Italian Lessons

Topics

Ways to say "a lot" in Italian

Every language has different ways to say "a lot." Let's look at what Italian has to offer. We covered some of the ways in a previous lesson, but let's look at a few more.

 

Un mucchio

Ricci mi ha chiesto un mucchio di soldi.

Ricci asked me for a pile of money.

Caption 19, Il Commissario Manara S2EP4 - Miss Maremma - Part 13

 Play Caption

Un mucchio  is a heap, a pile. Think of a pile of dirty laundry, a pile of leaves, heaped one on top of the other. 

banner PLACEHOLDER

Una  marea

perché t'ha raccontato una marea di frottole. -No!

because he told you a bunch of tall tales. -No!

Caption 23, Un medico in famiglia Stagione 3 S3EP3 - Il tarlo del sospetto - Part 6

 Play Caption

 

La marea  is "the tide." A tide of tall tales. 

 

Considerate che di colle ce ne sono una marea: colla per il tessuto, colla per le pietre, corla [sic], corla [sic], eh, colla per, per la pelle.

Consider that there are a bunch of different glues: glue for fabric, glue for stone, glue, glue, uh, glue for, for skin.

Captions 61-63, Professioni e mestieri Belle Arti - La pasta modellabile

 Play Caption

 

Una  valanga

Ho speso una valanga di soldi per questa macchina fotografica (I spent an avalanche [a whole lot] of money for this camera).

 

Un  casino

Sto facendo il viaggio più bello della mia vita, mamma. Ci divertiamo un casino.

I'm having the best trip of my life, Mom. We're having a lot of fun.

Captions 16-17, Ma che ci faccio qui! Un film di Francesco Amato - Part 13

 Play Caption

 

Casino is a colloquial term that originally meant  "brothel."  It currently means, colloquially, "mess," "a  lot of noise and confusion," or "a lot of trouble," but it has also come to mean "a whole lot." It's best to use it exclusively among friends, in view of its original meaning.

 

In a future lesson, we'll talk about ways to say "a lot," when it's used as an adverb.

banner PLACEHOLDER

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

 Play Caption

 

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

 Play Caption

 

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

 Play Caption

 

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

 Play Caption

 

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

 Play Caption

 

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

 Play Caption

 

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

 Play Caption

 

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

 Play Caption

 

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.

 

 

 

Getting Adjectives to Behave - Part 2

See also: Getting Adjectives to Behave - Part 1

In a previous lesson, and in Daniela's video lesson, we talked about aggettivi positivi, meaning those adjectives that end in o and change their endings according to gender and number. An example of this kind of adjective is grosso (big).

Mio padre è un uomo grosso (my father is a big man).
La casa di mia zia è grossa (my aunt's house is big).
Questi due alberi sono grossi (these two trees are big).
Quelle melanzane sono grosse (those eggplants are big).

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

If you've gotten the hang of positive adjectives, you might instinctively put an e ending on the adjective when you're talking about a feminine noun in the plural. 

Quelle donne sono belle (those women are beautiful).

The other kind of adjective, called an aggettivo neutro, ends in e. In the singular, it stays the same, ending in e regardless of whether the noun it modifies is masculine or feminine.

 

E... mi ha reso una donna forte, una donna indipendente, autonoma.

And... she made me a strong woman, an independent woman, free.

Caption 69, Essere... madre

 Play Caption

 

If we put this sentence in the masculine the adjective stays the same: 

Mi ha reso un uomo forte...
She made me a strong man...

But what about the plural? The adjective forte (strong) already ends in e, so what do we do? The answer is that in the plural, regardless of whether it's masculine or feminine, the e changes to an i.

This is easy in a way—only two different endings to think about instead of four—but it's not always so easy to remember, and may come less naturally. In the following example, maniera (way, manner) is a feminine noun. The plural article le helps us discover that. We form the plural of the noun by changing the a to e, and since the singular adjective ends in e, we change it to i in the plural. So far so good.

 

Però, oh, con voi ci vogliono le maniere forti, sennò non capite.

But, oh, with you strong measures are needed, otherwise you don't get it.

Caption 15, Ma che ci faccio qui! - Un film di Francesco Amato - Part 13

 Play Caption

 

Attenzione però (and here's where the adjectives misbehave), because a feminine noun may also end in e. In this case, the plural of the noun ends in i, and a neutral adjective will also end in i. If you don't happen to know the gender of corrente (current) in the following example, the plural noun and plural adjective may lead you to believe that it's masculine. 

