Leçons Italien

Thèmes

Lessons for topic Vocabulary

Giorno or giornata: What's the difference?

What's the difference between giorno and giornata? They both refer to "day." To start off with, we can say that one difference is that un giorno is 24 hours. But una giornata is roughly from dawn to dusk. In some cases, giorno and giornata can be used interchangeably, but let's look at the ways we generally use one or the other.

 

It might also be helpful to think of giorno as rather static and giornata as something in motion, or progressing.

 

Since we have to greet people most days, it's good to mention buongiorno, which actually means "good morning," as a greeting. We use it up to lunchtime, or noon, to be more precise. After that it's buonasera (good afternoon, good evening).

Buongiorno, signora Caterina.

Good morning, Missus Caterina.

Caption 58, Il Commissario Manara S1EP3 - Rapsodia in Blu - Part 3

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Let's keep in mind that, used as a greeting, buongiorno is one word. 

 

For more about greetings, check out this lesson 

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If we say buona giornata, we are saying, "Have a nice day." I hope your day goes well. It's kind of a progressive thing, thinking ahead to the day. We say it when we are leaving or when someone else is leaving. 

Va bene. -Buona giornata. Buona cavalcata. -Buona cavalcata. Buona giornata e buon lavoro. -Grazie.

All right. -Have a nice day. Have a nice ride. -Have a nice ride. Have a nice day, and good luck with your work. -Thank you.

Captions 14-16, Fratelli Taviani La passione e l'utopia - Part 23

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We can replace giornata with another -ata word: if we want to wish someone a good ride (on horseback) as in the example above, or, if they are taking a walk, we can say buona passeggiata

 

Let's look at other situations in which we will want to use giornata, not giorno, or vice versa. It may be helpful to think of giornata as the progression of the day towards night. 

Let's say you are waiting for a package.

The corriere (the shipping company) says:

Il pacchetto sarà consegnato in giornata. This means the package will be delivered anytime before the end of the day.

 

If it's going to arrive before lunchtime, they might say arriverà in mattinata.

 

When you get off work, and you are thinking about what a difficult (or fantastic) day you have had, you can say:

Che giornata (what a day)!

 

But then, you might use a mix of giornata and giorno. The important thing is to remember that giorno is a masculine noun and giornata is a feminine noun. 

 

You can say:

Ho lavorato tutto il giorno (I worked all day).

 

You can also say:

Ho lavorato tutta la giornata (I worked all day).

 

It kind of depends on what you are thinking or visualizing. They are both correct. Google says tutto il giorno is more common.

 

When we are talking about the weather, we'll usually use giornata.

Oggi è una bellissima giornata, un po' fredda,

Today, it's such a beautiful day, a bit cold,

Caption 4, Professioni e mestieri Erica - archeologa - Part 2

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When describing the day, especially in a personal way, we use giornata:

Ti sto rovinando la giornata, scusami.

I'm wrecking your day, forgive me.

Caption 14, Provaci ancora prof! S1E4 - La mia compagna di banco - Part 7

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If I ask you how your day went, I might say?

 

Come'è andata la giornata (how did your day go, how was your day)?

 

When we're talking about a length of time, then it's usually giornata. In some cases, we can talk about una mezza giornata (a half day')

La prego, solo mezza giornata.

Please, just half a day.

Caption 19, Ma che ci faccio qui! Un film di Francesco Amato - Part 4

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While we tend to use giorno for birthdays and the days of the week (we think of the calendar), giornata is more common for describing special commemorative occasions or major historical events, for example, Giornata mondiale della pace (International peace day). It's connected with the activity.

 

If you have questions about giorno and giornata, please let us know and we'll expand this lesson.

 

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How to talk about frequency regarding time

How do we talk about frequency — how many times in a period of time something happens or should happen? Let's find out.

 

Just as English has "every" and "each," so does Italian. Italian has tutti (all) and ogni (each). For more about tutti see this lesson

In Italia, come ben sapete, la pasta è un alimento consumato tutti i giorni.

In Italy, as you well know, pasta's a food that's eaten every day.

Caption 1, Anna e Marika La pasta fresca

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Note that with tutti, we use the plural. Both the noun giorni and the adjective tutti are in the plural. Not only that. If we replace giorni (days) with settimane (weeks), we have to change tutti  to tutte, as settimana is a feminine noun. Note also that we have tutto il giorno, which means "all day." Here tutto is singular, so try not to get mixed up (we'll talk about this in a different lesson).

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Usciamo quasi tutte le settimane, il sabato sera,

We go out almost every week, on Saturday night,

Caption 40, Erica e Martina La nostra amicizia

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When we use ogni (each), on the other hand, it's always singular. 

 

Qui in Sicilia, in estate si va ogni giorno al mare e la sera si esce.

Here in Sicily, in the summer we go to the beach every day and in the evenings we go out.

Caption 49, Adriano Le stagioni dell'anno

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What if we want to talk about "every other day?" We can say ogni due giorni (every two days) or we can say un giorno sì e un giorno no (one day yes and one day no).

Ah no, eh? E tu come lo chiami un bambino che vomita un giorno sì e un giorno no?

No? And what do you call a little boy who vomits every other day?

