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Casomai: If Need Be

In the hilarious film Stai lontana da me, we see the events of the day through Jacopo’s eyes (he thinks he is the cause), and through Sara’s eyes (she thinks she is having a bad day and also thinks he is funny). Chi può dirlo (who can say)? They may both be right. This movie is an excellent source of casual everyday conversation, and at the end of this week’s segment, Jacopo uses a one-word expression that could use some explaining.

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Casomai is usually expressed as a single word, but is in fact composed (a bit oddly) of two distinct words, the noun caso (case) and the adverb mai (never, ever), and roughly means “in the event” or “in case.”

 

What’s interesting is that in English you need more words to say something similar, whereas in Italian, casomai is one of those words that just hangs there, like magari (see this lesson) or ecco (see this lesson), and get inserted pretty much anywhere in a sentence, without concern for word order and endings. As opposed to some complicated Italian constructions that make you want to tear your hair out, casomai says plenty in just one relatively short word and is easy to use. Grammatically it is considered a conjunction like “if,” “and,” or “but.”

 

If we want to use a conjunction to translate casomai we can think of it as standing for “if the situation calls for it,” or “if need be.”

 

At certain point in the movie, Jacopo says:

 

Casomai te la dico dopo.

If need be, I'll tell you afterwards.

Caption 64, Stai lontana da me - Rai Cinema - Part 7

 Play Caption

 

In some contexts, we can also translate casomai as “if at all,” or “if ever,” and this corresponds more to the meaning of the two separate words. In the above example “if at all” might correspond to what Jacopo was thinking. He was probably thinking, “At this point, I may not tell you at all, but if I ever do, it will be afterwards.”

 

You will enjoy this moment in the movie and knowing a bit more about casomai might further enhance it.

 

In the following example we see how casomai gets inserted in a sentence in a seemingly haphazard way:

 

In genere, l'estetica la si trova su scarpe meno comode, tacchi molto alti, eccetera, eccetera e, e poi il comfort casomai si trova su modelli più classici.

In general, the aesthetics we find on less comfortable shoes, very high heels, etcetera, etcetera and, and then comfort, if needed, we find on more classic models.

Captions 12-14, Anna e Marika - Un negozio di scarpe - Part 2

 Play Caption

 

With casomai, this shoe salesman is really saying, "If what you are looking for is comfort, then you should look at the more classic models of shoes."

 

We hope you have understood something about the word casomai.
Scrivici casomai i tuoi dubbi (If need be, write to us with your questions)!

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Thanks for reading. If you have any questions or comments, please write to us at newsletter@yabla.com. We'd love to hear from you! 
 

Vocabulary

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