Let's try translating some everyday phrases you might hear or want to say in Italian. You'll find the answers at the bottom of the page, but try not to cheat unless you need to. The important thing here is to get the idea, not to necessarily be precise about all the words. Use mancare in your Italian translation, and just get the gist of things when translating from Italian to English.
1) There's no salt!
2) It's ten to eight. (time)
3) Mancano ancora delle persone — the meeting is about to start.
4) Mi manca l'aria.
5) Manco dall'America da quattro anni.
6) I missed my flight [this one might be tricky].
7) Siamo quasi arrivati... we're almost there.
8) Manca solo Paolo. Lo aspettiamo?
In the following example, the same structure we talked about in this lesson presents itself in the sentence about style and groove. Manca il tuo stile. So something is lacking — his groove, something is missing. Manca.
But if we look further on, where it says: Ci manchi, it's basically the same thing, but it's more personal so we add the indirect personal pronoun ci (or any other one). So actually, the Italian is consistent in this. It's English that doesn't match the Italian. When it gets personal, we translate it with the action verb "to miss." Ci manchi could be translated literally as, "You are missing from our lives." You're missing and I feel it. Manchi dalla mia vita. Manchi a me. Mi manchi. I miss you.
La musica ti vuole. Manca il tuo groove, manca il tuo stile. Io ti voglio. -Ci manchi, ci manchi tantissimo. Incredibile. Dove, dove, dove sei finito?
Music wants you. Your groove is missing, your style is missing. I want you. -We miss you, we miss you so much. Incredible. Where, where, where have you gone to?
Captions 66-69, Chi m'ha visto film - Part 23
So let's add a couple more items to our list of sentences to look at:
8) I haven't seen my parents in years. I miss them.
9) Ti manco? (I am away from home on a business trip and wonder if my wife feels my absence, so I ask her this question).
Here are some possible answers. Let us know if this helps in understanding how to talk about things that are missing, absent, or lacking, and also about getting personal and missing someone, feeling someone's absence (in which case we use indirect personal pronouns like mi, ci, ti, etc. Please see this lesson, too, for more explanations and examples.
1) There's no salt! Manca il sale.
2) It's ten to eight. (time) Mancano dieci minuti alle otto.
3) Mancano ancora delle persone. (the meeting is about to start). Some people are still missing.
4) Mi manca l'aria. I can't breathe
5) Manco dall'America da quattro anni. I haven't been back to the States for four years.
6) I missed my flight (this one might be tricky). Ho mancato il volo.
7) Siamo quasi arrivati... we're almost there. Manca poco.
8) I haven't seen my parents in years. I miss them. Mi mancano. Mi mancano i miei genitori.
9) Ti manco? (I am away from home on a business trip and wonder if my wife feels my absence, so I ask this question). Do you miss me?
We've had some feedback about the tricky verb mancare. And there are likely plenty of learners out there struggling to be able to use it and translate it correctly. It twists the brain a bit.
To grasp it better, it may be helpful to separate the contexts. So in this lesson, let's focus on things, not people. Let's think about something being absent, missing, something we are lacking.
Infatti manca la targa, sia davanti che dietro.
In fact, the license plate is missing, both in front and in back.Play Caption
In the next example, we're talking about time. The verb mancare is often used to indicate how much time is left.
Ormai manca poco.
It won't be long now. (Literally, this is: At this point, little time is left)Play Caption
If we're talking about minutes, days, or weeks, we conjugate mancare in the third person plural.
E mancano solo due giorni, eh, alla fine del mese.
And there are only two days left, huh, before the end of the month.
Caption 45, La Ladra Ep. 7 - Il piccolo ladro - Part 8Play Caption
This next example is a typical comment for adult children to make about their parents or parents about how they treat their children. The children are well-provided for. They have everything they needed. Nothing is denied them. So the verb is: fare mancare qualcosa a qualcuno (to cause someone to do without something).
Non ci ha mai fatto mancare nulla.
We never wanted for anything.
We never went without.Play Caption
If you do a search on Yabla, you'll find plenty of examples of this expression. It's a bit convoluted to use, so perhaps by repeating the phrases that come up in the search, or by reading them out loud, you'll get it. Again, it's more important to understand what this means, especially when someone is telling you their life story, than using it yourself.
If you have questions or comments, please don't hesitate to write to us at email@example.com.
The Italian verb for "think" is pensare. But there are so many ways, in every language, to talk about thinking. Let's look at a few of them in Italian.
A quick review of the verb pensare reminds us that it's an -are verb, and this is good to know for conjugating it, but it's also a verb of uncertainty and some of us already know that that means we often need the subjunctive, especially when it's followed by che, as in the following example. We don't worry about that in English.
Io penso che Vito sia arrabbiato per una cosa molto stupida.
I think that Vito is angry over something very stupid.
Captions 5-6, Corso di italiano con Daniela Il congiuntivo - Part 7Play Caption
For more about the verb pensare, here are some lessons and videos to check out:
Anna e Marika - Il verbo pensare Marika and Anna use the various conjugations of pensare in conversation.
I Have This Feeling... - Sapere Part 1 This is a lesson about yet another way to say "I think..." And it doesn't need the subjunctive!
When someone asks you a question and you need to think about it, one common verb to use in Italian is riflettere (to reflect). We do use this verb in English, but it's much more common in Italian.
Ci devo riflettere (I need to think about it).
Sto riflettendo... (I'm thinking...)
C'ho riflettuto e... (I've thought about it and...)
Fammi riflettere (let me think).
A word that is closely connected with pensare is idea. It's the same in English as in Italian, except for the pronunciation.
Ho un'idea (I have an idea)
Another relevant word is la mente (the mind) where thinking happens and ideas come from. So when you are thinking about something, often when you are planning something, you have something in mind. Here, the Italian is parallel to English: in mente. As you can see, the response uses the verb pensare.
Che cosa ha in mente? -Sto pensando di impiantare una fabbrica lì.
What do you have in mind? -I'm thinking of setting up a factory there.
Captions 24-25, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep.2 - Part 8Play Caption
The question is being asked by someone who is using the polite form of avere (to have). [Otherwise, it would be: Che cosa _____ in mente?]*
So sometimes when we think of something, it comes to mind. Italians say something similar but they personalize it.
T'è venuto in mente qualcosa? -No!
Did something come to mind? -No!Play Caption
So we use in mente (to mind) with a personal pronoun plus the preposition a (to).
A (negative) response could be:
A me non viene in mente niente (nothing comes to mind / I can't think of anything).
or, more likely
Non mi viene in mente niente (nothing comes to mind / I can't think of anything).
La mente (the mind) is another word for il cervello (the brain), which is in la testa (the head), so some expressions about thinking use la testa just as they do in English (use your head!) But sometimes the verb is different.
In this week's episode of Provaci ancora, Prof! a husband is talking about his wife wanting to divorce him. He says:
Adesso si è messa in testa che vuole anche il divorzio.
Now she has gotten it into her head that she also wants a divorce.Play Caption
In English, we personalize this with a possessive pronoun (her head) and we use the catch-all verb "to get," but in Italian, we use the verb mettere (to put) in its reflexive form (mettersi). This often implies a certain stubbornness.
Let's add the verb sembrare (to seem) because lots of times we use it in Italian, when we just use "to think" in English.
Invece a me sembra proprio una buona idea.
On the contrary, to me it seems like a really good idea.
