Italian Lessons


Lessons for topic Verbs

Andarsene: yet another important pronominal verb

We have talked about pronominal verbs before, and we have mentioned our featured pronominal verb andarsene in a lesson about telling someone to "get lost." But let's delve deeper.


Perhaps if we talk about pronominal verbs often enough, they will be less daunting, and they will start making more sense. Andarsene (to leave, to take one's leave) is perhaps even more common than farcela, which we have talked about very recently, but they are both high up on the list of pronominal verbs to know and love. So let's dive in!



Andarsene: Let's unpack it

Andarsene has as its main verb, the irregular verb andare (to go). But instead of just going, we add on some particles that make it mean something more. We make it personal with se (oneself), and we imply we are leaving a place, person, or situation, or, we could say, "going away from a place, person or situation" with the particle ne. In this context, ne is a pronoun representing an indirect object with its preposition, all in one! 

Se uno sta bene in un posto, embè, deve avere una ragione forte per andarsene, se no...

If one's happy in a place, well, they have to have a really good reason for leaving it, otherwise...

Captions 33-34, Il Commissario Manara S1EP12 - Le verità nascoste - Part 8

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Let's also mention that in a way, andarsene (to leave, to go away from a place) is the opposite of going somewhere — to a place. When we go somewhere, we can use the particle ci (to, in, or at that place) as an indirect pronoun including the preposition. In English, "there" stands for "to/at/in that place."

Hanno suonato alla porta. Ci vado io (the doorbell rang. -I'll go [there]).

It's easy to get mixed up between ne and ci


Conjugating andarsene

When we conjugate andarsene, we split the verb in different ways, depending on the conjugation. 


When you simply want to say, "I'm leaving [this place]" you can say:

Me ne vado (I'm leaving).

It's the equivalent of vado via (I'm leaving, I'm going away).


When no modal verb is involved, we generally have the person, the place (from this place) and then the verb in third place, conjugated. The same goes for other persons:


Alle otto se ne vanno a casa e non escono più, come le galline.

At eight o'clock they leave and go home and don't go out again, like hens.

Caption 40, Il Commissario Manara S1EP3 - Rapsodia in Blu - Part 12

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Andarsene with modal verbs

However, if we use a modal verb such as potere (to be able to) or volere (to want to), dovere (to have to), then we conjugate the modal verb and the pronominal verb remains in the infinitive, although the particles may be separate from it.

Ecco perché io non me ne voglio andare.

That's why I don't want to leave here.

Caption 5, Basilicata Turistica Non me ne voglio andare - Part 1

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It's also possible (when there is a modal verb) to mix the parts of the pronominal verb up differently and say:

Ecco perché non voglio andarmene (that's why I don't want to leave here).


In the following example, we have 2 different conjugations. The first one is one word, a command, with the verb root first: the imperative of andare, va', then the person, te, and then our "place" particle, ne. In the second sentence, the modal verb dovere (to have to) is used. 

Ricotta! -Oh, vattene! Te ne devi andare!

Ricotta! -Oh, get out of here. You have to leave!

Caption 47, Non è mai troppo tardi EP 2 - Part 7

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Compound tenses

Let's remember that the verb andare takes essere (to be) as an auxiliary verb for compound tenses such as the passato prossimo, which conjugates like the present perfect in English. We conjugate the auxiliary verb and the root verb is in its past participle form.

Finalmente se ne sono andati.

Finally, they've gone.

Caption 15, Acqua in bocca Allarme gita - Ep 9

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Try thinking of people you know, or can imagine, and combinations of people. 1) They might be leaving a theater or a party... one by one, in couples, all of them 2) They never seem to leave but you would like them to. 3) They have all left. We'll need the passato prossimo for that. Have they left together or in dribs and drabs? Let us know how you do.

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Using the verb prevedere

Let's look at a word that in one sense is not too difficult to figure out, but which has meanings that are a bit more elusive, too.

We're looking at the past participle of the verb prevedere  (to foresee). 

È la nostra capacità di intuire e di prevedere alcuni eventi del futuro.

It is our ability to intuit and predict some events of the future.

Captions 45-46, Marika spiega I cinque sensi - Part 3

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If we take prevedere apart, we see the prefix pre and the verb vedere (to see). One way to translate prevedere is with "to foresee" or "to forecast." In fact, the weather forecast is often called le previsioni, using the noun form la visione (the vision).


So one thing to remember is that the English word "predict," as we see in the example above, might seem to call for the Italian verb predire. It does exist but prevedere is used more often for this in general speech.


More often than not, the past participle previsto is used to mean "expected," as in the series La linea verticale, where Luigi gets more organs removed in surgery than had been planned on, or expected. 

Anche se credo che t'abbia tolto un po' più roba del previsto.

Even though I believe he took out a bit more stuff than expected.

Caption 9, La linea verticale EP 2 - Part 5

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"Presto" e "subito" indicano che l'evento si è svolto, si svolge o si dovrà svolgere in pochissimo tempo, prima del previsto.

“Presto”[soon] and “subito”[immediately] indicate that the event has taken place, is taking place, or will take place very soon, earlier than expected.

Captions 50-52, Marika spiega Gli avverbi - Avverbi di tempo

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Sometimes previsto can stand in for "included." Is breakfast included? Italians often use the word previsto

Il servizio in camera è previsto solo per i primi venticinque anni.

Room service is only included for the first twenty-five years.

Caption 5, Il Commissario Manara S2EP2 - L'addio di Lara - Part 1

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And there is another way previsto is used in general speech. It has more to do with law, and means "dictated by law."

[Direzione Generale Cinema. L'opera è stata realizzata anche grazie ] [all'utilizzo del credito d'imposta italiano previsto dalla legge duecentoventi/duemilasedici]

[General Cinema Direction. The show was made thanks also] [to the use of the Italian tax credit provided for by law two hundred and twenty / two thousand and sixteen]

Captions 70-71, JAMS S1 EP 1 - Part 6

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So we need the context to let us know exactly what previsto means in each case.

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How to use the verb muovere (to move)

We can detect the cognate "to move" in the verb muovere. In English, "to move" can be either transitive or intransitive.


Transitive verb

We can move a piece of furniture from one place to another, or we can be the ones to move on our own. In Italian, however, muovere is basically transitive, in its natural, non-reflexive form.

Per me la cosa più bella è recitare e muovere i pupi.

For me the best thing is reciting and moving the marionettes.

Caption 56, Dottor Pitrè e le sue storie - Part 11

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Non riesco a muovere la gamba (I can't move my leg)!


Intransitive verb with reflexive si

When it's intransitive, it is primarily used in its reflexive form. 

Il nostro uomo sta per muoversi.

Our man is about to move.

Caption 23, Provaci ancora prof! S1E3 - Una piccola bestia ferita - Part 23

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In addition to merely moving around in space, muoversi  is used a lot to mean "to get going," "to get moving" (also figuratively), or "to get some exercise."

Ti vuoi muovere? -Arrivo!

You want to get moving? -I'm coming!

Caption 25, Provaci ancora prof! S1E1 - Il regalo di Babbo Natale - Part 11

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Non ti muovere o sparo!

Don't move or I'll shoot!

Caption 28, Un Figlio a tutti i costi film - Part 6

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Lui ha detto: "Io da qui non mi muovo."

He said, "I am not budging from here."

Caption 10, Fuori era primavera Viaggio nell'Italia del lockdown - Part 14

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Past participle as adjective: mosso

The verb muovere has an irregular conjugation, and the past participle is used quite often as an adjective.


When the sea is rough, it's il mare mosso

Non lo vedo più. -Perché il mare è un po' mosso.

I can't see him anymore. -Because the sea is a bit rough.

Caption 50, PIMPA S3 EP12 L'amica Onda

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When your hair is a bit wavy or not combed neatly, we use the past participle mossi. Let's remember that, in Italian, we use the plural capelli, even though in English, hair is a collective noun. 

Aveva dei capelli mossi  (she/he had wavy hair). 


Expression of urgency or impatience

When you want someone to hurry up, you can say, muoviti  (hurry up, get moving)!


Oh, cammina, muoviti. -Aspetta.

Hey, get going, move it. -Wait up.

Caption 11, Chi m'ha visto film - Part 14

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Noun form la mossa

There is a noun form that comes from the past participle, and that is la mossa (the move). When you make the right move, fai la mossa giusta.


When you need to get a move on, it's darsi una mossa (literally, to give oneself a move).

Allora ragazzi, bisogna che ci diamo una mossa.

So, guys, we need to get a move on.

Caption 20, Concorso internazionale di cortometraggio A corto di idee - Part 1

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Datti una mossa, dai (get a move on, come on)!


