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Using the indispensable word quindi

Quindi  is a word you will hear thousands of times a day when listening to Italians talk. Just think how many times a day you use the word "so" in English. "So" is what quindi  means, much of the time.

 

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So

Siamo quattro persone, supponiamo, quindi useremo quattro uova.

We're four people, we're assuming, so we'll use four eggs.

Caption 11, Adriano Pasta alla carbonara - Part 2

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Italians often use quindi at the end of a sentence. It can turn into a question (just like "so"). In English, we might even end our question with "and...?" and mean the same thing.

Possiedo diverse aziende nel novarese. Sì, sappiamo che Lei è molto potente e quindi?

I own various businesses in the Novara area. Yes, we know that you are very powerful, and so?

Captions 57-58, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 8

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Therefore

Quindi can also mean "therefore," or "in other words." Even though we don't use the word "therefore" in everyday English all that often, it might be helpful to think of quindi meaning "therefore," because as opposed to "so," which has its own position in a sentence or subordinate clause (usually at the beginning), we can insert "therefore" just about anywhere, often enclosed by commas. Quindi works much as "therefore" does, in practical terms. Therefore, we at Yabla often translate quindi with "therefore" when we want to retain the word order in the caption. 

Eh, per quanto riguarda la nostra azienda, noi siamo in particolare localizzati nell'alto casertano, e quindi tutta la nostra produzione è incentrata in, in questa zona. In quali città, quindi?

Uh, regarding our company, we happen to be located in the upper Caserta area, and so our entire production is centered in, in this area. In which city therefore? / So, in which city?

Captions 55-57, Anna e Marika La mozzarella di bufala - La produzione e i tagli - Part 2

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La mozzarella, per noi campani, è solo quella di bufala. Quindi, prodotta con latte delle bufale.

Mozzarella for us Campanians, is solely the buffalo kind. Therefore, made with milk from buffaloes.

Mozzarella for us Campanians, is solely the buffalo kind. In other words, made with milk from buffaloes.

Captions 26-27, Anna e Marika La mozzarella di bufala - La produzione e i tagli - Part 1

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Quindi as "filler"

Lots of times, a sentence ends with quindi plus an ellipsis... as if the speaker wanted to go on but leaves the rest of the sentence to our imagination. Or, the speaker has no idea what to say next.

Guarda, ho letto sul menù che guarda caso fanno le fettuccine ai funghi porcini, quindi...

Look, I read on the menu that, as fate would have it, they make fettuccini with porcini mushrooms, so...

Captions 27-28, Anna e Marika Trattoria Al Biondo Tevere - Part 1

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Synonyms and pet words

If you watch Yabla videos, or have listened to Italian conversation, you will likely have noticed that people have pet words. They may not even realize they always use a particular word. So some people say quindi a whole lot. Others might pepper their conversation with perciò (for this reason).  In Tuscany sicché (the informal version of cosìcché is very popular. These are alternate ways to say "so."

Note that when "so" means "to such an extent," we can't use quindi. In that case, we'll use a word like talmente or così.

 

Quindi as "then"

Quindi can also mean "then" when talking, for instance, about what to do next. Some GPS systems with a voice use quindi to say "then, turn right..." quindi girate a destra...

This can also happen in recipes or instructions, where there is a sequence of actions to be taken.

In current, everyday Italian, it's more common to use poi when we talk about the next in a series of actions.

 

Poi... quindi avvolgiamo l'alice con mezza fetta di prosciutto, poi mettiamo [sic: lo mettiamo] nel pangrattato, si tuffa così, ecco qui.

Then... then, we roll the anchovy in half a slice of prosciutto, then we'll put it in the breadcrumbs, we immerse it like so, here we are.

Captions 29-31, L'Italia a tavola Involtini di alici - Part 2

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You might be thinking of the word allora, which is also used to mean "so" as well as "then," but the  interesting thing is that allora has more to do with the past and present than the future, whereas quindi can be about the future (the next thing). 

For more about allora, see our lesson: The Underlying Meaning of Allora

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Vocabulary

Servire: A Surprisingly Tricky Verb to Use

 

A recent user comment prompted this lesson about servire when it's used to express need. The Italian approach to expressing need bears some explaining. In fact, we have already addressed this before. 

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One way to express need is with the noun il bisogno (the need) and the odd verb bisognare only ever used in the third person singular impersonal. See this previous lesson. We can also use the verb servire (to be necessary, to be useful, to be used). In fact, we have already had a look at this interesting verb in this lesson. Take a look at these two lessons to get up to speed. In the present lesson, we will talk some more about how to use servire. It can be tricky!

