In English, we can use nouns as adjectives to answer the question, "what kind?" For example, "dog days" are the hottest days of summer. In this case, it's not really comparing the dog to the heat, but comes from the star, Sirius, who was Orion's dog in the constellations. It rises at the same time as the sun on the hottest days in the northern hemisphere. The Romans got this from the Greeks, and called these days, "dies caniculares" (dog days).
In terms of grammar, we know "dog" is a noun, but here, we use it as an adjective to describe "days," without giving it a different ending. We don't say, "dogful" days, "doggy days," or even "dog-like days." So this is a phenomenon that is present in many situations in English.
Let's remember here — because we don't have to think about it — that in English, we put the noun-as-adjective before the noun it describes. Sometimes the noun-as-adjective merges with the noun and becomes a compound word and sometimes not: laundry room, dishwasher, picture frame, bicycle rack.
We have the same phenomenon in Italian. The big difference is that the order is inverse. First, we have the noun, then we have the noun-as-adjective. To connect with our example of "dog days," we turn to an expression that is very common in Italian, and in fact, it crops up in an episode of Sposami.
E poi una notte, che io dormivo sotto il cavalcavia e faceva un freddo cane, quella notte io credevo che sarei morto...
And then, one night, when I was sleeping under an overpass, and it was freezing cold, that night, I believed I would die...
Captions 6-8, Sposami EP 4 - Part 19Play Caption
And here is a more mundane example:
Lo abbiamo fatto pure in conferenza stampa l'altro ieri
We even did it at the press conference the day before yesterday
Caption 22, Animalisti Italiani Walter Caporale - Part 2Play Caption
The real noun is conferenza (conferenza). What kind of conference? una conferenza stampa (a press conference).
This difference in word order is tricky sometimes, and it is just as tricky for Italians attempting to speak English correctly.
English is a popular language, and Italians use it in publicity and signage. But sometimes the word order difference escapes them. The name of a riding school in Tuscany is "Planet Horse." This is because, in general, for an Italian, the adjective (even if it is a noun-as-adjective, as in this case) comes after the noun. What they were trying to say, even though it sounds bad, is "Horse Planet" — the planet of horses. We might say, "Horse World." They, of course, translated it from Italian: Pianeta cavallo.
In some cases, both the noun-as-adjective and the adjective form of a noun can work:
Let's take the noun bestia (beast, animal).
We can say: Fa un caldo bestia (it is incredibly hot) or Fa un caldo bestiale (it's beastly hot). Using the noun as an adjective in this case is more colloquial, but they are both acceptable.
Of course, in Italian, when answering the question, "What kind?" we often use a preposition, such as di or da, or an "articulated preposition," such as del, della, delle, or degli before the "descriptive" noun. These prepositions usually mean "of."
Il bidone della spazzatura (the garbage can)
Il professore di matematica (the math teacher)
Il forno da pizza (the pizza oven)
We can't always use a noun as an adjective, but it is important to know that it exists as a phenomenon, and to recognize it when it occurs.
In a previous lesson we talked about the verb seguire (to follow). Here are two other words that have the same root and are related, but mean something else: Proseguire and inseguire.
In Italian, we can use the verb continuare, an easy cognate, but sometimes it's nice to change. Proseguire is a verb you will hear a lot, especially when someone is giving you directions.
Come posso arrivare alla spiaggia più vicina? Guarda, se proseguite sulla strada che fat' [sic] stavate facendo...
How can I reach the closest beach? Look, if you continue on the road you tak [sic] were taking...
Captions 17-18, Una gita al lago - Part 1Play Caption
Il nostro viaggio prosegue in Piemonte,
Our journey continues in Piedmont,
Caption 7, Meraviglie EP. 5 - Part 4Play Caption
You might ask, "Is there a difference between continuare and proseguire?" Well, much of the time they are interchangeable, but sometimes continuare can imply that you keep doing the same thing.
Continuo a non capire (I still don't understand).
But with proseguire, you continue on, you advance, you proceed. Think of an arrow in one direction.
Prosegua pure, prego.
Go ahead and continue, please.
Caption 35, PsicoVip La lavatrice - Ep 23Play Caption
We could also have translated this with the verb "to proceed."
There is a noun form of this word: il proseguo.
...questa è diventata una, una realtà e sicuramente, eh, anche per il proseguo...
...this has become a, a reality and surely, uh, also for the aftermath...
Caption 40, Calcio Intervista con il Prof. CraveroPlay Caption
When you are saying goodbye to someone, instead of saying buona giornata or buona serata, you might say, buon proseguimento if you know that whomever you are saying goodbye to is off to do something else, not just going home.
Buon proseguimento (I wish you well in whatever you do next).
Per il telegiornale oggi è tutto, io vi auguro un buon proseguimento di giornata.
That's all for the newscast for today. I wish you a good rest of the day.
Captions 56-57, Anna e Marika in TG Yabla Italia e Meteo - Part 4Play Caption
Allora, il ragioniere, terrorizzato, scappa verso il salone, ma Menicucci lo insegue e gli spara una seconda volta.
So the accountant, terrified, runs towards the living room, but Menicucci chases him down and shoots him a second time.
Captions 51-52, Provaci ancora prof! S2EP1 - La finestra sulla scuola - Part 23Play Caption
We can also use the word "to follow" as a translation, but the intention changes from seguire.
We have a noun associated with this word, too: l'inseguimento (the chase, the pursuit).
Ma i bolidi sfreccianti verso Parma sembrano sfidare il nostro inseguimento celeste.
But the race cars speeding towards Parma seem to defy our airborne pursuit.Play Caption
We have inserted this verb with its reflexive ending, which is actually a reciprocal form, and is used as a noun in our example, something that's quite common.
