When we are learning a new language we pay attention to things that native speakers don't necessarily pay attention to. They don't have to. But we do! That is how we learn.
Here's a case in point. A learner was watching a Yabla video about numbers. When do we use ordinal numbers, and when do we use cardinal numbers? In the video in question, Marika is talking about dates. Every language expresses dates a bit differently, and there are often different options. The basic premise is that in contrast to how we do it in English, Italians mostly use a cardinal number (not an ordinal number as in English) when talking about a specific date, preceded by the definite article.
The learner's question was, "Is there some special reason why Marika uses the preposition di (of) when talking about August, but not for the other dates?" It's a great question, and it is exactly the kind of question we like learners to ask. Because native speakers, or even experienced non-native speakers, might not be aware they are saying di (of). They just know it sounds right without thinking about it and may or not be able to explain why.
Si dice il cinque aprile, il quattro luglio, il nove maggio, ehm, il venti di agosto.
One says the fifth of April, the fourth of July, the ninth of May, uhm, the twentieth of August.
Captions 24-25, Marika spiega Numeri Cardinali e OrdinaliPlay Caption
So the short answer is that when talking about a specific date, you can just say the cardinal number (with the definite article before it) followed by the month. There was nothing special about the month of August to cause Marika to use the preposition di. She might have used it because it was the last month she said in a series and it just sounded better to her. And it's a valid option. So it is not wrong to use the preposition, but more often than not, Italians don't use it.
Let's look at another example. Antonio is telling us about a festival in August, in his area of Italy. In the following example, he just says the cardinal number and the month. He is talking about a specific date.
E poi il diciotto agosto la statua rientra qui nel... ehm, nel santuario.
And then on the eighteenth of August the statue returns here, in the... uh, in the sanctuary.
Captions 19-20, Antonio al Santuario - Part 1Play Caption
In the same video, a few captions earlier, he is again talking about the dates of the festival. He uses the preposition di in the first instance.
Ehm, la Madonna della Grotta è la protettrice di Praia a Mare e viene fatta una festa il quattordici e quindici d'agosto. Per l'esattezza inizia il quattordici a mezzanotte e finisce il diciotto agosto di ogni anno,
Um, the Madonna of the Cave is the patron saint of Praia a Mare and there is a feast on the fourteenth and fifteenth of August. To be exact it starts on the fourteenth at midnight and ends on the eighteenth of August every year,
Captions 13-16, Antonio al Santuario - Part 1Play Caption
When he cited two dates together he used the preposition di before agosto. Sometimes it just seems clearer to add it. It could also be that since agosto starts with a vowel and diciotto ends with a vowel, it's easier to put a consonant in the middle, so it's clearer and easier to say.
Marika, in this video about the news, doesn't add the preposition (febbraio starts with a consonant!).
Il ventiquattro e venticinque febbraio, in Italia si terranno le elezioni politiche, che decreteranno la scelta di un nuovo governo.
On the twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth of February, Italy will hold political elections that will ratify the choice of a new government.
Captions 8-9, Anna e Marika in TG Yabla Italia e Meteo - Part 2Play Caption
The important thing to know is that it is correct to leave out that preposition and that we generally use a cardinal number except for when it's the first. When it's the first of the month, we use the ordinal number primo (first).
E si dice: il primo luglio, il primo agosto, il primo settembre.
And one says: the first of July, the first of August, the first of September.
Caption 28, Marika spiega Numeri Cardinali e OrdinaliPlay Caption
And if we are talking about the first few days of a month, we can say it like this with the plural of primo (note we use the preposition di (of)):
I primi di gennaio (the first days of January)
I mesi che ci interessano sono quelli di metà marzo, aprile, maggio e i primi di giugno.
The months that interest us here are half of March, April, May, and the first [days] of June.
Captions 29-30, Adriano Le stagioni dell'annoPlay Caption
It's funny this question has come up about the preposition di, because in our previous lesson we also talked about the preposition di and how it is common to use it when talking about saying "yes" and "no." In that case, too, it's an option. Learning which option works better comes with a lot of listening and repeating, and keeping your eyes and ears open. We thank the learner who wrote in about this topic!
Di is one of those prepositions that most learners of Italian struggle with, so don't feel bad if you often get it wrong. You are not alone! Non sei solo/sola!
The more Italian you learn, the more you start noticing the little words. Often these are little words that could be used in English but are frequently omitted. We'll be looking at several of them, but let's start with the conjunction che. It is, indeed, a conjunction, but it can also be a pronoun or even an adjective in some cases. Most of the time it will mean "that" or "which," but it can also correspond to the relative pronoun "that" or "who." It can also mean "what?".
In Italian, we can't omit che, but in English, we can omit its equivalent, sometimes.
Mi dispiace che m'hanno bocciato.
I'm sorry they flunked me.Play Caption
The translation could have been:
I'm sorry that they flunked me.
1) There is a little error in the previous example. Maybe you can see why he flunked! What should he have said? (It's an error that lots of people make every day, so don't worry if you don't see it.)
Ma come faccio a entrare nella divisa che m'hai dato? Eh?
So how am I supposed to fit into the uniform you gave me? Huh?
Caption 38, La Ladra EP.11 Un esame importante - Part 7Play Caption
So how am I supposed to fit into the uniform that you gave me? Huh?
While this second translation isn't wrong, we don't need the "that."
2) What if the speaker were talking to more than one person. What might she have said?
Here's another example:
Supponiamo che stiamo preparando una pasta alla carbonara per quattro persone, quindi ci serviranno trecento grammi di pancetta, cinquecento grammi di pasta.
Let's assume we're preparing some pasta alla carbonara for four people, so we'll need three hundred grams of bacon, five hundred grams of pasta.
Captions 1-3, Adriano Pasta alla carbonara - Part 2Play Caption
We could have translated it like this:
Let's assume that we're preparing some pasta alla carbonara for four people, so we'll need three hundred grams of bacon, five hundred grams of pasta.
Typically, one of the cases where Italian uses the conjunction che and English does not is when using the verb "to know." Let's look at some examples.
Lo sai che abbiamo bisogno di te. -Sta sbattuta, Elisa.
You know we need you. -She's in bad shape, Elisa.
Caption 33, Chi m'ha visto film - Part 20Play Caption
It would be just as correct to say:
You know that we need you. -She's in bad shape, Elisa.
We just tend not to.
Here's an example in the imperfetto (simple past):
Sapevi che ti stavamo cercando.
You knew we were looking for you.Play Caption
It could have been translated as:
You knew that we were looking for you.
We have to keep in mind that in many cases, the conjunction che takes the subjunctive. This happens primarily with verbs that indicate uncertainty. This may be new for you, in which case, go ahead and check out the several lessons Yabla offers about the subjunctive.
So if instead of using the verb sapere (to know) which indicates certainty, we use the verb pensare (to think), we are in another grammatical sphere, or we could say, "mood." The congiuntivo (subjunctive mood).
Io... io penso che Karin sia andata via apposta.
I... I think that Karin went away on purpose.Play Caption
In this case, the translator did use "that" in English, but she could have chosen not to (which might have been more natural):
I... I think Karin went away on purpose.
3) What if you were to use the verb sapere in the above sentence?
4) What if the person were named Alfredo instead of Karin? Use both sapere and pensare.
When che means "who" or "whom," we are probably talking about a (relative) pronoun, not a conjunction. For our purposes, it doesn't really matter. What we do need to keep in mind is that, while we also have the pronoun chi meaning "who" or "whom" (with a preposition), when it's a relative pronoun, it's che.
Sì, al TG della sera hanno parlato di quel ragazzo che hanno ucciso. Assomiglia molto a uno che viene spesso...
Yes. On the evening news they talked about that boy they killed. He really looks like someone who often comes...
Captions 39-40, Provaci Ancora Prof! S1E3 - Una piccola bestia ferita - Part 10Play Caption
This is a bit tricky because in the example above, it would be a little bit awkward to fit in "whom" or "who." But it's interesting that we need the che in Italian to make the sentence make sense.
Yes. On the evening news they talked about that boy whom they killed. He really looks like someone who often comes...
Of course, a lot of Americans use "that" instead of "who" or "whom." It would still be awkward. It should be mentioned that in the previous example, "the boy" is the object, and that's when the che is omitted in English. But when it's the subject, we do need it.