Captions 95-96, Un medico in famiglia Stagione 3 S3EP3 - Il tarlo del sospetto - Part 3

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When it comes to doing something once a day, once a week, once a month, or once a year, we use the noun volta, which we can also use in the plural when appropriate. It is followed by the preposition a (at, to, in)

Allora, amici di Yabla, all'interno del mio negozio, una volta al mese ospito degli artisti...

So, Yabla friends, inside my shop, I host artists once a month...

Captions 56-57, Adriano Negozio di Antichità Sgroi

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Note that the noun volta has other meanings and connotations, so consider checking out the dictionary entry linked to above. Learn more about the noun volta meaning "time" in this lesson

 

una volta al giorno (once a day)

due volte al giorno (twice a day)

una volta alla settimana (once a week)

due volte alla settimana (twice a week)

una volta al mese (once a month)

due volte al mese (twice a month)

una volta all'anno (once a year)

due volte all'anno (twice a year)

 

There is a lot to talk about regarding time. We've covered one aspect of frequency in this lesson, but in future lessons, we'll talk about ways to say "usually," "sometimes," "always," "never," and so on.

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Upstairs and Downstairs in Italian (and more)

When we want to talk about going or being upstairs or downstairs, we're not going to find a direct translation in Italian. We have to use other words. 

 

We start out with the words sopra and sotto, which basically mean "above" and "below," respectively. We insert the preposition di (of, from) before either one.

No, vado di sopra a prendere la borsa e le chiavi e scendo giù subito.

No, I'm going upstairs to get my bag and the keys, and I'll be right down.

Caption 88, Un medico in famiglia Stagione 3 S3EP3 - Il tarlo del sospetto - Part 1

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If you are upstairs and want to go downstairs, you could just as well say,

Vado di sotto a prendere la borsa...

I'm going downstairs to get my bag... 

 

When we are talking about the other room, or another room, or "over there," then we use the same little preposition di (of, from), but we use là (there) instead of above or below.

Vado di là (I'm going in the other room, I'm going over there).

Pietro è di là (Pietro is in the other room).

 

Using the above formula to talk about "upstairs," "downstairs," or "in the other room," is one way to express this. You might also hear simply su and giù.

È su (he/she is upstairs), sta su (he/she is upstairs).

Vado su, vengo giù (I'm going up, I'm coming down).

 

If we imagine an apartment building where you have to go downstairs to go out of the building, it's easier to imagine the Italian use of sotto casa (right in front of the house). I may have a little market right near my house. It's sotto casa. It implies "very close by" or "in front of."

Fortunatamente ci hanno messo un bidone sotto casa.

Fortunately, they put a garbage can in front of the house.

Caption 25, COVID-19 6) La guarigione

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Sono sotto casa tua. Scendi un attimo?

I'm in front of your house. Will you come down a moment?

Caption 30, La Ladra EP. 7 - Il piccolo ladro - Part 3

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When we want to say, "down here," or "down there," then we can use qui sotto or qua sotto. They are interchangeable and can refer to either "here" or "there," depending on one's point of view.

E qua sotto c'è il fiume Tevere.

And down there is the river Tiber.

Caption 19, Anna e Marika Trattoria Al Biondo Tevere - Part 1

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Infatti, vedi le strutture che sono qui sotto, qui sotto a questo monumentale... -Sì.

In fact, do you see the constructions that are down here, below this monumental... -Yes.

Caption 44, Marika e Daniela Colosseo, interno - Part 1

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While sopra and sotto with di often refer to "upstairs" and "downstairs" as we have shown above, su and giù can also be used to indicate the direction of where someone or something is or where someone or something is going. They often go hand in hand with qui or qua (here) and (there).

 

Qui and qua basically indicate something that is close to the person who is speaking. Su basically means "up" and giù basically means "down." If we want to refer to something far away in an upward or downward direction, we can say, lassù (up there) or laggiù (down there).

E tu che ci fai lassù?

What are you doing up there?

Caption 8, Dafne Film - Part 5

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E poi si vede in fondo, laggiù sull'Arno, il ponte più caratteristico di Firenze, uno dei simboli della città, che è il Ponte Vecchio.

And then you can see, down there, on the Arno, the most characteristic bridge of Florence, one of the symbols of the city, which is the Ponte Vecchio [the old bridge].

Captions 36-38, In giro per l'Italia Firenze - Part 4

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Sopra and sotto are also used to mean other things, also figuratively, and hopefully, they will come up by and by in videos and lessons. Meanwhile, you now have some ways to describe where you are going or where you are in a house, or what you can see from your house or what you'll find in front of your house. As you will have noticed, there are various ways to say the same thing. Let us know if you have questions! You can write to us at newsletter@yabla.com.

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Some interesting aspects of the noun aspetto

Let's have a look at a noun that can cause some confusion because it's both a true cognate and a somewhat false friend. The noun is aspetto and it looks a lot like "aspect."

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Just like English

It's a cognate when we want to talk about a feature or element of something, an "aspect," un aspetto. It can also be figurative.

Ma c'è un altro aspetto che deve colpire in questa sala e sono certamente i tendaggi del letto a baldacchino, ma soprattutto, guardate attorno a noi, sono le tappezzerie. Sono in seta.

But there is another aspect that is striking in this room, and certainly the curtains of the canopy bed are, but above all, look around us, it's the wall coverings. They are in silk.

