Credere is a very common verb. It basically means "to believe," but not 100% of the time. There are some sfumature (nuances) to this verb, and it so happens that in a recent episode of Sei mai stata sulla luna, it's used in 2 ways that deviate from the norm.
In one scene of the segment of Sei mai stata sulla luna, we see a single father (Renzo) having a conversation with his son. His son wishes he had a mother, and Renzo is downplaying it.
It plays out like this:
No, per starci insieme. -Ma perché non stiamo bene insieme io te? -Sì, ma magari staremmo meglio. -Non ti credere, eh. Una fidanzata ti manderebbe tutte le sere a dormire presto.
No, to be together. -But aren't we fine together, you and me? -Yes, but maybe we'd be even better. -Don't be so sure, huh. A girlfriend would send you to bed early every night.
Captions 38-42, Sei mai stata sulla luna? film - Part 17Play Caption
At the beginning of the segment, the townsmen are hanging out in the piazza and Guia is there, too. Someone says to her, being polite:
Comunque, signora, Lei faccia come crede.
In any case, Ma'am, you do as you think best.
Caption 1, Sei mai stata sulla luna? film - Part 17Play Caption
If it were an informal situation, it would be fai come credi. It can mean "do as you think best" or "do as you wish." It's often said when there is a disagreement about what to do or how something should be done. The person who says it doesn't think it's a particularly good idea. It's a little different from, fai come vuoi (do as you like), where the verb is volere. Credere gives the person a bit more credit for thinking things through. Fai come vuoi (or in the polite form faccia come vuole) can also come off as judgmental, depending on the tone with which it is said.
A common variation on this expression is with the verb parere (to seem, to appear):
Noi ci sposeremo e soprattutto divorzieremo. Tu stasera vai in albergo, da tuo fratello, dove ti pare, lontano da me.
We'll get married and above all we'll get divorced. This evening, you will go to a hotel, to your brother's, wherever you want, far from me.
Captions 32-33, La Tempesta film - Part 21Play Caption
Note that parere is one of those verbs, like piacere, where the subject is not the person doing the liking or the wanting. So, thinking literally, the gist would be "go where it seems to you that you should go."
Dove ti pare is a very common way to say dove vuoi (wherever you like).
Come ti pare is a very common way to say come vuoi (however you like.
It's interesting that both parere and piacere are also commonly used nouns: il parere and il piacere.
For more about piacere see this lesson:
and see this video:
It's true that asking questions in Italian can be as easy as changing your inflection. Part one of this lesson discusses that. Nonetheless, there are times when you need question words (and we'll get to that in a future lesson). But even more basically, how do we talk about asking questions?
While the cognate questione exists, it's not the word we are looking for right now. We'll talk about questione further on. In English, we have the noun "the question" and we ask a question.
In Italian, it's a little different. "The question" is often translated into Italian as la domanda and rather than using a verb that means "to ask," Italians usually "make" a question with fare (to make, to do):
Quando io conosco una persona, prima la saluto. Abbiamo imparato: buongiorno, buonasera, poi faccio la seconda domanda importante: come ti chiami?
When I meet a person, first I greet him or her. We learned "good morning" — "good evening." Then I ask the second important question: What's your name?
Captions 9-11, Corso di italiano con Daniela Tu o Lei?Play Caption
More often than not, we ask someone a question, so we may need an indirect pronoun: "I ask you/him/her/them/myself a question." In Italian, this indirect pronoun often comes before the verb, as in the following example.
Ma, ci torneresti con tua moglie? -No. Perché mi fai questa domanda?
But would you go back to your wife? -No. Why are you asking me this question?
Captions 33-34, Sposami EP 1 - Part 7Play Caption
The previous example was a question, but even in a statement, the indirect pronoun will come before the verb.
Ti faccio una domanda semplice (I'm going to ask you a simple question).
There is another verb we can use in place of fare. It's a little more formal, it has an English cognate, and it often indicates that some thought is needed in the asking and the answering. The verb is porre (to put, to place, to pose).
Daniela talks about this verb in a lesson:
"Porre": io ponevo, si usa spesso con "domanda". "Scusi, posso porre una domanda?" Al posto di "fare" — "posso fare una domanda?" — dico: "Posso porre una domanda?"
“To pose.” I was posing, it's often used with "question." “Sorry, may I pose a question?” Instead of using “to ask” — "may I ask a question?" — I say: “May I pose a question?”
Captions 33-37, Corso di italiano con Daniela L'imperfetto - Part 4Play Caption
We use the reflexive for this in Italian:
Allora, pur con la testa tra le nuvole, cominciò a porsi qualche domanda. Ma, ma il resto di me c'è ancora?...
So, even with his head in the clouds, he began to ask himself a few questions. But, but is the rest of me still here?...
Captions 13-15, Dixieland Testa tra le nuvolePlay Caption
You can also use the verb fare reflexively for the same purpose — farsi una domanda (to ask oneself a question).
La domanda has a verb form as well, and we can use it both reflexively and not: domandare (to ask).
Of course, sometimes we don't need to ask a question. We can just ask someone something. Domandare (to ask).
Perché non mi lasci in pace? -Eh, me lo domando anch'io.
Why don't you leave me in peace? -Yeah, I ask myself that, too.Play Caption
Just as in English we have the noun and verb "to request," Italian has the cognate richiedere (to request, to require) and la richiesta (the request) but it also has chiedere (to ask, to request), which is used a lot, in many different contexts.
Dal momento che il progetto del tuo muro taglierebbe fuori la mia zona di cucina, avresti dovuto chiedere il mio parere.
Since your wall project would cut off my kitchen area, you should have asked for my opinion.
Captions 22-24, La Ladra Ep. 7 - Il piccolo ladro - Part 9Play Caption
In the following example, we can see the relationship between chiedere and richiesta.
Lorenzo ti ha chiesto di dargli un po' di tempo, no? Fossi in te, rispetterei la sua richiesta.
Lorenzo asked you to give him a little time, right? If I were you, I would comply with his request.
Captions 33-34, La Ladra EP. 8 - Il momento giusto - Part 7Play Caption
Making sense of the different ways to use richiedere will have to wait for another lesson. It can get kind of complex.
Let's remember that in English, "question" can also mean "matter." For example in this book title: A Question of Integrity by Susan Howatch. In this case, it's not a question we ask. With that in mind, we can easily transfer the idea to Italian. In fact, we have a movie on Yabla: Questione di Karma.
Sono dieci giorni che aspetto, è diventata una questione di vita o di morte.
I've been waiting ten days. It's become a question/matter of life or death.
Caption 5, Questione di Karma Rai Cinema - Part 8Play Caption
What we hope you take away from this lesson is that for normal questions you ask, the noun is la domanda (the question) and that we "make" a question: fare una domanda (to ask a question). Using porre works, too, but it's a little more serious: porre una domanda (to pose a question). Both fare and porre can be used reflexively when we ask ourselves a question: porsi una domanda (to ask oneself a question, to wonder), farsi una domanda (to ask oneself a question). We can talk about asking with the verbs domandare (to ask) and chiedere (to ask).
To get a feel for all these words, we suggest doing a search on the videos page to find examples of these words. Don't forget to use singular, plural, masculine and feminine where applicable, and different conjugations of verbs. Searching and reading all the instances will give you an overview of real people using these words. Repeat the sentences to yourself, and if you get confused, drop us a line — chiedere! — in the comments tab or by sending an email to email@example.com. We are happy to help.
When you want to say that something is watertight, that you have no doubt about it —in other words, there is no use in discussing it further —there is a great Italian expression at your disposal. Even if you don't understand why people say it, you can start noticing when people say it and imitate them. And you will soon start sounding like a native as you say it.
Ragazze, la C sta per Catullo e su questo non ci piove.
Girls, the "C" stands for Catullus, and the rain can't touch it [there is no doubt about it].
Captions 71-72, La Ladra EP. 9 L'amico sconosciuto - Part 3Play Caption
It means there is no hole in the argument, but that's not so easy to figure out from the expression, especially since it uses that pesky particle ci that means so many things. It's kind of fun to figure out, or at least imagine why Italians use this colorful expression, and where it comes from.
In Italy, roofs are often made of tiles or tegole. If you move a tegola around, the rain might leak into the house. This can happen accidentally, with high winds, or if someone walks on the roof for some reason, like to clean out the gutters or adjust an antenna. If it rains into the house, ci piove (it rains there, it rains in it).
So besides being a great expression, when talking about leaky roofs, it usually means the rain comes in. It's not easy finding a literal translation that makes sense, which is why we've talked about it here.
When the leak has to do with a pipe or a faucet, we talk about it losing water. We use the verb perdere (to lose, to leak).
