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Italian word of the day: 'Meglio'

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Italian word of the day: 'Meglio'
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13:15 CET+01:00
It’s better to be clear about how this important word is used.

One thing I was totally confused by when I first started learning Italian was the comparative.

In fact, who am I kidding – I still get confused by adjectives and adverbs of all types in Italian. But one word in particular kept tripping me up. Meglio.

e’ meglio 

it’s better

You’d use meglio just as you’d use ‘better’ in English. So I started doing just that, and sometimes I was getting it right. But other times... not so much.

Turns out you can also use migliore to mean better - sometimes. But then, migliore sometimes also means ‘the best’… and so do some other words. Yikes.

No wonder I was confused.

What’s the difference?

Let's go back to bene vs buono.

Buono (good) is an adjective, and the comparative form of buono is migliore.

Bene (well) is an adverb, and the comparative form of bene is meglio.

See the different usages in these two food-related examples:

La pizza è buona ma il risotto è migliore

The pizza is good but the risotto is better

Ho mangiato bene, ma hai mangiato meglio

I have eaten well, but you have eaten better

via GIPHY

Comparatives

When you want to compare two things, you can use migliore in cases where the basic form of the adjective would be buono (good)

Questa pizza e migliore di quella

This pizza is better than that one

But you’ll need meglio instead when you want to compare actions, or in any case where the basic form of the adjective would be “bene” (well)

Lucia suona il violino meglio di Laura

Lucia plays the violin better than Laura

In modern Italian you will often hear meglio used instead of the more grammatically correct migliore after the verb e’ (it is)

e’ meglio partire domani

It’s better to leave tomorrow

Superlatives

Migliore is also used as a superlative form of buono.

Questa è la migliore pizza in città

This is the best pizza in town

via GIPHY

Ottimo (the best) is usually listed as the grammatically correct superlative form of buono but in reality it’s usually used to mean something more like ‘great’

Questa è un'ottima pizzeria

This is a great pizzeria

And the superlative form of the adverb bene is benissimo (very well)

But don’t worry if you only manage to remember one or two of these words. It’s meglio di niente (better than nothing)

And meglio obviously comes in most useful when discussing your Italian language-learning progress:

È meglio parlare un po 'di italiano che niente!

It's better to speak a little italian than none at all!

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