Italienisch-Lektionen

Themen

Anticipare and Anticipo

We have already talked a bit about the verb anticipare because it is the opposite of posticipare (to postpone). But let's look at some examples to get a feel for the verb and then look at the noun.

 

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Anticipare (to move up)

Eh, c'è un caso delicato e ho dovuto anticipare il rientro.

Uh, there is a delicate case and I've had to move up my return.

Caption 65, Il Commissario Manara S2EP9 - L'amica ritrovata - Part 5

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We might just say, "I had to go back earlier" or "I had to return ahead of schedule." 

 

Ma no, sulle prime sembrava che fosse quel giorno, poi invece gli scritti li hanno anticipati e li ho dati un mese fa.

But no, at first it seemed like it was that day, but then they moved the written exams up and I did those a month ago.

Captions 5-6, Sposami EP 4 - Part 25

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If I answer your question before you ask it, you might say:

Mi hai anticipato (you preceded me, you beat me to it).

 

When I have told you something earlier and refer to it now, I might say something like:

 

Vediamo un po' in quale altro modo si usa, perché, come ti avevo anticipato, ci sono vari modi.

Let's look a bit into what other way it's used. Because, as I told you earlier, there are various ways.

Captions 2-3, Marika spiega La particella CI - Part 2

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Sometimes, instead of words or information, it's money!

 

Walter m'aveva chiesto di anticipare i soldi per il viaggio ai Caraibi...

Walter had asked me to advance him the money for the trip to the Caribbean...

Caption 51, Il Commissario Manara S2EP5 - Mondo sommerso - Part 3

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L'anticipo

It's also common, when talking about money, to use the noun form we mentioned earlier: un anticipo

Ma il nostro accordo era un anticipo subito e il resto alla consegna.

But our agreement was an advance payment right away and the rest upon delivery.

Caption 8, Il Commissario Manara S2EP5 - Mondo sommerso - Part 9

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We could also use "down payment" to mean anticipo here.  You might ask your boss for un anticipo (an advance). 

 

In anticipo 

And when something or someone is early, or arrives early, ahead of schedule, most of the time we say in anticipo. It functions as an adverb.

Sono in anticipo?

Am I early?

Caption 40, Il Commissario Manara S2EP3 - Delitto tra le lenzuola - Part 11

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Con anticipo

We can also say con anticipo when we want to say "in advance." Here anticipo is a noun, and it has an adjective in front of it. 

Il problema è che spesso le strutture sono sovraffollate, per cui, eh, devi agire con molto anticipo rispetto agli esami che vuoi fare

The problem is that often, the facilities are overcrowded, so uh, you have to act long in advance with respect to the exams that you want to do

Captions 8-10, Anna presenta La gravidanza - Part 2

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But we can also say in netto anticipo (well in advance) and here it again functions pretty much like an adverb. It is more important to be able to use this word than to know its part of speech. Sometimes the confines are blurry.

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Scaffolding in Italian

One word leads to another. Since some of Yabla's videos have included scenes of construction, the topic of scaffolding has come up from time to time, even though it's certainly not a topic you run into every day.  But there is a false cognate we may run into whenever we go to a supermercato (supermarket) or grande magazzino  (department store), so a closer look might be merited.

 

Ponteggio / Ponteggi

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One word for "scaffolding" is il ponteggio or, more often, i ponteggi. We can detect the noun il ponte (the bridge) in the word, and can easily imagine the wooden planks as "bridges" from one set of poles to the next. 

 

Ha ceduto un ponteggio.

Some scaffolding collapsed.

Caption 35, Volare - La grande storia di Domenico Modugno Ep. 1 - Part 3

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L'impalcatura 

Impalcatura is often used in the singular, as a generic term, but can also be used in the plural. Here, we might detect the noun il palco, which can mean "the stage" (as in a theater) or "the platform." L'impalcatura is a series of platforms on top of each other.

È caduto da un'impalcatura del cantiere.

He fell from a scaffold at the construction site.

Caption 9, La Ladra EP. 7 - Il piccolo ladro - Part 3

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No, Spartacus, non credo che gli faccia piacere avere un ricevimento in mezzo a impalcature e betoniere.

No, Spartacus, I don't think he is happy to have a reception in the middle of scaffolding and cement mixers.

Captions 66-67, Sposami EP 4 - Part 24

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"Platform" has a cognate, too: la piattaforma (the platform, the board).

