It’s time for a new round of Italian ways of saying, don’t you think?
This idea came to me one day when, while telling a friend about something which ended up really bad, I said: “è finito tutto a carte quarantotto“. After saying such a thing, I realized that there are quite a few Italian ways of saying that include numbers, so I went ahead and wrote this post.
As I told you before, I love writing this kind of posts because they are really nice and funny and give me the opportunity to reflect on the language to find out why we say a certain thing and what is the history behind a specific way of saying. I love languages and it’s always great to learn new things about them – even when it is your own native language you are focusing on.
As I did for the other posts of this series, I created a pdf file which contains all the idiomatic phrases I am listing here below. Actually the pdf file I compiled for this specific post has something more: it contains a list of examples, so that you can see how a certain way of saying is applied in real language. You can find the file in Your Italian Toolbox, a section of Instantly Italy where you’ll find Italian learning materials. You can get access to it by subscribing here. I do hope you’ll find it interesting!
Well, let’s discover the Italian idiomatic phrases that have to do with numbers, shall we?
Dare i numeri
Literal meaning: to give the numbers
Actual meaning: to go crazy
Sparare a zero
Literal meaning: to shoot to zero
Actual meaning: to say bad things about someone or something
Fare due chiacchiere
Literal meaning: to have two chats
Actual meaning: to have a little chat
Su due piedi
Literal meaning: on two feet
Actual meaning: immediately
Fare due più due
Literal meaning: to make two plus two
Actual meaning: to put things together to finally realize or understand something
Due lati della stessa medaglia
Literal meaning: two sides of the same coin
Actual meaning: even if two things seem different, they are the same
Prendere il due di picche
Literal meaning: to get the two of spades
Actual meaning: to be turned down in matters of love or sex
Contare come il due di picche a briscola
Literal meaning: to count as the two of spades at briscola (Italian card game)
Actual meaning: not to count for anything, to have no importance
Non c’è due senza tre (e il quattro vien da sè)
Literal meaning: there is no two without three (and four comes on its own)
Actual meaning: if something (usually negative) happens twice, it will surely happen a third time
Tra i due litiganti, il terzo gode
Literal meaning: between two disputants, the third is happy
Actual meaning: if two people fight, it may be that it’s a third one who gets some kind of benefit
Ogni due per tre
Literal meaning: every two multiplied by three
Actual meaning: often
Chi fa da sè, fa per tre
Literal meaning: he who does it on his own, does it for three people
Actual meaning: things turn out better if you do them on your own instead of asking for help
Sbandierare ai quattro venti
Literal meaning: to flaunt at four winds
Actual meaning: to tell everybody
Farsi in quattro
Literal meaning: to make oneself in four
Actual meaning: to work hard, to do a lot (usually for others)
In quattro e quattr’otto
Literal meaning: in four and four eight
Actual meaning: suddenly, very fast
Dirne quattro a qualcuno
Literal meaning: to tell four to somebody
Actual meaning: to reprimand or scold someone
Costare quattro soldi
Literal meaning: to cost four coins
Actual meaning: to be very cheap
Partire in quarta
Literal meaning: to start in fourth
Actual meaning: to start something with great enthusiasm and excitement
Sudare sette camicie
Literal meaning: to sweat seven shirts
Actual meaning: to work hard to obtain something
Contare fino a dieci
Literal meaning: to count to ten
Actual meaning: to think before doing or saying something
Fatto trenta, si fa trentuno
Literal meaning: when thirty is done, let’s do thirty-one
Actual meaning: if you have already done something big, you can go an extra mile and do something else
Finire a carte quarantotto
Literal meaning: to end in cards forty-eight
Actual meaning: to fail, to end in a mess or very badly
Fare un quarantotto
Literal meaning: to make a forty-eight
Actual meaning: to make a mess
Dirlo cento volte
Literal meaning: to say something a hundred times
Actual meaning: to repeat something over and over
Literal meaning: thanks a thousand!
Actual meaning: to give thanks
Now it’s your turn! Are there similar ways of saying in your language? Let me know in the comments below!
As I told you at the beginning of this post, I have prepared a pdf file with all the words and phrases we learned together in this post. You can find it in Your Italian Toolbox, a section of Instantly Italy where you’ll find Italian learning materials. You can get access to it by subscribing here.
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Chiacchieriamo is a Skype chat which helps you practice and improve your Italian with a native speaker. If you want to give it a try, you can request a 30-minute free chat, so that we can meet each other and see if you like the service.