Italienisch-Lektionen

Themen

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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Using the indispensable word quindi

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.

 

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So

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 2

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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 8

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Therefore

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?

Captions 55-57, Anna e Marika La mozzarella di bufala - La produzione e i tagli - Part 2

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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.

Captions 26-27, Anna e Marika La mozzarella di bufala - La produzione e i tagli - Part 1

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Quindi as "filler"

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 1

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Synonyms and pet words

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 as "then"

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 2

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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

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You'd best... with che

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."

Lessons about che

To learn more about this indispensable little word, check out some of our lessons:

 

 

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Che è meglio (colloquial)

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 6

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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 22

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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.

 

È meglio che... (proper, with the subjunctive)

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.”

Caption 16, Corso di italiano con Daniela Il congiuntivo - Part 13

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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.

Caption 12, Il Commissario Manara S1EP8 - Morte di un buttero - Part 13

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*** 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).

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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.

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Ways to say "a lot" in Italian

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.

 

Un mucchio

Ricci mi ha chiesto un mucchio di soldi.

Ricci asked me for a pile of money.

Caption 19, Il Commissario Manara S2EP4 - Miss Maremma - Part 13

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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. 

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Una  marea

perché t'ha raccontato una marea di frottole. -No!

because he told you a bunch of tall tales. -No!

Caption 23, Un medico in famiglia Stagione 3 S3EP3 - Il tarlo del sospetto - Part 6

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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 modellabile

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Una  valanga

Ho speso una valanga di soldi per questa macchina fotografica (I spent an avalanche [a whole lot] of money for this camera).

 

Un  casino

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 13

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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.

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Using 4 eyes to talk

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. 

 

Parlare a quattr'occhi

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

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Literally, this expression means, "to talk in the manner of four eyes." But let's unpack it so that it makes sense. 

 

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Unpacking the expression a quattr'occhi

 

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. 

 

Using the expression a quattr'occhi

 

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.

 

The noun occhio

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).

 

Examples

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.

Caption 28, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 9

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Dixi alzò gli occhi, guardò in cielo,

Dixi raised his eyes, and looked into the sky,

Caption 13, Dixiland Cometa caduta

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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 2

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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 maschera

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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. 

 

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Nouns with a transformative -ata ending

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 23

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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).

 

A common ending that gives some movement to a noun: -ata.

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 - l'ondata

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.

Caption 16, Professioni e mestieri Psicoterapeuta corporale e Naturopata

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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.

Caption 70, Volare - La grande storia di Domenico Modugno Ep. 1 - Part 20

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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 7

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A noun with an -ata ending can come from a verb, too.

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 difendere

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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?

Captions 1-2, Il Commissario Manara S1EP2 - Vendemmia tardiva - Part 17

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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!

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Giorno or giornata: What's the difference?

What's the difference between giorno and giornata? They both refer to "day." To start off with, we can say that one difference is that un giorno is 24 hours. But una giornata is roughly from dawn to dusk. In some cases, giorno and giornata can be used interchangeably, but let's look at the ways we generally use one or the other.

 

It might also be helpful to think of giorno as rather static and giornata as something in motion, or progressing.

 

Since we have to greet people most days, it's good to mention buongiorno, which actually means "good morning," as a greeting. We use it up to lunchtime, or noon, to be more precise. After that it's buonasera (good afternoon, good evening).

Buongiorno, signora Caterina.

Good morning, Missus Caterina.

Caption 58, Il Commissario Manara S1EP3 - Rapsodia in Blu - Part 3

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Let's keep in mind that, used as a greeting, buongiorno is one word. 

 

For more about greetings, check out this lesson 

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If we say buona giornata, we are saying, "Have a nice day." I hope your day goes well. It's kind of a progressive thing, thinking ahead to the day. We say it when we are leaving or when someone else is leaving. 

Va bene. -Buona giornata. Buona cavalcata. -Buona cavalcata. Buona giornata e buon lavoro. -Grazie.

All right. -Have a nice day. Have a nice ride. -Have a nice ride. Have a nice day, and good luck with your work. -Thank you.

Captions 14-16, Fratelli Taviani La passione e l'utopia - Part 23

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We can replace giornata with another -ata word: if we want to wish someone a good ride (on horseback) as in the example above, or, if they are taking a walk, we can say buona passeggiata

 

Let's look at other situations in which we will want to use giornata, not giorno,  or vice versa. It may be helpful to think of giornata as the progression of the day towards night. 

