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Urgente: a cognate with a little-used verb

The adjective urgente is pretty easy to figure out. It means "urgent" and it's an important word to know. And when you need that word, the situation is usually dire, and urgency is needed. You might need something urgently. But how do we express these in Italian? There are ways that line up with English and ways that don't. Let's take a look, with clips from Yabla videos as examples you can see and hear. 


Adjective: urgente

Mi scusi l'insistenza, ma è urgente.

Sorry for my insistence, but it's urgent.

Caption 74, Imma Tataranni Sostituto procuratore S1 EP 4 Maltempo - Part 2

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Adverb: urgentemente

The adverb urgentemente (urgently) does exist and is used.

La mamma del bambino Luigi è desiderata urgentemente al bar.

The mom of the child Luigi is urgently needed at the bar.

Caption 1, Ma che ci faccio qui! Un film di Francesco Amato - Part 4

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Noun: l'urgenza

But let's look at the noun l'urgenza (the urgency). It's quite common to "have urgency" or do something "with urgency," rather than using the adverb urgentemente, as we can see in the following examples.

E va portata con urgenza in sala operatoria. Andate.

And she must be urgently taken to the operating room. Go.

Caption 11, Moscati, l'amore che guarisce EP1 - Part 14

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Allora, signora, aveva urgenza di vedermi?

So, Ma'am, you wanted to see me urgently?

Caption 1, I Bastardi di Pizzofalcone EP 3 Vicini - Part 13

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Verb: urgere

A verb form exists as well in Italian, though it's not used all that much. But in a recent segment of Provaci ancora Prof!, Renzo uses it (likely to be eruditely witty), so we're taking the opportunity to look at it here. The verb is urgere from the Latin "urgens".

Scusate, scusate, scusate, perché urge un brindisi alla mia suocera preferita e, soprattutto, al suo profiterole.

Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me, because it's urgent to make a toast to my favorite mother-in-law and above all, to her profiteroles.

Captions 25-27, Provaci ancora prof! S2E6 La strana ossessione - Part 18

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More common alternative verbs to urgere

Although urgere  has two different meanings depending on whether it's used transitively or not, its most common use is the intransitive one, which has to do with "being necessary" (urgently necessary), as in the example above. It's much more common to use the verb bisognare


Renzo could easily have said:

Bisogna assolutamente fare un brindisi a... (it's absolutely necessary to drink a toast to...)


**Note that bisognare is an unusual verb used only in the third-person singular bisogna. It's followed by either a verb in the infinitive or the conjunction che, triggering the subjunctive form of another verb. For more on using the verb bisognare see this Yabla lesson

He could also have used still other turns of phrase:

Serve un brindisi... (there is need of a toast)

Dobbiamo fare un brindisi (we have to drink a toast to...)

Ci vuole assolutamente un brindisi (there's an absolute need for a toast)


The use of urgere makes it urgent and Renzo wants to get it over with, for sure, although he would never say so. He also might be implying: It's about time.


Origins of urgente

Language nerds might be interested to know (if they haven't figured it out already) that the adjective urgente is actually (or originally) the present participle of the verb urgere. There are a great many present participles of verbs used as adjectives. They always end in -ante or -ente in the singular and -anti or -enti in the plural. For more about this verb form/adjective form, see this Yabla lesson


We hope we have given you some tools for expressing urgency in various ways, should the need arise when speaking Italian!