Sembra di + verb: Italian grammar lesson 96


Unlock the secrets of expressing opinions and impressions in Italian with the phrase sembra di + verb. Dive into the nuances of this handy construction and sound like a native when sharing your thoughts!

  • Get opinionated: Use sembra di when you want to dish out your take on things or echo someone else’s viewpoint. It’s your go-to for sounding authentically Italian. 🇮🇹
  • Who’s it about? Slap on those direct pronouns like mi, ti, or gli before sembra to clarify who’s feeling what. It’s like saying “to me” or “to you” for that personal touch. 👥
  • Keep it singular: When pairing sembra with another verb, stick to the third-person singular form. It’s not just grammar; it’s about keeping things smooth and simple. ✨
  • Choose your vibe: Feeling like something’s off? Say non mi sembra di… to express doubt or disbelief. It’s like saying “I don’t think I…” or “I have the feeling I’m not…”. 🤔
  • Ask away: Want to nudge someone into self-reflection without coming off too strong? Use non ti sembra di… for a gentle prod. It’s like asking “Don’t you think you…?” without the pressure. 🧐
  • Embrace the negative: This construction shines in negative sentences. It’s perfect for those moments when you’re pondering out loud or trying not to step on toes. Use it to soften the blow. 🛡️

My thoughts

How to use 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 (the verb base form such as parlare, vedere, and dormire).

In case you don’t know, or don’t remember, we use sembrare when:

  1. we want to give a personal opinion about something or someone.
  2. when we want to refer to someone else’s opinion.

The verb sembrare is usually preceded by direct pronouns (mi, ti, gli, le, ci, vi) depending on who we’re referring to. Here is an example: mi sembra bello (it seems nice to me).

In the construction sembra di + verb, what seems to is an action (a verb) so we mainly use the third-person singular of sembra.

What does sembra di + verb mean?

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. An example can be you have the feeling you

Sembra di + verb: examples

We’re now ready to see some more examples.

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The following are literal translations (that will sound odd) and 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 to 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.

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How to use "sembra di" + verb?

We use "sembrare" when we want to give a personal opinion about something or someone, and when we want to refer to someone else's opinion. The verb is usually preceded by personal pronouns and is generally used fin negative sentences.

What does "sembra di" mean?

Although there is no a literal translation in English, it can be: I have the feeling I, I have the impression I, I think I, or I don’t think I.

Italian word of the day
Hai voglia di fare una passeggiata?
Do you feel like going for a walk?
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