Forse parlarne con gli altri membri può aiutare a distrarsi.

{vs}: Forse parlarne con gli altri membri può aiutare a distrarti.

Considering that the speaker is talking directly with her interlocutor about the course of action he should take, I'd expected the more personal second-person reflexive "distrarti".

I wonder if she used the third-person "distrarsi" here to make her statement more general in tone, not wanting to make it sound like advice that might have come across as uncalled for.

As a side note: As long as you say "distrarsi", is it also acceptable to use the conditional "potrebbe"?

As to why this "distrarsi" phrasing struck me as odd:

If the person one should talk to is an unspecified someone, then it seems to match well with the "distrarsi" in a general sense:

Talking to someone {in general} may help take your/one's {in general} } mind off of things.

In this particular instance, however, the people her interlocutor should talk to are the (specified) other members. So it seemed at odds with the "distrarsi" in a general sense:

(Your) Talking to the other members {in particular} may help take your/one's {in general} mind off of things.

1 Answer 1


Those are two different, correct sentences with different meanings.

The first one is a general remark, that one could tell to no one in particular, almost saying “It is alway true that so-and-so helps”.

The second one is explicitly addressing the person in need of a distraction, giving them a suggestion about what to do.

So, in a sense, your guess about the general tone is true, but moreover the first sentence could be possibly uttered also in a general setting, while the second one has to addressed to a definite interlocutor.

As regards the side note, you might use potrebbe, but it would sound very cautious, almost overly so, as if you were not sure of your opinion, or afraid to give a suggestion.

  • I see. Please take a look at my edit; I find it interesting to see how Italian seems to mix "something in particular" with "something in general" in the same sentence. Jun 8, 2018 at 8:29
  • Probably, but the mixing is slightly different. In one case, we are saying that the general action of talking to someone may lead to the general effect of distracting; in the second one, that the general action may lead the specific interlocutor to take their mind off things (and of course the general action too will be felt as more particular, but this holds independently on the language).
    – DaG
    Jun 8, 2018 at 9:15

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.