Lezioni Italiano

Argomenti

Lessons for topic Vocabulary

Noioso: Boring or Annoying?

A Yabla subscriber has asked us to shed some light on the difference between noioso and annoiato. They are both adjectives and can be used to describe a person. There are some intricacies involved with these words, which we'll get to, but let's start out with the noun: la noia.

 

Che noia!

What a bore!

Caption 9, Acqua in bocca - Un amico per Pippo

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What is tricky about this noun (and its related adjectives) is that it can indeed imply boredom, but it can also mean "the bother" or "the nuisance." In fact, in the previous example, we don't know the context, but the meaning could also have been "what a nuisance," or "what a pain." The noun noia rarely refers to a person him- or herself, as "bore" would in English.

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Noia

The following example is from Tuscany where noia is used a great deal to mean "bother." And it's often used with the verb dare (to give) — dare noia (to be a bother, to be annoying, to be in the way).

 

Erano alberi che davano noia e basta,

They were trees that were a bother and nothing more,

Caption 30, Gianni si racconta - L'olivo e i rovi

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So che noia can mean "what boredom" or "what a pain!" And dare noia can be interpreted as bothering, or being a bother, or being in the way.

 

Annoiare

We also have the verb annoiare that does remind one of the verb "to annoy." Indeed, that is one of the meanings and comes from the Latin "inodiare" — avere in odio (to have hateful feelings for).

 

Mi disturba, mi annoia,

You're bothering me, you're annoying me,

Caption 11, L'Italia a tavola - Interrogazione sul Piemonte

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But it is much more common for this verb to be used in its reflexive form annoiarsi. In this case it's always about being bored or possibly fed up.

 

Io non mi annoio mai quando sto con lui, mai.

I never get bored when I am with him, ever.

Caption 34, Provaci ancora prof! - S1E3 - Una piccola bestia ferita

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Noioso

We've seen that noia isn't just about boredom, so likewise, noioso can mean boring, but not necessarily. Let's look at some examples of the different nuances.

Noioso can describe a person who is not very interesting, a dull person:

 

Abbiamo solamente avuto un piccolo flirt.

We just had a little fling.

Genere depresso e noioso, capisci?

Depressed and boring type, you understand?

Captions 9-10, Provaci ancora prof! - S1E1 - Il regalo di Babbo Natale

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It can also describe a movie, for example: 

Il film era noioso, purtroppo (the movie was boring, unfortunately).

 

Here's a perfect example of something that is not boring. It's annoying. And in fact, the N and O sounds can hint at that.

 

Eh, povero Dixi, il singhiozzo è noioso

Oh, poor Dixi, the hiccups are bothersome

Caption 15, Dixiland - Il singhiozzo

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Annoiato

Annoiato can be used as the past participle of annoiare, or more often, as we mentioned above, the past participle of the reflexive verb annoiarsi. In this case, it means "to get or to be bored."

 

Oppure: "No, non andrò alla festa di Marcello.

Or: "No, I won't go to Marcello's party.

Ci sono già stato l'anno scorso e mi sono annoiato".

I already went to it last year and I got bored."

Captions 48-49, Corso di italiano con Daniela - Particella Ci e Ne

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But as often occurs, past participles are also used as adjectives. With annoiato, this can describe one's state of being.

 

Ciao. Sei annoiato o annoiata

Hi. Are you bored (m) or bored (f)

e ti vuoi divertire e rilassare?

and you want to have a good time and relax?

Captions 3-4, Marika spiega - Il cinema

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Just for fun:

Let's try using all these forms in a silly, made-up dialogue.

Lei: Sembri annoiato, è così? (You seem bored. Are you?)

 

Lui: No, ho solo sonno (No, I'm just sleepy.) E inoltre, come posso annoiarmi ad ascoltare i tuoi racconti per l'ennesima volta? (And besides, how can I get bored listening to you tell your stories for the umteenth time?)

 

Lei: Beh, so che posso essere un po' noiosa a volte, scusami (Well, I know I can be a bit boring at times, sorry.) Allora smetto di darti noia, e me ne vado (I'll stop bothering you, then, and I'll leave.)

 

Lui: No, aspetta, se vai via mi annoierò davvero (If you leave, I will get bored for real.) E tra l'altro, ho dei lavori noiosissimi da fare e non ne ho nessuna voglia (And besides, I have some really tedious jobs to do and I have no desire to do them.)

 

Lei: OK, so che sono noiosa, ma non sarebbe meglio fare quei lavori dato che siano anche urgenti (OK, I know I am being a pain, but wouldn't it be better to do those jobs, given that they're urgent?)

 

Lui: OK, ora sei noiosa davvero. Mi sono ampiamente annoiato con questa storia (OK, now you are really being boring/irritating. I'm pretty sick of this thing), quindi forse è meglio se te ne vai... (so maybe it's better if you do leave.)

 

OK, ciao. Non ti voglio annoiare con un'altra delle mie storie noiose. (OK, bye. I don't want to bore you with another of my boring stories.)

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In gita, in giro: What's the difference?

There are different ways to travel. It can be for pleasure or work, it can be for multiple days, weeks, or months, or it can be a day trip or an overnight, an excursion.

 

So, let's look at an interesting alternative to the true cognate, escursione (that works just fine, too):

la gita, una gita, andare in gita.

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So the noun is la gita. But where does it come from? It originally comes from the verb ire (to go). People don't use this verb much at all, in fact we could say they never use it in converstion, as it is literary (we mostly use andare), but those of you who know Latin, Spanish, or other Romance languages, will most likely recognize it. 

 

A dialectical version of ire has a g sound in front of it, turning it into gire. We can trace it to the feminine past participle: andataitagita. You don't need to know this, but some of us enjoy knowing where words come from.

La gita in practical terms

In practical terms, una gita implies traveling somewhere, not necessarily sleeping over, but maybe. 

For example, kids in school might go on una gita scolastica (a class trip).

 

E perché? -Partono, per la gita scolastica!

And, why? -They're leaving on a school trip!

Fuori di casa due giorni da soli.

Away from home for two days, all alone.

-Mamma, siamo in trentadue!

-Mom, there are thirty-two of us!

E quattro insegnanti.

And four teachers.

Captions 5-8, Acqua in bocca - Allarme gita

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Erica works at the tourist office of Palaia in Tuscany. She's talking about her job.

 

E quindi è un po' il punto di arrivo,

And so it's kind of the point of arrival

eh, di tutte quelle persone che vengono qua in vacanza,

uh, for all those people who come here on vacation,

o anche semplicemente per fare u', una gita o una, una breve sosta

or even just to make a, a day trip, or a quick stop

qui, in questo territorio, che è la Valdera.

here, in this area, which is the Valdera.

Captions 14-17, Professioni e mestieri - Erica - archeologa

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Check out this Yabla mini-series about a girl who goes on an outing — Una gita al lago (a day trip to the lake).

Girare

The verb gire sounds kind of like the verb girare, which means "to go around." Girare and gire don't have the same root, but they are related through one definition of girare:

 

andare qua e là, andare in giro, vagare, con o senza uno scopo determinato
(to go here and there, to go about, with or without a specific purpose).

 

Firenze è una città piccola, si può girare benissimo a piedi.

Florence is a small city, you can go around very easily on foot.

Caption 9, In giro per l'Italia - Firenze

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The noun form is il giro. Un giro can be a bike ride, a walk, a ride in a car... anything really, even a swing, or one of the machines at a gym.

 

Continuando il mio giro in bicicletta sulle mura di Lucca,

Continuing my bike ride around the Lucca walls,

mi sono fermata davanti a questo bellissimo palazzo.

I stopped in front of this very beautiful villa.

Captions 1-2, In giro per l'Italia - Lucca

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Fare un giro can mean "to take a turn."

Let's say I am on the treadmill at the gym, and there is someone waiting. I can ask, ci vuoi fare un giro (do you want to take a turn on it, do you want to have a go)?

 

Italians love diminutives, so we also have un giretto, or un girettino (or some say una girata or girattina) more like a brief stroll, synonymous with passeggiata, or passeggiatina

 

E nonna, ho fatto un bel giretto nel bosco.

Well Grandma, I had a nice walk around the woods.

Caption 5, Anna e Marika - in Cappuccetto Rosso e la nonnina

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Gramatically speaking...

Note that we use the verb fare (to make, to do) with the noun una gita, —fare una gita or the noun un giro —fare un giro. Or we use the verb andare (to go) and the preposition in (on a) before gita or giro. Andare in gita, andare in giro. Tuscans often say andare a giro. It means the same thing.

 

Sono sicura che passeremo una bellissima giornata in giro per la città.

I'm sure we'll have a great day going around the city.

Caption 6, In giro per l'Italia - Firenze

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There is plenty more to say about in giro, but that will be for another lesson. Meanwhile, let's try to assimilate the meanings we have talked about here by looking at some questions and some possible answers. Feel free to write to us with your attempts. Mistakes are welcome. That's how we learn.

 

Practice and examples

E tu? Che fai oggi? Vai in gita? Fai un giro? Fai una passeggiata? Vai in giro?
And you? What are you doing today? Are you going on an excursion? Are you going to go out and about? Are you going to take a walk? Are you going to cruise around the area?

 

Here are some possible answers:

Facciamo una gita turistica. Viviamo a Pisa, e andremo a visitare Siena. 
We're going on a day trip. We live in Pisa and we're going to go and see Siena.

 

Andiamo in gita, che bello!
We're going on an outing, how great!

 

Facciamo il giro dell'isolotto.
We're going to walk around the block.

 

Facciamo un giro.
Let's go and have a look around.

 

Facciamo un giro in bici.
We're going on a bike ride.

 

Ho fatto una passeggiata vicino a casa.
I took a walk close to home.

 

Siamo andati in giro per la toscana.
We went for a ride around Tuscany.

 

Feel free to send us some of your own examples. If they work, we'll add them to this list. write to us at newsletter@yabla.com.

  

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Making Do with Accontentarsi

A single verb that expresses the idea of "making do" is accontentarsi (to be content with something/to make oneself be content). The adjective it stems from is contento (happy, content). The non-reflexive verb accontentare can be translated as "to satisfy."

 

Me lo avete chiesto voi, eh, quindi io vi accontento.

You asked me for it, huh, so I will satisfy you.

Caption 6, Marika spiega - I verbi cavare e togliere

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You are giving someone what they want. You are making them happy.

 

Making do

The reflexive verb accontentarsi implies that something may not be up to our highest expectations or greatest desires, but it will do, because we decide to accept it. We settle for it. 

 

Quando ho molto tempo, preferisco mangiare frutta, latte e cereali;

When I have lots of time, I prefer to eat fruit, milk and cereal;

quando ho poco tempo,

when I have little time,

mi accontento del classico caffè e del cornetto o brioche.

I make do with a classic espresso and croissant or brioche.

Captions 20-23, Adriano - Giornata

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Adding some color

The verb accontentarsi has a lot of information in it, but Italians have an expression that enhances it even further. Italy, being a Roman Catholic country historically, is not lacking in monasteries and convents. While in English, "convent" tends to be understood as a convent of nuns, in Italian, un convento implies a religious community and may be either di suore (of nuns  = convent) or di frati (of monks = monastery). Many conventi around Italy offer hospitality to travelers, but the food that is served is the humble and simple fare the monks or nuns are served. And of course, they don't complain about it. 

 

So let's say someone asks you to stay for dinner on the spur of the moment and doesn't have anything special to offer. 

Se ti accontenti di quel che passa il convento, sei il benvenuto (if you make do with what the convent is serving [what we have on hand], you are welcome to stay for dinner).

 

But the expression is used outside of the realm of food, too. In this clip, we're talking about what kind of work one can get.

 

Guardi che Gigi c'ha pure due lauree.

Look, Gigi even has two degrees.

-E fa il deejay?

-And he is deejaying?

-E questo passa il convento.

-Well, that's what the convent offers [beggars can't be choosers].

Captions 13-15, La Ladra EP. 8 - Il momento giusto

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In an episode of Volare, the expression is used rather vulgarly, referring to a woman. But now, when you watch the video, you'll understand what's behind this expression.

 

Me so' [romanesco: mi sono] accontentato di quel che passava il convento.

I made do with what the convent was serving.

Caption 40, Volare - La grande storia di Domenico Modugno - Ep. 1

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A couple of additional examples:

 

-I'm talking to my husband about lunch:

Vuoi anche un secondo o ti accontenti di un piatto di pasta e un'insalata? (do you want a second course or are you happy with pasta and salad)?

 

-My boss asks me:

Mi puoi fare una bozza per domani (can you give me a rough draft by tomorrow)?

I answer:

Non so se ce la faccio, ma farò del mio meglio per accontentarti (I don't know if I'll be able to, but I'll do my best to satisfy you).

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Movie Talk in Italian

Many of us like to watch movies. Let's have a quick look at some of the terms that Italians use when they talk about the movies.

 

A movie is usually called un film. That's an easy one, because in English we can say "film," as well. 

Il Cinema

But when we talk about "the movies" in general, it's il cinema. That's another word we understand, but we have to think of using. Forget about the word "movie!"

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And then, when we want to go to the movies, andiamo al cinema (we go to the movies/let's go to the movies).

 

Ciao. Sei annoiato o annoiata

Hi. Are you bored (m) or bored (f)

e ti vuoi divertire e rilassare?

and you want to have a good time and relax?

Bene, puoi andare al cinema.

Good. You can go to the movies.

Captions 3-5, Marika spiega - Il cinema

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Siamo andati al cinema e abbiamo visto un bel film.

We went to the movies and we saw a great movie.

Adoro il cinema! 

I love the movies!

 

Actors and acting

When we talk about the star of the movie, if it's a guy, it's il protagonista and if it is a female, it's la protagonista. It always ends in a and is basically a feminine noun! It's also used to mean "the main character."

 

Perché Marcello, il protagonista di questo film, è uno come noi.

Because Marcello, the main character of this film, is someone like us.

Caption 21, Fellini Racconta - Un Autoritratto Ritrovato

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Just like in English, we have l'attore e l'attrice (the actor and the actress).

When they are acting, however, we use the verb recitare. They recite their lines.

 

È come recitare una parte in fondo, no?

It's like acting a part, deep down, right?

Caption 16, Sposami - EP 2

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E... come attore insisti,

And... and you have to keep at it as an actor.

hai recitato benissimo. -Grazie.

You acted very well. -Thank you.

Captions 5-6, Volare - La grande storia di Domenico Modugno - Ep. 1

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When we talk about movie stars, Italians often use the English word, la star (the star).  Otherwise, it's la stella (the star).

 

Grazie. -Alla nuova stella del musical.

Thanks. -To the new star of musicals.

Caption 22, La Ladra - Ep. 4 - Una magica bionda

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Il teatro or il cinema?

Nowadays, there are often various screening rooms in a multi-plex movie theater. Each of these is called una sala. We can also call a movie theater una sala cinematografica, when we are referring to a room within a building, or a building devoted to screening moviesSo when you buy your ticket they will tell you sala 4 or sala 8. Sala is akin to "hall" or "large room." Il teatro (the theater) refers to theaters (for plays) and opera houses. It also refers to the activity or study of acting or drama. Un corso di teatro is a drama course. If you have studied acting, you can say:

Ho studiato teatro 

Ho studiato recitazione teatrale

Watch

Yabla Italian has various movies you can watch in Italian with or without subtitles (try only Italian, only English, none, or both!). Taking advantage of moments when going to the movies might not be a great option. It might just be the right time to broaden your horizons with a nice movie in Italian. Here are some suggestions:

Il Tempesta This movie takes place in il Veneto, the region Venice is in. But the story takes place in the nearby city of Treviso. It involves a photographer, an adopted Belarus orphan, and a girl who works at the Tognana porcelain factory.  

Sei mai stata sulla Luna? (Ever Been to the Moon?)  The film is the story of Guia, a 30-year-old woman who works for a prestigious international fashion magazine, who travels around by private jet and lives between Milan and Paris. She has everything, or at least she thinks she does until she finds herself in a remote village in Puglia where she inherited a large family farm.

L'oro di Scampia (The Gold of Scampia) is based on a true story, adapted from Gianni Maddaloni's book, La mia vita sportiva (My Life in Sports). Scampia is a suburb made up of massive public housing blocks north of Naples. Camorra criminals rule the area and make life very difficult for Enzo Capuano, a hospital worker, who runs a Judo school in his spare time. 

Keep in mind that each segment of a movie comes with a vocabulary review, multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank exercises, and the patented dictation exercise, Scribe, so you can learn while enjoying the movie. But you can also just soak it in, and watch the entire movie, which is useful in itself. Getting used to hearing how real people (and good actors) speak — paying attention to the rhythm, flow, and lilt of the language gives you what learning individual words and constructed sentences cannot. Sometimes it's all about how Italians connect the words to each other fluidly.

 

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Of course, there are also plenty of movies on the various streaming platforms available for the watching. They are often available in lingua originale con sottotitoli. Maybe you can watch a movie in Italian that you have already seen dubbed into English or some other language. Fun!

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Forza, per forza, and a forza di

In this lesson, we look at three expressions with the noun la forza, which basically means "force" (easy cognate) or "strength." The meaning might help us grasp the expressions somewhat, but let's take the opportunity to shine a light on each one. They are all very common, and good to have in your repertoire of idioms.

1) Forza!

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We have seen this a million times in Yabla videos. It usually has an exclamation point following it. We can best translate it with "come on." It's funny because there are several Italian expressions that are translated the same way, such as Dai! Su! Vai! Coraggio! 

 

Dove stiamo andando? -Forza!

Where are we going? -Come on!

A lavoro, forza!

To work, come on!

Captions 35-36, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto

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But it can also just be another way to say "come on" or "go on."  Another way to say dai, as Italians often do at the end of a sentence. It's a bit stronger, but the inflection matters a lot, too.

 

Vabbè entra. Chiudi la porta, forza.

All right, come in. Shut the door, go on.

Caption 3, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto

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2) Per forza

This is a kind of adverbial phrase. We can get the sense of what it means: literally "through force." We use it to mean "necessarily," "inevitably," "begrudgingly" — in other words, "there's no choice." "That's the way it has to be." It might even mean "obviously," "clearly," in certain cases.

Let's look at some examples in context.

 

Allora, noi le tasse di successione,

So, the inheritance taxes,

quelle dobbiamo pagarle per forza.

those we are obliged to pay.

