Italian Lessons


When 2 Doesn't Mean 2

We have seen before that Italians use the number 2 or sometimes the number 4 to indicate "a small number" or a small amount.


Due passi

Due passi indicates a short distance: a hop, skip, and a jump, for example.


È qua, siete fortunato, è proprio qua a due passi.

It's here, you're lucky, it's right here, a couple of steps away [very close by].

Caption 6, Moscati, l'amore che guarisce - EP1 - Part 20

 Play Caption


Due passi can also indicate a short or brief walk. 


Faccio due passi.

I'm going to step out/I'm going to take a walk.

Caption 26, I Bastardi di Pizzofalcone - EP1 I Bastardi - Part 22

 Play Caption


We use due passi when we want to suggest taking a little walk with someone, often to talk about something private while walking. 

Facciamo due passi (shall we take a walk)?



Due spaghetti

Due spaghetti indicates a simple, humble meal featuring pasta. It can also indicate a plate of spaghetti.


Let's remember that in Italian, spaghetti is the plural of spaghetto, a certain shape of pasta, resembling string. In fact, the name of the pasta comes from the noun lo spago, the word for "twine." Literally, due spaghetti is "two spaghetti strands." But obviously, two is just a symbolic amount meaning "some."


Due chiacchiere

Due chiacchiere, expressed in the plural, is a chat, with the idea that it will be brief. It also implies that it will be rather informal. 


Va bene, allora voglio fare due chiacchiere con quella cameriera.

All right, then I want to have two chats [a little chat] with that waitress.

Caption 6, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP8 - Morte di un buttero - Part 13

 Play Caption


Due palle

In this case, the number is accurate, because whoever is using this expression is referring to balls or testicles (which usually come in twos). But the figurative meaning is that something is a pain in the ass or a real bore. It's colloquial, and not for polite conversation, but it is common enough that we thought it was important to mention it here.


Che due palle means, "what a pain,"  "what a bummer," "this sucks," or "this is so boring."


Questa proprio du' palle, nun poi capi' [romanesco: due palle, non puoi capire].

This lady is a real pain in the ass, you can't imagine.

Caption 41, Un Figlio a tutti i costi - film - Part 18

 Play Caption


Sì? -Me so' [romanesco: mi sono] fatto du' [romanesco: due] palle così.

Yes? -I was bored out of my mind.

Caption 37, Volare - La grande storia di Domenico Modugno - Ep. 1 - Part 17

 Play Caption


In this lesson, we have considered the number two as an adjective before certain nouns, combinations that are particularly common, but we can use the number 2, when referring to any countable noun, just about. It can mean "a few," "some,"  or "not too many," so keep your eyes open for the number 2 and think about whether it is literal or figurative...


And of course, if you think of other expressions or word combinations with the number 2, we are happy to expand our library of examples, especially if you find them in Yabla videos. Write to us at or as a comment in the video you find the example in.



You May Also Like