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The Good, the Bad...

When we talk about people and life, we use certain somewhat standard words and expressions to describe the good and the bad.


Rather than using the adjectives “good” and “bad,” and their comparatives (for better or for worse), Italian tends to use the nouns il bene (goodness) and il male (evil) or, ”the good” and “the bad.”


In this week’s episode of L’Eredità quiz show, the host and contestants are talking about someone’s character. Some character traits can be either positive or negative or both, and that’s what they’re talking about here.


Nel bene e nel male.

For better and for worse.

-Nel bene e nel male, per il resto tutti pregi, insomma.

-For better and for worse, but for the rest, all positives, in short.

Caption 9, L'Eredità -Quiz TV - La sfida dei sei. Puntata 1

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In wedding vows, Italians traditionally say it a different way.


Vuoi tu, Lara Rubino, prendere il qui presente Luca Manara

Do you Lara Rubino wish to take the here present Luca Manara

come tuo legittimo sposo,

as your lawful husband,

essergli fedele sempre nella buona e nella cattiva sorte,

to be ever faithful to him in good and bad times,

nella gioia e nel dolore?

in joy and in sorrow?

Captions 45-48, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP1 - Matrimonio con delitto

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Bene and male are both nouns and adverbs.The adjective forms are buono (good) and malo (bad). See this lesson about malo.


Closely connected to bene and male are pregi e difetti (strengths and weaknesses, strong points and weak points, virtues or qualities and shortcomings or flaws). There are various ways to say this in English but Italians commonly talk about un pregio or un difetto. Links have been provided to WordReference so you can see how many nuances there are of these nouns.


Note that Adriano uses qualche (some, a few) with a singular noun, but the intention is plural. See this lesson about qualche. He could have said alcuni difetti (a few shortcomings).


La mia ragazza ha molti pregi, ma anche qualche difetto.

My girlfriend has many great qualities, but also a few defects.

È molto testarda, è un po' capricciosa...

She's very stubborn, she's a bit unpredictable...

Captions 33-34, Adriano - la sua ragazza

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Back to our quiz show... They talk about excess as being both a quality and a weakness.


È anche il suo pregio.

It's also his strong point.

L'eccesso è... -È così...

Excess is... -It’s like that...

è così, insomma... -il suo pregio e il suo difetto.

is like that, all in all... -his strong point and his weakness.

Captions 10-12, L'Eredità -Quiz TV - La sfida dei sei. Puntata 1

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Quali sono i tuoi pregi (what are your strong points)?  i difetti (and your weak points)?
Can you talk about your job or your school, your teachers or your boss, your friends, siblings, or pets using pregi and difetti?