Let's look at 4 more ways to use the noun il conto in everyday conversation. The first two involve prepositions:
When we do something on someone's behalf, we use per conto di.
La leggenda racconta di miniere dove a scavare erano dei nani
The legend tells of mines where dwarfs were excavating
per conto del re Laurino.
on behalf of the king Laurin.
Captions 23-24, Meraviglie - EP. 5 - Part 10Play Caption
Oltre a questo lavoro giornalistico più specifico,
Besides this more specific journalistic job,
lavoro anche come, come responsabile di uffici stampa
I also work as head of press offices
per conto di varie realtà.
on behalf of various organizations.
Captions 1-3, Francesca Vitalini - Fare la giornalista pubblicistaPlay Caption
An expression we might see in a contract about power of attorney is:
agire in nome e per conto di (to act in the name of and on behalf of)
This expression can also mean "of one's own" and is used quite frequently as in the following example.
Perché la mi' figliola [mia figlia] c'ha già tanti problemi per conto suo.
Because my daughter has enough problems of her own.Play Caption
It can also mean on one's own:
Non faccio in tempo a venire a casa per pranzo. Mangio per conto mio.
I don't have time to come home for lunch. I'll eat on my own.
If we use the preposition su (on) then it can mean "about." We usually use it in reference to people.
No, io devo smentire delle cattiverie che girano sul mio conto.
No, I have to prove wrong the maliciousness that's circulating about me.Play Caption
Anche se ultimamente si dicono un sacco di cose sul suo conto...
Even though lately they've said a lot of things about her...Play Caption
These next examples involve a verb plus conto:
Mah, la libertà è una grossa parola,
Well, freedom is a strong word,
perché bisogna sempre tener conto
because we always have to take into account
delle persone che abbiamo intorno.
the people we're surrounded by.
Captions 22-23, Che tempo che fa - Monica BellucciPlay Caption
Here's an example using the particle ne (about it, of it) as well. It takes the place of di qualcosa (about/of something):
Tu vedrai che i giudici ne terranno conto, ascoltami.
You will see that the judges will take it into account, listen to me.Play Caption
When someone is telling you to listen to how things add up, or how things fit together, they might say:
Fai conto... (take this into consideration, do the math..., let's see... figure this in...)
Like many expressions, there are some people who use this expression regularly, and others who never use it. It can be added into a sentence as is, on its own. Instead of doing the math oneself, the speaker is having you participate. It's a modo di dire.
Ci vogliono, fai conto, tre ore per andare da Pisa a Bologna in macchina.
It will take — you should count — three hours to go from Pisa to Bologna by car.
Cammina, cammina. Sai quanti chilometri faccio io al giorno?
Yeah, walk. You know how many kilometers I do per day?
-Quanti? -Fai conto tre pedinamenti, per dire, eh.
-How many? -Figure three tails, to give you an idea, huh.
Captions 14-15, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP6 - Sotto tiroPlay Caption
Fare conto can also be used with che (that) to make a more complex sentence.
Fai conto che io faccio tanti kilometri al giorno.
Take into account that I do three kilometers per day.
Fare conto doesn't necessarily have to do with numbers or counting. It can also mean "to assume that" or even "to pretend that" in certain contexts and in this case it takes the subjunctive.
Fai conto che io sia tua madre (anche se sono la zia), e devi fare quello che dico io.
Think of me as your mother (even though I am your aunt) and you have to do as I say.
We hope these ways for using il conto will be useful to you. Maybe you will hear them used in a movie, or when an Italian is explaining something to you. Now you know!
Can you think of other ways this noun is used? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In a previous lesson, we talked about the noun conto as part of the phasal verb rendersi conto (to realize). A learner has written in asking if this can be synonymous with accorgersene (to notice, to realize). The answer is yes, sometimes, depending on the context. There is a lesson on the pronominal, reflexive verb accorgersene, so check it out.
In this lesson, we will continue to look at the noun il conto and how it fits into various expressions, with meanings that might seem to depart from the cognate "account." But let's keep in mind that in many cases, although English speakers prefer different turns of phrase, we can connect these with "account," if we look hard enough. After all, in English, we use the word "account" in lots of different ways, too.
Here are some examples from Yabla videos of how people use conto or conti in authentic speech.
Dopotutto bisogna fare i conti con i propri limiti ogni tanto, o no?
After all, one has to come to terms with one's own limits, every now and then, right?Play Caption
The previous example is from the biopic about Adriano Olivetti, which has been proven to be quite popular with subscribers. At the Olivetti typewriter factory, they're talking about selling it!
In the example below, the subject is Covid-19, and the fact that we have to come to terms with it, to reckon with it. Different translations but a similar concept.
Come ormai tutti sapete, non solo l'Italia,
As everyone knows by now, not only Italy
ma tutto il mondo sta cominciando a fare i conti
but the whole world is starting to have to reckon
con questa [sic: questo] assassino invisibile.
with this invisible killer.
Captions 7-9, COVID-19 - Andrà tutto benePlay Caption
So we're talking about dealing with something, facing something, taking something into consideration, taking something into account, or even taking stock.
Here's a practical situation in which one might use fare i conti. This time it does have to do with money.
Let's say I have someone do a job for me, say, getting a swimming pool up and running after the winter, and afterwards, I want to know how much I have to pay for it. Instead of just saying quanto ti devo? (how much do I owe you?), I can be a bit more roundabout. I can leave the door open for a conversation and allow for a justification of the fee I will be paying, compared to the initial preventivo (estimate), or for talking about a discount. I am letting the person I hired know that I am ready to settle up or at least to determine how much it will come to.
Dobbiamo fare i conti (we have to tally up, or "Let's figure out how much I owe you").
We can make the act of tallying up more casual, perhaps less about money, by using un po' (a little, a few) or due (two), which doesn't really mean the number 2, but is a generic low-grade plural to mean "some." In the following example, the number due (two) could replace un po'.
Che poi se facciamo un po' di conti,
Which, after all, if we do the math here,
sono sempre io a perdonare per prima.
I'm always the first one to forgive.
Captions 10-11, La Ladra - EP. 8 - Il momento giustoPlay Caption
Uno si fa due conti e inizia a pensare
You add things up and start thinking
che se tutti si vogliono innamorare, un motivo ci sarà.
that if everyone wants to fall in love, there must be a reason.
Captions 42-43, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP10 - Un morto di troppoPlay Caption
Another expression with conti comes from math and accounts, but has to do with summing up. It's a way of saying, "All in all," "in the end," "all things considered," "after all is said and done..."
Be', in fin dei conti, si tratta solo di ratificare uno stato di fatto.
