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Getting Undressed in Italian

In many places in the world, it's winter. There are no leaves on the trees. They're barren. Seeing the bare branches has brought to mind some thoughts about one Italian adjective for this: spoglio

Di inverno le foglie appassiscono e gli alberi sono spogli.

In the winter, the leaves dry up and the trees are bare.

One word leads to another! It even leads to getting undressed.

 

Latin provides some insight.

Italian words that end in "io" often come from Latin, where the word might end in ium. In fact there is a Latin noun "spolium ": the skin or hide of an animal stripped off; Over time, this came to refer to the arms or armor stripped from a defeated enemy:

booty, prey, spoil.

 

We can make a connection with a tree that has been stripped of its leaves.

 

We can also see a connection between "the spoils" in English and "spolium" or the derivative "spoglia"in Latin. 

 

Another related Latin word is "spoliarium" referring to the basement of the Roman Colosseum where the fallen and dying gladiators were dumped and devoided of their worldly possessions. 

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Nowadays, the feminine plural le spoglie is used to indicate the remains of animals or humans when they have died.

Ma che senso ha mettere le spoglie di due persone nella stessa bara?

But what sense is there in putting the remains of two people in the same coffin?

Caption 62, Il Commissario Manara S1EP10 - Un morto di troppo - Part 8

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An important noun to know: spogliatoio

Although talking about dead bodies is pretty gruesome, it gives us insight into some very common words you will hear if you go to the doctor, to the gym, or anywhere where you might take off your clothes. Some places have an appropriate room where you can change and take a shower, which in English, we might call the locker room or shower room. Lo spogliatoio (and often indicated as such on the door) will typically be in a gym, at a pool, a hospital or doctor's office, or, as in the example below, a workplace. 

Chi ha aggiustato la porta dello spogliatoio?

Who fixed the changing room door?

Caption 30, La Ladra Ep. 3 - L'oro dello squalo - Part 13

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Now that you are in the spogliatoio, you can get undressed.

When you change clothes, first you have to get undressed. In Italian, the verb is reflexive: spogliarsi. We've come a long way from the Roman Colosseum.

 

Andiamo a casa tua. A casa? Non ti vorrai spogliare in mezzo alla strada?

Let's go to your house. My house? You don't want to undress in the middle of the road, do you?

Captions 52-54, La Ladra Ep. 4 - Una magica bionda - Part 6

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⇒Flash quiz on the reflexive.

Can you come up with another way to say the same thing? [answer at the bottom of the page]

 

In the following example, there is no spogliatoio at this doctor's office. The couple is not an actual couple and they are pretty embarrassed. La Tempesta is a wonderful movie on Yabla, by the way, set in a ceramics factory in Treviso in the Veneto region of Italy.

 

Certo. -Adesso, siccome siamo un po' in ritardo, vi inviterei a spogliarvi. Vi visito insieme, d'accordo? Ci sono problemi? No, no, no. -No.

Of course. -Now, since we're a bit late, I invite you to get undressed. I'll examine you together, all right? Are there any problems? No, no, no. -No.

Captions 7-10, La Tempesta film - Part 19

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⇒Flash quiz on the reflexive

The doctor is being very polite, but if he ordered them to get undressed, what would he say? [answer at bottom of page]

 

Now here's a little scene in a refrigerator truck.

A questa temperatura, con i vestiti inzuppati, in nove minuti il sangue diventa ghiaccio. Ah, adesso che lo so mi sento meglio! Senti, spogliati. Eh? -Spogliati! Ah, bel modo di morire, sì... -Piantala! L'unico modo per combattere l'ipotermia è togliersi i vestiti e sommare il calore corporeo di entrambi.

At this temperature, with sopping wet clothes, in nine minutes blood turns to ice. Ah, now that I know it, I feel better! Listen, strip down. Huh? -Strip down! Ah, nice way to die, yes... -Quit it! The only way to fight hypothermia is to take off our clothes and sum up the body heat of both of us.

Captions 48-55, Il Commissario Manara S1EP2 - Vendemmia tardiva - Part 9

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You can also undress another person. In this case, it's not reflexive.

Dai Carlo vai, vai, spogliala, vasala [sic], spogliala!

Come on Carlo, go on, go on, undress her, kiss her [sic], undress her!

Caption 11, Trailer Paparazzi

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And speaking of stripping...

La gente della notte fa lavori strani Certi nascono oggi e finiscono domani Baristi, spacciatori, puttane e giornalai Poliziotti, travestiti, gente in cerca di guai Padroni di locali, spogliarelliste, camionisti Metronotte, ladri e giornalisti

The people of the night do weird jobs Some start up today and end tomorrow Baristas, drug dealers, hookers, and newsdealers Cops, transvestites, people looking for trouble Bar owners, strippers, truckers, Night watchmen, thieves, and journalists

Captions 23-28, Radio Deejay Lorenzo Jovanotti - Gente della notte

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⇒Answers:

Andiamo a casa tua. A casa? Non vorrai  spogliarti in mezzo alla strada?

Certo. -Adesso, siccome siamo un po' in ritardo, spogliatevi. Vi visito insieme, d'accordo? Ci sono problemi? No, no, no. -No.

 

Tip

To get more information about a topic talked about in a lesson, for example, the reflexive touche on here, go to the lessons tab and do a search, such as: reflexive. The lessons where the reflexive is mentioned will be there, one after the other.

 
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How to Turn a Noun into a Verb (and back) in Italian

 

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The verb or the noun? Does it matter? No, it doesn't really matter in speaking Italian, but knowing the verb a noun comes from, or the noun a verb comes from can sometimes help us figure out a word we don't know. Or, it can help us remember a new word. In the case of the words discussed in this lesson, we start with a noun.

 

The noun il poggio:

Il poggio the noun is likely less well-known than the verbs that stem from it. A little research on the etymology tells us that poggio comes from the Latin noun "podium" — a raised platform. Hey! We know the word "podium" in English! Poggio is synonymous with colle or collina (hill), but often refers to a rather small, rounded hill — perhaps a podium-shaped hill, like a bluff...

Sorge isolata su di un poggio la chiesa di Santa Maria a Mevale, costruita nell'undicesimo secolo in stile romanico, in cui spicca un portale rinascimentale e il portico a cinque arcate.

Emerging on a bluff is the remote church of Santa Maria in Mevale built in the eleventh century in the Romanesque style, in which a Renaissance portal and a five-arch portico stand out.

Captions 1-3, Itinerari Della Bellezza Umbria - Part 6

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Fun Expression:

An expression Tuscans like to use is: poggio e buca fan pari (hill and hole come out even).

Fan is short for fanno (they make).

poggio=salita (hill = climb)

buca=discesa (hole = descent) 

salita + discesa = pianura (uphill + downhill = flatland)

 

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Places:

There are places that take their name from the noun poggio. They are usually on a hill.

A very famous town (with a famous villa) near Florence is called Poggio a Caiano and one of our Yabla videos takes place in a town called Poggiofiorito (flowering hills):

Scusami, ma c'ho avuto il trasloco da Poggiofiorito e ho fatto male i calcoli.

I'm sorry, but I've moved to Poggiofiorito and didn't gauge it well.

Caption 27, Un medico in famiglia s.1 e.1 - Casa nuova - Part 5

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You can go a long time in Italy without hearing the noun poggio, but the verbs that come from this noun are much more common. Sometimes verbs are made from nouns by simply adding a verb ending such as  -are, -ire, or -ere

 

Poggiare:

Poggiare certainly exists as a verb. It means "to place." 

Marika uses this verb when describing how she stays safe as she looks out from her balcony.

 

Per affacciarmi al balcone, io poggio le mani sulla ringhiera.

To look out from the balcony, I place my hands on the railing.

