Ma se l'ho appena visto io!

I assume that "se" does not mean "if" here, but rather "ma se" as a whole means "but". But I wonder when you should use this "ma se (ho fatto)" construction?

On another note: Is it OK to use two consecutive "se"s like this:

Ma se se ne sono appena accorte sé!

... with the second "se" serving as the reflexive pronoun?

  • As explained by Treccani dictionary, which gives the example Ma se mi avevi detto tu stesso ch’eri d’accordo!, this is a colloquial way to express an objection.
    – Charo
    Jan 6 '18 at 21:01
  • 1
    That is, "l'ho appena visto" is a neutral statement, but if you say "Ma se l'ho appena visto io!" you are complaining to someone that is you who have just seen that.
    – Charo
    Jan 6 '18 at 21:13
  • 1
    Your second sentence should be "Ma se se ne sono appena accorte!" (without the last "sé") if for some reason you want to complain to someone about the fact that "se ne sono appena accorte". But remember that this is colloquial language.
    – Charo
    Jan 6 '18 at 21:42

Actually, that “se” is the same as the one meaning “if”. These are a sort of emphatic conditional clauses in which the main clause is missing, or implied. Something like:

Ma (come fai a dire che non è venuto) se l'ho appena visto io!

See the Treccani article on se, 1.e:

Nell’uso fam. e in frasi enfatiche, l’apodosi è spesso sottintesa: ma se lo sapevamo già!; se vedessi come s’è fatto grande!; se voi sapeste ...!; come, non era lui? ma se l’ho visto con i miei occhi!; minacciando: se ti sorprendo un’altra volta ...!; se t’acchiappo ...!; o, specialmente, esprimendo un desiderio: se solo mi lasciasse entrare ...!; se potessi vederlo almeno una volta ancora ...!, ecc.

(where, among other examples, there is one very similar to the one in the question: come, non era lui? ma se l’ho visto con i miei occhi!). Summing up, it is used in colloquial and emphatic sentences, especially expressing threats or wishes.

In the second example (se se ne sono accorte...), as already remarked in a comment, the final is ungrammatical (if anything, you might say, wth a slight redundancy, Ma se se ne sono appena accorte da sé!), while the two initial ses are fine, even though not the best-sounding sentence in the world. The first se is a conjunction (“if”) and the second one a reflexive pronoun.

  • Hi. Does my 2nd example make sense if I add something like: "Ma (how can we call them idiots) se se ne sono appena accorte da sé!"? Jan 7 '18 at 0:11
  • 1
    Yes, it makes perfectly good sense. It's only that it's a bit cacophonous, so in real life one probably would rephrase it (say, “...se l'hanno appena capito da sé”).
    – DaG
    Jan 7 '18 at 0:20

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