Italian Lessons

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Using the indispensable word quindi

Quindi  is a word you will hear thousands of times a day when listening to Italians talk. Just think how many times a day you use the word "so" in English. "So" is what quindi  means, much of the time.

 

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So

Siamo quattro persone, supponiamo, quindi useremo quattro uova.

We're four people, we're assuming, so we'll use four eggs.

Caption 11, Adriano Pasta alla carbonara - Part 2

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Italians often use quindi at the end of a sentence. It can turn into a question (just like "so"). In English, we might even end our question with "and...?" and mean the same thing.

Possiedo diverse aziende nel novarese. Sì, sappiamo che Lei è molto potente e quindi?

I own various businesses in the Novara area. Yes, we know that you are very powerful, and so?

Captions 57-58, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 8

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Therefore

Quindi can also mean "therefore," or "in other words." Even though we don't use the word "therefore" in everyday English all that often, it might be helpful to think of quindi meaning "therefore," because as opposed to "so," which has its own position in a sentence or subordinate clause (usually at the beginning), we can insert "therefore" just about anywhere, often enclosed by commas. Quindi works much as "therefore" does, in practical terms. Therefore, we at Yabla often translate quindi with "therefore" when we want to retain the word order in the caption. 

Eh, per quanto riguarda la nostra azienda, noi siamo in particolare localizzati nell'alto casertano, e quindi tutta la nostra produzione è incentrata in, in questa zona. In quali città, quindi?

Uh, regarding our company, we happen to be located in the upper Caserta area, and so our entire production is centered in, in this area. In which city therefore? / So, in which city?

Captions 55-57, Anna e Marika La mozzarella di bufala - La produzione e i tagli - Part 2

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La mozzarella, per noi campani, è solo quella di bufala. Quindi, prodotta con latte delle bufale.

Mozzarella for us Campanians, is solely the buffalo kind. Therefore, made with milk from buffaloes.

Mozzarella for us Campanians, is solely the buffalo kind. In other words, made with milk from buffaloes.

Captions 26-27, Anna e Marika La mozzarella di bufala - La produzione e i tagli - Part 1

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Quindi as "filler"

Lots of times, a sentence ends with quindi plus an ellipsis... as if the speaker wanted to go on but leaves the rest of the sentence to our imagination. Or, the speaker has no idea what to say next.

Guarda, ho letto sul menù che guarda caso fanno le fettuccine ai funghi porcini, quindi...

Look, I read on the menu that, as fate would have it, they make fettuccini with porcini mushrooms, so...

Captions 27-28, Anna e Marika Trattoria Al Biondo Tevere - Part 1

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Synonyms and pet words

If you watch Yabla videos, or have listened to Italian conversation, you will likely have noticed that people have pet words. They may not even realize they always use a particular word. So some people say quindi a whole lot. Others might pepper their conversation with perciò (for this reason).  In Tuscany sicché (the informal version of cosìcché is very popular. These are alternate ways to say "so."

Note that when "so" means "to such an extent," we can't use quindi. In that case, we'll use a word like talmente or così.

 

Quindi as "then"

Quindi can also mean "then" when talking, for instance, about what to do next. Some GPS systems with a voice use quindi to say "then, turn right..." quindi girate a destra...

This can also happen in recipes or instructions, where there is a sequence of actions to be taken.

In current, everyday Italian, it's more common to use poi when we talk about the next in a series of actions.

 

Poi... quindi avvolgiamo l'alice con mezza fetta di prosciutto, poi mettiamo [sic: lo mettiamo] nel pangrattato, si tuffa così, ecco qui.

Then... then, we roll the anchovy in half a slice of prosciutto, then we'll put it in the breadcrumbs, we immerse it like so, here we are.

Captions 29-31, L'Italia a tavola Involtini di alici - Part 2

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You might be thinking of the word allora, which is also used to mean "so" as well as "then," but the  interesting thing is that allora has more to do with the past and present than the future, whereas quindi can be about the future (the next thing). 

For more about allora, see our lesson: The Underlying Meaning of Allora

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Vocabulary

Che as a Conjunction

The more Italian you learn, the more you start noticing the little words. Often these are little words that could be used in English but are frequently omitted. We'll be looking at several of them, but let's start with the conjunction che. It is, indeed, a conjunction, but it can also be a pronoun or even an adjective in some cases. Most of the time it will mean "that" or "which," but it can also correspond to the relative pronoun "that" or "who." It can also mean "what?".