Caption 25, Sei mai stata sulla luna? - film

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C'è che tua madre vuole per forza

It's that your mother wants, at all costs,

trasformare il nostro matrimonio in un evento.

to transform our wedding into an event.

Caption 31, Sposami - EP 1 - Part 19

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Ho preso un tassì e sono scappata dal Pronto Soccorso.

I took a taxi and ran off from the emergency room.

-Ma ti sei fatta visitare?

-Did you get examined?

-Per forza!

-I had no choice!

Captions 1-3, La Ladra - Ep. 7 - Il piccolo ladro

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Tu non mi hai visto a me!

You haven't seen me!

Io so' [sono] sparito. Tu mi vedi? No, per forza, so' [sono] sparito.

I've disappeared. Do you see me? No, of course not. I've disappeared.

Captions 36-37, Chi m'ha visto - film - Part 10

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Two further idiomatic sayings come to mind using this adverbial phrase:

Per amore o per forza (one way or another, one way or the other)

O per volere o per forza (by hook or by crook)

 

3) A forza di...

The image we can glean from this expression is of a hammer that keeps hammering. Or a lie someone keeps repeating so many times that in the end you believe it. 

In the first example below, the police are looking for a DVD that could be really anywhere... a needle in a haystack. But they keep looking for it. They're saying they'll go into retirement before they find the DVD, it's taking so long.

 

Mi sa che ci [sic: ce ne] andiamo in pensione

I think that we'll go into retirement

a forza di cercare 'sto [questo] DVD.

from all the looking for this DVD.

E speriamo che ci andiamo in pensione,

And let's hope that we retire at all,

prima che ci sbranano i topi.

before the mice chew us up.

Captions 33-35, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP8 - Fuori servizio

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In this example, we have another modo di dire: mettersi la mano sulla coscienza (to examine one's conscience).

  

Non lo so, mettiti una mano sulla coscienza.

I don't know. Put a hand on your conscience [examine your conscience].

-Senti, a forza di mettermi la mano sulla coscienza,

-Listen, by putting my hand on my conscience so much,

quella è morta soffocata.

it died from suffocation.

Captions 49-51, Sposami - EP 2 - Part 25

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Although both of these examples are humorously expressed comments, a forza di is also used in serious matters. 

Mi fanno male le gambe a forza di stare seduto (by sitting so much, my legs hurt).

 

Structurally, we note that after a forza di comes a verb in the infinitive. In the English translation, we often find a gerund.

 

Just for fun:

Forza! Andiamo via. Dobbiamo per forza arrivare al supermercato prima della chiusura perché è finito il caffè. -Per forza è finito il caffè. Tu ne bevi a litri. A forza di bere tutti questi caffè non dormirai mai più.

Come on, let's leave. We have to absolutely get to the supermarket before closing time because we're out of coffee. Of course we're out of coffee. You drink gallons of it. By drinking so much you will never sleep again.

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A forza di studiare l'italiano e guardare dei video su Yabla (e facendo gli esercizi, bene inteso), imparerai la lingua!

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Meritare (to deserve, to merit)

Let's look at a word used in a recent episode of Volare that has both a verb and a noun form. It's an easy cognate, but you might not think of it, since "to deserve" is the verb we would use in English, and alas, it has no cognate in Italian.

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So meritare is a good verb to know. The noun form is il merito. In English, we would usually say "Thanks to [someone or something]."  Or we might say, "The credit is all yours/his/hers/theirs." So, you'll probably understand these words when you see them, especially when they are in a clear context, but you might not add them to your vocabulary if you are thinking in English. They are worth adopting, though. "Being worth it" is another way to translate meritare!

 

È merito della signora se sono qui, eh.

It's thanks to the lady if I am here, huh.

-No, Lei è qui perché se lo merita,

-No. You are here because you deserve to be.

non deve ringraziare nessuno.

You don't have to thank anyone.

Captions 22-24, Volare - La grande storia di Domenico Modugno - Ep. 1

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You might have noticed that the speaker uses the reflexive form of meritare, meritarsi. Both ways are OK, but when it's reflexive it feels a bit more personal (and it's a bit more complicated to use).

Il successo l'hai meritato.

Il succeso te lo sei meritato.

 

Let's look at some examples from Yabla videos:

 

Se hai una pessima idea di me, me lo merito.

If you have a bad impression of me, I deserve it.

Caption 72, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP5 - Il Raggio Verde

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Se questa operazione è riuscita, il merito è tuo. Brava, Sardi.

If this operation succeeded, it's thanks to you. Very good, Sardi.

Caption 26, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP4 - Miss Maremma

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Eh, va be', però bisogna avvertirlo, perché il critico ha dato tutto il merito a te.

Well, all right, but you should let him know because the critic gave you all the credit.

Caption 24, La Ladra - Ep. 5 - Chi la fa l'aspetti

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Pensavo di meritare di più dalla vita.

I thought I deserved more from life.

Caption 19, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP10 -La verità nascosta

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Poi sicuramente Pisa merita una visita

Then, of course, Pisa is worth a visit

con la sua torre pendente che non casca mai.

with its leaning tower that never falls.

Captions 75-76, L'Italia a tavola - Interrogazione sulla Toscana

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As you can see in the final example, to deserve something and be worth something are very close. Sometimes they are interchangeable. They are in Italian too, so check out our lesson about valere (to be worth). 

Continua a leggere

Is it worth It?: valere

When you're playing a game, you have to follow the rules. When you don't, someone might say:

Non vale (it doesn't count).

 

This comes from the verb valere (to have value, to be worth, to be valid).

 

Devi chiudere gli occhi però,

You have to close your eyes, though,

se no non vale. Vai.

otherwise it doesn't count. Go.

Captions 10-11, Sposami - EP 2 - Part 20

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So in this case, the verb valere is used to mean something isn't valid, it doesn't count.

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

But we also use it when we talk about something being worth it. In English, we can say something is worth the trouble or simply "worth it." In Italian, we need to say the whole phrase:

Vale la pena (it's worth the trouble, it's worth it).

 

Insomma, la vita è una cosa meravigliosa

So, life is a marvelous thing

e vale la pena viverla.

and it is well worth living.

Captions 41-42, Amiche - Filosofie

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In the previous example, we have a subject: life. "Life is worth living." But we can also just say, "It's worth it." In this case, we use a sort of prop word, the particle ne.

We use ne when we comment on something being worth it or not. We know what we're talking about, but we don't need to repeat it. So we use ne.

 

Here's the negative version:

[Qualcosa] non vale la pena ([something] is not worth it).

Non ne vale la pena (it's not worth it).

 

We can say the same exact thing as a question: Here too, we'll use the particle ne if we don't include the subject (the thing that isn't worth it).

Vale la pena (is [something] worth it/worth the trouble)?

Ne vale la pena (is it worth it)?

 

The third way we use valere is to say something is applicable.

 

Questa regola vale soltanto per il singolare,

This rule applies only to the singular,

quando io parlo della mia famiglia in singolare.

when I talk about my family in the singular.

Captions 14-15, Corso di italiano con Daniela - Aggettivi Possessivi

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Vale la pena studiare l'italiano? Speriamo di sì!

Continua a leggere

"Your Turn" Using the Verb Toccare

Although we can sometimes use the noun il turno to mean "the turn," as in, "Wait your turn" (aspetta il tuo turno), there's another (colloquial) expression we use in Italian, more often than not. We use the verb toccare (to touch). In the following clip, Dino and Melody are making wishes with blueberries:

 

Adesso tocca a te.

Now it's your turn.

Caption 9, Sposami - EP 2 - Part 20

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Tocca a te (it's your turn).
Tocca a me (it's my turn). 

 

The question you might get in a shop where various people are waiting their turns:

A chi tocca (whose turn is it)?

The answer can be tocca a me, tocca alla signora, tocca a lei, tocca a loro...

 

Twisting this expression a bit turns it into something you have to do.

Mi tocca (I have to do it).
Ti tocca (you have to do it).

 

Ho faticato tanto per averla,

I worked so hard to get it,

e adesso mi tocca venderla.

and now I have to sell it.

Captions 6-7, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP10 -La verità nascosta

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The important thing to remember in using this expression is that the person is the indirect object. The preposition of choice is a (to, at). The subject is a general "it," implied, or absent, actually.

In some places, you take a number and then wait your turn, at the supermarket, for example, at the bread counter, or the counter where you get prosciutto. Otherwise, you can ask, Chi è l'ultimo (who's the last [in line])? 

Continua a leggere

Disgrazia: A fickle friend

Let's look at a false friend. Not always false, but frequently. 

Una disgrazia

When something bad happens, like an accident, or a natural disaster, one word Italians commonly use is una disgraziaÈ successa una disgrazia (something bad happened/there's been an accident).

 

Domani, me [mi] capiterà 'na [una] disgrazia.

Tomorrow, some calamity will happen to me.

-Che disgrazia?

What calamity?

-Qualcosa de [di] male.

-Something bad.

Perché oggi sto troppo bene, canterino.

Because, today, I feel too good, songbird.

Captions 3-6, Fratelli Taviani - La passione e l'utopia

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The woman says it: something bad. In the following example, a suspect is describing someone dying as a terrible accident, not a murder.

 

È caduto e ha battuto la testa, ma non volevo!