 

Let's say you are waiting for a package.

The corriere (the shipping company) says:

Il pacchetto sarà consegnato in giornata. This means the package will be delivered anytime before the end of the day.

 

If it's going to arrive before lunchtime, they might say arriverà in mattinata.

 

When you get off work, and you are thinking about what a difficult (or fantastic) day you have had, you can say:

Che giornata (what a day)!

 

But then, you might use a mix of giornata and giorno. The important thing is to remember that giorno is a masculine noun and giornata is a feminine noun. 

 

You can say:

Ho lavorato tutto il giorno (I worked all day).

 

You can also say:

Ho lavorato tutta la giornata (I worked all day).

 

It kind of depends on what you are thinking or visualizing. They are both correct. Google says tutto il giorno is more common.

 

When we are talking about the weather, we'll usually use giornata.

Oggi è una bellissima giornata, un po' fredda,

Today, it's such a beautiful day, a bit cold,

Caption 4, Professioni e mestieri Erica - archeologa - Part 2

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When describing the day, especially in a personal way, we use giornata:

Ti sto rovinando la giornata, scusami.

I'm wrecking your day, forgive me.

Caption 14, Provaci ancora prof! S1E4 - La mia compagna di banco - Part 7

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If I ask you how your day went, I might say?

 

Come'è andata la giornata (how did your day go, how was your day)?

 

When we're talking about a length of time, then it's usually giornata. In some cases, we can talk about una mezza giornata (a half day')

La prego, solo mezza giornata.

Please, just half a day.

Caption 19, Ma che ci faccio qui! Un film di Francesco Amato - Part 4

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While we tend to use giorno for birthdays and the days of the week (we think of the calendar), giornata is more common for describing special commemorative occasions or major historical events, for example, Giornata mondiale della pace (International peace day). It's connected with the activity.

 

If you have questions about giorno and giornata, please let us know and we'll expand this lesson.

 

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How to talk about frequency regarding time

How do we talk about frequency — how many times in a period of time something happens or should happen? Let's find out.

 

Just as English has "every" and "each," so does Italian. Italian has tutti  (all) and ogni (each). For more about tutti see this lesson

In Italia, come ben sapete, la pasta è un alimento consumato tutti i giorni.

In Italy, as you well know, pasta's a food that's eaten every day.

Caption 1, Anna e Marika La pasta fresca

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Note that with tutti, we use the plural. Both the noun giorni and the adjective tutti are in the plural. Not only that. If we replace giorni (days) with settimane (weeks), we have to change tutti  to tutte, as settimana is a feminine noun. Note also that we have tutto il giorno, which means "all day." Here tutto is singular, so try not to get mixed up (we'll talk about this in a different lesson).

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Usciamo quasi tutte le settimane, il sabato sera,

We go out almost every week, on Saturday night,

Caption 40, Erica e Martina La nostra amicizia

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When we use ogni (each), on the other hand, it's always singular. 

 

Qui in Sicilia, in estate si va ogni giorno al mare e la sera si esce.

Here in Sicily, in the summer we go to the beach every day and in the evenings we go out.

Caption 49, Adriano Le stagioni dell'anno

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What if we want to talk about "every other day?" We can say ogni due giorni (every two days) or we can say un giorno sì e un giorno no (one day yes and one day no).

Ah no, eh? E tu come lo chiami un bambino che vomita un giorno sì e un giorno no?

No? And what do you call a little boy who vomits every other day?

Captions 95-96, Un medico in famiglia Stagione 3 S3EP3 - Il tarlo del sospetto - Part 3

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When it comes to doing something once a day, once a week, once a month, or once a year, we use the noun volta, which we can also use in the plural when appropriate. It is followed by the preposition a (at, to, in)

Allora, amici di Yabla, all'interno del mio negozio, una volta al mese ospito degli artisti...

So, Yabla friends, inside my shop, I host artists once a month...

