Italian Lessons

Topics

Per conto mio: a double meaning

We've talked various times about the noun il conto. It can refer to "the bill" or "the account," but it's also used in expressions such as per conto di..., or to put it in more personal terms, per conto mio/suo.

 

banner PLACEHOLDER

What's perhaps important to remember is that it has two distinct (but related meanings). It can mean "of one's own."

Nilde, tu c'hai già mille problemi per conto tuo, il ristorante, Enrica fra i piedi, lascia perdere.

Nilde, you already have a ton of problems of your own, the restaurant, Enrica on your back, forget about it.

Captions 10-11, Un medico in famiglia Stagione 3 S3EP4 Lo stagno del ranocchio - Part 5

 Play Caption

 

Perché la mi' figliola [mia figlia] c'ha già tanti problemi per conto suo.

Because my daughter has enough problems of her own.

Caption 37, Il Commissario Manara S1EP9 - Morte in paradiso - Part 7

 Play Caption

 

But it also means "on one's own."

Allora, lei è una che fa finta di starsene per conto suo, ma poi te la ritrovi sempre fra i piedi, una grandissima ficcanaso.

So, she is someone who pretends to be on her own, but then you always find her underfoot, hugely nosy.

Captions 45-47, Provaci ancora prof! S1E4 - La mia compagna di banco - Part 30

 Play Caption

 

Poi, se ne andarono ognuno per conto suo [sic: proprio].

Then they went away, each on his own.

Caption 33, Ti racconto una fiaba I tre porcellini - Part 1

 Play Caption

 

You will have to rely on the context to help decide what per conto means in each case.

 

banner PLACEHOLDER

More Ways to Use the Noun Conto

Let's look at 4 more ways to use the noun il conto in everyday conversation. The first two involve prepositions:

 

1) Per conto di

When we do something on someone's behalf, we use per conto di.

 

La leggenda racconta di miniere dove a scavare erano dei nani

The legend tells of mines where dwarfs were excavating

per conto del re Laurino.

on behalf of the king Laurin.

Captions 23-24, Meraviglie - EP. 5 - Part 10

 Play Caption

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

 

Oltre a questo lavoro giornalistico più specifico,

Besides this more specific journalistic job,

lavoro anche come, come responsabile di uffici stampa

I also work as head of press offices

per conto di varie realtà.

on behalf of various organizations.

Captions 1-3, Francesca Vitalini - Fare la giornalista pubblicista

 Play Caption

 

An expression we might see in a contract about power of attorney is:

agire in nome e per conto di  (to act in the name of and on behalf of)

 

This expression can also mean "of one's own" and is used quite frequently as in the following example.

 

Perché la mi' figliola [mia figlia] c'ha già tanti problemi per conto suo.

Because my daughter has enough problems of her own.

Caption 37, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP9 - Morte in paradiso

 Play Caption

 

It can also mean on one's own:

Non faccio in tempo a venire a casa per pranzo. Mangio per conto mio.

I don't have time to come home for lunch. I'll eat on my own.

 

2) Sul conto di 

If we use the preposition su (on) then it can mean "about." We usually use it in reference to people.

 

No, io devo smentire delle cattiverie che girano sul mio conto.

No, I have to prove wrong the maliciousness that's circulating about me.

Caption 11, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto

 Play Caption

 

Anche se ultimamente si dicono un sacco di cose sul suo conto...

Even though lately they've said a lot of things about her...

Caption 30, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP1 - Matrimonio con delitto

 Play Caption

 

These next examples involve a verb plus conto:

3) Tener conto di

 

Mah, la libertà è una grossa parola,

Well, freedom is a strong word,

perché bisogna sempre tener conto

because we always have to take into account

delle persone che abbiamo intorno.

the people we're surrounded by.

Captions 22-23, Che tempo che fa - Monica Bellucci

 Play Caption

 

Here's an example using the particle ne (about it, of it) as well. It takes the place of di qualcosa (about/of something):

 

Tu vedrai che i giudici ne terranno conto, ascoltami.

You will see that the judges will take it into account, listen to me.

Caption 23, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP3 - Delitto tra le lenzuola

 Play Caption

 

4) Fare conto

When someone is telling you to listen to how things add up, or how things fit together, they might say:

 

Fai conto... (take this into consideration, do the math..., let's see... figure this in...)

 

Like many expressions, there are some people who use this expression regularly, and others who never use it. It can be added into a sentence as is, on its own. Instead of doing the math oneself, the speaker is having you participate. It's a modo di dire.