When you move to a new house

Of course in English, we use the verb "to move" when we go to live in a different apartment or house. You may be wondering how to say that in Italian. Transitive or intransitive? None of the above!


The verb is traslocare, or, much more common, fare trasloco. Think of it as "translocation!" or "translocate," a cross between "transfer" and "relocate."


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Fare (to do, to make), a top Italian verb

We always say that the verb fare means "to make" or "to do."  But the truth is that fare is used in all sorts of contexts to mean all sorts of things. In our weekly newsletters, we like to point out interesting words or expressions in the week's videos, which range from 5 to 9 new videos. This week there were plenty of instances of fare, so we focused on some of them in the newsletter. Here in the lesson, we do basically the same thing, but we give you video examples so you can hear and see the context for yourself. And maybe you will want to go and watch the entire video, or even better, subscribe if you haven't yet!



Fare meaning "to act like."

As we mentioned above, the verb fare can mean "to make" or "to do." But it is also often used to mean "to act like." In English, we might simply use the verb "to be."

Ma non fare lo scemo, dai!

But don't be an idiot, come on!

Caption 27, Un medico in famiglia Stagione 1 EP3 Un cugino in fuga - Part 8

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Fare meaning "to let"

Fare is often used to mean "to let."

Mi può fare avere un piatto di minestra?

Can you let me have a bowl of soup?

Caption 3, Non è mai troppo tardi EP1 - Part 18

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The director of the reformatory was being polite. Here, the English verb could have been "to have" as in "have someone bring me a bowl of soup." Or it might even be "to make," as in, Fammi portare un piatto di minestra (make someone bring me some soup) or "to get" as in, "Get someone to bring me some soup." See the lesson Making It Happen about this very common use. 


Fare with adverbs of time

Here, fare is used with adverbs of time, for example: Facciamo tardi (we'll be late). Facciamo presto (we'll be quick).

Professo', però se andiamo così facciamo notte.

Professor, but if we keep going like this, we'll go into the night.

Caption 15, Non è mai troppo tardi EP1 - Part 18

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Fare sì che

The previous example was from a conversation. This next one is from an interview. It's a bit trickier and uses the subjunctive after che (that).

Questo rapporto ha fatto sì che una volta terminato l'intervento sul Polittico, l'attenzione si sia spostata sulla Resurrezione.

This relationship meant that once the work on the polyptych was finished, the focus would have shifted to the Resurrection.

Captions 17-19, La pittura più bella del mondo La Resurrezione di Piero della Francesca - Part 3

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The literal translation of this might be "to make it so" or "to assure."


Lascia fare

We may have heard the expression lascia stare (leave it alone, leave him/her alone, leave him/her/it be), but we also sometimes hear lascia fare. They are similar in meaning but they employ two different verbs. In English, we would say, "let him/her be" or "leave him/her alone." Sometimes, it can mean "let him do what he's going to do," but not always. 

Lascia fare, non gli da [dare] retta.

Let them be, don't listen to them.

Caption 36, La linea verticale EP 2 - Part 5

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Fare: "to do" or "to be"

Below is a common question asked of young people:

Cosa vuoi fare da grande?  -Mi piacerebbe fare l'attrice o avere un lavoro sempre in quell'ambito.

What do you want to do/be when you grow up?  -I would like to be an actor or to have a job in that area.

Captions 59-61, Le Interviste I liceali - Part 1

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And here is a conjugated version:

E da grande farò il maestro.

And when I grow up, I'm going to be a teacher.

Caption 11, Non è mai troppo tardi EP1 - Part 18

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Here, at least in the question, fare is the equivalent of both "to do" and "to be." We have to pay attention to the context to know which it is, but we also see that fare can be used in so many contexts that perhaps we don't have to worry about it too much. Just listen, repeat, and assimilate!



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Being fixated in Italian

There are lots of ways to talk about being obsessed with something or someone, being fixated or having a thing about or for something, or being "into" something. "Obsession" is a pretty strong word, so we often like to use softer, more positive terms. In Italian, too, there are various words we can use. In this lesson, we will explore just one way Italians commonly talk about being intensely interested in something. It uses the verb fissare which, in this context, may be translated as "to fixate," even though that might not be the word we would choose in many cases.



Past participle as adjective

If you look at the link we have provided, you will see that there are quite a few meanings for the verb fissare. We'll address those in another lesson.


Keep in mind that sometimes we translate fissare with "fixate" because it's a cognate that works, making the Italian word easy to understand. But in English, we have lots of other ways to express the same thing. "Fixated" can come across as being a negative thing in English, but Italians use the word pretty casually. Let's also keep in mind that, as in English, we're using the past participle as a sort of adjective.


Anche Lei fissato con la cucina italiana?

You're also fixated with Italian cuisine?

Caption 44, La Ladra EP. 1 - Le cose cambiano - Part 13

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We might not use the term "fixated" but we can understand it well enough. We might sooner say someone obsesses over something, such as "Oh, you obsess over Italian cooking, too?"


Papà era fissato.

Dad was obsessed.

Caption 3, La Tempesta film - Part 10

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Sometimes, as in the previous example, we're really talking about an obsession, but sometimes it's about being set in one's ways. We might recognize a character flaw in a light-hearted way. In the example below, Marika and Anna are talking about the Italian tradition of having bread at a meal when there is already a wheat-based carbohydrate in the form of pasta. Italians love to scrape the remaining pasta sauce off their plate with a piece of bread. They call this fare la scarpetta (to make a little shoe). 

Comunque... -Siamo un po' fissati. Quello della scarpetta è... Sì, è un rito, quasi.

Anyway... -We're a little fixated. The "little shoe" thing is... Yes, it's almost a ritual.

Captions 48-50, Anna e Marika Un Ristorante a Trastevere

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So even though we have translated it as "fixated," we'd more likely say that Italians love  to sop up the sauce with a piece of bread. 


Reflexive verb

Fissare is also used reflexively. In this case, it's not being used as an adjective but rather as a verb, as if to say, "to become fixated," or "to get obsessed." 

Mio marito si è fissato con Jacques Brel

My husband has become obsessed with Jacques Brel

Caption 55, La Ladra EP. 9 - L'amico sconosciuto - Part 10

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Noun form

We can also use the noun form la fissa, the equivalent of "fixation."

Joy ha sempre avuto la fissa per la cucina.

Joy has always had a thing for cooking.

Caption 60, JAMS S1 EP 1 - Part 1

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Which preposition?

You might ask, "What preposition do I use after fissato, fissata, fissate, or fissati?" Because, as in English, we do use a preposition when there is an object. So in this context, fissare is an intransitive verb.


In Italian, there seem to be two main ones: con (with) or per (for). When we use la fissa or una fissa we'll likely choose per (for). Keep your eyes and ears open to see how Italians handle this. Often, as we have seen, there is no object at all. 


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Anticipare and Anticipo

We have already talked a bit about the verb anticipare because it is the opposite of posticipare (to postpone). But let's look at some examples to get a feel for the verb and then look at the noun.




Anticipare (to move up)

Eh, c'è un caso delicato e ho dovuto anticipare il rientro.

Uh, there is a delicate case and I've had to move up my return.

Caption 65, Il Commissario Manara S2EP9 - L'amica ritrovata - Part 5

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We might just say, "I had to go back earlier" or "I had to return ahead of schedule." 


Ma no, sulle prime sembrava che fosse quel giorno, poi invece gli scritti li hanno anticipati e li ho dati un mese fa.

But no, at first it seemed like it was that day, but then they moved the written exams up and I did those a month ago.

Captions 5-6, Sposami EP 4 - Part 25

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If I answer your question before you ask it, you might say:

Mi hai anticipato (you preceded me, you beat me to it).


When I have told you something earlier and refer to it now, I might say something like:


Vediamo un po' in quale altro modo si usa, perché, come ti avevo anticipato, ci sono vari modi.

Let's look a bit into what other way it's used. Because, as I told you earlier, there are various ways.

Captions 2-3, Marika spiega La particella CI - Part 2

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Sometimes, instead of words or information, it's money!


Walter m'aveva chiesto di anticipare i soldi per il viaggio ai Caraibi...

Walter had asked me to advance him the money for the trip to the Caribbean...

Caption 51, Il Commissario Manara S2EP5 - Mondo sommerso - Part 3

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It's also common, when talking about money, to use the noun form we mentioned earlier: un anticipo

Ma il nostro accordo era un anticipo subito e il resto alla consegna.

But our agreement was an advance payment right away and the rest upon delivery.

Caption 8, Il Commissario Manara S2EP5 - Mondo sommerso - Part 9

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We could also use "down payment" to mean anticipo here.  You might ask your boss for un anticipo (an advance). 


