Italian Lessons

Topics

How to Hurry Up in Italian

We may think of Italians as being relaxed, but they have to rush around just like the rest of us. And since they do so much rushing around, there is some variety in how they talk about it. There are verbs, nouns, and adverbs to choose from. Let's take a look.

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

The verb sbrigarsi (to hurry, to hurry up)

 

Come in ritardo?

What do you mean "late?"

Senta, Barbara, lasci perdere le scuse e cerchi di sbrigarsi invece.

Listen, Barbara, forget these excuses and try to hurry up instead.

Captions 28-29, La Ladra - Ep. 5 - Chi la fa l'aspetti

 Play Caption

 

It's common to use the familiar form with a family member or friend. The following example is in the second person singular, so don't forget to stress the first syllable, not the second! The three consonants in a row make it fun to say. The "s" always has a "z" sound when it comes before "b."

 

Dai, sbrigati che ci perdiamo l'inizio del film.

Come on, hurry up, otherwise we'll miss the beginning of the movie.

Caption 47, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno

 Play Caption

 

By the way, dai (come on) is just an interjection that is generally used in the second person singular regardless of whom you are talking to (although you wouldn't say it at all to someone you need to be formal with). 

 

If I want to tell two or more friends or family members to hurry up, then I need to say sbrigatevi. Here, the stress is on the second syllable (the "a")!

 

Io vado avanti, vi aspetto là, eh, sbrigatevi.

I'm going ahead, I'll wait for you there, eh, hurry.

Ah, ricordatevi le cinture di sicurezza!

Oh, remember your seat belts!

Captions 40-41, Un medico in famiglia - S1 EP1 - Casa nuova

 Play Caption

 

If we need to say the same thing using the polite form, it's si sbrighi in the singular. This might be used by a police officer who is asking to you move your car out of the way. The plural would be si sbrighino.

So this verb isn't super easy to use, but if you memorize the second person singular familiar, it will come in very useful.

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

One more thing: sbrigare in its non-reflexive form means to "to deal with." 

 

Va be', noi andiamo che abbiamo un sacco di lavoro da sbrigare.

All right, we're going, because we have a lot of work to get done.

Caption 37, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP6 - Reazione a Catena

 Play Caption

 

La fretta

Another way to tell someone to hurry is fai in fretta. Note that here the verb is fare which means both "to make" and "to do."

 

Fai in fretta, ti prego.

Be quick, please.

Caption 57, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP5 - Il Raggio Verde

 Play Caption

 

La furia

Often fretta goes hand in hand with furia. In fretta e furia (in a big hurry).

 

Se tu trovi un cadavere in una stanza d'albergo

If you find a dead body in a hotel room

e scopri che l'occupante della stanza ha pagato per altri due giorni in anticipo,

and you discover that the occupant of the room had paid in advance for two more days,

però se ne va prima in fretta e furia,

but he leaves beforehand in a big hurry,

ti insospettisci, no? -Eh!

you become suspicious, don't you? -Yeah.

Captions 11-14, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP7 - Sogni di Vetro

 Play Caption

 

If you see someone rushing out of the house, you might say:

Dove vai così in fretta e furia (where you are off to all of a sudden)?

In some parts of Italy, in Tuscany, for instance, people just say ho furia to mean ho fretta, sono di corsa. I'm in a hurry.

 

Non è neanche passato a salutarlo?

You didn't even stop by to say goodbye?

No. Dovevo andare via, c'avevo furia [toscano: fretta].

No. I had to leave. I was in a hurry.

Captions 9-10, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP8 - Fuori servizio

 Play Caption

 

You might get asked if you are in a particular rush, for example, when someone wants to talk to you or spend some time with you. If you're in Tuscany they might say:

Hai furia o possiamo fermarci per prendere un caffè (are you in a rush or can we stop for a coffee)?

Anywhere else in Italy, they would probably say:

Hai fretta o possiamo fermarci per prendere un caffè (are you in a rush or can we stop for a coffee)?

Di corsaa compound adverb

 

"Scusa, ma vado di corsa".

"Sorry, but I'm in a rush."

"Parliamo più tardi".

"We'll talk later."

Captions 55-56, Marika spiega - Gli avverbi di modo

 Play Caption

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

We shouldn't think that these are the only ways to talk about being in a hurry, or telling someone to hurry up. But they will give you a good start. In substance, they have similar meanings, but they are used differently, and that's where it can get a bit tricky. Vado di fretta or ho fretta both work. Vado di corsa works, but not ho corsa. So keep your antennae up, and you will gradually absorb these words into your vocabulary. You'll have your favorites, too. 

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

 Play Caption
 

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

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

 Play Caption
 
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

 Play Caption
 
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

 Play Caption
 
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

 Play Caption
 
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

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

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

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

You May Also Like