Ma... questo non perde più! -No! Non mi dire che l'idraulico s'è degnato? Eva, stamattina qua è passato un vero uomo, eh? Che oltre ad aggiustà [aggiustare] i rubinetti così, proprio tà tà tà l'ha fatto eh!
Well! This no longer leaks! -No! Don't tell me the plumber deigned? Eva, this morning a real man came here, huh? Who besides fixing the faucet just like that, he did it really fast, huh!
Captions 11-14, La Ladra Ep. 1 - Le cose cambiano - Part 3Play Caption
See this lesson about the verb perdere.
Another thing to say when an argument is airtight is: Non fa una piega (there isn't even one wrinkle).
È evidente che avrebbe dovuto vincere Fabiola Alfieri. Allora perché non ha votato per lei? -Perché il direttore di un giornale può essere molto utile alla carriera di un marito come il mio. -Non fa una piega, però non mi convince.
It's clear that Fabiola Alfieri should have won. So why didn't you vote for her? Because the director of a newspaper can be very useful to the career of a husband like mine. That a perfect argument, but it doesn't convince me.
Captions 34-37, Il Commissario Manara S2EP4 - Miss Maremma - Part 4Play Caption
Practice commenting inside your head with su questo non ci piove or non fa una piega when people are justifying, explaining, arguing, debating.
Note that another way to say non fa una piega is non fa una grinza. They both mean the same thing. There's a lesson about this!
The main topic of conversation in lots of places right now is "coronavirus." We hope that it won't last too long, because in addition to making people sick, with some people even dying, it's also wildly disrupting the life of many people around the world.
Italy has been hit particularly hard and is consequently in the spotlight, so let's look at some of the words people and newspapers are using to talk about it.
In English, we talk about "lockdown" to describe the measures Italy is taking to try to prevent the spread of the virus. There are a few options for an Italian translation: l'isolamento (the isolation), il blocco (the blocking, the closing off), blindare (to lock down) blindato (locked down).
Let's talk about some of the vocabulary Italians are using to talk about what's going on.
To begin with, let's look at a headline from Sunday, March 8, when new rules went into effect for the zone rosse (the red zones, or epicenters), including Lombardy, the Veneto, and other regions.
Covid-19, nuove regole: evitare ogni spostamento nelle zone colpite
(Covid -19, new rules: avoid any traveling/moving around in the affected areas).
Let's look at the words in the headline.
This is pretty self-explanatory. The two words are similar to their English counterparts: the adjective nuovo (new) and the noun la regola. In this case, it is a feminine noun in the plural — le regole. The adjective nuovo has to agree with the noun, so its "o" ending changes to "e" the feminine plural ending.
usare i pronomi relativi "quale" e "quali", per evitare possibili ambiguità,
to use the relative pronouns "quale" and "quali," to avoid possible ambiguities,
Captions 7-8, Corso di italiano con Daniela Pronomi relativi - Part 5Play Caption
This easy, common, and useful adjective never changes. it's worth looking up in your dictionary of choice because it can be used in such a variety of ways. One common expression is ogni tanto (every now and then).
E ogni tanto, però, parlavamo di cose serie.
And every now and then, though, we talked about serious things.
Caption 32, Silvana e Luciano Il nostro incontroPlay Caption
In the headline, of course, we are talking about "each and every." In other words, "Avoid unnecessary travel." "Avoid all cases of moving around the area."
This interesting noun comes from the verb spostare, also an interesting word. It's interesting because there is no specific equivalent in English, yet once you learn it in Italian, you'll wonder how you could do without it. Did you detect another word inside the verb spostare? Yes, it's posto, the noun, il posto (the place, the position, the location). So spostare, with its telltale "s" prefix, means to take something away from its place. And it can be used reflexively when you are the one moving yourself away from a place. What a wonderful verb! Usually, we use the verb "to move" to translate spostare, but sometimes it's "to shift," "to re-locate," "to transfer," "to move around." In short, if you live in the zona rossa (red zone) you should move around the area as little as possible.
Il verbo "andare" indica uno spostamento verso un luogo ed è seguito da diverse preposizioni a seconda del nome che lo segue:
The verb “andare” indicates a movement towards a place, and is followed by various prepositions, according to the noun that follows it:
Captions 31-33, Marika spiega I verbi venire e andare - Part 1Play Caption
This is an easy noun with a "friendly" English cognate. Just remember that the original noun is la zona. Zone is plural. La zona is often translated with "the area."
This past participle comes from the verb colpire (to hit, to affect, to make an impression on). Since it's a headline, all the little words that tell you it's a past participle are missing:
Le zone che sono state colpite (the zones that were hit). Colpire can have literal and figuarative meanings of different kinds.
Poi un'altra cosa che mi ha colpito molto è che io vengo da una terra dove l'acqua è un bene prezioso, non ce n'è molta.
Then, another thing that made a strong impression on me was that I come from a land where water is a precious resource, there isn't much of it.
Captions 43-45, Gianni si racconta Chi sonoPlay Caption
In the headline, the connotation of colpire is "to affect."
Let's have just a quick look at some of the other rules:
Divieto assoluto di uscire dalla propria abitazione per chi è sottoposto alla quarantena o è risultato positivo al virus.
If you have been quarantined or if you have tested positive to the virus, you must not leave your home.
Ma cos'è questo fumo? Hm. -Perché mi guarda così? Perché qui è vietato fumare.
But, what is this smoke? Uhm. -Why are you looking at me like that? Because here smoking is prohibited.
Captions 20-22, Psicovip Il fulmine - Ep 4Play Caption
Stop is pretty clear! In the explanation that follows the rule, however, the Italian word sospesi (suspended) is used.
Sono sospesi gli eventi e le competizioni sportive di ogni ordine e disciplina... (sporting events and competitions on every level and of every kind have been suspended...)
Favorire congedo ordinario o ferie (encourage leaves of absence and vacation days).
Favorire is another verb that is partly a true cognate, but often means "to encourage," "to foster."
Chiuso (closed) is pretty clear —from the verb chiudere (to close).
These same rules have been applied to museums, gyms, spas, ski resorts, and many other centers.
The list goes on, but we have covered some of the important rules here and the vocabulary associated with them.
Further vocabulary to know regarding the virus:
Things are tough for Italians (and many others!) right now. Besides the virus itself, everyday life has become complicated for lots of folks. Those of us who work remotely feel fortunati (lucky) to be able to do our jobs in a normal way, but we might have kids underfoot who would ordinarily be in school! If everyone cooperates, taking the right precautions, hopefully, we can beat this thing.
La speranza è l'ultima a morire (hope is the last to die — hope springs eternal).
If you have heard or read things in Italian about the virus that you aren't able to understand, let us know and we'll try to help. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
It seems like there's no end to the uses of the little particle ci. We've done several lessons on it, and here we are again.
As we have seen in previous lessons, ci can mean various things and often has to do with reflexive and reciprocal verbs. It can also be an indirect pronoun that incorporates its preposition within it, and it can be attached to a verb or detached from it. Whew!
This time, we are talking about a pronominal verb — the kind of verb that has pronouns and particles connected to it that change the meaning of the verb. In this case, the particle is ci.
With the pronominal verb volerci, we're talking about the amount of something that's necessary to carry something out — time, money, courage, ingredients, attitudes, etc. In the following example, pazienza (patience) is the substance and molto (a lot) is how much you need of it. One way we can translate volerci is "to be necessary," "to be needed," "to be required." Of course, in everyday conversation, we often use "it takes" or "you need," in English, to express this idea.
Ci vuole molta pazienza
You need a lot of patience [a lot of patience is necessary].
It takes a lot of patience.
A lot of patience is required.Play Caption
One very important feature of this particular pronominal verb is that it is always in the third person and can be either singular or plural. If we are talking about "patience" as in the previous example, it's singular. If we're talking about ore (hours), as in the following example, it's plural.
Quante ore ci vogliono per andare da Roma a Milano?
How many hours does it take to go from Rome to Milan?
How many hours are necessary to go from Rome to Milan?
Caption 17, Marika spiega La particella NE - Part 2Play Caption
We can use it in the negative:
Non ci vuole l'articolo in singolare. In plurale ritorno a volere l'articolo.
You don't need the article in the singular. In the plural I go back to needing the article.
The article is not necessary in the singular.
Captions 20-21, Corso di italiano con Daniela Aggettivi Possessivi - Part 6Play Caption
If in translating volerci, we use the passive voice, we can match it up as far as singular and plural go, and it might make better sense to us.
I pinoli, che sono davvero speciali e ci vogliono i pinoli italiani, ovviamente.
The pine nuts, which are really special, and Italian pine nuts are required, obvously.
Captions 50-51, L'Italia a tavola Il pesto genovese - Part 1Play Caption
Although volerci is always in the third person, we often translate it into English with the first or second person: "I/we need" or you need."
