Category: Intermedio

Total 92 Posts

What to Study This Week: Avere la testa tra le nuvole

Do you know someone who always has his head in the clouds? Then you will love the latest phrase from our study of Il Commissario Manara on Yabla.

 

Luca and Lara are about to take off on Luca’s motorcycle but Luca has forgotten il pieno, to fill up the tank. But Luca’s sister Teresa knows why and she says:

 

Ah, ma guarda, ha sempre avuto la testa tra le nuvole, lui.
Ah, but look, he has always had his head in the clouds, that one.

 

This one is pretty easy, right? It is, in fact, almost exactly as we say it in English. Here’s the exact literal translation:

 

avere la testa tra/fra le nuvole
to have the head among/between the clouds

 

Note the meaning of tra/fra, we’ll come back to that in a bit.

 

Here are some more examples from Reverso:

 

Maggie aveva sempre la testa tra le nuvole.
Maggie always had her head in the clouds.

 

Sì, scusa, ho la testa tra le nuvole.
Yes, excuse me, I have my head in the clouds.

 

Artù ha la testa fra le nuvole.
Arthur has his head in the clouds.

 

Mi dispiace, credo di avere la testa tra le nuvole.
I’m sorry, I believe I have my head in the clouds.

 

Dovete scusare mio fratello, ha la testa tra le nuvole.
You must excuse my brother, he has his head in the clouds.

 

Quel ragazzo ha la testa fra le nuvole ultimamente.
That kid has his head in the clouds lately.

 

Non lo so, mi sembra uno con la testa tra le nuvole.

I don’t know, he seems like someone with his head in the clouds.

 

Sei sempre con la testa tra le nuvole!
You always have your head in the clouds.

 

So, as always with the Italian language, there is an interesting question here. Should you use tra or fra? According to Google, they are about evenly used with tra coming out ahead by a small margin. Fra seems to roll off the tongue easier for me in this instance, but the characters in Il Commissario Manara seem to prefer testa tra le nuvole.

 

But is there actually a difference?

 

Well, even some native Italians aren’t sure, as this discussion from Word Reference indicates. But, for the most part Italians agree, they are perfectly interchangeable. So why are there two? Mainly for purposes of euphony. Italians don’t like too many repeated sounds in the same sentence. Hence, if you need to use tra twice in the same sentence, it sounds better to the Italian ear to switch the second one to fra (or vice versa).

 

For example, there are a few very phrases that use fra or tra and could end up back to back. Fra poco, for example, means in a little while, or soon. Detto fra noi means just between us, between you and me and the fence post so to speak.

 

Detto tra noi, fra poco tornerò.
Just between us, in a little while I’ll be back.

 

Ce l’avrò tra le mani fra poco
I will have it in my hands soon.

 

Who will you be describing this week when you use your new Italian phrase? Chi ha la testa tra le nuvole? Tell us on Facebook!

 

Wait… what language is THAT?

Yabla Italian is an excellent tool to help you develop an ear for spoken Italian. (I use Yabla personally to study three different languages.) With Yabla Italian you will have:

  • verbatim subtitles in Italian
  • access to English subtitles when you need them
  • the ability to turn the subtitles off as you improve
  • quizzes to gauge how well you’re doing

And… this is especially useful… you can slow the video down! Yes! We all know how fast the Italians talk. You know a lot of the words. If you just had a little more time to process them…. Well, now you do!

If you feel your Italian is good enough to watch without Italian (or English) subtitles, this episode of Il Commissario Manara is also available for free from RAI. You will need to fast forward to exactly 48 minutes for the start of Un morto di troppo.

 

Canzone: Una Finestra tra le Stelle

Canzone: Una Finestra tra le Stelle
di Annalisa
Difficoltà: intermedio
Tempi: presente, imperativo

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Cambio faccia, cambio modo di pensare
se una goccia di una lacrima versata
ti accarezza il viso mentre ridi e dici che è la pioggia

Ed è più dolce la paura se mi tieni
in un tuo abbraccio – riesco a sentire anche il profumo
della notte mentre continui a sorprendermi

Disegna una finestra tra le stelle
da dividere col cielo,
da dividere con me
e in un istante io ti regalo il mondo

Baciarti e poi scoprire che l’ossigeno
mi arriva dritto al cuore
solo se mi baci te
e non sentire
bisogno più di niente

Non fermare quel tuo modo di riempire
le parole di colori e suoni in grado di cambiare
il mondo che non ero in grado di vedere

