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Business Vocabulary and Expressions Part 2

Let's look at some of the other roles people have in business and in the workplace. Check out Part 1 to learn about how to "go to work" in Italian and about different types of employees.



To indicate the boss In Italian, we use one word for "head": il capo.


No no, no, non è il mio ragazzo, lui è il mio capo,

No, no, no. He's not my boyfriend, he's my boss,

è il commissario Manara.

he's Commissioner Manara.

Captions 29-30, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP5 - Il Raggio Verde - Part 8

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Of course, we have the cognate direttore that can indicate the head of a company and is used much like "director." But it is often used to mean "manager" or "managing director."


Mauro Barale, direttore delle vendite.

Mauro Barale, sales manager.

-Barale, piacere.

-Barale, a pleasure.

Lui è il nostro nuovo direttore generale.

He's our new general director.

Captions 26-27, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep.2

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If the director is the owner, the director might also be called il titolare (the owner, the head). Titolare is a term often used when it would make sense for the head of a company to also be the owner.


Ah, ma è la titolare dell'agenzia che organizza i matrimoni.

Ah, so you are the head of the agency that organizes weddings.

Caption 19, Sposami - EP 5 - Part 2

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In the previous example, Nora is the head of the agency. Technically, her aunt is likely the owner, but in practical terms, it's Nora. Nora is a woman, so the feminine article is used, even though the noun titolare is basically masculine. The term titolare can be used loosely because we often don't know if someone actually owns the company or not. The other, more general word for "owner" is proprietario.


When a business has multiple departments, each department is called un reparto, so a department manager or supervisor may be called il caporeparto. In a hospital, a ward is called un reparto as well. In a department store, the same term, reparto, is used for a given department or section.


Poi dall'amministrazione sono passata,

Then, from administration I moved,

sempre nel reparto amministrativo, al recupero crediti.

still in the administrative department, to debt collection.

Caption 1, Antonella - La mia storia - Part 2

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In English, "responsible" is an adjective. But its cognate responsabile is also used as a noun to describe the person who is in charge  of something, such as un reparto (department).


Poi, naturalmente, in assenza di Manara, il responsabile è Lei.

Then, naturally, in the absence of Manara, you're the one in charge.

Caption 29, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP8 - Fuori servizio - Part 2

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Instead of il responsabile, we might see or hear l'addetto, which basically means the same thing: someone assigned to that role. Just like responsabile, it can be used as either an adjective or a noun.


Lavorava qui, era addetto alla fermentazione del vino.

He worked here. He was in charge of wine fermentation.

Caption 42, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP8 - Fuori servizio - Part 1

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Let's add to the roles one can have in the workforce. When we're talking about a shop, the salesperson or sales clerk is called il commesso or la commessa, depending on the sex of the person.


Allora, tornate dalla commessa e chiedetele

So, go back to the saleswoman and ask

se ultimamente ha venduto 'sto [questo]

if she has lately sold this

profumo a qualcuno di più adulto.

perfume to someone more adult.

Captions 35-36, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP3 - Delitto tra le lenzuola - Part 9

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We hope we haven't filled your head with too many new words. Keep an eye out for them as you watch and learn with Yabla videos!



Getting Someone’s Attention in Italian: Ascoltare and Sentire

One way to get someone’s attention is to use the imperative command form of a verb. Two useful verbs for this purpose are ascoltare (to listen) and sentire (to hear). In Italian it’s important to know to whom you are giving the command; this will determine both the word choice and its conjugation.



Commissioner Manara has a familiar relationship with Lara and uses the informal form of address: He’s getting her attention by saying ascolta (listen). There’s a slight urgency with ascolta.


Ascolta Lara, a volte bisogna prendere delle scorciatoie, no?

Listen Lara, sometimes you have to take shortcuts, right?

Caption 36, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP5 - Il Raggio Verde

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In the next example, there’s a bit of urgency, but this is Manara’s boss talking to him. They use the polite or formal form of address:


Manara, mi ascolti bene.

Manara, listen to me carefully.

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

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Note that the imperative verb can stand alone, or be paired with an object personal pronoun as in the above example. It adds to the urgency, and makes it more personal. Manara’s boss could have added mi raccomando (make sure) for extra urgency:

Manara, mi ascolti bene, mi raccomando!


This next example is between two people who really don’t know each other at all. It’s a formal situation, so the Lei form of “you” is used. Senta is more passive and less intrusive than ascolti. In fact, it means “hear” or “listen,” but is actually a way of saying “excuse me.”


Senta signora, oltre a Lei, chi lo sapeva di queste lettere?

Excuse me ma'am, other than you, who knew about these letters?

Caption 64, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP4 - Le Lettere Di Leopardi

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Senta (listen, excuse me, or hear me) is a command you’ll use in a restaurant when wishing to get the attention of the cameriere (waiter).

Senta, possiamo ordinare?
Excuse me, may we order?


Often, senta (listen) goes hand in hand with scusi (excuse me), to be extra polite.


Buonasera. Senta scusi, Lei conosceva il dottor Lenni, giusto?

Good evening. Listen, excuse me.  You knew Doctor Lenni, right?

Caption 4, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto

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And in a familiar situation, such as between Marika and the mozzarella vendor in Rome, there’s no urgency but Marika wants to get the vendor’s attention before asking her a question.


Senti, ma quante mozzarelle dobbiamo comprare per la nostra cena?

Listen, but how many mozzarellas should we buy for our dinner?

Caption 50, Anna e Marika - La mozzarella di bufala - La produzione e i tagli

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In the next example, the speaker could have said, Ascolta, Adriano, and it would have meant the same thing. Personal preference and regional usage often account for the difference.


Senti, Adriano, io lavoro qui da quando avevo dodici anni.

Listen Adriano, I've been working here since I was twelve years old.

Caption 37, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep.2

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Without necessarily studying all the conjugations of sentire and scusare, it’s a good idea to just remember that in polite speech, the imperative has an “a” at the end of senta, but an “i” at the end of scusi. The familiar command form would be senti, scusa. These endings can be tricky for beginners because they seem wrong, being the opposite of the indicative endings. It’s quite easy to get mixed up. The command form originally comes from the subjunctive, which is why it has a different, special conjugation.


Learning suggestion:

Getting someone’s attention is part of the basic toolkit you need to communicate in Italian, so why not practice a bit, in your mind? Look at someone and get their attention using the correct verb and correct form.

If you don’t know the person, or you address them formally for some other reason, you use:

Senta! Senta, scusi.
Senta, mi scusi.
[Mi] ascolti. (Not so common, and a bit aggressive, useful if you’re a boss.)


If you’re trying to get the attention of a friend, you’ll use:

Senti... (It’s almost like saying, “Hey...”)

Ascoltami... (This can be aggressive or intimate depending on the tone and the context.)




Learn more about the imperative in Italian here.