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Finché (as long as) and Finché non (until)

In a recent lesson we talked about the conjunction affinché (in order that) and how it prompts the subjunctive.

 

We also mentioned how it can easily be confused with finché (as long as) or finché non (until) because it sounds very similar. We looked briefly at these two conjunctions in a previous lesson. In Italian, they differ only in the addition of the negation non. This is a bit tricky since in English we use two different terms: “as long as” and “until.”

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Sometimes, even when Italians mean to say “until,” they will leave out the non after finché. This is partly because they don’t need to be any clearer than that in a given situation, or because it’s quicker and easier, and for Italians, in some situations, it just doesn’t matter. 

 

Let’s take the very recent video featuring Marika and Anna who are busy in the kitchen making panzerotti, a kind of deep fried dumpling, filled with mozzarella and tomato sauce.

 

It’s a casual situation, they’re very busy, and wouldn't you know it, they use finché without non even though they mean "until." However, what they mean to say is very clear, so they don’t pay much attention, and it's not even considered "wrong."

OK, quindi possiamo andare avanti ad oltranza, finché [sic: finché non] finisce il nostro impasto. -Sì.

OK, we'll go ahead until done, until we've finished up with the dough. -Yes.

Caption 34, L'Italia a tavola - Panzerotti Pugliesi - Part 2

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Sì, finché [sic: finché non] abbiamo, appunto, terminato l'impasto e [abbiamo] un certo numero di panzerotti da friggere.

Yes, up until the point, right, that we've finished the dough and we have a certain number of “panzerotti” to fry.

Captions 35-36, L'Italia a tavola - Panzerotti Pugliesi - Part 2

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The meaning is clear because they use finisce (is gone, is finished, is used up), so they understand each other: They’ll keep making panzerotti until all the dough has been used up.

 

Of course, there are plenty of instances where Anna and Marika do use finché with non, so it’s not a question of not knowing.

La cosa importante, con i bambini piccoli, è cambiare spesso posizione della schiena finché, naturalmente, non sono in grado di stare in piedi da soli.

The important thing with little children is to often change the position of their backs, until, naturally, they are able to stand up by themselves.

Captions 9-11, Anna presenta - Attrezzature per un neonato

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We could also say, to better follow the Italian:

The important thing with little babies is to often change the position of their backs, as long as they are unable to stand up by themselves.

 

We could think of it this way: Non is a negation, and in a way, so is “until,” when used as a conjunction. “Un” is also a prefix meaning “not.”

 

Here is another example, where we can take finché non apart, to better understand it.

E poi, finché... si lavorava finché il padrone non diceva "basta",

And then, until... we worked until the boss said, "that's enough,"

Caption 27, Gianni si racconta - Chi sono

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Another way to say this in English would be:

We kept working as long as the boss had not yet said, “that’s enough.”

 

It’s a bit awkward in English, which is why we use the word “until.”

 

Here is another very informal example:

Ti devo dire una cosa, non mi interrompere finché non ho finito.
I have to tell you something. Don’t interrupt me until I have finished.

 

It could also be:

Ti devo dire una cosa, non mi interrompere finché sto parlando.
I have to tel you something. Don’t interrupt me as long as I am still speaking.

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Further learning: 
Do a Yabla search of finché and look at all the examples. Some will be correct without non, to mean “as long as,” some will use non, to mean “until,” and some will be "wrong." Hint: Federico Fellini uses this conjunction the "wrong" way.

 

Can you understand the difference between finché and finché non? Feel free to let us know, or to make a comment in the comment section of the video in question.

 

We’ve mentioned that in different parts of Italy, or based on personal styles, the subjunctive gets skipped, the remote past is rarely used, and finché non might be abbreviated, too. But for those who are learning Italian, it’s good to be able to use finchéfinché non, and affinché correctly.

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Places to Sit in Italian - Part 2

Places to Sit in Italian - Part 1

In a previous lesson we talked about sedie (chairs), panche (benches), and panchine (park benches). But now let’s examine some more comfortable places to sit.