On the contrary, I think it's a really good idea.Play Caption
Ti sembra giusto (do you think it's fair)?
Just for fun, here's a dialog:
Mi è venuto in mente di costruire un tavolo (I was thinking of building a table).
-Come pensi di farlo (how are you thinking of doing it)?
-Ci devo riflettere (I have to think about it).
-Che tipo di tavolo hai in mente (what kind of table do you have in mind)?
-Mi sono messo in testa di farlo grande ma mi sa che dovrò chiedere aiuto a mio zio (I got it into my head to make a big one, but I think I will have to ask my uncle to help me).
-Hai avuto qualche idea in più (have you come up with any more ideas)?
-Ho riflettuto, e penso che sarà troppo difficile costruire un tavolo grande, quindi sarà un tavolo piccolo e semplice (I've thought about it and I think it will be too difficult to build a big table, so it's going to be a small, simple table).
Mi sembra saggio (I think that's wise).
*Answer: Che cosa _hai_ in mente?
The simple preposition di can be combined with an article to form what is called una preposizione articolata. In doing this, it is transformed a bit, so this is just something we need to learn. Marika has a video series about the prepositions, and begins with the common preposition di. In this lesson we will set out to put things in a visual context with a list of how di can combine with definite articles, and we'll give you some examples from Yabla videos, so you can hear them in context.
Here is how we combine the preposition di with the various definite articles (that all mean "the"): The main thing to notice is that the i in di is transformed in e.
di + il = del
di + lo = dello
di + l’ = dell’
di + la = della
di + i = dei
di + gli = degli
di + le = delle
Let's look at each combination in context:
It will usually precede a masculine noun or the adjective that describes it.
In tutte le città del mondo ci sono ristoranti italiani.
In all the cities of the world, there are Italian restaurants.
Caption 8, Adriano Pizzeria Pinocchio - Part 1Play Caption
In the following example, note that before the noun there is an adjective, famoso (famous) which also agrees with the masculine noun.
Pinocchio è il protagonista del famoso romanzo dell'autore Collodi:
Pinocchio is the main character of the famous novel by the author Collodi:
Caption 29, Adriano Pizzeria Pinocchio - Part 1Play Caption
Note that there is another example of dello in the title of the episode. Translated it would be: The shark's gold.
Chi ha aggiustato la porta dello spogliatoio?
Who fixed the door of the locker room?
Caption 30, La Ladra Ep. 3 - L'oro dello squalo - Part 13Play Caption
In the following example, even though we say il colore, not
lo colore, we do use di plus the definite article lo and it becomes dello. This is because before the noun, we have the adjective stesso which begins with an s + the consonant t. So we need the definite article lo. Like when we say: È lo stesso (It's all the same). That's something to remember. Later in this lesson, we will look at a similar construction with a feminine noun.
E una bella borsa dello stesso colore.
And a nice handbag of the same color.
Caption 37, Corso di italiano con Daniela I colori - Part 3Play Caption
Le pulizie della casa, dell'appartamento si chiamano anche "faccende domestiche" oppure "pulizie casalinghe".
The cleaning of the house, of the apartment, is also called "housework" or "household cleaning."
Captions 32-33, Marika spiega Le pulizie di primavera - Part 1Play Caption
Sometimes this same construction turns out to be feminine! It's a truncated version of della, which we'll look at next.This can be a headache for learners:
Io mi occupo della contabilità dell'azienda.
I take care of the accounts of the business.Play Caption
La grande tragedia della guerra lascia memorie che non si cancellano.
The great tragedy of the war leaves memories that don't get erased.
Caption 43, L'arte della cucina Terre d'Acqua - Part 5Play Caption
Now let's move on to di plus a plural definite article.
Da quando in qua un uomo si deve occupare dei neonati?
Since when should a man have to take care of [the] newborns?Play Caption
Note that Italian uses the definite article, where in English, none is necessary. This is common and takes some effort in getting used to it.
In the next example, we have the combined preposition followed by the possessive pronoun miei (the plural masculine form of mio). Here too, the article is there (attached to di = dei ).
È una ricetta dei miei nonni che coltivavano le arance di Sicilia.
It's a recipe from my grandparents, who cultivated Sicilian oranges.
Caption 12, Adriano L'arancello di MarinaPlay Caption
Degli is hard to pronounce for lots of folks. Here, too, the definite article is included, while English leaves it out.
Pensate che il novanta percento degli italiani beve caffè quotidianamente.
Just think that ninety percent of Italians drink coffee on a daily basis.
Caption 7, Adriano Il caffèPlay Caption
Sarà la forma delle note a stabilire qual è la durata dei suoni,
It's the shape of the notes that determines the duration of the sounds,
Caption 37, A scuola di musica con Alessio - Part 3Play Caption
If you look at the transcript of just about any video, you will be able to pick out several examples of these preposizioni articolate. Look for common phrases and start repeating them, getting them into your repertoire.
For other preposizioni articolate, check out:
Meanwhile, if you have any questions or doubts, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
There's a common Italian pronominal verb you'll be glad to have in your toolbox. It's used a lot in conversation, as an expression, but understanding how it works can be a little tricky. But first...
Pronominale (pronominal) means “relating to or playing the part of a pronoun.” In Italian, un verbo pronominale (a pronominal verb) is one that has a special meaning when used together with one or two particular pronominal particelle (particles). Particelle or particles are those tiny, usually, 2-letter pronouns we find in Italian, such as ci, ne, ne, la.
Let's unpack this pronominal verb. In the infinitive, it's farcela.
The verb contained in this pronominal verb is fare = to make, to do.
Alessia può farcela da sola.
Alessia can manage on her own.
Caption 57, La Ladra Ep. 5 - Chi la fa l'aspetti - Part 5Play Caption
Usually in a pronominal verb, one of the pronouns is an indirect pronoun, In this case, it's ce. Ce means the same thing as ci, (to it/him/her," "at it/him/her," "about it.") but when there is a direct object with it, ci changes to ce! As we have mentioned in previous lessons, the particle ci can be combined with a second pronoun particle, such as -la or -ne, but in that case, it becomes ce. Therefore we have, -cela, -cene; NOT
-cila, - cine.
To make things even more complicated, ci, and consequently, ce, can mean any number of things. The basic thing to remember is that ci or ce usually represents a preposition + complement. Learn more about ci.
The second pronoun in the expression farcela is la. This is a direct object pronoun meaning "it." It's always used in the feminine — we could say la stands for la cosa, a feminine noun.
In the previous example, farcela stands on its own to mean "to manage." It's also possible to add another verb, so as to mean, "to manage to do something."
Ehm, pensa di farcela a recuperare le chiavi della mia auto?
Uh, do you think you can manage to retrieve the keys of my car?
Caption 35, Psicovip Il tombino - Ep 2Play Caption
In both of our previous examples, the conjugated verb (potere = to be able to, pensare = to think) precedes the pronominal verb, resulting in the pronominal verb being in the infinitive.
Posso farcela (I can manage it).
Penso di farcela (I think I can manage it).
Learning the infinitive is a good starting point, as it's fairly straightforward. Use the common verbs in their conjugated forms to "push" the pronominal verb over into the infinitive.
Farcela is the infinitive of the pronominal verb, and as we have seen above, sometimes it can stay that way. More often than not, however, it is conjugated, so it's a good idea to have a few expressions memorized and ready to use. As you can see from the following example, it can be used when you're falling behind.
Piano, piano, piano. Piano, cagnozzo! Non ce la faccio, mi fai cadere.
