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Italian word of the day: 'Ecco'

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Italian word of the day: 'Ecco'
14:18 CET+01:00
Here we have a very versatile word that you'll hear all the time.

Ecco is another of those Italian words that don't quite translate into English.

I think of it as roughly meaning “here” or “there”. In English we pepper our speech with little phrases like “here we go” “here you are” and “there you have it”, and Italians do the same.

- Eccoci, finalmente siamo arrivati

- Here we are, we've finally arrived!

But of course, it's not really that simple. Even in Italian, ecco is in a category all of its own. Literally.

Avverbi presentativi, or presentation adverbs, are used to present, indicate, show, or announce something. The one and only adverb of this type still used in modern-day Italian is ecco.

You can find it used alone, but often  it's attached to a pronoun: mi, ti, ci, vi, lo, la, li, le, ne

You can use these ecco phrases to announce the arrival or appearance of someone or something:

- ecco il treno

- here's the train

- Eccovi qui, cari amici!

- here you are, dear friends!

It has more subtle meanings too. For example, this dictionary says it can “lend a nuance of irony to a situation.”

But most often I hear it used as an exclamation, to express satisfaction or surprise.

In that case, it translates to something like “look at that” or maybe even “behold!”

- Ecco! Ho dimenticato di nuovo le chiavi!

- Look at that. I forgot the keys again!

A bit like quindi or allora, it can also be used when you're not sure what else to say.

- Ecco...allora

- Look... well then

An ecco can also be deployed halfway through a sentence when you want to correct or change what you were saying.

- mi è sembrato... ecco… ho saputo che...

- I felt… no... I knew that...

You can use it to start or end a discussion or explanation

- Ecco, le cose sono andate così

- Here, things went like this

- ecco tutto

- that's all

And ecco fatto (that’s it) means something is finished.

- Ecco fatto l'articolo!

- That's the article finished!


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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