Let's roll up our sleeves and get to work learning a new expression.
In a recent video, Marika and Anna show us how to make fricos, a local dish from northern Italy. They are made with humble ingredients, but take a bit of slicing and dicing. So Marika rolls up her sleeves. Italians use this expression both literally and figuratively, as we do in English.
In this first example, Marika is speaking literally, and uses the verb tirare (to pull). That's one way to describe the action of rolling up one's sleeves, and perhaps the easiest to pronounce.
Mi sono già tirata su le maniche, come vedi.
I've already rolled up my sleeves, as you can see.
Caption 4, Anna e Marika: L'Italia a tavola - Il frico friulano - Part 2 of 2
In the next example, however, the rolling up of the sleeves is figurative, and the classic expression is used:
Be', Claudio è un bravissimo ragazzo, prima di tutto, un vero amico e uno che sa rimboccarsi sempre le maniche.
Well, Claudio's a great guy, first of all, a true friend, and one who always knows how to roll up his sleeves [to pitch in and work hard].
Captions 14-15, L'Eredità -Quiz TV: La sfida dei sei Puntata 1 - Part 5 of 14
Rimboccare (to tuck in, to turn) refers to the edge of something, like a sleeve, a hem, or a sheet, but it's very commonly used in the above-mentioned expression, especially when acknowledging a long job ahead.
Rimbocchiamoci le maniche e cominciamo a studiare (let's roll up our sleeves and start studying)!
When we look at a video about a place, the speaker often uses the verb trovare in its reflexive form trovarsi. Using trovarsi in this fashion might be hard to wrap our minds around, so let’s back up to the normal verb for a moment. Trovare means “to find” and is transitive, meaning it can take a direct object.
Per suo marito ha trovato una cintura marrone.
For her husband, she found a brown belt.
Caption 39, Corso di italiano con Daniela - I colori - Part 3 of 3
We can use the verb with ourself as an object much as we do in English:
Io non sono affatto sicuro di me, e non mi sono mai trovato in una situazione come questa, va bene?
I'm not sure of myself at all, and I've never found myself in a situation like this, all right?
Captions 9-10, Il Commissario Manara 1: Ep. 11 - Beato tra le donne - Part 4 of 12
If Luca Manara spoke English, he’d probably say “I’ve never been in a situation like this before, OK?” He would have simply used the verb “to be.” But Italians often use trovarsi, so it’s a good verb to understand. Of course, if you do use the verb essere, people will understand you anyway menomale (luckily)!
But then it gets a bit more peculiar. Here is Arianna telling us where she is: where she finds herself. She wasn’t lost; she’s just giving us her location.
Eccomi. Qui mi trovo vicino alla stazione Santa Maria Novella, in Piazza Santa Maria Novella.
Here I am. Here I am near the Santa Maria Novella Train Station in Piazza Santa Maria Novella.
Captions 25-26, In giro per l'Italia: Firenze - Part 3 of 3
Instead of just saying: sono vicino alla stazione (I am near the station), she is referring to her geographical or physical position in that moment with trovarsi. It’s a little more specific than simply using the verb essere (to be).
In the previous example, trovarsi refers to a person, but trovarsi can also refer to an object, a place. English gets specific in a similar way by using “to be located,” “to be situated.”
When Marika plays the professoressa (teacher), she uses trovarsi to interrogate poor Anna. She just wants to know where Sardinia is.
Dove si trova questa regione?
Where is this region located?
Caption 21, Anna e Marika: L’Italiana a tavola - Interrogazione sulla Sardegna
Il porto di Maratea è un porto turistico. Si trova vicino alle isole Eolie, alla Sicilia, a Capri, all'i... a Sorrento.
The port of Maratea is a tourist seaport. It's situated near the Aeolian Islands, Sicily, Capri, the... Sorrento,
Captions 23-24, Antonio: Maratea, il porto
It’s also very common to use trovarsi to describe feelings or conditions. This is a bit tricky.
Abito in campagna, e senza macchina, mi trovo in difficoltà.
I live in the country, and without a car, it's hard. I have trouble.
Non mi trovo bene con questo telefonino.
I don’t like this phone. I don’t feel comfortable with this phone.
Ma per ora mi trovo bene qua, vediamo.
Well, for now, I'm happy here, we'll see.
Caption 97, Il Commissario Manara 1: Ep. 10 - Un morto di troppo - Part 2 of 12
Ah, a proposito, come ti trovi da Ada?
Ah, by the way, how do you like it over at Ada's?
Caption 90, Il Commissario Manara 1 - Ep. 10 -Un morto di troppo - Part 4 of 12
Trovarsi can also be used reciprocally.
Ci troviamo da Letizia alle otto.
Let’s meet up [with each other] at Letizia’s place at eight.
For more on reflexive and reciprocal verbs, see Marika's lesson about reflexive and reciprocal verbs, and the written lesson Understanding the Reciprocal Reflexive Form.
The more you watch and listen to Italian, either on Yabla or in real life, the more you will notice trovarsi in all of its shadings. It’s a very popular verb!
Come ti trovi con Yabla (how are you managing with Yabla)? Facelo sapere (let us know) at email@example.com.