In English, the words that come to mind when talking about choices are: either, or, both, either one, whichever one (among others). Let's explore our options in Italian.
Birra o vino? Ultimissima.
Beer or wine? The very latest.Play Caption
But there's another word that means "or" and can imply "or else," or "otherwise." It's oppure. When we are thinking of alternatives, we might use oppure.... (or...). We also use it when we would say, "Or not," as in the following example.
Ci ha portato anche i due bicchieri per il vino, ma non so se io e Marika a pranzo berremo oppure no.
He also brought us two glasses for wine, but I don't know if Marika and I will drink at lunch or not.
Captions 22-23, Anna e Marika Trattoria Al Biondo Tevere - Part 1Play Caption
Note: It doesn't have to be oppure. It can also just be o, but it's an option!
In English, we have "either" and "or" that go together when we talk about choices.
In Italian, the same word — o —goes in both spots in the sentence where were would insert "either" and "or." Consider the example below.
O ci prende almeno una canzone o gli diciamo basta, finito, chiuso.
Either he takes at least one song from us, or we say to him enough, over, done with.Play Caption
Similarly, when neither choice is a positive one, Italian uses né (neither/nor) for both "neither" and "nor."
Ho capito dai suoi occhi che Lei non ha né marito né figli.
I understood from your eyes that you have neither husband nor children.Play Caption
Non voglio né questo né quello (I don't want this one or that one / I want neither this one nor that one).
Sometimes we don't have a preference. When it's 2 items, either one will do. If it's a masculine noun like il colore (the color), we can say:
Uno o l'altro, non importa (one or the other, it doesn't matter).
If it's a feminine noun such as la tovaglia (the tablecloth), we can say:
Una o l'altra andrebbe bene (one or the other would be fine).
We have to imagine the noun we're talking about and determine if it's masculine or feminine...
Qualsiasi cosa tu decida di fare.
Whatever you decide to do.Play Caption
Diciamo che potete fare qualsiasi pasta al pesto, anche, ad esempio, gli gnocchi, però il piatto tradizionale è trenette o linguine al pesto.
Let's say that you can use whatever kind of pasta for pesto, for example, even gnocchi, however, the traditional dish is trenette or linguine al pesto.
Captions 76-77, L'Italia a tavola Il pesto genovese - Part 1Play Caption
Eh, qualunque cosa tu mi abbia detto non, non l'hai detta a Raimondi, vero?
Uh, whatever you told me, you didn't, you didn't tell Raimondi, right?
Captions 22-23, Il Commissario Manara S2EP12 - La donna senza volto - Part 10Play Caption
If you do a search of qualsiasi and qualunque on the Yabla videos page, you'll notice that they are used interchangeably in many cases. Experience will help you figure out when they aren't exactly the same thing.
In Part 2, we'll talk about how to say "both" in Italian. There is more than one way.
The word "no" is pretty clear. It means the same thing in both English and Italian. But there are a few things to remember when using this word. When you want to say, "No" just say, "No." It will be absolutely clear. No (No)!
But when you are asking someone to give you a yes or no answer about something, or talking about someone saying "yes," or "no," then you usually add the preposition: di (of). At that point, it is no longer directly reported speech and therefore no quotation marks are necessary. Keep in mind that leaving out the preposition is not wrong, it's just much more common to use it.
Instead of just using the word "no," we say:
Per fortuna Manrico non ce l'ha fatta a dire di no a Melody.
Luckily, Manrico didn't succeed in saying no to Melody.
Caption 38, Sposami - EP 2 - Part 13Play Caption
E quindi dissi di no.
And so I said no.
Quando mi mandarono le foto di Ulisse, non so perché,
When they sent me the photo of Ulisse, I don't know why,
è scattato qualcosa dentro di me
something clicked inside me
e... ho detto di sì.
and... I said yes.
Captions 21-24, Andromeda - La storia di UlissePlay Caption
Although we are primarily talking about the word no in this lesson, the same goes for sì (yes). And if we replace dire (to say) with another verb, such as sperare (to hope), we do the same thing. In the following example, actress Alessandra Mastronardi says the same thing in two different ways:
Ma, io spe' [sic], mi auguro di sì.
Well, I ho' [sic], I hope so.
Alla fine è stato coronato il sogno che tante persone volevano,
In the end the dream many people wanted was crowned,
quello che si ritor' [sic], si riformasse la famiglia e che Eva e Marco... fortunatamente...
the one in which the family retur [sic], re-forms and in which Eva and Marco... fortunately...
e così è andata, quindi spero di sì.
and that's how it went, so I hope so.
Captions 40-43, Alessandra Mastronardi - Non smettere di sognarePlay Caption
As we have seen, she uses two different ways to say "I hope so." Mi auguro di sì and spero di sì. Mi auguro di sì is a bit stronger, a little bit more personal (your eyes open wider). Maybe you are worried that things are not going to go as you hoped, or else, the end result is really crucial. It might also be that you are fully expecting something to happen in a certain way: It had better! It's kind of the difference between "I hope so" and "I certainly hope so." When using augurare or sperare, we can't leave out the di (of).
1) We can put this in the negative in the exact same way: Is your landlord going to kick you out? Can you give a couple of answers?
2) What if you are talking about when you asked someone out on a date. How did he or she answer you? M'ha...
One very common expression, as a retort, uses the word "no" to mean "yes" or rather, "for sure!" "of course!" It's a way to confirm something, and literally means, "how not?" Or we could say, "How could that not be?" "How could you doubt it?"
Anche se la politica non ci ha aiutati, ce l'abbiamo fatta, no?
Even if politics didn't help us, we did it, didn't we?
Captions 31-32, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep. 2 - Part 18Play Caption
The important thing here is, first of all, to understand that when someone says, "Come no!" they are saying something positive, like "of course!". Then, once you have heard it many, many times, you might be ready to use it yourself.
In English we have the dreaded question tags... dreaded by people trying to learn English, that is. In Italian, however, it is way easier. All you have to do is add no and a question mark to the end of your statement. That's all the question tag you need.
Be', non dovrebbe essere difficile far entrare il carrello, no? -Io...
Well, it shouldn't be so hard to put the carriage back in, should it? -I...Play Caption
3) Can you say this in a more positive way?
È carino, no? Ti piace?
It's cute, isn't it? Do you like it?Play Caption
4) What if you put a question tag after ti piace (you like it)?
Using no as a question tag should come as a relief to Italian learners. You didn't know there was such an easy way to insert one, did you?
Another way to get the same result is to use the adjective vero (true) with a question mark. It's short for non è vero (isn't it true)? So I might say the same thing with the question tag, vero?
Be', non dovrebbe essere difficile far entrare il carrello, vero? -Io...
5) In reference to the previous example with carino, what if you think something is nice but you don't think the other person likes something?
1) Mi auguro di no! Spero di no!
2) M'ha detto di sì. Mi ha detto di no.
3) Be', dovrebbe essere facile far entrare il carrello, no? -Io...
4) È carino, no? Ti piace, no?
5) È carino, no? Non ti piace, vero?
There is more to say about saying no in Italian and using the word no... so stay tuned!