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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Italian word of the day: ‘Già’

If you think you already know this word, you might be surprised.

Italian word of the day già
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

On the face of it, già looks so simple it seems like it shouldn’t need its own explainer.

It directly translates as ‘already’ and can be used in almost any context where we might use the adverb in English.

Ho già visto questo film.
I’ve already seen this film.

Sei già tornata!
You’re already back!

Non vi siete già conosciuti?
Haven’t you already met?

Maccio Capatonda Mariottide Giammangiato Maidire GIF - Just Ate Italian Comedian GIFs

But già also has its own slightly different uses, for which ‘already’ doesn’t quite work as a translation.

There’s the phrase già che ci (siamo/sei/siete/sono)…, which mostly cleanly translates as ‘while (we’re/you’re/I’m) at it…’.

If you want to understand why già is used, you could think of it as meaning ‘since (we’re/you’re/I’m) already here…’

Già che ci sei, potresti lavare i piatti.
While you’re here, you could do the washing up.

Già che ci sono, fammi scattare una foto.
While I’m here, let me take a photo.

Già che ci siamo, ti faccio vedere le me nuove scarpe.
While we’re here, I’ll show you my new shoes.

Next, if you spend any length of time in Italy you’ll often hear già used by itself in informal conversation as a sort of filler response.

In this context it’s effectively short for e già lo sapevo (I already knew that), and signals agreement with what the speaker’s saying.

You could use it as a stand in for ‘yes, that’s exactly right’ in certain situations where someone’s asked a question and expects you to reply in the affirmative.

La pasta era particolarmente buona oggi, non trovi?
Già, concordo pienamente.
The pasta was especially good today, don’t you think?
Yes, I totally agree.

It can also be used to express agreement with an opinion expressed by the speaker, or to say ‘yes, I know’ when someone’s sharing information with you.

In this case già might be sincere and possibly sympathetic, but it can also be a bit sarcastic if your interlocutor’s saying something obvious.

Questa torta è buonissima, ma mi sembra molto difficile preparare!
Già, lo è!
This cake is delicious, but it looks really hard to make!
You’re right, it is!

Hai sentito della morte della mamma di Roberto, è davvero triste.
Già, è stata molto dura per tutti noi.
Did you hear about Roberto’s mum’s death, it’s really sad.
Yes, it’s been very hard on all of us.

Niente cambierà con questo nuovo governo.
Eh, già…
Nothing will change under this new government.
Obviously…

Vasco Rossi Eh Già Hai Ragione Cantante GIF - Vasco Rossi Yeah You Are Right GIFs

Now you know some of the alternative ways to use this popular word, you can go around sounding like a native.

Già!

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

Member comments

  1. Thank you for explaining. I speak spanish, so it resonates with me, but I could tell from listening to my wife that Italians’ use vary. You cleared it up!

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ITALIAN WORD OF THE DAY

Italian word of the day: ‘Delusione’

We hope this word doesn't disappoint.

Italian word of the day: 'Delusione'

Experiencing a delusione (deh-loo-zee-OH-neh) in Italian may not be pleasant, but it doesn’t mean you need escorting to the psychiatrist’s chair.

That’s because while delusione may look and sound like its English cousin ‘delusion’, the word actually means something quite different: disappointment.

Disappointment Disappointed GIF - Disappointment Disappointed Food Review GIFs

The two nouns actually have the same root in the Latin dēlūsiō, meaning a deceiving or deluding, and delūdō, meaning to deceive, dupe, or mock.

But while the English ‘delusion’ has hewn close to the original Latin meaning over the centuries, delusione at some point branched off to its current, quite different, definition.

There’s not much in the way of information about exactly when and how that happened, but it’s clearly a short associative hop from feeling ‘deceived’ or ‘duped’ by things turning out differently to what you’d expected to feeling ‘disappointed’.

Che delusione.
How disappointing.

La festa era, purtroppo, una grande delusione.
The party unfortunately was a big disappointment.

Mike Ehrmantraut Breaking Bad Che Delusione No Che Vergogna GIF - Disappointment Disappointed Oh No GIFs

The adjective for ‘disappointed’ is deluso for a single masculine subject, changing to delusa/delusi/deluse if the subject being described is feminine singular/masculine plural/feminine plural.

Era delusa da come era venuta la torta.
She was disappointed with how the cake turned out.

Devo dire che siamo davvero delusi dal fatto che siamo stati trattati in questo modo.
I have to say that we’re very disappointed to have been treated this way.

A word you’ll often see used in combination with deluso/a/i/e is rimanere (ree-man-EH-reh): rimanere deluso.

You might correctly recognise rimanere as meaning ‘to remain’, and wonder why we’d use that word here – but rimanere also has an alternative meaning along the lines of ‘to become’, ‘to get’, or simply ‘to be’.

For example, you can rimanere incinta (get pregnant), or rimanere ferito (get hurt or wounded, for example in a car accident).

It’s also very often used with emotions, usually those experienced in the moment rather than long-term ones: you can rimanere sorpreso (be surprised), rimanere triste (be sad), rimanere scioccato (be shocked)… and rimanere deluso (be disappointed).

Sono rimasto molto deluso quando mi ha detto di aver abbandonato la scuola.
I was very disappointed when she told me she had dropped out of school.

Siamo rimasti delusi dalle condizioni della stanza d’albergo al nostro arrivo.
We were disappointed by the condition of the hotel room when we arrived.

With that, we wish you a weekend free of delusioni (disappointments)!

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

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