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Italian expression of the day: 'Lo stesso'

Clare Speak
Clare Speak - [email protected]
Italian expression of the day: 'Lo stesso'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Things just wouldn't be the same without this phrase.

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One of the Italian phrases you'll probably use every day in Italy is lo stesso. It’s one of those extremely useful expressions that you’ll get plenty of wear out of.

Lo stesso means 'the same', and there’s quite a lot you should know about this apparently simple phrase.

Here's the simplest way to use it:

Siamo nati lo stesso giorno.

We were born on the same day.

Non sarebbe lo stesso senza di te.

It wouldn't be the same without you.

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Lo stesso can also be used to mean 'anyway' or 'all the same', the meaning changing slightly depending on context.

Grazie lo stesso.

Thanks anyway.

Lo avremmo trovato lo stesso senza di lui.

We would’ve found it just the same without him.

Per me fa lo stesso.

It’s all the same to me.

Or you could say per me è uguale. Uguale, which usefully sounds a lot like 'equal', is a frequently-used synonym of lo stesso.

Quale preferisci?

È uguale.

Which do you prefer?

It's all the same to me (literally: It's the same).

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You will often hear Italians ask if something va bene lo stesso, literally meaning 'ok all the same'. For example:

Ti va bene lo stesso un caffè istantaneo?

Do you mind if it’s instant coffee?/Is instant coffee ok for you?

While lo stesso if often used on its own, when it refers to a noun you may need to use the feminine or plural forms.

La stessa cosa succede ogni giorno.

The same thing happens every day.

Ha usato esattamente le stesse parole.

She used exactly the same words.

And you might be wondering why the definitive article here is lo instead of il. After all, isn’t lo used for masculine nouns beginning with a Z or Y?

Lo is also used for masculine nouns beginning with s + consonant, like lo stesso (and for quite a few other things too.)

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That little lo is important, and you can’t drop it. You’ll also come across stesso with a reflexive pronoun instead, for example: me stesso, te stesso, se stesso (myself, yourself, itself), etc.

Non posso perdonare me stesso.

I can't forgive myself.

Pensa solo a se stesso.

She only thinks of herself.

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