Italian Lessons


Cognates Featuring à in Italian and "y" in English

Luckily, many words are similar in English and Italian. Sometimes they mean different things so we call them "false friends," and some of them look and sound similar and also mean similar things. They are our true friends. If they were born of the same original word, etymologically speaking, they are true cognates.


Language nerds throw around the word "cognate" a lot, so it might be nice to look at the origins of this word. Here's what the dictionary says about the word "cognate."

Etymology: 17th Century: from Latin cognātus, from co- same + gnātus born, a variant of nātus, past participle of nāscī to be born. So in plain English, we're talking about words that have the same origin. 


But let's get down to the words themselves.



Some words are easy to guess, whether you are translating from Italian into English, or struggling to find a word in Italian.


Here's a partial list of some nouns you don't have to think about too much. These end in à, an A with an accent. In all these cases, that accented à is replaced by a Y in English. Of course, there are other letters in the words that change between the two languages, but they are similar enough that you can probably guess them fairly easily, primarily when you are reading them. You can listen to them in context when you hit "play caption."


l'intensità (the intensity)


Raramente lo schermo ha raccontato

Rarely has the screen told,

con tanta intensità e tanta efficacia

with so much intensity and so much potency

una storia più nuova e più coraggiosa.

a fresher and more courageous story.

Captions 4-5, Trailer ufficiale - La Strada

 Play Caption


la generosità (the generosity)


La generosità di questa terra

The generosity of this land

è celebrata anche nelle specialità della cucina.

is celebrated in culinary specialities as well.

Caption 41, Marche - Opera Unica

 Play Caption


la velocità (the velocity)


Ma lo sai che c'è il limite di velocità qua, ah?

But don't you know there's a speed limit here, huh?

Caption 34, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP6 - Sotto tiro

 Play Caption


la città (the city)


Il fiume Tevere attraversa tutta la città di Roma...

The Tiber river crosses the entire city of Rome...

Caption 12, Anna e Marika - Il fiume Tevere

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la stupidità (the stupidity)


Non mi sembra che la stupidità sia un reato.

I don't think that stupidity is a crime.

Caption 6, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP10 -La verità nascosta

 Play Caption


la libertà (the liberty)


Gestiva il suo tempo in assoluta libertà.

She managed her time in complete liberty.

Caption 12, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP3 - Delitto tra le lenzuola

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la crudeltà (the cruelty)


Quindi senza derivati animali, senza crudeltà.

So, without ingredients derived from animals, without cruelty.

Caption 39, Dolcetti vegan - al cocco e cioccolato

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la familiarità (the familiarity)


Silenzi, che familiarità

Silences, what familiarity

Caption 28, Fiorella Mannoia - Quello che le donne non dicono

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la qualità (the quality)


Al momento dobbiamo privilegiare la quantità alla qualità.

At the moment we have to favor quantity over quality.

Caption 12, La Ladra - EP. 3 - L'oro dello squalo

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la possibilità (the possibility)


E poi, oltre a questo,

And then, beyond this,

ho anche avuto la possibilità di conoscere tantissime persone.

I also had the possibility of meeting huge number of people.

Caption 23, Arianna e Marika - Il Progetto Erasmus

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la probabilità (the probability)


E sappiamo che, con ogni probabilità, c'erano dei riti legati al fuoco.

And we know that, in all probability, there were rituals involving fire.

Caption 56, Meraviglie - EP. 2 - Part 3

 Play Caption



This isn't the only way that Italian words ending in à have cognates. Also, we don't always choose the cognate in English. Instead of "velocity" we say "speed" most of the time in colloquial speech, but you understand the noun "velocity," so you can guess what velocità means. That's the idea anyway. Let us know if this lesson was helpful or not, and thanks for reading.

Cognates Nouns

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