Questions tagged [word-usage]

Questions about correctly using a word within a particular phrase or context

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41
votes
15answers
91k views

Can I say bravo to a female performer?

Everywhere in the world after a successful performance like a live music show or theater play, you can hear audience yelling "Bravo!" to the performers regardless of their gender or number. Is this ...
25
votes
5answers
2k views

Why do Italian road signs use the infinitive tense and not the imperative?

Why do Italian road signs use the infinitive tense in their warning, while, for example, those in English use the imperative? Turn off lights Spegnere le luci (and not "Spegnete le luci" or ...
21
votes
4answers
3k views

Perché “vendesi” e non “si vende”?

Gli annunci immobiliari italiani mi sono sempre sembrati molto curiosi. Perché si scrive "vendesi" o "affittasi" e non "si vende" o "si affitta"?
21
votes
1answer
5k views

Are “che”, “che cosa” and “cosa” interchangeable in simple “what questions”?

When I want to ask "what do you have for breakfast?", can I use any of the three, "che", "che cosa", or "cosa", to ask the question? I'm not referring to specific structures like "che ore sono?".
18
votes
1answer
13k views

Preposition “a” or “al”?

I know all the rules about how to form the articulated prepositions in Italian, so I don't have to understand how to construct them, but rather I have a doubt on when to use the simple and when to use ...
16
votes
2answers
2k views

Quando si deve togliere la “e” finale di un verbo all'infinito?

So che a volte si deve scrivere un verbo all'infinito senza la "e" finale. Per esempio, scrivere Cerca di calmarti per poter pensare con chiarezza invece di Cerca di calmarti per potere pensare ...
15
votes
1answer
10k views

“Ora” vs. “adesso”. What are the differences?

Quando si usa ora e quando adesso? Sembra che le due parole abbiano lo stesso significato. Ci sono differenze?
14
votes
4answers
5k views

What's the difference between “cominciare” and “iniziare”?

Recently, an Italian friend of mine corrected my sentence, "Sono a dieta, l'ho cominciata tre giorni fa", like this: "Sono a dieta, ho iniziato la dieta tre giorni fa." Is there any difference between ...
14
votes
2answers
1k views

Does Italian always use the infinitive where English uses the gerund?

A phrase like "asking questions is a sign of a curious mind" is translated in Italian as fare domande è segno di una mente curiosa; the difference is clearly that English uses the gerund where Italian ...
14
votes
6answers
23k views

The origin of “in bocca al lupo” and its usage

I know that "in bocca al lupo" means "good luck", but what's its origin and when is it used?
13
votes
2answers
5k views

“Avere senso” vs “fare senso”

My girlfriend is Italian and I've been learning Italian for some time now. I've always used "Fa senso" and she never corrected me. Recently I befriended a girl and when she heard me saying "fa senso", ...
12
votes
4answers
5k views

What is the difference between albergo and hotel

Since I'm not a native Italian speaker, I don't exactly know what the difference between hotel and albergo is. Would you mind telling me the difference, please?
12
votes
3answers
4k views

Correct usage of the verb “divertirsi”

I was talking to my Italian professoressa and we were basically discussing how our long weekend went. Being an Italian class, she expected me to describe the whole endeavor in Italiano. However, our ...
12
votes
4answers
18k views

What is the Italian equivalent for “well/so”?

In English we can say: Well/So, it's time for me to leave. So/Well, what can I do to help you? Well/So, what's the problem? Is allora an equivalent of "so/well" in these cases?
12
votes
2answers
573 views

Quando si può dire che una parola appartiene alla lingua italiana?

Pongo questa domanda a partire da un caso pratico. Provando a rispondere alla domanda L'espressione 'a fortiori' è italiana o latina? ho cominciato a consultare il dizionario Treccani ...
11
votes
4answers
33k views

What is the difference between “ti amo” and “ti voglio bene”?

Can we use “ti amo” for expressing love between siblings? And we use “ti voglio bene” for expressing love between two passionate lovers?
11
votes
1answer
430 views

Form of “What?” for hearing loss

What is the Italian form of "What" meaning "I didn't hear or understand, please repeat what you said."
11
votes
1answer
8k views

Taci, Sta zitto!: Ways to say “shut up” / “be quiet” / “hush”

I have a general question and then a specific one. Can someone list four or five ways to say "shut up" or "be quiet" or "hush" in Italian, perhaps ranked from most common to least common? Or most ...
11
votes
1answer
1k views

Che cosa significa “giammai”?

