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Italian word of the day: 'Problema'

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Italian word of the day: 'Problema'
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14:59 CEST+02:00
Have you had any problems using this word in Italian?

One really common mistake beginners make in Italian is thinking that the phrase no problemo works in Italian as well as Spanish.

That might be because lots of people study Spanish before Italian. While this is helpful in many ways, it can also trip you up.

And even if you've never studied a word of Spanish, no problemo sounds plausibly like it could be Italian. I hear English-speaking visitors say it all the time, for example to waiters in restaurants.

But il problema is that it doesn't really work.

Before you accuse me of having my grammar muddled up, let's have a closer look.

Problema is one of a surprisingly long list of Italian nouns that are actually masculine, and take a masculine article (il/un), despite having a feminine-looking form (ending in a)

This can all get very confusing for English speakers, who are having enough problemi (yep, the plural is masculine) already just getting to grips with the whole gender thing.

- Sto avendo dei problemi con questo

- I'm having some problems with this

But the thing to remember is that this rule usually applies to nouns that end in 'ema', because these words usually come from ancient Greek.

Other words that fit this description include un dilemma (a dilemma), un sistema (a system), un poema (a poem), un fantasma (a ghost), and il clima (the climate).

So, how do you really say "no problem" in Italian...?

- Nessun problema

- No problem

Nessun, or nessuno, is a way of saying "none" and can also be used to mean nobody, no-one, anyone or anybody.

And because we can use double negatives in Italian, that means you might end up with:

- Non ho nessun problema con nessuno

- I haven't got a problem with anyone

Similarly, you could also say

- non c'e problema

- it's not a problem/that's fine.

We hope these little lessons are helping to solve your problems with Italian! 

 
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