Captions 31-34, Meraviglie EP. 1 - Part 4

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Tutti la chiamavano Belle, perché lei era bella sotto ogni aspetto.

Everyone called her Beauty, because she was beautiful in every respect.

Captions 7-8, Ti racconto una fiaba La Bella e la Bestia - Part 1

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Unlike English

But the noun aspetto can also refer to the way something looks, its appearance. It's used with the verb avere (to have) — avere un aspetto (to have the appearance, to look like). If you look in the dictionary, we find this meaning of "aspect," too, in English, but it's formal and not used much. 

Però, inizialmente, come abbiamo detto, non aveva questo aspetto.

However, initially, as we have said, it did not look like this.

Caption 3, Meraviglie S2 EP 2 - Part 6

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Mangio tanto tutti i giorni. -Ma dai! Dal tuo aspetto non si direbbe proprio.

I eat a lot every day. -Really! By your appearance, I wouldn't say so at all. 

Captions 4-5, Daniela e Francesca Il verbo mangiare

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Commissario... ha un aspetto terribile!

Commissioner... you look terrible!

Captions 2-3, Il Commissario Manara S1EP2 - Vendemmia tardiva - Part 7

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In English, "aspect" has more to do with the mind, but in Italian, aspetto is often used to refer to the physical attributes or the appearance of something or someone. It's just something to keep in mind.

 

Verb conjugation

And let's not be confused by the fact that aspetto is also the first person singular conjugation of the common verb aspettare (to wait). 

 

Although it means "to wait," Italians often say ti aspetto to mean, "I'll look forward to seeing you" or "I'll be expecting you." For example, Marika says it at the end of many of her videos.

Ti aspetto nel prossimo video

I'll be waiting for you in the next video.

Caption 56, Marika spiega I segni dello Zodiaco - Part 1

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Vicenda, faccenda: What's the difference?

Vicenda and faccenda are two words we come across in narrations and in dialog. They both have to do with events, things that happen, but is there a difference? If so, what?

La faccenda 

The noun la faccenda comes from the verb fare (to make, to do), and has to do with things we do. It implies something that is done in a relatively short amount of time. 

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Housework

Many Italians describe housework as le faccende — the chores you do. The noun is usually found in its plural form, as there is always more than one thing to do.

 

It might occur to you to say:

Passo sempre tutto il weekend a fare le faccende (I always spend the whole weekend doing housework).

 

If it's clear I am talking about my house, I don't need to add domestiche or di casa, but if it's not necessarily clear, I might say, 

Passo tutto il weekend a fare le faccende domestiche (I spend the whole weekend doing housework).

Passo tutto il weekend a fare le faccende di casa (I spend the whole weekend doing housework).

 

Le pulizie della casa, dell'appartamento si chiamano anche "faccende domestiche" oppure "pulizie casalinghe".

Cleaning the house, the apartment, is also called "housework" or "household cleaning."

Captions 32-33, Marika spiega Le pulizie di primavera - Part 1

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Matter

Faccenda, used in the singular or the plural, can also denote a "matter" or "business."

Ecco, io ci tenevo a dirvi che noi siamo completamente estranei a questa faccenda.

Well, I wanted to tell you that we are completely uninvolved in this matter.

Caption 56, Imma Tataranni Sostituto procuratore S1EP1 L'estate del dito - Part 18

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Brutta faccenda. È una crisi di ispirazione.

Nasty business. It's an inspiration crisis.

Captions 5-6, La Ladra EP. 5 - Chi la fa l'aspetti - Part 1

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Often, the noun faccenda can imply something unpleasant — maybe an unpaid bill you need to discuss or something you did at work that needs to be dealt with. 

La vicenda

The noun vicenda likely comes from the latin "vicis" (to mutate). It can be an event, or a succession or series of events, possibly lasting over time. In many instances, it can be used in place of "story."

Quando "cosa" si riferisce ad un fatto o a una vicenda particolare, possiamo usare alcune espressioni...

When "thing" refers to a particular fact or event, we can use some expressions...

Captions 32-33, Marika spiega Cosa - Part 1

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Una leggenda racconta che questo ponte è legato alle vicende di una fanciulla veneziana e di un giovane ufficiale austriaco e al diavolo.

A legend tells that this bridge was linked to the story of a Venetian girl and a young Austrian officer, and to the devil.

Captions 5-7, In giro per l'Italia Venezia - Part 10

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As you watch videos, read books, and listen to people talk, you will get a feel for faccenda and vicenda. In some cases, they might even be interchangeable. Although vicenda doesn't come from the verb vivere (to live), it might be helpful to imagine that it does. Le vicende are things that happen in life. Le faccende are things you do (used in the plural) or, used either in the singular or plural, matters to deal with.

 

You might also have heard the expression a vicenda (mutual, each other) It's very common, but we will look at it in a future lesson, so we can give it the attention it deserves. 

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Kinds of boats in Italian

Let's look at the different names Italians have for vessels that travel on water. 

 

The most basic word, and the first word you'll likely learn, is la barca (the boat). It's general, it starts with B!

