How to say “to pretend”: Italian grammar lesson 168


Unlock the secrets of Italian language with our guide! Learn the true meaning of pretendere, how to express ‘to pretend’ with fingere, and master the art of saying ‘pretend nothing happened’ with the phrase fare finta di niente. 🇮🇹✨

  • False Friends Alert: Don’t be fooled by pretendere! It’s not ‘pretend’ but means ‘to demand’ or ‘to expect’. Remember, context is key in Italian! 🚫🤝
  • Conjugate with Confidence: Use fingere to express ‘to pretend’. Nail the present tense with: fingo, fingi, finge, fingiamo, fingete, fingono. 🗣️📚
  • Past Participle Power: The past participle of fingere is finto. Get ready to form those compound tenses like a pro! 💪🕒
  • Preposition Perfection: Link fingere with di when followed by another verb. Example: fingere di lavorare (‘to pretend to work’). 🤫📝
  • Casual Conversation: Opt for fare finta di + infinitive for a more informal vibe. It’s a go-to in spoken Italian and super easy to use. Just conjugate fare! 💬🍕
  • Expression Extra: Fare finta di niente is your golden phrase for ‘pretend nothing happened’. It’s unique and doesn’t swap with fingere. Use it to blend in like a local! 🎭👀

My thoughts

What does pretendere mean in Italian?

First of all, the Italian verb pretendere is a false friend, which means it looks and sounds like the verb pretend in English, but its meaning has nothing to do with it! Instead, it means to demand, presume or expect.

Here are some examples of how you can use pretendere:

Pretendere 300 euro per una giornata di lavoro è esagerato.

To demand or want 300 euros for a day’s work is too much.

Non pretendere troppo da lui.

Do not expect too much from him.

How to say to pretend in Italian?

If you are speaking Italian and want to translate the verb to pretend, you can use the verb fingere.

Here’s its conjugation in the present tense:

io fingo
tu fingi
lui / lei finge
noi fingiamo
voi fingete
loro fingono

The past participle of fingere is finto. This will help you form the compound tenses with this verb.

To describe what we are pretending we use the preposition di after the verb fingere, followed by a verb in the infinitive.

Let’s have a look at some examples:

Loro fingono di essere stranieri, ma sono italiani.

They pretend to be foreigners, but they are Italian.

Ho finto di avere mal di testa e sono tornata a casa.

I pretended I had a headache and I came home.

Ha finto di non vedermi, non ci posso credere!

He pretended he didn’t see me, I can’t believe it!

How to use fare finta di?

If you do not remember how to conjugate fingere, or just want to sound a bit more informal and colloquial, you can use the construction: fare finta di + infinitive.

If you use fare finta di, which has the same exact meaning of fingere, you will only need to know the conjugation of the verb fare (to do or make), and you will really sound like a native.

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In fact, this construction is much more common in spoken language than fingere di.

Non fare finta di dormire, lo so che sei sveglio.

Do not pretend you’re asleep, I know you’re awake.

I bambini fanno spesso finta di non capire.

Children often pretend they don’t understand.

Mio padre dice che è sordo, ma secondo me fa solo finta di non sentire.

My dad says he’s deaf, but I think he just pretends not to hear.

How to use the expression fare finta di niente?

Usually, we follow the construction fare finta di infinitive. However, there is a set expression in Italian that is a bit of an exception:fare finta di niente.

This means to pretend nothing happened or is happening, and can also be found with the word nulla:far finta di nulla.

In this case, fingere and fare finta di are not interchangeable, this expression only exists with fare finta di.

Let’s have a look at some more examples:

Luca gli ha dato un calcio, ma lui ha fatto finta di niente.

Luca kicked him but he pretended nothing happened.

Stiamo preparando una festa a sorpresa per Giovanni. Se lo vedi, fai finta di niente.

We’re preparing a surprise party for Giovanni. If you see him, pretend like nothing is happening.

How to say to pretend in Italian?

By using the verb "fingere".

How to use "fingere"?

There are two options: using "fingere" + di + infinitive or a more colloquial structure with "fare finta di" +infinitive.

What does the expressions "fare finta di niente" or "fare finta di nulla" mean?

To pretend nothing happened or nothing is happening.

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