How to use “proprio”: Italian grammar lesson 37

To practice this grammar topic, take Lesson 37 of Ripeti Con Me!
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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 with 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.

proprio use italian

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/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

One must always prioratise one’s own wellbeing.

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

proprio really italian

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

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

I just called Giulio this morning.

  • Exactly:

Questo è proprio ciò che volevo.

This is exactly what I wanted.

Proprio così!

Exactly!

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

Today I don’t want to work at all.

own risk Italian

Proprio in Italian expressions

Obviously, 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

Self-esteem

Lavorare in proprio

To be self-employed

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

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3 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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