LearnItalianwith Us!

Start Learning

Italian Language Blog

Thank you! Please check your inbox for your confirmation email.
You must click the link in the email to verify your request.

Are You Paying Attention? Posted by on Sep 17, 2014 in Grammar, Italian Language

Are you paying attention, and if so, how much are you paying? Here in Italy, we don’t pay attention, we lend attention (prestiamo attenzione). This leads me onto the interesting topic of lending and borrowing. Interesting, because in Italian we use one verb for both actions: prestare. Let’s have a look at how it works:

A Quill.
mi presti quella penna? The English word pen comes from Latin: penna = feather or quill. Photo (CC) by rachaelvoorhees

1. prestare = to lend

mi puoi prestare quella penna, per favore? = can you lend me that pen please?

mi presti quella penna? = will you lend me that pen? (informal)

Paolo vuol sapere se domani gli prestiamo la macchina = Paolo wants to know if we’ll lend him the car tomorrow (gli prestiamo Literally: to him we lend)

ho chiesto a Geoff e Serena se mi prestano la macchina = I asked Geoff and Serena if they’ll lend me the car

Elisa mi ha detto che mi avrebbe prestato il nuovo libro di Camilleri = Elisa told me that she would lend me Camilleri’s new book (mi avrebbe prestato Literally: to me she would have lent)

ho promesso ad Elisa che le avremmo prestato gli altri libri di Camilleri = I promised Elisa that we would lend her Camilleri’s other books

Laura ha prestato 50 Euro a Maria per pagare la bolletta dell’acqua = Laura lent 50 Euros to Maria to pay the water bill

ti ricordi quelle vecchie calze che ti ho prestato? Posso riaverle indietro? = do you remember those old socks I lent you? Can I have them back? (only joking!)

640px-Andrea_Camilleri_2010_by_Marco_Tambara
Andrea Camilleri 2010 (CC) by Marco Tambara

2. prendere in prestito = to borrow (literally: to take on loan)

posso prendere in prestito quella penna, per favore? = can I borrow that pen please?

domani Paolo prenderà in prestito la macchina = Paolo will borrow the car tomorrow

se prendiamo in prestito la macchina di Paolo, possiamo andarci anche noi = if we borrow Paolo’s car, we can go there too

Elisa mi ha detto che avrebbe preso in prestito il nuovo libro di Camilleri dalla biblioteca = Elisa told me that she would borrow Camilleri’s new book from the library

ho promesso ad Elisa che avremmo preso in prestito gli altri libri di Camilleri dalla biblioteca = I promised Elisa that we would borrow Camilleri’s other books from the library

Maria ha preso in prestito 50 Euro da Laura per pagare la bolletta dell’acqua = Maria borrowed 50 Euros from Laura to pay the water bill

ti ricordi quelle vecchie calze che hai preso in prestito? Posso riaverle indietro? = do you remember those old socks you borrowed? Can I have them back? (still joking!)

Tags:
Share this:
Pin it

Comments:

  1. Michael:

    I think there’s a problem here with the conditional.

    You said, “mi avrebbe prestato Literally: to me she would have lent”. I agree with that but in the example you translated it as “would lend”, which is “presterebbe”, no?

    Similarly, “avrebbe preso in prestito” = “would have borrowed”, not “would borrow”?

    • Geoff:

      @Michael Sì che c’è un problema. Il problema, Michael, è la tua comprensione dell’uso del condizionale.

      N.B. che ho scritto “… Literally: to me she would have lent”. La parola chiave qua è ‘literally’. È così che funziona il cosiddetto ‘future in the past’. In Italiano usiamo il condizionale passato, mentre in Inglese si usa il condizionale presente.

      Comunque, se non ti fidi se sempre libero di usare la lingua Italiana come voui tu. 😉

      Saluti da Geoff

  2. Anna:

    I had the same question! And it seemed that it must be that we Americans express that idea of conditional differently than Italians. This is the first time that this has been shown to me. Thanks for asking the question Michael and thanks for the answer Geoff (or was it really Serena?).

    • Geoff:

      @Anna Salve Anna, sono stato io, Geoff, a rispondere alla ‘domanda’ di Michael, che però, a me non mi sembrava neanche una domanda, ma più un’asserzione, che non mi è andata giù molto bene!

      Rispetto alla tua domanda. Se rileggi ciò che hai scritto, anche in Inglese hai dovuto aggiungere qualcosa all’esempio, cioè ‘had they been available’ in modo da esprimere ‘she would have borrowed’.

      Quindi:
      She said that she would borrow the books from the library. = Ha detto che avrebbe preso in prestito i libri dalla biblioteca
      VS
      She said that she would have borrowed the books from the library had they been available. = Ha detto che avrebbe preso in prestito i libri dalla biblioteca se fossero stati disponibile

      Infatti, è più coerente in Italiano 🙂

      A presto, Geoff

  3. Anna:

    So even though you Italians express the conditional in the past, it doesn’t actually mean that it was in the past. Hmm, in thinking about this further, how would you Italians express the conditional past? Is it the same, just implied within the context? For example:

    She said that she would borrow the books from the library.

    She said that she would have borrowed the books from the library had they been available.

    Thanks!

  4. Anna:

    Okay, I’m sorry I don’t know the grammatically correct term for the tense we’re talking about, but I did notice that each time you used the conditional in the past, the sentence began with a past tense (passato prossimo). Does this have something to do with it? Like if you begin in the past, you stay in the past? Sorry to be so difficult! Dang, no I just saw that you have an example in the first section that starts in the past and ends in the present tense. “Ho chiesto a Geoff e Serena se mi prestano la macchina.” If I used that same sentence with the conditional would it be “Ho chiesto a Geoff e Serena se mi avrebbero preso in prestito la macchina”?

    • Geoff:

      @Anna Ciao Anna, no need to apologise, it’s complicated!

      Firstly let’s look at this example: “Ho chiesto a Geoff e Serena se mi prestano la macchina.” (I asked Geoff and Serena if they’ll lend me the car). In Italian, we very frequently use the present tense to express the future. That’s why prestano (present tense: they lend) is translated as ‘they’ll lend (they will lend = future)’. I suggest that you study this blog: https://blogs.transparent.com/italian/present-or-future/ to familiarise yourself with this usage

      As for your example: “Ho chiesto a Geoff e Serena se mi avrebbero preso in prestito la macchina”? How would YOU translate that into Italian? That might help me identify the problem you’re having.

      Alla prossima, Geoff

  5. Robert:

    In some of these examples there appears to be some confusion regarding the English subjunctive mood and the Italian conditional tense. You cannot use Italian grammar to explain English verbs, Geoff has done.

    • Geoff:

      @Robert Non ho capito esattamente cosa volevi dire. Qual è lo scopo del tuo commento?

      a dopo, Geoff


Leave a comment: