Italian expression of the day: ‘Speaking off the cuff’

The Italian language features plenty of very versatile little words, like so, ecco, so, in short, that is, and Like thiswhich have a multitude of uses and come in handy in all sorts of situations.

Helpfully, as Italian native speakers will demonstrate during almost any phone call, these words can also be used as fillers at times when you’re not sure what to say – but are still talking anyhow:

Well, that’s how it is, that’s how we are, that’s how it went

There you go, that’s the way it is, that’s where we are, that’s how it went

Today’s word might just be the most versatile of them all.

Like this is a word that you’ll hear used all the time in spoken Italian, in all sorts of different ways. Here are a couple that you’ve probably heard or used yourself:

That’s it – That’s how it is (literally ‘it is so’)

That’s enough? – Is that all?

Just saying – so to speak/as it were

It’s not like that – don’t do that/that’s not cool (literally ‘it’s not done like that’)

As you can probably tell, Like this in its most common usages translates roughly into English as so, thus, such, that, or like this.

You pronounce it ‘koh-zee’ – click here to hear some examples.

Much like the English ‘that’, Like this can also be used to add emphasis, as in so much (‘so much’) or so little (so little), or to modify an adjective:

It’s not that common

It’s not that common

It’s used to mean ‘so’ as in ‘therefore’:

There was a train strike, so we couldn’t leave.

There was a train strike, so we couldn’t leave.

You could even use it like this to stress how strongly you feel:

We are so so sorry about last night.

We’re so, so sorry for last night

But normally, when you see it doubled up, it has a different meaning.

So and so is the equivalent of ‘so-so’ in English, which means ‘not good, not bad’ – but is the sort of phrase you might euphemistically use to indicate that you’re not feeling well, or didn’t like something very much.

How was the movie?

So-so… I’ve seen better.

How was the film?

So-so, I’ve seen better.

(Here, you could also use the word in short instead of cso-so)

The houses are maintained just so-so.

The houses aren’t very well maintained.

These are just a few of the many possible uses of Like thisbut we’re sure you can see why this is a word every Italian learner should be familiar with.

It’s so useful to know! (It’s so useful to know)

Do you have an Italian word you’d like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.


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