How do we talk about frequency — how many times in a period of time something happens or should happen? Let's find out.
Just as English has "every" and "each," so does Italian. Italian has tutti (all) and ogni (each). For more about tutti see this lesson.
In Italia, come ben sapete, la pasta è un alimento consumato tutti i giorni.
In Italy, as you well know, pasta's a food that's eaten every day.
Caption 1, Anna e Marika La pasta frescaPlay Caption
Note that with tutti, we use the plural. Both the noun giorni and the adjective tutti are in the plural. Not only that. If we replace giorni (days) with settimane (weeks), we have to change tutti to tutte, as settimana is a feminine noun. Note also that we have tutto il giorno, which means "all day." Here tutto is singular, so try not to get mixed up (we'll talk about this in a different lesson).
Usciamo quasi tutte le settimane, il sabato sera,
We go out almost every week, on Saturday night,
Caption 40, Erica e Martina La nostra amiciziaPlay Caption
When we use ogni (each), on the other hand, it's always singular.
Qui in Sicilia, in estate si va ogni giorno al mare e la sera si esce.
Here in Sicily, in the summer we go to the beach every day and in the evenings we go out.
Caption 49, Adriano Le stagioni dell'annoPlay Caption
What if we want to talk about "every other day?" We can say ogni due giorni (every two days) or we can say un giorno sì e un giorno no (one day yes and one day no).
Ah no, eh? E tu come lo chiami un bambino che vomita un giorno sì e un giorno no?
No? And what do you call a little boy who vomits every other day?Play Caption
When it comes to doing something once a day, once a week, once a month, or once a year, we use the noun volta, which we can also use in the plural when appropriate. It is followed by the preposition a (at, to, in)
Allora, amici di Yabla, all'interno del mio negozio, una volta al mese ospito degli artisti...
So, Yabla friends, inside my shop, I host artists once a month...
Captions 56-57, Adriano Negozio di Antichità SgroiPlay Caption
Note that the noun volta has other meanings and connotations, so consider checking out the dictionary entry linked to above. Learn more about the noun volta meaning "time" in this lesson.
una volta al giorno (once a day)
due volte al giorno (twice a day)
una volta alla settimana (once a week)
due volte alla settimana (twice a week)
una volta al mese (once a month)
due volte al mese (twice a month)
una volta all'anno (once a year)
due volte all'anno (twice a year)
There is a lot to talk about regarding time. We've covered one aspect of frequency in this lesson, but in future lessons, we'll talk about ways to say "usually," "sometimes," "always," "never," and so on.
In English, we say, "Wait a minute," "Wait a second," "Wait a moment," Just a moment," and so on. In Italian, we have cognates that work just fine: un minuto, un secondo, and un momento.
We can say (using the familiar form):
Aspetta un minuto/secondo/momento (wait a minute / second / moment).
Luca, Luca, Luca, aspetta, un minuto.
Luca, Luca, Luca, wait, one minute.Play Caption
Grazie, fratellino. Un secondo solo, eh.
Thanks, little brother. Just a second, hey.Play Caption
Just a moment!
Caption 17, La Ladra EP. 8 - Il momento giusto - Part 5Play Caption
But in English, we usually use a verb or adverb, such as "wait" or "just." In Italian, there are some additional choices and the word order can change. The method can be applied to all three nouns mentioned above.
Solo un momento (just a moment).
Un minuto solo (just a minute).
Un momento (just a moment).
But there are two other words describing an instant of time that can be used interchangeably with the cognates we have looked at thus far.
In English, we don't use the cognate "instant" in this context very often, but we can easily guess its meaning.
It's common to say un istante solo, for example. (Note there is only one N in this word!)
Eh, se mi può scusare un istante, perché dovrei mandare un messaggino.
Uh, if you'll excuse me a moment, because I have to send a text.
Caption 11, La Ladra EP. 5 - Chi la fa l'aspetti - Part 12Play Caption
In a recent segment of Provaci ancora Prof, we hear yet another word describing a very short interval of time: un attimo. It also means "an instant" but it's not easy to think of a cognate for this. Sometimes it's helpful to find out the etymology of a word to help remember it.
Interestingly, some scholars say it comes from the word for "atom": Latin, atŏmum, from the Greek átomos — indivisible quantity. We think of an atom as being pretty tiny.
But other scholars say it might come from the German for "breath": "der Atem." One breath is pretty quick, too.
So in the context of "Wait a minute!" we can add attimo to the list of choices.
Oppure: "Aspetta un attimo, ora lo chiamo".
Or else: "Wait a moment. I'll call him right away."
Caption 56, Corso di italiano con Daniela Ora - Part 1Play Caption
We can also say:
un attimo solo (just a second).
or, with a bit more impatience or irritation:
un attimo (just a second)!
La prego Marzio, un attimo!
Please, Marzio, just a moment!Play Caption
So un attimo is a very short period of time, likened to "an instant," "the blink of an eye." It rolls off the tongue nicely, but don't forget the double T (which gives it the feel of irritation) and the single M.
And even though un attimo is a very brief period of time, Italians like to make it even shorter. Un attimino.
Libero, potrei conferire con te un attimino?
Libero, could I confer with you a moment?Play Caption
Italians like to use the word attimo in conversation, and it can find its way into sentences quite easily. We'll look at some example in a future lesson.
When we want to talk about going or being upstairs or downstairs, we're not going to find a direct translation in Italian. We have to use other words.
No, vado di sopra a prendere la borsa e le chiavi e scendo giù subito.
No, I'm going upstairs to get my bag and the keys, and I'll be right down.Play Caption
If you are upstairs and want to go downstairs, you could just as well say,
Vado di sotto a prendere la borsa...
I'm going downstairs to get my bag...
When we are talking about the other room, or another room, or "over there," then we use the same little preposition di (of, from), but we use là (there) instead of above or below.
Vado di là (I'm going in the other room, I'm going over there).
Pietro è di là (Pietro is in the other room).
Using the above formula to talk about "upstairs," "downstairs," or "in the other room," is one way to express this. You might also hear simply su and giù.
È su (he/she is upstairs), sta su (he/she is upstairs).
Vado su, vengo giù (I'm going up, I'm coming down).
If we imagine an apartment building where you have to go downstairs to go out of the building, it's easier to imagine the Italian use of sotto casa (right in front of the house). I may have a little market right near my house. It's sotto casa. It implies "very close by" or "in front of."
Fortunatamente ci hanno messo un bidone sotto casa.
Fortunately, they put a garbage can in front of the house.
Caption 25, COVID-19 6) La guarigionePlay Caption
Sono sotto casa tua. Scendi un attimo?
I'm in front of your house. Will you come down a moment?
Caption 30, La Ladra EP. 7 - Il piccolo ladro - Part 3Play Caption
When we want to say, "down here," or "down there," then we can use qui sotto or qua sotto. They are interchangeable and can refer to either "here" or "there," depending on one's point of view.
E qua sotto c'è il fiume Tevere.
And down there is the river Tiber.Play Caption
Infatti, vedi le strutture che sono qui sotto, qui sotto a questo monumentale... -Sì.
In fact, do you see the constructions that are down here, below this monumental... -Yes.
Caption 44, Marika e Daniela Colosseo, interno - Part 1Play Caption
While sopra and sotto with di often refer to "upstairs" and "downstairs" as we have shown above, su and giù can also be used to indicate the direction of where someone or something is or where someone or something is going. They often go hand in hand with qui or qua (here) and là (there).