Caption 13, Marika spiega Il balcone

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Appoggiare:

But appoggiare also exists. In this case the prefix a has been added, with the conventional doubling of the first consonant in the original noun. Appoggiare is a more complex verb and has several literal and figurative meanings. Appoggiare is more about support, about leaning, propping. Think of a ladder you prop against a wall. In the following example, Manara uses it reflexively.

E le impronte sul furgone come le spieghi? Mi ci sono appoggiato così, per caso. È reato?

And the fingerprints on the truck, how can you explain them? I leaned on it, just like that, by chance. Is that a crime?

Captions 57-59, Il Commissario Manara S1EP7 - Sogni di Vetro - Part 14

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And here, Anna, who is talking about her new baby, uses the verb appoggiare three times in the same sentence! 

Un altro regalo molto utile che ho avuto dal papà è questo. È il cuscino da allattamento, ed è utile perché lo utilizzi sia quando allatti, te lo appoggi qui e non fai fatica con le braccia mentre allatti, che per appoggiare il bambino, che si appoggia qui come un principino e sta molto comodo.

Another very useful gift that I had from dad [the baby's dad], is this. It's a nursing cushion. And it's useful because you use it both when you nurse, you rest it here, and your arms don't get tired while you nurse, and for laying the baby on, who leans back here like a little prince and is very comfortable.

Captions 42-47, Anna presenta La gravidanza - Part 1

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Rather than using the more general mettere (to put) appoggiare is used to mean "to put down" or "to set down." We could also say "lay something down," implying a certain gentleness.

 

Posso entrare? Sì, ecco, ecco. Uè, Ada... grazie. Appoggialo pure là, va. -Luca!

May I come in? Yes, here we go, here we go. Hey Ada... thanks. Go ahead and set it down over there, go ahead. -Luca!

Captions 4-6, Il Commissario Manara S2EP3 - Delitto tra le lenzuola - Part 1

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L'appoggiatura:

If you play music, you might have heard of the term "appoggiatura": a note of embellishment preceding another note and taking a portion of its time. Now you know where it comes from!

 

L'appoggio:

And now we come back to a noun that comes from the verb that comes from the noun. Just like in English, "support" is both a noun and a verb.

In the following example, it's used in a physical way.

Mezzo passo avanti, sbilanci l'avversario e via la gamba d'appoggio.

A half a step forward, get the opponent off balance, and away with the supporting leg.

Captions 24-25, L'oro di Scampia film - Part 9

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But it can also be figurative. 

Proprio perché uomini di sinistra, noi stiamo facendo una battaglia in Parlamento, abbiamo anche avuto l'appoggio del ministro Brambilla,

Precisely because men of the left, we're waging battle in Parliament, we've even had the support of minister Brambilla,

Captions 48-49, Animalisti Italiani Walter Caporale - Part 2

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We've gone from the Latin noun "podium" to the ups and downs of Tuscan hills, to propping up a baby, setting down a tray, to playing music, to judo, and to politics. Whew!

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What does presto really mean?

 

If you play or listen to classical music, you will have seen the indication presto on a playlist, tracklist, concert program, or score. It usually means the music should go fast. The fastest tempo you might see is prestissimo (very fast).

But there are two other, more mundane, meanings of presto, and they're both pretty important in everyday conversation. 

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Presto means "early"

Presto is not the only way to say "early," and it depends on the context, but it's a very important way.  One way we use presto almost every day is in talking about our daily schedule. When do we get up? Presto (early)? Non troppo presto (not too early)? Molto presto (very early)? Prestissimo (super early)?

Eh, giusto. -Noi, per esempio, cuciniamo tutti insieme, mangiamo tutti insieme, la sera dormiamo tutti nello stesso letto, poi andiamo a ballare, facciamo baldoria, e la mattina ci svegliamo presto per andare all'università.

Uh, right. -We, for example, we all cook together, we eat all together, at night we all sleep in the same bed, then we go dancing, we have a blast, and in the morning we wake up early to go to the university.

Captions 34-37, Serena vita da universitari

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We can qualify presto with molto (very) or troppo (too):

Dovrei consegnare questi documenti al Dottor Del Serio. Ma è troppo presto, sta dormendo.

I should deliver these documents to Doctor Del Serio. But it's too early. He's sleeping.

Captions 27-28, La Tempesta film - Part 19

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Everyone has their own idea of what "early" is and there are some sfumature (nuances), too. In the following example, we have presto, prestissimo and prestino

Senti, non è che domattina presto potresti accompagnarmi dai genitori di una mia allieva? Sì, sì. Presto quanto? Eh, be', be', non prestissimo, però un po' prestino.

Listen, tomorrow morning early, you wouldn't take me, would you, to the parents' house of one of my students? Yes, yes. How early? Oh well, well, not real early, but earlyish.

Captions 26-29, Provaci Ancora Prof! S1E1 - Il regalo di Babbo Natale - Part 23

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Presto means "soon"

If you have been reading the Yabla Italian newsletters, you will have seen the sign-off at the end:

a presto, literally, "until soon," but commonly translated as "[I'll] see you soon".

 

Allora a presto, caro, eh?! -A presto. Ciao. -Arrivederci, signora. -Ciao, Giovanni, ciao. Ciao.

So, see you soon dear, OK? -See you soon. Bye. -Goodbye ma'am. -Bye Giovanni, bye. Bye.

Captions 28-30, Il Commissario Manara S1EP6 - Reazione a Catena - Part 4

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Here's a little telephone conversation about starting a new job. The way we form the comparative and superlative of adjectives is with più (more). The presence of the definite article indicates it's in the superlative. 

 

Ti andrebbe bene cominciare già domani? -Sì, certo, non c'è problema. Voglio mettermi al lavoro il più presto possibile. Domani è perfetto. -Molto bene.

Would it be all right with you to start tomorrow? -Yes, of course. That's no problem. I want to get to work as soon as possible. Tomorrow is perfect. -Very good.

Captions 17-21, Italiano commerciale Cominciare un nuovo lavoro - Part 1

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Note that we have two similar but different ways to say "as soon as possible." One way is in the previous example, il più presto possibile. The other common way is in the following example, where we have the preposition a (at, too, until): al più presto. In this case, we don't add possibile.

 

Sei riuscita a vedere che c'è nella valigetta? Un mucchio di soldi. Dobbiamo agire al più presto, OK?

Did you manage to see what's in the briefcase? A bunch of money. We have to act as soon as possible, OK?

Captions 40-41, La Ladra EP. 8 - Il momento giusto - Part 6

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Presto means "fast"

It can be just the single word, said with urgency:

Mi sa che è della polizia! Professoressa, andiamo. Andiamo, che è gente pericolosa! Sbrigatevi! Presto! Forza, prof! Forza!

I think she's from the police! Prof, let's go, let's go because they're dangerous people! Hurry up! Quickly! Come on, Prof! Come on!

Captions 23-27, Provaci Ancora Prof! S1E1 - Il regalo di Babbo Natale - Part 13

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Presto means fast, even though, in the following example, that's not how it's translated. This is because it's part of an idiomatic expression: si fa presto a dire, which, taken literally, means "Saying it is done quickly," or "We can be quick to say..."

 

Si fa presto a dire Europa. Il termine è una costruzione dello spirito, derivata da una realtà geografica mal definita.

It's easy to say "Europe." The term is a construction of the spirit, derived from a poorly-defined geographical entity.

Captions 1-3, Umberto Eco Proust e l'identità europea

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Sometimes it's hard to decide if presto means "fast," "soon," or "early." It may be a combination, like in the following example, where a fire has started in a film lab.

 

Chiama i pompieri e per sicurezza pure un'ambulanza, non si sa mai. -Sì, alla Cine Service. Fate presto.

Call the firemen and to be on the safe side, an ambulance, too. You never know. -Yes, at the Cine Service. Come quickly.

Captions 27-29, Il Commissario Manara S1EP6 - Reazione a Catena - Part 8

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Generally speaking, fare presto means "to be quick," or "to do something quickly."