Volerci is very popular in the expression:
Non ci voleva (it would have been better if that hadn't happened, I really didn't need that, that's all I needed).
That's what you say when, say, one bad thing happens after another.
Volerci can also be used as an expression of relief when something good happens. It's like saying, "That's just what the doctor ordered."
A Dixieland ci si diverte con poco e nulla e un numero di magica magia era proprio quel che ci voleva per chiudere in bellezza la festa.
At Dixieland one has fun with next to nothing and a number with magical magic was exactly what was needed to conclude the party nicely.
Captions 30-33, Dixieland La magia di TriboPlay Caption
Another fun way to use volerci is when you want to say, "How hard can it be?"
Che ci vuole (how hard can it be)?
Le mucche muggiscono. -Embè? Vanno munte. Ahi. -Scusa, scusa, scusa, scusa. -Sei sicura? -E sì, che ci vuole? L'avrò visto mille volte su National Geographic.
The cows are mooing. -So what? They have to be milked. Ow! -Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry. Are you sure? -Yeah, how hard could it be? I must have seen it a thousand times on National Geographic.
Captions 37-42, Sei mai stata sulla luna? film - Part 11Play Caption
We hope you have a bit more insight into this supremely common and useful pronominal verb (verb+pronoun+preposition all in one).
If you found this lesson helpful, you might very well say, Ci voleva! (that's exactly what I needed!).
We must also mention that not every time you see volerci (conjugated or in the infinitive) will it mean what we have set out to describe in this lesson. Since, at the outset, we mentioned that ci has a way of working its way into so many kinds of verbs and phrases, context is key. Little by little you will start distinguishing, but it will take time and practice. Watching Yabla videos will give you tons of examples so you can start sorting out the meanings. And don't forget: When you have a doubt, write it in the comments. Someone will get back to you within a few days. If you have a question or doubt, chances are, someone else will have the same one!
In a coming lesson, we will discuss a similar but unique pronominal verb metterci. Get a head start by watching Daniela's video lesson about both of these pronominal verbs.
A new movie featured on Yabla employs a verb we don't see very often except in particular military or work situations. The use of this verb has inspired us to talk about what we say in Italian when we leave a place, or want someone else to.
Congedare is "to invite somebody to leave": The reflexive form congedarsi is "to ask for and obtain permission to leave." In the following example, a waiter is hanging around a bit too long at the table he is serving. One of the two women having drinks is basically asking him to beat it.
Congedati. -E certo... Con permesso.
Take your leave. -Of course... Please excuse me.
Captions 77-78, Sei mai stata sulla luna? film - Part 12Play Caption
In the following example from a movie about Adriano Olivetti (of typewriter fame), Karen had been in the military, so it was natural for her to use the verb congedarsi.
E come mai è in Italia? -Mi sono congedata. Volevo dedicarmi un po' alla mia vera passione, fotografando l'Italia.
And how come you're in Italy? -I asked to be discharged. I wanted to devote myself a bit to my true passion, photographing Italy.
Captions 51-54, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 16Play Caption
If she had resigned from a normal job, she might have said the following, using the reflexive, and therefore the auxiliary essere (to be).
Mi sono licenziata (I quit my job).
If she had been fired, it would have been transitive, not reflexive: Note the use of the auxiliary verb avere (to have).
Mi hanno licenziato (they fired me -- I was fired).
Mi hanno licenziata (they fired me -- I was fired [and I am a woman]).
The noun form congedo is a bit more common than the verb form, especially in reference to a leave of absence or, as in the following example, maternity leave.
E voglio che le donne in maternità abbiano un anno intero di congedo.
And I want for women who are pregnant to have a whole year of maternity leave.
Captions 27-28, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 10Play Caption
Another word for congedo is aspettativa.
La preside mi ha detto che hai inoltrato la domanda di aspettativa al dipartimento.
The principal told me that you had forwarded the request for a leave of absence to the department.Play Caption
Sending someone away with no regard or need for being polite is also common. You can say it with good intentions in the appropriate context, as in the following example:
Sono due giorni che ti porti dietro 'sta [questa] febbre. -Con questa bella esperienza del camion-frigorifero sicuramente ti è salita, quindi vattene a casa, ci penso io.
It's been two days that you've been carrying around this fever. -With the lovely experience of the refrigerator truck, it's surely risen, so get yourself home, I'll take care of it.
Captions 38-40, Il Commissario Manara S1EP2 - Vendemmia tardiva - Part 11Play Caption
Vattene is also a way to get rid of someone in a more aggressive, emotional way.
No, sei un bugiardo! Vattene! Se mi dai il tempo di... -Non ti voglio più vedere.
No, you're a liar! Get out of here! If you give me the time to... -I don't want to see you again.
Captions 102-103, Questione di Karma Rai Cinema - Part 16Play Caption
Often vattene is expanded to become even stronger: Vattene via! (Go away! Get lost!)
Let's take vattene apart. (Va-[t]te-ne): vai is the informal imperative of the verb andare, but it is often shortened to va'. We could say vai via, but vattene adds 2 more elements. It personalizes it with a sort of reflexive te (you, yourself). In addition, it implies that you should leave the place you are in. That's where the particle ne comes in, to mean "from here." The double T allows you to practically spit the words out and can really get the message across.
This compound verb in the infinitive would be andarsene: With it's connected object pronoun and particle, it's also called a verbo pronominale (pronominal verb — having to do with pronouns). Read about pronominal verbs here.
Andarsene vuol dire andare via da qualche luogo. Che maleducato il tuo amico, se n'è andato senza neanche salutarmi. Andarsene ha anche il significato di morire.
"To leave" means "to go away from some venue." "How rude your friend is, he went off without even saying goodbye." "To leave" also has the meaning of dying.
Captions 30-33, Marika spiega Il verbo andarePlay Caption
And if I am the one leaving, I'll conjugate andarsene in the first person singular:
Me ne vado (I'm leaving [this place], I'll leave).
These are only some of the ways we leave or tell someone to leave. But please don't leave, cari amici di Yabla. Stay tuned for the next lesson!
One of the hardest things to do in a new language is to construct a sentence. Understanding is one thing, but putting words together can be such a challenge.
The good news is that sometimes you don't have to say much to get your idea across. Let's look at some ways to comment on things without actually constructing a sentence. Using che, we can either complain about something: che caldo (how hot it is), or we can be making a compliment: che buono (this is so good).
The magic word is che (that, what, which). We then add the appropriate adjective.
Che bello! Ciao! -Che bello!
How nice! Bye! -How nice!
Captions 75-76, Il Commissario Manara S1EP5 - Il Raggio Verde - Part 4Play Caption
Ehm, guardate che carino.
Uh, look how pretty.Play Caption
Oddio che freddo!
Oh my God it's freezing!Play Caption
We could use the same formula to talk about the heat or the humidity. Actually some of these words can be used as nouns or adjectives.
Che caldo! (how hot it is)!
Che umido (how humid it is)
Sometimes we can add a noun instead of an adjective:
Che facciamo? Il telefono... Anche il mio. -Che sfiga!
What can we do? The telephone... Mine too. -What a bummer!
Captions 37-39, Il Commissario Manara S1EP2 - Vendemmia tardiva - Part 9Play Caption
E che cavolo!
Hey what the hell?
Caption 22, La Ladra Ep. 6 - Nero di rabbia - Part 6Play Caption
Che sole (what [bright] sun)!
Che tramonto (what a sunset)!
Che cena (what a [great] dinner)
Che umidità (what humidity)!
Che afa (how muggy it is)!
Che giornata (what a day)!
In some cases, we don't even need to use che.
Strano, perché Eva mi ha detto che è laureata.
Strange, because Eva told me she had a degree.
Caption 50, La Ladra Ep. 5 - Chi la fa l'aspetti - Part 1Play Caption
This sentence could have been.:
Che strano. Eva mi ha detto che è laureato.
How strange. Eva told me she had a degree.
When we are at the extremes of the adjective spectrum, in other words, when using adjectives in their comparative or superlative form we don't use che, because we are already, in effect, making something superlative, with che. If we want to use the superlative, it's better to go for the adjective all by itself.
We wouldn't say
che bellissimo. We would just say bellissimo (very beautiful)!
Che bello says pretty much the same thing.
There are lots of way to talk about things, but it's nice to have an easy, minimalist way, especially if we are beginners, or just having trouble finding the words. Che is a word that is also used with the subjunctive, and therefore might instill a bit of anxiety in learners, but it can also be our friend.
Most folks know that when someone plays a solo, he or she is the main player, also called the soloist. Sometimes a musician plays alone (this is a hint).
