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Italian expression of the day: ‘Di solito’

Italian expression of the day: 'Di solito'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Here's a phrase Italian language beginners usually overlook.

When we want to say “usually” in Italian, it is of course easiest to reach for the adverb usualmente – which helpfully sounds very similar. 

We have an easy time recognising the meaning of Italian (regular) adverbs, which simply have the Italian -mente suffix tacked on instead of the English -ly.

While there are plenty of Italian false friends to beware of, usualmente is one that means what it seems to.

But it’s a shame to keep using that one word when Italian has at least a dozen others, including normalmente, comunemente, ordinariamente, tradizionalmente, and abitualmente.

And one slightly different phrase you’ll hear used often in spoken Italian is di solito (pronounced ‘di-SOL-i-toh’).

It too is an adverb, and it means the same thing as usualmente: usually, or ordinarily.

Di solito rientro a casa verso le sei.
– I usually get home at about six o’clock
 
– Il parco, di solito, è pieno di famiglie.
– The park is usually full of families.
 
 
You can use the similar adverb solitamente in much the same way. 
 
– Le immagine solitamente sono di bassa qualità
– The photos are usually of poor quality
 
– Non bevo molto vino solitamente.
– I don’t usually drink much wine
 
Both come from the word solito, meaning “usual”:
 
– vediamoci domani alla solita ora
– See you tomorrow at the usual time 
 
Solito comes from the Latin verb soleo, meaning “to have the habit of “. But unlike with the other (also Latin-derived) synonyms above, this one hasn’t made the journey across into English.
 
 
It’s also how you’ll ask for your “usual” at the coffee bar once you’ve become a regular.
 
– il solito per favore
– the usual please
 
 
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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