Well, in the end, it's just a matter of ratifying a state of affairs.Play Caption
An expression that is used both in talking about money and about pretty much anything, is the the equivalent of "things don't add up."
E hai scoperto qualcosa?
And did you discover anything?
-Non ancora, ma i conti non tornano.
-Not yet, but things don't add up.
Captions 20-21, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP11 - Beato tra le donnePlay Caption
There is still plenty to say about the noun conto, but we'll save it for next time! So stay tuned, and thanks for reading.
In a previous lesson, we looked at some Italian words that have to do with "right": retto and its feminine form retta. We mentioned that there are other words that can mean "right" and so in this lesson, we will look at two more: diritto, dritto. Sometimes they mean "right" and sometimes they don't, but they are very good words to know!
If we look at the dictionary entry for dritto, we also find diritto, so they are very closely related and can often be used interchangeably. And sometimes it's hard to tell if someone is saying one or the other. But there are cases where you can't swap them.
When you have rights (or not), then you use diritto as a masculine noun. Dritto won't work in this case!
Mi dice con che diritto ha fermato Stefano?
Will you tell what right you had to detain Stefano?
Caption 48, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP7 - Sogni di VetroPlay Caption
As in English, we can talk about rights in general: equal rights, civil rights, etc., thus using the plural.
Anch'io ho i miei diritti e la mia dignità di lavoratore.
I also have my rights and my dignity as a worker.Play Caption
While a single law is una legge, law in general is referred to as diritto or giurisprudenza. Here, too, dritto won't do.
Mi sono appena iscritto alla facolta di Diritto.
I'm just enrolled in Law school.
Although dritta as a noun almost surely derives from the verb dirigere, it has become a colloquial but widely used feminine noun in itself. In this case, someone is heading you in the right direzione (direction) by giving you some good advice or a tip. Diritta doesn't work here.
Gli ho solamente dato qualche dritta su come tenere
I just gave him a few tips on how to keep
pulito il lastricato dalla gramigna. -Ah!
the flagstones free of weeds. -Ah.
Captions 53-54, La Ladra - Ep. 7 - Il piccolo ladroPlay Caption
We can use the noun form dritto/dritta to describe someone who is sly, a smooth operator.
La dritta can also indicate the right-[hand] side, the one used to direct (dirigere). On a ship, it's the starboard side. On a medal il dritto is the "front" side. In knitting, dritto is a plain stitch.
Just as with "right" in English, diritto can be either an adjective or a noun, but it can also be an adverb.
One thing a parent might tell a child is:
Valentina, sta dritta.
Valentina, stand up straight.
Caption 10, Fellini Racconta - Un Autoritratto RitrovatoPlay Caption
As we found in the lesson on retto, "straight" and "right" are close cousins in English. Think of the word "upright."
One way we use the adverb dritto or diritto is when we give directions, so this is super important. Whether you say diritto or dritto, people will understand you just fine.
Here, Daniela is teaching us about giving directions.
OK? Allora, andare a destra, andare a sinistra,
OK? So, "to go to the right," "to go to the left,"
andare dritto, andare sempre dritto, andare tutto dritto.
"to go straight," "to go straight ahead." "to go straight ahead."
Captions 53-54, Corso di italiano con Daniela - Chiedere informazioniPlay Caption
"Rigare dritto" vuol dire comportarsi bene.
"To toe the line" [to make a straight line] means "to behave."Play Caption
Check out Marika's video where she says a bit more about the expression rigare dritto or filare dritto.
In the following example, we could also say the shot went right to the heart.
Un colpo di pistola dritto al cuore a distanza ravvicinata, ma...
A gunshot direct to the heart at close range, but...Play Caption
There is certainly more to say about these fascinating and important words, but your head must be full by now. Keep your eyes and ears open as you watch Yabla videos. These words will be peppered all through them. Let us know your questions and doubts, and we'll get back to you. Write to us at email@example.com
Now that we have talked about uno, here's another related word that's handy to know. It's a word you can guess one meaning of because it looks similar to an English word you know.
Oggi Matera è un sito unico al mondo...
Today, Matera is a site that's unique in the world...
Caption 46, Meraviglie - EP. 1 - Part 11Play Caption
So when you want to say something is unique, now you know how. Don't forget that the adjective unico has to agree with its noun. You have four possible endings to choose from: unico, unica, unici, uniche.
One way Italians like to use unico is to give someone a certain kind of compliment (which can be ironic, too).
Augusto, sei unico.
Augusto, you're one of a kind.
Caption 34, La Ladra - Ep. 6 - Nero di rabbiaPlay Caption
Again, if you are saying this to a girl or woman, you will want to use unica.
Maria, sei unica!
Maria, you're special!
But the main way Italians use the word unico is to mean "only."
È l'unico modo che ho per sdebitarmi.
It's the only way I have to settle my debt.
Caption 25, La Ladra - EP. 8 - Il momento giustoPlay Caption
Questa scuola è l'unica cosa che ho.
This school is the only thing I have.Play Caption
E saremo gli unici al mondo ad avere qualcosa di simile.
And we'll be the only ones in the world to have something like this.
Caption 18, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep.2Play Caption
Tutte le volte che veniva a pregare per le uniche persone che amava.
Every time she came to pray for the only people she loved.Play Caption
If you travel to Italy and go clothes shopping, here's something you will definitely see on the racks or on a label.
taglia unica (one size fits all).
The noun La taglia comes from the verb tagliare (to cut).
The other very important expression with unico is what you might see while driving your macchina a noleggio (rental car).
una strada a senso unico (a one way street)
People also just call a one way street:
un senso unico (a one way street)
In these last two examples, we could say that unico stands for "one." The important thing is to understand what it means in the situation. You don't want to drive the wrong way down a road!
We've talked about two words to use when we need something fixed: sistemare and riparare. Here's another: accomodare. This verb looks a lot like the English verb to accommodate and while they both come from the same Latin word "accomodare" they are not true cognates.
Questa bici è vecchia ma l'ho fatta accomodare da un amico esperto e sembra nuova.
This bike is old, but I had it fixed up by a friend who's an expert, and it's just like new.
It could be that the verb accomodare is used less frequently than some others to mean "to repair" but it's good to know it exists, as you might hear it and get confused if you hadn't read this lesson!
When getting something repaired, it's common to use the verb fare (to make, to do) and the infinitive form of the verb accomodare as in our example above: fare accomodare (to get repaired). Let's keep in mind that used this way, accomodare is a transitive verb, in other words, it takes a direct object.
As with sistemare, accomodare can be used to mean to tidy up, to arrange, as in getting a bedroom ready for someone.
Ho accommodato la stanza dove dormirai.
I got the room where you'll be sleeping ready for you.