You may or may not have realized that solo is an Italian word, 100%. Let's take a look at how it's used in Italian. Because when someone plays a solo in the middle of a song, strangely enough, it's called something else entirely: un assolo (a solo).
Sì. -In un... -Io sono, sono un tenore leggero. E fai anche dei duetti... -Sì, a volte duetti buffi, a volte, invece, dei, degli assoli. -Ecco! Ah, no. Posso sentire prima un assolo e poi, magari, vedo, facciamo un duetto
Yes. -In a... -I'm a, I'm a light tenor. And you also do duets... -Yes, sometimes comic opera duets, sometimes, on the other hand, some, some solos. -There! Ah, no. Can I first hear a solo, and then, maybe let's see, we'll do a duet
Captions 101-104, L'Eredità -Quiz TV La sfida dei sei. Puntata 1 - Part 4Play Caption
Solo has to do with being alone. It can mean "on one's own."
Ulisse era un cane anziano, un cane solo.
Ulisse was an old dog, a lone dog.
Caption 12, Andromeda La storia di UlissePlay Caption
Solo is often preceded by the preposition da (by), making it function sort of like an adverb, answering the question "how," or "in what way," in which case we can translate it with "by oneself," "on one's own," "by itself," or "alone."
Guarda che al cinema ci posso pure andare da sola.
Look, I can perfectly well go to the movies by myself.Play Caption
Guardi, sta arrivando Olivetti. Pensava di venire qui con tanti dei suoi e invece è da solo.
Look, here comes Olivetti. He thought he'd come here with many of his own, and instead, he's by himself.
Captions 59-60, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep.2 - Part 21Play Caption
Vuoi un antidolorifico? Ce l'ho. -No, no, no. Preferisco che mi passi da solo. -Come vuoi.
Do you want a painkiller? I have some. -No, no, no. I prefer for it to go away on its own. -As you like.
Captions 38-40, La Ladra Ep. 7 - Il piccolo ladro - Part 5Play Caption
Io, la mia strada, me la sono fatta da solo.
I, I've paved my own way [I did it all on my own].Play Caption
But solo is not always preceded by da.
Io... lo... lo conoscevo poco, però, nonostante tutte le donne che si vantava di avere, a me sembrava un uomo molto solo.
I... I... I didn't know him very well but despite all the women he bragged about having, he seemed like a very lonely man to me.
Captions 40-41, Il Commissario Manara S2EP5 - Mondo sommerso - Part 3Play Caption
In this case, it means "lonely." It's not always clear if someone is lonely or alone. But if we ad da — da solo, then it is clear it means "alone," not "lonely." We can also say "to feel alone" or "to feel lonely." Sentirsi solo.
Solo can be an adjective meaning "only" — which rhymes with "lonely," and in Italian it's the same word.
Non è il solo motivo per cui mi oppongo.
It's not the only reason I object.Play Caption
Vedi, Alessio, quando mio padre venne qui e fondò questa fabbrica, qui intorno c'erano solo campi di grano.
You see, Alessio, when my father came here and founded this plant, there were only wheat fields around here.
Captions 17-18, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep.2 - Part 13Play Caption
Cioè, penso solo al fatto che tu non ci sia più, Martino,
I mean, I can only think about the fact that you're no longer here, Martino.
Caption 3, Chi m'ha visto film - Part 21Play Caption
In English, we often say "just" to mean the same thing.
Magari! Ma quanto mi costa? Adesso spara la cifra. -Io non voglio parlare di danaro, io voglio solo aiutarla.
If only! But how much will it cost me? Now he'll name the price. -I don't want to talk about money. I just want to help you.
Captions 37-38, La Ladra Ep. 4 - Una magica bionda - Part 4Play Caption
It's typical for someone to say, è solo che... (it's just that...) to minimize something, or to say "but."
Eh, è solo che ho bisogno di un prestito.
Huh, it's just that I need a loan.
Caption 10, La Ladra Ep. 1 - Le cose cambiano - Part 4Play Caption
Another context in which we hear solo is when we want to say, "And that's not all!"
E non solo. Nella salina Moranella, un momento magico, veramente, è la raccolta del fior di sale.
And not only that [and that's not all]. In the Moranella salt pan, a magical moment, really, is the harvesting of "fleur de sel."
Captions 52-53, La rotta delle spezie di Franco Calafatti Il sale - Part 1Play Caption
When you need to keep someone waiting for a moment, or you are passing the phone to someone else, you can say:
Un momento solo (just a moment).
Un instante solo (just a moment).
We hope this lesson has given you some insight into the very common and important word solo. Don't forget that you can do a search of this word (and any other one) and see all the contexts right there on the video page. Look at where solo falls in the sentence and read the sentence to yourself. Get a feel for this word.
This week's segment of Sposami happens to have several idiomatic expressions that are worth looking at.
In the following example, the verb rompere (to break) is used, together with the direct object scatole (boxes). This is a euphemism, a polite way to say palle (balls). Although it is very easy for Italians to have the more vulgar expression on the tip of the tongue, they will avoid it in polite company, and will use scatole instead of palle.
Bruna ha il marito in cassa integrazione e fa di tutto anche lei per farsi licenziare rompendo le scatole in continuazione con rivendicazioni sindacali.
Bruna's husband has been laid off and she's trying her best to get fired, as well by pestering us [breaking our balls] constantly with union demands.
Captions 13-15, Sposami EP 1 - Part 4Play Caption
If you don't know it's a euphemism, the expression makes little sense, but it's also handy to know that you can just use the verb rompere and the message will get across, all the same, guaranteed, cento percento (100%).
Oh, ma hai finito di rompere?
Oh, but have you finished bugging me?Play Caption
You can just say when someone is pestering you,
Non rompere! (Don't bother me!)
The noun form is used a lot, too, to describe someone who keeps pestering you.
È un vero rompiscatole (he/she is a real pain).
This next idiom has interesting origins. Of course, you don't need to know its origins to use the expression. You do need to know that when a relationship becomes strained, and is on the verge of a rupture, you may well be ai ferri corti. If you are thinking in Italian, you can imagine the scene of two people no longer speaking to each other, or if they do speak, whatever they say is misconstrued, and sparks fly. You're dangerously close to the breaking point. If you watch the movie Sposami on Yabla, you'll get the picture!
Lo so che siete ai ferri corti, non me ne importa niente.
I know that you are at loggerheads. That doesn't matter to me.
Caption 27, Sposami EP 1 - Part 4Play Caption
When we have to translate ai ferri corti, it's a bit trickier. We have to go to a word we no longer use much: Loggerheads. To be at loggerheads. A log is a thick piece of wood, and indeed "loggerhead" once meant "blockhead," as in Shakespeare's "Love's Labour's Lost," act IV, scene IV [i.e. 3]: "Ah you whoreson loggerhead you were born to do me shame."
And later, "loggerhead" meant an iron instrument with a long handle and a ball or bulb at the end (thus the name), used, when heated in the fire, for melting pitch and for heating liquids. This makes sense with the Italian ferri, as we are talking about iron tools or possibly weapons. Think of a blacksmith's tools. We can imagine that this tool used to melt pitch, if short, will be very, very hot. Or we can think of the sword and the dagger, also made of ferro (iron). When our swords are broken or gone, and we're using daggers, we are dangerously close. In any case, the conflict has gotten dangerously heated.
Perché lo conosco, lui ha una capacità nel rivoltare le frittate che non ci puoi credere.
Because I know him. He's very capable of flipping omelets [turning the tables] like you wouldn't believe.
Captions 36-37, Sposami EP 1 - Part 4Play Caption
A popular quick meal for Italians is the frittata. The word has gained popularity even in English, but for those unfamiliar with it, it's the Italian version of an omelet, but usually flatter and less fluffy than the French kind, and often containing finely chopped vegetables and grated Parmesan cheese.
You have to flip the frittata over to get it cooked on both sides.
When you twist the argument, you're flipping it. You were to blame, but you twist things in such a way that it looks like the other person is at fault. Literally, it is flipping a situation around to be in one's favor despite not being in the right. We can also translate it with "to turn the tables."
There are a few other variations of this expression:
rovesciare la frittata (turn the frittata over)
rigirare la frittata (flip the omelet over again)
girare la frittata (flip the omelet)
But they all mean basically the same thing.
One of the most basic things we need to know as we venture into the world of speaking Italian is how to ask about a word we don't understand.
There are a couple of ways to do this.
One way is to use a verb we can easily understand, even though we don't use its English equivalent the same way, or very often in conversation. The Italian is significare. It kind of looks like "signify." Of course, in English, we would sooner use the adjective "significant" or the adverb "significantly."
Cosa significa (what does it mean)?
"Pilazza" in italiano significa "vasca di pietra" o "lavatoio"; è il posto in cui, anticamente, venivano i cittadini di Mazara del Vallo a fare il bucato.
