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I believe it is NOT “Buon lavoro” because an Italian person online expressed that this was to wish someone a good day at work.

So - what do teachers say to students to let them know they've done something well?

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"this was to wish someone a good day at work." Not only that. For example a teacher could give an assignment to his students and say Buon lavoro to wish them a good work on the assignment. The term lavoro (work) is quite broad in that context. Any kind of activity could be included, not just the job. –  Bakuriu Jul 12 at 10:40
    
My Italian teacher has always said "Bravo"/"Brava". –  Bill Jul 13 at 11:53
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7 Answers 7

Ben Fatto:

is a useful expression used to indicate that you are satisfied with a job/ task which have been done well.

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Bravo or Brava means "Good job!". In English, it's often used as an exclamation in the theatre, but it doesn't have to be an exclamation, nor is it restricted to the theatre context.

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Teachers say 'Ottimo!' or 'Eccellente!' or 'Ottimo lavoro!' or 'Lavoro eccellente!', but they also say 'Buon lavoro!' when a job is a 'Good job!'

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"Ottimo lavoro" is spot on, while I never heard "buon lavoro" as a compliment (it's used as a wish, instead). –  Matteo Italia Jul 12 at 23:00
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A common Italian expression is "Ben Fatto," or "well done." Here, the emphasis is on the adjectival modifier, "ben."

Other expressions are "Bravo," "eccellente," or "ottimo," which are also adjectives.

"Buon lavoro" is used, but is less common, because it would put the emphasis on "job," rather than "well" or "good."

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"Buon lavoro" si usa però non come forma di apprezzamento, ma di incoraggiamento per un lavoro che si deve ancora svolgere, augurando che venga ben svolto. –  martina Jul 14 at 7:18
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Just to add to the other excellent answers: a simple translation as

Bel lavoro!

is also very common. So, good becomes beautiful/nice in the translation.

On the other hand, "buon lavoro!" is used as an encouragement to someone who has to perform a task and you want to with her success.

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The equivalent for "Good Job" is Bravo or Brava, depending on who you're talking to. And you could simply emphasise the same by making that Bravissimo or Bravissima.

Then there are many other words, Ottimo (Excellent), Ben fatto (You did well) and a few others. Easiest to use is Bravo.

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Bravo/Brava doesn't mean "Good job", it's more stating a personal opinion about a person who did a good job, so "brava/bravo, because of the way the job was completed".

The best way to translate "good job" in Italian is, imho, ben fatto: it sounds like "properly done", so stating something related to the way the task was completed.

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