Ora è il turno della parola: tempo, con la quale indichiamo il susseguirsi dei minuti, delle ore, dei giorni.
Now, it's time for the word "tempo," with which we indicate the passing of minutes, hours, days.
Captions 46-47, Marika spiega Parole con più significati - Part 1Play Caption
We can visualize the seconds following one another on a clock... We can talk about un susseguirsi di eventi (a chain of events or a series of events).
For more on the reflexive versus reciprocal verbs, see this video, presented by Marika.
For a lesson in English that explains the reciprocal form of verbs, see this lesson.
We hope we haven't filled your brain with words that are too similar. Please work on each one separately if you if that works best for you!
Looking at the word verso, we can detect a couple of cognates: "verse" and "versus," abbreviated as "vs" or "v." We can also see the word in words like "reverse..."
Verso is actually a wonderful word that can be used in so many circumstances. But where to start? Let's start in earlier times.
If you look at a medieval manuscript, for example, and think of how they numbered the pages, it's pretty interesting.
Instead of pages, they considered the whole sheet or leaf. Think of a looseleaf notebook. A leaf, or a sheet of paper (or parchment), has two sides. When scribes started numbering these leaves (in the twelfth century "foliation" became a rule. Before that there were different ways of keeping track), the number would be placed in the upper right-hand corner, for example: "XXX" (roman numerals were commonly used). This was the right side, the front side, the "recto." The backside of the leaf was called the "verso," the reverse side. So if you were indicating where a song or chapter started, you would say folio XXX r or XXX v.
The word verso comes from the Latin verb "vertĕre," meaning "to turn" — in its past participle form, "versus." The Italian verb meaning "to turn" is voltare which has common origins with volgere, the Italian for Latin "vertere." So the backside of a sheet is the one you have "turned."
Considering the above, it seems appropriate to discuss the noun form il verso next.
Il verso can certainly mean, as we have seen, "the reverse side," especially when talking about a coin, medal, or sheet or leaf of parchment.
It can also mean "direction" or "way."
...e per trenta minuti si gira in un verso, lentamente,
...and for thirty minutes, you stir it in one direction, slowly,
Caption 35, Adriano L'arancello di MarinaPlay Caption
Le parti basse dell'ulivo vanno tolte perché sono secche e non permettono alla pianta di, di crescere nel giusto verso.
The lower parts of the olive tree have to be removed because they're dry, and they don't allow the plant to, to grow in the right direction.
Captions 25-26, Gianni si racconta L'olivo e i roviPlay Caption
In colloquial speech il verso can mean "the way," used figuratively.
Pezzo di pane... -Bisogna saperlo prendere per il verso giusto.
Piece of bread... -You have to know how to handle him the right way.Play Caption
...ma non c'è stato verso di farla ragionare.
...but there was no way to get her to reason.Play Caption
When talking about marble, it means "the correct direction," or "the grain."
Eh, il verso e il contro sono due termini, eh, conosciuti diffusamente tra gli art', gli artigiani del marmo,
Uh, the grain and against the grain are two terms, um, well known to art', marble artisans,
Captions 6-8, Claudio Capotondi Scultore - Part 1Play Caption
We also have the word inverso in Italian, meaning "inverse" or "opposite."
Quando "venire" è contrapposto esplicitamente ad "andare", indica movimento inverso, perché i due verbi esprimono insieme un movimento alternato e ripetuto nei [due] sensi.
When “venire” is explicitly juxtaposed with “andare,” it indicates an inverse movement, because the two verbs together express alternate and repeated movements, direction-wise.
Captions 42-45, Marika spiega I verbi venire e andare - Part 2Play Caption
Other meanings of il verso as a noun are:
-the sound an animal makes.
-a line of poetry
Verso is a preposition, too, again having to do with direction.
Verso can mean "towards." It can also be interpreted as "facing,"
Perciò ti volti verso di lui. -Certo.
So, you turn towards him. -Of course.Play Caption
Note that when we use personal pronouns as an object, we need the extra preposition di. If it's a noun, then no extra preposition is needed.
Poi andando sempre più verso il Duomo, si vede appunto il Duomo
Then still going towards the Duomo, you can see just that, the Cathedral,
Captions 27-28, In giro per l'Italia Firenze - Part 4Play Caption
When we're talking about directions rather than concrete destinations, we use neither an extra preposition nor an article.
Poi, andando verso sinistra si vede il Palazzo Vecchio,
Then, going towards the left you can see the Palazzo Vecchio [the old building]
Caption 34, In giro per l'Italia Firenze - Part 4Play Caption
The English word "versus," has the same Latin origin as the preposition verso, but has come to mean "against." Two people or teams face each other when they are against each other.
Verso can mean "around" especially when talking about time.
La signora ha cenato e poi verso le nove è uscita.
The lady had dinner and then around nine, she went out.Play Caption
Finally, we mention the verb versare, because the first person singular happens to be verso. But versare deserves a lesson all to itself, because it's used often, but with various nuances in specific contexts.
There is an Italian cognate for the noun exam: It's esame, but there are a few basic things to know about using the word.
First of all, if you are in college (which is always called università in Italy), you take exams, right? Well in Italy, first of all, exams are generally oral exams, where you have to speak and answer questions at length, and often in public, before your peers. The final exam of high school is called l'esame di maturità, or just la maturità.
Cioè, come ho potuto io, che alla maturità ho preso sessanta?
That is, how could I have, when I got sixty in the finals?Play Caption
Second of all, instead of taking an exam, you give it: dare un esame. At least this is how it is in colloquial speech.
Che importa se non ha dato nessun esame.
What does it matter if he didn't take any exams?Play Caption
That's one way to say it. We can also use the more "correct" verb sostenere. Sostenere means plenty of things as you can see in the link (including a close cognate — "to sustain"), but in the case of exams, it means "to undergo."
Per avere l'elenco degli esami che ha sostenuto tuo nipote, ci vuole il [sic: la] password, no, eh. -Ah, sì, sì, ho capito. -Ecco.
To have the list of the exams your nephew took, you need the password, right? -Ah, yes, yes, I get it. -Here.Play Caption
And sometimes Italians use the all-purpose verb fare (to make, to do).
Ma mi avevi detto che era una freccia, era... faceva gli esami, uno dopo l'altro.
But you told me that he was as fast as an arrow, he was... he took the exams one after another.Play Caption
When you pass an exam, the right word is superare l'esame but people use the verb passare, too.
Non ho mai visto Alberto dispiaciuto di aver passato un esame.
I've never seen Alberto unhappy to have passed an exam.Play Caption
Che se non superi quegli esami non puoi fare gli altri esami che poi ti permettono di passare al secondo, al terzo, al quarto e poi al quinto anno e prendere la laurea.
That if you don't pass those exams you can't do the other exams that then allow you to go on to the second, third, fourth, and then to the fifth year and get your degree.
Captions 36-38, Serena sistema universitario italianoPlay Caption
If you flunk an exam, sei bocciato or bocciata.
Invece, all'università, se prendi un voto inferiore al diciotto sei bocciato e non passi l'esame.
Instead, at the university, if you get a grade below eighteen, you fail, and you don't pass the exam.
Captions 49-50, Serena sistema universitario italianoPlay Caption
There are also the exams you do for your health (and sometimes when you are already dead).
Non ti consegno il rapporto perché ho richiesto un esame necroscopico.
I won't give you the report because I requested a post-mortem exam.Play Caption
In the U.S. we make an appointment to see a doctor. In Italy, prediamo un appuntamento (we take an appointment) and a visit to the doctor is called una visita, but when the doctor examines you, he or she "visits" you: visitare.
Dopo che sei stato accolto o accolta dagli infermieri e visitato o visitata dal dottore del Pronto Soccorso, ti diranno cosa è meglio per la tua salute.
After you have been asked to come in (m) or come in (f) by the nurses and examined (m) or examined (f) by the emergency room doctor, they will tell you what's best for your health.
Captions 55-57, Marika spiega Il pronto soccorsoPlay Caption
...tanto che una volta andai da un medico a farmi visitare...
...so much so that once I went to a doctor to get a checkup...Play Caption
Both words we want to talk about in this lesson have to do with the root word tono (tone). It means pretty much the same thing in both languages.
Ora delle due è una: o mi sta raccontando una balla adesso o mi ha preso in giro sin dall'inizio. Questo tono con me! Si rende conto che questa è insubordinazione?
Now it's one of the two: Either you're bullshitting me now, or you've been giving me the runaround from the beginning. This tone with me! Do you realize that this is insubordination?
Captions 13-16, Il Commissario Manara S1EP8 - Morte di un buttero - Part 12Play Caption
We use the words tono and "tone" a lot in music, too. Un tono is a whole tone or whole step of a scale. In Western music, for example, we have a series of whole tones and semi tones — toni e semitoni — that make up a particular musical scale.
Remaining in the realm of music, the verb intonare can mean "to start singing."
When someone sings the right notes, with accurate relationships between the notes, we can say this person is intonato or intonata (in tune). He or she has good intonazione (intonation).
When the opposite happens, when someone is not singing in tune, he is stonato, she is stonata. So once again, we have the S prefix that transforms a word into one with an opposite meaning. If this use of S at the beginning of a word is unfamiliar to you, check out this lesson.
In the example below, Martino, the guitarist, hears a woman singing onstage. He complains:
Ma quella è stonata.
But she's out of tune.
Caption 4, Chi m'ha visto film - Part 2Play Caption
In Italian, we often use the verbs intonare and stonare or their past participles, intonato and stonato in a figurative way, or in referring to colors and designs, anything, really. In the example below, it's used with a reflexive si.
La sua maglietta non si intona col mio rossetto e quindi Le metto sette.
Your t-shirt doesn't harmonize with my lipstick, and so I'm giving you a seven.
Caption 92, L'Italia a tavola Interrogazione sulla LiguriaPlay Caption
In this next example, an acquaintance of the famous film directors, the Taviani brothers, is describing how they were and how they worked together.
Erano sempre, ehm, eleganti, se si può dire la parola usata in maniera e... appunto non manierata, ma in maniera intonata no, sempre intonati, ecco.
They were always, uh, elegant, if one can use the word used in a manner and... just that, not mannered, but in a manner — harmonious, right? Always harmonious, that's it.
Captions 45-49, Fratelli Taviani La passione e l'utopia - Part 8Play Caption
In a recent episode of Meraviglie, Alberto Angela uses the verb stonare figuratively, imagining what kind of play could be performed in the piazza of Lecce, a piazza that is reminiscent of a theatrical stage.
Tutto sembra disposto e ornato per un lieve gioco teatrale. Una commedia di Goldoni non vi stonerebbe.
Everything seems set up and decorated for a lighthearted play. A Goldoni play would not be out of place here.
Captions 9-10, Meraviglie S2 EP3 - Part 7Play Caption
So we can use stonare to mean "to clash," "to go together poorly."
Another noun, stemming from tono, is sintonia, which is used quite a bit in Italian when talking about people who are on the same wavelength, who seem to be in sync. For example, when two people are thinking the same thing at the same time.
Loro due sono in sintonia (Those two are attuned to each other, they're on the same wavelength).