Captions 56-57, Adriano Negozio di Antichità Sgroi

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Note that the noun volta has other meanings and connotations, so consider checking out the dictionary entry linked to above. Learn more about the noun volta meaning "time" in this lesson

 

una volta al giorno (once a day)

due volte al giorno (twice a day)

una volta alla settimana (once a week)

due volte alla settimana (twice a week)

una volta al mese (once a month)

due volte al mese (twice a month)

una volta all'anno (once a year)

due volte all'anno (twice a year)

 

There is a lot to talk about regarding time. We've covered one aspect of frequency in this lesson, but in future lessons, we'll talk about ways to say "usually," "sometimes," "always," "never," and so on.

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Short periods of time in Italian

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

 

We can say (using the familiar form):

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

Luca, Luca, Luca, aspetta, un minuto.

Luca, Luca, Luca, wait, one minute.

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

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Grazie, fratellino. Un secondo solo, eh.

Thanks, little brother. Just a second, hey.

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

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Un momento!

Just a moment!

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

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

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

 

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

L'istante (the instant)

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

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

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

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

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

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Un attimo (an instant)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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We can also say:

un attimo solo (just a second).

 

or, with a bit more impatience or irritation:

un attimo (just a second)!

 

La prego Marzio, un attimo!

Please, Marzio, just a moment!

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

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

 

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

Libero, potrei conferire con te un attimino?

Libero, could I confer with you a moment?

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

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

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Using auguri in everyday conversation

We say Auguri! when it's the new year or when someone has a birthday. Tanti auguri a te is how Italians sing, "Happy Birthday to you." But we also have the verb augurare, which is used quite frequently, even on ordinary days.

Non le posso augurare una buona sera perché non è una buona sera.

I can't wish you a good evening, because it isn't a good evening.

Caption 21, La Tempesta film - Part 22

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When you wish for something, you hope it will come true. In English, we either use the imperative of the verb "to have," or we can change the construction and use the verb "to hope."

Ti auguro una buona giornata (have a good day/I hope you have a good day).

 

If you follow Marika's videos, she almost always wishes you a marvelous day at the end.

Io ti auguro una giornata meravigliosa e ci vediamo la prossima volta.

Have a marvelous day and I'll see you next time.

Captions 56-57, Marika commenta -La Ladra Espressioni idiomatiche - Part 1

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We can use augurare with a reflexive ending, too: augurarsi. We use this form when we want to say, "I hope so!" We say:

Me lo auguro (I hope so).

Mi auguro di sì (I hope so).

 

No, scusi, mi auguro che Lei abbia una motivazione plausibile, perché se no io... -Ma un istruttore a che Le serve?

No, excuse me. I hope you have a plausible reason, otherwise, I... -But what do you need an instructor for?

Captions 9-10, Il Commissario Manara S2EP7 - Alta società - Part 13

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Note that after mi auguro comes che, and some of us know what that can mean. It likely means we'll need the subjunctive. In the example above, we do indeed need the subjunctive of the verb avere (to have). For more about cases like this one, see our lessons on this topic. 

 

Using me lo auguro can have a somewhat negative nuance and we might translate it as, "I should hope so!" So it's not really hope, but rather expecting something to be a certain way. It's also quite a mouthful of vowels. Luckily, you can also say:

Lo spero (I hope so)!

 

On the other hand, if we want to say "I hope not," we can simply say mi auguro di no

 

Hai imparato qualcosa (did you learn something)? Mi auguro di sì (I hope so). 

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Upstairs and Downstairs in Italian (and more)

When we want to talk about going or being upstairs or downstairs, we're not going to find a direct translation in Italian. We have to use other words. 

 

We start out with the words sopra and sotto, which basically mean "above" and "below," respectively. We insert the preposition di (of, from) before either one.

No, vado di sopra a prendere la borsa e le chiavi e scendo giù subito.

No, I'm going upstairs to get my bag and the keys, and I'll be right down.

Caption 88, Un medico in famiglia Stagione 3 S3EP3 - Il tarlo del sospetto - Part 1

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If you are upstairs and want to go downstairs, you could just as well say,

Vado di sotto a prendere la borsa...

I'm going downstairs to get my bag... 

 

When we are talking about the other room, or another room, or "over there," then we use the same little preposition di (of, from), but we use là (there) instead of above or below.

Vado di là (I'm going in the other room, I'm going over there).

Pietro è di là (Pietro is in the other room).

 

Using the above formula to talk about "upstairs," "downstairs," or "in the other room," is one way to express this. You might also hear simply su and giù.

