Mezzo and metà in Italian
If you’ve been studying Italian for a while, you probably heard there are two ways of translating the English word “half” into Italian: mezzo and metà.
L’ho diviso a metà.
I split it in half.
Ludo ha mangiato mezza mela.
Ludo ate half an apple.
These two words may express the same concept, but they are used differently.
This can be confusing for a non-native speaker, but don’t worry, if you want to know how to use them correctly you’ve come to the right place.
In this lesson, we will look at the difference between mezzo and metà.
Metà in Italian
Let’s first look at how to say “half” using metà. Metà is a feminine noun, and it is used to describe one of two equal parts something can be divided into.
This word, as with other words that end in –tà, does not have a plural form, so you will still say: due metà (two halves).
Have a look at the examples below to learn how o use metà.
La metà di 10 è 5.
Half of 10 is 5.
La crostata era così buona che ne abbiamo già mangiata la metà.
The cake was so good that we already ate half of it.
Le due metà sono uguali, non c’è dubbio.
The two halves are the same, there’s no doubt about it.
Mezzo in Italian
On the other hand, mezzo is an adjective and always accompanies a noun.
Just like all other adjectives, it changes according to the noun’s gender and number, becoming mezzo (masculine singular), mezza (feminine singular), mezzi (masculine plural), mezze (feminine plural).
Ho comprato mezzo kilo di patate.
I bought half a kilo of potatoes.
Non mi piacciono le mezze verità.
I don’t like half truths.
Ho mangiato mezza mela per merenda.
I ate half an apple as a snack.
Mezzo is also used in many set expressions,
in mezzo a
in the middle of
per mezzo di
by means of
mettersi in mezzo
to get in the way
nel bel mezzo di
in the midst of
and compound words like mezzogiorno and mezzanotte (midday, midnight).
Mezzo as an adverb
Sometimes, though, mezzo can remain unchanged. This happens when its function within the sentence is that of an adverb and not an adjective.
Remember, an adverb modifies the verb, while an adjective modifies a noun. In this case, mezzo means a metà or per metà (halfway, in half).
In this case, it is advisable to leave it unchanged, but it is not incorrect to match it with the subject:
Quella donna è mezzo morta. / Quella donna è mezza morta.
That woman is half dead.
Still translating in your head? Wanna speak Italian for real? Check out Stefano's courses to think directly in Italian and become fluent fast!