Italian Lessons

Topics

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

 Play Caption

 

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.

banner PLACEHOLDER

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

 Play Caption

 

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

 Play Caption

 

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

 Play Caption

 

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

 Play Caption

 

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

 Play Caption

 

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

 Play Caption

 

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

 Play Caption

 

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."

banner PLACEHOLDER

Vocabulary

Combining the Preposition A with a Definite Article

We have talked about the main uses of the preposition a, and that it can mean "at," "in," or "to," as well as "in the manner of," so in this lesson, we will see how this preposition is transformed when it is followed by a definite article. 

 

Here is how we combine the preposition a with the various definite articles (that all mean "the"):

a + il = al

a + lo = allo

a + l’ = all’

a + la = alla

a + i = ai

a + gli = agli

a + le = alle

 

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Let's look at each combination in context:

Al is the combination of the preposition a and the definite article il.

It will usually precede a masculine noun or the adjective that describes it.

 

E durante l'estate, il porto di Maratea diventa un ritrovo,

And during the summer, the port of Maratea becomes a meeting place,

soprattutto per i ragazzi,

above all for the kids,

i ragazzi più giovani, e anche quelli meno giovani,

he younger kids, and also the not-so-young ones,

che amano ritrovarsi qui, eh, parlare, bere qualcosa al bar.

who love to meet up here, um, to chat, have a drink at the bar.

Captions 13-15, Milena - al porto di Maratea

 Play Caption

 

In the following example, note that before the noun there is a possessive pronoun that has to agree with the noun, as well as an adjective. The two people in the video are probably having a drink together. The clink their glasses and say "to your..." and in this case we use the preposition a.

 

Allora al tuo prossimo concerto.

To your next concert then.

Caption 22, Milena e Mattia - Al ristorante

 Play Caption

 

Allo is the combination of the preposition a and the (masculine singular) definite article lo.

 

Oggi ci troviamo allo stadio comunale Renzo Barbera di Palermo.

Today we're at the municipal stadium Renzo Barbera of Palermo.

Caption 2, Adriano - Forza Palermo

 Play Caption

 

In the following example, even though we say il modo, not lo modo,  we do use a plus the definite article lo and it becomes allo. This is because first we have the adjective stesso which begins with an s + the consonant t. So we need the definite article lo. Like when we say: È lo stesso (It's all the same). That's something to remember. Later in this lesson we will look at a similar construction with a feminine noun.

 

Infatti, parliamo allo stesso modo...

In fact, we talk (inthe same way...

e facciamo le stesse cose.

and do the same things.

Captions 5-6, Amiche - sulla spiaggia

 Play Caption

 

All' is the combination of the prepositon a and the singular masculine (and in some cases feminine) definite article l'.

 

Anche lui all'inizio pensava di essere un uomo libero.

At the beginning he also thought he was a free man.

Caption 13, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP2 - L'addio di Lara

 Play Caption

 

Sometimes this same construction turns out to be feminine!  This can be a headache for learners:

 

All'entrata del Palazzo Vecchio, ci sono due statue.

At the entrance to the Palazzo Vecchio, there are two statues.

Caption 23, In giro per l'Italia - Firenze

 Play Caption

 

Alla is the combination of the preposition a and the feminine singular definite article la.

Here is what you say when you want to say, "See you next time!"

 

Ciao a tutti, alla prossima.

Bye, everyone, see you next time. [literally, "to the next"]

Caption 76, Andromeda - La storia di Ulisse

 Play Caption

 

If you visit Bologna, you might want to try le tagliatelle alla bolognese.  There is a word that gets left out of this phrase but is implied: la maniera. So it is alla maniera (in the manner of) 

We use alla with an adjective in Italian where in English we might use an adverb or adverbial phrase:

alla cieca (blindly)

alla buona (in a laid back, casual way)

 

If, instead of saying allo stesso modo, we want to say alla stessa maniera, (which means something similar: "in the same way"), note that even though stessa begins with an s + a consonant, the noun is feminine and so we say la stessa maniera, alla stessa maniera. But if we think about the fact that la stessa is easy to say, and il stesso would be difficult, it makes a certain amount of sense:... it's easier to say. In fact if we think about it, the flow of a language is an important factor in its evolution.

 

Now we will move on to a plus a plural definite article.

Ai is the combination of the preposition a and the plural masculine definite article i.