Be', scusa se... se non t'abbiamo avvertito prima, ma c'è Valeria che deve dirti una cosa.
Well, sorry if... if we didn't let you know beforehand, but here's Valeria who has to tell you something.
Captions 37-38, Provaci Ancora Prof! S1E3 - Una piccola bestia ferita - Part 10Play Caption
Of course, the purpose of Yabla translations is to help you make sense of the Italian you hear and read. Sometimes taking a look at how our own language works can help, too. And when we are translating from English to Italian, we need to call on words we are omitting, so it can get tricky.
Hopefully, this lesson has helped you to be just a bit more aware of the word che. It's a word that means plenty of things, so this is just the tip of the iceberg. And if you have some particular questions about che, please let us know and we'll try to shed some light on them. firstname.lastname@example.org
1) Mi dispiace che mi abbiano bocciato.
This may be open to question because the kid knows they flunked him, but some would argue that the subjunctive should have been used.
2) Lo sapete che abbiamo bisogno di voi. -Sta sbattuta, Elisa.
3) Io... io so che Karin è andata via apposta.
4) Io... io penso che Alfredo sia andato via apposta.
4b) Io... io so che Alfredo è andato via apposta.
We've talked about noticing things or not in various ways.
And we mentioned a couple of standalone phrases or expressions regarding noticing things, such as:
Ti rendi conto (do you realize)?
C'hai fatto caso (did you notice)?
Non c'ho fatto caso (I didn't notice).
There are other ways to call someone's attention to something, give them information, or a warning about something. Here are 7. We note that these verbs are almost always followed by the conjunction che (that). Since we are not talking about hypotheses, but rather statements of fact, we don't use the subjunctive in this case, as we often do after che.
New feature: At the end of each example, there's a little grammar question, giving you the chance to expand on the example itself. You'll find the answers at the bottom of the page. Don't worry if they give you trouble, as they are aimed at more advanced learners. It may be an opportunity to find out what you don't know and to ask us questions! We'll be glad to oblige.
We looked at notare in another lesson. Instead of using notare (to notice) by itself, in the imperative, for example, we can say far notare (to "make someone notice," to point out). There is often a particle representing the object pronoun and the preposition in the mix. In following example, Daniela is pointing out something to her class so she uses the second person plural vi (to you). Note that it comes before the verb!
Infine, vi faccio notare che "in effetti", come espressione a sé stante, come espressione singola, senza aggiungere altre parole dopo, si usa per affermare che si è convinti di qualcosa.
To finish up, I will point out to you that "in effetti," as a standalone expression, as an expression on its own, without adding other words after it, is used to affirm that we are convinced of something.
Captions 47-51, Corso di italiano con Daniela Infatti - In effetti - Part 4Play Caption
Q1) If Daniela were giving a private lesson, and thus were speaking to just one person, what do you think she would say?
Similar to far notare is fare presente. I'm calling your attention to some fact or situation. I'm presenting you with some information. I'm making you aware of it.
Ottimo lavoro, Arianna. Ti ringrazio per avermi fatto presente la situazione.
Great work, Arianna. Thank you for letting me know about the situation.Play Caption
Q2) If I were speaking on behalf of my company, how could I change this sentence?
Ma anche la città di Genova, con i suoi vicoli, è molto affascinante e da segnalare anche l'Acquario di Genova, che è molto famoso.
But also the city of Genoa, with its alleys, is very appealing and one should also mention the Genoa Aquarium, which is very famous.
Captions 79-80, L'Italia a tavola Interrogazione sulla LiguriaPlay Caption
In the previous example, we could have translated it with "to point out" or "to call attention to."
Q3) If you were telling one other person about about the Genoa acquarium, what could you say? This is harder than the previous example, and there is not only one possibility.
Signor Pitagora, La volevo avvertire che per trovare i soldi per la sua operazione, mio fratello ha rinunciato a tutti i diritti sull'azienda.
Mister Pitagora, I wanted to let you know that to get the money for your operation, my brother gave up all his rights to the company.
Captions 95-97, Questione di Karma Rai Cinema - Part 15Play Caption
There are other nuances of avvertire, but for now we will stick with the one that means "to warn," "to let someone know." You are turning someone's attention to something. Avvertire can be used with a menacing tone, as a warning.
Q4) The example uses the (singular) polite form (which is actually the third person singular), but what if you were telling a colleague or friend the same thing? What might you say?
I fratelli Troisgros, quando comunicai loro che volevo tornare a Milano, ci rimasero male.
The Troisgros brothers, when I communicated to them that I wanted to return to Milan, were disappointed.
Captions 45-46, L'arte della cucina I Luoghi del Mondo - Part 17Play Caption
This is a cognate that is easy to understand, but in addition to its meaning "to communicate" in general, Italians often use it to let you know something, sort of like avvertire. It might have been more authentic to translate it as "when I let them know that I wanted to return to Milan..." or "when I informed them..."
This is an interesting example because it contains the verb comunicare (to communicate) in the passato remoto (remote past tense), first person singular. And in addition, the object personal pronoun is the third person plural. We don't see this very often in everyday conversation.
Q5) It would be perhaps more common these days to hear this kind of sentence expressed in the passato prossimo, which, we recall, is used, not as the present perfect in English, but as the simple past tense: something over and done with. Try conveying this same message using the passato prossimo.
Be', ma allora dobbiamo subito avvisare qualcuno, eh.
Well, so then we should alert someone right away, huh.Play Caption
Q6) In the previous example, we don't know who to alert. But we do have to alert someone. What if we do know who to alert? Let's say we have already been talking about that person, say, someone's father— Masculine, singular. How could we construct this sentence? There's more than one correct solution.
Another cognate is of course, informare. So if nothing else comes to mind, informare works as a great verb for letting someone know something.
Be', ho dovuto informare tutti i nostri attuali inserzionisti che tutti i contratti futuri subiranno un aumento del prezzo del trenta per cento.
Well, I've had to inform all our current advertisers that all future contracts will undergo a thirty percent increase in cost.Play Caption
Eh... -Va bene, va bene, va bene, tenetemi informato.
Uh... -OK. OK. OK. Keep me informed.Play Caption
In the previous example, we have a new element: the verb tenere (to hold, to keep). It's pretty close to how we do it in English, which is great news, vero?
Q7) What if you are telling just one person to keep you informed? How would you say that?
As you can see, each verb has a slightly different meaning, but all are used to call attention to something and to share information.
A1) Ti faccio notare che...
A2) Ti ringrazio per averci fatto presente la situazione.
A3) e ti segnalo anche l'acquario...
e ti posso anche segnalare l'acquario...
A4) Susanna, ti volevo avvertire che...
A5) I fratelli Troisgros, quando ho comunicato loro che volevo tornare a Milano, ci sono rimasti male.
A6) Be', ma allora lo dobbiamo avvisare subito, eh.
Be', ma allora dobbiamo avvisarlo subito, eh.
A7) Tienimi informato (or if you are a female: tienimi informata).
What are some expressions you use everyday that you wish you knew how to say in Italian? Let us know and we'll try to provide some answers.
In a previous lesson, we discussed a couple of ways to talk about noticing things, or not. Each expression or verb that says roughly the same thing comes with its particular grammatical feature and each has nuances that can determine when people use one or the other.
The easiest and most direct way to notice things is with the transitive verb notare.
E Lei non ha notato niente di strano?
And you didn't notice anything strange?Play Caption
Accorgersi (to notice) is reflexive and comes with its grammatical baggage especially when using it in the present perfect (a very common way to use it). Accorgesene (to notice it) adds the complication of the ne particle. So it gets complicated, especially for beginners.
Abbiamo parcheggiato in divieto di sosta, e io purtroppo non me ne sono accorto.
We parked in a no parking zone, and I, unfortunately, didn't realize it.
Captions 12-13, Francesca alla guida - Part 4Play Caption
In a previous lesson we also talked about rendersi conto or rendersene conto as a way to realize something. It's a bit deeper than just noticing. It's to become aware of the significance of an oberservation. There are relevant discussions of accorgersi vs rendersi conto, on WordReference so check it out if you want to know more.