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Normally, if there are arms on a chair, as in “armchair,” it’s una poltrona, for Italians, especially if it’s got padding and is comfortable. A smaller armchair, that is, a chair with braccioli (arms or armrests), may be called una poltroncina. It’s not necessarily comfortable. Il bracciolo (arm, armrest) comes from il braccio (the arm).

 

If we want to seat two people, we can talk about un divanetto. It is usually smaller in size and importance than a proper divano (sofa, couch) where you can usually lie down, put your feet up,  and take up space.

 

Mi distendo sul divano, guardo un po' di televisione.

I stretch out on the couch, I watch a little TV.

Captions 41-42, Adriano - Giornata

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Sometimes people have a divano letto (a sofa bed) for guests, or even for themselves, if they lack space.

 

What you sit on in a car, train or plane, or other means of transport is un sedile (a seat). They are often called posti a sedere (places to sit).

In prima classe, i sedili sono più comodi.
In first class, the seats are more comfortable.

 

Babies and young children need special seats in a car.

 

È passeggino per i bambini molto piccoli, oppure seggiolino auto.

It’s a stroller for very small babies, or else a little car seat.

Caption 42, Anna presenta - Attrezzature per un neonato

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Babies eat in special chairs called seggioloni (highchairs).

 

If you go skiing in Italy, you may want to travel up the slopes on a seggiovia (chairlift).

 

And if you really want to get comfortable, you can stretch out on un letto matrimoniale (a double or king-size bed) or un lettino (usually a single bed), or if you go to the doctor’s or to see a massage therapist, or even a psychoanalyst, you might also find yourself lying on un lettino.

 

Si metta sul lettino e mi parli del Suo rapporto con i piedi.

Get on the couch and tell me about your relationship with your feet.

Caption 7, Psicovip - Cappuccetto Rosso - Ep 7

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Un lettino may also be seen at the edge of pools or at the beach.

 

E quanto costa affittare un lettino?

And how much does it cost to rent a sunbed?

Caption 7, Una gita - al lago - Part 2

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Another comfortable seat is uno sdraio (a deck chair, a recliner).

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Sdraio comes from the verb sdraiare  (to lay down) or its reflexive version, sdraiarsi (to lie down, to recline). The plural is the same as the singular as we see in the following example.

 

Vengono messi ombrelloni, sdraio.

Beach umbrellas, beach chairs will be installed.

Caption 5, Antonio - e il Lido Costa Blu

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Vocabulary

Legare (to Tie)

Adriano provides us with a useful Italian word: legare (to tie). In talking about his favorite restaurant in Dublin, he uses the verb form, legare (to tie):

Sono molti i fattori che mi legano a questo ristorante.

There are many factors that tie me to this restaurant.

Caption 24, Adriano - Pizzeria Pinocchio - Part 1

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He’s speaking metaphorically, just as in the following example, where he uses the adjective/past participle legato.

Quando ero piccolo, ero molto legato alla figura di Pinocchio.

When I was little, I was very tied to the figure of Pinocchio.

Caption 38, Adriano - Pizzeria Pinocchio - Part 1

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In Italian, the verb legare can imply feeling connected to something or someone as in the above examples, or it can be about simply tying or fastening something.

Ora, io non l'ho legato, ma naturalmente va sempre legato.

Now, I haven't fastened him in, but naturally he should always be fastened.

Caption 23, Anna presenta - Attrezzature per un neonato

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We’re talking about a kind of seat belt here.

And in the following example, we’re talking about a leash for a dog and tying an animal to a secure post.

Va be', sì, insomma, l'avevo legato qui fuori a un vaso, ma evidentemente...

OK, yes, in other words, I'd tied him to a flower pot out here, but evidently...

Caption 35, La Ladra - Ep. 1 - Le cose cambiano - Part 11

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Things can be tied in a non-physical way, by association.

Comunque qualcosa legato all'incendio, no?

In any case, something tied to the fire, right?

Caption 48, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP11 - Beato tra le donne - Part 9

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There's more to say about legare so stay tuned.

Vocabulary

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