Intanto: Italian grammar lesson 110

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While intanto che
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Intanto

Time words are very useful in all languages. They let us express when something happened, happens, or is going to happen.

In this lesson, we’re going to learn about a very common one: intanto, which means “in the meantime”.

Interestingly, though, this time word is not very commonly taught to Italian learners, but we do use it a lot.

Basically, we use intanto to talk about something that happens at the same time as another thing.

Have a look at some examples to get familiarized with this time word:

Noi cuciniamo. Intanto voi che fate?

We’re cooking. What are you doing in the meantime?

Vi stiamo aspettando ma intanto parliamo con i vostri amici.

We’re waiting for you but in the meantime, we’re talking to your friends.

Intanto explained

In the meantime

Make sure you don’t confuse this word with the word tanto (“much”, “a lot”), which means something completely different.

Intanto is a time expression and is usually used between two clauses (phrases).

This is because we use it to talk about two things happening at the same time.

Have a look at some more examples:

Tu preparati, io intanto finisco il lavoro.

Get ready. In the meantime, I’m going to finish the work.

Pietro guarda la television, intanto suo padre cucina.

Pietro is watching TV. In the meantime, his father is cooking.

As you can see in the examples above, intanto can either go before or after the subject.

This means we could also say:

  • Tu preparati, intanto io finisco il lavoro.
  • Pietro guarda la television, suo padre intanto cucina.

Intanto meaning

While

Intanto can also be used together with che to form intanto che. It simply means “while”, so it links two clauses.

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This time construction is informal but it’s also very common.

Here are some examples:

Intanto che aspetti leggiti questo libro.

While you wait, read this book.

Intanto che cucino, apparecchia il tavolo per favore.

While I cook, set the table, please.

Puoi stare da me intanto che ti cerchi un posto.

You can stay at mine while you look for a place.

Voi potete uscire intanto che io studio.

You can go out while I study.

Like in English, you can start the sentence with one clause or the other. The meaning doesn’t change.

So, if we take one of the examples above and we change the order, it still means the same.

Intanto che aspetti leggiti questo libro.

While you wait, read this book.

Leggiti questo libro intanto che aspetti.

Read this book, while you wait.

In the meantime Italian

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