E allora ripensando a quella mattina, io mi sono resa conto che Lei entrò nello studio soltanto pochi secondi dopo di noi.
And so thinking back to that morning, I realized that you entered the study just a few seconds after us.
Captions 54-55, Il Commissario Manara S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto - Part 11Play Caption
Here's another modo di dire that Italians use quite a bit in conversation, especially when they fail to notice something or they want to fail to notice something on purpose, that is, to ignore something.
This expression is not reflexive so that's one point in its favor (on the easy-to-use scale), but we do have to contend with the particle ci which in this case stands for "about it" or "to it".
Let's look at the make up of this expression. Basically we have the verb fare (to make, to do) and the noun caso (case) and then we have ci which in this case stands for "about it" or "to it," or just "it." We can think of farci caso as "making a case out of something," "making an issue of something," "giving something importance."
And in some cases, that's what it means.
Se proprio vogliamo chiamarla debolezza... era un poco tirato nei quattrini, ecco. Ma io non c'ho mai fatto caso.
If we really want to call it a weakness... he was a bit tight-fisted with money, that's it. But I never made an issue of it.
Captions 73-75, Il Commissario Manara S1EP11 - Beato tra le donne - Part 3Play Caption
But before making an issue of something, we notice it, we pay attention to it. And that's one common way it's used in everyday conversation. Here's a little scene from Commissario Manara between Sardi and her husband, Toscani.
Io da ieri sera sto ancora aspettando i pannolini, grazie. -Sardi, io da ieri sera, non so se ci hai fatto caso, non sono rientrato neanche a casa. Ci hai fatto caso, spero, sì? -Come non c'ho fatto caso?
I've been waiting since last night for the diapers, thank you. -Sardi, since last night, I don't know if you noticed, I haven't even gone home. You noticed, I hope, didn't you? -What do think, that I didn't notice?
Captions 6-10, Il Commissario Manara S2EP6 - Sotto tiro - Part 10Play Caption
Here, we should keep in mind that in English we don't add an object pronoun or preposition, but in Italian, that's what the c' stands for, and is actually ci.
We should mention that another way to use this expression is when you are telling someone not to notice something, not to make an issue out of something. In other words, to ignore something. This can come up, for instance, when you hear someone saying bad things about you. A friend will say:
Non ci far caso. Non farci caso.
Don't pay attention to that. Ignore it.
If you watch Commissario Manara, you know that the coroner, Ginevra, has a personal way of talking about the dead people she examines. Someone is explaining that fact to a newcomer. The speaker is using the third person singular imperative which is used to address someone formally.
Non ci faccia caso, è fatta così.
Don't mind her, that's how she is.Play Caption
A really handy phrase to learn right now is Non c'ho fatto caso (don't forget that the c is pronounced like "ch," the h is silent, there's a nice double t in fatto, and the s in caso sounds like z):
Non c'ho fatto caso.
I didn't notice.
I didn't see that.
I didn't notice that.
I didn't pay attention to it.
It didn't jump out at me.
It didn't catch my eye.
We have talked about the prepositions in and a separately in previous lessons. Let's finally talk about when to use the preposition in and when to use a when referring to places like cities, countries, continents, regions, etc. This is tricky for lots of us, and it's easy to make mistakes.
If you are subscribed to Yabla, you will want to check out these two lessons on this topic:
We generally use the preposition a (to, at) with names of cities and minor islands.
Bologna is a city, so we use a.
Perché è partito da Roma ed è arrivato qui a Bologna.
Because it left from Rome and it arrived here in Bologna.
Caption 17, Marika spiega I verbi venire e andare - Part 2Play Caption
Per esempio: quando vai a Bologna?
For example: "When are you going to Bologna?"
Caption 26, Marika spiega La particella CI - Part 1Play Caption
In Toscana, come in altre regioni d'Italia, molte famiglie hanno degli ulivi di loro proprietà.
In Tuscany, as in other regions of Italy, many families have olive trees of their own.
Captions 1-2, L'olio extravergine di oliva Il frantoioPlay Caption
Valdobbiadene è in Veneto.
Valdobbiadene is in the Veneto region.
Caption 13, Corso di italiano con Daniela L'aperitivoPlay Caption
Africa is a continent, so we use in.
Vorrei tanto andare in Africa.
I would very much like to go to Africa.Play Caption
Canada is a country, so we use in.
Nicole Kidman è venuta una volta a provare, poi altre due volte siamo andati noi in Canada,
Nicole Kidman came once for a fitting, then we went two more times to Canada,
Captions 31-32, That's Italy Episode 2 - Part 4Play Caption
Sometimes a city and a state or country will have the same name, so it can get confusing.
La città di New York è nello stato di New York (New York City is in New York State).
So If I am planning to go on vacation to visit New York City, I might say:
Vado a New York per le vacanze di Natale (I'm going to New York for the Christmas vacation).
In Italian it's clear that I mean the city because I am using a as a preposition, but in English, we have to guess, or specify. New York, in this case, is a city. But New York is also a state. Since it's easy to get confused, Americans will usually specify if they're not talking about the city, and will say New York State. If we translate that into Italian, it will be lo Stato di New York.
Buffalo è in New York (Buffalo is in New York State).
L'empire state building è a New York [City] (the Empire State Building is in New York [City]).
Someone who has family on Long Island will still say New York as if it were the city. The airport is certainly in the city, at least officially. And incidentally, Long Island is a relatively small island, so we would say:
Ho vissuto a Long Island per sedici anni (I lived on Long Island for sixteen years).
Sei mai stato a Parigi (have you ever been to Paris)?
Sei mai stata in Francia (have you ever been to France)?
Vivo a Vienna (I live in Vienna).
Un mio cugino è appena andato in Giappone (a cousin of mine just went to Japan) ma non andrà a Tokyo (but he isn't going to Tokyo).
Quasi quasi mi trasferisco in Nuova Zelanda (I might just move to New Zealand).
Da dieci anni vivo a Como, in Lombardia. (I've been living in Como, in Lombardy, for ten years).
Arianna ha studiato in Inghilterra per qualche anno. Arianna studied in London for a couple of years.
Since the United States is a coveted destination for Italian tourists, at least in normal times, it's important to know how to refer to that country in Italian, and what prepositions to use.
When we say the name of this country, we include the article "the." The United States of America. So when we use the proper Italian preposition (in since we are talking about a nation), we have to modify it to include the definite article:
Vado negli Stati Uniti [d'America]. (I'm going to the United States [of America].
The d'America part is usually left out in both Italian and English, and to make it even easier, Italians also often just say America to mean the United States.
Vado in America per le vacanze (I'm going to America for the vacation).
Some Italians use USA as a word and pronounce it as they see it. For example, here is a headline from Google. It may or may not be correct, but you will hear it said plenty of times:
Come trovare un lavoro negli USA (how to find work in the USA)?
Remember that in contrast to English where "in," "to," and "at" are entirely different, Italian uses the same preposition (be it a or in) to mean any or all of these.
Please let us know what cities, countries or other places you are confused about when using Italian prepositions, and we will answer as soon as we can.
We have talked about the main uses of the preposition a, and that it can mean "at," "in," or "to," as well as "in the manner of," so in this lesson, we will see how this preposition is transformed when it is followed by a definite article.
Here is how we combine the preposition a with the various definite articles (that all mean "the"):
a + il = al
a + lo = allo
a + l’ = all’
a + la = alla
a + i = ai
a + gli = agli
a + le = alle
Let's look at each combination in context:
It will usually precede a masculine noun or the adjective that describes it.
E durante l'estate, il porto di Maratea diventa un ritrovo, soprattutto per i ragazzi, i ragazzi più giovani, e anche quelli meno giovani, che amano ritrovarsi qui, eh, parlare, bere qualcosa al bar.
And during the summer, the port of Maratea becomes a meeting place, above all for the kids, the younger kids, and also the not-so-young ones, who love to meet up here, um, to chat, have a drink at the bar.
Captions 13-15, Milena al porto di MarateaPlay Caption
In the following example, note that before the noun there is a possessive pronoun that has to agree with the noun, as well as an adjective. The two people in the video are probably having a drink together. The clink their glasses and say "to your..." and in this case we use the preposition a.
Allora al tuo prossimo concerto.
To your next concert then.
