Italian Lessons

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4 More Ways to Use Conto

Let's look at 5 more ways to use the noun il conto in everyday conversation. The first two involve prepositions:

 

1) Per conto di

When we do something on someone's behalf, we use per conto di.

 

La leggenda racconta di miniere dove a scavare erano dei nani

The legend tells of mines where dwarfs were excavating

per conto del re Laurino.

on behalf of the king Laurin.

Captions 23-24, Meraviglie - EP. 5 - Part 10

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Oltre a questo lavoro giornalistico più specifico,

Besides this more specific journalistic job,

lavoro anche come, come responsabile di uffici stampa

I also work as head of press offices

per conto di varie realtà.

on behalf of various organizations.

Captions 1-3, Francesca Vitalini - Fare la giornalista pubblicista

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An expression we might see in a contract about power of attorney is:

agire in nome e per conto di (to act in the name of and on behalf of)

 

This expression can also mean "of one's own" and is used quite frequently as in the following example.

 

Perché la mi' figliola [mia figlia] c'ha già tanti problemi per conto suo.

Because my daughter has enough problems of her own.

Caption 37, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP9 - Morte in paradiso

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It can also mean on one's own:

Non faccio in tempo a venire a casa per pranzo. Mangio per conto mio.

I don't have time to come home for lunch. I'll eat on my own.

 

2) Sul conto di 

If we use the preposition su (on) then it can mean "about." We usually use it in reference to people.

 

No, io devo smentire delle cattiverie che girano sul mio conto.

No, I have to prove wrong the maliciousness that's circulating about me.

Caption 11, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto

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Anche se ultimamente si dicono un sacco di cose sul suo conto...

Even though lately they've said a lot of things about her...

Caption 30, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP1 - Matrimonio con delitto

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These next examples involve a verb plus conto:

3) Tener conto di

 

Mah, la libertà è una grossa parola,

Well, freedom is a strong word,

perché bisogna sempre tener conto

because we always have to take into account

delle persone che abbiamo intorno.

the people we're surrounded by.

Captions 22-23, Che tempo che fa - Monica Bellucci

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Here's an example using the particle ne (about it, of it) as well. It takes the place of di qualcosa (about/of something):

 

Tu vedrai che i giudici ne terranno conto, ascoltami.

You will see that the judges will take it into account, listen to me.

Caption 23, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP3 - Delitto tra le lenzuola

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4) Fare conto

When someone is telling you to listen to how things add up, or how things fit together, they might say:

 

Fai conto... (take this into consideration, do the math..., let's see... figure this in...)

 

Like many expressions, there are some people who use this expression regularly, and others who never use it. It can be added into a sentence as is, on its own. Instead of doing the math oneself, the speaker is having you participate. It's a modo di dire.

 

Ci vogliono,  fai conto,  tre ore per andare da Pisa a Bologna in macchina. 

It will take — you should count — three hours to go from Pisa to Bologna by car.

 

Cammina, cammina. Sai quanti chilometri faccio io al giorno? 

Yeah, walk. You know how many kilometers I do per day?

-Quanti? -Fai conto tre pedinamenti, per dire, eh.

-How many? -Figure three tails, to give you an idea, huh.

Captions 14-15, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP6 - Sotto tiro

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Fare conto can also be used with che (that) to make a more complex sentence.

 

Fai conto che io faccio tanti kilometri al giorno.

Take into account that I do three kilometers per day.

 

Fare conto doesn't necessarily have to do with numbers or counting. It can also mean "to assume that" or even "to pretend that" in certain contexts and in this case it takes the subjunctive.

Fai conto che io sia tua madre (anche se sono la zia), e devi fare quello che dico io.

Think of me as your mother (even though I am your aunt) and you have to do as I say. 

 

We hope these ways for using il conto will be useful to you. Maybe you will hear them used in a movie, or when an Italian is explaining something to you. Now you know!

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Can you think of other ways this noun is used? Let us know at newsletter@yabla.com.

The "Otherness" of Altrui

We have recently come to the end of the disturbing but fascinating documentary about Italian Fascism and the Italian language. We hope you enjoyed it and learned a thing or two about Italian history.

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One important concept put forth in this final segment is that language is an equalizer, allowing us to express ourselves and understand others.

Uguale è chi sa esprimersi e intendere l'espressione altrui.

An equal is one who is able to express himself and understand how others express themselves.

