Ogni Posted by Serena on Jul 3, 2009 in Grammar, Italian Language
Following an interesting discussion that arose from my article ‘Talking about the time’ I thought it would be useful to explore the use of ogni, a word which can occasionally cause some confusion.
Ogni usually means ‘every’, ‘each’, or ‘all’ and is commonly heard in the following types of phrases: ogni mattina mi alzo alle sette (every morning I get up at seven o’clock), ho letto attentamente ogni singola pagina, ma non ci capisco niente! (I’ve carefully read each single page but I don’t understand anything!), ogni uomo e’ mortale (all men are mortal), and ti auguro ogni felicita’ (I wish you all / every happiness).
By linking ogni with other words we can build up a useful vocabulary of words that begin with ‘every’ in English:
ogni cosa = everything
in ogni luogo = everywhere
ad ogni modo = anyhow / anyway
ogni persona = everyone / everybody
ogni volta = whenever
di ogni giorno = everyday
We also use the expression ‘ogni tanto’ or ‘una volta ogni tanto’ to mean ‘every now and then’
However, ogni can also mean ‘any’ e.g. Lunedi’, come ogni altro giorno, Paolo prendeva l’autobus a Piazza Garibaldi (Monday, like any other day, Paolo caught the bus in Piazza Garibaldi), and this is where things can potentially get confusing because in this case ‘any’ isn’t interchangeable with ‘every’. Let me explain: In Italian we can say ‘l’autobus parte ogni quindici minuti (the bus departs every fifteen minutes), or la bolletta dell’elettricita’ va pagata ogni due mesi (the electricity bill has to be paid every two months / every other month). However, if we try to apply this rule to the phrase ‘every other day’, as in ‘please water the flowers every other day’, you can not use ‘ogni altro giorno’, which would mean ‘any other day’ as illustrated in the phrase at the beginning of this paragraph. Instead you will need to say either ogni due giorni / un giorno si’ e uno no, or a giorni alterni. So if you want to ask your Italian neighbor to water your flowers every other day whilst you’re away on holiday in Sardegna you can say: Per piacere, innaffia i fiori un giorno si’ e uno no / ogni due giorni / a giorni alterni.
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