How to say “but”: Italian grammar lesson 42

Key Takeaways

Dive into the Italian language and master the art of contrast with the word “ma“! This guide will show you how to seamlessly introduce opposing ideas in Italian, just like a native. Plus, get the scoop on using “però” for that extra flair in your conversations!

  • Contrast Like a Pro: Use “ma” to effortlessly connect conflicting ideas in a sentence. It’s the Italian secret sauce for saying “but” and keeping your chat smooth. 😎
  • Placement Matters: Remember, “ma” is a bit of a stickler for position – it likes to snug right before the second idea, acting as a bridge between thoughts. 🌉
  • Keep it Simple:Ma” is your go-to for simplicity. Just two letters and bam! You’ve got yourself a contrast. No fuss, no muss. 👌
  • Flex with “Però“: Feeling fancy? Use “però” for a touch of versatility. It can chill at the end of a sentence, giving you that casual, conversational vibe. 😏
  • It’s All About That Style: Whether you choose “ma” or “però“, you’re styling your Italian with a bit of personality. Go on, show off that linguistic flair! 🎨

Quick facts

How do you say "but" in Italian?

The Italian word for "but" is "ma," a simple two-letter term.

Where can "ma" be placed in a sentence?

"Ma" is used right before the second contrasting idea, linking the two thoughts seamlessly.

Can you give an example of "ma" in a sentence?

Lei vuole uscire ma io voglio stare a casa. (She wants to go out, but I want to stay home.)

What is another word for "but" in Italian?

Another option for "but" in Italian is "per," which is more flexible in placement.

How does the flexibility of "per" compare to "ma"?

Unlike "ma," "per" can be placed at the end of a sentence, similar to "though" in English.

Can you provide an example of using "per" at the end of a sentence?

Ho visto Anna. Non l'ho salutata per. (I saw Anna. I didn't say hello, though.)

How does "per" function differently from "ma" in sentence structure?

"Per" can introduce a contrasting idea either before the second phrase or at the end of a sentence, offering more flexibility.

Is "per" as common as "ma" in Italian?

"Per" is slightly less common than "ma," but it offers more versatility in sentence construction.

Can you give an example where "ma" is used to contrast two preferences?

Mi piace andare in montagna ma preferisco andare al mare. (I like to go to the mountains, but I prefer to go to the beach.)

How do you express a nuanced opinion with "per"?

Bello quel film per un po' lungo. (That movie is nice, but it's a bit long.)

My Thoughts

What is ma in Italian?

We’re going to learn how to say but in Italian. It’s just a two-letter word: ma.

Like in English, we use the equivalent of but to introduce an idea that contrasts with what we just said. This means we place it right before the second idea in the sentence.

Pay attention to the two ideas in each sentence and how they’re linked by ma.

Lei vuole uscire ma io voglio stare a casa.

She wants to go out, but I want to stay home.

Il professore ha spiegato l’esercizio ma io non ho capito.

The teacher explained the exercise, but I didn’t understand.

🔊
Il treno è partito ma lei è arrivata tardi.

🔊
La pizza è buona ma la pasta è migliore.

But: examples

Let’s have a look at some more examples:

Ho studiato ma non mi ricordo niente.

I studied, but I don’t remember anything.

Mi piace andare in montagna ma preferisco andare al mare.

I like to go to the mountains, but I prefer to go to the beach.

Sono andata al bar ma non ho visto Matteo.

I went to the cafe, but I didn’t see Matteo.

🔊
Lei ama il gelato, ma non lo mangia spesso.

How to use però?

There’s also another option for saying but. It’s a bit longer,  slightly less common, and is used differently: però .

This word is more flexible than ma. Because while ma can only go right before the second phrase (in other words, in between the two phrases), però can also go at the end of a sentence.

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It’s a bit like that in English.

Look at the two possible options for each group of sentences:

Ho visto Anna, però non l’ho salutata.

I saw Anna, but I didn’t say hello.

Ho visto Anna. Non l’ho salutata però.

I saw Anna. I didn’t say hello, though.

È bello quel film però è un po lungo.

That movie is nice, but it’s a bit long.

È bello quel film. È un po lungo però.

That movie is nice. It’s a bit long, though.

Test your knowledge in 10 quick questions

FAQs

How to use "ma"?

"Ma" introduces an idea that contrasts with what we just said. We place it right before the second idea in the sentence.

How to use "però"?

"Però" is a longer and slightly less common word. It can also go at the end of a sentence. And it can be translated as though in English.

Italian word of the day
capivo
Example
Non capivo più niente dal sonno.
I was so tired that I couldn’t think.
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