I love how chatty my Italian neighbours are.
But you know when someone starts telling you a long story about something that happened to them, and you don’t really have anything to add?
That gets super awkward in a foreign language.
As a beginner you can find yourself just grinning and nodding like a maniac, only ensuring that the neighbour is too disturbed to ever attempt conversation with you again.
And even when you can understand what they’re saying – or at least most of it – you might not be able to think of a response quickly enough. Or maybe you just have nothing to add.
Instead of awkward silence, or manic smiling, here’s a useful word that shows the chatty neighbour you’re listening and keeps the ‘conversation’ going: Immagino
While you can translate it as “I imagine,” it’s used to mean something like “I can imagine!” or “I bet!” and expresses sympathy with whatever the speaker is complaining about.
Non posso credere che abbiano chiuso la strada. Che traffico!
I can’t believe they’ve closed the road. The traffic was terrible!
È così difficile gestire due aziende e essere una mamma con tre figli. Sono esausta!
It’s so difficult managing two businesses while being a mother to three kids. I’m exhausted!
Of course, you can use “immagino” to simply mean “I imagine” too.
Hai fatto un viaggio molto lungo! Immagino che tu stia stanco
You’ve had a long trip! I imagine that you’re tired.
Either way, it’s a useful little word that can’t fail to help you make a few new friends in Italy.
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.