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What Does Salutare Actually Mean?

In a previous lesson, we talked about how to say hello and goodbye in Italian:  There are formal and informal ways of doing so. And the very first lesson Daniela teaches in her popular series of classroom lessons is about how to greet people: salutare.


Oggi impariamo le forme di saluto.

Today we're going to learn ways to greet people.

Caption 5, Corso di italiano con Daniela - Salutare

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Before looking at the everyday meanings of salutare, we should acknowledge that it does also mean "to salute," as one would salute in the military, or salute the flag. But that is a very small part of the picture!




In addition to knowing how to greet people — a very important thing in Italian — we also use the verb salutare itself, quite often, to talk about greetings and greeting someone, as well as within the greeting or leave-taking itself, but what exactly does it mean?  In fact, it's a little tricky. Just as ciao can mean "hi" or "bye," salutare can mean "to say hello" or "to say goodbye." Let's look at the verb salutare in context to get a better idea of how it's used.


Saying goodbye can be tough.


È arrivato il momento di salutarci, mi pare, no?

The time has come to say goodbye (to each other), I think, right?

-Eh. -Sì.

-Yeah. -Yes.

Caption 1, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP12 - Le verità nascoste

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The previous example is just one instance of the verb within the segment of the Commissario Manara episode, an episode in which Luca Manara is about to leave his present job and go back to Milan.


Here's another little scene from the same episode and segment about saying goodbye. One thing to notice is that while in the previous example, salutarci means "to say goodbye to each other" (reciprocal reflexive), in the example below, salutarci means "to say goodbye to us." That pesky ci again!


Brigadiere, ma che sei venuto a salutarmi?

Brigadiere, what, did you come to say goodbye to me?

Caterina. -Povero cagnozzo, gli mancherai, eh.

Caterina. -Poor doggy, he'll miss you, yeah.

Io non posso credere che te ne saresti andato senza salutarci.

I can't believe that you would leave without even saying goodbye to us.

-No, veramente...

-No, actually...

sono passato davanti a casa Sua, -Eh. -ma Lei non c'era.

I came by your house, -Huh. -and you weren't there.

Comunque, io sono veramente contento che Lei sia venuta a salutarmi,

Anyway, I'm very happy that you came to say goodbye to me,

perché voglio dirLe grazie.

because I want to say thank you to you.

Captions 42-47, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP12 - Le verità nascoste

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When we want to take our leave, or end a phone call, we can say:

Ti devo salutare (I have to say goodbye, I have to hang up, I have to go).

Ti saluto, vado a casa. (I'll be going. I'm going home).



So salutare often means "to say goodbye." But it also means "to say hello," "to greet."  In the following example, a grandpa is telling his grandchildren to say hello to their grandmother.


Quanto mi siete mancati. -Salutate la nonna.

How I've missed you! -Say hello to Grandma.

Caption 9, Un medico in famiglia Stagione 3 - S3EP1: Ciao famiglia

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In the following example, Olivetti is greeting an old, estranged friend (he says ciao) who pretends not to see him.




Ciao, Mauro.

Hello, Mauro.

Cos'è? Non mi saluti?

What's the matter? You're not saying hello to me?

Captions 12-14, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep.2

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But in the next example, the people conversing are being formal with each other. The speaker calls the lady signora. And thus, he uses the formal, second-person imperative.


Arrivederci, signora.

Goodbye, ma'am.

E mi saluti suo marito, eh.

And greet your husband, huh?

Ci tengo tanto, ah. Me lo saluti tanto, eh?

It means a lot to me. Greet him warmly, huh?

Captions 74-77, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP6 - Reazione a Catena

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As we said, Manara is speaking formally. He says me lo saluti (greet him for me) using the imperative. He could also be saying "Give my regards to your husband." But if he were talking to a friend, he could put this all in one single word including two pronouns stuck to the verb. Saluta (greet) + me (for me) lo (him) / la (her).






The noun form il saluto


In some contexts, (and as we saw in the very first video example), we use the noun form il saluto or un saluto (a greeting, a salutation) instead of the verb salutare.


Parliamo ora dei saluti informali.

Let's now talk about informal greetings.

Caption 24, Marika spiega - Saluti verbali e a gesti

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In the following example, we see a typical way of saying, "I won't ever talk to you again." But Italians give it a different twist. They say they are going to "take away" "saying hello," as in, "I'm not even going to greet you!" The verb is togliere (to remove).


La chiamo e gli [sic: le] dico che non ci vado.

I'll call her and tell her I'm not going.

Ch'aggia fa' [napoletano: che devo fare]?

What can I do?

-Fallo e ti tolgo il saluto.

-You do that and I won't talk to you anymore.

Captions 36-38, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP11 - Uno strano incidente di caccia

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Un saluto or saluti is what you might write on a postcard while you're on vacation somewhere. It's often in the plural:


Ciao vecchio. Saluti da Rio, Max.

Hi, old timer. Greetings from Rio, Max.

Caption 40, La Ladra - Ep. 10 - Un ignobile ricatto

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Salutare can also be interpreted to mean "to give one's regards to" so we often see saluti at the end of a short business email.