"Pilazza," in Italian, means "stone tub" or "washhouse." It's the place where, in earlier times, the citizens of Mazara del Vallo would come to do the laundry.
Captions 15-17, In giro per l'Italia Mazara Del Vallo - Sicilia - Part 4Play Caption
And if we want the noun form, it's il significato (the meaning, the significance).
Questo è un ottimo esercizio per ripassare alcune parole del video e il loro significato.
This is a good exercise for reviewing some words from the video and their meaning.
Caption 49, Italian Intro SerenaPlay Caption
We can ask: Qual è il significato (what's the meaning)?
The more common way to ask what something means is a bit more complex at first: We need 2 verbs to say it, but it's easy to say, and once you master it you will be all set.
The first verb is volere (to want). This is a very useful but tricky verb, as it is actually two verbs in one: It's a stand-alone transitive verb, as in:
Voglio una macchina nuova (I want a new car).
We can also translate it as "to desire."
Volere is also a modal verb, basically meaning "to want to." The main thing to know about a modal verb is that it's followed by a verb in the infinitive, or rather it goes together with a verb in the infinitive, and can't stand alone. Just like some verbs in English, such as "to get," volere has meanings that go beyond "to want to." And just like "to get" in English, volere can pair up with other verbs to take on a new meaning.
In the case of asking what something means, we add a second verb, in the infinitive: dire (to say).
You know how in English we always say, "I mean..."? Well, Italians do this too, but they say, Voglio dire... (I mean to say, I mean).
Bene, forse è ancora in tempo. Prima che distrugga anche la sua famiglia, voglio dire.
Good, maybe there's still time for you. Before he destroys your family as well, I mean.
Captions 10-11, La Ladra Ep. 2 - Viva le spose - Part 6Play Caption
The difference between "I mean to say" and "I mean" is minimal, right? If we take this one step further and put it into the third person singular, it's vuole dire, which commonly gets shortened to vuol dire. And there we have it. It means "it means."
Of course, it could also mean "he means" or "she means," but more often than not it means "it means."
Uso il termometro e misuro la mia temperatura. Se è superiore a trentasette e mezzo, vuol dire che ho la febbre.
I use the thermometer and I measure my temperature. And if it's above thirty-seven and a half (centigrade), it means that I have a fever.
Captions 25-27, Marika spiega Il raffreddorePlay Caption
Marika could also have said, Significa che ho la febbre (it means I have a fever).
Here's one way to ask what a word means:
Nell'ottocentocinquanta, i Saraceni gli diedero il nome di Rabat. Cioè, sai pure l'arabo ora? E che vuol dire Rabat? -Borgo.
In eight hundred fifty, the Saracens gave it the name of Rabat. So, do you even know Arabic now? And what does Rabat mean? -Village.
Captions 8-10, Basilicata Turistica Non me ne voglio andare - Part 2Play Caption
The answer is: Rabat vuol dire "borgo". "Rabat" means "village."
So when asking what a word means, we can either use cosa (what) or just che (what), which is a bit more colloquial.
Cosa vuol dire (what does it mean)?
Che vuol dire (what does it mean)?
If you are absolutely desperate, just say: Vuol dire... (that means...)? You'll get the message across.
Some learners like to know why we say what we say. It helps them remember. Others do better just memorizing how to say something and not worrying about the "why." Whatever works is the right way for you. We all learn in different ways, for sure. And if you need to know more, just ask. We at Yabla are pretty passionate about language and are happy to share the passion. This lesson, as a matter of fact, came about because a learner had trouble grasping why we use the verb "to want" when talking about the meaning of something. We hope that this has helped discover the underlying connection.
In this week's episode of La Ladra, Eva uses a word that is hard to guess the meaning of, at least at first glance, or first hearing.
Allora. -No ragazze, non ricominciamo con la solfa succo d'acero sì, succo d'acero no. Per favore.
So. -No girls. Let's not get started again with the same old tune about maple syrup yes, maple syrup no. Please.
Captions 50-52, La Ladra EP. 9 L'amico sconosciuto - Part 2Play Caption
A look at the dictionary reveals some interesting information. Solfa is the ancient word for sofleggio (solfége). Solfa comes from the names of two notes: sol (G) and fa (F). Solfeggio was and is a way to facilitate reading music using syllables representing the notes. Some languages, such French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese, adopted the syllables as note names, do/ut re mi fa sol la si, while Germanic languages and English adopted the letters of the alphabet to name the notes, a system that actually came before the use of syllables. We can imagine how much confusion this might cause today when musicians from different countries are trying to rehearse together.
Here are the equivalents:
Many of us might have seen the 1965 movie, The Sound of Music with Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. In it, the 7 von Trapp children learn to sing using these syllables. Before becoming a movie, The Sound of Music was a hugely successful Broadway musical, which opened in 1959. The song about singing became so famous that, in America in the early '60s, kids would play the tune on their "Symphonettes" or "Flutophones" (cheap, plastic, recorder-like wind instruments for kids) in elementary-school music lessons.
The song uses homophones (commonly called "homonyms") to make it easier to remember the names of the syllables. Listen and watch a clip from the movie here.
Doe (do) a deer a female dear
Ray (re) a drop of golden sun
and so on.
For musicians learning Italian, the names of the notes are important, in fact, essential. Watch Alessio as he tells the story about these syllables.
In Italia, anche in Francia, in paesi latini... si sono basati, per i nomi delle note, su il famoso "do", "re", "mi", "fa", "sol", "la", "si", le sette note.
In Italy, also in France, in Latin countries... they based them on, for the names of the notes, on the famous "do," "re," "mi," " fa," "sol," "la," "si," the seven notes.
Captions 20-22, A scuola di musica con Alessio - Part 1Play Caption
Getting back to La Ladra, Eva, in the same sentence, also makes a connection with a song that became famous at San Remo in the '90s, called "La Terra dei Cachi " (the land of persimmons) written and performed by Elio e le Storie Tese. The refrain is "Italian sì, Italia no." The song was subsequently adopted as the theme song for an Italian talk show "Italia sì Italia no."
If you can't watch the video, you can find the lyrics here in Italian and English:
Italiano sì? Italiano no? Italiano sì!
In many places in the world, it's winter. There are no leaves on the trees. They're barren. Seeing the bare branches has brought to mind some thoughts about one Italian adjective for this: spoglio.
Di inverno le foglie appassiscono e gli alberi sono spogli.
In the winter, the leaves dry up and the trees are bare.
One word leads to another! It even leads to getting undressed.
Italian words that end in "io" often come from Latin, where the word might end in ium. In fact there is a Latin noun "spolium ": the skin or hide of an animal stripped off; Over time, this came to refer to the arms or armor stripped from a defeated enemy:
booty, prey, spoil.
We can make a connection with a tree that has been stripped of its leaves.
We can also see a connection between "the spoils" in English and "spolium" or the derivative "spoglia"in Latin.
Another related Latin word is "spoliarium" referring to the basement of the Roman Colosseum where the fallen and dying gladiators were dumped and devoided of their worldly possessions.
Nowadays, the feminine plural le spoglie is used to indicate the remains of animals or humans when they have died.
Ma che senso ha mettere le spoglie di due persone nella stessa bara?
But what sense is there in putting the remains of two people in the same coffin?Play Caption
Although talking about dead bodies is pretty gruesome, it gives us insight into some very common words you will hear if you go to the doctor, to the gym, or anywhere where you might take off your clothes. Some places have an appropriate room where you can change and take a shower, which in English, we might call the locker room or shower room. Lo spogliatoio (and often indicated as such on the door) will typically be in a gym, at a pool, a hospital or doctor's office, or, as in the example below, a workplace.
Chi ha aggiustato la porta dello spogliatoio?
Who fixed the changing room door?
Caption 30, La Ladra Ep. 3 - L'oro dello squalo - Part 13Play Caption
When you change clothes, first you have to get undressed. In Italian, the verb is reflexive: spogliarsi. We've come a long way from the Roman Colosseum.
Andiamo a casa tua. A casa? Non ti vorrai spogliare in mezzo alla strada?
Let's go to your house. My house? You don't want to undress in the middle of the road, do you?
Captions 52-54, La Ladra Ep. 4 - Una magica bionda - Part 6Play Caption
Can you come up with another way to say the same thing? [answer at the bottom of the page]
In the following example, there is no spogliatoio at this doctor's office. The couple is not an actual couple and they are pretty embarrassed. La Tempesta is a wonderful movie on Yabla, by the way, set in a ceramics factory in Treviso in the Veneto region of Italy.
Certo. -Adesso, siccome siamo un po' in ritardo, vi inviterei a spogliarvi. Vi visito insieme, d'accordo? Ci sono problemi? No, no, no. -No.
