Italian Language Blog

Misleading Word of the Day 3. Posted by on Mar 25, 2009 in Italian Language

Today’s ‘Misleading Word of the Day’ is attendere. In Italian, rather than meaning ‘to attend’, attendere has the following meanings:

1. ‘to wait for’, ‘to await’, e.g. ‘ho atteso l’autobus per oltre mezz’ora’ (I waited for the bus for more than half an hour), or ‘attendiamo  che arriva Anna per mangiare’ (let’s wait for Anna to arrive before we eat).

2. in it’s reflexive form attendersi means ‘to expect’, e.g. ‘non mi attendo nulla da lui’ (I don’t expect anything from him), or ‘Laura non si attendeva di sbagliare l’esame di guida’ (Laura didn’t expect to fail her driving test).

3. Rarely used in spoken Italian, ‘attendere a’ has the same meaning as the English ‘to attend to’, e.g. attendere alla casa (attend to/take care of the house), or attendere ai propri affari (attend to/take care of one’s business).

4. the noun attesa, which comes from the past participle of attendere, means ‘waiting’ as in sala d’attesa (waiting room)

N.B. You can also use the verb aspettare when you want to say ‘to wait’, and aspettarsi when you want to say ‘to expect’.

So, how do you say ‘attend’ in Italian?

1. To say ‘attend’ with the meaning of ‘to be present at a show, sporting event’ etc. as a spectator we use ‘assistere a’, e.g. ‘ieri abbiamo assistito a un bello spettacolo a teatro’ (yesterday we attended a really good show at the theatre), or ‘Domenica assistero’ a una partita di calcio’ (on Sunday I will attend a football match).

2. To say ‘attend’ as in ‘attend a meeting’ as a participant we use partecipare, e.g. ‘Martedi’ devo partecipare a una riunione di lavoro’ (on Tuesday I have to attend a work meeting).

3. To say ‘attend’ as in ‘to attend a school, college etc.’ we use frequentare, e.g. ‘Edoardo frequenta la scuola elementare’ (Edoardo attends/goes to primary school).

……and yes assistere can be another ‘misleading word’ but, contrary to that which I have seen asserted on some ‘Learn Italian’ websites, it is not a true ‘false friend’ because it can also mean ‘to assist’. Remember that if it is followed by ‘a’ as in the examples above it means ‘to attend’, whereas without the ‘a’ it means ‘to assist’, e.g. ‘mi ha assistito con i suoi consigli’ (he assisted/helped me with his advise).

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  1. Bill Rohwer:

    Please do a blog oppure, per cortesia fa una lezione per quanto riguardo the fact that adverbs can also function as adjectives and nouns. In particular please focus on bene, meglio, male e peggio in comparison with buono, migliore, cattivo e peggiore.

    After N years of Italian courses in the US, I’ve never before realized that these adverbs can (apparently) properly function as adjectives and nouns.

  2. Stefano Ross:

    Prima, i tuoi blogs sono “meraviglioso” (describing a noun or a verb here?)–molti
    grazie! C’e’ un libro che insegnerebbe diagramming frasi l’italiane? — Stefano

  3. Serena:

    Stefano, Innanzitutto, grazie per i complimenti. I’m not sure exactly what you mean by “diagramming frasi l’italiane”, could you please explain.

    A presto, Serena

    P.S. Meraviglioso is an adjective so in this case you need to write ‘i blogs sono meravigliosi’ as it is plural.

  4. Stefano Ross:

    Serena, By “diagramming a sentence” I mean drawing, with straight lines connected at angles, the different grammatical parts of a particular sentence to show what the interrelationships are between the different grammatical parts of that sentence. It would look like a tree on its side since it starts with a straight horizontal line, in the center, representing the subject and predicate. The branches hanging off that line would be for prepositions, adjectives….and those branches would have their own branches if it is a complicated sentence that you are diagramming. This is a tool used to teach basic English grammar here in the Usa. Of course, you should feel free to ignore all this if I have only served to confuse you and ruin and otherwise sunny day!!

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