“Non essere che” in Italian
In today’s post, we’re going to focus on a very specific expression: “non essere che”.
Of course, the verb essere has to be conjugated depending on who you’re referring to.
It’s not a very common expression but you might hear it and feel confused if you don’t know what it means.
Have a look at this example and try to understand what it means by yourself:
- Non eravate che dei bambini innocenti!
Let’s find out what this sentence means and how to use “non è che”!
What does “non essere che” mean?
The sentence we just read doesn’t sound very natural, right?
However, it does make sense.
Here’s what it means:
- You were justinnocent kids!
You probably know in English this means something like: “you were just innocent kids!” or “you were nothing else but kids!”.
It’s the same in Italian.
In fact, in Italian we could also say:
- Non eravate altro che dei bambini innocenti!
In this case, altro means “nothing else”.
In fact, “non essere che” is the shortened version of “non essere altro che” (to be nothing else but).
If it makes you confused, just try to erase the words non and che, and it’ll make more sense:
- Eravate dei bambini innocenti!
So, basically, “non è che” means “it’s not but” in Italian.
“Non essere che”: structure
The structure is pretty simple:
- non + conjugated form of essere + che + (indefinite article) + noun
As we already said, we have to conjugate the verb essere in order for the sentence to make sense.
These are the Italian indefinite articles (the equivalent of “a” and “some”):
- un, una, un’, dei, delle, degli, dell’
Nouns are words that refer to people, things, places, ideas, etc.
Here’s an example with “non essere che“:
Non sono che degli scemi!
They’re just silly!
Like in the example above, we tend to use this expression followed by a pejorative word, which is a word with a negative connotation, a low opinion indicating a lack of respect toward someone or something.
Examples with “non essere che”
Here’re some more examples:
Per loro non eravamo che dei pazzi.
For them, we were just crazy.
Non siamo che dei poveri disgraziati.
We’re just unfortunate.
Per noi, le stelle non sono che luci.
For us, stars are just lights.
Non eravamo che bambini.
We were just kids.
Non eri che una semplice ragazza.
You were just a normal girl.
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