He fell and hit his head but I didn't want that.

È stata, è stata 'na [una] disgrazia!

It was, it was a terrible accident.

Captions 20-21, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP6 - Reazione a Catena

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Here, again, a terrible tragedy:

 

Era sull'autobus dove è successa la disgrazia.

She was on the bus where the tragedy occurred.

Caption 12, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP9 - L'amica ritrovata

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The cognate is, of course, "a disgrace," but if we look up disgrace, we see other words that are used more commonly, such as una vergogna.

 

Tu sei la vergogna della nostra famiglia.

You are the disgrace of our family.

Vergognati!

Shame on you!

Captions 46-47, La Ladra - EP. 8 - Il momento giusto

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So, disgrazia often refers to a natural disaster or someone dying suddenly. It's just something to keep in mind (tenere a mente or tenere presente).  Because it might happen that when you are traveling in Italy, you'll get some bad news. It's important to know that disgrazia might refer to a tragedy, an accident, a misfortune. Not necessarily will the speaker be talking about a disgrace.

A related term: disgraziato

As we have mentioned in the past, Italian and English don't always correspond regarding parts of speech.

 

Italians love to call each other names (just like lots of folks). One way to say that someone did something you totally do not approve of is to call them a disgraziato (a disgraceful fellow). We have to be a bit careful because it can either mean someone who has fallen on misfortune, but it can also mean someone who ought to be ashamed of himself, so context is key.

Don't take our word for it.  Let's look at some examples:

 

Disgraziato, ti ho scoperto con le mani dentro al sacco!

You bastard, I've discovered you with your hands in the bag!

Caption 50, Un medico in famiglia S1 - EP2 - Il mistero di Cetinka

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Io non sono come quei disgraziati che parte [sic: partono] per fame, ma'.

I'm not like those poor guys who leave because they're hungry, Ma.

Io vado a Roma per fare lu [pugliese: il] cinema, ma',

I'm going to Rome to make movies, Ma,

sia chiaro, eh, cinema.

to be clear, uh, the movies.

Captions 41-43, Volare - La grande storia di Domenico Modugno

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Keep in mind that when you want to call someone a disgraziato, you need to distinguish between masculine and feminine and singular and plural.

Disgraziato can be used as an adjective or as a noun. We could say that as an adjective it is more likely referring to misfortune:

 

Tu cosa diresti? -Be'...

What would you say? -Well...

direi... povera disgraziata la signora! -Eh. -Eheh!

I would say... poor unlucky lady! -Uh-huh. -Uh-huh!

Captions 49-50, Un medico in famiglia S1 - EP1 - Casa nuova

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As a noun (especially if well-articulated) it might very well be talking about a "bad" person:

 

Disgraziato! Delinquente! Assassino!

Scoundrel! Delinquent! Murderer!

Caption 58, Psicovip - Super Minivip - Ep 17

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Or it can be a combination.

 

Speriamo la prossima stazione di questo disgraziato sia qui vicino.

Let's hope the poor bastard's next stop is near here.

Caption 60, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP2 - Vendemmia tardiva

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Continua a leggere

La luce: not only light!

Let's talk about the noun la luce (the light). Basically the noun is used much as it is in English (and feel free to do a search of luce in Yabla videos), but there is a special meaning of this noun, especially in colloquial speech, that you need to know about. Simply put, it means "electricity." It's used especially in reference to the electric bill or electrical current in general.  

Luce

Perhaps the first use of electricity in Italian households was for lightbulbs. Likely, households were still heating with la cucina economica (a wood stove used both for heating and cooking), but the advent of the lightbulb must have been a huge change. So "light" is what "electricity" might have meant for Italian households at the beginning. In any case, the term luce stuck and is still in common usage.

 

Ci stanno le bollette da pagare, luce, gas!

There are the utility bills to pay: electricity, gas!

Io non teng 'na lira.

I don't have a dime.

Scusa.

I'm sorry.

Captions 10-12, L'oro di Scampia - film - Part 6

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Ci tagliano la luce?

They cut off our electricity?

E noi ci alleniamo a lume di candela.

So we'll train by candlelight.

Captions 27-28, L'oro di Scampia - film - Part 7

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La corrente

One other way Italians often refer to electricity is with the noun la corrente (the electrical current).

 

Oh, a proposito di luce, vedi che qua corrente [elettrica] non ce ne sta, eh.

Oh, speaking of light, you see that here there's no electricity, huh.

Caption 25, Chi m'ha visto - film - Part 9

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"Powerstrip" in Italian?

Of course, in English, we often use the word "power" to mean "electricity."  In fact, we have an object called a powerstrip. We can plug in multiple plugs, and the powerstrip gets plugged into the outlet. So how do we say that in Italian?

You'll never guess. It's called una ciabatta. Una ciabatta is a house slipper!  It's also the name of a kind of bread! From Wikipedia:

Ciabatta is an Italian white bread made from wheat flour, water, salt, yeast, and olive oil, created in 1982 by a baker in Adria, province of Rovigo, Veneto, Italy, in response to the popularity of French baguettes.

 

If you can't think of the word ciabatta when buying a powerstrip, you can also use the compound noun una presa multipla (a multiple socket).

So if we want to talk about the male and female parts of an electrical connection, we have la spina (the plug —the male part) and la presa (the socket — the feminine part).

There's always more to learn. It's kind of fun to learn about the (sometimes colorful) words Italians use to talk about mundane things like electricity and plugs.

Continua a leggere

Missing Someone in Italian

There are some verbs that are hard to use in Italian because they work differently from in English in terms of subjects and objects (who does what to whom?).

 

We have talked about piacere (to like) where things are really turned around. See the lesson: I like it - Mi piace. Another verb that can cause a whole lot of confusion in a similar way is mancare. There is already a lesson about this verb, a verb that is used in various ways. But right now, let's look at the verb when we use it to say something like "I miss you," or "Do you miss me?" It is very tricky because it often involves pronouns, and we all know that distinguishing between subject and object pronouns isn't always so easy.

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In an episode of La Ladra, Lorenzo and Dante are talking about the fact that Dante misses Eva and Eva misses Dante.

 

Nel senso che anche [a] te manca mia madre?

Because you miss my mother, as well?

Mi sa che manchi anche a lei, eh.

I think she misses you, too, huh.

Captions 10-11, La Ladra - Ep.12 - Come ai vecchi tempi

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Let's put things in order here.

In English "to miss" is a transitive verb, and the definition we are talking about here is not even the first one. In WordReference, it is number 6!

to regret the absence or loss of:
[~ + object] I miss you all dreadfully.
[~ + verb-ing] He missed watching the African sunsets.

In Italian, we have to think of things a bit differently. The definition of mancare is "to be lacking in" or "to be missing." So we're close.

But in Italian, the verb mancare has to agree with the person who is being missed. Weird, right?

So if I am feeling your absence, I miss you. You are missing from my life.

Expressed in Italian,

Sento la tua mancanza. Mi manchi. (I feel your absence. You are missing from my life right now!)

 

Let's look at some practical examples. Keep in mind that in this context, mancare is intransitive, so we need a preposition before the person who is feeling the absence. When we use the name of a person, we need to add the preposition a (to), but the tricky thing is that when we're using pronouns, the preposition is often included in the indirect pronoun. Mi = a me  (to me), Ti = a te (to you).

 

Giovanni sente molto la mancanza di Anna. Lei sta studiando all'estero (Giovanni feels the absence of Anna. She is studying abroad). (She is missing from his life.)

A Giovanni manca Anna. Gli manca (Giovanni misses Anna. He misses her [he feels her absence]).

Gli stands for a lui (to him).

 

Non ti vedo da una vita. Mi manchi. (I haven't seen you in a long time. I miss you). (You are missing from my life)

 

Mi manca andare in ufficio tutti it giorni (I miss going to the office every day). (It's missing from my life.)

 

Now here, in the next example, who is being missed is in the plural: Parents. So the verb mancare is in the plural, too.

 

I miei genitori stanno a Roma. Io sto a Bologna. Mi mancano i miei genitori (My parents live in Rome. I live in Bologna. I miss my parents). (They are missing from my life.)

 

Ti mancano i tuoi genitori? So che stanno a New York (Do you miss your parents? I know they live in New York). (Are they missng from your life?)

 

You have to turn your mind around a bit to nail this, but with time and practice, you'll get it. And it's not something you want to get wrong. 

 

Here are some Yabla video examples of people using mancare when they miss someone or something. 

 

In this example, a woman is talking to her ex-husband about her new partner. She still misses her ex-husband and is telling him so.

 

A volte con Carlo è difficile,

Sometimes, Carlo is difficult,

ma non riesco a lasciarlo.

but I can't manage to leave him.

Anche se a volte mi manchi da morire.

Even if sometimes I miss you to death [like crazy].

Captions 6-8, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep. 1

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To be clearer, she could have said, Anche se a volte tu mi manchi da morire.

 

In this example, Manara is trying to get used to living in Tuscany, as opposed to Milan.

 

Qui da Lei sto benissimo, eh. -Ah, ah.

At your place, I'm really fine, you know. -Ah, ah.

-Però mi manca la città, il traffico, il rumore, capisci?

-But I miss the city, the traffic, the noise, you understand?

