Monday, December 2, 2013

La negazione - Negation


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After covering the simple tense of -ARE, -ERE, and -IRE verbs, you are able to conjugate a large number of regular verbs and express a large number of concepts.  

You may want to have your worksheets and conjugation practice handy from the previous lessons.  If you missed them, or need more review, start there first: 

UPDATE: all links redirect to the same post on the new site, VIA OPTIMAE
  (1) How Italian verbs work (Intro to verbs & grammar terms)
  (2) Italian present tense: -ARE verbs
  (3) Italian present tense: -ERE verbs
  (4) Italian present tense: -IRE verbs

For example, you know that "mangiare" means "to eat", and it's a regular -ARE verb, so "I eat" is:


"Leggere" is a regular -ERE verb that means "to read", so "I read" is:


"Dormire" is a regular -IRE verb that means "to sleep", so "I sleep" is:


"Finire"  is a regular -IRE verb that takes -ISC- and means "to finish" so "I finish" is:


So, collectively, we have:

Mangio, leggo, dormo e finisco.
I eat, I read, I sleep and I finish.

But how do you say…
I don't eat?
I don't read?
I don't sleep?
I don't finish?

Luckily for us, Italian negation is much simpler than English… you just add "non" before the verb.

So, "I don't eat" is:

Non mangio

"I don't read" is:

Non leggo

"I don't sleep" is:

Non dormo

and "I don't finish" is:

Non finisco

Easy right?  

(Hear "non" pronounced by native speaker PhoenixLo at )

Looking at some of the conjugation tables that you completed in previous lessons, try repeating each verb aloud, adding the negation "non" to each.

Double negatives
In English, we are taught that double negatives are bad… "I don't never eat" sounds at best confusing, and at worst just plain wrong.

In Italian, however, double negatives are required.  Let's see how that works:

"Never", in Italian, is: 


(sounds a bit like the English "my"...hear it pronounced thanks to Heracleum at!)

So to say "I never do something" you must use both "non"  and "mai" as follows:

non + (verbo) + mai formula for "I never (verb)" by ab for

So "I never eat" is:

Non mangio mai.
I never eat.

Using the above, try translating the following:
(highlight below each to reveal answers)

I never read.
Non leggo mai.

I never sleep.
Non dormo mai.

I never finish...
Non finisco mai...

Again, review your conjugation tables and try saying each verb out loud, adding the formula "non" (verb) "mai"… 

I made a worksheet, with a quick summary of the concepts discussed as well as practice exercises, available as a free downloadable PDF: 

UPDATE: the worksheet can now be accessed from this post on the new site VIA OPTIMAE
(UPDATE: redirects to this post on the new site VIA OPTIMAE)

That's it! I leave you now with one more example:

Non mi stanco mai di studiare.
I never get tired of studying.

E tu?

P.S. Feel free to submit your answers to didattichiamo (@) for free corrections! UPDATE: viaoptimae {}

Ready to move on to the next lesson in this series?
TRY:  Ogni quanto? Quante volte?: The Simple Present Tense & Expressions of Frequency UPDATE: redirects to the same post on the new site, VIA OPTIMAE

See also: