Italian Lessons


Words and Phrases to Know in La Ladra

In this lesson, we are going to take one segment of an episode of a TV series we are offering on Yabla and explore some of the expressions and vocabulary that could do with a little explaining. Whether you are a Yabla Italian subscriber or not, you will want to be familiar with these words and expressions.



If we look at the word già, we see it primarily means "already."

Eh... già che ci sei, guarda che ora è.

Eh... while you're at it, look at what time it is.

Caption 17, Acqua in bocca Rapimento e riscatto - Ep 12

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Già che ci sei is a very common expression, and it was translated with an equivqlent English expression. If we want to be more word-for-word, another way to translate this could be:

Since you are already there, could you see what time it is?


But già is also used as reinforcement. It can mean "indeed," or "right," or even "yeah," when "yeah" is confirming something someone else said. 

E così Lei è nata ad Atene. -E già, ma me ne sono andata appena adolescente.

So, you were born in Athens. -That's right, but I left as soon as I became a teenager.

Captions 1-2, La Ladra Ep.12 Come ai vecchi tempi - Part 5

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It can be preceded by eh, or ah, again, fillers or interjections.

Volevo dedicarmi un po' alla mia vera passione, fotografando l'Italia. Ah, già, Lei è fotografa.

I wanted to devote myself a bit to my true passion, photographing Italy. Ah, right, you are a photographer.

Captions 53-55, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 16

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Il soggetto

At a certain point, Eva is talking to a guy at the group home about the owner of the place they are renting from. He says:

Se lo hai conosciuto, avrai capito il soggetto.

If you have met him, you will have figured out the individual.

Caption 26, La Ladra Ep.12 Come ai vecchi tempi - Part 5

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The guy Eva is talking to uses the noun soggetto. He means, "You have realized what kind of person/character you are dealing with." Well, in fact, soggetto is a great cognate, because it does often refer to a subject. And just think of the American TV series Criminal Minds where they use the term "unsub" (unidentified subject) to mean a criminal type they are looking for. 


1) Can you think of another way to say "Se lo hai conosciuto, avrai capito il soggetto" using a more modern and colloquial noun in place of soggetto?


Attenzione: When we want to say "Don't change the subject!" we do not use soggetto. We use argomento.

Non cambiare argomento!


If you watch movies on Yabla, they often include the titles and credits. In this case, il soggetto refers to the idea of the story or the story. In fact, the Taviani brothers, when pitching a film story to a producer, got this as a response.


Se in tre frasi riuscite a dirmelo, funziona. Se non è in tre frasi, guardate, cambiate subito soggetto perché vuol di' [dire] che non funziona".

If you can tell me in three sentences, it works. If it's not in three sentences, look, change the story right away because it means it doesn't work."

Captions 51-53, Fratelli Taviani La passione e l'utopia - Part 3

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We have learned that però means "however," "though," or "but." Most of the time it does.

Però un lato umano ce l'ha: è ancora innamoratissimo della defunta moglie.

But he does have a human side: He is still very much in love with his deceased wife.

Captions 27-28, La Ladra Ep.12 Come ai vecchi tempi - Part 5

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2) È ancora innamoratissimo della moglie. Can you put this in the negative? (He is no longer in love with his wife).


But it's also something people say to mean, "Wow!" When you find out some news that's perhaps a bit surprising or shocking, or you are impressed by something (one way or another), one reaction can be Ah, però!

Peccato che i parenti della defunta moglie l'abbiano accusato di essersi intestato tutti i beni di famiglia. -Ah, però!

Too bad that the deceased wife's relatives accused him of having put all the family's assets in his name. -Wow!

Captions 29-31, La Ladra Ep.12 Come ai vecchi tempi - Part 5

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You can even leave out Ah and just say Però!

È stata una delle esperienze più intense della mia vita. Però! Vieni.

It was one of the most intense experiences of my life. Wow! Come here.

Captions 5-6, Il Commissario Manara S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto - Part 10

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In rotta

Siamo in rotta.

We're on the outs.

Caption 50, La Ladra Ep.12 Come ai vecchi tempi - Part 5

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Rotta comes, in this case, from rottura (rupture), or from the verb rompere (to break). So another way to say this in Italian would be (avere rotto i rapporti con qualcuno (to have broken off a relationship with someone). But most likely if you look for in rotta  in a dictionary, it will be translated as "en route," since rotta also means "route!" So check out the context before deciding what you think something means.


