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Chiaro and Chiaramente

A user wrote in with a question about these two words. Is there a difference? Yes, there is: chiaro is an adjective, and chiaramente is an adverb. But that’s the simple answer.

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Language is in constant flux, and chiaro has various meanings, just as “clear” in English does. And this adjective has come to take on the job of an adverb in certain contexts, as Marika mentions in her lesson on adverbs.

"Non fare troppi giri di parole, parla chiaro".

"Don't beat around the bush. Speak plainly."

Caption 29, Marika spiega - Gli avverbi di modo

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As a matter of fact, dictionaries list chiaro as both an adjective and adverb, but as an adverb, it's used only in certain circumstances, with certain verbs.

What’s the difference between parlare chiaro and parlare chiaramente?

Well, sometimes there isn’t much difference.

Del resto la relazione del mio collega di Milano parla chiaro.

Moreover, the report from my colleague in Milano is clear.

Caption 30, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto - Part 3

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In the example above, the speaker could have used the adverbial form to mean the same thing.

Del resto la relazione del mio collega di Milano parla chiaramente.

 

Parlare chiaro has become an idiomatic expression — un modo di dire. It gets the message across very clearly.  It implies not using flowery language, wasting words, or trying to be too polite. But parlare chiaramente can have more to do with enunciation, articulation, ormaking oneself understood. So, sometimes parlare chiaro and parlare chiaramente can coincide, but not necessarily.

 

Apart from this modo di dire, the adjective and adverb forms are used a bit differently in grammatical terms.

 

Since chiaro is an adjective, it normally describes or modifies a noun. To be correct, then, we often use è (it is).

È chiaro che non lo deve sapere nessuno perché il marito è gelosissimo.

It's clear that no one should know, because her husband is very jealous.

Caption 33, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP5 - Il Raggio Verde - Part 12

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Chiaro may be used by itself with a question mark to ask, “Is that clear?”

E non sono tenuto a spiegarti niente, chiaro?

And I'm not obliged to explain anything to you, is that clear?

Caption 20, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP3 - Rapsodia in Blu - Part 10

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The adverb chiaramente, on the other hand, can stand alone before or after another clause or can be inserted just about anywhere in a sentence.

Natoli ha chiaramente bisogno di glutine, eh.

Natoli clearly needs gluten, huh.

Caption 33, La Tempesta - film - Part 5

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Using chiaro, Paolo could have said:

È chiaro che Natoli ha bisogno di glutine.
It’s clear that Natoli needs gluten.

 

But chiaro has a special in-between meaning when it’s used in place of an adverb with verbs such as parlare (to speak) and vedere (to see).

Finché non ci ho visto chiaro la tengo io.

Until I've seen things clearly I'm keeping it.

Caption 44, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP3 - Rapsodia in Blu - Part 10

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Although we have translated it with an adverb, we could also say:

Until I get a clear picture of things, I’m keeping it.

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Practice:
Look for sentences with either chiaro or chiaramente and try switching them, making the necessary changes. Doing a search on the video tab will give you plenty of examples.

"Sempre" is Not Always "Always"

When we think of continuity, our Italian go-to word is sempre (always). It covers a lot of ground, as we’ll discover.

Per Elisa, paghi sempre tu e non ti lamenti

For Elisa you always pay, and you don't complain

Caption 9, Alice - Per Elisa

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But sempre also has some other interesting sfumature (nuances).

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This next example is only slightly different from the above.

Ti amerò per sempre.
I’ll love you forever.

 

Keeping in mind that sempre also means “ever” is useful for understanding phrases like the following:

Ma che dici zia, sono sempre la stessa.

But what are you saying Auntie, I'm the same as ever.

Caption 16, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto - Part 3

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This example could just as easily be translated using a different English adverb:

But what are you saying, Auntie? I’m still the same!

Or:

I’m the same as always!

 

In the following example, sempre as “still” is a bit more clear-cut:

Questa parola inizia con "Z", ma ha sempre lo stesso articolo.

This word starts with "Z," but it still has the same article.

Captions 30-31, Corso di italiano con Daniela - Articolo femminile singolare

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A common example of using sempre to mean “still” is when you call someone who’s late for an appointment and she tells you:

Non sono ancora partita. Sono sempre a casa!
I haven’t left yet. I’m still home!

 

Another common use of sempre is to reinforce another adverb, such as in the following example. In this case it's followed by più (more).

