Lecciones de Italiano

Temas

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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Short periods of time in Italian

In English, we say, "Wait a minute," "Wait a second," "Wait a moment," Just a moment," and so on. In Italian, we have cognates that work just fine: un minuto, un secondo, and un momento.

 

We can say (using the familiar form):

Aspetta un minuto/secondo/momento (wait a minute / second / moment).

Luca, Luca, Luca, aspetta, un minuto.

Luca, Luca, Luca, wait, one minute.

Caption 1, Il Commissario Manara S1EP12 - Le verità nascoste - Part 4

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Grazie, fratellino. Un secondo solo, eh.

Thanks, little brother. Just a second, hey.

Caption 32, Il Commissario Manara S1EP10 - Un morto di troppo - Part 1

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Un momento!

Just a moment!

Caption 17, La Ladra EP. 8 - Il momento giusto - Part 5

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But in English, we usually use a verb or adverb, such as "wait" or "just." In Italian, there are some additional choices and the word order can change. The method can be applied to all three nouns mentioned above.

Solo un momento (just a moment).
Un minuto solo (just a minute).
Un momento (just a moment).

 

But there are two other words describing an instant of time that can be used interchangeably with the cognates we have looked at thus far.

L'istante (the instant)

In English, we don't use the cognate "instant" in this context very often, but we can easily guess its meaning.

It's common to say un istante solo, for example. (Note there is only one N in this word!)

Eh, se mi può scusare un istante, perché dovrei mandare un messaggino.

Uh, if you'll excuse me a moment, because I have to send a text.

Caption 11, La Ladra EP. 5 - Chi la fa l'aspetti - Part 12

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Un attimo (an instant)

In a recent segment of Provaci ancora Prof, we hear yet another word describing a very short interval of time: un attimo. It also means "an instant" but it's not easy to think of a cognate for this. Sometimes it's helpful to find out the etymology of a word to help remember it.

Interestingly, some scholars say it comes from the word for "atom": Latin, atŏmum, from the Greek átomos — indivisible quantity. We think of an atom as being pretty tiny. 

But other scholars say it might come from the German for "breath": "der Atem." One breath is pretty quick, too.

So in the context of "Wait a minute!" we can add attimo to the list of choices.

Oppure: "Aspetta un attimo, ora lo chiamo".

Or else: "Wait a moment. I'll call him right away."

Caption 56, Corso di italiano con Daniela Ora - Part 1

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We can also say:

un attimo solo (just a second).

 

or, with a bit more impatience or irritation:

un attimo (just a second)!

 

La prego Marzio, un attimo!

Please, Marzio, just a moment!

Caption 35, Il Commissario Manara S1EP12 - Le verità nascoste - Part 10

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So un attimo is a very short period of time, likened to "an instant," "the blink of an eye." It rolls off the tongue nicely, but don't forget the double T (which gives it the feel of irritation) and the single M.

 

And even though un attimo is a very brief period of time, Italians like to make it even shorter. Un attimino

Libero, potrei conferire con te un attimino?

Libero, could I confer with you a moment?

Caption 70, Un medico in famiglia Stagione 3 S3 EP2 - Un nuovo medico in famiglia - Part 13

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Italians like to use the word attimo in conversation, and it can find its way into sentences quite easily. We'll look at some example in a future lesson. 

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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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Venire doesn't just mean "to come"

Venire is one of those verbs, like "get" in English, that is used in lots of ways, besides its general meaning of "to come." Let's look at some of the ways.

To cost

When you are shopping at the outdoor market, for example, and want to know the price, you might think of saying:

Quanto costa (how much does it cost)?

It's a fine cognate, easy to remember. But if you want to sound more like a local, you might say:

Quanto viene (how much does it come to)?

or if they are pomodori (tomatoes), for example,

Quanto vengono (how much do they come to)?

 

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To turn out, to come out

When you succeeded (or not) in doing something, such as jumping over a hurdle, making a drawing, making a special dish, you can use venire. You can say, for instance:

Questo dolce mi è venuto bene (I did a good job on this dessert. It came out well).

