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Lessons for topic Prefixes and suffixes

How to Turn a Noun into a Verb (and back) in Italian

 

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The verb or the noun? Does it matter? No, it doesn't really matter in speaking Italian, but knowing the verb a noun comes from, or the noun a verb comes from can sometimes help us figure out a word we don't know. Or, it can help us remember a new word. In the case of the words discussed in this lesson, we start with a noun.

 

The noun il poggio:

Il poggio the noun is likely less well-known than the verbs that stem from it. A little research on the etymology tells us that poggio comes from the Latin noun "podium" — a raised platform. Hey! We know the word "podium" in English! Poggio is synonymous with colle or collina (hill), but often refers to a rather small, rounded hill — perhaps a podium-shaped hill, like a bluff...

Sorge isolata su di un poggio la chiesa di Santa Maria a Mevale, costruita nell'undicesimo secolo in stile romanico, in cui spicca un portale rinascimentale e il portico a cinque arcate.

Emerging on a bluff is the remote church of Santa Maria in Mevale built in the eleventh century in the Romanesque style, in which a Renaissance portal and a five-arch portico stand out.

Captions 1-3, Itinerari Della Bellezza Umbria - Part 6

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Fun Expression:

An expression Tuscans like to use is: poggio e buca fan pari (hill and hole come out even).

Fan is short for fanno (they make).

poggio=salita (hill = climb)

buca=discesa (hole = descent) 

salita + discesa = pianura (uphill + downhill = flatland)

 

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Places:

There are places that take their name from the noun poggio. They are usually on a hill.

A very famous town (with a famous villa) near Florence is called Poggio a Caiano and one of our Yabla videos takes place in a town called Poggiofiorito (flowering hills):

Scusami, ma c'ho avuto il trasloco da Poggiofiorito e ho fatto male i calcoli.

I'm sorry, but I've moved to Poggiofiorito and didn't gauge it well.

Caption 27, Un medico in famiglia s.1 e.1 - Casa nuova - Part 5

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You can go a long time in Italy without hearing the noun poggio, but the verbs that come from this noun are much more common. Sometimes verbs are made from nouns by simply adding a verb ending such as  -are, -ire, or -ere

 

Poggiare:

Poggiare certainly exists as a verb. It means "to place." 

Marika uses this verb when describing how she stays safe as she looks out from her balcony.

 

Per affacciarmi al balcone, io poggio le mani sulla ringhiera.

To look out from the balcony, I place my hands on the railing.

Caption 13, Marika spiega Il balcone

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Appoggiare:

But appoggiare also exists. In this case the prefix a has been added, with the conventional doubling of the first consonant in the original noun. Appoggiare is a more complex verb and has several literal and figurative meanings. Appoggiare is more about support, about leaning, propping. Think of a ladder you prop against a wall. In the following example, Manara uses it reflexively.

E le impronte sul furgone come le spieghi? Mi ci sono appoggiato così, per caso. È reato?

And the fingerprints on the truck, how can you explain them? I leaned on it, just like that, by chance. Is that a crime?

Captions 57-59, Il Commissario Manara S1EP7 - Sogni di Vetro - Part 14

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And here, Anna, who is talking about her new baby, uses the verb appoggiare three times in the same sentence! 

Un altro regalo molto utile che ho avuto dal papà è questo. È il cuscino da allattamento, ed è utile perché lo utilizzi sia quando allatti, te lo appoggi qui e non fai fatica con le braccia mentre allatti, che per appoggiare il bambino, che si appoggia qui come un principino e sta molto comodo.

Another very useful gift that I had from dad [the baby's dad], is this. It's a nursing cushion. And it's useful because you use it both when you nurse, you rest it here, and your arms don't get tired while you nurse, and for laying the baby on, who leans back here like a little prince and is very comfortable.

Captions 42-47, Anna presenta La gravidanza - Part 1

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Rather than using the more general mettere (to put) appoggiare is used to mean "to put down" or "to set down." We could also say "lay something down," implying a certain gentleness.

 

Posso entrare? Sì, ecco, ecco. Uè, Ada... grazie. Appoggialo pure là, va. -Luca!

May I come in? Yes, here we go, here we go. Hey Ada... thanks. Go ahead and set it down over there, go ahead. -Luca!

Captions 4-6, Il Commissario Manara S2EP3 - Delitto tra le lenzuola - Part 1

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L'appoggiatura:

If you play music, you might have heard of the term "appoggiatura": a note of embellishment preceding another note and taking a portion of its time. Now you know where it comes from!

 

L'appoggio:

And now we come back to a noun that comes from the verb that comes from the noun. Just like in English, "support" is both a noun and a verb.

In the following example, it's used in a physical way.

Mezzo passo avanti, sbilanci l'avversario e via la gamba d'appoggio.

A half a step forward, get the opponent off balance, and away with the supporting leg.