As with many verbs, there is a reflexive form of accomodare, and in this case, it has come to mean something completely different from the normal verb. Here, we can also see a connection with the adjective comodo (comfortable, at ease).
This verb is very important when someone invites you into their house. Of course, when you enter, it is always polite to say permesso. You're asking permission to come in.
Con permesso? Permesso?
May I come in? May I come in?Play Caption
One answer you might get is this, especially if you know the person well:
Posso? -Vieni. Accomodati.
May I? -Come in. Have a seat.
Ti ho portato i prospetti che mi avevi chiesto.
I brought the forecasts you had asked me for.
Captions 19-20, Questione di Karma - Rai CinemaPlay Caption
In the example above, the reflexive accomodarsi is used in the second person singular imperative. It can mean "Have a seat" but can also mean, "Make yourself comfortable," "Get yourself settled."
If you are staying with someone, perhaps they will show you to your room. They might say:
Ti faccio accomodare qui.
You can get settled in here.
The same goes for when you have dinner.
Se ho degli ospiti a pranzo o a cena,
If I have guests for lunch or for dinner,
li faccio accomodare qui,
I have them sit here,
su [sic: a] questo tavolo.
on [sic, at] this table.
Captions 34-36, Marika spiega - Il salonePlay Caption
Accomodarsi is used in the polite form as well, especially in offices, and is one way of inviting you in, but can also mean "please have a seat." In the following example, it's combined with venga — the polite singular imperative form of venire (to come).
Commissario, c'è la signora Fello.
Chief, Missus Fello is here.
Signora Fello, venga.
Missus Fello, come in.
-Permesso? -Venga, si accomodi.
-May I? -Come in, have a seat.
Captions 37-39, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP10 -La verità nascostaPlay Caption
If you read our lessons regularly, you might have come across a lesson about the adjective comodo, which has a couple of different meanings. The lesson also discusses accomodarsi briefly, so check it out here.
Using accomodarsi in sentences can be challenging, but it's important to have the verb comfortably in your vocabulary toolbox. So if you have questions such as "How do I say __________ in Italian," we are here to help! Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let's talk about how we use adverbs in Italian.
Adverbs are easy because they don't change according to gender or number, as adjectives do. Knowing a few basic adverbs can help you ask and answer questions in general conversation with strangers or new friends. Adverbs in Italian (gli avverbi) are used to modify, clarify, qualify, or quantify the meaning of a verb, adjective, or another adverb.
avverbi di modo (how?)
avverbi di quantità (how much or many?)
avverbi di luogo (where?)
avverbi di tempo (when, how often?)
Here's a list of some of the common adverbs you need to know:
Let's concentrate on two adverbs that often go hand in hand, but for now, we'll look at them separately:
Leonardo, molto spesso, nelle sue opere,
Leonardo, very often in his works,
faceva le figure centrali quasi fossero delle piramidi.
made the central figures almost as if they were pyramids.
Captions 10-12, Meraviglie - EP. 3 - Part 12Play Caption
Spesso is a great adverb to know. Just tack it on to a verb and you're all set.
Vengo spesso in questo posto (I often come to this place).
Non viaggio spesso in treno (I don't often travel by train).
Volentieri is also a wonderful adverb to have in your toolbox. When someone invites you to do something, you can answer with one word: Volentieri! (I'd be happy to, I'd love to). It may be helpful to consider that this adverb comes from the verb volere (to want). We can also translate volentieri as "willingly." For more about volentieri, read this lesson.
This is an expression you will hear now and then, and it's an Italian favorite. Although we have looked at the two adverbs making up this expression, we might still be perplexed about what it might mean, exactly. "Often and willingly"??? It's not something we say, or not often anyway.
Although it can mean "often and willingly," it usually means "more often than not!" So when you are thinking about how to say "more often than not" in Italian, you might be tempted to translate each word:
più spesso che non... but you might want to try to resist that temptation. Italians prefer to say spesso e volentieri. So we have two adverbs: one is an adverb of time: spesso = often. The other is an adverb of manner: volentieri = willingly.
In the following example, Marika and Anna are making a wonderful frittata out of leftover spaghetti! Non si butta via niente (nothing gets thrown away)!
Tutto si ricicla e, spesso e volentieri,
Everything gets recycled and, more often than not,
è più saporito, no, il piatto riciclato che quello originale.
the recycled dish — you know? — is tastier than the original one.
Captions 8-10, L'Italia a tavola - Frittata di spaghettiPlay Caption
One thing to keep in mind is that in this case, volentieri doesn't necessarily refer to anyone being willing or glad to do something, although it might. It's that something happens easily, without extra effort: often and easily. In the following example, Daniela is talking about the special past tense, il passato remoto, which has gone out of fashion in many parts of Italy, but is still used, a lot of the time, in the south of Italy.
Se vi piace l'Italia del Sud, quindi Napoli...
If you like the south of Italy, in other words: Naples...
la Sicilia, la Sardegna, la Puglia, la Calabria,
Sicily, Sardinia, Apulia, and Calabria,
dovete conoscere il passato remoto
you should know the remote past
perché nel sud Italia si parla molto spesso e volentieri
because in the south of Italy people speak using, more often than not,
al passato remoto.
the remote past tense.
Captions 21-24, Corso di italiano con Daniela - Il passato remotoPlay Caption
In the following example, it is a matter of preference and willingness.
Lavo i panni spesso e volentieri a mano
(I often prefer to wash my laundry by hand).
Spesso e volentieri, mia mamma fa la spesa nelle botteghe
(My mom often prefers to shop in the small grocery stores).
We hope you enjoy using this new expression, and that we have given you some insight into it. Let us know if you have any questions! Write to us at email@example.com.
We looked at the noun torto in a previous lesson. We can say hai torto (you're wrong). But what about when you're right? Being right uses the noun ragione, but let's first take a closer look at this versatile noun and related forms.
In Italian, la ragione is a partial true cognate. When used to mean "the reason," it makes sense to us because it's a true cognate:
E c'è una ragione molto precisa.
And there is a very precise reason.
Caption 21, Meraviglie - EP. 2 - Part 2Play Caption
We also have a verb form: ragionare (to reason, to think, to reflect):
Cerchiamo di ragionare con calma.
Let's try to think about this calmly.Play Caption
We have an adjective, too: ragionevole (reasonable):
Siccome mi sembra anche una persona piuttosto ragionevole,
Since you also seem like a rather reasonable person,
io spero non ci saranno problemi, ecco.
I hope there won't be any problems, that's it.
Captions 55-56, Sei mai stata sulla luna? - filmPlay Caption
But we also use the noun ragione (without the article) together with the verb avere (to have) to mean "to be right."
avere ragione (to be right) -- literally, it would be "to have right."
