How to use “proprio”: Italian grammar lesson 37


Unlock the secrets of the versatile Italian word proprio! From showing possession to emphasizing certainty, this guide will make you a pro at using proprio like a native speaker. 🇮🇹✨

  • Master Possession: Use proprio as a possessive adjective to clarify ownership. It’s like adding “own” in English to stress that something belongs to someone specifically. 🤔
  • Impersonal Use: When it’s about “one’s own” in impersonal constructions, proprio is your go-to word. It adds that personal touch to otherwise generic statements. 👌
  • Agreement Rules: Remember, proprio must agree in gender and number with the noun it’s describing. Don’t forget the article unless it’s after the noun. Grammar police approve! 🚔
  • Express Certainty: Want to sound convincing? Use proprio to mean “really,” “just,” or “exactly.” It’s the perfect way to reinforce your point. 💪
  • Negation for Emphasis: In negative sentences, proprio turns into an intensifier. Saying you don’t like something “at all” just got a whole lot stronger. 💥
  • Colloquial Gems: Get cozy with common expressions like “a proprio rischio e pericolo” (at one’s own risk) or “sentirsi a proprio agio” (to feel at ease). They’re conversation gold! 🗣️💎

My thoughts

What is proprio in Italian?

If you have been studying Italian, you surely have heard the word proprio in all kinds of conversations.

This is a typical Italian word and if you pay attention, you will find it is one of the most common words native speakers use.

Sei proprio sicuro che tutti verranno con la propria macchina?

Are you really sure that everyone will come in their own car?

What you might be unsure about is how to use proprio, as it appears to have a wide variety of meanings and uses!

So, let’s look at all the different meanings of proprio to learn how to use it correctly.

How to use proprio as one’s own?

First of all, proprio is used in Italian as a possessive adjective that can replace suo, sua, suoi, sue (his or her), or loro (their).

Giulia ama il proprio – Giulia ama il suo lavoro.

Giulia loves his own job.

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

Put the plates back in their (own) place.

In this case, proprio makes the sentence clearer as to whom we are talking about (like adding own in English).

On the other hand, proprio must be used as a possessive adjective with impersonal constructions (“one’s own”).

Si sta sempre bene a casa propria.

One always feels good at one’s own

Bisogna sempre dare la priorità al proprio benessere.

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

Remember, the word proprio as a possessive adjective must agree with the noun it describes in gender and number, and it is almost always preceded by an article unless it comes after the noun.

A casa propria.

at one’s own home.

Di produzione propria.

Of one’s own production.

How to use proprio as exactly, just, precisely?

As we already mentioned, the word proprio has other meanings in Italian.

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In its masculine singular form, it can be used to mean really, just, or exactly, depending on the context.

  • Really

Questo succo è proprio buono.

This juice is really good.

Non so proprio.

I really don’t know.

  • Just

Ho finito proprio ieri.

I just finished yesterday.

Ho chiamato Giulio proprio questa mattina.

I just called Giulio this morning.

  • Exactly

Questo è proprio ciò che volevo.

This is exactly what I wanted.

Proprio così!


If used in a negative construction, it can be an intensifier meaning at all:

Questa pizza non mi piace proprio.

I don’t like this pizza at all.

Oggi non voglio proprio lavorare.

Today I don’t want to work at all.

What are some Italian expressions with proprio?

Proprio is used in many Italian colloquial expressions. Here are some you might want to know!

A proprio rischio e pericolo.

At one’s own risk.

Essere/sentirsi a proprio agio.

To be/feel at ease

Amor proprio


Lavorare in proprio

To be self-employed

A word that is often used together with proprio is spero (I hope).

What does "proprio" mean in Italian?

Proprio is a term that can be translated to own in English. It is used as a possessive adjective to indicate ownership of something. Depending on the context, proprio can indicate possession by the speaker (my own), the listener (your own), or a third person (his own, her own, our own, their own).

What does "proprio in gamba" mean?

In italian it means "I am feeling quite capable and confident." The phrase "in gamba" can refer to both physical fitness as well as figurative strength. However, it is more commonly used to describe someone who is smart, capable, and determined.

Italian word of the day
Hai voglia di fare una passeggiata?
Do you feel like going for a walk?
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4 Responses

  1. I have a question about “Questo succo è proprio.” Is proprio an adverb here, and the adjective it modifies (buono) omitted as a sort of slangy way of speaking? Or is proprio here an adjective, so if the subject were feminine it would change to propria? Questa bevanda è proprio ?? or Questa bevanda è propria?

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