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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Italian expression of the day: Ce l’ha con te

Sometimes people just have it in for you.

Italian expression of the day ce l'ha con te
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

If you ask an Italian why your mutual friend has stopped responding to your texts, you might receive the response ‘è arrabbiata con te’ (she’s angry with you).

If you’re having a spoken conversation, however, you’re more likely to hear ‘ce l’ha con te’: a more colloquial way of saying ‘s/he’s mad at you’.

The phrase comes from the pronominal verb (a verb with pronouns added on) avercela, formed of avere (to have) and the pronoun combination ce la
 
Verbs like this aren’t uncommon in Italian: we’ve seen them before with farcela, which is the base form of the phrase ce la faccio (I can manage).
 
There’s no direct English translation for each individual component of avercela, so it’s best to avoid thinking too hard about exactly what the ce la stands for.
 
If you want an English equivalent for avere when talking about being angry with someone, though, you can see that in phrases like ‘to have had it with someone’, or ‘to have it in for someone’.
 
Tua madre ce l’avrà con me se non torniamo prima del coprifuoco.
You’re mum’s going to have it in for me if we don’t get back before curfew.
 
Sara non mi ha invitata alla sua festa, non so proprio perché ce l’ha con me.
Sara didn’t invite me to her party, I have no idea why she doesn’t like me.
 
Youre Pissed Off With Me Connell GIF - Youre Pissed Off With Me Connell Normal People GIFs
 
When conjugating avercela, the important thing to remember is that the ce la stays the same regardless of the whether the sentence subject is io/tu/lui/lei/noi/loro.
 
The only change you’ll see is that in almost every context the la is elided into an l’ as it’s followed by whichever form of avere is being used.
 
It’s also important to note that in the perfect tense, the past particle needs to agree with the feminine la, so avere becomes avuta (not avuto).

Gabriella ce l’ha avuta con me da quando sono tornato.
Gabriella’s had it out for me since I’ve been back.

Ce l’hanno avuta con Laura dal primo momento.
They took against Laura from the very start.

Avercela is similar to, but subtly different from, prendersela (another pronominal verb).
 
While avercela con qualcuno means you’re harbouring resentment towards someone, prendersela (coming from the verb prendere, to take) con qualcuno means you’ve ‘taken offense’ at or ‘taken umbrage’ at someone for something they’ve just done.
 
It’s more of an immediate reaction to a specific occurrence, as opposed to a more deep-rooted dislike or grudge.
 
Perché te la prendi con me, non sono stata io a perdere le chiavi!
What are you yelling at me for, I wasn’t the one who lost the keys!
 
Se la prenderà con Alessandra se riporti la sua macchina in cattive condizioni.
She’ll blame Alessandra if you return her car in a bad condition.
 
Dont Blame Me Christy Plunkett GIF - Dont Blame Me Christy Plunkett Anna Faris GIFs
 
Here, the se is a reflexive pronoun, so the se la *does* change to me la/te la/se la/ce la/se la depending on whether the subject is io/tu/lui/lei/noi/loro
 
When using the phrase in the perfect tense, prendersela takes essere as its auxiliary verb; and again, the past participle needs to agree with the feminine la, so is presa rather than preso.
 
Scusa se me la sono presa con te prima.
Sorry I snapped at you earlier.
 
Hai fallito l’esame e te la sei presa con lei.
You failed the exam and you took it out on her.
 
The next time you want to sound off about that in-law who just doesn’t seem to like you or that friend who lost the book you lent them, you’ll know just how to do it.
 
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 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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