In Italian, aver ragione has come to mean "to be right." And people use this expression countless times every day, so it's great to have it in your toolbox. The verb you need to conjugate is avere (to have), which is probably one of the first verbs to learn in Italian. Here's the conjugation chart for avere. But you don't need an article for ragione in this case, so it couldn't get much easier than that. Abbiamo ragione (are we right)?
Avevi ragione tu. Gabriele s'era messo nei guai.
You were right. Gabriele got into trouble.
Gare di cross illegali.
Illegal dirt bike racing.
Captions 18-19, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP1 - Matrimonio con delitto - Part 8Play Caption
Il cliente ha sempre ragione?
The customer is always right?
Caption 70, La Ladra - Ep. 4 - Una magica bionda - Part 2Play Caption
Sono stufa delle tue promesse.
I'm sick of your promises.
Sono anni che aspetto che lasci tua moglie...
I've been waiting for you to leave your wife for years...
-Hai ragione. -e io non...
-You're right. -and I won't...
Hai ragione, hai ragione. Va bene.
You're right, you're right. All right.
Captions 68-71, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP9 - L'amica ritrovata - Part 5Play Caption
"To prove someone right" can be dare ragione,
Non ti interessa il parere di nessuno.
You're not interested in anyone's opinion.
-Ma poi i risultati mi danno ragione.
-But afterwards, the results prove me right.
Captions 21-22, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep. 1Play Caption
But we can also use dare ragione when we admit or agree that someone else is right. It's just an additional nuance to saying "you're right."
Su questo, ti dò ragione.
About that, I agree you're right.
Do a search of ragione on the videos page and you will get plenty of examples in various conjugations and contexts, where ragione might mean "right" and where it might mean "reason." It's a great way to get lots of different examples all at once. Try repeating some of them out loud.
And remember: The trickiest thing to remember is that the verb to use is avere (to have), not essere (to be).
We will close with a little expression that's also the title of this lesson:
a torto o a ragione (wrong or right), rimango della mia idea (I'm not changing my mind).
In English, we would start with "right," but you get the idea!
That's it for this lesson, and we hope that when someone else is right, you will be able to tell them so in Italian! If you have questions about this, just write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When you're wrong you're wrong. There are various Italian words connected with being wrong or making a mistake. Let's look at the various ways to be wrong and the nuances that set them apart.
Fare un errore. This works fine when you need a noun. If you have trouble with rolling your r's, this word can be a challenge.
Fai errore dopo errore.
You make mistake after mistake.
Caption 53, Stai lontana da me - Rai CinemaPlay Caption
The verb sbagliare (to make a mistake) plus reflexive form sbagliarsi (to be mistaken), and its noun form lo sbaglio (the mistake, the error) are very common.
Io c'entro, c'entro eccome, perché lei è una mia allieva.
I'm involved, I'm absolutely involved because she's my student.
E se lei sbaglia, vuol dire che anche io ho sbagliato qualcosa con lei.
And if she makes a mistake, it means that I also made a mistake with her.
Captions 46-47, Provaci Ancora Prof! - S1E1 - Il regalo di Babbo NatalePlay Caption
There's a fine line between the normal verb and its reflexive form. One reason for this is that sbagliare as a normal verb can either be transitive or intransitive.
Ho sbagliato strada (I took the wrong route, I went the wrong way).
Ho sbagliato (I made a mistake, I made a wrong move, I did something wrong).
Sbagliare è umano (making mistakes is human).
Tutti sbagliano (everyone makes mistakes).
Piove, o sbaglio (It's raining, or am I mistaken)?
The reflexive form sbagliarsi, tends to be more about being wrong than making a mistake — a bit less active, we could say — and the sentence structure changes as well. The reflexive form is intransitive, so we need a preposition between the verb and the indirect object. As a result, it's a bit more complicated to use.
Mi sono sbagliato (I was wrong, I was mistaken).
Mi sbaglio o sta piovendo (am I mistaken or is it raining)?
In the following example, the preposition is a (to) and rather than "being wrong," it's "going wrong."
Mi creda, a puntare sul pesce non si sbaglia mai.
Believe me. With fish you can never go wrong.
Caption 2, La Ladra - Ep. 6 - Nero di rabbia - Part 1Play Caption
This is a great expression to have in your collection:
Non si sbaglia mai (one can't go wrong).
Non ti puoi sbagliare (you can't go wrong).
As you watch Yabla videos, you will see countless instances of sbagliare, sbagliarsi and lo sbaglio. See if you can sense when people use one or the other. In many cases, there are multiple possibilities.
Some of us may recognize the cognate: "tort." When you study law, one course you take is "torts." In English a tort is simply a civil wrong.
How to use the Italian noun torto, however, is a different story.
In a recent episode of Sposami, a divorcing couple is forced to get along and work together, even though they can't stand each other. But each of them wants to keep the dog, and therefore they each have to be on their best behavior. They go crying to their divorce lawyer each time the other does something wrong. And in one such conversation, the word torto comes up.
Ugo, cerca di essere collaborativo,
Ugo, try to be collaborative,
se no, tu capisci, mi passi dalla parte del torto.
otherwise, you understand, you'll end up being in the wrong.
Captions 68-69, Sposami - EP 1Play Caption
So this is a lawyer talking, but we also use torto or its plural torti in everyday conversation. A son is complaining to his mother, and her boyfriend chimes in:
A ma' [mamma], ti prego.
Oh Mom, please.
Ce tratti come du [romanesco: ci tratti come due] ragazzini!
You treat us like a couple of little kids!
-Va be', non ha tutti i torti.
-Well, he's not totally wrong.
Io alla loro età, nemmeno lo chiedevo più il permesso.
At their age, I no longer even asked for permission.
Captions 69-72, La Ladra - Ep. 7 - Il piccolo ladro - Part 2Play Caption
Here are some other expressions with torti. Remember that we use the verb avere (to have) in this expression.
Avere torto (to be wrong).
With all these word choices for making mistakes and being wrong, non ti puoi sbagliare!
Credere is a very common verb. It basically means "to believe," but not 100% of the time. There are some sfumature (nuances) to this verb, and it so happens that in a recent episode of Sei mai stata sulla luna, it's used in 2 ways that deviate from the norm.
In one scene of the segment of Sei mai stata sulla luna, we see a single father (Renzo) having a conversation with his son. His son wishes he had a mother, and Renzo is downplaying it.
It plays out like this:
No, per starci insieme.
No, to be together.
-Ma perché non stiamo bene insieme io te?
-But aren't we fine together, you and me?