 

Facciamo presto, che tra poco torna il [sic: la] signora Franca.

Let's be quick, because in a little while, Missus Franca is set to return.

Caption 2, Questione di Karma Rai Cinema - Part 3

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We hope you have gained some insight into how "fast," "early," and "soon" can be intertwined in the Italian adverb presto.

 

A presto!

 

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Noticing things (or not) in Italian with accorgersi

 

Some words are easy in Italian and some others are a little complicated. Here's a verb we use a lot but that is kind of tricky to use: accorgersi (to notice, to realize).

 

Accorgersi: Let's take it apart.

Let's take it apart to make some sense of it. Hint: It is reflexive, and while some verbs can be both normal and reflexive, this one is always reflexive.

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In a recent episode of La Ladra, a guy wants his car taroccata (rigged) (we talked about the verb taroccare in this lesson). The mechanic tells the guy that he won't even notice he's going 300 kilometers per hour. Usually, we notice something, so very often, since accorgersi is reflexive, we have both a direct and an indirect object pronoun in the sentence. When that occurs, we have to deal with those pesky particles that can attach themselves to the verb in different ways. For more on this, have a look at these lessons.

 

In the following example, we can see that the verb is conjugated in the second person singular (the mechanic is talking to his customer).

 

Co' [romanesco: con] questa c'arivi [ci arrivi] a trecento che manco te n'accorgi.

With this one, you don't even notice it when you get to three hundred.

Caption 35, La Ladra EP. 8 - Il momento giusto - Part 13

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The infinitive form has the impersonal si connected to the verb — accorgersi, but when conjugated, the reflexive verb accorgersi gets separated into two parts — the root of the verb (accorgere) and the person onto whom it reflects, in this case, te (to you). Then there is an n which is a contraction of ne (of it, to it). In order to understand better how accorgersi works, we might translate it as "to become aware of." Here, there is the preposition "of." 

By the time to get to three hundred [kilometers an hour], you will not even be aware of it.

 

"Of it" is represented by ne (in this case contracted into n').

 

Accorgersi in the past tense with the particle ne

In the following example, however, we have the past tense. In Italian, it's the passato prossimno formed with the auxiliary verb essere (to be) and the past participle, accorto. When you conjugate reflexive verbs in the past tense, you must use essere as your auxiliary verb.

 

Gira e gira, ai vertici dell'Olivetti, non c'è spazio che per uno di famiglia. Lo so, me ne sono accorto. -Ecco.

At the end of the day, in the upper echelons of Olivetti, there's no room for anyone but a family member. I know, I noticed that. -That's it.

Captions 44-46, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep.2 - Part 8

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Me is the indirect pronoun (to me)

Ne is another indirect pronoun (of it, about it)

Accorto is the past participle of accorgere

 

Accorgersi in the past tense without the particle ne

Let's look at an example without this particle ne. Here, it's not necessary because we have nulla (nothing) as an indirect object preceded by the preposition di. We have the auxiliary verb essere. The reflexive particle si is contracted and refers to the third person singular reflexive pronoun.

Guardi, non s'era accorto di nulla.

Look, he hadn't noticed a thing.

Caption 73, Il Commissario Manara S2EP2 - L'addio di Lara - Part 5

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You made it this far, good for you! If the verb accorgersi is too difficult for you at this stage of the game, you can also use the verb notare, a nice, simple, transitive verb. 

 

Durante il viaggio avete notato qualcosa di strano? Pensateci bene, ah.

During the trip, did you notice anything strange? Think about it carefully, huh.

Captions 30-31, Il Commissario Manara S2EP9 - L'amica ritrovata - Part 6

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To say the same thing with accorgersi, it would take a few more words:

 

Vi siete accorti di qualcosa di strano? 

Qualcuno si è accorto di qualcosa di strano? 

Did you notice anything strange? 

Did anyone notice anything strange?

 

Further learning

For even more about reflexive verbs, with charts. Here's a great resource.

 

If you do a search on Yabla with accorgere, you won't find much, nor will you find much with accorgersi. But if you search the past participle accorto (masculine), accorta (feminine), or accorti (plural), you will find numerous examples. Now that we have taken the verb and its particles apart, you can start getting a feel for this useful, but complex verb. Hopefully, picking out the verb and its accessories and then repeating them will be helpful to you.

 

Attenzione: There will also be some constructions we haven't covered here, such as in the following example. Suffice it to say that it involves the third person impersonal pronoun si with a reflexive verb in the passato prossimo (present perfect) tense. It's pretty advanced and a lot to absorb, and so we'll confront this in a future lesson.

 

Quando si è sistemata la piazza nel millenovecentonovantuno, ci si è accorti che il palombaro, cioè questa grande cisterna, era colmo fino all'orlo.

 

When the piazza was renovated in nineteen ninety-one, they noticed that the "palombaro", that is, this large cistern, was full to the brim.

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Combining Conjugated Verbs and Infinitives Part 3

We've been looking at conjugated verbs followed by verbs in the infinitive. Some can be connected directly as we saw in Part 1, some are connected with the preposition a, as we saw in Part 2, and others are connected with the preposition di, which we will look at in this lesson. 

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Verbs that take di before a verb in the infinitive:

Let's start with an example. 

 

Ti ho portato il millefoglie. Mentre lo mangi, io finisco di prepararmi e poi usciamo, eh?

I brought you a millefeuille. While you're eating it, I'll finish getting ready and then we'll leave, huh?

Captions 18-20, La Ladra Ep. 5 - Chi la fa l'aspetti - Part 13

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Finisco is the conjugated verb (finire) and preparare is in the infinitive. We have the formula: conjugated verb + di + verb in the infinitive. Attenzione: The verb preparare is attached to the personal pronoun mi (myself) because in this case, the verb prepararsi is reflexive and means "to get [oneself] ready." 

 

One important verb we use with the preposition di is decidere (to decide).

Anita, per migliorare il suo livello di italiano, ha deciso di trascorrere le sue vacanze estive in Italia, dove ha la possibilità di comunicare, conversare con i miei amici, i miei familiari, i miei parenti e di conoscere più a fondo la vera cultura italiana e la vera cultura della Sicilia, la regione da cui io provengo.

Anita, in order to improve her level of Italian decided to spend her summer vacations in Italy, where she has the possibility of communicating, conversing with my friends, my family, my relatives, and to get a deeper understanding of the true Italian culture and the true culture of Sicily, the region I come from.

Captions 36-41, Adriano Adriano e Anita

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There are plenty of important and useful verbs that take the preposition di before the infinitive, and you can find a list here, but here are a few more examples from Yabla videos:

 

Oppure: chiudo l'ombrello, perché ha smesso di piovere.

Or else, “I close the umbrella because it has stopped raining.”

Caption 7, Marika spiega Il verbo chiudere

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Let's remember that although cercare basically means "to look for," "to seek," it also means "to try" or, we could say, "to seek to." We use the preposition di in this case.

 

Quando vai in paese, cerca di scoprire qualcosa di interessante.

When you go into town try to find out something interesting.

Caption 62, Il Commissario Manara S2EP7 - Alta società - Part 4

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Another great verb is credere, which basically means "to believe," but when it's used in conjunction with a verb in the infinitive, we often translate it with "to think," as in:

 

Ferma! Sta ferma! Dove credi di andare?

Stop! Stand still! Where do you think you're going?

Captions 46-47, Provaci Ancora Prof! S1E1 - Il regalo di Babbo Natale - Part 15

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In fact, you could say the exact same thing with the verb pensare, which also takes the preposition di before an infinitive. 

Dove pensi di andare?

 

Sperare is another great verb that works the same way, and to close, we'll say:

Speriamo di vedervi presto su Yabla (we hope to see you soon on Yabla)!

