Lecciones de Italiano

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Getting to Know Conoscere

In a previous lesson we discussed addressing people formally or informally, using Lei or tu. Deciding which is appropriate has to do with the degree of conoscenza (knowledge, acquaintance, familiarity). Conoscenza comes from the verb conoscere (to know, to be acquainted with). (For the other kind of knowing — sapere — see the previous lessons, Sapere: Part 1 and Sapere: Part 2.)

 

Conoscere is worth a closer look, because although it’s used to mean “to know, to be acquainted with,” Italians also use it to mean “to meet, to get acquainted with, to get to know.” In the following example from one of Daniela’s Italian lessons, it’s clear she means “to know, to be acquainted with.” 

 

Se io per esempio non conosco Alex, Alex è il mio vicino di casa, o una persona che ho incontrato per la strada, voglio sapere come si chiama, io do del Lei.

If, for example, I don't know Alex, Alex is my next door neighbour, or a person I've met on the street, I want to know his name, I give the "Lei."

Captions 18-21, Corso di italiano con Daniela - Tu o Lei?

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BANNER PLACEHOLDER

 

In the same lesson, Daniela is talking about meeting someone for the first time, and she uses the same verb, conoscere. The context tells us what she means.

 

Dobbiamo sapere, quando conosciamo una persona, se darle del Tu o del Lei.

We have to know, when we meet a person, whether to give him the "tu" (informal "you") or the "Lei" (formal "you").

Captions 2-3, Corso di italiano con Daniela - Tu o Lei?

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In a previous lesson, Making It Happen, we talked about combining fare (to do, to make) with other verbs to make things happen, or get things done. Fare gets combined with conoscere to make introductions: fare conoscere (to make someone or something known, or to introduce someone or something).

Francesca is going to her first riding lesson at a nearby stable, and she tells us:

 

Ehm, questo ragazzo che mi accoglierà, e che vi farò conoscere...

Uh, this fellow who will receive me, and to whom I'll introduce you...

Caption 8, Francesca - Cavalli - Part 1

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When you talk about when and where you met someone for the first time, use conoscere:

 

Ho conosciuto Alberto solo oggi. Conosce molto bene i suoi cavalli.

I met Alberto today [for the first time]. He knows his horses very well.

 

Now that Francesca has heard all about these horses from Alberto, she’s ready for a closer look.

 

E quindi va bene, ne andiamo a conoscere qualcuno. -Andiamo a conoscerne un bel po'. -OK.

And so all right, let's go to meet some of them. -We're going to meet a lot of them. -OK.

Caption 63, Francesca - Cavalli - Part 1

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In case you’re wondering why ne is attached to the end of conoscere the second time it appears, it’s because it means “of them.” Like ci, as we’ve already seen in Ci Gets Around, ne is a particle that can either be separate, as in the first sentence, or can become part of the verb, as in the second. You’ll find more information on ne here

 

To sum up, here’s a list of variations of conoscere, including a few new ones:

conoscere (to know, to be acquainted with, to be familiar with)

conoscere (to get acquainted with, to meet for the first time)

fare conoscere (to introduce, to make known)

conosciuto (well known)

conoscenza (knowledge, acquaintance, awareness, consciousness)

a conoscenza (aware)

delle conoscenze (knowledge, influential people, connections)

fare la conoscenza (to get acquainted)

riconoscere (to recognize)

un conoscente (an acquaintance)

• the reflexive form: conoscersi (to know oneself, to know each other/one another)

riconoscente (appreciative, grateful) 

uno sconosciuto (a stranger)

sconosciuto (unknown, little known)

 

And putting them all together, just for fun, here’s what we get: 

 

Se finora non eri a conoscenza del sistema Yabla, probabilmente non conoscevi questo trucco: clicchi su qualsiasi parola sconosciuta, o su una parola che non riconosci, e puoi subito conoscerne il significato nella tua lingua, perché si apre il dizionario. O forse te l’aveva detto un conoscente, e sei stato riconoscente. Tu ti conosci meglio di chiunque altro, e quindi saprai tu se vuoi vedere i sottotitoli o no. Tutti gli utenti Yabla conoscono questo trucco. E a proposito, come hai conosciuto Yabla? C’è qualcuno che te l’ha fatto conoscere, o l’hai conosciuto per caso? A che livello è la tua conoscenza o a che livello sono le tue conoscenze dell’italiano? È vero che noi non ci conosciamo, ma per convenzione, ci diamo del tu.

 

Before sneaking a peek at the English translation, see how much you understand of the Italian!

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

 

If, up until now, you were not aware of the Yabla system, you probably weren’t familiar with this trick: click on any unknown word, or on a word you don’t recognize, and you can immediately find out (get acquainted with) the meaning of it in your language because a dictionary opens up. Or maybe an acquaintance had already told you that and you were grateful. You know yourself better than anyone, so you must know if you want to see the captions or not. All Yabla users know this trick. And by the way, how did you learn about Yabla? Was there someone who introduced you to it, or did you know about it already? What’s your level of knowledge in Italian? It’s true that we don’t know each other, but by convention we use the familiar form of address.

 

E se non basta (and if that’s not enough), here are two more links for you: sapere and conoscere and How to Use the Italian Verbs Sapere and Conoscere

Vocabulary

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