 

Come tutte le nonne, fa tanti regali ai nipoti.

Like all grandmothers, she gives many presents to her grandchildren.

Caption 28, Adriano - Nonna

 Play Caption

 

Let's note that lots of times, Italians use a normal definite article, when in English, we would use a possessive adjective (as in the previous example). 

Agli is the combination of the preposition a and the plural masculine definite article gli.

Agli is hard to say for lots of people. And as an aside, agli is also the plural of aglio (garlic). Don't worry. We mostly use aglio (garlic) in the singular, just like in English.

 

Cristina ci ha detto che qualche suo quadro era riuscito a venderlo.

Cristina told us that you were able to sell a few of his paintings.

Sì, agli amici.

Yes, to friends.

Captions 25-26, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP10 -La verità nascosta

 Play Caption

 

Alle is the combination of the preposition a and the plural feminine definite article le.

One important way we use this combination preposition is when talking about time. The hour is said in the plural which makes sense if we think back to times when people would tell time by counting how many times the bell would chime.

 

La mattina mi sveglio intorno alle otto.

In the morning I wake up at around eight o'clock.

Caption 5, Adriano - Giornata

 Play Caption

 

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Practice:

If you look at the transcript of just about any video, you will be able to pick out several examples of these preposizioni articolate. Look for common phrases and start repeating them, getting them into your repertoire.  

 

Meanwhile, if you have any questions or doubts, write to us at newsletter@yabla.com

L'estate (Summertime)

There are a lot of things to do in the summer, but Italians talk about them a bit differently than English speakers do. The word we will hear all the time in Italy, at least if we're within a two hour drive from the coast, is il mare.

Il mare — the beach

As you can see from the following example, we talk about the beach, because for the most part, we have sandy beaches. But Italy, being a peninsula (penisola in Italian) is surrounded on three coasts by the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, so it's a vital part of the country itself. The sea has different names depending on what part of Italy it touches on.

 

Infatti, io e Giorgia siamo andate insieme al mare.

In fact, Giorgia and I went to the beach together.

Caption 21, Francesca e Marika - Il verbo andare coniugazione

 Play Caption

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

For more vocabulary about the beach, check out these videos: 

This one is about a beach very close to Pisa, something to keep in mind if you visit Pisa in the summer.

In giro per l'Italia - Pisa e dintorni - Part 3

 

Finalmente siamo arrivati al mare. [Marina di Pisa]

We've finally arrived at the seaside. [Marina di Pisa]

Caption 1, In giro per l'Italia - Pisa e dintorni

 Play Caption

 

Here's a wonderful series about the Aeolian Islands off the coast of Sicily. They are breathtakingly beautiful and well worth a visit. If you can't visit, watch the videos!

https://italian.yabla.com/videos.php?program_id=1680

 

La località isolata e selvaggia di grande bellezza naturale,

The wild and isolated village, with its great natural beauty,

si può raggiungere solo via mare.

is only reachable by sea.

Caption 11, Linea Blu - Le Eolie

 Play Caption

 

But let's say you like to swim, but in a pool rather than in the sea. 

Fare nuoto — to swim 

When you go to a pool regularly, to swim laps, then you can say faccio nuoto (I'm a swimmer, I swim): In the following example, Annamaria Mazzetti trains for Olympic triathlons.

 

Facciamo nuoto, bici, corsa tutti i giorni.

We swim, cycle, and run every day.

Caption 14, Le Olimpiadi 2012 - Annamaria Mazzetti

 Play Caption

 

But let's say you want to go kayaking (andare in canoa), the instructor will ask you:

 

Sai nuotare?

Do you know how to swim?

Caption 68, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP5 - Mondo sommerso

 Play Caption

 

If not, they will give you a life jacket or life preserver (un salvagente).

Fare il bagno — to go swimming (or splashing in the waves)

But let's say you're at the beach and you just want to go in the water and play in the waves. It sounds strange to us, because many of us have learned that bagno means bathroom...

 

Noi amici, trascorriamo il tempo giocando,

We friends pass the time playing,

oppure nelle giornate estive facciamo il bagno

or else, on summer days we go swimming

e... invece, in quelle invernali veniamo qui per chiacchierare.

and... and on winter ones we come here to talk.

Captions 16-18, Amiche - sulla spiaggia

 Play Caption

 

So if someone asks you: "Facciamo il bagno?" you will know they want you to go in the water at the beach or at the pool (in piscina).

