If you hang out in Italy for even just a visit, you are likely to see the word presso written somewhere, and you may or may not hear it. It's not all that easy to figure out, so let's take a look.
These days most folks use email to communicate, rather than mailing letters. This avoids, in many cases, needing to write your address anywhere, except possibly on an immigration form at the airport. But if you do have to write down where you are staying, for example, then you might need presso. One of its very basic meanings is "at" or "in." But that isn't very helpful since we use these prepositions in so many ways.
If, for instance, I am staying at the Hotel Verdi, in Pisa, then I might use presso. It's not my house, but that's where I am temporarily lodged. One dictionary gives this definition for presso:
indica un indirizzo preciso ma non specificato (it indicates a precise, but not specified address).
Presso is a preposition, and we can use it to mean in casa di (at the home of), the equivalent of: "in care of," or "c/o," as you would write when addressing an envelope. Maybe you are writing to an exchange student friend staying at the home of a family in Tuscany.
Signorina Giovanna Bossi
presso la famiglia Bianchi
via Verdi, 4
56036 Forcoli PI
Biancaneve vive presso i sette nani nel bosco.
Snow White lives with the seven dwarfs in the wood.
Caption 11, Ti racconto una fiaba Biancaneve - Part 2Play Caption
We immediately visualize that Snow White is staying with the dwarfs, or that she is staying at the home of the dwarfs.
1) Your friend is in the hospital and someone asks you where, for example: (dov'è ricoverato Giacomo?): How could you answer?
We can use it to mean "in a place," for example, where you work.
Ciao ragazzi, sono Adriano, un ragazzo italiano di ventisette anni e lavoro presso un agenzia di programmatori informatici.
Hi guys! I'm Adriano, an Italian guy of twenty-seven and I work at a computer programing agency.
Captions 1-2, Adriano GiornataPlay Caption
Adriano is implying that he also works for this agency. He could have said:
Ciao ragazzi, sono Adriano, un ragazzo italiano di ventisette anni e lavoro in un agenzia di programmatori informatici.
Presso is a bit more formal, a bit more refined.
2) Tu dove lavori/studi (where do you work/go to school)?
Arianna and Erica both used presso when talking about where they went to school.
Mi sono laureata presso l'Università di Perugia in Lingue Straniere per la comunicazione internazionale.
I got my degree at the University of Perugia in foreign languages for international communications.
Captions 5-6, Un'italiana all'esteroPlay Caption
Quindi mi sono iscritta a, all'indirizzo archeologico presso l'Università di Pisa.
So I enrolled in, in the Archeology course of study at the University of Pisa.
Captions 10-11, Professioni e mestieri Erica - archeologa - Part 1Play Caption
Martina is talking about what she would like to do when she finishes her university studies.
Quando finirò i miei studi, vorrei diventare o perito minorile o giudice onorario presso il tribunale per i minori.
When I finish my studies, I would like to become either an evaluator of minors, or lay judge at juvenile court.
Captions 28-29, Serena presenta MartinaPlay Caption
Daniela teaches some video lessons about writing letters, both formal and informal. She describes a letter applying for a job.
Per esempio io, io, Daniela Rossi, sto cercando un lavoro presso la casa editrice Feltrinelli e scrivo al dottor Luca Monti, responsabile del personale, per mandare la mia candidatura e vedere se c'è una possibilità di lavoro per me.
For example, I, I, Daniela Rossi, am looking for a job at the Feltrinelli Publishing House, and I am writing to Doctor Luca Monti, Personnel Manager, to send in my application and to see if there is a possibility of a job for me.
Captions 43-47, Corso di italiano con Daniela Lettera formale - Part 1Play Caption
We can also use it to mean "among," "in," "for," or "with":
Presso gli Etruschi, l'aldilà era molto importante.
For the Etruscans, the afterlife was very important.
Lui è partito con... diciamo, all'interno del... di questa, di questo movimento che fu chiamato la Nouvelle Cuisine, ma poi, dopo aver fatto, per esempio, esperienze molto intense presso le cucine orientali e in particolare la... la cucina giapponese, la sua attenzione è stata subito attratta da una delle più grandi cucine...
He set off... let's say, at the center of the... of this, of this movement that was called la Nouvelle cuisine, but then, after having had, for example, very intensive experiences with Asian cooking, and in particular... Japanese cooking, his attention was immediately drawn to one of the greatest cuisines...
Captions 40-45, L'arte della cucina L'Epoca delle Piccole Rivoluzioni - Part 12Play Caption
Translating presso isn't always easy, but the important thing is to grasp the idea of what it means.
3) What if I wanted to say that in Italian, we often leave out the personal pronoun?
Another meaning of presso is "near," "by," "close by."
Il sole splende in Val Rendena. illuminando il fianco destro della chiesa di San Vigilio, presso il cimitero di Pinzolo.
The sun shines in the Rendena Valley illuminating the right side of the church of San Vigilio by Pinzolo's cemetery.
Captions 1-3, Itinerari Della Bellezza Trentino Alto Adige - Part 3Play Caption
4) Dove ci incontriamo Where shall we meet? You can answer by suggesting the bar near the train station, even if you don't know the name of it.
You can get away without using the preposition presso, but isn't it nice to able to understand it if someone else uses it? And if you do use it, people will be impressed!
1) È ricoverato presso l'ospedale XXX.
2a) Lavoro presso una scuola di lingue.
2b) Studio presso l'Università di Firenze.
3) Presso la lingua italiana, si può spesso omettere il pronome personale.
I could also say:
Nella lingua italiana, si può spesso omettere il pronome personale.
4) Ci vediamo nel bar presso la stazione.
Ci vediamo al bar vicino alla stazione.
Ci vediamo al bar all'interno della stazione.
Or in Tuscan Italian:
Ci si vede nel bar...
As always, if you have questions or comments about the lesson, we love to hear from you! Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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", anche se, in realtà, non è proprio sera, è pomeriggio.
After noon, we start saying "good evening," even though, actually, it's not really evening; it's the afternoon.
Captions 19-20, Marika spiega - L'orologioPlay Caption
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 - Part 2Play Caption
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 e sei perfino capace di trovarlo, attenta e scrupolosa come sei.
You always look for the hair in the egg (you split hairs), and you're even capable of finding it, careful and conscientious as you are.
Captions 29-31, Marika spiega - I segni dello Zodiaco - Part 2Play Caption
A common synonym for perfino is addirittura.
Qui accanto a me c'è un albero che ha addirittura quattrocento anni di vita.
Here next to me, there's a tree that is actually four hundred years old.
Caption 20, Anna presenta - Villa Borghese - Part 1Play Caption
We hope this has helped in understanding anche se and perfino.