È su (he/she is upstairs), sta su (he/she is upstairs).

Vado su, vengo giù (I'm going up, I'm coming down).

 

If we imagine an apartment building where you have to go downstairs to go out of the building, it's easier to imagine the Italian use of sotto casa (right in front of the house). I may have a little market right near my house. It's sotto casa. It implies "very close by" or "in front of."

Fortunatamente ci hanno messo un bidone sotto casa.

Fortunately, they put a garbage can in front of the house.

Caption 25, COVID-19 6) La guarigione

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Sono sotto casa tua. Scendi un attimo?

I'm in front of your house. Will you come down a moment?

Caption 30, La Ladra EP. 7 - Il piccolo ladro - Part 3

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When we want to say, "down here," or "down there," then we can use qui sotto or qua sotto. They are interchangeable and can refer to either "here" or "there," depending on one's point of view.

E qua sotto c'è il fiume Tevere.

And down there is the river Tiber.

Caption 19, Anna e Marika Trattoria Al Biondo Tevere - Part 1

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Infatti, vedi le strutture che sono qui sotto, qui sotto a questo monumentale... -Sì.

In fact, do you see the constructions that are down here, below this monumental... -Yes.

Caption 44, Marika e Daniela Colosseo, interno - Part 1

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While sopra and sotto with di often refer to "upstairs" and "downstairs" as we have shown above, su and giù can also be used to indicate the direction of where someone or something is or where someone or something is going. They often go hand in hand with qui or qua (here) and (there).

 

Qui and qua basically indicate something that is close to the person who is speaking. Su basically means "up" and giù basically means "down." If we want to refer to something far away in an upward or downward direction, we can say, lassù (up there) or laggiù (down there).

E tu che ci fai lassù?

What are you doing up there?

Caption 8, Dafne Film - Part 5

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E poi si vede in fondo, laggiù sull'Arno, il ponte più caratteristico di Firenze, uno dei simboli della città, che è il Ponte Vecchio.

And then you can see, down there, on the Arno, the most characteristic bridge of Florence, one of the symbols of the city, which is the Ponte Vecchio [the old bridge].

Captions 36-38, In giro per l'Italia Firenze - Part 4

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Sopra and sotto are also used to mean other things, also figuratively, and hopefully, they will come up by and by in videos and lessons. Meanwhile, you now have some ways to describe where you are going or where you are in a house, or what you can see from your house or what you'll find in front of your house. As you will have noticed, there are various ways to say the same thing. Let us know if you have questions! You can write to us at newsletter@yabla.com.

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Some interesting aspects of the noun aspetto

Let's have a look at a noun that can cause some confusion because it's both a true cognate and a somewhat false friend. The noun is aspetto and it looks a lot like "aspect."

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Just like English

It's a cognate when we want to talk about a feature or element of something, an "aspect," un aspetto. It can also be figurative.

Ma c'è un altro aspetto che deve colpire in questa sala e sono certamente i tendaggi del letto a baldacchino, ma soprattutto, guardate attorno a noi, sono le tappezzerie. Sono in seta.

But there is another aspect that is striking in this room, and certainly the curtains of the canopy bed are, but above all, look around us, it's the wall coverings. They are in silk.

Captions 31-34, Meraviglie EP. 1 - Part 4

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Tutti la chiamavano Belle, perché lei era bella sotto ogni aspetto.

Everyone called her Beauty, because she was beautiful in every respect.

Captions 7-8, Ti racconto una fiaba La Bella e la Bestia - Part 1

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Unlike English

But the noun aspetto can also refer to the way something looks, its appearance. It's used with the verb avere (to have) — avere un aspetto (to have the appearance, to look like). If you look in the dictionary, we find this meaning of "aspect," too, in English, but it's formal and not used much. 

Però, inizialmente, come abbiamo detto, non aveva questo aspetto.

However, initially, as we have said, it did not look like this.

Caption 3, Meraviglie S2 EP 2 - Part 6

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Mangio tanto tutti i giorni. -Ma dai! Dal tuo aspetto non si direbbe proprio.

I eat a lot every day. -Really! By your appearance, I wouldn't say so at all. 

Captions 4-5, Daniela e Francesca Il verbo mangiare

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Commissario... ha un aspetto terribile!

Commissioner... you look terrible!

