Italian Lessons


Una rosa, due rose

The Italian expression featured in this mini-lesson is something people say when two people get together as a couple, when someone finds a new job, or when a business starts up... things like that. They say:

Se son rose, fioriranno (if they are roses, they'll bloom).


It's a poetic way of saying "Time will tell," or, "The proof of the pudding is in the eating."

Se son rose fioriranno presto.

If they're roses, they'll bloom soon.

Caption 34, La Ladra EP. 3 - L'oro dello squalo - Part 8

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la rosa

Let's remember that while "rose" is singular in English, rose, in Italian, is the plural of rosa

Quando questa rosa sarà appassita, io sparirò.

When this rose wilts, I will disappear.

Captions 36-37, La Ladra EP. 11 - Un esame importante - Part 11

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colore rosa

Let's note that rosa is also a color, corresponding to "pink." It's one of those colors that doesn't change in number and gender when used as an adjective, as opposed to nero (black), bianco (white), grigio (grey), and verde (green), among others, which do have to agree with the noun they modify. When rosa the color is used as a noun, it's a masculine noun because the noun colore (color) is masculine. Il colore, un colore.

I pantaloni rosa, il foulard beige, le scarpe blu... sempre lo stesso. OK?

The pink pants, the beige scarf, the blue shoes... always the same, OK?

Captions 33-34, Corso di italiano con Daniela I colori - Part 1

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If this is new to you, check out Daniela's lessons about colors. 


Rosa is also a name. 


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What's accoglienza?

If you live in a place and hear a certain word enough times, you just know what it means. But that doesn't mean that you can translate the word... The word that has perplexed us translators several times is l'accoglienzaThat's because in recent times, it conjures up the image of boat people and migrants needing shelter and help as they come into the country. It is so much more than "welcoming" or "reception."




Pochi anni fa, nel corso del problema dei profughi che arrivavano a Lampedusa dall'Africa, la Caritas spezzina, ci hanno [sic: ci ha] chiesto di fare accoglienza.

A few years ago, during the problem with the refugees, who arrived in Lampedusa from Africa, the Caritas of La Spezia asked us to receive some of them.

Captions 1-3, L'Italia che piace Territori - Part 6

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Accoglienza is a word Italians associate with everything people and organizations do to help refugees once they reach the shores of Italy. When refugees land on the island of Lampedusa, for example, in Sicily, it's necessary to find accommodations, temporary housing, job possibilities, health care, food, and more. All of this is accoglienza. We've seen accoglienza used this way before in Yabla videos. 

In Sposami, a young Polish man wants to get married in an immigrant shelter.

Dentro il centro di accoglienza c'è una piccola cappella.

Inside the immigrant shelter, there is a small chapel.

Caption 34, Sposami EP 4 - Part 18

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So it can mean "shelter," either for the homeless, migrants, or refugees, and can also be a rehabilitation center for addicts, or where people have AA meetings. It's for anyone who needs shelter or help and is often called un centro di accoglienza (sheltering center). In the same episode of Sposami, it's called a "community center" in English. In fact, we can't know for sure what kind of shelter it is. 

Ma... come mai avete scelto di sposarvi in un centro di accoglienza?

But... why did you choose to get married in a community center?

Caption 42, Sposami EP 4 - Part 18

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You will find various translations for centro di accoglienza and accoglienza itself, but we hope you have gotten the idea by now. 

e infatti riuscì a scappare dal centro di accoglienza prima di essere rimpatriata.

and, in fact, she managed to escape from the refugee center before she could be repatriated.

Caption 23, Imma Tataranni Sostituto procuratore S1EP1 L'estate del dito - Part 12

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The noun accoglienza comes from the verb accogliere

Signorina, non è certo questo il modo di accogliere delle potenziali clienti, no?

Miss, this certainly isn't any way to welcome potential clients is it?

Caption 55, La Ladra EP. 5 - Chi la fa l'aspetti - Part 3

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Sometimes accogliere can mean "to receive."

Perché hanno proprio... sembrano quasi dei letti pronti per accogliere la salma...

Because they have actual... they almost look like beds ready to receive the corpses...

Captions 13-14, Meraviglie EP. 6 - Part 4

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And, although the English word  "la reception" is used in places like hotels, accoglienza can mean "the hospitality." 


In a future lesson, we will look at related verbs, such as cogliere and raccogliere

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Le Cinque Terre

One place tourists from all over the world want to visit, especially if they like to hike, is a place called Le Cinque Terre. This means "the five villages" and if you look at a map, you can see they are positioned in a similar way: overlooking the sea.