La parte centrale del Colosseo, dove accadeva tutto, era una piattaforma lignea che veniva, eh, riempita di sabbia,

The central part of the Colosseum, where everything took place, was a wooden platform that was, uh, filled with sand,

Captions 25-27, Marika e Daniela Colosseo, interno - Part 1

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Scaffale

But, when we find the word scaffale in Italian, it doesn't mean "scaffolding." It is, instead, the kind of shelving you find in a store, supermarket, or department store. 

Se andate a fare la spesa in un supermercato italiano, vi troverete davanti allo scaffale del riso indecisi sul tipo di riso da comprare,

If you go grocery shopping in an Italian supermarket, you'll find yourselves facing the rice shelf, uncertain about the type of rice to buy,

Captions 1-3, L'Italia a tavola Risotto alla milanese - Part 2

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It's used a lot in the plural as a general term: gli scaffali.  

Se voi mangiaste meno, il supermercato sarebbe sicuramente più pieno e io non troverei gli scaffali vuoti. -Esagerata, eh!

If you ate less, the supermarket would surely be fuller and I wouldn't find the shelves empty. -Over the top, huh!

Captions 44-45, Daniela e Francesca Il verbo mangiare

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We can also use the noun lo scaffale in a house. If the shelves are for books, we'll usually say, una libreria.

 

False friend alert:  Una libreria is also a bookshop!  A library, on the other hand, is una biblioteca.  If you have a dedicated room or lots of shelves for books, you can talk about una biblioteca in your house, too.

 

When we are speaking generically, we can use scaffale. Marika talks about lo scaffale, because, as she mentions, it contains all kinds of things.

A fianco alla televisione, ho un mobile. Questo mobile si chiama scaffale. Io lo uso per conservare tantissimi oggetti.

Alongside the television, I have a piece of furniture. This piece of furniture is called a shelving unit. I use it to store many objects.

Captions 26-28, Marika spiega Il salone

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If this web of words has brought you more confusion than anything else, just stick with learning gli scaffali. That's where you will find food and products at the supermarket, and eating is essential. 

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Aria fritta (fried air)

In many contexts, aria fritta is a way of saying, "hot air," for example, when someone, such as a politician, goes on talking and talking without saying anything. It's "empty talk." In English, we have various ways of saying this, such as "Yada, yada, yada" (from the popular TV series "Seinfeld").

 

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But in the context of a recent episode of Sposami, Nora is trying to sell what Iside, who is listening in, considers to be "fried air." In other words, she is making promises she won't be able to keep. Hype, but no substance. All talk and no action. You obviously can't fry air, so it is something with no substance, something that doesn't really exist.

Qui si vende aria fritta. -Ecco, esatto. Allora vengo subito lì e buttiamo giù l'accordo, va bene? -E il bello è che c'è qualcuno che se la compra [l'aria fritta].

Here we're selling fried air [empty promises]. -Right, exactly. So, I'll be right there, and we'll sketch out the agreement, all right? -And the good thing is that there is someone who buys it.

Captions 31-34, Sposami EP 4 - Part 23

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Nora is very good at what she does, and she might just pull off the deal she is making, and then it won't be aria fritta  anymore.

 

Another expression using aria (air) to indicate nothingness: campato in aria (surviving on air, far-fetched, based on nothing). 

Questa è tutta una sua ricostruzione totalmente campata in aria. -Campata in aria? Vuoi che ti dica le prove,

This is all her totally far-fetched reconstruction. -Far-fetched? You want me to tell you the evidence,

Captions 9-10, Imma Tataranni Sostituto procuratore S1 EP2 Come piante fra sassi - Part 5

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Campato in aria is used as an adjective, whereas aria fritta is a noun. Aria fritta is given out intentionally, whereas campato in aria might just be an idea having no rational basis.

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Svolgere: a useful but mysterious verb

Svolgere is yet another verb starting with S, meaning there is likely a verb without the S, at its roots.

 

The use of the "prefix" S to give a word the opposite meaning is a common Italian phenomenon. It comes up frequently (see, for example this lesson). There is no fool-proof "rule," but knowing about the S-prefix can often give us a clue about a word. If we try a search of the word without the S, we might gain a deeper understanding of the word. Sometimes the S provides a different slant on a word, and isn't necessarily a negation or an opposite. 

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So if we look up volgere, we find that it does exist. We just don't use it very often in everyday conversation. Svolgere, on the other hand, is very common, but it's not easy to guess its meaning. 

 

Let's take a closer look. 

 

Svolgere

When the verb is in its non-reflexive form it can be translated as "to carry out," "to conduct," "to do," or "to perform." It's transitive. We use it a lot when the question is, "What does it do?" or "What do you do (as a job)?"

