Let's look at a word that in one sense is not too difficult to figure out, but which has meanings that are a bit more elusive, too.
We're looking at the past participle of the verb prevedere (to foresee).
È la nostra capacità di intuire e di prevedere alcuni eventi del futuro.
It is our ability to intuit and predict some events of the future.
Captions 45-46, Marika spiega I cinque sensi - Part 3Play Caption
If we take prevedere apart, we see the prefix pre and the verb vedere (to see). One way to translate prevedere is with "to foresee" or "to forecast." In fact, the weather forecast is often called le previsioni, using the noun form la visione (the vision).
So one thing to remember is that the English word "predict," as we see in the example above, might seem to call for the Italian verb predire. It does exist but prevedere is used more often for this in general speech.
More often than not, the past participle previsto is used to mean "expected," as in the series La linea verticale, where Luigi gets more organs removed in surgery than had been planned on, or expected.
Anche se credo che t'abbia tolto un po' più roba del previsto.
Even though I believe he took out a bit more stuff than expected.
Caption 9, La linea verticale EP 2 - Part 5Play Caption
"Presto" e "subito" indicano che l'evento si è svolto, si svolge o si dovrà svolgere in pochissimo tempo, prima del previsto.
“Presto”[soon] and “subito”[immediately] indicate that the event has taken place, is taking place, or will take place very soon, earlier than expected.
Captions 50-52, Marika spiega Gli avverbi - Avverbi di tempoPlay Caption
Sometimes previsto can stand in for "included." Is breakfast included? Italians often use the word previsto.
Il servizio in camera è previsto solo per i primi venticinque anni.
Room service is only included for the first twenty-five years.Play Caption
And there is another way previsto is used in general speech. It has more to do with law, and means "dictated by law."
[Direzione Generale Cinema. L'opera è stata realizzata anche grazie ] [all'utilizzo del credito d'imposta italiano previsto dalla legge duecentoventi/duemilasedici]
[General Cinema Direction. The show was made thanks also] [to the use of the Italian tax credit provided for by law two hundred and twenty / two thousand and sixteen]
Captions 70-71, JAMS S1 EP 1 - Part 6Play Caption
So we need the context to let us know exactly what previsto means in each case.
In this lesson, we will talk about words that stem from the root word, quadro. For more about the word quadro itself, please see this lesson, where we discuss various meanings of the word. For the purposes here, let's think of un quadro as a picture, or a painting. We can imagine it as being framed and hanging on the wall.
Cristina ci ha detto che qualche suo quadro era riuscito a venderlo.
Cristina told us that you were able to sell a few of his paintings.Play Caption
A frame is often square or rectangular, and in fact, quadro is another word for square. In a camera, we see a square (or frame) around the subject we want in the shot.
In concrete terms, l'inquadratura is the act or result of framing something in a camera, telescope, binoculars, or some such appliance. The verb form is inquadrare. You want to make it so your subject is in a certain position within the frame you see in your viewfinder or live-view screen. In other words, in the shot.
Qua si vede un'anfora, un'urna cineraria per l'esattezza, quasi intatta. Riesci a inquadrarla? -Sì.
Here you can see an amphora, a cinerary urn to be precise, almost intact. Are you able to get it in the shot? -Yes.
Captions 21-22, Anna e Marika Hostaria Antica Roma - Part 4
In photographic terms, the kind of shot is often described in Italian with the noun piano (plane) or campo (field of view). But for the subject we focus on, or that we want in the frame, we use inquadrare.
Primi piani, totali, campi medi, tutto con il quaranta, semplicemente allontanandosi o avvicinandosi al soggetto o a... alla cosa da inquadrare.
Close ups, long shots, medium shots, all with the forty [mm], simply by going further away or by getting closer to the subject or to the... the thing to capture in the frame.
Captions 5-7, Fratelli Taviani La passione e l'utopia - Part 11Play Caption
Io La guardo sempre alla TV, ma dal vivo sembra più alto. -Be', dipende molto dall'inquadratura. Spesso un'angolazione può dare l'impressione...
I always watch you on TV, but in person you seem taller. -Well, it depends a lot on the framing. Often a camera angle can give an impression...
Captions 53-55, PsicoVip Gli occhiali - Ep 24Play Caption
But we can also use the verb inquadrare figuratively. "We get the picture."
Tanto ho capito, io il tipo l'ho inquadrato. Non mi fido.
Anyway I understand, I have that guy figured out. I don't trust him.Play Caption
There are various ways of translating inquadrare in the following example, but we don't know exactly what she was thinking, so we opted for "to categorize."
Inquadrava i suoi corteggiatori come amici, quindi li invitava tutti insieme. Si odiavano tra di loro,
She categorized her suitors as friends, so she would invite them all together. They hated one another,
Captions 5-6, Vera e Giuliano Montaldo - Part 4Play Caption
E noi abbiamo inquadrato lì la porta...
And we focused on the door there...
Caption 18, Fratelli Taviani La passione e l'utopia - Part 1Play Caption
Inquadrare isn't actually focusing, in the technical sense of getting your subject in focus, or sharp, but you are focusing on something important in the shot, so sometimes it's synonymous with focusing. Usually, you want the subject in your frame to be in focus. When we are technically focusing on a part of the shot, we use the focus ring or use autofocus and we "put the image into focus": mettere a fuoco. Once the image is sharp, è a fuoco (it's in focus).
Just as inquadrare can be figurative, so can mettere a fuoco.
Poi, c'ho una nuova idea in testa, così, ma ancora... ancora un pochino confusa, che spero di mettere a fuoco abbastanza presto.
Then, I have a new idea in mind, like, but still... still a bit confused, which I hope to bring into focus fairly soon.
Captions 48-49, Fellini Racconta Un Autoritratto Ritrovato - Part 7Play Caption
Fare il punto della situazione, invece, vuol dire mettere a fuoco gli aspetti principali di quella situazione, mentre fare il quadro della situazione, invece, significa descrivere quella situazione in modo molto dettagliato.
To make the point [to sum up] of the situation, instead means to put into focus the principal aspects of that situation, whereas "to make the picture" of a situation, instead, means to describe that situation in a very detailed way.
Captions 61-64, Marika spiega Il verbo farePlay Caption
Niente is an indispensable word to have in your basic Italian vocabulary. It's a noun, it's a pronoun, it's an adjective, it's an adverb, and it can even be a simple filler word that doesn't mean anything in particular. This highly useful word can mean various things, but they all have some connection with "no," "nothing," or "not."
