This video will cheer up many foreigners who study Italian and who tend to be frustrated when they make mistakes… Actually, today we will see the most frequent mistakes made by Italians!
The most common mistakes among Italians
First of all, it’s necessary to make a small introduction: many of the errors here, although extremely widespread in some parts of Italy, aren’t necessarily present in all areas or made by any Italian.
1. A widespread mistake is the use of the pronoun “gli“, which means “a lui“, even when we should say “le“, that is “a lei“.
Ho chiamato Carla e gli ho detto la verità! → wrong
Ho chiamato Carla e le ho detto la verità! → correct (I called Carla and I told her the truth)
Review Italian complement pronouns!
2. The other error, or rather, the other series of errors, concerns the much feared SUBJUNCTIVE! Well yes! It’s not only difficult for foreigners, but also for Italians themselves! It may happen that you hear many Italians say sentences like “Credo che oggi è una bella giornata” or “Se sapevo non lo facevo“.
The use of the indicative instead of the subjunctive is an increasingly widespread phenomenon in the Italian language, which, according to some scholars, will lead to the definitive disappearance of the subjunctive. But as long as there is, let’s use it to give the language the different shades that it needs! Therefore, the correct forms for the two previous sentences would be “Credo che oggi sia una bella giornata” (I think it’s a good day today) and “Se avessi saputo, non lo avrei fatto” (If I had known, I wouldn’t have done it).
If you want to find out all the cases where you must use the subjunctive, don’t miss our lesson!
3. Now let’s see some mistakes more related to the written form…
Da or Dà?
Lucia da il libro a Matteo. → wrong
Lucia dà il libro a Matteo. → correct (Lucia gives Matteo the book)
In fact, da with no accent is a preposition and it generally indicates the origin (example: “Vengo da Torino” → I come from Turin).
Watch the lesson about the prepositions!
The verb “dare” (to give), instead, is written with accent in the 3rd person singular of the present indicative. But why? The general rule is that monosyllabic words (that is, those with a single syllable) aren’t accented; so we should write “Maria fa sport” (Maria plays sports) and never “Maria fà sport” and “Vieni qua” (Come here) but not “Vieni quà“… However, when two words are written and pronounced in the same way, one of the two is accented in order to distinguish it from the other one: in this case the verb “dare”.
4. Don’t underestimate the deception of pronunciation… There are many words that seem attached when we pronounce them, but that are actually written apart!
“a fianco” and not “affianco” (beside)
Affianco exists but it’s the first person singular of the present of the verb affiancare, which means “approaching two or more things” or “supporting a person in an activity”.
“a posto” and not “apposto” (fine)
“a parte” and not “apparte” (except)
“a proposito” and not “approposito” (regarding)
“al di là” and not “aldilà” (beyond)
“a meno che” and not “amenoché” (unless)
“al di sopra, al disopra” and not “aldisopra” (above)
“al di sotto, al disotto” and not “aldisotto” (below)
Other expressions, however, must be written with the apostrophe.
“d’accordo” and do not “daccordo” (agreed)
“all’incirca” and not “allincirca” (approximately)
“tutt’altro” and not “tuttaltro” (anything but, far from)
“tutt’uno” and not “tuttuno” (one)
“d’altronde” and not “daltronde” (moreover, besides)
“poc’anzi” and not “pocanzi” (just now)
“quant’altro” and not “quantaltro” (whatever, whatnot)
“senz’altro” and not “senzaltro” (certainly)
Pay attention, instead, to the word “finora“, which means “until now” and it’s written, as you can see, all attached! There is also the “fin ora” version but it’s now archaic and little used.
5. Many Italians write the word “proprio” in this way: “propio“, probably influenced by the pronunciation, which, especially while talking fast, tends to overlook or to make extremely difficult to perceive the second consonant “r”.
Ah, speaking of PROPRIO, have you already seen our lesson?
6. Lastly, we have a very common error especially in the south and typical of spoken language: the use of “ci” to indicate “a lui” or “a lei“.
– Che regalo fai a Lucrezia? (What gift will you give to Lucrezia?)
– Ci do un mazzo di fiori. → wrong
– Le do un mazzo di fiori. → correct (I’ll give her a bunch of flowers)
– Che hai detto a Marco? (What did you tell to Marco?)
– Ci ho detto il mio segreto! → wrong
– Gli ho detto il mio segreto! → correct (I told him my secret)
Well, now if you feel ready, try to do our GRAMMAR TEST!
Let’s see if you’ve mastered the contents of this class. Have a go at completing the exercises!