Of course. -Now, since we're a bit late, I invite you to get undressed. I'll examine you together, all right? Are there any problems? No, no, no. -No.
Captions 7-10, La Tempesta film - Part 19Play Caption
The doctor is being very polite, but if he ordered them to get undressed, what would he say? [answer at bottom of page]
Now here's a little scene in a refrigerator truck.
A questa temperatura, con i vestiti inzuppati, in nove minuti il sangue diventa ghiaccio. Ah, adesso che lo so mi sento meglio! Senti, spogliati. Eh? -Spogliati! Ah, bel modo di morire, sì... -Piantala! L'unico modo per combattere l'ipotermia è togliersi i vestiti e sommare il calore corporeo di entrambi.
At this temperature, with sopping wet clothes, in nine minutes blood turns to ice. Ah, now that I know it, I feel better! Listen, strip down. Huh? -Strip down! Ah, nice way to die, yes... -Quit it! The only way to fight hypothermia is to take off our clothes and sum up the body heat of both of us.
Captions 48-55, Il Commissario Manara S1EP2 - Vendemmia tardiva - Part 9Play Caption
You can also undress another person. In this case, it's not reflexive.
Dai Carlo vai, vai, spogliala, vasala [sic], spogliala!
Come on Carlo, go on, go on, undress her, kiss her [sic], undress her!
Caption 11, Trailer PaparazziPlay Caption
La gente della notte fa lavori strani Certi nascono oggi e finiscono domani Baristi, spacciatori, puttane e giornalai Poliziotti, travestiti, gente in cerca di guai Padroni di locali, spogliarelliste, camionisti Metronotte, ladri e giornalisti
The people of the night do weird jobs Some start up today and end tomorrow Baristas, drug dealers, hookers, and newsdealers Cops, transvestites, people looking for trouble Bar owners, strippers, truckers, Night watchmen, thieves, and journalists
Captions 23-28, Radio Deejay Lorenzo Jovanotti - Gente della nottePlay Caption
Andiamo a casa tua. A casa? Non vorrai spogliarti in mezzo alla strada?
Certo. -Adesso, siccome siamo un po' in ritardo, spogliatevi. Vi visito insieme, d'accordo? Ci sono problemi? No, no, no. -No.
To get more information about a topic talked about in a lesson, for example, the reflexive touche on here, go to the lessons tab and do a search, such as: reflexive. The lessons where the reflexive is mentioned will be there, one after the other.
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The verb or the noun? Does it matter? No, it doesn't really matter in speaking Italian, but knowing the verb a noun comes from, or the noun a verb comes from can sometimes help us figure out a word we don't know. Or, it can help us remember a new word. In the case of the words discussed in this lesson, we start with a noun.
Il poggio the noun is likely less well-known than the verbs that stem from it. A little research on the etymology tells us that poggio comes from the Latin noun "podium" — a raised platform. Hey! We know the word "podium" in English! Poggio is synonymous with colle or collina (hill), but often refers to a rather small, rounded hill — perhaps a podium-shaped hill, like a bluff...
Sorge isolata su di un poggio la chiesa di Santa Maria a Mevale, costruita nell'undicesimo secolo in stile romanico, in cui spicca un portale rinascimentale e il portico a cinque arcate.
Emerging on a bluff is the remote church of Santa Maria in Mevale built in the eleventh century in the Romanesque style, in which a Renaissance portal and a five-arch portico stand out.
Captions 1-3, Itinerari Della Bellezza Umbria - Part 6Play Caption
An expression Tuscans like to use is: poggio e buca fan pari (hill and hole come out even).
Fan is short for fanno (they make).
poggio=salita (hill = climb)
buca=discesa (hole = descent)
salita + discesa = pianura (uphill + downhill = flatland)
There are places that take their name from the noun poggio. They are usually on a hill.
A very famous town (with a famous villa) near Florence is called Poggio a Caiano and one of our Yabla videos takes place in a town called Poggiofiorito (flowering hills):
Scusami, ma c'ho avuto il trasloco da Poggiofiorito e ho fatto male i calcoli.
I'm sorry, but I've moved to Poggiofiorito and didn't gauge it well.Play Caption
You can go a long time in Italy without hearing the noun poggio, but the verbs that come from this noun are much more common. Sometimes verbs are made from nouns by simply adding a verb ending such as -are, -ire, or -ere.
Poggiare certainly exists as a verb. It means "to place."
Marika uses this verb when describing how she stays safe as she looks out from her balcony.
Per affacciarmi al balcone, io poggio le mani sulla ringhiera.
To look out from the balcony, I place my hands on the railing.
Caption 13, Marika spiega Il balconePlay Caption
But appoggiare also exists. In this case the prefix a has been added, with the conventional doubling of the first consonant in the original noun. Appoggiare is a more complex verb and has several literal and figurative meanings. Appoggiare is more about support, about leaning, propping. Think of a ladder you prop against a wall. In the following example, Manara uses it reflexively.
E le impronte sul furgone come le spieghi? Mi ci sono appoggiato così, per caso. È reato?
And the fingerprints on the truck, how can you explain them? I leaned on it, just like that, by chance. Is that a crime?
Captions 57-59, Il Commissario Manara S1EP7 - Sogni di Vetro - Part 14Play Caption
And here, Anna, who is talking about her new baby, uses the verb appoggiare three times in the same sentence!
Un altro regalo molto utile che ho avuto dal papà è questo. È il cuscino da allattamento, ed è utile perché lo utilizzi sia quando allatti, te lo appoggi qui e non fai fatica con le braccia mentre allatti, che per appoggiare il bambino, che si appoggia qui come un principino e sta molto comodo.
Another very useful gift that I had from dad [the baby's dad], is this. It's a nursing cushion. And it's useful because you use it both when you nurse, you rest it here, and your arms don't get tired while you nurse, and for laying the baby on, who leans back here like a little prince and is very comfortable.
Captions 42-47, Anna presenta La gravidanza - Part 1Play Caption
Rather than using the more general mettere (to put) appoggiare is used to mean "to put down" or "to set down." We could also say "lay something down," implying a certain gentleness.
Posso entrare? Sì, ecco, ecco. Uè, Ada... grazie. Appoggialo pure là, va. -Luca!
May I come in? Yes, here we go, here we go. Hey Ada... thanks. Go ahead and set it down over there, go ahead. -Luca!Play Caption
If you play music, you might have heard of the term "appoggiatura": a note of embellishment preceding another note and taking a portion of its time. Now you know where it comes from!
And now we come back to a noun that comes from the verb that comes from the noun. Just like in English, "support" is both a noun and a verb.
In the following example, it's used in a physical way.
Mezzo passo avanti, sbilanci l'avversario e via la gamba d'appoggio.
A half a step forward, get the opponent off balance, and away with the supporting leg.
Captions 24-25, L'oro di Scampia film - Part 9Play Caption
But it can also be figurative.
Proprio perché uomini di sinistra, noi stiamo facendo una battaglia in Parlamento, abbiamo anche avuto l'appoggio del ministro Brambilla,
Precisely because men of the left, we're waging battle in Parliament, we've even had the support of minister Brambilla,
Captions 48-49, Animalisti Italiani Walter Caporale - Part 2Play Caption
We've gone from the Latin noun "podium" to the ups and downs of Tuscan hills, to propping up a baby, setting down a tray, to playing music, to judo, and to politics. Whew!
If you play or listen to classical music, you will have seen the indication presto on a playlist, tracklist, concert program, or score. It usually means the music should go fast. The fastest tempo you might see is prestissimo (very fast).
But there are two other, more mundane, meanings of presto, and they're both pretty important in everyday conversation.
Presto is not the only way to say "early," and it depends on the context, but it's a very important way. One way we use presto almost every day is in talking about our daily schedule. When do we get up? Presto (early)? Non troppo presto (not too early)? Molto presto (very early)? Prestissimo (super early)?
Eh, giusto. -Noi, per esempio, cuciniamo tutti insieme, mangiamo tutti insieme, la sera dormiamo tutti nello stesso letto, poi andiamo a ballare, facciamo baldoria, e la mattina ci svegliamo presto per andare all'università.
Uh, right. -We, for example, we all cook together, we eat all together, at night we all sleep in the same bed, then we go dancing, we have a blast, and in the morning we wake up early to go to the university.
Captions 34-37, Serena vita da universitariPlay Caption
We can qualify presto with molto (very) or troppo (too):
Dovrei consegnare questi documenti al Dottor Del Serio. Ma è troppo presto, sta dormendo.
I should deliver these documents to Doctor Del Serio. But it's too early. He's sleeping.
Captions 27-28, La Tempesta film - Part 19Play Caption
Everyone has their own idea of what "early" is and there are some sfumature (nuances), too. In the following example, we have presto, prestissimo and prestino.
