One word you'll hear inserted into Italian conversation often is subito.
Although I'd never heard this little word before I arrived in Italy, it seemed pretty obvious that it meant “soon” or “now”.
– torno subito
– I'll be back soon
– Vieni subito qui!
– Come here right now!
– Lo faccio subito
– I'll do it straight away
– Ha accettato subito
– He accepted immediately
I hear it most often in cafes:
– lo porterò subito
– I'll bring it right away
But as soon as I started dropping subito into my own Italian sentences I realised that, of course, using it wasn't always so simple.
Subito comes from the Latin adjective subitus, meaning sudden or unexpected. As it has evolved into modern Italian, the word has gained a few shades of meaning depending on context.
For example, it could be used like this:
– Parto subito prima di mezzanote
– I leave just before midnight
We might be used to translating the word “quickly” as velocemente or presto. But there are some examples in which it can translate as subito
– una pittura che asciuga subito
– a paint which dries quickly
– è subito fatto
– It's quickly done.
While it might take longer than we'd all like to become fluent in Italian, using this word properly will make you sound more proficient – subito!
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