Caption 9, Me Ne Frego - Il Fascismo e la lingua italiana - Part 15

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There’s a curious little word in that caption: altrui. It’s an odd word, not following the usual rules for adjectives. In earlier times, the three famous fourteenth-century Florentine "authors" of the Italian language (Dante, Petrarca, and Boccaccio) also used it as a pronoun to mean “others.” It was used with various prepositions: di (of), a (to), or con (with).

 

More commonly, altrui is used as a possessive adjective to mean “of others” or “belonging to others/someone else.” So we might say the preposition is built-in. And once you're in the know, it's also easy to use because it doesn’t change according to number or gender. To translate altrui into English, we would most likely use the possessive form with an apostrophe.

 

In the first episode of Commissario Manara, Toscani is looking at his new boss with a bit of envy. His wife calls him on it. 

Toscani, non essere invidioso del posto altrui.

Toscani, don't be jealous of other people's positions.

Caption 39, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto - Part 8

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The meaning of altrui is also fairly easy to guess. In Italian, you can think of the noun or adjective altro-altra-altri (other/others) or think of “altruism” or “altruistic” and you’ll get it! Just remember you don’t need a preposition.

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Further learning:
Check out these examples of sentences with altrui.

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Chi manca (who's missing)?

The verb mancare (to miss, to be missing, to lack) is important to learn, to be able to tell someone you miss him or her, but mancare also has some other contexts, and learning these might help to understand this tricky verb.

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In the following example, there's a piece of information we don't have. We're lacking something. It's absent.

 

Manca un'informazione importante.

An important piece of information is missing.

Caption 36, A scuola di musica - con Alessio - Part 3

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Here's a typical thing to say at the dinner table:

Manca il sale nella  pasta.
The pasta lacks salt [salt is lacking in the pasta].

 

Let's transpose this to talking about people. Let's say there's a meeting, but not everyone is there. Someone says: 

Chi manca (who's missing)? Chi non c'è (who's not here)?
Manca Alice (Alice is missing). Non c'è Alice (Alice isn't here).

 

That has no sentimental value. Alice should be there and she's not. But when we add a personal pronoun, in this case, an indirect object pronoun like mi (to me), ti (to you), gli (to him), le (to her), ci (to us), vi (to you plural), loro (to them), we make it about us, we make it personal. We personally feel the fact of that person's absence. That's how Italians miss someone. 

 

Marika explains:

Un altro significato è "sentire la mancanza".

Another meaning is "to feel the absence."

Caption 18, Marika spiega - Il verbo mancare

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She uses mancare in this context:

"Mia sorella è appena partita e già mi manca!"

“My sister has just left and I already miss her!”

Caption 20, Marika spiega - Il verbo mancare

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In the following example, Luca Manara is feeling nostalgic about the past, and feels the absence of certain moments. Using the indirect object pronoun mi makes it about him, about how he feels. 

Mi mancano quei momenti in cui non conoscevo la risoluzione dei problemi e tu mi passavi le risposte sotto al banco.

I miss those times when I didn't know the answers to the questions and you passed me the answers under the desk.

Captions 64-65, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto - Part 8

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Vocabulary

"Pure" - not pure and simple!

One of our Yabla subscribers has asked about the word pure. It does get translated differently in different contexts, so it can be a bit confusing. This one short word has a few different but related connotations. On the simple end of the scale it’s an adverb—another way of saying anche (also, too, as well).

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In the following example, both anch’io and io pure mean pretty much the same thing. There’s no particular emotion attached to the word. It’s matter-of-fact.
 

Anch'io. -Anch'io. -Io pure.

So do I. -So do I. -Me too.

Caption 65, Un medico in famiglia - s.1. e.2 - Il mistero di Cetinka

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In the example below, however, the meaning of pure is technically the same (meaning “also,” “too,” “as well”) but there’s some sort of emotion involved, as if one were saying, “not only is she pretty, but she’s smart too!” (as if that weren't to be expected...):
 

Bellina e pure brava questa Rubino.

Pretty, and also smart, this Rubino.

Caption 1, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto - Part 8

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In the example below, pure is still an adverb, but this time gets translated as “even.” Let’s remember that anche can also mean “even” in certain situations. Some Italians will tell you that pure quite simply means anche. In fact, one could even swap pure with anche, and it would mean much the same thing.
  

È incredibile, fai pure finta di non ricordare.

It's incredible, you even pretend not to remember.

