The verb “let” is called a “causative verb,” and is one of the three true causative verbs in English, which are: let, have, and make.
English speakers use the verb “let” to direct someone to do something. In other words, with the verb “let,” the subject of the sentence is relying on or needs someone else to “cause” the action that will take place.
Let’s try some example sentences in English conversation to help us understand this concept before we move on to Italian. In English, we might say, “Let/Leave me alone!” or “Let me think!” In a less dramatic situation, we can form a question such as, “Will you let me use the car today?” or a statement such as, “She let her son drive the car today.” In each case, the subject is not actually completing the action – someone else is.
The sentence structure in English is simple:
Let + object + verb (+ optional descriptive phrase)
At first glance, it may seem like the Italian verb lasciare would provide a good substitute for the English causative verb let. And, in many common Italian phrases, lasciare is indeed used as a substitute for “let” to express the ideas of: to permit, to allow, to let go, or to leave.
Listed below are some common Italian expressions that take lasciare. You will notice that when lasciare is used in a causative situation, the ending is often in the informal command form. The object pronouns (lo = him, la = her) will therefore be attached to the end of the conjugated verb and are shown in red in the table for clarity. And remember, to command someone not to do something, use the Italian verb in its infinitive form!
|Lascialo venire a casa mia oggi!||Let him come to my house today!|
|Non lasciare che la passi liscia!||Don’t let him get away with it! (colloquial)|
|Let it go! Don’t think about it anymore!
Forget about it!
It was nothing! Don’t mention it!
|Lascialo stare! / Lasciala stare!||Let him be! / Let her be!
Leave him alone! / Leave her alone!
|Non lasciare andare i tuoi sogni!||Don’t let go of your dreams!|
|Lascia andare tua sorella al cinema!
Mi ha lasciato andare.
|Let your sister go to the movies!
He let me go.
Lasciami solo(a)! / Lasciami!
|Let me go!
Leave me alone! / Leave me!
As a side note, the verbs lasciare (to leave) and lasciarsi (to leave each other) come into play when we describe a romantic break up between a couple.
|L’ha lasciato e ora quella storia (d’amore) è finita.
She left him and now that (love) story is over.
Below is an example sentence two people might use talk about a couple that has “broken up” or two people who have “left each other” in the Italian way of thinking.
|Loro si sono lasciati.||They have broken up.|
If you are one of the two people in the relationship and want to talk about “breaking up”:
|Ci lasciamo stasera.||We (will) break up/are breaking up tonight.|
|Non ci lasciamo, ma…||We are not breaking up but..|
|Ci sono lasciati il mese scorso.||We broke up last month.|
Getting back to our original topic…
How else can we express the causative verb “let” in Italian? As it turns out, there are many other ways! But to finish this blog, we will focus two of the most common ways…
Command Form Fammi for “Let Me…”
The familiar command form of fare, which is the verb fa, can be combined with the direct object pronoun mi (me) in order to create the English phrase that means, “Let me…”
When attaching a direct object to the familiar command verb fa, the first letter of the direct object is doubled. This holds true for mi, ti, lo, la, ci, and vi. So, in order to say, “Let me…” the word to use is “Fammi…”
Perhaps the most commonly heard phrase of this type is “Fammi pensare…” for “Let me think…” This phrase is helpful when someone wants to create a pause in the conversation rather than responding right away. You may remember that this phrase has come up in already in our previous blog about pensare. A few more common phrases that use this sentence structure are listed below. Listen carefully to Italian movies or read Italian books and I a sure you will come up with many other situations to use “Fammi…”
|Fammi pensare…||Let me think…|
|Fammi vedere…||Let me see… / Let me have a look…|
|Fammi sapere!||Let me know!|
|Fammi fare questa cosa!
|Let me make/do this thing!
Let me make/do it!
*Note that when combining fammi + lo, the letter i in fammi must change to an e, since we are combining pronouns: mi +lo = me lo.
Command Form Noi for “Let’s…”
Now, let’s finish by learning how to say “let’s” or “let us” in Italian. As it turns out, the easy-to-remember command form for the noi conjugation of Italian verbs is used to express the meaning of “let’s.” The -iamo ending of the command form is identical to the present tense ending, and is an easy ending that even the beginning student of Italian should know!
One of the most commonly heard verbs in Italian-American families is “Andiamo!” for “Let’s go!” Therefore, when we encourage our family or friends to go somewhere in Italian, we are simply using the command form of the present tense!
To encourage a group of people to do something simply say, “Facciamolo!” or “Facciamola!” for “Let’s do it!”
Or, maybe you would like a group to quiet down and listen to a song on the radio or a show on TV. You might say, “Ascoltiamo!” for “Let’s listen!”
Or, maybe you are not sure something will really happen and you want to say, “Vediamo!“ for “Let’s see!”
How many more situations can you think of to use the noi command form?
Remember the many ways to say “Let me” and “Let’s” with Lasciare and Fare and I guarantee you will use these phrases every day!