A grammar reference to help you learn Italian.

Qualche + singular or plural?

The indefinite adjective qualche is ALWAYS followed by a noun in the singular. Indefinite adjectives are used to indicate an indefinite quantity and agree in gender and number with the noun they refer to. Qualche means “a number of” and requires the noun to be singular, even when it refers to more than one thing. Quando vado a fare la spesa, […]

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The apostrophe in Italian

The apostrophe is a graphic sign (‘) which in Italian is used to indicate: the dropping of the final vowel of the word when followed by a word starting with a vowel (elision); the cancellation of the vowel, consonant or syllable at the end of the word (truncation). 1. In the first case, the apostrophe is mandatory with: the definite […]

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The Italian accent

The accent determines the pronunciation of the words. In Italian it is always and only used on vowels, and never on consonants. In Italian we distinguish between: tonic accent; graphic accent. 1. The tonic accent All Italian words have the tonic accent which falls on one of the syllables of the word and determines a more marked pronunciation of this […]

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Is it written “ce n’è” or “ce ne”?

Both forms are correct but have different meanings. Ce n’è is a very common expression in colloquial Italian. However, it is often difficult to figure out how to write this expression correctly. Ce n’è is made up of the particles “ce” and “ne” and the third person singular of the present indicative of the verb to be “è”. The pronominal […]

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Italian Auxiliary Verbs

In Italian, the verbs essere (to be) and avere (to have) are called auxiliary verbs because they have the function of “helping” the other verbs to form compound tenses. The verb avere to have means to possess. Emma ha una maglietta verde. The verb essere (to be) means to stay or exist. Emma è a scuola. Qui c’è una palestra […]

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Is it written tuttavia or tutta via?

The correct form is tuttavia, all one word. Tuttavia is an adversative conjunction, or concessive, used to connect two sentences that express a contrast. Tuttavia means “eppure”, “ciò nonostante”, “ma”. Mario stava male, tuttavia è andato a scuola. Oggi ha piovuto tutto il giorno, tuttavia fa caldo. Ho trovato traffico mentre andavo a lavoro, tuttavia sono arrivato in orario. The […]

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Is it written un po’ or un pò?

The correct form is un po’ with an apostrophe. Un pò with the accent is incorrect. We use un po’ to indicate a limited quantity or a scarce number. Prima di andare a letto mangio sempre un po’ di cioccolata. Il cielo è un po’ nuvoloso, sta per piovere. Ho un po’ di ansia per l’esame di domani. The expression […]

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Is it written all’incirca or allincirca?

The correct form is all’incirca, written detached and with an apostrophe. The expression circa derives from the adverb “incirca”, composed of the simple preposition “in” and the word “circa” which means “pressapoco”. In fact all’incirca is used to indicate an approximate quantity. Ho comprato all’incirca un chilo di pane. Arriverò al ristorante all’incirca alle otto di sera. La spesa totale […]

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Is it written dopodiché, dopo di che or dopodiche?

Three words that united form one; its use can be twofold: it can have the same intent as “after” (consecutive-temporal function), or it can introduce a condition caused by the previous action (adversative function). Dopo di che it is what we can define as the original form, without an accent because “che” by itself never requires an accent. Lucia ha […]

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Is it written per cui or percui?

The correct form is per cui, detached. The form percui, all attached, is wrong. The expression per cui  is composed of the simple preposition “per” and the relative pronoun “cui”. Per cui has two different meanings. In colloquial Italian, the expression per cui is used as a conjunctive locution with deductive or conclusive value in reference to what was previously […]

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Is it written e or ed, a or ad?

In Italian the conjunction “e” and the simple preposition “a” in some cases take the final “d” and become “ed” and “ad“. Ed and ad are used only when the following word begins with the same vowel. Gli ho detto di studiare ed esercitarsi meglio per l’esame. Ho aiutato Marco ad aggiustare il suo computer. Sono andata ad ascoltare il […]

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Do you say preferito or favorito?

In Italian, when we want to express our preference, we use the qualifying adjective preferito The adjective “preferito” indicates a person, an animal or a thing that is considered better from our point of view. Il mio libro preferito è Harry Potter. La mia città italiana preferita è Cagliari. I miei animali preferiti sono i gatti e i cani. The […]

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You write “un altro” and “un’altra”

A common mistake in Italian, which creates great confusion, is the use of the apostrophe with the indefinite articles “un” and “una”. Un is the masculine singular indefinite article that is used in front of all words that begin with a vowel and is never apostrophized. For this reason the correct form is un altro, detached and without the apostrophe. Oggi […]

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Is it written da, dà or da’?

All three forms are correct but have different meanings. Da, without the accent and apostrophe, is a simple preposition. Oggi vado a cena da Mario. Hai fame? Vuoi qualcosa da mangiare? Non lo vedo da mesi. The stressed form, dà, is instead the third person singular of the present indicative of the verb DARE. Il cane è un animale che […]

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Li or lì, la or là?

They have the same written form but have two different functions. Li without accent is the plural masculine pronoun used with the direct object function: Li ho visti insieme al ristorante. La professoressa mi ha dato due libri. Devo leggerli entrambi. Ho comprato i biglietti per il concerto ma non li ho mai ricevuti. Lì with the accent instead is […]

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