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Italian expression of the day: 'A posto'

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Italian expression of the day: 'A posto'
Photo: DepositPhotos
14:01 CET+01:00
Memorize this phrase and you'll be all good.

A posto is something we'd all like to be: it means 'alright', 'sorted', 'settled'.

The phrase translates directly as 'in place'. Think of it as describing a situation where everything is exactly where it's meant to be: now isn't that a nice image?

Se lo troviamo, siamo a posto.
If we find it, we're sorted.

It's not always figurative: a posto can also mean literally in the right place, i.e. 'neat' or 'in order'.

Metti a posto la tua camera!
Tidy your room! (literally, get your room in order)

But all sorts of other things can be 'in order' too – like the way you think, the way you speak, even your hands.

Sai tenere la lingua a posto?
Can you hold your tongue? (literally, keep your tongue in place)

Non ha la testa tanto a posto.
He's not right in the head. (his head's not in place)

Tieni le mani a posto!
Keep your hands to yourself! (keep your hands in place)

Even a person can be 'in order', if they're honest or decent.

Sembra veramente un tipo a posto.
He seems like a real stand-up guy.

È gente a posto.
They're good people.

But the best way to be a posto, as far as we're concerned, is when everything's alright: tutto a posto.

– Ti serve qualcosa?
– Non grazie, tutto a posto!

– Do you need anything?
– No thanks, it's all good!

– Tutto a posto?
– Perfetto, grazie.

– Everything alright?
– Great, thanks.

You might hear Italians pronounce this last one more like "tutto posto" or "tutt'a posto": that's fine in casual speech, but if you're writing be sure to spell out all three words.

Nor is tutto a posto to be confused with tutto apposto, which is such a common mistake among Italians that the dictionary has a clarification on it: while the first, as you now know, means 'everything in place', the second translates as 'everything placed' or 'everything affixed'. And that's definitely not alright. 

Let this misspelled GIF be a warning to you, and keep that pesky 'a' in its place.

Do you have a favourite Italian word, phrase or expression you'd like us to feature? If so, please email our editor Jessica Phelan with your suggestion.

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