Language

Talking About Emotions (2)

Bench in front of homes on the island of Murano where people can talk about their emotions

Talking about one’s emotions is complex, both in one’s native language and certainly in an adopted language.  In Italian, many  phrases used to convey emotion are idiomatic, and the choice of verbs can differ with even minor differences in a situation. For instance, an upcoming event may make one happy and generate positive feelings of excitement and anticipation. Although it is nice to have something to look forward to (as we discussed in Part 1 of this series about emotions last year), given the repetitiveness of daily life, we all feel bored at one time or another. It is a …

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Talking to someone special

A bench outside of an Italian home where people can sit and talk about someone special and love

Meeting someone at a gathering — Piacere di conoscerla… Where do two people who form a lasting relationship have their first encounter? Many times soon-to-be couples are introduced by a friend, often at a festa (party). The Italian verb conoscere is used when two people first meet. In a previous blog, The Holidays in Italy,  we discussed the many variations of friendly Italian introductions, and the most common reply, “Piacere di conoscerla,” for, “It is a pleasure to meet you.” This phrase uses the formal “la” to mean “you.” More commonly, though, and especially at informal gatherings of young people, the familiar …

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“Dare” and verbs of giving

Picture of a block of houses in Italy with a park bench out front where people can sit and discuss the Italian verbs dare, regalare and donare

The Italian verb dare is most often used with the meaning “to give,”  or literally, “to hand over” something to someone else. When the object “handed over” is a gift, dare may be used to describe this action or the more specific verbs of gift-giving may come into play, such as regalare (to give a gift) and  donare (to donate). To truly sound like a native Italian, learn the quintessential Italian interjection, “Dai!” from the second person conjugation of dare. The Italian verb dare is also an integral part of an important Italian expression, “dare del tu,” which allows  one to …

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Christmas giving in Italy

We’ve discussed Italian Christmas traditions in December each year since this blog’s inception. As noted before, the Christmas season in Italy lasts from the beginning of December until after the New Year.  Below are the important dates to remember for those celebrating Christmas in Italy, along with Italian greetings for each holiday. To follow is the story of La Befana, the friendly Italian witch with gifts for all. The Italian Christmas Season L’Immacolata Feast of the Immaculate Conception: Catholic holiday that celebrates mother Mary.  La Vigilia di Natale Il Natale Christmas Eve Christmas Buon Natale! Buone Feste! Merry Christmas! Happy …

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Expressing Emotion in Italian

Expressing one’s emotions is complex, both in one’s native language and certainly in an adopted language. In Italian, many phrases used to convey emotion are idiomatic, and the choice of verbs can differ with even minor differences in a situation. This is especially true for the winter holiday season, which brings with it happiness and anticipation, and many ways to express these feelings in Italian! In short, we must learn to think in Italian if we are to communicate our emotions in Italian! Expressing Happiness in Italian — Contento, Felice, Piacere Sono contento(a) di… If an Italian is happy, he …

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The many uses of mancare

Houses and a park bench in Italy where people can sit to discuss how to use the verb mancare

The Italian verb mancare has many meanings: to miss (someone)/to need (something)/to lose/to lack/to be lacking/to omit/to fail and can even be used as a euphemism for to die. Perhaps the most common way Italians use the verb mancare is to convey the idea of “to miss someone,” which was discussed in detail in a previous blog in this series, ” ‘Missing You’ with Mancare” In the prior blog, the conjugation of mancare and the use of indefinite object pronouns needed to convey the idea of “missing someone” was discussed in detail. With this blog, we will now focus on the …

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Familiar Italian commands

A bench along a street of colorful homes on which to converse about how to make familiar Italian commands

About Italian Command Verbs To speak fluently in another language, it is important to understand the nuances used among family members and friends. In Italian, verbs in their familiar imperative form are commonly used, especially with children, to give encouragement, instructions, or warnings. In many cases, a familiar imperative verb can stand alone as a complete expression. To the English speaker, the grammatical name “imperative verb,” or its alternate “command verb,” can suggest a harsh approach to interacting with others; we English speakers typically think of a command as a type of forceful instruction given by an officer in the …

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Italian linking verbs

Italian Linking Verb Essere “To be, or not to be…” is one of the most famous lines ever written in the English language.  But that phrase would not be possible without a verb to express the very idea that we exist.  Think of how many times a day we say, “I am” or “he is” or “we are” — all forms of the English infinitive verb “to be.”   In Italian, the verb essere means to be.  Essere in the present tense is a linking verb, as it connects the subject in the beginning of the sentence with specific information …

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Possessive adjectives

A block of Italian homes with a bench out front to discuss the grammar of Italian Possession

Italian Possessive Adjectives for Things Possessive adjectives allow one to describe ownership. Did you know that to describe possession in English, we simply put a possessive adjective (my, your, his/hers, etc.) before a noun under discussion? The word placement is the same in Italian. But there are otherwise many differences in the English and Italian approach to describing our relationship to the things we own. In English, the possessive adjectives refer to the person who is the “owner” of the thing being talked about. However, the Italian use of possessive adjectives requires a different way of thinking, since Italians match …

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Adding color with adjectives

A bench by a row of houses in Burano Italy where one can sit and converse in Italian.

To speak fluently in another language, it is important to know how to describe the characteristics of the people, places, and things that we encounter every day. Adjectives can enliven the listener’s perception of a subject and provide additional shades of meaning. In English, adjectives are generally placed before the noun. But in Italian, most adjectives are placed after the noun the modify, while a few groups of adjectives are placed before the noun. And finally, many Italian adjectives can hold either position in relation to their noun — either before or after. Interestingly, where an Italian adjective is placed in …

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