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Words and Phrases to Know in La Ladra

In this lesson, we are going to take one segment of an episode of a TV series we are offering on Yabla and explore some of the expressions and vocabulary that could do with a little explaining. Whether you are a Yabla Italian subscriber or not, you will want to be familiar with these words and expressions.



If we look at the word già, we see it primarily means "already."


Eh... già che ci sei, guarda che ora è.

Eh... while you're at it, look at what time it is.

Caption 17, Acqua in bocca - Rapimento e riscatto

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Già che ci sei is a very common expression, and it was translated with an equivalent English expression. If we want to be more word-for-word, another way to translate this could be:

Since you are already there, could you see what time it is?


But già is also used as reinforcement. It can mean "indeed," or "right," or even "yeah," when "yeah" is confirming something someone else said.


E così Lei è nata ad Atene.

So, you were born in Athens.

-Eh già, ma me ne sono andata appena adolescente.

-That's right, but I left as soon as I became a teenager.

Captions 1-2, La Ladra - EP.12 - Come ai vecchi tempi

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It can be preceded by eh, or ah, again, fillers or interjections.


Volevo dedicarmi un po' alla mia vera passione,

I wanted to devote myself a bit to my true passion,

fotografando l'Italia.

photographing Italy.

Ah, già, Lei è fotografa.

Ah, right, you are a photographer.

Captions 53-55, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep. 1

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Il soggetto

At a certain point, Eva is talking to a guy at the group home about the owner of the place they are renting from. He says:


Se lo hai conosciuto, avrai capito il soggetto.

If you have met him, you will have figured out the individual.

Caption 26, La Ladra - EP. 12 - Come ai vecchi tempi

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The guy Eva is talking to uses the noun soggetto. He means, "You have realized what kind of person/character you are dealing with." Well, in fact, soggetto is a great cognate, because it does often refer to a subject. And just think of the American TV series Criminal Minds where they use the term "unsub" (unidentified subject) to mean a criminal type they are looking for. 


1) Can you think of another way to say "Se lo hai conosciuto, avrai capito il soggetto" using a more modern and colloquial noun in place of soggetto?


Attenzione: When we want to say "Don't change the subject!" we do not use soggetto. We use argomento.

Non cambiare argomento!


If you watch movies on Yabla, they often include the titles and credits. In this case, il soggetto refers to the idea of the story or the story. In fact, the Taviani brothers, when pitching a film story to a producer, got this as a response.


"Se in tre frasi riuscite a dirmelo, funziona.

"If you can tell me in three sentences, it works.

Se non è in tre frasi, guardate, cambiate subito soggetto

If it's not in three sentences, look, change the story right away

perché vuol di' [dire] che non funziona".

because it means it doesn't work."

Captions 51-53, Fratelli Taviani - La passione e l'utopia

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We have learned that però means "however," "though," or "but." Most of the time it does.


Però un lato umano ce l'ha:

But he does have a human side:

è ancora innamoratissimo della defunta moglie.

He is still very much in love with his deceased wife.

Captions 27-28, La Ladra - EP.12 - Come ai vecchi tempi

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2) È ancora innamoratissimo della moglie. Can you put this in the negative? (He is no longer in love with his wife).


But it's also something people say to mean, "Wow!" When you find out some news that's perhaps a bit surprising or shocking, or you are impressed by something (one way or another), one reaction can be Ah, però!


Peccato che i parenti della defunta moglie

Too bad that the deceased wife's relatives

l'abbiano accusato di essersi intestato tutti i beni di famiglia.

accused him of having put all the family's assets in his name.

-Ah, però!


Captions 29-31, La Ladra - EP.12 - Come ai vecchi tempi

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You can even leave out Ah and just say Però!


È stata una delle esperienze più intense della mia vita.

It was one of the most intense experiences of my life.

Però! Vieni.

Wow! Come here.

Captions 5-6, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto

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In rotta


Siamo in rotta.

We're on the outs.

Caption 50, La Ladra - EP. 12 - Come ai vecchi tempi

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Rotta comes, in this case, from rottura (rupture), or from the verb rompere (to break). So another way to say this in Italian would be avere rotto i rapporti con qualcuno (to have broken off a relationship with someone). But most likely if you look for in rotta in a dictionary, it will be translated as "en route," since rotta also means "route!" So check out the context before deciding what you think something means.