Ha una capacità di memoria elevatissima; può svolgere la stessa funzione di cinquemila calcolatori meccanici messi insieme, ma in un tempo infinitamente più breve.

It has a very high memory capacity; it can perform the same function as five thousand mechanical calculators put together, but in an infinitely shorter time.

Captions 3-5, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep.2 - Part 19

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Ci troviamo nel centro tartarughe WWF di Lampedusa, fa parte del progetto italiano del WWF, che svolge attività di conservazione sulle tartarughe marine,

We are at the WWF center in Lampedusa, it's part of the Italian WWF project, which conducts work on conserving sea turtles

Captions 36-38, WWF Italia Progetto tartarughe - Part 1

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Espressione del lavoro di ricerca che svolgono durante il loro soggiorno romano.

An expression of the research work they carry out during their stay in Rome.

Caption 10, Villa Medici L'arca della bellezza - Part 4

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Svolgersi

 

When we use the reflexive form of the verb, we often translate it as "to take place." We could also say "to unfold" in certain contexts. The reflexive form is intransitive. 

Una parte del film si svolge qua dove sembra veramente che il passato e il futuro siano coesistenti.

One part of the film takes place here where it really seems that the past and the future coexist.

Captions 34-35, Fratelli Taviani La passione e l'utopia - Part 6

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The reflexive form svolgersi, is extremely common, but not all that easy to guess at, since it's not a cognate... or is it?

If we look up the etymology of the verb svolgere, we do find volgere, but another, archaic, version of volgere — volvere, no longer in use, is mentioned as well. And if we try hard, we can see the verb "to evolve" as a sort of cognate. If we think of the verb svolgersi as something like, "to evolve," it might help us remember it.

 

How does this story evolveCome si svolge questa storia?

 

One confusing thing

If we look at the conjugation chart of the verb svolgere and we look at the conjugation chart of the verb svoltare (to change directions, to turn) there are some similarities, so this can be a bit confusing.

 

Another confusing thing

Both the non-reflexive and the reflexive form of the verb svolgere can mean "to unfold." So they intersect in a way. But we should just keep in mind that the non-reflexive form is transitive (it takes a direct object) and the reflexive form is intransitive (you won't find a direct object after it).

 

If you do a search of svolgere, and svolgersi on the Yabla videos page, you will have an overview of how these verbs are used. If you then go to the transcript for a given video where the word is used and hit command or control F to search the word there, you'll see the larger context, together with the English translation. You will see that the translation isn't consistent. Sometimes it's tricky to find the right word, since there really isn't a good, reliable English cognate. 

 

Certainly, the two forms of svolgere are great verbs to have in your toolbox. If you pay attention, you will start hearing both of them a great deal. And now you know what they mean!

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"I can't wait" in Italian: non vedo l'ora!

We have spoken from time to time about how to say, "I can't wait" in Italian. It's an informal way of saying, "I am very much looking forward to something."  In Italian, it's Non vedo l'ora. For the record, Non vedo l'ora! translates, literally, as "I can't see the hour," (which makes no sense). We can use the expression just as it is, conjugating the verb vedere.

Vuoi assaggiare un poco di... -Certo. -arancello? -Non vedo l'ora.

Do you want to taste a bit of... -Of course. -arancello? -I can't wait.

Caption 51, Adriano L'arancello di Marina

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Ma se anche lui non vede l'ora!

But if even he can't wait!

Caption 70, Il Commissario Manara S2EP1 - Matrimonio con delitto - Part 3

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Although we can use the expression as is, we can also continue it, specifying what it is we can't wait for. Here's where it can get a bit more complex. There are basically 2 ways to continue the phrase.

 

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1) We use di plus the infinitive of the verb in question:

Non vedo l'ora di vederti (I can't wait to see you).

Non vedo l'ora di partire in vacanza (I can't wait to leave on vacation).

 

Ma invece adesso sono convintissima, motivata e non vedo l'ora di cominciare.

But now however I'm totally convinced, motivated and I can't wait to start.

Caption 4, Francesca alla guida - Part 2

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These sentences are all about you, in other words, something you are going to or want to do. It can also be about another person but the structure of the sentence remains the same: 

Pietro non vede l'ora di cominciare il corso di francese (Pietro can't wait to start the French course).

 

Maybe you can come up with some on your own. Try using: 

 

visitare Firenze (to visit Florence)

vederti (to see you)

finire questo libro (to finish this book)

cenare (to have dinner)

 

2) We use the conjunction che (that). With che, we start a new (subordinate) clause and here, we need the subjunctive form of the verb.