Captions 38-39, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP3 - Rapsodia in Blu

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Here's an example where someone is being interviewed. The question is formal, but the answer is very colloquial.

 

Capisco. Quindi adesso il suo amico Le manca?

I understand. So, now you miss your friend?

-E cazzo se mi manca, sì, sì.

-Sure as shit, I miss him, yes, yes.

Captions 39-40, Chi m'ha visto - film

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Here's an example where you really need to turn your mind around. Gli manco. I am missing from his (Luca's) life. He misses me.

 

Con Luca tutto bene?

Everything all right with Luca?

-Non vede l'ora di tornare. Gli manco.

-He can't wait to come back. He misses me.

Captions 33-34, La Ladra - EP. 8 - Il momento giusto

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When we go into the passato prossimo (present perfect tense structure), it's important to remember that in this context, we need the auxiliary verb essere (to be), not avere (to have).

 

Amore, quanto mi sei mancato!

Love, I've missed you so much!

-Sono tornato, ma non è cambiato niente.

-I'm back, but nothing has changed.

Captions 49-50, La Ladra - EP. 8 - Il momento giusto

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1) In this case, Eva is talking to her son, but what if she had been talking to her daughter?

2/3) Can you turn the first part into a question? You are asking the person if they missed you. Are you a male or a female? The ending of the past participle will change accordingly.

 

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Practice:

Think about all the people you miss, the people you can't get together with. A single person? An animal? A city? A country? Mancare will be in the third person singular. If it's parents, friends, animals, then it will be in the third person plural.

If you are writing to a couple, your parents, then you will want to conjugate mancare in the second person plural (mancate).

 

If someone misses you, then you are the one who gets conjugated. You are missing from someone's life. 

 

There are other ways to use the verb mancare, as you'll see if you look it up or do a Yabla search, but in this lesson, we wanted to isolate a particular situation. It's the trickiest one.

 

If you have trouble, let us know and we'll help. You'll want to get this right.

 

Extra credit:

1) Amore, quanto mi sei mancata! -Sono tornata, ma non è cambiato niente.

2) Amore, [quanto] ti sono mancato?

3) Amore, [quanto] ti sono mancata?

 

 

Continua a leggere

Does Pazienza Mean "Patience"?

The noun pazienza certainly does look a lot like "patience."  And sometimes the two words do mean the same thing, especially when the article is present.

 

Mi scusi, signorina,

Excuse me, Miss,

però suo cugino, ogni tanto,

but your cousin, every now and then,

mi fa perdere la pazienza.

makes me lose my patience.

Captions 10-11, Sei mai stata sulla luna? - film

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Something to keep in mind: In English, we use a possessive pronoun: my patience. Italians do it differently. They use a definite article la, but the possession happens with an indirect object pronoun. "It makes me lose the patience."

 

Adjective form paziente

Although the adjective paziente (patient) does exist in Italian, Italians often opt for the noun form.

 

Ma no, è che ci vuole soltanto un po' di pazienza.

No, it's that you just need to be a bit patient.

Dai fiducia all'allievo e nel momento giusto lo lasci andare. -Sì.

Give the student some confidence, and at the right moment, let him go. -Yes.

Captions 23-24, Sposami - EP 2

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And let's not forget that, similar to English, il or la paziente can also be a noun meaning "the patient." It can have a feminine or masculine article, depending on the gender of the patient.

 

A me risulta invece che vi conoscesse [sic: conosceste] da prima,

Instead, it is my understanding that you knew each other before that,

e che Lei fosse stata anche sua paziente.

and that you had also been his patient.

Captions 27-28, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP9 - Morte in paradiso

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2 expressions with pazienza

Abbia pazienza/abbi pazienza

It's common in Italy to ask someone to "have patience" but it isn't necessarily patience they are asking for. 

They use the imperative for this, and are asking for your understanding, tolerance, or to bear with them. It can be used with different tones, including sarcasm.

In the following example, Orazio is upset with his wife who barged in on a meeting, and had to apologize to his clients he had to ask to leave. So saying abbia pazienza can be a way of apologizing for an inconvenience. In this case, he also said scusi (excuse me [formal], sorry), but he could have just said abbia pazienza in the way of apologizing.

 

Scusi, sa, eh, abbia pazienza.

Excuse me, you know, eh, bear with me.

Caption 32, Un Figlio a tutti i costi - film

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Actually, Orazio is also quite annoyed with his client, who wants to get out of paying taxes for reasons not exactly on the up and up. So in this case, and often, especially when the formal version is being used, abbia pazienza, uttered with an exasperated or annoyed tone, is an "excuse me" that's a bit indignant. It's almost a way of saying you are the one losing your patience.

1) How would you say this if you were on familiar terms with other person?

 

But the expression is also used, for example, when you have an appointment but they make you wait. Someone might say, abbia pazienza as a way of saying, "Sorry we are making you wait." Or if your doctor or lawyer has to answer a call while you are talking to him or her:

Abbia pazienza, devo prendere questa chiamata. (Sorry, I have to take this call).

 

If someone really does want you to be patient, they might say, Solo un attimo di pazienza

 

Signore, solo un attimo di pazienza,

Ladies, just a moment of patience.

adesso vi facciamo qualche domanda.

Now we're going to ask you some questions.

Captions 67-68, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP11 - Beato tra le donne

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Pazienza all by itself

The second example of an expression is one of those wonderful one-word expressions that say plenty. You will want this in your toolbox, for sure. It's often coupled with a va' be' (short for va bene [all right or OK]), but doesn't need to be.

 

Mi dispiace. Sabato arrivano quelli della filiale dal Sud America

I'm sorry. Saturday, the people from the South America branch are coming

e purtroppo ho una riunione con loro.

and, unfortunately, I have a meeting with them.

Ho capito.

I understand.

Va' be', pazienza. -Mi dispiace. -Ingegnere?

Oh well, too bad. -I'm sorry. -Sir?

Captions 41-44, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep.2

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What are some good occasions for saying pazienza as a one-word expression?

 

You are at a shop and ask for an item you can't find on the shelves. You ask the clerk:

Non trovo la polenta istatanea (I can't find the instant polenta).

Ah, mi dispiace, è terminata (Oh, I'm sorry, we're out of it).

Ah, pazienza. Farò senza (Oh, no big deal. I'll do without it).

Some other ways to translate pazienza in English:

So be it.

Oh well.

Too bad.

Nothing to do about it.

It is what it is. 

 

Some synonyms for pazienza in Italian:

 

Non importa (it doesn't matter)

Non fa niente (it doesn't matter)

Fa niente (it doesn't matter)

È lo stesso (it's all the same)

 

Perhaps as you go about your day, there will be situations in which pazienza could be a comment you make as a reaction to something that didn't go as you wished. You wanted a dash of milk in your coffee, but you're out of it. Pazienza, lo prenderò senza latte. You wanted to watch the news, but you forgot. Pazienza!

Extra Credit

1) Scusa, sai, eh, abbi pazienza.

Continua a leggere

Follow Me!

The word for "to follow" in Italian is seguire. It's a transitive verb most of the time, but not all the time. In many cases, it works just like English. It's used for following instructions:

 

Quindi, ho cominciato a seguire le istruzioni

So, I started following the instructions

e, e nell'arco di un'oretta, ho montato la cassettiera.

and in just about an hour, I assembled the chest of drawers.

Captions 14-15, Marika spiega - Gli attrezzi

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1,2) What if 2 people are trying to put together this chest of drawers. How could the sentence change? (more than one possibility)

 

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

When Italians take a course in something, they "follow it."

 

Allora, innanzitutto, quando si ha la passione del doppiaggio

So, first of all, when one has a passion for dubbing,

o del... della narrazione, è importante seguire un corso:

or for... for narration, it's important to take a course:

Captions 10-11, Arianna e Marika - Il lavoro di doppiatrice

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Alternatively, they do a course with fare.

 

Certo, ho fatto il corso su internet.

Of course, I've taken the online course.

Vuol vedere l'attestato?

Would you like to see the certification?

Caption 59, Psicovip - Buon Natale Minivip Ep 26

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Seguire is used for following someone, literally.

 

Ciao. Oggi ti mostro alcune direzioni.

Hi. Today I'm going to show you some directions [prepositions of place and direction].

Seguimi.

Follow me.

Captions 1-2, Marika spiega - Direzioni

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3) What if you are asking someone you don't know to follow you? 

 

This can also be figurative when following what someone is saying.

Mi segui?

Do you follow me?

 

4) What if you are asking someone you don't know if they follow what you are saying? 

 

You have seen the expression, "Follow us on facebook" which is a figurative way to say you check in on that person or organization, you see what they are up to. Fellini was talking about his audience, his fans, in the following clip.

 

Siamo sempre seguiti da una platea di romani così molto...

We're always followed by an audience of Romans, so very...

che ci segue con molto affetto e simpatia...

who follow us, with a lot of affection and warmth...

specialmente stasera,

especially this evening,

Captions 3-4, Fellini Racconta - Un Autoritratto Ritrovato

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But there is another way Italians use the verb seguire.

It's somewhat akin to the way fans follow a star, or a trend, but it's a little different. Because rather than "following the leader or the trend,"  it's the leader, teacher, therapist, or doctor who is checking in on you, treating you, in the case of a doctor or health worker. This way of using seguire is used a whole lot in teacher-pupil relationships, or doctor-patient relationships and the like, and has to do with following a pupil or patient's progress, or simply giving them support, or attention, treatment, or checking in to see how things are going. In some instances, we might say, seguire is "to give guidance on a continuing basis."