Qui and qua basically indicate something that is close to the person who is speaking. Su basically means "up" and giù basically means "down." If we want to refer to something far away in an upward or downward direction, we can say, lassù (up there) or laggiù (down there).
E tu che ci fai lassù?
What are you doing up there?
Caption 8, Dafne Film - Part 5Play Caption
E poi si vede in fondo, laggiù sull'Arno, il ponte più caratteristico di Firenze, uno dei simboli della città, che è il Ponte Vecchio.
And then you can see, down there, on the Arno, the most characteristic bridge of Florence, one of the symbols of the city, which is the Ponte Vecchio [the old bridge].
Captions 36-38, In giro per l'Italia Firenze - Part 4Play Caption
Sopra and sotto are also used to mean other things, also figuratively, and hopefully, they will come up by and by in videos and lessons. Meanwhile, you now have some ways to describe where you are going or where you are in a house, or what you can see from your house or what you'll find in front of your house. As you will have noticed, there are various ways to say the same thing. Let us know if you have questions! You can write to us at email@example.com.
Let's have a look at a noun that can cause some confusion because it's both a true cognate and a somewhat false friend. The noun is aspetto and it looks a lot like "aspect."
It's a cognate when we want to talk about a feature or element of something, an "aspect," un aspetto. It can also be figurative.
Ma c'è un altro aspetto che deve colpire in questa sala e sono certamente i tendaggi del letto a baldacchino, ma soprattutto, guardate attorno a noi, sono le tappezzerie. Sono in seta.
But there is another aspect that is striking in this room, and certainly the curtains of the canopy bed are, but above all, look around us, it's the wall coverings. They are in silk.
Captions 31-34, Meraviglie EP. 1 - Part 4Play Caption
Tutti la chiamavano Belle, perché lei era bella sotto ogni aspetto.
Everyone called her Beauty, because she was beautiful in every respect.
Captions 7-8, Ti racconto una fiaba La Bella e la Bestia - Part 1Play Caption
But the noun aspetto can also refer to the way something looks, its appearance. It's used with the verb avere (to have) — avere un aspetto (to have the appearance, to look like). If you look in the dictionary, we find this meaning of "aspect," too, in English, but it's formal and not used much.
Però, inizialmente, come abbiamo detto, non aveva questo aspetto.
However, initially, as we have said, it did not look like this.
Caption 3, Meraviglie S2 EP 2 - Part 6Play Caption
Mangio tanto tutti i giorni. -Ma dai! Dal tuo aspetto non si direbbe proprio.
I eat a lot every day. -Really! By your appearance, I wouldn't say so at all.
Captions 4-5, Daniela e Francesca Il verbo mangiarePlay Caption
Commissario... ha un aspetto terribile!
Commissioner... you look terrible!
Captions 2-3, Il Commissario Manara S1EP2 - Vendemmia tardiva - Part 7Play Caption
In English, "aspect" has more to do with the mind, but in Italian, aspetto is often used to refer to the physical attributes or the appearance of something or someone. It's just something to keep in mind.
And let's not be confused by the fact that aspetto is also the first person singular conjugation of the common verb aspettare (to wait).
Although it means "to wait," Italians often say ti aspetto to mean, "I'll look forward to seeing you" or "I'll be expecting you." For example, Marika says it at the end of many of her videos.
Ti aspetto nel prossimo video
I'll be waiting for you in the next video.
Caption 56, Marika spiega I segni dello Zodiaco - Part 1Play Caption
Vicenda and faccenda are two words we come across in narrations and in dialog. They both have to do with events, things that happen, but is there a difference? If so, what?
The noun la faccenda comes from the verb fare (to make, to do), and has to do with things we do. It implies something that is done in a relatively short amount of time.
Many Italians describe housework as le faccende — the chores you do. The noun is usually found in its plural form, as there is always more than one thing to do.
It might occur to you to say:
Passo sempre tutto il weekend a fare le faccende (I always spend the whole weekend doing housework).
If it's clear I am talking about my house, I don't need to add domestiche or di casa, but if it's not necessarily clear, I might say,
Passo tutto il weekend a fare le faccende domestiche (I spend the whole weekend doing housework).
Passo tutto il weekend a fare le faccende di casa (I spend the whole weekend doing housework).
Le pulizie della casa, dell'appartamento si chiamano anche "faccende domestiche" oppure "pulizie casalinghe".
Cleaning the house, the apartment, is also called "housework" or "household cleaning."
Captions 32-33, Marika spiega Le pulizie di primavera - Part 1Play Caption
Faccenda, used in the singular or the plural, can also denote a "matter" or "business."
Ecco, io ci tenevo a dirvi che noi siamo completamente estranei a questa faccenda.
Well, I wanted to tell you that we are completely uninvolved in this matter.Play Caption
Brutta faccenda. È una crisi di ispirazione.
Nasty business. It's an inspiration crisis.
Captions 5-6, La Ladra EP. 5 - Chi la fa l'aspetti - Part 1Play Caption
Often, the noun faccenda can imply something unpleasant — maybe an unpaid bill you need to discuss or something you did at work that needs to be dealt with.
The noun vicenda likely comes from the latin "vicis" (to mutate). It can be an event, or a succession or series of events, possibly lasting over time. In many instances, it can be used in place of "story."
Quando "cosa" si riferisce ad un fatto o a una vicenda particolare, possiamo usare alcune espressioni...
When "thing" refers to a particular fact or event, we can use some expressions...
Captions 32-33, Marika spiega Cosa - Part 1Play Caption
Una leggenda racconta che questo ponte è legato alle vicende di una fanciulla veneziana e di un giovane ufficiale austriaco e al diavolo.
A legend tells that this bridge was linked to the story of a Venetian girl and a young Austrian officer, and to the devil.
Captions 5-7, In giro per l'Italia Venezia - Part 10Play Caption
As you watch videos, read books, and listen to people talk, you will get a feel for faccenda and vicenda. In some cases, they might even be interchangeable. Although vicenda doesn't come from the verb vivere (to live), it might be helpful to imagine that it does. Le vicende are things that happen in life. Le faccende are things you do (used in the plural) or, used either in the singular or plural, matters to deal with.
You might also have heard the expression a vicenda (mutual, each other) It's very common, but we will look at it in a future lesson, so we can give it the attention it deserves.
Let's look at the different names Italians have for vessels that travel on water.
The most basic word, and the first word you'll likely learn, is la barca (the boat). It's general, it starts with B!
A Villa Borghese si possono fare tantissime cose: si può noleggiare una barca... per navigare nel laghetto;
At Villa Borghese, you can do many things: you can rent a boat... to sail on the small lake;
Captions 10-12, Anna presenta Villa Borghese - Part 1Play Caption
If we want to specify the kind of boat, such as a sailboat, then we use the preposition a (to, at) to indicate the type: barca a vela (sailboat).
E lui fa il cuoco sulle barche a vela, in giro per il mondo.
And he's a cook on sailboats, going around the world.
Caption 28, La Ladra EP. 1 - Le cose cambiano - Part 9Play Caption
A motorboat would be una barca a motore.
A fishing boat can be una barca da pesca, but also, and more commonly, un peschereccio.
E... questa tartaruga è arrivata in... proprio ieri, portata da un peschereccio di Lampedusa.
And... this turtle arrived... just yesterday, brought to us by a Lampedusa fishing boat.
