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Noioso: boring or annoying?

A Yabla subscriber has asked us to shed some light on the difference between noioso and annoiato. They are both adjectives and can be used to describe a person.  There are some intricacies involved with these words, which we'll get to, but let's start out with the noun: la noia

Che noia!

What a bore!

Caption 9, Acqua in bocca Un amico per Pippo - Ep 1

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What is tricky about this noun (and its related adjectives) is that it can indeed imply boredom," but it can also mean "the bother" or "the nuisance." In fact, in the previous example, we don't know the context, but the meaning could also have been "what a nuisance," or "what a pain." The noun noia rarely refers to a person him- or herself, as "bore" would in English.

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Noia

The following example is from Tuscany where noia is used a great deal to mean "bother." And it's often used with the verb dare (to give) — dare noia (to be a bother, to be annoying, to be in the way).

Erano alberi che davano noia e basta,

They were trees that were a bother and nothing more,

Caption 30, Gianni si racconta L'olivo e i rovi

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So che noia can mean "what boredom" or "what a pain!" And dare noia can be interpreted as bothering, or being a bother, or being in the way.

 

Annoiare

We also have the verb annoiare that does remind one of the verb "to annoy." Indeed, that is one of the meanings and comes from the Latin "inodiare" — avere in odio (to have hateful feelings for).

Mi disturba, mi annoia,

You're bothering me, you're annoying me,

Caption 11, L'Italia a tavola Interrogazione sul Piemonte

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But it is much more common for this verb to be used in its reflexive form annoiarsi. In this case it's always about being bored or possibly fed up.

Io non mi annoio mai quando sto con lui, mai.

I never get bored when I am with him, ever.

Caption 34, Provaci Ancora Prof! S1E3 - Una piccola bestia ferita - Part 13

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Noioso

We've seen that noia isn't just about boredom, so likewise, noioso can mean boring, but not necessarily. Let's look at some examples of the different nuances.

Noioso can describe a person who is not very interesting, a dull person:

Abbiamo solamente avuto un piccolo flirt. Genere depresso e noioso, capisci?

We just had a little fling. Depressed and boring type, you understand?

Captions 9-10, Provaci Ancora Prof! S1E1 - Il regalo di Babbo Natale - Part 19

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It can also describe a movie, for example: 

Il film era noioso, purtroppo (the movie was boring, unfortunately).

 

Here's a perfect example of something that is not boring. It's annoying. And in fact, the N and O sounds can hint at that.

Eh, povero Dixi, il singhiozzo è noioso

Oh, poor Dixi, the hiccups are bothersome

Caption 15, Dixiland Il singhiozzo

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Annoiato

Annoiato can be used as the past participle of annoiare, or more often, as we mentioned above, the past participle of the reflexive verb annoiarsi. In this case, it means "to get or to be bored."

Oppure: "No, non andrò alla festa di Marcello. Ci sono già stato l'anno scorso e mi sono annoiato".

Or: "No, I won't go to Marcello's party. I already went to it last year and I got bored."

Captions 48-49, Corso di italiano con Daniela Particella Ci e Ne - Part 2

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But as often occurs, past participles are also used as adjectives.  With annoiato, this can describe one's state of being.

Ciao. Sei annoiato o annoiata e ti vuoi divertire e rilassare?

Hi. Are you bored (m) or bored (f) and you want to have a good time and relax?

Captions 3-4, Marika spiega Il cinema

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Just for fun:

Let's try using all these forms in a silly, made-up dialogue.

Lei: Sembri annoiato, è così? (you seem bored. Are you?)

 

Lui: No, ho solo sonno (no, I'm just sleepy). E inoltre, come posso annoiarmi ad ascoltare i tuoi racconti per l'ennesima volta? (And besides, how can I get bored listening to you tell your stories for the umteenth time?

 

Lei: Beh, so che posso essere un po' noiosa a volte, scusami (Well, I know I can be a bit boring at times, sorry). Allora smetto di darti noia, e me ne vado (I'll stop bothering you, then, and I'll leave).

 

Lui: No, aspetta, se vai via mi annoierò davvero (If you leave, I will get bored for real). E tra l'altro, ho dei lavori noiosissimi da fare e non ne ho nessuna voglia (and besides, I have some really tedious jobs to do and I have no desire to do them).