Slow down, slow down, slow down. Slow down, dear little dog! I can't keep up, you'll make me fall.Play Caption
Eh, basta, croce. Non ce la faccio più.
Uh, that's it, forget it. I can't go on.
Caption 17, Chi m'ha visto film - Part 6Play Caption
Some other common conjugations:
Ce la fai? (Can you manage it?)
Non ce la fa. (He/she can't manage it, He/she can't make it).
Ce la faremo? (Are we going to make it?)
Ce l'ho fatta! (I did it, I made it).
If we want to add another verb, we use the preposition a (to) before the (second) verb, which will be in the infinitive (arrivare, mangiare, finire). Here are a few examples:
Ce la faremo ad arrivare in tempo? (Are we going to manage to arrive in time?/Are we going to make it in time?)
Ce la fai a mangiare tutto? (Can you manage to eat it all?)
Ce l'ha fatta a finire il progetto? (Did he/she manage to finish the project?)
As you can see, this kind of sentence usually starts with ce la, unless it's in the negative, in which we start with non followed by ce la + the conjugated verb fare.
A few things to keep in mind:
1) Fare is a verb that takes avere (not essere) in perfect tenses. In perfect tenses, the particle la will become l' because it will be attached to the conjugated form of avere, which will have a vowel sound at the beginning (even though written with an h: ho, hai, ha, abbiamo, avete, hanno). So when you just hear it, you might not perceive it. Lookking at Italian captions or doing Scribe can help with this.
2) One more tricky thing to remember when using perfect tenses:
You might be tempted to say ce l'ho
fatto. But that would be wrong. Why? It's about verb-object agreement.
The rule is that when the object pronoun comes before the verb (in this case, la before ho), then the past participle of the verb will agree with the object (la), not the subject (in this case io [I]).
So it has to be Ce l'ho fatta.
It is complicated, so be patient with yourself. Even those of us who have been living in Italy for years still have doubts sometimes, when conjugating these pesky pronominal verbs. Over time, the grammar will start making a little more sense to you and you will say, "Ah ha!" Finalmente, ce l'ho fatta a capire! (I finally managed to understand). Or, simply, Finalmente, ce l'ho fatta!
The word "discuss" or "discussion" elicits the image of business meetings or family dinners — people talking normally together in order to reach a conclusion, people exchanging their opinions or knowledge.
The verb discutere in Italian sounds pretty similar, especially in its past participle discusso, leading us to think it means the same thing. And, well, it can and often does.
Qui, Federico Secondo ha discusso con i suoi consiglieri le questioni di Stato o dei rapporti con i Papi e promulgato le costituzioni, codice unico di leggi per l'intero regno di Sicilia.
Here, Frederick the Second discussed with his advisors questions of state or relations with the Popes, and promulgated charters, a unique legal code for the entire Reign of Sicily.
Captions 30-31, Itinerari Della Bellezza Basilicata - Part 2Play Caption
But more often than not, in everyday conversation, it has another sfumatura (nuance) that you'll want to know about. Gaging someone's level of emotion is not always easy in a foreign language. How many times have you thought two Italians were arguing heatedly, but they were just talking about il calcio (soccer)?
In a current video on Yabla, a woman is describing the evening of her husband's murder.
Quella sera abbiamo discusso.
That evening, we argued.Play Caption
If you don't know about this nuance, you might think, "OK, so what? They discussed their schedules." So we have to watch for the context, the mood, to determine what kind of "discussion" they had. They might well be talking about an argument.
Another way to tell that discutere means "to argue" is that there is no direct or indirect object of the verb, although there might very well be the preposition con (with), indicating the other person in the argument. In the following example, the indirect object comes in the form of a question "with whom."
Nemici? Che nemici avrebbe dovuto avere? Qualcuno con cui aveva discusso ultimamente, magari anche sul lavoro.
Enemies? What enemies should he have had? Someone he had recently argued with, maybe even at work.
Captions 19-21, Il Commissario Manara S2EP8 - Fuori servizio - Part 3Play Caption
Let's note that in English, the verb "to discuss" is transitive.
What did you discuss? -We discussed our schedules.
But in Italian, discutere can be either transitive or intransitive. When it means "to argue," discutere is intransitive. When it means, "talking about something," then the preposition di (about) will be used.
Che sei venuta a discutere di cucina esotica? -No.
What, did you come to talk about exotic cuisine? -No.Play Caption
When we are having an argument (una discussione), the noun discussione can come out in a different way.
È fuori discussione, Manara!
That's out of the question, Manara!Play Caption
The previous example uses the Italian noun discussione and the English noun question. In the following example, however, there is a verbal phrase in the Italian — mettere in discussione — to equal the verb "to question" in English. This can be part of a normal discussion, not an argument, but it's good to know!
però penso non possa essere messa in discussione la sua onestà professionale.
but I don't think his professional honesty can be questioned.Play Caption
Putting it in a simpler, indicative mood:
Non lo metto in discussione (I'm not questioning that).
As you watch movies and shows on Yabla, or anywhere else you see Italian content, be on the lookout for the verb discutere in all its forms and nuances.
Here is a riassunto (synopsis) of what happened in the story of Un medico in famiglia from when we left off after episode 2 of season 1, to the time in which we are able to pick up the story with season 3. But to round things out, let’s start at the very beginning and fill you in.
The main character, or rather the most famous actor in the series, is Lino Banfi who is now 84 years old. He is il nonno (the grandpa). His son is Gabriele Martini, known as Lele (we will add this to the nickname list). He's a doctor, hence the title Un medico in famiglia (a doctor in the family). At the beginning of the show, we discover that Lele’s wife had died, leaving him 3 children: Maria who is 13, Ciccio (nickname for Francesco), 10, and a not quite 3-year old, Annuccia (affectionate name for Anna).
Before Lele’s wife Elena died, they had already closed on a new house in a residential town called Poggio Fiorito, near Rome.
Questa è la nostra casa vecchia. Adesso stiamo per andare in una casa nuova.
This is our old house. Now we are about to move to a new house.
Captions 30-31, Un medico in famiglia S1 EP1 - Casa nuova - Part 1
The story begins as the Martini Family packs up and moves to their new home. The kids are definitely not thrilled to leave their friends and old school behind. Il nonno, who has recently retired from his job with the ferrovia (railroad) moves in with them to help out.
Lele is gone all day and Nonno Libero can’t manage by himself, and it soon becomes clear that the family needs someone to help out at home, specifically, una colf. Colf is is an acronym for collaboratrice famigliare (family collaborator or housekeeper).
Enter a “Polish” woman named Cettina. She is quite eccentric, but also a hard worker and manages to keep the household going, gradually becoming part of the family. She has a boyfriend, Giacinto, who is not very good at what he does, but he is a good guy. At the end of episode 2, the family, and we viewers discover that in fact, Cettina is not Polish at all, but Neapolitan. Once she has come out about this, things change for the better. She is still eccentric, but feels she can be herself.
In the first and second seasons, Elena’s sister Alice is a constant presence in the household. She’s played by Claudia Pandolfi, well-known to Italian TV and film audiences. She is la zia (the aunt) to the young kids.
Also present are Elena’s parents, Enrica and Nicola. The kids clearly feel more at home with Nonno Libero.
Lele’s sister Nilde, played by popular Italian TV and movie actress, Anita Zagaria, is in a difficult marriage and her son Alberto, who is 16, goes to stay with the Martini family to benefit from their supposedly more harmonious home environment.