Senti, non è che domattina presto potresti accompagnarmi dai genitori di una mia allieva? Sì, sì. Presto quanto? Eh, be', be', non prestissimo, però un po' prestino.
Listen, tomorrow morning early, you wouldn't take me, would you, to the parents' house of one of my students? Yes, yes. How early? Oh well, well, not real early, but earlyish.
Captions 26-29, Provaci Ancora Prof! S1E1 - Il regalo di Babbo Natale - Part 23Play Caption
If you have been reading the Yabla Italian newsletters, you will have seen the sign-off at the end:
a presto, literally, "until soon," but commonly translated as "[I'll] see you soon".
Allora a presto, caro, eh?! -A presto. Ciao. -Arrivederci, signora. -Ciao, Giovanni, ciao. Ciao.
So, see you soon dear, OK? -See you soon. Bye. -Goodbye ma'am. -Bye Giovanni, bye. Bye.
Captions 28-30, Il Commissario Manara S1EP6 - Reazione a Catena - Part 4Play Caption
Here's a little telephone conversation about starting a new job. The way we form the comparative and superlative of adjectives is with più (more). The presence of the definite article indicates it's in the superlative.
Ti andrebbe bene cominciare già domani? -Sì, certo, non c'è problema. Voglio mettermi al lavoro il più presto possibile. Domani è perfetto. -Molto bene.
Would it be all right with you to start tomorrow? -Yes, of course. That's no problem. I want to get to work as soon as possible. Tomorrow is perfect. -Very good.
Captions 17-21, Italiano commerciale Cominciare un nuovo lavoro - Part 1Play Caption
Note that we have two similar but different ways to say "as soon as possible." One way is in the previous example, il più presto possibile. The other common way is in the following example, where we have the preposition a (at, too, until): al più presto. In this case, we don't add possibile.
Sei riuscita a vedere che c'è nella valigetta? Un mucchio di soldi. Dobbiamo agire al più presto, OK?
Did you manage to see what's in the briefcase? A bunch of money. We have to act as soon as possible, OK?
Captions 40-41, La Ladra EP. 8 - Il momento giusto - Part 6Play Caption
It can be just the single word, said with urgency:
Mi sa che è della polizia! Professoressa, andiamo. Andiamo, che è gente pericolosa! Sbrigatevi! Presto! Forza, prof! Forza!
I think she's from the police! Prof, let's go, let's go because they're dangerous people! Hurry up! Quickly! Come on, Prof! Come on!
Captions 23-27, Provaci Ancora Prof! S1E1 - Il regalo di Babbo Natale - Part 13Play Caption
Presto means fast, even though, in the following example, that's not how it's translated. This is because it's part of an idiomatic expression: si fa presto a dire, which, taken literally, means "Saying it is done quickly," or "We can be quick to say..."
Si fa presto a dire Europa. Il termine è una costruzione dello spirito, derivata da una realtà geografica mal definita.
It's easy to say "Europe." The term is a construction of the spirit, derived from a poorly-defined geographical entity.
Captions 1-3, Umberto Eco Proust e l'identità europeaPlay Caption
Sometimes it's hard to decide if presto means "fast," "soon," or "early." It may be a combination, like in the following example, where a fire has started in a film lab.
Chiama i pompieri e per sicurezza pure un'ambulanza, non si sa mai. -Sì, alla Cine Service. Fate presto.
Call the firemen and to be on the safe side, an ambulance, too. You never know. -Yes, at the Cine Service. Come quickly.
Captions 27-29, Il Commissario Manara S1EP6 - Reazione a Catena - Part 8Play Caption
Generally speaking, fare presto means "to be quick," or "to do something quickly."
Facciamo presto, che tra poco torna il [sic: la] signora Franca.
Let's be quick, because in a little while, Missus Franca is set to return.
Caption 2, Questione di Karma Rai Cinema - Part 3Play Caption
We hope you have gained some insight into how "fast," "early," and "soon" can be intertwined in the Italian adverb presto.
Some words are easy in Italian and some others are a little complicated. Here's a verb we use a lot but that is kind of tricky to use: accorgersi (to notice, to realize).
Let's take it apart to make some sense of it. Hint: It is reflexive, and while some verbs can be both normal and reflexive, this one is always reflexive.
In a recent episode of La Ladra, a guy wants his car taroccata (rigged) (we talked about the verb taroccare in this lesson). The mechanic tells the guy that he won't even notice he's going 300 kilometers per hour. Usually, we notice something, so very often, since accorgersi is reflexive, we have both a direct and an indirect object pronoun in the sentence. When that occurs, we have to deal with those pesky particles that can attach themselves to the verb in different ways. For more on this, have a look at these lessons.
In the following example, we can see that the verb is conjugated in the second person singular (the mechanic is talking to his customer).
Co' [romanesco: con] questa c'arivi [ci arrivi] a trecento che manco te n'accorgi.
With this one, you don't even notice it when you get to three hundred.
Caption 35, La Ladra EP. 8 - Il momento giusto - Part 13Play Caption
The infinitive form has the impersonal si connected to the verb — accorgersi, but when conjugated, the reflexive verb accorgersi gets separated into two parts — the root of the verb (accorgere) and the person onto whom it reflects, in this case, te (to you). Then there is an n which is a contraction of ne (of it, to it). In order to understand better how accorgersi works, we might translate it as "to become aware of." Here, there is the preposition "of."
By the time to get to three hundred [kilometers an hour], you will not even be aware of it.
"Of it" is represented by ne (in this case contracted into n').
In the following example, however, we have the past tense. In Italian, it's the passato prossimno formed with the auxiliary verb essere (to be) and the past participle, accorto. When you conjugate reflexive verbs in the past tense, you must use essere as your auxiliary verb.
Gira e gira, ai vertici dell'Olivetti, non c'è spazio che per uno di famiglia. Lo so, me ne sono accorto. -Ecco.
At the end of the day, in the upper echelons of Olivetti, there's no room for anyone but a family member. I know, I noticed that. -That's it.
Captions 44-46, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep.2 - Part 8Play Caption
Me is the indirect pronoun (to me)
Ne is another indirect pronoun (of it, about it)
Accorto is the past participle of accorgere.
Let's look at an example without this particle ne. Here, it's not necessary because we have nulla (nothing) as an indirect object preceded by the preposition di. We have the auxiliary verb essere. The reflexive particle si is contracted and refers to the third person singular reflexive pronoun.
Guardi, non s'era accorto di nulla.
Look, he hadn't noticed a thing.Play Caption
You made it this far, good for you! If the verb accorgersi is too difficult for you at this stage of the game, you can also use the verb notare, a nice, simple, transitive verb.
Durante il viaggio avete notato qualcosa di strano? Pensateci bene, ah.
During the trip, did you notice anything strange? Think about it carefully, huh.
Captions 30-31, Il Commissario Manara S2EP9 - L'amica ritrovata - Part 6Play Caption
To say the same thing with accorgersi, it would take a few more words:
Vi siete accorti di qualcosa di strano?
Qualcuno si è accorto di qualcosa di strano?
Did you notice anything strange?
Did anyone notice anything strange?
For even more about reflexive verbs, with charts. Here's a great resource.
If you do a search on Yabla with accorgere, you won't find much, nor will you find much with accorgersi. But if you search the past participle accorto (masculine), accorta (feminine), or accorti (plural), you will find numerous examples. Now that we have taken the verb and its particles apart, you can start getting a feel for this useful, but complex verb. Hopefully, picking out the verb and its accessories and then repeating them will be helpful to you.
Attenzione: There will also be some constructions we haven't covered here, such as in the following example. Suffice it to say that it involves the third person impersonal pronoun si with a reflexive verb in the passato prossimo (present perfect) tense. It's pretty advanced and a lot to absorb, and so we'll confront this in a future lesson.
Quando si è sistemata la piazza nel millenovecentonovantuno, ci si è accorti che il palombaro, cioè questa grande cisterna, era colmo fino all'orlo.
When the piazza was renovated in nineteen ninety-one, they noticed that the "palombaro", that is, this large cistern, was full to the brim.
We've been looking at conjugated verbs followed by verbs in the infinitive. Some can be connected directly as we saw in Part 1, some are connected with the preposition a, as we saw in Part 2, and others are connected with the preposition di, which we will look at in this lesson.
Let's start with an example.
Ti ho portato il millefoglie. Mentre lo mangi, io finisco di prepararmi e poi usciamo, eh?
I brought you a millefeuille. While you're eating it, I'll finish getting ready and then we'll leave, huh?
