When traveling in Italy, like it or not, weather conditions can be a concern. We like to imagine Italy being sunny and beautiful all the time, but purtroppo (unfortunately), especially these days, the weather can be capriccioso (mischievous) and imprevidibile (unpredictable). As a result, knowing how to talk about the weather like an Italian can be not only useful for obtaining information, but provides a great topic for small talk.
In Italian, the verb of choice when talking about the weather is fare (to make). Che tempo fa? What’s the weather doing? What’s the weather like? Keep in mind that tempo means both “time” and “weather” so be prepared to get confused sometimes. If you want to talk about today’s weather, then just add oggi (today):
Che tempo fa oggi? (What’s the weather like today?)
An answer might be:
Oggi c'è un bel tempo, un bel sole.
Today there's nice weather, nice sun.Play Caption
And when talking about tomorrow, we use the future tense of the verb fare:
Che tempo farà domani? (What’s the weather forecast for tomorrow?)
So our basic question is Che tempo fa? What’s the weather doing? What’s the weather like? That's good to know, and an important question to be able to ask, but when we're making conversation, we might start with a statement, to share the joy, or to commiserate.
We can start out generally, talking about the quality of the day itself.
Che bella giornata (what a beautiful day).
Che brutta giornata (what a horrible day).
After that, we can get into specifics.
Tip: In English, we use adjectives such as: sunny, rainy, muggy, and foggy, but in Italian, in many cases, it’s common to use noun forms, rather than adjectives, as you will see.
Fa freddo (it’s cold)! Note that we (mostly) use the verb fare (to make) here, not essere (to be)
Fa caldo (it’s hot)!
Piove (it’s raining). Italians also use the present progressive tense as we do in English, (sta piovendo) but not necessarily!
Nevica (it’s snowing).
C’è il sole (it’s sunny).
È coperto (it’s cloudy, the skies are grey).
È nuvoloso (it’s cloudy).
C’è la nebbia (it’s foggy).
C’è l’afa (it’s muggy).
Piove. T'accompagno a casa?
It's raining. Shall I take you home?
Caption 3, Sei mai stata sulla luna? film - Part 14Play Caption
Il clima, eh... essendo la Lombardia quasi tutta pianura, abbiamo estati molto afose e inverni molto rigidi. Ma la caratteristica principale è la presenza costante della nebbia.
The climate, uh... as Lombardy is almost all flatlands, we have very muggy summers and very severe winters. But the main characteristic is the constant presence of fog.
Captions 70-73, L'Italia a tavola Interrogazione sulla LombardiaPlay Caption
We have the adjective chiaro that means "clear" and so when we want to clear something up we can use the verb chiarire (to clear up). We are speaking figuratively in this case.
Incominciamo col chiarire una cosa: è per te, o è per tua madre?
Let's start by clearing up one thing. Is it for you, or is it for your mother?
Caption 8, La Ladra EP. 6 - Nero di rabbia - Part 5Play Caption
But chiaro also means "light in color."
Ci sono di tutti i tipi: maschi, femmine, occhi chiari, occhi scuri.
There are all kinds: males, females, blue [pale] eyed, dark eyed.
Caption 63, Un Figlio a tutti i costi film - Part 17Play Caption
When the sky is clearing up, we don't use the verb chiarire. We use the prefix s and chiarire becomes schiarire (to make lighter or brighter [with more light] in color). It can refer not only to color but also sound. It's often expressed in its reflexive form.
Il cielo si sta schiarendo (the sky is clearing up).
Al centro invece, abbiamo nebbia anche qui dappertutto, con qualche schiarita, ma nebbia a tutte le ore.
Towards the center on the other hand, we have fog all over, here as well, with some clearing, but fog at all hours.
Captions 58-59, Anna e Marika in TG Yabla Italia e Meteo - Part 10Play Caption
There's more to say about the weather and how to talk about it in Italian, but that will be for another lesson.
We talked about making either/or choices in a previous lesson, but in this lesson, we'll talk about when we want to be inclusive. When we use "both" in English, we are talking about 2 things, not more. There are various ways to express this in Italian and we've discussed one of these ways, using tutti (all). Read the lesson here. Here are two more ways, which are perhaps easier to use.
Entrambi is both an adjective and a pronoun, depending on how you use it.
Avevamo entrambi la febbre e i bambini da accudire.
We both had fevers and kids to take care of.
Captions 20-21, COVID-19 2) I sintomiPlay Caption
When the nouns are feminine, we use the feminine ending: entrambe.
Per fortuna, avevo entrambe le cose nella mia cassetta degli attrezzi.
Luckily, I had both things in my toolbox.
Caption 13, Marika spiega Gli attrezziPlay Caption
This way of saying "both" is considered literary, but people do use it. Think of ambidextrous and you'll get it!
Hanno ambedue smesso, quindi devo superare questo record ed è... sono in caccia del mio sesto mondiale.
They've both quit, so I have to break this record and it's... well, I am chasing my sixth World Cup.
Captions 49-50, Valentina Vezzali Video IntervistaPlay Caption
Just like entrambi, ambedue can be used as both an adjective and a pronoun. The advantage of this word is that it doesn't change. It's invariable. The only thing you have to remember is that when you use it as an adjective, you need a definite article after it and before the (plural) noun, as in the example below.
Ecco, questa, questa arma, ehm... rimane e fa ambedue, ambedue le funzioni, sia... è riconosciuta a livello di Esercito Italiano,
So, this, this force, uh... is still in force and carries out both, both [the] functions, whether... it's recognized on the level of the Italian Army
Captions 35-37, Nicola Agliastro Le Forze dell'Ordine in ItaliaPlay Caption
There's more to say about choices, but we'll save it for another lesson. Meanwhile, as you go about your day, try thinking of ways to practice using entrambi and ambedue to mean "both." There are so many choices!
In English, the words that come to mind when talking about choices are: either, or, both, either one, whichever one (among others). Let's explore our options in Italian.
Birra o vino? Ultimissima.
Beer or wine? The very latest.Play Caption
But there's another word that means "or" and can imply "or else," or "otherwise." It's oppure. When we are thinking of alternatives, we might use oppure.... (or...). We also use it when we would say, "Or not," as in the following example.
Ci ha portato anche i due bicchieri per il vino, ma non so se io e Marika a pranzo berremo oppure no.
He also brought us two glasses for wine, but I don't know if Marika and I will drink at lunch or not.
Captions 22-23, Anna e Marika Trattoria Al Biondo Tevere - Part 1Play Caption
Note: It doesn't have to be oppure. It can also just be o, but it's an option!
In English, we have "either" and "or" that go together when we talk about choices.
In Italian, the same word — o —goes in both spots in the sentence where were would insert "either" and "or." Consider the example below.
O ci prende almeno una canzone o gli diciamo basta, finito, chiuso.
Either he takes at least one song from us, or we say to him enough, over, done with.Play Caption
Similarly, when neither choice is a positive one, Italian uses né (neither/nor) for both "neither" and "nor."
Ho capito dai suoi occhi che Lei non ha né marito né figli.
I understood from your eyes that you have neither husband nor children.Play Caption
Non voglio né questo né quello (I don't want this one or that one / I want neither this one nor that one).
