Category: La Frase Della Settimana

Total 18 Posts

What to Study This Week: Finché non

Our phrase this week is:

 

finché non
until (something happens)*

 

In our episode of Il Commissario Manara on Yabla, the team is at the crime scene and Luca goes to talk with medical examiner Ginevra who says:

 

Finché non faccio l’autopsia posso dirti solo che è morta.
Until I do the autopsy I can only tell you that she’s dead.

 

Notice that finché in this context is usually followed by non.1 Literally you are saying:

 

finché non
as long as not (or while not)

 

Here’s an example from another episode of Il Commissario Manara on Yabla:

 

Lei non se ne andrà da qui finché non avrà dimostrato di essere un vero commissario.
You won’t leave here as long as you haven’t shown yourself to be a real chief of police.

 

Generally, it’s best to just think of the entire phrase finché non as translating to until. When you see finché alone, think as long as or while.

 

Esempi:

Chiama questo numero finché non risponde.
Call this number until he answers.
(Call this number as long as he does not answer.)

 

Non voglio sentire un fiato finché non hai finito.
I don’t want to hear a peep out of you until you’ve finished.
(I don’t want to hear a peep out of you as long as you have not finished.

 

Dobbiamo tenere tutto serrato finché non prendono quel pazzo.
We have to keep everything locked up until they get that crazy guy.
(We have to keep everything locked up as long as they do not get that crazy guy.)

 

So, what’s going to mess you up with this phrase? There’s just one thing, and it will show up after a few other conjunctions as well. Unlike English – if you use the future tense in the first part of the sentence, you must use the future tense after finché non.2

 

Ma aspetterò finché non starai meglio.
But I’ll wait until you are better.
(But I will wait until you will be better.)

 

Aspetterò finché non tornerai.
I will wait until you return.
(I will wait until you will return.)

 

Staremo qui finché non chiederai scusa.
We’ll stand here until you say you’re sorry.
(We will stand here until you will say you’re sorry.)

 

A proposito, Italians use the non after finché even in the negative!

 

Ma non finché non farete un bagno.
But not until you have a bath.

 

No, non finché non avrai risposto alle mie domande.
No, not until you have answered my questions.

 

No, non finché non starai meglio.
No, not until you get better.

 

Confused? With this conjunction, we are getting into more complex language, so that’s to be expected. Don’t panic! Just keep studying phrases. Use the ones that express what you need to express. You’ll see over time you’ll be saying it right and you won’t even know how it happened!

 

Help us with phrases! How will you use this phrase in everyday speech? 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.


*Note: there are other ways the English word until is translated into Italian. In the context of a particular date you would say, for example,  fino a domani (until tomorrow)
1In everyday speech it isn’t always. But don’t worry, context will tell you the meaning.
2You’ll also see finché non (as well as similar conjunctions) followed by the subjunctive.

 

 

 

What to Study This Week: Farsene una ragione

farsene una ragione

 

If you’ve been following the blog since the beginning, you’ve seen this phrase before. But how many of you remember it?

 

Ha! You’re not doing your homework!

 

Well, you get a second chance. Last week we discussed the verb farsene as it appeared in Il Commissario Manara on Yabla. Farsene or farsene di means to make use of. But how does that relate to the phrase farsene una ragione??

 

Well, not so much. Can we make it fit? Maybe, but I can’t vouch for the translation. Farsene una ragione means:

 

farsene una ragione
to come to terms with (or to get over it)

 

You could say:

 

farsene una ragione
to make use of a reason

 

That would be the literal translation and if I think about long enough I can see how this usage may have developed. But really all you need are lots of examples. Here they are:

 

Non riesco a farmene una ragione.
I can’t get over it.

 

E io ho dovuto farmene una ragione.
And I’ve had to live with it.

 

Perché non te ne fai una ragione?
Why don’t you come to terms with it?

 

Te ne fai una ragione e vai avanti.
You deal with it and you move on.

 

O te ne fai una ragione o la smetti di pensarci.
You either get over it or you stop thinking about it.

 

E se mi viene la botta di freddo me ne faccio una ragione e…
And if I get the sniffles, I just deal with it and…

 

Prima te ne fai una ragione, prima potrai scegliere.
The sooner you come to terms with it, the sooner you can make a choice.

