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Italian expression of the day: ‘Hai presente?’

This is a useful Italian phrase to learn, you know?

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

When speaking to Italians, you’re likely to hear something mid-conversation for the first time that stops you in your linguistic tracks.

Of course, context can sometimes help you figure out what they must mean, but ‘hai presente?’ might give you reason to pause and wonder if they’re asking whether you’re present.

They’re not checking if you’re still listening per se – rather they’re seeking confirmation that you know what they’re talking about, a lot like you’d add on “you know?” to the end of a statement to include the other person in your thought process.

Voglio solo una macchina che funziona, hai presente?

I just want a car that works, you know?

Mi sento rigenerata, hai presente?

I feel energised, you know?

Other Italian phrases similar to this are hai capito? or hai inteso?


Unlike the above the tag function of the phrase that only requires an encouraging sound or facial expression in response, it can also be a direct question that requires an answer.

In this case, the person is asking you if you remember something or that you’ve understood what or who the person is talking about.

Sono andato in quel nuovo ristorante in città, hai presente?

I went to that new restaurant in town, do you know it?

And it doesn’t always have to go at the end of a phrase, it can head up a question before they elaborate further.

Hai presente che a scuola devi seguire delle regole?

You know how in school there are rules you have to follow?

Hai presente che ti raccontavo del mio capo ieri?

You know I told you about my boss yesterday?

You might notice that hai presente is followed by che in these examples, as the questions ask you if you know or remember how something occurs or that something happened.

But it doesn’t always need the che in its conjunction form, it can also be followed directly by a noun – a place, person or thing. This is used to ask if you know or are familiar with something.

Hai presente quella bella casa vicino alla rotonda?

Do you know that beautiful house near the roundabout?

Francesco, hai presente questi regolamenti edilizi?

Francesco, are you familiar with these building regulations?

The phrase is also used in statements, not just questions, with the same idea of remembering or understanding something.

Since the hai part comes from avere, you conjugate it to ho when you want to use it from your perspective to say you understood something.

Non ho presente il libro di cui parli

I don’t know which book you’re talking about

It can also be put into the past tense using the verb fare to say you pointed something out or that you mentioned something previously.

Ho fatto presente che comunque mi rimettevo alla decisione

I pointed out that I accepted the decision anyway.

L’ho già fatto presente: il costo delle bollette non può continuare ad aumentare

I mentioned this already: the cost of bills cannot keep increasing

Give this phrase a try in your conversation this week. It could be really useful, you know?

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 expression of the day: ‘Fare una filippica’

When your best Italian mate is giving you an earful for being a couple of minutes late, tell him to quit the ‘philippic’.

Italian expression of the day: ‘Fare una filippica’

As far as idioms go, fare una filippica is one of the most popular ones used in Italian television and print media. Presenters and journalists use it every day as a way to give colour and panache to their reports.

But what is a filippica (literally, ‘philippic’ in English) and, above all, what does it mean to make one?

In Italian, the word filippica is generally used to describe a very impassioned invective: a tongue-lashing, if you will, aimed at a political adversary or any other opponent.

So fare una filippica means having a go at someone, and in a rather ferocious and hostile way.

Let’s have a look at some examples:

Il capo dell’opposizione ha fatto una filippica contro l’immobilità del governo nei confronti delle famiglie a basso reddito.

The head of the opposition harshly criticised the government’s inertia towards low-income families.


L’allenatore ha fatto una filippica contro i tifosi della squadra ospite per il loro comportamento sugli spalti.

The coach condemned the away side’s fans for their behaviour on the stands.

As you can see, on most occasions, the expression is followed by contro (‘against’) plus the person or people the invective is directed at. 

As previously mentioned, the expression is widely used in broadcast and print media. However, it is also frequently used in colloquial Italian as a way to mock someone who is being overly dramatic or getting unreasonably upset about trivial matters.

For instance:

Sei sempre in ritardo. Sei insopportabile.
Sono solo due minuti. Non farmi una filippica…

You’re always late. You’re insufferable.
It’s just a couple of minutes. Don’t you dare have a go at me…

So, now that you have a basic grasp of how (and when) to use the idiom, you may also be interested in knowing where it comes from. 

Like most Italian idioms, fare una filippica originated in the classical age.

Notably the expression dates back to 351 BC, when the independence of Athens, the richest and most technologically advanced city-state in ancient Greece, was being threatened by the expansionist designs of Philip II, king of Macedon.

Being conscious of the risks Macedon posed to his city’s autonomy, Athenian intellectual and statesman Demosthenes famously gave a number of fervid political speeches aimed at rallying his fellow citizens against Philip II and calling for a mobilisation of Athens’ military forces.

Such orations, whose eloquence and rhetoric are admired to this very day, were known as ‘philippics’ (‘filippiche’ in Italian), hence the very peculiar expression which, through the centuries, has made it all the way into modern Italian.

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