Non tutte le ciambelle escono col buco
Let's look at the main, individual words in this expression.
Ciambella: Una ciambella is often a donut or doughnut. But actually, it can refer to anything that is ring-shaped with a hole in the middle. It can be an "inner tube" you use in the pool, or a life-preserver. Un ciambellone is a large-size coffee cake, usually in the shape of a ring, with a hole in the middle. For more about turning a feminine noun like la ciambella into a big, masculine version such as il ciambellone using the ending -one, see this lesson.
Bona 'sta [buona questa] ciambella.
Good, this doughnut.Play Caption
Escono: This is the third person plural of the verb uscire (to exit, to come/go out). In this case, we are talking about a donut or ring-shaped cake coming out of the oven or deep-frier. Sometimes there's a mistake, and one might not have its hole in the middle, it might be lopsided.
Buco: Un buco is a hole. Just like in the middle of a donut.
Cominciamo a piantarne uno. Allora bisogna fare un buco.
Let's start planting one. So we need to make a hole.
Captions 46-47, Gatto Mirò EP 10 Piantiamo un alberoPlay Caption
A word about the other words:
Non is a negating word, like "not."
Tutte means "all." In this case, it refers to the plural feminine noun, le ciambelle, so it has a plural feminine ending.
We have the conjunction col. This is a combination of con (with) and il (the).
A variation on this expression is: Non tutte le ciambelle riescono col buco.
The verb changes from uscire to riuscire. While riuscire can mean "to come/go out again," as in when you come home but have to go out again because you forgot to buy milk, it also means "to succeed," "to turn out," "to manage to do something."
Però, non tutti riescono a farlo bene.
However, not everyone succeeds in doing it well.
Caption 10, Anna e Marika Il panePlay Caption
So the meaning of the two variants is essentially the same, but with escono, we can visualize the donut coming out of the oven, and with riescono, we can visualize how they turn out.
Yet another variation is: Non tutte le ciambelle vengono col buco. Here the verb is venire (to come). "Not all donuts come with holes." The concept doesn't change.
Literally, the sentence means: "Not all donuts come out [of the oven] with holes." The figurative meaning of the expression is that not everything goes according to plan. Sometimes things turn out imperfectly, but it's not a huge deal. A nuance is that the donut will still taste good even if it is a bit misshapen or lopsided.
When you or someone else does a job that didn't come out perfectly, it's also a way of minimizing the error, as if to say, "Oh well..."
The preposition di is one of the most common prepositions in the Italian language. Its basic definition, or rather, translation, is "of."
The title of a Yabla video about the famous Olivetti typewriter is La forza di un sogno. Here we can translate directly: "The strength of a dream."
One way di is used is to show the purpose of something. In this case, we might have two nouns separated by di (of) After di, we don't need the article of the noun, when we are referring to purpose, although there may be exceptions to this.
A scuola di musica is the title of a series of videos about what the musical notes are called in Italian. If you like to play music, this might interest you.
In English, we can say "school of music" or we can say "music school." They mean the same thing. In Italian, we don't have the choice, except in some certain circumstances we won't worry about just now.
Just as we have la scuola di musica, where di means "of," we can guess the meaning of other, similar series of words connected by di.
un negozio di vino - wine shop
un museo di arte moderna - modern art museum or, museum of modern art
una casa di caccia - hunting lodge
uno studio di registrazione - recording studioun
un professore di storia - history professor
In English, we can often use a noun as an adjective as in "wine shop," but in Italian we start with "shop" (negozio) and add di plus the kind of shop it is, also a noun.
To show possession in English, we sometimes use the apostrophe, which we don't use in Italian. To translate in a parallel way, we have to turn the phrase around in English and imagine using "of," even though to use it sounds kind of awkward.
For example, one Yabla video is called Battesimo di Philip. In English, we could say, "Philip's baptism," but in Italian this form doesn't exist. We need di. In the caption itself, we've used the same formula for the English translation. It could have been: "my son Philip's baptism."
La... il battesimo di mio figlio Philip.
The... the baptism of my son Philip.
Caption 17, Adriano Battesimo di Philip - Part 1Play Caption
One the first things we learn in a new language is to say where we're from, because inevitabilmente (inevitably), we'll be asked that.
The basic question is: di dove sei (where are you from)? For this we use the verb essere (to be).
"Di dove sei" è una domanda che io faccio per chiedere a una persona dov'è nata, l'origine.
Where are you from is a question I ask to ask a person where he was born, his origins.
Captions 9-10, Corso di italiano con Daniela Preposizioni in e aPlay Caption
Note that di is at the beginning of the question. For the answer, we start with the verb (with the personal pronoun incorporated into it). Di by itself works for towns and cities. States, regions, and countries can be more complicated but we won't worry about that right now.
Sono di New York (I'm from New York).
Di can mean "at" when we're talking about night and day, morning, afternoon, or evening:
eh... cucinando di notte, perché sennò di giorno fa caldo,
uh... cooking at night because otherwise it's too hot during the day,Play Caption
Racconta la storia di un burattino di legno
It tells the story of a wooden puppet
Caption 31, Adriano Pizzeria Pinocchio - Part 1Play Caption
We could say, "Pinocchio is a story about a wooden puppet."
There are other ways in which we use di, too many to list here. But we will close with a few common ways to say, "You're welcome" with di.
If you want to minimize what you did for someone, you can say:
Di niente (it was nothing).
Di nulla (it was nothing).
Non c'è di che (there's nothing [to thank me] for).
Instead of using adjectives to talk about size, Italian has the device of altering the noun itself, thus producing a new word. Different endings are added onto the root word. Let's look at how this works with some nouns with feminine endings.