Caption 22, Milena e Mattia Al ristorante - Part 2Play Caption
Oggi ci troviamo allo stadio comunale Renzo Barbera di Palermo.
Today we're at the municipal stadium Renzo Barbera of Palermo.
Caption 2, Adriano Forza PalermoPlay Caption
In the following example, even though we say il modo, not
lo modo, we do use a plus the definite article lo and it becomes allo. This is because first we have the adjective stesso which begins with an s + the consonant t. So we need the definite article lo. Like when we say: È lo stesso (It's all the same). That's something to remember. Later in this lesson we will look at a similar construction with a feminine noun.
Infatti, parliamo allo stesso modo... e facciamo le stesse cose.
In fact, we talk [in] the same way... and do the same things.
Captions 5-6, Amiche sulla spiaggiaPlay Caption
Anche lui all'inizio pensava di essere un uomo libero:
At the beginning he also thought he was a free man,Play Caption
Sometimes this same construction turns out to be feminine! This can be a headache for learners:
All'entrata del Palazzo Vecchio, ci sono due statue
At the entrance to the Palazzo Vecchio, there are two statues
Caption 23, In giro per l'Italia Firenze - Part 5Play Caption
Here is what you say when you want to say, "See you next time!"
Ciao a tutti, alla prossima.
Bye, everyone, see you next time. [literally, "to the next"]
Caption 76, Andromeda La storia di UlissePlay Caption
If you visit Bologna, you might want to try le tagliatelle alla bolognese. There is a word that gets left out of this phrase but is implied: la maniera. So it is alla maniera (in the manner of)
We use alla with an adjective in Italian where in English we might use an adverb or adverbial phrase:
alla cieca (blindly)
alla buona (in a laid back, casual way)
If, instead of saying allo stesso modo, we want to say alla stessa maniera, (which means something similar: "in the same way"), note that even though stessa begins with an s + a consonant, the noun is feminine and so we say la stessa maniera, alla stessa maniera. But if we think about the fact that la stessa is easy to say, and
il stesso would be difficult, it makes a certain amount of sense:... it's easier to say. In fact if we think about it, the flow of a language is an important factor in its evolution.
Now we will move on to a plus a plural definite article.
Come tutte le nonne, fa tanti regali ai nipoti.
Like all grandmothers, she gives many presents to her grandchildren.
Caption 28, Adriano NonnaPlay Caption
Let's note that lots of times, Italians use a normal definite article, when in English, we would use a possessive adjective (as in the previous example).
Agli is hard to say for lots of people. And as an aside, agli is also the plural of aglio (garlic). Don't worry. We mostly use aglio (garlic) in the singular, just like in English.
Cristina ci ha detto che qualche suo quadro era riuscito a venderlo. Sì, agli amici.
Cristina told us that you were able to sell a few of his paintings. Yes, to friends.
Captions 25-26, Il Commissario Manara S2EP10 -La verità nascosta - Part 5Play Caption
One important way we use this combination preposition is when talking about time. The hour is said in the plural which makes sense if we think back to times when people would tell time by counting how many times the bell would chime.
La mattina mi sveglio intorno alle otto.
In the morning I wake up at around eight o'clock.
Caption 5, Adriano GiornataPlay Caption
If you look at the transcript of just about any video, you will be able to pick out several examples of these preposizioni articolate. Look for common phrases and start repeating them, getting them into your repertoire.
Meanwhile, if you have any questions or doubts, write to us at email@example.com
In a previous lesson we talked about the preposition in, and in a subsequent lesson we talked about how we modify the preposition in when a definite article follows it. The preposition a works in a similar way, and sometimes means the same thing as in, but certainly not always.
A is used to refer to places, both going somewhere and being somewhere. Sound familiar? Yes. Just like in, a can mean "to" (indicating direction to a place) or "at" (indicating being in a place). Consider this short example.
OK, ho finito. Vado a casa (OK, I'm done. I'm going home).
Che bello! Finalmente sono a casa (how great! I'm finally home)!
Note that if I say sono in casa, I imply that I am inside the house, whereas if I say sono a casa, it might mean I am at home, but outside in the garden!
If we look at the preposition a in the dictionary, there's a long list of meanings, or rather, uses. But in this lesson, we'll look at just a few of the most common ways you need to know how to use this preposition.
We also say a scuola with no article. This is similar to English.
Sono a scuola (I'm at school)
Sto andando a scuola (I'm going to school).
Although these locations without an article are exceptions, they are important ones, since most of us have a home and many of us go to school or have kids or friends who go to school. Another perhaps less crucial one is a teatro ("to" or "at the theater").
In most other cases regarding places, we do need a definite article after the preposition, as in:
A me e a Vladi piace andare a ballare la sera, uscire con gli amici, andare a vedere qualche bel film al cinema e fare molto sport.
Valdi and I like to go dancing at night, going out with our friends, going to see a good film at the movies and playing a lot of sports.
Captions 17-20, Adriano la sua ragazzaPlay Caption
Dall'Umbria alla Toscana, il passo è breve.
From Umbria to Tuscany, it's but a short way.
Caption 2, Alberto Angela - Meraviglie EP. 4 - Part 6Play Caption
But for now, let's look at some other ways we use the preposition a.
We use a to talk about "when" or "until when."
For example, when we talk about "at what time" something is going to happen, we use a and in this case we use a definite article when talking about "at what time."
La mattina mi sveglio intorno alle otto.
In the morning I wake up at around eight o'clock.
Caption 5, Adriano GiornataPlay Caption
Why is it le otto? Isn't that plural? Yes. We use the feminine plural definite article (le) because there's a "hidden" word: le ore (the hours). Think of a clock striking the hours. So, yes. Time, when considered by the clock, is expressed in the plural, and of course, it takes some getting used to. For more about telling time, see this video from Marika.
But if we are talking about noon or midnight, then it's in the singular and there is no article.
Io mi ricordo che a casa mia si mangiava, allora, il, a mezzogiorno si mangiava: il primo, la carne, il contorno e la frutta,
I remember that at my house we'd eat, then, the, at noon we'd eat: the first course, meat, vegetable and fruit,
Captions 33-35, L'arte della cucina La Prima Identitá - Part 14Play Caption
We also use a when we talk about until what time something will go on.
Sì, ma fino a mezzanotte il commissario sono io.
Yes, but until midnight, I'm the commissioner.Play Caption
When we mention the months or a holiday, we use a:
Sembrava che la nebbia ci fosse anche a Ferragosto.
It seemed as though there was fog even at/on Ferragosto (national holiday on August 15th).Play Caption
E si possono pagare con varie rate, anche non tutte insieme. Varie rate che scadono ogni semestre, perché l'anno dell'u'... l'anno in cui si frequenta l'università è diviso in due semestri. -Il primo che va da settembre a gennaio, e il secondo, va da? -Il secondo va da febbraio a luglio.
And you can pay in various installments, not all at once. Different installments that are due every semester, because the school year... the year in which you attend university is divided into two semesters. -The first that goes from September to January, and the second, goes from? -The second goes from February to July.
Captions 18-22, Serena sistema universitario italianoPlay Caption
And finally, we use a when we say what something is like, what something is made of, or in what way something is done. We often use "with" for this in English, or we use an adjective. This topic is addressed in the Yabla lesson: A Righe or a Quadretti?
We talk about olio di oliva spremuto a freddo (cold-pressed olive oil).
In the following example, Monica Bellucci is describing how she goes about her career. Note that since istinto (instinct) starts with a vowel, she adds a d to the a!
Ma io non ho una formula, guarda, vado a m'... vado avanti molto ad istinto.
Well I don't have a formula, look, I go... I go along very much by instinct.
Caption 47, That's Italy Episode 1 - Part 3Play Caption
Here are two expressions, one with a and one with in, that essentially mean the same thing. You just have to remember which is which. They are worth memorizing.
Ad ogni modo, mi piace tanto.
In any case, I like her a lot.
Caption 36, Adriano la sua ragazzaPlay Caption
In ogni caso, anche se sapevo che era veramente una cosa folle, ho deciso di prendere Ulisse,
In any case, even though I knew it was really a crazy thing, I decided to take Ulisse,
Captions 28-29, Andromeda La storia di UlissePlay Caption
Looking forward to seeing you in the next lesson. A presto!
