How do you say yes in Italian? Yes and no are two of the most important words we say every day.
No is very easy to translate: the word is the same in both Italian and English, although in Italy people pronounce the o like we would in words like cocktail.
If you know some IPA, it means that you have to say /ˈnɔ/* instead of /noʊ/
To say yes in Italian, on the other hand, you need to learn a new word.
The Italian word for yes
If you want to say yes in Italian, the word you’re looking for is sì. It is pronounced /’si/, like the way we pronounce the letter c, with a grave accent on the vowel.
This accent is very important: without it, this word assumes a different meaning. But we’ll see that later.
A: “Giovanni, hai studiato ieri?” B: “Sì”
A: “Giovanni, did you study yesterday?” B: “Yes, I did”
Now, let’s see if you noticed an important detail. In English, when we reply to someone with “yes”, we usually repeat the verb that they used in their question (e.g.: “Did you stay up all night?”, “Yes, I did”).
In Italian, there’s no need to do so: sì is more than enough. If you want to reinforce your answer with other words you can use certo (“sure”, “of course”), certamente (“certainly”), or assolutamente (“absolutely”).
If you are feeling particularly enthusiastic, you can say: “Certo che sì!”
A: “Ti va di incontrarci dopo il lavoro?” B: “Certo!”
A: “Do you want to catch up after work?” B: “Sure!”
A: “Ti va una carbonara per pranzo?” B: “Certo che sì!”
A: “Would you like a carbonara for lunch?” B: “Hell yeah!”
As in English, Italians can sometimes add sì to the end of a sentence to ask for confirmation, although they will more often use variants like giusto (“right”) or vero (“true”).
These variants are also good substitutes for tag questions like “did you?” or “didn’t he?”, which are not used in Italian.
Dobbiamo incontrarci con gli altri alle 9, giusto?
We have to meet the others at 9, right?
Ha bevuto troppo di nuovo, vero?
He drank too much again, didn’t he?
What happens if you pronounce sì without an accent?
If you don’t pronounce sì with a grave accent, it becomes si, which can be:
- A reflexive pronoun;
- A 3rd person impersonal pronoun;
- A 3rd person passive pronoun;
- A musical note (B in English)
Let’s see some examples.
Simone si è concesso un bel tiramisù.
Simone treated himself with a nice tiramisù.
In Italia si fa colazione con un caffè e un croissant.
In Italy, people have breakfast with a coffee and a croissant.
Questo non si fa!
This is not to be done!
Now you can do anything
It’s important to catch the right opportunities. And if they happen to you in Italy, now you know how to say yes in Italian, too.
Go on that date, take that train, take the plunge… and wherever it takes you, keep checking this blog to learn some more Italian words. See you soon!
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