 

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Il Mutuo and La Mutua

A current episode of Provaci ancora prof brings to mind a noun that is easily mixed up with a similar one, by non-native speakers of Italian.

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Il mutuo and la mutua

These are nouns Italians use a lot in day-to-day conversation. One is about money and one is about health (and money too, in a roundabout way), both very common topics of conversation. They're also hard to guess the meaning of. 

 

Il mutuo


This is a word you need if you want to buy a house, or just take out a loan from the bank. If you're buying a house, then people will understand you're talking about a mortgage. For any other use, it's the equivalent of a loan. We also notice that when mutuo means mortgage, we often use a definite article (il) and when we mean "loan," we'll likely use an indefinite article (un). To mean "loan," you can also use un prestito or un finanziamento.

 

 

Roberta mi ha aiutato quando ho fatto il mutuo sulla casa e sa... insomma, dovrà, dovrà riavere.

Roberta helped me when I took out a mortgage on the house and she knows... basically, she should, she should get it back.

Captions 36-37, L'Eredità -Quiz TV La sfida dei sei. Puntata 1 - Part 14

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Io ho ancora da parte millecinquecento euro, però dovrei pagare il mutuo alla banca.

I still have fifteen hundred euros put aside, but I should pay the mortgage to the bank.

Captions 54-55, Provaci Ancora Prof! S1E2 - Un amore pericoloso - Part 3

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Il parrucchiere, quello più caro, quello in fondo al paese. Una messa in piega ci vuole un mutuo, eh. E poi non solo...

The hairdresser, the most expensive one, the one at the edge of town. To get one's hair done, you need to take out a loan, huh. And not only that...

Captions 37-39, Il Commissario Manara S2EP1 - Matrimonio con delitto - Part 4

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la mutua

If you hang out in Italy long enough, like many ex-pats, you will get to know another important noun, la mutua. This is the national health service. You can benefit from this service if you are a legal resident. You don't need to be an Italian citizen.

 

Here's a scenario. 

Devo fare un intervento al femore (I have to get my hip operated on).

-Costerà caro, no? (that will be expensive won't it?)

No. Per fortuna, paga la mutua (No, fortunately national health insurance will pay for it).

 

Here's another scenario.

Non vado al lavoro oggi. Sono alla mutua.

I'm not going to work today. I'm on sick leave.

 

This is an informal noun, and may not be used all over Italy, but it the common name Italians give to this service. There are rules for different kinds of jobs (state or private) whereby your sick leave is paid for if you are an employee, but you need a certificate signed by your doctor (il medico della mutua, or il medico curante) and you have to make sure to be home during certain hours of the day, such as from 10 AM to 12 PM, and 5 PM to 7 PM. That way, the health authorities can check to see if you are really sick.

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Getting sick and making mortgage or loan payments are never divertenti (fun), but at least you know the words to describe these things now! 

P.S. mutuo is also an adjective corresponding to "mutual."

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Combining Conjugated Verbs and Infinitives Part 2

When we talk about verbs, we distinguish between conjugated verbs and verbs in the infinitive. In Italian, verbs in the infinitive are easily recognizable most of the time because they end in either -are, -ire, or -ere. Exceptions occur when verbs in the infinitive are combined with particelle (particles), when they are reflexive, or when they are truncated. Then, admittedly, they may be harder to recognize.

In this lesson, we are talking about the specific case of when we want to use a conjugated verb followed by a verb in the infinitive. How do we connect them?

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In some cases, we connect them directly

In part 1, we talked about combining a conjugated verb with an infinitive where no preposition is necessary. This typically occurs with the modal verbs potere (to be able to), volere (to want to) e sapere (to know how to, to be able to). Here's an example that can be useful if you are traveling in Italy.

Posso andare in bagno?

May I use (go to) the bathroom?

 

But there are also other, non-modal verbs where we don't need a preposition. See Daniela's series for examples.

Lascia fare a me!

Let me do it!

 

 

In other cases, we need a preposition between the conjugated verb and the verb in the infinitive

If we want to say the same thing we did above with a different verb, we might need a preposition, as in this example:

Permettimi di aiutarti.

Let me help you (allow me to help you).

 

There are two main prepositions we will use to connect a conjugated verb to a verb in the infinitive: di and a. Roughly, di corresponds to "of" or "from," while a corresponds to "to" or "at." These translations are not much help, though. One general rule (with many exceptions) is that verbs of movement use a to connect with a verb in the infinitive. The bottom line is, however, that you basically just have to learn these combinations little by little, by reading, by listening, and (sigh) by being corrected. 

In some cases, the same verb will change its meaning slightly by the use of one preposition or the other.

 

Non penserai mica di andare via senza salutare!

You're not thinking of leaving without saying goodbye, are you?

 

Ci penso io a comprare i biglietti.

I'll take care of buying the tickets.

 

Verbs that take the preposition a before an infinitive

In this lesson, we'll look at some important verbs that need the preposition a.

Here's the formula:

verbo coniugato + preposizione "a" + verbo all’ infinito (conjugated verb + the preposition [to, at] + verb in the infinitive)

 

aiutare (to help)

Per esempio, io ho un amico e lo aiuto a fare qualcosa dove lui ha difficoltà, lo aiuto a riparare la bicicletta, lo accompagno in aeroporto...

For example, I have a friend and I help him in doing something he has difficulty with, I help him repair his bicycle, I take him to the airport...

Captions 28-30, Corso di italiano con Daniela Approfondimento Verbi Modali - Part 2

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cominciare (to begin)

Comincia a fare il nido il povero cucù

The poor cuckoo starts making his nest

Caption 8, Filastrocca Il canto del cucù

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continuare (to continue, to keep on) 

E si continua a pestare.

And you keep on crushing.

Caption 53, L'Italia a tavola Il pesto genovese - Part 2

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riuscire (to manage, to succeed, to be able)

Così riesco a seguire meglio la faccia eh... e le labbra di chi sta parlando.

That way, I manage to follow the face better, uh... and the lips of whoever is speaking.

Captions 41-42, Professioni e mestieri il doppiaggio - Part 1

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insegnare (to teach) 

Oggi, ti insegno a cucinare la parmigiana di melanzane.

Today, I'm going to teach you to cook eggplant Parmesan,

Caption 2, Marika spiega La Parmigiana di melanzane - Part 1

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andare (to go)

Sì, lo diciamo a tutti e dopo andiamo a ballare. Andiamo anche a ballare.

Yes, we'll tell everyone, and afterwards we'll go dancing. We'll go dancing, too.

Captions 11-12, Serena vita da universitari

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Practice

We've talked about several verbs that take the preposition a before a verb in the infinitive. Why not try forming sentences, either by improvising ad alta voce (out loud) or by writing them down? Take one of these verbs (in any conjugations you can think of) and then find a verb in the infinitive that makes sense.

Here are a couple of examples to get you started:

Mi insegneresti a ballare il tango (would you teach me to dance the tango)?

Non riesco a chiudere questa cerniera (I can't close this zipper).

 

To find charts about verbs and prepositions, here is an excellent reference.

Go to Part 3 where we talk about verbs that take the preposition di.

 

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How to hurry up in Italian

We may think of Italians as being relaxed, but they have to rush around just like the rest of us. And since they do so much rushing around, there is some variety in how they talk about it. There are verbs, nouns, and adverbs to choose from. Let's take a look.

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The verb sbrigarsi (to hurry, to hurry up)

It's common to use the familiar form with a family member or friend. The following example is in the second person singular, so don't forget to stress the first syllable, not the second! The three consonants in a row make it fun to say. The "s" always has a "z" sound when it comes before "b."

Dai, sbrigati che ci perdiamo l'inizio del film.

Come on, hurry up, otherwise we'll miss the beginning of the movie.

Caption 47, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 23

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By the way, dai (come on) is just an interjection that is generally used in the second person singular regardless of whom you are talking to (although you wouldn't say it at all to someone you need to be formal with. 