 

There has been some discussion about a caption in a recent Yabla video. It's the story of Adriano Olivetti —Yes, that Olivetti: the typewriter guy. This is a fictionalized RAI production, starring Luca Zingaretti, famous as Commissario Montalbano in the well-known Italian TV series of the same name.

 

Here's the Italian sentence:

Serviranno dei fondi.

Here's our original translation:

We'll need funds.

 

A learner wrote in to say the translation should be "They will need funds."

 

Indeed, serviranno appears in its third person plural form. So, of course, you would think it should be "they."

 

This comment reminds us that the verb servire doesn't really have a counterpart in English, not one that works the same way, at any rate.

Yabla translators have since modified the translation to be less conversational, but easier to grasp. As a matter of fact, the verb servire is often best translated with the passive voice. As freshly modified, it is easier to see that the third person plural (future tense) serviranno comes from "the funds."

 

Serviranno dei fondi.

Funds will be needed.

Caption 63, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep.2

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Indeed, Adriano could have said, ci serviranno dei fondi, making it personal, but he didn't (although we can infer it) and that's why it was particularly confusing.

 

In the following example, the indirect object ci (for us, to us) is present, so it's a bit easier to understand. Serviranno, the third person plural of servire, refers to the utensili (the utensils) listed: lemon squeezer, knife, etc.

 

Per quanto riguarda gli utensili, ci serviranno, dunque,

In regard to utensils, we will need, accordingly,

uno spremiagrumi per i limoni, un coltello per tagliare i limoni.

a lemon squeezer for the lemons, a knife to cut the lemons.

Captions 40-44, L'Italia a tavola - Involtini di alici

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In English, especially in speech, we often use "to need" in an active way, as a transitive verb. "I need something." You may have discovered that there is no Italian verb we can use the same way. When we use servire, the thing we need is the subject and we use an indirect object with it. In the following example, Martino is asking himself what he needs to camp out in an old farmhouse. "What is necessary for me to take with me?" 

 

Che mi può servire?

What do I need?

Caption 30, Chi m'ha visto - film - Part 9

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To make things more complicated, servire also means "to be used."  In this case, servire is used with the preposition a (to, for). We may ask the question:

 

A che cosa serve (what is it used for, what is it for)?

Serve a [insert verb in the infinitive or a noun] (it's used for, it's for [insert a gerund or a noun]).

 

Ecco a cosa serve il brodo vegetale.

That's what the vegetable broth is for.

Caption 95, L'Italia a tavola - La pappa al pomodoro

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The following example shows how needing, being useful, or being used are so close that Italians use the same word.

 

Una fabbrica che funziona, in una società che non funziona, non serve a niente.

A factory that works in a society that doesn't work is useless.

Caption 26, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep. 1

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We can translate non serve a niente in a couple of additional ways:

 

Who needs a factory that works, if the society it is part of doesn't work?

A factory that works in a society that doesn't work is of no use to anyone.

A factory that works in a society that doesn't work serves no purpose. 

 

Note: Servire can also mean "to serve" as in serving someone at the table, or at the counter in a post office, supermarket or any other place. But that's much less complicated and not what this lesson was about.

 

PRACTICE

We hope we have been successful in clarifying the verb servire, at least in part. We'll leave you with a few exercises that may further clarify the verb as you do them.

Change these sentences with bisogno or bisogna to one with servire or the contrary. Add personal pronouns where necessary or desirable.

 

Per questa ricetta, ho bisogno di tre uova (For this recipe, I need three eggs).

Di che cosa hai bisogno (What do you need)?

Non c'è bisogno di prendere l'autobus, il posto è a due passi a piedi (No need to take the bus. The place is well within walking distance).

Che bisogno c'era di essere così cattivo (Why did you need to be so mean)?

Servirà un ombrello, visto il cielo (Judging from the sky, an umbrella will be necessary).

Serve un altro posto a tavola, perché viene un mio amico (We need another place at the table, because a friend of mine is coming).

Have fun. You'll find some possible solutions here. If you think your solution is correct, but isn't present among the possible solutions, let us know at newsletter@yabla.com.

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"Let Me Know" in Italian

In an episode of Adriano Olivetti: La forza di un sogno, at the very end, there is an expression that's used just about every day, especially at the end of a conversation, email, a phone call, or text message, so let's have a look.

In this particular case, one person is talking to a few people, so he uses the imperative plural, which happens to be the same as the indicative in the second person plural. 

Fatemi sapere.

Let me know.

Caption 62, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 8

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Let's take the phrase apart. The verb fare (to make) has been combined with the object pronoun mi which stands for a me (to me). To that is added the verb sapere (to know), in the infinitive.

