I don’t know what it is about numbers, but for some reason, it takes me 45 months to learn them well, particularly when it comes to using them in bigger contexts, like saying the year, which certainly interrupts conversations that have to do with marking time periods.
Here’s a quick lesson on how to do just that.
How to Say the Year in Italian
— Current year – 2016 – duemilasedici
— Year The Iceberg Project was born – 2012 – duemila dodici
— Year I was born (Gasp! You know my age now!) – 1991 – millenovecento novantuno
— Year the Beatles broke up (sniffle) – 1969 – mille novecento sessantanove
— Year Giuseppe Piazzi discovered the dwarf planet Ceres – 1801 – mille ottocento uno
SECOND, here’s how it works.
It goes without saying that in order to put the year together, you gotta’ know the numbers. So if you don’t, or you just need a quick refresher, here’s an article to happily skim.
Let’s use the year 1919.
The number you’re going to start with will be the biggest.
1000 – mille
Then, you’ll tack on
900 – novecento
Finally, you’ll cover the last two numbers
19 – diciannove
All of that together makes: millenovecento diciannove
A few things to note:
— When you’re talking about years in the 21st century, you use “duemila” and NOT “due mille”, like in duemila quattro (2004).
— If you want to just say ‘84 instead of 1984, you would say “l’ottantaquattro”.
— If you want to say “In 1984”, you would use the articulated preposition “nell’84”, or “durante l’84” before the numbers.
How to Say the Century in Italian
In Italian, there is plenty of conversation fodder that revolves around history, art, and politics — all things that are enriched when you are able to accurately identify, and of course, understand, the century the event took place in.
So how do you say the century in Italian?
Below you’ll find examples of common ones, and they each follow a pattern. You’ll notice that the first form ends in -esimo, making the next one — the 15th century — il secolo quattordicesimo.
— 21st century (XXI) – il ventunesimo secolo; — dal 2001 al 2100
— 20th century (XX) – il secolo ventesimo, il Novecento
— 19th century (XIX) – il secolo diciannovesimo; l’Ottocento
— 18th century (XVIII) – il secolo diciottesimo; il Settecento
— 17th century (XVII) – il secolo diciassettesimo; il Seicento
— 16th century (XVI) – il secolo sedicesimo; il Cinquecento — dal 1501 al 1600
Other important vocabulary:
— d.C. / dopo Cristo – After Christ
— a.C. / avanti Cristo – Before Christ
— il decennio – The decade
— i numeri romani – Roman numerals
— un millennio – A millennium
Here are a few other examples:
— Siamo nel ventunesimo secolo. – We’re in the 21st century.
— Alla fine del XX secolo, tutti erano/furono preoccupati per la fine del mondo. – At the end of the twentieth century, everyone was worried about the end of the world.
— Nella seconda metà dell’Ottocento nacque la Croce Rossa Italiana. – In the second half of the 19th century, the Italian Red Cross was born.
— All’inizio del ‘400 fu scatenata/si scatenò la Guerra dei trent’anni. – The Thirty Year’s war started at the beginning of the 15th century.
If you wanted to talk about something that’s in the style of that century, you add –esco to the end, like below:
Cinquecentesco – 16th century style
— orti cinquecenteschi – 16th century style gardens
Or you could simply say:
— il quadro del cinquecento – the 16th century style painting; That’s the same as saying “Il quadro cinquecentesco”…but easier, which is always nice.
Have questions? Leave a comment below!