Friday, 31 October 2008

Accordo di Molto e Poco

Molto e poco can either be adjectives or adverbs.

If they are adjectives they qualify or modify a noun, if they are adverbs they modify a verb, an adjective or another adverb.

A common mistake is to leave molto e poco unchanged, when they should be agreeing in gender and number with the subject of the sentence:

  • Sandro ha molti soldi (here molto is an adjective, it has to agree with "soldi")

Sandro has lots of money

  • Marco mi ama molto (here molto is an adverb, no need for agreement)

Marco loves me a lot

  • Abbiamo solo pochi minuti (pochi here is an adjective, it has to agree with "minuti")

We only have a few minutes

  • Fra poco comincia lo spettacolo (poco here is an adverb, no need to change it)
Soon the show will start

Monday, 27 October 2008

Pomodori viola contro il cancro

Ecco un interessante articolo di Umberto Veronesi sulla creazione di pomodori viola geneticamente modificati ricchi di antiossidanti:

Umberto Veronesi è nato a Milano, dove da sempre vive e lavora come chirurgo, ricercatore, uomo di scienza e di cultura

Friday, 24 October 2008

Traduzione della "Canzone di Bacco" di Lorenzo il Magnifico realizzata da Brian Baldry

Ecco un'altra bella traduzione in inglese del brano tratto dalla poesia di Lorenzo il Magnifico"Canzone di Bacco", questa volta ad opera di Brian Baldry. Vi ricordo il primo brano della poesia, già pubblicato il 18 settembre:

Quant' è bella giovinezza
che si fugge tuttavia
chi vuol esser lieto sia
del doman non v' è certezza

Traduzione di Brian Baldry:

The time of youth is full of beauty
But like all time it quickly flies.
Let him who would be happy be so;
Tomorrow's sun may never rise.

Inoltre Brian mi ha fatto notare che il poeta Polizionano scrisse per Lorenzo questo epitaffio:

« Lorenzo fu il lauro che riparò gli uccelli che cantavano nella primavera

Qualcuno vuole provare a tradurlo?

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Caos calmo

Un altro bel film che vi consiglio di vedere è Caos calmo, con Nanni Moretti. In inglese "Quiet Chaos". Se cliccate sul link troverete una recensione:

Monday, 20 October 2008

Falsi amici - Succedere

Succedere means “to happen”, “to occur”, never “to succeed”

Use of Succedere

“Succed” in Italian translates as “Avere successo”, though RIUSCIRE tends to be used more often. For instance, a simple sentence such as:

He succeded in getting a job

translates as:

È riuscito ad ottenere il lavoro

Riuscire is one of those verbs that students don't use very often. It’s a shame as it’s very often used in Italian. For instance:

I can’t open the window:

Non riesco ad aprire la finestra

Friday, 17 October 2008

Stress and accents

gives more prominence to a syllable in terms of loudness, pitch or length.

In Italian there is no simple way to learn where the accent falls. Most words are stressed on the penultimate syllable (a syllable is a minimum combination of sounds). The punultimate syllable is the second one when doing the counting from the end:

DOMANI (tomorrow) has three syllables DO – MA - NI, and the stress falls on the penultimate syllable: MA

Accent marks are graphic signs that indicate where the stress fall.

As a general rule, Italian accents can either be grave (è) or acute (é).

Most words have grave accents, but the e in perché and has an acute accent. Italian mother tongue speakers very rarely worry about the directions of their accents, unless they work as teachers or translators. Many journalists happily mix acute and grave accents without fear of being reprimanded.

If you can be forgiven for using the wrong accent, there is no excuse for not using it at all. One of the most common mistakes is not to use the accent when using the verb form è (is), as opposed to the conjunction e (and).

