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Italian expression of the day: 'Senz'altro'

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Italian expression of the day: 'Senz'altro'
Photo: DepositPhotos
16:16 CEST+02:00
This is certainly a handy phrase to know.

Pop quiz: if you ask your waiter for a glass of water and he replies "Senz'altro!", what can you expect?

A: Sweet nothing.
B: Your water.
C: An empty glass.

The correct answer, at least in any establishment worth its salt, is B. While senz'altro might look like 'without anything else', it's actually an expression of assent or confirmation – like 'certainly' or 'by all means'.

– Posso prendere in prestito questo libro?
– Sì, senz’altro!

– May I borrow this book?
– Sure, by all means!

The implied meaning is somewhat similar to another phrase that sometimes trips up Italian learners: ci mancherebbe altro (''something would be lacking otherwise'), which you can use to suggest that something goes without saying.

Like that expression, senz'altro implies that a certain conclusion is inevitable: it's like saying 'of course' or 'no doubt'. 

Hanno senz’altro dimenticato l’appuntamento.
No doubt they forgot the appointment.

More broadly, it emphasizes your conviction in what you're stating, the way English speakers might say 'definitely' or 'for sure'.

Riconosco lei senz'altro.
I definitely recognize her.

lo farò senz'altro domani.
I'll do it tomorrow for sure.

And when used in response to a question, as we've seen, senz'altro is like giving a very strong 'yes'.

– Vieni con noi stasera?
– Sì, senz’altro! 

– Are you coming with us tonight?
– Absolutely!

– Mi scriverai?
– Senz'altro!

– Will you write to me?
– Of course!

Do you have a favourite Italian word you'd like us to feature? If so, please email our editor Jessica Phelan with your suggestion.

 
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