We can say it in a neutral way, leaving out the indirect personal pronoun:

È venuto bene (it came out nicely)

Or we can say it in a more personal way:

Ti è venuto bene (you had success), mi è venuto bene (I had success).

 

Instead of saying sono stata brava (I did a good job), where the accent is on me, I turn the phrase around a bit, and say mi è venuto bene (it came out well for me). There is a little less ego involved, if we want to look at it that way. We're not taking all the credit. It might have been chance.

A fun expression

In a recent segment of the movie Dafne, the father is thinking of planting a vegetable garden. He's probably never done it before. He says:

Potrei fare l'orto, come viene viene (I could plant a vegetable garden, however it turns out).

 

Literally, it's "It turns out the way it turns out."

 

Venire in place of essere (to be)

We have mentioned this in another lesson. The verb venire, as well as the verb andare, is used to make a kind of passive form. Since that lesson is long and involved, we'll just cite the part about venire here:

Venire (to come) and andare (to go) 

There is a verb pair that Italians use to form the passive voice, more often than you might think: venire (to come) and andare (to go). These have a particular feeling and purpose. We could look at these verbs as more of an active-type passive tense (although perhaps that's an oxymoron). If you think of times when we use "get" instead of "to be" in passive sentences, it might make more sense. We often use venire when we're talking about how things are done, or things that are done on a continuing basis, and we use andare when we're talking about things that have to get done. 

If I am telling you the rules of how candidates are chosen, for example, or how they get chosen, I might use venire (to come). 

 

Active: Il presidente sceglie il vicepresidente. The president chooses the vice-president.

Passive: Il vicepresidente viene scelto dal presidente. The vice-president gets chosen by the president.

 

In Italia il caffè viene servito in tazzine di queste dimensioni.

In Italy, coffee is served in demitasses that are this size.

Caption 15, Adriano Il caffè

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Venire used as "to remember," "to come to mind"

Non mi viene. -Va bene.

It doesn't come to mind. -All right.

Caption 68, Sposami EP 3 - Part 4

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We can also say this as we do in English:

Non mi viene in mente (it doesn't come to mind)

 

But we often leave out the "in mente" part, especially if there is a direct object, like for example il nome "the name."

Non mi viene il nome (I can't remember the name, I can't think of the name). 

 

We hope this lesson has given you some more tools to improve your Italian.  Keep on learning!

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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.

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Being non-specific with da + infinitive

I can ask you if you have a pen or a pencil, or I can ask you if you have something to write with. I don't always need to be specific. I can offer you a glass of water, a glass of wine, or I can just offer you something to drink. I might not want to be specific. Let's look at one way to say this in Italian.

 

We can use the preposition da (from, to, at) and the infinitive of a verb. Let's look at some examples. 

 

Hai da scrivere (do you have something to write with)?

Scusate, mica avete da accendere? -Sì.

Excuse me, do you happen to have a light? -Yes.

Caption 1, Imma Tataranni Sostituto procuratore S1EP1 L'estate del dito - Part 26

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The person we ask for a light might have un accendino (a lighter) or dei fiammiferi (some matches). So we don't need to be specific. We just indicate what we need it for.

 

Faccio da mangiare (I'm going to make something to eat). 

 

Devo dare da mangiare a mia figlia.

I have to feed my daughter.

Caption 15, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 11

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Dai da bere a 'sti [questi] quattro lavoratori qua.

Give these four workers something to drink.

Caption 26, Chi m'ha visto film - Part 4

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Quando viaggio in treno porto sempre da leggere (when I travel by train I always bring something to read).

 

I can also say:

Porto sempre qualcosa da leggere (I always bring something to read).

 

Ci vorrebbe da dormire e da mangiare. -Bene.

We need lodging and food. -Fine.

Caption 20, Dafne Film - Part 17

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Ho da fare (I have stuff to do).

 

Let us know if you have questions at newsletter@yabla.com. 

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Making do with arrangiarsi

Here's another expression you will want in your toolbox: arrangiarsi (to make do). 

 

Oriana Fallaci uses this expression to express her exasperation at how things get done in Italy. 