We recently talked about the preposition in: what it means and how to use it. While we don't always use an article with the noun following it, we often do. And when we do use in with a definite article, we combine the preposition and the article to form what we call una preposizione articolata (an "articled" preposition).
Basically, the n, instead of being at the end of the preposition in, gets moved to the beginning of the word and is followed by an e. After that, the ending will change according to the gender and number of the definite article, as well as whether the word following it starts with a vowel.
Here's the list:
(in + il) nel
(in + lo) nello
(in + l') nell'
(in + la) nella
(in + i) nei
(in + le) nelle
Nel frattempo, riempiamo una pentola d'acqua
In the meantime, we'll fill a pot with waterPlay Caption
We say nel because it's il frattempo. But here's a tip. Actually, we rarely say il frattempo. Most of the time you will find the noun frattempo together with the preposition nel. It's curious because the noun frattempo already comes from another preposition fra (between) and the noun tempo (time). In English we can say "in the meantime" or "meanwhile," which mean almost the same thing. But we need to translate both of these as nel frattempo or, alternatively, nel mentre, which means the same thing.
Questo è fondamentale quando ci si trova appunto nello studio di doppiaggio a dover affrontare un, un testo oppure un personaggio.
This is fundamental when you find yourself, in fact, in the dubbing studio and need to deal with a script or a character.
Captions 16-17, Arianna e Marika Il lavoro di doppiatricePlay Caption
We say nello because we say lo studio (the studio). So here, you have to pay attention to the first letter of the word following the preposition. It will start with an S plus a consonant, or a Z, and sometimes Y.
"Quanti libri hai nello zaino?
"How many books do you have in your backpack?
Caption 9, Marika spiega La particella NE - Part 2Play Caption
Oppure nello yogurt, la mela sciolta diciam'... ridotta a polpa nello yogurt, sempre sul viso, è idratante.
Or else in some yogurt, an apple dissolved, let's say... reduced to a pulp in some yogurt, again on the face, is moisturising.
Caption 22, Enea Mela - Part 2Play Caption
Il tasto "play" e "pause" si trova esattamente nello stesso punto del pannello di controllo.
The "play" and "pause" button is located in exactly the same spot on the control panel.
Captions 15-16, Italian Intro SerenaPlay Caption
We use l' when the first letter of the word following the article starts with a vowel. We double the L and add an apostrophe.
Nell'ultimo ventennio, i coronavirus si sono imposti all'attenzione del mondo in tre momenti precisi:
In the last twenty years, coronaviruses have caught the attention of the entire world in three precise moments:
Captions 27-29, COVID-19 Domande frequenti - Part 1Play Caption
Allora, può intagliare così, può intagliare un pomodoro così, mettere una pentola d'acqua a bollire e tenere i pomodori nell'acqua bollente per dieci minuti.
So, they can make an incision like this, they can cut a notch in a tomato like so, put up a pot of water to boil, and keep the tomatoes in the boiling water for ten minutes.
Captions 10-14, L'Italia a tavola La pappa al pomodoro - Part 2Play Caption
È da circa otto minuti che i nostri spaghetti stanno cuocendo nella pentola.
It's been about eight minutes that our spaghetti has been cooking in the pot.
Caption 38, Adriano Spaghetti pomodoro e aglioPlay Caption
E due luoghi sacri si trovano proprio nei punti più alti della città:
And two sacred places are found right at the highest points of the city:
Caption 12, Alberto Angela - Meraviglie EP. 1 - Part 10Play Caption
Leonardo, molto spesso, nelle sue opere, faceva le figure centrali quasi fossero delle piramidi e poi i dodici apostoli sono suddivisi in gruppi di tre.
Leonardo, very often in his works, made the central figures almost as if they were pyramids and then, the twelve apostles are divided into groups of three.
Captions 10-13, Alberto Angela - Meraviglie EP. 3 - Part 12Play Caption
Olivetti è sempre riuscito nelle cose che ha intrapreso.
Olivetti has always succeeded in the things he has undertaken.Play Caption
In future lessons, we will talk about other common prepositions that follow these same principles.
One thing that's always tricky when learning a new language is how to use prepositions. We are especially aware of this when we hear Italians speaking English, since they often get prepositions mixed up.
In your own language you rarely get it wrong. You just know.
What's confusing for English speakers learning Italian, is that in can translate as different prepositions depending on the situation.
Lots of times in means "in."
Buongiorno. Oggi siamo in Toscana.
Hello. Today we're in Tuscany.
Caption 1, In cucina con Arianna la panzanella - Part 1Play Caption
OK. "We're in Tuscany - Siamo in Toscana. That's easy, but look at the title of the video. In cucina. In Italian, there is no article in this case, but in English there is.
Dov'è Arianna (where is Arianna)?
È in cucina (she's in the kitchen).
The kitchen is a place in the house. The same goes for lots of other places.
The following example uses in zona, a great way to say "in the area." You might ask someone on the phone it they are in zona. Then you can meet up! Zone - zona is a nice true cognate, even though we will translate it as "area" in many cases.
Siamo nati qui in zona, in un paese qui vicino di Praia a Mare.
We were born in this area, in the nearby village of Praia a Mare.
Captions 3-4, Gente al Porto di MarateaPlay Caption
We also use in to mean "in" when talking about the seasons:
Probabilmente preferirei una bella vacanza in montagna, allora. Un po' d'aria fresca, i boschi, i ruscelli. -Eh be', qualcosa della montagna piace anche a me. Ad esempio, in autunno, andare a prendere i funghi.
I'd probably rather have a nice vacation in the mountains, then. A bit of fresh air, the woods, streams. -Oh well, I like some things about the mountains too. For example, in autumn, going to get mushrooms.
Captions 21-24, Escursione Un picnic in campagna - Part 2Play Caption
We can also note from the previous example that to talk about going on vacation in the mountains, Italians not only leave out the article, they use the singular: "mountain" — montagna. Also, not in the example, Italians use in vacanza to mean "on vacation." They could also say in ferie to mean the same thing.
Andiamo in vacanza la settimana prossima.
Were going on vacation next week.
Lavora in banca (he works at the bank).
Sono in spiaggia (I'm on the sand by the waterfront)
In can mean "by" when we are talking about a means of transportation:
A Parigi ci vai in treno o in aereo (are you going to Paris by train or by plane)?
Vado al lavoro in bici (I go to work by bike) ma quando piove vado in macchina (but when it rains I go by car).
This is where it gets tricky because Italians use in when they are going someplace but they use the same preposition when they are already there!
Devo andare in banca (I have to go to the bank).
Non posso parlare al telefono perché sono in banca (I can't talk on the phone because I'm at the bank).
Le donne anziane del villaggio vanno in chiesa tutte le sere (the elderly women of the village go to church every evening).
Quando sono in chiesa, mi copro le spalle (when I am in a church, I cover my shoulders).
All the cases above have in common the absence of an article between the preposition in and the noun following it. They mostly have to do with places, seasons, or means of transportation.
But sometimes we do need need an article, for example:
in un attimo (in an instant)
When we have an indefinite article following in, both the preposition in (in, at, by, to) and the indefinite article un or una (a) stay separate and intact.
However when in is followed by a definite article in the singular or plural, the in gets combined with the article as follows:
(in + il) nel
(in + lo) nello
(in + l') nell'
(in + la) nella
(in + i) nei
(in + le) nelle
Ciao ragazzi e benvenuti nella mia cucina.
Hi guys and welcome to my kitchen.
Caption 1, Adriano Pasta alla carbonara - Part 1Play Caption
These prepositions merit a lesson of their own, so stay tuned!
Some languages use one word to say something, another might need 2 or more to say the same thing. In the case of "living together," Italian has a word that sums it up nicely: la convivenza as a noun, or convivere as a verb. In modern English, we call it "living together," but a more official but perhaps outdated noun would be "cohabitation." The question comes up in the TV movie Sposami, where a young couple is having trouble planning their marriage in a way that will satisfy both sets of parents.
Perché non pensi a una bella convivenza, eh? Dai!
Why not think about just living together, huh? Come on!
Caption 58, Sposami EP 1 - Part 18Play Caption
Taking apart this verb and noun makes it easy to understand:
vivere (to live) + con (with) = convivere (to live with, to live together)
The verb convivere is used to mean "to coexist." So not necessarily "together," but at the same time, in the same space.
Ora, i resti dell'antico tempio e della primitiva cattedrale sono incastonati all'interno e all'esterno: elementi pagani e cristiani che si fondono, convivono...
Now, the remains of the ancient temple and the early cathedral are built-in on the inside and the outside: pagan and Christian elements that fuse together, that coexist...
Captions 9-10, Itinerari Della Bellezza Basilicata - Part 4Play Caption
We also use convivere when we have to bear, endure, tolerate, accept, or live with a situation or condition. Right now people are "living with" the presence of the coronavirus.
Si convive (one lives with it).
Dovremo convivere con il coronavirus per parecchio tempo ancora (we will have to live with the coronavirus for some time yet).
People who are living together may be called conviventi. It describes the state
La parete divisoria è abusiva, quindi per lo Stato noi siamo già conviventi.
The dividing wall is illegal, so for the State, we're already living together.
Captions 6-7, La Tempesta film - Part 16Play Caption
Conviventi is actually the present participle of convivere. We don't think about the present participle in English much, but it does exist. It is part of the present continuous or progressive tense and ends in "-ing." It looks just like a gerund but works differently.
We could put the previous example in the present continuous, but we would need a different verb (stare instead of essere, both translating to "to be").
La parete divisoria è abusiva, quindi per lo Stato noi stiamo già convivendo.
The dividing wall is illegal, so for the State, we are already living together.
Here's the difference:
A gerund is a form of a verb used as a noun, whereas a participle is a form of verb used as an adjective or as a verb in conjunction with an auxiliary verb. In English, the present participle has the same form as the gerund, and the difference is in how they are used.
Why is this important to know? In English it doesn't matter much--we know how to use these words and we don't much care what they are called. But it can help us understand the Italian present participle, which, unlike English, does have a different form, and often causes confusion for learners.
If you look at a conjugation chart, at the top you will see something like this:
convivereIt is conjugated like: vivereinfinite: conviveregerundio: convivendoparticipio presents: conviventeparticipio passato: convissutoforma pronominale: (n/a)
For those of you following Daniela's lessons, there is one about participles.
Il participio anche ha due tempi, il presente e il passato. Al presente, il participio è "andante" e al passato sarebbe "andato".
The participle has two different tenses, the present and the past. In the present, the participle is "going" and in the past it would be "gone."
Captions 7-10, Corso di italiano con Daniela Modi Indefiniti - Part 2Play Caption
That's it for this lesson. We hope you have learned something useful, and we encourage you to write to us with questions, doubts or ideas. firstname.lastname@example.org.
It seems like there's no end to the uses of the little particle ci. We've done several lessons on it, and here we are again.
As we have seen in previous lessons, ci can mean various things and often has to do with reflexive and reciprocal verbs. It can also be an indirect pronoun that incorporates its preposition within it, and it can be attached to a verb or detached from it. Whew!
This time, we are talking about a pronominal verb — the kind of verb that has pronouns and particles connected to it that change the meaning of the verb. In this case, the particle is ci.
With the pronominal verb volerci, we're talking about the amount of something that's necessary to carry something out — time, money, courage, ingredients, attitudes, etc. In the following example, pazienza (patience) is the substance and molto (a lot) is how much you need of it. One way we can translate volerci is "to be necessary," "to be needed," "to be required." Of course, in everyday conversation, we often use "it takes" or "you need," in English, to express this idea.
Ci vuole molta pazienza
You need a lot of patience [a lot of patience is necessary].
It takes a lot of patience.
A lot of patience is required.Play Caption
One very important feature of this particular pronominal verb is that it is always in the third person and can be either singular or plural. If we are talking about "patience" as in the previous example, it's singular. If we're talking about ore (hours), as in the following example, it's plural.
Quante ore ci vogliono per andare da Roma a Milano?
How many hours does it take to go from Rome to Milan?
How many hours are necessary to go from Rome to Milan?
Caption 17, Marika spiega La particella NE - Part 2Play Caption
We can use it in the negative:
Non ci vuole l'articolo in singolare. In plurale ritorno a volere l'articolo.
You don't need the article in the singular. In the plural I go back to needing the article.
The article is not necessary in the singular.
Captions 20-21, Corso di italiano con Daniela Aggettivi Possessivi - Part 6Play Caption
If in translating volerci, we use the passive voice, we can match it up as far as singular and plural go, and it might make better sense to us.
I pinoli, che sono davvero speciali e ci vogliono i pinoli italiani, ovviamente.
The pine nuts, which are really special, and Italian pine nuts are required, obvously.
Captions 50-51, L'Italia a tavola Il pesto genovese - Part 1Play Caption
Although volerci is always in the third person, we often translate it into English with the first or second person: "I/we need" or you need."
Volerci is very popular in the expression:
Non ci voleva (it would have been better if that hadn't happened, I really didn't need that, that's all I needed).
That's what you say when, say, one bad thing happens after another.
Volerci can also be used as an expression of relief when something good happens. It's like saying, "That's just what the doctor ordered."
A Dixieland ci si diverte con poco e nulla e un numero di magica magia era proprio quel che ci voleva per chiudere in bellezza la festa.
At Dixieland one has fun with next to nothing and a number with magical magic was exactly what was needed to conclude the party nicely.
Captions 30-33, Dixieland La magia di TriboPlay Caption
Another fun way to use volerci is when you want to say, "How hard can it be?"
Che ci vuole (how hard can it be)?
Le mucche muggiscono. -Embè? Vanno munte. Ahi. -Scusa, scusa, scusa, scusa. -Sei sicura? -E sì, che ci vuole? L'avrò visto mille volte su National Geographic.
The cows are mooing. -So what? They have to be milked. Ow! -Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry. Are you sure? -Yeah, how hard could it be? I must have seen it a thousand times on National Geographic.
Captions 37-42, Sei mai stata sulla luna? film - Part 11Play Caption
We hope you have a bit more insight into this supremely common and useful pronominal verb (verb+pronoun+preposition all in one).
If you found this lesson helpful, you might very well say, Ci voleva! (that's exactly what I needed!).
We must also mention that not every time you see volerci (conjugated or in the infinitive) will it mean what we have set out to describe in this lesson. Since, at the outset, we mentioned that ci has a way of working its way into so many kinds of verbs and phrases, context is key. Little by little you will start distinguishing, but it will take time and practice. Watching Yabla videos will give you tons of examples so you can start sorting out the meanings. And don't forget: When you have a doubt, write it in the comments. Someone will get back to you within a few days. If you have a question or doubt, chances are, someone else will have the same one!
In a coming lesson, we will discuss a similar but unique pronominal verb metterci. Get a head start by watching Daniela's video lesson about both of these pronominal verbs.
We've been looking at conjugated verbs followed by verbs in the infinitive. Some can be connected directly as we saw in Part 1, some are connected with the preposition a, as we saw in Part 2, and others are connected with the preposition di, which we will look at in this lesson.
Let's start with an example.
Ti ho portato il millefoglie. Mentre lo mangi, io finisco di prepararmi e poi usciamo, eh?
I brought you a millefeuille. While you're eating it, I'll finish getting ready and then we'll leave, huh?
Captions 18-20, La Ladra Ep. 5 - Chi la fa l'aspetti - Part 13Play Caption
Finisco is the conjugated verb (finire) and preparare is in the infinitive. We have the formula: conjugated verb + di + verb in the infinitive. Attenzione: The verb preparare is attached to the personal pronoun mi (myself) because in this case, the verb prepararsi is reflexive and means "to get [oneself] ready."
One important verb we use with the preposition di is decidere (to decide).
Anita, per migliorare il suo livello di italiano, ha deciso di trascorrere le sue vacanze estive in Italia, dove ha la possibilità di comunicare, conversare con i miei amici, i miei familiari, i miei parenti e di conoscere più a fondo la vera cultura italiana e la vera cultura della Sicilia, la regione da cui io provengo.
Anita, in order to improve her level of Italian decided to spend her summer vacations in Italy, where she has the possibility of communicating, conversing with my friends, my family, my relatives, and to get a deeper understanding of the true Italian culture and the true culture of Sicily, the region I come from.
Captions 36-41, Adriano Adriano e AnitaPlay Caption
There are plenty of important and useful verbs that take the preposition di before the infinitive, and you can find a list here, but here are a few more examples from Yabla videos:
Oppure: chiudo l'ombrello, perché ha smesso di piovere.
Or else, “I close the umbrella because it has stopped raining.”
Caption 7, Marika spiega Il verbo chiuderePlay Caption
Let's remember that although cercare basically means "to look for," "to seek," it also means "to try" or, we could say, "to seek to." We use the preposition di in this case.
Quando vai in paese, cerca di scoprire qualcosa di interessante.
When you go into town try to find out something interesting.Play Caption
Another great verb is credere, which basically means "to believe," but when it's used in conjunction with a verb in the infinitive, we often translate it with "to think," as in:
Ferma! Sta ferma! Dove credi di andare?
Stop! Stand still! Where do you think you're going?
Captions 46-47, Provaci Ancora Prof! S1E1 - Il regalo di Babbo Natale - Part 15Play Caption
In fact, you could say the exact same thing with the verb pensare, which also takes the preposition di before an infinitive.
Dove pensi di andare?
Sperare is another great verb that works the same way, and to close, we'll say:
Speriamo di vedervi presto su Yabla (we hope to see you soon on Yabla)!
If you're not signed up to receive our weekly newsletter announcing new videos and new lessons, you can do that here.
When we talk about verbs, we distinguish between conjugated verbs and verbs in the infinitive. In Italian, verbs in the infinitive are easily recognizable most of the time because they end in either -are, -ire, or -ere. Exceptions occur when verbs in the infinitive are combined with particelle (particles), when they are reflexive, or when they are truncated. Then, admittedly, they may be harder to recognize.
In this lesson, we are talking about the specific case of when we want to use a conjugated verb followed by a verb in the infinitive. How do we connect them?
In part 1, we talked about combining a conjugated verb with an infinitive where no preposition is necessary. This typically occurs with the modal verbs potere (to be able to), volere (to want to) e sapere (to know how to, to be able to). Here's an example that can be useful if you are traveling in Italy.
Posso andare in bagno?
May I use (go to) the bathroom?
But there are also other, non-modal verbs where we don't need a preposition. See Daniela's series for examples.
Lascia fare a me!
Let me do it!
If we want to say the same thing we did above with a different verb, we might need a preposition, as in this example:
Permettimi di aiutarti.
Let me help you (allow me to help you).
There are two main prepositions we will use to connect a conjugated verb to a verb in the infinitive: di and a. Roughly, di corresponds to "of" or "from," while a corresponds to "to" or "at." These translations are not much help, though. One general rule (with many exceptions) is that verbs of movement use a to connect with a verb in the infinitive. The bottom line is, however, that you basically just have to learn these combinations little by little, by reading, by listening, and (sigh) by being corrected.
In some cases, the same verb will change its meaning slightly by the use of one preposition or the other.
Non penserai mica di andare via senza salutare!
You're not thinking of leaving without saying goodbye, are you?
Ci penso io a comprare i biglietti.
I'll take care of buying the tickets.
In this lesson, we'll look at some important verbs that need the preposition a.
Here's the formula:
verbo coniugato + preposizione "a" + verbo all’ infinito (conjugated verb + the preposition a [to, at] + verb in the infinitive)
aiutare (to help)
Per esempio, io ho un amico e lo aiuto a fare qualcosa dove lui ha difficoltà, lo aiuto a riparare la bicicletta, lo accompagno in aeroporto...
For example, I have a friend and I help him in doing something he has difficulty with, I help him repair his bicycle, I take him to the airport...Play Caption
cominciare (to begin)
Comincia a fare il nido il povero cucù
The poor cuckoo starts making his nest
Caption 8, Filastrocca Il canto del cucùPlay Caption
continuare (to continue, to keep on)
E si continua a pestare.
And you keep on crushing.
Caption 53, L'Italia a tavola Il pesto genovese - Part 2Play Caption
riuscire (to manage, to succeed, to be able)
Così riesco a seguire meglio la faccia eh... e le labbra di chi sta parlando.
That way, I manage to follow the face better, uh... and the lips of whoever is speaking.
Captions 41-42, Professioni e mestieri il doppiaggio - Part 1Play Caption
insegnare (to teach)
Oggi, ti insegno a cucinare la parmigiana di melanzane.
Today, I'm going to teach you to cook eggplant Parmesan,Play Caption
andare (to go)
Sì, lo diciamo a tutti e dopo andiamo a ballare. Andiamo anche a ballare.
Yes, we'll tell everyone, and afterwards we'll go dancing. We'll go dancing, too.
Captions 11-12, Serena vita da universitariPlay Caption
We've talked about several verbs that take the preposition a before a verb in the infinitive. Why not try forming sentences, either by improvising ad alta voce (out loud) or by writing them down? Take one of these verbs (in any conjugations you can think of) and then find a verb in the infinitive that makes sense.
Here are a couple of examples to get you started:
Mi insegneresti a ballare il tango (would you teach me to dance the tango)?
Non riesco a chiudere questa cerniera (I can't close this zipper).
To find charts about verbs and prepositions, here is an excellent reference.
Go to Part 3 where we talk about verbs that take the preposition di.
How do we refer to punctuation or use punctuation terms when speaking Italian?
When we start a new paragraph, we say punto e a capo (period, new paragraph). This can happen if we are dictating.
Punto is how we say "full stop" or "period" in Italian.
Capo means "head," and so we are at the head of a new paragraph.
But we also use punto e a capo and similar terms metaphorically in everyday speech. Here's a lesson about that!
A comma, on the other hand, is una virgola. While a comma works somewhat similarly between English and Italian, there is an important peculiarity to note, as we see in the following example. Instead of a decimal point, Italian employs the virgola (comma). If we look at it numerically, it's like this: English: 5.2 km, Italian: 5,2 km.
Con i suoi cinque virgola due chilometri quadrati, Alicudi è una delle più piccole isole delle Eolie,
With its five point two square kilometers, Alicudi is one of the smallest islands of the Aeolians,
Captions 9-10, Linea Blu Le Eolie - Part 18Play Caption
By the same token, Italian employs the comma in currency: $5.50, but €5,50.
In English we use a comma in writing "one thousand": $1,000.00, but in Italian, a point or period is used. €1.000,00.
It can also be omitted. 1000,00.
Virgolette, on the other hand are little commas, and when we turn them upside down, they become quotation marks, or inverted commas.
So, in conversation, we might make air quotes if people can see us talking, but in Italian it's common to say tra virgolette (in quotes, or literally, "between quotation marks"). We can translate this with "quote unquote," or we can sometimes say "so-called" (cosìdetto).
...cioè delle costruzioni, tra virgolette temporanee
in other words, quote unquote temporary buildings —
Caption 38, Alberto Angela - Meraviglie EP.2 - Part 12Play Caption
e perché poi erano facili da smontare, tra virgolette,
uh, because they were in any case easy to quote unquote dismantle,
Caption 45, Alberto Angela - Meraviglie EP.2 - Part 12Play Caption
Versace è nata da un ritorno alla tradizione, tra virgolette,
Versace was created as a, quote unquote, return to tradition,
Caption 13, That's Italy Episode 2 - Part 1Play Caption
One more important thing about virgolette: In American English, most punctuation marks go inside quotation marks, but in Italian, they go on the outside. If you pay attention to the captions in Yabla videos, you will see this regularly.
Thanks for reading and a presto!
Il talento è un dono enorme. Il talento è... è un dovere morale coltivarlo.
Talent is an enormous gift. Talent is... it's a moral duty to cultivate it.
Captions 75-76, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 12Play Caption
Piazza del Popolo è una piazza molto importante di Roma,
Piazza del Popolo is a very important square of Rome,
Caption 1, Anna presenta Piazza del PopoloPlay Caption
...e che invece adesso è una delle parti più eleganti, più signorili della capitale, dove ci sono le case più belle
...and which now though, is one of the most elegant, most exclusive parts of the capital, where there are the most beautiful houses
Captions 4-5, Anna presenta il ghetto ebraico e piazza matteiPlay Caption
In italiano abbiamo due tipi di aggettivi: noi li chiamiamo aggettivi positivi e aggettivi neutri.