In anticipo 

And when something or someone is early, or arrives early, ahead of schedule, most of the time we say in anticipo. It functions as an adverb.

Sono in anticipo?

Am I early?

Caption 40, Il Commissario Manara S2EP3 - Delitto tra le lenzuola - Part 11

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Con anticipo

We can also say con anticipo when we want to say "in advance." Here anticipo is a noun, and it has an adjective in front of it. 

Il problema è che spesso le strutture sono sovraffollate, per cui, eh, devi agire con molto anticipo rispetto agli esami che vuoi fare

The problem is that often, the facilities are overcrowded, so uh, you have to act long in advance with respect to the exams that you want to do

Captions 8-10, Anna presenta La gravidanza - Part 2

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But we can also say in netto anticipo (well in advance) and here it again functions pretty much like an adverb. It is more important to be able to use this word than to know its part of speech. Sometimes the confines are blurry.


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Svolgere: a useful but mysterious verb

Svolgere is yet another verb starting with S, meaning there is likely a verb without the S, at its roots.


The use of the "prefix" S to give a word the opposite meaning is a common Italian phenomenon. It comes up frequently (see, for example this lesson). There is no fool-proof "rule," but knowing about the S-prefix can often give us a clue about a word. If we try a search of the word without the S, we might gain a deeper understanding of the word. Sometimes the S provides a different slant on a word, and isn't necessarily a negation or an opposite. 



So if we look up volgere, we find that it does exist. We just don't use it very often in everyday conversation. Svolgere, on the other hand, is very common, but it's not easy to guess its meaning. 


Let's take a closer look. 



When the verb is in its non-reflexive form it can be translated as "to carry out," "to conduct," "to do," or "to perform." It's transitive. We use it a lot when the question is, "What does it do?" or "What do you do (as a job)?"

Ha una capacità di memoria elevatissima; può svolgere la stessa funzione di cinquemila calcolatori meccanici messi insieme, ma in un tempo infinitamente più breve.

It has a very high memory capacity; it can perform the same function as five thousand mechanical calculators put together, but in an infinitely shorter time.

Captions 3-5, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep.2 - Part 19

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Ci troviamo nel centro tartarughe WWF di Lampedusa, fa parte del progetto italiano del WWF, che svolge attività di conservazione sulle tartarughe marine,

We are at the WWF center in Lampedusa, it's part of the Italian WWF project, which conducts work on conserving sea turtles

Captions 36-38, WWF Italia Progetto tartarughe - Part 1

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Espressione del lavoro di ricerca che svolgono durante il loro soggiorno romano.

An expression of the research work they carry out during their stay in Rome.

Caption 10, Villa Medici L'arca della bellezza - Part 4

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When we use the reflexive form of the verb, we often translate it as "to take place." We could also say "to unfold" in certain contexts. The reflexive form is intransitive. 

Una parte del film si svolge qua dove sembra veramente che il passato e il futuro siano coesistenti.

One part of the film takes place here where it really seems that the past and the future coexist.

Captions 34-35, Fratelli Taviani La passione e l'utopia - Part 6

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The reflexive form svolgersi, is extremely common, but not all that easy to guess at, since it's not a cognate... or is it?

If we look up the etymology of the verb svolgere, we do find volgere, but another, archaic, version of volgere — volvere, no longer in use, is mentioned as well. And if we try hard, we can see the verb "to evolve" as a sort of cognate. If we think of the verb svolgersi as something like, "to evolve," it might help us remember it.


How does this story evolveCome si svolge questa storia?


One confusing thing

If we look at the conjugation chart of the verb svolgere and we look at the conjugation chart of the verb svoltare (to change directions, to turn) there are some similarities, so this can be a bit confusing.


Another confusing thing

Both the non-reflexive and the reflexive form of the verb svolgere can mean "to unfold." So they intersect in a way. But we should just keep in mind that the non-reflexive form is transitive (it takes a direct object) and the reflexive form is intransitive (you won't find a direct object after it).


If you do a search of svolgere, and svolgersi on the Yabla videos page, you will have an overview of how these verbs are used. If you then go to the transcript for a given video where the word is used and hit command or control F to search the word there, you'll see the larger context, together with the English translation. You will see that the translation isn't consistent. Sometimes it's tricky to find the right word, since there really isn't a good, reliable English cognate. 


Certainly, the two forms of svolgere are great verbs to have in your toolbox. If you pay attention, you will start hearing both of them a great deal. And now you know what they mean!


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Forza vs Sforzo: What's the difference?

With sforzo, we have an S at the beginning of a word once again, and we might recognize the word without the S as looking like the noun forza. In fact, forza vs sforzo can cause confusion for non-native speakers of Italian, because they are both about strength, in a way.


Noun forms

In the popular detective series on Yabla, Imma Tatarannni is trying to get some information from the young woman whose boyfriend was murdered. She uses the noun sforzo as she talks to Milena. 

Allora, Milena, ascoltami. Ora tu devi fare un piccolo sforzo, va bene?

So, Milena, listen to me. Now, you have to make a little effort, all right?

Captions 23-24, Imma Tataranni Sostituto procuratore S1 EP2 Come piante fra sassi - Part 16

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We have translated Imma's use of sforzo with "to make an effort" but we might more likely say, "Now you have to try a bit harder." "Now you have to really try."


The prefix S

We have seen that an S at the beginning of an existing word will often change it to an opposite meaning, but it can also reinforce it, and that is basically what is happening in the example above (although this is even clearer when looking at the verb forms forzare and sforzare  as we do below).


When you make an effort, you use some reserves of strength. The noun la forza is "the strength" or "the force" (easy cognate!). It's actually a very popular word, so see our lesson all about forza. It's a great noun to know because it's used so much, especially in conversation. 


Sometimes it's hard to remember that lo sforzo is a masculine noun and la forza is a feminine noun so let's keep in mind that lo sforzo is "the effort," and la forza is "the strength."  


The noun la forza is easy to understand, as it is a cognate of "the force," but is often translated as "the strength."


One example of this noun is the subtitle of a popular biopic about Adriano Olivetti, the man behind the well-known Olivetti typewriter. Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno (the strength of a dream).


Verb forms

Both lo sforzo and la forza are associated with verbs: sforzare and  forzare. Sometimes these two verbs mean the same thing, but sometimes we need to distinguish them and that's where it can get tricky. Which to use?

E mi prometti di stare tranquilla, di riposarti e di non sforzare il piede?

And promise me you'll stay calm, rest and not strain your foot?

Captions 1-2, Sposami EP 3 - Part 2

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In this case, we're talking about putting too much pressure on the injured foot. Some people might use the verb forzare to mean the exact same thing, as sometimes forzare means going too far.


In the following example, sforzare is used reflexively to mean "to make an effort," "to try hard."

Piggeldy si sforzò di camminare come si deve.

Piggeldy made an effort to walk properly.

Caption 14, Piggeldy e Federico Il cielo

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Sometimes forzare means "to use force" as implied in the following example.

Eh, qualcuno ha forzato i cancelli del canile comunale, sono scappati tutti i cani,

Uh, someone pried open the gates of the town dog pound, all the dogs escaped,

Captions 68-69, Il Commissario Manara S1EP8 - Morte di un buttero - Part 3

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Of course, as with many verbs, the past participle of forzare  may be used as an adjective, and often is. Sforzare, on the other hand, isn't commonly used this way.

La prima settimana di libertà dopo mesi di confino forzato!

The first week of freedom after months of forced confinement!

Caption 26, Il Commissario Manara S1EP6 - Reazione a Catena - Part 1

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When your car gets towed from a no-parking zone, in Italy, it's often called rimozione forzata. This is because they will remove the car without having to ask you. You want to avoid parking in these areas, so these might be a good couple of words to know! To see what these signs look like, here's a link


As to when to use one or the other verb, don't worry about it too much, as sometimes it depends on personal preference.  It's more important to remember about the noun, as we have mentioned above. Also, keep your ears open to notice which word people use in various situations. 


P.S. The use of S as a sort of prefix in Italian comes from the Latin prefix "ex!"
P.P.S. Sforza (with an "a" at the end) is not a noun, at least not a normal, common noun. It is used as a proper noun — as a family name, and in particular, it was the name of a Milanese ruling family in the Renaissance, and a power name at that. 



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Seguire, proseguire, and inseguire

In a previous lesson we talked about the verb seguire (to follow). Here are two other words that have the same root and are related, but mean something else: Proseguire and inseguire.


Proseguire (to continue)

In Italian, we can use the verb continuare, an easy cognate, but sometimes it's nice to change. Proseguire is a verb you will hear a lot, especially when someone is giving you directions. 

Come posso arrivare alla spiaggia più vicina? Guarda, se proseguite  sulla strada che fat' [sic] stavate facendo...

