Other meaning of “tanto”: Italian grammar lesson 126

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Summary

Dive into the versatile world of the Italian word tanto! From expressing quantities to signaling resignation, this guide unpacks the many faces of tanto and teaches you how to use it like a native. 🇮🇹✨

  • Quantity Chameleon: Tanto morphs to match gender and number as an adjective (think tanta, tanti, tante) but stays put as an adverb. Use it to amp up your “a lot” game in Italian! 📈
  • Conjunction Junction: Tanto as a conjunction is your go-to for the English “anyway” or “because.” It’s a sneaky switch from its quantity roots, but super handy for showing resignation or inevitability. 🤷‍♂️
  • Short and Sweet: In casual convo, tanto alone can express a sense of “What’s the point?” It’s the verbal shrug you didn’t know you needed. 🤔
  • Just Because: Pair tanto per with an infinitive verb when you’re doing something just for the heck of it. It’s the Italian way to say “just because” or “just to do something.” 🌀
  • Might as Well: Tanto vale is your go-to phrase for “might as well” in English. It’s perfect for those “in for a penny, in for a pound” moments. 💪
  • Set Phrases: Get cozy with set phrases like di tanto in tanto (from time to time) and ogni tanto (sometimes). They’re the seasoning that’ll spice up your Italian small talk. 🌶️
  • Hats Off: Want to show admiration in Italian? Whip out tanto di cappello and watch the impressed nods roll in. It’s like a verbal tip of the hat! 🎩
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What does tanto mean in Italian?

If you’ve been learning Italian for a while, you are probably already familiar with the word tantowhich can be used as both an adjective and an adverb in many types of sentences.

Usually, tanto can be translated as a lot (of), much, many, etc.

Ci sono tante verdure nel frigo.

There are a lot of vegetables in the fridge.

Ieri abbiamo lavorato tanto.

Yesterday we worked a lot.

Ci sono tanti modi diversi di suonare questo strumento.

There are many different ways of playing this instrument.

As an adjective, tanto becomes tanta, tanti, tante according to the gender and subject of what we are describing, while as an adverb, it stays the same.

What is the other meaning of tanto?

tanto per italian

What you might not know is that, in Italian, tanto can also be used as a conjunction, which is a word that connects two clauses.

Have a look at the examples below:

Non dirgli niente, tanto non ti ascolta.

Don’t tell him anything; he won’t listen anyway.

Non l’ho invitata, tanto non sarebbe mai venuta.

I did not invite her; she would never have come anyway.

You need to be careful because  tanto here has nothing to do with its original meaning! Instead, it means anyway, in any case, and it can also have a similar meaning to because.

Can tanto be used on its own?

tanto italian

Sometimes, especially in very informal contexts, Italians use tanto on its own as an answer to a question.

Perché non hai parlato con Giorgia?
Eh, tanto

Why didn’t you talk to Giorgia?
There’s no use, anyway

In this case, tanto expresses resignation, meaning that something is useless and that nothing would change it.

Perché hai smesso di studiare il Russo?
Mah, tanto

Why did you quit studying Russian?
There’s no use, anyway

Here, the speaker, by answering tanto… to the question, is transmitting the idea that there isn’t much point in studying Russian anyway. That it is not important and maybe was not taking him or her anywhere.

How to use tanto per?

just because italian

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Another common expression that includes the word tanto is tanto per + infinitive verb.

L’ho chiamato tanto per fare.

I called him without any specific reason.

If you do something tanto per fare, it means you do it with no specific reason, just to do it (just because).

Perché ti sei tinto i capelli?
Non so, tanto per cambiare un po’.

Why did you dye your hair?
I don’t know, just to change a bit.

Sometimes, tanto per is also used on its own in very informal settings.

Perché ti sei tinto i capelli?
Così, tanto per

Why did you dye your hair?
Just because… (For no reason, really)

How to use tanto vale?

hats off italian

Another common expression with the word tanto is tanto vale + verb

This expression can be translated with the English might as well + verb.

Have a look at the following examples:

Se non lavoriamo, tanto vale uscire!

If we do not work, we might as well go out!

Se hai iniziato, tanto vale finire!

If you started, you might as well finish!

Here are also other set expressions that include the word tanto.

di tanto in tanto

from time to time

ogni tanto

sometimes

tanto di cappello!

chapeau! / hats off!

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FAQs on Other meaning of “tanto”: Italian grammar lesson 126

How "tanto" can be translated?

As a lot (of), much, many and as anyway or in any case only when it acts as a conjunction.

Can tanto be used on its own?

Yes! As an answer to a question expressing resignation.

How to use tanto per?

It means just because and it's formes by tanto per + infinitive verb.

How to use tanto vale?

It translates as might as well and is formed by tanto vale + verb. 

Italian word of the day
parcheggiato
Example
Vorrei proprio sapere chi ha parcheggiato qui!
I’d really like to know who parked here!
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