An example of this is pentola. Una pentola is a pot. It's already pretty big, big enough for cooking pasta. Un pentolone is an even bigger pot for if you're cooking lots of pasta or canning tomatoes, as in the second example below. We could also say una pentola grande, (a big pot) but sometimes it's easier to say pentolone. So, when you hear a word that ends in -one, it's likely a large version of something that comes in various sizes.
Ci serve, naturalmente, anche qualcosa per cuocere la pasta. Una pentola, un'altra pentola per la pasta,
We also need, naturally, something for cooking the pasta. A pot, another pot for the pasta,
Captions 79-81, L'Italia a tavola Tonnarelli cacio e pepe - Part 1Play Caption
Here, a woman is describing how to make tomato sauce to can. She's going to make a big batch.
Alcuni, eh, lo fanno appassire un po' dentro i pentoloni sul fuoco...
Some, uh, cook them down a bit in big pots on the burner...
Caption 28, Giovanna spiega La passata di pomodoriPlay Caption
When the item in discussion is the smalller version, the ending -ino is typical:
E per farlo, prendiamo un pentolino come questo e ci mettiamo un pochino di olio extravergine di oliva.
And to do that we take a saucepan like this and we put a little extra virgin olive oil in it.
Captions 18-19, Marika spiega La Parmigiana di melanzane - Part 1Play Caption
Una capanna is a shack, shed, or hut. It's a feminine noun.
...oppure costruivamo una capanna con delle sedie e delle coperte
...or else we'd build a hut out of chairs and bed covers
Caption 8, Anna e Marika ricordi di infanziaPlay Caption
Un capannone can either be called a "shed," even though it's big, a "hangar," or, in the case of a mechanic's workplace, a "garage." It will have a different name in English depending on its use. It may or may not have 4 walls. It may or may not be makeshift.
...che segnalava la presenza di auto truccate in un capannone al Quadraro e trac. Va be', allora vogliamo brindare?
...that reported the presence of souped-up cars in a hangar in Quadraro, and boom. OK, so do we want to make a toast?
Captions 35-37, La Ladra EP. 8 - Il momento giusto - Part 14Play Caption
If the shack or hut is tiny, as it would be for a hunter's blind, then il capannino is the word of choice. There might be room for just one person.
Although una macchina can be any kind of machine, it's also the word for car. The more official Italian word is automobile, just like in English. The stress goes on the second O, however.
Infatti, quando ho compiuto venti anni, mi ha regalato una macchina nuova.
In fact, when I turned twenty, she got me a new car.
Captions 31-32, Adriano NonnaPlay Caption
Ci porta Giampi, che lui c'ha un macchinone.
Giampi will take us. He has a big car.
Caption 53, Sposami EP 3 - Part 7Play Caption
Sometimes the resulting word can retain the gender of the original word, as in the case of macchina.
E sotto c'era un altro cartellino bianco con disegnato su un camioncino con un gancettino che si porta via una macchinina.
And below it was another little white sign picturing a little truck with a little hook on it, which is towing a little car away.
Captions 89-91, Provaci ancora prof! S2EP1 - La finestra sulla scuola - Part 1Play Caption
As you listen to more videos, you will start noticing the endings -one and -ino. Look for the noun within the noun and you'll often be able to figure out what a word means.
The noun il complimento sometimes means the same thing as in English: the compliment. It's used a bit differently, and is often synonymous with "congratulations."
When you want to say, "Nice job!" you might say, Complimenti!
Complimenti, mamma, ma qual'è il tuo segreto?
Very nice, Mom, but what's your secret?
Caption 33, Adriano La granita al limonePlay Caption
But there is another way complimenti is used, and it's important, especially if someone invites you to their home and you are not sure how to act. In order to put you at ease, they might say, non fare complimenti. It means, "Relax, you don't have to be formal." This is especially true at the dinner table. The host or hostess might say, Serviti, non fare complimenti. So you can go ahead and take seconds...
Sì, però, è che non vorrei... -E non fare complimenti, scusa.
Yes, but it's that I wouldn't want... -And don't say no out of politeness, sorry.Play Caption
Grazie, eh. -No, prego, non fare complimenti, ah.
Thanks, huh. -No, you're welcome, don't stand on ceremony, huh.Play Caption
Let's make some sense of fitto and fitta. Sometimes they mean the same thing, as when they are adjectives, but they each have a noun form as well, which has little to do with the adjective meaning.
Fitto is an adjective meaning "dense."
Come la chiesa di San Matteo, nascosta nel fitto tessuto medievale della città, che appare così all'improvviso.
Such as the church of Saint Matthew, hidden in the dense medieval fabric of the city, which appears so suddenly.
Captions 8-10, Meraviglie S2 EP3 - Part 2Play Caption
In the following example fitto describes Iimpalcatura (the scaffolding), a feminine noun, so it has a feminine ending in this case: fitta.
Lavorando senza aiuto alcuno, nascondendo il suo David dietro una fitta impalcatura di legno per impedire a chiunque di vedere l'opera prima della conclusione. Fino al giungere al capolavoro: il suo David.
Working without any help, hiding his David behind a dense wooden scaffold to prevent anyone from seeing the work before its conclusion, before it became the masterpiece: his David.
Captions 33-37, Meraviglie EP. 3 - Part 13Play Caption
Il fitto is a noun that means the same as l'affitto (the rent).
Ho soltanto preso una casa in affitto, Ada.
I only rented a house, Ada.Play Caption
When you rent a place, you "take it as a rental," prendere in affitto. But when we talk about "the rent," as in "paying the rent," it's l'affitto. Pago l'affitto (I pay the rent). However, some people say, Pago il fitto. It means the same thing but is rather old-fashioned. You will find this definition of fitto way at the bottom of the page.
