mondo a scale

Questo mondo è fatto a scale, chi le scende e chi le sale.

The world is a ladder - some are coming down and some are going up.

The down and up here refer to people's fortunes - the good and bad things that happen in love, money, health, etc.

Grammatically it's a great reminder of the direct object pronoun "le", referring to "scale" and placed of course before the verb. C4N!


il mondo

Il mondo è bello perché è vario.

Variety is the spice of life.

Grammatically you get an essere reminder (è) and a definite article reminder (il).

It's also interesting to point out that what Italian does with an adjective (vario), English does with either a noun (variety) or a verb (to vary). In everyday use the adjective "various" isn't always quite the same as "vario." (Although you could say, "Per vari motivi" - "for various reasons.")

In other words a more literal tranlsation of today's proverb might be, "The world is nice because it varies," or, "The world is nice because of its variety," but not, "The world is nice because it's various."



che la dura

Chi la dura la vince.

A proverb in praise of persistence. (He who holds out wins.) A great grammatical reminder that object pronouns ("la") go before the conjugated verb in Italian. Ciao for now!


la costanza

A goccia a goccia, si scava la roccia.

This proverb means that drop by drop water can carve through rock. In other words, slow and steady wins the race, a tribute to constancy. Great reminder of the impersonal si - si scava. Ciao for now!



L'apparenza inganna.

Looks can be deceiving.

A great -are verb reminder (ingannare) and definite article review (l' before singular nouns that start with a vowel). C4N!


il passo

Che nessuno faccia il passo più lungo della gamba.

"Let no one take a step that's longer than his stride." This proverb actually comes from Horace! 

(Don't bite off more than you can chew.) A cautious reminder not to attempt what exceeds your capacities.

Grammatically we get a reminder that when comparing two nouns (passo and gamba) with regards to a single quality (lungo), we use "di" to say "than," not "che." C4N!


anno nuovo

Anno nuovo, vita nuova.

New year, new life. An expression of the belief that with a new year comes a chance for a new beginning, a fresh start.

Grammatically you get another nice agreement reminder - nuovo with anno but nuova with vita. C4N!


il lupo

Il lupo perde il pelo, ma non il vizio.

The wolf sheds his fur, but not his vices.

In other words, "A leopard cannot change its spots." Or in a similar vein, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks."

The meaning of this one is pretty clear - habit is the boss of us all! (Good to keep in mind with resolutions around the corner!)

Grammatically it's a good reminder of the -ere verbs - perdo, perdi, perde, perdiamo, perdete, perdono. C4N!


chi la fa

Chi la fa l'aspetti.

We reap as we sow. What goes around comes around. "Let he who does it expect it."

This form of aspettare (to wait for, expect) is a subjunctive (not covered in the grammatica section yet). It's not a present indicative tu-form!

What a great reminder of the direct object pronouns though - chi la fa. Notice it goes before the verb. C4N!


la gallina vecchia

Gallina vecchia fa buon brodo. "The old hen makes a good broth." In other words, "There's many a good tune played on an old fiddle."

Grammatically this week's Italian proverb is a handy reminder of the irregular verb fare - faccio, fai, fa, facciamo, fate, fanno. C4N!


l'uomo propone

L'uomo propone - ma Dio dispone. Humans can dream and scheme, plot and plan - but God, fate and nature decide the outcome. More good old Italian pessimistic fatalism!

I guess grammatically you get a bit of a reminder of the definite article - l' before a singular noun that starts with a vowel. Ciao for now!


due piccioni

Prendere due piccioni con una fava. (Pigliar due piccioni con una fava.)

This is Italy's version of "to kill two birds with one stone." Literally "to take two pigeons with one bean" (or to catch) - I guess the fava bean is the bait in a trap. Or maybe it's a dry bean as hard as a rock you throw?

Grammatically you get a bit of an indefinite article reminder- "una fava." C4N!


occhio che non vede

Occhio non vede, cuore non duole.

What you don't know won't hurt you. ("Eye that doesn't see, heart that doesn't hurt.")

Grammatically this is a good proverb for remembering the relative pronoun "che" which means "that" or "which" in Italian. C4N!


paese che vai

Paese che vai, usanza che trovi.

This is Italy's equivalent of, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." Grammatically it's a good reminder of the irregular verb andare - vado, vai, va, andiamo, andate, vanno. C4N!


can che abbaia

Can che abbaia non morde.

Barking dogs seldom bite. His bark is worse than his bite.

Actually the Italian for dog is cane - I think this is an archaic version, or poetic licence.

I guess grammatically this proverb is a good reminder of the -ere conjugation - mordo, mordi, morde, mordiamo, mordete, mordono. C4N!


non è tutt'oro

Non è tutt'oro quel che luccica.

All that glitters is not gold.

Pretty self-explanatory! And not much grammar to extract. I guess a reminder of essere (sono, sei, è, siamo, siete, sono) and the -are verbs (luccico, luccichi, luccica, luccichiamo, luccicate, luccicano). And negations - to negate a verb just put "non" in front of it. So we get "non è tutt'oro." C4N!


il pesce puzza

Il pesce puzza dalla testa.

This proverb from Napoli, famous for its fishermen, means, "The fish stinks from the head." (Corruption starts at the top.) A good proverb for remembering the basic difference between dalla (from the) and della (of the). C4N! (Ciao for now!)


chi si è scottato

Chi si è scottato con la minestra calda, soffia sulla fredda.

This one's by the great napoletano philosopher Benedetto Croce. Literally it means, "Those who scald themselves with hot soup, blow on the cold." I guess a good English equivalent would be, "Once bitten, twice shy."

This one will help you remember that reflexives (scottarsi - to scald oneself) get conjugated with essere in the passato prossimo (si è scottato).


si stava meglio

Si stava meglio quando si stava peggio.

"We were better off when we were worse off." A sentiment often expressed nel Sud about pre-Risorgimento (unification) times. Newfies say the same thing about Confederation. Which brings to mind a proverb that appeared in an earlier post - Tutt'il mondo è paese!

This proverb will help you remember the impersonal si, the imperfect (imperfetto), and the irregular comparatives for the adverbs bene (meglio) and male (peggio).


chi ha la lingua

Chi ha la lingua va in Sardegna.

"The squeaky wheel gets the grease." Those who speak up go far. Another interpretation might be, "Those who know languages go far." So keep studying!