In fact, there is a footpath leading from one to the other. The villages are more difficult to reach by car, as they are surrounded by mountains. One of the most convenient ways to visit these villages is by train. Each town has a train station at a walkable distance from the center of town.



train station Vernazza


If you do have a car, you can leave it in La Spezia and take the local train. The road through the mountains is winding and narrow. When you take the train there are lots and lots of gallerie (tunnels), but when you come out of the tunnel, you have a lovely, quick view of the sea.


In Marika's series about the regions of Italy, Anna describes Liguria, the region where le Cinque Terre are located. Anna's "prof" is asking what there is to see in Liguria.


Tantissime cose, in particolare le Cinque Terre sono un angolo di paradiso a picco sul mare, eh, che attira visitatori e turisti da tutto il mondo.

A great many things, especially the Cinque Terre are a corner of paradise, high up above the sea, uh, which lure visitors and tourists from the world over.

Captions 77-78, L'Italia a tavola Interrogazione sulla Liguria

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This shot was taken on the hike from Corniglia to Vernazza in the month of February.


Each town has hotels or rooms to rent, and plenty of restaurants. 


When talking about this area, in English, we often skip the article, and talk about "Cinque Terre," as if it were one place, a spot to visit. But now that you know some Italian, you know that it's Le Cinque Terre, because the number cinque (five) calls for the plural. 


Why the name?

The name “Cinque Terre” appeared for the first time in the 15th century when this area was under the control of the Maritime Republic of Genoa. A clerk united the five villages under a single place name because they had many characteristics in common. The name “Cinque Terre”  stuck. The name can be misleading, as terra means various things, but in this case, terra stands for “little medieval village.” The villages, in order from south to north are: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso. 


One important characteristic of Le Cinque Terre, and the Ligurian coast in general, is the terracing. This was conceived in order to create spaces for cultivation, primarily for vineyards.



Retaining walls were built with the stone available, primarily sandstone. The soil was very sandy and scarce, but it was sifted to make a material to put between the stones for the wall. No mortar was used, which is why this kind of wall is called un muro a secco (a dry-stone wall). 

E facendo questi famosi muri a secco per trovare uno spazio per piantare la vite.

And making these famous dry-stone walls in order to find space for planting the grapevines.

Captions 10-11, L'Italia che piace Territori - Part 5

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Here you can see a narrow sentiero (footpath) and muro a secco (dry-stone wall).

We decided on a lesson about Le Cinque Terre because there is a new documentary on Yabla about places to see in Italy and this week's segment focuses on, yes you guessed it, Le Cinque Terre!


All photos by Sigrid Lee except for the map, which is courtesy of Google Maps.


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Addressing people in Italian

As we have seen and heard in Yabla videos, addressing people in Italian isn't always easy to figure out. Let's try to make some sense out of it.


In I Bastardi di Pizzofalcone, for example, Lojacono always introduces himself as ispettore (detective) Lojacono, not commissario (inspector), but some people call him commissario, just in case. The following exchange highlights the tendency of many people (often of an older generation) to address someone with a higher rank than the person actually has. That way, they feel they can avoid offending the person.  

Rosa Cannavacciolo in Marino, commissario bello. -No, ispettore, sempre ispettore sono.

Rosa Cannavacciolo in Marino, kind Inspector. -No. Detective. I am still a detective.

Captions 41-42, I Bastardi di Pizzofalcone EP 3 Vicini - Part 3

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This often means addressing someone as dottore (doctor) or dottoressa (female doctor). The idea is that you can't go wrong that way.


While ispettore or commissario are often used by themselves, we find that questore (commissioner) will likely have signor before it. That's just the way it works. 

Buonasera, signor questore.

Good evening, Commissioner, sir.

Caption 10, I Bastardi di Pizzofalcone EP1 I Bastardi - Part 28

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As Marika tells us in her video about different professions:

Ciao. Il termine "dottore" viene da "dotto", che vuole dire sapiente. Puoi diventare dottore se hai studiato tanto e hai ottenuto una laurea.

Hi. The term "doctor" comes from "dotto," which means "learned." You can become a doctor if you have studied a great deal and you have attained a degree.

Captions 3-6, Marika spiega Medico o dottore?

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In a workplace where people are formal, the boss is often addressed as dottore or dottoressa, whether or not he or she has a degree. It's a sign of respect. In the following example, the speaker is a secretary or an assistant and she is speaking to her boss, who is a notary. 

Ci dica, dottore.

What is it, sir?

Caption 36, I Bastardi di Pizzofalcone EP1 I Bastardi - Part 19

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Again, in I Bastardi di Pizzofalcone, we have a female DA. People address her as dottoressa, because they assume that she has a degree and because she has a position that warrants respect. In Italy, once you have your university degree, called un dottorato, you can be called dottore or dottoressa

Cosa prende, dottoressa? -Un caffè.

What will you have, Ma'am? -A coffee.