The accent is essential in the case of an omography, when words have the same spelling but different meaning. For instance:

"ne ho due" (I have two of them). In this case NE is a pronoun

"non ha fame sete" (he is neither hungry nor thirsty), where NE is an adverb

Monday, 13 October 2008

Falsi amici - Impressive

Impressive is often translated literally, but in Italian it tends to have a slightly different meaning, somehow more confined, as it refers to something that makes a big impression due to its size, how serious something is or even its negative qualities:

Ha una ferita che fa impressione = He has a grusome cut

Un incidente impressionante = a very bad accident

Therefore try not to translate literally the following. Use instead a paraphrase:

I’m impressed (when meaning: I’m very pleased/grateful):

Mi fa molto piacere

or use the verb colpire:

I was very impressed by the gift

Il regalo mi ha colpito molto

Alternatively, if you really want to use a word that is similar to impressed, use:

buona impressione or ottima impressione

Il regalo mi ha fatto un'ottima impressione

It is worth mentioning that nowadays, due to the constant influx of information from English speaking countries, especially in the form of films and TV series (where impressive tends to be translated literally into Italian) this word is gradually taking on the same meaning it has in English: when dubbing an English movie, it is clearly much easier to translate impressive literally (and it's quicker to say in the dubbing studio) .

Friday, 10 October 2008

Errore numero nove - Bene/Benissimo/Buono/Buonissimo/Bello/Bellissimo

In Italian a nice meal is never defined as "Bellissimo"!!

Only "Buonissimo" can be used to comment on food

The adjective Bellissimo describes a physical quality, it is not used to describe taste, flavour or smell:

Un tramonto bellissimo
A beautiful sunset

Una donna bellissima
A beautiful woman

Una melodia bellissima
A beautiful melody

Bene and Benissimo are adverbs, therefore they do not qualify nouns (as in the previous examples) but verbs:

Sto bene
I am well

"Things are very well" translates as:
Le cose vanno benissino

A phrase like that requires the verb ANDARE and not the verb ESSERE.

Also consider the case:

I’m well

This sentence is to be translated as:

STO bene

Another similar occurrence would be:

Is everything ok?

VA tutto bene?

It would be wrong to say: È tutto bene? (wrong verb)

Monday, 6 October 2008

Errore numero otto - POCO VS UN PO'

POCO is sometimes used wrongly, because in Italian it can have a negative connotation, meaning “not enough”:

Ha pochi amici

He doesn’t have many friends

Ha fatto poco per me

He has done little for me

But it doesn't always have a negative connotation:

Meglio avere pochi amici ma buoni

It’s better to have few good friends (rather than lots of bad friends)

At a dinner party, you might want to say to the hostess:

Poca pasta per me!

Not too much pasta for me (please)

UN PO’ means “a bit of”


-Cosa mangi?

What are you eating?

-UN PO’ di dolce (a bit of cake)

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Friday, 3 October 2008

Errore numero sette - Uso e abuso di ANCHE

Anche is an interesting word, in that it does translate as also, but English speakers tend to overuse it.

It is WRONG to put ANCHE at the beginning of the sentence:

ANCHE ho fatto una bella torta (sbagliato!)

Whenever ALSO means “In addition” or “furthermore”, ANCHE needs to go in second or third position:

Ho ANCHE fatto una bella torta


Ho fatto ANCHE una bella torta

ALSO could be translated with INOLTRE, which can go at the beginning of the sentence, but inoltre is a bit more formal than anche:

Inoltre ho comprato una macchina = also (in addition) I bought a car

Ho anche comprato una macchina nuova - I also bought a car

The only exception to the rule of NEVER placing anche at the beginning of the sentence is as follow:

Anche Maria è simpatica (Maria too is nice)

Anch’io studio Italiano (I too study Italian)

Anche i bambini lo sanno (children too know it)

In another words, anche can be put at the beginning of a sentence when it is followed by a name (Maria), a subject pronoun (io), or a noun (i bambini).


Sometimes anche doesn't mean also:

Anche se sto male, vado a lavorare

Even though I’m unwell, I go to work

In that case, it is correct to put it at the beginning of a sentence

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Errore numero sei - Superlativi assoluti

It’s a very beautiful dress

È un bellissimo vestito

Bellissimo/buonissimo and all words ending in “issimo” are absolute superlatives and cannot be preceded by adverbs such as molto.

Therefore it would be wrong to say:

molto bellissimo

An adjective already expressing a quality to its maximum level cannot be qualified further!

Wednesday, 1 October 2008


Gomorra (Gomorrah in inglese) è un film sulla mafia di cui raccomando la visione, ha riscosso molto successo sia di pubblico che di critica

Se cliccate sul link troverete un articolo del Corriere che parla del film: