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Another Way to Notice Something (or Not), in Italian

In a previous lesson, we discussed a couple of ways to talk about noticing things, or not. Each expression or verb that says roughly the same thing comes with its particular grammatical feature and each has nuances that can determine when people use one or the other.

Notare

The easiest and most direct way to notice things is with the transitive verb notare.

 

E Lei non ha notato niente di strano?

And you didn't notice anything strange?

Caption 18, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP3 - Rapsodia in Blu

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Accorgersi

Accorgersi (to notice) is reflexive and comes with its grammatical baggage especially when using it in the present perfect (a very common way to use it). Accorgesene (to notice it) adds the complication of the ne particle. So it gets complicated, especially for beginners.

 

Abbiamo parcheggiato in divieto di sosta,

We parked in a no parking zone,

e io purtroppo non me ne sono accorto.

and I, unfortunately, didn't realize it.

Captions 12-13, Francesca - alla guida

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Rendersi conto

In a previous lesson we also talked about rendersi conto or rendersene conto as a way to realize something. It's a bit deeper than just noticing. It's to become aware of the significance of an oberservation. There are relevant discussions of accorgersi vs rendersi conto, on WordReference so check it out if you want to know more.

 

E allora ripensando a quella mattina, io mi sono resa conto

And so thinking back to that morning, I realized

che Lei entrò nello studio soltanto pochi secondi dopo di noi.

that you entered the study just a few seconds after us.

Captions 54-55, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto

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Farci caso or fare caso di qualcosa

Here's another modo di dire that Italians use quite a bit in conversation, especially when they fail to notice something or they want to fail to notice something on purpose, that is, to ignore something.

 

This expression is not reflexive so that's one point in its favor (on the easy-to-use scale), but we do have to contend with the particle ci which in this case stands for "about it" or "to it".

 

Let's look at the make up of this expression. Basically we have the verb fare (to make, to do) and the noun caso (case) and then we have ci which in this case stands for "about it" or "to it," or just  "it."  We can think of farci caso as "making a case out of something," "making an issue of something," "giving something importance." 

 

And in some cases, that's what it means.

 

Se proprio vogliamo chiamarla debolezza...

If we really want to call it a weakness...

era un poco tirato nei quattrini, ecco.

he was a bit tight-fisted with money, that's it.

Ma io non c'ho mai fatto caso.

But I never made an issue of it.

Captions 73-75, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP11 - Beato tra le donne

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But before making an issue of something, we notice it, we pay attention to it. And that's one common way it's used in everyday conversation. Here's a little scene from Commissario Manara between Sardi and her husband, Toscani.

 

Io da ieri sera sto ancora aspettando i pannolini, grazie.

I've been waiting since last night for the diapers, thank you.

-Sardi, io da ieri sera, non so se ci hai fatto caso,

-Sardi, since last night, I don't know if you noticed,

non sono rientrato neanche a casa.

I haven't even gone home.

Ci hai fatto caso, spero, sì?

You noticed, I hope, didn't you?

-Come non c'ho fatto caso?

-What do think, that I didn't notice?

Captions 6-10, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP6 - Sotto tiro

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Here, we should keep in mind that in English we don't add an object pronoun or preposition, but in Italian, that's what the c' stands for, and is actually ci.

 

We should mention that another way to use this expression is when you are telling someone not to notice something, not to make an issue out of something. In other words, to ignore something. This can come up, for instance, when you hear someone saying bad things about you. A friend will say:

Non ci far caso. Non farci caso.

Don't pay attention to that. Ignore it.

 

If you watch Commissario Manara, you know that the coroner, Ginevra, has a personal way of talking about the dead people she examines. Someone is explaining that fact to a newcomer. The speaker is using the third person singular imperative which is used to address someone formally.

 

Non ci faccia caso, è fatta così.

Don't mind her, that's how she is.