Sometimes we don't have a preference. When it's 2 items, either one will do. If it's a masculine noun like il colore (the color), we can say:
Uno o l'altro, non importa (one or the other, it doesn't matter).
If it's a feminine noun such as la tovaglia (the tablecloth), we can say:
Una o l'altra andrebbe bene (one or the other would be fine).
We have to imagine the noun we're talking about and determine if it's masculine or feminine...
Qualsiasi cosa tu decida di fare.
Whatever you decide to do.Play Caption
Diciamo che potete fare qualsiasi pasta al pesto, anche, ad esempio, gli gnocchi, però il piatto tradizionale è trenette o linguine al pesto.
Let's say that you can use whatever kind of pasta for pesto, for example, even gnocchi, however, the traditional dish is trenette or linguine al pesto.
Captions 76-77, L'Italia a tavola Il pesto genovese - Part 1Play Caption
Eh, qualunque cosa tu mi abbia detto non, non l'hai detta a Raimondi, vero?
Uh, whatever you told me, you didn't, you didn't tell Raimondi, right?
Captions 22-23, Il Commissario Manara S2EP12 - La donna senza volto - Part 10Play Caption
If you do a search of qualsiasi and qualunque on the Yabla videos page, you'll notice that they are used interchangeably in many cases. Experience will help you figure out when they aren't exactly the same thing.
In Part 2, we'll talk about how to say "both" in Italian. There is more than one way.
Let's try translating some everyday phrases you might hear or want to say in Italian. You'll find the answers at the bottom of the page, but try not to cheat unless you need to. The important thing here is to get the idea, not to necessarily be precise about all the words. Use mancare in your Italian translation, and just get the gist of things when translating from Italian to English.
1) There's no salt!
2) It's ten to eight. (time)
3) Mancano ancora delle persone — the meeting is about to start.
4) Mi manca l'aria.
5) Manco dall'America da quattro anni.
6) I missed my flight [this one might be tricky].
7) Siamo quasi arrivati... we're almost there.
8) Manca solo Paolo. Lo aspettiamo?
In the following example, the same structure we talked about in this lesson presents itself in the sentence about style and groove. Manca il tuo stile. So something is lacking — his groove, something is missing. Manca.
But if we look further on, where it says: Ci manchi, it's basically the same thing, but it's more personal so we add the indirect personal pronoun ci (or any other one). So actually, the Italian is consistent in this. It's English that doesn't match the Italian. When it gets personal, we translate it with the action verb "to miss." Ci manchi could be translated literally as, "You are missing from our lives." You're missing and I feel it. Manchi dalla mia vita. Manchi a me. Mi manchi. I miss you.
La musica ti vuole. Manca il tuo groove, manca il tuo stile. Io ti voglio. -Ci manchi, ci manchi tantissimo. Incredibile. Dove, dove, dove sei finito?
Music wants you. Your groove is missing, your style is missing. I want you. -We miss you, we miss you so much. Incredible. Where, where, where have you gone to?
Captions 66-69, Chi m'ha visto film - Part 23
So let's add a couple more items to our list of sentences to look at:
8) I haven't seen my parents in years. I miss them.
9) Ti manco? (I am away from home on a business trip and wonder if my wife feels my absence, so I ask her this question).
Here are some possible answers. Let us know if this helps in understanding how to talk about things that are missing, absent, or lacking, and also about getting personal and missing someone, feeling someone's absence (in which case we use indirect personal pronouns like mi, ci, ti, etc. Please see this lesson, too, for more explanations and examples.
1) There's no salt! Manca il sale.
2) It's ten to eight. (time) Mancano dieci minuti alle otto.
3) Mancano ancora delle persone. (the meeting is about to start). Some people are still missing.
4) Mi manca l'aria. I can't breathe
5) Manco dall'America da quattro anni. I haven't been back to the States for four years.
6) I missed my flight (this one might be tricky). Ho mancato il volo.
7) Siamo quasi arrivati... we're almost there. Manca poco.
8) I haven't seen my parents in years. I miss them. Mi mancano. Mi mancano i miei genitori.
9) Ti manco? (I am away from home on a business trip and wonder if my wife feels my absence, so I ask this question). Do you miss me?
We've had some feedback about the tricky verb mancare. And there are likely plenty of learners out there struggling to be able to use it and translate it correctly. It twists the brain a bit.
To grasp it better, it may be helpful to separate the contexts. So in this lesson, let's focus on things, not people. Let's think about something being absent, missing, something we are lacking.
Infatti manca la targa, sia davanti che dietro.
In fact, the license plate is missing, both in front and in back.Play Caption
In the next example, we're talking about time. The verb mancare is often used to indicate how much time is left.
Ormai manca poco.
It won't be long now. (Literally, this is: At this point, little time is left)Play Caption
If we're talking about minutes, days, or weeks, we conjugate mancare in the third person plural.
E mancano solo due giorni, eh, alla fine del mese.
And there are only two days left, huh, before the end of the month.
Caption 45, La Ladra Ep. 7 - Il piccolo ladro - Part 8Play Caption
This next example is a typical comment for adult children to make about their parents or parents about how they treat their children. The children are well-provided for. They have everything they needed. Nothing is denied them. So the verb is: fare mancare qualcosa a qualcuno (to cause someone to do without something).
Non ci ha mai fatto mancare nulla.
We never wanted for anything.
We never went without.Play Caption
If you do a search on Yabla, you'll find plenty of examples of this expression. It's a bit convoluted to use, so perhaps by repeating the phrases that come up in the search, or by reading them out loud, you'll get it. Again, it's more important to understand what this means, especially when someone is telling you their life story, than using it yourself.
If you have questions or comments, please don't hesitate to write to us at email@example.com.
The Italian verb for "think" is pensare. But there are so many ways, in every language, to talk about thinking. Let's look at a few of them in Italian.
A quick review of the verb pensare reminds us that it's an -are verb, and this is good to know for conjugating it, but it's also a verb of uncertainty and some of us already know that that means we often need the subjunctive, especially when it's followed by che, as in the following example. We don't worry about that in English.
Io penso che Vito sia arrabbiato per una cosa molto stupida.
I think that Vito is angry over something very stupid.
Captions 5-6, Corso di italiano con Daniela Il congiuntivo - Part 7Play Caption
For more about the verb pensare, here are some lessons and videos to check out:
Anna e Marika - Il verbo pensare Marika and Anna use the various conjugations of pensare in conversation.
I Have This Feeling... - Sapere Part 1 This is a lesson about yet another way to say "I think..." And it doesn't need the subjunctive!
When someone asks you a question and you need to think about it, one common verb to use in Italian is riflettere (to reflect). We do use this verb in English, but it's much more common in Italian.
Ci devo riflettere (I need to think about it).
Sto riflettendo... (I'm thinking...)
C'ho riflettuto e... (I've thought about it and...)
Fammi riflettere (let me think).
A word that is closely connected with pensare is idea. It's the same in English as in Italian, except for the pronunciation.
Ho un'idea (I have an idea)
Another relevant word is la mente (the mind) where thinking happens and ideas come from. So when you are thinking about something, often when you are planning something, you have something in mind. Here, the Italian is parallel to English: in mente. As you can see, the response uses the verb pensare.