Let's remember that in Italian, the double negative is totally acceptable. It gets the meaning across! So, as opposed to English, we will often see non and niente in the same sentence expressing something negative. For example:
Pronto? Non sento niente.
Hello? I can't hear anything.Play Caption
Of course, when we translate, we try to use correct English, so with the presence of non, we avoid a double negative and transform "nothing" into "anything."
We use niente to mean "no" or "not any" before a noun (or verb in the infinitive that is functioning as a noun).
Buoni! -E sì, invece di prendertela col buio, accendi la luce, sennò niente biscotti!
Good! -Oh yes, instead of getting upset with the darkness, turn on the light. Otherwise, no cookies!
Captions 61-62, Dixiland Buio mangiabiscottiPlay Caption
If we see the little preposition di (of) before the word male (bad), then we're saying "nothing wrong," "not anything bad,"
Allora, insomma, erano un po' preoccupati, ma in realtà non ho fatto niente di male.
So, basically, they were a bit worried, but I didn't actually do anything wrong.
Captions 91-92, Che tempo che fa Raffaella Carrà - Part 3Play Caption
But when we have niente followed by male (with no preposition), then it means "not bad." This is an important distinction. Niente male is a wonderful alternative to "great!" We say something similar in English, too.
Anche a me sono successe un paio di disavventure niente male!
I also had a couple of things happen to me that weren't bad at all [pretty incredible]!
Caption 56, Francesca e Marika GestualitàPlay Caption
In Italian, we can either say non male (not bad) or niente male (not bad at all), which is a bit stronger towards the positive end of the spectrum.
One way to say, "nothing at all," is niente di niente.
No, no, io non ho sentito niente, niente di niente.
No, no, I didn't hear anything — nothing at all.
Caption 18, La Ladra EP. 6 - Nero di rabbia - Part 8Play Caption
Another way to say "nothing at all" is un bel niente.
No, abbiamo un caso di suicidio e stiamo ce'... -Abbiamo, abbiamo. Lei non ha un bel niente, Manara, finché non l'autorizzo io, ha capito?
No, we have a case of suicide and we're lo'... -We have, we have. You have a big nothing Manara, until I authorize it, understand?
Captions 24-25, Il Commissario Manara S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto - Part 3Play Caption
But to say, "not at all," it's per niente.
E a me non piacciono per niente.
And I don't like them at all.Play Caption
OK, e niente, avevo portato qualcosa da mangiare,
OK, and nothing more. I had brought something to eat,Play Caption
We translated niente here as "nothing more," but actually, it could mean something like "that's all."
There are undoubtedly other ways to use niente, such as:
Fa niente (it doesn't matter).
Di niente (you're welcome, don't mention it).
Non ho capito niente (I didn't understand anything).
Keep your eyes and ears open for the word niente as you watch Yabla videos, or any other videos. It's really all over the place!
Baracca sounds somewhat similar to "barrack." Barracks (a plural word often expressed in the singular) refer to a building or group of buildings that house large groups of people, often military personnel. It comes from the 17th-century French word "baraque," which in turn comes from the Catalan "barraca" (hut), of uncertain origin. The Italian word is baracca. It's a humble word about a humble place, but Italians use the word to mean a variety of things and not always humble ones.
It's hard to know what uses came before others, but let's first look at a very common Italian expression that might not make sense to a non-native.
We can imagine, perhaps, street performers who set up a little theater (baracca) with puppets or marionettes (burattini). Then the police come their way and they have to fold it up quickly and skedaddle. Or, perhaps the audience is booing. The puppeteers grab their things and hightail it. So in this case, la baracca is another word for teatro di burattini (marionette theater).
So when you up and leave with your stuff, you can say:
Chiudo baracca e burattini e me ne vado. I'm closing up shop and leaving.
Note that some people use the verb piantare, which aside from meaning "to plant," can also mean "to abandon."
Pia, la mia colf, mi ha piantato. Dice che non vuole vivere in campagna.
Pia, my nanny, ditched me. She says that she doesn't want to live in the country.Play Caption
Piantare baracca e burattini. Using the verb piantare really gives the idea of just up and leaving: abandoning ship.
If we look at some Italian dictionaries they mention that the expression chiudere/piantare baracca e burattini implies a brusque interruption of whatever the status quo is, for example, leaving a job all of a sudden, quitting school, or leaving one's family. On a broader, figurative level, it can mean completely changing the horizons of one's existence.
Baracca e burattini e si torna a casa, hai capito?
Theater and puppets [leave the whole shebang] and you go home, you get it?
Caption 54, Moscati, l'amore che guarisce EP1 - Part 6Play Caption
The nurse left off the first word of the expression, which would have been either chiudi or pianta. In English, we might even say, "You take your toys and go home..."
With this common and beloved expression out of the way, let's look at situations where the word baracca is used on its own.
In the following example, we're talking about a state-run health center:
Intanto questa baracca ha un responsabile e si dà il caso che sia io.
In any case this shack has a person in charge and it happens to be me.Play Caption
In this example, la baracca represents a business:
Poi Bianciardi muore, viene ammazzato, e Lei diventa proprietario di tutta la baracca, che dice?
Then Bianciardi dies, he gets killed, and you become owner of the whole shebang, what do you say?
Captions 16-17, Il Commissario Manara S1EP9 - Morte in paradiso - Part 10Play Caption
Here, it's a household:
Come farà Libero con i piccoli? Eh, hai fatto bene a pensarlo, perché non è facile qua, la baracca...
How will Libero manage with the little ones? Uh, you were right to think about that, because it's not easy here, the shack...
Captions 25-27, Un medico in famiglia Stagione 3 S3 EP1: Ciao famiglia - Part 8Play Caption
Here, it is another business:
Melody non ha la responsabilità di mandare avanti la baracca.
Melody isn't responsible for keeping the shack [things] going.
Caption 31, Sposami EP 4 - Part 6Play Caption
The expression mandare avanti la baracca is a very common expression with the word baracca, meaning "to keep the show going." Literally, "to send it along."
Keep your eyes and ears open for more expressions with baracca. Now you know what it means!
One of the first words we learn in Italian is bello. In fact, it's a very handy word, and one Italians use constantly. The translation we see first in just about any dictionary is "beautiful." It starts with B, and is easy to remember.
