scooter, ma non ha dimenticato di prestarti un casco.
Your friend has decided to take you around on his scooter, but hasn't forgotten to lend you a helmet.
Caption 8, Marika spiega: I veicoli 


The above example could be modified a few ways to say the same thing. We could use the reflexive:

Il tuo amico si è deciso di portarti in giro con il suo scooter, ma non si è dimenticato di prestarti un casco.
Your friend has decided to take you around on his scooter, but hasn't forgotten to lend you a helmet.


You will notice that as soon as we use the reflexive form, we need the auxiliary verb essere (to be) rather than avere (to have) in the compound tenses. This can be tricky indeed!


We could also use the verb ricordare:

Il tuo amico si è deciso di portarti in giro con il suo scooter, e si è ricordato di prestarti un casco.
Your friend has decided to take you around on his scooter, and has remembered to lend you a helmet.


However we decide to use ricordare and dimenticare (and decidere, for that matter), we need di before the verb in the infinitive.

Ah, mi sono dimenticato di dirti che...
Oh, I forgot to tell you that...
Caption 20, Francesca: alla guida - Part 1 of 4 

Continue Reading

Ci: There's Always More to Say About It!

We had mentioned in a recent lesson that we would come back to ci. Well, it just so happens that Marika talks about ci in a recent video lesson.

To start off, she explains how ci is used to express place so that you don’t have to keep repeating the place in subsequent sentences if it has already been mentioned once. It’s a pronoun in this sense, and includes the preposition and the object of the preposition. So we’re talking about an indirect pronoun.

She uses some examples that give a fairly clear idea of how to use ci in this sense. What can be tricky is that in English, we can leave more elements out of the sentence than in Italian.

There is one example she gives:

Vieni a fare la spesa con me?
Are you coming food shopping with me?
Sì, ci vengo. Grazie.
Yes, I'm coming. Thanks.
Captions 29-30, Marika spiega: La particella “ci” - Part 1 of 3 

In this case, it’s hard to find any kind of indirect object that represents “to do the shopping with me.” In English, we just say, “Yes, I’m coming.” We could say, “Yes, I’m coming with you,” but that leaves out the shopping.


So when we are thinking about how to say something in Italian, and we are translating from English, it’s tricky to remember this little particle ci. It gets used so often, and it gets used in situations in which we as English speakers would not bother. Fortunately much of the time we can be understood in Italian even if we don’t use these words. It can take years to make ci a natural part of speech for a non-native speaker.

Here are a few more examples:

Dovevo andare al lavoro oggi, ma non ci vado.
I was supposed to go to work today, but I’m not going there.

In English we would just say, “but I’m not going.” And that is what takes getting used to in Italian!


Mia madre sta bene in questa casa, ma io ci sto male.
My mother is happy in this house, but I am not happy here.


Ho chiesto un aumento,ma non ci conto.
I asked for a raise, but I’m not counting on it.


As Marika tells us more about ci, we'll have more examples for you. So stay tuned!

Continue Reading

Cercare, Tentare and Provare: to Try.

Cercaretentareprovare: All three of  these verbs have multiple meanings, but they are also all synonyms meaning “to try.” There are nuances in their meanings that lead us to choose one over the other in a given situation, but that will get easier over time.


This week Daniela explains about using the verb cercare with infinitives when it means “to try.” Cercare takes the preposition di (to) before a verb in the infinitive.

Cerco di aprire la bottiglia.
I try to open the bottle.
Caption 58, Corso di italiano con Daniela: Verbo + Verbo all'infinito + preposizione DI - Part 1 of 3 


We could use the verb tentare to mean much the same thing. It also takes the preposition di when used with a second verb in the infinitive.

Ho tentato di aprire la bottiglia, ma ...
I tried to open the bottle, but...


A helpful cognate for this verb is “to attempt.”

attempted to open the bottle...


We can say something similar with the verb provareAttenzione! Provare takes the preposition a. Daniela will soon be talking about this preposition. When she does, you’ll be ready!

Ho provato ad aprire la bottiglia.
I tried to open the bottle.


All three of these verbs have additional meanings.
Daniela told us about cercare. You use it when you’re searching for something.

Ho cercato il libro, ma non l’ho trovato.
I looked for the book but I didn’t find it.