How can I reach the closest beach? Look, if you continue on the road you tak [sic] were taking...

Captions 17-18, Una gita al lago - Part 1

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Il nostro viaggio prosegue in Piemonte,

Our journey continues in Piedmont,

Caption 7, Meraviglie EP. 5 - Part 4

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You might ask, "Is there a difference between continuare and proseguire?" Well, much of the time they are interchangeable, but sometimes continuare can imply that you keep doing the same thing. 

Continuo a non capire (I still don't understand).


But with proseguire, you continue on, you advance, you proceed. Think of an arrow in one direction. 

Prosegua pure, prego.

Go ahead and continue, please.

Caption 35, PsicoVip La lavatrice - Ep 23

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We could also have translated this with the verb "to proceed."


There is a noun form of this word: il proseguo.

...questa è diventata una, una realtà e sicuramente, eh, anche per il proseguo...

...this has become a, a reality and surely, uh, also for the aftermath...

Caption 40, Calcio Intervista con il Prof. Cravero

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When you are saying goodbye to someone, instead of saying  buona giornata or buona serata, you might say, buon proseguimento if you know that whomever you are saying goodbye to is off to do something else, not just going home.

Buon proseguimento (I wish you well in whatever you do next).


Per il telegiornale oggi è tutto, io vi auguro un buon proseguimento  di giornata.

That's all for the newscast for today. I wish you a good rest of the day.

Captions 56-57, Anna e Marika in TG Yabla Italia e Meteo - Part 4

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Inseguire (to chase, to pursue)

Allora, il ragioniere, terrorizzato, scappa verso il salone, ma Menicucci lo insegue e gli spara una seconda volta.

So the accountant, terrified, runs towards the living room, but Menicucci chases him down and shoots him a second time.

Captions 51-52, Provaci ancora prof! S2EP1 - La finestra sulla scuola - Part 23

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We can also use the word "to follow" as a translation, but the intention changes from seguire.


We have a noun associated with this word, too: l'inseguimento (the chase, the pursuit).

Ma i bolidi sfreccianti verso Parma sembrano sfidare il nostro inseguimento celeste.

But the race cars speeding towards Parma seem to defy our airborne pursuit.

Captions 9-10, La Mille Miglia del passato per vivere quella di oggi - Part 2

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Let's add one more word!

Susseguirsi (to follow one another in succession)


We have inserted this verb with its reflexive ending, which is actually a reciprocal form, and is used as a noun in our example, something that's quite common.

Ora è il turno della parola: tempo, con la quale indichiamo il susseguirsi dei minuti, delle ore, dei giorni.

Now, it's time for the word "tempo," with which we indicate the passing of minutes, hours, days.

Captions 46-47, Marika spiega Parole con più significati - Part 1

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We can visualize the seconds following one another on a clock... We can talk about un susseguirsi di eventi (a chain of events or a series of events).


For more on the reflexive versus reciprocal verbs, see this video, presented by Marika. 

For a lesson in English that explains the reciprocal form of verbs, see this lesson


We hope we haven't filled your brain with words that are too similar. Please work on each one separately if you if that works best for you!


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Ascoltare vs sentire

Just as we have two separate words in English for when we use our ears — "to listen" and "to hear" — we have them in Italian, too. There are a few things to know about the two verbs we use: ascoltare and sentire.  On a very basic level, ascoltare (to listen) is more active than sentire (to hear).

E Lei non si è messa dietro la porta ad ascoltare?

And you didn't get behind the door to listen in?

Caption 39, Il Commissario Manara S2EP6 - Sotto tiro - Part 5

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Ama sentire il rumore dei suoi passi nei corridoi semideserti,

He loves to hear the noise of his steps in the semi-deserted corridors,

Caption 59, Fulvio Benelli Crimine Infinito, romanzo - Part 3

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Ascoltare is a transitive verb, unlike "to listen," which usually needs the preposition "to."

Signore e signori, è con grande piacere che ascoltiamo la prossima canzone.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great pleasure that we will listen to  the next song.

Caption 1, Volare - La grande storia di Domenico Modugno Ep. 2 - Part 23

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We can just say ascolta (listen)! or ascoltate (listen [pl])! But we often use an object pronoun, too, as in the following example. Note that we sometimes attach the object pronoun and end up with one word. This can happen with the informal version of the imperative. As you will see, the polite form is different.

Allora, ascoltami bene. Tu non c'hai la mamma, stai qua a fare la cameriera a tutti, qualcuno te le dà pure...

Then, listen to me carefully. You don't have a mother, you're here being a maid to everyone, someone even beats you up...

Captions 5-7, Imma Tataranni Sostituto procuratore S1 EP2 Come piante fra sassi - Part 4

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If I answer that command, to say, for example, "I am listening to you," then I put the object pronoun first, and it's separate.

Ti ascolto.

I'm listening [to you].

Caption 31, Il Commissario Manara S1EP3 - Rapsodia in Blu - Part 9

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When we use the polite form of address, we can't attach the personal pronoun to the verb.

Manara, mi ascolti bene.

Manara, listen to me carefully.

Caption 23, Il Commissario Manara S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto - Part 8

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We can listen to a person, but we can also listen to sounds, to music, to the radio.

Era mattina presto e ascoltavo la radio.

It was early morning, and I was listening to the radio.

Caption 3, Volare - La grande storia di Domenico Modugno Ep. 2 - Part 4

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We also have the noun form, l'ascolto. We use it with verbs such as dare (to give) or prestare (to lend).


Mamma non mi vuole mandare al concerto. -Non se lo merita. Papà, non le dare ascolto.

Mom doesn't want to let me go to the concert. -She doesn't deserve it. Daddy, don't listen to her.

Captions 3-4, Imma Tataranni Sostituto procuratore S1 EP2 Come piante fra sassi - Part 5

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Colleghi e cittadini... -Attenzione, attenzione, prestatemi ascolto.

Colleagues and citizens... -Hear ye, hear ye, lend me your ear.

Captions 62-63, Volare - La grande storia di Domenico Modugno Ep. 1 - Part 15

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We have already mentioned that sentire is more of a passive verb than ascoltare. It corresponds to the verb "to hear." But that's not all! Sentire has to do with the senses, and the sense of hearing — l'udito — is one of them. But sentire is also used for the sense of smell, the sense of touch, and even the sense of taste sometimes. 


Sentire can be used to get someone's attention, for example, in a restaurant when you want to call the waiter or waitress. Although literally, it's "Hear [me]," it's a very common way to say, "Excuse me."

Senta, mi sa dire che ore sono adesso?

Excuse me, can you tell me what time it is now?

Caption 11, Barzellette L'asino che dà l'ora

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In the first instance of the man wanting to know the time in the video, he uses mi scusi (excuse me).

Mi scusi, buon uomo. Mi sa dire l'ora, per favore?

Pardon me, my good man. Can you tell me the time, please?

Captions 1-2, Barzellette L'asino che dà l'ora

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Senta is a different way of saying the same thing, even though it really means "to hear." 


In the following example, on the other hand, it's clear we're talking about hearing. 

Come dici? No, no, non ti sento.

What are you saying? No, no, I can't hear you.

Caption 57, Il Commissario Manara S1EP2 - Vendemmia tardiva - Part 5

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In the following example, we have translated sentire with "to hear," but, come to think of it, Eva might have been talking about not smelling the potatoes frying. Il risultato non cambia (the result is the same)!

Ferruccio, non sento friggere le patate.

Ferruccio, I don't hear any potatoes frying.

Caption 65, La Ladra EP. 6 - Nero di rabbia - Part 9

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So sentire presents problems that ascoltare does not. Another issue is that we use sentire very often in its reflexive form, sentirsi. In this case, it means "to feel."

Vi prego, mi sento male!

Please, I'm feeling ill.

Caption 17, La Ladra EP. 7 - Il piccolo ladro - Part 13

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There's a common expression with sentirsi plus some particles. It's used when you don't feel up to something, and more often than not is used in the negative.

Sì, lo so, ma io ancora non me la sento di affrontare questo argomento.

Yes, I know, but I don't feel up to facing this subject just yet.

Caption 7, La Ladra EP. 8 - Il momento giusto - Part 2

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Or it can be used in a question: Can you do this? Are you up to it?

Te la senti? and in the polite form:  Se la sente?


We have talked about both ascoltare and sentire in a previous lesson, with a different slant, so feel free to check it out! 


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Venire doesn't just mean "to come"

Venire is one of those verbs, like "get" in English, that is used in lots of ways, besides its general meaning of "to come." Let's look at some of the ways.

To cost

When you are shopping at the outdoor market, for example, and want to know the price, you might think of saying:

Quanto costa (how much does it cost)?