-Sì, ma magari staremmo meglio.
Yes, but maybe we'd be even better.
-Non ti credere, eh.
-Don't be so sure, huh.
Una fidanzata ti manderebbe tutte le sere a dormire presto.
A girlfriend would send you to bed early every night.
Captions 38-42, Sei mai stata sulla luna? - filmPlay Caption
At the beginning of the segment, the townsmen are hanging out in the piazza and Guia is there, too. Someone says to her, being polite:
Comunque, signora, Lei faccia come crede.
In any case, Ma'am, you do as you think best.
Caption 1, Sei mai stata sulla luna? - filmPlay Caption
If it were an informal situation, it would be fai come credi. It can mean "do as you think best" or "do as you wish." It's often said when there is a disagreement about what to do or how something should be done. The person who says it doesn't think it's a particularly good idea. It's a little different from, fai come vuoi (do as you like), where the verb is volere. Credere gives the person a bit more credit for thinking things through. Fai come vuoi (or in the polite form faccia come vuole) can also come off as judgmental, depending on the tone with which it is said.
A common variation on this expression is with the verb parere (to seem, to appear):
Noi ci sposeremo e soprattutto divorzieremo.
We'll get married and above all we'll get divorced.
Tu stasera vai in albergo, da tuo fratello,
This evening, you will go to a hotel, to your brother's,
dove ti pare, lontano da me.
wherever you want, far from me.
Captions 32-33, La Tempesta - filmPlay Caption
Note that parere is one of those verbs, like piacere, where the subject is not the person doing the liking or the wanting. So, thinking literally, the gist would be "go where it seems to you that you should go."
Dove ti pare is a very common way to say dove vuoi (wherever you like).
Come ti pare is a very common way to say come vuoi (however you like).
It's interesting that both parere and piacere are also commonly used nouns: il parere and il piacere.
For more about piacere see this lesson:
and see this video:
When you want to say that something is watertight, that you have no doubt about it —in other words, there is no use in discussing it further —there is a great Italian expression at your disposal. Even if you don't understand why people say it, you can start noticing when people say it and imitate them. And you will soon start sounding like a native as you say it.
Ragazze, la C sta per Catullo
Girls, the "C" stands for Catullus,
e su questo non ci piove.
and the rain can't touch it [there is no doubt about it].
Captions 71-72, La Ladra - EP. 9 L'amico sconosciutoPlay Caption
It means there is no hole in the argument, but that's not so easy to figure out from the expression, especially since it uses that pesky particle ci that means so many things. It's kind of fun to figure out, or at least imagine why Italians use this colorful expression, and where it comes from.
In Italy, roofs are often made of tiles or tegole. If you move a tegola around, the rain might leak into the house. This can happen accidentally, with high winds, or if someone walks on the roof for some reason, like to clean out the gutters or adjust an antenna. If it rains into the house, ci piove (it rains there, it rains in it).
So besides being a great expression, when talking about leaky roofs, it usually means the rain comes in. It's not easy finding a literal translation that makes sense, which is why we've talked about it here.
When the leak has to do with a pipe or a faucet, we talk about it losing water. We use the verb perdere (to lose, to leak).
Ma... questo non perde più! -No!
Well! This no longer leaks! -No!
Non mi dire che l'idraulico s'è degnato?
Don't tell me the plumber deigned?
Eva, stamattina qua è passato un vero uomo, eh?
Eva, this morning a real man came here, huh?
Che oltre ad aggiustà [aggiustare] i rubinetti così, proprio tà tà tà l'ha fatto eh!
Who besides fixing the faucet just like that, he did it really fast, huh!
Captions 11-14, La Ladra - Ep. 1 - Le cose cambianoPlay Caption
See this lesson about the verb perdere.
Another thing to say when an argument is airtight is: Non fa una piega (there isn't even one wrinkle).
È evidente che avrebbe dovuto vincere Fabiola Alfieri.
It's clear that Fabiola Alfieri should have won.
Allora perché non ha votato per lei?
So why didn't you vote for her?
-Perché il direttore di un giornale può essere
Because the director of a newspaper can be
molto utile alla carriera di un marito come il mio.
very useful to the career of a husband like mine.
-Non fa una piega, però non mi convince.
That a perfect argument, but it doesn't convince me.
Captions 34-37, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP4 - Miss MaremmaPlay Caption
Practice commenting inside your head with su questo non ci piove or non fa una piega when people are justifying, explaining, arguing, debating.
Note that another way to say non fa una piega is non fa una grinza. They both mean the same thing. There's a lesson about this!
Most folks know that when someone plays a solo, he or she is the main player, also called the soloist. Sometimes a musician plays alone (this is a hint).
You may or may not have realized that solo is an Italian word, 100%. Let's take a look at how it's used in Italian. Because when someone plays a solo in the middle of a song, strangely enough, it's called something else entirely: un assolo (a solo).
Sì. -In un... -Io sono, sono un tenore leggero.
Yes. -In a... -I'm a, I'm a light tenor.
E fai anche dei duetti... -Sì, a volte duetti buffi,
And you also do duets... -Yes, sometimes comic opera duets,
a volte, invece, dei, degli assoli. -Ecco! Ah, no.
sometimes, on the other hand, some, some solos. -There! Ah, no.
Posso sentire prima un assolo e poi, magari, vedo, facciamo un duetto.
Can I first hear a solo, and then, maybe let's see, we'll do a duet.
Captions 101-104, L'Eredità -Quiz TV - La sfida dei sei. Puntata 1Play Caption
Solo has to do with being alone. It can mean "on one's own."
Ulisse era un cane anziano, un cane solo.
Ulisse was an old dog, a lone dog.
Caption 12, Andromeda - La storia di UlissePlay Caption
Solo is often preceded by the preposition da (by), making it function sort of like an adverb, answering the question "how," or "in what way," in which case we can translate it with "by oneself," "on one's own," "by itself," or "alone."
Guarda che al cinema ci posso pure andare da sola.
Look, I can perfectly well go to the movies by myself.Play Caption
Guardi, sta arrivando Olivetti.
Look, here comes Olivetti.
Pensava di venire qui con tanti dei suoi
He thought he'd come here with many of his own,
e invece è da solo.
and instead, he's by himself.
Captions 59-60, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep.2 - Part 21Play Caption
Vuoi un antidolorifico? Ce l'ho.
Do you want a painkiller? I have some.
-No, no, no. Preferisco che mi passi da solo.
-No, no, no. I prefer for it to go away on its own.
-As you like.
Captions 38-40, La Ladra - Ep. 7 - Il piccolo ladroPlay Caption
Io, la mia strada, me la sono fatta da solo.