Caption 13, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP3 - Delitto tra le lenzuola

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Practically speaking

A really handy phrase to learn right now is Non c'ho fatto caso (don't forget that the c is pronounced like "ch," the h is silent, there's a nice double t in fatto, and the s in caso sounds like z):

Non c'ho fatto caso. 

I didn't notice.

I didn't see that.

I didn't notice that.

I didn't pay attention to it.

It didn't jump out at me.

It didn't catch my eye.

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Making Connections with Appunto (Indeed)

Appunto is a word Italians use all the time in speech. It officially translates as “indeed,” or “exactly,” but often means, “like I was saying,” “more precisely,” or “as already stated.” The important thing to remember is that its function is to refer back to something that's already been mentioned. We could say it points to a word or an idea in order to call your attention to the fact that we’re already on the subject. It confirms a connection. 

For starters, let’s see how appunto is used by itself, to mean something like, “that’s exactly what I’m talking about!”: 

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Lara’s aunt, in an episode of Commissario Manara, is helping out with the investigation in her own neighborly way. She suspects an acquaintance of hiding something, so she sets a trap for him to tell her more. If, as he says, “these things are difficult to forget,” then he can’t say he doesn’t recall! Appunto! One word says it all!

 

Se lo ricorda, vero? Altro che! Sono cose queste che si fa fatica a scordare.

-Ehm, appunto.

You remember, right? Do I ever! These are things that are difficult to forget.

-Um, precisely.

Captions 50-53, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto

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Many Italians use appunto liberally, often making it difficult to find an English equivalent, and appunto (indeed), sometimes there is no equivalent without using many more words.

In the following video, Anna is explaining the Jewish Ghetto of Rome, so her use of appunto is a means of linking the Jewish Ghetto to the Jews being confined there.

 

Qui siamo a Roma, nel quartiere del Ghetto Ebraico, che è appunto la zona di Roma dove durante la seconda guerra mondiale venivano confinate le persone appunto ebree.

Here we're in Rome, in the quarter of the Jewish Ghetto that is, to be precise an area of Rome where during World War II the Jewish people, as the name implies, were confined.

Captions 1-3, Anna presenta - il ghetto ebraico e piazza mattei

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Although there is no quick translation for the second appunto in this sentence, the important thing to know is that Anna is using it to make sure we get the connection.

Sometimes you have to search out the “missing” link. Gualtiero Marchesi is musing about his career, and starts out talking about developing a passion for his work:

 

Quando ho incominciato ad appassionarmi veramente a quello che facevo...

When I started becoming really passionate about what I did...

Caption 43, L'arte della cucina - Terre d'Acqua - Part 10

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A bit later he’s still referring to the passione mentioned a few lines back, so he uses appunto to remind us.

 

Poi quando, appunto, è subentrata la passione, ero curioso, come sempre...

Then when, like I was saying, passion entered in, I was curious, as always...

Caption 47, L'arte della cucina - Terre d'Acqua - Part 10

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Francesca takes us with her to a ski lodge in the mountains. Since her subject is “going to the mountains,” she uses appunto when telling us where chalets can be found, as if to imply that it’s clearly obvious, but she’ll say it anyway.

 

Eccoci arrivati alla baita. La baita è un luogo che si trova, appunto, in montagna dove ci si va per rifugiarsi dal freddo.

Here we are, we've arrived at the chalet. The chalet is a place you find, logically, in the mountains, where you go to seek refuge from the cold.

Captions 25-27, Francesca neve - Part 1

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If you do a search in Yabla, you’ll see just how often and in how many ways appunto is used. You may be baffled in many cases. Pinning down a precise meaning is tricky business, but with time, you’ll see it’s actually quite a useful way to make connections with just one word, when in English, you’d need many. The WordReference forum can give you more examples and explanations.

Attenzione! The adverb, appunto is not to be confused with the noun appunto (note, criticism).

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Learning suggestion: Don’t worry too much about actually trying to use appunto, especially if you’re a beginner. For now, just check out how it’s used in the Yabla videos and be aware of why it’s there: to make connections.

Vocabulary

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