In this video we will talk about a subject that I’m sure will greatly help you in your daily use of Italian! Have you ever said something but the other guy gave you the stink eye or, even worse, straight up turned around and went away? Most likely, if those weren’t the expected reactions, the words you used were wrong, or inappropriate, or a bit impolite. In this video I will show you 7 sentences that you should not say in a conversation in Italian, so to not risk sounding impolite or rude. I will give you polite alternatives that you can freely use in any situation to replace each and every one of these sentences, so that nobody will give you the stink eye.
The 7 Sentences that Polite People Do NOT Say
1. CHI SE NE FREGA (WHO CARES)
Well yes, it’s a very common sentence. You often hear it in movies, because it really is popular among Italians. It’s so popular that it even has an alternative writing, which basically means that it is pronounced as one single word: chissenefrega. And while, overall, we can use it with our friends and family because we have a strong and informal bond with them, it’s better not to use it with other people, no matter how well we know them.
In theory this sentence would be a question, but it’s mainly usded as an exclamation.
Literally, it means: “a chi importa (di questo)?” → “who cares(about this)?”. It’s a bit of an impolite way to say that we don’t care a bit about what they are saying. When we want to show that we don’t care about something, of course it’s not easy to sound polite, but if we really need to, we could still use less ruede sentences, like:
Mi dispiace, ma non mi interessa. → I’m sorry, but I’m not interested.
Purtroppo la cosa non mi riguarda. → Unfortunately this doesn’t concern me.
Onestamente non me ne preoccupo. → Honestly I’m not worried about it.
Or, in case someone is asking us for help, instead of answering “chissenefrega” we could use a more polite expression like: “mi dispiace, ma non posso proprio aiutarti”. → “I’m sorry, but I really can’t help you.”
2. CHE SCHIFO (GROSS!/THAT SUCKS!)
It’s probably one of the first “bad words” that children learn to say during childhood, especially when they are “forced” to ead veggies… And their parents promptly scold and correct them:
<< Non si dice “che schifo”! Si dice “non mi piace”! >> → <<You can’t say “that sucks”! You should say “I don’t like it”>>
And it’s actually true: we really should say that we don’t like something, rather than saying it sucks: Saying that something sucks is a bit offemsive towards who made or bought that thing, while saying that we don’t like it, implies that it’s just our opinion, our preference, that the thing is not bad by itself.
This applies both when we are commenting the taste of a food or a drink, or when we are dealing with any other object or concept that we don’t really like. In these situations we could go for one of these alternatives:
Mi dispiace ma mi dà il voltastomaco! → Sorry but it makes me feel nauseous!
Non è di mio gradimento. → It’s not of my taste.
Preferirei mangiare altro. → I?d rather eat something else.
For other things:
Scusa, ma non riesco a guardare! → Sorry, but I can’t look!
Ti dispiace se non guardo altrove? → Do you mind if I avert my eyes?
Non è il mio genere. → It’s not my thing.
Non rispecchia i miei gusti. → It doesn’t align with my taste.
3. CHE NOIA! / CHE PALLE! (WHAT A DRAG!)
How many times did we find ourselves in an incredibly boring situation, so much that it was unbearable, and we wanted to go away as soon as possible to escape that endless torture?
I don’t know, maybe at school during a boring lesson, or in a theatre, at a party or a public event?
I bet that all of you wanted at least once to get up and scream “HOW BORING” or, even worse: “WHAT A DRAG!
Well, luckily, I hope, you didn’t do it. Voicing your opinion is always allowed, but there are better ways to do it. When we are bored, sometimes it’s better to bear with it for a while and wait for the torture to end. alternatively, we could use more polite sentences, like:
Non lo trovo molto divertente, mi dispiace. → I don’t really find it funny, sorry.
Questa non è davvero la mia idea di divertimento. → This isn’t really my idea of fun.
Onestamente mi diverto di più a… (fare qualcos’altro) → Honestly I’d have more fun… (doing something else)
Purtroppo la mia soglia di attenzione è bassissima, colpa mia! → Unfortunatetely my attention span is very low, it’s my fault!
On the other hand, if we have no choice but to speed up the process, we could make up an excuse like “oh, mi squilla il telefono! Devo proprio rispondere” → “oh, my phone is ringing! I really have to pick this one up” or “cavolo, ho dimenticato la cena nel forno!” → “darn, I forgot the dinner in the oven!” to get out of this boring situation.
4. NON CI PENSO NEANCHE! (I WOULDN’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT)
This is the typical rude answer given to someone asking us for a favour or to do something.
Ideally you shouldn’t use it so often. Actually, you shouldn’t use it at all. When we say this sentence we convey a lot of aversion to our speaker, like saying “Non lo farei mai! Non capisco come ti sia passato per la mente anche solo di chiedermelo!” → “I would never do it! I don’t understand how you could even think about asking me that!”. And there’s no need to sound obnoxious to say that we don’t want to do something.
Rather, we could say:
Mi dispiace, ma non posso proprio. → I’m sorry, I really can’t
Mi chiedi troppo: purtroppo non posso accontentarti. → You are asking too much of me: unfortunately I can’t help you
Temo che non sarà possibile. → I’m afraid it won’t be possible.
Ti dispiace se rimandiamo? → Do you mind if we postpone it?
Magari in un altro momento. → Maybe nother time.
5. NON HAI CAPITO NIENTE! (YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND A THING)
This one is a classic: when we ae frustrated and maybe we are trying to solve an enraging situation, we end up losing our cool. And sometimes we say something we didn’t mean to say, maybe exactly to that one person that was trying to help us.
Or, let’s try to imagine that our speaker has to do something we are explaining to him, but he is not the sharpest tool in the shed. Well, in both of these situations, there’s no need to say that he didn’t understand a thing, just because he didn’t understand our problem or what we are trying to explain him: we would just offend him and worsen the situation.
Rather, it would be more reasonable to explain things once more, while making sure to be as clear as possible, espacially in the most critical moments, and possibly by picking easier words or example. We could say:
Forse non mi sono espressa bene. Provo a ricominciare da capo: (…) → Maybe I wasn’t clear enough. Let’s try again starting back from zero:
Sento che non siamo sulla stessa lunghezza d’onda. Forse posso provare a spiegarmi meglio: (…) → I fell like we are not on the same wavelegth. Maybe I could try being more clear:
6. VAI A QUEL PAESE! (GO SCREW YOURS*LF!)
Whe we completely lose it, because we got angry on our own, or because the person in front of us said something that made us rage, the risk is to jump straight to more offensive sentences, without even realising it.
Telling someone to go a quel paese (to go screw th*mselves)(or a cagare or, even worse, a fanculo (go fu*k yourself) ) definitely isn’t appreciated, and it could make us look very obnoxious or unlikable in the eyes of our speaker.
In these moments the best thing to do is to take a big breath and wait at least until we have calmed down before saying anything.
Otherwise, what we could say is:
Voglio rimanere da solo/a. → I want to stay alone.
Lasciami in pace, gentilmente. → Leave me alone, please.
Hai già fatto abbastanza, basta così. → You’ve done enough already, that’s it.
7. TE L’AVEVO DETTO (I TOLD YOU)
How many of us heard this sentence directed at themselves? well I bet none of you liked hearing it.
Nobody likes hearing this kind of thing, because whoever is saying it is reminding us that we took the wrong way, and the way that they specifically told us not to take.
When it happens, it’s better to leave our pride and our wish to be right go. I mean, it would be better to avoid using this sentence altogether, since it means: “Did you see that? I was right, because I’m always right and you are always wrong”. Rather, we should try to put ourselves in the shoes of our friend or of the person that did something wrong and now has to put everything back together, and maybe we could even give him some useful tips to peacefully face this failure. For example we could say:
Non ti preoccupare. Purtroppo è andata così, ma non c’è bisogno di disperarsi. Tutto si sistemerà e presto non ci penserai più. → Don’t worry, it didn’t go well, but there’s no reason to be sad. Everything will be alright and soon enough you’ll forget about it.
Capita a tutti di sbagliare: quello che conta è saper superare la difficoltà. → Everyone can make a mistake: What matters is being able to overcome the hardships.
Questo ti fortificherà e la prossima volta non ci cascherai più: prendila come un’opportunità di crescita! → This will make you stronger and next time you won’t fall for it: take it as an opportunity to grow!
Well, we have now arrived at the end of the video! I hope you learnt something from these examples: always remember that the way we behave always makes an impression on others, and many times we don’t even realize just how big it could be. So, moral of this story, be kind to others! It can only do good for the future!
If after all this talking you got hungry, you should go watch the video where I show you the recipe for a chocolate cake, while tackling a few matters about grammar and syntax!
Let’s see if you’ve mastered the contents of this class. Have a go at completing the exercises!