Captions 24-25, L'oro di Scampia film - Part 9

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But it can also be figurative. 

Proprio perché uomini di sinistra, noi stiamo facendo una battaglia in Parlamento, abbiamo anche avuto l'appoggio del ministro Brambilla,

Precisely because men of the left, we're waging battle in Parliament, we've even had the support of minister Brambilla,

Captions 48-49, Animalisti Italiani Walter Caporale - Part 2

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We've gone from the Latin noun "podium" to the ups and downs of Tuscan hills, to propping up a baby, setting down a tray, to playing music, to judo, and to politics. Whew!

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More on Mettere (to Put)

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

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

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

 

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

No, allora cuciniamo per terra come nel Medioevo. -Ma che c'entra? Metti meno olio, no, scusami. -Sì, nella Preistoria.

No, so let's cook on the floor like in the Middle Ages. -But what does that have to do with it? Put in less oil, right? Excuse me. -Yes, in prehistoric times.

Captions 88-90, Stai lontana da me - Rai Cinema - Part 11

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

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

 

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

Chi cucina? Ah, sì, con tutto l'olio che ci metti me l'incrosti da matti, guarda, ogni volta.

Who cooks? Ah, yes, with all that oil that you put in, you cake them up like crazy, look, every time.

Captions 86-87, Stai lontana da me - Rai Cinema - Part 11

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

 

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

Aiutami. Ah, ah, ah... mettimi giù!

Help me. Ah, ah, ah... put me down!

Captions 40-41, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP2 - Vendemmia tardiva - Part 10

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

 

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

No, mettimi questo sulla scrivania per favore, io vado con la Rubino.

No, put this on the desk for me please. I'm going with Rubino.

Caption 42, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP8 - Morte di un buttero - Part 6

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

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

 

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

Terzo, la devi smettere di parcheggiare la Porsche davanti al pettine delle bici.

Third, you have to stop it with parking the Porsche in front of the bike rack.

Captions 72-73, La Tempesta - film - Part 1

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

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Parole Alterate - Modifying Words to Create New Ones

This week Marika talks about parole alterate (modified words). Modifying existing words by adding suffixes or prefixes is a very Italian way of creating new words.

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Marika describes the different categories of altered nouns and what suffixes and prefixes go with them, and she gives you some tips on how they work. Instead of using a modifier in the form of an adjective, the noun itself gets changed. Here are some examples.

Pane (bread) in the form of a roll, with the addition of -ino, turns into un panino (a little bread). Panino has also become the word for sandwich, commonly made with a roll. 

Un piatto (a plate), when full to the brim with pasta, with the addition of the suffix -one, turns into un bel piattone di pasta (a nice big plate of pasta).

Una giornata normale (a normal day) turns into una giornataccia (a bad day), by using the pejorative suffix: -accio/-accia:

Ieri ho avuto davvero una giornataccia.

Yesterday I had a really terrible day.

Caption 45, Marika spiega Le parole alterate

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There are also altered nouns or adjectives called vezzeggiativi, fromvezzo (caress), which are used as terms of endearment. The most common suffixes are: -uccio and -otto. Adding this suffix bestows something special, tender, and possibly intimate to a word. A teddy-bear, for example, is called un orsacchiotto, from orso(bear). A term of endearment for a person you care about might be tesoruccio, fromtesoro (treasure).

In this week's segment of the popular Commissioner Manara series, Lara is back from the hospital after risking her life to save a dog from a burning building. Luca is so concerned that he lets his guard down.

When Lara comes into the office, Luca looks at her and sees that she's pale. But he doesn't just use pallida (pale) to describe her, he adds a suffix of endearment. It's quite subtle, but it's clear he cares.

Però sei un po' palliduccia, ah.

However, you're a bit on the pale side, huh.

Caption 35, Il Commissario Manara S1EP6 - Reazione a Catena - Part 10

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Speaking of suffixes and prefixes, let's have a quick look at a word used in another of this week's new videos. Massimo Montanari is talking about the art of cooking. He takes the verb padellare (to fry up something after it's already been cooked), from the noun padella (frying pan), then uses the prefix s to turn it into spadellare. It's a colloquial way of saying someone is managing the pots and pans on the stove.

La cucina, intesa non semplicemente come l'atto di spadellare, ma come... il percorso complessivo che trasforma una ri' [sic]... una risorsa naturale

Cooking, understood not simply as an act of working at the stove, but as... an overall process that transforms a re'... a natural resource

Captions 36-37, L'arte della cucina La Prima Identitá - Part 5

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Learn more about suffixes and prefixes in these Yabla videos:

Marika spiega: La formazione dei nomi - Part 1 
Marika spiega: La formazione dei nomi - Part 2 

Keep an eye out for the suffixes and prefixes in Yabla videos. Once you know the root word, you can expand your vocabulary in many cases, without having to learn new words, but by merely altering them!

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