 

Ci vogliono,  fai conto,  tre ore per andare da Pisa a Bologna in macchina. 

It will take — you should count — three hours to go from Pisa to Bologna by car.

 

Cammina, cammina. Sai quanti chilometri faccio io al giorno? 

Yeah, walk. You know how many kilometers I do per day?

-Quanti? -Fai conto tre pedinamenti, per dire, eh.

-How many? -Figure three tails, to give you an idea, huh.

Captions 14-15, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP6 - Sotto tiro

 Play Caption

 

Fare conto can also be used with che (that) to make a more complex sentence.

 

Fai conto che io faccio tanti kilometri al giorno.

Take into account that I do three kilometers per day.

 

Fare conto doesn't necessarily have to do with numbers or counting. It can also mean "to assume that" or even "to pretend that" in certain contexts and in this case it takes the subjunctive.

Fai conto che io sia tua madre (anche se sono la zia), e devi fare quello che dico io.

Think of me as your mother (even though I am your aunt) and you have to do as I say. 

 

We hope these ways for using il conto will be useful to you. Maybe you will hear them used in a movie, or when an Italian is explaining something to you. Now you know!

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Can you think of other ways this noun is used? Let us know at newsletter@yabla.com.

Strappare: To Tear, To Rip

 

Strappare (to tear, to yank, to rip) is an interesting Italian verb, with a useful, related noun uno strappo (the act of ripping up) that goes hand in hand with it.

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

 

Sembrerebbe un tuo capello.

It seems like one of your hairs.

Va be', dai, strappami il capello, forza. Strappa 'sto capello.

OK, come on, pull out a hair, come on. Yank this strand out.

Dai, ai!

Come on, ow!

Captions 37-40, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP3 - Delitto tra le lenzuola

 Play Caption

 

The previous example is literal and you can easily visualize the act. The following example could be literal, but not necessarily. It describes a somewhat violent act, but this grandfather might be speaking figuratively.

 

Insomma, mi hanno strappato via la mia nipotina dalle braccia.

In short, they tore my little granddaughter from my arms.

Caption 84, Un medico in famiglia - S1 EP1 - Casa nuova

 Play Caption

 

Even when we're talking about hair, strappare can be used figuratively.

 

Guarda, mi strappo i capelli da, proprio...

Look, I'm really tearing my hair out from, right...

Caption 24, L'Eredità -Quiz TV - La sfida dei sei. Puntata 1

 Play Caption

 

In this week's segment of La Ladra, there is a wonderful Italian expression with the noun strappo.

 

Ma sono vegetariano.

But I am a vegetarian.

Ma non fai mai uno strappo alla regola?

But don't you ever make an exception to the rule?

Qualche volta.

Sometimes.

E... allora potresti venire nel mio ristorante, naturalmente saresti mio ospite.

And... so you could come to my restaurant, you'll be my guest, naturally.

Con piacere.

With pleasure.

Captions 61-64, La Ladra - EP. 8 - Il momento giusto

 Play Caption

 

Did you hear the percussive T, the well-articulated R, and the double, percussive P? It's a fun word to say. Remember that in Italian a double P sounds different from a single P. To hear the difference, go back to the examples about hair. There's a double P in strappare, or strappo, but there is a single P in capello or capelli. Tricky!

Strappare (to tear, to rip, to yank) is very close to rompere (to break) or even spezzare (to break, to snap, to split)So fare uno strappo alle regole, means "to break a rule," "to make an exception." 

 

Another expression with the same noun — strappo — is dare uno strappo (to give [someone] a lift). 

Ti do uno strappo a casa?

Shall I give you a lift home?

Caption 51, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP9 - Morte in paradiso

 Play Caption

 

The more conventional word would be un passaggio. Read more about passaggio here.

 

Practice:

Here are some situations in which you might want to use the verb strappare or the noun strappo:

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

You want someone to tear off a page from their notebook or pad. Mi strappi una pagina? (Would you tear off a page for me?)

You want someone to give you a lift home. Mi dai uno strappo? (Will you give me a lift?)

You hardly ever eat ice cream, but today, you'll make an exception. Faccio uno strappo alla regola. Mangerò un gelato! (I'll make an exception. I'm going to have ice cream!)

You are very frustrated with listening to someone complain. Quando comincia con certi discorsi mi viene voglia di strapparmi i capelli. (When he/she starts up with that story, I get the urge to tear my hair out.)

 

Try fitting in these new words to your Italian practice. Send in your suggestions and we'll correct them or comment on them.

You May Also Like