How to say “until” – finché: Italian grammar lesson 103

To master this grammar topic, take Lesson 103 of the audio course Ripeti Con Me!
finché italian until

Finché in Italian

In this lesson, we are going to look at a very useful Italian word: finché.

This word can express a few different concepts in English, and we will learn how to use it with simple explanations and examples.

Let’s get started!

Finché can be translated in English as “as long as” both in an abstract and time-related sense:

Finché va bene a lui, va bene anche a me.

As long as it’s fine for him, it’s fine for me too.

Puoi rimanere finché vuoi.

You can stay as long as you want.

It can also sometimes be translated as “while”.

Finché nevica, è meglio non uscire.

While it snows, it is best not to go out.

This is simple enough, you’ll say. The trouble starts when we start adding a non after finché.

Finché non: When to use

until italian

Finché non is a set expression that means “until” in Italian.

It is quite tricky for learners (and even native speakers sometimes!) to use this correctly as the non does not actually express a real negation.

However, once you understand that this non is a false negative and it needs not to be translated, the use of this expression is pretty straightforward.

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Let’s have a look at some examples:

Abbiamo aspettato finché non sono usciti.

We waited until they went out.

Ho continuato a correre finché non ero esausta.

I kept on running until I was exhausted

Non posso uscire finché non finisco di studiare.

I can’t go out until I finish studying.

Finché vs finché non

finché vs finché non italian

This difference may look small: after all, it is only a three-letter word, but it can make a sentence take a whole different meaning!

Have a look at the following example:

Sono stata bene finché ho lavorato da casa.

I was fine while I worked from home.

Sono stata bene finché non ho lavorato da casa.

I was fine until I worked from home.

In the first sentence, the subject was happy working from home, while in the second she was happy until she started working from home!

Finché and finché non: more examples

Finché c’è vita, c’è speranza.

While there’s life, there’s hope.

Finché non torni non andrò a dormire.

I will not go to sleep until you get back.

Non sono uscita finché non ha smesso di piovere.

I did not go out until it stopped raining.

Finché siamo tutti insieme, non c’è nulla da preoccuparsi.

There is nothing to worry about as long as we’re all together.

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