Tentare has an additional meaning, “to tempt.“

Non mi tentare con quel dolce. Sono a dieta.
Don’t tempt me with that dessert. I’m on a diet.


There’s a noun form, too: una tentazione (a temptation).


Provare has an English cognate “to prove,” which is a synonym for dimostrare (to demonstrate).

Non ha rubato le scarpe, ma non lo può provare.
He didn't steal the shoes, but he can't prove it.

The noun form is la prova (the proof, the evidence).

e quindi tutte le prove sono a carico di Ninetta.
and so all the proof is against Ninetta.
Caption 6, Anna e Marika: in La Gazza Ladra - Part 1 of 2 


But provare also has to do with feelings, and in this case is a synonym for sentire (to feel). In the following example the impersonal si is used.

Ce la fai a dirci che cosa si prova in questo momento?
Can you let us know what you're feeling right now?
È un'emozione grandissima, sono emozionatissima.
It's a very great emotion, I'm very excited.
Captions 7-8, Gioia Marconi: Vado avanti


It should be mentioned that we use la prova, or le prove, for when we practice music, theater, or dance with others, when we rehearse. This meaning has more to do with provare when it means “to try.”

Dove devi andare?
Where do you have to go?
A fare le prove per il concerto.
To practice for the concert. 
Captions 23-24, Milena e Mattia: L'incontro




Try switching verbs among cercaretentare, and provare. Remember to use the correct preposition! In this exercise we are only dealing with cercaretentare and provare when they mean "to try."


Tutti i giorni, cerco di arrivare puntuale a scuola (every day, I try to get to school on time).


A volte provo ad andarci in bici, ma arrivo troppo stanco (sometimes I try to go by bike but I arrive tuckered out).


Ho tentato di chiedere un passaggio alla zia, ma lei parte troppo tardi (I tried asking my aunt for a ride, but she leaves too late).


Hai provato a chiamare il dottore (did you try to call the doctor)?


Tenterò di dire qualche parola in inglese (I will try to say a few words in English).


Cerca di parlare un po’ più piano, altrimenti non ti capiscano (try speaking more slowly, otherwise they don’t understand).


Cercherò di darti una  risposta entro questa settimana (I will try to give you an answer within the week).


L’ultima volta che ho cercato di cucinare il pesce, è stato un fallimento (the last time I tried cooking fish, it was a failure).


Continue Reading

The Ci in C'è

A common contraction we hear every day in Italian is c’è (there is). If we open it up, we find two words:

Ci (there) and è (third person singular of essere [to be]).


When referring to objects in a place, c'è is fairly straightforward, and its English translation “there is” corresponds quite well:

Nel corpo di Giada non c'è traccia di quel sonnifero.
In Giada's body there is no trace of that sleeping medicine.
Caption 50, Il Commissario Manara 1: Un morto di troppo Ep. 10 - Part 9 of 12  


But things aren't always so straightforward. Let’s look at the following example where, to our ears, it might seem like there’s an extraneous “there.” In fact, the literal translation of the Italian would be “there’s the mama.” Let’s not forget that Italian uses ci to mean “there” and “here” interchangeably for the most part.

Vai, vai tranquillo, c'è la mamma! -Sì, mamma.
Go ahead, don’t worry, Mama is here! -Yes, Mama.
Caption 15, Il Commissario Manara 1: Le Lettere Di Leopardi - Ep 4 - Part 10 of 17


In the following example, and the previous one, we see that the word order changes between English and Italian. In Italian the ci (there) comes before the conjugated verb “to be,” making the contraction easy, but in English we need to put “there” afterwards:

Sì, ma non c'è nessuno. È tutto serrato.
Yes, but nobody is there. It's all locked up.
Caption 9, Il Commissario Manara 1: Un delitto perfetto - Ep. 1 - Part 1 of 14 

Or, we can put in an extra “there.”

There’s nobody there.
There’s nobody here.


Attenzione! If we want to distinguish between “here” and “there,” then we can use qui and .

Il libro non è qui, è lì (the book isn't here; it's there).


Italian uses “there is” to mean “it exists”:

È il minerale più resistente che c'è in natura. Rilassati Gina.
It's the most resistant mineral that exists in nature. Relax, Gina.
Caption 11,  La ladra: Le cose cambiano - Part 16 of 17


But there are also colloquial turns of phrase that use “there is” that don't quite correspond to English. The following example is in the imperfetto or simple past.