 

If I want to tell two or more friends or family members to hurry up, then I need to say sbrigatevi. Here, the stress is on the second syllable (the "a")!

 

Io vado avanti, vi aspetto là, eh, sbrigatevi. Ah, ricordatevi le cinture di sicurezza!

I'm going ahead, I'll wait for you there, eh, hurry. Oh, remember your seat belts!

Captions 40-41, Un medico in famiglia s.1 e.1 - Casa nuova - Part 2

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If we need to say the same thing using the polite form, it's si sbrighi in the singular. This might be used by a police officer who is asking to you move your car out of the way. The plural would be si sbrighino.

So this verb isn't super easy to use, but if you memorize the second person singular familiar, it will come in very useful.

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One more thing: sbrigare in its non-reflexive form means to "to deal with." 

 

Va be', noi andiamo che abbiamo un sacco di lavoro da sbrigare.

All right, we're going, because we have a lot of work to get done.

Caption 37, Il Commissario Manara S1EP6 - Reazione a Catena - Part 10

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La fretta

Another way to tell someone to hurry is fai in fretta. Note that here the verb is fare which means both "to make" and "to do."

Fai in fretta, ti prego.

Be quick, please.

Caption 57, Il Commissario Manara S1EP5 - Il Raggio Verde - Part 12

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La furia

Often fretta goes hand in hand with furia. In fretta e furia (in a big hurry)

Se tu trovi un cadavere in una stanza d'albergo e scopri che l'occupante della stanza ha pagato per altri due giorni in anticipo, però se ne va prima in fretta e furia, ti insospettisci, no? -Eh!

If you find a dead body in a hotel room and you discover that the occupant of the room had paid in advance for two more days, but he leaves beforehand in a big hurry, you become suspicious, don't you? -Yeah.

Captions 11-14, Il Commissario Manara S1EP7 - Sogni di Vetro - Part 5

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If you see someone rushing out of the house, you might say:

Dove vai così in fretta e furia (where you are off to all of a sudden)?

 

In some parts of Italy, in Tuscany, for instance, people just say ho furia to mean ho fretta, sono di corsa. I'm in a hurry.

Non è neanche passato a salutarlo? No. Dovevo andare via, c'avevo furia [toscano: fretta].

You didn't even stop by to say goodbye? No. I had to leave. I was in a hurry.

Captions 9-10, Il Commissario Manara S2EP8 - Fuori servizio - Part 7

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You might get asked if you are in a particular rush, for example, when someone wants to talk to you or spend some time with you. If you're in Tuscany they might say:

Hai furia o possiamo fermarci per prendere un caffè (are you in a rush or can we stop for a coffee)?

Anywhere else in Italy, they would probably say:

Hai fretta o possiamo fermarci per prendere un caffè (are you in a rush or can we stop for a coffee)?

Di corsaa compound adverb

"Scusa, ma vado di corsa". "Parliamo più tardi".

"Sorry, but I'm in a rush." "We'll talk later."

Captions 55-56, Marika spiega Gli avverbi di modo

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BANNER PLACEHOLDER

We shouldn't think that these are the only ways to talk about being in a hurry, or telling someone to hurry up. But they will give you a good start. In substance, they have similar meanings, but they are used differently, and that's where it can get a bit tricky. Vado di fretta or ho fretta both work. Vado di corsa works, but not ho corsa. So keep your antennae up, and you will gradually absorb these words into your vocabulary. You'll have your favorites, too. 

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2 Ways to Cheat in Italian

Whether you're cheating or being cheated, you'll want to know the words Italians use to talk about cheating. In this lesson we will discuss two words that have come up in Yabla videos.

Take your pick! Truccare or Taroccare

Whichever verb you choose, it's about cheating.

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There are two fun words in Italian that mean essentially the same thing. They seem to come from different roots, but Italians use them pretty much interchangeably as we will see. But let's look at these two words separately.

 

Truccare

The noun form trucco is better known to us with its English cognate "trick." Its usual meaning in Italian is "expedient," as in the following example.

Un buon trucco è quello di lavare i piatti usando l'acqua di cottura della pasta, che ha un alto potere sgrassante e detergente.

A good trick is to wash the dishes using the water from cooking pasta, which is a powerful de-greaser and detergent.

Captions 23-25, Non beviamoci su Risparmio dell'acqua - Part 2

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We also use il trucco to mean "makeup." We are, in a way, falsifying how we really look when we use makeup. We try to enhance our physical appearance. It's used as a collective noun, as is "makeup."

Bene. Allora vatti a provare il vestito e le scarpe. Ma non ho finito con il trucco.

Good. Then go and try on the dress and the shoes. But I haven't finished with the makeup.

Captions 53-54, La Ladra Ep. 5 - Chi la fa l'aspetti - Part 4

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In fact, falsifying is what truccare is all about. Putting makeup on is a socially acceptable way of falsifying one's facial aspect, of course, but there are other more sinister ways to falsify things. In a recent episode of La Ladra, there is a corrupt mechanic who soups up cars for illegal races. The car has been enhanced. 

Eh, che dice? Dice che c'ha un giro de [romanesco: di] auto truccate e de [romanesco: di] corse clandestine. Lo sospettavo.

Hey, what does he say? He says he has an operation involving souped-up cars and illegal races. I suspected that.

Captions 71-73, La Ladra EP. 8 - Il momento giusto - Part 7

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In shady businesses, the books will likely be falsified. There are colorful words we can use in English, such as "to doctor," "to cook," "to fix," "to load the dice." One choice in Italian is truccare.

Allora Natoli, Salmastri ha truccato i bilanci e questo è chiaro. Però non capisco perché.

So, Natoli, Salmastri has doctored the financial statements and this is clear. But I don't understand why.

Captions 1-2, La Tempesta film - Part 23

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Taroccare

The verb taroccare , on the other hand, comes from the plural noun tarocchi, which means none other than "tarot cards." It's important to realize that tarot cards started out as cards to play card games with. It was only later that they were used specifically for divination. Tarot cards or tarocchi are still used throughout much of Europe to play conventional card games without divinatory associations. Learn more about this here

Cheating at cards and games has most likely always existed and this concept might contribute to the use of taroccare to mean "to falsify." As we can see in the following example and the one mentioned above, Paolo in La Tempesta uses both truccare and taroccare when talking about falsifying the books. They sound pretty similar, too. 

 

Paolo, che succede, eh? Sei una serpe, sei una viscida serpe! Hai taroccato i bilanci dell'azienda per spaventare gli azionisti.

Paolo, what's going on, huh? You're a snake, a slimy snake. You falsified the financial statements of the company to scare the stockholders.

Captions 12-14, La Tempesta film - Part 23

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BANNER PLACEHOLDER

You can't go wrong, but...

Whichever word you decide to use, Italians will understand just fine. If we want to be more refined, we could say that if you are thinking of putting some fake license plates on a car, you would probably use taroccare, but if you are just beefing up a motor, or adjusting a few numbers in a register, you might go for truccare. If you are enhancing the sound of a recording by adding artificial reverb, or photoshopping a photo, truccare is fine to use without going to jail. Taroccare can be left to illegal or shadier enterprises.

The video example from La Ladra could have used the verb taroccare just as well, since it often refers to cars, motorcycles, etc. It's a matter of personal choice, as well as regional, local, societal tradition.

 

P.S.

If you haven't seen La Tempesta, it's available in its entirety on Yabla, with subtitles in both Italian and English (that you can see or hide as you go), and plenty of exercises to help you retain what you hear in the video. It's a fun movie for learning Italian, and takes place in Treviso, a city in the Veneto region of Italy.

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Legno or Legna ?

It's coming on winter, at least in the northern hemisphere, where Italy is located.

In many places in Italy, people heat their houses using wood. or, In the country and in small villages, lots of people have fireplaces in their kitchens. 

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Wood is Wood, right?

Right and wrong. In English, we think of wood as wood, whatever its use. But in Italian, there are two similar but different words, depending on what we do with the wood.

 

Legno

To construct something we use legno (wood), a masculine noun. This has its root in the Latin noun "lignum." 

 

Interestingly, Italians use two basic prepositions with legno to correspond to "wooden": in and di which can both mean "of."

Questo meraviglioso piano in legno si chiama spianatoia e serve proprio per impastare la nostra pasta fresca.

This marvelous wooden surface is called a pastry board and it's used exactly for making our fresh pasta dough.

Captions 90-92, L'Italia a tavola Culurgiones D'Ogliastra - Part 1

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Veniva impastato in casa, proprio su quella superficie di legno e poi messa [sic: messo], questo impasto, su quella specie di tavola, veniva portato al forno, perché in casa non c'erano dei forni.

The dough was worked at home, right on that wooden surface and then this dough was put on that type of wooden board and brought to the oven, because there were no ovens in houses.

Captions 64-68, Alberto Angela - Meraviglie Ep. 1 - Part 12

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Legna

To build a fire for heating or cooking, we use the feminine noun la legna. This comes, again from the Latin, from the plural of "lignum": "ligna." In fact, la legna, just like the collective noun "firewood," usually refers to a collection of pieces of wood to be used for burning. 

 

If we ask what kind of wood is used, then we can use legno. In the following example, someone is asking the pizzaiolo what kind of wood he uses in his forno a legna.

 

Quello è il forno a legna. Che legno usate?

That's the wood oven. What kind of wood do you use?

Captions 39-40, Antonio presenta la Pizzeria Escopocodisera

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To be even more specific, we can expand on legna: legna da ardere (wood for burning/firewood). The following example is from a fascinating video on Yabla about olive trees and making olive oil.

 

Quando avveniva questo distacco delle due parti dell'ulivo, una della due parti veniva sacrificata come legna da ardere.

When this detachment took place of the two parts of the olive tree, one of the two parts was sacrificed as firewood.

Captions 47-48, Olio Extra Vergine Pugliese Introduzione e cenni storici

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What are some contexts for legna?

The fireplace is often called il camino (note the single M) and more often than not, the diminutive is used:  il caminetto. The chimney is the canna fumaria (the smokestack). 

 

In place of la  caldaia (furnace, hot water heater), some people have una stufa a legna (wood stove).

 

And let's not forget that the best pizza is said to be made in a forno a legna (wood-burning oven). In these cases the preposition a is used, referring to the function. What makes it run?

 

Peppe ha infornato la pizza nel forno a legna, che è un forno tradizionale.

Peppe has put the pizza in the wood oven, which is a traditional oven.

Caption 48, Antonio presenta la Pizzeria Escopocodisera

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This goes for bread, too.

Antico a lievitazione naturale, cotto a legna, ci sono altri tipi...

Traditional sourdough, baked in a wood oven, there are other kinds...

Caption 64, Anna e Marika Il pane

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BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Now you know the difference between legno and legna. They are both right; you just need to know the context. 

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How to address your teacher in Italian

In a foreign country, knowing how to address people can be a challenge.

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Formal or Informal?

First of all, you need to know whether to be formal or informal. Italians may refer to this as dare del lei (to give the formal "you") or dare del tu (to give the informal "you"). Check out this lesson about the ins and outs of this. 

 

Some History: Fascism and Italian language

During the period of Italian Fascism, there were strict rules about how to address other people. It's a fascinating story and Yabla has featured a documentary about Fascism and Italian language. Check out the relative lesson: What's the Story on Voi in the Singular?

 

Signora and Signore

It's interesting that Italians very often use the equivalent of "ma'am" and "sir" instead of using someone's name: signora and signore.

Sì, signora, dica. -E mio marito non è rientrato stanotte e non ha nemmeno avvertito... e... non è mai successo. Sono molto preoccupata. -Venga nel mio ufficio, signora.

Yes, ma'am, what is it? -My husband didn't come home last night and he didn't even let me know... and... it's never happened before. I'm very worried. -Come into my office, ma'am.

Captions 15-19, Il Commissario Manara S1EP6 - Reazione a Catena - Part 2

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Keep in mind that often, signora and signor are commonly used before a first name. It's midway between formal and informal.

Signora Caterina, non si preoccupi per Brigadiere, perché l'ho portato alla pensione Abbaio Giocoso e starà benissimo.

Miss Caterina, don't worry about Brigadiere, because I took him to the kennel "Playful Barking" and he'll be just fine.

Captions 39-40, Il Commissario Manara S2EP6 - Sotto tiro - Part 14

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He's no doctor!

We've also talked about the fact that Italians use the term dottore (doctor) when wishing to treat someone with respect, regardless of whether the person is an actual doctor, or whether he has a PhD. The Dottore is In.

 

And, like dottore, they will use a title without the name of the person. For instance, in the story of Adriano Olivetti, he was an engineer, so people — especially people who worked with him — would just call him Ingegnere (engineer), without his name. 

Ingegnere, Lei mi sta facendo una proposta incredibile.

Sir, you are making me an incredible offer.

Caption 46, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 12

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At school

Lastly, at school, the actual name of the teacher seems to be of relatively minor importance when addressing him or her directly. You simply call your teacher Prof, short for professore (professor, teacher) if you are allowed to by the teacher. When speaking more formally, students will use professore or professoressa, once they leave primary school. If they are still in primary or elementary school, they will use maestra (schoolmistress) to refer to a female teacher. On the subject of the schoolroom, Yabla offers an original content series about the regions of Italy. It's set in a classroom with Anna as the student and Marika playing the (often mean) teacher. How does Anna handle this? It might depend on the mood of the professoressa.  Check out the videos here

Guardi, Lei ha studiato, perché Lei ha studiato, ma mi sta antipatica oggi e quindi Le metto sette. -Ma prof, ma sono venuta volontaria. -E ho capito, però mi gira così.

Look, you've studied, because [and I see] you've studied, but I find you disagreeable today and so I'll put down a seven. But teacher, I volunteered. -Uh, I get it, but that's how it's hitting me today.

Captions 88-91, L'Italia a tavola Interrogazione sulla Liguria

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Yabla offers the TV series, Provaci ancora Prof as part of its growing library. The title is a takeoff on Woody Allen's "Play it Again, Sam."

 

A student is speaking to his teacher:

Prof, si unisca a noi.

Teach, join us.

Caption 57, Provaci Ancora Prof! S1E2 - Un amore pericoloso - Part 1

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BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Of course in American English, we would use Mr., Mrs., Ms, or Miss and the last name of the teacher. The translation we have given is very informal, and calling a teacher "teach" would likely be frowned upon in most schools. But in Italy, it's the norm in many school situations. Good to know!

 

More about meeting and greeting formally and informally here: I say hello; you say goodbye

 

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The Panzanella Crossword Puzzle

This lesson is simply a crossword puzzle in Italian, especially for you, inspired by the Yabla video: In cucina con Arianna - la panzanella - Part 1. The puzzle will be easier if you have watched the video, but not essential.

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Do the crossword

 

Divertitevi!  Have fun!

 

Buongiorno. Oggi siamo in Toscana. Su questo tavolo potete vedere tanti e coloratissimi ingredienti e voi vi chiederete "per fare cosa?" Per, ehm, preparare una buonissima ricetta della tradizione toscana.

Hello. Today we're in Tuscany. On this table, you can see lots of very colorful ingredients and you must be asking yourself, "to do what?" To, uh, make a really good recipe from the Tuscan tradition.

Captions 1-4, In cucina con Arianna la panzanella - Part 1

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Here is a link to the solutions.