It's a fine cognate, easy to remember. But if you want to sound more like a local, you might say:

Quanto viene (how much does it come to)?

or if they are pomodori (tomatoes), for example,

Quanto vengono (how much do they come to)?



To turn out, to come out

When you succeeded (or not) in doing something, such as jumping over a hurdle, making a drawing, making a special dish, you can use venire. You can say, for instance:

Questo dolce mi è venuto bene (I did a good job on this dessert. It came out well).

We can say it in a neutral way, leaving out the indirect personal pronoun:

È venuto bene (it came out nicely)

Or we can say it in a more personal way:

Ti è venuto bene (you had success), mi è venuto bene (I had success).


Instead of saying sono stata brava (I did a good job), where the accent is on me, I turn the phrase around a bit, and say mi è venuto bene (it came out well for me). There is a little less ego involved, if we want to look at it that way. We're not taking all the credit. It might have been chance.

A fun expression

In a recent segment of the movie Dafne, the father is thinking of planting a vegetable garden. He's probably never done it before. He says:

Potrei fare l'orto, come viene viene (I could plant a vegetable garden, however it turns out).


Literally, it's "It turns out the way it turns out."


Venire in place of essere (to be)

We have mentioned this in another lesson. The verb venire, as well as the verb andare, is used to make a kind of passive form. Since that lesson is long and involved, we'll just cite the part about venire here:

Venire (to come) and andare (to go) 

There is a verb pair that Italians use to form the passive voice, more often than you might think: venire (to come) and andare (to go). These have a particular feeling and purpose. We could look at these verbs as more of an active-type passive tense (although perhaps that's an oxymoron). If you think of times when we use "get" instead of "to be" in passive sentences, it might make more sense. We often use venire when we're talking about how things are done, or things that are done on a continuing basis, and we use andare when we're talking about things that have to get done. 

If I am telling you the rules of how candidates are chosen, for example, or how they get chosen, I might use venire (to come). 


Active: Il presidente sceglie il vicepresidente. The president chooses the vice-president.

Passive: Il vicepresidente viene scelto dal presidente. The vice-president gets chosen by the president.


In Italia il caffè viene servito in tazzine di queste dimensioni.

In Italy, coffee is served in demitasses that are this size.

Caption 15, Adriano Il caffè

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Venire used as "to remember," "to come to mind"

Non mi viene. -Va bene.

It doesn't come to mind. -All right.

Caption 68, Sposami EP 3 - Part 4

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We can also say this as we do in English:

Non mi viene in mente (it doesn't come to mind)


But we often leave out the "in mente" part, especially if there is a direct object, like for example il nome "the name."

Non mi viene il nome (I can't remember the name, I can't think of the name). 


We hope this lesson has given you some more tools to improve your Italian.  Keep on learning!

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Getting personal with the reflexive

This is the continuation of the lesson about the basics of reflexive verbs.

With a true reflexive verb, you need the reflexive to make yourself understood properly, but when it's not a direct reflexive, you can also leave it out (usually) and still get your meaning across. Check out the rules for this in the above-mentioned lesson.

Let's say I want to watch a movie on TV tonight. It would be common to say:

Mi guarderò un bel film stasera (I'm going to watch a nice movie tonight). It's not directly reflexive, because we have "the film" as a direct object (it's not even a body part!) but the sentence is constructed the same way as a reflexive one, and has that personal feel to it (it's all about me!).



If it were truly reflexive, I would be looking at myself in the mirror instead of the movie: guardarsi  (to look at oneself)

Mi guardo allo specchio (I look at myself in the mirror). 


I could also just as well say (and it would be correct):

Guarderò un bel film stasera. (I'm going to watch a nice movie tonight).


Without the added pronoun, the sentence is more neutral, less personal, and there's less emphasis on it being about me. But it's perfectly fine. And whether a verb is directly or indirectly reflexive is not going to change our lives a whole lot. It's just something you might wonder about. The important thing is to know how to use reflexive verbs and to get used to hearing (and understanding) them.


Here are a few more everyday examples that we think of as being reflexive, but which also contain a direct object. What's important to note is that in English, we use a possessive pronoun (I wash my hands) after a transitive verb. Italian uses a reflexive pronoun to indicate the person, but it goes together with the verb, not the noun.  The following examples are typical, and so it would be wise to practice them in different conjugations.

Vado a lavarmi i denti  (I'm going to brush my teeth).


Here we have the conjugated verb andare before lavare (with the preposition a [to]), so lavare is in the infinitive with the appropriate reflexive pronoun (mi [to me]) attached to it.


Ci laviamo le mani prima di mangiare (We wash our hands before eating).


Here we used ci as the reflexive pronoun. Let's not forget that ci has a lot of uses, which you can read about in other lessons


Mi metto una maglia, fa freschino (I'll put a sweater on. It's chilly).


Mettere is an interesting verb (with an interesting reflexive version). Check out what Marika has to say about it. 

Mettere vuol dire collocare, posizionare un oggetto in un posto specifico.

"To put" means "to situate," "to position" an object in a specific place.

Captions 7-8, Marika spiega Il Verbo Mettere - Part 1

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Here is a partial list of some other useful, everyday reflexive verbs: 

addormentarsi (to fall asleep)

innamorarsi (to fall in love)

ammalarsi (to fall ill)

muoversi (to move)

spostarsi (to shift, to move)


These verbs are intransitive in English, they don't have anything to do with specific body parts, and they aren't used in a reflexive way in English. So they may be tricky to immediately grasp.


See if this process can help you:

Let's take the example of spostarsi.

Does the verb have a non-reflexive form? Let's see: spostare. I look it up. spostare.

Hint: A dictionary will usually give you the reflexive form of the verb, too, if it exists. Just keep looking down the list of definitions or translations. 

OK, so spostare exists in a non-reflexive (transitive) form. 

La sposto subito.

I'll move it right away.

Caption 46, Sei mai stata sulla luna? film - Part 3

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The reflexive form means, "I move myself." In English we just say "I move." We just need to remember that we need the reflexive in Italian to say that. But if I visualize it, I can see myself moving myself over a bit, so someone can fit into a space, for instance. 


Aside: The person ready to move his car in the previous example could have used the reflexive, especially if he had been in the car at the time. He could have said, Mi sposto subito (I'll move (out of the way) right away).

I can also look up the verb spostarsi on the Yabla videos page:

Basta semplicemente spostarsi di qualche metro.

All one has to do is simply move a few meters.

Caption 57, Meraviglie EP. 6 - Part 12

 Play Caption


The cool thing about the search window is that you can use whatever conjugation you want. You may or may not get a hit, but a pop-down menu will give you suggestions as to what's available. Sometimes it's handy to begin with the infinitive, then some conjugations. Most of these hits are real-life usages that help give you an idea of how a verb is used.  


So my next move is to conjugate the reflexive verb. Creating a sentence that makes sense might be more fun than a simple conjugation. Go ahead and consult the conjugation chart supplied with verbs in WordReference: spostarsi

Mi sposto (I'll move over).

Ti puoi spostare (Could you move over)?

Lui non si sposta (he won't move over)!


Looking up sposto also reveals the "remote" past tense of spostarespostò (the third person singular passato remoto):

Eh, tant'è vero che poi, pensa Marika, che il centro politico della città si spostò dai Fori Romani ai Fori Imperiali.

Yeah, so much so, that then, just think, Marika, the political center of the city moved from the Roman Forums to the Imperial Forums.

Captions 38-39, Marika e Daniela Il Foro Romano

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Learning suggestion:

Try to put your daily routine into words, using the dictionary (and the afore-mentioned online resources) if necessary. Maybe your routine goes something like this:


Ti svegli alle 6 di mattina ma ti addormenti di nuovo e quindi ti alzi alle sei e mezza. Ti fai un buon caffè e poi ti fai la docciati lavi i denti, e ti vesti. Se fa freddo ti metti una giacca prima di uscire.* Nascondi la chiave sotto lo zerbino. 

You wake up at 6 in the morning, but you fall asleep again so you get up at 6:30. You make yourself a nice cup of coffee and then you take a showeryou brush your teeth and you get dressed. If it’s cold, you put on a jacket before going out. You hide the key under the doormat. 


Try using different conjugations to practice them.

*More about what to wear in Marika spiega: L'abbigliamento - Part 1 of 2.

In this lesson, we used simple tenses. When we use the passato prossimo (constructed like the present perfect), we need more information, such as the fact that we need to use essere rather than avere! But we'll save this for another lesson. 