Caption 6, I Bastardi di Pizzofalcone EP1 I Bastardi - Part 8

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It's always tricky to translate these forms of address because they are so different from English usage. In the previous example, we opted for "Ma'am." But we could imagine Lojacono saying, "What will you have, DA Piras?" 


If you are dealing with a professional, it is customary (in many cases) to use their professional title in addressing them. Daniela talks about this in her video lessons about writing formal letters and emails. The same can hold true when addressing someone in person. 


Allora, se il destinatario possiede un titolo riconosciuto, e quindi è importante scriverlo, possiamo sostituire "signor" e "signora" con il titolo.

So, if the recipient has a recognized qualification, and therefore it is important to write it, we can replace "Mister" and "Missus" with the title.

Captions 1-4, Corso di italiano con Daniela Lettera formale - Part 3

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If the person is an architect, for example, you can say architetto instead of signore

Architetto, Lei abita qua?

Architect, do you live here?

Caption 12, I Bastardi di Pizzofalcone EP1 I Bastardi - Part 13

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Of course, if you don't know he is an architetto, then signore will do fine, or signor and his last name. 


But this also exhibits the Italian tendency to avoid using names when addressing someone. Sometimes you don't know someone's name, so you use signore, signora, or signorina according to gender and presumed age group. 


When the person being addressed is a young man, we can use giovanotto in a semi-formal way. It's perhaps used more by older folks. Younger folks might just say, ragazzo or ragazzino.

Giovanotto, ma che stiamo facendo? Il cinema?

Young man, what are we doing? Making a movie?

Caption 28, Il Commissario Manara S2EP9 - L'amica ritrovata - Part 3

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For a young woman or girl, signorina is the way to go. When in doubt, signorina is more flattering than signora.

Lei, signorina, ha un grande talento.

You, Miss, have great talent.

Caption 11, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 16

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Let's remember that language is in constant evolution. It also changes according to the region. If you are traveling in Italy, you need to keep your eyes and ears open to see how people handle addressing you and others.


If you have watched La linea verticale, you will have noticed that patients and their family members often call the surgeon, the specialist, or any lead doctor, professore,  while in English, we address all doctors as "Doctor."  Professore is higher up in the hierarchy than dottore. And to get into the nitty-gritty, there are occasions when we will capitalize someone's title, to give them even more importance. In Italian, this is called maiuscola di rispetto o reverenziale  (capitalization out of respect or reverence). So sometimes professore will merit a capital letter and become Professore

Buongiorno, Professore. -Come stai? -Bene, Professore, però non sento le gambe.

Hello, Doctor. -How are you? -Fine, Doctor, but I don't feel my legs.

Captions 42-44, La linea verticale EP4 - Part 5

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In certain situations, there is a mix of familiar and formal. In a business, you might call your boss dottore, but pair it with his first name. Dottor Nino, for example, or dottoressa Cecilia. The same goes for signor and signora. Lots of times, you don't know someone's last name, so you can still address them formally, by using their first name: signor Giorgio, signora Letizia, or signorina Giulia.

We have addressed the question of forms of address in past lessons, so check out these lessons:


How to address your teacher in Italian

Getting someone's attention in Italian: ascoltare and sentire 

The dottore is in


In a future lesson, we'll get into specifics about addressing people with certain jobs. 


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Travel vocabulary 2 - Arriving

When traveling to Italy, we might arrive by plane. So let's go over some vocabulary you might need when you arrive and when you go back to the airport.



You might want to send a message to your host to say you have landed. 

Questa, questa è una matta scatenata. Guardi, guardi questo telex: è appena atterrata a Saigon, senza autorizzazione, senza addebito su banca locale,

This gal, this gal is an unleashed madwoman. Look, look at this telex: She just landed in Saigon, without authorization, without access to funds at area banks,

Captions 18-20, L'Oriana film - Part 4

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Your text could just use one word and say, "Atterrati!" 

If you say atterrati, you're including yourself and the other passengers on the flight (using the first person plural). You can also choose to say this in the singular: atterrata (if you are female) or atterrato (if you are a male). The verb is atterrare.  We can detect the word terra in atterrareLa terra means "the earth," or "the land."


You might want to let someone know your flight is delayed. 

Il volo è in ritardo (the flight is late/delayed).

Siamo in ritardo (we're late).

Il volo ha subito un ritardo (the flight underwent a delay).


Trovi? -Eh, e sei arrivata pure in ritardo.

You think so? -Yeah, you even came late.

Caption 18, La Ladra EP. 10 - Un ignobile ricatto - Part 8

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You might want to meet your host outside in front of "Arrivals." Gli arrivi.

Ah, il mio volo arriva un'ora dopo il tuo. Aspettami agli arrivi, eh.