A Villa Borghese si possono fare tantissime cose: si può noleggiare una barca... per navigare nel laghetto;

At Villa Borghese, you can do many things: you can rent a boat... to sail on the small lake;

Captions 10-12, Anna presenta Villa Borghese - Part 1

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If we want to specify the kind of boat, such as a sailboat, then we use the preposition a (to, at) to indicate the type: barca a vela (sailboat).

 

E lui fa il cuoco sulle barche a vela, in giro per il mondo.

And he's a cook on sailboats, going around the world.

Caption 28, La Ladra EP. 1 - Le cose cambiano - Part 9

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A motorboat would be una barca a motore.

 

A fishing boat can be una barca da pesca, but also, and more commonly, un peschereccio.

E... questa tartaruga è arrivata in... proprio ieri, portata da un peschereccio di Lampedusa.

And... this turtle arrived... just yesterday, brought to us by a Lampedusa fishing boat.

Captions 4-5, WWF Italia Progetto tartarughe - Part 2

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The second word you'll learn will likely be la nave (the ship):

La Campania è collegatissima, quindi ci si può arrivare in treno, in aereo, in macchina o in nave.

Campania is very accessible, meaning you can get there by train, by plane, by car, or by ship.

Captions 82-84, L'Italia a tavola Interrogazione sulla Campania

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There are the ships we see on the sea, but there are ferryboats, too, especially the ones that take you from Italy's mainland to le isole (the islands): Sicilia (Sicily), Sardegna (Sardinia), Corsica (although not part of Italy — a common destination), and l'Isola d'Elba. This specific kind of boat is called un traghetto. But if you call it la nave, that's perfectly understandable, too. Some of these ferries are huge. In the following example, we're talking about getting to Sardinia.

Ci sono tre aeroporti, se si vuole arrivare in aereo. Oppure con il traghetto da Civitavecchia, da Genova o da Napoli.

There are three airports if one wishes to arrive by plane. Or by ferry from Civitavecchia, from Genoa, or from Naples.

Captions 70-71, L'Italia a tavola Interrogazione sulla Sardegna

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If you go to Venice, you will undoubtedly take a ferry at some point. Here, the local means of transportation is il vaporetto (the steamship).  The name comes from il vapore (the steam). There are stops you get off at, just like for busses, subways, and trains in mainland cities.

 

When you need speed, you opt for un motoscafo (a motorboat, a speedboat). That's what the police use. 

 

Another boat name used in Venice, but other places, too, is battello

Per arrivare a Murano, basta prendere un battello a Venezia e in pochi minuti si arriva.

To get to Murano, all you have to do is take a passenger boat in Venice, and in just a few minutes, you get there.

Captions 23-25, In giro per l'Italia Venezia - Part 8

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Interestingly, when Italians use the noun la canoa, they often mean "kayak." The noun kayak exists as well. When they want to refer to a canoe, they'll say la canoa canadese (the Canadian canoe). 

Nelle gole dell'Alcantara, si possono praticare sport estremi come l'idrospeed, che consiste nello scendere attraverso le gole, ma anche la più tranquilla canoa.

In the Alcantara gorges one can practice extreme sports like riverboarding, which consists of going down the gorges, but also the calmer kayak.

Captions 19-21, Linea Blu Sicilia - Part 10

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To use a canoe or a kayak you need a paddle— la pagaia.  

 

If we want to talk about a rowboat, it's una barca a remi. Un remo is "an oar," so we need 2 of them in una barca a remi. The verb to row is remare

 

In Venice, there are gondolas, and they are rowed or paddled with just one oar. 

Questa asimmetria è voluta per dare più spazio al gondoliere per remare con il suo unico remo.

This asymmetry is needed to give more space to the gondolier to row with his one and only oar.

Captions 18-19, In giro per l'Italia Venezia - Part 5

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A common expression having to do with rowing is:

Tirare i remi in barca (to pull the oars back in the boat). You stop rowing. Figuratively, you stop trying, you give up. Or, you've finished your job so you don't have to "row" any longer. Maybe you've retired! This nuanced expression can tend towards a positive or negative intention and interpretation.

 

Finally, we have la zattera (the raft). It's often primitive, often made of wood. 

 

Are there kinds of boats for which you would like to know the Italian equivalent? Write to us. newsletter@yabla.com.

 

There are undoubtedly other kinds of seafaring vessels we have missed here. Feel free to volunteer some you might have come across. 

 

And to sum up, we will mention that in general, when talking about vessels that travel on the water, we can use l'imbarcazione. It's good to recognize this word and understand it, but you likely won't need it in everyday conversation. You'll hear it on the news, you'll read it in articles...

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Getting fed up with stufare

The verb stufare means "to stew," so it's a cooking verb. You cook something for a long time. In English we use "to stew" figuratively — "to fret" — but Italians use it a bit differently, to mean "to get fed up." What inspired this lesson was the first line in this week's segment of L'Oriana

Sono stufa di intervistare attori e registi, non ne posso più.

I'm tired of interviewing actors and directors, I can't take it anymore.

Caption 1, L'Oriana film - Part 3

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The adjective stufo

Here we have the adjective form, stufo. It means "fed up," "tired," or "sick and tired."  Here are a couple more examples so you can see the kind of contexts stufo is used in.

Ma se fosse stato... -Se, se, Manara, sono stufo delle sue giustificazioni!