Captions 18-20, La Ladra Ep. 5 - Chi la fa l'aspetti - Part 13Play Caption
Finisco is the conjugated verb (finire) and preparare is in the infinitive. We have the formula: conjugated verb + di + verb in the infinitive. Attenzione: The verb preparare is attached to the personal pronoun mi (myself) because in this case, the verb prepararsi is reflexive and means "to get [oneself] ready."
One important verb we use with the preposition di is decidere (to decide).
Anita, per migliorare il suo livello di italiano, ha deciso di trascorrere le sue vacanze estive in Italia, dove ha la possibilità di comunicare, conversare con i miei amici, i miei familiari, i miei parenti e di conoscere più a fondo la vera cultura italiana e la vera cultura della Sicilia, la regione da cui io provengo.
Anita, in order to improve her level of Italian decided to spend her summer vacations in Italy, where she has the possibility of communicating, conversing with my friends, my family, my relatives, and to get a deeper understanding of the true Italian culture and the true culture of Sicily, the region I come from.
Captions 36-41, Adriano Adriano e AnitaPlay Caption
There are plenty of important and useful verbs that take the preposition di before the infinitive, and you can find a list here, but here are a few more examples from Yabla videos:
Oppure: chiudo l'ombrello, perché ha smesso di piovere.
Or else, “I close the umbrella because it has stopped raining.”
Caption 7, Marika spiega Il verbo chiuderePlay Caption
Let's remember that although cercare basically means "to look for," "to seek," it also means "to try" or, we could say, "to seek to." We use the preposition di in this case.
Quando vai in paese, cerca di scoprire qualcosa di interessante.
When you go into town try to find out something interesting.Play Caption
Another great verb is credere, which basically means "to believe," but when it's used in conjunction with a verb in the infinitive, we often translate it with "to think," as in:
Ferma! Sta ferma! Dove credi di andare?
Stop! Stand still! Where do you think you're going?
Captions 46-47, Provaci Ancora Prof! S1E1 - Il regalo di Babbo Natale - Part 15Play Caption
In fact, you could say the exact same thing with the verb pensare, which also takes the preposition di before an infinitive.
Dove pensi di andare?
Sperare is another great verb that works the same way, and to close, we'll say:
Speriamo di vedervi presto su Yabla (we hope to see you soon on Yabla)!
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A current episode of Provaci ancora prof brings to mind a noun that is easily mixed up with a similar one, by non-native speakers of Italian.
These are nouns Italians use a lot in day-to-day conversation. One is about money and one is about health (and money too, in a roundabout way), both very common topics of conversation. They're also hard to guess the meaning of.
This is a word you need if you want to buy a house, or just take out a loan from the bank. If you're buying a house, then people will understand you're talking about a mortgage. For any other use, it's the equivalent of a loan. We also notice that when mutuo means mortgage, we often use a definite article (il) and when we mean "loan," we'll likely use an indefinite article (un). To mean "loan," you can also use un prestito or un finanziamento.
Roberta mi ha aiutato quando ho fatto il mutuo sulla casa e sa... insomma, dovrà, dovrà riavere.
Roberta helped me when I took out a mortgage on the house and she knows... basically, she should, she should get it back.
Captions 36-37, L'Eredità -Quiz TV La sfida dei sei. Puntata 1 - Part 14Play Caption
Io ho ancora da parte millecinquecento euro, però dovrei pagare il mutuo alla banca.
I still have fifteen hundred euros put aside, but I should pay the mortgage to the bank.
Captions 54-55, Provaci Ancora Prof! S1E2 - Un amore pericoloso - Part 3Play Caption
Il parrucchiere, quello più caro, quello in fondo al paese. Una messa in piega ci vuole un mutuo, eh. E poi non solo...
The hairdresser, the most expensive one, the one at the edge of town. To get one's hair done, you need to take out a loan, huh. And not only that...
Captions 37-39, Il Commissario Manara S2EP1 - Matrimonio con delitto - Part 4Play Caption
If you hang out in Italy long enough, like many ex-pats, you will get to know another important noun, la mutua. This is the national health service. You can benefit from this service if you are a legal resident. You don't need to be an Italian citizen.
Here's a scenario.
Devo fare un intervento al femore (I have to get my hip operated on).
-Costerà caro, no? (that will be expensive won't it?)
No. Per fortuna, paga la mutua (No, fortunately national health insurance will pay for it).
Here's another scenario.
Non vado al lavoro oggi. Sono alla mutua.
I'm not going to work today. I'm on sick leave.
This is an informal noun, and may not be used all over Italy, but it the common name Italians give to this service. There are rules for different kinds of jobs (state or private) whereby your sick leave is paid for if you are an employee, but you need a certificate signed by your doctor (il medico della mutua, or il medico curante) and you have to make sure to be home during certain hours of the day, such as from 10 AM to 12 PM, and 5 PM to 7 PM. That way, the health authorities can check to see if you are really sick.
Getting sick and making mortgage or loan payments are never divertenti (fun), but at least you know the words to describe these things now!
P.S. mutuo is also an adjective corresponding to "mutual."
When we talk about verbs, we distinguish between conjugated verbs and verbs in the infinitive. In Italian, verbs in the infinitive are easily recognizable most of the time because they end in either -are, -ire, or -ere. Exceptions occur when verbs in the infinitive are combined with particelle (particles), when they are reflexive, or when they are truncated. Then, admittedly, they may be harder to recognize.
In this lesson, we are talking about the specific case of when we want to use a conjugated verb followed by a verb in the infinitive. How do we connect them?
In part 1, we talked about combining a conjugated verb with an infinitive where no preposition is necessary. This typically occurs with the modal verbs potere (to be able to), volere (to want to) e sapere (to know how to, to be able to). Here's an example that can be useful if you are traveling in Italy.
Posso andare in bagno?
May I use (go to) the bathroom?
But there are also other, non-modal verbs where we don't need a preposition. See Daniela's series for examples.
Lascia fare a me!
Let me do it!
If we want to say the same thing we did above with a different verb, we might need a preposition, as in this example:
Permettimi di aiutarti.
Let me help you (allow me to help you).
There are two main prepositions we will use to connect a conjugated verb to a verb in the infinitive: di and a. Roughly, di corresponds to "of" or "from," while a corresponds to "to" or "at." These translations are not much help, though. One general rule (with many exceptions) is that verbs of movement use a to connect with a verb in the infinitive. The bottom line is, however, that you basically just have to learn these combinations little by little, by reading, by listening, and (sigh) by being corrected.
In some cases, the same verb will change its meaning slightly by the use of one preposition or the other.
Non penserai mica di andare via senza salutare!
You're not thinking of leaving without saying goodbye, are you?
Ci penso io a comprare i biglietti.
I'll take care of buying the tickets.
In this lesson, we'll look at some important verbs that need the preposition a.
Here's the formula:
verbo coniugato + preposizione "a" + verbo all’ infinito (conjugated verb + the preposition a [to, at] + verb in the infinitive)
aiutare (to help)
Per esempio, io ho un amico e lo aiuto a fare qualcosa dove lui ha difficoltà, lo aiuto a riparare la bicicletta, lo accompagno in aeroporto...
For example, I have a friend and I help him in doing something he has difficulty with, I help him repair his bicycle, I take him to the airport...Play Caption
cominciare (to begin)
Comincia a fare il nido il povero cucù
The poor cuckoo starts making his nest
Caption 8, Filastrocca Il canto del cucùPlay Caption
continuare (to continue, to keep on)
E si continua a pestare.
And you keep on crushing.
Caption 53, L'Italia a tavola Il pesto genovese - Part 2Play Caption
riuscire (to manage, to succeed, to be able)
Così riesco a seguire meglio la faccia eh... e le labbra di chi sta parlando.
That way, I manage to follow the face better, uh... and the lips of whoever is speaking.
Captions 41-42, Professioni e mestieri il doppiaggio - Part 1Play Caption
insegnare (to teach)
Oggi, ti insegno a cucinare la parmigiana di melanzane.
Today, I'm going to teach you to cook eggplant Parmesan,Play Caption
andare (to go)
Sì, lo diciamo a tutti e dopo andiamo a ballare. Andiamo anche a ballare.
Yes, we'll tell everyone, and afterwards we'll go dancing. We'll go dancing, too.
Captions 11-12, Serena vita da universitariPlay Caption
We've talked about several verbs that take the preposition a before a verb in the infinitive. Why not try forming sentences, either by improvising ad alta voce (out loud) or by writing them down? Take one of these verbs (in any conjugations you can think of) and then find a verb in the infinitive that makes sense.
Here are a couple of examples to get you started:
Mi insegneresti a ballare il tango (would you teach me to dance the tango)?
Non riesco a chiudere questa cerniera (I can't close this zipper).
To find charts about verbs and prepositions, here is an excellent reference.
Go to Part 3 where we talk about verbs that take the preposition di.