Italian Lessons

Topics

Future and Conditional in the First Person Plural

Daniela’s lesson this week explains how to form the conditional with verbs ending in “-are.” But endings notwithstanding, the first person plural of verbs will always have a single “m” in the future, and a double “m” in the conditional. So, aside from learning the conjugations, it’s important, as Daniela mentions, to be able to distinguish between -emo, and -emmo. Let’s focus for a moment on the first person plural of the future and the conditional. It’s a good chance to practice double “m’s.”

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Here’s the future tense of potere (to be able to) and riuscire (to manage to), with one “m.” The narrator is about to show us some film clips, so it’s a sure thing. 

In una serie di filmati, eh, nella... [sic] nel tempo di una pausa caffè, potremo vedere alcuni eh castelli, alcuni anfiteatri, alcuni templi, della regione della Campania. In questo modo appunto riusciremo a parlare di tutte [sic] questi siti archeologici.

In a series of film segments, uh, in the... in the time of a coffee break, we'll be able to see some uh castles, some amphitheaters, some temples, of the region of Campania. That way, we'll be able to talk about all of these archaeological sites.

Captions 9-12, Escursioni Campane - Castello Normanno - Part 1

 Play Caption

 

In the following example, we find the conditional, so in this case there are two “m’s.” Can you hear them? Try practicing the difference between potremo and potremmo!

Se ti invito a cena questa sera potremmo leggerli tutti.

If I invite you for supper tonight we could read all of them.

Caption 74, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto - Part 2

 Play Caption

 

Let’s look at some more examples. Try rolling them around on your tongue, making sure that the double “m” sits there a moment before pronouncing the “o.”

 

In the next examples, the meaning is clear. The autopsy is going to take place, so they will find out what they need to know. They use the future.

Se ci sono altre cose lo scopriremo dopo l'autopsia. -Qualcosa la sappiamo già adesso.

If there are other things, we'll find out after the autopsy. -We already know something right now.

Captions 20-21, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP4 - Le Lettere Di Leopardi - Part 2

 Play Caption

 

In the following example, chef Gualtiero Marchesi uses se (if) plus the subjunctive in one clause, and the conditional in the other. This is a classic combination.  

Noi finiamo sempre con l'aggiungere delle cose che saranno anche buone, ma se provassimo a [sic] approcciare il prodotto per il prodotto, credo che scopriremmo un mondo nuovo.

We always end up adding things that may well be good, but if we tried approaching a product for the product itself, I think we'd discover a new world.

Captions 21-23, L'arte della cucina - Terre d'Acqua - Part 2

 Play Caption

 

For more about the conditional and subjunctive together see this lesson.

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

To hear more words in the future and conditional, look them up on a conjugation chart, at WordReference, for example, and then do a Yabla search of the conjugation you want to examine, so you can hear the verbs in context pronounced by Italians.

Grammar

Close Encounters with Incontro

Incontro is a noun that means, not surprisingly, “encounter,” “meeting,” "get-together," or “rendezvous.” In English, we tend to save the noun "encounter" for special or particular meetings. In Italian, it gets used more often.

Conoscendolo, penso che sia più probabile che si sia fermato qui per un incontro amoroso.

Knowing him, I think it's more likely that he stayed here for a hot date.

Captions 46-47, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP3 - Rapsodia in Blu - Part 2

 Play Caption

 

The verb form incontrare means "to meet," "to encounter." It often means to bump into someone by chance.

Anna! Ti, ti ricordi quei due signori che abbiamo incontrato prima?

Anna! Do you remember those two gentlemen we met earlier?

Captions 1-2, Anna e Marika - Hostaria Antica Roma - Part 4

 Play Caption

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

 

Keep in mind that the first person singular of the verb incontrare is the same as the noun form, incontro.

Quando vado al mare, incontro tanti stranieri.
When I go to the beach,  I meet up with lots of foreigners.

 

There is a third form which looks exactly like the noun incontro, but is a preposition, and is used together with a second preposition, a (to, at): incontro a (towards).

It’s used in the very common phrase:

Ti vengo incontro.
I’ll come towards you.
I’ll meet you halfway.

 

This expression also is used when negotiating:

Mi è venuto incontro sul prezzo
He met me halfway on the price.

 

We say “halfway” but it may be more or less than half, so we could also say “part way.” It can mean making a concession, giving a discount, or lowering a price.