But if that had happened... -If, if, Manara. I'm sick of your justifications!

Caption 7, Il Commissario Manara S2EP1 - Matrimonio con delitto - Part 15

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Fabrizio, basta. Basta. Sono stufa delle tue promesse.

Fabrizio, that's enough. Enough. I'm sick of your promises.

Captions 67-68, Il Commissario Manara S2EP9 - L'amica ritrovata - Part 5

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You will often see the expression Basta! (enough) close by stufo, as in the previous example— they go hand in hand. The adjective stufo is used when you have already had it, you are fed up, you are already tired of something. 

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Stufo is an adjective that comes up a lot in arguments. Can you think of some verbs to use with it? 

Sono stufa di lavare i piatti tutte le sere (I'm sick of doing the dishes every night).
Sono stufo di...[pick a verb].

 

Sono stufo di camminare. Prendiamo un taxi (I'm tired of walking. Let's take a taxi).
Sono stufo di discutere con te. Parliamo di altro (I'm tired of arguing with you. Let's talk about something else).
Sei stufo, o vuoi fare un altro giro (are you tired of this, or do you want to do another round)?
 
 
Let's keep in mind that stufo is the kind of adjective that will change its ending according to gender and number. But since it's a very personal way to feel, it's most important to remember it in the first and second person singular. Sono stufo, sono stufa — sei stufo? sei stufa?
 

The verb stufare

The adjective stufo is one way to use the word. The other common way is to use the verb stufare reflexively: stufarsi (to get fed up, to be fed up, to get bored).  
 
It's very common to use stufarsi in the passato prossimo tense: mi sono stufato (I'm fed up). Using the verb form implies something that was already happening, already in the works. It's more about the process. Note that when we use a reflexive verb in a tense with a participle, such as the passato prossimo (that's formed like the present perfect), the auxiliary verb is essere (to be) not avere (to have).
 

Sì. -Ma io mi sono stufato.

Yes. -But I've had enough.

Caption 18, Sposami EP 2 - Part 21

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As you can see, it's common for the verb form, used reflexively, to stand alone, but we can also use it as we did the adjective form, with a verb. 

Mi sono stufata di camminare (I'm tired of walking).

Let's keep in mind that we have to pay attention to who is speaking. The ending of the participle will change according to gender and number.

Two girls are hiking but are offered a ride:

Menomale. Ci eravamo stufate di camminare (Good thing, We had gotten tired of walking).

 

But stufarsi can also be used in the present tense. For example, a guy with bad knees loves to run but can't, so he has to walk. He might say:

Meglio camminare, ma mi stufo subito (It's better to walk but I get bored right away). Preferisco correre (I like running better).

 

And finally, we can use the verb non-reflexively when someone is making someone else tire of something or someone. 

A me m'hai stufato con sta storia, hai capito? Eh.

You've tired me out/bored me with this story, you understand? Huh.

Caption 35, Un medico in famiglia Stagione 1 EP2 - Il mistero di Cetinka - Part 12

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Let's also remember that la stufa is a heater. In earlier times and even now in some places, it was also the stove or oven, used both for heating and cooking food and for heating the living space. The double meaning is essential to understanding the lame joke someone makes in Medico in Famiglia.

In una casa dove vive l'anziano non servono i riscaldamenti perché l'anziano stufa!

In a house where an elderly person lives there's no need for heating because the elderly person makes others tired of him.

Captions 91-92, Un medico in famiglia Stagione 1 EP2 - Il mistero di Cetinka - Part 6

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Practice: We don't want to promote feeling negative about things, but as you go about your day, you can pretend to be tired of something, and practice saying Sono stufo/a di... or quite simply, Basta, mi sono stufata/a. For "extra credit," try following it up with what you would like to do as an alternative.

Continuer la lecture

When endings count: Italian nouns that end in a or o

It can be hard to remember whether an Italian noun ends in o or a. Sometimes it doesn't really matter, and people from different regions will express the noun one way or the other. An example of this is il puzzo/la puzza. They both mean "a bad smell" "a stench."

Beh, è bello sentire gli odori, ma noi sentiamo gli odori, ma sentiamo anche le puzze. Ecco infatti, senti questa puzza?

Well, it's nice to smell odors, but we smell scents, but we also smell bad odors. There you go, in fact, do you smell this stench?

Captions 12-14, Daniela e Francesca Il verbo sentire

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They're both associated with the verb puzzare (to stink).

 

But often, the ending does make a difference in meaning: It might be a small difference, where you'll likely be understood even if you get it wrong:

Se vuoi fare contento un bambino, dagli un foglio bianco e una matita colorata.

If you want to make a child happy, give him a white sheet of paper and a colored pencil.

Captions 7-8, Questione di Karma Rai Cinema - Part 1

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una spolverata de [di] parmigiano e 'na [una] foglia di basilico a crudo sopra.

a sprinkling of Parmesan and a raw basil leaf on top.

Caption 9, Anna e Marika Un Ristorante a Trastevere

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Both sheets of paper are flat and thin, and in English a leaf can be a sheet of paper. We might use this term when talking specifically about books, but normally a leaf is a leaf and a sheet of paper is a sheet of paper.

Of course it's better to get it right! 

 

But what about palo and pala? Actually, if we think about it, they both have similar shapes, but their function is completely different.

