Italian word of the day: ‘Faticare’

Italian word of the day: 'Faticare'
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This verb needn't be a struggle.

Learning Italian can feel like a Sisyphean task: for every new word you memorize, you find yourself forgetting two conjugations in the imperfect subjunctive. Or is that just me?

Italian has a word to describe wrestling with such labours: faticare, ‘to struggle’. 

Fatico a capire quel che dici.
I’m struggling to understand what you’re saying.

As you can see above, you specify whatever you’re struggling to do with the construction faticare a or per followed by the infinitive.

You can also use the noun form, una fatica, to say that something is ‘an effort’, ‘a struggle’ or ‘a hassle’.

Ci vuole tempo e fatica.
It takes time and effort.

Che fatica!
What a struggle!

But happily, the clue to overcoming your difficulties lies in the word itself. There’s a second sense to faticare: ‘to work hard’.

The word comes from the same Latin root that gave English the term ‘fatigue’, and the idea is that you’re working so hard you wear yourself out.

It might be that you’re doing a particularly laborious task…

Ho dovuto faticare molto per spostare il mobile.
I had to work really hard to move the furniture.

… or that you’re putting your all into it.

Ha faticato molto per laurearsi.
She worked really hard to graduate.

The two senses are grammatically indistinguishable, it’s just a question of tone.

But hopefully if you faticare (‘work hard’) enough, you won’t have to faticare (‘struggle’) to use them! 

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

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