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4 ways to translate "way" into Italian

Sometimes the challenge is understanding what someone tells you in Italian, but sometimes it's about coming up with the right Italian word for what we are trying to say (when we happen to be thinking English). So let's start with an English word this time. Let's start out with the English noun "way." We can translate it into Italian in a few different ways.

the way - la via 

the way - il modo

the way - la maniera

 

La via

What's the best way to solve this problem or get out of the situation? We're pretty much talking about a direction here, either literal or figurative. Which way? What route or path do we take? 

Sembra che non ci sia più via d'uscita.

It looks like there won't be any way out.

Caption 31, Anna e Marika in La Gazza Ladra - Part 2

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We can often use the word "pathway" for viaVia, being more about "by what means," and also meaning "road," stands out from the other words we will be talking about, which are more about "how": the way to do something.

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Il modo

 

If we are talking about the way someone does something, then we will likely use il modo (the way, the manner).

Ma questo modo di conservare gli alimenti, paradossalmente, è un po' più rispettoso della natura...

But this way of conserving food, paradoxically, is a bit more respectful of nature...

Captions 28-29, L'arte della cucina La Prima Identitá - Part 4

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Le stagioni hanno specifici colori, clima, temperatura, e influenzano il nostro modo di vivere.

The seasons have specific colors, weather, temperatures, and influence the way we live.

Captions 5-6, Adriano Le stagioni dell'anno

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Infatti, parliamo allo stesso modo... e facciamo le stesse cose.

In fact, we talk the same way... and do the same things.

Captions 5-6, Amiche sulla spiaggia

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A question to ask with modo is: in che modo (in what way, how)? It often goes hand in hand with the question come (how)?

 

We can use modo when we ask for or give instructions, such as in cooking. How should we slice the onion?

La nostra cipolla va affettata in modo molto sottile.

Our onion is to be sliced very thinly.

Caption 6, L'Italia a tavola Penne alla Toma Piemontese - Part 2

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Keep in mind that in many cases in which we might likely use an adverb in English (in this case "thinly"), an adjective after modo seems to work better in Italian (in modo sottile).

 

Here are a few more examples of this:

 

a roughly chopped onion  - una cipolla tagliata in modo grossolano

uniformly - in modo uniforme

strangely - in modo strano

unusually - in modo insolito

messily - in modo disordinato

 

When you don't like someone's manner, you don't like the way they go about doing things, you can use modo.

Non mi piace il suo modo di fare (I don't like the way he does things).

 

La maniera

 

The cognate for maniera is "manner," which often means "way." So that's easy.

 

In questa maniera, usando la pasta all'uovo la stessa ricetta, lasagna se ne vende a profusione qui da noi.

This way, the same recipe using egg pasta, lasagna sells profusely here at our place.

Captions 49-50, Anna e Marika Hostaria Antica Roma - Part 2

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Modo and maniera are very similar, and are pretty interchangeable, but keep in mind that modo is masculine and maniera is feminine.

 

Ha una maniera strana di parlare (he has a strange way of talking).

Parla in modo strano (he has a strange way of talking). 

 

Il senso

We have one more translation for "way," and that is senso

 

Strangely enough, in the dictionary, we don't immediately see il senso as an Italian translation of "the way." Yet, when we look up il senso, "the way" turns up as the fourth choice as a translation.

 

Senso is a great word, and one Italians use all the time. Let's talk about 2 popular ways it is used to mean "way." When used in a statement, it's common to find the adjective certo (certain) before it. We have translated it, but you could also leave it out: "In a way..."

e in un certo senso, l'abbiamo anche conquistata

in a certain way, we even conquered it

Caption 22, Fratelli Taviani La passione e l'utopia - Part 3

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The other way Italians use senso is when they want a more complete explanation of something they didn't quite understand.

 

They'll ask, In che senso? 

Perché? -Perché così nessuno avrebbe saputo che erano false. False? -False? -False in che senso, scusi? -Falsissime.

Why? -Because that way no one would have known they were fakes. Fakes? -Fakes? -Fakes in what way, sorry? -Very fake.

Captions 54-55, Il Commissario Manara S1EP4 - Le Lettere Di Leopardi - Part 16

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They are asking, "In what way?"  but they might also be asking, "What do you mean by "fake"?" or "How do you mean?"

 

We might want to keep in mind that another meaning of il senso is "meaning."

il senso della vita (the meaning of life)

 

Check out these lessons that explore the noun, il senso.

Making Sense of Senso

A common expression: nel senso...

 

 

Here's how we generally put these different ways of saying "way" into context:

 

in un certo senso (in a way)

in che senso (how do you mean, what do you mean by that)?

in qualche modo (in some way, somehow)

in qualche maniera (in some way, somehow)

ad ogni modo (anyway, anyhow)

per quale via (by what means)?

 

Now when you watch Yabla videos, maybe you will be a bit more tuned in to how people use via, modo, maniera and senso. They all mean "way."

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Vocabulary

Words and Phrases to Know in La Ladra

In this lesson, we are going to take one segment of an episode of a TV series we are offering on Yabla and explore some of the expressions and vocabulary that could do with a little explaining. Whether you are a Yabla Italian subscriber or not, you will want to be familiar with these words and expressions.