Ed è più dolce la paura se mi tieni
in un tuo abbraccio – riesco a sentire anche il profumo
della notte mentre continui a sorprendermi

Disegna una finestra tra le stelle
da dividere col cielo,
da dividere con me
e in un istante io ti regalo il mondo

Baciarti e poi scoprire che l’ossigeno
mi arriva dritto al cuore
solo se mi baci te
e non sentire
bisogno più di niente

 

What to Study This Week: Fare il pieno

There are some wonderfully useful phrases popping up in our study of the Italian TV show Il Commissario Manara: Un morto di troppo on Yabla. I think this one is essential, especially if you don’t want to run out of gas!

 

fare il pieno
to fill it up

 

or more literally

 

to do the full (tank)

 

Luca and Lara (wait, Luke and Laura? No, Luca and Lara!) are about to head off on Luca’s motorcycle to follow Brigadiere (Lara’s aunt’s dog), but… the motorcycle won’t start. And knowing Luca well, Lara says:

 

Hai dimenticato di nuovo il pieno?
Did you forget to fill it up again?

 

Lara doesn’t say fare here but it’s understood. Here are some more ways you can use this phrase (grazie a Reverso):

 

Mi fa il pieno per favore?
Can you fill it up for me please?

 

Sai quanto mi costa fare il pieno al camion?
Do you know how much it costs me to fill up the truck?

 

Ho dimenticato di fare il pieno a Napoli.
I forgot to fill up in Naples.

 

Ho fatto il pieno mentre venivo in città.
I filled up while I was on my way to the city.

 

Ti ho fatto il pieno.
I filled it up for you.

 

Vi faccio il pieno e potete prenderla subito.
I’ll fill it up for you and you can take it right now.

 

Faceva il pieno alla Buick anche se aveva ancora metà serbatoio.
He would fill up his Buick even if it still had half a tank.

 

È lì fuori che fa il pieno.
He’s out there filling up the tank.

 

This phrase isn’t limited to gassing up cars. You can gas up anything. Like your private jet for instance:

 

Colin ha fatto il pieno al suo jet a Teterboro.
Colin filled the tank of his jet at Teterboro.

 

Or your boat:

 

Devo fare il pieno alla barca, sono a secco.
I have to fill up the boat, I’m out of gas.

 

And by the way, notice sono a secco in that phrase. That’s a great way to say you’re out of gas. It can also mean you’re out of money. I think of it as running on empty.

 

And yes, you can use fare il pieno to load up on other things too.

 

Credo sia andato a fare il pieno di birra.
I believe he went to fill up on beer.

 

Il trucco è …che devi fare il pieno di carboidrati la notte prima della gara.
The trick is… you have to fill up on carbohydrates the night before the race.

 

Tanto per scrollarsi le ragnatele di dosso, fare il pieno di endorfine
Just to shake off the cobwebs, fill up with endorphins…

 

by the way:

 

scrollarsi di dosso
to shake off

 

And now

 

Devo fare il pieno, sono a secco e voglio guidare fino alla spiaggia.
I have to fill up the tank, I’m on empty and I want to drive to the beach.

 

Buon quattro luglio a tutti!

 

Wait… what language is THAT?

Yabla Italian is an excellent tool to help you develop an ear for spoken Italian. (I use Yabla personally to study three different languages.) With Yabla Italian you will have:

  • verbatim subtitles in Italian
  • access to English subtitles when you need them
  • the ability to turn the subtitles off as you improve
  • quizzes to gauge how well you’re doing

And… this is especially useful… you can slow the video down! Yes! We all know how fast the Italians talk. You know a lot of the words. If you just had a little more time to process them…. Well, now you do!

If you feel your Italian is good enough to watch without Italian (or English) subtitles, this episode of Il Commissario Manara is also available for free from RAI. You will need to fast forward to exactly 48 minutes for the start of Un morto di troppo.

 

What to Study This Week: Non vedo l’ora!

Ciao a tutti!

Continuing this week with our series of phrases from Il Commissario Manara: Un morto di troppo on Yabla, we have a phrase that actually came up last week in discussions in our group.

 

Non vedo l’ora!
I can’t wait!

