5 difficult Italian words: addirittura, anzi, macché, mica, prego

difficult Italian words

Today we are going to talk about some difficult Italian words that are worth knowing, as even advanced learners often have doubts about how to use them.

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Let’s start!

ADDIRITTURA

Addirittura in Italian

Addirittura in Italian can have different meanings depending on the context. 

Using this word can indicate that what we are saying is an exaggeration. With this meaning, addirittura could be translated into English with the word “even“.

◼️◻️ Le tue parole sono ingiuste, se non addirittura offensive. (Your words are unfair, if not even offensive.)

◼️◻️ I cosmetici ormai si possono comprare dappertutto: in farmacia, in profumeria, e addirittura al supermercato. (Cosmetics can now be bought everywhere: in pharmacies, perfumeries and even in supermarkets.)

As an adverb, addirittura can also mean “directly“. 

◼️◻️ Vediamoci addirittura al bar sotto il mio ufficio. (Let’s meet directly at the café below my office.)

When used as an interjection, addirittura can be translated in English with “really?”, “seriously?“, “you’re kidding”, and also with “no less”. 

◼️◻️ A. Questa notizia mi ha distrutto. – B. Addirittura! Mi sa che stai esagerando! (A. This news destroyed me. – B. Really!? I think you’re exaggerating!)

◼️◻️ Mio fratello conosce addirittura il ministro. (My brother knows no less than the minister.)

ANZI

anzi in Italian

Another of the 5 difficult Italian words that we would like to show you today is anzi.

Moreover, this word can express that what I have said before is no longer valid, either because I want to contradict what I have just said, or because I want to reinforce it: it has an adversative or reinforcing value.

◼️◻️ Voglio dirti una cosa. Anzi, no, è meglio che ne parliamo domani. (I want to tell you something. Actually, no, we’d better talk about it tomorrow.) – adversative value.

◼️◻️ Secondo me quel film è bello, anzi, bellissimo. (In my opinion that film is good, indeed beautiful.) – reinforcing value.

On the other hand, anzi in Italian can also mean “no“, “no way“. 

◼️◻️ A. Sei stanco? – B. Chi, io? Anzi(A. Are you tired? – B. Who me? No way!)

MACCHÉ

Macché in Italian

Let’s continue with our list of difficult Italian words. Macché means “no”, “not at all“, “no way“. Also, it can function before a noun or on its own. 

◼️◻️ Macché birra! Qui si beve solo vino! (No beer! We only drink wine here!)

◼️◻️ Mi aveva detto che sarebbe venuto e secondo te l’ha fatto? Macché! (He told me he was coming and you think he did? No way!)

MICA

mica in Italian

If you want to know how to use mica in Italian, remember that it is a colloquial reinforcement of the negation non and means “not at all“, “by no means“.

◼️◻️ Questo ristorante non è mica caro. (This restaurant is not expensive at all.)

The Italian word mica is also used without the negation non in some idioms: 

◼️◻️ A. Com’è la tua pizza? – B. Mica male! (A. How’s your pizza? – B. Not bad at all!) 

Sometimes mica can precede the verb. In these cases, the negation non is omitted. 

◼️◻️ L’ha detto tante volte, ma mica l’ha fatto! (= non l’ha mica fatto) (He has said it many times, but he hasn’t done it).

PREGO

Italian word prego

Finally, let’s look at what prego means in Italian. We have included this word in our list of difficult Italian words because although its main meaning is “you’re welcome“, few people know that it can also be used in other contexts. 

For example, if we are talking to someone and we don’t understand what they have said, or if what they have said is something totally unexpected, we can say prego? so that the interlocutor repeats what they have said:

◼️◻️ Ho deciso di andare a vivere in Giappone! – B. Prego? (A. I have decided that I am going to live in Japan – B. Excuse me?)

Prego can also be used as a form of politeness.

For example, we can use it to suggest to someone to sit down in a polite way:

◼️◻️ Prego, si sieda. (Please sit down.)

Find out when to use prego in Italian depending on the context. 

Also, here is a video about the different meanings and uses of prego in Italian:

If you want to discover other difficult Italian words and learn how to use them, join our Italian lessons with native Italian teachers and start practising now.

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