Caption 13, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto - Part 5

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Below is another example where the sense of pure is “even.” We could use “as well” or “too,” but it would be a bit of a stretch. In fact pure is a way to raise your eyebrows without actually doing so. It adds an emotional element.
 

Eh, questo, fa resuscitare pure i morti!

Yes, this, will revive even the dead!

Caption 59, Un medico in famiglia - s.1. e.2 - Il mistero di Cetinka - Part 8

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The following example is one in which pure requires more than a one-word translation. It’s used in contexts where we would use “go ahead” in English.
 

Senti, se ti va di metterti nei guai fallo pure,

Listen, if you want to get yourself in trouble, go ahead.

Caption 5, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP2 - Vendemmia tardiva - Part 9

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Fallo pure! can be translated as “go right ahead!” [literally: “do it nevertheless”].       
 

Pure as “go ahead” is also used a lot in offices and such places, where someone will either ask you to have a seat, or to go in. It can also be interpreted as “it’s OK if you…” since when you say “go ahead,” you’re giving permission. Here are some formal and informal examples:

Formal:
Si sieda pure.
Go ahead and have a seat.

Informal:
Siediti pure.
Go ahead and sit down.

Formal:
Si accomodi pure.
Go ahead and make yourself comfortable. [Have a seat.]

Informal:
Accomodati pure.
Go ahead and make yourself at home. [Also, as a sarcastic retort: "Be my guest!"]

Formal:
Vada pure avanti.
Go ahead and lead. [After you.]

Informal:
Vai pure avanti.
Go right ahead.
Go ahead and take the lead.
It’s all right if you go in front of me.
 

We often hear a more literary form of purepur, which basically means the same thing, although it’s considered a conjunction. It’s used to mean “though,” “although,” “yet,” and tends to occur before a gerundio (gerund) form of a verb, as in the following example.
 

Pur essendo partito in una situazione di un ristorante di fronte all'ortofrutta [fruttivendolo]...

Though getting its start as a restaurant situated across from the vegetable market...

Captions 1-2, L'arte della cucina - La Prima Identitá - Part 6

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It’s also frequent to find eppure (and yet, yet, still, but, nevertheless, all the same), which has the same root. In this case it’s a stand-alone conjunction and will likely be followed by a comma.
 

Eppure, il rischio vulcanico non ha mai allontanato i suoi abitanti.

And yet the volcanic risk has never sent its inhabitants away.

Caption 23, Linea Blu - Sicilia - Part 9

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In the same vein, we have neppure, which like neanche means “not even.”
 

E per di più non è neppure la stessa persona

And what's more, it's not even the same person

Caption 1, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP3 - Rapsodia in Blu - Part 13

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Tying it all together in context, just for fun:
 

Dialogo fra 2 maratonisti:
 

Francesca: Pur essendo anziano, vai forte! 
Massimo: Sì, ma vai pure avanti, ti raggiungo dopo la corsa. Mi sono allenato come un pazzo, eppure, sto facendo fatica. 
Francesca: Pure io sto facendo fatica. Fermati pure due minuti per riprendere fiato!
Massimo: Se tu ti vuoi fermare, fallo pure. Io non ci penso neanche! Neppure per sogno!
Francesca: Io pure non voglio fermarmi. A dopo!
 

Al traguardo...
 

Francesca: Ma... Sei arrivato prima tu! Eppure, eri stanchissimo.
Massimo: È vero, mi hai pure superato ad un certo punto, t’ho visto. Ma poi... puressendo stanco morto, ce l’ho fatta!

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Dialogue between two marathon runners:

Francesca: Even though you’re old, you’re fast!
Massimo: Yes, but go ahead and go, I’ll catch up to you after the race. I trained like crazy, but nevertheless, I’m having a tough time.
Francesca: I’m having a tough time as wellGo ahead and stop two minutes to catch your breath!
Massimo: If you want to stop, go right ahead. I won’t even think of it! [No way!] I wouldn’t even dream of it!
Francesca: I don’t want to stop, either. See you later!

At the finish line...

Francesca: But... You finished before me! And yet, you were very tired.
Massimo: It’s true. You even passed me at a certain point, I saw you. But then... even though I was dead tired, I made it!

Vocabulary

Getting someone’s attention in Italian: ascoltare and sentire

One way to get someone’s attention is to use the imperative command form of a verb. Two useful verbs for this purpose are ascoltare (to listen) and sentire (to hear). In Italian it’s important to know to whom you are giving the command; this will determine both the word choice and its conjugation.

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Commissioner Manara has a familiar relationship with Lara and uses the informal form of address: He’s getting her attention by saying ascolta (listen). There’s a slight urgency with ascolta.

 

Ascolta Lara, a volte bisogna prendere delle scorciatoie, no?

Listen Lara, sometimes you have to take shortcuts, right?

Caption 36, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP5 - Il Raggio Verde

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In the next example, there’s a bit of urgency, but this is Manara’s boss talking to him. They use the polite or formal form of address:

 

Manara, mi ascolti bene.

Manara, listen to me carefully.

Caption 23, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto

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Note that the imperative verb can stand alone, or be paired with an object personal pronoun as in the above example. It adds to the urgency, and makes it more personal. Manara’s boss could have added mi raccomando (make sure) for extra urgency:

Manara, mi ascolti bene, mi raccomando!

 

This next example is between two people who really don’t know each other at all. It’s a formal situation, so the Lei form of “you” is used. Senta is more passive and less intrusive than ascolti. In fact, it means “hear” or “listen,” but is actually a way of saying “excuse me.”

 

Senta Signora, oltre a Lei, chi lo sapeva di queste lettere?

Excuse me ma'am, other than you, who knew about these letters?

Caption 64, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP4 - Le Lettere Di Leopardi

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Senta (listen, excuse me, or hear me) is a command you’ll use in a restaurant when wishing to get the attention of the cameriere (waiter).

Senta, possiamo ordinare?
Excuse me, may we order?

 

Often, senta (listen) goes hand in hand with scusi (excuse me), to be extra polite.

 

Buonasera. Senta scusi, Lei conosceva il dottor Lenni, giusto?

Good evening. Listen, excuse me.  You knew Doctor Lenni, right?

Caption 4, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto

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And in a familiar situation, such as between Marika and the mozzarella vendor in Rome, there’s no urgency but Marika wants to get the vendor’s attention before asking her a question.

 

Senti, ma quante mozzarelle dobbiamo comprare per la nostra cena?

Listen, but how many mozzarellas should we buy for our dinner?

Caption 50, Anna e Marika - La mozzarella di bufala - La produzione e i tagli

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Without necessarily studying all the conjugations of sentire and scusare, it’s a good idea to just remember that in polite speech, the imperative has an “a” at the end of senta, but an “i” at the end of scusi. The familiar command form would be senti, scusa. These endings can be tricky for beginners because they seem wrong, being the opposite of the indicative endings. It’s quite easy to get mixed up. The command form originally comes from the subjunctive, which is why it has a different, special conjugation.

 

Learning suggestion:

Getting someone’s attention is part of the basic toolkit you need to communicate in Italian, so why not practice a bit, in your mind? Look at someone and get their attention using the correct verb and correct form.

If you don’t know the person, or you address them formally for some other reason, you use:

Senta! Senta, scusi.
Senta, mi scusi.
[Mi] ascolti. (Not so common, and a bit aggressive, useful if you’re a boss.)

 

If you’re trying to get the attention of a friend, you’ll use:

Senti... (It’s almost like saying, “Hey...”)
Ascolta...

Ascoltami... (This can be aggressive or intimate depending on the tone and the context.)

 

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Learn more about the imperative in Italian here.

I like it - Mi piace

It's very important to be able to say what you like and what you don't like. In English, “to like” is an active verb, as in “I like strawberries.” Italians use the verb piacere (to be pleasing, to delight) to say they like something. But attenzione! In Italian it gets turned around like this:

I like snow. (To me snow is pleasing.)

Mi piace la neve.

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"Snow" is singular, so piace is singular. If what we like is in the plural, like "strawberries," piacere will get conjugated in the plural (in this case, third person plural). 

Mi piacciono queste fragole.

To me these strawberries are pleasing [I like these strawberries.]

This can all be very confusing for new Italian speakers, but if you think about the fact that when you like something, it’s pleasing to you, it will make more sense.

So "I like" becomes mi piace. In her lesson on mi piace Daniela explains that mi (to me) is really just a contraction of a me (to me). A me is used when we want to emphasize the person, as opposed to the object the person likes, as in this hit song by Nina Zilli, Cinquantamila lacrime (Fifty thousand tears).

 

A me piace così -A me piace così

I like it like that. -I like it like that

Caption 7, Nina Zilli - 50 mila

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Remember that mi is an indirect object meaning "to me." Whatever or whoever is doing the pleasing (for example, strawberries) on the other hand, becomes the subject of the sentence (and governs the conjugation of piacere). 

