The author Piero Bargellini wrote in 1943 the article: "Chi è Pinocchio?" In the last line he wrote:

Ora leggete e sappiatemi poi dire se la cosa vi sembri possibile.

I know that "sappiatemi" is a compound of imperative ("voi" form) of "sapere" and "mi", but I don't understand its role in this sentence. Could you please explain it?

  • 3
    Note that translation requests like this one are generally considered off-topic. I think you may ask instead about the meaning of this sentence.
    – Charo
    Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 15:35
  • Non capisco la ragione del voto negativo: a me pare naturale che questo imperativo sia difficile da capire da uno straniero. Né in catalano né in castigliano, che sono lingue probabilmente più vicine all'italiano di quella dell'OP, abbiamo questo uso dell'imperativo del verbo "sapere".
    – Charo
    Commented Feb 17, 2019 at 8:12
  • Il voto negativo era mio, ed era precedente alla restrizione della domanda alla sola voce verbale. Ora l'ho tolto.
    – DaG
    Commented Feb 17, 2019 at 10:21

3 Answers 3


The sense of the sentence can be translated as "allow me to know/let me know if the thing seems possible to you." More literally though, it is more similar to "acknowledge yourself to tell me if the thing seems possible to you". This kind of baroque turns of phrases are far from the English way of communication, but are common in the Italian language.

(I am italian mothertongue)

  • 2
    Benvenuta/o su Italian.SE!
    – Charo
    Commented Feb 19, 2019 at 6:55
  • Grazie @Charo:)
    – Bea
    Commented Feb 19, 2019 at 7:44
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    Buona interpretazione, - e affascinante. Come se le parole provenissero dalla bocca del re in epoca medievale. Grazie!
    – N.E.Hansen
    Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 12:20

This could be rephrased as

e poi sappiate dire a me

This inversion of the pronoun is common with verbs used in modal form such as volere, dovere, potere, fare and, in this case, sapere. Some examples:

  • Non farmi dire quello che davvero penso.
  • Ah, poterlo fare!
  • Sappimi dire. (the subjunctive/exhortative second person singular is sappia, but in this case the final ‘a’ is dropped)
  • Hai innaffiato il prato? Non credevo di doverlo fare.

The last could also be Non credevo di dover farlo, but usually the phonetic clash between ‘r’ and ‘f’ is avoided. Similarly, Bargellini’s sentence could have been

Ora leggete e poi sappiate dirmi se la cosa vi sembri possibile

(current Italian would use sembra, indicative, instead of sembri, subjunctive). The position of the adverb poi is irrelevant: sappiatemi poi dire, poi sappiatemi dire, sappiate poi dirmi, poi sappiate dirmi are all equivalent.

  • So, the role of the imperative "sappiate" is to give some kind of exhortation? Could you explain this with some more detail?
    – Charo
    Commented Feb 17, 2019 at 11:51
  • @Charo The distinction between imperative and exhortative is somewhat blurred.
    – egreg
    Commented Feb 17, 2019 at 11:53
  • Yes, @egreg, I know that. But I think the OP doesn't understand the meaning of this "sappiate" in the sentence (an exhortation to know how to say something seems quite odd) and this should be explained with some more detail.
    – Charo
    Commented Feb 17, 2019 at 12:00
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    @DenisNardin: Since I'm not Italian, I may be wrong, but I perceive it as something more emphatic than "let me know".
    – Charo
    Commented Feb 17, 2019 at 13:18
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    I'd somewhat agree with Charo: “let me know” may simply be a request for information, while “sappimi dire” tends to imply something. More in a comment to @DenisNardin's answer.
    – DaG
    Commented Feb 17, 2019 at 13:38

In addition to egreg's answer I think it can be useful to elaborate on the meaning of saper dire.

The expression saper dire is an idiomact expression that can be roughly translated as to let (someone) know. It is often used in the imperative mood. Examples of the usage are

Scusi, mi sa dire l'ora? (Excuse me, could you tell me the time?)

Sappimi dire a che ora pensi di arrivare (Let me know when you think you're going to arrive)

Ti saprò dire per tempo quando mi devi inviare il documento (I'll let you know in time when to send the document)

So, a translation of the sentence in the question can be

Now read, and then let me know if the thing seems at all possible

(I'm adding the "at all" because the usage of subjunctive in the subordinate implies increased uncertainty)

  • Yes, but – keeping in mind that we don't know the context to which the original sentence belongs, and it may be crucial – it sounds to me more like that sentence is begging a question, as to imply that [whatever] is actually impossible, rather than requesting for information in a neutral way.
    – DaG
    Commented Feb 17, 2019 at 13:38
  • @DaG I agree with that, although I get this impression more from the usage of subjunctive (I tried to convey that by adding the "at all" in my translation), I would interpret the sentence Ora leggete e sappiatemi poi dire se la cosa vi sembra possibile as a simple request for information. Of course we're talking subtleties here
    – Denis Nardin
    Commented Feb 17, 2019 at 13:40
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    Personally, both in the indicative and in the subjunctive it sounds to me like “go and see for yourself”. But, yes, subtleties indeed and, again, what precedes and follows in the original text probably makes it clearer.
    – DaG
    Commented Feb 17, 2019 at 13:46
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    I would translate "let me know" in (what I believe it's) a more neutral way as "fatemi sapere".
    – Charo
    Commented Feb 17, 2019 at 15:34
  • @Charo DaG will disagree but to me fatemi sapere and sappiatemi dire are essentially completely synonymous
    – Denis Nardin
    Commented Feb 17, 2019 at 16:25

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