 

Remembering that contro means “against” will help you understand the following example. It’s another figurative use of incontro, and the verb andare (to go) is used: andare incontro (to face, to encounter, to be up against).

Era medico anche lui. Si figuri se non sapeva a che cosa sarebbe andato incontro.

He was a doctor, too. Can't imagine he didn't know what he was up against.

Captions 55-56, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto - Part 2

 Play Caption

 

Grammatically speaking:
To use incontro a  as a preposition, we need a subject, a verb—usually venire (to come) or andare (to go), and an indirect object. If the object is a person or a noun, we useincontro a:

Vado incontro a Maria.
I’m going to walk towards Maria./I’ll meet up with Maria halfway.

Va incontro alla morte.
He’ll be facing death./He’s going towards his death.

 

If we use incontro a with an indirect object pronoun, the preposition a is already included in the object pronoun if the the pronoun is at the beginning of the phrase. If it’s at the end, it needs a preposition:

Ti vengo incontro.
Vengo incontro a te.
I’ll meet you halfway.

Ci vengono incontro.
Vengono incontro a noi.
They’ll meet us halfway.

Le vado incontro.
Vado incontro a lei.
I’ll meet her halfway.

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

 

Just for fun:

Ogni giorno vado incontro a delle situazioni diverse. Ieri ho incontrato un vecchio amico, e volevamo programmare un altro incontro. Non potevo immaginare a che cosa si andava incontro, perché per trovare una data, abbiamo incontrato degli ostacoli non indifferenti. In realtà nessuno dei due aveva tempo per andare a casa dell’altro. Infine, ci siamo venuti incontro. Ci vedremo in città, vicino a dove lavora lui, e mi verrà incontro a piedi per farmi strada.

Every day I’m up against different situations. Yesterday I ran into an old friend, and we wanted to schedule another get-together. I couldn’t have imagined what we were up against, because in trying to find a date for it, we ran into significant stumbling blocks. The fact of the matter is that neither of us had time to go to the other’s house, so we met each other halfway on it. We’ll meet in the city, near his office, and he’ll come and meet me part way on foot to show me the way.
 

Vocabulary

Cops: Carabinieri, Vigili, or Poliziotti?

This week Yabla features an interview with a poliziotto (policeman). Nicola gives us some insight into what it really means to be a policeman. 

 

Sono un agente di Polizia da ventitré anni.

I've been a police officer for twenty-three years.

Caption 2, Nicola Agliastro - Poliziotto

 Play Caption

 

But what brand of policeman is he? In Italy there are different categories of police, with different roles, rules, and uniforms.

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Judging from the sign at the Commissariato (police headquarters) at the beginning of the video, Nicola appears to be part of the Polizia di Stato (state [national] police), which is the main, national police force. They are responsible for patrolling the autostrade (highways), ferrovie (railways), aeroporti (airports), and la dogana (customs). Their vehicles are blue and white (see thumbnail of video).

 

If you subscribe to Yabla, you’re quite familiar by now with La Polizia di Stato, since the popular series Commissario Manara takes place in that environment (in fact, there's a new segment this week!). 

 

Luca and Lara are usually in borghese (plainclothes), and wear their uniforms only on special occasions. At first glance Luca Manara doesn't quite look the part, and Ginevra, the medico legale (coroner), who doesn't look the part any more so, comments:

 

Tu devi essere il nuovo commissario, però non ne hai l'aspetto.

You must be the new Commissioner, but you don't look it.

Caption 62, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto

 Play Caption

 

La polizia municipale (local police force) on the other hand, works at a local level and is responsible primarily for traffic control, but also for enforcing national, regional, and local laws regarding commerce, legal residence, pets, and other administrative duties. The officers of the municipal police aren’t automatically authorized to carry weapons, since public safety is generally relegated to the Polizia di Stato. The municipal forces may be called polizia comunale (community police), polizia urbana (town police), or polizia locale (local police). They’re commonly called vigili urbani (town guards), but the correct nomenclature is agenti di polizia locale. Their vehicles depend on local tastes and traditions, and differ from town to town, and from region to region.

 

If you’re in Italy and you lose your wallet, or something gets stolen, you go to the Carabinieri to report the theft or the loss. They file a report, and make it official. When you’re driving, the Carabinieri may have you pull over for a routine checking of license, registration, and proof of insurance. If you have reason to believe there is a crime being committed, call the Carabinieri.

 

The police emergency number is 113, equivalent to 911 in the United States.