Il problema era, era un palo, un palo che stava proprio lì. Un palo di ferro

The problem was, was a post, a post that was right there. An iron post

Captions 83-85, Provaci Ancora Prof! S2EP1 - La finestra sulla scuola - Part 1

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La preparazione del terreno per la semina, il contadino la fa con una vanga, che è una specie di pala ma fatta apposta per il terreno,

The preparing of the ground for sowing, the farmer does with a spade, which is a kind of shovel but made especially for the ground,

Captions 19-20, La campagna toscana Il contadino - Part 2

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So just for fun, and perhaps to help remember, we have a little crossword puzzle for you, all in Italian. All the words have one version that ends in a and one that ends in o. You might have to use a dictionary.

Click on the link and follow the instructions.

When endings count: Italian nouns ending in a or o

Here are the solutions:

 

 

 

 

Continuer la lecture

Talking about the weather in Italian

When traveling in Italy, like it or not, weather conditions can be a concern. We like to imagine Italy being sunny and beautiful all the time, but purtroppo (unfortunately), especially these days, the weather can be capriccioso (mischievous) and imprevidibile (unpredictable). As a result, knowing how to talk about the weather like an Italian can be not only useful for obtaining information, but provides a great topic for small talk.

Che tempo fa?

In Italian, the verb of choice when talking about the weather is fare (to make). Che tempo fa? What’s the weather doing? What’s the weather like? Keep in mind that tempo means both “time” and “weather” so be prepared to get confused sometimes. If you want to talk about today’s weather, then just add oggi (today):

Che tempo fa oggi? (What’s the weather like today?)

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An answer might be:

Oggi c'è un bel tempo, un bel sole.

Today there's nice weather, nice sun.

Caption 3, Corso di italiano con Daniela Chiedere informazioni - Part 1

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And when talking about tomorrow, we use the future tense of the verb fare:


Che tempo farà domani? (What’s the weather forecast for tomorrow?)

 

So our basic question is Che tempo fa? What’s the weather doing? What’s the weather like? That's good to know, and an important question to be able to ask, but when we're making conversation, we might start with a statement, to share the joy, or to commiserate.

Condividere (sharing)

We can start out generally, talking about the quality of the day itself.

Che bella giornata (what a beautiful day). 

Che brutta giornata (what a horrible day).

 

Specifics

After that, we can get into specifics.

Tip: In English, we use adjectives such as: sunny, rainy, muggy, and foggy, but in Italian, in many cases, it’s common to use noun forms, rather than adjectives, as you will see.

Fa freddo (it’s cold)! Note that we (mostly) use the verb fare (to make) here, not essere (to be)
Fa caldo (it’s hot)!
Piove (it’s raining). Italians also use the present progressive tense as we do in English, (sta piovendo) but not necessarily!
Nevica (it’s snowing).
C’è il sole (it’s sunny).
È coperto (it’s cloudy, the skies are grey).
È nuvoloso (it’s cloudy).
C’è la nebbia (it’s foggy).
C’è l’afa (it’s muggy).

 

Piove. T'accompagno a casa?

It's raining. Shall I take you home?

Caption 3, Sei mai stata sulla luna? film - Part 14

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Il clima, eh... essendo la Lombardia quasi tutta pianura, abbiamo estati molto afose e inverni molto rigidi. Ma la caratteristica principale è la presenza costante della nebbia.

The climate, uh... as Lombardy is almost all flatlands, we have very muggy summers and very severe winters. But the main characteristic is the constant presence of fog.

Captions 70-73, L'Italia a tavola Interrogazione sulla Lombardia

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Who knew?

We have the adjective chiaro that means "clear" and so when we want to clear something up we can use the verb chiarire (to clear up). We are speaking figuratively in this case. 

 

Incominciamo col chiarire una cosa: è per te, o è per tua madre?

Let's start by clearing up one thing. Is it for you, or is it for your mother?

Caption 8, La Ladra EP. 6 - Nero di rabbia - Part 5

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But chiaro also means "light in color."

Ci sono di tutti i tipi: maschi, femmine, occhi chiari, occhi scuri.

There are all kinds: males, females, blue [pale] eyed, dark eyed.

Caption 63, Un Figlio a tutti i costi film - Part 17

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When the sky is clearing up, we don't use the verb chiarire. We use the prefix s and chiarire becomes schiarire (to make lighter or brighter [with more light] in color). It can refer not only to color but also sound. It's often expressed in its reflexive form.

Il cielo si sta schiarendo (the sky is clearing up).

 

Al centro invece, abbiamo nebbia anche qui dappertutto, con qualche schiarita, ma nebbia a tutte le ore.

Towards the center on the other hand, we have fog all over, here as well, with some clearing, but fog at all hours.

Captions 58-59, Anna e Marika in TG Yabla Italia e Meteo - Part 10

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There's more to say about the weather and how to talk about it in Italian, but that will be for another lesson.

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Continuer la lecture

Breathing in Italian : let us count the ways Part 3: breathless

 

We've looked at breath and breathing in Italian from different angles. Now let's talk about the absence of breathing. Here, too, we can look at it from a couple of different angles.

