When I write about the word ‘time’ in Italian, I am not referring to how to ask and tell the time in Italian, but to the actual English word time.
As a matter of fact, most of my students are English speakers and after working with them for a while, I noticed that most of them show the same weaknesses and struggle with the same topics, when it comes to speaking Italian: one of them is undoubtedly the word time.
This seems to be one of the most critical topics, more than subjunctive or pronouns, sometimes. Struggling with how to translate time into Italian is something that affects beginners and intermediate and sometimes even advanced learners alike. It has become such a common trait that I decided to write a post about it, hoping to help people who have a hard time with it.
So, how do I translate the English word time in Italian?
In many different ways, just to make things a bit more complicated. The English word time can be translated into Italian with a few different words, depending on the meaning. Let’s see what these words are.
Time is translated into Italian with the word tempo when it refers to:
- the concept of time
La cosa che vorrei di più è avere più tempo per me (The thing I’d like the most is having more time for myself)
Il tempo vola quando sei in vacanza. (Time flies when you are on holiday)
Vorrei fare più sport, ma non ho mai tempo (I’d like to exercise more but I never have the time)
- the duration of something
Quanto tempo ci vuole per arrivare a Roma? (How long does it take to get to Rome?)
Ci vuole molto tempo per cucinare un buon ragù per la pasta. (It takes a long time to cook a good meat sauce for the pasta)
- a moment to spare
Hai tempo per una domanda? (Do you have time for a question?)
Time is translated into Italian with the word ora when it refers to:
- an hour
Facciamo colazione sempre alla stessa ora. (We always have breakfast at the same time)
A che ora arriverai domani? (What time will you arrive tomorrow?)
A che ora parte il tuo volo? (What time does your flight leave?)
- a specific time/moment to do something
Si sta facendo tardi, è ora di andare a casa. (It’s getting late, it’s time to go home)
È arrivata l’ora dell’aperitivo. Ci prendiamo uno Spritz? (It’s aperitivo time. Shall we have a Spritz?)
È ora di cena, mangiamo? (It’s dinner time. Shall we eat?)
Time is translated into Italian with the word volta when it refers to:
- the frequency of an event
Vado a lezione di italiano tre volte alla settimana (I have Italian lessons three times a week)
Io e mia mamma ci vediamo una volta all’anno (I meet my mom once a year)
In estate vado al mare due volte alla settimana (In summer I go to the beach twice a week)
- the moment when something happens
La prossima volta che torni a casa in ritardo, lo dico a tuo padre (Next time you come home late, I will tell your father)
Ogni volta che ti vedo è come se fosse la prima volta. (Every time I see you, it’s like the first time)
Andiamo a mangiare una pizza? No, grazie! Magari un’altra volta (No, thanks. Maybe another time)
Ho viaggiato in Italia molte volte (I have traveled to Italy many times)
Some English expressions using the word ‘time’:
All the time: sempre
A matter of time: è una questione di tempo
At times: a volte
At that time: a quel tempo
At the same time: allo stesso tempo, contemporaneamente
Every time: ogni volta
From time to time: ogni tanto
In no time: velocemente
In time: in tempo
It’s time to go: è ora di andare
On time: puntuale
Take your time: prenditi il tuo tempo
Time after time: ripetutamente
Time flies: il tempo vola
Time’s up: il tempo è scaduto
Timeless: senza tempo
To kill time: ammazzare il tempo
Do you have questions about this topic? Please leave them in the comments below!
As I told you at the beginning of this post, I have saved this post on a downloadable pdf file. 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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