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41
votes
15answers
97k 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 ...
34
votes
7answers
23k views

Is there an Italian equivalent word for "cool"?

I always had trouble translating "cool" in Italian. It's tempting to translate the English term "cool" with "figo"; this seems to convey the wide meaning of cool well enough (surely better than other ...
34
votes
2answers
23k views

What is the rule for adjective order?

Some adjectives seem to change meaning depending on the position (before of after the noun), e.g. un bambino piccolo - a young child un piccolo bambino - a small child Other simply don't "sound ...
30
votes
4answers
1k views

What are the rules for using an article with the name of a football team?

What is the rule for using articles with the soccer team names? Why do you say la Inter (l'Inter), la Juventus, la Lazio, la Roma, but also il Milan, il Bologna, il Genoa, il Manchester United, and ...
27
votes
2answers
3k views

When can 'ci' be used to mean 'it'

I know that 'ci' can mean 'us' and 'there', but it appears it can also mean 'it'. For example: ci penso su - I'll think about it I've heard that it means kind of "it, in general" but I find the ...
26
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 ...
25
votes
4answers
4k views

Past participle and changing endings with auxiliary verb "avere"

I have read many times that the endings of the past participle doesn't change when used in conjunction with the auxiliary verb "avere". However I am increasingly noticing that is is not the case. For ...
22
votes
9answers
37k views

How do you say "Good job!" in Italian?

I believe it is NOT “Buon lavoro” because an Italian person online expressed that this was to wish someone a good day at work. So - what do teachers say to students to let them know they've done ...
22
votes
7answers
3k views

Why translate cities and person names?

I come from a language that preserves the original names of cities and especially personality names, so I was very surprised to find in Italian translation of this particular substantive types. I even ...
22
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"?
22
votes
2answers
30k views

Why do Italians respond to 'grazie' with 'di niente'?

Why do Italians respond to 'grazie' with 'di niente'?
22
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?".
21
votes
5answers
1k views

How do English words change when plural in Italian?

When an English word is used as a singular term in Italian, it is normal to use the English singular form, for example: un film un computer un marine spaziale un cowboy When the words are used as ...
21
votes
7answers
42k views

What does "figurati" mean?

I understand that one meaning of "figurati" is something like "don't mention it", i.e. in response to "grazie". But I've seen it is used in many more contexts than that, as an expression of surprise, ...
21
votes
2answers
2k views

Usage of prepositions "a" and "in" in statements about places and directions

The use of prepositions, showing direction and answering the questions "Dove?" and "Verso dove?", is usually explained with very few rules, such as a with the names of cities, in with the names of ...
20
votes
7answers
4k views

An Italian book suitable for a beginner

I have been learning Italian for several months now and I am looking for a book --- the genre is not important --- suitable for someone with a rather basic understanding of the language. It need not ...
20
votes
5answers
15k views

What is the difference between 'mucca' and 'vacca'?

A textbook of mine translates 'cow' with 'vacca', Duolingo has 'mucca'. Is there a difference?
20
votes
6answers
16k views

Can a text in Latin be understood by an educated Italian who never had any formal teaching of that language?

Of all Latin derived languages, I presume Italian is the closest to Latin. This is just an assumption which I presume is correct. For this reason, I've always wondered whether an average educated ...
20
votes
5answers
755 views

Plural form of "olio"

Wikipedia lists some rules and suggests that the plural form of olio is olii. I used to think that oli sounds (and writes) better, and Dizionario d'ortografia e di pronunzia confirms that. Treccani, ...
20
votes
2answers
695 views

“Fortemente voluto”

Osservo che in tempi recenti si è molto diffusa la locuzione “fortemente voluto”, specie in “aziendalese” e “politichese”, in frasi del tipo (prendo quasi a caso da Google Books): È uno dei rari ...
19
votes
1answer
741 views

Tanto va la gatta al lardo

I am interested to know what is the origin of the famous proverb: Tanto va la gatta al lardo, che ci lascia lo zampino I realize the figurative meaning (same as "curiosity killed the cat"), but is ...
18
votes
7answers
61k views

What does "Boh!" mean, precisely?

I often heard people saying "Boh!" especially, but not only, when I stayed in Rome. However, I'm unsure what the intended meaning of "Boh!" is, either in Rome or elsewhere. Does it mean I don't know, ...
18
votes
4answers
3k views

On the pronunciation of gnocco and gnocchi

I do not speak a word Italian but I wanted to solve the obligatory dispute amongst ignorants about the pronunciation of gnocco and gnocchi by looking up the IPA pronunciation on the Internet. ...
18
votes
3answers
2k views

Why was the Florentine Vulgar Latin chosen as the basis for standard Italian?

