Sembra di + verb
In today’s post, we’re going to see how we can combine the verb sembrare (“to seem” or “to look”) with another verb in the infinitive (its base form like parlare, vedere, and dormire).
In case you don’t know (or don’t remember), we use sembrare when we want to give a personal opinion about something or someone or when we want to refer to someone else’s opinion.
The verb sembrare is usually preceded by mi, ti, gli/le, ci, vi, and gli depending on who we’re referring to, as in “mi sembra bello” (it seems nice to me).
In the construction we’re going to consider today (sembra di + verb), since what “seems” is an action (and thus a verb) we mainly use the third person singular sembra.
Sembra di + verb: meaning
Before we have a look at some examples, keep in mind sometimes literal translations sound very odd.
This is why we’re going to give you not-so-literal translations of “mi sembra di…” (which literally means “it seems to me to…”) for you to understand better.
Here’s a list of possible translations:
- I have the feeling I…
- I have the impression I…
- I think I…
- I don’t think I…
Of course, if we wanted to translate “ti sembra di…”, we would say “you” instead of “I”, as in “you have the feeling you…”, etc.
Sembra di + verb: examples
We’re now ready to see some concrete examples.
We’ll give you literal translations (that will sound odd) together with more meaningful translations, for you to really grasp the meaning of each sentence.
Non mi sembra di conoscere tua sorella.
It doesn’t seem to me to know your sister.
I don’t think I know your sister.
Non mi sembra di riconoscere questo posto.
It doesn’t seem to me recognize this place.
I don’t think I recognize this place.
Non ti sembra di esagerare?
Doesn’t it seem to you to exaggerate?
Don’t you think you’re exaggerating?
Non vi sembra di essere un po’ in ritardo?
Doesn’t it seem to you to be a bit late?
Don’t you think you’re a bit late?
Mi sembra di fare tutto male!
It seems to me to do everything wrong!
I have the impression I do everything wrong!
Mi sembra di sognare!
It seems to me to dream!
I have the feeling I’m dreaming!
As you can see, we use this construction mainly in negative sentences.
This is because it conveys the feeling that we’re actually thinking at the same time as we’re saying the sentence, like in the first and second examples.
It might also be because it helps us not to be too direct when we ask a question or because we want our interlocutors to really think about what we’re asking, like in the third and fourth examples.
Still translating in your head? Wanna speak Italian for real? Check out Stefano's courses to think directly in Italian and become fluent fast!