Words and expressions for BEING VAGUE in Italian

You have probably never thought about this lesson before, but then you realized that you often don’t remember (because of little practice or laziness) the nouns of things and concepts… In this lesson we’ll give you the solution to all these problems! Here you are a series of words and expressions to use when you want to be vague!

BEING VAGUE: how to express uncertainty and approximation in Italian 

Being vague with: THINGS / CONCEPTS / IDEAS

Yeah… Unfortunately it often happens not to remember the names of things or concepts… For this reason, in order to replace them, we use words such as:

COSA/O (thing)
AFFARE (stuff)
ROBA (stuff)

For example:

– Oh no! Ho rotto quest’affare per alzare il volume al cellulare! E ora come faccio? (No! I broke this stuff for turning up the volume of my phone! What shall I do now?)

– Eh, devi portarlo in assistenza… (You should take it to the support shop)


Obviously, don’t generalize too much when you use these expressions, especially if the context is not clear… Otherwise there might be misunderstandings!  

For example, if you say “Mi passi quella roba per i capelli?” (Could you please pass me the thing for the hair?) you might refer to many different objects: a rubber band, a hair dryer, a hair straightener and so on. Therefore, in order to avoid misunderstandings, if what you want is the hair straightener, you can ask “Mi passi quella roba per lisciare i capelli?” (Could you please pass me the thing for straightening the hair?)

DESCRIBING SOMETHING difficult to explain 

Imagine you have to describe the typical dish of your country to someone who has never seen nor tasted it… What do you do? In these cases, you might use expressions such as:

Tipo … (Like…)
Un po’ come … (A bit like…)
…. o qualcosa del genere (… or something like that)
… e roba simile (… and stuff like that)
… e cose così (… and stuff)
… e cose di questo tipo (… and things like this)

But also:

Un tipo di … (A type of…)
Un genere di … (A kind of…)
Una sorta di … (A sort of…)
Una specie di … (A sort of…)

For example, we now try to describe what a cannellone ricotta e spinaci is (you can find the picture in the video)…

Let’s say it’s a type of pasta… with a sort of cheese spread over! Inside, you find spinach, cottage cheese and stuff like that… It is basically a bit like ravioli… A sort of stretched ravioli!

That’s clear, isn’t it? 😛

Being vague with: FACTS AND EVENTS

Instead, when you want to be vague while speaking of a fact or event, we usually use the words:

Questione (issue)
Faccenda (matter)
Argomento (topic)

For example:

– Ma poi Francesco e Stefania sono tornati insieme? (Are Francesco and Stefania back together?)

– Shhh! Mi raccomando! Non parlare di questa faccenda con loro! È ancora una ferita aperta per entrambi! (Shh! Make sure you don’t talk about this matter with them! It’s still a fresh wound for both of them!)

Being vague with: NUMBERS

In order to express an approximate quantity or estimation, we use:

Circa / All’incirca (around / about)
Suppergiù (approximately)
Più o meno (more or less)
… o poco più / … o poco meno (maybe more / maybe less)

For example:

– Quante persone ci saranno alla festa? (How many people will be there to the party?)
– 50 più o meno… (50 more or less…)

– E quante ore di volo ci vogliono per arrivare a New York? (And how long does the flight to NY take?)
– 8 o poco più… (8 hours, maybe more)

However, with two-digit numbers with one zero, besides the previous expressions, it is possible to add also the suffix -ina to the number:










For example, if you say “Ci sono una ventina di giochi” (There are about 20 toys), this means that there are probably not exactly 20 toys, but a close number, like 19, 21, 22…

Moreover, it is possible to approximate 100, by saying un centinaio, that is around 100, or 1000, by saying un migliaio, that is around 1000! There is also the plural, “alcune centinaia” (hundreds) and “alcune migliaia” (thousands), but these are used when you want to express a very big quantity.

There is also dozzina (dozen), to approximate 12, that is the only number without zero that can be approximated!

Do you prefer the T-shirt Rocco is wearing or the one Graziana is wearing? You find them both in our online shop LearnAmo Collection, with many other products! 

Being vague with: PLACES

When we want to be vague with places, we use:

… o nei dintorni (… or nearby)
… o là\lì vicino (… or near there)
Nei pressi di … (Near…)
Dalle parti di… (In the vicinity of…)
Nei dintorni di… (In close proximity to…)

For example:

– Ehi dove ti trovi? (Where are you?)

– Nei pressi della posta! (Near the post office!)

– Ok, ti raggiungo! (Ok, I’m coming!)

This means the person is not exactly at the post office, but a few meters away!

Being vague with: COLORS

For being vague with colors, we can use:

Sul (-ish)

For example:

– Di che colore è la nuova macchina di Riccardo? (What color is Riccardo’s new car?)

– Sul verde (Greenish)

That is, not exactly green, but a shade of green…

Being vague with: ADJECTIVES

Finally, you have to know that with adjectives it is possible to be vague by adding the word piuttosto (rather, pretty) before:

For example:

– Com’era il film? (How was the film?)

– Sinceramente è stato piuttosto interessante! (Actually, it was pretty interesting!)

If you want to know all meanings and uses of the word PIUTTOSTO, we realized a lesson entirely dedicated to this word! Watch it! It is worth it!

Now, we have an exercise for you! Describe in a vague way:

1 – what’s Wi-Fi?
2 – what’s a pizza?
3 – what’s love?

One thought to “Words and expressions for BEING VAGUE in Italian”

  1. Wi-Fi è un genere di trasmettitore per l’internet. Funziona un po’ come la radio.
    La pizza è una specie di torta fatta da pane, sugo, e mozzarella.
    L’amore è una specie di malatia che si rende pazzo. E’ una sorta di schiavatù, un tipo di prigione che si entra volontariamente e da cui non si vuole scappare.
    La maglietta di Graziana è bella. Ma preferisco quella di Rocco. E’ profondo.

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