 

So let's say you are on the train, traveling from Milan to Venice. It may be fun to look out the window, but you really want to get to Venice!

You can say:

Non vedo l'ora di arrivare a Venezia (I can't wait to arrive  in Venice).

 

You can also refer to the train or to "us.":

 

Non vedo l'ora che questo treno arrivi a Venezia (I can't wait for this train to arrive in Venice).

Non vedo l'ora che arriviamo a Venezia (I can't wait for us to arrive in Venice)

Non vedo l'ora che finisca il viaggio (I can't wait for this trip to end).

 

From a translating standpoint, when you use "for" plus a verb in English in this expression, you will likely need che + the verb in the subjunctive (agreeing with noun, expressed or implied) in Italian.

Noi li amiamo tantissimo e non vediamo l'ora che un giorno possano  anche giocare.

We love them very much and we can't wait for the day when they can also play.

Captions 59-60, Andromeda La storia di Ulisse

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There are various things we can imagine a couple expecting a baby to say, as they try to wait patiently.

One of them can say:

Non vedo l'ora di veder nascere questo bambino (I can't wait to see this baby be born).

We've used di + the verb vedere

 

Or, one of them can say:

Non vediamo l'ora che nasca questo bambino (we can't wait for  this baby to be born).

 

Here, we have used che + the verb nascere, which refers to the baby (third person), and thus we need the subjunctive. 

 

And if they happen to be expecting twins?

Non vediamo l'ora che nascano questi bambini (we can't wait for these babies to be born).

 

So, as you can see, there are easy ways to use the expression Non vedo l'ora: by itself, or with di + infinitive. There is also the harder way, which entails knowing the subjunctive form of the verb you want to use. But as you become fluent in Italian, you will find that we tend to say the same things over and over again, so maybe you might want to learn the subjunctive forms of certain verbs you might need, such as cominciare (to begin), finire (to finish), chiamare (to call).

 

Tip: You can sidestep the subjunctive by forming 2 different sentences. 

 

Comincierà presto la lezione? Non vedo l'ora (is the lesson going to start soon? I can't wait). 

 

Meanwhile, keep an eye out for this expression in Yabla videos. See how people use it — by itself, with di + infinitive, or with che + subjunctive. 

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Per conto mio: a double meaning

We've talked various times about the noun il conto. It can refer to "the bill" or "the account," but it's also used in expressions such as per conto di..., or to put it in more personal terms, per conto mio/suo.

 

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What's perhaps important to remember is that it has two distinct (but related meanings). It can mean "of one's own."

Nilde, tu c'hai già mille problemi per conto tuo, il ristorante, Enrica fra i piedi, lascia perdere.

Nilde, you already have a ton of problems of your own, the restaurant, Enrica on your back, forget about it.

Captions 10-11, Un medico in famiglia Stagione 3 S3EP4 Lo stagno del ranocchio - Part 5

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Perché la mi' figliola [mia figlia] c'ha già tanti problemi per conto suo.

Because my daughter has enough problems of her own.

Caption 37, Il Commissario Manara S1EP9 - Morte in paradiso - Part 7

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But it also means "on one's own."

Allora, lei è una che fa finta di starsene per conto suo, ma poi te la ritrovi sempre fra i piedi, una grandissima ficcanaso.

So, she is someone who pretends to be on her own, but then you always find her underfoot, hugely nosy.

Captions 45-47, Provaci ancora prof! S1E4 - La mia compagna di banco - Part 30

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Poi, se ne andarono ognuno per conto suo [sic: proprio].

Then they went away, each on his own.

Caption 33, Ti racconto una fiaba I tre porcellini - Part 1

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You will have to rely on the context to help decide what per conto means in each case.

 

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Using nouns as adjectives in Italian. How does it work?

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). 

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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 19

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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 2

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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.

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Seguire, proseguire, and inseguire

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.

 

Proseguire (to continue)

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 1

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Il nostro viaggio prosegue in Piemonte,

Our journey continues in Piedmont,

Caption 7, Meraviglie EP. 5 - Part 4

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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 23

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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. Cravero

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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).

Or 

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 4

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Inseguire (to chase, to pursue)

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 23

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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.

Captions 9-10, La Mille Miglia del passato per vivere quella di oggi - Part 2

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Let's add one more word!

Susseguirsi (to follow one another in succession)

 

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 1

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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!

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Verso: a word with too many meanings to count

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.