Vorrà dire che si farà l'unica cosa che si può fare qui in Italia, la cosa che più detesto, quella che m'ha fatto fuggire da questo paese: arrangiarsi.

That means that we'll do the only thing that one can do here in Italy, the thing that I hate most, the thing that made me flee this country: make do.

Captions 42-43, L'Oriana film - Part 1

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Art form?

Italians joke about "making do" as almost an art form: L'arte di arrangiarsi (the art of making do). In fact, that's the title of a 1955 film with Alberto Sordi. L'arte di arrangiarsi (Getting Along) — possibily available on YouTube in your zone.

 

T'ho già detto che nun [romanesco : non] è un problema mio. Arangiate [romanesco: arrangiati].

I already said that that's not my problem. Figure it out.

Captions 55-56, La Ladra EP. 3 - L'oro dello squalo - Part 1

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False friend alert!

We just have to be a bit careful because the verb arrangiare looks so much like the English verb "to arrange." They are close cousins, but not perfect cognates, except in some specific circumstances like arranging a piece of music. There, we use the noun arrangiamento (arrangement) most of the time.

 

In the example above, someone is telling someone to "figure it out." So that's a great expression to know. Of course, it's used when you know someone very well.

 

But arrangiarsi is perhaps most commonly used in the first person singular or plural to accept less than ideal conditions: You don't have the right equipment or tool for doing something, but you're going to try to make do with what you have. You can stay the night, but all we have is a sofabed... There are hundreds of situations that present themselves every day where one has to make do, so this expression is a great one to know and practice in the conjugations you might need. 

Mi arrangio [or m'arrangio] (I'll make do).

Ci arrangiamo (we'll make do).

Mi arrangerò (I'll figure it out somehow).

Mi devo arrangiare (I have to make do).

 

Marika and Anna didn't find the kind of bread they needed for the recipe, but they made do with something similar. 

Noi, purtroppo, non lo abbiamo trovato e quindi ci arrangiamo, si fa per dire, con questo pane che comunque è molto gustoso.

We, unfortunately, couldn't find that, and so we are making do, so to speak, with this bread, which is very tasty in any case.

Captions 27-29, L'Italia a tavola La pappa al pomodoro - Part 1

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Real life situations for using this expression

When you are cooking, how many times have you had to make do with a different ingredient from the one the recipe called for? Ti devi arrangiare (you have to make do).

 

If you are the host you might have to ask your guest to accept less than ideal accomodations...

Vi arrangiate (can you make do)?

Se vi arrangiate (if you can make do)...

 

We can talk about someone else:

Si arrangia con qualche furto, qualche partita di coca, ma non credo che c'entri qualcosa con questa storia.

He gets by on the odd theft, a batch of coke now and then, but I don't think he is involved in this thing.

Captions 71-72, Provaci Ancora Prof! S1E3 - Una piccola bestia ferita - Part 17

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Here, arrangiarsi is translated with "to get by." It can also mean "to make ends meet." 

 

A related word

A related reflexive verb is accontentarsi, which we have talked about in another lesson. It can also be translated with "to make do," but "to settle" and "to be content" work well, too.

"gli uomini, fino a che saranno sulla terra, dovranno accontentarsi del riso giallo di zafferano, poi, quando saranno in paradiso, mangeranno riso con l'oro".

"Men, for as long as they're on the earth, will have to settle for saffron yellow rice; later, when they're in paradise, they'll eat rice with gold."

Captions 7-10, L'arte della cucina Terre d'Acqua - Part 15

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Arrangiarsi is more about doing something, where as accontentarsi is more about how you feel about something. (we can detect the word contento (happy, content) within the word. 

 

Which preposition to use

One last thing to remember is that with arrangiarsi, we use the preposition con (with). With accontentarsi we use the preposition di.

 

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Ci mancherebbe!

We have written about the verb mancare that's used in so many diverse contexts and nuances, but mancare is part of an expression we hear all the time that deserves some attention: Ci mancherebbe.

 

At its most basic level, ci mancherebbe is a way of reinforcing the word certo. Certo is so short, it might get lost. But if we say, Certo, ci mancherebbe, we're saying, "sure," "absolutely,"  "absolutely no problem," "Don't mention it," "by all means," or something to that effect. It's just a very natural thing for Italians to add to certo.