 

We have an example of this use in a new video this week.

It's part of the story about a couple who had to go through quarantine because of Covid-19.

 

È un metodo attraverso il quale

It's a method whereby

non congestionano i, gli ospedali,

they don't overcrowd the, the hospitals,

per i casi meno gravi,

for the less serious cases,

e ti seguono telefonicamente.

and they attend to you over the phone.

Captions 25-28, COVID-19 - 3) La quarantena

 Play Caption

 

When we use seguire this way, it basically means someone is there for you in a professional way. We all know what it feels like to have a teacher or doctor who seems like they don't really care about you. They don't seem invested. 

Non ti seguono.

They don't check in on you.

 

But it can also simply mean "to treat," as in giving a treatment. 

 

Sì, sì, ho parlato anche col professore che lo segue. -OK.

Yes, yes. I even spoke with the professor who is treating him. -OK.

Caption 43, Questione di Karma - Rai Cinema

 Play Caption

 

5) What if there is a team of doctors who treat the patient in question?

 

If you watch Yabla videos, you will see the verb seguire a lot, in all sorts of conjugations and nuances of meanng. Sometimes it's translated as "to follow," but not always.

Let us know if you a translation you don't understand, and we'll try to help out.

"Extra credit"

1) Quindi, abbiamo cominciato a seguire le istruzioni e, e nell'arco di un'oretta, abbiamo montato la cassettiera.

2) Quindi, hanno cominciato a seguire le istruzioni e, e nell'arco di un'oretta, hanno montato la cassettiera.

3) Salve. Oggi le mostro alcune direzioni. Mi segua.

4) Mi segue?​

5) Sì, sì, ho parlato anche coi professori che lo seguono. -OK.​

 

Continua a leggere

Breathing in Italian : Let Us Count the Ways, Part 1: il fiato

Breathing is essential for life, so it's a pretty important word, we'll all agree. This lesson will explore different ways of talking about the breath and breathing, with some useful modi di dire (expressions) that can come in handy.

So what's the word for "breath" in Italian? There's more than one, so buckle up.

il fiato

This is the breath that comes out when you breathe. A wind instrument we blow into with our breath to produce a sound is uno strumento a fiato, and when we speak in general, about instruments in an orchestra, for example, we say i fiati (the winds).

a fiato

 

La zampogna è uno strumento a fiato

The bagpipe is a wind instrument

fatto con pelle di pecora.

made with sheep hide.

Quindi uno strumento musicale.

So it's a musical instrument.

-Musicale, musicale, musicale, sì.

-Musical, musical, musical, yes.

Captions 53-54, L'Italia a tavola - Interrogazione sulla Calabria

 Play Caption

 

fiato sul collo

When someone is stressing you out, they may be breathing down your neck. Don't worry, Italians get stressed out, too, and there is a similar expression in Italian. Instead of using the verb form "to breathe," though, they use the verb stare ("to be," "to stay," "to stand there," and add a preposition).

 

Mi stai sempre con il fiato sul collo.

You're always breathing down my neck.

Caption 64, Stai lontana da me - Rai Cinema

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riprendere fiato

Another essential expression to know using fiato for "breath" is riprendere fiato. It usually means "to catch one's breath."

 

It's interesting to note that in both expressions, there's no possessive pronoun in Italian. It's either assumed or they include the person in a different way. And in riprendere fiato, there is no article, either.

 

La città riprende fiato

The city catches its breath

Caption 4, Radio Deejay - Lorenzo Jovanotti - Gente della notte

 Play Caption

 

P.S. Jovanotti's song has a lot of great words and phrases about life in the city — worth checking out, at least the transcript, if not the song itself (for beginners, too!).

 

rompere il fiato

If you are a runner, you will know the moment in which you start feeling warmed up, when your breathing settles in, and you finally feel like you can keep going. We could even talk about getting one's second wind.

Dopo 2 kilometri, ho rotto il fiato,

After 2 kilometers, I got warmed up/I got my second wind,

e ho corso altri 5!

and I managed to run 5 more!

 

fiatare

What about the verb fiatare? It does exist, but it's usually reserved for whispering, or "breathing a word."

 

La Titti conosceva De Carolis. Avrebbe pagato

Titti knew De Carolis. He would have paid

senza fiatare, senza...

without breathing a word, without...

senza avvertire la polizia.

without alerting the police.

Captions 48-50, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP12 - La donna senza volto

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mozzafiato 

Mozzafiato is a great adjective, meaning "breathtaking."

 

che sembra quasi abbracciarvi

that almost seems to embrace you

con una bellezza mozzafiato.

with breathtaking beauty.

Captions 53-54, Meraviglie - EP. 5

 Play Caption

 

We'll talk about il respiro (the breath) in part 2.

Continua a leggere

Words and Phrases to Know in La Ladra

In this lesson, we are going to take one segment of an episode of a TV series we are offering on Yabla and explore some of the expressions and vocabulary that could do with a little explaining. Whether you are a Yabla Italian subscriber or not, you will want to be familiar with these words and expressions.

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Già

If we look at the word già, we see it primarily means "already."

 

Eh... già che ci sei, guarda che ora è.

Eh... while you're at it, look at what time it is.

Caption 17, Acqua in bocca - Rapimento e riscatto

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Già che ci sei is a very common expression, and it was translated with an equivalent English expression. If we want to be more word-for-word, another way to translate this could be:

Since you are already there, could you see what time it is?

 

But già is also used as reinforcement. It can mean "indeed," or "right," or even "yeah," when "yeah" is confirming something someone else said.

 

E così Lei è nata ad Atene.

So, you were born in Athens.

-Eh già, ma me ne sono andata appena adolescente.

-That's right, but I left as soon as I became a teenager.

Captions 1-2, La Ladra - EP.12 - Come ai vecchi tempi

 Play Caption

 

It can be preceded by eh, or ah, again, fillers or interjections.

 

Volevo dedicarmi un po' alla mia vera passione,

I wanted to devote myself a bit to my true passion,

fotografando l'Italia.

photographing Italy.

Ah, già, Lei è fotografa.

Ah, right, you are a photographer.

Captions 53-55, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep. 1

 Play Caption

 

Il soggetto

At a certain point, Eva is talking to a guy at the group home about the owner of the place they are renting from. He says:

 

Se lo hai conosciuto, avrai capito il soggetto.

If you have met him, you will have figured out the individual.

Caption 26, La Ladra - EP. 12 - Come ai vecchi tempi

 Play Caption

 

The guy Eva is talking to uses the noun soggetto. He means, "You have realized what kind of person/character you are dealing with." Well, in fact, soggetto is a great cognate, because it does often refer to a subject. And just think of the American TV series Criminal Minds where they use the term "unsub" (unidentified subject) to mean a criminal type they are looking for. 

 

1) Can you think of another way to say "Se lo hai conosciuto, avrai capito il soggetto" using a more modern and colloquial noun in place of soggetto?

 

Attenzione: When we want to say "Don't change the subject!" we do not use soggetto. We use argomento.

Non cambiare argomento!

 

If you watch movies on Yabla, they often include the titles and credits. In this case, il soggetto refers to the idea of the story or the story. In fact, the Taviani brothers, when pitching a film story to a producer, got this as a response.

 

"Se in tre frasi riuscite a dirmelo, funziona.

"If you can tell me in three sentences, it works.

Se non è in tre frasi, guardate, cambiate subito soggetto

If it's not in three sentences, look, change the story right away

perché vuol di' [dire] che non funziona".

because it means it doesn't work."

Captions 51-53, Fratelli Taviani - La passione e l'utopia

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Però

We have learned that però means "however," "though," or "but." Most of the time it does.

 

Però un lato umano ce l'ha:

But he does have a human side:

è ancora innamoratissimo della defunta moglie.

He is still very much in love with his deceased wife.

Captions 27-28, La Ladra - EP.12 - Come ai vecchi tempi

 Play Caption

 

2) È ancora innamoratissimo della moglie. Can you put this in the negative? (He is no longer in love with his wife).

 

But it's also something people say to mean, "Wow!" When you find out some news that's perhaps a bit surprising or shocking, or you are impressed by something (one way or another), one reaction can be Ah, però!

 

Peccato che i parenti della defunta moglie

Too bad that the deceased wife's relatives

l'abbiano accusato di essersi intestato tutti i beni di famiglia.

accused him of having put all the family's assets in his name.

-Ah, però!

-Wow!

Captions 29-31, La Ladra - EP.12 - Come ai vecchi tempi

 Play Caption

 

You can even leave out Ah and just say Però!

 

È stata una delle esperienze più intense della mia vita.

It was one of the most intense experiences of my life.

Però! Vieni.

Wow! Come here.

Captions 5-6, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto

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In rotta

 

Siamo in rotta.

We're on the outs.

Caption 50, La Ladra - EP. 12 - Come ai vecchi tempi

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Rotta comes, in this case, from rottura (rupture), or from the verb rompere (to break). So another way to say this in Italian would be avere rotto i rapporti con qualcuno (to have broken off a relationship with someone). But most likely if you look for in rotta in a dictionary, it will be translated as "en route," since rotta also means "route!" So check out the context before deciding what you think something means.