Standard Italian, the official language of Italy and the one Italian people speak (often along with their own local languages -or dialects-), derives from the Florentine subset of Vulgar Latin. With ...
18
votes
4answers
23k views

‘Se mia nonna avesse le ruote, sarebbe una carriola’

Se mia nonna avesse le ruote, sarebbe una carriola: ‘If my grandmother had wheels, she would be a wheelbarrow.' That's what Italians say when they want to interrupt your rambling hypothetical ...
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 ...
17
votes
1answer
356 views

Etymology of conjugation 2-person singular

If we take a look at the conjugation of many Romance languages, we will see that their forms come from Latin. However there are some peculiarities. If we just look at French and Spanish, we will see ...
16
votes
6answers
7k views

How can I translate the expression "Got it!" in Italian?

How can I say "Got it!" in Italian? Google Translate gives "Fatto!" and "Ce l'ho!", but I think these are not correct answers.
16
votes
3answers
9k views

When does passato prossimo become passato remoto?

I have searched past questions but cannot find an answer. Now I have reached a point in my learning when I am brave enough to use more then the present tense. I am confused about the difference ...
16
votes
8answers
2k views

Is it a common Italian practice the use of definite article for feminine proper names, like in Veneto region?

I noticed a common practice in Veneto, which is the strange use of definite articles with proper names. Some feminine examples I hear very often: Chiama la Marcella per vedere che cosa è successo. ...
16
votes
4answers
172k views

How can I say "How are you?" in Italian?

In English, it is usual to ask "How are you?" as a salutation. How can I say a similar thing in Italian?
16
votes
5answers
5k views

Can anyone help me with the proper pronunciation of the lateral palatal approximante (aka 'gli' trigraph)?

I've been learning Italian for the last year. While being fluent in Spanish helps tremendously, there is one infamous sound that is lacking from both English and my dialect of Spanish: gli. I ...
16
votes
3answers
33k views

Differenza tra dispiace e spiace

La mia madrelingua è l'inglese. Mentre imparavo italiano a scuola, avevo sempre sentito "mi dispiace." Un giorno ho visto in un dizionario che "spiace" significa lo stesso che "dispiace." A me "mi ...
16
votes
2answers
3k 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
4answers
7k views

Perché a volte si scrive l'accento acuto sulla "i" o sulla "u"?

Ho osservato che alcuni autori usano l'accento acuto sulla "i" o sulla "u" nelle loro opere letterarie, cioè scrivono "í" o "ú" invece di "ì" o "ù". Perché si fa questo? Ecco alcuni esempi tratti da ...
15
votes
4answers
1k views

Ironic constructions in Italian

As part of my masters in linguistics, I am taking a course on the subject of irony. We were given examples of sentences that are most likely ironic, as the English sentence "he is not exceptionally ...
15
votes
4answers
6k 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 ...
15
votes
2answers
845 views

Does Italian allow "—" for parenthetical use?

In English you can use a number of different styles to add parenthetical remarks. For example: Juventus, as you may know, has won the most Scudetti. Some would say it's 29 (and technically they're ...
15
votes
1answer
2k views

What accents/dialects are considered "standard Italian"?

Not surprisingly American English has accents that help identify what part of the country you might be from, but more defined by a larger general region than by city which is more common in European ...
15
votes
1answer
323 views

What form should be used when showing messages to a user on a computer screen in Italian?

Often times, computer programs in English tend to give feedback on what they are and aren't doing in an impersonal form: Cannot locate the internet server or proxy server Unable to unlink old file (...
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
8answers
4k views

Is using "assai" in Italian considered vulgar language?

My conversation manual included the word assai very often as an equivalent for troppo, molto, etc. When I got in Italy one of my friends from there, of Neapolitan origin, said that is a Neapolitan ...
14
votes
2answers
1k views

Is Sardinian regarded as a dialect or a language of its own?

I'm interested in languages and dialects and have heard that Sardinian is one of the most distinct varieties spoken in Italy. I would like to ask whether most Italian speakers would consider ...
14
votes
2answers
8k views

'Camera' vs 'Stanza'

I read both stanza and camera being used to translate a room. Is it there a difference between them? Could you give an example of a context where they might be applied?
14
votes
3answers
761 views

How do Italians pronounce the names of programming languages?

Is there a standard form of pronunciation for programming languages in Italy? Is it preferable to pronounce in English or in Italian? In other words, suppose I'm explaining, in Italian, something ...
14
votes
3answers
10k views

How should I translate "mica" adverb into English?

I sometimes guess the meaning in some uses of the Italian "mica" adverb, but I don't know how to exactly translate it into English. Let's consider these examples from Treccani: non è mica ...
14
votes
3answers
11k views

Are "qui" and "qua" entirely interchangeable?

Are "qui" and "qua" entirely interchangeable? If not, could you cite general cases in which they are not?
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
2answers
2k views

Are there rules for the positioning of clitic pronouns?

Are there rules for the positioning of clitic pronouns? Is there a preference between “poterlo dire” and “poter dirlo”, apart from how it sounds within a given sentence?
14
votes
2answers
223 views

Why are 'di' and 'dal' interchangeable in some cases, while they aren't in others?

sono quasi morto di freddo sono quasi morto dal freddo Can anyone explain what preposition I should prefer in the above sentence? And, always in reference to above sentences, supposing they are ...

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