Captions 4-5, WWF Italia Progetto tartarughe - Part 2Play Caption
The second word you'll learn will likely be la nave (the ship):
La Campania è collegatissima, quindi ci si può arrivare in treno, in aereo, in macchina o in nave.
Campania is very accessible, meaning you can get there by train, by plane, by car, or by ship.
Captions 82-84, L'Italia a tavola Interrogazione sulla CampaniaPlay Caption
There are the ships we see on the sea, but there are ferryboats, too, especially the ones that take you from Italy's mainland to le isole (the islands): Sicilia (Sicily), Sardegna (Sardinia), Corsica (although not part of Italy — a common destination), and l'Isola d'Elba. This specific kind of boat is called un traghetto. But if you call it la nave, that's perfectly understandable, too. Some of these ferries are huge. In the following example, we're talking about getting to Sardinia.
Ci sono tre aeroporti, se si vuole arrivare in aereo. Oppure con il traghetto da Civitavecchia, da Genova o da Napoli.
There are three airports if one wishes to arrive by plane. Or by ferry from Civitavecchia, from Genoa, or from Naples.
Captions 70-71, L'Italia a tavola Interrogazione sulla SardegnaPlay Caption
If you go to Venice, you will undoubtedly take a ferry at some point. Here, the local means of transportation is il vaporetto (the steamship). The name comes from il vapore (the steam). There are stops you get off at, just like for busses, subways, and trains in mainland cities.
When you need speed, you opt for un motoscafo (a motorboat, a speedboat). That's what the police use.
Another boat name used in Venice, but other places, too, is battello.
Per arrivare a Murano, basta prendere un battello a Venezia e in pochi minuti si arriva.
To get to Murano, all you have to do is take a passenger boat in Venice, and in just a few minutes, you get there.
Captions 23-25, In giro per l'Italia Venezia - Part 8Play Caption
Interestingly, when Italians use the noun la canoa, they often mean "kayak." The noun kayak exists as well. When they want to refer to a canoe, they'll say la canoa canadese (the Canadian canoe).
Nelle gole dell'Alcantara, si possono praticare sport estremi come l'idrospeed, che consiste nello scendere attraverso le gole, ma anche la più tranquilla canoa.
In the Alcantara gorges one can practice extreme sports like riverboarding, which consists of going down the gorges, but also the calmer kayak.
Captions 19-21, Linea Blu Sicilia - Part 10Play Caption
To use a canoe or a kayak you need a paddle— la pagaia.
If we want to talk about a rowboat, it's una barca a remi. Un remo is "an oar," so we need 2 of them in una barca a remi. The verb to row is remare.
In Venice, there are gondolas, and they are rowed or paddled with just one oar.
Questa asimmetria è voluta per dare più spazio al gondoliere per remare con il suo unico remo.
This asymmetry is needed to give more space to the gondolier to row with his one and only oar.
Captions 18-19, In giro per l'Italia Venezia - Part 5Play Caption
A common expression having to do with rowing is:
Tirare i remi in barca (to pull the oars back in the boat). You stop rowing. Figuratively, you stop trying, you give up. Or, you've finished your job so you don't have to "row" any longer. Maybe you've retired! This nuanced expression can tend towards a positive or negative intention and interpretation.
Finally, we have la zattera (the raft). It's often primitive, often made of wood.
Are there kinds of boats for which you would like to know the Italian equivalent? Write to us. firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are undoubtedly other kinds of seafaring vessels we have missed here. Feel free to volunteer some you might have come across.
And to sum up, we will mention that in general, when talking about vessels that travel on the water, we can use l'imbarcazione. It's good to recognize this word and understand it, but you likely won't need it in everyday conversation. You'll hear it on the news, you'll read it in articles...
Venire is one of those verbs, like "get" in English, that is used in lots of ways, besides its general meaning of "to come." Let's look at some of the ways.
When you are shopping at the outdoor market, for example, and want to know the price, you might think of saying:
Quanto costa (how much does it cost)?
It's a fine cognate, easy to remember. But if you want to sound more like a local, you might say:
Quanto viene (how much does it come to)?
or if they are pomodori (tomatoes), for example,
Quanto vengono (how much do they come to)?
When you succeeded (or not) in doing something, such as jumping over a hurdle, making a drawing, making a special dish, you can use venire. You can say, for instance:
Questo dolce mi è venuto bene (I did a good job on this dessert. It came out well).
We can say it in a neutral way, leaving out the indirect personal pronoun:
È venuto bene (it came out nicely)
Or we can say it in a more personal way:
Ti è venuto bene (you had success), mi è venuto bene (I had success).
Instead of saying sono stata brava (I did a good job), where the accent is on me, I turn the phrase around a bit, and say mi è venuto bene (it came out well for me). There is a little less ego involved, if we want to look at it that way. We're not taking all the credit. It might have been chance.
In a recent segment of the movie Dafne, the father is thinking of planting a vegetable garden. He's probably never done it before. He says:
Potrei fare l'orto, come viene viene (I could plant a vegetable garden, however it turns out).
Literally, it's "It turns out the way it turns out."
We have mentioned this in another lesson. The verb venire, as well as the verb andare, is used to make a kind of passive form. Since that lesson is long and involved, we'll just cite the part about venire here:
Venire (to come) and andare (to go)
There is a verb pair that Italians use to form the passive voice, more often than you might think: venire (to come) and andare (to go). These have a particular feeling and purpose. We could look at these verbs as more of an active-type passive tense (although perhaps that's an oxymoron). If you think of times when we use "get" instead of "to be" in passive sentences, it might make more sense. We often use venire when we're talking about how things are done, or things that are done on a continuing basis, and we use andare when we're talking about things that have to get done.
If I am telling you the rules of how candidates are chosen, for example, or how they get chosen, I might use venire (to come).
Active: Il presidente sceglie il vicepresidente. The president chooses the vice-president.
Passive: Il vicepresidente viene scelto dal presidente. The vice-president gets chosen by the president.
In Italia il caffè viene servito in tazzine di queste dimensioni.
In Italy, coffee is served in demitasses that are this size.
Caption 15, Adriano Il caffèPlay Caption
Non mi viene. -Va bene.
It doesn't come to mind. -All right.
Caption 68, Sposami EP 3 - Part 4Play Caption
We can also say this as we do in English:
Non mi viene in mente (it doesn't come to mind)
But we often leave out the "in mente" part, especially if there is a direct object, like for example il nome "the name."
Non mi viene il nome (I can't remember the name, I can't think of the name).
We hope this lesson has given you some more tools to improve your Italian. Keep on learning!
The verb stufare means "to stew," so it's a cooking verb. You cook something for a long time. In English we use "to stew" figuratively — "to fret" — but Italians use it a bit differently, to mean "to get fed up." What inspired this lesson was the first line in this week's segment of L'Oriana.
Sono stufa di intervistare attori e registi, non ne posso più.
I'm tired of interviewing actors and directors, I can't take it anymore.
Caption 1, L'Oriana film - Part 3Play Caption
Ma se fosse stato... -Se, se, Manara, sono stufo delle sue giustificazioni!
But if that had happened... -If, if, Manara. I'm sick of your justifications!Play Caption
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 5Play Caption
You will often see the expression Basta! (enough) close by stufo, as in the previous example— they go hand in hand. The adjective stufo is used when you have already had it, you are fed up, you are already tired of something.
Stufo is an adjective that comes up a lot in arguments. Can you think of some verbs to use with it?
Sono stufa di lavare i piatti tutte le sere (I'm sick of doing the dishes every night).
Sono stufo di...[pick a verb].
Sono stufo di camminare. Prendiamo un taxi (I'm tired of walking. Let's take a taxi).Sono stufo di discutere con te. Parliamo di altro (I'm tired of arguing with you. Let's talk about something else).Sei stufo, o vuoi fare un altro giro (are you tired of this, or do you want to do another round)?
Sì. -Ma io mi sono stufato.
Yes. -But I've had enough.
Caption 18, Sposami EP 2 - Part 21Play Caption
As you can see, it's common for the verb form, used reflexively, to stand alone, but we can also use it as we did the adjective form, with a verb.
Mi sono stufata di camminare (I'm tired of walking).
Let's keep in mind that we have to pay attention to who is speaking. The ending of the participle will change according to gender and number.
Two girls are hiking but are offered a ride:
Menomale. Ci eravamo stufate di camminare (Good thing, We had gotten tired of walking).
But stufarsi can also be used in the present tense. For example, a guy with bad knees loves to run but can't, so he has to walk. He might say:
Meglio camminare, ma mi stufo subito (It's better to walk but I get bored right away). Preferisco correre (I like running better).
And finally, we can use the verb non-reflexively when someone is making someone else tire of something or someone.
A me m'hai stufato con sta storia, hai capito? Eh.
You've tired me out/bored me with this story, you understand? Huh.Play Caption
Let's also remember that la stufa is a heater. In earlier times and even now in some places, it was also the stove or oven, used both for heating and cooking food and for heating the living space. The double meaning is essential to understanding the lame joke someone makes in Medico in Famiglia.
In una casa dove vive l'anziano non servono i riscaldamenti perché l'anziano stufa!
In a house where an elderly person lives there's no need for heating because the elderly person makes others tired of him.Play Caption
Practice: We don't want to promote feeling negative about things, but as you go about your day, you can pretend to be tired of something, and practice saying Sono stufo/a di... or quite simply, Basta, mi sono stufata/a. For "extra credit," try following it up with what you would like to do as an alternative.
I can ask you if you have a pen or a pencil, or I can ask you if you have something to write with. I don't always need to be specific. I can offer you a glass of water, a glass of wine, or I can just offer you something to drink. I might not want to be specific. Let's look at one way to say this in Italian.
We can use the preposition da (from, to, at) and the infinitive of a verb. Let's look at some examples.
Hai da scrivere (do you have something to write with)?
Scusate, mica avete da accendere? -Sì.
Excuse me, do you happen to have a light? -Yes.Play Caption
The person we ask for a light might have un accendino (a lighter) or dei fiammiferi (some matches). So we don't need to be specific. We just indicate what we need it for.
Faccio da mangiare (I'm going to make something to eat).
Devo dare da mangiare a mia figlia.
I have to feed my daughter.Play Caption
Dai da bere a 'sti [questi] quattro lavoratori qua.
Give these four workers something to drink.
Caption 26, Chi m'ha visto film - Part 4Play Caption
Quando viaggio in treno porto sempre da leggere (when I travel by train I always bring something to read).
I can also say:
Porto sempre qualcosa da leggere (I always bring something to read).
Ci vorrebbe da dormire e da mangiare. -Bene.
We need lodging and food. -Fine.
Caption 20, Dafne Film - Part 17Play Caption
Ho da fare (I have stuff to do).
Let us know if you have questions at email@example.com.
Here's another expression you will want in your toolbox: arrangiarsi (to make do).
Oriana Fallaci uses this expression to express her exasperation at how things get done in Italy.
Vorrà dire che si farà l'unica cosa che si può fare qui in Italia, la cosa che più detesto, quella che m'ha fatto fuggire da questo paese: arrangiarsi.
That means that we'll do the only thing that one can do here in Italy, the thing that I hate most, the thing that made me flee this country: make do.
Captions 42-43, L'Oriana film - Part 1Play Caption
Italians joke about "making do" as almost an art form: L'arte di arrangiarsi (the art of making do). In fact, that's the title of a 1955 film with Alberto Sordi. L'arte di arrangiarsi (Getting Along) — possibily available on YouTube in your zone.
T'ho già detto che nun [romanesco : non] è un problema mio. Arangiate [romanesco: arrangiati].
I already said that that's not my problem. Figure it out.
Captions 55-56, La Ladra EP. 3 - L'oro dello squalo - Part 1Play Caption
We just have to be a bit careful because the verb arrangiare looks so much like the English verb "to arrange." They are close cousins, but not perfect cognates, except in some specific circumstances like arranging a piece of music. There, we use the noun arrangiamento (arrangement) most of the time.
In the example above, someone is telling someone to "figure it out." So that's a great expression to know. Of course, it's used when you know someone very well.
But arrangiarsi is perhaps most commonly used in the first person singular or plural to accept less than ideal conditions: You don't have the right equipment or tool for doing something, but you're going to try to make do with what you have. You can stay the night, but all we have is a sofabed... There are hundreds of situations that present themselves every day where one has to make do, so this expression is a great one to know and practice in the conjugations you might need.
Mi arrangio [or m'arrangio] (I'll make do).
Ci arrangiamo (we'll make do).
Mi arrangerò (I'll figure it out somehow).
Mi devo arrangiare (I have to make do).
Marika and Anna didn't find the kind of bread they needed for the recipe, but they made do with something similar.
Noi, purtroppo, non lo abbiamo trovato e quindi ci arrangiamo, si fa per dire, con questo pane che comunque è molto gustoso.
We, unfortunately, couldn't find that, and so we are making do, so to speak, with this bread, which is very tasty in any case.
Captions 27-29, L'Italia a tavola La pappa al pomodoro - Part 1Play Caption
When you are cooking, how many times have you had to make do with a different ingredient from the one the recipe called for? Ti devi arrangiare (you have to make do).
If you are the host you might have to ask your guest to accept less than ideal accomodations...
Vi arrangiate (can you make do)?
Se vi arrangiate (if you can make do)...
We can talk about someone else:
Si arrangia con qualche furto, qualche partita di coca, ma non credo che c'entri qualcosa con questa storia.
He gets by on the odd theft, a batch of coke now and then, but I don't think he is involved in this thing.
Captions 71-72, Provaci Ancora Prof! S1E3 - Una piccola bestia ferita - Part 17Play Caption
Here, arrangiarsi is translated with "to get by." It can also mean "to make ends meet."
"gli uomini, fino a che saranno sulla terra, dovranno accontentarsi del riso giallo di zafferano, poi, quando saranno in paradiso, mangeranno riso con l'oro".
"Men, for as long as they're on the earth, will have to settle for saffron yellow rice; later, when they're in paradise, they'll eat rice with gold."
Captions 7-10, L'arte della cucina Terre d'Acqua - Part 15Play Caption
Arrangiarsi is more about doing something, where as accontentarsi is more about how you feel about something. (we can detect the word contento (happy, content) within the word.
One last thing to remember is that with arrangiarsi, we use the preposition con (with). With accontentarsi we use the preposition di.
At its most basic level, ci mancherebbe is a way of reinforcing the word certo. Certo is so short, it might get lost. But if we say, Certo, ci mancherebbe, we're saying, "sure," "absolutely," "absolutely no problem," "Don't mention it," "by all means," or something to that effect. It's just a very natural thing for Italians to add to certo.
It can also be a response to someone saying they're sorry, and you want say, "No problem," "Don't worry." "No apology necessary." It can also mean, "It's the least I [or someone else] could do." Literally, ci mancherebbe means "it would be lacking from it," which makes no sense at all. Let's keep in mind, for the record, that mancherebbe is the third person conditional of the verb mancare.
Variation: A variation on this expression is ci mancherebbe altro! There is no way I wouldn't have done that favor for you willingly. It was not a burden. In other words, "No problem." This variant is also used for a different meaning, as we illustrate below.
Close relations: This expression is similar to the expression figurarsi which you will conujugate in the first person plural figuriamoci, the second person singular informal figurati, or to be polite, si figuri. It's used in similar circumstances. It often has to do with doing a favor that was really no big deal. It's also used when someone apologizes, and you want to be gracious and say there was no need to apologize.
Sound bites (with video): Let's listen to and look at some examples from Yabla, since we can!
In this first example, as you can see, the translation is "Don't mention it."
Scusate per il tempo che vi ho fatto perdere. -Mi scusi anche Lei, signor Notaio. -Ci mancherebbe.
Sorry for the time I had you waste. -I'm sorry, to you, too, Mister Notary. -Don't mention it.
Captions 63-65, Questione di Karma Rai Cinema - Part 10Play Caption
In the following example, we have the longer form of this expression, which is even stronger, as if to say, "It goes without saying."
io ho approfittato della lezione di sanscrito di Giacomo per poterci vedere stasera in tutta tranquillità e discrezione, spero. -Ci mancherebbe altro.
I took advantage of Giacomo's Sanskrit lesson to get together tonight calmly and discretely, I hope. -That goes without saying.
Captions 5-8, Questione di Karma Rai Cinema - Part 11Play Caption
In the previous examples, we could have replaced ci mancherebbe with figuriamoci or si figuri but not in the following one, where the conditional is really conditional and refers to something we hope isn't the case.
In this case, the translation of ci mancherebbe or ci mancherebbe altro! can be something stronger, like "heaven forbid," or "God forbid that should happen" where you are really hoping against hope that something won't occur. This can be confusing. In the following example, instead of something going without saying, we are hoping something doesn't happen. In other words, "That would be terrible."
È incredibile. -Avvocato, ho paura che sia come i Piccinin. -I Piccinin? Ma no, ma si figuri, no. Ma ci mancherebbe altro, no.
It's incredible. -Counsel, I'm worried it'll be like the Piccinins. -The Piccinins? But no, no way, no. But God forbid, no.
Captions 11-13, Sposami EP 2 - Part 1Play Caption
If you do a search on the videos page, you will find a list of examples of ci mancherebbe. Each one might have a slightly different nuance. The best way to grasp the expression is to hear it in dialog, in as many examples as you can find. Getting comfortable with this expression and knowing when it is appropriate will take time. So when you are watching a movie in Italian (on Yabla or elsewhere), listen for it in conversation. When you are shopping or asking directions as you travel in Italy, you'll likely hear it quite often when you say thank you.
Marika explains the expression in a video about the verb mancare:
Extra study: We did a little research online and found a couple of interesting articles about the expression. You can read it in English or Italian, or you can listen to the podcast (where Ilaria essentially reads the article). All bases are covered!
Here's a short article in Italian about ci mancherebbe and ci mancherebbe altro.
Here's an article (not simple) in Italian, which is actually a transcript of a video, also available. So you can listen and read along. The speaker says this expression numerous times, with different inflections.
We hope that with our lesson, video examples, and outside resources, you will have a good grasp of this common but confusing Italian expression. You'll be one step closer to becoming fluent. And that's what Yabla is all about...
You are probably here because you did the crossword puzzle about Italian nouns that end in a or o.
Here are the answers. Hopefully doing this little puzzle will help you recognize and remember these words.
|4||porto||dove le navi possono sostare - il porto|
|7||filo||lo uso per cucire - il filo|
|8||pianto||lo fai quando sei triste - un pianto|
|10||foglio||lo uso per scrivere o disegnare quando è di carta - un foglio|
|11||pianta||cresce nella terra o nel vaso - una pianta|
|12||legno||si usa per costruire - il legno|
|13||legna||si brucia nel caminetto - la legna|
|14||mela||una al giorno toglie il medico di torno - una mela|
|15||casa||dove si abita - la casa|
|1||posta||una lettera o un pacchetto - la posta|
|2||posto||luogo - un posto|
|3||caso||può finire in tribunale - un caso|
|5||melo||un albero di frutta - il melo|
|6||palo||è quello della luce - un palo|
|7||fila||in genere si forma alla cassa - la fila|
|8||porta||la chiudi prima di uscire di casa - la porta|
|9||pala||la usi per scavare una buca -la pala|
|10||foglia||cade dall’albero in autunno - una foglia|
Was the puzzle too easy? Too difficult? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
It can be hard to remember whether an Italian noun ends in o or a. Sometimes it doesn't really matter, and people from different regions will express the noun one way or the other. An example of this is il puzzo/la puzza. They both mean "a bad smell" "a stench."
Beh, è bello sentire gli odori, ma noi sentiamo gli odori, ma sentiamo anche le puzze. Ecco infatti, senti questa puzza?
Well, it's nice to smell odors, but we smell scents, but we also smell bad odors. There you go, in fact, do you smell this stench?
Captions 12-14, Daniela e Francesca Il verbo sentirePlay Caption
They're both associated with the verb puzzare (to stink).
But often, the ending does make a difference in meaning: It might be a small difference, where you'll likely be understood even if you get it wrong:
Se vuoi fare contento un bambino, dagli un foglio bianco e una matita colorata.
If you want to make a child happy, give him a white sheet of paper and a colored pencil.
Captions 7-8, Questione di Karma Rai Cinema - Part 1Play Caption
una spolverata de [di] parmigiano e 'na [una] foglia di basilico a crudo sopra.
a sprinkling of Parmesan and a raw basil leaf on top.
Caption 9, Anna e Marika Un Ristorante a TrasteverePlay Caption
Both sheets of paper are flat and thin, and in English a leaf can be a sheet of paper. We might use this term when talking specifically about books, but normally a leaf is a leaf and a sheet of paper is a sheet of paper.
Of course it's better to get it right!
But what about palo and pala? Actually, if we think about it, they both have similar shapes, but their function is completely different.
Il problema era, era un palo, un palo che stava proprio lì. Un palo di ferro
The problem was, was a post, a post that was right there. An iron post
Captions 83-85, Provaci Ancora Prof! S2EP1 - La finestra sulla scuola - Part 1Play Caption
La preparazione del terreno per la semina, il contadino la fa con una vanga, che è una specie di pala ma fatta apposta per il terreno,
The preparing of the ground for sowing, the farmer does with a spade, which is a kind of shovel but made especially for the ground,
Captions 19-20, La campagna toscana Il contadino - Part 2Play Caption
So just for fun, and perhaps to help remember, we have a little crossword puzzle for you, all in Italian. All the words have one version that ends in a and one that ends in o. You might have to use a dictionary.
Click on the link and follow the instructions.
Here are the solutions:
This is the continuation of the lesson about the basics of reflexive verbs.
With a true reflexive verb, you need the reflexive to make yourself understood properly, but when it's not a direct reflexive, you can also leave it out (usually) and still get your meaning across. Check out the rules for this in the above-mentioned lesson.
Let's say I want to watch a movie on TV tonight. It would be common to say:
Mi guarderò un bel film stasera (I'm going to watch a nice movie tonight). It's not directly reflexive, because we have "the film" as a direct object (it's not even a body part!) but the sentence is constructed the same way as a reflexive one, and has that personal feel to it (it's all about me!).
If it were truly reflexive, I would be looking at myself in the mirror instead of the movie: guardarsi (to look at oneself)
Mi guardo allo specchio (I look at myself in the mirror).
I could also just as well say (and it would be correct):
Guarderò un bel film stasera. (I'm going to watch a nice movie tonight).
Without the added pronoun, the sentence is more neutral, less personal, and there's less emphasis on it being about me. But it's perfectly fine. And whether a verb is directly or indirectly reflexive is not going to change our lives a whole lot. It's just something you might wonder about. The important thing is to know how to use reflexive verbs and to get used to hearing (and understanding) them.
Here are a few more everyday examples that we think of as being reflexive, but which also contain a direct object. What's important to note is that in English, we use a possessive pronoun (I wash my hands) after a transitive verb. Italian uses a reflexive pronoun to indicate the person, but it goes together with the verb, not the noun. The following examples are typical, and so it would be wise to practice them in different conjugations.
Vado a lavarmi i denti (I'm going to brush my teeth).
Here we have the conjugated verb andare before lavare (with the preposition a [to]), so lavare is in the infinitive with the appropriate reflexive pronoun (mi [to me]) attached to it.
Ci laviamo le mani prima di mangiare (We wash our hands before eating).
Here we used ci as the reflexive pronoun. Let's not forget that ci has a lot of uses, which you can read about in other lessons.
Mi metto una maglia, fa freschino (I'll put a sweater on. It's chilly).
Mettere is an interesting verb (with an interesting reflexive version). Check out what Marika has to say about it.
Mettere vuol dire collocare, posizionare un oggetto in un posto specifico.
"To put" means "to situate," "to position" an object in a specific place.
Captions 7-8, Marika spiega Il Verbo Mettere - Part 1Play Caption
Here is a partial list of some other useful, everyday reflexive verbs:
addormentarsi (to fall asleep)
innamorarsi (to fall in love)
ammalarsi (to fall ill)
muoversi (to move)
spostarsi (to shift, to move)
These verbs are intransitive in English, they don't have anything to do with specific body parts, and they aren't used in a reflexive way in English. So they may be tricky to immediately grasp.
Let's take the example of spostarsi.
Does the verb have a non-reflexive form? Let's see: spostare. I look it up. spostare.
Hint: A dictionary will usually give you the reflexive form of the verb, too, if it exists. Just keep looking down the list of definitions or translations.
OK, so spostare exists in a non-reflexive (transitive) form.
La sposto subito.
I'll move it right away.
Caption 46, Sei mai stata sulla luna? film - Part 3Play Caption
The reflexive form means, "I move myself." In English we just say "I move." We just need to remember that we need the reflexive in Italian to say that. But if I visualize it, I can see myself moving myself over a bit, so someone can fit into a space, for instance.
Aside: The person ready to move his car in the previous example could have used the reflexive, especially if he had been in the car at the time. He could have said, Mi sposto subito (I'll move (out of the way) right away).
I can also look up the verb spostarsi on the Yabla videos page:
Basta semplicemente spostarsi di qualche metro.
All one has to do is simply move a few meters.
Caption 57, Meraviglie EP. 6 - Part 12Play Caption
The cool thing about the search window is that you can use whatever conjugation you want. You may or may not get a hit, but a pop-down menu will give you suggestions as to what's available. Sometimes it's handy to begin with the infinitive, then some conjugations. Most of these hits are real-life usages that help give you an idea of how a verb is used.
So my next move is to conjugate the reflexive verb. Creating a sentence that makes sense might be more fun than a simple conjugation. Go ahead and consult the conjugation chart supplied with verbs in WordReference: spostarsi
Mi sposto (I'll move over).
Ti puoi spostare (Could you move over)?
Lui non si sposta (he won't move over)!
Looking up sposto also reveals the "remote" past tense of spostare: spostò (the third person singular passato remoto):
Eh, tant'è vero che poi, pensa Marika, che il centro politico della città si spostò dai Fori Romani ai Fori Imperiali.
Yeah, so much so, that then, just think, Marika, the political center of the city moved from the Roman Forums to the Imperial Forums.
Captions 38-39, Marika e Daniela Il Foro RomanoPlay Caption
Try to put your daily routine into words, using the dictionary (and the afore-mentioned online resources) if necessary. Maybe your routine goes something like this:
Ti svegli alle 6 di mattina ma ti addormenti di nuovo e quindi ti alzi alle sei e mezza. Ti fai un buon caffè e poi ti fai la doccia, ti lavi i denti, e ti vesti. Se fa freddo ti metti una giacca prima di uscire.* Nascondi la chiave sotto lo zerbino.
You wake up at 6 in the morning, but you fall asleep again so you get up at 6:30. You make yourself a nice cup of coffee and then you take a shower, you brush your teeth and you get dressed. If it’s cold, you put on a jacket before going out. You hide the key under the doormat.
Try using different conjugations to practice them.
*More about what to wear in Marika spiega: L'abbigliamento - Part 1 of 2.
In this lesson, we used simple tenses. When we use the passato prossimo (constructed like the present perfect), we need more information, such as the fact that we need to use essere rather than avere! But we'll save this for another lesson.
You've probably heard about a special kind of verb found in Italian: the reflexive verb — il verbo riflessivo. It's a kind of verb that in its direct or indirect form pervades the Italian language. It's hard to get a sentence out without using one! The basic premise is that with a reflexive verb, the subject and the direct object are the same. See these video lessons about the reflexive. Since English works differently, the Italian reflexive verb can be tricky to understand, translate, and use. Let's look at the components.
Often, a reflexive verb starts out as a transitive verb, such as lavare (to wash).
On my list of things to do, one item might be:
Lavare la macchina (wash the car).
The action is "to wash" and the direct object is la macchina (the car). The car can't wash itself. We need a subject. Who washes the car in the family?
Io lavo la macchina (I wash the car).
Pietro lava la macchina (Pietro washes the car).
But in a reflexive verb, the subject and the object are the same. They coincide. In English we might say something like, I'll go and get washed up. We use "get." In Italian, we use the reflexive form of a verb. In the infinitive, we join the reflexive pronoun si to verb, leaving out the final e , and we use a detached reflexive pronoun when we conjugate the verb.
From the transitive verb lavare, we obtain lavarsi (to wash [oneself]).
One way we can recognize a reflexive verb is by the tell-tale si at the end of the infinitive form,* in this case, lavarsi. The second way to detect a direct reflexive verb, is in being able to replace the reflexive pronoun with sé stesso (oneself).
Let's make a checklist for the reflexive verb lavarsi.
1) It has the reflexive pronoun si at the end in the infinitive. √
2) I can say lavo me stesso/a (I wash myself). √
Here are some other common direct reflexive verbs. Do they pass the test?
lavarsi (to wash [oneself])
alzarsi (to get up)
vestirsi (to get dressed)
preocuparsi (to worry)
chiedersi (to wonder)
spogliarsi (to get undressed)
sedersi (to sit down)
chiamarsi (to be named)
See this lesson about reflexive verbs. It takes you through the conjugations and discusses transitive vs reflexive verbs in terms of meaning. Once you have grasped the basic reflexive verb and how to use it, let's move on to a slightly murkier version.
