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The absence of a neutral use of 'you' in Italian
By comparing Italian and English we can detect a difference in the use of pronouns. If English recurs to a neutral use of the pronoun 'you', which is chosen for both the second person singular and plural, Italian requires different pronouns, depending on the addressee.
The single word 'you' has two main translations in Italian: tu and voi. However, there is a third option used in a formal context to mark the distance between the speaker and the listener.
The use of tu, voi and lei
The pronoun tu is used in Italian when addressing a person that can be considered our peer. Here are some specific cases where its use is required:
Learn Some Important Adverbs to Help You Discuss Time in Italy
When learning about how to speak about "the time" in Italian we must first look at the adverbs that are linked to such discussions. An adverb is the invariable part of speech that determines, changes or modifies the meaning of the verb to which it refers. The name adverb comes from the Latin "adverbium" which means close to the verb or to the word.
Adverbs of time are used to indicate the period of time in which certain actions take place and they answer the question Quando? - DA quando? (When? Since when?) Here below some adverbs for you to keep in mind:
Oggi = today
Domani = tomorrow
Dopo = after
Ieri = yesterday
L' altro ieri = the day before yesterday
Dopodomani = the day after tomorrow
Adjectives describe, qualify or modify nouns and pronouns. They can also be descriptive when describing the noun in detail by assigning an attribute to that noun. In English adjectives generally come before the noun they modify, in Italian they come after. In Italian the adjective and noun must also have to agree in number and gender. Adjectives precede the noun when the adjectives indicate a valuation, impression or a judgment of the speaker. These are known as accessory adjectives (words like “beautiful,” “thin,” and “large,” etc.) If you ask yourself how/what (com’e) something is you will probably come up with the proper descriptive adjectives. For instance:
Summer is here and many people find themselves travelling from place to place. If you’re trying to describe your movements in Italian then it’s important to know all about prepositions of place. The words listed above are all examples of prepositions in Italian that indicate location—where a person, place or thing is or where the noun is going. When considering these prepositions we have to ask: Dove? Where?
Complements in Italian can be a bit tricky for those learning the language. Several verbs in English that require complements after them don't in Italian and vice versa. Complements are generally used in a sentence to provide additional information to the listener or reader. It is an element of the proposition or sentence that complete or modifies the meaning of other elements, indicating different circumstances. Complements can be used with a verb, noun or adjective. Some examples of complements used in a sentence:
Il contadino coltiva la terra = The farmer tills the soil = Il contadino (subject) + coltiva (verb) + la terra ( complement)
Leggo una favola = I'm reading a fairytale
L'arte della pittura è difficile = Painting is difficult
Quell'uomo è idoneo al servizio militare = That man is fit for military service
Chi, Che, Quale, Quanto
In Italian, as in English, we use an interrogative pronoun to introduce a question. Examples of these are:
About person: CHI? = Who? (invariable, subject and complement)
About things: CHE? = What? (invariable, subject and complement that corresponds to "che cosa?") Note: Often in spoken Italian we only use "cosa" as in "Cosa stai facendo?" or "What are you doing?" rather than "Che cosa stai facendo?"
About quality: QUALE-I? = Which? (For questions relating to quality, identity or to someone or something.)
About quantity: QUANTO-A-E-I? = How much? / How many?
We use the interrogative pronouns described above at the beginning of sentences that end with a question mark. For example:
Quanto costa...? = How much is it? / How much does it cost?
A pronoun is a variable part of speech that replaces a noun. (Noun = a person, place or thing). Pronouns like "he," "which" or "you" are used to make sentences simpler and less repetitive.
An adjective is a variable part of speech used to modify or describe nouns.
Demonstrative pronouns and adjectives indicate or point to a noun or pronoun, relating them in space and time. For example, in English "this" and "these" refer to nouns that are close in time or space while "those" and "that" indicate nouns that are farther away.
Questo (=this/this one) is masculine singular. The plural is questi (=these/these ones).
Questa (=this/this one) is feminine singular. The plural is queste (=these/these ones).
Possessive pronouns and adjectives are used in both English and Italian to indicate the ownership of a noun. Possessive pronouns express a relation between a noun and who possesses it, and are used alone, in the place of the noun. The six possessive pronouns in Italian all refer to a person/people. Possessive adjectives in Italian correspond to the English words "my," "your," "its," "his," "her," "their" and "our." Both possessive pronouns and adjectives and generally used in compound forms with the pronoun or adjective coming after a definite article that is not translated in English (ie: "il mio" = "my"). It is important to remember that both possessive pronouns and possessive adjectives must agree in both number and gender to the noun not with the possessor.
