Italian Language Blog

Misleading Word of the Day Posted by on Mar 23, 2009 in Italian Language

Successful learners of Italian soon develop the good habit of identifying similarities between English and Italian words. This can be a very useful way of extending your vocabulary thanks largely to the Latin element present within the English language. You will often notice for example that words which end with –tion in English will end in –zione in Italian: station = stazione, exploration = esplorazione, fraction = frazione, and so on. Likewise many English words ending in –ty will end with –ta’ in Italian, e.g. city = citta’, hospitality = ospitalita’, university = universita’, etc. Then there are verbs such as ‘to study’ = studiare, ‘to block’ = bloccare , ‘to dance’ = danzare, the list is endless, and these are of course some of the easiest Italian words to learn.

However state attenti (be careful) because some words which seem almost identical in both languages can be misleading. This week, therefore, to complement the Italian Word of the Day which you will find on this page I’m going to give you some important ‘Misleading Words of the Day’ to try and help you avoid making some of the more common mistakes when speaking Italian.

The ‘Misleading Word of the Day’ for today is: attualmente.

Following the above rule of similarity we have these examples: casualmente = casually, rapidamente = rapidly, distintamente = distinctly, and therefore attualmente should logically mean ‘actually’ right? Wrong!

In Italian attualmente means: at present, at the moment, now, or nowadays. e.g. ‘attualmente non fa molto freddo’ (It’s not very cold at the moment), ‘mia sorella attualmente abita in Francia’  (my sister lives in France at present).

Attuale, therefore, means not actual but present: l’attuale primo ministro (the present prime minister), and an attualita’ is a ‘current event’ or ‘topical interest’.

So, you may ask, if attualmente doesn’t mean actually how do I say actually in Italian? Well, of course, it depends on the context. Here are a few examples to help you:

To say ‘actually’ with the sense of ‘really’ you can use realmente, veramente, proprio, davvero or sul serio: ‘vai veramente a Parigi?’ (are you actually going to Paris?), ‘hai proprio mangiato le lumache!?’ (have you actually eaten snails!?)

To say ‘actually’ with the sense of ‘in actual fact’ you can use in realta’ or effettivamente: ‘in realta’ non mi va di mangiare fuori questa sera’ (actually I don’t fancy eating out this evening), ‘effettivamente il film era un po’ noioso’ (actually the film was a bit boring).

To say ‘actual’ you can use vero, reale, or effettivo: il costo reale era maggiore (the actual cost was greater).

Adesso ho davvero finito la prima puntata (now I’ve ‘actually’ finished the first instalment).

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  1. Delfina e Giacomo:

    Is “attulamente” considered a “false friend”.? I have come across this expression in my studies of Italian but not too sure what it refers to.

  2. Serena:

    Yes, all of the ‘Misleading Words of the Day’ which I will be giving you in these days are commonly called ‘falsi amici’ or false friends. Technically they are known as ‘false cognates’.
    My title is a parody of the ‘Word of the Day’ that appears on the top of this page.


    Grazie per questo brano circa “false friends” – una lezione molto importante —- e` facile di fare un sbaglio con questi
    “amici finta”.

    Mi piace molto di ricevere questi lezione – e continuo di essere “un “fan” adesso per alcuni anni.

  4. Paul Scipioni:

    This lesson was a very nice surprise. I’ve been using “Transparent Language Italian Word of the Day” for over a year, but didn’t realize that “Misleading…..” even existed. I subscribed for it, hoping it’s also free.
    Scipio Africanus……in Minnesota

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