 

In our episode, Luca’s sister, Teresa, has just been introduced to Lara, Luca’s love interest throughout the season. She lets it slip that Luca has mentioned Lara to her when she says:

 

Io non vedevo l’ora di conoscere la donna che è riuscita a mettere il guinzaglio…
I couldn’t wait to meet the woman that managed to put a leash…

 

Teresa uses the imperfect tense here, but we’ll get to that in a minute. First, what exactly does it mean non vedere l’ora? Translated literally it means:

 

Non vedo l’ora.
I don’t see the time.

 

How exactly does that translate to I can’t wait? Well, just like in English, this phrase is purely idiomatic. I have managed to find some interesting ideas among the community at WordReference for why this modo di dire has developed.

 

I like dragonseven’s idea:

Penso sia una metafora che indica la morbosa impazienza dell’evento scandita del fatto che il tempo della venuta si allunga/allontana percettibilmente sempre più verso l’infinito e di conseguenza non se ne vede più l’arrivo.

I think it’s a metaphor indicating the morbid impatience for the event marked by the fact that the time of its arrival elongates perceptibly towards the infinite and consequently you can’t see its arrival anymore.

 

Very poetic! But Anaiss really makes the point we need to focus on:

 

…è un’espressione talmente consolidata che non faccio nemmeno più caso al significato letterale.  

It’s an expression so ingrained that I don’t even notice the literal meaning.

 

And that’s what we have to learn to do, too. It’s just like the many idiomatic phrases we use in English and take so for granted that we don’t even question them anymore.*

It is useful to know what you are saying in a sense because unlike the English version, non vedo l’ora will generally be followed up with di (qualcosa) which won’t make sense if you’re translating as I can’t wait.

 

Non vedo l’ora di vederti!
I can’t wait to see you!

 

Or more literally:

 

I don’t see the time of seeing you!

 

So, now it makes more sense when we see Teresa’s remark in the imperfect tense.

 

Non vedevo l’ora di conoscere la donna…
I wasn’t seeing the time of knowing the woman…

 

Here are some examples of this phrase in action from Reverso:

 

La gente non vede l’ora di spettegolare sulle disgrazie.
People can’t wait to gossip about misfortunes.

 

E non vede l’ora di incontrarti.
And s/he can’t wait to meet you.

 

Scommetto che non vedi l’ora che muoia per tenerti tutto!
I bet you can’t wait for me to die so you can get everything!

 

E non vedono l’ora di sguazzare nel fango.
And they can’t wait to play in the mud.

 

Non è giusto, non vedevo l’ora di stare con te.
That’s not true, I couldn’t wait to be with you.

 

Ieri sera non vedevi l’ora di lasciare tutto questo.
Yesterday evening you couldn’t wait to leave all this.

 

But what if you want to say you can’t wait until something? In that case, you need to use che, and this gets a little bit more complicated because it requires the subjunctive or the Italian congiuntivo. This really isn’t as hard as it sounds. Say enough phrases out loud often enough and you will come to expect the sound of the congiuntivo. You will find yourself getting it right without knowing how you managed it.

 

Non vedo l’ora che sia venerdì.
I can’t wait until (it is) Friday.

 

Ma non vedo l’ora che arrivi quel giorno.
I can’t wait until that day arrives.

 

But if you’re just beginning your study of Italian, don’t sweat it. For now, just say:

 

Non vedo l’ora!

 

E io non vedo l’ora che arrivi la prossima lezione!

 

Wait… what language is THAT?

Yabla Italian is an excellent tool to help you develop an ear for spoken Italian. (I use Yabla personally to study three different languages.) With Yabla Italian you will have:

  • verbatim subtitles in Italian
  • access to English subtitles when you need them
  • the ability to turn the subtitles off as you improve
  • quizzes to gauge how well you’re doing

And… this is especially useful… you can slow the video down! Yes! We all know how fast the Italians talk. You know a lot of the words. If you just had a little more time to process them…. Well, now you do!

If you feel your Italian is good enough to watch without Italian (or English) subtitles, this episode of Il Commissario Manara is also available for free from RAI. You will need to fast forward to exactly 48 minutes for the start of Un morto di troppo.
 

 

*Need some examples? Here you go: When you pull your car into the driveway, what exactly are you pulling? (maybe once it was a team of horses?) Take a nap? Take an exam? Where are you taking it? Pay attention? Who do you pay? (In Italian you lend it!) Very soon to dial the telephone will sound very strange to people. If you start to notice it, English is just full of examples like this. And we don’t even notice them!

 

What to Study This Week: Ho sentito tanto parlare di te

Ciao a tutti!

