The Shortest Italian Words that Italians use ALL THE TIME

When we interact with a friend, a relative or a person we are familiar with, we tend to be as brief as possible. In fact, we wold never use complex constructs to ask a parent to pass us some water, but simple and short sentences. By the way, most of times Italians use so short that may sound like noises, but actually they have a lot meanings.

The shortest and most used words in Italian

1) Ops…

It’s a common exclamation that is used when we notice that something is not right, usually a distraction, a mistake or in any case, something unimportant:

– it’s used on its own if the audience can understand what’s going on

Example: “Ops…” (after pouring some wine on the table)

– it’s followed by a short explanation if the audience can understand the situation

Example: “Ops… ho dimenticato le chiavi” (Ops… I forgot my keys)

2) Uffa!

This interjection is used a lot by Italian people, even on its own, expressing  boredom, annoyance, impatience and any other negative emotion.

Examples: “Uffa, che caldo!” (Ugh, it’s so hot), “Uffa, il frigo è vuoto, mi tocca andare a fare la spesa!” (Ugh, the fridge is empty, I got to go to the grocery store!)

3) Pss

This is a hiss with the value of interjection and it’s used to draw other people’s attention, without making too much noise or trying to not be seen by other people or before a warning.

Example: “Pss, mi passeresti la penna?” (Pss, would you pass me the pen?)

4) Shh

This little word is used when we want someone to be quiet, to speak no more or make no more noise.

Example: “Shh, abbassa la voce…” (Shh, lower your voice…)

5) Già

This little word is used a lot by Italian people and it has several meanings:

– The first one has a time value that’s always mistaken with the other quite common time adverb “ancora” by foreign people.  If you want to know more about it, you can take a look at the video on the difference between “già” and “ancora” and how they’re used!

– The second expresses assent, confirms something, it’s the same as saying  “è vero” (it’s true), “sì” (yeah), “è così” (that’s it).

6) Uhm…

This interjection is usually used to express uncertainty, unbelief or indifference

Example: “Uhm… Non so se mangiare una mela oppure della cioccolata…” (Uhm… I don’t know if I should eat an apple or a piece of chocolate…)

7) Eh

This little word can express:

– reproach and disapproval

Example: “Eh! Non si fanno queste cose!” (Eh! You shouldn’t do this kind of things!)

– wonder or astonishment

Example: “Eh?! Ti stai trasferendo in Giappone?! E quando pensavi di dirmelo??” (Eh?! Are you moving to Japan? when were you planning on telling me?)

– resignation

Example: “Eh… Non sempre nella vita può andare tutto bene…” (Life doesn’t always go smoothly)

– drawing someone’s else attention

Example: “Belle, eh, le nuove scarpe che ho comprato?” (These new shoes I bought are nice, EH, aren’t they?)

– answering to someone’s call

Example: “Graziana! – Eh! – Vieni un attimo qui!” (Graziana! – Eh! – Come here a second!)

– request of repeating what we are told when we don’t understand

Example: “(something incomprehensible) – Eh???

8) Ah

This interjection can indicate, depending on the intonation:

– the beginning of a speech or a turn of a conversation with the change of subject

Example: “Ah, senti ma per quanto riguarda stasera: che si fa?” (Ah, what are we doing tonight?)

– pain

Example: “Ah, mi ha punto un’ape! Che dolore!” (Ah, a bee stung me! It hurts!)

– relief

Example: “Ah! Finalmente ho finito tutto quello che dovevo fare oggi… Ora posso finalmente rilassarmi!” (Ah! I finally finished what I had to do today… I can relax now!)

– pleasure

Example: “Ah… Mica male questa torta che hai preparato!” (Ah…  this cake you made is not bad at all!)

– disappointment

Example: “Ah… Cioè tu ora mi dici che non puoi venire con me al cinema, dopo che ho comprato i biglietti?!” (Ah… you’re telling me you can’t come to the cinema with me, after I bought the tickets?!)

–  when we get something that we didn’t get before

Example: “Ah, ora sì che è tutto chiaro!” (Ah, now it’s all clear!)

– if it is repeated two or more times, takes the value of a satisfied and sarcastic laughter

Example: “Ah ah! Ci sei cascato!” (Ah ah! You fell for that!)

9) Oh

This little word is used to express:

– sadness

Example: “Oh, mi dispiace molto per quello che ti è successo” (Oh, I’m so sorry for what happened to you)

– awe and wonder

Example: “Oh, che meraviglia il tramonto questa sera!” (Oh, today the sunset is amazing!)

– annoyance and impatience

Example: “Oh, quant’è antipatica sua sorella, mamma mia!” (Oh, jeez, his sister is so unlikable!)

– boredom

Example: “Oh… no, non ho proprio voglia di andare a lavorare questa mattina!” (Oh… I really don’t want to go to work this morning!)

10) Ehi

This little word is often used to greet or call friends, relatives and acquaintances, when we meet them but not when we leave them and it probably comes from English.

If you want to learn more about this last expression you can take a look at the video devoted to the alternatives to the word “Ciao”. Don’t miss it you want to be original and not redundant!

And don’t forget to read our book Italiano Colloquiale if you really want to learn all Italian colloquial words and expressions!

Let’s see if you’ve mastered the contents of this class. Have a go at completing the exercises!

One thought to “The Shortest Italian Words that Italians use ALL THE TIME”

  1. Hola Graziana, I really love learning Italian with you guys. It has never been more interesting and fun learning a language.
    I have 2 children and my wife is Italian, we all have Italian citadinnanza, but unfortunately we don’t all speak Italian as I am from Colombia but we live in England, we speak more Spanish and English but I definitely want to learn Italian and would like my children to speak Italian too.
    You are doing a great job. I really love to learn Italian with you.
    I confess that this is the first time I do like in every lesson I see with you.
    Thank you very much ragazzi.

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