 

Apnea

We recognize this word because it's used in English, too, often referring to sleep apnea. It refers to a temporary suspension of breathing. This can be intentional (as in diving with no oxygen tank): 

 

Questa è la costa dei suoi grandi record di apnea, a meno quarantacinque metri nel sessanta,

This is the coast of his great free diving records, to minus forty-five meters in nineteen sixty,

Captions 10-11, Linea Blu Sicilia - Part 19

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Or it can be unintentional (as in sleep apnea or shortness of breath). 

Il respiro corto, la difficoltà a respirare, a parlare, tipo apnea, era presente nel diciotto virgola sei per cento dei casi.

Shortness of breath, difficulty in breathing and speaking, as in apnea, are present in eighteen point six percent of the cases.

Captions 37-38, COVID-19 Domande frequenti - Part 2

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Affanno


The noun affanno (breathlessness) is a great word with its double f and double n, especially if you know what it feels like to be out of breath. But it can also be used figuratively to describe that state of anxiety one has, also called "stress," like when you have to run around doing 10 things at once, and you're on a time crunch.

Stavo sempre a cercare lavoro, sempre di corsa, sempre in affanno

I was always hunting for work, always in a rush, always out of breath,

Captions 39-40, Volare - La grande storia di Domenico Modugno Ep. 1 - Part 10

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We have the adjective version, too: affannato 

Let's just keep in mind that the word "stress" has become part of Italian colloquial vocabulary.  lo stress, stressare, stressato.

 

Mozzafiato 

We already talked about this adjective, but let's have a closer look.

e la vista mozzafiato della città

and the breathtaking view of the city

Caption 20, Villa Medici L'arca della bellezza - Part 7

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If we take apart this wonderful adjective, we get mozzare (to cut off) and fiato (breath). So if your breath is cut off, it's taken away. And let's not forget about another use of mozzare. It's part of one of our favorite Italian dairy products, la mozzarella

 

There's a Yabla video in which Marika and Anna go to a place in Rome where they actually make mozzarella, to find out how it's made. Check it out!

la pasta filata viene appunto mozzata, o a mano o a macchina,

The spun paste is, just that, cut off, by hand or by machine,

Caption 6, Anna e Marika La mozzarella di bufala - La produzione e i tagli - Part 2

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Have we missed any words having to do with breath and breathing? Let us know at newsletter@yabla.com.

Continuer la lecture

Making choices in Italian part 2

We talked about making either/or choices in a previous lesson, but in this lesson, we'll talk about when we want to be inclusive. When we use "both" in English, we are talking about 2 things, not more. There are various ways to express this in Italian and we've discussed one of these ways, using tutti (all). Read the lesson here. Here are two more ways, which are perhaps easier to use.

Entrambi

Entrambi is both an adjective and a pronoun, depending on how you use it. 

Avevamo entrambi la febbre e i bambini da accudire.

We both had fevers and kids to take care of.

Captions 20-21, COVID-19 2) I sintomi

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When the nouns are feminine, we use the feminine ending: entrambe.

Per fortuna, avevo entrambe le cose nella mia cassetta degli attrezzi.

Luckily, I had both things in my toolbox.

Caption 13, Marika spiega Gli attrezzi

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Ambedue

This way of saying "both" is considered literary, but people do use it. Think of ambidextrous and you'll get it!

Hanno ambedue smesso, quindi devo superare questo record ed è... sono in caccia del mio sesto mondiale.

They've both quit, so I have to break this record and it's... well, I am chasing my sixth World Cup.

Captions 49-50, Valentina Vezzali Video Intervista

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Just like entrambi, ambedue can be used as both an adjective and a pronoun. The advantage of this word is that it doesn't change. It's invariable. The only thing you have to remember is that when you use it as an adjective, you need a definite article after it and before the (plural) noun, as in the example below.

Ecco, questa, questa arma, ehm... rimane e fa ambedue, ambedue le funzioni, sia... è riconosciuta a livello di Esercito Italiano,

So, this, this force, uh... is still in force and carries out both, both [the] functions, whether... it's recognized on the level of the Italian Army

Captions 35-37, Nicola Agliastro Le Forze dell'Ordine in Italia

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There's more to say about choices, but we'll save it for another lesson. Meanwhile, as you go about your day, try thinking of ways to practice using entrambi and ambedue to mean "both." There are so many choices!

Continuer la lecture

Making choices in Italian, Part 1

In English, the words that come to mind when talking about choices are: either, or, both, either one, whichever one (among others). Let's explore our options in Italian.

Or

This is an easy one. Just take the r off "or." It's o.

Birra o vino? Ultimissima.

Beer or wine? The very latest.

Caption 41, Anna e Marika La mozzarella di bufala - La produzione e i tagli - Part 3

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But there's another word that means "or" and can imply "or else," or "otherwise." It's oppure. When we are thinking of alternatives, we might use oppure.... (or...). We also use it when we would say, "Or not," as in the following example.

 

Ci ha portato anche i due bicchieri per il vino, ma non so se io e Marika a pranzo berremo oppure no.

He also brought us two glasses for wine, but I don't know if Marika and I will drink at lunch or not.

Captions 22-23, Anna e Marika Trattoria Al Biondo Tevere - Part 1

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Note: It doesn't have to be oppure. It can also just be o, but it's an option!

