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In Che Condizioni È? Posted by on Jul 7, 2015 in Vocabulary

If you’re going to engage your Italian friends and acquaintances in conversation, the ability to liven up or clarify what you want to say is going to require a repertoire of useful descriptive adjectives.

Let’s begin with a question: “in che condizioni è?” (“what condition is it/he/she in?” N.B. in Italian we use the plural: condizioni = conditions). Answering this question should provide an opportunity to build up our vocabulary. Let’s have a go, beginning with simple generic answers and progressing from there:

è in buone condizioni = it’s in good condition
è in buonissime condizioni = it’s in very good condition
è in ottime condizioni = it’s in top condition

è in cattive condizioni = it’s in bad condition
è in brutte condizioni = it’s in bad condition
è in cattivissime condizioni = it’s in very bad condition
è in pessime condizioni = it’s in very bad condition

you can moderate this by adding abbastanza = quite

è in abbastanza buone condizioni = it’s in quite good condition
è in abbastanza cattive condizioni = it’s in quite bad condition
…. etc.

or you could say: non è male = it’s not bad

Casa Diroccata, by Domenico Bresolin (1813-1899). Museo d'Arte Moderna Ca' Pesaro Venezia

Casa Diroccata, by Domenico Bresolin (1813-1899). Museo d’Arte Moderna Ca’ Pesaro Venezia

Now let’s apply this to a particular object as part of an everyday conversation:

tutto sommato, la vecchia macchinina è in abbastanza buone condizioni = all in all, the old car is in quite good condition
purtroppo, l’appartamento di mia zia è in pessime condizioni, ci vogliono un sacco di soldi per metterlo apposto = unfortunately, my aunt’s apartment is in very bad condition, it would take a lot of money to sort it out.
respira ancora, ma è in brutte condizioni = he’s still breathing, but he’s in a bad way.

Okay, let’s develop this theme with some variations and object specific vocabulary:

in che condizioni è la casa? = what condition is the house in?
è perfetta! = it’s perfect!
è un po’ diroccata = it’s a bit dilapidated
è messa un po’ male = it’s in a bad state

in che condizioni è la macchina? = what condition is the car in?
è nuova di zecca = it’s brand new
è abbastanza scassata = it’s rather clapped out

in che condizioni sono le piante di pomodoro? =what condition are the tomato plants in?
sono rigogliose = they’re nice and healthy
sono tutte appassite = they’re all wilted

in che condizioni sono i pantaloni? = what condition are the trousers in?
sono molto stracciati = they’re very ragged
sono strappati = they’re ripped
sono sbiaditi = they’re faded


sono strappati = they’re ripped

A useful common expression when talking about the condition of something or someone is ‘ne ho visti/e di meglio/peggio’ = I’ve seen better/worse (of them):

in che condizioni è la moto di Giovanni? = what condition is Giovanni’s motorbike in?
insomma, ne ho viste di peggio = well, I’ve seen worse (of them) N.B. la moto is feminine hence ne ho viste (feminine plural)

in che condizioni sono i libri? = what condition are the books in?
diciamo che ne ho visti di meglio = let’s say I’ve seen better (of them) N.B. i libri are masculine hence ne ho visti (masculine plural)

Obviously we’re only scratching the surface here, but I intend to expand upon this theme in upcoming articles … so stay tuned and prepare to amaze your friends with your wonderful descriptive Italian!

A presto.

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  1. Joseph T. Madawela:

    very helpful thanks

  2. Joan Engelhaupt:

    Thank you. You used a British term in translating “abbastanza scassata”, and we colonials (USA) don’t understand “clapped out”. Mi spiega, per favore?

    • Geoff:

      @Joan Engelhaupt Salve Joan, have you ever tried Google Translate: It can be very helpful for finding colloquial translations. Obviously, being British I used the expression that’s most familiar to me:’pretty clapped out’, but Google Translate ‘gives ‘pretty beat-up’ … which sound American to me. Does that make sense?

      A presto.

  3. Rosalind:

    @Joan: Ragazzini dictionary (super but expensive telephone app) gives this as 3rd translation of “scassato”:

    3 (fam.: malandato) battered; clapped out; beat-up (USA).

  4. Norma:

    How would one say “in the worst possible condition” or “in the best possible condition”? Are ottime and pessime adequate to that?

  5. Rosalind:

    But beware of Google Translate. A neighbour asked me to check a letter he wanted to send to an airline in English, for which he had used Google Translate. Amongst numerous mistakes and approximations, the French word “détourné” had been translated as ” hijacked” which could have been correct but in this case it should have been translated as “diverted”.

    • Serena:

      @Rosalind Infatti! Google translate is useful as a simple dictionary/thesaurus, but if you ask it to translate entire sentences you can get some very funny results 😉

  6. Greg Edwards:

    Dear Italian Blog (Geoff and Serena mainly ??)

    Thanks for these excellent articles. I have scoured probably more than a hundred Italian blogs and tutorial sites, and I think yours is possibly the most entertaining. Short, simple articles on a well-defined theme, good examples. Eg. the “molto vs. tanto” one was a goldmine for me – something so simple it falls between the cracks in most Italian courses.

    Cheers, Greg E.

    • Serena:

      @Greg Edwards Hi Greg, thanks for your comment, I’ve sent you a pm. 🙂

  7. Andrej:

    Salve Serena, salve Geoff
    Vi ringrazio molto per il blog, specialmente come questo. Quando si studiano molte lingue (io ne studio seriamente 4) leggere un blog così è un ottimo esercizio per approfondire il mio vocabolario d’italiano e d’inglese
    Saluti da Andrej

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