Sto cercando di capire cosa significa la parola "giammai". Io vengo dal nord d'Italia e sinceramente non ho mai sentito nessuno usarla, proprio mai! Sul dizionario ho trovato questo: 1 lett. Mai e ...
11
votes
2answers
747 views

Qual è la regola grammaticale nell'uso di “stampa” nella espressione “le conferenze stampa”?

Perché non si dice "Le conferenze stampa" e non si dice "Le conferenze di/da/della/delle stampa/e" o non si dice "Le conferenze stampe". Qual'è il ruolo grammatico di "stampa" in questa espressione. ...
11
votes
4answers
77k views

Quando si usano “egli”, “ella”, “esso”, “essa”, “essi”, “esse” invece di “lui”, “lei” o “loro”?

Non riesco a capire in quali situazioni è necessario o conveniente usare i pronomi "egli", "ella", "esso", "essa", "essi", "esse" invece di "lui", "lei" o "loro". Potreste spiegarmelo?
11
votes
1answer
14k views

“Riguardo” o “riguardo a”?

Nel testo di questa domanda qualcuno ha corretto le parole “Ho un dubbio riguardo all'uso della parola...” in “Ho un dubbio riguardo l'uso della parola...” commentando “riguardo all'uso is sloppy ...
11
votes
1answer
627 views

If the subject of a sentence is normally left implicit, what does adding it to a sentence mean?

In Italian, the subject of a sentence is normally implicit. Ho incontrato Luigi e mi ha detto di salutarti. Siamo andati a Roma per il weekend. Sono andate via senza dire niente; non so a che ...
10
votes
5answers
696 views

È corretto dire “un terzo d'ora”?

In italiano si usano le espressioni mezz'ora e un quarto d'ora. È corretto dire un terzo d'ora?
10
votes
5answers
6k views

Il termine “ospite” indica colui che ospita o colui che è ospitato?

Ospite: sta ad indicare sia chi ospita che chi è ospitato. Ospite è il termine della lingua italiana per designare tanto chi riceve ospitalità quanto chi la dona. È una parola enantiosemica. ...
10
votes
3answers
2k views

Perché non si può dire “conduttore di un veicolo” o “materiale conducente”?

Ho osservato che: Conducente significa ciò che conduce, e viene usato in riferimento a chi guida - conduce - un veicolo (es. "Non parlare al conducente"); Anche conduttore significa ciò che conduce, ...
10
votes
4answers
4k views

Filler-words in spoken Italian

In casual, spoken English, there are certain "filler-words" which are very common, but don't really add much to the actual meaning of the sentence. For example: "like, you know..., look....". The ...
10
votes
3answers
383 views

How to disambiguate the meaning of “ricaricare” when talking about mobile phones?

It seems to me that in Italian the word for "carrying out a mobile phone top-up" (UK) or "carrying out a mobile phone refill" (US), i.e., adding credit to a mobile phone's network operator account, is ...
10
votes
2answers
3k views

Sapere vs conoscere in “I know a language”

What is the difference between "So l'italiano" and "Conosco l'italiano"? I've seen both used in sentences.
10
votes
1answer
451 views

Uso del vocabolo “pennarello”

Per motivi professionali, ho dovuto leggere gli enunciati di alcuni problemi di matematica per bambini. In uno di questi enunciati ho letto la frase Giulio ha nel suo astuccio 18 pennarelli ma si ...
10
votes
3answers
15k views

La parola “smarmellare”

Nella serie televisiva Boris (2007-2010) viene usato più volte il termine “smarmellare”, detto delle luci sul set: dal contesto si capisce che si riferisce all'uso di luci forti che illuminano ...
10
votes
1answer
870 views

What does “fa proprio un gran sangue” mean?

In the following quote from the film "Radiofreccia" the expression 'fare sangue' or 'fare un gran sangue' is used in referring to a character's mother. Here is the quote: Sei stato sempre becco ...
10
votes
1answer
335 views

A cosa è dovuta la popolarità del termine “resilienza”?