 

Devono farsene una ragione o peggio per loro.
They need to get over it or it’s their loss.

 

Me ne sono fatto una ragione.
I made peace with it.

 

Credo che me ne farò una ragione.
I think I can live with that.

 

Me ne devo fare una ragione.
I have to deal with it.

 

Te ne devi fare una ragione.
You’ve got to deal with it.

 

Ma se ne faceva sempre una ragione.
But he always got over it.

 

It’s very nice as an imperative, too!

 

Tesoro, è il 2009, fattene una ragione.
Darling, it’s 2009, deal with it.

 

E allora… fattene una ragione, principessa.
So… get over it, princess.

 

È un cane, fattene una ragione.
He’s a dog, get over it.

 

Fattene una ragione, siamo solo bambini.
Face it, we’re just kids.

 

Get it from the mouth of a real Italian. Fiorella from Sgrammaticando explains the usage of farsene una ragione in this video.

 

How will you use this week’s Italian phrase? Tell us on Facebook!

 

What to Study This Week: Farsene

farsene

 

Ok, this phrase is a bit more challenging than some of the others we’ve seen so far. For those of you who want to understand the grammar this will tax you a bit. I’m going to try to give you as literal a translation as possible so that you can grasp what you are saying. Eventually you will not need the translation anymore. In fact, the more you use the phrase, the less you will need to translate it. So make an effort to use it this week!

 

In our context this week, the verb farsene means to make use of. If we were to translate it literally it might look like this:

 

farsene
to make (use) (for) oneself of it

 

So now let’s turn to our phrase from Il Commissario Manara. Luca and Lara have just followed Brigadiere to a pond where they’ve found the body of a woman. Sardi comments on how beautiful the dead woman is. Ginevra, the medical examiner, then says:

 

Ormai della sua bellezza se ne fa ben poco, purtroppo.
At this point, her beauty matters very little to her, unfortunately.

 

Or, if we translate using our literal attempt:

 

Ormai, della sua bellezza se ne fa ben poco, purtroppo.
At this point, of her beauty she makes herself very little (use) of it, unfortunately.

 

Notice that the literal translation includes a bit of redundancy. But… and this is important… don’t get hung up on the literal translation! This is only so that wondering doesn’t drive you nuts. We don’t speak like this in English and try as you might to make it make sense in English, it won’t work. It’s best just to look at A LOT of examples and say them over and over to yourself as you try to experience the meaning. In that way, it will start to make sense to you. It really is a little like magic.

 

Most of the time you will see this expression used in questions where it might be translated as to want with (something).

 

For example:

 

Che cosa se ne fa di quello?
And what does he want with that?
(What use does he have for that?)

 

E che me ne faccio di un vestito?
And what do I want with a dress?
(What use do I have for a dress?)

 

Che me ne faccio di un sassofono?
What am I supposed to do with one saxophone?
(What use is a saxophone to me?)

 

Cosa se ne fa di quella maschera?
What use is that mask to him?

 

Che me ne faccio di un altro penny?
Why do I need another penny?
(What use is another penny to me?)

 

So right now, go pick something up and ask yourself: what do I want with this?

 

Che me ne faccio di…

 

Feel free to answer yourself (in Italian of course!)

 

When not a question, farsene often translates as what to do with it or what to make of it. It is often preceded by sapere which may or may not be translated. Here are some more examples:

 

Non so cosa farmene di tutto ciò
I don’t know what (use) to make of all this.

 

Non ho mai davvero saputo che farmene.
I never really knew what to do with it.
(I never really had any use for it.)

 

Non sapeva che farsene di quell’uomo.
He had no use for that man.

 

Non saprebbero che farsene di tutto questo.
They wouldn’t know what to do with all this.

 

There is also a very common idiom in Italian that uses farsene, but it’s meaning is completely idiomatic. It is:

 

farsene una ragione
to come to terms with it

 

But we’ll discuss that phrase next week!

 

How will you use this week’s Italian phrase? Tell us on Facebook!

 

Note: For those of you who just can’t stand not knowing why it’s ne and not ci – in this phrase you’ll notice that the thing being used is preceded by di.

 

della sua bellezza
of her beauty

 

When di is used with a verb (in this case fare) and you want to replace the object with a pronoun, you have to use ne. For a and a host of other prepositions, you use ci.

 

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: 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.

 

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.