Ah, my flight arrives one hour later than yours. Wait for me at "arrivals," huh.

Captions 60-61, Sei mai stata sulla Luna? film - Part 2

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If you have to take a taxi, you will see that the word is the same as in English, even though the official Italian word is tassìO con il taxi e qui c'è la stazione dei taxi.

Or by taxi, and here there's the taxi stand.

Caption 40, In giro per l'Italia Firenze - Part 3

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You might hear tassì, but it's easily understandable. 

Ho preso un tassì e sono scappata dal Pronto Soccorso.

I took a taxi and ran off from the emergency room.

Caption 1, La Ladra EP. 7 - Il piccolo ladro - Part 15

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When present, la metropolitana is a fast and convenient way to get around big cities, such as Rome, Milan, Naples, and Turin. 

Poi, ho preso la metropolitana e sono scesa a Rho Fiera Milano;

Then I took the subway and got off at "Rho Fiera Milano,"

Caption 26, Marika spiega Expo 2015 - Part 2

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After your stay, you might go back to the airport. 

Per arrivare all'aeroporto di Firenze c'è un bus, un autobus che parte dalla stazione degli autobus, che è laggiù.

To get to the Florence airport, there's a bus, a bus that leaves from the bus station, which is down there.

Captions 38-39, In giro per l'Italia Firenze - Part 3

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L'uscita (the gate) is where you show your carta d'imbarco boarding pass and passaporto (passport) and then board the plane. L'uscita comes from the verb uscire (to exit). L'imbarco comes from the verb imbarcare (to board). In turn, it comes from the noun la barca (the boat). Obviously, the term came into being before airplanes!

Attenzione, prego. Stiamo per imbarcare il volo Enitalia settantadue settanta diretto a Kingston. Tutti i passeggeri sono pregati di recarsi all'uscita B ventuno, uscita B ventuno.

Attention please. We're about to board Enitalia flight seventy-two seventy to Kingston. All passengers are requested to make their way to gate B twenty-one. Gate B twenty-one.

Captions 45-47, Provaci ancora prof! S2EP1 - La finestra sulla scuola - Part 7

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When you hear your volo (flight) announced, you might also hear a destinazione di ..... and then the city you are flying to. Or you might hear diretto a (in the direction of) as in the previous example.

No pare, ha acquistato un biglietto aereo. Stesso volo, stessa destinazione della moglie della vittima.

It doesn't seem, he did buy a plane ticket. Same flight, same destination as the victim's wife.

Captions 53-54, Provaci ancora prof! S2EP1 - La finestra sulla scuola - Part 10

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Words we have discussed in this lesson:

imbarcare (to board)

la carte d'imbarco (the boarding pass)

il passaporto (the passport)

l'aeroporto (the airport)

l'uscita (the gate)

il tassì / il taxi (the taxi)

la metropolitana / la metro (the underground, the subway)

gli arrivi (arrivals)

atterrare (to land)

a destinazione di  (traveling to)

diretto a (in the direction of)

il volo (the flight)

in ritardo (late, delayed)

il ritardo (the delay)

il passaggero (the passenger)



More travel vocabulary in a future lesson. See part 1 here. And let us know if there are travel topics you would like to know more about. Write to us at

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Travel vocabulary - 1: Trains and buses

When traveling, it's good to have a handle on the words we might need when getting around a new place. But depending on where we are and who we are talking with, we might hear different names for the same thing. 



Taking the train

The word for "train" is easy. It's il treno

Where do we catch or meet a train? Alla stazione. That's a good cognate, too. So already these two words, il treno and la stazione are essential to have in your toolkit.


One important question you might want to ask is: Dov'è la stazione (where is the train station)? Or you can keep it even simpler:

Allora, dico: "scusi, per la stazione?" Semplicissimo.

So, I say, "Excuse me, for the station?" Very simple.

Caption 18, Corso di italiano con Daniela Chiedere informazioni - Part 1

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We don't always need to speak in full sentences, and when we do try, we can easily stumble. You can even just say: La stazione?


The railroad

When we're talking about the railroad in general, however, we usually say la ferrovia. The rails are made of iron, and ferro means "iron." Via is "way" or "road," so it makes sense. 

Il ponte della ferrovia,

The railroad bridge,

Caption 45, Rosalba al parco della donna gatto - Part 1

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Ferrovia isn't too hard to pronounce, but when we turn it into an adjective, it's a bit trickier. 

...e la ricevuta di un biglietto ferroviario di sola andata Bologna-Roma.

...and the receipt for a train ticket, one way, Bologna to Rome.

Captions 16-17, Provaci ancora prof! S2E5 Vita da cani - Part 6

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Taking the bus

There are 3 different terms people use when they refer to a bus. The easiest one is autobus, as it contains the word "bus" we recognize. 