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

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Solutions to Crossword "La Panzanella"

Here you will find the answers to La Panzanella crossword puzzle:

If asked for the passcode it's: yabla

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 La Panzanella crossword puzzle answers

 

 

non ha un particolare sapore, sa solo di pane ed è l'ingrediente principale per preparare la panzanella.

it doesn't have a particular taste. It just tastes like bread and is the principal ingredient for making panzanella [bread salad].

Captions 10-11, In cucina con Arianna la panzanella - Part 1

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In case you have trouble accessing the completed crossword, here are the answers:

 

Across:

4) per togliere il sapore forte della cipolla, la si mette nell' ______ acqua

9) il contrario di "facile" difficile

10) in nessun momento mai

11) in un paese straniero: all'______ estero

12) con piacere volentieri

14) ovunque dappertutto

15) il sapore di questa verdura è forte cipolla

 

Down:

1) fare una domanda chiedere

2) una parola toscana per "radici" barbe

3) la regione da dove viene la panzanella toscana

5) un altro modo di dire "veramente" addirittura

6) non fresco quando si parla di pane raffermo

7) un verbo che vuol dire "avere il gusto", e anche "avere conoscenza di" sapere

8) un modo per tagliare il pane: a ________ fette

13) la panzanella si fa con il ______ pane

 

 

We look forward to your feedback! Troppo facile? Troppo difficile? Funziona bene?

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

A presto!

 

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Addirittura: A handy one-word expression

There's a wonderful word that is a bit tricky to say, because there is a double "d," then a single "r", then a double "t" and then a single "r". Whew! But it's worth the trouble (and worth practicing). Addirittura. It means several things and is simply a great word to have handy, for instance, when expressing astonishment:

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Addirittura?

Really?

Caption 34, Chi m'ha visto film - Part 22

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The man saying this, if speaking English, might have said, "Seriously?"

 

It can mean, "as a matter of fact":

 

E mi sembrava addirittura che i toscani lavorassero troppo poco.

And as a matter of fact, it seemed to me that Tuscans worked too little.

Caption 42, Gianni si racconta Chi sono

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We can often translate addirittura with a simple "even." 

E questa sera mi ha addirittura raggiunta in studio la mamma del povero Martino.

And this evening, poor Martino's mom even came to the studio to join me.

Caption 43, Chi m'ha visto film - Part 18

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A less word-for-word translation might have been:

Poor Martino's mom came all the way to the studio to join me.

 

But it's a strong word and "even" doesn't always do it justice. 

It can mean "as far afield as," "as much as,"  "as little as," "to the point that," "downright," and more.

 

Sembri la Befana. Eh! Addirittura!

You look like a witch. Hey! That bad?

Captions 8-9, La Ladra Ep. 7 - Il piccolo ladro - Part 13

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Ce ne sono due grandi internazionali eh... a Pisa e Firenze, ma addirittura altri sette piccoli aeroporti.

There are two large international ones uh... in Pisa and Florence, but in fact there are seven other small airports.

Captions 69-70, L'Italia a tavola Interrogazione sulla Toscana

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As you might have figured out, addirittura can have to do with extreme measures or something exceptional. It can be useful when complaining or when justifying something you did: 

L'ho controllato addirittura tre volte (I went so far as to check it three times).

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Tip: Go to the videos page and do a search of addirittura. You will get dozens of examples where addirittura is a stand-alone expression and others that will be part of a sentence. To get even more context plus the English translation, go to "Transcripts" and do the same kind of search with command-F. The word will be highlighted. Reading the sentence out loud will give you plenty of practice. 

 

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A Leftover Jukebox Word

In this week's episode of La Ladra, there's a curious adjective (in the form of a past participle). Eva and Dante are discussing the popularity of their dishes, a ginger risotto and seafood couscous.

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The adjective is gettonatissimo, the superlative form of gettonato. It comes from the verb gettonare. But let's backtrack a moment and talk about the noun the verb comes from: il gettone.

 

Depending on your age, and if you have travelled to Italy, you may or may not have heard of a gettone, the special token people would use, back in the day, to make phone calls in a bar or cabina telefonica (phone booth). It was a coin with a groove on either side.

 

In addition to using gettoni for making phone calls, people used them for playing songs on the juke box. It was common to go to the bar to make phone calls, and there would often be a little booth where you could use the phone in private. In the same bar where you might make a phone call, there might also be a jukebox. 

 

So if lots of people put a gettone in the juke box for a particular song, we could say that song is gettonata. These days, gettoni are used at laundromats, for supermarket carts, and at carwashes, but little else. The term gettonato has remained, however, to describe something as popular, something that people choose over other things.

Stasera sei tu in vantaggio, i tuoi piatti sono gettonatissimi.

Tonight you're ahead. Your dishes are hugely popular.

Caption 2, La Ladra EP. 8 - Il momento giusto - Part 4

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If we backtrack even further from the noun gettone, we find the verb gettare (to throw, to cast). If you have learned how to say "to throw" in Italian, you have most likely learned buttare. It is a synonym for gettare in many cases, and is a more informal word in general, when it means the physical act of throwing. But gettare is used in specific situations such as the one in the example below. 

 

Ammetto che è la prima volta in vita mia che ho voglia di mettere radici in un posto. -Ahi ahi ahi. Hai deciso di gettare l'ancora? Ebbene sì, lo ammetto.

I admit that it's the first time in my life that I have the desire to put down roots in a place. -Uh oh. Have you decided to drop anchor? Well, yes, I admit it.

Captions 24-27, La Ladra Ep. 7 - Il piccolo ladro - Part 6

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As we have seen, verbs and nouns may be used to form new words. One modern-day example of this is in the description of a single-use item or something disposable.

Vola, vola, vola sulla bicicletta Contro la cultura del consumo "usa e getta"

Fly, fly, fly on the bicycle Against the culture of "disposable" consumption

Captions 40-41, Radici nel Cemento La Bicicletta

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You will see usa e getta crop up in ads for and labels on dustcloths, latex gloves, contact lenses, etc. From two verbs: usare (to use) and gettare (to throw), a compound adjective was born: usa e getta (use and throw/single-use).

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Tutti Quanti

Do you know how to use the word tutto, or the plurals tutti and tutte? You may have heard the term "tutti frutti" that has made its way into English, as seen in this dictionary entry. It usually describes a variety of flavors. Literally it means "all fruits."

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Tutto basically means "all" and can be used both as a pronoun and as an adjective. What's tricky is that depending on what it represents, it will change its ending according to number and gender. 

Dici la stessa cosa tutte le volte (you say the same thing every time).

 

Ci manchi tanto, a tutti noi (we miss you alot, all of us do).

 

Così fan tutte (that's what they all [feminine] do). [This is the title of a Mozart opera.]

 

Abbiamo caricato tutte le bici in macchina (we've loaded all the bikes in the car).

 

Ho messo tutti i piatti nella lavastoviglie (I put all the plates in the dishwasher).

 

Note that after tutto, tutti, or tutte, we use the article of the noun if there is a noun.

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Let's look at some of the words we can tack onto tutto/tutti/tutte to add clarity.

First, let's look at tutto quanto, tutti quanti and tutte quante.

In the example below, Alberto Angela is talking about a fact, a situation, so he uses the singular, and likewise, quanto becomes singular. Tutto quanto: "the sum of this," "all that there is."

 

Tutto quanto risale all'Alto Medioevo, cioè a un'epoca, eh, in cui Longobardi e Bizantini si scontrarono.

All of this dates back to the early Middle Ages, that is, to an era, uh, in which the Lombards and the Byzantines were in conflict.

Captions 16-17, Alberto Angela - Meraviglie Ep. 1 - Part 10

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Let's say we are buying tomatoes. We want all the tomatoes in the crate. Pomodoro is a masculine noun. Pomodori is the plural. So we need the plural masculine, tutti as a pronoun.

 

To make sure we get the point across that we really want all those tomatoes, we add quanti to say, not just "all" but "all of them," "all that there are," "every last one."