Un palazzo rinascimentale molto, molto... molto bello.
A Renaissance building that's very, very... very beautiful.
Caption 6, Antonio racconta Praia a MarePlay Caption
But let's look at some other translations for the word bello, translations we might not think of right away. Of course, when we are immersing ourselves in the Italian language, we don't really need to think too hard about the translation. We listen and repeat. The more we participate in or listen to Italian conversation, the more we get a feel for when to use bello and when to use molto bello, bellissimo, or some other adjective, such as carino, as we discuss below.
We can use the adjective bello (with its appropriate endings) to describe either a man or a woman. In English, we might say "a beautiful man," but it's more customary to say "handsome" for a man. In Italian, it's the same word, but the ending has to match the gender and number of the subject described.
un bel uomo (a handsome man)
una bella donna (a beautiful woman)
due belle ragazze (two pretty girls)
due bei ragazzi (two nice-looking boys)
Quei ragazzi sono belli
We use the adjective to describe not only people, but also things, experiences, ideas, etc.
We recommend watching Daniela's video lessons about bello, buono and bene if you haven't yet!
In English, "beautiful" is already a kind of superlative relative to "pretty" in many cases. But the absolute superlative of bello is bellissimo. It's like saying "very beautiful" or "gorgeous." Another way to say this is bello bello. We discuss this way of forming an absolute superlative in this lesson.
So on a qualitative scale, bello might be closer to "pretty" and bellissimo might be equivalent to "beautiful." But much of the time this adjective is subjective, and the meaning depends on how it's expressed, what it's describing, and who is doing the describing. Let's keep in mind another word that can be used to mean "pretty": carino/carina. But carino can also mean "nice" when talking about a person or an action carried out by a person, so sometimes understanding it needs some context or clarification.
Ah. -Mh mh. -Molto carino da parte tua.
Ah. -Hm. -Very nice/kind on your part.Play Caption
Bello can also be used to mean "great," "nice," "enjoyable," "lovely," and more.
Bello stare tranquilli in piscina tutto il giorno, eh?
Nice staying peacefully in the pool all day long, huh?
Caption 56, Acqua in bocca Mp3 Marino - Ep 2Play Caption
Mi trovo in Polonia, per festeggiare quello che sarà il giorno più bello della mia vita.
I'm in Poland to celebrate what will be the most wonderful day of my life.
Captions 5-6, Adriano Matrimonio con Anita - Part 1Play Caption
Taking into account the fact that "nice" can mean lots of things, here is another example of when we say bello and we mean "nice."
Ma, signora! Che bello vederti. È una vita che non ti vedo.
Oh, Ma'am! How nice to see you. I haven't seen you in a lifetime.
Captions 2-3, Dafne Film - Part 10Play Caption
The translation could easily have been "wonderful" or "great," since Dafne says she and the woman hadn't seen each other in a long time. The point is that it had nothing to do with beauty in this context.
Bello can also be used to mean "nice and" or "quite." In other words, it can act as an adverb describing an adjective in order to reinforce the meaning of the adjective.
Il filetto rimarrà bello gustoso e non saprà di affumicato, non saprà di bruciato.
The fillet will remain nice and tasty and won't taste smoked, won't taste burnt.Play Caption
Bello can also be used as an adjective describing something negative, just as "nice" can in English.
Certo che ci ha fatto prendere un bello spavento, eh!
For sure you gave us a nice scare, huh!
For sure you gave us quite a scare, huh!Play Caption
As you can see, bello is used in lots of ways, and we certainly haven't covered all of them here. One thing is for sure: We can't always translate bello with "beautiful." So keep your eyes and ears open for different nuances of the word bello as you listen to conversations, as you try to speak Italian, and as you watch Yabla videos on the handy player where you can pause, repeat a caption, and look up words, as well as do the exercises to reinforce what you are learning.
We can detect the cognate "to move" in the verb muovere. In English, "to move" can be either transitive or intransitive.
We can move a piece of furniture from one place to another, or we can be the ones to move on our own. In Italian, however, muovere is basically transitive, in its natural, non-reflexive form.
Per me la cosa più bella è recitare e muovere i pupi.
For me the best thing is reciting and moving the marionettes.
Caption 56, Dottor Pitrè e le sue storie - Part 11Play Caption
Non riesco a muovere la gamba (I can't move my leg)!
When it's intransitive, it is primarily used in its reflexive form.
Il nostro uomo sta per muoversi.
Our man is about to move.Play Caption
In addition to merely moving around in space, muoversi is used a lot to mean "to get going," "to get moving" (also figuratively), or "to get some exercise."
Ti vuoi muovere? -Arrivo!
You want to get moving? -I'm coming!Play Caption
Non ti muovere o sparo!
Don't move or I'll shoot!
Caption 28, Un Figlio a tutti i costi film - Part 6Play Caption
Lui ha detto: "Io da qui non mi muovo."
He said, "I am not budging from here."Play Caption
The verb muovere has an irregular conjugation, and the past participle is used quite often as an adjective.
When the sea is rough, it's il mare mosso.
Non lo vedo più. -Perché il mare è un po' mosso.
I can't see him anymore. -Because the sea is a bit rough.
Caption 50, PIMPA S3 EP12 L'amica OndaPlay Caption
When your hair is a bit wavy or not combed neatly, we use the past participle mossi. Let's remember that, in Italian, we use the plural capelli, even though in English, hair is a collective noun.
Aveva dei capelli mossi (she/he had wavy hair).
When you want someone to hurry up, you can say, muoviti (hurry up, get moving)!
Oh, cammina, muoviti. -Aspetta.
Hey, get going, move it. -Wait up.
Caption 11, Chi m'ha visto film - Part 14Play Caption
There is a noun form that comes from the past participle, and that is la mossa (the move). When you make the right move, fai la mossa giusta.
When you need to get a move on, it's darsi una mossa (literally, to give oneself a move).
Allora ragazzi, bisogna che ci diamo una mossa.
So, guys, we need to get a move on.Play Caption
Datti una mossa, dai (get a move on, come on)!
Of course in English, we use the verb "to move" when we go to live in a different apartment or house. You may be wondering how to say that in Italian. Transitive or intransitive? None of the above!
The verb is traslocare, or, much more common, fare trasloco. Think of it as "translocation!" or "translocate," a cross between "transfer" and "relocate."