 

When manuscripts had leaves, not pages:

If you look at a medieval manuscript, for example, and think of how they numbered the pages, it's pretty interesting.

 

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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."

 

il verso

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 Marina

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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 rovi

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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.

Caption 65, Il Commissario Manara S1EP4 - Le Lettere Di Leopardi - Part 16

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...ma non c'è stato verso di farla ragionare.

...but there was no way to get her to reason.

Caption 4, Imma Tataranni Sostituto procuratore S1EP1 L'estate del dito - Part 10

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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 1

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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 2

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Other meanings of il verso as a noun are: 

-the sound an animal makes.

-a line of poetry

-a verse

 

Verso — the preposition

 

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.

Caption 62, Fratelli Taviani La passione e l'utopia - Part 16

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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 4

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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 4

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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.

Caption 8, Il Commissario Manara S2EP3 - Delitto tra le lenzuola - Part 5

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The verb versare

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. 

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Exams: How do we talk about exams in Italian?

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?

Caption 16, Un medico in famiglia Stagione 1 EP1 - Casa nuova - Part 8

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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?

Caption 16, Un medico in famiglia Stagione 3 S3EP3 - Il tarlo del sospetto - Part 5

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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.

Captions 44-45, Un medico in famiglia Stagione 3 S3 EP2 - Un nuovo medico in famiglia - Part 8

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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.

Captions 54-55, Un medico in famiglia Stagione 3 S3 EP2 - Un nuovo medico in famiglia - Part 5

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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.

Caption 46, Un medico in famiglia Stagione 3 S3 EP2 - Un nuovo medico in famiglia - Part 6

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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 italiano

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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 italiano

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Check out the video where Serena and Martina talk about how the university system works in Italy. And here they talk about high school.

 

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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.

Caption 19, Il Commissario Manara S1EP11 - Beato tra le donne - Part 4

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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 soccorso

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...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...

Caption 3, L'arte della cucina I Luoghi del Mondo - Part 3

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Being in tune (or not) with intonato and stonato

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 12

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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." 

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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 2

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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 Liguria

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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 8

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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 7

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So we can use stonare to mean "to clash," "to go together poorly." 

 

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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).

 

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Non tutte le ciambelle escono col buco

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.

Caption 44, Un medico in famiglia Stagione 1 EP1 - Casa nuova - Part 10

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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 albero

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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 pane

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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..."

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The indispensable preposition di

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."

 

Di = "of" in many cases.

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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.

 

Apostrophe for possession in English, but not in Italian

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 1

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Sometimes di means "from"

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 a

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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" regarding time.

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,

Caption 68, Cucinare con le spezie di Franco Calafatti Introduzione

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Di  can mean "about" 

Racconta la storia di un burattino di legno

It tells the story of a wooden puppet

Caption 31, Adriano Pizzeria Pinocchio - Part 1

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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).

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Big and small with endings: -one and -ino

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.

Pentola

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 1

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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 pomodori

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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 1

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Capanna

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 infanzia

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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 14

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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.

 

Macchina

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 Nonna

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Ci porta Giampi, che lui c'ha un macchinone.

Giampi will take us. He has a big car.

Caption 53, Sposami EP 3 - Part 7

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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 1

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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.

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Fare complimenti (being polite)

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 limone

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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.

Caption 56, Un medico in famiglia Stagione 3 S3EP3 - Il tarlo del sospetto - Part 11

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Grazie, eh. -No, prego, non fare complimenti, ah.

Thanks, huh. -No, you're welcome, don't stand on ceremony, huh.

Caption 36, Il Commissario Manara S2EP2 - L'addio di Lara - Part 13

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Fitto and fitta: Do they mean the same thing?

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

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 2

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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 13

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Il fitto

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.

Caption 25, Il Commissario Manara S1EP10 - Un morto di troppo - Part 11

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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.

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Una fitta

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.

Caption 36, Provaci ancora prof! S2EP2 Una mina vagante - Part 5

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La badante: What's that?

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.

Caption 56, Il Commissario Manara S2EP10 -La verità nascosta - Part 5

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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 2

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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 1

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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 7

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Ma, io non ci bado molto ai piedi.

Well, I don't pay much attention to feet.

Caption 12, Psicovip Cappuccetto Rosso - Ep 7

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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 22

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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:

Bada bene...

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Basta!

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!

Caption 8, Acqua in bocca Tra moglie e marito... - Ep 11

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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 1

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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.

Caption 39, Un medico in famiglia Stagione 3 S3 EP2 - Un nuovo medico in famiglia - Part 13

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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 Marche

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