Captions 2-3, Il Commissario Manara S1EP2 - Vendemmia tardiva - Part 7

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In English, "aspect" has more to do with the mind, but in Italian, aspetto is often used to refer to the physical attributes or the appearance of something or someone. It's just something to keep in mind.

 

Verb conjugation

And let's not be confused by the fact that aspetto is also the first person singular conjugation of the common verb aspettare (to wait). 

 

Although it means "to wait," Italians often say ti aspetto to mean, "I'll look forward to seeing you" or "I'll be expecting you." For example, Marika says it at the end of many of her videos.

Ti aspetto nel prossimo video

I'll be waiting for you in the next video.

Caption 56, Marika spiega I segni dello Zodiaco - Part 1

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Vicenda, faccenda: What's the difference?

Vicenda and faccenda are two words we come across in narrations and in dialog. They both have to do with events, things that happen, but is there a difference? If so, what?

La faccenda 

The noun la faccenda comes from the verb fare (to make, to do), and has to do with things we do. It implies something that is done in a relatively short amount of time. 

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Housework

Many Italians describe housework as le faccende — the chores you do. The noun is usually found in its plural form, as there is always more than one thing to do.

 

It might occur to you to say:

Passo sempre tutto il weekend a fare le faccende (I always spend the whole weekend doing housework).

 

If it's clear I am talking about my house, I don't need to add domestiche or di casa, but if it's not necessarily clear, I might say, 

Passo tutto il weekend a fare le faccende domestiche (I spend the whole weekend doing housework).

Passo tutto il weekend a fare le faccende di casa (I spend the whole weekend doing housework).

 

Le pulizie della casa, dell'appartamento si chiamano anche "faccende domestiche" oppure "pulizie casalinghe".

Cleaning the house, the apartment, is also called "housework" or "household cleaning."

Captions 32-33, Marika spiega Le pulizie di primavera - Part 1

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Matter

Faccenda, used in the singular or the plural, can also denote a "matter" or "business."

Ecco, io ci tenevo a dirvi che noi siamo completamente estranei a questa faccenda.

Well, I wanted to tell you that we are completely uninvolved in this matter.

Caption 56, Imma Tataranni Sostituto procuratore S1EP1 L'estate del dito - Part 18

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Brutta faccenda. È una crisi di ispirazione.

Nasty business. It's an inspiration crisis.

Captions 5-6, La Ladra EP. 5 - Chi la fa l'aspetti - Part 1

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Often, the noun faccenda can imply something unpleasant — maybe an unpaid bill you need to discuss or something you did at work that needs to be dealt with. 

La vicenda

The noun vicenda likely comes from the latin "vicis" (to mutate). It can be an event, or a succession or series of events, possibly lasting over time. In many instances, it can be used in place of "story."

Quando "cosa" si riferisce ad un fatto o a una vicenda particolare, possiamo usare alcune espressioni...

When "thing" refers to a particular fact or event, we can use some expressions...

Captions 32-33, Marika spiega Cosa - Part 1

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Una leggenda racconta che questo ponte è legato alle vicende di una fanciulla veneziana e di un giovane ufficiale austriaco e al diavolo.

A legend tells that this bridge was linked to the story of a Venetian girl and a young Austrian officer, and to the devil.

Captions 5-7, In giro per l'Italia Venezia - Part 10

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As you watch videos, read books, and listen to people talk, you will get a feel for faccenda and vicenda. In some cases, they might even be interchangeable. Although vicenda doesn't come from the verb vivere (to live), it might be helpful to imagine that it does. Le vicende are things that happen in life. Le faccende are things you do (used in the plural) or, used either in the singular or plural, matters to deal with.

 

You might also have heard the expression a vicenda (mutual, each other) It's very common, but we will look at it in a future lesson, so we can give it the attention it deserves. 

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Kinds of boats in Italian

Let's look at the different names Italians have for vessels that travel on water. 

 

The most basic word, and the first word you'll likely learn, is la barca (the boat). It's general, it starts with B!

A Villa Borghese si possono fare tantissime cose: si può noleggiare una barca... per navigare nel laghetto;

At Villa Borghese, you can do many things: you can rent a boat... to sail on the small lake;

Captions 10-12, Anna presenta Villa Borghese - Part 1

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If we want to specify the kind of boat, such as a sailboat, then we use the preposition a (to, at) to indicate the type: barca a vela (sailboat).