We always say that the verb fare means "to make" or "to do." But the truth is that fare is used in all sorts of contexts to mean all sorts of things. In our weekly newsletters, we like to point out interesting words or expressions in the week's videos, which range from 5 to 9 new videos. This week there were plenty of instances of fare, so we focused on some of them in the newsletter. Here in the lesson, we do basically the same thing, but we give you video examples so you can hear and see the context for yourself. And maybe you will want to go and watch the entire video, or even better, subscribe if you haven't yet!
As we mentioned above, the verb fare can mean "to make" or "to do." But it is also often used to mean "to act like." In English, we might simply use the verb "to be."
Ma non fare lo scemo, dai!
But don't be an idiot, come on!
Fare is often used to mean "to let."
Mi può fare avere un piatto di minestra?
Can you let me have a bowl of soup?
Caption 3, Non è mai troppo tardi EP1 - Part 18Play Caption
The director of the reformatory was being polite. Here, the English verb could have been "to have" as in "have someone bring me a bowl of soup." Or it might even be "to make," as in, Fammi portare un piatto di minestra (make someone bring me some soup) or "to get" as in, "Get someone to bring me some soup." See the lesson Making It Happen about this very common use.
Here, fare is used with adverbs of time, for example: Facciamo tardi (we'll be late). Facciamo presto (we'll be quick).
Professo', però se andiamo così facciamo notte.
Professor, but if we keep going like this, we'll go into the night.
Caption 15, Non è mai troppo tardi EP1 - Part 18Play Caption
The previous example was from a conversation. This next one is from an interview. It's a bit trickier and uses the subjunctive after che (that).
Questo rapporto ha fatto sì che una volta terminato l'intervento sul Polittico, l'attenzione si sia spostata sulla Resurrezione.
This relationship meant that once the work on the polyptych was finished, the focus would have shifted to the Resurrection.Play Caption
The literal translation of this might be "to make it so" or "to assure."
We may have heard the expression lascia stare (leave it alone, leave him/her alone, leave him/her/it be), but we also sometimes hear lascia fare. They are similar in meaning but they employ two different verbs. In English, we would say, "let him/her be" or "leave him/her alone." Sometimes, it can mean "let him do what he's going to do," but not always.
Lascia fare, non gli da [dare] retta.
Let them be, don't listen to them.
Caption 36, La linea verticale EP 2 - Part 5Play Caption
Below is a common question asked of young people:
Cosa vuoi fare da grande? -Mi piacerebbe fare l'attrice o avere un lavoro sempre in quell'ambito.
What do you want to do/be when you grow up? -I would like to be an actor or to have a job in that area.
Captions 59-61, Le Interviste I liceali - Part 1Play Caption
And here is a conjugated version:
E da grande farò il maestro.
And when I grow up, I'm going to be a teacher.
Caption 11, Non è mai troppo tardi EP1 - Part 18Play Caption
Here, at least in the question, fare is the equivalent of both "to do" and "to be." We have to pay attention to the context to know which it is, but we also see that fare can be used in so many contexts that perhaps we don't have to worry about it too much. Just listen, repeat, and assimilate!
Let's look at 3 ways the cognate realtà is used in Italian. Two of these are relatively easy to grasp.
The most common way to use the noun la realtà is when it means "[the] reality."
E poi, con il blocco totale in casa, lì è stata [sic: stato] il vero confronto con la realtà, della serie "noi dobbiamo organizzarci qui, in questo spazio che abbiamo".
And then, with the total lockdown at home, in that case, it was about really facing reality, like, "We have to get organized here, in this space we have."
Captions 45-48, Fuori era primavera Viaggio nell'Italia del lockdown - Part 5Play Caption
Giada aveva completamente perso il senso della realtà, non erano solo i barbiturici il problema.
Giada had completely lost her sense of reality, the barbiturates were not the only problem.
Captions 68-69, Il Commissario Manara S1EP10 - Un morto di troppo - Part 3Play Caption
In English, we often leave out the article, but in Italian, we leave it in. With or without the article, the meaning is clear.
The other very common way to use realtà is when we say in realtà, which we can translate literally as "in reality" but in English, we'd more likely say, "actually."
Massimo, senti, io in realtà sono venuta per un altro motivo.
Massimo, listen, I actually came for another reason.Play Caption
Here too, we can easily understand what in realtà means.
But there is another way Italians use realtà, and it is to indicate something that exists. It's a bit trickier to translate because it is a very wide-ranging word and doesn't have a single English equivalent. We've listed some possible translations, but there may be more. The important thing is to understand the sense of it when you hear or see it being used.
In a recent episode of La linea verticale, a patient is thinking about the hierarchy of the hospital personnel, as he is being wheeled through the halls to the operating room.
Come in quasi tutte le realtà professionali di questo Paese, anche in un ospedale la rabbia viene scaricata sempre verticalmente...
As in almost all the professional organizations of this country, in a hospital, too, anger is always unloaded vertically...
Captions 1-3, La linea verticale EP 2 - Part 3Play Caption
We could also use other nouns, such as "the entities," "the institutions," "the situations," or even "environments." This use might be difficult to wrap our heads around, but we can recognize it because of the context and also what words it is or isn't surrounded by. We won't find the preposition in before it, and we might likely see an indefinite article or a plural article or adjective as in our example above, and in the following ones.
Si andava dall'Alemagna o dal Motta, due realtà che oggi non esistono più.
One would go to Alemagna or to Motta, two enterprises which today no longer exist.
Captions 10-11, L'arte della cucina La Prima Identitá - Part 14Play Caption
La cucina contadina, eh, è una realtà culturale molto forte, nella tradizione del nostro Paese.
Country cooking, uh, is a very strong cultural presence in the tradition of our country.
Captions 1-2, L'arte della cucina Terre d'Acqua - Part 13Play Caption
We hope that, even though it's hard to grasp, you have been able to learn a new meaning for the noun realtà.
There are lots of ways to talk about being obsessed with something or someone, being fixated or having a thing about or for something, or being "into" something. "Obsession" is a pretty strong word, so we often like to use softer, more positive terms. In Italian, too, there are various words we can use. In this lesson, we will explore just one way Italians commonly talk about being intensely interested in something. It uses the verb fissare which, in this context, may be translated as "to fixate," even though that might not be the word we would choose in many cases.
If you look at the link we have provided, you will see that there are quite a few meanings for the verb fissare. We'll address those in another lesson.