L'autobus often refers to local transportation within a city, but it's also used generally, especially by young people. 

Da qui partono gli autobus, tra l'altro, per gli aeroporti di Pisa e di Firenze...

From here, the buses leave for the Pisa and Florence airports, among other places...

Caption 47, In giro per l'Italia Firenze - Part 3

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La corriera is a term that's a bit outdated (and it was used for stagecoaches in earlier times), but if you are talking to someone of a certain age, or if you are in a remote village, corriera is a term they might use.

Mi scusi, la corriera per Milano?

Excuse me, the bus for Milan?

Caption 31, Il Commissario Manara S1EP12 - Le verità nascoste - Part 9

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Attenzione! Let's also mention that both la corriera (the bus) and il corriere (the courier) have the same origins. In earlier times, a stagecoach would carry passengers but also letters and packages. Nowadays, la corriera carries passengers and il corriere carries packages. We can detect the verb correre in the term, which hints at speed.


Usually, with la stazione, it is pretty clear you are talking about the train station, but if you are asking for the bus station, you will want to specify that. Il pullman, is a word you'll likely recognize from English. 

È arrivata zia, è alla stazione dei pullman.

My aunt has arrived. She's at the bus station.

Caption 48, Il Commissario Manara S2EP11 - Uno strano incidente di caccia - Part 11

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Note that la corriera is feminine and il pullman is masculine. Often, these two terms indicate buses that go long distances, from city to city (like Greyhound in the U.S). 


When there is a proper bus station, you can buy your biglietto (ticket) at la biglietteria, but more and more, there are self-service machines where you can pay in cash or by credit card. In some places, however, you have to buy your ticket at the bar or dal tabaccaio (at the tobacconist's). 


Taking the tram

Some cities have had trams since the 19th century. In some cities, they were once in vogue, then went out of vogue, but are coming back. Whoever is interested in an overview of the tramways in Italy can consult this Wikipedia article. It's called il tram in Italian (so that's easy!). It runs on rails and is (now) electric. 

Bene, una volta arrivati a Napoli, prendete il tram che vi porta al porto.

Good, once you've arrived in Naples, you'll get a tram that will take you to the harbor.

Caption 28, Marika spiega I veicoli

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Other cities have a kind of bus that's powered electrically, from above. It's called il filobus (the trolley bus). Il filo is the word for "the wire".




Here are the words we discussed in this lesson. In a future lesson, we'll dive deeper into travel vocabulary, as this list is only partial.


l'autobus (the city bus)

la corriera (the bus, the coach)

il corriere (the courier)

il pullman (the bus, the long-distance bus)

il treno (the train)

la ferrovia (the railroad)

il biglietto (the ticket)

la stazione (the station)

il filobus (the trolley bus)



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Expressions this week

First of all, last week, the lesson was about the participio presente (present participle). Guarda caso (it just so happens) that this week, there is a perfect example of the present participle in the segment of Liberi tutti. It's not quite an expression, but for the purposes of this lesson, we think it can pass.




The breakfast conversation is partially about a guy who calls himself a prince. Riccardo uses the adjective sedicente. We bring it up because it is a perfect example of the present participle used as an adjective. Remember the rule? We can replace it with che and the conjugated verb. In this case, the caption is:

C'è questo sedicente Ciro, Principe di Filicudi, che rivendica tutto il Nido.

There is this self-styled Ciro, Prince of Filicudi, who is laying claim to the entire Nest.

Captions 58-59, Liberi tutti EP2 Ci vivresti on un posto così? - Part 1

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We can translate it with "self-styled" or "so-called," depending on the context.


We just thought it was kind of fun to see this example after having talked about it so recently. We will be adding it to last week's lesson as an update.



There's another expression from the same video. This one is rather vulgar, but it's used often enough that it's good to understand what it means, even if you choose not to use it (a good choice, especially in polite company). 

Di solito a quest'ora vi girano le palle almeno fino alle nove e oggi, stamattina, Fedez. E proprio perché ci girano le palle, parlavamo di Fedez.

Usually at this time your balls are spinning [you're pissed off] until at least nine o'clock and today, this morning, Fedez. And precisely because our balls are spinning, we were talking about Fedez.

Captions 39-41, Liberi tutti EP2 Ci vivresti on un posto così? - Part 1

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Girare means to turn or to spin. This expression is typically used when you are generally in a bad mood because of something that has happened. 


It can get more personal with the verb rompere (to break). When someone made you mad and you can't stand it any longer, you can talk about the balls breaking. It can also be translated with "to bother."

Invece di fermare gli spacciatori, vengono a rompere le palle a noi.

Instead of arresting the drug dealers, they come and break our balls.