Che cosa ha in mente? -Sto pensando di impiantare una fabbrica lì.
What do you have in mind? -I'm thinking of setting up a factory there.
Captions 24-25, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep.2 - Part 8Play Caption
The question is being asked by someone who is using the polite form of avere (to have). [Otherwise, it would be: Che cosa _____ in mente?]*
So sometimes when we think of something, it comes to mind. Italians say something similar but they personalize it.
T'è venuto in mente qualcosa? -No!
Did something come to mind? -No!Play Caption
So we use in mente (to mind) with a personal pronoun plus the preposition a (to).
A (negative) response could be:
A me non viene in mente niente (nothing comes to mind / I can't think of anything).
or, more likely
Non mi viene in mente niente (nothing comes to mind / I can't think of anything).
La mente (the mind) is another word for il cervello (the brain), which is in la testa (the head), so some expressions about thinking use la testa just as they do in English (use your head!) But sometimes the verb is different.
In this week's episode of Provaci ancora, Prof! a husband is talking about his wife wanting to divorce him. He says:
Adesso si è messa in testa che vuole anche il divorzio.
Now she has gotten it into her head that she also wants a divorce.Play Caption
In English, we personalize this with a possessive pronoun (her head) and we use the catch-all verb "to get," but in Italian, we use the verb mettere (to put) in its reflexive form (mettersi). This often implies a certain stubbornness.
Let's add the verb sembrare (to seem) because lots of times we use it in Italian, when we just use "to think" in English.
Invece a me sembra proprio una buona idea.
On the contrary, to me it seems like a really good idea.
On the contrary, I think it's a really good idea.Play Caption
Ti sembra giusto (do you think it's fair)?
Just for fun, here's a dialog:
Mi è venuto in mente di costruire un tavolo (I was thinking of building a table).
-Come pensi di farlo (how are you thinking of doing it)?
-Ci devo riflettere (I have to think about it).
-Che tipo di tavolo hai in mente (what kind of table do you have in mind)?
-Mi sono messo in testa di farlo grande ma mi sa che dovrò chiedere aiuto a mio zio (I got it into my head to make a big one, but I think I will have to ask my uncle to help me).
-Hai avuto qualche idea in più (have you come up with any more ideas)?
-Ho riflettuto, e penso che sarà troppo difficile costruire un tavolo grande, quindi sarà un tavolo piccolo e semplice (I've thought about it and I think it will be too difficult to build a big table, so it's going to be a small, simple table).
Mi sembra saggio (I think that's wise).
*Answer: Che cosa _hai_ in mente?
The word "discuss" or "discussion" elicits the image of business meetings or family dinners — people talking normally together in order to reach a conclusion, people exchanging their opinions or knowledge.
The verb discutere in Italian sounds pretty similar, especially in its past participle discusso, leading us to think it means the same thing. And, well, it can and often does.
Qui, Federico Secondo ha discusso con i suoi consiglieri le questioni di Stato o dei rapporti con i Papi e promulgato le costituzioni, codice unico di leggi per l'intero regno di Sicilia.
Here, Frederick the Second discussed with his advisors questions of state or relations with the Popes, and promulgated charters, a unique legal code for the entire Reign of Sicily.
Captions 30-31, Itinerari Della Bellezza Basilicata - Part 2Play Caption
But more often than not, in everyday conversation, it has another sfumatura (nuance) that you'll want to know about. Gaging someone's level of emotion is not always easy in a foreign language. How many times have you thought two Italians were arguing heatedly, but they were just talking about il calcio (soccer)?
In a current video on Yabla, a woman is describing the evening of her husband's murder.
Quella sera abbiamo discusso.
That evening, we argued.Play Caption
If you don't know about this nuance, you might think, "OK, so what? They discussed their schedules." So we have to watch for the context, the mood, to determine what kind of "discussion" they had. They might well be talking about an argument.
Another way to tell that discutere means "to argue" is that there is no direct or indirect object of the verb, although there might very well be the preposition con (with), indicating the other person in the argument. In the following example, the indirect object comes in the form of a question "with whom."
Nemici? Che nemici avrebbe dovuto avere? Qualcuno con cui aveva discusso ultimamente, magari anche sul lavoro.
Enemies? What enemies should he have had? Someone he had recently argued with, maybe even at work.
Captions 19-21, Il Commissario Manara S2EP8 - Fuori servizio - Part 3Play Caption
Let's note that in English, the verb "to discuss" is transitive.
What did you discuss? -We discussed our schedules.
But in Italian, discutere can be either transitive or intransitive. When it means "to argue," discutere is intransitive. When it means, "talking about something," then the preposition di (about) will be used.
Che sei venuta a discutere di cucina esotica? -No.
What, did you come to talk about exotic cuisine? -No.Play Caption
When we are having an argument (una discussione), the noun discussione can come out in a different way.
È fuori discussione, Manara!
That's out of the question, Manara!Play Caption
The previous example uses the Italian noun discussione and the English noun question. In the following example, however, there is a verbal phrase in the Italian — mettere in discussione — to equal the verb "to question" in English. This can be part of a normal discussion, not an argument, but it's good to know!
però penso non possa essere messa in discussione la sua onestà professionale.
but I don't think his professional honesty can be questioned.Play Caption
Putting it in a simpler, indicative mood:
Non lo metto in discussione (I'm not questioning that).
As you watch movies and shows on Yabla, or anywhere else you see Italian content, be on the lookout for the verb discutere in all its forms and nuances.
This lesson will explore some of the vocabulary we use to talk about the sense of taste. We use nouns, verbs and adjectives, so once again, we'll divide the lesson up into these three different parts of speech.
When we talk about the noun "taste," one noun we use in Italian is il gusto (the taste). It can be used literally to talk about food. In the following example, we are talking about the particular taste of good olive oil:
perché avendo un pane più saporito si perderebbe il gusto dell'olio.
because having a more flavorful bread, you'd lose the taste of the oil.
Caption 13, L'olio extravergine di oliva Spremuto o franto?Play Caption
We can also use the noun il gusto as we do in English, to talk about someone's good or bad taste in music, clothing, furniture, etc. In this next example, it's all about a tie someone wears to a wedding.
Eh, va be'. -Vedi, è questione di buon gusto, no?
Well, OK. -See? It's a question of good taste, right?Play Caption
So with the noun form, il gusto functions much as "the taste" does in English.
Another noun we use to talk about how something tastes is il sapore (the taste). But in contrast to il gusto, il sapore is mostly about how something tastes.
L'olio esalta anche il sapore delle pietanze.
Oil also brings out the taste of dishes.
Caption 17, L'olio extravergine di oliva Spremuto o franto?Play Caption
Il sapore can be used metaphorically as well, as in sapore di mare (the feeling of the seaside), but it is about the item we are tasting.
It tastes good (ha un buon sapore) or it tastes bad (ha un cattivo sapore)
But il buon gusto/il cattivo gusto can also be about the person who has good or bad taste in things.
Ha buon gusto-ha cattivo gusto (he/she has good taste-he/she has bad taste).
When we are talking about tasting something, for example, to see if the water has been salted properly for cooking the pasta, the noun we go to is assaggiare (to taste). This is a transitive verb.
Non vedo l'ora di assaggiare la pappa al pomodoro!