Keep in mind that sometimes we translate fissare with "fixate" because it's a cognate that works, making the Italian word easy to understand. But in English, we have lots of other ways to express the same thing. "Fixated" can come across as being a negative thing in English, but Italians use the word pretty casually. Let's also keep in mind that, as in English, we're using the past participle as a sort of adjective.
Anche Lei fissato con la cucina italiana?
You're also fixated with Italian cuisine?
Caption 44, La Ladra EP. 1 - Le cose cambiano - Part 13Play Caption
We might not use the term "fixated" but we can understand it well enough. We might sooner say someone obsesses over something, such as "Oh, you obsess over Italian cooking, too?"
Papà era fissato.
Dad was obsessed.
Caption 3, La Tempesta film - Part 10Play Caption
Sometimes, as in the previous example, we're really talking about an obsession, but sometimes it's about being set in one's ways. We might recognize a character flaw in a light-hearted way. In the example below, Marika and Anna are talking about the Italian tradition of having bread at a meal when there is already a wheat-based carbohydrate in the form of pasta. Italians love to scrape the remaining pasta sauce off their plate with a piece of bread. They call this fare la scarpetta (to make a little shoe).
Comunque... -Siamo un po' fissati. Quello della scarpetta è... Sì, è un rito, quasi.
Anyway... -We're a little fixated. The "little shoe" thing is... Yes, it's almost a ritual.
Captions 48-50, Anna e Marika Un Ristorante a TrasteverePlay Caption
So even though we have translated it as "fixated," we'd more likely say that Italians love to sop up the sauce with a piece of bread.
Fissare is also used reflexively. In this case, it's not being used as an adjective but rather as a verb, as if to say, "to become fixated," or "to get obsessed."
Mio marito si è fissato con Jacques Brel
My husband has become obsessed with Jacques Brel
Caption 55, La Ladra EP. 9 - L'amico sconosciuto - Part 10Play Caption
We can also use the noun form la fissa, the equivalent of "fixation."
Joy ha sempre avuto la fissa per la cucina.
Joy has always had a thing for cooking.
Caption 60, JAMS S1 EP 1 - Part 1Play Caption
In learning a new language, when we are able to latch onto parallels with our own language, it can be comforting, but sometimes we have to let go and realize things work differently in the new one. That is the case with il passato prossimo. It has a name that makes us think that this tense is about a past that isn't very far away, because prossimo (with its cognate "proximate") does mean "near," "next," "close," etc.).
So when we learn that we use this tense to express things that have happened in the past and are already finished (as we use the simple past in English), it doesn't necessarily make sense. But let's look at it from another point of view. Let's look at it relatively. Because, although you can mostly get away with not using it, there is another past tense in Italian called il passato remoto. Here, too, we can detect the cognate remoto meaning "remote" or "far away." This is a simple tense in which the verb itself is conjugated. In general, it is used to express finished actions happening in the past that don't have any effect on the present. It means that there is a clear chronological and psychological distance between the fact expressed with the Passato Remoto and the present.
So compared to the passato remoto, the passato prossimo is closer, or less remote.
The passato remoto itself is not within the scope of this lesson, but let's mention that even when the passato remoto would be the preferred tense, we can usually get away with using the passato prossimo and lots of people do.
The passato prossimo is a compound tense that takes an auxiliary verb (avere or essere) and a past participle, but in a way, it is easier to use because we don't have to remember how to conjugate the verbs in the passato remoto. People will understand us and that's the most important thing. In addition to this, it's not always easy to know when to use the passato remoto. There are some grey areas.
The name "passato prossimo" refers to an action's place on a timeline. The name "present perfect," on the other hand, deals with the tense of the auxiliary verb we use ("to have" is used in the present tense in the present perfect). In the past perfect, the auxiliary verb is in the past tense. So the naming of the tenses has two different parameters, not to be compared.
The passato prossimo can express past actions that are over and done with (as the simple past does in English). But can also coincide with the present perfect in some instances.
To get an idea about when we use certain tenses, let's take a look at this video where two young women talk about their friendship. They talk about the past when they were in secondary school. They use the passato prossimo even though they are clearly talking about a time when they were younger.
E poi, dopo la maturità, abbiamo deciso di partire da sole con altri sei ragazzi di [sic: della] classe e siamo andati a Malta.
And then, after graduation, we decided to leave on our own with six other kids from the class and we went to Malta.
Captions 28-30, Erica e Martina La nostra amiciziaPlay Caption
As we mentioned above, sometimes the passato prossimo does coincide with the present perfect, as in this comment about their continuing friendship. Note that there is an adverb of frequency.
Ci siamo trovate sempre molto bene, in questi sei anni non abbiamo mai litigato.
We've always gotten along really nicely — over these six years we've never argued.
Captions 46-47, Erica e Martina La nostra amiciziaPlay Caption
But here, in the following example, they use the present tense to express what in English, we would express using the present perfect. Note the use of da (since, for).
Siamo amiche da sei anni,
We've been friends for six years.
Caption 3, Erica e Martina La nostra amiciziaPlay Caption
The above use of the present tense in Italian to express a "present perfect" situation is perhaps one of the trickiest tense differences to wrap our heads around. And it's just as tricky for Italians trying to speak English!
The two young women go on with the present perfect to talk about the past. Here, we find fa (ago), putting the action clearly in the past.
Ci siamo conosciute, appunto, sei anni fa, il primo giorno di scuola.
We met, in fact, six years ago, on the first day of school.
Captions 4-5, Erica e Martina La nostra amiciziaPlay Caption
If you are a subscriber it might be useful to watch the entire video to get a better feel for how the tenses are used. Looking at the transcript can help, too.
Many of us know that questo means "this" and quello means "that." They work similarly to English when they are adjectives.
When they function as pronouns, things change somewhat. When it comes to things and ideas, Italian and English can work similarly.
È quello che voglio dire (that's what I mean). Literally, "It's that that I mean".
But when it comes to certain constructions, English has some usage rules that differ from Italian. Sometimes it helps to look at one's native language to get more insight into the differences. Check out this WordReference article about this and that. But with that in mind, let's focus on how Italian works.
When we are choosing something in a shop or at a bancarella at the market, instead of saying, "I'd like that one," we can just use quello or quella. In this case, if there is no noun following them, quello and quella are pronouns.
Vorrei quello (I'd like that one).
Vorrei quello lì (I'd like that one over there).
