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ITALIAN WORD OF THE DAY

Italian expression of the day: ‘Mi va’

Don't you fancy getting to grips with this casual phrase?

Italian expression of the day: 'Mi va'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

If you’ve studied some Italian, you’re probably already familiar with the verb volere, to want:

-voglio/vorrei un caffe

-I want/I would like a coffee

But there’s more than one way to tell people what you want (or don’t want) in Italian, and one construction you’ll hear used in informal situations is mi va.

The literal translation is “it goes to me”, but what it really means is “I feel like” or “I fancy”.

You’d normally use it to talk about a desire that strikes you, rather than for carefully thought-out plans.

– Mi va di mangiare una pizza

– I feel like eating a pizza

Or, if you change the pronoun, you can use it to suggest things others might like:

– Ti va di prendere un caffè? 

– Do you fancy getting a coffee?

When used like that, it’s a more informal version of ti andrebbe.

It’s probably more common however to hear people use the negative form of mi va. For example:

– Non mi va di cucinare stasera

– I don’t feel like cooking this evening

– Non so se mi va di uscire

– I don’t know if I fancy going out

You can also use it as a casual way of saying you don’t want something. For example, to get rid of a pushy street vendor, a simple “allora, non mi va” would work.

You might also hear mi va used in phrases like:

– Posso fare quello che mi va

– I can do what I want

Try not to get it mixed up with mi sa, which means “it seems to me”, or ma va’, which means “No way!” or “Yeah right!”.

Mi va means much the same as ho voglia di (literally: “I have want of”, meaning “I feel like”.)

– Ho voglia di andare al centro stasera

– I feel like going into the centre this evening

So next time you need to tell someone what you want, you can use whichever phrase you like.

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

Member comments

  1. Don you think this phrase is common across Italy? I’d be wary of using it say in Puglia if it’s a Northern expression!

  2. how about the word “pantofalaio”?

    Think it’s english meaning is “a homebody” derived from the Italian word for slippers.

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For members

ITALIAN WORD OF THE DAY

Italian word of the day: ‘Inciucio’

Here's a word you'll need to deal with ahead of Italy's elections.

Italian word of the day: 'Inciucio'

With two days to go until Sunday’s general election, there’s talk of a potential ’inciucio’ everywhere from the pages of newspapers to the heated conversations at sports bars up and down the country.

So what is an ‘inciucio’ and why does the word seem to be on everyone’s lips whenever Italy faces elections?

Briefly, ‘inciucio’ is political jargon that describes any type of dubious agreement or, if you will, compromise reached by two or more political parties generally holding opposite views and ideals.

There’s no direct translation into English, though a native speaker would probably refer to it as something of a dodgy backroom deal.

Non c’è una maggioranza chiara. 

Eh, figurati. Faranno il solito inciucio.

There isn’t a clear-cut majority.

Oh, that’s not new. They’ll go for the usual deal.

Such an agreement is usually necessary when forming a large coalition government, with terms largely assumed to be based on the “you scratch my back, I scratch yours” principle. 

READ ALSO: Salvini vs Meloni: Can Italy’s far-right rivals put differences aside?

With that definition in mind, it’s hard not to see why ‘inciucio’ is such a commonly-used word in Italy, a country whose political class has historically been partial to improbable alliances with their previously hated rivals. 

Cosa pensi delle prossime elezioni?

Preferisco non pensare. Ne ho avuto abbastanza di questi inciuci. 

What do you think of the next elections?

I’d rather not think. I’ve had enough of these political deals.

Purtroppo, con questa legge elettorale, l’inciucio tra partiti è l’unica via per avere un governo…

Fammi un piacere. Gli inciuci esistevano anche 60 anni fa, molto prima di questa legge elettorale.

Sadly, with the current electoral system, a compromise between different parties is the only way to form a new government.

Do me a favour. These types of agreements existed 60 years ago, well before the present electoral system.

While the noble art of the inciucio goes back a long way in the history of republican Italy, the term itself was only coined in 1995 by Massimo D’Alema, then secretary of the left-wing Democratic Party (PD). 

The expression only rose to popularity a couple of years later, when the founder of the term thought it fit to put the word to good use and reached a ‘non-aggression pact’ with the then-leaders of Italy’s right-wing coalition – the agreement went down in history as the patto della crostata or ‘pie pact’ – but we’ll keep that story for another time.

Ever since then, the term ‘inciucio’ has been regularly used by political commentators as well as the wider public to discuss the various power plays of the country’s major political forces.

For instance, the most classic of inciuci was at the foundation of Giuseppe Conte’s first cabinet back in 2018, when Matteo Salvini’s League and Luigi Di Maio’s Five-Star Movement unexpectedly found sufficient common ground to form a coalition government.

So, will we see another inciucio this time around?

Given the unpredictable nature of Italian politics, you’ll forgive us for not ruling out the possibility of another inciucio just yet.

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