As you might have already figured out from the title of this article, today we will be talking about the most common Italian expressions with the preposition “DI”. Here, you can find expressions that are extremely useful in everyday language, as well as their meaning (or meanings) and some examples – learning them will make your Italian sound even more natural, and you will get closer and closer to talking like a native speaker!
ITALIAN EXPRESSIONS WITH “DI”
The 12 expressions in the list below are diversified both in difficulty and in formality, making them very useful to know: they will instantly enrich your vocabulary. Are you ready? Let’s start with the first expression…
…and what an expression! “DI PROPOSITO” has 2 meanings:
- Consciously, deliberately, intentionally;
+ Scusa, ma che ci fai con gli occhiali da sole in casa? Hai dimenticato di toglierli? (What are doing, wearing your sunglasses indoors? Have you forgotten to take them off?)
– Ma no! Li indosso di proposito! Mi fanno sentire più… diva! (Of course not! I’m wearing them on purpose! They make me feel like a diva!)
- Seriously, with dedication.
Ti piace il mio quadro? Volevo finirlo entro la fine dell’anno, quindi mi sono messa di proposito e ce l’ho fatta! Ah… Spero che lo possano appendere al Louvre!
Translation: Do you like my painting? I wanted to finish it by the end of the year, so I buckled down and I made it! Ah… I hope it can be hung up in the Louvre!
This expression means “impulsively, quickly, without interruption or hesitation”.
For instance: Se non avrò successo nell’arte, lo avrò di certo nella poesia. Questa mattina, per esempio, ho scritto questa poesia di getto, in 2 minuti, mentre bevevo il caffè.
Translation: If I won’t be successful in art, I will surely be in poetry. This morning I was drinking some coffee and I wrote this poem on the spur of the moment, in just 2 minutes.
“DI PETTO” is an expression used mostly with the verb “prendere” (prendere qualcosa di petto) or “affrontare” (affrontare qualcosa di petto). It means to face something directly, firmly and bravely, without hesitation – in Italian petto means “chest”, so you’re literally facing something directly.
+ Oggi in ufficio avevamo dimenticato di comprare i muffin che il nostro cliente cinese molto importante mangia sempre prima delle riunioni. Quando lui è arrivato, tutti si sono preoccupati. Allora io ho preso di petto la situazione e ho risolto il problema con un colpo di genio. (Today at work, we had forgotten to buy the kind of muffin that our very important Chinese client eats before every meeting. When he got there, everybody was worried. So I took matter in my own hands* and I solved the problem with a stroke of genius.)
– Cioè? Cosa hai fatto? (Meaning what? What did you do?)
+ Gli ho offerto un panettone. Dicendo che gli avevamo preso un grande muffin perché lui è un grande cliente! (I offered him a panettone and told him that we had bought a big muffin because he is a big client!)
*In this case we have the verb prendere, so the expression can be translated as “taking matter into one’s own hands”, whereas when we have the verb affrontare, it would be “to face something/someone head on“.
Doing something “di pancia” means doing it instinctively, without thinking too much about it. It can also be used in a somewhat derogatory sense, to indicate something that is done in a completely irrational way. Generally speaking, it means that you follow your guts, you instincts – it’s easier to remember if you know that “pancia” means belly !
An example of this expression (in a positive way) is: Oggi devo partecipare a un evento esclusivo. Devo indossare qualcosa di elegante… Di pancia scelgo… questo vestito qua!
Translation: Today I have to attend an exclusive event. I must wear something elegant. Going with my gut feeling* I choose…this dress!
*In this case, the choice has been made instinctively, but not in a completely irrational way
An object is “di scorta” when you buy it and you save it because you don’t need it immediately, but it’s useful to have it, just in case.
For example: Quando viaggio, porto sempre con me due occhiali da sole: uno lo indosso e l’altro lo tengo di scorta. Non si sa mai, si potrebbero sempre rompere.
Translation: Whenever I travel, I bring two pairs of sunglasses with me: I wear one pair, while I keep the spare one in case the first one breaks.
This expression, like the first one, has more than one meaning:
- It can mean “without dragging something, or let it touch the ground, keeping it fully lifted”. It’s used mostly with verbs such as “prendere” (take/get) and “sollevare” (lift/raise);
Prendo questo vaso di peso… E lo sposto qui! Uff… È pesantissimo! Ma cosa c’era dentro?
Translation: I lift this vase*…and I move it here! Uff…It’s so heavy! What was in it?
- The other meaning is “without resistance/resisting”, and it’s used mostly with verbs such as “cadere” (fall) and “gettarsi” (throw).
Quando rientro a casa dal lavoro, mi getto di peso sul divano e ci rimango per almeno 10 minuti prima di fare qualsiasi altra cosa.