In the same vein, when talking about people, Italians often use questo/a or quello/a to talk about "this guy," that guy," "this lady/girl/gal/woman," "that lady/girl/gal/woman"). Italians don't need to use "that" as an adjective in this case. They can use questo/a or quello/a as a pronoun. We determine the gender of the person or animal referred to by the ending a or o.
Further, where we might think of using "that" because the person we're talking about is not close by, Italians might use questo (this) anyway, when it is close to them in mind, but not necessarily spatially.
In the example below, the speaker uses both quella and questa to refer to the same person (a girl in a certain class at school). In the first case, it's a pronoun referring to "that girl." In the second case, questa is being used as an adjective describing the same girl.
Quella di quinta C. 'Sta [questa] stronza.
The one from five C. That bitch.Play Caption
Let's also note that the speaker truncates questa to 'sta, something that is very common, but doesn't really work with quella.
So in English, you might say, "That idiot!" but in Italian, it might very well be Quest'idiota! It could also be Quell'idiota.
To sum up, it's good to keep in mind that Italians don't always have the same parameters English speakers do when it comes to questo/a and quello/a — this and that.
Let's look at some different ways people say, "I don't think so." In English we have "so" at the end, and we might wonder how to translate it. In some cases, we can add a pronoun, but often, it's left out entirely. As you will see, different verbs work a bit differently from one another, so we need to keep them straight. Of course, it's perfectly OK for you, as you learn, to say it the same way every time, but someone might use one form or another, so you'll want to be prepared to understand them. There's more than one way to skin a cat!
We're talking about responding (in the negative) to questions such as:
*Hai il mio numero di telefono (do you have my phone number)?
Non mi pare (I don't think so).
Non mi sembra (it doesn't seem so to me).
Non credo (I don't believe so).
Non penso (I don't think so).
*Quella donna è sua moglie (is that woman his wife)?
Non mi pare (I don't think so).
Non mi sembra (I don't think so, it doesn't seem so to me).
Non credo (I don't think so, I don't believe so).
Non penso proprio (I really don't think so).
Let's look at these verb choices one by one.
You might remember a lesson where we talked briefly about the verb parere. In addition, let's remember that il parere is also a noun, meaning "the opinion."
So if you want to answer a question in the negative, you can say, Non mi pare (I don't think so).
Non lo so, cambiamenti nell'atteggiamento, nell'umore, nel modo di vestirsi, cose così. -No... no, non mi pare.
I don't know, changes in her behavior, in her mood, in the way she dressed, stuff like that. -No... no, I don't think so.
Captions 15-16, Il Commissario Manara S2EP3 - Delitto tra le lenzuola - Part 5Play Caption
Sembrare (to seem) is a bit tricky because, like parere, it's often used with an indirect object or personal pronoun. In everyday conversation, we often find the construction mi sembra che... or non mi sembra che... (it seems to me that... it doesn't seem to me that...). Or we just find non mi sembra. Here we have to keep in mind that sembra (the third person singular of sembrare) includes the subject pronoun "it" or possibly "he/she." Translating it literally is just a bit awkward. In English, we tend to simplify.
Ma non ti sembra un po' affrettato? -Affrettato?
But doesn't it seem a bit rushed to you? -Rushed?
Captions 10-11, Stai lontana da me Rai Cinema - Part 17Play Caption
We couldn't find an example in Yabla videos with the simple answer non mi sembra, but we can answer the question "Rushed?" in the previous example with it: Affrettato? Non mi sembra (rushed? I don't think so). We can dress up the answer with proprio or, since it is in the negative, with affatto ([not] at all) Non mi sembra affatto (I really don't think so, I don't think so at all).
So with parere and sembrare, we often use the indirect personal pronoun (to me, to him, to them, to you) but with our next words, credere (to believe) and pensare (to think) we don't. They are just "normal" verbs.
Another word that is used a lot in this context is the verb credere (to believe). It goes together nicely with proprio (really). Proprio means lots of things, so see our lesson about it for more information. In English, we often use "think" instead of "believe" out of habit. In many cases, "believe" would be fine, too.
Forse un imprenditore americano non le parlerebbe così. -No, non credo proprio.
Maybe an American industrialist wouldn't talk about it like that. -No, I really don't think so.
Captions 40-41, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep.2 - Part 13Play Caption
We have seen this verb many times before, but we include it here, because it might be the easiest to remember, corresponding to the English verb "to think."
Cos'è, bigiotteria? Non penso. Rubini e filigrana d'oro.
What is it? Costume jewelry? I don't think so. Rubies and gold filigree.
Captions 70-71, Il Commissario Manara S2EP12 - La donna senza volto - Part 4Play Caption
We've provided some quick and easy negative answers to questions asking our opinion or judgment about something. When we use any of these verbs in longer sentences, we might need the subjunctive if the verbs are followed by the conjunction che (that, which). There are other ways to use these verbs without the subjunctive and we will explore these in a future lesson.
Try asking yourself some questions and experiment with the different verbs. Here's a start:
Pioverà (is it going to rain)?
Arriveremo in tempo (will we get there in time)?
Hai abbastanza soldi per pagarlo (do you have enough money to pay for this)?
La pasta è cotta (is the pasta cooked)?
Just as the English word "everywhere" comes from two words, "every" and "where," Italian uses the same technique, in many cases. Sometimes the two (or multiple) words become one, such as dappertutto (everywhere).
If we think about it, dappertutto comes from 3 words: the preposition da (from, at, by); the preposition per (for); and tutto (everything, all), an adjective, noun, or pronoun, depending on the context.
I cani cercano dappertutto, ma non riusciamo a trovare nulla.
The dogs are searching everywhere, but we can't find anything.Play Caption
Of course, you don't need to think about the three words making up dappertutto, you just have to remember that it means "everywhere."
In literature, for the most part, we might see the word ove used to mean "where," rather than the word we are familiar with: dove (where). And this leads us to another word for "everywhere": ovunque. We can detect the stem -unque that is part of words like comunque (however), dunque (so, therefore).
Perché non solo la libreria, ma ovunque in città ha avuto danni incredibili.
Because, not just the bookshop, but everywhere in the city had sustained incredible damage.
Captions 63-64, In giro per l'Italia Venezia - Part 2Play Caption
But we can also say dovunque, using the normal word for "where," to mean the same thing.
Vedi il crimine dovunque, anche dove non c'è.