Caption 4, Provaci ancora prof! S1E1 - Il regalo di Babbo Natale - Part 14

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A ball-breaker is un rompipalle. The more polite version is rompiscatole (box-breaker). It can refer to someone who keeps at you, and doesn't let you alone. 


As you may have noticed in other videos, Italians use images of male private parts in a whole range of expressions. 


For more about using palle, especially in arguments, see this lesson


Here, we are talking about balls. Usually, there are two, but when talking about something being boring or annoying, sometimes just one is used.

Era una palla (it was a real bore). 



In this week's episode of Sposami, Melody describes Manrico as un provolone. It's kind of a cute double-entendre. You might have heard of the cheese provola or provolone

Certe volte è tenero, è delicato. Poi, all'improvviso, si trasforma in un, in un provolone che pensa a una cosa sola.

Certain times he is tender, he is gentle. Then, all of a sudden, he is transformed into a, into a playboy who thinks of one thing only.

Captions 54-56, Sposami EP 6 - Part 7

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But nested in the word provola or provolone is the verb provare. It means "to try," but it also means, especially as part of the compound verb provarci, to hit on someone, to flirt heavily. Check out our lesson about provarci.  Un provolone hits on any and all women (typically). 

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3 verbs that end in -are

Three interesting verbs found in this week's videos are:






All three have very literal translations, but they have nuances, too, that are important to know for anyone looking to get comfortable speaking Italian.



Gonfiare (to inflate)


The adjective gonfio comes from the verb gonfiare (to inflate). So we can talk about pumping up our tires, or blowing up a balloon.

"Andare a gonfie vele" significa che tutto procede al meglio.

"Going with full sails" [full steam ahead] means that everything is proceeding well.

Caption 27, Marika spiega Espressioni legate al mare e al mondo nautico - Part 2

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We can imagine a full sail puffing out and looking swollen.


There is a reflexive form as well, so when we get a bruise, sometimes it swells — Si gonfia.

Poi l'universo ha cominciato a gonfiarsi, a gonfiarsi come un palloncino.

Then the universe began to inflate, to inflate like a balloon.

Captions 3-4, Illuminate Margherita Hack - Part 10

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We can use the past participle as an adjective with pallone to mean "hot air balloon," figuratively speaking.

Ma che infame, mentitore, pallone gonfiato, pieno di sé.

You are wicked, a liar, a hot-air balloon, full of yourself.

Caption 55, Il Commissario Manara S1EP9 - Morte in paradiso - Part 7

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Cioè, tu hai permesso a quel pallone gonfiato di usare la mia cucina per fare la sua torta?

That is, you allowed that hot-air balloon to use my kitchen to make his cake?

Caption 18, La Ladra EP. 1 - Le cose cambiano - Part 3

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Translating is not an exact science, so we're not talking about the kind of serene mongolfiera (hot air balloon) we see floating over the countryside, but rather someone who is full of him/herself and hot air (instead of substance). Un pallone is "a big ball" (also a soccer ball), so it can also refer to someone's head if we're thinking about the shape, but un palloncino is "a balloon," so un pallone could also be a big balloon, like one of those hot air balloons. We can talk about someone spouting hot air, so although a direct translation doesn't exactly do the trick, now you get the idea! You undoubtedly know someone who is un pallone gonfiato.


Rosicare (to gnaw)


This verb can be used in reference to animals, such as a dog gnawing at a bone, but it's used with people, too, when they are envious. Here's a little scene from JAMS where someone tends to be a sore loser. Once again, it is a bit tough to translate precisely. That's why we wrote a lesson about it. 

No! -E mamma mia, non rosicare sempre! Abbiamo perso, no "non rosicare"! -E va be', abbiamo perso correttamente, però. -Non va bene.

No! -For heaven's sake, don't always let it gnaw at you! We lost, not "Don't let it gnaw!" -OK, so what? We lost fair and square, though. -It's not OK.

Captions 11-13, JAMS S1 EP 3 - Part 5

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Ignorare is a very interesting verb, together with the adjective, ignorante, that comes from it. It is a partially true cognate, but not totally, and that is why we are mentioning it here. 


One meaning of ignorare is "to ignore," in other words, to neglect to take into consideration. But its other meaning is "not to know." There's a big difference between the two! So in the following passage, it's not totally clear which it is. 

Farà male? -Vuoi la verità? Sì. -Anna. E così mi ignori la primissima regola di questo mestiere.

Will it hurt? -Do you want the truth? Yes. -Anna. And so you ignore the very first rule of this profession on me.

Captions 3-5, La linea verticale EP8 - Part 2

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In this next example, the meaning clearly has to do with not being schooled, with not knowing how to read and write, for example.