We’re continuing this week with our series of phrases from Il Commissario Manara: Un morto di troppo on Yabla.

Luca’s sister has come to visit him (è venuta a trovare) and now Lara, Luca’s on-again off-again girlfriend and fellow detective has just appeared. When Teresa hears who she is she says:

 

Ma sai che ho sentito tanto parlare di te!
But you know I have heard so much about you!

More literally this might be:

Ho sentito tanto parlare di te!
I’ve heard so much talk of you!

And if you want to use the formal you:

Ho sentito tanto parlare di Lei!
I’ve heard so much about you!

 

You can also say:

…di loro
…di lui
…di voi
…del NJILE

 

The tricky part comes when you want to drop …di (qualcuno/qualcosa). Here you need to use the infamous ne.

I’m not going to go too deeply into this. I think it’s best just to learn via phrase. However, for those of you struggling to understand the difference between ne and ci, here is a tiny bit of grammar.

Whenever you use the preposition di, you will replace it with ne.
Everything else, mainly a, but also su and in, will be replaced with ci.

So…

 

Ne ho sentito tanto parlare.
I’ve heard a lot of talk about it.

 

or what if I haven’t?

 

Non ne ho mai sentito parlare.
I have never heard of it.

 

Now for those of you who are more advanced, what about this? Suppose you heard someone else talking about something?

 

I heard him talking about it.
L‘ho sentito mentre ne parlava.

 

or more literally:

 

L‘ho sentito mentre ne parlava.
I heard him while he was talking about it.

 

 

Here are some examples from Reverso:

Sa, ho sentito parlare di persone come lei.
You know, I’ve heard of people like you.

Davvero non ne hai mai sentito parlare?
You have really never heard of it?

Probabilmente non ne hai mai sentito parlare.
You have probably never heard of it.

E ho sentito parlare di tutti.
And I’ve heard of everybody.

E poi… ho sentito parlare del Dragone.
And then… I heard about the Dragon.

Stavo giusto dicendo che ho sentito parlare di cibo quadrato.
I was just saying that I’ve heard of a square meal.

Come mai non ne ho sentito parlare dall’altro chirurgo?
How come I’ve never heard of the other surgeon?

Appena ho sentito parlare di quella scialuppa carbonizzata, ho voluto vederla.
As soon as I heard about that charred lifeboat, I wanted to see it.

Del reattore in Cina ne ho sentito parlare, ma dell’aumento dei futures della soia…
The reactor in China, I heard about, but the spike in soy futures…

La sorella di Dave ha sentito lui mentre ne parlava.
Dave’s sister heard him while he was talking about it.

 

How do you search for examples on Reverso?

You can see my search terms in the above sentences in blue. When you are unsure about how to say something, give it a try. Put your attempt in the search bar and see if you get any exact hits. One hit doesn’t tell you much, but if you get a lot of them, you’re on to something. But don’t stop there. Read the sentences to be sure that what you think you’re saying is actually what you’re saying!

You can also try putting the English phrase into the search bar and see what comes back. You may have to try a few times before you get a phrase that works. If you find Reverso keeps changing your text to something else, it could mean that your attempt is completely wrong, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that. Try adding or removing words from the phrase. Read the sentences and you will get the gist!

How will you use today’s phrase to express YOUR OWN THOUGHTS? The sooner you express your own thoughts, the sooner you will remember the phrase, so give it a try. Have you just been introduced to your daughter’s new boyfriend? Or a new colleague at work?

 

Ho sentito tanto parlare di Lei!

 

Or is a friend of yours talking about a new film?

 

Sì, ho sentito parlare di questo film.

 

Let us know how you used this phrase on Facebook.

That’s it for this week!

Alla prossima!

 

Yabla Italian is an excellent tool to help you develop an ear for spoken Italian. (I use Yabla personally to study three different languages.) With Yabla Italian you will have:

  • verbatim subtitles in Italian
  • access to English subtitles when you need them
  • the ability to turn the subtitles off as you improve
  • quizzes to gauge how well you’re doing

And… this is especially useful… you can slow the video down! Yes! We all know how fast the Italians talk. You know a lot of the words. If you just had a little more time to process them…. Well, now you do!

If you feel your Italian is good enough to watch without Italian (or English) subtitles, this episode of Il Commissario Manara is also available for free from RAI. You will need to fast forward to exactly 48 minutes for the start of Un morto di troppo.