Come si fa? 

We mention this expression because it uses the impersonal si, and it uses a different adverb than we would use in English to express the same question.

Cosa vuole, Gina, fosse per me quei bambini li difendere con le armi. Ma come si fa? La legge è dalla parte del proprietario.

What do you want, Gina? For me I would defend them with weapons. But what can we/one do? The law is on the side of the owner.

Captions 56-58, La Ladra Ep.12 Come ai vecchi tempi - Part 5

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3) Instead of using the impersonal — come si fa? — can you say something similar in the first person plural?


Of course, come si fa? also means "how does one do that?" and in this case come matches up with "how." But more often than not, this expression is used to mean "what can you (or one) do?" It's just something to be aware of and watch out for, especially since it's an expression people use a whole lot! Keep in mind that the impersonal can also be translated with the passive voice in English: What can be done?


If you like (or don't like) these lessons focused on one video or segment, please let us know



"Extra credit"

1) Se lo hai conosciuto, avrai capito il tipo.​

2) Non è più innamorato della moglie.

3) Come facciamo?

Vivere: Living the Experience

The basic meaning of the verb vivere is “to live.” In this case it’s intransitive, meaning it doesn’t take a direct object.


Non è per niente male vivere in Italia, anzi!

It's not at all bad living in Italy, on the contrary!

Caption 54, Francesca - sulla spiaggia - Part 3

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But Italian also uses vivere to mean “to go through,” “to experience.” In this case, it’s transitive, meaning it takes a direct object. In this first example, Gualtiero “lives” the problem (direct object) of having to eat out every day.


Quindi ho vissuto in prima persona il problema del pranzo fuori casa.

So I experienced firsthand, the problem of lunch away from home.

Caption 13, L'arte della cucina - L'Epoca delle Piccole Rivoluzioni

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In talking about how he experienced this problem, he could have said, ho vissuto personalmente, but he used in prima persona (in the first person, firsthand) which is a very common way to say the same thing.

As a guest in a foreign country like Italy, you'll often be asked about your esperienze (experiences). If you use the noun form, then esperienza is your friend.


È stata una delle esperienze più intense della mia vita.

It was one of the most intense experiences of my life.

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

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When instead you want to use the verb “to experience,” then vivere is a good choice:


Nel ristorante che stavo ideando, la cucina e l'ambiente stesso avrebbero dovuto risvegliare emozioni da vivere e condividere con il cliente.

In the restaurant I was designing, the kitchen and the space itself would have to awaken emotions to experience and share with the customer.

Captions 14-15, L'arte della cucina - L'Epoca delle Piccole Rivoluzioni

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And here’s Jovanotti in his song about positive thinking, with a verb and a noun that both mean “experience”!


...e vivere le esperienze sulla mia pelle...

...and live out the experiences on my own skin [personally]...

Caption 32, Lorenzo Jovanotti - Penso Positivo

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It wouldn’t sound good to say “experience the experiences” in English (using “experience” as both a verb and a noun in the same line), but it wouldn’t be incorrect! And now, you've discovered still another way to say “personally.”


In a nutshell:
There are two important (related) meanings of vivere:

vivere (to live)

vivere (to experience, to live out, to go through)

There are different ways to express “personally.” Both Gualtiero and Jovanotti could have used any of the following to mean pretty much the same thing:

personalmente (personally)
sulla propria pelle (on one’s own skin, firsthand, personally)
in prima persona (in the first person, firsthand, personally)

“Experience” as a noun is pretty much the same as esperienza. There’s no verb form of esperienza.


“To experience” is most frequently translated as vivere. Check out some of the other possibilities here.

Just for fun:
Non sono italiano ma vivo in Italia. Vivere qui è un’esperienza straordinaria. Hovissuto dei momenti fantastici, però ho anche vissuto sulla mia pelle cosa vuol dire essere extracomunitario. La procedura delle impronte digitali l’ho vissuto in prima persona. Non è stata un’esperienza per niente simpatica, e personalmente, ne avrei fatto a meno di viverla.


I’m not Italian, but I live in Italy. Living here has been an extraordinary experience. I’ve experienced some fantastic moments, but I’ve also experienced, firsthand, what it means to be non-European. The procedure for fingerprinting I experienced firsthand. It wasn’t a nice experience at all, and personally, I could have done without going through that.

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