There are some cases where the addition of a prefix can generate a homograph and therefore ambiguity is introduced.

Consider the verb sentirsi (to feel, but also to get/keep in touch):

Si sentiranno per i dettagli del progetto (They will get in touch to design the project).

With the addition of the prefix "ri-" (for expressing iteration) one more, very different meaning would come up:

Si risentiranno per i dettagli del progetto could become

  • a. They will get in touch again to design the project (ri + sentirsi, see the meaning above);
  • b. They will feel offended by how the project was designed (risentirsi: to take offence, to feel offended).

Of course there are more verbs I could bring as example (prendere -> ri + prendere vs riprendere is the first I can think about); I'd like to find an answer that covers them all, not just know how to disambiguate these specific sentences.

That said, is there any correct way to disambiguate, or should one always rephrase the sentence to make the context clearer?

I would use a hyphen (ri-sentiranno) to stress the prefix (and consequently the concept of iteration), but it looks a bit odd to read, at least to my eyes - and it's definitely wrong, as I understand from the answers above.

2 Answers 2


I agree that there can be ambiguity, but the hyphen is never used in cases like this.

The verb risentirsi (intransitive pronominal in the terminology of the Treccani dictionary) can mean

c. Reagire bruscamente, con irritazione e animosità, a un rimprovero o ad altri atti e comportamenti ritenuti ingiusti e offensivi: non è il caso di risentirsi per una piccola osservazione; si è risentito di quell’incauta allusione; mi sono risentito a torto con te; è un carattere che si risente facilmente; risentirsi con qualcuno (e più gravemente contro qualcuno), manifestargli il proprio risentimento.

which is quite like the English to resent. Thus the sentence si risentiranno per i dettagli del progetto can very well be interpreted as they'll resent the project details.

I think that si sentiranno ancora is a better form; specifying the action can be another way: si risentiranno per definire i dettagli del progetto can hardly be given a meaning connected to resentment. However, the context might clear up the matter and make ambiguity unlikely: many phrases are ambiguous only if out of context, when the meaning of the words cannot be inferred from other information.

  • Thanks for your answer. So, besides the examples in the question, one has to rely on the context (and so rephrase the sentence accordingly) and there aren't any accepted means to disambiguate the terms. I'm asking just to make sure I have fully understood.
    – fabio
    Nov 22, 2013 at 13:43
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    @fabio I can think to no other way; as I said, using a hyphen is out of the question. It can be a graphic stratagem to emphasize the iteration, but only in very limited contexts.
    – egreg
    Nov 22, 2013 at 14:14

Use 'si risentiranno sui dettagli del progetto' when you want to mean (a), otherwise, without further context, just as you explained, you could be misunderstood.

  • I don't see any ambiguity, since si sentiranno means just a thing, and risentire della cattiva educazione famigliare cannot be confused with si sentiranno.
    – apaderno
    Nov 20, 2013 at 21:55
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    kiamla, I think you have misunderstood the question, especially where the OP explains that risentiranno means 'feel offended'. Nov 20, 2013 at 22:02
  • I understood the question correctly, and the hyphen is not used in such cases, nor there is actually any ambiguity, since risentire di [something] is different from sentire [something].
    – apaderno
    Nov 20, 2013 at 23:35

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