Come si fa? 

We mention this expression because it uses the impersonal si, and it uses a different adverb than we would use in English to express the same question.

Cosa vuole, Gina, fosse per me quei bambini li difendere con le armi.

What do you want, Gina, if it were up to me to defend those children with weapons.

What do you want, Gina? If it were up to me, those kids, I'd defend them with weapons.


Cosa vuole, Gina, fosse per me quei bambini

What do you want, Gina? If it were up to me, those kids,

li difendere con le armi.

I'd defend them with weapons.

Ma come si fa? La legge è dalla parte del proprietario.

But what can we/one do? The law is on the side of the owner.

Captions 56-58, La Ladra - EP.12 - Come ai vecchi tempi

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3) Instead of using the impersonal — come si fa? — can you say something similar in the first person plural?


Of course, come si fa? also means "how does one do that?" and in this case come matches up with "how." But more often than not, this expression is used to mean "what can you (or one) do?" It's just something to be aware of and watch out for, especially since it's an expression people use a whole lot! Keep in mind that the impersonal can also be translated with the passive voice in English: What can be done?


If you like (or don't like) these lessons focused on one video or segment, please let us know



"Extra credit"

1) Se lo hai conosciuto, avrai capito il tipo.​

2) Non è più innamorato della moglie.

3) Come facciamo?

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Musical Notes Become Words

In this week's episode of La Ladra, Eva uses a word that is hard to guess the meaning of, at least at first glance, or first hearing.


Allora. -No, ragazze,

So. -No girls.

non ricominciamo con la solfa

Let's not get started again with the same old tune

succo d'acero sì, succo d'acero no.

about maple syrup yes, maple syrup no.

Per favore.


Captions 52-54, La Ladra - Ep. 10 - Un ignobile ricatto

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We go way back in History

A look at the dictionary reveals some interesting information. Solfa is the ancient word for sofleggio (solfége). Solfa comes from the names of two notes: sol (G) and fa (F). Solfeggio was and is a way to facilitate reading music using syllables representing the notes. Some languages, such French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese, adopted the syllables as note names, do/ut re mi fa sol la si, while Germanic languages and English adopted the letters of the alphabet to name the notes, a system that actually came before the use of syllables. We can imagine how much confusion this might cause today when musicians from different countries are trying to rehearse together.


Here are the equivalents:

  • do/ut [in French] = C
  • re = D
  • mi = E
  • fa = F
  • sol = G
  • la = A
  • si = B/H [in German]


We go less far back in History

Many of us might have seen the 1965 movie, The Sound of Music with Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. In it, the seven von Trapp children learn to sing using these syllables. Before becoming a movie, The Sound of Music was a hugely successful Broadway musical, which opened in 1959. The song about singing became so famous that, in America in the early '60s, kids would play the tune on their "Symphonettes" or "Flutophones" (cheap, plastic, recorder-like wind instruments for kids) in elementary-school music lessons.

The song uses homophones (commonly called "homonyms") to make it easier to remember the names of the syllables. Listen and watch a clip from the movie here.

Doe (do) a deer a female dear

Ray (re) a drop of golden sun

and so on.


For musicians learning Italian, the names of the notes are important, in fact, essential. Watch Alessio as he tells the story about these syllables.


In Italia, anche in Francia, in paesi latini...

In Italy, also in France, in Latin countries...

si sono basati, per i nomi delle note,

they based them on, for the names of the notes,

su il famoso "do", "re", "mi", "fa", "sol", "la", "si", le sette note.

on the famous "do," "re," "mi," " fa," "sol," "la," "si," the seven notes.

Captions 20-22, A scuola di musica - con Alessio

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We go a couple of decades back in History

Getting back to La Ladra, Eva, in the same sentence, also makes a connection with a song that became famous at San Remo in the '90s, called "La Terra dei Cachi" (the land of persimmons) written and performed by Elio e le Storie Tese. The refrain is "Italian sì, Italia no." The song was subsequently adopted as the theme song for an Italian talk show "Italia sì Italia no."

If you can't watch the video, you can find the lyrics here in Italian and English:

Italiano sì? Italiano no? Italiano sì!

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