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It can also be a response to someone saying they're sorry, and you want say, "No problem," "Don't worry." "No apology necessary." It can also mean, "It's the least I [or someone else] could do." Literally, ci mancherebbe means "it would be lacking from it," which makes no sense at all. Let's keep in mind, for the record, that mancherebbe is the third person conditional of the verb mancare.

 

Variation: A variation on this expression is ci mancherebbe altro! There is no way I wouldn't have done that favor for you willingly. It was not a burden. In other words, "No problem." This variant is also used for a different meaning, as we illustrate below. 

 

Close relations: This expression is similar to the expression figurarsi which you will conujugate in the first person plural figuriamoci, the second person singular informal figurati, or to be polite, si figuri. It's used in similar circumstances. It often has to do with doing a favor that was really no big deal. It's also used when someone apologizes, and you want to be gracious and say there was no need to apologize.

 

Sound bites (with video): Let's listen to and look at some examples from Yabla, since we can!

 

In this first example, as you can see, the translation is "Don't mention it."

Scusate per il tempo che vi ho fatto perdere. -Mi scusi anche Lei, signor Notaio. -Ci mancherebbe.

Sorry for the time I had you waste. -I'm sorry, to you, too, Mister Notary. -Don't mention it.

Captions 63-65, Questione di Karma Rai Cinema - Part 10

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 In the following example, we have the longer form of this expression, which is even stronger, as if to say, "It goes without saying."

io ho approfittato della lezione di sanscrito di Giacomo per poterci vedere stasera in tutta tranquillità e discrezione, spero. -Ci mancherebbe altro.

I took advantage of Giacomo's Sanskrit lesson to get together tonight calmly and discretely, I hope. -That goes without saying.

Captions 5-8, Questione di Karma Rai Cinema - Part 11

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In the previous examples, we could have replaced ci mancherebbe with figuriamoci or si figuri but not in the following one, where the conditional is really conditional and refers to something we hope isn't the case.

 

In this case, the translation of ci mancherebbe or ci mancherebbe altro! can be something stronger, like "heaven forbid," or "God forbid that should happen" where you are really hoping against hope that something won't occur. This can be confusing. In the following example, instead of something going without saying, we are hoping something doesn't happen. In other words, "That would be terrible."

È incredibile. -Avvocato, ho paura che sia come i Piccinin. -I Piccinin? Ma no, ma si figuri, no. Ma ci mancherebbe altro, no.

It's incredible. -Counsel, I'm worried it'll be like the Piccinins. -The Piccinins? But no, no way, no. But God forbid, no.

Captions 11-13, Sposami EP 2 - Part 1

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If you do a search on the videos page, you will find a list of examples of ci mancherebbe. Each one might have a slightly different nuance. The best way to grasp the expression is to hear it in dialog, in as many examples as you can find. Getting comfortable with this expression and knowing when it is appropriate will take time. So when you are watching a movie in Italian (on Yabla or elsewhere), listen for it in conversation. When you are shopping or asking directions as you travel in Italy, you'll likely hear it quite often when you say thank you.

Marika explains the expression in a video about the verb mancare:

 

Extra study: We did a little research online and found a couple of interesting articles about the expression. You can read it in English or Italian, or you can listen to the podcast (where Ilaria essentially reads the article). All bases are covered!

Here's a short article in Italian about ci mancherebbe and ci mancherebbe altro.

Here's an article (not simple) in Italian, which is actually a transcript of a video, also available. So you can listen and read along. The speaker says this expression numerous times, with different inflections.

 

We hope that with our lesson, video examples, and outside resources, you will have a good grasp of this common but confusing Italian expression. You'll be one step closer to becoming fluent. And that's what Yabla is all about...

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Crossword answers: Italian nouns that end in o or a

You are probably here because you did the crossword puzzle about Italian nouns that end in a or o.

Here are the answers. Hopefully doing this little puzzle will help you recognize and remember these words.

