What does mezzo and metà mean?
In Italian, there are two ways of translating the English word half: 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 because if you want to know how to use them correctly, you’ve come to the right place.
How to use 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:
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.
How to use mezzo?
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 such as:
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 also compound words like
- mezzogiorno (midday)
- mezzanotte (midnight)
How to use mezzo as an adverb?
Remember, an adverb modifies the verb, while an adjective modifies a noun. In this case, mezzo means a metà (halfway) or per metà (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.
Learn more about Italian adverbs of time.
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