There’s drama at home, but there is also the daily drama at work, where Lele is head of the ASL, the local health center. ASL stands for Azienda Sanitaria Locale.
There are various characters within the walls of Lele’s workplace, notably his colleague Laura, hopelessly in love with him. Little by little, Lele realizes that the person who means the most to him, on a sentimental level, is Alice, his late wife’s sister. She, however, already has a boyfriend. His name is Sergio and he has been away for a while. When he comes back, Sergio and Alice get engaged. But at the bachelor party before the wedding, Sergio gets drunk and beats her. She calls off the wedding and leaves him. In the season finale, Lele declares his love for her.
The second season opens with Lele waiting anxiously for Alice's return a trip she took to Africa. The two have to figure out if they want to commit, and they decide to share the news of their relationship with the family. Though Alice is jealous of Lele’s old flame, Clara, a photographer, their relationship grows. Of course, Alice is also hesitant about taking the place of her sister, Elena.
In the end, Lele and Alice decide to get married. About to leave on their honeymoon, Alice has a miscarriage and is told by the doctors that she will no longer be able to have children. Nilde, Lele’s sister, also gets pregnant, and while in Sanremo, gives birth to a mulatto child, a little boy, whose father is unknown to the Martini family. She names the child Lele Junior after her brother.
There is no lack of trouble at the Martini household: Alice is persecuted by a maniac admirer; Alberto falls into depression after a dramatic road accident where his dearest friend (Adriano) remains paralyzed; Cettina and Giacinto don’t get along like before.
Alberto comes out of his depression when he meets Gemma and the two become an item.
By the end of season 2, Alice, despite the earlier diagnosis, has become pregnant with Lele’s child. At the “wrong” moment, she finds herself stuck in an elevator, ready to give birth. Cettina and Maria have to help her give birth — to twins! This momentous experience brings Maria to an important decision she had been agonizing over: to study medicine and specialize in obstetrics.
This brings us to Season 3, available on Yabla. 3 years have passed since Season 2 and Maria is starting medical school, Lele has just left for a sabbatical in Australia to research a rare infantile disease, and has taken the twins with him. Alice will join him from Brazil. Nonno has his hands full with Nilde’s little boy, Lele Junior, and the other kids who all have their own problems. Let’s see what happens!
This lesson will explore some of the vocabulary we use to talk about the sense of taste. We use nouns, verbs and adjectives, so once again, we'll divide the lesson up into these three different parts of speech.
When we talk about the noun "taste," one noun we use in Italian is il gusto (the taste). It can be used literally to talk about food. In the following example, we are talking about the particular taste of good olive oil:
perché avendo un pane più saporito si perderebbe il gusto dell'olio.
because having a more flavorful bread, you'd lose the taste of the oil.
Caption 13, L'olio extravergine di oliva Spremuto o franto?Play Caption
We can also use the noun il gusto as we do in English, to talk about someone's good or bad taste in music, clothing, furniture, etc. In this next example, it's all about a tie someone wears to a wedding.
Eh, va be'. -Vedi, è questione di buon gusto, no?
Well, OK. -See? It's a question of good taste, right?Play Caption
So with the noun form, il gusto functions much as "the taste" does in English.
Another noun we use to talk about how something tastes is il sapore (the taste). But in contrast to il gusto, il sapore is mostly about how something tastes.
L'olio esalta anche il sapore delle pietanze.
Oil also brings out the taste of dishes.
Caption 17, L'olio extravergine di oliva Spremuto o franto?Play Caption
Il sapore can be used metaphorically as well, as in sapore di mare (the feeling of the seaside), but it is about the item we are tasting.
It tastes good (ha un buon sapore) or it tastes bad (ha un cattivo sapore)
But il buon gusto/il cattivo gusto can also be about the person who has good or bad taste in things.
Ha buon gusto-ha cattivo gusto (he/she has good taste-he/she has bad taste).
When we are talking about tasting something, for example, to see if the water has been salted properly for cooking the pasta, the noun we go to is assaggiare (to taste). This is a transitive verb.
Non vedo l'ora di assaggiare la pappa al pomodoro!
I can't wait to taste the tomato and bread soup!
Caption 69, L'Italia a tavola La pappa al pomodoro - Part 1Play Caption
Toscani ha assaggiato il vino e ha detto che era aceto.
Toscani tasted the wine and said it tasted like vinegar.Play Caption
Let's keep in mind that there is a noun form connected to assaggiare — un assaggio — that is useful to know. It implies a mini-portion of something and is sometimes offered on menus in restaurants.
One way restaurants offer these assaggi is by calling them by the number of mini-portions included: un tris (three mini-portions) or un bis (two mini-portions). See this lesson about that! Tris di Assaggi (Three Tidbits).
The verb assaggiare implies tasting something to see how it is. Maybe you are testing it for the salt, or you are trying something for the first time.
The verb gustare on the other hand is connected with savoring something, enjoying the taste, or making the most of it.
Per gustare bene un tartufo bisogna partire dal presupposto che i piatti devono essere molto semplici
To properly taste a truffle you have to start with the assumption that the dishes have to be very simple
Captions 51-52, Tartufo bianco d'Alba Come sceglierlo e come gustarloPlay Caption
This might be a good time to mention the noun il disgusto along with the verb disgustare. You can easily guess what they mean. And there's also disgustoso. These are strong words so use them only when you really mean them.
Whereas we use the verb assaggiare and the noun assaggio, there is no relative adjective. But in the case of il gusto and gustare, we do have a relative adjective, gustoso (tasty, flavorful).
Più gli ingredienti sono di qualità, più il panzerotto risulterà gustoso.
The higher the quality of the ingredients, the more flavorful the “panzerotto” will turn out.Play Caption
The adjective connected to il sapore is saporito. It can mean "very tasty," but it often implies something is on the salty side, as in the following example.
Ma poi il pecorino è molto saporito, quindi dobbiamo stare attente con il sale. -Esatto.
And then, sheep cheese is very flavorful so we have to be careful with the salt. -Exactly.
Captions 20-21, L'Italia a tavola Culurgiones D'Ogliastra - Part 2Play Caption
To give more flavor to something, we can use the verb insaporire (to make something more flavorful).
Userò l'aglio, sia per, eh, insaporire, quindi l'olio,
I'll use the garlic, both for flavoring, that is, the oil,Play Caption
One last thing. Sapere is a verb meaning to have the taste (or smell) of (in addition to meaning "to know"). This would be a perfect time to read our lesson about that!
Let us know if you have questions or suggestions at email@example.com. We look forward to hearing from you.
This lesson explores the sense of smell and how to talk about smelling things and how things smell, since it works a bit differently than it does in English. We'll divide the lesson into three parts of speech having to do with the sense of smell.
When we use the noun "smell" to mean "odor," as in, "There's a funny smell in here," or, "What's that smell?", just remember that if it is a neutral smell, the cognate odore works just fine. Cos'è quel odore (what is that smell)? If it isn't neutral, then we use other words or we qualify odore (odor).
If it's a particularly unpleasant smell, it's una puzza (a stink or a stench). There are other words to use, too, but for now, let's keep it simple. Che puzza! (something stinks!)
We can also talk about un cattivo odore (a bad smell) or un buon odore (a good smell). We might need the verb avere (to have) to complete the sentence.
I get a new car and I like the way it smells inside:
Questa macchina ha un buon odore (this car smells good).
