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Italian word of the day: ‘Quindi’

Italians pepper their conversations with this common conjunction. So what does it actually mean?

Italian word of the day: 'Quindi'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Listen to Italians talking for more than a minute and you’re sure to come across quindi.

Don’t be fooled: it has nothing to do with the number 15 (quindici) and everything to do with helping your speech flow.

This little word has two main meanings. The first is ‘so’, or more formally, ‘therefore’.

Sta per piovere, quindi portati un ombrello.
It’s about to rain, so take an umbrella.

Si tratta quindi di una questione della massima importanza.
It is therefore a matter of the greatest importance.

Penso, quindi sono.
I think, therefore I am.

You might hear people ask: “E quindi?” – ‘So what?’ or ‘What’s your point?’, usually said a touch sarcastically.

Its second main meaning is ‘then’, ‘next’ or ‘afterwards’.

Ho cenato, quindi sono uscita.
I had dinner, then I went out.

Aggiungete l’acqua alla farina e quindi iniziate ad impastare.
Add the water to the flour and then start kneading.

Continuare diritto, quindi girare a destra.
Keep going straight, then turn right.

More than anything, when you’re speaking informally quindi is a really useful word to help you follow on naturally from one phrase to the next – very close to the way we use ‘so’ in English.

Don’t be afraid to use it at the start of a sentence…

Quindi, ricapitolando…
So, to recap…

Quindi alla fine, si è risolto tutto.
So ultimately, it all worked out.

… and you can even trail off with it to leave something implied but unsaid.

Grazie per l’invito ma sono piuttosto stanca, quindi…
Thanks for the invitation but I’m kind of tired, so… [no].

Do you have an Italian word you’d like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.

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Italian expression of the day: ‘Conosco i miei polli’

We know what we're dealing with with this Italian phrase.

Italian expression of the day: 'Conosco i miei polli'

You don’t have to be a poultry farmer to go around telling people ‘conosco i miei polli’ – literally, ‘I know my chickens’ – in Italian.

There’s no perfect translation, but it means something along the lines of ‘I know who I’m dealing with/ what they can get up to/ what they’re like’; I know what to expect from them, for better or worse.

It usually implies slightly mischievously that the people or person being discussed could be troublemakers, and that the speaker has the necessary knowledge to deal with them effectively.

You might think of it as ‘I know what those little devils/rascals are like’ if referring to naughty children, or ‘I know how those jokers/b******s operate’ if discussing petty officials or difficult colleagues.

Saranno tornati entro la mattinata; fidati, conosco i miei polli.
They’ll be back by morning; trust me, I know what I’m talking about.

Conosco i miei polli; vedrete che arriveranno alla riunione con mezz’ora di ritardo e daranno la colpa al traffico.
I know them: you’ll see, they’ll get to the meeting half an hour late and blame it on the traffic.

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According to at least one source, the full original phrase is ‘conosco i miei polli alla calzetta‘, or ‘I know my chickens by their stockings’.

It refers back to a time when chickens roamed the streets or shared courtyards freely.

So they didn’t get mixed up, each bird had a little scrap of coloured cloth tied around their foot that allowed each owner to quickly spot their chicken.

The next time you’re dealing with some tricky characters, you’ll know just what to say.

Do you have an Italian word you’d like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.