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The basics of reflexive verbs

You've probably heard about a special kind of verb found in Italian: the reflexive verb — il verbo riflessivo. It's a kind of verb that in its direct or indirect form pervades the Italian language. It's hard to get a sentence out without using one! The basic premise is that with a reflexive verb, the subject and the direct object are the same. See these video lessons about the reflexive.  Since English works differently, the Italian reflexive verb can be tricky to understand, translate, and use. Let's look at the components.

From transitive verb to reflexive

Often, a reflexive verb starts out as a transitive verb, such as lavare (to wash). 

On my list of things to do, one item might be:

Lavare la macchina (wash the car).



The action is "to wash" and the direct object is la macchina (the car). The car can't wash itself. We need a subject. Who washes the car in the family?

Io lavo la macchina (I wash the car).

Pietro lava la macchina (Pietro washes the car).


But in a reflexive verb, the subject and the object are the same. They coincide. In English we might say something like, I'll go and get washed up. We use "get." In Italian, we use the reflexive form of a verb. In the infinitive, we join the reflexive pronoun si to verb, leaving out the final e , and we use a detached reflexive pronoun when we conjugate the verb. 

From the transitive verb lavare, we obtain lavarsi (to wash [oneself]).


Recognizing a reflexive verb

One way we can recognize a reflexive verb is by the tell-tale si at the end of the infinitive form,* in this case, lavarsi. The second way to detect a direct reflexive verb, is in being able to replace the reflexive pronoun with sé stesso (oneself). 

Let's make a checklist for the reflexive verb lavarsi.

1) It has the reflexive pronoun si at the end in the infinitive. √

2) I can say lavo me stesso/a (I wash myself). √


Here are some other common direct reflexive verbs. Do they pass the test?

lavarsi (to wash [oneself])

alzarsi (to get up)

vestirsi (to get dressed)

preocuparsi (to worry)

chiedersi (to wonder)

spogliarsi (to get undressed)

sedersi (to sit down)

chiamarsi (to be named)


See this lesson about reflexive verbs. It takes you through the conjugations and discusses transitive vs reflexive verbs in terms of meaning. Once you have grasped the basic reflexive verb and how to use it, let's move on to a slightly murkier version.  


Indirect reflexives (they work in a similar way to direct reflexives)


Something as basic as washing your face needs some understanding of the reflexive in Italian. We looked at lavarsi. That's a whole-body experience. But if we start looking at body parts, we still use the reflexive, even though it's indirect.


Instead of saying, "I wash my face," using a possessive pronoun as we do in English, Italians use the logic, "Hey, of course, it's my face on my body — I don't need to say whose face it is." So they use the reflexive to refer to the person, but add on "the face." 

Mi lavo la faccia (I wash my face).


So there is a direct object in the sentence that doesn't coincide exactly with the subject (you are not your face), but it's still part of you and so we can say it's somewhat reflexive. It's indirectly reflexive. In grammatical terms, it's also pronominal, because we use the (reflexive) pronoun with the verb.


*Caveat: The pronoun si can and does have additional functions, but if the verb is reflexive, this si will be there in the infinitive, and we can look up the reflexive verb in the dictionary. 

Practically Speaking

Try using the above-mentioned reflexive formula (with lavare) for other body parts. Start with yourself, and then go on to other people like your brother, or to keep it simpler, use someone's name. 

i capelli (the hair)

i denti (the teeth)

i piedi (the feet)

le mani (the hands)



Giulia si lava i capelli una volta alla settimana (Giulia washes her hair once a week).

Io mi lavo i capelli tutti giorni (I wash my hair every day).

Vado a lavarmi le mani (I'm going to wash my hands).


Fare (to make, to do) gets involved.

Let's take the indirect reflexive one step further. Sometimes instead of using a verb form like "to shower," we'll use the noun. Sometimes there isn't an adequate, specific verb to use. In English, we take a shower. Italian uses fare to mean "to make," "to do," and "to take." And since taking a shower is usually a very personal activity, having to do with one's body, we use the reflexive form of fare plus the noun la doccia (the shower) to say this. We could even leave out the reflexive (since there is a direct object - doccia:

Faccio una doccia (I take a shower, I'm going to take a shower).


It is more common, however, to personalize it, to emphasize the person involved. Italians would normally say:

Mi faccio la doccia (I'm going to take a shower).

Mi faccio una doccia (I'm going to take a shower).

Vai a farti la doccia (Go take a shower).


And just as easily, I can ask you if you are going to take a shower.

Ti fai la doccia (are you going to take a shower)?


And if we speak in the third person with a modal verb, we'll see that the infinitive of fare, in this case, has all the trappings of a reflexive verb, that tell-tale si at the end of the infinitive:

Pietro vuole farsi la doccia (Pietro wants to take a shower).


Mi faccio la doccia alle sette e mezza.

I take a shower at half past seven [seven and a half].

Caption 7, Marika spiega - L'orologio

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There is another verb we use when talking about our bodies. We have vestirsi (to get dressed) but Italians also use an indirect reflexive to mean "to wear," or, to use the basic translation of mettere — "to put on." The verb is mettersi [qualcosa] (to wear something). This verb is discussed in the lesson about wearing clothes in Italian

Cosa mi metto stasera per andare alla festa (what am I going to wear tonight to go to the party)?


In the next lesson, we'll look at ways we use the indirect reflexive to be more expressive. 

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Exercises using mancare

Let's try something a bit different this week. In a previous lesson, we went back to the basics on the verb mancare, that tricky verb that means to lack, to miss. Review the lesson if you need to.



Let's try translating some everyday phrases you might hear or want to say in Italian. You'll find the answers at the bottom of the page, but try not to cheat unless you need to. The important thing here is to get the idea, not to necessarily be precise about all the words. Use mancare in your Italian translation, and just get the gist of things when translating from Italian to English.


1) There's no salt!

2) It's ten to eight. (time)

3) Mancano ancora delle persone  — the meeting is about to start.

4) Mi manca l'aria.

5) Manco dall'America da quattro anni.

6) I missed my flight [this one might be tricky].

7) Siamo quasi arrivati... we're almost there.

8) Manca solo Paolo. Lo aspettiamo?


In the following example, the same structure we talked about in this lesson presents itself in the sentence about style and groove. Manca il tuo stile. So something is lacking — his groove, something is missing. Manca.


But if we look further on, where it says: Ci manchi, it's basically the same thing, but it's more personal so we add the indirect personal pronoun ci (or any other one). So actually, the Italian is consistent in this. It's English that doesn't match the Italian. When it gets personal, we translate it with the action verb "to miss." Ci manchi could be translated literally as, "You are missing from our lives."  You're missing and I feel it. Manchi dalla mia vita. Manchi a me. Mi manchi.  I miss you.


La musica ti vuole. Manca il tuo groove, manca il tuo stile. Io ti voglio. -Ci manchi, ci manchi tantissimo. Incredibile. Dove, dove, dove sei finito?

Music wants you. Your groove is missing, your style is missing. I want you. -We miss you, we miss you so much. Incredible. Where, where, where have you gone to?

Captions 66-69, Chi m'ha visto film - Part 23

 Play Caption


So let's add a couple more items to our list of sentences to look at:

8) I haven't seen my parents in years. I miss them.

9) Ti manco? (I am away from home on a business trip and wonder if my wife feels my absence, so I ask her this question).


Here are some possible answers. Let us know if this helps in understanding how to talk about things that are missing, absent, or lacking, and also about getting personal and missing someone, feeling someone's absence (in which case we use indirect personal pronouns like mi, ci,  ti, etc.  Please see this lesson, too, for more explanations and examples.


1) There's no salt! Manca il sale.

2) It's ten to eight. (time) Mancano dieci minuti alle otto.

3) Mancano ancora delle persone. (the meeting is about to start). Some people are still missing.

4) Mi manca l'aria I can't breathe

5) Manco dall'America da quattro anni. I haven't been back to the States for four years.

6) I missed my flight (this one might be tricky).  Ho mancato il volo.

7) Siamo quasi arrivati... we're almost there.  Manca poco.

8) I haven't seen my parents in years. I miss them. Mi mancano.  Mi mancano i miei genitori.

9) Ti manco? (I am away from home on a business trip and wonder if my wife feels my absence, so I ask this question). Do you miss me?


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Managing with farcela

There's a common Italian pronominal verb you'll be glad to have in your toolbox. It's used a lot in conversation, as an expression, but understanding how it works can be a little tricky. But first...

What's a pronominal verb?

Pronominale (pronominal) means “relating to or playing the part of a pronoun.” In Italian, un verbo pronominale (a pronominal verb) is one that has a special meaning when used together with one or two particular pronominal particelle (particles). Particelle or particles are those tiny, usually, 2-letter pronouns we find in Italian, such as ci, ne, ne, la.


The pronominal verb of the day: farcela (to manage to do something)



Let's unpack this pronominal verb. In the infinitive, it's farcela. 

