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Getting somewhere with via (way)

Via is such a short word, and yet, it has a lot of bite. The basic translation of the noun via is "way."  Concretely, it can refer to a street, road, or path. A road is a way to get somewhere if we want to think of it that way.  Even in English, "way" can be used to describe a road, if we think of "parkway," "subway," "pathway," or "Broadway."

Sì, perché siamo ovviamente a Roma, su via Ostiense, una via molto antica di Roma.

Yes, because obviously we're in Rome, on the via Ostiense, a very old Roman road.

Captions 17-18, Anna e Marika Trattoria Al Biondo Tevere - Part 1

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Halfway

A handy expression to know that uses via to mean "way," is una via di mezzo (halfway between, midway between, a middle ground, a compromise):

Diciamo che, eh... non è un azzurro, ma non è neanche un blu scuro, però una via di mezzo.

Let's say, uh... it's not a light blue, but neither is it a dark blue, but it's halfway between.

Captions 35-36, Anna e Marika Un negozio di scarpe - Part 2

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Note: Via can mean "way," but "way" doesn't always translate as via. When "way" means "manner," we have other Italian words that more commonly do the job: il modo (the way)  la maniera (the manner), il mezzo (the means). We've provided links to WordReference so you can see all the translations of these words, as in some cases, there are numerous ones. 

 

If you go to the doctor or pharmacy you might ask about some medicine and how to take it. Per via orale is "by mouth," literally, "by way of mouth." 

Away

Via is also an adverb. The most common expression that comes to mind might be Vai via (go away)!

La volpe, allora, triste e sottomessa, andò via.

The fox, then, sad and subdued, went away.

Caption 23, Adriano Fiaba - Part 2

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We can also use via when we are saying someone is away.

È via per lavoro (she's away on business).

 

Expressions

When we want to say "etc." or "and so on," or "and so forth," one way is to use via.

La nota successiva, che si troverà attraverso il quinto rigo, si chiamerà La. E così via.

The next note, which will be found across the fifth line, will be called A, and so on.

Captions 12-14, A scuola di musica con Alessio - Part 3

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You might also hear variations on this: e via discorrendo and e via dicendo that mean the same thing.

 

We can use via via to mean little by little, gradually:

Alla torre fu affiancato via via un castello in posizione ardita sulle rocce che dominano la valle del Rio Secco.

A castle in a daring position was gradually added to the tower on the rocks that dominate the Rio Secco Valley.

Captions 12-13, Meraviglie S2EP1 - Part 9

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We use via as the starting signal.

Meno tre, due, uno, via. Guardami! Perfetto!

Countdown, three, two, one, go. Look at me! Perfect!

Caption 53, Corso base di snowboard Snowboard

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And when we are talking about the start of something, we use the noun il via to mean "the start," "the lead-off."

Ti do il via (I'll give you the start-off).

 

We can also just say via to mean "let's go," "let's get going," or "you get going."

Operativi, occhio vivo, via!

On the job, eyes wide open, get going!

Caption 34, Il Commissario Manara S2EP4 - Miss Maremma - Part 5

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We use via vai to indicate comings and goings, when, for example, a place gets crowded with activity.

Ragazzi, da un po' di tempo a questa parte c'è un via vai, qui.

Guys, for a while now, there's been [plenty of] coming and going here.

Caption 28, Il Commissario Manara S1EP4 - Le Lettere Di Leopardi - Part 17

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Via is used as un intercalare (a filler word), much as we say, "you know," "yeah," "come on," "well," or "OK" in the middle of a sentence. You'll hear this primarily in Tuscany and Lazio.

Quindi c'abbiamo, via, un parco cavalli tra i più eterogenei che ci sono a Roma.

So we have, you know, one of the most heterogeneous horse parks that there are in Rome.

Caption 62, Francesca Cavalli - Part 1

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C'è qualche problema? -Lascia stare, è il mio ragazzo! -Bastava dirlo! -Via, si beve qualcosa, eh.

Is there some problem? -Leave him alone, he's my boyfriend! -You could have said so! -Come on, let's have something to drink, huh?