I, I've paved my own way [I did it all on my own].Play Caption
But solo is not always preceded by da.
Io... lo... lo conoscevo poco, però,
I... I... I didn't know him very well
nonostante tutte le donne che si vantava di avere,
but despite all the women he bragged about having,
a me sembrava un uomo molto solo.
he seemed like a very lonely man to me.
Captions 40-41, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP5 - Mondo sommersoPlay Caption
In this case, it means "lonely." It's not always clear if someone is lonely or alone. But if we ad da — da solo, then it is clear it means "alone," not "lonely." We can also say "to feel alone" or "to feel lonely." Sentirsi solo.
Solo can be an adjective meaning "only" — which rhymes with "lonely," and in Italian it's the same word.
Non è il solo motivo per cui mi oppongo.
It's not the only reason I object.Play Caption
Vedi, Alessio, quando mio padre venne qui e fondò questa fabbrica,
You see, Alessio, when my father came here and founded this plant,
qui intorno c'erano solo campi di grano.
there were only wheat fields around here.
Captions 17-18, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep.2 - Part 13Play Caption
Cioè, penso solo al fatto che tu non ci sia più, Martino.
I mean, I can only think about the fact that you're no longer here, Martino.
Caption 3, Chi m'ha visto - filmPlay Caption
In English, we often say "just" to mean the same thing.
Magari! Ma quanto mi costa? Adesso spara la cifra.
If only! But how much will it cost me? Now he'll name the price.
-Io non voglio parlare di danaro, io voglio solo aiutarla.
-I don't want to talk about money. I just want to help you.
Captions 37-38, La Ladra - Ep. 4 - Una magica biondaPlay Caption
It's typical for someone to say, è solo che... (it's just that...) to minimize something, or to say "but."
Eh, è solo che ho bisogno di un prestito.
Huh, it's just that I need a loan.
Caption 10, La Ladra - Ep. 1 - Le cose cambianoPlay Caption
Another context in which we hear solo is when we want to say, "And that's not all!"
E non solo. Nella salina Moranella,
And not only that [and that's not all]. In the Moranella salt pan,
un momento magico, veramente, è la raccolta del fior di sale.
a magical moment, really, is the harvesting of "fleur de sel."
Captions 52-53, La rotta delle spezie di Franco Calafatti - Il salePlay Caption
When you need to keep someone waiting for a moment, or you are passing the phone to someone else, you can say:
Un momento solo (just a moment).
Un instante solo (just a moment).
We hope this lesson has given you some insight into the very common and important word solo. Don't forget that you can do a search of this word (and any other one) and see all the contexts right there on the video page. Look at where solo falls in the sentence and read the sentence to yourself. Get a feel for this word.
This week's segment of Sposami happens to have several idiomatic expressions that are worth looking at.
In the following example, the verb rompere (to break) is used, together with the direct object scatole (boxes). This is a euphemism, a polite way to say palle (balls). Although it is very easy for Italians to have the more vulgar expression on the tip of the tongue, they will avoid it in polite company, and will use scatole instead of palle.
Bruna ha il marito in cassa integrazione
Bruna's husband has been laid off
e fa di tutto anche lei per farsi licenziare
and she's trying her best to get fired,
rompendo le scatole in continuazione con rivendicazioni sindacali.
as well by pestering us [breaking our balls] constantly with union demands.
Captions 13-15, Sposami - EP 1 - Part 4Play Caption
If you don't know it's a euphemism, the expression makes little sense, but it's also handy to know that you can just use the verb rompere and the message will get across, all the same, guaranteed, cento percento (100%).
Oh, ma hai finito di rompere?
Oh, but have you finished bugging me?Play Caption
You can just say when someone is pestering you,
Non rompere! (Don't bother me!)
The noun form is used a lot, too, to describe someone who keeps pestering you.
È un vero rompiscatole (he/she is a real pain).
This next idiom has interesting origins. Of course, you don't need to know its origins to use the expression. You do need to know that when a relationship becomes strained, and is on the verge of a rupture, you may well be ai ferri corti. If you are thinking in Italian, you can imagine the scene of two people no longer speaking to each other, or if they do speak, whatever they say is misconstrued, and sparks fly. You're dangerously close to the breaking point. If you watch the movie Sposami on Yabla, you'll get the picture!
Lo so che siete ai ferri corti, non me ne importa niente.
I know that you are at loggerheads. That doesn't matter to me.
Caption 27, Sposami - EP 1 - Part 4Play Caption
When we have to translate ai ferri corti, it's a bit trickier. We have to go to a word we no longer use much: Loggerheads. To be at loggerheads. A log is a thick piece of wood, and indeed "loggerhead" once meant "blockhead," as in Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost, act IV, scene IV [i.e. 3]: "Ah you whoreson loggerhead, you were born to do me shame."
And later, "loggerhead" meant an iron instrument with a long handle and a ball or bulb at the end (thus the name), used, when heated in the fire, for melting pitch and for heating liquids. This makes sense with the Italian ferri, as we are talking about iron tools or possibly weapons. Think of a blacksmith's tools. We can imagine that this tool used to melt pitch, if short, will be very, very hot. Or we can think of the sword and the dagger, also made of ferro (iron). When our swords are broken or gone, and we're using daggers, we are dangerously close. In any case, the conflict has gotten dangerously heated.
Perché lo conosco, lui ha una capacità nel rivoltare le frittate
Because I know him. He's very capable of flipping omelets [turning the tables]
che non ci puoi credere.
like you wouldn't believe.
Captions 36-37, Sposami - EP 1 - Part 4Play Caption
A popular quick meal for Italians is the frittata. The word has gained popularity even in English, but for those unfamiliar with it, it's the Italian version of an omelet, but usually flatter and less fluffy than the French kind, and often containing finely chopped vegetables and grated Parmesan cheese.
You have to flip the frittata over to get it cooked on both sides.
When you twist the argument, you're flipping it. You were to blame, but you twist things in such a way that it looks like the other person is at fault. Literally, it is flipping a situation around to be in one's favor despite not being in the right. We can also translate it with "to turn the tables."
There are a few other variations of this expression:
rovesciare la frittata (turn the frittata over)
rigirare la frittata (flip the omelet over again)
girare la frittata (flip the omelet)
But they all mean basically the same thing.
One of the most basic things we need to know as we venture into the world of speaking Italian is how to ask about a word we don't understand.
There are a couple of ways to do this.
One way is to use a verb we can easily understand, even though we don't use its English equivalent the same way, or very often in conversation. The Italian is significare. It kind of looks like "signify." Of course, in English, we would sooner use the adjective "significant" or the adverb "significantly."
Cosa significa (what does it mean)?