The verb contained in this pronominal verb is fare = to make, to do.

Alessia può farcela da sola.

Alessia can manage on her own.

Caption 57, La Ladra Ep. 5 - Chi la fa l'aspetti - Part 5

 Play Caption


Usually in a pronominal verb, one of the pronouns is an indirect pronoun, In this case, it's ce. Ce means the same thing as ci, (to it/him/her," "at it/him/her," "about it.") but when there is a direct object with it, ci changes to ce! As we have mentioned in previous lessons, the particle ci can be combined with a second pronoun particle, such as -la or -ne,  but in that case, it becomes ce. Therefore we have, -cela, -cene; NOT -cila, -cine.

To make things even more complicated, ci, and consequently, ce, can mean any number of things. The basic thing to remember is that ci or ce usually represents a preposition + complement. Learn more about ci

The second pronoun in the expression farcela is la. This is a direct object pronoun meaning "it." It's always used in the feminine — we could say la stands for la cosa, a feminine noun.


In the previous example, farcela stands on its own to mean "to manage." It's also possible to add another verb, so as to mean, "to manage to do something."


Ehm, pensa di farcela a recuperare le chiavi della mia auto?

Uh, do you think you can manage to retrieve the keys of my car?

Caption 35, Psicovip Il tombino - Ep 2

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In both of our previous examples, the conjugated verb (potere = to be able to, pensare = to think) precedes the pronominal verb, resulting in the pronominal verb being in the infinitive. 

Posso farcela (I can manage it).

Penso di farcela (I think I can manage it).


Learning the infinitive is a good starting point, as it's fairly straightforward. Use the common verbs in their conjugated forms to "push" the pronominal verb over into the infinitive. 


Conjugating farcela

Farcela is the infinitive of the pronominal verb, and as we have seen above, sometimes it can stay that way. More often than not, however, it is conjugated, so it's a good idea to have a few expressions memorized and ready to use. As you can see from the following example, it can be used when you're falling behind.


Piano, piano, piano. Piano, cagnozzo! Non ce la faccio, mi fai cadere.

Slow down, slow down, slow down. Slow down, dear little dog! I can't keep up, you'll make me fall.

Captions 1-2, Il Commissario Manara S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto - Part 1

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Eh, basta, croce. Non ce la faccio più.

Uh, that's it, forget it. I can't go on.

Caption 17, Chi m'ha visto film - Part 6

 Play Caption


Some other common conjugations:

Ce la fai? (Can you manage it?)
Non ce la fa. (He/she can't manage it, He/she can't make it).
Ce la faremo? (Are we going to make it?)
Ce l'ho fatta! (I did it, I made it).


If we want to add another verb, we use the preposition a (to) before the (second) verb, which will be in the infinitive (arrivare, mangiare, finire). Here are a few examples:


Ce la faremo ad arrivare in tempo? (Are we going to manage to arrive in time?/Are we going to make it in time?)
Ce la fai a mangiare tutto? (Can you manage to eat it all?)
Ce l'ha fatta a finire il progetto? (Did he/she manage to finish the project?)


As you can see, this kind of sentence usually starts with ce la, unless it's in the negative, in which we start with non followed by ce la + the conjugated verb fare.


A few things to keep in mind:


1) Fare is a verb that takes avere (not essere) in perfect tenses. In perfect tenses, the particle la will become l'  because it will be attached to the conjugated form of avere, which will have a vowel sound at the beginning (even though written with an h: ho, hai, ha, abbiamo, avete, hanno). So when you just hear it, you might not perceive it. Lookking at Italian captions or doing Scribe can help with this.


2) One more tricky thing to remember when using perfect tenses:


You might be tempted to say ce l'ho fatto. But that would be wrong. Why? It's about verb-object agreement. 


The rule is that when the object pronoun comes before the verb (in this case, la before ho), then the past participle of the verb will agree with the object (la), not the subject (in this case io [I]). 


So it has to be Ce l'ho fatta.


It is complicated, so be patient with yourself. Even those of us who have been living in Italy for years still have doubts sometimes, when conjugating these pesky pronominal verbs. Over time, the grammar will start making a little more sense to you and you will say, "Ah ha!" Finalmente, ce l'ho fatta a capire! (I finally managed to understand). Or, simply, Finalmente, ce l'ho fatta!



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Verb-Object Agreement in the Passato Prossimo

In most languages, there are situations in which two different sets of rules can apply. Sometimes it's because there are simply two valid ways of saying something. For instance, in English we can say:

There is none.

There isn't any.

They both mean the same thing and they are both correct. How to choose?



Modal verb + infinitive + object pronoun(s)


In Italian, a case in point is when we have a modal verb, a verb in the infinitive, and a pronoun. I can attach the pronoun to the verb or I can separate it and change the word order. It's a matter of personal choice.

Vado a cercarlo.

Lo vado a cercare.

Non posso farlo.

No lo posso fare.


Evolution in speech over time

Some rules change over time because the rule gets broken so many times that it becomes acceptable to break it. One example of this in English is using "who" instead of "whom" when it's an object. In some cases we still use it, and it is absolutely correct, but in general conversation, people might look at you strangely or think you are a snob. We still use it when we have a preposition before it, as in business letters, for instance: "To whom it may concern."

In a recent episode of Provaci ancora prof!, there's another use that has become less common in everyday speech, but is nevertheless correct. This brand of agreement is what we call facoltativo (optional). The conversation between Renzo and Camilla seems like the perfect opportunity to shine a light on it.


Lo sai? -Lo so, ti ho vista.

You know? -I know. I saw you.

-Mi hai vista? -Sì, ti ho vista.

-You saw me? -Yes, I saw you.

Ero venuto lì per cercarti e ti ho vista.

I went there to look for you, and I saw you.

Captions 5-7, Provaci ancora prof! - S1E4 - La mia compagna di banco

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We're talking about the transitive verb vedere, which takes the auxiliary verb avere. The sentences are in the passato prossimo, thus we use the past participle of vedere. If we look at a conjugation chart, we will see that visto is the past participle, not vista! Vista is nowhere to be seen.

If you click on "play caption," you will hear that Renzo (the husband) is talking to his wife Camilla and then she answers. So what's the story with vista?

There's a rule that if the verb is in the passato prossimo, the past participle can agree in gender and number with the direct object pronoun. Read more about this (in Italian). 

So Renzo says Ti ho vista. Camilla is the direct object of vedere. If the roles were reversed, Camilla would say: T'ho visto because the pronoun would correspond to a male, her husband. This doesn't apply only to people. The pronoun might refer to a thing, but all nouns have gender in Italian.


A few more examples:

Ho visto le ragazze – Le ho viste = I have seen the girls – I have seen them
Ho sentito gli spari – Li ho sentiti = I have heard the shots – I have heard them


We should mention that Camilla is a professoressa of Italian and often plays sophisticated word games with her husband, so it makes sense for them to use correct Italian, and in fact, they sometimes get competitive about it. But normal people in everyday life often do not always make this choice and it's optional, so don't worry about it too much, but you might hear it. Still, it's nice to recognize it, right? And when you use it, you will feel proud and in the know.

In the same conversation, Renzo talks about seeing Camilla with Gaetano, the chief of police.


Non negare, vi ho visti.

Don't deny it, I saw you.

Caption 11, Provaci ancora prof! - S1E4 - La mia compagna di banco

 Play Caption


He could have said Vi ho visto, just as he could have said T'ho visto in the previous example.

As you watch Yabla videos, you will undoubtedly come across more examples of this construction. Feel free to point them out in the comments section.  

Meanwhile, check out these examples from a Yabla original video: 

Devo dire la verità, che io adoro la panzanella

I have to tell you the truth. I love panzanella

e sono una toscana DOC [di origine controllata],

and I'm a DOC [true] Tuscan,

ma non l'ho mai fatta!

but I have never made it.

Captions 12-14, In cucina con Arianna - la panzanella

 Play Caption


And another example, with another verb, from the same cooking video with Arianna:


L'ho sempre mangiata molto volentieri,

I have always really enjoyed eating it [I have always eaten it willingly]...

Caption 15, In cucina con Arianna - la panzanella

 Play Caption



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Missing Someone in Italian

There are some verbs that are hard to use in Italian because they work differently from in English in terms of subjects and objects (who does what to whom?).


We have talked about piacere (to like) where things are really turned around. See the lesson: I like it - Mi piace. Another verb that can cause a whole lot of confusion in a similar way is mancare. There is already a lesson about this verb, a verb that is used in various ways. But right now, let's look at the verb when we use it to say something like "I miss you," or "Do you miss me?" It is very tricky because it often involves pronouns, and we all know that distinguishing between subject and object pronouns isn't always so easy.