Translation: When I get home from work, I throw myself * on the couch and I stay there for at least 10 minutes before doing anything else.
Remember that “di peso” is an adverb of manner: it describes how an action is done. In the first example, had we had “sollevo mi* figli*/nipote” (my child, nephew or niece – a person!), we would have used the adverb “bodily”: I lift my child bodily – it means that no part of their body touches the ground, you’re completely lifting them, and that you’re using your force to do so.
In the second example, “throwing yourself” isn’t wrong, but the Italian saying implies that you oppose no resistance, that you throw yourself and your body simply “falls” right there – almost like an inanimate object!
This is one of the most colloquial expressions… it’s a bit vulgar, actually! So be careful and use it only in informal contexts, such as with your friends and family – basically, with people you know very well.
Its meaning changes slightly based on how you use it:
- With respect to nouns, it means “terrible, poor-quality, worthless”;
+Che sciarpa di merda! Da dove l’hai presa? (What a shitty scarf! Where have you bought it?)
– È alla moda! L’ho pagata 500€!! (It’s trendy! I payed it 500 euros!!)
- With respect to verbs, it means “awful”.
Example: Ieri alla festa di Gianluca ho bevuto troppi cocktail… Oggi mi sento di merda… Che mal di testa!
Translation: I drank way too many cocktails at Gianluca’s party, last night….Today I feel like shit…What an awful headache!
“DI TUTTO RISPETTO”
When Italians talk about something “di tutto rispetto”, it means that it’s resprectable, it deserves respect and a remarkable consideration.
For instance: Generalmente non amo i biscotti delle sottomarche, ma devo ammettere che questi sono di tutto rispetto! La mia dieta non ne sarà felice!
Translation: I usually don’t like sub-brand cookies, but I have to admit that these are very respectable…my diet won’t be glad to hear it!
Doing something “di fretta” means that you need to finish as soon as possible because you there’s something else you need to do.
For example: Devo finire di bere il mio latte di fretta, perché la mia lezione di spagnolo comincia… ora! Oddio! Sono già in ritardo!
Translation: I need to finish drinking my milk quickly*: my Spanish class starts…right now! Oh, Gosh! I’m late!
*Depending on the context, “di fretta” could also be translated as: in a hurry, in a rush, or even with haste.
“DI TUTTO PUNTO”
“DI TUTTO PUNTO” means “perfectly, very carefully, taken care of in every detail” and it can be used by referring to an action (“fare le cose di tutto punto”) or a way of being, like in the following example:
+ Dove vai così vestita di tutto punto? (Were are you going, all dressed up to the nines*?
– Da nessuna parte! Devo fare qualche selfie per i miei social, per aumentare i miei follower e prendere tanti like! (Nowhere! I just need to take a few selfie for my social media: I need to increase my number of followers and likes!)
*Here, it means that she has chosen every single aspect of her outfit meticulously e.g., her hair, makeup, accessories and even the colors of her outfit! DI TUTTO PUNTO can also be translated as carefully.
As you could have already guessed*, “DI NASCOSTO” means“secretly, without anyone noticing or knowing”. Example:
Shh! Ho preso di nascosto le pantofole di Graziana! Sono orrende! Le volete vedere?
Translation: Shh! I took Graziana’s slippers in secret! They’re horrendous! Do you want to see them?”
*”Nascosto” is the past participle of the Italian verb “nascondere”, which means “to hide”. So DI NASCOSTO roughly means while hidden, furtively, doing something behind someone’s back.
Let’s close this list with a bang because “DI FATTO” has not 2, but 3 meanings:
- As an adjective, it means “substantial, actual”
Un recente provvedimento di fatto nel mio ufficio ci obbliga a non indossare più abbigliamento colorato! Che esagerazione!
Translation: A recent decision in my office effectively requires us not to wear any colorful clothing! What an exaggeration!
- Referring to a couple (“coppia di fatto“) – it indicates their union that, although it is not official by marriage, it is recognized by the Law according to the criteria of a lasting (and NOT temporary) cohabitation.
For instance: Ryan Gosling ed Eva Mendes sono una coppia di fatto. Ah… Che belli che sono!
Translation: Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes are a de facto couple. Ah…They’re so beautiful!
- As a adverbial phrase, therefore with verbs, it means “actually, in fact, basically, evidently”
Di fatto sono molto stanca… Gente, è stato un piacere: ma io me ne vado a letto!
Translation: Actually, I’m very tired…Folks, it’s been a pleasure but I’m going to bed!
I hope you found this article useful, especially because I thought about writing it after the success of the article on Italian expressions with the preposition “A” – check that one out too!
Do you like Italian food? Then you should watch our video about the most common Italian expressions related to food!
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 14:11 — 13.0MB)
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