A relative pronoun links two clauses, a dependent proposition to a previous proposition, taking the place of a name or a thing and establishing a relationship between the two. The relative pronoun, in referring to a person, place or thing, is used to avoid repetition. In English, relative pronouns are who, whom, which, whose, and that. In spoken English the relative pronoun is often missed, so for many Italian can be hard to learn and understand. Take this example, for instance:
"That is a cake. Carla cooked that cake for her friends." = "That is the cake that Carla cooked for her friends."
Read on to find out all about the use of indefinite pronouns and adjectives in Italian. First things first, what is a pronoun? It is a variable word that can take the place of a noun (person, place or thing). And what is an adjective? It is also a variable word, which can modify a noun. Indefinite pronouns or adjectives indicate, in an unspecified manner, a quality or quantity related to the noun they are replacing or accompanying. Examples of indefinite pronouns in English include some, enough, several, many (these are known as quantifiers); all, both, every (known as universals); and any, anyone, either, neither, nobody (paritives). Here are some examples of indefinite pronouns (pronomi) and adjectives (aggettivi) in Italian:
AGGETTIVI E PRONOMI = nessuno, alcuno, tale qualcosa, certo, ciascuno, altro
SOLO AGGETIVI = ogni, qualche, qualsiasi, qualunque, qualsivoglia
A preposition is used to join pronouns, nouns and phrases to words in a sentence; the object is the word or phrase introduced by the preposition. Usually a preposition indicates the location of the object it is linking to the rest of the sentence (spacial) or explains when it is taking place (temporal). For example, "The glass is on the table" or "She texted during class."
Common prepositions in English include about, across, after, behind, below, beside, but, despite, during, except, from, in, off, onto, until, up, with and within. A prepositional phrase contains a preposition and its object along with adjectives or adverbs.
As an example below is an Italian paragraph with the prepositions highlighted in bold:
Explaining and understanding the use of prepositions in Italian isn't always easy, but today we will begin to delve into the issue by explaining the use of the preposition A. A preposition describes a relationship between words in a sentence. In Italian we normally use the preposition A with cities and islands ("Domani vado a Ischia") or before a direct object ("Io scrivo a Carlo"). It is also used with different verbs (andare a or fermarsi a) or with phrases that have a particular meaning (sedia a rotelle = wheelchair).
Accents in Italian
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In the Italian language accents (accenti) are used to indicate where the voice should fall with more force when pronouncing a word; therefore in Italian words we distinguish tonic syllables (where the accent falls) and atonic syllables. In Italian accent marks are used for vowels only.
Negative Sentences in Italian
In English the purpose of a negative statement is to express a negation, which is to say that something is incorrect or untrue. In order to create a negative sentence a negative adverb is included before the first auxiliary verb in a positive sentence, if there is no auxiliary verb then one needs to be added in order to create a proper negative statement. An example of a Present Simple positive sentence without an auxiliary verb is "I see," to make this into a negative sentence one would add "do not" or "don't" (ie. "I do not see.") Negative sentences in English are created by adding negative adverbs like "do not" or "don't," as seen above, as well as no, doesn't, didn't, and not, or for Past Progressive sentences we add words like hasn't and wasn't.
Interrogative Pronouns and Adverbs in Italian
It's very important to know the use of special signs in writing to clarify how words are used, so if you want to write well, you must use punctuation correctly. In written, punctuation is vital to clear up the meaning of the sentence. The rules of punctuation vary with language, location and time and are constantly evolving.
Unlike in English, punctuation such as commas and periods are placed outside the quote marks when writing in Italian. For example: "Leggo questo libro da molto tempo". The same sentence in English, though, is written: "I've been reading this book for a long time."
These are the most used punctuation marks in this language:
, la virgola = comma
. il punto = period
; il punto e virgola = semicolon
Diminutive forms are used to indicate a noun is small or, in the case of nicknames, to express intimacy. In Italian the most common diminutive suffixes are -ino, -ina, -etto, -etta, -ello, -ella, - uccio, and -uccia. The suffixes ending in "o" are used for masculine words, while the suffixes ending in "a" are for feminine words. For example:
Car = macchina; Little Car = macchinina
In Italian all nouns have what is called gender...that means that they are either masculine or feminine. Most nouns that end in "o" are masculine and most nouns that end in "a" are feminine.
Examples of masculine words: treno, amico, panino
Examples of feminine words: amica, lira, studentessa
If a noun ends in "e" it can be either masculine or feminine and you must memorize the gender of the word.
Examples: The word caffè is masculine but the word notte is feminine.
The adverb is a part of a speech that doesn't change (invariable).
The adverb modifies the meaning of an other word (generally a verb).
Normally the adverb stays after the verb or before an adjective.
Maria mangia molto.( In this case the adverb comes after the verb)
Maria è molto bella. ( In this case the adverb comes before the adjective)