In Italian, we have two kinds of adjectives. We call them positive adjectives and neutral adjectives.Play Caption
An example of a positive adjective is caro (expensive).
An example of a neutral adjective is grande (big).
È un tipico teatro diciamo shakespeariano, con il palco rotondo al centro
It's a typical, let's say, Shakespearean theatre, with a round stage in the center
Caption 18, Anna presenta Villa Borghese - Part 2Play Caption
La spiaggia è molto pulita.
The beach is very clean,
Caption 19, In giro per l'Italia Pisa e dintorni - Part 3Play Caption
Ci siamo ricordati tutti i momenti belli della nostra storia.
We remembered all the beautiful moments of our romance.
Caption 17, Anna presenta La Bohème di Puccini - Part 2Play Caption
Si aggiustano le scarpe rotte, se ne creano nuove su misura.
They repair broken shoes; they custom make new ones.
Caption 5, Marika spiega Il nome dei negozi - Part 1Play Caption
Use the dictionary if you're not sure how to form the plural of a noun.
Write to us if you have questions!
Stay tuned for the next part of this lesson about adjectives, when will discuss aggettivi neutri (neutral adjectives), or those adjectives that end in "e" and do not change according to gender: they only change according to singular and plural. Thus, they have only 2 possible endings.
Did you watch last Wednesday's episode of Commissario Manara? You might have noticed that there's an excellent example of a pronominal verb.
Review pronominal verbs here.
Ce l'hai ancora con me. E perché mai dovrei avercela con te, scusa? Sono in vacanza.
You're still mad at me. And why on earth should I be mad at you, pardon me? I'm on vacation.
Captions 6-7, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP8 - Fuori servizio - Part 1Play Caption
There are plenty of pronominal verbs Italians use constantly, and avercela is one that has a few different nuanced meanings. The verb avere (to have) combines with the direct object la (it) and the indirect object ci which can mean so many things, such as "to it/him/, for it/him/us" and it still doesn't make sense to an English ear, but it can mean to get angry, to feel resentment and more.
The meaning can be aggressive, as in "to have it in for someone." Avercela con qualcuno (to have it in for someone) happens to fit fairly well into a grammatically reasonable English translation, but avercela can also have a milder connotation, as in the example above, "to be mad at someone." And in this case, grammar pretty much goes out the window.
When you sense that something is not right with a friend, that they are not their usual talkative self, you wonder if you had done or said something wrong. This is the time to ask:
Ce l'hai con me? (Are you mad at me?)
Using the pronominal verb avercela, it becomes very personal and often implies resentment or placing blame. The feeling of anger or resentment has to be directed at someone, even oneself.
Non ce l'ho con te. So che non era colpa tua. Ce l'ho con me stesso.
I'm not blaming you. I'm not holding it against you. I know it wasn't your fault. I have only myself to blame. I'm mad at myself.
There's a more official word for feeling resentful, too, risentire, but as you see from the dictionary, this verb has several meanings, so it isn't used all that often in everyday conversation. When you're mad, you want to be clear!
Let's look at the classic word for getting or being angry: fare arrabbiare (to make someone angry, to anger), arrabbiarsi (to get angry), arrabbiato (angry, mad), la rabbia (the anger).
If a parent, teacher, or boss is angry with a child, student, employee who did something wrong, then the word arrabbiarsi is the more suitable and direct term. It doesn't normally make sense to be actually resentful in these cases. In the following example, a colleague is talking to her co-worker about the boss.
Alleluia! -Guarda che questa volta l'hai fatta grossa. Era veramente arrabbiato.
Halleluja! -Look. This time you really blew it, big time. He was really mad.
Captions 20-21, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP7 - Alta società - Part 14Play Caption
Closely related to avercela con qualcuno is prendersela, another pronominal verb! We've discussed this here, and as you will see, in some cases, both avercela and prendersela are used in similar situations.
But prendersela contains the verb prendere (to take). It might be helpful to think of "taking something badly."
Non te la prendere (don't feel bad, don't take this badly).
Unlikle avercela,which is direct towards someone, prendersela is reflexive, with se (oneself), as in prendersi (to take for oneself)— You're more on the receiving end of an emotion, which you then transfer to someone else.
Me la sono presa con Giuseppe (I took it out on Giuseppe, [but I shouldn't have]. I lost it).
One last expression bears mentioning. Arrabbiare is the correct word to use for getting angry, but lots of people just say it as in the following example. We are replacing the more vulgar term with the polite version: incavolarsi (to get angry), fare incavolare (to get someone angry).
E questo l'ha fatto incazzare tantissimo,
And this made him extremely angry.Play Caption
Now you have various ways to get angry in Italian, but we hope you won't need to resort to them too often.
Let’s look at turning positive sentences into negative ones in Italian. We might have to switch gears a bit because the word order for negatives is different from what we have in English. We have to think negative. The negative word, in this case non (not), generally comes before the verb, and that means it is frequently the first word in a sentence.
Let’s consider some simple negative expressions we use every day.
Problems: We all have problemi (problems), but sometimes we have to say "no problem." We certainly use it to mean "You're welcome" after someone says "Thank you." In English, it's so easy! But in Italian we say, "there's no problem." It's part of the expression. Non c'è problema is an important phrase to have ready for any situation.
Sì, non c'è problema. -Grazie. -Prego.
Yes, no problem. -Thanks. -You're welcome.
Caption 24, Adriano - Pizzeria Pinocchio - Part 2Play Caption
Actually, there is another way to say this, more similar to English.
Nessun problema (no problem [at all]).
Or we can put both expressions together and say, with the wonderful double negative we can use in Italian:
Non c'è nessun problema (there's really no problem).
Non c'è nessunissimo problema. (There is absolutely no problem at all)!
Time: Nobody has any time anymore! So negative sentences about time can come in handy.
Non c’è tempo (there isn’t time).
Non ho tempo (I don’t have time).
Il tempo non ce l’ho (I don’t have time for that).
Non c’è più tempo da perdere (there’s no more time to waste).
Non ho avuto il tempo per farmi i capelli (I didn’t have time to get my hair done).
and a possible comment to that:
Non stanno male, però (your hair looks pretty good, though/it doesn't look bad,though).
Knowing stuff: There are plenty of things we know and understand but plenty we don’t know or understand! Let’s remember that whereas in English we just say "I don’t know," Italians usually add the object pronoun lo (it), so they are literally saying "I don't know it."
Non lo so (I don’t know).
Non so a che ora devo venire (I don’t know what time I should come).
Non ho capito! Puoi ripetere (I didn't get it. Can you repeat)?
Remember, Italians often put this phrase in the past tense even though they are saying "I don’t get it."
Forgetting stuff, or rather, not remembering things: The verb ricordare is often but not always in its reflexive form ricordarsi when it means "to remember" and in its regular form when it means "to remind." See these lessons.
Adesso non mi ricordo se era proprio a forma di carciofo.
Right now, I can't remember if it was exactly artichoke shaped.Play Caption
And if you need an object pronoun instead of a noun, don't forget to change mi (to me) to me (me):
Adesso non me lo ricordo.
Right now, I can't remember [it].
Doing stuff, or rather, not doing stuff: We procrastinate.
Dovevo scrivere un articolo, ma non l'ho fatto (I was supposed to write an article but I didn't do it).
Non l’ho ancora fatto (I haven't done it yet).
Here we have the object pronoun lo (it) but it is partially buried in the contraction. So you have to listen carefully!
Speaking of listening, a great way to hone your listening skills is to use Scribe (in the games menu in the Yabla player). It will definitely help you start recognizing and hearing these short words and little but important details. And although some Italian you hear is rapid-fire (like Luca Manara, to name one example), most of the time, all the syllables are pronounced. You can slow down the speech to be able to hear better. Have you tried Scribe? What did you like? What didn't you like? Let us know!
As we learn to speak Italian with disinvoltura (nonchalance), it’s easy to forget to add these little words. Don’t worry, you will most likely be understood anyway! Foreigners spend years speaking Italian leaving out the little words, and they get by just fine. (It takes one to know one.)
If you get your word order wrong, people will understand anyway, but now you have a chance to get it right!