Sarò anche una povera vecchia contadina ignorante,

I might even be an old, ignorant farm woman,

Caption 25, Il Commissario Manara S1EP10 - Un morto di troppo - Part 7

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But ignorante is widely used to mean something similar to maleducato — being a boor or a lout. We can see how it is combined with other similar insults here.

Prepotente, zotico, ignorante!

Arrogant, boorish, rude!

Caption 3, La Ladra EP. 6 - Nero di rabbia - Part 6

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Can you use these words to describe someone you know or someone you've seen in televisione or al cinema


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Tiptoeing into the participio presente

When you have spoken a language all your life (and are not a language nerd), there are certain things you just don't think about. 


When you learn a new language, certain things are tricky, such as, for example, the Italian way of skipping the pronoun when it's not essential. Italians don't have to think about it. The verb conjugation gives you the information you need. If you have studied Latin, that's not so strange. But if you come from English, it's a challenging concept to be able to grasp.


And then there are tenses. Not all languages think of tenses in the same way. For instance, English speakers might have trouble with il passato remoto because it doesn't exist in English as distinct from the simple past. And we might translate it the same way as we translate a different tense, such as the imperfetto or the passato prossimo.


This brings us to a tense or mood that is a bit strange to English speakers. We generally feel pretty familiar with the past participle of a verb that can be used either as part of a compound tense or as an adjective. It's used in a similar way in English.


È uscito dall'ospedale, però è ancora un po' confuso.

He's out of the hospital but he's still kind of confused.

Caption 41, Il Commissario Manara S2EP2 - L'addio di Lara - Part 7

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No, m'hanno licenziato loro, perché ho confuso il mangime delle anguille con il veleno per topi.

No, they fired me, because I mistook rat poison for eel feed.

Captions 51-52, Sei mai stata sulla Luna? film - Part 19

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The present participle is something else altogether. Most of the time, we will see the participio presente (which has the -ante or -ente ending) used as an adjective or a noun. We don't think about it much because the word has entered general usage as an adjective or noun. We can identify it as a participio presente because we can replace it with che and the conjugated verb form to reach the same meaning.


Let's look at a couple of words in this category.


A present participle functioning as an adjective:

interessante (che interessa) - interesting (that interests)

promettente (che promette) - promising (that promises)


Perché un suo abitante, Martino Piccione, giovane chitarrista promettente, è sparito nel nulla senza lasciare traccia.

Because one of its inhabitants, Martino Piccione — young, promising guitarist — has vanished into thin air, without leaving a trace.

Captions 4-6, Chi m'ha visto film - Part 15

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Note that in English, these adjectives often have the -ing ending. 


A present participle functioning as a noun:

il cantante ([la persona] che canta]) - the singer ([the person] who sings)

la sorgente (che sorge) - the source

l'abitante (che abita) - the inhabitant (the person who inhabits)


The tricky thing is that the -ing ending in English is also used to translate Italian words that have an -ando or -endo ending. These endings have to do with the presente progressivo (the present continuous or progressive).


Here's the example that prompted one of our viewers to ask about this:

Possiamo trovare il cerro, che è l'albero dominante il bosco,

We can find the turkey oak, which is the tree prevailing over the forest,

Caption 47, In giro per l'Italia La Valle del Sorbo

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We could say che è l'albero che domina il bosco.


Hopefully, you get the idea. You don't need to dwell on this, as you will get along fine without using the present participle as a verb most of the time. But when we come across it in a video, we need to know how to translate it (it was tricky!) and some people are just plain curious!

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The verb aspettare and its nuances

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


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

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

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

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

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Waiting with aspettare


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

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

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

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

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Aspettate, lascio il libro sul tavolo

Wait, I'll leave the book on the table

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

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Dottor Barale, aspetti!

Mister Barale, wait!

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

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

Mai. -E che aspetti?

Never. -And what are you waiting for?

Caption 44, Questione di Karma Rai Cinema - Part 8

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Expectations with aspettarsi


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

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

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

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

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

Erano cinque anni che aspettavo questo momento.

I'd been waiting five years for this moment.

Caption 16, L'Oriana film - Part 15

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

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

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

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

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Cosa ti aspetti da questo Real Madrid?

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

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

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Mi aspettavo che tu fossi più sincera,

I expected that you'd be more sincere,

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

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


The nuance


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


We usually hear the non-reflexive form of aspettare

È vero, aspetto un bambino da Arturo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caption 56, Marika spiega I verbi riflessivi e reciproci

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


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


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


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Talking about the seasons in Italian

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

L'inverno (the winter)

La primavera (the spring)

L'estate (the summer)

L'autunno (the autumn)


Check out this beginner video.

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

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

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

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

Oggi vi parlerò delle stagioni.