C'era Lei di turno tre notti fa? -Sì.
Were you in service three nights ago? -Yes.
Caption 2, Il Commissario Manara 1: Un morto di troppo Ep. 10 - Part 10 of 12 


When asking for someone on the phone, Italians use c’è. Remember that unlike English, questions and statements in Italian have the same word order, but the inflection changes.

Pronto. -Salve, c’è Susanna?
Hello. -Hello, is Susanna there?


When asking what’s wrong, it’s easy to say:

Che c'è? -Niente. 
What is the matter? -Nothing.
Caption 7. Il Commissario Manara 1: Il Raggio Verde - Ep 5 - Part 5 of 14 

In this case, translating literally (what is there?) does not work at all!


Lastly, let’s not forget the popular song by Nek, Laura non c'è. Note again the fact that ci (here, there) is inserted before the verb “to be.”

Laura non c'è, è andata via
Laura is not here; she's gone away
Caption 1, Nek: Laura non c'è 


We’ll often come back to the word ci in lessons, since it really does get around, and can be tricky. For more about ci, see these lessons.

Continue Reading

Combining Conjugated Verbs and Infinitives - Part 1

Lately, Daniela has been talking about verbs. 


Conjugated verbs have different endings depending on the type of verb, the tense, and the person carrying out the action. Daniela has given lessons on the different conjugations of Italian verbs. Un verbo all’infinito (a verb in the infinitive), on the other hand, is the basic verb, with nothing done to it. It always ends in “e.”


Conjugated verbs combine with verbs in the infinitive in different ways. Sometimes a preposition (to, at, of) is needed and sometimes not. In her last three segments, Daniela discusses those cases where no preposition is needed.


In some cases we have the formula:

conjugated verb + verb in the infinitive


In the following example the conjugated verb is the modal verb volere (to want). Let’s review what modal verbs are. They generally combine with verbs in the infinitive, and normally don’t stand alone. Another word for verbo modale is verbo servile (servant verb), because these verbs serve another verb. The modal verbs are potere (to be able to), volere (to want to), sapere (to know how to), and dovere (to have to). See this video lesson about modal verbs.

Voleva entrare dalla finestra all'alba.
He wanted to come through my window at sunup.
Caption 15, La Tempesta: film - Part 3 of 27 


But here is a non-modal verb that works the same way. The verb lasciare (to leave, to let) is conjugated, and it's followed by a verb in the infinitive entrare (to enter), with no preposition between the two verbs.

Non ti lasciamo entrare in casa.
We won't let you come in the house.
Caption 4, Ti racconto una fiaba: I tre porcellini - Part 2 of 2


The second formula Daniela talks about is:

conjugated verb essere (to be) + adjective + verb in the infinitive

E per lei non è stato difficile conoscere tanti nuovi amici.
And it has not been hard for her to get to know a lot of new friends.
Caption 18, Adriano: la sua ragazza


The following are some examples of the two different formulas Daniela has explained. They don’t correspond in meaning exactly, but are close enough to give you a visual idea of how these two combinations of verbs work.


verbo essere + aggettivo + verbo all'infinito (verb “to be” + adjective + verb in the infinite)
verbo coniugato + verbo all’ infinito (conjugated verb + verb in the infinitive)

È bello parlare con te (it’s nice talking to you).
Mi piace parlare con te (I like talking with you). 


È noioso fare i compiti a casa (it’s boring to do homework).
Non mi piace fare i compiti a casa (I don’t like doing homework).


Non è sano mangiare troppo (it is not healthy to eat too much).
Non si dovrebbe mangiare troppo (one shouldn’t eat too much). 


Sarebbe preferibile prendere un'altra strada (it would be preferable to take another road).
Preferirei prendere un'altra strada (I would prefer to take another road).


Per me è stato molto faticoso camminare fin qua (it was very tiring for me to walk here).
Non ho potuto camminare fin qui senza stancarmi. (I couldn’t walk here without getting tired).


È brutto parlare male degli altri (it is bad to speak badly about other people).
Non dobbiamo parlare male degli altri (we shouldn’t speak badly about other people).


È facile parlare italiano (Italian is easy to speak).
So parlare italiano (I know how to speak Italian).


