How to say but: Italian grammar lesson 42

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Ma meaning Italian
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But in Italian

In today’s short lesson, 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.

How to say but in Italian

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.

How to use ma in Italian

Però: another option

There’s also another way of saying “but” which is a bit longer, slightly less common, and is used differently. We can say però instead of ma.

This word is more flexible than ma. 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 “though” 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.

But in Italian

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