You sniff the milk container:
Questo latte ha un cattivo odore, sarà andato a male (this milk smells bad, it must have gone sour).
If it is a good smell, either the flower kind or the food kind, we can use the cognate profumo.
I walk into someone's kitchen and say che buon profumo! I mean "It smells great in here!"
The English cognate "perfume" is usually reserved for flower essences used in beauty products, but in Italian, it can represent "a good smell." So let's keep in mind that in Italian we use a noun and in English, we use the intransitive verb "to smell" for this (much of the time).
Another good and easy cognate to know is aroma because it means pretty much the same thing as "aroma" in English. We usually use it for food, herbs, and spices.
Le cipolle hanno un sapore e un aroma molto forte,
Onions have a strong smell and taste,
Caption 56, In cucina con Arianna la panzanella - Part 1Play Caption
The most common Italian verb corresponding to the transitive verb "to smell" in English is sentire which we can equate with "to sense," with your nose, your ears, or your tongue.
Senti che buon profumo.
Senti che bella canzone.
Senti questo sugo. C'è abbastanza sale?
But if want to talk about using my nose to sniff something, I can use annusare (to sniff).
Annusa questi fiori, senti che profumo! (smell these flowers, how good they smell).
Let's say I have some flowers, but they have no smell. Non odorano (they don't have a scent). The verb is odorare (to have a scent). Odorare can also be transitive, like annusare, but it's not one of those everyday verbs you need to know.
Finally, there is fiutare, which means the same thing, "to sniff." But again, you might come across the word, but you don't need it in everyday conversation.
Please see the lesson Taste and Smell - Sapere Part 2 for more on this, plus some examples.
Italians like to have clean, ironed clothes, and they use ammorbidente (fabric softener) that also serves to give a nice scent to the laundered items.
When the laundry comes off the clothesline, it smells lovely: il bucato è profumato.
Some people like scented candles: candele profumate.
We also have the adjective odoroso (having an odor, usually strong). It's not used a lot in normal day-to-day conversation, so don't worry about this adjective...
In cooking, Italians like certain aromatic herbs — erbe aromatiche, such as basilico (basil), rosmarino (rosemary), and salvia (sage).
Sometimes the challenge is understanding what someone tells you in Italian, but sometimes it's about coming up with the right Italian word for what we are trying to say (when we happen to be thinking English). So let's start with an English word this time. Let's start out with the English noun "way." We can translate it into Italian in a few different ways.
the way - la via
the way - il modo
the way - la maniera
What's the best way to solve this problem or get out of the situation? We're pretty much talking about a direction here, either literal or figurative. Which way? What route or path do we take?
Sembra che non ci sia più via d'uscita.
It looks like there won't be any way out.
Caption 31, Anna e Marika in La Gazza Ladra - Part 2Play Caption
We can often use the word "pathway" for via. Via, being more about "by what means," and also meaning "road," stands out from the other words we will be talking about, which are more about "how": the way to do something.
If we are talking about the way someone does something, then we will likely use il modo (the way, the manner).
Ma questo modo di conservare gli alimenti, paradossalmente, è un po' più rispettoso della natura...
But this way of conserving food, paradoxically, is a bit more respectful of nature...
Captions 28-29, L'arte della cucina La Prima Identitá - Part 4Play Caption
Le stagioni hanno specifici colori, clima, temperatura, e influenzano il nostro modo di vivere.
The seasons have specific colors, weather, temperatures, and influence the way we live.
Captions 5-6, Adriano Le stagioni dell'annoPlay Caption
Infatti, parliamo allo stesso modo... e facciamo le stesse cose.
In fact, we talk the same way... and do the same things.
Captions 5-6, Amiche sulla spiaggiaPlay Caption
A question to ask with modo is: in che modo (in what way, how)? It often goes hand in hand with the question come (how)?
We can use modo when we ask for or give instructions, such as in cooking. How should we slice the onion?
La nostra cipolla va affettata in modo molto sottile.
Our onion is to be sliced very thinly.Play Caption
Keep in mind that in many cases in which we might likely use an adverb in English (in this case "thinly"), an adjective after modo seems to work better in Italian (in modo sottile).
Here are a few more examples of this:
a roughly chopped onion - una cipolla tagliata in modo grossolano
uniformly - in modo uniforme
strangely - in modo strano
unusually - in modo insolito
messily - in modo disordinato
When you don't like someone's manner, you don't like the way they go about doing things, you can use modo.
Non mi piace il suo modo di fare (I don't like the way he does things).
The cognate for maniera is "manner," which often means "way." So that's easy.
In questa maniera, usando la pasta all'uovo la stessa ricetta, lasagna se ne vende a profusione qui da noi.
This way, the same recipe using egg pasta, lasagna sells profusely here at our place.
Captions 49-50, Anna e Marika Hostaria Antica Roma - Part 2Play Caption
Modo and maniera are very similar, and are pretty interchangeable, but keep in mind that modo is masculine and maniera is feminine.
Ha una maniera strana di parlare (he has a strange way of talking).
Parla in modo strano (he has a strange way of talking).
We have one more translation for "way," and that is senso.
Strangely enough, in the dictionary, we don't immediately see il senso as an Italian translation of "the way." Yet, when we look up il senso, "the way" turns up as the fourth choice as a translation.
Senso is a great word, and one Italians use all the time. Let's talk about 2 popular ways it is used to mean "way." When used in a statement, it's common to find the adjective certo (certain) before it. We have translated it, but you could also leave it out: "In a way..."
e in un certo senso, l'abbiamo anche conquistata
in a certain way, we even conquered it
Caption 22, Fratelli Taviani La passione e l'utopia - Part 3Play Caption
The other way Italians use senso is when they want a more complete explanation of something they didn't quite understand.
They'll ask, In che senso?
Perché? -Perché così nessuno avrebbe saputo che erano false. False? -False? -False in che senso, scusi? -Falsissime.
Why? -Because that way no one would have known they were fakes. Fakes? -Fakes? -Fakes in what way, sorry? -Very fake.
Captions 54-55, Il Commissario Manara S1EP4 - Le Lettere Di Leopardi - Part 16Play Caption
They are asking, "In what way?" but they might also be asking, "What do you mean by "fake"?" or "How do you mean?"
We might want to keep in mind that another meaning of il senso is "meaning."
il senso della vita (the meaning of life)
Check out these lessons that explore the noun, il senso.
Here's how we generally put these different ways of saying "way" into context:
in un certo senso (in a way)
in che senso (how do you mean, what do you mean by that)?
in qualche modo (in some way, somehow)
in qualche maniera (in some way, somehow)
ad ogni modo (anyway, anyhow)
per quale via (by what means)?
Now when you watch Yabla videos, maybe you will be a bit more tuned in to how people use via, modo, maniera and senso. They all mean "way."
Here are some examples of how volta is commonly used:
Sarà la volta buona (this time you’ll make it)!
Ancora una volta (one more time, or “once again”).
Un'altra volta ("some other time").
After many failures, la volta buona is the successful attempt at something.
Nel senso, magari è la volta buona che ti fai una bicicletta pure tu.
I mean, maybe this will be the time that even you get yourself a bike.
Captions 4-5, La Tempesta film - Part 2Play Caption
When we want to or have to postpone something we talk about un'altra volta (another time). Not this time, but another time.
Va bene, delle disavventure tropicali di mio fratello ne parliamo un'altra volta.
All right, about the tropical misadventures of my brother we'll talk about them another time.
Captions 31-32, La Tempesta - film - Part 2Play Caption
But the same thing can mean "again."
E' sparito un'altra volta! -Ma stai scherzando,
He disappeared again! -But you're kidding,Play Caption
With the preposition a (at) in front of the plural of volta—volte, we get a volte meaning "sometimes" or "at times."
A volte tengono la loro "a". OK?
Sometimes they retain their "a," OK?Play Caption
A volte is another way of saying qualche volta. They both mean “sometimes.” A volte can be also translated as “at times.”
We can use una volta in thinking about the future:
Una volta mi piacerebbe andare a Londra.
Sometime I’d like to go to London.
But it can also mean “one time."
Io ci sono stata una volta.
I went there once.
And we can use it to refer to the past:
We can translate it as "once" or "at one time."
Una volta servivamo il papa e il re, ∫ eravamo anche colti e magnanimi
Once, we served the pope and the king. At one time, we were even cultured and magnanimous,
Captions 44-45, Volare - La grande storia di Domenico Modugno Ep. 1 - Part 23Play Caption
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.
What a bore!
Caption 9, Acqua in bocca Un amico per Pippo - Ep 1Play Caption
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.
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 roviPlay Caption
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.
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 PiemontePlay Caption
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.Play Caption
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?Play Caption
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 singhiozzoPlay Caption
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 2Play Caption
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 cinemaPlay Caption
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).
The verb volere (to want, to desire) is a very common verb, one we learn early on, so that we can ask for things we need. It has a host of uses and different nuances of meanings you can read about if you look it up on WordReference.
In this lesson, we will look at a particular use of this verb that uses the gerund form volendo. We have to be careful, because there is an often-used literal meaning and also a slightly skewed meaning, in which you have to know that there is negative implication included.
Let's start off with the basic, innocent, literal use of the gerund form of volere. We can translate it as "wanting" or "wanting to." Note we don't usually translate it with the gerund in this context.
Però, volendo, possiamo usare anche un semplice coltello.
However, if we want to, we can also use a simple knife.Play Caption
One handy thing about volendo, is that you don't necessarily have to talk about who wants something. It can stay nice and impersonal as in the following example. The key word in understanding volendo (as an expression), in terms of an English translation, is the conjunction if. We don't see it in the Italian, but we need it in the English translation.
Comunque il bagno è bello grande, ah. Visto che bella vasca? Volendo, ci stanno anche due spazzolini. Nel senso che, se dovesse capitare, puoi lasciare qua il tuo da me. Capito?
In any case, the bathroom is nice and big, huh. Did you see what a nice tub? If desired, there's even room for two toothbrushes. Meaning, that if it ever happened, you can leave yours here at my place. Understood?
Captions 79-83, Il Commissario Manara S1EP10 - Un morto di troppo - Part 6Play Caption
Actually, using volendo avoids having to construct a sentence in the subjunctive and conditional moods, although in English, that is just what we would do.
E poi anche volendo, come faccio a trovarlo se non so dov'è?
And besides, even if I wanted to, how could I find him if I don't know where he is?Play Caption
But often, volendo is used to imply that something isn't a great idea, nor a likely one. So in translating it, we would add, "really." If one really wanted to do something. That's the nuance in this example from Provaci ancora Prof!.
Renzo bought an artist's multiple copy of a sculpture at a flea market. He's trying to explain what a multiple is to his daughter.
Però un ricco collezionista potrebbe anche comprarseli tutti i multipli, se vuole. Potrebbe, sì. Volendo, potrebbe.
But a rich collector could also buy all the multiples if he wanted to. He could, yes. If he really wanted to, he could.
Captions 45-47, Provaci Ancora Prof! S1E4 - La mia compagna di banco - Part 14Play Caption
It can also be in response to something someone asks you to do, but in fact, you do not want to do, but you don't want to flat out say no, either. It can mean, "If I wanted to, I could, but I don't really want to." "If you absolutely need me to do it, I will, but I don't really want to." So hidden in the verb "wanting to" is "not wanting to."
We don't have examples of this last nuance from Yabla videos (yet) ... but here is an example of a possible dialogue.
Puoi andare alla riunione al posto mio (Can you go to the meeting in my place)?
Beh sì, volendo si può anche fare... [ma non credo sia una buona idea] (I could... [but I don't think it's a good idea]).
There are different ways to travel. It can be for pleasure or work, it can be for multiple days, weeks, or months, or it can be a day trip or an overnight, an excursion.
So, let's look at an interesting alternative to the true cognate, escursione (that works just fine, too):
la gita, una gita, andare in gita.
So the noun is la gita. But where does it come from? It originally comes from the verb ire (to go). People don't use this verb much at all, in fact we could say they never use it in converstion, as it is literary (we mostly use andare), but those of you who know Latin, Spanish, or other Romance languages, will most likely recognize it.
A dialectical version of ire has a g sound in front of it, turning it into gire. We can trace it to the feminine past participle: andata — ita — gita. You don't need to know this, but some of us enjoy knowing where words come from.
In practical terms, una gita implies traveling somewhere, not necessarily sleeping over, but maybe.
For example, kids in school might go on una gita scolastica (a class trip).
E perché? -Partono, per la gita scolastica! Fuori di casa due giorni da soli. -Mamma, siamo in trentadue! E quattro insegnanti.
And, why? -They're leaving on a school trip! Away from home for two days, all alone. -Mom, there are thirty-two of us! And four teachers.
Captions 5-8, Acqua in bocca Allarme gita - Ep 9Play Caption
Erica works at the tourist office of Palaia in Tuscany. She's talking about her job.
E quindi è un po' il punto di arrivo, eh, di tutte quelle persone che vengono qua in vacanza, o anche semplicemente per fare u', una gita o una, una breve sosta qui, in questo territorio, che è la Valdera.
And so it's kind of the point of arrival uh, for all those people who come here on vacation, or even just to make a, a day trip, or a quick stop here, in this area, which is the Valdera.
Captions 14-17, Professioni e mestieri Erica - archeologa - Part 2
Check out this Yabla mini-series about a girl who goes on an outing — Una gita al lago (a day trip to the lake).
The verb gire sounds kind of like the verb girare, which means "to go around." Girare and gire don't have the same root, but they are related through one definition of girare:
andare qua e là, andare in giro, vagare, con o senza uno scopo determinato
(to go here and there, to go about, with or without a specific purpose).
Firenze è una città piccola, si può girare benissimo a piedi.
Florence is a small city, you can go around very easily on foot.
Caption 9, In giro per l'Italia Firenze - Part 1Play Caption
The noun form is il giro. Un giro can be a bike ride, a walk, a ride in a car... anything really, even a swing, or one of the machines at a gym.
Continuando il mio giro in bicicletta sulle mura di Lucca, mi sono fermata davanti a questo bellissimo palazzo.
Continuing my bike ride around the Lucca walls, I stopped in front of this very beautiful villa.
Captions 1-2, In giro per l'Italia Lucca - Part 4
Fare un giro can mean "to take a turn."
Let's say I am on the treadmill at the gym, and there is someone waiting. I can ask, ci vuoi fare un giro (do you want to take a turn on it, do you want to have a go)?
Italians love diminutives, so we also have un giretto, or un girettino (or some say una girata or girattina) more like a brief stroll, synonymous with passeggiata, or passeggiatina.
E nonna, ho fatto un bel giretto nel bosco.