You see crimes all over, even where there aren't any.Play Caption
We can also say ogni dove. This word has remained as two words, which might confuse some people. But if we take it apart, we see the word ogni (each, every) and dove (where).
Per secoli nobili, studiosi, artisti venivano qui da ogni dove per capirne l'essenza.
Over the centuries, noblemen, scholars, and artists came here from all over in order to understand its essence.
Captions 2-3, Meraviglie EP. 1 - Part 1Play Caption
The verb tenere translates, much of the time, as "to hold," "to keep." But we also use the verb to talk about things or people we care about, that matter to us, and consequently do not want to lose.
We use it intransitively with the preposition a (to, in, about...) to mean to care about, to consider important. We can use it with things or people.
Io ci tengo al mi [mio] lavoro. E il mi [mio] capo nun [non] vuole grane.
I care about my job. And my boss doesn't want trouble.
Captions 21-22, Il Commissario Manara S1EP7 - Sogni di Vetro - Part 10Play Caption
In a way, the person wants to keep his or her job, so tenere makes sense. When you care about a person, but it's not the moment for talking about actual love, tenere is a good verb to use. You care about someone and you don't want to lose them.
Io ci tengo a te.
I care about you.Play Caption
Another way to think about it is that "it matters."
Oh, mi raccomando, non mi fate fare cattive figure perché ci tengo, capito?
Oh, and I mean it — don't make me look bad, because it really matters to me, you get it?Play Caption
We can also use tenere when we want to make sure to mention something. So we can follow the preposition a with either a noun or a verb.
Ci tengo a dire una cosa,
I feel the need to say one thing,Play Caption
So when something or someone means something to you, try saying, Ci tengo (it matters to me).
You can turn it into a question:
Ci tieni davvero tanto a mangiare al ristorante stasera? Perché io sono molto stanca” (do you really care about going out to eat tonight? Because I am really tired).
Since tenere is used so much in various contexts, it may be hard to search for examples, but the more you watch and listen, the more you will notice that Italians use this turn of phrase all the time.
What are some of the things a cui tieni (that matter to you)?
È una fotografia alla quale tengo molto.
It's a photograph I'm very attached to.
Caption 27, L'arte della cucina La Prima Identitá - Part 9Play Caption
In a recent episode of Un medico in famiglia, Guido (the doctor who is staying at the Martini residence) is having a conversation with Maria (a family member who is studying medicine and is also attracted to Guido). Her grandfather is trying to listen in on the conversation. Guido uses the word innanzitutto. It's a long word, and can be a bit daunting, but if we take it apart, we'll see that it is no big deal. Let's look for the words within the word.
Be', innanzitutto bisogna vedere se è veramente un'amicizia, perché...
Well, first of all, we have to see if it's really a friendship, because....Play Caption
Innanzitutto, scriviamo il luogo e la data in alto a destra.
First of all, we write the place and the date in the upper right hand corner.
Captions 12-13, Corso di italiano con Daniela Lettera informale - Part 1Play Caption
Maestra, tantissime cose. Innanzitutto, Firenze con gli Uffizi, ma non solo.
Teacher, many things. First of all, Florence with the Uffizi, but not only.
Captions 72-73, L'Italia a tavola Interrogazione sulla ToscanaPlay Caption
Perhaps the first word that jumps out is tutto. Many of us know that means "everything" or "all."
What might not jump out as a word is innanzi. It means "in front of" or "before." It's not all that common, but it is used in literature and formal speech quite a bit. It's another way to say davanti (in front of) and has a variant, dinnanzi.
"Alla parola "comizio", d'ora innanzi, prego di sostituire la parola "raduno di propaganda".
"For the word "assembly," from now on, please substitute the word "propaganda meeting."Play Caption
It's also another way to say in avanti (henceforth), as in the previous example (from the 1930s).
One way to say you are surviving is:
Si tira avanti or si tira innanzi (one is pulling forward, or pushing forth).
A more common word we can detect as part of innanzitutto is anzi. We use this word a lot when we contradict ourselves, change our minds, or reiterate something with emphasis. See our lesson about anzi.
Interestingly, anzi comes from the Latin word (also an Italian word) ante meaning "before." We find this in words like anteprima (preview) or antenati (forefathers). It basically means "before." As we can see in the lesson mentioned above, anzi means a lot of things now, but originally, its meaning was "before," or, in Italian, prima. Many of us know that prima can mean either "before" or "first."
So, innanzitutto just means, "first of all," or if you want to get a bit fancier, "first and foremost." It's really no big deal. And the good news is that if it's too hard to pronounce, you have some alternatives, some of them similar but not exact synonyms.
Prima di tutto (first of all)
Per cominciare (to start with)
Soprattutto (above all)
There may be more! Let us know if you discover new ones. Meanwhile, if you can manage it, innanzitutto is something to say when beginning a speech and acknowledging the sponsor.
Innanzitutto, vorrei ringraziare... (first and foremost, I would like to thank...)
In a previous lesson, we looked at the preposition presso. It's used, for example, when you are staying with someone and can stand for "c/o." You can use it to say in which organization you are working. It's always followed by a noun.
Lavoro presso la biblioteca comunale (I work at the public library).
Please see this lesson to get more information about presso.
In a recent video, we find a related word, appresso, usually used as an adverb, but also as a preposition. In this particular case, Alberto Manzi has been sent to a juvenile detention center to try to teach kids how to read and write. They are unwilling, and prefer to follow the "leader of the pack."
Tutti appresso a lui come delle pecore.
All of you following him like sheep.
Caption 52, Non è mai troppo tardi EP1 - Part 8Play Caption
Our translation, "following," doesn't really do the word justice. It might be easier to have a visual cue. Think of how sheep really act. They don't follow each other neatly in a line. They kind of crowd one another without thinking.
In the following example, Lara's father is talking about an ancient tomb he has been studying for years. Again, the translation doesn't do it justice, but the preposition appresso gives you the feeling that he has been obsessing over that tomb, that it has been consuming his time and energies.
Sono quattordici anni che sto appresso a quella tomba!
I've been on that tomb for fourteen years.Play Caption
Let's consider for a moment the addition of an A to the beginning of the preposition presso. It is very reminiscent of the relation between dosso and addosso, or poggio and appoggio. The prefix A can change a noun into a different part of speech.
But whereas addosso has to do with the back as a body part, often used figuratively, appresso is more about being nearby.