It can appear by itself or be embellished as follows:

Distinti saluti ([best] regards)

Cordiali saluti (kind regards)


That's it for this lesson, and we'll see you soon. A presto.

Solo: What Does It Really Mean?

Most folks know that when someone plays a solo, he or she is the main player, also called the soloist. Sometimes a musician plays alone (this is a hint).


Solo is an Italian word

You may or may not have realized that solo is an Italian word, 100%.  Let's take a look at how it's used in Italian. Because when someone plays a solo in the middle of a song, strangely enough, it's called something else entirely: un assolo (a solo).


Sì. -In un... -Io sono, sono un tenore leggero.

Yes. -In a... -I'm a, I'm a light tenor.

E fai anche dei duetti... -Sì, a volte duetti buffi,

And you also do duets... -Yes, sometimes comic opera duets,

a volte, invece, dei, degli assoli. -Ecco! Ah, no.

sometimes, on the other hand, some, some solos. -There! Ah, no.

Posso sentire prima un assolo e poi, magari, vedo, facciamo un duetto.

Can I first hear a solo, and then, maybe let's see, we'll do a duet.

Captions 101-104, L'Eredità -Quiz TV - La sfida dei sei. Puntata 1

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Solo has to do with being alone. It can mean "on one's own."


Ulisse era un cane anziano, un cane solo.

Ulisse was an old dog, a lone dog.

Caption 12, Andromeda - La storia di Ulisse

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Solo is often preceded by the preposition da (by), making it function sort of like an adverb, answering the question "how," or "in what way,"  in which case we can translate it with "by oneself," "on one's own," "by itself," or "alone."


Guarda che al cinema ci posso pure andare da sola.

Look, I can perfectly well go to the movies by myself.

Caption 49, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 19

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Guardi, sta arrivando Olivetti.

Look, here comes Olivetti.

Pensava di venire qui con tanti dei suoi

He thought he'd come here with many of his own,

e invece è da solo.

and instead, he's by himself.

Captions 59-60, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep.2 - Part 21

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Vuoi un antidolorifico? Ce l'ho.

Do you want a painkiller? I have some.

-No, no, no. Preferisco che mi passi da solo.

-No, no, no. I prefer for it to go away on its own.

-Come vuoi.

-As you like.

Captions 38-40, La Ladra - Ep. 7 - Il piccolo ladro

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Io, la mia strada, me la sono fatta da solo.

I, I've paved my own way [I did it all on my own].

Caption 43, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep.2 - Part 9

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"Solo" da solo

But solo is not always preceded by da.


Io... lo... lo conoscevo poco, però,

I... I... I didn't know him very well

nonostante tutte le donne che si vantava di avere,

but despite all the women he bragged about having,

a me sembrava un uomo molto solo.

he seemed like a very lonely man to me.

Captions 40-41, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP5 - Mondo sommerso

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In this case, it means "lonely." It's not always clear if someone is lonely or alone. But if we ad da — da solo, then it is clear it means "alone," not "lonely." We can also say "to feel alone" or "to feel lonely." Sentirsi solo.


Solo also means "only"

Solo can be an adjective meaning "only" — which rhymes with "lonely," and in Italian it's the same word.


Non è il solo motivo per cui mi oppongo.

It's not the only reason I object.

Caption 41, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep.2 - Part 1

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Vedi, Alessio, quando mio padre venne qui e fondò questa fabbrica,

You see, Alessio, when my father came here and founded this plant,

qui intorno c'erano solo campi di grano.

there were only wheat fields around here.

Captions 17-18, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep.2 - Part 13

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Cioè, penso solo al fatto che tu non ci sia più, Martino.

I mean, I can only think about the fact that you're no longer here, Martino.

Caption 3, Chi m'ha visto - film

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In English, we often say "just" to mean the same thing.


Magari! Ma quanto mi costa? Adesso spara la cifra.

If only! But how much will it cost me? Now he'll name the price.

-Io non voglio parlare di danaro, io voglio solo aiutarla.

-I don't want to talk about money. I just want to help you.

Captions 37-38, La Ladra - Ep. 4 - Una magica bionda

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Typical expressions with solo

It's typical for someone to say, è solo che... (it's just that...) to minimize something, or to say "but."


Eh, è solo che ho bisogno di un prestito.

Huh, it's just that I need a loan.

Caption 10, La Ladra - Ep. 1 - Le cose cambiano

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Another context in which we hear solo is when we want to say, "And that's not all!"


E non solo. Nella salina Moranella,

And not only that [and that's not all]. In the Moranella salt pan,

un momento magico, veramente, è la raccolta del fior di sale.

a magical moment, really, is the harvesting of "fleur de sel."

Captions 52-53, La rotta delle spezie di Franco Calafatti - Il sale

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When you need to keep someone waiting for a moment, or you are passing the phone to someone else, you can say:

Un momento solo (just a moment).

Un instante solo (just a moment). 


We hope this lesson has given you some insight into the very common and important word solo. Don't forget that you can do a search of this word (and any other one) and see all the contexts right there on the video page. Look at where solo falls in the sentence and read the sentence to yourself. Get a feel for this word.