“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.
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).
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.
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.
Still translating in your head? Wanna speak Italian for real? Check out Stefano's courses to think directly in Italian and become fluent fast!