I tempi si fanno sempre più difficili.

The tenses get harder and harder.

Or: The tenses get more and more difficult.

Or, a bit more formally: The tenses get increasingly difficult.

Caption 26, Anna e Marika - Il verbo essere - Part 4

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Lastly, and this is a bit tricky (because it takes the subjunctive mood), we have sempre che (“provided that” or “as long as”).

...e della frutta, come le mele, i limoni, le arance, sempre che, ci siano.

...and some fruit, such as apples, lemons, oranges, provided that there are some.

Captions 10-11, Come preparare con creatività - una tavola per la campagna

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In a nutshell:

Sempre is used to mean:

always
forever (preceded by per)
ever
still
more (followed by più)
less (followed by meno)
provided that (followed by che)

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Putting it all together (just for fun):

Arrivo sempre tardi al lavoro. Alle nove di mattina, invece di essere alla mia scrivania, di solito, ho sempre da timbrare il cartellino, o, peggio ancora, sono sempre al bar. E ultimamente è sempre peggio! Il mio posto di lavoro è sempre meno sicuro. Cercherò di essere sempre più puntuale, sempre che non mi licenzino prima.

always get to work late. At nine in the morning, instead of being at my desk, I usuallystill have to punch in, or even worse, I'm still at the coffee shop. And lately it’s gottenworse and worse. My job is less and less secure, so I’m going to try and be more and more punctual, provided they don’t fire me first.  

 

Visit WordReference to familiarize yourself even further with this common adverb.

Vocabulary

Che sarà sarà

The future tense with conjunctions: A will-will situation


In a previous lesson, we discussed how Italian uses the future tense to express probability, as well as the future itself. Now, getting back to the normal use of the future tense, we’re going to see how it works when using conjunctions such as se (if), quando (when), appena (as soon as), non appena (as soon as), finché (as long as), and finché non (until) to connect two parts of a sentence. Italian and English have two different approaches to this. In Italian the future tense has to be present on both sides of the conjunction, while in English the future tense appears on only one side. Consider the following example, where Francesca is telling us about what she is going to wear when she goes skiing:

 

Questa la indosserò quando sarò in prossimità dei campi da sci.

This I'll put on when I'm close to the ski slopes.

Caption 34, Francesca - neve - Part 2

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Translated literally, this would be: This I’ll put on when I will be close to the ski slopes.

What we need to remember is that in Italian the future tense will appear on both sides of these conjunctions—a “will-will” situation. 

One important conjunction frequently used with the future is appena (as soon as). Attenzione! Appena by itself is also an adverb meaning “barely,” “scarcely,” or “just.”  

Ho appena finito.

I just finished.

Si vedeva appena.

One could barely see it. 

When used as a conjunction meaning “as soon as,” appena will often be preceded by non, which, depending on the context, can give it an extra bit of urgency or emphasis. (Note that non in this case has nothing to do with negation.) In English we might say “just as soon as” for that same kind of emphasis.

Mi chiamerà appena starà meglio.

She’ll call me as soon as she’s better.

Mi chiamerà non appena starà meglio.

She’ll call me as soon as she’s better. 

Or,

She’ll call me just as soon as she’s better.

We can put the conjunction at the beginning of the sentence, but il succo non cambia (the “juice” or gist doesn’t change). 

Appena starà meglio, mi chiamerà. 

[It could also be: Non appena starà meglio mi chiamerà.]

As soon as she's better, she’ll call me. 

Or,

Just as soon as she’s better, she’ll call me.

Two more related conjunctions used with the future are finché (as long as) and finché non (until). While appena can appear with or without “non” preceding it and mean pretty much the same thing, with finché and finche non, we have two related but distinct meanings. Finché by itself means “as long as,” but if we negate it with non, it becomes “until.” Let’s see how this works. 

In the following example, Manara’s boss is warning him about his unconventional behavior. Grammatically speaking, he uses the futuro anteriore, but the key here is that he uses the future, where in English “until” calls for the present perfect (“have shown”) here.

 

Lei non se ne andrà da qui finché non avrà dimostrato di essere un vero commissario.

You won't leave here until you've shown yourself to be a true commissioner.

Caption 42, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto

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Translated literally: You won’t leave this place until you will have shown yourself to be a true commissioner.

Or, to understand how finché non becomes “until”: You won’t leave this place as long as you will not have shown yourself to be a true commissioner.

