Italian Language Blog

Esprimiti! part 2 Posted by on Jul 18, 2009 in Italian Language

In the first article of this series Esprimiti! part 1 I introduced a number of useful words and expressions aimed at extending your expressive vocabulary. Let’s continue in the same vein in part two by looking at a range of descriptive words and phrases that will help you to esprimerti (express yourself). In Italian we use quite a lot of expressive vocabulary that doesn’t translate very easily into English, and I often find the given definitions in dictionaries a bit unsatisfactory. As usual, therefore, in order to give you more of a feeling for each word or expression I will give common examples of their usage.

Appassionante: this is roughly equivalent to ‘thrilling’, e.g era un film appassionante (it was a thrilling film).

Stupendo and meraviglioso are more or less interchangeable and share the same meaning of ‘wonderful’ or ‘marvelous’. Don’t forget, however, to change the final vowel depending on the gender of the subject, e.g. oggi e’ stata una giornata stupenda / meravigliosa (today has been a marvelous day), questi fiori hanno un profumo stupendo / meraviglioso (these flowers have a wonderful scent).

Affascinante and pieno di fascino don’t translate quiet so well into English but they both mean something like ‘enchanting’, ‘attractive’, or ‘glamorous’, e.g. secondo me, Siena e’ la citta’ piu affascinante della Toscana (in my opinion, Siena is the most enchanting town in Tuscany), molti uomini dicono che Monica Bellucci e’ una donna piena di fascino! (many men say that Monica Bellucci is a glamorous woman!).

Eccezionale/i is roughly equivalent to the English word ‘exceptional’, although in Italian we also tend to use it a bit more in every day colloquial language with the meaning of ‘extraordinary’, ‘rare’, ‘wonderful’, ‘unusual’, or ‘special’, e.g. Le mura di Lucca sono eccezionali (The walls of Lucca are exceptionally good / special), Sophia Loren era una donna di bellezza eccezionale (Sophia Loren was a woman of rare beauty).

Incredibile and incredibilmente are equivalent to ‘incredible’ and ‘incredibly’, e.g. che notizia incredibile! (what incredible news!), questa notte il cielo era  incredibilmente limpido (last night the sky was incredibly clear).

You can also use favoloso in exactly the same way as the English word ‘fabulous’, just remember to modify the ending according to the gender of the subject, e.g. un cielo favoloso (a fabulous sky), delle mele favolose (some fabulous apples).

Rimanere sbalordito/a/i/e is a useful expression that means ‘I was, you were, we were, etc. stunned’, e.g. sono rimasta sbalordita dalla grandezza del Duomo di Firenze! (I was stunned by the size of Florence Cathedral!). Essere sbalordito/a/e/i, on the other hand, simply means ‘to be stunned’, e.g. question: Giovanni, cosa pensi del Duomo di Firenze? reply: Sono sbalordito! (question: Giovanni, what do you think of Florence cathedral? reply: I’m stunned!)


To be continued……………………………. 


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  1. Vince Mooney:

    Salve Serena:

    In the example: “questa notte il cielo era incredibilmente limpido (last night the sky was incredibly clear) does ‘questa” mean ‘last’ by itself or only when used with ‘era’? Is this an idiom or normal usage?



  2. Dr . Alireza Moradi:

    Dear Lady

    i want to tell you that your Blog is quite Useful , Interesting and rich in information.
    thank you very much.
    Although i’m a beginner in italian language. I enjoy it and use it.

    I’d like to know if it is possible to have access to the archive of your blog.

  3. cinzia:

    Ciao Serena! Ho sentito spesso (a Bologna) l’aggettivo “strepitoso!” per dire “fantastic, great!” poi nel sud sento “micidiale” per dire “great, incredible, etc.” Ultimamente, sento spesso la parola “mitico”!
    Tu quali di queste parole usi? Sono slang? Grazie in anticipo. Cinzia 😉

  4. Serena:

    Ciao Cinzia! Si’, “strepitoso”, “micidiale” e “mitico” sono espressioni colloquiali, slang. “Mitico” non mi piace per niente, corrisponde piu’ o meno a “cool!” e mi sembra troppo da ragazzini o per uomini che non vogliono crescere. Qualche volta uso “strepitoso”.
    Ciao e a presto!

  5. Serena:

    Salve Vince, the expression “questa notte” followed by the past tense is normaly used in everyday language to mean “last night” instead of the more correct “la notte scorsa” (lit. the past night) or “ieri notte” (yesterday night). To say “tonight” we use the future tense: “questa notte piovera'” (tonight it will rain).

  6. Vince Mooney:

    Salve Serena:

    I really appreciate your blog. I am at a frustrating stage in learning Italian. Often I know what all the words in a sentence mean and yet it makes no sense or it makes the wrong sense. Your posts teach me a lot more of what I need to know at this stage than many of my textbooks do. Thanks again.


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