 

Che: Optional in English

In Italian, we can't omit che, but in English, we can omit its equivalent, sometimes.

 

Mi dispiace che m'hanno bocciato.

I'm sorry they flunked me.

Caption 22, Ma che ci faccio qui! - Un film di Francesco Amato

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The translation could have been:

I'm sorry that they flunked me.

 

1) There is a little error in the previous example. Maybe you can see why he flunked! What should he have said? (It's an error that lots of people make every day, so don't worry if you don't see it.)

 

Ma come faccio a entrare nella divisa che m'hai dato? Eh?

So how am I supposed to fit into the uniform you gave me? Huh?

Caption 38, La Ladra - EP.11 - Un esame importante

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So how am I supposed to fit into the uniform that you gave me? Huh?

 

While this second translation isn't wrong, we don't need the "that." 

 

2) What if the speaker were talking to more than one person. What might she have said?

 

Here's another example:

 

Supponiamo che stiamo preparando una pasta alla carbonara

Let's assume we're preparing some pasta alla carbonara

per quattro persone, quindi ci serviranno trecento grammi di pancetta,

for four people, so we'll need three hundred grams of bacon,

cinquecento grammi di pasta.

five hundred grams of pasta.

Captions 1-3, Adriano - Pasta alla carbonara

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We could have translated it like this: 

Let's assume that we're preparing some pasta alla carbonara for four people, so we'll need three hundred grams of bacon, five hundred grams of pasta.

 

Typical contexts

Typically, one of the cases where Italian uses the conjunction che and English does not is when using the verb "to know." Let's look at some examples.

 

Lo sai che abbiamo bisogno di te. -Sta sbattuta, Elisa.

You know we need you. -She's in bad shape, Elisa.

Caption 33, Chi m'ha visto - film

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It would be just as correct to say:

You know that we need you. -She's in bad shape, Elisa.

We just tend not to.

 

Here's an example in the imperfetto (simple past):

 

Sapevi che ti stavamo cercando.

You knew we were looking for you.

Caption 41, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP11 - Uno strano incidente di caccia

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It could have been translated as:

You knew that we were looking for you.

 

Another typical but "hypothetical" context

We have to keep in mind that in many cases, the conjunction che takes the subjunctive. This happens primarily with verbs that indicate uncertainty. This may be new for you, in which case, go ahead and check out the several lessons Yabla offers about the subjunctive.

 

So if instead of using the verb sapere (to know) which indicates certainty, we use the verb pensare (to think), we are in another grammatical sphere, or we could say, "mood." The congiuntivo (subjunctive mood).

 

Io... io penso che Karin sia andata via apposta.

I... I think that Karin went away on purpose.

Caption 43, Provaci Ancora Prof! - S1E3 - Una piccola bestia ferita - Part 19

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In this case, the translator did use "that" in English, but she could have chosen not to (which might have been more natural):

I... I think Karin went away on purpose.

 

3) What if you were to use the verb sapere in the above sentence?

4) What if the person were named Alfredo instead of Karin? Use both sapere and pensare.

 

Che meaning "who" or "whom"

When che means "who" or "whom," we are probably talking about a (relative) pronoun, not a conjunction. For our purposes, it doesn't really matter. What we do need to keep in mind is that, while we also have the pronoun chi meaning "who" or "whom" (with a preposition), when it's a relative pronoun, it's che

 

Sì, al TG della sera hanno parlato di quel ragazzo che hanno ucciso.

Yes. On the evening news they talked about that boy they killed.

Assomiglia molto a uno che viene spesso...

He really looks like someone who often comes...

Captions 39-40, Provaci Ancora Prof! - S1E3 - Una piccola bestia ferita - Part 10

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This is a bit tricky because in the example above, it would be a little bit awkward to fit in "whom" or "who." But it's interesting that we need the che in Italian to make the sentence make sense.

 

Yes. On the evening news they talked about that boy whom they killed. He really looks like someone who often comes...

