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ITALIAN WORD OF THE DAY

Italian word of the day: ‘Primavera’

Spring has sprung here in Italy and we've got a few phrases to help you talk about it.

Italian word of the day: 'Primavera'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Some people are surprised by just how cold winter can get in Italy, so it’s always a relief when the spring sunshine arrives.

And today’s word, primavera, means spring  – as well as being the name of Botticelli’s famous Renaissance painting.

Click below to hear primavera pronounced:

It comes from the Latin primus (‘first’) and ver (‘spring’), which means the word originally meant something like ‘in the early springtime’.

Here are a few examples of how you can use this noun in a sentence.

La primavera è la mia stagione preferita.
Spring is my favourite season.

È stato il primo giorno di primavera.
It was the first day of spring.

La primavera è finalmente arrivata.
Spring has finally arrived

Le mie allergie si infiamma ogni primavera.
My allergies flare up every spring.

You might see the word used in other contexts to mean the ‘beginning’ of something.

la primavera di una civiltà
the beginning of a civilization

Una primavera is also the word for ‘a primrose’, the pretty yellow or pink flower you’ll see appear at this time of year.

The flower also happens to be the symbol of Italy’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign, and new beginnings post-pandemic – making primavera a more timely word than ever.

Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

See our complete Word of the Day archive here.

Do you have a favourite Italian word you’d like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.

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ITALIAN WORD OF THE DAY

Italian word of the day: ‘Così’

This Italian word is so useful to know.

Italian word of the day: 'Così'

The Italian language features plenty of very versatile little words, like allora, ecco, quindi, insomma, cioè, and così, which have a multitude of uses and come in handy in all sorts of situations.

Helpfully, as Italian native speakers will demonstrate during almost any phone call, these words can also be used as fillers at times when you’re not sure what to say – but are still talking anyhow:

Ecco, così è, così siamo messi, così è andata

There you go, that’s the way it is, that’s where we are, that’s how it went

Today’s word might just be the most versatile of them all.

Così is a word that you’ll hear used all the time in spoken Italian, in all sorts of different ways. Here are a couple that you’ve probably heard or used yourself:

È così – That’s how it is (literally ‘it is so’)

Basta cosi? – Is that all?

Per così dire – so to speak/as it were

Non si fa così – don’t do that/that’s not cool (literally ‘it’s not done like that’)

As you can probably tell, così in its most common usages translates roughly into English as so, thus, such, that, or like this.

You pronounce it ‘koh-zee’ – click here to hear some examples.

Much like the English ‘that’, così can also be used to add emphasis, as in così tanto (‘so much’) or così poco (so little), or to modify an adjective:

Non è così comune

It’s not that common

It’s used to mean ‘so’ as in ‘therefore’:

C’era sciopero dei treni, così non siamo potuti partire.

There was a train strike, so we couldn’t leave.

You could even use it like this to stress how strongly you feel:

Siamo così così dispiaciuti per ieri sera.

We’re so, so sorry for last night

But normally, when you see it doubled up, it has a different meaning.

Così così is the equivalent of ‘so-so’ in English, which means ‘not good, not bad’ – but is the sort of phrase you might euphemistically use to indicate that you’re not feeling well, or didn’t like something very much.

Com’era il film? 

Così così… ho visto di meglio.

How was the film? 

So-so, I’ve seen better.

(Here, you could also use the word insomma instead of così così)

Le case sono mantenuti solo così così.

The houses aren’t very well maintained.

These are just a few of the many possible uses of così, but we’re sure you can see why this is a word every Italian learner should be familiar with. 

È così utile sapere! (It’s so useful to know)

Do you have an Italian word you’d like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.

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