If you're living in Italy while learning to speak Italian, life can sometimes feel like one long language lesson.
While all that speaking practice is obviously very helpful, it's also hard work. And it means that even the most mundane of everyday tasks or conversations can become very confusing.
Most recently, just discussing what to have for dinner with my husband left me feeling puzzled.
Me – Cosa vuoi per cena?
Him – Facciamo un frittata?
– Va bene, farò anche l'insalata
– Un po' di patate pure
– Cosa? Vuoi mettere purè con la frittata?
Oops. Can you see where I went wrong?
Here's the English translation:
– What do you want for dinner?
– What about frittata?
– Ok, I'll make some salad to go with it
– And some potato too.
– What? You want mashed potato with frittata?
He wasn't asking for a strange food combination. He'd said pure – which I mistook for purè.
I'd never heard the word pure before. Was it like oppure, I wondered? But a quick check in the dictionary revealed that it's an adverb meaning 'too, as well, also'.
It's a good alternative to anche, which I had clearly been relying on too much.
– Un po' di patate pure
– Some potato as well
– viene suo fratello e pure sua sorella
– His brother is coming and so is his sister
It can also (pure?) be used in the negative, to mean 'either'.
– pure lei non lo sa fare
– she can't do it either
This explains why Italians who are learning English often say things like “also I don't like it” instead of “I don't like it either.”
Pure can also be used as a conjunction, which changes the meaning to but, and yet, nevertheless, or even though.
– è giovane, pure ha buon senso
– he's young but he's sensible
– pur non volendolo, ho dovuto farlo
– I had to do it even though I didn't want to
You might also hear the phrase faccia pure! which means “please do!” or “go ahead!”
And no, it's not the same thing as oppure, which means or/otherwise.
– possiamo guardare la TV oppure andare al cinema
– we can watch TV or go to the cinema
And a final word of warning about pronunciation: as the accent suggests, the 'e' in purè is more stressed than the 'e' in pure.
In my defence, my husband pronounces both words exactly the same way (or at least, I can't hear the difference!)
Which words have you mixed up or misheard while learning Italian?
Do you have a favourite Italian word you'd like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.