 

Of course, a lot of Americans use "that" instead of "who" or "whom." It would still be awkward. It should be mentioned that in the previous example, "the boy" is the object, and that's when the che is omitted in English. But when it's the subject, we do need it.

 

Be', scusa se... se non t'abbiamo avvertito prima, ma

Well, sorry if... if we didn't let you know beforehand, but

c'è Valeria che deve dirti una cosa.

here's Valeria who has to tell you something.

Captions 37-38, Provaci Ancora Prof! - S1E3 - Una piccola bestia ferita - Part 10

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Of course, the purpose of Yabla translations is to help you make sense of the Italian you hear and read. Sometimes taking a look at how our own language works can help, too. And when we are translating from English to Italian, we need to call on words we are omitting, so it can get tricky.

Hopefully, this lesson has helped you to be just a bit more aware of the word che. It's a word that means plenty of things, so this is just the tip of the iceberg. And if you have some particular questions about che, please let us know and we'll try to shed some light on them. newlsetter@yabla.com

Quiz solutions

1) Mi dispiace che mi abbiano bocciato.

This may be open to question because the kid knows they flunked him, but some would argue that the subjunctive should have been used.

2) Lo sapete che abbiamo bisogno di voi. -Sta sbattuta, Elisa.

3) Io... io so che Karin è andata via apposta.

4) Io... io penso che Alfredo sia andato via apposta.

4b) Io... io so che Alfredo è andato via apposta.

 

 

 

Uno: a Number, an Article, and More

In English, we have the pronoun "one" and the number "one." They both refer to something single but do not mean exactly the same thing. We have a similar phenomenon in Italian, but it goes a step further. This lesson will explore the word uno in various contexts, and since this will take us to the subject of "indefinite articles," we'll take the opportunity to look at those, too!

Number

Uno (one) can be the number "one":

 

Adesso proveremo noi insieme un passo base di Tango.

Now, together, we'll try out the basic steps of the Tango.

Uno, due, tre.

One, two, three.

Captions 38-39, Adriano - balla il Tango Argentino

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We can use uno as an adjective when we are talking about "how many?" One. 

Ho trovato solo uno stivale. L'altro l'ho perso (I found only one boot. I lost the other one).

 

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Indefinite article

Uno is an indefinite article, "a", used only when followed by a Z or by an S + a consonant:*

 

Uno scontrino, perché?

"Uno scontrino." Why?

Perché la parola inizia per s più consonante.

Because the word starts with "s" plus a consonant.

Captions 55-56, Corso di italiano con Daniela - l'articolo indeterminativo

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Uno scolapasta.

A colander.

Caption 27, Adriano - Pasta alla carbonara

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Other forms of the indefinite article

When the masculine word following the article begins with a vowel or single consonant (excluding Z) it's un.

 

Quello che è successo è un segnale.

What happened is a sign.

Caption 9, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 21

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This is the most common masculine indefinite article and as we mentioned above, it remains the same even when it comes before a vowel (no apostrophe).

 

Stiamo cercando un aviatore americano.

We're looking for an American pilot.

Caption 6, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 5

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When this article comes before a feminine noun (or the adjective that describes it), it's una.

 

Hai una bellissima voce.

You have a very beautiful voice.

Caption 9, Adriano - Fiaba

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If the feminine indefinite article una comes before a word that starts with a vowel, it becomes un'  so as not to break the flow.

 

Magari sarà per un'altra volta.

Perhaps, another time.

Caption 7, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep.2 - Part 12

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A Pronoun 

Here, instead of saying give me una borsa (a bag), Eva just says give me one of them.

 

Dai, dammene una. -No, no, so' [romanesco: sono] abituata.

Come on, give me one of them. -No, no, I'm used to it.

Caption 6, La Ladra Ep. 4 - Una magica bionda - Part 5

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Attenzione! In order to speak correctly, you have to know the gender of the noun you are replacing!

 

But uno can also mean the pronoun "someone."

 

Allora, innanzitutto, quando uno studia a uni'... a una università,

So, first of all, when someone studies at a uni... at a university,

eh, per esempio in Italia, eh, a Firenze...

uh, for example, in Italy, uh, in Florence...

Captions 17-18, Arianna e Marika - Il Progetto Erasmus

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Uno quando ha un talento, lo deve coltivare.