 

Either/or

In English, we have "either" and "or" that go together when we talk about choices.

 

In Italian, the same word — o —goes in both spots in the sentence where were would insert "either" and "or." Consider the example below.

 

O ci prende almeno una canzone o gli diciamo basta, finito, chiuso.

Either he takes at least one song from us, or we say to him enough, over, done with.

Caption 48, Volare - La grande storia di Domenico Modugno Ep. 2 - Part 2

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Similarly, when neither choice is a positive one, Italian uses (neither/nor) for both "neither" and "nor."

Ho capito dai suoi occhi che Lei non ha marito figli.

I understood from your eyes that you have neither husband nor children.

Caption 11, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep.2 - Part 24

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Non voglio  questo quello (I don't want this one or that one / I  want neither this one nor that one).

 

Either one

Sometimes we don't have a preference. When it's 2 items, either one will do. If it's a masculine noun like il colore (the color), we can say:

Uno o l'altro, non importa (one or the other, it doesn't matter).

 

If it's a feminine noun such as la tovaglia (the tablecloth), we can say:

Una o l'altra andrebbe bene (one or the other would be fine).

 

We have to imagine the noun we're talking about and determine if it's masculine or feminine...

 

Anyone, whichever, whatever

When we choose among more than 2 items, we use "any,"  "whichever," or "whatever" in English. In Italian, it's qualsiasi or qualunque (as well as some others).

Qualsiasi cosa tu decida di fare.

Whatever you decide to do.

Caption 63, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep.2 - Part 18

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Diciamo che potete fare qualsiasi pasta al pesto, anche, ad esempio, gli gnocchi, però il piatto tradizionale è trenette o linguine al pesto.

Let's say that you can use whatever kind of pasta for pesto, for example, even gnocchi, however, the traditional dish is trenette or linguine al pesto.

Captions 76-77, L'Italia a tavola Il pesto genovese - Part 1

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Eh, qualunque cosa tu mi abbia detto non, non l'hai detta a Raimondi, vero?

Uh, whatever you told me, you didn't, you didn't tell Raimondi, right?

Captions 22-23, Il Commissario Manara S2EP12 - La donna senza volto - Part 10

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If you do a search of qualsiasi and qualunque on the Yabla videos page, you'll notice that they are used interchangeably in many cases. Experience will help you figure out when they aren't exactly the same thing.

 

In Part 2, we'll talk about how to say "both" in Italian. There is more than one way. 

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Continuer la lecture

Exercises using mancare

Let's try something a bit different this week. In a previous lesson, we went back to the basics on the verb mancare, that tricky verb that means to lack, to miss. Review the lesson if you need to.

 

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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

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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).

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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?

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Continuer la lecture

More about mancare : when something is lacking

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.

Caption 37, Il Commissario Manara S1EP2 - Vendemmia tardiva - Part 7

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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)

Caption 33, Il Commissario Manara S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto - Part 9

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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 8

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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.

Caption 9, Il Commissario Manara S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto - Part 4

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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 newsletter@yabla.com.

Continuer la lecture

Italian ways to think about things

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.

Pensare (to think)

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 7

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For more about the verb pensare, here are some lessons and videos to check out:

 

Corso di italiano con Daniela - Il congiuntivo - Part 6 This is part of a 17-part series on the subjunctive.

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!

 

Riflettere

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).

 

Idea

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 8

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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!

Caption 14, Il Commissario Manara S1EP7 - Sogni di Vetro - Part 10

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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 testa

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.

Caption 14, Provaci Ancora Prof! S1E4 - La mia compagna di banco - Part 27

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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.

Sembrare

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.

Caption 45, Concorso internazionale di cortometraggio A corto di idee - Part 1

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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).

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*Answer: Che cosa  _hai_ in mente?

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Does discutere mean "discuss?"

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 2

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An everyday sfumatura

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.

Caption 11, Provaci Ancora Prof! S1E4 - La mia compagna di banco - Part 21

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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 3

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Just talking about something 

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.

Caption 14, Provaci Ancora Prof! S1E3 - Una piccola bestia ferita - Part 22

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Another sfumatura

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!

Caption 29, Il Commissario Manara S2EP9 - L'amica ritrovata - Part 4

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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.

Caption 32, Il Commissario Manara S2EP9 - L'amica ritrovata - Part 4

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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. 

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Il gusto — the sense of taste

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.

Nouns

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?

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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?

Caption 12, Il Commissario Manara S2EP1 - Matrimonio con delitto - Part 1

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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?

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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).

Verbs

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 1

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Toscani ha assaggiato il vino e ha detto che era aceto.

Toscani tasted the wine and said it tasted like vinegar.

Caption 25, Il Commissario Manara S1EP2 - Vendemmia tardiva - Part 15

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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 gustarlo

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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.

Adjectives

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.

Caption 5, L'Italia a tavola Panzerotti Pugliesi - Part 2

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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 2

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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,

Caption 37, L'Italia a tavola Culurgiones D'Ogliastra - Part 1

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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!

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Let us know if you have questions or suggestions at newsletter@yabla.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

 

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L'olfatto — the sense of smell

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.

Nouns having to do with 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.

 

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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). 

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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 1

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Verbs having to do with smell


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.

 

Adjectives having to do with smell

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).

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