Attenzione! Occasionally finché non will be used in speech without “non,” but will still clearly mean “until.” The context will clue you in. If you watch this video about Fellini, you’ll come across an example of this in caption 17.

 

Finché viene il giorno della partenza.

Until the day of departure arrives.

Caption 17, Fellini Racconta - Un Autoritratto Ritrovato

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Learning suggestion:

As you watch Yabla videos, pay special attention to the conjunctions mentioned above when they crop up. It’s worth spending some time understanding first hand how this works in Italian, so why not try making up some sentences using these conjunctions and the future tense? To get started:

Non appena avrò finito di mangiare, farò i compiti.

Just as soon as I’m finished eating, I’ll do my homework.

Appena avrò finito di mangiare, farò i compiti.

As soon as I’ve finished eating, I’ll do my homework.

Non farò i compiti finché non avrò finito di mangiare. 

I’m not going to do my homework until I’ve finished eating.

Finché starò a tavola, non penserò ai compiti.

As long as I’m at the dinner table, I’m not going to think about my homework.

Se non avrò finito di mangiare, non potrò cominciare.

If I haven’t finished eating, I won’t be able to start.

Quando avrò finito di mangiare, farò i compiti.

When I’ve finished eating, I’ll do my homework.

Grammar

I Say Hello; You Say Goodbye

We’ve all heard the informal greeting ciao ("hi" or "bye") and the more formal buongiorno ("good morning" or "hello"). But when is the right—or wrong—time to use them? And what are the variations and alternatives?  

 

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Buongiorno: when do we say this?

In Il Commissario Manara - Un delitto perfetto, a freshly transferred Commissioner is greeting his new boss. He certainly wouldn’t say ciao. He says buongiorno. If it were after noon (technically after 12 noon, but more likely later) he would say buonasera ("good evening," "good afternoon," or "hello"). 

 

Buongiorno. -Si può sapere, di grazia, che fine ha fatto?

Good morning. -Can one know, may I ask, where you have been?

Caption 22, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto

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At the market, Agata is addressing the vegetable vendor with respect. It is polite to add signora (ma’am) or signore (sir) when addressing someone you don’t know well, or when you don’t know their name. Agata’s friend just says a general buongiorno ("good morning") to everyone (a little less formal but still perfectly acceptable): 

 

Signora buongiorno. -Buongiorno. -Volevo fare vedere alla mia amica Catena... -Buongiorno, piacere.

Madam, good morning. -Good morning. -I wanted to show my friend Catena... -Good morning, nice to meet you.

Captions 23-24, L'isola del gusto - Il macco di Aurora

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Ciao and arrivederci

Agata and her friend Catena are still at the market. Catena says buongiorno since she doesn’t know anyone at all. Agata just uses her vendor’s name (Giuseppe) to greet him, and he greets her using the familiar form:

 

Buongiorno. -Giuseppe! -Ciao Agata.

Good morning. -Giuseppe! -Hi Agata.

Caption 8, L'isola del gusto - Il macco di Aurora

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Another vendor is saying goodbye to her customers: ciao to those to she knows well and arrivederci (literally, "until we see each other again") to those she doesn’t: 

 

Grazie. Arrivederci, ciao.

Thanks. Goodbye, bye.

Captions 44-45, L'isola del gusto - Il macco di Aurora

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Pronto (telephone only)

One version of "hello" has a very limited application: pronto. It literally means "ready," and it's how Italians answer the phone:

 

Pronto, Sicily Cultural Tour. Buongiorno.

Hello, Sicily Cultural Tour. Good morning.

Caption 1, Pianificare - un viaggio

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One more option: Salve

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Still another way to greet someone is salve (hello). Less formal than buongiorno, it is still polite and you can use it all by itself. It is especially useful when you’re not sure how formal to be or whether it is morning or afternoon/evening, and when you don’t know or remember the name of the person you are addressing.

 

Salve, vorrei fare un viaggio alla Valle dei Templi ad Agrigento.

Hello, I'd like to take a trip to the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento.

Caption 2, Pianificare - un viaggio

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As you go about your day, try imagining how you might greet the people you meet if you were speaking Italian. Keep in mind the hour, and how well you know the person—and, remember, when in doubt, there is always salve

 

To learn more:

A detailed explanation of Forms of Address used in Italian can be found here.

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Caption 45, 44, 37, 8, 24, 23, 25, 21
Adv-Intermediate

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