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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Italian expression of the day: ‘Hai ragione’

Think everyone needs to know this Italian phrase? You've got a point.

Italian expression of the day: 'Hai ragione'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

We've discussed before how very important it is to be able to express your opinions in Italian. Phrases like secondo me are incredibly useful to know.

But once everyone's aired their opinions in true Italian style, what's next?

If you want to agree or disagree, there's a simple way of expressing that.

– (non) sono d'accordo
– I (dis)agree
 
 
But a phrase I find myself using more frequently with Italian friends and family is hai ragione, which roughly translates as “you're right” or “you've got a point.” 

– Hai ragione e ti sosterrò.

– You are right and I will support you
 
Literally, it could translate as “you have reason”, as in “you have good reason to think that way”, and so with this phrase you not only demonstrate that you agree with the opinion but that you think the person airing it is being reasonable, or ragionevole.
 
– Hai assolutamente ragione

– You're completely justified

– E qui ha ragione.

– She has a point there

 

If nothing else, this phrase will help pacify an irate Italian neighbour or agitated father-in-law, and easily ends tiresome arguments about things you really can't muster an opinion on.

And once you start using it, you'll no doubt start hearing it crop up in conversations all the time.

– Vedremo se hai ragione

– Let's see if you're right.

– Penso che ha ragione

– I think she's right

Of course, if you're really going to argue like an Italian, you'll also need this version:

– Ho ragione, vedrai!

– I'm right, you'll see!

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

 

 

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ITALIAN WORD OF THE DAY

Italian expression of the day: ‘Conosco i miei polli’

We know what we're dealing with with this Italian phrase.

Italian expression of the day: 'Conosco i miei polli'

You don’t have to be a poultry farmer to go around telling people ‘conosco i miei polli’ – literally, ‘I know my chickens’ – in Italian.

There’s no perfect translation, but it means something along the lines of ‘I know who I’m dealing with/ what they can get up to/ what they’re like’; I know what to expect from them, for better or worse.

It usually implies slightly mischievously that the people or person being discussed could be troublemakers, and that the speaker has the necessary knowledge to deal with them effectively.

You might think of it as ‘I know what those little devils/rascals are like’ if referring to naughty children, or ‘I know how those jokers/b******s operate’ if discussing petty officials or difficult colleagues.

Saranno tornati entro la mattinata; fidati, conosco i miei polli.
They’ll be back by morning; trust me, I know what I’m talking about.

Conosco i miei polli; vedrete che arriveranno alla riunione con mezz’ora di ritardo e daranno la colpa al traffico.
I know them: you’ll see, they’ll get to the meeting half an hour late and blame it on the traffic.

Business Guy Nbc GIF by Sunnyside

According to at least one source, the full original phrase is ‘conosco i miei polli alla calzetta‘, or ‘I know my chickens by their stockings’.

It refers back to a time when chickens roamed the streets or shared courtyards freely.

So they didn’t get mixed up, each bird had a little scrap of coloured cloth tied around their foot that allowed each owner to quickly spot their chicken.

The next time you’re dealing with some tricky characters, you’ll know just what to say.

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

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