 

Here’s hoping you never need it!

 

Another important police force is la Guardia di Finanza (financial guard). The Guardia di Finanza deals primarily with financial crime and smuggling, and is the primary agency for suppressing illicit drug trade. They work on land, sea, and in the air. These are the agents who might ask you to produce a scontrino (receipt) upon exiting a shop, restaurant, or bar. The customer, since 2003, no longer incurs a fine, but it’s still good practice to hang on to your receipt until well away from the place of business.

 

These agents wear grayish green uniforms with the insignia of a yellow flame on the shoulder. Because of this, they are sometimes called le fiamme gialle (the yellow flames).

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Whichever kind of policemen you see around, be they carabinierivigiliagenti di polizia localepoliziotti, or fiamme gialle, remember they're there primarily to help, not to give you trouble.

Culture

Signup to get Free Italian Lessons sent by email



Ricordare: Remembering and Reminding

One of Italy’s most beloved singer-songwriters ci ha lasciato (passed away): Pino Daniele. Italian uses the verb ricordare to express remembrance on such occasions.

Lo ricorderemo con affetto.

We’ll remember him with affection.

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

In Quando (When), one of his most famous songs, Pino sings about, among other things, ricordi (memories).

 

Fra i ricordi e questa strana pazzia E il paradiso che forse esiste

Among memories and this strange madness And a paradise that might exist

Captions 29-30, Pino Daniele - Quando

 Play Caption

 

Ricordare has another, closely related meaning—“to remind,” as in the following example.

 

Ah, un'altra cosa, scusami Anna, che volevo ricordare ai nostri amici di Yabla, come usanza, noi italiani a tavola non mangiamo mai pane e pasta insieme.

Ah, another thing, sorry Anna, that I wanted to remind our Yabla friends of, customarily, we Italians at table we don't eat bread and pasta together.

Captions 41-42, Anna e Marika - Un Ristorante a Trastevere

 Play Caption

 

When using ricordare as “to remind,” it becomes ricordare a and gets used with an indirect object, as in the above example. The preposition a (to)—sometimes connected to an article, as above—goes between ricordare and the person getting reminded. In the above example, the direct object is cosa.

 

But when the indirect object is a personal pronoun, the spelling shifts, as in the following example, where ti stands for a te (to you). See an explanation and chart of Italian indirect object pronouns here.

 

E tra l'altro, ti volevo ricordare, che questa era una palude.

And besides, I wanted to remind you, that this was a swamp.

Caption 18, Marika e Daniela - Il Foro Romano

 Play Caption

 

In the following example, the personal pronoun as indirect object is attached to the verb itself. See more about this in previous lessons Ci gets around, part one and part two.

 

Hm... Rosmini. -Hm. -Ricordami il nome? -Ginevra.

Hmm... Rosmini. -Uh huh. -Remind me of your [first] name? -Ginevra.

Captions 80-81, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto

 Play Caption

 

In English we have two distinct but related words, “to remember” and “to remind,” while in Italian the difference is considered so minimal that the same word is used, but there are some subtle differences.

 

More often than not, when we’re remembering, ricordare is used reflexively: ricordarsi, as in mi ricordo (I remember). (See the lesson: Reflections on the Reflexive.) When using the past tense, as in the following example, essere (to be) is the auxiliary verb.

 

Ci siamo ricordati tutti i momenti belli della nostra storia.

We remembered all the beautiful moments of our romance.

Caption 17, Anna presenta - La Bohème di Puccini

 Play Caption

 

If you think of ricordare as meaning “to call to mind,” it may be easier to see how one word can fill two bills. While ricordarsi (to remember) is reflexive, and involves the person who’s remembering, ricordare a (to remind) involves two or more people.

 

Things get a little tricky when personal pronouns are used (which is a lot of the time)! Notice the object pronouns and conjugated verb. When ricordare means “to remember” the conjugation of ricordare matches the object pronoun, such as in ti ricordi? (do you remember?), si ricorda (he/she/it/one remembers), vi ricordate (you remember), ci ricordiamo (we remember). But in ricordare as reminding, there are usually at least two different people involved: ti ricordo (I remind you), ci ha ricordato (he/she/it reminded us), mi poteva ricordare (he could have reminded me).

 

In a nutshell:

Ricordare and its reflexive form ricordarsi (to remember): takes essere (to be) as an auxiliary (e.g., ci siamo ricordati), can be reflexive (same person)

Ricordare a (to remind): takes avere (to have) as an auxiliary (e.g., ci ha ricordato), is two-way (different people)

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Here are a few more examples to help you remember...