Il termine “resilienza” ha due significati principali: Nella tecnologia dei materiali, la resistenza a rottura per sollecitazione dinamica, determinata con apposita prova d’urto: prova di resilienza; ...
10
votes
1answer
4k views

Additional meanings of 'se'

The sentence "Scusa se non mi sono fatta più sentire" means, as I understand it: "Sorry if I didn't get in touch with you anymore". Or is there a better translation? Anyway, what seems strange to me ...
9
votes
5answers
2k views

Difference between “darsi del tu” and “del lei”

In Italian there's the usage of "darsi del tu" (referring to your interlocutor in second person singular) and "darsi del lei" (using instead the feminine third person singular). What's the difference?...
9
votes
3answers
1k views

Italian words for tools

What is the difference between the words attrezzi, utensili, arnesi, and strumenti? My understanding is that all of these refer to tools, with the latter being used to also describe software tools. ...
9
votes
3answers
7k views

Which one is correct: “ti raccomando” vs “mi raccomando”?

I know that both "ti raccomando" and "mi raccomando" are used with the sense of "I recommend you", but to me, coming from outside, the use of the "mi" form seems illogical and should be translated as "...
9
votes
3answers
8k views

What is a typical situation to say “disgraziato”?

What is a typical situation to use "disgraziato!"? What kind of emotion is associated with the word?
9
votes
4answers
971 views

Changing of meaning of “piuttosto che” over the years

When I was a kid, I learnt at school that 'piuttosto che' was used as follows "Piuttosto che venire con voi me ne sto a casa", whose meaning was 'instead of', a contrast between two mutual ...
9
votes
2answers
297 views

Is it necessary to use pronouns with the verb “essere”?

I'm learning Italian (at the beginner level) and the teacher said that it is necessary to use pronouns with the verb "essere" in all cases. For example: Io sono, loro sono, etc. Is it normal to build ...
9
votes
2answers
932 views

Would Italians refer to an American or foreign woman as “signora”?

I know that "signora" is, in Italian, the title for a married woman... But, would Italians refer to a married American or otherwise foreign visitor as such?
9
votes
1answer
110 views

Can “sciò” be used for person? If so, in which cases can it be considered acceptable?

I remember my grandmother saying sciò to keep away an animal that was getting too close to something or somebody, whatever it was a cat, a chicken, or a dog. Can that exclamation be used also for a ...
9
votes
2answers
261 views

Usare la 'y' per modificare i cognomi

Noto una recente tendenza della stampa satirica a terminare in 'y' alcuni cognomi; per esempio, oggi leggevo Renzy per Renzi e Alfy per Alfano. Sapreste dire quale sia l'origine di questa ...
9
votes
6answers
647 views

Is “essere dietro a [infinitive]” widely understood as “star [gerund]”?

In Lombardy, I often hear phrases like sono dietro a cercare qualcosa to mean sto cercando qualcosa. Is that widely understood, or is there another way to translate the Present Progressive used in ...
9
votes
3answers
342 views

Is “a me mi” nowadays accepted as correct written language?

I remember when I was young that using "a me mi" was considered wrong. For example saying a me mi piace giocare a calcio. But I also remember that it was so largely used that it was made "legal" in ...
9
votes
1answer
3k views

Using vicino or vicina

Can someone explain if there is a difference in meaning or usage between vicino and vicina. As far as I can tell, they seem to be interchangeable, yet I've seen both used.
9
votes
1answer
558 views

“Non riesco a camminare dritta” versus “non riesco a camminare dritto”

When uttered by a woman, which of the following sentences is correct? Non riesco a camminare dritta. Non riesco a camminare dritto. My feeling is that, since dritto is the way of walking (in a ...
9
votes
2answers
580 views

L'uso del “lei” sta diminuendo in tutta Italia?

Giusto per distrarmi dalla noia lavorativa post-ferragostana, vi faccio questa domanda. Negli ultimi anni ho notato che, almeno qui a Milano, l'uso del lei sta diminuendo sensibilmente. Qualche ...
9
votes
1answer
289 views

Nave XYZ senza articolo determinativo

Facendo ricerche su mio nonno, ammiraglio di squadra al termine della carriera militare, ho scoperto che ci si riferisce spesso (almeno per iscritto) alle navi come Nave, con la N maiuscola, seguita ...
9
votes
1answer
317 views

Is there a connection between Marco Polo and Emilione?

I have a question on History Stack Exchange which noone has been able to answer yet. Someone has suggested I try this SE site, so here goes. There is a theory put forward by Benedetto, in his 1928 ...

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