I can't wait to taste the tomato and bread soup!
Caption 69, L'Italia a tavola La pappa al pomodoro - Part 1Play Caption
Toscani ha assaggiato il vino e ha detto che era aceto.
Toscani tasted the wine and said it tasted like vinegar.Play Caption
Let's keep in mind that there is a noun form connected to assaggiare — un assaggio — that is useful to know. It implies a mini-portion of something and is sometimes offered on menus in restaurants.
One way restaurants offer these assaggi is by calling them by the number of mini-portions included: un tris (three mini-portions) or un bis (two mini-portions). See this lesson about that! Tris di Assaggi (Three Tidbits).
The verb assaggiare implies tasting something to see how it is. Maybe you are testing it for the salt, or you are trying something for the first time.
The verb gustare on the other hand is connected with savoring something, enjoying the taste, or making the most of it.
Per gustare bene un tartufo bisogna partire dal presupposto che i piatti devono essere molto semplici
To properly taste a truffle you have to start with the assumption that the dishes have to be very simple
Captions 51-52, Tartufo bianco d'Alba Come sceglierlo e come gustarloPlay Caption
This might be a good time to mention the noun il disgusto along with the verb disgustare. You can easily guess what they mean. And there's also disgustoso. These are strong words so use them only when you really mean them.
Whereas we use the verb assaggiare and the noun assaggio, there is no relative adjective. But in the case of il gusto and gustare, we do have a relative adjective, gustoso (tasty, flavorful).
Più gli ingredienti sono di qualità, più il panzerotto risulterà gustoso.
The higher the quality of the ingredients, the more flavorful the “panzerotto” will turn out.Play Caption
The adjective connected to il sapore is saporito. It can mean "very tasty," but it often implies something is on the salty side, as in the following example.
Ma poi il pecorino è molto saporito, quindi dobbiamo stare attente con il sale. -Esatto.
And then, sheep cheese is very flavorful so we have to be careful with the salt. -Exactly.
Captions 20-21, L'Italia a tavola Culurgiones D'Ogliastra - Part 2Play Caption
To give more flavor to something, we can use the verb insaporire (to make something more flavorful).
Userò l'aglio, sia per, eh, insaporire, quindi l'olio,
I'll use the garlic, both for flavoring, that is, the oil,Play Caption
One last thing. Sapere is a verb meaning to have the taste (or smell) of (in addition to meaning "to know"). This would be a perfect time to read our lesson about that!
Let us know if you have questions or suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you.
This lesson explores the sense of smell and how to talk about smelling things and how things smell, since it works a bit differently than it does in English. We'll divide the lesson into three parts of speech having to do with the sense of smell.
When we use the noun "smell" to mean "odor," as in, "There's a funny smell in here," or, "What's that smell?", just remember that if it is a neutral smell, the cognate odore works just fine. Cos'è quel odore (what is that smell)? If it isn't neutral, then we use other words or we qualify odore (odor).
If it's a particularly unpleasant smell, it's una puzza (a stink or a stench). There are other words to use, too, but for now, let's keep it simple. Che puzza! (something stinks!)
We can also talk about un cattivo odore (a bad smell) or un buon odore (a good smell). We might need the verb avere (to have) to complete the sentence.
I get a new car and I like the way it smells inside:
Questa macchina ha un buon odore (this car smells good).
You sniff the milk container:
Questo latte ha un cattivo odore, sarà andato a male (this milk smells bad, it must have gone sour).
If it is a good smell, either the flower kind or the food kind, we can use the cognate profumo.
I walk into someone's kitchen and say che buon profumo! I mean "It smells great in here!"
The English cognate "perfume" is usually reserved for flower essences used in beauty products, but in Italian, it can represent "a good smell." So let's keep in mind that in Italian we use a noun and in English, we use the intransitive verb "to smell" for this (much of the time).
Another good and easy cognate to know is aroma because it means pretty much the same thing as "aroma" in English. We usually use it for food, herbs, and spices.
Le cipolle hanno un sapore e un aroma molto forte,
Onions have a strong smell and taste,
Caption 56, In cucina con Arianna la panzanella - Part 1Play Caption
The most common Italian verb corresponding to the transitive verb "to smell" in English is sentire which we can equate with "to sense," with your nose, your ears, or your tongue.
Senti che buon profumo.
Senti che bella canzone.
Senti questo sugo. C'è abbastanza sale?
But if want to talk about using my nose to sniff something, I can use annusare (to sniff).
Annusa questi fiori, senti che profumo! (smell these flowers, how good they smell).
Let's say I have some flowers, but they have no smell. Non odorano (they don't have a scent). The verb is odorare (to have a scent). Odorare can also be transitive, like annusare, but it's not one of those everyday verbs you need to know.
Finally, there is fiutare, which means the same thing, "to sniff." But again, you might come across the word, but you don't need it in everyday conversation.
Please see the lesson Taste and Smell - Sapere Part 2 for more on this, plus some examples.
Italians like to have clean, ironed clothes, and they use ammorbidente (fabric softener) that also serves to give a nice scent to the laundered items.
When the laundry comes off the clothesline, it smells lovely: il bucato è profumato.
Some people like scented candles: candele profumate.
We also have the adjective odoroso (having an odor, usually strong). It's not used a lot in normal day-to-day conversation, so don't worry about this adjective...
In cooking, Italians like certain aromatic herbs — erbe aromatiche, such as basilico (basil), rosmarino (rosemary), and salvia (sage).
Sometimes the challenge is understanding what someone tells you in Italian, but sometimes it's about coming up with the right Italian word for what we are trying to say (when we happen to be thinking English). So let's start with an English word this time. Let's start out with the English noun "way." We can translate it into Italian in a few different ways.
the way - la via
the way - il modo
the way - la maniera
What's the best way to solve this problem or get out of the situation? We're pretty much talking about a direction here, either literal or figurative. Which way? What route or path do we take?
Sembra che non ci sia più via d'uscita.
It looks like there won't be any way out.
Caption 31, Anna e Marika in La Gazza Ladra - Part 2Play Caption
We can often use the word "pathway" for via. Via, being more about "by what means," and also meaning "road," stands out from the other words we will be talking about, which are more about "how": the way to do something.
If we are talking about the way someone does something, then we will likely use il modo (the way, the manner).
Ma questo modo di conservare gli alimenti, paradossalmente, è un po' più rispettoso della natura...
But this way of conserving food, paradoxically, is a bit more respectful of nature...
Captions 28-29, L'arte della cucina La Prima Identitá - Part 4Play Caption
Le stagioni hanno specifici colori, clima, temperatura, e influenzano il nostro modo di vivere.
The seasons have specific colors, weather, temperatures, and influence the way we live.
Captions 5-6, Adriano Le stagioni dell'annoPlay Caption
Infatti, parliamo allo stesso modo... e facciamo le stesse cose.
In fact, we talk the same way... and do the same things.
Captions 5-6, Amiche sulla spiaggiaPlay Caption
A question to ask with modo is: in che modo (in what way, how)? It often goes hand in hand with the question come (how)?
We can use modo when we ask for or give instructions, such as in cooking. How should we slice the onion?
La nostra cipolla va affettata in modo molto sottile.