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So, first of all, we might have been tempted to use the verb lasciare (to let, to leave). It would be a good guess, but instead, we use the ubiquitous verb fare"to make me know." Sounds strange in English, right? But in Italian, it sounds just right. You'll get used to it the more you say and hear it. 

 

Let's look at this expression in the singular, which is how you will use it most often.

 

The most generic version is this: fammi sapere (let me know).

Va be', quando scopri qualcosa fammi sapere.

OK, when you discover something, let me know.

Caption 34, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP7 - Sogni di Vetro - Part 3

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This use of "to make" plus a verb in the infinitive is also used a lot with verbs besides sapere (to know).

Do a Yabla search of fammi and you will see for yourself. There are lots of examples with all kinds of verbs.

Chi c'è alle mie spalle? Fammi vedere. -Francesca.

Who's behind me? Let me see. -Francesca.

Caption 13, L'Eredità -Quiz TV - La sfida dei sei. Puntata 3 - Part 1

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Sometimes we need to add a direct object to our sentence: "Let me see it."

In this case, all those little words get combined into one word. Fammelo vedere (literally "let me it see" or Let me see it).

Using fare means we conjugate fare, but not the other verb, which can make life easier!

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Fare is a verb that is used on so many occasions. Read more lessons about fare

 

When Pensare Doesn't Mean "to Think"

 

One of our readers has expressed interest in knowing more about a certain kind of verb: the kind that has a special idiomatic meaning when it has particelle (particles) attached to it. In Italian these are called verbi pronominali. See this lesson about verbi pronominali. The particular verb he mentioned is pensarci, so that's where we are going to start.

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The root verb is pensare, so we assume it has to do with "thinking." The particle is ciCi is one of those particles that mean a lot of things, so check out these lessons about ci. In the following example, pensare is literal: "to think," and ci stands for "of it."

Ma certo! Come ho fatto a non pensarci prima?

But of course! Why didn't I think of it before!

Caption 21, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP12 - Le verità nascoste - Part 10

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Sometimes, when used as a kind of accusation, it's basically the same but it has a different feeling.

È un anno che organizziamo questo viaggio. -Potevi pensarci prima.

We've been organizing this trip for a year. -You could have thought of that before.

Caption 32, Ma che ci faccio qui! - Un film di Francesco Amato - Part 2

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In the two previous examples, pensarci stays in the infinitive, because we have another helping or modal verb in the sentence. But we can conjugate it, too. In the following example, it is conjugated in the second person singular informal imperative.

Pensarci can mean "to think of it," but it can also mean "to think about it."

Noi non potremmo mai mandare avanti la fabbrica da soli, lo sai bene. Adriano, pensaci.

We could never run the factory on our own. You know that well. Adriano, think about it.

Captions 37-38, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 8

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But sometimes, pensare doesn't exactly mean to think. It means something more along the lines of "to take care," "to handle," and here, pensare is really tied to the little particle ci as far as meaning goes. Ci still means "of it" or "for it." But we're talking about responsibility. Ci pensi tu (will you take responsibility for getting this done)? For this meaning, it's important to repeat the pronoun, in this case, tu. It helps make the meaning crystal clear, and is part of the idiom. What a huge difference adding the pronoun makes!

Barbagallo, pensaci tu.

Barbagallo, you take care of it.

Caption 1, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP3 - Rapsodia in Blu - Part 16

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Toscani, io c'ho un appuntamento, pensaci tu.

Toscani, I have an appointment, you take care of it.

Caption 57, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP8 - Morte di un buttero - Part 7

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Even though in meaning, ci is connected to pensare, we can still separate the two words.

Ci penso io!
I'll take care of it!

 

Ci pensa lei!
She'll take care of it.

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Pensarci is a very widely used verb in all of its meanings. When you want someone else to do something, it's a very common way of asking. Here are some examples to think about.


Ci pensi tu a lavare i piatti (will you take care of washing the dishes)?
Ci pensi tu a mettere benzina (will you take care of getting gas)?
Ci pensi tu al bucato (will you take care of the laundry)?
Ci pensi tu a preparare la cena (will you take care of getting dinner ready)?
Ci pensate voi a mettere a posto dopo cena? Io vado a dormire (will you [plural] clean up after dinner? I'm going to bed)!
Vuoi veramente comprare una macchina nuovaPensaci bene (do you really want to buy a new car? Think twice about it).
È il momento per andare in vacanzaPensiamoci bene (is it the right time to go on vacation? Let's think about it a moment).

 

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