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As I mentioned in this article on using some verbs in Italian, like mancare and perdere, incorrectly, there are lots of other verbs that we can play with when it comes to figuring out the differences between how Italians understand something and how English speakers perceive it.
You know, it’s the whole “You didn’t MISS the train…you LOST it”, with the verbs “mancare” and “perdere” respectively.
While these are found in droves throughout all of the language (if you’re looking), here are another four to add to your repertoire.
Case #1: Don’t use “prendere”, use “fare”
— Did you “take” a nap or did you “make” a nap?
If you read the first article, you’ll notice that “prendere” is a second offender.
In fact, there are so many instances where “prendere – to take” is mistaken as the right verb when “fare – to make” should actually be used.
In English, we say we “take” a break (as if they are ours for the choosing), and in Italian, they “make” breaks (which, in my humble opinion, is much more forward-thinking).
So in Italian, “to take a break” would be “fare una pausa”.
As in, “Sono stanchissima! Devo fare una pausa.” – I’m so tired! I need to take a break.
Cocktail party fact: Because language is flexible and doesn’t always have clear cut rules, I have to tell you that you could use “prendere” with “to take a break”. It’s less common, but you could say “Devo prendermi una pausa”. In this case, “prendere” would have to be used in its reflexive form “prendersi”.
Here are some other instances where us English speakers might try to use “prendere”, when in reality, we should use “fare”:
— fare una foto – to take a photo
— fare una passeggiata – to take a walk
— fare un passo indietro – to take a step back
— fare un lungo viaggio – to take a long trip
— fare una doccia – to take a shower
Verb #2: Don’t use “avere”, use “fare”
— Did you “have” breakfast or did you “do” breakfast?
The verb “avere” is a second offender as well, and it’s not by pure coincidence that these second offenses are happening.
The verbs that trip English speakers up are often the same ones over and over again.
So, in this specific case, we say “I already had breakfast this morning”, but in Italian, they would say “I already did breakfast this morning”, using the verb “fare – to make, to do”, instead of the verb “avere – to have”.
In Italian, that example sentence would be “Questa mattina ho già fatto colazione”.
Here are a couple other instances where us English speakers might try to use “avere”, when in reality, we should use “fare”:
— fare fatica a – to have difficulty
— fare sesso – to have sex
Verb #3: Don’t use “dire”, use “raccontare”
–Did you “tell” the story, or did you “recount” the story?
In English, we say “I told her a story”, but in Italian, they would say, “I recounted the story to her”.
So, in Italian, that would be “Le ho raccontato una storia”.
The verb “raccontare” is typically used with any situation where something has to be told in a narrative format, like “raccontare notizie” – to tell the news.
Verb #4: Don’t use “spendere”, use “passare”
— Did you “spend” time or did you “pass” time?
In English, we say “I spent this summer in Italy”, but in Italian, they would say “I passed this summer in Italy”.
In Italian, that would be “Ho passato quest’estate in Italia”.
Have any other commonly confused verbs to add to the list? Add them in the comments below!