Il Caldo  – the Heat

Finally, one thing Italians say all the time during the summer is:

 

Ah, che caldo!

Oh, it's so hot!

Caption 1, Andromeda - in - Storia del gelato

 Play Caption

 

Caldo is an adjective meaning "hot", but also a noun meaning "heat": il caldo.

 

Enjoy your summer, or looking forward to summer, depending on where you are.

 

 

What's the Difference Between infatti and in effetti ?

A Yabla subscriber has asked about the difference between infatti and in effetti. The question is an excellent one.

The short answer is that infatti may be translated as “in fact,” while in effetti can be translated as “actually,” or “admittedly.” You can get this kind of information from any dictionary. But the question merits a closer look.

Infatti has, over time, become a single word but like many Italian words of this type, started out being two words: in + fatti. It’s extremely similar to the English “in fact,” and, not surprisingly, it means the very same thing.

 

È quasi una sorella, anzi è una sorella.

She's almost a sister, or rather, she is a sister.

Infatti, parliamo allo stesso modo...

In fact, we talk the same way...

e facciamo le stesse cose.

and do the same things.

Captions 4-6, Amiche - sulla spiaggia

 Play Caption

 

Another way to say infatti is difatti. It’s less common, but used often enough, and is interchangeable with infatti. Note that these two terms use the plural ending.

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

The fact is, both infatti and difatti come from the Latin de facto (from the fact) which is also used in English to mean that something exists in fact, although perhaps not in an intentional, legal, or accepted way: de facto. The direct Italian translation of the Latin de facto is di fatto—two words, like the Latin. Note that this term uses the singular ending, as in the Latin.

When we go to a meeting, and it doesn’t actually take place for some reason, we can say it was nulla di fatto (nothing actually happened).

In the following example from the very first episode of Commissario Manara, introductions are being made at police headquarters. Pio, meaning pious, is an old-fashioned but common enough name in Italian. Buttafuoco’s co-worker is making a pun, saying Pio Buttafuoco is a good and maybe even religious person.

 

Buttafuoco. -È pio, eh di, di nome e di fatto.

Buttafuoco. -He's Pio [pious], uh in, in name and in fact.

Caption 48, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto

 Play Caption

 

Unlike infattiin effetti is made up of two words, and though, like infatti and difatti, it comes from the Latin de facto, it’s a bit more subjective, and has to do with taking something into consideration and admitting that, “yes, that is actually so.”

In the following example, in effetti is used because one couple realizes that they have actually been absent for a good while, and so the question is more than justified.

 

Ma è un po' che non vi si vede. Dove siete stati?

Well, it's been awhile since we've seen you. Where have you been?

Beh sì, in effetti siamo appena rientrati dall'India.

Well yes, actually we've just gotten back from India.

Captions 7-8, Escursione - Un picnic in campagna

 Play Caption

 

In this case, they could just as easily have said:

Beh si, infatti, siamo appena rientrati dall’India.
Well yes, in fact, we just got back from India.

It’s just a different slant, like saying “in fact” instead of “actually” or “as a matter of fact.”

In effetti can be used when you’re forced to agree with someone, but not all that willingly, or when they have convinced you of something.

You might say:

In effetti... hai ragione.
Admittedly... you’re right.

The other person who knew he was right all along, and was waiting for you to realize it, might say:

Infatti, ho ragione!
In fact, I am right!

He might also just say:

Infatti.
In fact.

Infatti can be used by itself to confirm what someone has said. You’re agreeing wholeheartedly. It may not actually have to do with facts, but is used in the same circumstances in which we use “in fact,” “as a matter of fact,” “that’s a fact,” or “that’s true” in English. It’s usually expressed with an affirmative tone.

In effetti is more like a consideration. It’s more like “admittedly” or “actually.” The tone may well be one of realizing something you hadn’t considered before. You might raise your eyebrows. The adverb form of in effetti is effettivamente and can be used interchangeably for the most part.

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

To sum up, there are definite differences in the words discussed in this lesson, but the differences are, in effetti, fairly subtle, and so you have to pay close attention to really grasp them. For the most part, if you stick to infatti to be emphatic, and in effetti to be a bit more thoughtful, you’ll probably do fine! Listen to the tone and context in the Yabla videos to get more insight into these words.

You May Also Like