Keep in mind that there's the verb affittare (to rent) as well.
Una fitta is a stabbing pain.
In the following example, instead of fitta, Renzo says fittina to minimize it.
Ah, colonna vertebrale, già m'ha fatto una fittina.
Ah, spinal column, that's already given me a slight stabbing pain.Play Caption
As more and more people are living to old age, they often can no longer take care of themselves.The person who is hired to look after an old or infirm person at home is called la badante (the caregiver, the home-health aide). If the caregiver is a male, then it's il badante.
Sì, La moglie fa la badante a una signora. Si chiama Adele.
Yes. The wife is a home-health aide for a woman. Her name is Adele.Play Caption
The verb this noun comes from is badare "to take care" or "to look after."
We don't only use it with the old and infirm...
Ci devo badare io a mio fratello Radu, ma io non volevo mancare [a] scuola e così l'ho portato.
I have to take care of my brother Radu, but I didn't want to be absent from school and so I brought him.
Captions 11-13, Provaci ancora prof! S1E4 - La mia compagna di banco - Part 2Play Caption
Guarda che io so badare a me stesso, eh.
Look, I can take care of myself, huh.
Caption 48, La Ladra EP. 7 - Il piccolo ladro - Part 1Play Caption
We also use it to mean "to pay attention."
Non ci badare, è matto.
Don't pay attention to him, he's crazy.
Caption 16, Psicovip Cappuccetto Rosso - Ep 7Play Caption
Ma, io non ci bado molto ai piedi.
Well, I don't pay much attention to feet.
Caption 12, Psicovip Cappuccetto Rosso - Ep 7Play Caption
Non ho badato se facevo del male a qualcuno.
I didn't pay attention to whether I was hurting someone or not.
Caption 62, Sposami EP 3 - Part 22Play Caption
For grammar nerds: If we look at the conjugation of badare, we see that the noun la badante is actually the present participle of the verb badare.
If you want someone to pay attention, be careful, or take note, you can say:
You might already be familiar with the one-word expression: Basta! It means, "That's enough!"
No, no, ora basta, basta, basta!
No, no, enough now, enough, enough!Play Caption
But you might not be familiar with the verb that expression comes from: bastare (to be enough, to suffice).
Per oggi potrebbe bastare.
For today, that might suffice.
Caption 71, In giro per l'Italia Lucca - Part 1Play Caption
There's an expression where this verb is coupled with another verb: avanzare. We think of the cognate "to advance," but there is another way Italians use avanzare. It means "to be in excess, to be left over." In fact, leftovers are called gli avanzi in Italian.
Di Milano o no, però... per colpa sua noi dobbiamo mangiarci gli avanzi.
Whether he's from Milan or not... because of him, we have to eat leftovers.Play Caption
So basta e avanza means, "it's more than enough." It often implies that it's too much.
Direi che basta e avanza.
I would say that's enough and is even too much.
Caption 105, L'Italia a tavola Interrogazione sulle MarchePlay Caption
Quindi is a word you will hear thousands of times a day when listening to Italians talk. Just think how many times a day you use the word "so" in English. "So" is what quindi means, much of the time.
Siamo quattro persone, supponiamo, quindi useremo quattro uova.
We're four people, we're assuming, so we'll use four eggs.
Caption 11, Adriano Pasta alla carbonara - Part 2Play Caption
Italians often use quindi at the end of a sentence. It can turn into a question (just like "so"). In English, we might even end our question with "and...?" and mean the same thing.
Possiedo diverse aziende nel novarese. Sì, sappiamo che Lei è molto potente e quindi?
I own various businesses in the Novara area. Yes, we know that you are very powerful, and so?
Captions 57-58, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 8Play Caption
Quindi can also mean "therefore," or "in other words." Even though we don't use the word "therefore" in everyday English all that often, it might be helpful to think of quindi meaning "therefore," because as opposed to "so," which has its own position in a sentence or subordinate clause (usually at the beginning), we can insert "therefore" just about anywhere, often enclosed by commas. Quindi works much as "therefore" does, in practical terms. Therefore, we at Yabla often translate quindi with "therefore" when we want to retain the word order in the caption.
Eh, per quanto riguarda la nostra azienda, noi siamo in particolare localizzati nell'alto casertano, e quindi tutta la nostra produzione è incentrata in, in questa zona. In quali città, quindi?
Uh, regarding our company, we happen to be located in the upper Caserta area, and so our entire production is centered in, in this area. In which city therefore? / So, in which city?Play Caption
La mozzarella, per noi campani, è solo quella di bufala. Quindi, prodotta con latte delle bufale.
Mozzarella for us Campanians, is solely the buffalo kind. Therefore, made with milk from buffaloes.
Mozzarella for us Campanians, is solely the buffalo kind. In other words, made with milk from buffaloes.Play Caption
Lots of times, a sentence ends with quindi plus an ellipsis... as if the speaker wanted to go on but leaves the rest of the sentence to our imagination. Or, the speaker has no idea what to say next.
Guarda, ho letto sul menù che guarda caso fanno le fettuccine ai funghi porcini, quindi...
Look, I read on the menu that, as fate would have it, they make fettuccini with porcini mushrooms, so...
Captions 27-28, Anna e Marika Trattoria Al Biondo Tevere - Part 1Play Caption
If you watch Yabla videos, or have listened to Italian conversation, you will likely have noticed that people have pet words. They may not even realize they always use a particular word. So some people say quindi a whole lot. Others might pepper their conversation with perciò (for this reason). In Tuscany sicché (the informal version of cosìcché) is very popular. These are alternate ways to say "so."