"Pilazza" in italiano significa "vasca di pietra" o "lavatoio";
"Pilazza," in Italian, means "stone tub" or "washhouse."
è il posto in cui, anticamente,
It's the place where, in earlier times,
venivano i cittadini di Mazara del Vallo a fare il bucato.
the citizens of Mazara del Vallo would come to do the laundry.
Captions 15-17, In giro per l'Italia - Mazara Del Vallo - SiciliaPlay Caption
And if we want the noun form, it's il significato (the meaning, the significance).
Questo è un ottimo esercizio per ripassare alcune parole del video e il loro significato.
This is a good exercise for reviewing some words from the video and their meaning.
Caption 49, Italian Intro - SerenaPlay Caption
We can ask: Qual è il significato (what's the meaning)?
The more common way to ask what something means is a bit more complex at first: We need 2 verbs to say it, but it's easy to say, and once you master it you will be all set.
The first verb is volere (to want). This is a very useful but tricky verb, as it is actually two verbs in one: It's a stand-alone transitive verb, as in:
Voglio una macchina nuova (I want a new car).
We can also translate it as "to desire."
Volere is also a modal verb, basically meaning "to want to." The main thing to know about a modal verb is that it's followed by a verb in the infinitive, or rather it goes together with a verb in the infinitive, and can't stand alone. Just like some verbs in English, such as "to get," volere has meanings that go beyond "to want to." And just like "to get" in English, volere can pair up with other verbs to take on a new meaning.
In the case of asking what something means, we add a second verb, in the infinitive: dire (to say).
You know how in English we always say, "I mean..."? Well, Italians do this too, but they say, Voglio dire... (I mean to say, I mean).
Bene, forse è ancora in tempo.
Good, maybe there's still time for you.
Prima che distrugga anche la sua famiglia, voglio dire.
Before he destroys your family as well, I mean.
Captions 10-11, La Ladra - Ep. 2 - Viva le sposePlay Caption
The difference between "I mean to say" and "I mean" is minimal, right? If we take this one step further and put it into the third person singular, it's vuole dire, which commonly gets shortened to vuol dire. And there we have it. It means "it means."
Of course, it could also mean "he means" or "she means," but more often than not it means "it means."
Uso il termometro
I use the thermometer
e misuro la mia temperatura.
and I measure my temperature.
Se è superiore a trentasette e mezzo, vuol dire che ho la febbre.
And if it's above thirty-seven and a half (centigrade), it means that I have a fever.
Captions 25-27, Marika spiega - Il raffreddorePlay Caption
Marika could also have said, Significa che ho la febbre (it means I have a fever).
Here's one way to ask what a word means:
Nell'ottocentocinquanta, i Saraceni gli diedero il nome di Rabat.
In eight hundred fifty, the Saracens gave it the name of Rabat.
Cioè, sai pure l'arabo ora?
So, do you even know Arabic now?
E che vuol dire Rabat? -Borgo.
And what does Rabat mean? -Village.
Captions 8-10, Basilicata Turistica - Non me ne voglio andarePlay Caption
The answer is: Rabat vuol dire "borgo". "Rabat" means "village."
So when asking what a word means, we can either use cosa (what) or just che (what), which is a bit more colloquial.
Cosa vuol dire (what does it mean)?
Che vuol dire (what does it mean)?
If you are absolutely desperate, just say: Vuol dire... (that means...)? You'll get the message across.
Some learners like to know why we say what we say. It helps them remember. Others do better just memorizing how to say something and not worrying about the "why." Whatever works is the right way for you. We all learn in different ways, for sure. And if you need to know more, just ask. We at Yabla are pretty passionate about language and are happy to share the passion. This lesson, as a matter of fact, came about because a learner had trouble grasping why we use the verb "to want" when talking about the meaning of something. We hope that this has helped discover the underlying connection.
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.
Come in ritardo?
What do you mean "late?"
Senta, Barbara, lasci perdere le scuse e cerchi di sbrigarsi invece.
Listen, Barbara, forget these excuses and try to hurry up instead.
Captions 28-29, La Ladra - Ep. 5 - Chi la fa l'aspettiPlay Caption
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 sognoPlay Caption
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.
I'm going ahead, I'll wait for you there, eh, hurry.
Ah, ricordatevi le cinture di sicurezza!
Oh, remember your seat belts!
Captions 40-41, Un medico in famiglia - S1 EP1 - Casa nuovaPlay Caption
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.
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.Play Caption
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 VerdePlay Caption
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
If you find a dead body in a hotel room
e scopri che l'occupante della stanza ha pagato per altri due giorni in anticipo,
and you discover that the occupant of the room had paid in advance for two more days,
però se ne va prima in fretta e furia,
but he leaves beforehand in a big hurry,
ti insospettisci, no? -Eh!
you become suspicious, don't you? -Yeah.
Captions 11-14, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP7 - Sogni di VetroPlay Caption
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?
You didn't even stop by to say goodbye?
No. Dovevo andare via, c'avevo furia [toscano: fretta].
No. I had to leave. I was in a hurry.
Captions 9-10, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP8 - Fuori servizioPlay Caption
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)?
"Scusa, ma vado di corsa".
"Sorry, but I'm in a rush."
"Parliamo più tardi".
"We'll talk later."
Captions 55-56, Marika spiega - Gli avverbi di modoPlay Caption
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.
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:
Caption 34, Chi m'ha visto - film - Part 22Play Caption
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 sonoPlay Caption
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 18Play Caption
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 ladroPlay Caption
Ce ne sono due grandi internazionali
There are two large international ones
eh... a Pisa e Firenze, ma addirittura altri sette piccoli aeroporti.
uh... in Pisa and Florence, but in fact there are seven other small airports.
Captions 69-70, L'Italia a tavola - Interrogazione sulla ToscanaPlay Caption
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).
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.
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.
Sembrerebbe un tuo capello.
It seems like one of your hairs.
Va be', dai, strappami il capello, forza. Strappa 'sto capello.
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 lenzuolaPlay Caption
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 - S1 EP1 - Casa nuovaPlay Caption
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 1Play Caption
In this week's segment of La Ladra, there is a wonderful Italian expression with the noun strappo.
Ma sono vegetariano.
But I am a vegetarian.
Ma non fai mai uno strappo alla regola?
But don't you ever make an exception to the rule?
E... allora potresti venire nel mio ristorante, naturalmente saresti mio ospite.
And... so you could come to my restaurant, you'll be my guest, naturally.
Captions 61-64, La Ladra - EP. 8 - Il momento giustoPlay Caption
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?Play Caption
The more conventional word would be un passaggio. Read more about passaggio here.
Here are some situations in which you might want to use the verb strappare or the noun strappo:
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.