 

L'incontro tra i due mari produce infatti forti correnti.

The meeting of the two seas produces, in fact, strong currents.

Caption 31, Linea Blu - Sicilia - Part 2

 Play Caption

 

Fortunately, in the next example, the speaker uses the article!

 

In questo tratto di mare numerosi infatti erano gli affondamenti nel passato, a causa delle forti correnti che si scontrano con violenza.

In this stretch of sea, there were numerous shipwrecks in the past, because of the strong currents that collide violently.

Captions 35-36, Linea Blu - Sicilia - Part 5

 Play Caption

 

Here, we've learned from the feminine plural ending of delle (of the), that corrente is a feminine noun, but who knew?

One more reason to learn the article along with the noun!

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

See these Yabla videos for more about nouns: their genders and their plurals.

 

Corso di italiano con Daniela: Articoli maschili plurale 
Corso di italiano con Daniela: Articolo femminile plurale
Corso di italiano con Daniela: Articoli ed eccezioni

Marika spiega: Genere maschile
Marika spiega: Genere femminile
Marika spiega: Il plurale
 

Being Polite With Dare del Lei

As we saw in a previous lesson, Italians are very conscious of formal and informal greetings, and will say hello in different ways depending on the situation. But there’s more. When speaking or writing to someone they must, or want, to treat with respect, they’ll use the polite form of “you”—Lei. This happens to be identical to the word for “she,” lei. To show respect, Lei gets capitalized, together with its possessive pronouns Sua, Sue, Suoi (your, yours) and its object pronouns La and Le (you). Although the capitalization of these pronouns is going out of style, it can be helpful for figuring out who is being talked about. Using the formal “you” is called dare del Lei (giving the formal “you”). The opposite is called dare del tu (giving the informal “you”).  

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

In Ma che ci faccio qui! (But What Am I Doing Here?), Alessio finds himself in an embarrassing situation. (Yes, he’s about to fare brutta figura!) Things have gotten decidedly intimo, but Alessio da ancora del Lei (is still giving the formal “you”) to this woman, and she calls him out on it.

 

Ma che fai, mi dai ancora del Lei?

What are you doing, you still address me formally?

Caption 39, Ma che ci faccio qui! - Un film di Francesco Amato

 Play Caption

 

In an episode of Commissario Manara, Lara is trying to get some information from a woman in shock over the death of her employer. Lara uses Lei since she is addressing someone older than her, and whom she doesn’t know. Lara sees the woman is touchy on the subject at hand so she immediately apologizes, even though she’s done nothing wrong.

 

When the personal pronoun in question is an object, either direct or indirect, it can become part of the verb, as we’ve talked about in a previous lesson. In the example below, the polite “you” is a direct object of the verb offendere (to offend), and becomes part of it (with a respectful capital letter in this case).

 

Mi scusi, non volevo offenderLa.

I'm sorry, I didn't want to offend you.

Caption 57, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP4 - Le Lettere Di Leopardi

 Play Caption

 

In another episode, Luca Manara is being polite to his boss, but only on the surface. In this case, the indirect object pronoun is part of the compound verb, riferire a (to report to).

 

Ma, come, purtroppo Lei mi ricorda, io devo riferirLe tutto, no? -Si aspetta magari che le dica bravo?

But, since, unfortunately you remind me, I have to tell you everything, don't I? -Maybe you're expecting me say, "Good work?"

Captions 25-26, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP2 - Vendemmia tardiva

 Play Caption

 

In the concluding segment of “Vendemmia tardiva,” la zia, as usual, uses her powers of conversazione and intuizione femminile to help solve the crime:

 

Avevo capito che, in tutti questi anni, è stata innamorata di lui. E per trent'anni gli ha dato del Lei, ma ti rendi conto?

I'd figured out that, for all these years, she'd been in love with him. And for thirty years she addressed him formally, can you imagine that?

Captions 5-6, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP2 - Vendemmia tardiva

 Play Caption

 

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Dare del tu (to address informally) or dare del Lei (to address formally) is an important aspect to settle in a new relationship. A common question to ask is: ci possiamo dare del tu? (can we give each other the informal "you?") or, ci diamo del tu? (shall we give each other the informal “you?”). The answer is almost always: sì, certo!

You May Also Like