Something as basic as washing your face needs some understanding of the reflexive in Italian. We looked at lavarsi. That's a whole-body experience. But if we start looking at body parts, we still use the reflexive, even though it's indirect.
Instead of saying, "I wash my face," using a possessive pronoun as we do in English, Italians use the logic, "Hey, of course, it's my face on my body — I don't need to say whose face it is." So they use the reflexive to refer to the person, but add on "the face."
Mi lavo la faccia (I wash my face).
So there is a direct object in the sentence that doesn't coincide exactly with the subject (you are not your face), but it's still part of you and so we can say it's somewhat reflexive. It's indirectly reflexive. In grammatical terms, it's also pronominal, because we use the (reflexive) pronoun with the verb.
*Caveat: The pronoun si can and does have additional functions, but if the verb is reflexive, this si will be there in the infinitive, and we can look up the reflexive verb in the dictionary.
Try using the above-mentioned reflexive formula (with lavare) for other body parts. Start with yourself, and then go on to other people like your brother, or to keep it simpler, use someone's name.
i capelli (the hair)
i denti (the teeth)
i piedi (the feet)
le mani (the hands)
Giulia si lava i capelli una volta alla settimana (Giulia washes her hair once a week).
Io mi lavo i capelli tutti giorni (I wash my hair every day).
Vado a lavarmi le mani (I'm going to wash my hands).
Let's take the indirect reflexive one step further. Sometimes instead of using a verb form like "to shower," we'll use the noun. Sometimes there isn't an adequate, specific verb to use. In English, we take a shower. Italian uses fare to mean "to make," "to do," and "to take." And since taking a shower is usually a very personal activity, having to do with one's body, we use the reflexive form of fare plus the noun la doccia (the shower) to say this. We could even leave out the reflexive (since there is a direct object - doccia:
Faccio una doccia (I take a shower, I'm going to take a shower).
It is more common, however, to personalize it, to emphasize the person involved. Italians would normally say:
Mi faccio la doccia (I'm going to take a shower).
Mi faccio una doccia (I'm going to take a shower).
Vai a farti la doccia (Go take a shower).
And just as easily, I can ask you if you are going to take a shower.
Ti fai la doccia (are you going to take a shower)?
And if we speak in the third person with a modal verb, we'll see that the infinitive of fare, in this case, has all the trappings of a reflexive verb, that tell-tale si at the end of the infinitive:
Pietro vuole farsi la doccia (Pietro wants to take a shower).
Mi faccio la doccia alle sette e mezza.
I take a shower at half past seven [seven and a half].
Caption 7, Marika spiega - L'orologioPlay Caption
There is another verb we use when talking about our bodies. We have vestirsi (to get dressed) but Italians also use an indirect reflexive to mean "to wear," or, to use the basic translation of mettere — "to put on." The verb is mettersi [qualcosa] (to wear something). This verb is discussed in the lesson about wearing clothes in Italian.
Cosa mi metto stasera per andare alla festa (what am I going to wear tonight to go to the party)?
In the next lesson, we'll look at ways we use the indirect reflexive to be more expressive.
When traveling in Italy, like it or not, weather conditions can be a concern. We like to imagine Italy being sunny and beautiful all the time, but purtroppo (unfortunately), especially these days, the weather can be capriccioso (mischievous) and imprevidibile (unpredictable). As a result, knowing how to talk about the weather like an Italian can be not only useful for obtaining information, but provides a great topic for small talk.
In Italian, the verb of choice when talking about the weather is fare (to make). Che tempo fa? What’s the weather doing? What’s the weather like? Keep in mind that tempo means both “time” and “weather” so be prepared to get confused sometimes. If you want to talk about today’s weather, then just add oggi (today):
Che tempo fa oggi? (What’s the weather like today?)
An answer might be:
Oggi c'è un bel tempo, un bel sole.
Today there's nice weather, nice sun.Play Caption
And when talking about tomorrow, we use the future tense of the verb fare:
Che tempo farà domani? (What’s the weather forecast for tomorrow?)
So our basic question is Che tempo fa? What’s the weather doing? What’s the weather like? That's good to know, and an important question to be able to ask, but when we're making conversation, we might start with a statement, to share the joy, or to commiserate.
We can start out generally, talking about the quality of the day itself.
Che bella giornata (what a beautiful day).
Che brutta giornata (what a horrible day).
After that, we can get into specifics.
Tip: In English, we use adjectives such as: sunny, rainy, muggy, and foggy, but in Italian, in many cases, it’s common to use noun forms, rather than adjectives, as you will see.
Fa freddo (it’s cold)! Note that we (mostly) use the verb fare (to make) here, not essere (to be)
Fa caldo (it’s hot)!
Piove (it’s raining). Italians also use the present progressive tense as we do in English, (sta piovendo) but not necessarily!
Nevica (it’s snowing).
C’è il sole (it’s sunny).
È coperto (it’s cloudy, the skies are grey).
È nuvoloso (it’s cloudy).
C’è la nebbia (it’s foggy).
C’è l’afa (it’s muggy).
Piove. T'accompagno a casa?
It's raining. Shall I take you home?
Caption 3, Sei mai stata sulla luna? film - Part 14Play Caption
Il clima, eh... essendo la Lombardia quasi tutta pianura, abbiamo estati molto afose e inverni molto rigidi. Ma la caratteristica principale è la presenza costante della nebbia.
The climate, uh... as Lombardy is almost all flatlands, we have very muggy summers and very severe winters. But the main characteristic is the constant presence of fog.
Captions 70-73, L'Italia a tavola Interrogazione sulla LombardiaPlay Caption
We have the adjective chiaro that means "clear" and so when we want to clear something up we can use the verb chiarire (to clear up). We are speaking figuratively in this case.
Incominciamo col chiarire una cosa: è per te, o è per tua madre?
Let's start by clearing up one thing. Is it for you, or is it for your mother?
Caption 8, La Ladra EP. 6 - Nero di rabbia - Part 5Play Caption
But chiaro also means "light in color."
Ci sono di tutti i tipi: maschi, femmine, occhi chiari, occhi scuri.
There are all kinds: males, females, blue [pale] eyed, dark eyed.
Caption 63, Un Figlio a tutti i costi film - Part 17Play Caption
When the sky is clearing up, we don't use the verb chiarire. We use the prefix s and chiarire becomes schiarire (to make lighter or brighter [with more light] in color). It can refer not only to color but also sound. It's often expressed in its reflexive form.
Il cielo si sta schiarendo (the sky is clearing up).
Al centro invece, abbiamo nebbia anche qui dappertutto, con qualche schiarita, ma nebbia a tutte le ore.
Towards the center on the other hand, we have fog all over, here as well, with some clearing, but fog at all hours.
Captions 58-59, Anna e Marika in TG Yabla Italia e Meteo - Part 10Play Caption
There's more to say about the weather and how to talk about it in Italian, but that will be for another lesson.
We've looked at breath and breathing in Italian from different angles. Now let's talk about the absence of breathing. Here, too, we can look at it from a couple of different angles.