Well Grandma, I had a nice walk around the woods.Play Caption
Note that we use the verb fare (to make, to do) with the noun una gita, —fare una gita or the noun un giro —fare un giro. Or we use the verb andare (to go) and the preposition in (on a) before gita or giro. Andare in gita, andare in giro. Tuscans often say andare a giro. It means the same thing.
Sono sicura che passeremo una bellissima giornata in giro per la città.
I'm sure we'll have a great day going around the city.
Caption 6, In giro per l'Italia Firenze - Part 1
There is plenty more to say about in giro, but that will be for another lesson. Meanwhile, let's try to assimilate the meanings we have talked about here by looking at some questions and some possible answers. Feel free to write to us with your attempts. Mistakes are welcome. That's how we learn.
E tu? Che fai oggi? Vai in gita? Fai un giro? Fai una passeggiata? Vai in giro?
And you? What are you doing today? Are you going on an excursion? Are you going to go out and about? Are you going to take a walk? Are you going to cruise around the area?
Here are some possible answers:
Facciamo una gita turistica. Viviamo a Pisa, e andremo a visitare Siena.
We're going on a day trip. We live in Pisa and we're going to go and see Siena.
Andiamo in gita, che bello!
We're going on an outing, how great!
Facciamo il giro dell'isolotto.
We're going to walk around the block.
Facciamo un giro.
Let's go and have a look around.
Facciamo un giro in bici.
We're going on a bike ride.
Ho fatto una passeggiata vicino a casa.
I took a walk close to home.
Siamo andati in giro per la toscana.
We went for a ride around Tuscany.
Feel free to send us some of your own examples. If they work, we'll add them to this list. write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A single verb that expresses the idea of "making do" is accontentarsi (to be content with something/to make oneself be content). The adjective it stems from is contento (happy, content). The non-reflexive verb accontentare can be translated as "to satisfy."
Me lo avete chiesto voi, eh, quindi io vi accontento.
You asked me for it, huh, so I will satisfy you.
Caption 6, Marika spiega I verbi cavare e toglierePlay Caption
You are giving someone what they want. You are making them happy.
Quando ho molto tempo, preferisco mangiare frutta, latte e cereali; quando ho poco tempo, mi accontento del classico caffè e del cornetto o brioche.
When I have lots of time, I prefer to eat fruit, milk and cereal; when I have little time, I make do with a classic espresso and croissant or brioche.
Captions 20-23, Adriano GiornataPlay Caption
The verb accontentarsi has a lot of information in it, but Italians have an expression that enhances it even further. Italy, being a Roman Catholic country historically, is not lacking in monasteries and convents. While in English, "convent" tends to be understood as a convent of nuns, in Italian, un convento implies a religious community and may be either di suore (of nuns = convent) or di frati (of monks = monastery). Many conventi around Italy offer hospitality to travelers, but the food that is served is the humble and simple fare the monks or nuns are served. And of course, they don't complain about it.
So let's say someone asks you to stay for dinner on the spur of the moment and doesn't have anything special to offer.
Se ti accontenti di quel che passa il convento, sei il benvenuto (if you make do with what the convent is serving [what we have on hand], you are welcome to stay for dinner).
But the expression is used outside of the realm of food, too. In this clip, we're talking about what kind of work one can get.
Guardi che Gigi c'ha pure due lauree. -E fa il deejay? -E questo passa il convento.
Look, Gigi even has two degrees. -And he is deejaying? -Well, that's what the convent offers [beggars can't be choosers].
Captions 13-15, La Ladra EP. 8 - Il momento giusto - Part 7Play Caption
In an episode of Volare, the expression is used rather vulgarly, referring to a woman. But now, when you watch the video, you'll understand what's behind this expression.
Me so' [romanesco: mi sono] accontentato di quel che passava il convento.
I made do with what the convent was serving.Play Caption
-I'm talking to my husband about lunch:
Vuoi anche un secondo o ti accontenti di un piatto di pasta e un'insalata? (do you want a second course or are you happy with pasta and salad)?
-My boss asks me:
Mi puoi fare una bozza per domani (can you give me a rough draft by tomorrow)?
Non so se ce la faccio, ma farò del mio meglio per accontentarti (I don't know if I'll be able to, but I'll do my best to satisfy you).
Many of us like to watch movies. Let's have a quick look at some of the terms that Italians use when they talk about the movies.
A movie is usually called un film. That's an easy one, because in English we can say "film," as well.
But when we talk about "the movies" in general, it's il cinema. That's another word we understand, but we have to think of using. Forget about the word "movie!"
And then, when we want to go to the movies, andiamo al cinema (we go to the movies/let's go to the movies).
Ciao. Sei annoiato o annoiata e ti vuoi divertire e rilassare? Bene, puoi andare al cinema.
Hi. Are you bored (m) or bored (f) and you want to have a good time and relax? Good. You can go to the movies.
Captions 3-5, Marika spiega Il cinemaPlay Caption
Siamo andati al cinema e abbiamo visto un bel film. Adoro il cinema
(We went to the movies and we saw a great movie. I love the movies)!
When we talk about the star of the movie, if it's a guy, it's il protagonista and if it is a female, it's la protagonista. It always ends in a and is basically a feminine noun! It's also used to mean "the main character."
Perché Marcello, il protagonista di questo film, è uno come noi.
Because Marcello, the main character of this film, is someone like us.Play Caption
Just like in English, we have l'attore e l'attrice (the actor and the actress).
When they are acting, however, we use the verb recitare. They recite their lines.
È come recitare una parte in fondo, no?
It's like acting a part, deep down, right?
Caption 16, Sposami EP 2 - Part 9Play Caption
E... come attore insisti, hai recitato benissimo. -Grazie.
And... and you have to keep at it as an actor. You acted very well. -Thank you.Play Caption
When we talk about movie stars, Italians often use the English word, la star (the star). Otherwise, it's la stella (the star).
Grazie. -Alla nuova stella del musical.
Thanks. -To the new star of musicals.
Caption 22, La Ladra Ep. 4 - Una magica bionda - Part 14Play Caption
Nowadays, there are often various screening rooms in a multi-plex movie theater. Each of these is called una sala. We can also call a movie theater una sala cinematografica, when we are referring to a room within a building, or a building devoted to screening movies. So when you buy your ticket they will tell you sala 4 or sala 8. Sala is akin to "hall" or "large room." Il teatro (the theater) refers to theaters (for plays) and opera houses. It also refers to the activity or study of acting or drama. Un corso di teatro is a drama course. If you have studied acting, you can say:
Ho studiato teatro
Ho studiato recitazione teatrale
Yabla Italian has various movies you can watch in Italian with or without subtitles (try only Italian, only English, none, or both!). Take advantage of moments when going to the movies might not be a great option. It might just the right time to broaden your horizons with a nice movie in Italian. Here are some suggestions:
Il Tempesta This movie takes place in il Veneto, the region Venice is in. But the story takes place in the nearby city of Treviso. It involves a photographer, an adopted Belarus orphan, and a girl who works at the Tognana porcelain factory.
Sei mai stata sulla luna? (have you ever been to the moon? The film is the story of Guia, a 30-year-old woman who works for a prestigious international fashion magazine, travels around by private jet and lives between Milan and Paris. She has everything, or at least she thinks she does until she finds herself in a remote village in Puglia where she inherited a large family farm.
