How to say “one’s own”: Italian grammar lesson 199

Key Takeaways

Readers will learn how to use the Italian word proprio to express “one’s own” and its various forms and meanings.

  • Use proprio to express one’s own in Italian, adjusting its ending based on gender and number: proprio, propria, propri, proprie.
  • In the third person, proprio can replace possessive adjectives like suo, sua, suoi, sue, and loro.
  • With impersonal constructions, proprio must be used as a possessive adjective, meaning one’s own.
  • Proprio is often preceded by an article unless it follows the noun it describes.
  • In its masculine singular form, proprio can also mean really, just, exactly, or at all depending on the context.

Quick facts

How does "proprio" change based on gender and number?

"Proprio" changes to propria, propri, or proprie, matching the gender and number of the noun.

When can "proprio" replace "suo" or "loro"?

"Proprio" can replace "suo" or "loro" in third person singular or plural cases, often clarifying possession.

What is the nuance between "proprio" and "suo/loro"?

"Proprio" emphasizes ownership more clearly, similar to adding "own" in English, though the core meaning remains the same.

What is a mandatory use case for "proprio"?

"Proprio" is mandatory in impersonal constructions, translating to "one’s own," ensuring clarity in such contexts.

Can "proprio" be used without an article?

Yes, "proprio" can be used without an article when it follows the noun it describes.

What are other meanings of "proprio" beyond possession?

As an adverb, "proprio" means really, just, or exactly, and as a negative intensifier, it means "at all."

How does "proprio" function as an adverb?

"Proprio" as an adverb modifies verbs or adjectives to mean really, just, or exactly, depending on the context.

How does "proprio" serve as a negative intensifier?

"Proprio" as a negative intensifier emphasizes total negation, similar to saying "at all" in English.

Can you give an example of "proprio" in an impersonal construction?

"Si sta sempre bene a casa propria" translates to "One always feels good at one’s own home."

What does "proprio" add to the sentence "Mario ama il proprio lavoro"?

"Proprio" clarifies that Mario loves his own job, emphasizing personal ownership more than "suo" would.

My Thoughts

“One’s own” in Italian: proprio

To say one’s own in Italian we use the word proprio. This word changes its ending depending on the gender and number of what it is describing.

It can therefore become proprio, propria, propri, or proprie. Have a look at the examples below.

Ognuno ha i propri problemi.

Everyone has their own problems.

Sandra ha lavato la propria macchina ieri.

Sandra washed her own car yesterday.

🔊
Non è proprio il momento giusto.

🔊
Ha perso proprio tutto.

How and when to use proprio?

Proprio can be used in the third person singular to replace the possessive adjective suo, sua, suoi, sue (his or her) or in the third person plural to replace the possessive adjective loro (their).

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In this case, we can use both versions and the difference in meaning is null or very slight: proprio might make the sentence clearer as to whom we are referring to (like adding “own” in English).

Mario ama il proprio lavoro. – Mario ama il suo lavoro.

Mario loves his own job.

Rimetti i libri al proprio posto. – Rimetti i libri al loro posto.

Put the books back in their (own) place.

🔊
Ho usato il tempo per i propri hobby.

However, proprio must be used as a possessive adjective with impersonal constructions. In this case, it means one’s own.

Si sta sempre bene a casa propria.

One always feels good at one’s own

È importante ricordarsi delle proprie radici.

It is important to remember one’s own roots.

Bisogna sempre dare la priorità al proprio benessere.

One must always prioritize one’s own well-being.

As you have probably noticed, the word proprio is almost always preceded by an article, unless it comes after the noun it describes.

A casa propria.

At one’s own home.

Di produzione propria.

Of one’s own production.

What are other meanings of proprio?

The word proprio, this time only in the masculine singular form, also has different meanings in Italian and can be used in a lot of different contexts.

It can be an adverb meaning really, just or exactly, depending on the context:

Questo caffè è proprio buono.

This coffee is really good.

Ho finito proprio adesso.

I just finished now.

Questo è proprio ciò che cercavo.

This is exactly what I was looking for.

It can be a negative intensifier meaning at all:

Questa birra non mi piace proprio.

I don’t like this beer at all.

Oggi non voglio proprio uscire.

Today I don’t want to go out at all.

Test your knowledge in 10 quick questions

FAQs

How do you say his own in Italian?

"Proprio" is a term used to indicate possession, similar to the English word own. It is typically used before a noun to indicate that the object is owned by a specific person or group, for example, my own, your own, his own, her own, our own, or their own.

How do you use "proprio" in a sentence?

"Proprio" is an Italian possessive adjective that can be used in place of "suo", "sua", "suoi", "sue" (his or her) or "loro" (their). As an example, the sentence "Mattia ama il proprio cane" translates to "Mattia loves his own dog".

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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