Italian Language Blog

Ogni Posted by 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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  1. Delfina Herbert:

    Very helpful explanation of “ogni”. In studying this lesson, I didn’t understand the usage of “ci” in the example: Ho letto attentamente ogni singola pagina, ma non “ci” capisco niente. Does it mean ” of it”?
    Side note: Lucca is an extraordinary Tuscan town. Enjoyed our visit there very much. Your parents are fortunate to live there.This past year, I voted in a poll in one of the newsletters that I get from Italy on whether or not the historic center should have foreign eateries. I agreed with the mayor:keep it Italian.

  2. Serena:

    Salve Delfina, Yes the famous ‘ci’ that has a thousand meanings. In this case you are perfectly right as it does mean ‘of it’. I think ‘ci’ will have to be a future blog!


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