Sarà importante andare a letto presto stasera (it will be important to go to bed early tonight).
Devo andare a letto presto stasera (I must go to bed early this evening).

Continue Reading

More on Mettere (to Put)

Marika explains all about the verb mettere (to put) in this video lesson.

As you will see, there are dozens of different ways to use mettere. But what can sometimes be tricky is that in English we don’t generally use “put” without some sort of preposition or adverb. We always think of “put in,” “put on,” or “put up,” but in Italian, at least in casual speech, we might hear:

Metti un po’ di sale.
Put [in] a bit of salt.


In a recent episode of Stai lontana da me, there is a discussion between two guys in a couple. One is criticizing the cooking methods of the other: 

Ma che c'entra? Metti meno olio, no, scusami. 
But what does that have to do with it? Put in less oil, right? Excuse me.
Caption 81, Rai Cinema: Stai lontana da me - Part 11 of 17 


The grammatically correct way to say this would be by attaching an indirect pronoun at the end of the verb to mean “in it”:

Mettici meno olio, no?
Put in less oil, can’t you?


If we look carefully, however, we see that earlier in the discussion, they actually do say things the right way:

Con tutto l'olio che ci metti, me l'incrosti da matti, guarda, ogni volta.
With all that oil that you put into them, you cake them up like crazy for me, look, every time.
Caption 79, Rai Cinema: Stai lontana da me - Part 11 of 17 


In the previous example ci stands for “into them,” where it represents the baking pans. For more on metterci, see this lesson. The lesson also talks about using mettere to say how long something takes—how much time you “put into something” (Marika will talk about this in part 2 of her lesson on mettere).


Here’s another thing to remember with mettere. In an episode of Commissario Manara, there's a dicey situation, and Luca lifts Lara up to help her. She exclaims:

Ah, ah, ah... mettimi giù! 
Ah, ah, ah... put me down!
Caption 29, Il Commissario Manara 1: Vendemmia tardiva - Ep. 2 - Part 10 of 17  


In the example above, a single word is formed from the verb and object pronoun together. In this case Lara is using the informal imperative and she’s using herself as the direct object.


In the following example, however, mettimi looks identical, but means something different. This time mi at the end of mettimi is an indirect object and means in this case, “for me.” The direct object is questo (this).

No, mettimi questo sulla scrivania per favore, io vado con la Rubino.
No, put this on the desk for me please. I'm going with Rubino.
Caption 41, Il Commissario Manara 1: Morte di un buttero Ep 8 - Part 6 of 16 


And just to add a little something more to the pot, we have the word smettere. An “s” attached to a verb often shifts its meaning to the opposite.

Mi metto al lavoro alle dieci e smetto alle tre di pomeriggio.
I start working at ten and I quit at three in the afternoon.


So a way to ask someone to stop doing something is smettila (stop it)!
In fact, in a recent episode of La Tempesta, Paolo’s neighbor is telling him off.

Terzo, la devi smettere di parcheggiare la Porsche davanti al pettine delle bici.
Third, you have to stop it with parking the Porsche in front of the bike rack.
Captions 72-73, Rai Fiction: La Tempesta - Part 1 of 27   


Learn more:
Direct object pronouns 
Particelle (little words like mi, ci, ti...)

Continue Reading

The Subjunctive in Recent Yabla Videos

Let's have a quick look at some of the ways the subjunctive has been used in a few of some recent Yabla videos.

One way Italian uses the subjunctive is when invoking some higher power.

In our first example the verb is assistere (to assist) which is a synonym for aiutare (to help).

Che Dio c'assista.
May God help us.
Caption 56, Rai Cinema: Stai lontana da me - Part 12 of 17 

In the following example the verb is proteggere (to protect). 

Che Dio mi protegga, lo devo riportare dove l'ho preso.
May God protect me, I have to take it back to where I got it.
Caption 27, Il Commissario Manara 1: Un morto di troppo Ep. 10 - Part 7 of 12 


We have mentioned before, but it bears repeating, that the formal imperative actually uses the third person singular subjunctive. Here Lara is using the formal imperative with the woman she is questioning.The verb is stare.

