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Attention, please!

Mi raccomando (I implore you) is an expression you will most often hear in commands: parent to child, between friends, from boss to employee. It’s mainly used to reinforce a request or a command, and indicates a certain degree of importance or urgency as well as trust.

 

In an episode of Acqua in bocca: Pippo e la pappa, the father says to his kids as he walks out the door:

 

Mi raccomando, qualcuno di voi dia da mangiare ai pesci.

Make sure one of you feeds the fish.

Caption 9, Acqua in bocca - Pippo e la pappa - Ep 5

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When I say mi raccomando I'm calling attention to what I'm about to say, or to what I’ve just said, and I mean, “Listen carefully to what I'm telling you to do, and make sure you do it, because it’s important!” I'm entrusting you with something, a task or an object. I'm counting on you. 

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So how do you fit mi raccomando into a sentence? It’s easy, and quite common in speech, to consider it as a separate phrase, or a tag:

 

Non arrivare in ritardo, mi raccomando.

Don’t come late. I’m counting on you.

Mi raccomando, non rompere quel vaso.

Be careful; don’t break that vase. 

 

Sometimes it’s used just by itself as a warning or an exhortation to pay attention, to be careful. Someone’s youngster is going off to camp, or going out with friends for the first time. After giving him a hug, his parent might say, Mi raccomando... (Take care and don’t get into trouble...) while giving him a meaningful look. 

 

But what does the word raccomandare actually mean? Your first instinct tells you it means “to recommend.” That’s not completely wrong, but it’s not completely right, either. In fact, that definition is probably the one used least often! There are various somewhat related meanings, but the most useful and commonly heard form is the reflexive form used in the first person: mi raccomando (I implore you). Here are some other uses:

 

  • raccomandarsi = to commend or entrust oneself to (to God, for example); to urge someone to do something. To entreat, implore.
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  • lettera raccomandata = registered letter (you are making sure the letter gets to its destination. It’s getting special care).
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  • essere raccomandato = to be helped in one’s career or studies or other situations by knowing someone, by friends or connections.
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  • raccomandare = to recommend or advise, to put in a good word, to urge. A doctor might say, Le raccomando di stare a letto (I strongly advise you to stay in bed). But note that in order to recommend a good restaurant or film, Italians will more likely use the verb consigliare (to advise), as in the following example, where a customer at lakeside vacation spot gets some advice as to how to combat the heat.

 

Se sente caldo, Le consiglio di fare un tuffo.

If you're hot, I recommend diving in.

Caption 11, Una gita - al lago - Part 3

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Learning Tip:

Practice adding mi raccomando to commands, either at the beginning or the end. You will want it to correspond to “I’m counting on you,” “I really mean it,” “Be careful!”  “Pay attention!”

Mi racommando! Don’t forget to visit Yabla Italian today.

Vocabulary

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