When someone has talent, he has to cultivate it.

Caption 73, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 12

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Generally speaking, the masculine form is used to mean "someone," however, if you want to specify that that someone is a female, then una can serve the same purpose.

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For English speakers, getting the article right in Italian can be confusing, especially since in many cases, you have to know the gender of the noun you are using the article with and that can be daunting, too!

 

Translator's pitfall:

When translating, we often have to think twice. Does uno/un/una mean "one" or "a"? Since it's the same word in Italian, it's not always clear!

Tip

Doing the Scribe exercises at the end of the videos you watch can be a great way to learn how to use the articles — You ask yourself, "When do I use the apostrophe? And when not?" You'll make plenty of mistakes, but little by little it will sink in. 

 

If you want more lessons about using articles, let us know at newsletter@yabla.com.

 

*Here are some of the video lessons that might be helpful for learning about using indefinite articles (called articoli indeterminativi).

 

Corso di italiano con Daniela - l'articolo indeterminativo - Part 1

Corso di italiano con Daniela - l'articolo indeterminativo - Part 2

Corso di italiano con Daniela - l'articolo indeterminativo - Part 3

A Few Unconventional Plurals

This lesson is based on the premise that you basically know how to form the plural of nouns. To help you get caught up, very generally, if a noun ends in "o," it's usually masculine and the plural usually will end in "i." If it ends in "e," the plural will also likely end in "i", and if a singular noun ends in "a," (usually feminine), the plural will most likely end in "e." To learn more, check out Daniela's lessons about plurals here and here.

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There are, of course, exceptions to the rule. In two different videos this week, we find unconventional plurals, one of which is well worth knowing, and one that you likely won't run into every day.

 

In one video, Arianna goes to Lucca. She learns that Lucca still has its ancient walls: le mura. The singular is il muro (the wall).

Le mura hanno tutto un percorso sopra che puoi fare,

The walls have a path on top that you can go on,

Caption 63, In giro per l'Italia - Lucca - Part 1

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To help you remember the name for "wall," in Italian, think of a mural, which is a piece of art, like a painting or enlarged photograph, right on a wall. Or think of "intramural" — within the walls of a school or institution.

 

Anna and Marika are busy in the kitchen dealing with fish, and more specifically, anchovies. They are pretty small fish, so taking out the guts is a tedious job they gladly leave to the fish vendor.

 

You might be familiar with the adjective interiore (inside, internal, interior) but there is a noun, le interiora, which means "the guts," "the entrails," or "the internal organs," and is always in the plural: interiora.

Le alici dovranno essere, ehm... senza testa e eviscerate. Quindi bisogna togliere le interiora.

The anchovies should be, ehm... without their heads and gutted. Therefore, one needs to remove the entrails.

Captions 13-15, L'Italia a tavola - Involtini di alici - Part 1

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And let's not forget some other unconventional plurals that work pretty much the same way:

un uovo, due uova (one egg, two eggs)

Prendiamo una forchetta e iniziamo a sbattere le uova...

We take a fork and begin beating the eggs...

Caption 13, Adriano - Pasta alla carbonara - Part 2

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un braccio, due braccia (one arm, two arms)

Ma com'è? E com'è? C'ha due gambe, due braccia, due occhi, come deve essere?

But what's she like? And what's she like? She has two legs, two arms, two eyes. What should she be like?

Captions 13-14, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP3 - Delitto tra le lenzuola - Part 4

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un miglio, due miglia (one mile, two miles)

La Mille Miglia è la corsa più bella del mondo!

The "Mille Miglia" [one thousand miles] is the greatest race in the world!

Caption 33, La Mille Miglia - del passato per vivere quella di oggi - Part 3

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un migliaio di, poche migliaia di (about a thousand, a few thousand)

Il debito era di poche migliaia di euro.

The debt was of a few thousand euros.

Caption 40, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP8 - Morte di un buttero - Part 14

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un paiodue paia (a pair, two pairs)

Ma quattro paia di scarpe vanno bene lo stesso.

But four pairs of shoes are fine, too.

Caption 52, Psicovip - I Visitatori - Ep 14

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This list is not complete, but we'll look at other such nouns in a future lesson.

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