Cucina contadina che emigra nelle città, portandosi appresso conoscenze e tradizioni.
Country cooking that emigrates to the cities, taking along with it knowledge and traditions.
Captions 15-16, L'arte della cucina Terre d'Acqua - Part 13Play Caption
In terms of clothing and accessories, addosso might have to do with the clothes you have on, and appresso will be more related to your briefcase, laptop, carry-on bag, or handbag.
Speaking figuratively, when you are keeping at someone to do something, or just coming too close, addosso and appresso can practically coincide.
Non mi stare così addosso (get off my back)!
Non mi stare così appresso (give me some space)!
Addosso may be more common in this context, but the example can serve to see what the difference is.
We have already talked a bit about the verb anticipare because it is the opposite of posticipare (to postpone). But let's look at some examples to get a feel for the verb and then look at the noun.
Eh, c'è un caso delicato e ho dovuto anticipare il rientro.
Uh, there is a delicate case and I've had to move up my return.Play Caption
We might just say, "I had to go back earlier" or "I had to return ahead of schedule."
Ma no, sulle prime sembrava che fosse quel giorno, poi invece gli scritti li hanno anticipati e li ho dati un mese fa.
But no, at first it seemed like it was that day, but then they moved the written exams up and I did those a month ago.
Captions 5-6, Sposami EP 4 - Part 25Play Caption
If I answer your question before you ask it, you might say:
Mi hai anticipato (you preceded me, you beat me to it).
When I have told you something earlier and refer to it now, I might say something like:
Vediamo un po' in quale altro modo si usa, perché, come ti avevo anticipato, ci sono vari modi.
Let's look a bit into what other way it's used. Because, as I told you earlier, there are various ways.
Captions 2-3, Marika spiega La particella CI - Part 2Play Caption
Sometimes, instead of words or information, it's money!
Walter m'aveva chiesto di anticipare i soldi per il viaggio ai Caraibi...
Walter had asked me to advance him the money for the trip to the Caribbean...Play Caption
It's also common, when talking about money, to use the noun form we mentioned earlier: un anticipo.
Ma il nostro accordo era un anticipo subito e il resto alla consegna.
But our agreement was an advance payment right away and the rest upon delivery.Play Caption
We could also use "down payment" to mean anticipo here. You might ask your boss for un anticipo (an advance).
And when something or someone is early, or arrives early, ahead of schedule, most of the time we say in anticipo. It functions as an adverb.
Sono in anticipo?
Am I early?Play Caption
We can also say con anticipo when we want to say "in advance." Here anticipo is a noun, and it has an adjective in front of it.
Il problema è che spesso le strutture sono sovraffollate, per cui, eh, devi agire con molto anticipo rispetto agli esami che vuoi fare
The problem is that often, the facilities are overcrowded, so uh, you have to act long in advance with respect to the exams that you want to do
Captions 8-10, Anna presenta La gravidanza - Part 2Play Caption
But we can also say in netto anticipo (well in advance) and here it again functions pretty much like an adverb. It is more important to be able to use this word than to know its part of speech. Sometimes the confines are blurry.
One word leads to another. Since some of Yabla's videos have included scenes of construction, the topic of scaffolding has come up from time to time, even though it's certainly not a topic you run into every day. But there is a false cognate we may run into whenever we go to a supermercato (supermarket) or grande magazzino (department store), so a closer look might be merited.
One word for "scaffolding" is il ponteggio or, more often, i ponteggi. We can detect the noun il ponte (the bridge) in the word, and can easily imagine the wooden planks as "bridges" from one set of poles to the next.
Ha ceduto un ponteggio.
Some scaffolding collapsed.Play Caption
Impalcatura is often used in the singular, as a generic term, but can also be used in the plural. Here, we might detect the noun il palco, which can mean "the stage" (as in a theater) or "the platform." L'impalcatura is a series of platforms on top of each other.
È caduto da un'impalcatura del cantiere.
He fell from a scaffold at the construction site.
Caption 9, La Ladra EP. 7 - Il piccolo ladro - Part 3Play Caption
No, Spartacus, non credo che gli faccia piacere avere un ricevimento in mezzo a impalcature e betoniere.
No, Spartacus, I don't think he is happy to have a reception in the middle of scaffolding and cement mixers.
Captions 66-67, Sposami EP 4 - Part 24Play Caption
"Platform" has a cognate, too: la piattaforma (the platform, the board).
La parte centrale del Colosseo, dove accadeva tutto, era una piattaforma lignea che veniva, eh, riempita di sabbia,
The central part of the Colosseum, where everything took place, was a wooden platform that was, uh, filled with sand,
Captions 25-27, Marika e Daniela Colosseo, interno - Part 1Play Caption
But, when we find the word scaffale in Italian, it doesn't mean "scaffolding." It is, instead, the kind of shelving you find in a store, supermarket, or department store.
Se andate a fare la spesa in un supermercato italiano, vi troverete davanti allo scaffale del riso indecisi sul tipo di riso da comprare,
If you go grocery shopping in an Italian supermarket, you'll find yourselves facing the rice shelf, uncertain about the type of rice to buy,
Captions 1-3, L'Italia a tavola Risotto alla milanese - Part 2Play Caption
It's used a lot in the plural as a general term: gli scaffali.
Se voi mangiaste meno, il supermercato sarebbe sicuramente più pieno e io non troverei gli scaffali vuoti. -Esagerata, eh!
If you ate less, the supermarket would surely be fuller and I wouldn't find the shelves empty. -Over the top, huh!
Captions 44-45, Daniela e Francesca Il verbo mangiare
We can also use the noun lo scaffale in a house. If the shelves are for books, we'll usually say, una libreria.
False friend alert: Una libreria is also a bookshop! A library, on the other hand, is una biblioteca. If you have a dedicated room or lots of shelves for books, you can talk about una biblioteca in your house, too.
When we are speaking generically, we can use scaffale. Marika talks about lo scaffale, because, as she mentions, it contains all kinds of things.
A fianco alla televisione, ho un mobile. Questo mobile si chiama scaffale. Io lo uso per conservare tantissimi oggetti.
Alongside the television, I have a piece of furniture. This piece of furniture is called a shelving unit. I use it to store many objects.
Captions 26-28, Marika spiega Il salonePlay Caption
If this web of words has brought you more confusion than anything else, just stick with learning gli scaffali. That's where you will find food and products at the supermarket, and eating is essential.