L'oro di Scampia (The Gold of Scampia) is based on a true story, adapted from Gianni Maddaloni's book, La mia vita sportiva (My Life in Sports). Scampia is a suburb made up of massive public housing blocks north of Naples. Camorra criminals rule the area and make life very difficult for Enzo Capuano, a hospital worker, who runs a Judo school in his spare time.
Keep in mind that each segment of a movie comes with a vocabulary review, multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank exercises, and the patented dictation exercise, Scribe, so you can learn while enjoying the movie. But you can also just soak it in, and watch the entire movie, which is useful in itself. Getting used to hearing how real people (and good actors) speak — paying attention to the rhythm, flow, and lilt of the language gives you what learning individual words and constructed sentences cannot. Sometimes it's all about how Italian connect the words to each other fluidly.
Of course, there are also plenty of movies on the various streaming platforms available for the watching. They are often available in lingua originale con sottotitoli. Maybe you can watch a movie in Italian that you have already seen dubbed into English or some other language. Fun!
In this lesson, we look at 3 expressions with the noun la forza, which basically means "force" (easy cognate) or "strength." The meaning might help us grasp the expressions somewhat, but let's take the opportunity to shine a light on each one. They are all very common, and good to have in your repertoire of idioms.
We have seen this a million times in Yabla videos. It usually has an exclamation point following it. We can best translate it with "come on." It's funny because there are several Italian expressions that are translated the same way, such as Dai! Su! Vai! Coraggio!
Dove stiamo andando? -Forza! A lavoro, forza!
Where are we going? -Come on! To work, come on!
Captions 35-36, Il Commissario Manara S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto - Part 5Play Caption
But it can also just be another way to say "come on" or "go on." Another way to say dai, as Italians often do at the end of a sentence. It's a bit stronger, but the inflection matters a lot, too.
Vabbè entra. Chiudi la porta, forza.
All right, come in. Shut the door, go on.Play Caption
This is a kind of adverbial phrase. We can get the sense of what it means: literally "through force." We use it to mean "necessarily," "inevitably," "begrudgingly" — in other words, "there's no choice." "That's the way it has to be." It might even mean "obviously," "clearly," in certain cases.
Let's look at some examples in context.
Allora, noi le tasse di successione, quelle dobbiamo pagarle per forza.
So, the inheritance taxes, those we are obliged to pay.
Caption 25, Sei mai stata sulla luna? film - Part 2Play Caption
C'è che tua madre vuole per forza trasformare il nostro matrimonio in un evento.
It's that your mother wants, at all costs, to transform our wedding into an event.
Caption 31, Sposami EP 1 - Part 19Play Caption
Ho preso un tassì e sono scappata dal Pronto Soccorso. -Ma ti sei fatta visitare? -Per forza!
I took a taxi and ran off from the emergency room. -Did you get examined? -I had no choice!
Captions 1-3, La Ladra Ep. 7 - Il piccolo ladro - Part 15Play Caption
Tu non mi hai visto a me! Io so' [sono] sparito. Tu mi vedi? No, per forza, so' [sono] sparito.
You haven't seen me! I've disappeared. Do you see me? No, of course not. I've disappeared.
Captions 36-37, Chi m'ha visto film - Part 10Play Caption
Two further idiomatic sayings come to mind using this adverbial phrase:
Per amore o per forza (one way or another, one way or the other)
O per volere o per forza (by hook or by crook)
The image we can glean from this expression is of a hammer that keeps hammering. Or a lie someone keeps repeating so many times that in the end you believe it.
In the first example below, the police are looking for a DVD that could be really anywhere... a needle in a haystack. But they keep looking for it. They're saying they'll go into retirement before they find the DVD, it's taking so long.
Mi sa che ci [sic: ce ne] andiamo in pensione a forza di cercare 'sto [questo] DVD. E speriamo che ci andiamo in pensione, prima che ci sbranano i topi.
I think that we'll go into retirement from all the looking for this DVD. And let's hope that we retire at all, before the mice chew us up.
Captions 33-35, Il Commissario Manara S2EP8 - Fuori servizio - Part 14Play Caption
In this example, we have another modo di dire: mettersi la mano sulla coscienza (to examine one's conscience).
Non lo so, mettiti una mano sulla coscienza. -Senti, a forza di mettermi la mano sulla coscienza, quella è morta soffocata.
I don't know. Put a hand on your conscience [examine your conscience]. -Listen, by putting my hand on my conscience so much, it died from suffocation.
Captions 49-51, Sposami EP 2 - Part 25Play Caption
Although both of these examples are humorously expressed comments, a forza di is also used in serious matters.
Mi fanno male le gambe a forza di stare seduto (by sitting so much, my legs hurt).
Structurally, we note that after a forza di comes a verb in the infinitive. In the English translation, we often find a gerund.
Forza! Andiamo via. Dobbiamo per forza arrivare al supermercato prima della chiusura perché è finito il caffè. -Per forza è finito il caffè. Tu ne bevi a litri. A forza di bere tutti questi caffè non dormirai mai più.
Come on, let's leave. We have to absolutely get to the supermarket before closing time because we're out of coffee. Of course we're out of coffee. You drink gallons of it. By drinking so much you will never sleep again.
A forza di studiare l'italiano e guardare dei video su Yabla (e facendo gli esercizi, bene inteso), imparerai la lingua!
Let's look at a word used in a recent episode of Volare that has both a verb and a noun form. It's an easy cognate, but you might not think of it, since "to deserve" is the verb we would use in English, and alas, it has no cognate in Italian.
So meritare is a good verb to know. The noun form is il merito. In English, we would usually say "Thanks to [someone or something]." Or we might say, "The credit is all yours/his/hers/theirs." So, you'll probably understand these words when you see them, especially when they are in a clear context, but you might not add them to your vocabulary if you are thinking in English. They are worth adopting, though. "Being worth it" is another way to translate meritare!
È merito della signora se sono qui, eh. -No, Lei è qui perché se lo merita, non deve ringraziare nessuno.
It's thanks to the lady if I am here, huh. -No. You are here because you deserve to be. You don't have to thank anyone.
Captions 22-24, Volare - La grande storia di Domenico Modugno Ep. 1 - Part 9Play Caption
You might have noticed that the speaker uses the reflexive form of meritare, meritarsi. Both ways are OK, but when it's reflexive it feels a bit more personal (and it's a bit more complicated to use).
Il successo l'hai meritato.
Il succeso te lo sei meritato.
Let's look at some examples from Yabla videos:
Se hai una pessima idea di me, me lo merito.
If you have a bad impression of me, I deserve it.Play Caption
Se questa operazione è riuscita, il merito è tuo. Brava, Sardi.
If this operation succeeded, it's thanks to you. Very good, Sardi.Play Caption
Eh, va be', però bisogna avvertirlo, perché il critico ha dato tutto il merito a te.
Well, all right, but you should let him know because the critic gave you all the credit.
Caption 24, La Ladra Ep. 5 - Chi la fa l'aspetti - Part 1Play Caption
Pensavo di meritare di più dalla vita.
I thought I deserved more from life.Play Caption
Poi sicuramente Pisa merita una visita con la sua torre pendente che non casca mai.
Then, of course, Pisa is worth a visit with its leaning tower that never falls.
Captions 75-76, L'Italia a tavola Interrogazione sulla ToscanaPlay Caption
As you can see in the final example, to deserve something and be worth something are very close. Sometimes they are interchangeable. They are in Italian too, so check out our lesson about valere (to be worth).