 

Come si fa? 

We mention this expression because it uses the impersonal si, and it uses a different adverb than we would use in English to express the same question.

Cosa vuole, Gina, fosse per me quei bambini li difendere con le armi.

What do you want, Gina, if it were up to me to defend those children with weapons.

What do you want, Gina? If it were up to me, those kids, I'd defend them with weapons.

 

Cosa vuole, Gina, fosse per me quei bambini

What do you want, Gina? If it were up to me, those kids,

li difendere con le armi.

I'd defend them with weapons.

Ma come si fa? La legge è dalla parte del proprietario.

But what can we/one do? The law is on the side of the owner.

Captions 56-58, La Ladra - EP.12 - Come ai vecchi tempi

 Play Caption

 

3) Instead of using the impersonal — come si fa? — can you say something similar in the first person plural?

 

Of course, come si fa? also means "how does one do that?" and in this case come matches up with "how." But more often than not, this expression is used to mean "what can you (or one) do?" It's just something to be aware of and watch out for, especially since it's an expression people use a whole lot! Keep in mind that the impersonal can also be translated with the passive voice in English: What can be done?

 

If you like (or don't like) these lessons focused on one video or segment, please let us know

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

 

"Extra credit"

1) Se lo hai conosciuto, avrai capito il tipo.​

2) Non è più innamorato della moglie.

3) Come facciamo?

Continua a leggere

La storia: History or Story?

In this lesson, we'll take a look at a noun, a cognate in fact, that easy as it is to guess, can also create confusion sometimes, because it means a couple of different things. In English we distinguish among history, story, experience, and love affair. Italian relies on this one noun, la storia, to tell plenty of different stories! 

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We mention, for those interested, that in literature, we might also find istoria as a version of the word, and that la storia comes from the Greek "istoria" and the Latin "historia."

But let's talk about how people use la storia practically, in conversation. It's hard to get through a day without using this word in one way or another. 

History

In the following example, it's clear we're talking about history.

 

Nella storia si sono usate le diverse chiavi per fare in modo

Historically, different clefs were used to make it so

che tutte le note si trovassero il più possibile dentro al pentagramma.

that all the notes would be, as much as possible, inside the staff.

Captions 18-19, A scuola di musica - con Alessio

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1) Can you say the same thing turning storia into an adverb, as in the translation? 

 

Here, too, it's clear. It's also clear because storia is used with no article, and it's singular.

 

Io quando sono in questi posti pieni di storia,

When I'm in these places so full of history,

faccio dei pensieri profondi.

I have profound thoughts.

Captions 2-3, Amiche - Filosofie

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2) What if Anna (the speaker) was just talking about one specific place? What would she say?

 

Sometimes it's hard to know whether we're talking about history or stories, but it doesn't always matter. A translator has to make a choice, but the learner, reader, or listener doesn't. We're talking about past events, and if they are true, then we could also say, "history."

 

Voglio raccontarvi qualcosa di me,

I want to tell you something about myself,

della mia vita, della mia storia.

about my life, about my story.

Captions 13-14, Volare - La grande storia di Domenico Modugno

 Play Caption

 

Romance

When it comes to romance, there are different ways to talk about a relationship. The most common way, and this doesn't really have an equivalent in English, is with the noun storia. Of course we can say "love story" in English, (and we can say storia d'amore in Italian) but we don't so much these days, and it is usually an important relationship in one's life. In fact, translators can have a hard time finding the right word for translating storia. The following clip is from the story of an opera, so an old-fashioned word like "romance" seemed appropriate.

 

Abbiamo riso, abbiamo parlato.

We laughed, we talked.

Ci siamo ricordati tutti i momenti belli della nostra storia.

We remembered all the beautiful moments of our romance.

Captions 16-17, Anna presenta - La Bohème di Puccini

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Ho avuto anch'io una storia con una collega.

I also had a relationship with a colleague.

Caption 51, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP5 - Mondo sommerso

 Play Caption

 

In the previous example, we might have said "affair" instead of relationship, or possibly "fling." But not knowing the details, it's hard to know what the appropriate word might be.

 

In the next example, however, Luca Manara calls the relationship una relazione, another common term for a romantic relationship, close in meaning to storia, but una storia is often short-term with a beginning and an end, whereas una relazione can give the idea of something ongoing. But as we can see, here the two terms seem to be fairly equivalent.

 

Prima le bugie sul tuo trasferimento qua,

First, the lies about your getting transferred here,

poi sulla tua relazione con Raimondi.

then about your relationship with Raimondi.

-La mia storia con Fabrizio non ti riguarda.

-My relationship with Fabrizio doesn't concern you.

Captions 15-17, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP8 - Fuori servizio

 Play Caption

 

When a relationship is short or not very serious, we can use a suffix to modify the word storia.

 

Una storiella con un vigile urbano.

A fling with a traffic cop.

Caption 9, La Ladra - Ep. 3 - L'oro dello squalo

 Play Caption

 

We can also use storiella or even storia to mean "fib" or "lie."

Situation or "thing"

We can always count on the Luca Manara TV series to give us great examples of everyday conversation. Something to memorize is what you see in boldface below: Cos'è questa storia?

 

Allora, Manara, che cos'è questa storia del contadino fratello del Conte?

So, Manara, what's this story about the farmer-brother of the Count's?

Caption 15, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP2 - Vendemmia tardiva

 Play Caption

 

When you say it by itself, you can think: "What's going on?" "What is this?"

 

Storia can often just be translated with "thing." It's a word we use to cover a lot of ground: storia in Italian and "thing" in English.

 

Che c'hai?

What's the matter with you?

No, niente, 'sta [questa] storia di Lara che è nervosa per il matrimonio...

No, nothing. This thing with Lara who's anxious about the wedding...

Captions 2-3, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP1 - Matrimonio con delitto

 Play Caption

 

You will likely have noticed that questa is often shortened to 'sta.

Another expression to memorize, and this is used in English too, so it should be pretty straightforward.

 

Ne mangiasse almeno una di queste mele,

If he would only eat at least one of these apples,

tutti i giorni la stessa storia.

every day, it's the same story.

Captions 4-5, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP9 - Morte in paradiso

 Play Caption

 

È sempre la stessa storia (It's always the same old story)!

 

Bed-time story

Let's not forget that storia can just mean story as in telling a story, a fairy-tale, a fable, or reading a bed-time story.

 

La morale di questa storia ci dice che l'unione fa la forza.

The moral of this story tells us that unity is what gives strength [united we stand, divided we fall].

Caption 33, Adriano - Fiaba - Part 1

 Play Caption

 

As usual, there is more to this story than we have mentioned in this lesson. As Gualtiero Marchesi said at the end of his episodes about gastronomia (gourmet cooking and food in general):

 

Ah, ma questa è un'altra storia.

Ah, but that's another story.

Quella della prossima puntata.

The one in the next episode.

Captions 43-44, L'arte della cucina - Terre d'Acqua

 Play Caption

 

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

So stay tuned!

1) Storicamente si sono usate le diverse chiavi per fare in modo che tutte le note si trovassero il più possibile dentro al pentagramma.

2)  Io quando sono in questo posto pieno di storia, faccio dei pensieri profondi.

Continua a leggere

Different Ways to Use the Word No in Italian

The word "no" is pretty clear. It means the same thing in both English and Italian. But there are a few things to remember when using this word. When you want to say, "No" just say, "No." It will be absolutely clear. No (No)!

 

But when you are asking someone to give you a yes or no answer about something, or talking about someone saying "yes," or "no," then you usually add the preposition: di (of). At that point, it is no longer directly reported speech and therefore no quotation marks are necessary. Keep in mind that leaving out the preposition is not wrong, it's just much more common to use it.

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Instead of just using the word "no," we say: 

 

Per fortuna Manrico non ce l'ha fatta a dire di no a Melody.

Luckily, Manrico didn't succeed in saying no to Melody.

Caption 38, Sposami - EP 2 - Part 13

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E quindi dissi di no.

And so I said no.

Quando mi mandarono le foto di Ulisse, non so perché,

When they sent me the photo of Ulisse, I don't know why,

è scattato qualcosa dentro di me

something clicked inside me

e... ho detto di sì.

and... I said yes.

Captions 21-24, Andromeda - La storia di Ulisse

 Play Caption

 

Although we are primarily talking about the word no in this lesson, the same goes for sì (yes). And if we replace dire (to say) with another verb, such as sperare (to hope), we do the same thing. In the following example, actress Alessandra Mastronardi says the same thing in two different ways:

Ma, io spe' [sic], mi auguro di sì.

Well, I ho' [sic], I hope so.

Alla fine è stato coronato il sogno che tante persone volevano,

In the end the dream many people wanted was crowned,

quello che si ritor' [sic], si riformasse la famiglia e che Eva e Marco... fortunatamente...

the one in which the family retur [sic], re-forms and in which Eva and Marco... fortunately...

e così è andata, quindi spero di sì.

and that's how it went, so I hope so.