 

Here's a little dialog that could occur at the market:

 

Vorrei qualche pomodoro (I'd like some tomatoes).

Quanti ne vuoi? (how many [of them] would you like?

Fammi pensare... li prenderò tutti quanti (let me think... I'll take all of them).

 

If you don't add "quanti" it still means basically the same thing, but quanti sends it home. If the vendor is not sure you really want all of them, he might ask, to confirm, tutti quanti (the whole lot)?

 

In English we have to distinguish between "everything" and "everybody." In Italian, we use the same word — tutto/tutti/tutte for things and people, but we need to pay attention to number and gender.

 

In the following example, tutti happens to refer to persons, not things, but what stands out is the use of quanti after tutti. As in the previous example, it's a way of emphasizing that you really mean "all":

 

Non fare il piccione. Ovunque sei andato, è il momento di tornare. -Oh, stanno tutti quanti qua.

Don't be a pigeon. Wherever you went, it's time to come back. -Hey. Everyone is here [they are all here].

Captions 49-50, Chi m'ha visto film - Part 20

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When we're talking about two things or persons in English, we often use "both." In Italian, we still use tutti but we qualify it. If we are talking generically the default is masculine — tutti e due (both), but if the nouns or people are feminine, then it's tutte e due (both).

Quale disegno ti piace (which design do you like)?

Tutti e due (both of them).

 

Quale felpa metto in valigia, quella beige o quella blu scuro? (Which sweatshirt should I put in my suitcase? The beige one or the dark blue one?)

Ci le metto tutte e due, in fin dei conti, ce spazio a sufficienza. (I'll put both of them in, anyway there is enough room.).

When we're talking about just two things, we can also say entrambi or entrambe (both). When using tutti e, we can tack on any quantity we want.

Quale risposta delle cinque è corretta (which of the five answers are correct)?

Tutte e cinque sono giuste (all five of them are right).

Avete capito tutto quanto (have you understood all of this)?

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What does "proprio" actually mean?

If we listen to an Italian speaking, either formally or informally, one word we will hear constantly is proprio. With its various meanings, it can be confusing to start using. Proprio sounds a lot like "proper," of course, and that is one meaning, although not the most common.

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Let's start with one of the few cases in which proprio can connote "proper": the expression vero e proprio. Literally, "true and proper," it always comes as two words connected by the conjunction e (and). The expression can mean "proper" or "veritable" (as in the case of the example below). "Genuine," "real," or "actual" can work, too. Italians really like to say vero e proprio "true and proper." Think of it as one word.

Il Duomo di Siena è un vero e proprio scrigno,

The Duomo of Siena is a veritable treasure chest,

Caption 1, Alberto Angela - Meraviglie Ep. 3 - Part 5

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Very often, proprio means "just," or "exactly," as in the following example. 

A volte molto freddo, specie a gennaio e a febbraio. Ecco perché bisogna vestirsi pesanti, proprio come me.

Sometimes, very cold, especially in January and February. That's why we need to dress in heavy clothing, just like me.

Captions 12-13, Adriano Le stagioni dell'anno

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Proprio can mean "actually" or "indeed."

Vedrete come la prima sillaba di ogni verso è proprio il nome che poi è rimasto alle sette note. In quel caso erano sei, l'esacordo di Guido D'Arezzo. "Ut", "re", "mi", "fa", "sol", "la".

You'll see how the first syllable of each line is indeed the name which has since remained, for the seven notes. In that case they were six, the hexachord of Guido of Arezzo. "Ut" (C), "re" (D), "mi" (E), "fa" (F), "sol" (G), "la"(A).

Captions 29-32, A scuola di musica con Alessio - Part 1

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We use proprio to give more emphasis to an adjective.

Proprio buono!

Really good!

Caption 46, Adriano Il caffè

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We also use proprio when in English, we would say "right" as an adverb, for example, proprio lì (right there).

Ciao, ragazzi e ragazze [ragazze e ragazzi]. Mi trovo proprio al ristorante Pinocchio.

Hi guys and gals, I'm right in the Pinocchio restaurant.

Caption 3, Adriano Pizzeria Pinocchio - Part 2

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We also use propio to indicate ownership. We add this example so that you know about this use. Not all Italians uses this properly, so don't worry about it too much, but if you don't know this meaning, there may be cause for confusion. We'll talk about this more in a future lesson.

 

Una città dove non c'è più egoismo e ognuno fa il proprio dovere di creare e agire.

A city where there's no more egotism and everyone does one's own duty — to create and act.

Captions 11-12, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 24

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One way to take advantage of Yabla is to do a search of proprio on the videos page.  You'll see example after example of this word in various contexts. If there are examples you don't quite understand, let us know! We're here to help.

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Strappare: to tear, to rip

 

Strappare (to tear, to yank, to rip) is an interesting Italian verb, with a useful, related noun uno strappo (the act of ripping up) that goes hand in hand with it.

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Sembrerebbe un tuo capello. Va be', dai, strappami il capello, forza. Strappa 'sto capello. Dai, ai!

It seems like one of your hairs. OK, come on, pull out a hair, come on. Yank this strand out. Come on, ow!

Captions 37-40, Il Commissario Manara S2EP3 - Delitto tra le lenzuola - Part 2

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The previous example is literal and you can easily visualize the act. The following example could be literal, but not necessarily. It describes a somewhat violent act, but this grandfather might be speaking figuratively.

Insomma, mi hanno strappato via la mia nipotina dalle braccia.

In short, they tore my little granddaughter from my arms.

Caption 84, Un medico in famiglia s.1 e.1 - Casa nuova - Part 6

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Even when we're talking about hair, strappare can be used figuratively. 

Guarda, mi strappo i capelli da, proprio...

Look, I'm really tearing my hair out from, right...

Caption 24, L'Eredità -Quiz TV La sfida dei sei. Puntata 1 - Part 14

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In this week's segment of La Ladra, there is a wonderful Italian expression with the noun strappo

Ma sono vegetariano. Ma non fai mai uno strappo alla regola? -Qualche volta. E... allora potresti venire nel mio ristorante, naturalmente saresti mio ospite. -Con piacere.

But I am a vegetarian. But don't you ever make an exception to the rule? -Sometimes. And... so you could come to my restaurant, you'll be my guest, naturally. -With pleasure.

Captions 61-64, La Ladra EP. 8 - Il momento giusto - Part 1

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Did you hear the percussive T, the well-articulated R, and the double, percussive P? It's a fun word to say. Remember that in Italian a double P sounds different from a single P. To hear the difference, go back to the examples about hair. There's a double P in strappare, or strappo, but there is a single P in capello or capelli. Tricky!

Strappare (to tear, to rip, to yank) is very close to rompere (to break) or even spezzare (to break, to snap, to split)So fare uno strappo alle regole, means "to break a rule," "to make an exception." 

 

Another expression with the same noun — strappo — is dare uno strappo (to give [someone] a lift). 

Ti do uno strappo a casa?

Shall I give you a lift home?

Caption 51, Il Commissario Manara S1EP9 - Morte in paradiso - Part 7

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The more conventional word would be un passaggio. Read more about passaggio here.

 

Practice:

Here are some situations in which you might want to use the verb strappare or the noun strappo:

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You want someone to tear off a page from their notebook or pad. Mi strappi una pagina? (Would you tear off a page for me?)

You want someone to give you a lift home. Mi dai uno strappo? (Will you give me a lift?)

You hardly ever eat ice cream, but today, you'll make an exception. Faccio uno strappo alla regola. Mangerò un gelato! (I'll make an exception. I'm going to have ice cream!)

You are very frustrated with listening to someone complain. Quando comincia con certi discorsi mi viene voglia di strapparmi i capelli. (When he/she starts up with that story, I get the urge to tear my hair out.)

 

Try fitting in these new words to your Italian practice. Send in your suggestions and we'll correct them or comment on them.

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