We recognize this word because it's used in English, too, often referring to sleep apnea. It refers to a temporary suspension of breathing. This can be intentional (as in diving with no oxygen tank):
Questa è la costa dei suoi grandi record di apnea, a meno quarantacinque metri nel sessanta,
This is the coast of his great free diving records, to minus forty-five meters in nineteen sixty,
Captions 10-11, Linea Blu Sicilia - Part 19Play Caption
Or it can be unintentional (as in sleep apnea or shortness of breath).
Il respiro corto, la difficoltà a respirare, a parlare, tipo apnea, era presente nel diciotto virgola sei per cento dei casi.
Shortness of breath, difficulty in breathing and speaking, as in apnea, are present in eighteen point six percent of the cases.
Captions 37-38, COVID-19 Domande frequenti - Part 2Play Caption
The noun affanno (breathlessness) is a great word with its double f and double n, especially if you know what it feels like to be out of breath. But it can also be used figuratively to describe that state of anxiety one has, also called "stress," like when you have to run around doing 10 things at once, and you're on a time crunch.
Stavo sempre a cercare lavoro, sempre di corsa, sempre in affanno
I was always hunting for work, always in a rush, always out of breath,
Captions 39-40, Volare - La grande storia di Domenico Modugno Ep. 1 - Part 10Play Caption
We have the adjective version, too: affannato
Let's just keep in mind that the word "stress" has become part of Italian colloquial vocabulary. lo stress, stressare, stressato.
We already talked about this adjective, but let's have a closer look.
e la vista mozzafiato della città
and the breathtaking view of the city
Caption 20, Villa Medici L'arca della bellezza - Part 7Play Caption
If we take apart this wonderful adjective, we get mozzare (to cut off) and fiato (breath). So if your breath is cut off, it's taken away. And let's not forget about another use of mozzare. It's part of one of our favorite Italian dairy products, la mozzarella.
There's a Yabla video in which Marika and Anna go to a place in Rome where they actually make mozzarella, to find out how it's made. Check it out!
la pasta filata viene appunto mozzata, o a mano o a macchina,
The spun paste is, just that, cut off, by hand or by machine,Play Caption
Have we missed any words having to do with breath and breathing? Let us know at email@example.com.
When you learn a new language, there's lots to learn. It can be overwhelming, so let's talk for a moment about how Italian works. What can you expect from this language?
Nouns in Italian have gender. In German, we have masculine, feminine, and neuter, but in Italian, we just have masculine and feminine. So every noun has an article that will be different according to gender and number.
Daniela talks about that in her series of video lessons here.
Marika gives some tips on figuring out the gender of a noun here, beginning with masculine nouns.
Di solito, tendono ad essere di genere maschile tutti quei nomi che terminano in "o" oppure in "e". Per esempio: orso, cavallo, armadio,
Usually, all the nouns ending in "o" or "e" tend to be of the masculine gender. For example: bear, horse, cupboard,
Captions 3-4, Marika spiega Il genere maschilePlay Caption
Personal pronouns need to be learned little by little. We need them to determine who's talking or acting or whom we're talking about.
When we learn how to conjugate a verb, we learn the personal pronouns associated with each person:
For example, when we conjugate the basic and irregular verb essere (to be) we use the personal pronouns:
io sono (I am)
tu sei (you are)
lui è (he/it is)
lei è (she/it is)
noi siamo (we are)
voi siete (you are)
loro sono (they are)
One of the trickiest things about Italian is that more often than not, the personal pronoun is left out entirely. You might be desperately trying to understand who are we talking about, but can't find the personal pronoun.
Italian comes from Latin, so the way a verb is conjugated includes information on the "hidden" or "implied" personal pronoun. Sometimes it's ambiguous, as you can see in this lesson. But let's have a quick look at what is tricky.
Let's take a simple sentence in English we might want to translate into Italian.
I see the horse.
Your natural inclination is to take the Italian for I = io.
Then you want the verb "to see." It's the verb vedere. I need to put it into the first person. I look it up on a conjugation chart: vedere
Io vedo (I see).
Then I want the object: horse. In this case, it is a direct object because the verb vedere (to see) is transitive in both Italian and English (but this isn't always the case!)
the horse = il cavallo.
We come up with:
Io vedo il cavallo (I see the horse).
But, except in certain cases where we want to emphasize who sees the horse, we can just leave out the personal pronoun. The sentence becomes:
Vedo il cavallo (I see the horse).
It's perfectly clear without the personal pronoun. I know it is there, implied. This is totally normal in Italian and takes some getting used to. Here's an example you can listen to:
Quindi, quando vedo una persona, prima la saluto: "ciao".
So, when I see a person, first I greet him: "Hi."Play Caption
*tip: When you learn a noun in Italian, try to always include the definite article. We don't worry about this in English, but in Italian, it's super important. It's impossible to get it right all the time, but getting off to a good start will pay off later.
Regular Italian verbs generally fall into 3 categories and end in -are, -ere, or -ire.
Parlare (to speak)
Vedere (to see)
Venire (to come)
Each of these groups has a specific way of getting conjugated, so little by little it's good to get a sense of how these work. It will help you conjugate verbs without having to look them up all the time.
Daniela has a series of video lessons in Italian about Italian, so check out the series here. She delves into the three types of verb conjugations, represented by three types of infinitive verb endings.
Don't feel you have to start memorizing verbs, unless you want to, but do be aware that there are basically three ways to end a verb and you will discover them as you learn. This will also help you identify verbs as you listen and read.
We use these verbs tons of times every day, so the sooner you get used to their conjugations, the easier it will be further on.
Just as in English, Italian has modal verbs. Just as in English, the modal verb gets conjugated and then you tack on the verb in the infinitive. So one trick when learning Italian is to learn the modal verb potere (to be able to [which we conjugate with "can."]).
Posso venire (Can I come)?
Daniela teaches us about modal verbs. The main ones are potere (to be able to), volere (to want to), and dovere (to have to). They are irregular, so it's a good idea to learn them early on, especially the first person, so you can express your needs!
Lots can be said about adjectives, but for now, let's remember that adjectives go with nouns, and in Italian, they have a very close relationship. The ending of an adjective has to agree with the noun it is modifying. What matters is the gender and the number.
See this lesson in English about adjectives.
Daniela goes through everything you need to know about adjectives here.
Two adjectives you will need when you begin speaking Italian are bello (beautiful, great) and buono (good). Daniela talks about these 2 adjectives here.
Sometimes Italian word order is like English but often it isn't.
Let's take the example we looked at earlier.
Vedo il cavallo (I see the horse).
In the example above, I know the pronoun io is implied because of the conjugation of the verb vedere. Vedo is the first person singular, so the hidden pronoun will be io.
When I replace cavallo with a pronoun, the word order changes!
Lo vedo (I see it).
The pronoun lo stands for il cavallo, but it comes before the verb. This is just one example of how word order changes and is different than what we might expect.
So in terms of word order, you need to expect the unexpected, and little by little you will listen and repeat, listen and repeat, and you'll get it.
This was intended to give you an overview of what to expect from the Italian language. We've tried to give you some links to Yabla videos and lessons that delve into each aspect of the language. But Yabla is primarily a library of videos you can use to hear the language spoken by native speakers. Don't be afraid to watch videos using the English subtitles, Italian subtitles, or both. Or... just let it soak in, depending on your mood and time availability. Vocabulary reviews and other exercises we've provided at the end of each video will help you learn new words, check your progress, and help you with listening comprehension and dictation. It's up to you to take advantage of them.