 

Across
4 porto dove le navi possono sostare - il porto
7 filo lo uso per cucire - il filo
8 pianto lo fai quando sei triste - un pianto
10 foglio  lo uso per scrivere o disegnare quando è di carta - un foglio
11 pianta  cresce nella terra o nel vaso - una pianta
12 legno si usa per costruire - il legno
13 legna si brucia nel caminetto - la legna
14 mela  una al giorno toglie il medico di torno - una mela
15 casa dove si abita - la casa

 

Down
1 posta una lettera o un pacchetto - la posta
2 posto luogo - un posto 
3 caso può finire in tribunale - un caso
5 melo un albero di frutta - il melo
6 palo  è quello della luce - un palo
7 fila in genere si forma alla cassa - la fila
8 porta la chiudi prima di uscire di casa - la porta
9 pala la usi per scavare una buca -la pala
10 foglia cade dall’albero in autunno - una foglia



Was the puzzle too easy? Too difficult? Let us know at newsletter@yabla.com









 

 

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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:

 

 

 

 

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Getting personal with the reflexive

This is the continuation of the lesson about the basics of reflexive verbs.

With a true reflexive verb, you need the reflexive to make yourself understood properly, but when it's not a direct reflexive, you can also leave it out (usually) and still get your meaning across. Check out the rules for this in the above-mentioned lesson.

Let's say I want to watch a movie on TV tonight. It would be common to say:

Mi guarderò un bel film stasera (I'm going to watch a nice movie tonight). It's not directly reflexive, because we have "the film" as a direct object (it's not even a body part!) but the sentence is constructed the same way as a reflexive one, and has that personal feel to it (it's all about me!).

 

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If it were truly reflexive, I would be looking at myself in the mirror instead of the movie: guardarsi  (to look at oneself)

Mi guardo allo specchio (I look at myself in the mirror). 

 

I could also just as well say (and it would be correct):

Guarderò un bel film stasera. (I'm going to watch a nice movie tonight).

 

Without the added pronoun, the sentence is more neutral, less personal, and there's less emphasis on it being about me. But it's perfectly fine. And whether a verb is directly or indirectly reflexive is not going to change our lives a whole lot. It's just something you might wonder about. The important thing is to know how to use reflexive verbs and to get used to hearing (and understanding) them.

 

Here are a few more everyday examples that we think of as being reflexive, but which also contain a direct object. What's important to note is that in English, we use a possessive pronoun (I wash my hands) after a transitive verb. Italian uses a reflexive pronoun to indicate the person, but it goes together with the verb, not the noun.  The following examples are typical, and so it would be wise to practice them in different conjugations.

Vado a lavarmi i denti  (I'm going to brush my teeth).

 

Here we have the conjugated verb andare before lavare (with the preposition a [to]), so lavare is in the infinitive with the appropriate reflexive pronoun (mi [to me]) attached to it.

 

Ci laviamo le mani prima di mangiare (We wash our hands before eating).

 

Here we used ci as the reflexive pronoun. Let's not forget that ci has a lot of uses, which you can read about in other lessons

 

Mi metto una maglia, fa freschino (I'll put a sweater on. It's chilly).

 

Mettere is an interesting verb (with an interesting reflexive version). Check out what Marika has to say about it. 

Mettere vuol dire collocare, posizionare un oggetto in un posto specifico.

"To put" means "to situate," "to position" an object in a specific place.

Captions 7-8, Marika spiega Il Verbo Mettere - Part 1

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Here is a partial list of some other useful, everyday reflexive verbs: 

addormentarsi (to fall asleep)

innamorarsi (to fall in love)

ammalarsi (to fall ill)

muoversi (to move)

spostarsi (to shift, to move)

 

These verbs are intransitive in English, they don't have anything to do with specific body parts, and they aren't used in a reflexive way in English. So they may be tricky to immediately grasp.

 

See if this process can help you:

Let's take the example of spostarsi.

Does the verb have a non-reflexive form? Let's see: spostare. I look it up. spostare.

Hint: A dictionary will usually give you the reflexive form of the verb, too, if it exists. Just keep looking down the list of definitions or translations. 

OK, so spostare exists in a non-reflexive (transitive) form. 

La sposto subito.

I'll move it right away.