Our onion is to be sliced very thinly.Play Caption
Keep in mind that in many cases in which we might likely use an adverb in English (in this case "thinly"), an adjective after modo seems to work better in Italian (in modo sottile).
Here are a few more examples of this:
a roughly chopped onion - una cipolla tagliata in modo grossolano
uniformly - in modo uniforme
strangely - in modo strano
unusually - in modo insolito
messily - in modo disordinato
When you don't like someone's manner, you don't like the way they go about doing things, you can use modo.
Non mi piace il suo modo di fare (I don't like the way he does things).
The cognate for maniera is "manner," which often means "way." So that's easy.
In questa maniera, usando la pasta all'uovo la stessa ricetta, lasagna se ne vende a profusione qui da noi.
This way, the same recipe using egg pasta, lasagna sells profusely here at our place.
Captions 49-50, Anna e Marika Hostaria Antica Roma - Part 2Play Caption
Modo and maniera are very similar, and are pretty interchangeable, but keep in mind that modo is masculine and maniera is feminine.
Ha una maniera strana di parlare (he has a strange way of talking).
Parla in modo strano (he has a strange way of talking).
We have one more translation for "way," and that is senso.
Strangely enough, in the dictionary, we don't immediately see il senso as an Italian translation of "the way." Yet, when we look up il senso, "the way" turns up as the fourth choice as a translation.
Senso is a great word, and one Italians use all the time. Let's talk about 2 popular ways it is used to mean "way." When used in a statement, it's common to find the adjective certo (certain) before it. We have translated it, but you could also leave it out: "In a way..."
e in un certo senso, l'abbiamo anche conquistata
in a certain way, we even conquered it
Caption 22, Fratelli Taviani La passione e l'utopia - Part 3Play Caption
The other way Italians use senso is when they want a more complete explanation of something they didn't quite understand.
They'll ask, In che senso?
Perché? -Perché così nessuno avrebbe saputo che erano false. False? -False? -False in che senso, scusi? -Falsissime.
Why? -Because that way no one would have known they were fakes. Fakes? -Fakes? -Fakes in what way, sorry? -Very fake.
Captions 54-55, Il Commissario Manara S1EP4 - Le Lettere Di Leopardi - Part 16Play Caption
They are asking, "In what way?" but they might also be asking, "What do you mean by "fake"?" or "How do you mean?"
We might want to keep in mind that another meaning of il senso is "meaning."
il senso della vita (the meaning of life)
Check out these lessons that explore the noun, il senso.
Here's how we generally put these different ways of saying "way" into context:
in un certo senso (in a way)
in che senso (how do you mean, what do you mean by that)?
in qualche modo (in some way, somehow)
in qualche maniera (in some way, somehow)
ad ogni modo (anyway, anyhow)
per quale via (by what means)?
Now when you watch Yabla videos, maybe you will be a bit more tuned in to how people use via, modo, maniera and senso. They all mean "way."
Here are some examples of how volta is commonly used:
Sarà la volta buona (this time you’ll make it)!
Ancora una volta (one more time, or “once again”).
Un'altra volta ("some other time").
After many failures, la volta buona is the successful attempt at something.
Nel senso, magari è la volta buona che ti fai una bicicletta pure tu.
I mean, maybe this will be the time that even you get yourself a bike.
Captions 4-5, La Tempesta film - Part 2Play Caption
When we want to or have to postpone something we talk about un'altra volta (another time). Not this time, but another time.
Va bene, delle disavventure tropicali di mio fratello ne parliamo un'altra volta.
All right, about the tropical misadventures of my brother we'll talk about them another time.
Captions 31-32, La Tempesta - film - Part 2Play Caption
But the same thing can mean "again."
E' sparito un'altra volta! -Ma stai scherzando,
He disappeared again! -But you're kidding,Play Caption
With the preposition a (at) in front of the plural of volta—volte, we get a volte meaning "sometimes" or "at times."
A volte tengono la loro "a". OK?
Sometimes they retain their "a," OK?Play Caption
A volte is another way of saying qualche volta. They both mean “sometimes.” A volte can be also translated as “at times.”
We can use una volta in thinking about the future:
Una volta mi piacerebbe andare a Londra.
Sometime I’d like to go to London.
But it can also mean “one time."
Io ci sono stata una volta.
I went there once.
And we can use it to refer to the past:
We can translate it as "once" or "at one time."
Una volta servivamo il papa e il re, ∫ eravamo anche colti e magnanimi
Once, we served the pope and the king. At one time, we were even cultured and magnanimous,
Captions 44-45, Volare - La grande storia di Domenico Modugno Ep. 1 - Part 23Play Caption
A Yabla subscriber has asked us to shed some light on the difference between noioso and annoiato. They are both adjectives and can be used to describe a person. There are some intricacies involved with these words, which we'll get to, but let's start out with the noun: la noia.
What a bore!
Caption 9, Acqua in bocca Un amico per Pippo - Ep 1Play Caption
What is tricky about this noun (and its related adjectives) is that it can indeed imply boredom," but it can also mean "the bother" or "the nuisance." In fact, in the previous example, we don't know the context, but the meaning could also have been "what a nuisance," or "what a pain." The noun noia rarely refers to a person him- or herself, as "bore" would in English.
The following example is from Tuscany where noia is used a great deal to mean "bother." And it's often used with the verb dare (to give) — dare noia (to be a bother, to be annoying, to be in the way).
Erano alberi che davano noia e basta,
They were trees that were a bother and nothing more,
Caption 30, Gianni si racconta L'olivo e i roviPlay Caption
So che noia can mean "what boredom" or "what a pain!" And dare noia can be interpreted as bothering, or being a bother, or being in the way.
We also have the verb annoiare that does remind one of the verb "to annoy." Indeed, that is one of the meanings and comes from the Latin "inodiare" — avere in odio (to have hateful feelings for).
Mi disturba, mi annoia,
You're bothering me, you're annoying me,
Caption 11, L'Italia a tavola Interrogazione sul PiemontePlay Caption
But it is much more common for this verb to be used in its reflexive form annoiarsi. In this case it's always about being bored or possibly fed up.
Io non mi annoio mai quando sto con lui, mai.
I never get bored when I am with him, ever.Play Caption
We've seen that noia isn't just about boredom, so likewise, noioso can mean boring, but not necessarily. Let's look at some examples of the different nuances.
Noioso can describe a person who is not very interesting, a dull person:
Abbiamo solamente avuto un piccolo flirt. Genere depresso e noioso, capisci?
We just had a little fling. Depressed and boring type, you understand?Play Caption
It can also describe a movie, for example:
Il film era noioso, purtroppo (the movie was boring, unfortunately).
Here's a perfect example of something that is not boring. It's annoying. And in fact, the N and O sounds can hint at that.
Eh, povero Dixi, il singhiozzo è noioso
Oh, poor Dixi, the hiccups are bothersome
Caption 15, Dixiland Il singhiozzoPlay Caption
Annoiato can be used as the past participle of annoiare, or more often, as we mentioned above, the past participle of the reflexive verb annoiarsi. In this case, it means "to get or to be bored."
Oppure: "No, non andrò alla festa di Marcello. Ci sono già stato l'anno scorso e mi sono annoiato".
