For members


Italian word of the day: ‘Abbastanza’

Do you understand this word well enough?

Abbastanza is a word you'll hear a lot in Italian conversation.
In its simplest form, it means ‘enough’ or ‘sufficiently’

– Ho mangiato abbastanza

– I've had enough to eat

It can also be used as a quantifer, meaning quite, rather, fairly or somewhat, and making it a synonym of piuttosto or alquanto.

– È abbastanza antipatico.

– He's pretty annoying.

– Sto abbastanza bene.

– I’m quite well.

Just be careful not to get abbastanza mixed up with a similar word: basta, which also means ‘enough’ but is used differently – usually by frustrated parents.

– Basta, non ce la faccio più

– Enough, I can’t stand it anymore

But the most common ways you’ll hear Italians using abbastanza don’t translate into English as easily.

It’s used when you want to be ambiguous or aren’t feeling very enthusiastic.

– La torta è buona?

– Si, abbastanza

– Is the cake good?

– Yes, not bad

– come va a scuola?

– abbastanza bene

– how's school?

– not bad

Abbastanza can also be a form of understatement

– Questa casa è abbastanza grande

– This house is big enough (meaning that the house is absolutely enormous.)

– Ci vuole pazienza per imparare l’italiano? 

– Si, abbastanza.

– Do we need to be patient to learn Italian?

– Yes, enough.

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For members


Italian expression of the day: ‘Conosco i miei polli’

We know what we're dealing with with this Italian phrase.

Italian expression of the day: 'Conosco i miei polli'

You don’t have to be a poultry farmer to go around telling people ‘conosco i miei polli’ – literally, ‘I know my chickens’ – in Italian.

There’s no perfect translation, but it means something along the lines of ‘I know who I’m dealing with/ what they can get up to/ what they’re like’; I know what to expect from them, for better or worse.

It usually implies slightly mischievously that the people or person being discussed could be troublemakers, and that the speaker has the necessary knowledge to deal with them effectively.

You might think of it as ‘I know what those little devils/rascals are like’ if referring to naughty children, or ‘I know how those jokers/b******s operate’ if discussing petty officials or difficult colleagues.

Saranno tornati entro la mattinata; fidati, conosco i miei polli.
They’ll be back by morning; trust me, I know what I’m talking about.

Conosco i miei polli; vedrete che arriveranno alla riunione con mezz’ora di ritardo e daranno la colpa al traffico.
I know them: you’ll see, they’ll get to the meeting half an hour late and blame it on the traffic.

Business Guy Nbc GIF by Sunnyside

According to at least one source, the full original phrase is ‘conosco i miei polli alla calzetta‘, or ‘I know my chickens by their stockings’.

It refers back to a time when chickens roamed the streets or shared courtyards freely.

So they didn’t get mixed up, each bird had a little scrap of coloured cloth tied around their foot that allowed each owner to quickly spot their chicken.

The next time you’re dealing with some tricky characters, you’ll know just what to say.

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