 

Lei: OK, so che sono noiosa, ma non sarebbe meglio fare quei lavori dato che siano anche urgenti (OK, I know I am being a pain, but wouldn't it be better to do those jobs, given that they're urgent)?

 

Lui: OK, ora sei noiosa davvero. Mi sono ampiamente annoiato con questa storia (Ok, now you are really being boring/irritating. I'm pretty sick of this thing), quindi forse è meglio se te ne vai... (so maybe it's better if you do leave).

 

OK, ciao. Non ti voglio annoiare con un'altra delle mie storie noiose. (OK, bye. I don't want to bore you with another of my boring stories).

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The Mystery of the Hidden Pronouns

To form a sentence, we need a subject and a verb. For the moment, let’s stick to the most normal kinds of subjects: nouns and pronouns.

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At the beginning of the following example, it’s fairly easy to find the subject and verb:

Dixi uscì di casa leggero più di una piuma leggera, perché non aveva ancora fatto merenda.

Dixi left the house, lighter than a light feather because he had not yet had a snack.

Captions 3-4, Dixieland - Il singhiozzo

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If we look at the second part of the sentence, however, we see the verb avere (to have) in its simple past tense aveva (had). But where is the equivalent of the pronoun “he” that we see in the English translation?

That’s one of the tricky things about learning Italian. The pronoun is included in the verb.

 

It can be hard to find the subject if we can't see it! How can we tell what the pronoun would be if we can’t see it? Conjugation tables help in finding out what person the verb is expressed in but we also have to get used to the fact that we "get" more than we "see."

 

Here are a few examples of how this works:

Ho (I have)
Hai (you have)
Ha (he, she, it has)
Abbiamo (we have)
Avete (you [plural] have)
Hanno (they have)

 

We can’t always know if the implied pronoun is masculine or feminine, because “he” and “she” have the same conjugation. We have to rely on previous information in the sentence or paragraph to know more precisely which it is. In the example above, the subject is Dixi, the flying elephant, who, for our purposes, is a male. Since we’ve already mentioned him by name at the beginning of the sentence, we don’t need to repeat it. Aveva means “he had.” But we could also say:

Dixi non aveva ancora fatto merenda (Dixi had not yet had a snack).

 

So, the verb is identical whether the noun is present or not. The noun will only be repeated if we want to emphasize that it’s Dixi, and not someone else.

 

By the same token, if we wanted to include a pronoun, we could. If we needed to stress “he,” we could say:

Lui non aveva ancora fatto merenda (he had not yet had a snack).

If Dixi were a female, we’d say:

Lei non aveva ancora fatto merenda (she had not yet had a snack).

So aveva could mean “he had,” “she had,” “it had,” or just “had.”

 

In the present tense, it can be tricky to perceive or use the verb avere (to have) or essere (to be) in the third person singular because they’re both such short words, and not only that: Ha (has, he has, she has, it has) is written with an H but that H is silent! So what are we left with? A lonely “Ah” sound. È (is, he is, she is, it is) is short, too, and you need to be careful to use an open “E.” Otherwise, without the grave accent, it means “and.”

 

So not only do these two verbs go by quickly, but the pronoun “he,” “she,”  or “it” may also be hidden within it!

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In the following example, we see that the subject of the paragraph is Villa Borghese. Once it has been mentioned by name, we don’t need to repeat it, as long as no other word gets in the way to cause confusion. We use a pronoun, just as we would in English, but it’s important to remember that in Italian, the pronoun is included in the verb itself, so we don’t see it. The second sentence uses the verb essere in the third person singular, and the third sentence uses avere in the third person singular.

Villa Borghese è un grandissimo parco.

Villa Borghese is a very large park.

È il più grande di Roma dopo Villa Doria Pamphilj e dopo Villa Ada.

It's the biggest park of Rome after Villa Doria Pamphilj and after Villa Ada.

Ha nove ingressi. Tutti diversi naturalmente.

It has nine entrances. All different obviously.

Captions 3-6, Anna presenta - Villa Borghese - Part 1

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Grammar

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