 

You may hear Italians say: a me mi piace. Now that you know that mi is short for a me, you may sense that it's wrong because it's a repetition. In fact, it's bad grammar. Still, people say it because it emphasizes just about everything in the sentence. It's sort of like saying, "Me, I like it."

 

So, what if I want to tell a person I like him or her?

Mi piaci.

You please me. [I like you.]

 

Although mi piaci or mi piace can just refer to liking someone in general, more often than not, it’s about finding the other person attractive. To say that someone is generally likable or agreeable without alluding to their attractiveness, Italian uses a word that doesn’t have a direct English equivalent: simpatico (agreeable, likable).

 

If you say mi sei simpatico or, as is more common in the south, mi stai simpatico (you're agreeable to me, you’re likable to me), you’re essentially telling the person you like him! It’s safer than mi piaci in many situations. 

 

Let’s take an example from our favorite commissioner, Manara. He’s convinced his new colleagues don’t like him, but there’s a job to do.

 

Sentite, che io non vi sto simpatico l'ho capito perfettamente. Però abbiamo un caso molto complicato da risolvere,

Listen, I understand perfectly that you don't like me. However, we've got a very complicated case to solve,

Captions 43-44, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto

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In a nutshell: 

In English, the person doing the liking is the subject, and the thing or person one likes is the object. In Italian, the person or thing that pleases is the subject, and the person who does the liking, or who’s pleased, is the object! 

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Learning suggestion: 

Look around you and see what you like and what you don’t like. Saying it out out loud in Italian will give you practice conjugating the verb piacere. Remember that when you don’t like something, just put non in front of mi: Non mi piace questo vino (I don’t like this wine).

Online Resources:

-This article will help you get the grammatical lay of the land regarding liking things in Italian.

-This article provides some extra input on using piacere.

Tune in to more lessons with Daniela on the subject: Ti piace and Piacere.

Vocabulary

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Slow down you're driving too loud

The instrument we know as the piano is called il pianoforte in Italian. What made it special when it was invented was that it could be played both piano (softly) and forte (loudly). Many of us are familiar with these musical terms, but actually, forte and piano are ordinary words (used as both adjectives and adverbs) and much of the time have nothing to do with music.

Francesca is learning to drive, and her instructor is telling her how to use the clutch:
 

Piano piano, lentamente.

Slow, slow, slowly.

Caption 36, Francesca - alla guida - Part 2

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If she had taken off too fast, her instructor might have said:
 
Rallenta, stai andando troppo forte!
Slow down, you are going too fast!
 
So just as piano can mean lentamente (slowly), forte is often used to mean veloce (fast). In fact, forte basically means “strong” or “loud.” It can be used to express a strong, positive emotion like, when Lele, upon seeing his new home for the first time, exclaims:
 

Forte! C'è il giardino con l'erba e tutto. -Ti piace?

Cool! There's a garden with a lawn and everything. -You like it?

Caption 13, Un medico in famiglia - s.1 e.1 - Casa nuova - Part 3

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Piano can mean “delicately,” “quietly,” or “slowly,” and it’s not always clear which meaning is intended. On the beach at Maratea, three friends are singing a famous Italian song.
 

Lasciatemi cantare una canzone piano piano

Let me sing a song slowly, slowly [or: softly, softly]

Caption 12, Amiche - È tempo di cantare

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Only the songwriter knows for sure!
 
“Level” is a completely different meaning of piano. In piano refers to level ground. Un piano is something level, like the story of a building. Lele tattles on his neighbor before leaving his old apartment for good:
 

La moglie di Andrea si bacia in macchina con l'avvocato del quinto piano.

Andrea's wife kisses the lawyer from the fifth floor in the car.

Caption 21, Un medico in famiglia - s.1 e.1 - Casa nuova - Part 2

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Un piano is also a flat surface to work on. In the kitchen you will need a piano di lavoro (countertop) and a piano di cottura (stovetop). Then you will set the table with two kinds of plates that take their names from their shapes: piano (flat) and fondo (deep).
 

Cominciamo con i piatti: questo è un piatto piano. Poi, c'è il piatto fondo...

Let's begin with the plates, this is a flat plate [dinner plate]. Then, there's the soup plate...