Stia tranquilla Iolanda, lo scopriremo.
Be calm, [don't worry], Iolanda, we'll find out.
Caption 14  Il Commissario Manara 1: Un morto di troppo Ep. 10 - Part 7 of 12 


The next example is clearly subjunctive since it is used in the English as well. The verb is essere (to be). The subjunctive deals with hypothetical situations, and come se (as if) is the signpost.

E io l'ho cresciuta come se fosse mia figlia.
And I brought her up as if she were my daughter.
Caption 58, Il Commissario Manara 1: Un morto di troppo Ep. 10 - Part 7 of 12 


In the following example, the subjunctive is used after the word che (that), and involves doubt.
The verb is essere (to be).

Ho pensato che fosse già uscita, o che non fosse tornata per nulla.
I thought she had already gone out, or that she hadn't come home at all.
Captions 79-80, Il Commissario Manara 1: Un morto di troppo Ep. 10 - Part 7 of 12 


Attenzione! Our last example is actually one of incorrect Italian. Lots of Italians get this wrong, sometimes by choice because it’s easier to say (and has become acceptable in very informal situations), but also because of ignorance.


This is a classic case where correct Italian requires one part of the phrase to be in the subjunctive, and the other part in the conditional.


In the following example, the verb that should be in the subjunctive is essere (to be). Manuela instead used the imperfetto (simple past tense). The other verb is sposare (to marry). She used the imperfetto once again, when she should have used the condizionale (conditional).

Cioè, se eri più grande ti sposavo!
I mean, if you were older, I would marry you!
Caption 72, Rai Fiction: La Tempesta - Part 4 of 27


 If Manuela had wanted to use correct grammar, she might have said:

Cioè, se fossi più grande ti sposerei.


Learn more about the Italian subjunctive here and here.

Continue Reading

Recuperare (To Recover)

In two recent Yabla videos, we see and hear the verb recuperare and its noun form il recupero. We have an English cognate for this, “to recuperate,” but the Italian recuperare is about much more than getting well after an illness or injury! In English we also have “to recoup” which corresponds a bit more closely to the verb recuperare: to get something back that was lost. Recupero password (retrieve password) is often seen on internet sites. In English we just say “Forgot your password?”


Let’s mention once and for all that there are two spellings for this word: recuperare and ricuperare. They are both correct. People seem to use recuperare more often, however. In Italian, what you see is what you get, as far as pronunciation goes, so just say it like you see it!


Going beyond the spelling, we see that recuperare is a transitive verb, meaning it normally has an object connected with it. In English “recuperate” is an intransitive verb: “I was recuperating after a long illness.”In a recent video about turtles, the verb recuperare is employed to mean “to rescue.”

Innanzitutto, abbiamo una rete di gruppi di lavoro
e di centri di recupero lungo le coste italiane,
che si occupano di recuperare gli animali spiaggiati
e trovati feriti dai pescatori
e di portarli in centro di recupero
dove vengono curati e rilasciati in mare.
First and foremost, we have a network of workgroups
and rescue centers along the Italian coasts,
that take care of rescuing the beached animals
and those found wounded by fishermen,
and bringing them to the rescue centers
where they are treated and released back to the sea.
Captions 50-54, WWF Italia: Progetto tartarughe - Part 1 of 2 


Recuperare also means “to catch up,” for example in class, when you have been home, sick. If you are the teacher, or a private student, you make up the lesson by scheduling una lezione di recupero, and if you are the student you study extra hard: recuperi (you get caught up).


In sports, we talk about “recovery,” and that’s when Italians use the word recupero. It’s what you do when you’ve finished your workout, or what you do after a race or a work interval in a workout. Il recupero. If your activity app is in Italian, you will find this word in just about every workout you do!


Near the end of the movie L’oro di Scampia, Toni is in the thick of his Olympic match, but he stops to catch his breath before finishing up. The sports commentator observes:

È giusto riprendere fiato, recuperare.
It's right to catch one's breath, to recover.
Caption 64, Rai Fiction: L'oro di Scampia Part 24


And here’s an example of the formal imperative (which is actually the third person subjunctive) of recuperare to mean “to retrieve,” “to recover.” The mattress in question may be floating away!

Qualcuno recuperi il materassino.
Someone recover the air mattress.
Caption 6, Il Commissario Manara 1: Un morto di troppo Ep. 10 - Part 2 

Continue Reading

Signup to get Free Italian Lessons sent by email