I have translated "there" into Italian language. There are "lì" and "là".

I am studying the difference between them.

Hypothesis: these two words are used to refer to a place far from the person that is speaking. "Lì" means closer than "là" ("lì" - there e.g. in the same room, "là" - there e.g. in a different country).

Question: To refer to a person in a different city, which one should I use?

Thank you.

  • 3
    , , laggiù, lassù, da quelle parti... (not even mentioning costì or ci and other possible translations in different contexts) and the like. You cannot possibly learn a language word by word. Have you a precise sentence in mind? You should read a lot of Italian texts, and then you'll get the hang of such almost-synonyms.
    – DaG
    Commented Nov 15, 2016 at 14:29
  • 2
    What do you mean by “I have translated”? Looked up in a dictionary? Asked a friend? Made a guess based on something you have read? Been inspired by the Holy Ghost?
    – DaG
    Commented Nov 15, 2016 at 14:30
  • 2
    I agree with @DaG: it's not a good approach to learn a new language trying to translate every single word you know in English.
    – Charo
    Commented Nov 15, 2016 at 14:46
  • 2
    @cornejo What is your level of proficiency in Italian? As a rule of thumb I wouldn't worry about shades of meaning until you are able to ask questions in Italian on this site and understand the answers
    – Denis Nardin
    Commented Nov 15, 2016 at 19:36
  • 1
    More or less, is “near” and is “far” with respect to who's hearing.
    – egreg
    Commented Nov 15, 2016 at 21:29

2 Answers 2


Generally speaking, they are both really similar. There isn't much difference except for some nuance.

"Lì" usually refers to something closer than "là", at the same time, "lì" is also describing a more specific place than "là".

The use of "qua" and "là" is for spatial genericity. for example, you would use "qua e là" for something here and there or all over the place, but you wouldn't say "qui e lì" as that would mean exactly in this and that spot.

You would apply the same difference to "quì" and "qua".

I'd say that to refer to someone in a different city you can safely use "là", if you need to refer to that specific city in contract with the region or an area, then "lì" might be better suited.


While they could be used interchangeably you are almost right to say they is farther than . However when it comes to colloquial Italian those differences are circumstantial. When you are pointing at something out of your reach (even in the same room) both are acceptable for example. When you are referring to a different country as you said is more commonly used.

I'd say, as a rule of thumb, that you should consider as an abbreviation or alternative of laggiù.

Ref: http://dizionari.repubblica.it/Italiano/L/la.php

  • 1
    I was agreeing with you until the last paragraph. is not an abbreviation of laggiù and I really do not perceive a difference between and , while laggiù does have a connotation of distance.
    – Denis Nardin
    Commented Dec 17, 2016 at 18:57
  • Laggiù as in "laggiù in Sicilia..." Or "laggiù in Alaska" means a place that is far away from the speaker but is close to either the person he is speaking to or they are speaking about. So of course it has a connotation of distance. It can be translate as "down there". Commented Dec 17, 2016 at 19:09
  • 2
    I am well aware of the meaning and etymology of laggiù. Sorry if I expressed myself unclearly, what I meant is that I perceive and as interchangeable (and dictionaries seem to mostly agree with me on this), while laggiù has a slightly different meaning, with a stronger emphasis on the distance and so I disagree with (the last paragraph of) your answer.
    – Denis Nardin
    Commented Dec 17, 2016 at 19:16
  • Edited my answer with reference to Italian dictionary. Commented Dec 17, 2016 at 19:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.