Italian Lessons


Using the noun la volta (the time)

La volta buona literally means “the good time.” But volta means several things, as does buono. “Time” also has several connotations. So let's take a closer look.


Here are some examples of how volta is commonly used:

Sarà la volta buona (this time you’ll make it)!

Ancora una volta (one more time, or “once again).

Un'altra volta ("some other time").


After many failures, la volta buona is the successful attempt at something.

Nel senso, magari è la volta buona che ti fai una bicicletta pure tu.

I mean, maybe this will be the time that even you get yourself a bike.

Captions 4-5, La Tempesta film - Part 2

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When we want to or have to postpone something we talk about un'altra volta (another time). Not this time, but another time.

Va bene, delle disavventure tropicali di mio fratello ne parliamo un'altra volta.

All right, about the tropical misadventures of my brother we'll talk about them another time.

Captions 31-32, La Tempesta - film - Part 2

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But the same thing can mean "again."

E' sparito un'altra volta! -Ma stai scherzando,

He disappeared again! -But you're kidding,

Caption 24, Il Commissario Manara S1EP4 - Le Lettere Di Leopardi - Part 9

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With the preposition a (at) in front of the plural of volta—volte, we get a volte meaning "sometimes" or "at times."

A volte tengono la loro "a". OK?

Sometimes they retain their "a," OK?

Caption 46, Corso di italiano con Daniela - Il futuro - Part 4

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A volte is another way of saying qualche volta. They both mean “sometimes.”  A volte can be also translated as “at times.”



We can use una volta in thinking about the future:

Una volta mi piacerebbe andare a Londra. 
Sometime I’d like to go to London.


But it can also mean “one time."

Io ci sono stata una volta.
I went there once.


And we can use it to refer to the past:

C'era una volta il West (Once Upon a Time in the West) is a famous film from 1968 by Sergio Leone.


We can translate it as "once" or "at one time."

Una volta servivamo il papa e il re, ∫ eravamo anche colti e magnanimi

Once, we served the pope and the king. At one time, we were even cultured and magnanimous,

Captions 44-45, Volare - La grande storia di Domenico Modugno Ep. 1 - Part 23

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Four Ways Things Can Happen: Succedere, Capitare, Accadere, Avvenire

There are a few different Italian words used to refer to things happening.


Capitare (to happen casually):

It happens.

Capitare, like “to happen,” is the only verb of the four mentioned in this lesson that can be conjugated in all the persons.

Capito spesso da queste parti.
I happen on this place often.

Nonetheless, even capitare is most frequently used in the third person (both singular and plural).


This week’s episode about Marchesi has a good example of the past participle of capitare. It takes the auxiliary essere rather than avere, and is often used with an indirect object pronoun (not reflexive), as in the following example.


Più tardi mi è capitato di lavorare con lui.

Later on I had a chance to work with him.

Caption 14, L'arte della cucina - L'Epoca delle Piccole Rivoluzioni

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With capitare, the happening is generally by chance, or casual in some way.

Succedere (to happen, to occur). When something is really taking place, like an accident, or a discussion, we usually use succedere. This is the most common way to say “to happen.”


Che succede?

What's happening?

-Hanno ritrovato il furgone del pesce di Mussa.

-They found Mussa's fish van.

Captions 47-48, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP5 - Il Raggio Verde

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Like capitaresuccedere is often used with an indirect object.

Ma se mi succede qualcosa e mi mettono in galera?

But if something happens to me and they put me in jail?

Caption 30, La Ladra - EP. 1 - Le cose cambiano

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Accadere (to happen, to occur) is still another way to say “to happen.” It’s a bit more formal, and might be easier to translate with “to occur,” especially since “occur” is also only used in the third person, has a double “c” near the beginning, and ends with an “r” sound. Another easy translation to remember might be “to befall,” since accadere contains the verb cadere (to fall).

Ma ormai non accadrà.

But by now it's not going to happen.

No, non succederà.

No, it's not going to happen.

Captions 16-17, Tiromancino - L'essenziale

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Technically, accadere can be used with an indirect object but it’s not very common. Here is an example:


è ispirata a un fatto realmente accaduto a me.

it was inspired by a real event that happened to me.

Caption 3, Volare - La grande storia di Domenico Modugno Ep. 1

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Avvenire (to come about, to occur, to take place) is used in the third person only, and is somewhat formal. The easiest way to remember it is with the phrase “to come about,” since avvenire contains venire (to come). We cannot use avvenire with an indirect object.

La raccolta avviene fra novembre e dicembre.

The harvest takes place between November and December.

Caption 8, L'olio extravergine di oliva - Il frantoio

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In a nutshell:

succedere: most common, is used in the third person only (except for when it means “to succeed someone,” as in royalty). Auxiliary verb: essere. May be used with an indirect object (something happens to somebody).


capitare: may be conjugated in all persons followed by a preposition or adverb. Translations for this form: to end up, to turn up.
It also functions like succedere, in the third person. Auxiliary verb: essere. May be used with an indirect object (something happens to somebody).


accadere: is conjugated in the third person only. Auxiliary verb: essere. May be used with an indirect object (something happens to somebody), but is not all that common. Easy translation: to befall. Often used like “to occur.”


avvenire: is conjugated in the third person only. Auxiliary verb: essere. May not be used with an indirect object. Easy translation: to come about. Often used like “to occur.”



These are very basic “rules,” but keep your eyes and ears open to really get the feel for these verbs. And don’t worry. You can get by in most situations with succedere!



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