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There are so many small words that you can learn a little bit from that I thought it would be useful to take you on speed dates with them.
Round #1: Appena
In the dictionary, appena means just, only, or barely. As in “I just got from the store and you want me to go back again because you forgot toothpaste!?”
— Con sua zia e un’amica che parlava appena un po’ d’italiano. – With her aunt and friend that barely spoke a little Italian. [source]
— Ho appena terminato l’ultimo libro di Fabio Volo. – I just finished Fabio Volo’s last book. [source]
— Io l’ho appena iniziato. – I just started it. [source]
It’s normally an adverb, but it can be a conjunction – appena – that means as soon as.
— Mi telefonerà appena arriverà a Roma. – He will call me as soon as he arrives in Rome.
— Appena possiamo – As soon as we can
— Appena arrivo a Milano ti faccio sapere. – As soon as I arrive in Milan, I’ll let you know. [source]
[You could also add “non appena” which is used in exactly the same way as “appena”. So you could say: Ti chiamo non appena arrivo a casa OR Ti chiamo appena arrivo a casa. They mean exactly the same thing.]
— Appena cucinato – Freshly cooked (Just cooked)
— Appena fatto – Freshly made (Just made)
— Appena in tempo – Just in time
Round #2: Addirittura
I learned this word while I was visiting my friend in Bagnara Calabra in Calabria and when he taught it to me, I only understood one meaning.
It’s like the word proprio that I talked about. Heard a lot + has shades of meaning that may confuse an aspirational language learner.
The meaning that he taught me is when someone is telling you some information and you’re shocked by something that is excessive or you don’t believe it, say your best friend cheated on her boyfriend with four of his best friends, so you could say ‘Addirittura – Wow. Even that?”
Other examples thanks to my lovely editor Stefania:
— Ieri sera ho bevuto otto bicchieri di vino? – Last night I drank 8 glasses of wine –> “Addirittura!”
— Lo sapevi che Marco è stato sposato quattro volte? – Did you know that Marco has been married four times? –> Addirittura.
Another meaning is:
— Ora sono addirittura orgogliosi del mio nuovo lavoro. – Now they are even proud of my new job.
— La Juve nel finale avrebbe potuto addirittura vincere.– La Juve in the end was even able to win it.
Round #3: Comunque
Comunque is most often used as “however” or “anyway” in Italian.
— Vedo comunque che tu sai alcune fra le parole più importanti che ci siano in italiano. – I can see however that you know some of the most important words in Italian. [source]
— Comunque vada sarà un successo – However it goes, it will be a success.
— Grazie comunque – Thanks anyway
CPF: They also say Grazie lo stesso – Thanks just the same.
Round #4: Quindi
Quindi is one of my favorite words in Italian because I felt accomplished when I learned it. In my first Italian class in Italy (where the teacher spoke zero English), my teacher kept saying Quindi…Quindi…Quindi, and after a couple of lessons I finally learned what it meant after asking a friend and I felt like I had chipped off a piece of the Rosetta Stone. Dramatic, I know.
There are words like that I just carry around with me.
I like words with stories.
ANYWHO. COMUNQUE. Quindi means so.
Underwhelming, I know.
It can also mean therefore or then.
— Quindi versare sulla torta la crema livellandola con una spatola. – Then pour the cream on the cake and level it with a spatula. [source]
— Per contrastare il razzismo, si dovrebbe, quindi, combattere la paura. – In order o obstruct racism, one should, therefore, fight fear. [source]
Some synonyms in Italian could be:
— Dunque – therefore, so
— Perciò – therefore, for this reason
— Poi – then
— Dopo – after
Other speed dates:
Any questions/comments? Drop ‘em in the comments below!