How to say “half”: Italian grammar lesson 66


Get ready to master the Italian words for “half”! Our guide will clear up the confusion between mezzo and metà, teaching you the nuances of using each term like a native speaker. 🇮🇹✨

  • Understanding Metà: Dive into the world of Italian nouns with metà, a feminine noun that’s all about splitting things into two equal parts. Remember, it’s a solo act—no plural form here!
  • The Adjective Mezzo: When you’re pairing up with nouns, mezzo is your go-to adjective. It’s a shape-shifter, changing to match the gender and number of the noun it’s describing.
  • Plurals and Genders: Keep your Italian sharp by matching mezzo with the noun’s gender—mezzo, mezza, mezzi, mezze. It’s all about agreement!
  • Set Phrases: Boost your Italian flair with set expressions like in mezzo a (in the middle of). These phrases are your golden ticket to sounding like a local.
  • Compound Words: Compound your Italian knowledge with words like mezzogiorno (midday) and mezzanotte (midnight). They’re handy and don’t follow the usual rules!
  • Mezzo as an Adverb: Sometimes, mezzo likes to go unchanged as an adverb, giving verbs that extra kick. It’s a versatile little word that can mean halfway or in half.
  • Adjective vs. Adverb: Remember, adjectives are BFFs with nouns, while adverbs are the wingmen of verbs. Knowing the difference is key to using mezzo correctly.

My thoughts

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 –, 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?

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Sometimes, 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 (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.

What does "mezzo" and "metà" mean?

They are two ways of translating the English word half.

How to use "metà"?

Metà is a feminine noun used to describe one of two equal parts something can be divided into. This word does not have a plural form.

How to use "mezzo"?

Mezzo is an adjective and always accompanies a noun. It changes according to the noun's gender and number.

How to use "mezzo" as an adverb?

When "mezzo" remains unchanged is acting as an adverb and means a metà or per metà (halfway, in half).

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4 Responses

  1. A fun memory hook for ‘mezzo’…..

    Dante begins the Divine Comedy with the words

    Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita.
    “Midway through the journey of my life.”

    1. Ciao!

      Yes, Dante begins La Divina Commedia with the word mezzo because even nowadays it means half.

      You can find a grammar note, at this link, about all the uses of mezzo from adjective to adverb to noun.

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