Captions 7-8, Marika spiega - Le pentole e le posate

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Piani (levels) can have to do with depth, too. When we zoom in with a camera, we will be getting a primo piano (close-up). We can also use piano to discuss priorities, like when Lara is trying to get Commissario Manara to focus on the job at hand:
 

Le questioni personali vanno messe in secondo piano.

Personal matters should take second place [literally, put in the background].

Caption 60, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto

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And if that weren’t enough, un piano is also “a plan.”
 
Tranquilli, ho un piano.
Don't worry, I have a plan.
 

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So if you are playing the piano (pianoforte), talking too loud (troppo forte) or too soft (troppo piano), chopping vegetables on the counter (piano di lavoro), setting the table for dinner (piatti piani), filming a close-up (primo piano) of your cat, talking on a philosophical level (piano filosofico) with your friend, cycling on a flat road (in piano) and going too fast (troppo forte) or too slow (troppo piano) for your companion; if you have a plan (un piano), or even if you just live on the next floor up (al piano di sopra) in an apartment building, then these words are for you.
 
Learning tip: To get a more complete sense of the uses and nuances of piano and forte, go to an online dictionary like wordreference and check out the many examples. Whenever you can, reinforce your vocabulary skills by clicking on the green “Review Vocabulary” button below the video thumbnail.
Vocabulary

Ci Gets Around - Part 1

Ci Gets Around - Part 2

Most of us know what arrivederci means: “goodbye,” or literally, “until we see each other again.” Ci in this case means “us” or “to us” or “each other.” Take a look at how ci works in this evocative hymn to one of our most precious resources, water:

 

Ci ricorda qualcosa che abbiamo dimenticato.

It reminds us of something that we have forgotten.

Caption 22, Inno all'acqua - un bene prezioso da difendere

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When we like something, it gets "turned around" in Italian:

Ci piace molto questo posto! 

We like this place a lot! [Literally: This place pleases us a lot!]

Sometimes ci gets attached to a verb, like here, where Commissioner Manara has just arrived at the crime scene and is dispatching his team to question a cyclist:

 

Perché non vai a sentire cos'ha da dirci? [Another way to say this would be: Perché non vai a sentire cosa ci ha da dire?]

Why don't you go and listen to what he has to tell us?

Caption 14, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP2 - Vendemmia tardiva - Part 2

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Ci is often used in reflexive constructions, which are more common in Italian than in English.

 

Noi ci troviamo in Campania...

We are [we find ourselves] in Campania...

Caption 16, Giovanna spiega - La passata di pomodori

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BANNER PLACEHOLDER

In all the above examples, ci is the plural of mi (me, to me, myself). But the word ci can also mean “there,” expressing place, presence, or existence. It’s frequently hidden in a contraction, thus not alway easy to recognize. On his first day of work, Commissioner Manara checks into a pensione (small, family-run hotel) and asks the receptionist:

 

Il televisore c'è in camera? -Eh, certo che c'è.

Is there a TV in the room? -Eh, of course there is.

Captions 30-31, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto - Part 6

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He walks in on his colleagues who are gossiping about him:

 

Che c'è, assemblea c'è?

What's up, is there an assembly?

Caption 42, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto - Part 8

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In the above examples, c’è stands for ci è (there is), just like ci sono means “there are.” But, as we can see, it also means “is there?”—it’s the inflection (or punctuation if it’s written) that tells you whether it’s a question or a statement. (Learn more here and here.)

If I care whether you understand something or not, I will ask:

Ci sei?

Do you get it? Are you with me? [Literally: Are you there?]

If I don’t care so much, I might say:

Chi c’è c’è, chi non c’è non c’è.

If you're with me you're with me; if you're not, you’re not. [Literally, “whoever is there is there; whoever isn’t there, isn’t there.”]

There! Ci is pretty easy when you get the hang of it! (Tip: Do a search for ci in the Yabla videos to instantly see lots of different examples in context.) Stay tuned for Part 2 of this lesson, where we’ll find out how ci worms its way into all sorts of other situations!  

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

 

Learning tip:

Make a shopping list, even just mentally, and as you do, ask yourself if you have those items in the fridge or in the cupboard. For singular things, or collective nouns, you will use c’è and for countable items in the plural, you will use ci sono. To get started:

C’è del formaggio? No, non c’è. (Is there any cheese? No, there isn’t.)

Ci sono delle uova? Si, ci sono. (Are there any eggs? Yes, there are.)

Ci sei? 

Grammar

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