 

E lui fa il cuoco sulle barche a vela, in giro per il mondo.

And he's a cook on sailboats, going around the world.

Caption 28, La Ladra EP. 1 - Le cose cambiano - Part 9

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A motorboat would be una barca a motore.

 

A fishing boat can be una barca da pesca, but also, and more commonly, un peschereccio.

E... questa tartaruga è arrivata in... proprio ieri, portata da un peschereccio di Lampedusa.

And... this turtle arrived... just yesterday, brought to us by a Lampedusa fishing boat.

Captions 4-5, WWF Italia Progetto tartarughe - Part 2

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The second word you'll learn will likely be la nave (the ship):

La Campania è collegatissima, quindi ci si può arrivare in treno, in aereo, in macchina o in nave.

Campania is very accessible, meaning you can get there by train, by plane, by car, or by ship.

Captions 82-84, L'Italia a tavola Interrogazione sulla Campania

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There are the ships we see on the sea, but there are ferryboats, too, especially the ones that take you from Italy's mainland to le isole (the islands): Sicilia (Sicily), Sardegna (Sardinia), Corsica (although not part of Italy — a common destination), and l'Isola d'Elba. This specific kind of boat is called un traghetto. But if you call it la nave, that's perfectly understandable, too. Some of these ferries are huge. In the following example, we're talking about getting to Sardinia.

Ci sono tre aeroporti, se si vuole arrivare in aereo. Oppure con il traghetto da Civitavecchia, da Genova o da Napoli.

There are three airports if one wishes to arrive by plane. Or by ferry from Civitavecchia, from Genoa, or from Naples.

Captions 70-71, L'Italia a tavola Interrogazione sulla Sardegna

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If you go to Venice, you will undoubtedly take a ferry at some point. Here, the local means of transportation is il vaporetto (the steamship).  The name comes from il vapore (the steam). There are stops you get off at, just like for busses, subways, and trains in mainland cities.

 

When you need speed, you opt for un motoscafo (a motorboat, a speedboat). That's what the police use. 

 

Another boat name used in Venice, but other places, too, is battello

Per arrivare a Murano, basta prendere un battello a Venezia e in pochi minuti si arriva.

To get to Murano, all you have to do is take a passenger boat in Venice, and in just a few minutes, you get there.

Captions 23-25, In giro per l'Italia Venezia - Part 8

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Interestingly, when Italians use the noun la canoa, they often mean "kayak." The noun kayak exists as well. When they want to refer to a canoe, they'll say la canoa canadese (the Canadian canoe). 

Nelle gole dell'Alcantara, si possono praticare sport estremi come l'idrospeed, che consiste nello scendere attraverso le gole, ma anche la più tranquilla canoa.

In the Alcantara gorges one can practice extreme sports like riverboarding, which consists of going down the gorges, but also the calmer kayak.

Captions 19-21, Linea Blu Sicilia - Part 10

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To use a canoe or a kayak you need a paddle— la pagaia.  

 

If we want to talk about a rowboat, it's una barca a remi. Un remo is "an oar," so we need 2 of them in una barca a remi. The verb to row is remare

 

In Venice, there are gondolas, and they are rowed or paddled with just one oar. 

Questa asimmetria è voluta per dare più spazio al gondoliere per remare con il suo unico remo.

This asymmetry is needed to give more space to the gondolier to row with his one and only oar.

Captions 18-19, In giro per l'Italia Venezia - Part 5

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A common expression having to do with rowing is:

Tirare i remi in barca (to pull the oars back in the boat). You stop rowing. Figuratively, you stop trying, you give up. Or, you've finished your job so you don't have to "row" any longer. Maybe you've retired! This nuanced expression can tend towards a positive or negative intention and interpretation.

 

Finally, we have la zattera (the raft). It's often primitive, often made of wood. 

 

Are there kinds of boats for which you would like to know the Italian equivalent? Write to us. newsletter@yabla.com.

 

There are undoubtedly other kinds of seafaring vessels we have missed here. Feel free to volunteer some you might have come across. 

 

And to sum up, we will mention that in general, when talking about vessels that travel on the water, we can use l'imbarcazione. It's good to recognize this word and understand it, but you likely won't need it in everyday conversation. You'll hear it on the news, you'll read it in articles...

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