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Già

If we look at the word già, we see it primarily means "already."

Eh... già che ci sei, guarda che ora è.

Eh... while you're at it, look at what time it is.

Caption 17, Acqua in bocca Rapimento e riscatto - Ep 12

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Già che ci sei is a very common expression, and it was translated with an equivqlent English expression. If we want to be more word-for-word, another way to translate this could be:

Since you are already there, could you see what time it is?

 

But già is also used as reinforcement. It can mean "indeed," or "right," or even "yeah," when "yeah" is confirming something someone else said. 

E così Lei è nata ad Atene. -E già, ma me ne sono andata appena adolescente.

So, you were born in Athens. -That's right, but I left as soon as I became a teenager.

Captions 1-2, La Ladra Ep.12 Come ai vecchi tempi - Part 5

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It can be preceded by eh, or ah, again, fillers or interjections.

Volevo dedicarmi un po' alla mia vera passione, fotografando l'Italia. Ah, già, Lei è fotografa.

I wanted to devote myself a bit to my true passion, photographing Italy. Ah, right, you are a photographer.

Captions 53-55, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 16

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Il soggetto

At a certain point, Eva is talking to a guy at the group home about the owner of the place they are renting from. He says:

Se lo hai conosciuto, avrai capito il soggetto.

If you have met him, you will have figured out the individual.

Caption 26, La Ladra Ep.12 Come ai vecchi tempi - Part 5

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The guy Eva is talking to uses the noun soggetto. He means, "You have realized what kind of person/character you are dealing with." Well, in fact, soggetto is a great cognate, because it does often refer to a subject. And just think of the American TV series Criminal Minds where they use the term "unsub" (unidentified subject) to mean a criminal type they are looking for. 

 

1) Can you think of another way to say "Se lo hai conosciuto, avrai capito il soggetto" using a more modern and colloquial noun in place of soggetto?

 

Attenzione: When we want to say "Don't change the subject!" we do not use soggetto. We use argomento.

Non cambiare argomento!

 

If you watch movies on Yabla, they often include the titles and credits. In this case, il soggetto refers to the idea of the story or the story. In fact, the Taviani brothers, when pitching a film story to a producer, got this as a response.

 

Se in tre frasi riuscite a dirmelo, funziona. Se non è in tre frasi, guardate, cambiate subito soggetto perché vuol di' [dire] che non funziona".

If you can tell me in three sentences, it works. If it's not in three sentences, look, change the story right away because it means it doesn't work."

Captions 51-53, Fratelli Taviani La passione e l'utopia - Part 3

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Però

We have learned that però means "however," "though," or "but." Most of the time it does.

Però un lato umano ce l'ha: è ancora innamoratissimo della defunta moglie.

But he does have a human side: He is still very much in love with his deceased wife.

Captions 27-28, La Ladra Ep.12 Come ai vecchi tempi - Part 5

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2) È ancora innamoratissimo della moglie. Can you put this in the negative? (He is no longer in love with his wife).

 

But it's also something people say to mean, "Wow!" When you find out some news that's perhaps a bit surprising or shocking, or you are impressed by something (one way or another), one reaction can be Ah, però!

Peccato che i parenti della defunta moglie l'abbiano accusato di essersi intestato tutti i beni di famiglia. -Ah, però!

Too bad that the deceased wife's relatives accused him of having put all the family's assets in his name. -Wow!

Captions 29-31, La Ladra Ep.12 Come ai vecchi tempi - Part 5

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You can even leave out Ah and just say Però!

È stata una delle esperienze più intense della mia vita. Però! Vieni.

It was one of the most intense experiences of my life. Wow! Come here.

Captions 5-6, Il Commissario Manara S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto - Part 10

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In rotta

Siamo in rotta.

We're on the outs.

Caption 50, La Ladra Ep.12 Come ai vecchi tempi - Part 5

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Rotta comes, in this case, from rottura (rupture), or from the verb rompere (to break). So another way to say this in Italian would be (avere rotto i rapporti con qualcuno (to have broken off a relationship with someone). But most likely if you look for in rotta  in a dictionary, it will be translated as "en route," since rotta also means "route!" So check out the context before deciding what you think something means.

 

Come si fa? 

We mention this expression because it uses the impersonal si, and it uses a different adverb than we would use in English to express the same question.

Cosa vuole, Gina, fosse per me quei bambini li difendere con le armi. Ma come si fa? La legge è dalla parte del proprietario.

What do you want, Gina? For me I would defend them with weapons. But what can we/one do? The law is on the side of the owner.

Captions 56-58, La Ladra Ep.12 Come ai vecchi tempi - Part 5

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3) Instead of using the impersonal — come si fa? — can you say something similar in the first person plural?

 

Of course, come si fa? also means "how does one do that?" and in this case come matches up with "how." But more often than not, this expression is used to mean "what can you (or one) do?" It's just something to be aware of and watch out for, especially since it's an expression people use a whole lot! Keep in mind that the impersonal can also be translated with the passive voice in English: What can be done?

 

If you like (or don't like) these lessons focused on one video or segment, please let us know

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"Extra credit"

1) Se lo hai conosciuto, avrai capito il tipo.​

2) Non è più innamorato della moglie.

3) Come facciamo?

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