Ti ricorderai di comprare il pane, o te lo devo ricordare?

Will you remember to buy bread, or do I have to remind you of it?

Ricordamelo pure, ma forse non mi ricorderò!

Go ahead and remind me of it, but maybe I won’t remember!

Come faccio a ricordarmi di ricordarti?

How can I remember to remind you?

Ti ho già ricordato due volte.

I’ve already reminded you twice.

When we’re una squadra di uno (a team of one), then we need stesso (self) to remind ourselves of something:

Alla fine, sarà più semplice ricordare a me stesso/stessa di comprare il pane, che di ricordarmi di ricordare a qualcun altro.

In the end, it’ll be easier to remind myself to buy bread, than to remember to remind someone else.

Vocabulary

Learning to Say You're Sorry

Sometimes saying you’re sorry is a quick thing, because you did something like bumping into someone by accident. In Italian, depending on how you say it, you might have to make a quick decision: How well do I know this person, and how formal should I be? 

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

 

The familiar form is scusami (excuse me), or simply scusa. Grammatically speaking, we’re using the imperative form of scusare (to excuse). If you look at the conjugation of scusare, you’ll see that it’s conjugated like other verbs ending in -are (soon to be explained by Daniela in her popular grammar lesson series!). You’ll also see that it’s easy to get things mixed up. 

 

Learning conjugations can be daunting, but it’s worth learning the imperatives of scusare, since it’s a verb you’ll need in many situations. While you’re at it, you might do the same with perdonare (to pardon, to forgive), which conjugates the same way, and can have a similar meaning, as in the following situation where Marika is pretending to be distracted.

 

Perdonami, scusami tanto, ma ero sovrappensiero.

Forgive me, really sorry, but I was lost in thought.

Caption 25, Marika e Daniela - Il verbo chiedere

 Play Caption

 

It can be helpful to remember that in the familiar form, the mi (me) gets tacked onto the end of the verb: scusami, perdonami (and in the familiar second person plural: scusatemi, perdonatemi). But when using the polite form you need to put the mi first, making two words: mi scusi, mi perdoni

 

Signora mi scusi, Lei è parente della vittima?

Madam, excuse me, are you a relative of the victim?

Caption 12, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto

 Play Caption

 

Attenzione! If you ask a friend to forgive you, the question is: mi perdoni? If instead you’re saying “pardon me” to a stranger, it’s mi perdoni (and is not a question, but a command). It all has to do with inflection and context. 

Sono in ritardo, mi perdoni?

I’m late. Will you forgive me?

Mi perdoni, non ho sentito il Suo nome.

Pardon me, I didn’t hear your name.

In many cases, you can use the generic chiedo scusa (I ask for pardon, I ask forgiveness). This way, no worries about complicated conjugations!

On Italian TV interviews are conducted using the polite form of address, but in this case the intervistatore  (interviewer) knows the intervistato (interviewee) Tiziano Terzani very well, and would like to make an exception.

 

Chiedo scusa ai telespettatori se userò il "tu" con lui.

I'll ask the television audience for forgiveness if I use the "tu" form with him.

Captions 24-25, Tiziano Terzani - Cartabianca

 Play Caption

 

Another way to say you’re sorry is mi dispiace (I’m sorry), often shortened to mi spiace (I’m sorry), which is a bit weightier than “excuse me” and doesn’t necessarily involve the other person pardoning you. 

 

Mi spiace, ma qualcuno doveva pur dirvelo. Questa è la realtà.

I'm sorry, but someone had to say it to you. This is the reality.

Captions 74-75, Concorso internazionale di cortometraggio - A corto di idee

 Play Caption

 

Mi dispiace is used even when it’s not at all a question of asking pardon, such as when we hear about a disgrazia (adversity, terrible loss). In the following example, the father is using lasciare (to leave) to mean his daughter has died. Notice the plural ending of the participle (normally lasciato) that agrees with ci (us).

 

Angela ci ha lasciati. -Mi dispiace.

Angela's left us. -I'm sorry.

Captions 22-23, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP3 - Rapsodia in Blu

 Play Caption

 

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

There’s much more to say about being sorry, and about using the verb dispiacere. Ci dispiace (we’re sorry), but it will have to wait for another lesson. A presto!

You May Also Like