Or: "No, I won't go to Marcello's party. I already went to it last year and I got bored."
Captions 48-49, Corso di italiano con Daniela Particella Ci e Ne - Part 2Play Caption
But as often occurs, past participles are also used as adjectives. With annoiato, this can describe one's state of being.
Ciao. Sei annoiato o annoiata e ti vuoi divertire e rilassare?
Hi. Are you bored (m) or bored (f) and you want to have a good time and relax?
Captions 3-4, Marika spiega Il cinemaPlay Caption
Let's try using all these forms in a silly, made-up dialogue.
Lei: Sembri annoiato, è così? (you seem bored. Are you?)
Lui: No, ho solo sonno (no, I'm just sleepy). E inoltre, come posso annoiarmi ad ascoltare i tuoi racconti per l'ennesima volta? (And besides, how can I get bored listening to you tell your stories for the umteenth time?
Lei: Beh, so che posso essere un po' noiosa a volte, scusami (Well, I know I can be a bit boring at times, sorry). Allora smetto di darti noia, e me ne vado (I'll stop bothering you, then, and I'll leave).
Lui: No, aspetta, se vai via mi annoierò davvero (If you leave, I will get bored for real). E tra l'altro, ho dei lavori noiosissimi da fare e non ne ho nessuna voglia (and besides, I have some really tedious jobs to do and I have no desire to do them).
Lei: OK, so che sono noiosa, ma non sarebbe meglio fare quei lavori dato che siano anche urgenti (OK, I know I am being a pain, but wouldn't it be better to do those jobs, given that they're urgent)?
Lui: OK, ora sei noiosa davvero. Mi sono ampiamente annoiato con questa storia (Ok, now you are really being boring/irritating. I'm pretty sick of this thing), quindi forse è meglio se te ne vai... (so maybe it's better if you do leave).
OK, ciao. Non ti voglio annoiare con un'altra delle mie storie noiose. (OK, bye. I don't want to bore you with another of my boring stories).
There are different ways to travel. It can be for pleasure or work, it can be for multiple days, weeks, or months, or it can be a day trip or an overnight, an excursion.
So, let's look at an interesting alternative to the true cognate, escursione (that works just fine, too):
la gita, una gita, andare in gita.
So the noun is la gita. But where does it come from? It originally comes from the verb ire (to go). People don't use this verb much at all, in fact we could say they never use it in converstion, as it is literary (we mostly use andare), but those of you who know Latin, Spanish, or other Romance languages, will most likely recognize it.
A dialectical version of ire has a g sound in front of it, turning it into gire. We can trace it to the feminine past participle: andata — ita — gita. You don't need to know this, but some of us enjoy knowing where words come from.
In practical terms, una gita implies traveling somewhere, not necessarily sleeping over, but maybe.
For example, kids in school might go on una gita scolastica (a class trip).
E perché? -Partono, per la gita scolastica! Fuori di casa due giorni da soli. -Mamma, siamo in trentadue! E quattro insegnanti.
And, why? -They're leaving on a school trip! Away from home for two days, all alone. -Mom, there are thirty-two of us! And four teachers.
Captions 5-8, Acqua in bocca Allarme gita - Ep 9Play Caption
Erica works at the tourist office of Palaia in Tuscany. She's talking about her job.
E quindi è un po' il punto di arrivo, eh, di tutte quelle persone che vengono qua in vacanza, o anche semplicemente per fare u', una gita o una, una breve sosta qui, in questo territorio, che è la Valdera.
And so it's kind of the point of arrival uh, for all those people who come here on vacation, or even just to make a, a day trip, or a quick stop here, in this area, which is the Valdera.
Captions 14-17, Professioni e mestieri Erica - archeologa - Part 2
Check out this Yabla mini-series about a girl who goes on an outing — Una gita al lago (a day trip to the lake).
The verb gire sounds kind of like the verb girare, which means "to go around." Girare and gire don't have the same root, but they are related through one definition of girare:
andare qua e là, andare in giro, vagare, con o senza uno scopo determinato
(to go here and there, to go about, with or without a specific purpose).
Firenze è una città piccola, si può girare benissimo a piedi.
Florence is a small city, you can go around very easily on foot.
Caption 9, In giro per l'Italia Firenze - Part 1Play Caption
The noun form is il giro. Un giro can be a bike ride, a walk, a ride in a car... anything really, even a swing, or one of the machines at a gym.
Continuando il mio giro in bicicletta sulle mura di Lucca, mi sono fermata davanti a questo bellissimo palazzo.
Continuing my bike ride around the Lucca walls, I stopped in front of this very beautiful villa.
Captions 1-2, In giro per l'Italia Lucca - Part 4
Fare un giro can mean "to take a turn."
Let's say I am on the treadmill at the gym, and there is someone waiting. I can ask, ci vuoi fare un giro (do you want to take a turn on it, do you want to have a go)?
Italians love diminutives, so we also have un giretto, or un girettino (or some say una girata or girattina) more like a brief stroll, synonymous with passeggiata, or passeggiatina.
E nonna, ho fatto un bel giretto nel bosco.
Well Grandma, I had a nice walk around the woods.Play Caption
Note that we use the verb fare (to make, to do) with the noun una gita, —fare una gita or the noun un giro —fare un giro. Or we use the verb andare (to go) and the preposition in (on a) before gita or giro. Andare in gita, andare in giro. Tuscans often say andare a giro. It means the same thing.
Sono sicura che passeremo una bellissima giornata in giro per la città.
I'm sure we'll have a great day going around the city.
Caption 6, In giro per l'Italia Firenze - Part 1
There is plenty more to say about in giro, but that will be for another lesson. Meanwhile, let's try to assimilate the meanings we have talked about here by looking at some questions and some possible answers. Feel free to write to us with your attempts. Mistakes are welcome. That's how we learn.
E tu? Che fai oggi? Vai in gita? Fai un giro? Fai una passeggiata? Vai in giro?
And you? What are you doing today? Are you going on an excursion? Are you going to go out and about? Are you going to take a walk? Are you going to cruise around the area?
Here are some possible answers:
Facciamo una gita turistica. Viviamo a Pisa, e andremo a visitare Siena.
We're going on a day trip. We live in Pisa and we're going to go and see Siena.
Andiamo in gita, che bello!
We're going on an outing, how great!
Facciamo il giro dell'isolotto.
We're going to walk around the block.
Facciamo un giro.
Let's go and have a look around.
Facciamo un giro in bici.
We're going on a bike ride.
Ho fatto una passeggiata vicino a casa.
I took a walk close to home.
Siamo andati in giro per la toscana.
We went for a ride around Tuscany.
Feel free to send us some of your own examples. If they work, we'll add them to this list. write to us at email@example.com.
A single verb that expresses the idea of "making do" is accontentarsi (to be content with something/to make oneself be content). The adjective it stems from is contento (happy, content). The non-reflexive verb accontentare can be translated as "to satisfy."
Me lo avete chiesto voi, eh, quindi io vi accontento.
You asked me for it, huh, so I will satisfy you.
Caption 6, Marika spiega I verbi cavare e toglierePlay Caption
You are giving someone what they want. You are making them happy.
Quando ho molto tempo, preferisco mangiare frutta, latte e cereali; quando ho poco tempo, mi accontento del classico caffè e del cornetto o brioche.