Captions 23-25, Il Commissario Manara S1EP7 - Sogni di Vetro - Part 13

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 It's also a way of "that's it." 

Una botta e via.

One blow and that's it.

Caption 17, Il Commissario Manara S1EP4 - Le Lettere Di Leopardi - Part 2

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Via is often used to conclude a sentence or situation. It's not really translatable. It's another intercalare (filler word) and used primarily in Tuscany and Lazio.

Insomma, ci chiamiamo, via. -Sì.

In other words, we'll call each other, yeah. -Yes.

Caption 41, Il Commissario Manara S1EP12 - Le verità nascoste - Part 8

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And we also conclude this lesson about via. Via!

 

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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

This and That - Questo e Quello

Questo/questa (this), and quello/quella (that) are both adjectives when they come before a noun or pronoun, and pronouns when replacing a noun. This happens in both English and Italian.

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In the following examples, we have adjectives.

 

In questo caso, perché uso il congiuntivo?

In this case, why do I use the subjunctive?

Caption 10, Corso di italiano con Daniela - Il congiuntivo

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Questa storia vuole dire che bisogna imparare dalle esperienze degli altri.

This story means that you need to learn from the experiences of others.

Caption 24, Adriano - Fiaba

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Quella donna ha sempre avuto un aria un po' triste, poveretta.

That woman has always had a sad air about her, poor thing.

Caption 21, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP3 - Delitto tra le lenzuola

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In the following example, quello is shortened to quel but it works the same way.

 

In quel caso non ho bisogno della preposizione.

In that case I do not need the preposition.

Caption 54, Corso di italiano con Daniela - Verbo + Verbo all'infinito + preposizione DI

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If there were an “S” plus “P” in a masculine noun, as in the following example, we might say:

Luigi ha quello spirito di avventura che io non ho.
Luigi has that spirit of adventure that I do not have.

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As a pronoun, questoquestaquello or quella may replace both objects and people. In some cases, it’s true in English, too, as in:

Questo è per te.
This is for you.

Here, in the same sentence, we have the pronoun and person the pronoun refers to.

Questa è mia zia.
This is my aunt.

 

But attenzione. In Italian, we can use the pronoun form to replace people or things even when in English we need the adjective form plus a pronoun. In the example below, questo is a pronoun, representing “this person” but in English, we need to use the adjective “this” plus the pronoun “one” that stands for a person we aren’t identifying by name. We could also say “this guy” or “that guy.”

 

Questo è pazzo completo, or more correctly, [questo è completamente pazzo]

This one/this guy is completely crazy.

Caption 23, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP2 - L'addio di Lara

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So watch out for examples such as the above, where the Italian pronoun corresponds to an adjective plus pronoun in English. 

 

La sua scrivania è quella là, dottoressa.

Your desk is that one over there, ma'am.

Caption 40, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP3 - Delitto tra le lenzuola

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In English, we could say, “That’s your desk,” but it would be wrong to say, “Your desk is that over there.”

 

Uno di loro, per l'esattezza quello che voleva tagliarti la gola...

One of them, to be precise, the one who wanted to cut your throat...

Caption 23, Provaci Ancora Prof! - S1E1 - Il regalo di Babbo Natale

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Sometimes, questoquesta, or quelloquella represents something unspecified and we might translate it as “what,” or “whatever.”

 

"Se fossi in te io non lo chiamerei,

“If I were you, I would not call him,

poi tu fai quello che ti senti di fare".

but you do whatever you feel up to doing.”

Captions 64-65, Marika spiega Gli avverbi - Avverbi di tempo

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When using these adjective/pronouns, we just need to remember that they work similarly in English and Italian, but only up to a point. What's been discussed here is a detail, but it can easily trip us up when we're trying to speak our best Italian or understand what someone is talking about.

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Further learning:
As you watch Yabla videos, see if you can determine when questoquestaquello and quellabehave as adjectives and when they are pronouns. Don’t forget that you can also click on the transcript of a video and see the whole text printed out in one or both languages. It may be easier to pick them out.

Vocabulary

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