In an episode of La Ladra, Lorenzo and Dante are talking about the fact that Dante misses Eva and Eva misses Dante.


Nel senso che anche [a] te manca mia madre?

Because you miss my mother, as well?

Mi sa che manchi anche a lei, eh.

I think she misses you, too, huh.

Captions 10-11, La Ladra - Ep.12 - Come ai vecchi tempi

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Let's put things in order here.

In English "to miss" is a transitive verb, and the definition we are talking about here is not even the first one. In WordReference, it is number 6!

to regret the absence or loss of:
[~ + object] I miss you all dreadfully.
[~ + verb-ing] He missed watching the African sunsets.

In Italian, we have to think of things a bit differently. The definition of mancare is "to be lacking in" or "to be missing." So we're close.

But in Italian, the verb mancare has to agree with the person who is being missed. Weird, right?

So if I am feeling your absence, I miss you. You are missing from my life.

Expressed in Italian,

Sento la tua mancanza. Mi manchi. (I feel your absence. You are missing from my life right now!)


Let's look at some practical examples. Keep in mind that in this context, mancare is intransitive, so we need a preposition before the person who is feeling the absence. When we use the name of a person, we need to add the preposition a (to), but the tricky thing is that when we're using pronouns, the preposition is often included in the indirect pronoun. Mi = a me  (to me), Ti = a te (to you).


Giovanni sente molto la mancanza di Anna. Lei sta studiando all'estero (Giovanni feels the absence of Anna. She is studying abroad). (She is missing from his life.)

A Giovanni manca Anna. Gli manca (Giovanni misses Anna. He misses her [he feels her absence]).

Gli stands for a lui (to him).


Non ti vedo da una vita. Mi manchi. (I haven't seen you in a long time. I miss you). (You are missing from my life)


Mi manca andare in ufficio tutti it giorni (I miss going to the office every day). (It's missing from my life.)


Now here, in the next example, who is being missed is in the plural: Parents. So the verb mancare is in the plural, too.


I miei genitori stanno a Roma. Io sto a Bologna. Mi mancano i miei genitori (My parents live in Rome. I live in Bologna. I miss my parents). (They are missing from my life.)


Ti mancano i tuoi genitori? So che stanno a New York (Do you miss your parents? I know they live in New York). (Are they missng from your life?)


You have to turn your mind around a bit to nail this, but with time and practice, you'll get it. And it's not something you want to get wrong. 


Here are some Yabla video examples of people using mancare when they miss someone or something. 


In this example, a woman is talking to her ex-husband about her new partner. She still misses her ex-husband and is telling him so.


A volte con Carlo è difficile,

Sometimes, Carlo is difficult,

ma non riesco a lasciarlo.

but I can't manage to leave him.

Anche se a volte mi manchi da morire.

Even if sometimes I miss you to death [like crazy].

Captions 6-8, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep. 1

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To be clearer, she could have said, Anche se a volte tu mi manchi da morire.


In this example, Manara is trying to get used to living in Tuscany, as opposed to Milan.


Qui da Lei sto benissimo, eh. -Ah, ah.

At your place, I'm really fine, you know. -Ah, ah.

-Però mi manca la città, il traffico, il rumore, capisci?

-But I miss the city, the traffic, the noise, you understand?

Captions 38-39, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP3 - Rapsodia in Blu

 Play Caption


Here's an example where someone is being interviewed. The question is formal, but the answer is very colloquial.


Capisco. Quindi adesso il suo amico Le manca?

I understand. So, now you miss your friend?

-E cazzo se mi manca, sì, sì.

-Sure as shit, I miss him, yes, yes.

Captions 39-40, Chi m'ha visto - film

 Play Caption


Here's an example where you really need to turn your mind around. Gli manco. I am missing from his (Luca's) life. He misses me.


Con Luca tutto bene?

Everything all right with Luca?

-Non vede l'ora di tornare. Gli manco.

-He can't wait to come back. He misses me.

Captions 33-34, La Ladra - EP. 8 - Il momento giusto

 Play Caption


When we go into the passato prossimo (present perfect tense structure), it's important to remember that in this context, we need the auxiliary verb essere (to be), not avere (to have).


Amore, quanto mi sei mancato!

Love, I've missed you so much!

-Sono tornato, ma non è cambiato niente.

-I'm back, but nothing has changed.

Captions 49-50, La Ladra - EP. 8 - Il momento giusto

 Play Caption


1) In this case, Eva is talking to her son, but what if she had been talking to her daughter?

2/3) Can you turn the first part into a question? You are asking the person if they missed you. Are you a male or a female? The ending of the past participle will change accordingly.




Think about all the people you miss, the people you can't get together with. A single person? An animal? A city? A country? Mancare will be in the third person singular. If it's parents, friends, animals, then it will be in the third person plural.

If you are writing to a couple, your parents, then you will want to conjugate mancare in the second person plural (mancate).


If someone misses you, then you are the one who gets conjugated. You are missing from someone's life. 


There are other ways to use the verb mancare, as you'll see if you look it up or do a Yabla search, but in this lesson, we wanted to isolate a particular situation. It's the trickiest one.


If you have trouble, let us know and we'll help. You'll want to get this right.


Extra credit:

1) Amore, quanto mi sei mancata! -Sono tornata, ma non è cambiato niente.

2) Amore, [quanto] ti sono mancato?

3) Amore, [quanto] ti sono mancata?



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Being Supportive in Italian by Staying Close By

When someone is having a hard time, we often try to be supportive. Or we can give someone some support. That's how we say it in English, but Italians say it a bit differently. They use more words.


In Italian, we are supportive by staying close to someone, we are by their side. We're there for them. 



Being supportive by staying close

So in the following exchange between Ugo and Nora, he is actually accusing her of not having been there for him, not having been supportive.


Non mi sei stata molto vicina in quel periodo, lo sai?

You weren't really by my side in that period, you know that?

Caption 19, Sposami - EP 2

 Play Caption


A less literal translation would be:

You weren't very supportive [of me] during that period, you know that?


You didn't give me much support during that period, you know that?


You weren't really there for me during that period, you know that? 


A little further on in the dialogue, there is a play on words because Nora goes on to accuse Ugo of having had the American woman (the one he was having an affair with) literally by his side — in bed!


E invece l'americana ti è stata vicina?

But the American was by your side?

Caption 25, Sposami - EP 2

 Play Caption


Sometimes the meaning is literal, so we need to be aware of the context. It can also be a mix of being physically nearby and being there for someone, being supportive.


How to use this expression

Now that we have looked at the meaning, we can look at how to use the expression. The formula is stare (to be, to stay) + vicino (close) + a (to) + qualcuno (someone). When we use pronouns, they can get attached to the verb, as in the following example.


Here are a few more examples:


Adriano sta male e io voglio stargli vicino.

Adriano is ill and I want to be near him.

Caption 2, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep.2 - Part 11

 Play Caption


The translation is pretty clear, but, depending on the intention of the speaker, it could also be:

 Adriano is ill and I want to be there for him.


Note that since there is a modal verb, in this case, volere (to want to), the verb stare will be in the infinitive and volere will be conjugated.


1) What about a version where the verb stare is separated from the pronoun?

2) What if it were Adriana, not Adriano?

3) What if you were talking directly to the person who is ill?


Sometimes the meaning is ambiguous

In the following example, the staying close is more physical, since Paola asks Adriano to hold her close, but she is also asking Adriano to be there for her, to give her some support because the entire conversation is about her problems and the fact that she feels alone. She uses the second person informal imperative of stare with the personal (indirect object) pronoun attached to it.


Senti, facciamo così, dormiamoci sopra.

Listen. Let's do this. We'll sleep on it.

Poi domani mattina sarai più lucida.

Then tomorrow morning, you will be more clear-headed.

-Tu stammi vicino, però. Stringimi.

-You stay close to me, though. Hold me tight.

Captions 32-35, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 14

 Play Caption


4) As an exercise, what if Paola were using the polite form of address? 


Attenzione: Let's avoid the temptation to use the suspiciously similar sopportare in this case, because it means "to bear," "to tolerate."


Ma non ce la facevo più a sopportare i suoi deliri.

But I couldn't bear to tolerate her ravings anymore.

Caption 63, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP12 - Le verità nascoste

 Play Caption


We hope this little lesson will help you understand the discussion Nora and Ugo have about their past in Sposami. And let's hope they can make up and move on!


1) Adriano sta male e gli voglio stare vicino.

2) Adriana sta male e io voglio starle vicino.

3) Tu stai male e io voglio starti vicino

3b) Tu stai male e ti voglio stare vicino.

4) Mi stia vicino, però. Mi stringa.



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