Did you watch last Wednesday's episode of Commissario Manara? You might have noticed that there's an excellent example of a pronominal verb.
Review pronominal verbs here.
Ce l'hai ancora con me.
You're still mad at me.
E perché mai dovrei avercela con te, scusa? Sono in vacanza.
And why on earth should I be mad at you, pardon me? I'm on vacation.
Captions 6-7, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP8 - Fuori servizioPlay Caption
There are plenty of pronominal verbs Italians use constantly, and avercela is one that has a few different nuanced meanings. The verb avere (to have) combines with the direct object la (it) and the indirect object ci which can mean so many things, such as "to it/him/, for it/him/us" and it still doesn't make sense to an English ear, but it can mean to get angry, to feel resentment and more.
The meaning can be aggressive, as in "to have it in for someone." Avercela con qualcuno (to have it in for someone) happens to fit fairly well into a grammatically reasonable English translation, but avercela can also have a milder connotation, as in the example above, "to be mad at someone." And in this case, grammar pretty much goes out the window.
When you sense that something is not right with a friend, that they are not their usual talkative self, you wonder if you had done or said something wrong. This is the time to ask:
Ce l'hai con me? (Are you mad at me?)
Using the pronominal verb avercela, it becomes very personal and often implies resentment or placing blame. The feeling of anger or resentment has to be directed at someone, even oneself.
Non ce l'ho con te. So che non era colpa tua. Ce l'ho con me stesso.
I'm not blaming you. I'm not holding it against you. I know it wasn't your fault. I have only myself to blame. I'm mad at myself.
There's a more official word for feeling resentful, too, risentire, but as you see from the dictionary, this verb has several meanings, so it isn't used all that often in everyday conversation. When you're mad, you want to be clear!
Let's look at the classic word for getting or being angry: fare arrabbiare (to make someone angry, to anger), arrabbiarsi (to get angry), arrabbiato (angry, mad), la rabbia (the anger).
If a parent, teacher, or boss is angry with a child, student, employee who did something wrong, then the word arrabbiarsi is the more suitable and direct term. It doesn't normally make sense to be actually resentful in these cases. In the following example, a colleague is talking to her co-worker about the boss.
Alleluia! -Guarda che questa volta l'hai fatta grossa. Era veramente arrabbiato.
Halleluja! -Look. This time you really blew it, big time. He was really mad.
Captions 20-21, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP7 - Alta societàPlay Caption
Closely related to avercela con qualcuno is prendersela, another pronominal verb! We've discussed this here, and as you will see, in some cases, both avercela and prendersela are used in similar situations.
But prendersela contains the verb prendere (to take). It might be helpful to think of "taking something badly."
Non te la prendere (don't feel bad, don't take this badly).
Unlikle avercela, which is directed towards someone, prendersela is reflexive, with se (oneself), as in prendersi (to take for oneself)— You're more on the receiving end of an emotion, which you then transfer to someone else.
Me la sono presa con Giuseppe (I took it out on Giuseppe, [but I shouldn't have]. I lost it).
One last expression bears mentioning. Arrabbiare is the correct word to use for getting angry, but lots of people just say it as in the following example. We are replacing the more vulgar term with the polite version: incavolarsi (to get angry), fare incavolare (to get someone angry).
E questo l'ha fatto incazzare tantissimo.
And this made him extremely angry.Play Caption
Now you have various ways to get angry in Italian, but we hope you won't need to resort to them too often.
Learning expressions by hearing them, repeating them, and figuring out, little by little, the right context to use them in is a great way to learn. But sometimes it’s fun to see where these expressions come from and a visual image can help us remember them. Let's talk about wrinkles.
Somebody has a plan, or an explanation for something. How do we say that it “holds water,” it’s “faultless,” it “makes perfect sense,” "there's no argument?"
But let's start off with the premise that Italians are very concerned with clothes, and figura (impression — how they are viewed by the outside world) and most people know that Italy is an important fashion center. Many Italian kids learn early on that getting their t-shirts dirty will make mamma unhappy, so they try to keep their clothes clean. Not only puliti (clean) but stirati (ironed). So it makes a certain amount of sense that some expressions use ironing metaphors!
In an episode of La Ladra, Eva has an elaborate plan all worked out, which she describes to her girlfriends.
Here’s Gina’s response.
Non fa una grinza.
Captions 45-47, La Ladra - Ep. 3 - L'oro dello squaloPlay Caption
Gina’s comment non fa una grinza literally means, “it doesn’t make a wrinkle.” She could have said non fa una piega, which is also very common, if not more common, and means the same thing. So the expression means, “it’s clean, it has no blemishes, it’s smooth — no bumps, no wrinkles. It’s perfect.”
If you have been following Commissario Manara, you might have noticed the following exchange between Manara and his chief’s wife, who was on the Miss Maremma jury. There’s a contradiction between how she voted and who she really thought should win. Here is the conversation.
È evidente che avrebbe dovuto vincere Fabiola Alfieri.
It's clear that Fabiola Alfieri should have won.
-Allora perché non ha votato per lei?
-So why didn't you vote for her?
Perché il direttore di un giornale può essere molto utile alla carriera di un marito come il mio.
Because the director of a newspaper can be very useful to the career of a husband like mine.
-Non fa una piega, però non mi convince.
-That makes perfect sense, but it doesn't convince me.
E va bene. Quella Fabiola è di una strafottenza mai vista. Ma chi si crede di essere?
And all right. That Fabiola is unbelievably arrogant. But who does she think she is?
Captions 34-40, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP4 - Miss MaremmaPlay Caption
So in this expression, regardless of whether grinza or piega is used, the verb is fare (to do/to make). It generally refers to a statement, a reason, an explanation, or a motive, so, di conseguenza (consequently), it’s usually in the third person singular.
It’s a handy expression when all the evidence points to one answer or reasoning you can’t find fault with (even though you wish you could).
Una grinza (a crease, a wrinkle) is the noun form, and its verb form is raggrinzare (to wrinkle) or raggrinzire (to wrinkle).
Piegare means “to fold,” “to bend,” so the noun una piega is “a fold” or “a crease.”
In the negative sense una piega is something that shouldn’t be there, like a crease caused by careless ironing.
The noun form piega is used in another common expression. It is almost always negative, it goes together with brutto (bad/ugly), and usually refers to some kind of situation. In this case, the meaning of piega is closer to “bend,” than to “fold” or “crease.”
Smettiamo prima che questa conversazione prenda una brutta piega.
Let’s stop before this conversation takes a turn for the worse.
Let’s stop before this conversation gets ugly/goes bad.
Check out WordReference for more meanings of la piega.