Caption 46, Sei mai stata sulla luna? film - Part 3

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The reflexive form means, "I move myself." In English we just say "I move." We just need to remember that we need the reflexive in Italian to say that. But if I visualize it, I can see myself moving myself over a bit, so someone can fit into a space, for instance. 

 

Aside: The person ready to move his car in the previous example could have used the reflexive, especially if he had been in the car at the time. He could have said, Mi sposto subito (I'll move (out of the way) right away).

I can also look up the verb spostarsi on the Yabla videos page:

Basta semplicemente spostarsi di qualche metro.

All one has to do is simply move a few meters.

Caption 57, Meraviglie EP. 6 - Part 12

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The cool thing about the search window is that you can use whatever conjugation you want. You may or may not get a hit, but a pop-down menu will give you suggestions as to what's available. Sometimes it's handy to begin with the infinitive, then some conjugations. Most of these hits are real-life usages that help give you an idea of how a verb is used.  

 

So my next move is to conjugate the reflexive verb. Creating a sentence that makes sense might be more fun than a simple conjugation. Go ahead and consult the conjugation chart supplied with verbs in WordReference: spostarsi

Mi sposto (I'll move over).

Ti puoi spostare (Could you move over)?

Lui non si sposta (he won't move over)!

 

Looking up sposto also reveals the "remote" past tense of spostarespostò (the third person singular passato remoto):

Eh, tant'è vero che poi, pensa Marika, che il centro politico della città si spostò dai Fori Romani ai Fori Imperiali.

Yeah, so much so, that then, just think, Marika, the political center of the city moved from the Roman Forums to the Imperial Forums.

Captions 38-39, Marika e Daniela Il Foro Romano

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Learning suggestion:

Try to put your daily routine into words, using the dictionary (and the afore-mentioned online resources) if necessary. Maybe your routine goes something like this:

 

Ti svegli alle 6 di mattina ma ti addormenti di nuovo e quindi ti alzi alle sei e mezza. Ti fai un buon caffè e poi ti fai la docciati lavi i denti, e ti vesti. Se fa freddo ti metti una giacca prima di uscire.* Nascondi la chiave sotto lo zerbino. 

You wake up at 6 in the morning, but you fall asleep again so you get up at 6:30. You make yourself a nice cup of coffee and then you take a showeryou brush your teeth and you get dressed. If it’s cold, you put on a jacket before going out. You hide the key under the doormat. 

 

Try using different conjugations to practice them.

*More about what to wear in Marika spiega: L'abbigliamento - Part 1 of 2.

In this lesson, we used simple tenses. When we use the passato prossimo (constructed like the present perfect), we need more information, such as the fact that we need to use essere rather than avere! But we'll save this for another lesson. 

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The basics of reflexive verbs

You've probably heard about a special kind of verb found in Italian: the reflexive verb — il verbo riflessivo. It's a kind of verb that in its direct or indirect form pervades the Italian language. It's hard to get a sentence out without using one! The basic premise is that with a reflexive verb, the subject and the direct object are the same. See these video lessons about the reflexive.  Since English works differently, the Italian reflexive verb can be tricky to understand, translate, and use. Let's look at the components.

From transitive verb to reflexive

Often, a reflexive verb starts out as a transitive verb, such as lavare (to wash). 

On my list of things to do, one item might be:

Lavare la macchina (wash the car).

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The action is "to wash" and the direct object is la macchina (the car). The car can't wash itself. We need a subject. Who washes the car in the family?

Io lavo la macchina (I wash the car).

Pietro lava la macchina (Pietro washes the car).

 

But in a reflexive verb, the subject and the object are the same. They coincide. In English we might say something like, I'll go and get washed up. We use "get." In Italian, we use the reflexive form of a verb. In the infinitive, we join the reflexive pronoun si to verb, leaving out the final e , and we use a detached reflexive pronoun when we conjugate the verb. 

From the transitive verb lavare, we obtain lavarsi (to wash [oneself]).

 

Recognizing a reflexive verb

One way we can recognize a reflexive verb is by the tell-tale si at the end of the infinitive form,* in this case, lavarsi. The second way to detect a direct reflexive verb, is in being able to replace the reflexive pronoun with sé stesso (oneself). 