When I have lots of time, I prefer to eat fruit, milk and cereal; when I have little time, I make do with a classic espresso and croissant or brioche.
Captions 20-23, Adriano GiornataPlay Caption
The verb accontentarsi has a lot of information in it, but Italians have an expression that enhances it even further. Italy, being a Roman Catholic country historically, is not lacking in monasteries and convents. While in English, "convent" tends to be understood as a convent of nuns, in Italian, un convento implies a religious community and may be either di suore (of nuns = convent) or di frati (of monks = monastery). Many conventi around Italy offer hospitality to travelers, but the food that is served is the humble and simple fare the monks or nuns are served. And of course, they don't complain about it.
So let's say someone asks you to stay for dinner on the spur of the moment and doesn't have anything special to offer.
Se ti accontenti di quel che passa il convento, sei il benvenuto (if you make do with what the convent is serving [what we have on hand], you are welcome to stay for dinner).
But the expression is used outside of the realm of food, too. In this clip, we're talking about what kind of work one can get.
Guardi che Gigi c'ha pure due lauree. -E fa il deejay? -E questo passa il convento.
Look, Gigi even has two degrees. -And he is deejaying? -Well, that's what the convent offers [beggars can't be choosers].
Captions 13-15, La Ladra EP. 8 - Il momento giusto - Part 7Play Caption
In an episode of Volare, the expression is used rather vulgarly, referring to a woman. But now, when you watch the video, you'll understand what's behind this expression.
Me so' [romanesco: mi sono] accontentato di quel che passava il convento.
I made do with what the convent was serving.Play Caption
-I'm talking to my husband about lunch:
Vuoi anche un secondo o ti accontenti di un piatto di pasta e un'insalata? (do you want a second course or are you happy with pasta and salad)?
-My boss asks me:
Mi puoi fare una bozza per domani (can you give me a rough draft by tomorrow)?
Non so se ce la faccio, ma farò del mio meglio per accontentarti (I don't know if I'll be able to, but I'll do my best to satisfy you).
Many of us like to watch movies. Let's have a quick look at some of the terms that Italians use when they talk about the movies.
A movie is usually called un film. That's an easy one, because in English we can say "film," as well.
But when we talk about "the movies" in general, it's il cinema. That's another word we understand, but we have to think of using. Forget about the word "movie!"
And then, when we want to go to the movies, andiamo al cinema (we go to the movies/let's go to the movies).
Ciao. Sei annoiato o annoiata e ti vuoi divertire e rilassare? Bene, puoi andare al cinema.
Hi. Are you bored (m) or bored (f) and you want to have a good time and relax? Good. You can go to the movies.
Captions 3-5, Marika spiega Il cinemaPlay Caption
Siamo andati al cinema e abbiamo visto un bel film. Adoro il cinema
(We went to the movies and we saw a great movie. I love the movies)!
When we talk about the star of the movie, if it's a guy, it's il protagonista and if it is a female, it's la protagonista. It always ends in a and is basically a feminine noun! It's also used to mean "the main character."
Perché Marcello, il protagonista di questo film, è uno come noi.
Because Marcello, the main character of this film, is someone like us.Play Caption
Just like in English, we have l'attore e l'attrice (the actor and the actress).
When they are acting, however, we use the verb recitare. They recite their lines.
È come recitare una parte in fondo, no?
It's like acting a part, deep down, right?
Caption 16, Sposami EP 2 - Part 9Play Caption
E... come attore insisti, hai recitato benissimo. -Grazie.
And... and you have to keep at it as an actor. You acted very well. -Thank you.Play Caption
When we talk about movie stars, Italians often use the English word, la star (the star). Otherwise, it's la stella (the star).
Grazie. -Alla nuova stella del musical.
Thanks. -To the new star of musicals.
Caption 22, La Ladra Ep. 4 - Una magica bionda - Part 14Play Caption
Nowadays, there are often various screening rooms in a multi-plex movie theater. Each of these is called una sala. We can also call a movie theater una sala cinematografica, when we are referring to a room within a building, or a building devoted to screening movies. So when you buy your ticket they will tell you sala 4 or sala 8. Sala is akin to "hall" or "large room." Il teatro (the theater) refers to theaters (for plays) and opera houses. It also refers to the activity or study of acting or drama. Un corso di teatro is a drama course. If you have studied acting, you can say:
Ho studiato teatro
Ho studiato recitazione teatrale
Yabla Italian has various movies you can watch in Italian with or without subtitles (try only Italian, only English, none, or both!). Take advantage of moments when going to the movies might not be a great option. It might just the right time to broaden your horizons with a nice movie in Italian. Here are some suggestions:
Il Tempesta This movie takes place in il Veneto, the region Venice is in. But the story takes place in the nearby city of Treviso. It involves a photographer, an adopted Belarus orphan, and a girl who works at the Tognana porcelain factory.
Sei mai stata sulla luna? (have you ever been to the moon? The film is the story of Guia, a 30-year-old woman who works for a prestigious international fashion magazine, travels around by private jet and lives between Milan and Paris. She has everything, or at least she thinks she does until she finds herself in a remote village in Puglia where she inherited a large family farm.
L'oro di Scampia (The Gold of Scampia) is based on a true story, adapted from Gianni Maddaloni's book, La mia vita sportiva (My Life in Sports). Scampia is a suburb made up of massive public housing blocks north of Naples. Camorra criminals rule the area and make life very difficult for Enzo Capuano, a hospital worker, who runs a Judo school in his spare time.
Keep in mind that each segment of a movie comes with a vocabulary review, multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank exercises, and the patented dictation exercise, Scribe, so you can learn while enjoying the movie. But you can also just soak it in, and watch the entire movie, which is useful in itself. Getting used to hearing how real people (and good actors) speak — paying attention to the rhythm, flow, and lilt of the language gives you what learning individual words and constructed sentences cannot. Sometimes it's all about how Italian connect the words to each other fluidly.
Of course, there are also plenty of movies on the various streaming platforms available for the watching. They are often available in lingua originale con sottotitoli. Maybe you can watch a movie in Italian that you have already seen dubbed into English or some other language. Fun!
In this lesson, we look at 3 expressions with the noun la forza, which basically means "force" (easy cognate) or "strength." The meaning might help us grasp the expressions somewhat, but let's take the opportunity to shine a light on each one. They are all very common, and good to have in your repertoire of idioms.
We have seen this a million times in Yabla videos. It usually has an exclamation point following it. We can best translate it with "come on." It's funny because there are several Italian expressions that are translated the same way, such as Dai! Su! Vai! Coraggio!
Dove stiamo andando? -Forza! A lavoro, forza!
Where are we going? -Come on! To work, come on!
Captions 35-36, Il Commissario Manara S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto - Part 5Play Caption
But it can also just be another way to say "come on" or "go on." Another way to say dai, as Italians often do at the end of a sentence. It's a bit stronger, but the inflection matters a lot, too.
Vabbè entra. Chiudi la porta, forza.
All right, come in. Shut the door, go on.Play Caption
This is a kind of adverbial phrase. We can get the sense of what it means: literally "through force." We use it to mean "necessarily," "inevitably," "begrudgingly" — in other words, "there's no choice." "That's the way it has to be." It might even mean "obviously," "clearly," in certain cases.