Note that when "so" means "to such an extent," we can't use quindi. In that case, we'll use a word like talmente or così.
Quindi can also mean "then" when talking, for instance, about what to do next. Some GPS systems with a voice use quindi to say "then, turn right..." quindi girate a destra...
This can also happen in recipes or instructions, where there is a sequence of actions to be taken.
In current, everyday Italian, it's more common to use poi when we talk about the next in a series of actions.
Poi... quindi avvolgiamo l'alice con mezza fetta di prosciutto, poi mettiamo [sic: lo mettiamo] nel pangrattato, si tuffa così, ecco qui.
Then... then, we roll the anchovy in half a slice of prosciutto, then we'll put it in the breadcrumbs, we immerse it like so, here we are.
Captions 29-31, L'Italia a tavola Involtini di alici - Part 2Play Caption
You might be thinking of the word allora, which is also used to mean "so" as well as "then," but the interesting thing is that allora has more to do with the past and present than the future, whereas quindi can be about the future (the next thing).
For more about allora, see our lesson: The Underlying Meaning of Allora
We've talked about the conjunction che in previous lessons, and you have heard it in many different contexts, with varying meanings. It's one of those conjunctions that kicks off the subjunctive, so we have to pay attention to it. It is also a substitute for "what" in many situations. It's one of those all-purpose words, often translated as "that."
To learn more about this indispensable little word, check out some of our lessons:
There's a construction we come across from time to time in Yabla videos, and very often in conversation. Here's how it goes:
You make a statement, usually in the imperative, followed by che è meglio. The translation of this little phrase is, literally: "which is better." Here's an example. Somebody is telling somebody else to shut up. It would be a great idea to shut up.
Zitto tu, che è meglio.
Best if you be quiet.
Caption 19, Sposami EP 4 - Part 6Play Caption
The way this expression is used in Italian results in a different word order from what we might expect, or from what we would say in English. The formula is: Give a command, (which can also be in the first person plural, as in the following example), then tack on che è meglio.
Torniamo domattina che è meglio.
Let's come back tomorrow morning, which would be better.
Caption 45, Dafne Film - Part 22Play Caption
Optional exercise: Once you have read the whole lesson, can you put this differently by starting the sentence with è meglio? Hint — the verb is tornare. Check out the conjugation, as you will need the subjunctive. **possible solution below.
Our translations can't really do justice to this expression, which is why we feel the need to provide some extra information. It's often expressed with a tone of chastisement, intolerance, disapproval, or warning. It can go hand in hand with a raised eyebrow, a tilting of the head.
The construction we have illustrated above is colloquial, because the grammar is a bit casual. There is also a "correct" way to say the same thing. It might not have the same punch, though. Also, it uses the subjunctive.
"È meglio che tu vada a casa".
“It's best that you go home.”Play Caption
Can you transform the example above into a colloquial version? Possible solution below.*
Don't worry. Not everyone uses the subjunctive in this case. Here's an example:
Forse è meglio che prendi un taxi anche tu.
Maybe it would be better for you to take a taxi, too.Play Caption
*** Maybe you can figure out how to say pretty much the same thing, starting with Prendi and leaving out the forse (maybe).
We can also go all out with the subjunctive and conditional to say:
Sarebbe meglio se tu andassi a casa (it would be better if you went home).
Sarebbe meglio se tu prendessi un taxi (it would be better if you took a taxi).
Sarebbe meglio se tu stessi zitto (it would be better if you kept quiet).
Note: A variation on this is sarà meglio. Just like che è meglio, sarà meglio is used when you're miffed, or when you want someone to do something. See our lesson about this: Being Miffed in Italian
* Vai a casa che è meglio.
** È meglio se torniamo domattina.
*** Prendi un taxi anche tu che è meglio.
Every language has different ways to say "a lot." Let's look at what Italian has to offer. We covered some of the ways in a previous lesson, but let's look at a few more.
Ricci mi ha chiesto un mucchio di soldi.
Ricci asked me for a pile of money.Play Caption
Un mucchio is a heap, a pile. Think of a pile of dirty laundry, a pile of leaves, heaped one on top of the other.
perché t'ha raccontato una marea di frottole. -No!
because he told you a bunch of tall tales. -No!Play Caption
La marea is "the tide." A tide of tall tales.
Considerate che di colle ce ne sono una marea: colla per il tessuto, colla per le pietre, corla [sic], corla [sic], eh, colla per, per la pelle.
Consider that there are a bunch of different glues: glue for fabric, glue for stone, glue, glue, uh, glue for, for skin.
Captions 61-63, Professioni e mestieri Belle Arti - La pasta modellabilePlay Caption
Ho speso una valanga di soldi per questa macchina fotografica (I spent an avalanche [a whole lot] of money for this camera).
Sto facendo il viaggio più bello della mia vita, mamma. Ci divertiamo un casino.
I'm having the best trip of my life, Mom. We're having a lot of fun.
Captions 16-17, Ma che ci faccio qui! Un film di Francesco Amato - Part 13Play Caption
Casino is a colloquial term that originally meant "brothel." It currently means, colloquially, "mess," "a lot of noise and confusion," or "a lot of trouble," but it has also come to mean "a whole lot." It's best to use it exclusively among friends, in view of its original meaning.
In a future lesson, we'll talk about ways to say "a lot," when it's used as an adverb.
There are some expressions that can be figured out if you know all the words, but which we would never come up with on our own. The expression we talk about in this lesson is a fun one. It's all about one-on-one conversations.
Here's the expression:
E ancora, "quattr'occhi". È meglio se io e te parliamo a quattr'occhi. Questa espressione vuol dire: in privato, tra di noi.