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

Caption 2, Adriano Le stagioni dell'anno

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thanks for reading. 




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2 kinds of prepositions and articles combined

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



1) Preposizione articolata (articulated preposition)


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


2) Articolo partitivo


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


What's different from the preposizione articolata?


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

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


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


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


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


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

Aggiungiamo un po' di parmigiano grattugiato.

We'll add a bit of grated Parmesan.

Caption 46, Adriano Spaghetti pomodoro e aglio

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But he could have used del.  

Aggiungiamo del parmigiano grattugiato.


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

Quando l'acqua bollirà, potrò aggiungere del sale.

When the water boils, I can add some salt.

Caption 34, Adriano Spaghetti pomodoro e aglio

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

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

Caption 6, Escursione Un picnic in campagna - Part 3

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

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

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

Caption 36, Andromeda La storia di Ulisse

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

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


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


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

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Che ne so: Let's take it apart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Che can also mean "what." See this lesson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

Che ne so? What do I know [about it]?


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


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

Sì, lo so (yes I know [that].

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


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

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

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

Captions 50-51, Francesca Cavalli - Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In this video, Marika explains the particle ne.

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Pronunciation tips for the letter E

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

Caption 26, Amiche Anna e Marika raccontano...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Marito e moglie...

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

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

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

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 Destra e sinistra

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

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

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

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


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


"Chi è quella ragazza?"

"Who is that girl?"

Caption 41, Marika risponde Risposta 1 Pronomi e aggettivi interrogativi

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Sì, è vero, è una ricetta segreta,

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

Caption 6, Adriano L'arancello di Marina

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


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

Perché ti lamenti?

Why are you complaining?

Caption 7, Acqua in bocca Mp3 Marino - Ep 2

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

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

Captions 23-24, Anna e Marika Il pane

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


More about the double-duty word perché here.


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


See you in the next lesson!


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50 good-to know adjectives part 5

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


41) simpatico (likeable, congenial, nice)

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

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

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

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

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41a) antipatico (unpleasant, troublesome, nasty)

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

È severo e pure un po' antipatico.

He is stern and also a bit unfriendly.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Captions 14-16, Caravaggio EP1 - Part 20

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44) affettuoso (affectionate, loving, tender)

Un tipo affascinante, simpatico, affettuoso.

A charming, friendly, affectionate type.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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47) preoccupato (worried, concerned)

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

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

And someone might say to you:

Non ti preoccupare (Don’t worry). 

And if the situation is formal:

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

More about worrying in Italian, here.

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


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


50) pazzo (crazy)

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

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

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


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

Hai avuto un successo pazzesco, eh?

You were wildly successful, huh?

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

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51) furbo (clever, cunning, shrewd)

Ho detto: "Non fare il furbo".

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

Caption 39, L'Italia a tavola Interrogazione sul Piemonte

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

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

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


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Using suffixes for emphasis

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


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



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


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


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


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

E io farò un bel calduccio.

And I will make some nice heat.

Caption 50, PIMPA S3 EP 5 Il signor Inverno

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Sometimes -uccio is a suffix of endearment.


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

Tesoruccio mio, ti prego, perdonami.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Com'è andata l'audizione? -Maluccio.

How did the audition go? -Pretty badly.


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


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


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


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

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

31) felice (happy)

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

Sono felice di averLa conosciuta.

I'm happy to have met you.

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

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32) triste (sad)

Il canile è un luogo molto triste per un cane.

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

Caption 11, Andromeda La storia di Ulisse

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

33) arrabbiato (angry)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ma io sono fiduciosa.

But I am confident.

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

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35) volenteroso (willing)

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

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

Captions 39-40, Francesca neve - Part 3

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

36) scoraggiato (discouraged, disheartened)

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

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

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

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

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37) stufo (fed up, sick and tired)

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

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

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

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

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38) svogliato (unenthusiastic, listless)

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

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

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

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

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39) nervoso (tense, irritable, stressed out)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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See part 1

See part 2

See part 3

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


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

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

11) brutto (ugly, bad)

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

Che brutto incidente!
What a terrible accident!

12) cattivo (bad, mean, nasty, evil)

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


13) pessimo (really bad, awful)

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


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


14) scorretto (unfair, unjust, rude)

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

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

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

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

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15) terrible  (terrible, awful, horrendous)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caption 6, Fellini Racconta Un Autoritratto Ritrovato - Part 8

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

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

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

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

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


Eh, povero Dixi, il singhiozzo è noioso

Oh, poor Dixi, the hiccups are bothersome

Caption 15, Dixiland Il singhiozzo

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caption 41, Questione di Karma Rai Cinema - Part 9

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20) tirchio (stingy, miserly)

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

Quanto sei tirchio (what a tightwad you are).


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

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