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Giorno or giornata: What's the difference?

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

 

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

 

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

Buongiorno, signora Caterina.

Good morning, Missus Caterina.

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

 

For more about greetings, check out this lesson 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Let's say you are waiting for a package.

The corriere (the shipping company) says:

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

 

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

 

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

Che giornata (what a day)!

 

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

 

You can say:

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

 

You can also say:

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

 

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

 

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

Oggi è una bellissima giornata, un po' fredda,

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

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

Ti sto rovinando la giornata, scusami.

I'm wrecking your day, forgive me.

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

 

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

 

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

La prego, solo mezza giornata.

Please, just half a day.

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

 

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

 

Vocabulary

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