Let's look at some examples in context.
Allora, noi le tasse di successione, quelle dobbiamo pagarle per forza.
So, the inheritance taxes, those we are obliged to pay.
Caption 25, Sei mai stata sulla luna? film - Part 2Play Caption
C'è che tua madre vuole per forza trasformare il nostro matrimonio in un evento.
It's that your mother wants, at all costs, to transform our wedding into an event.
Caption 31, Sposami EP 1 - Part 19Play Caption
Ho preso un tassì e sono scappata dal Pronto Soccorso. -Ma ti sei fatta visitare? -Per forza!
I took a taxi and ran off from the emergency room. -Did you get examined? -I had no choice!
Captions 1-3, La Ladra Ep. 7 - Il piccolo ladro - Part 15Play Caption
Tu non mi hai visto a me! Io so' [sono] sparito. Tu mi vedi? No, per forza, so' [sono] sparito.
You haven't seen me! I've disappeared. Do you see me? No, of course not. I've disappeared.
Captions 36-37, Chi m'ha visto film - Part 10Play Caption
Two further idiomatic sayings come to mind using this adverbial phrase:
Per amore o per forza (one way or another, one way or the other)
O per volere o per forza (by hook or by crook)
The image we can glean from this expression is of a hammer that keeps hammering. Or a lie someone keeps repeating so many times that in the end you believe it.
In the first example below, the police are looking for a DVD that could be really anywhere... a needle in a haystack. But they keep looking for it. They're saying they'll go into retirement before they find the DVD, it's taking so long.
Mi sa che ci [sic: ce ne] andiamo in pensione a forza di cercare 'sto [questo] DVD. E speriamo che ci andiamo in pensione, prima che ci sbranano i topi.
I think that we'll go into retirement from all the looking for this DVD. And let's hope that we retire at all, before the mice chew us up.
Captions 33-35, Il Commissario Manara S2EP8 - Fuori servizio - Part 14Play Caption
In this example, we have another modo di dire: mettersi la mano sulla coscienza (to examine one's conscience).
Non lo so, mettiti una mano sulla coscienza. -Senti, a forza di mettermi la mano sulla coscienza, quella è morta soffocata.
I don't know. Put a hand on your conscience [examine your conscience]. -Listen, by putting my hand on my conscience so much, it died from suffocation.
Captions 49-51, Sposami EP 2 - Part 25Play Caption
Although both of these examples are humorously expressed comments, a forza di is also used in serious matters.
Mi fanno male le gambe a forza di stare seduto (by sitting so much, my legs hurt).
Structurally, we note that after a forza di comes a verb in the infinitive. In the English translation, we often find a gerund.
Forza! Andiamo via. Dobbiamo per forza arrivare al supermercato prima della chiusura perché è finito il caffè. -Per forza è finito il caffè. Tu ne bevi a litri. A forza di bere tutti questi caffè non dormirai mai più.
Come on, let's leave. We have to absolutely get to the supermarket before closing time because we're out of coffee. Of course we're out of coffee. You drink gallons of it. By drinking so much you will never sleep again.
A forza di studiare l'italiano e guardare dei video su Yabla (e facendo gli esercizi, bene inteso), imparerai la lingua!
Let's look at a word used in a recent episode of Volare that has both a verb and a noun form. It's an easy cognate, but you might not think of it, since "to deserve" is the verb we would use in English, and alas, it has no cognate in Italian.
So meritare is a good verb to know. The noun form is il merito. In English, we would usually say "Thanks to [someone or something]." Or we might say, "The credit is all yours/his/hers/theirs." So, you'll probably understand these words when you see them, especially when they are in a clear context, but you might not add them to your vocabulary if you are thinking in English. They are worth adopting, though. "Being worth it" is another way to translate meritare!
È merito della signora se sono qui, eh. -No, Lei è qui perché se lo merita, non deve ringraziare nessuno.
It's thanks to the lady if I am here, huh. -No. You are here because you deserve to be. You don't have to thank anyone.
Captions 22-24, Volare - La grande storia di Domenico Modugno Ep. 1 - Part 9Play Caption
You might have noticed that the speaker uses the reflexive form of meritare, meritarsi. Both ways are OK, but when it's reflexive it feels a bit more personal (and it's a bit more complicated to use).
Il successo l'hai meritato.
Il succeso te lo sei meritato.
Let's look at some examples from Yabla videos:
Se hai una pessima idea di me, me lo merito.
If you have a bad impression of me, I deserve it.Play Caption
Se questa operazione è riuscita, il merito è tuo. Brava, Sardi.
If this operation succeeded, it's thanks to you. Very good, Sardi.Play Caption
Eh, va be', però bisogna avvertirlo, perché il critico ha dato tutto il merito a te.
Well, all right, but you should let him know because the critic gave you all the credit.
Caption 24, La Ladra Ep. 5 - Chi la fa l'aspetti - Part 1Play Caption
Pensavo di meritare di più dalla vita.
I thought I deserved more from life.Play Caption
Poi sicuramente Pisa merita una visita con la sua torre pendente che non casca mai.
Then, of course, Pisa is worth a visit with its leaning tower that never falls.
Captions 75-76, L'Italia a tavola Interrogazione sulla ToscanaPlay Caption
As you can see in the final example, to deserve something and be worth something are very close. Sometimes they are interchangeable. They are in Italian too, so check out our lesson about valere (to be worth).
When you're playing a game, you have to follow the rules. When you don't, someone might say:
Non vale (it doesn't count).
This comes from the verb valere (to have value, to be worth, to be valid).
Devi chiudere gli occhi però, se no non vale. Vai.
You have to close your eyes, though, otherwise it doesn't count. Go.
Captions 10-11, Sposami EP 2 - Part 20Play Caption
So in this case, the verb valere is used to mean something isn't valid, it doesn't count.
But we also use it when we talk about something being worth it. In English, we can say something is worth the trouble or simply "worth it." In Italian, we need to say the whole phrase:
Vale la pena (it's worth the trouble, it's worth it).
Insomma, la vita è una cosa meravigliosa e vale la pena viverla.
So, life is a marvelous thing and it is well worth living.
Captions 41-42, Amiche FilosofiePlay Caption
In the previous example, we have a subject: life. "Life is worth living." But we can also just say, "It's worth it." In this case, we use a sort of prop word, the particle ne.
We use ne when we comment on something being worth it or not. We know what we're talking about, but we don't need to repeat it. So we use ne.
Here's the negative version:
[Qualcosa] non vale la pena ([something] is not worth it).
Non ne vale la pena (it's not worth it).
We can say the same exact thing as a question: Here too, we'll use the particle ne if we don't include the subject (the thing that isn't worth it).
Vale la pena (is [something] worth it/worth the trouble)?
Ne vale la pena (is it worth it)?
The third way we use valere is to say something is applicable.
Questa regola vale soltanto per il singolare, quando io parlo della mia famiglia in singolare.
This rule applies only to the singular, when I talk about my family in the singular.
Captions 14-15, Corso di italiano con Daniela Aggettivi Possessivi - Part 5Play Caption
Vale la pena studiare l'italiano? Speriamo di sì!