For members


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?

You might notice that hai presente is followed by che in this example, 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.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


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.