Italian word of the day: ‘Tanto’

Italian word of the day: 'Tanto'
There are lots of ways to say 'lots of' in Italian and this is one of many words you'll need to master.

dIf you want to say there are ‘loads of, ‘lots of’, ‘many’ or ‘much’ of something in Italian, you can use tanto as an adjective.

Luckily, you don’t need loads of advanced grammar knowledge to use it. It's pretty straightforward. As long as you know the form of the adjective tanto/a/i/e changes depending on the noun.

non abbiamo tanto tempo(masculine singular)

We don’t have much time

c’è tanta neve sulle montagne(feminine singular)

There’s a lot of snow on the mountains

ho speso tanti soldi(masculine plural)

I spent a lot of money

ci sono tante mele sull’albero(feminine plural)

There are a lot of apples on the tree

Ok, so, I hear you ask: what’s the difference between tanto and that other common quantifier, molto? Sometimes, nothing. These two words can often be used interchangeably to express the fact that there’s a lot of something.

But other times, tanto has a more emphatic feeling to it than molto, as you can see from the following example:

Maria ha molti gatti as opposed to Maria ha tanti gatti

 Maria has a lot of cats as opposed to Maria has loads of cats

So there are some situations when you might want to use tanto instead of molto, such as when telling someone off: 

Ti ho detto tante volte di non toccare le forbici!

I told you loads of times not to touch the scissors!

Tanto as an adverb

Tanto (like molto) is also used as an adverb. In this case it means ‘very’, ‘very much’, or ‘a lot’. 

When used as an adverb, the ending stays in the masculine singular form.

questa torta è tanto buona

This cake is very good

grazie, siete stati tanto gentili

Thank you, you were very kind

oggi ho lavorato tanto

Today I worked a lot

The superlative

And if you really want to stress your point a lot, you’ll be pleased to know that you can add the suffix -issimo/-issima/-issimi/-issime to tanto.

You can use it as an adjective:

c’era tantissima gente alla festa 

there were loads of people at the party

Or as an adverb with a verb:

oggi ho lavorato tantissimo 

today I worked really hard

But as an adverb with an adjective it sadly doesn’t work.

For example, don’t say questa torta è tantissima buona.

Instead, here you’d use another word that commonly gets confused with tanto, troppo; meaning ‘too much, too many’, but often used to stress that something is ‘really’ or ‘so’ good/bad/etc.

This one is used as an adverb, therefore it doesn’t change endings.

questa torta è troppo buona

this cake is really good!

Who knew there were so many ways to say 'many'?