Captions 40-43, Alessandra Mastronardi - Non smettere di sognare

 Play Caption

 

As we have seen, she uses two different ways to say "I hope so." Mi auguro di sì and spero di sìMi auguro di sì is a bit stronger, a little bit more personal (your eyes open wider). Maybe you are worried that things are not going to go as you hoped, or else, the end result is really crucial. It might also be that you are fully expecting something to happen in a certain way: It had better! It's kind of the difference between "I hope so" and "I certainly hope so." When using augurare or sperare, we can't leave out the di (of).

 

1) We can put this in the negative in the exact same way: Is your landlord going to kick you out? Can you give a couple of answers?

2) What if you are talking about when you asked someone out on a date. How did he or she answer you? M'ha...

 

When no means yes (in a way)

 

One very common expression, as a retort, uses the word "no" to mean "yes" or rather, "for sure!" "of course!" It's a way to confirm something, and literally means, "how not?" Or we could say, "How could that not be?" "How could you doubt it?"

 

Anche se la politica non ci ha aiutati, ce l'abbiamo fatta, no?

Even if politics didn't help us, we did it, didn't we?

Come no!

For sure!

Captions 31-32, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep. 2 - Part 18

 Play Caption

 

The important thing here is, first of all, to understand that when someone says, "Come no!" they are saying something positive, like "of course!". Then, once you have heard it many, many times, you might be ready to use it yourself.

 

Question tags

 

In English we have the dreaded question tags... dreaded by people trying to learn English, that is. In Italian, however, it is way easier. All you have to do is add no and a question mark to the end of your statement. That's all the question tag you need.

 

Be', non dovrebbe essere difficile far entrare il carrello, no? -Io...

Well, it shouldn't be so hard to put the carriage back in, should it? -I...

Caption 9, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 23

 Play Caption

 

3) Can you say this in a more positive way?

 

È carino, no? Ti piace?

It's cute, isn't it? Do you like it?

Caption 19, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep.2 - Part 15

 Play Caption

 

4) What if you put a question tag after ti piace (you like it)?

 

Using no as a question tag should come as a relief to Italian learners. You didn't know there was such an easy way to insert one, did you?

 

Another way to get the same result is to use the adjective vero (true) with a question mark. It's short for non è vero (isn't it true)? So I might say the same thing with the question tag, vero? 

Be', non dovrebbe essere difficile far entrare il carrello, vero? -Io...

 

5) In reference to the previous example with carino, what if you think something is nice but you don't think the other person likes something?

 

Answers to "extra credit"

 

1) Mi auguro di no! Spero di no! 

2) M'ha detto di sì. Mi ha detto di no.

3) Be', dovrebbe essere facile far entrare il carrello, no? -Io...​

4) È carino, no? Ti piace, no?

5) È carino, no?  Non ti piace, vero?

 

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

There is more to say about saying no in Italian and using the word no... so stay tuned!

Continua a leggere

Italians and TV

Italians love TV. Most houses have one in a central spot, and many families have it on during family meals. They get very good at listening to the conversation and the news at the same time. This can be frustrating for foreign guests trying to learn Italian!

 

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

As you can see from the following example, the abbreviation TV is often used. But let's talk about that. If you write it out, it's tivù, which is how you would pronounce the two letters, T and V. Although rarer and rarer, you might find it spelled out: tivù. But it's usually just spelled with the classic abbreviation, TV. You just have to remember to pronounce the V as Italians do.

Gender

What gender is it? Well, the noun visione (vision) is feminine, and so is televisione (television). So is TV. La TV. But if you see something on TV, then the article goes away and you use the preposition in, pretty much like English, except it's "in" not "on": in television, in TV.

 

Ti abbiamo visto in TV [tivù].

We saw you on TV.

Caption 9, Chi m'ha visto - film

 Play Caption

 

1) How about if the speaker is talking about himself, not his company?

2) What if he is talking to a musical group?

 

There's another word to talk about a TV. Here is Luca Manara after his first day on job, and he is staying at a bed and breakfast. Ada is showing him his room.

 

La stanza numero tre. La più bella.

Room number three. The nicest one.

Un suo agente Le ha già portato i bagagli. -Perfetto.

One of your agents has already brought you your luggage. -Perfect

-Ah! -Sì? -Il televisore c'è in camera?

Ah! -Yes? -Is there a TV in the room?

Eh, certo che c'è. È anche bono [sic: buono], sa?

Yeah, of course there is. It's even a good one [heavy Tuscan accent], you know?

Soltanto l'antenna non funziona.

It's just that the antenna doesn't work.

Vabbé, tanto la televisione non la guardo.

All right, I don't watch television anyway.

Captions 28-33, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto

 Play Caption

 

3) What if Ada was showing Manara the biggest room, rather than the nicest one?

4) What if more than one agent had brought Manara's luggage?

 

So what's the difference between televisione and televisore? Well, visore means "viewer" or "screen," so with televisore, we are talking about the TV set, the actual appliance. In this case, visore is masculine and so is televisore: il televisore.

 

In the previous example, we can see clearly that Luca wants to know if there is a TV so he uses il televisore. But when it comes to watching it, he uses la televisione.

 

Just as in English, TV is used as an adjective, but we have to remember to put the adjective after the noun, as in serie TV (TV series). And as with "series" in English, serie doesn't change between singular and plural.

 

Capri è stata una serie televisiva in onda su Rai Uno,

“Capri” was a television series broadcast on RAI One.

di grande successo.

A big success.

Captions 54-55, L'Eredità -Quiz - TV La sfida dei sei. Puntata 2

 Play Caption

 

The speaker could have said, a bit more informally:

Capri è stata una serie TV in onda su Rai Uno, di grande successo.

 

Telefilm

Another thing to note is that when una serie TV (a TV series) is a (usually fictional) story with episodes, as opposed to a talk show, game show, or the like, then it's usually called un telefilm, in other words, a film for TV, often a puntata (in episodes), but not necessarily. Sometimes a telefilm is distinguished from a documentary or other kind of series by being called una fiction. In fact, RAI Fiction produces and broadcasts movies, made-for-TV movies, and series.

 

Eccomi qua a commentare alcune espressioni

Here I am to comment on some expressions

che troviamo nel telefilm "Il Commissario Manara"!

that we find in the TV series "Commissioner Manara."

Captions 3-4, Marika commenta - L'ispettore Manara Parole ripetute

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Telenovela

When we're talking about romantic stories or soap operas, usually daytime TV fare, then we can use the term telenovela. The example is taken from a little sketch where Marika and Anna play two office workers gossiping while pretending to work.

 

Mi sembra proprio una telenovela.

It looks to me just like a soap opera.

Caption 27, Marika spiega - Pettegolezzi in ufficio con Anna

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Fun (and not so fun) facts

When did Italians start having TVs?

Television in Italy was introduced in 1939, when the first experimental broadcasts began. However, this lasted for a very short time: When fascist Italy entered World War II in 1940, all transmissions were interrupted, and were resumed in earnest only nine years after the end of the conflict, on January 3rd, 1954.

Carosello

One interesting feature of Italian television (RAI) from 1957 to 1977 was a series of short comedy sketches, many of which used live action but featured animation and puppetry as well. The name of the series was Carosello (carousel). You can view la sigla (theme song, title song, titles) for the years 1962-1974 on YouTubeCarosello was commercial in scope and each puntata (episode) lasted ten minutes, so they were actual stories (unthinkable today). They advertised pressure cookers, coffee, coffee pots, vacuum cleaners, brandy, and much more. The product would be revealed toward the end of the episode. The episodes often featured well-known actors and were beloved by viewers all over Italy (about 20 million viewers).

We have learned from the documentary about the Taviani brothers, who made some very famous films, that they discovered Lucio Dalla while filming an episode of Carosello he was acting in. Realizing how talented he was, they put him in one of their movies, I sovversivi (The Subversives). See trailer.

 

Lucio, eh, a quell'epoca non era un attore di cinema

Lucio [Dalla], uh, was not a movie actor at that time

e non, non era nemmeno un cantante,

and he wasn't, he wasn't a singer either.

lo diventò immediatamente dopo, si mise a cantare e col successo

He became one right afterwards. He started singing, and with the success

che tutti quanti noi sappiamo.

that we are all familiar with.

Noi lo incontrammo perché girammo un carosello,

We met him because we were filming a Carosello [TV commercial skit],

un carosello, una pubblicità.

a Carosello, a commercial.

Captions 21-26, Fratelli Taviani - La passione e l'utopia

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5) Can you replace the verbs in the passato remoto with verbs in the passato prossimo, trapassato prossimo or, where applicable, l'imperfetto?

 

Answers to the "extra credit" questions:

1) Ti ho visto in TV [tivù].​

2a) Vi ho visto in TV [tivù].

2b) Vi ho visti in TV [tivù].

3) La più grande.

3b) La più spaziosa.

4) I suoi agenti Le hanno già portato i bagagli.

5a) Lucio, eh, a quell'epoca non era un attore di cinema e non, non era nemmeno un cantante, lo è diventato immediatamente dopo, si è messo a cantare e col successo che tutti quanti noi sappiamo. Noi l'abbiamo incontrato perché giravamo un carosello, un carosello, una pubblicità.​

5b) Lucio, eh, a quell'epoca non era un attore di cinema e non, non era nemmeno un cantante, lo era diventato immediatamente dopo, si era messo a cantare e col successo che tutti quanti noi sappiamo. Noi l'avevamo incontrato perché stavamo girando un carosello, un carosello, una pubblicità.​ 

 

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