And further, "four eyes." "It's better if you and I talk with four eyes." This expression means "in private," between us.
Captions 45-47, Marika spiega L'elisione - Part 2 Play Caption
Literally, this expression means, "to talk in the manner of four eyes." But let's unpack it so that it makes sense.
Parlare means "to talk, to speak."
A is a preposition that can mean "at, to, in, by, "in the manner of," and other things too. For more about the preposition a, see these lessons.
Quattro means "four."
Occhi is the plural of occhio (eye).
This expression is all about talking face to face, in person, privately. This way, two people can look each other in the eye.
So if you're on the phone with someone, or writing them an email, and you would prefer to have a conversation in person, or privately, you can say:
È meglio se parliamo a quattr'occhi.
It's better if we talk, just you and I.
In the above-mentioned expression, there's no need for an article. But let's take the opportunity to talk about the noun occhio. It's a masculine noun, and since it starts with a vowel, we use L with an apostrophe for the singular:
l'occhio (the eye).
But in the plural, it gets a bit more complicated. We need to use gli as a plural article with a masculine noun beginning with a vowel.
gli occhi (the eyes).
It's a mouthful, for sure. Here are some examples to watch and listen to! Listen carefully and try to repeat. If you do a search on the videos page, there will be plenty of other examples to try pronouncing.
Tieni gli occhi chiusi adesso, eh.
Keep your eyes closed, now, huh.Play Caption
Dixi alzò gli occhi, guardò in cielo,
Dixi raised his eyes, and looked into the sky,
Caption 13, Dixiland Cometa cadutaPlay Caption
Per ora, posso semplicemente proteggere gli occhi dal sole con dei leggeri e maneggevoli occhiali da sole.
For now, I can simply protect my eyes from the sun with light and manageable sunglasses.
Captions 35-36, Francesca neve - Part 2Play Caption
Si fanno dei buchi per gli occhi e la maschera è pronta.
One makes holes for the eyes and the mask is ready.
Caption 36, Gatto Mirò EP3 La festa in mascheraPlay Caption
While we're here, let's note that in the examples above, in English we use a possessive pronoun, "my eyes," "his eyes," and so forth, but in Italian, when it's clear who we're talking about, we just use the article.
In our previous lesson we talked about the difference between giorno and giornata. We learned that saying buona giornata is a nice thing to say when taking one's leave.
When saying goodbye, we can replace giornata with another -ata word, perhaps one more specific to what the other person is about to do. For example, we want to wish someone a good ride (on horseback) as in the example below, or, if they are taking a walk, we can say buona passeggiata.
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 23Play Caption
Note: The -ata ending can't always be applied. If someone is about to get back to work or start on a project, you might say, buon lavoro, as in the example above (NOT buona lavorata!). We don't really have the equivalent in English, except for perhaps, "Have a good work day," but in Italy, buon lavoro is a very nice and very common thing to say to someone you're taking leave of. And if they are going to take a nap, you might say, buon riposo (have a good rest).
Let's take a closer look at this -ata ending or suffix. We'll find it on a great many nouns. One helpful thing to keep in mind is that it's always feminine. It is usually connected in meaning to the root noun, but has more movement to it.
L'onda (the wave) is what you see in the sea or ocean.
L'odore del mare, il, il suono delle onde... eh? -Sì.
The smell of the sea, the, the sound of the waves... huh? -Yes.Play Caption
We also have the waves of sound and energy, and when we are on the air, for example on the radio or TV, we say, Siamo in onda (we're on the air).
Ma non c'è tempo per provare, tra cinque secondi andiamo in onda.
But there's no time to rehearse, we're on the air in five seconds.Play Caption
L'ondata (the surge, the onrush)
We use ondata to describe a wave in motion. It's often used figuratively.
Dopo il suo primo devastante arrivo, la peste, la morte nera continuò a colpire con varie ondate negli anni, decimando la popolazione,
After its first devastating emergence, the plague, the Black Death continued to strike in various waves over the years, decimating the population,
Captions 1-2, Meraviglie EP. 3 - Part 7Play Caption
In many cases, verbs come from nouns, and nouns also come from verbs. So a noun ending in -ata might come from a verb just as easily as from a noun, for example, when we mentioned cavalcata, above, it came from the verb cavalcare (to ride a horse).
il volo - volare - la volata
With un volo, you are in flight, but with la volata, you are moving quickly.
Assomiglia a un volo nel cielo.
It resembles flying in the sky.
Caption 21, Inno all'acqua un bene prezioso da difenderePlay Caption
Ho fatto una volata (I tripped and fell-- through the air)
Ho fatto una volata a casa (I rushed home for a moment)
More nouns with an -ata ending:
la girata (a short walk) [from the verb girare (to turn around), but we also have the noun un giro]
una nottata (the duration of a night - from when you go usually go to bed until the morning) [from the noun la notte]
una sgridata (a scolding) [from the verb sgridare]
la nevicata (the snowfall) [from the verb nevicare (to snow), but also the noun la neve (the snow)]
una chiacchierata (a chat) [from the verb chiacchierare (to chat)]
Certo che da una semplice chiacchierata, sei riuscita a capire tutto di Malvina, eh?
Just from a simple chat, you were able to understand everything about Malvina, weren't you?Play Caption
This is just a small sampling of nouns ending in -ata. Let's stay on the lookout for more, and if you see more words like these in videos, let us know, and we will add them to the list!
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.Play Caption
Let's keep in mind that, used as a greeting, buongiorno is one word.
For more about greetings, check out this lesson
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 23Play Caption
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,Play Caption
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.Play Caption
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.Play Caption
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.