Let's make a checklist for the reflexive verb lavarsi.

1) It has the reflexive pronoun si at the end in the infinitive. √

2) I can say lavo me stesso/a (I wash myself). √

 

Here are some other common direct reflexive verbs. Do they pass the test?

lavarsi (to wash [oneself])

alzarsi (to get up)

vestirsi (to get dressed)

preocuparsi (to worry)

chiedersi (to wonder)

spogliarsi (to get undressed)

sedersi (to sit down)

chiamarsi (to be named)

 

See this lesson about reflexive verbs. It takes you through the conjugations and discusses transitive vs reflexive verbs in terms of meaning. Once you have grasped the basic reflexive verb and how to use it, let's move on to a slightly murkier version.  

 

Indirect reflexives (they work in a similar way to direct reflexives)

 

Something as basic as washing your face needs some understanding of the reflexive in Italian. We looked at lavarsi. That's a whole-body experience. But if we start looking at body parts, we still use the reflexive, even though it's indirect.

 

Instead of saying, "I wash my face," using a possessive pronoun as we do in English, Italians use the logic, "Hey, of course, it's my face on my body — I don't need to say whose face it is." So they use the reflexive to refer to the person, but add on "the face." 

Mi lavo la faccia (I wash my face).

 

So there is a direct object in the sentence that doesn't coincide exactly with the subject (you are not your face), but it's still part of you and so we can say it's somewhat reflexive. It's indirectly reflexive. In grammatical terms, it's also pronominal, because we use the (reflexive) pronoun with the verb.

 

*Caveat: The pronoun si can and does have additional functions, but if the verb is reflexive, this si will be there in the infinitive, and we can look up the reflexive verb in the dictionary. 

Practically Speaking

Try using the above-mentioned reflexive formula (with lavare) for other body parts. Start with yourself, and then go on to other people like your brother, or to keep it simpler, use someone's name. 

i capelli (the hair)

i denti (the teeth)

i piedi (the feet)

le mani (the hands)

 

Examples:

Giulia si lava i capelli una volta alla settimana (Giulia washes her hair once a week).

Io mi lavo i capelli tutti giorni (I wash my hair every day).

Vado a lavarmi le mani (I'm going to wash my hands).

 

Fare (to make, to do) gets involved.

Let's take the indirect reflexive one step further. Sometimes instead of using a verb form like "to shower," we'll use the noun. Sometimes there isn't an adequate, specific verb to use. In English, we take a shower. Italian uses fare to mean "to make," "to do," and "to take." And since taking a shower is usually a very personal activity, having to do with one's body, we use the reflexive form of fare plus the noun la doccia (the shower) to say this. We could even leave out the reflexive (since there is a direct object - doccia:

Faccio una doccia (I take a shower, I'm going to take a shower).

 

It is more common, however, to personalize it, to emphasize the person involved. Italians would normally say:

Mi faccio la doccia (I'm going to take a shower).

Mi faccio una doccia (I'm going to take a shower).

Vai a farti la doccia (Go take a shower).

 

And just as easily, I can ask you if you are going to take a shower.

Ti fai la doccia (are you going to take a shower)?

 

And if we speak in the third person with a modal verb, we'll see that the infinitive of fare, in this case, has all the trappings of a reflexive verb, that tell-tale si at the end of the infinitive:

Pietro vuole farsi la doccia (Pietro wants to take a shower).

 

Mi faccio la doccia alle sette e mezza.

I take a shower at half past seven [seven and a half].

Caption 7, Marika spiega - L'orologio

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There is another verb we use when talking about our bodies. We have vestirsi (to get dressed) but Italians also use an indirect reflexive to mean "to wear," or, to use the basic translation of mettere — "to put on." The verb is mettersi [qualcosa] (to wear something). This verb is discussed in the lesson about wearing clothes in Italian

Cosa mi metto stasera per andare alla festa (what am I going to wear tonight to go to the party)?

 

In the next lesson, we'll look at ways we use the indirect reflexive to be more expressive. 

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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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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.

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