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Anche se and Persino in Context

A Yabla Italian subscriber has asked about how to use anche se (even if) and perfino se (even if). These word combinations have to do with connecting two ideas in a sentence.

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Let’s examine anche se (although, even if). The individual words themselves are easy enough — anche means “also” or “even,” and se means “if” — but let’s see how these words fit into sentences, and more importantly, which contexts translate with which English equivalents.

 

In the following example, we use se (if) in Italian but it doesn’t make sense to use “if” in English, so we need “although,” or the more emphatic “even though.”

 

Dopo mezzogiorno, cominciamo a dire "Buonasera",

After noon, we start saying "good evening,"

anche se, in realtà, non è proprio sera, è pomeriggio.

even though, actually, it's not really evening; it's the afternoon.

Captions 19-20, Marika spiega - L'orologio

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In the next example, we use anche se to connect a subjunctive clause with a conditional one. Remember that where we see se (if), there might be a verb in the subjunctive lurking nearby. See this lesson about the subjunctive and conditional.

 

Anche se mi pagasse cento euro, non gli farei quel lavoro.
Even if he paid me a hundred euros, I wouldn’t do the job for him.

 

In the above example, we could also use the other word our subscriber asked about: persino se.

 

Persino se mi pagasse trecento euro...

 

Persino is stronger, with more extreme limits, than anche se

 

Let’s look at this adverb persino. The first part is per which means “for” or sometimes “to.”
Sino is another way of saying fino (and in fact perfino also exists). Fino means “until,” among other things. So we can think of perfino as meaning “[up] to the degree.”

 

The following examples give us an idea of the difference between fino and perfino.

 

Lavorerò fino a mezzogiorno, poi smetto.
I’ll work until noon, then I’ll quit.

Potrei lavorare persino fino a mezzanotte, ma non finirei mai.
I could even work until midnight, but I would never finish.

 

Perfino and persino may be used interchangeably to mean “even” or “to the point of.” We choose one over the other for reasons of eufonia (euphony), that is, harmonious sound, in other words, because it sounds better.  When speaking properly, Italians try to avoid cacofonia (cacophony), which is what happens when there are too many instances of one particular consonant all together. A good example is: tra fratelli  (between or among brothers). We don’t say fra fratelli  because to Italian ears, the two F’s sound bad together, even though they both are equally correct in meaning.

 

The above example, which uses both perfino and fino, sounds much clearer with persino. You might very well be thinking perfino would have worked better than persino in the first example above, since the next word starts with an s. You might be right!

 

Perfino se mi pagasse trecento euro...
Even if he paid me three hundred euros...

 

In the following example, persino was used. This is perhaps because fu (was) starts with “F.”

 

Persino la regina cattiva fu invitata,

Even the wicked queen had been invited,

Caption 46, Ti racconto una fiaba - Biancaneve

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In the following example, Marika could have used anche (also, even) in place of perfino, but perfino gives a better idea of something pushed to its limit.

 

Cerchi sempre il pelo nell'uovo

You always look for the hair in the egg (you split hairs),

e sei perfino capace di trovarlo,

and you're even capable of finding it,

attenta e scrupolosa come sei.

careful and conscientious as you are.

Captions 29-31, Marika spiega - I segni dello Zodiaco

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A common synonym for perfino is addirittura.

 

Qui accanto a me c'è un albero che ha addirittura

Here next to me, there's a tree that is actually

quattrocento anni di vita.

four hundred years old.

Caption 20, Anna presenta - Villa Borghese

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We hope this has helped in understanding anche se and perfino.

Vocabulary

Reflections on the Reflexive

We talked a little about reflexive personal pronouns in Ci Gets Around. They are: mi (myself), ti (yourself), ci (ourselves), si (himself/herself/itself/themselves), and vi (yourselves). 

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The reflexive is necessary in Italian when someone (or something) is both the doer and the receiver of an action. In the dictionary, a reflexive verb is presented with si joined to the end of the infinitive (and the final e is omitted). For example, we have the transitive form of the verb alzare (to raise) but when it's reflexive, we have alzarsi (to get up, to rise).

 

When we conjugate a reflexive verb, the si will change into a different reflexive pronoun according to the person, and it will be detached from the verb (but close by). 

 

mi alzo

ti alzi 

si alza

ci alziamo

vi alzate

si alzano

 

Let's remember that the conjugation of the verb tells us who is involved. It includes the subject pronoun. So I could also say, although it would be redundant in most cases:

tu ti alzi 

lui si alza

lei si alza

noi ci alziamo

voi vi alzate

loro si alzano

 

As we saw above, alzare means "to raise," but alzarsi means "to rise," "to get up." Sometimes the meaning of the two types of verbs can be close but different. So, for instance, if you hide something, the verb you are looking for is nascondere.

 

E poi, ho pensato di nascondere il corpo e... l'ho caricato in macchina e... non ri', non ricordo più niente.

And then, I thought of hiding the body and... I loaded it into the car and... I can't re', can't remember anything else.

Captions 57-59, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP2 - Vendemmia tardiva

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But if you are the one hiding, you’ll need the reflexive form, nascondersi (literally, to hide oneself). A marine biologist dives down to the bottom of the sea surrounding the Aeolian Islands to show us the beautiful creatures there. The creatures are shy.

 

Probabilmente, sta cercando una tana per nascondersi da me.

She's probably looking for a hole in order to hide from me.

Caption 23, Linea Blu - Le Eolie

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The same holds here, where avvicinare, by itself, means to move something closer. But if you add the reflexive, it’s something or someone that is getting closer. 

 

Il prossimo che si avvicina all'acquario... m'ingoio voi [sic] e tutta la famiglia, hm.

The next one who comes near the aquarium... I'll swallow you and the whole family, hmm.

Captions 57-58, Acqua in bocca - Mp3 Marino

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When it’s all about you, you’ll use the reflexive with many of the verbs you use to talk about your daily routines.

 

Di solito, io mi sveglio alle sette in punto.

Usually, I wake up at seven on the dot.

Caption 5, Marika spiega - L'orologio

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Mi alzo alle sei e mezza.

I get up at six thirty.

Caption 9, Fellini Racconta Un Autoritratto Ritrovato - Part 19

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Mi vesto e ti lascio il bagno.

I'll get dressed and I'll leave you the bathroom.

Caption 48, Sposami EP 1 - Part 11

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Now you should be ready to reflect on the reflexive! Get the whole picture on reflexive verbs here. For the scoop on reflexive pronouns, you can get help here. For even more on the reflexive, see this online resource.

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