What is a prefix?
A prefix is usually made up of a few letters and can be placed at the beginning of a word to modify its meaning. Prefixes are used in English and Italian all the time, even if you might not have realized it before!
In this lesson, we will look at the prefix RE- and how to use it in Italian. We can find the prefix RE- in English in words such as “redo, rewrite, reuse“, etc.
Yes, you have guessed well, the prefix RE- is used to add a sense of repetitiveness to verbs, it conveys the meaning of doing something again. The Italian equivalent of RE- is RI-. Pretty easy, right?
Let’s look at some examples of the Italian prefix RI- in use:
The prefix RI- in Italian
The prefix RI- in Italian has a similar meaning to the prefix RE- in English, but of course it is used in a great number of verbs, even when it does not appear in English.
You can use it, for example, to say “to call back”: richiamare, or “to watch / listen again”: rivedere, riascoltare etc.
Richiamai più tardi, sono occupata.
Call me back later, I am busy.
Vogliamo rivedere quel film, ci è piaciuto molto.
We want to watch that film again, we really liked it.
Devo riascoltare il podcast di ieri perché mi sono addormentato.
I need to listen to yesterday’ podcast again because I fell asleep.
Be careful, some verbs in Italian start with the prefix RI-, but the verb without the prefix does not exist or has a completely different meaning! This is because the verbs come from a Latin origin or have come to take on a different meaning with time and the evolution of the Italian language. Let’s see some examples:
Practice with QuizletHere's a set of flashcards and quizzes to practice this grammar topic.
Other meanings of the prefix RI-
The prefix RI- in Italian can also be used to indicate a return to a previous phase, after an action opposite to that of the verb without the prefix.
For example, riacquistare or riguadagnare (to regain) mean to get back what has been lost; rialzare means to pick up what has fallen; ritrovare to find what was lost, etc.
Let’s see some examples:
Voglio riguadagnare la sua fiducia.
I want to regain his trust.
Con il tuo aiuto ho ritrovato il coraggio di viaggiare da sola.
With your help I found once again the courage to travel alone.
Sometimes, RI- can also add intensity to the action described, as in: