Surprising Words: fans?

With the summer approaching, we are going to be searching for ways to cool off! An Amerian student I tutor confuses the different words for¬†fan, so I thought that this would make an excellent post! ūüôā

While the English word fan has a variety of meanings, Italian has three different words that should not be confused!

Il/la fan: this is someone who admires something, such as a book or who follows something, like a TV show. Note that this noun is not invariabile but takes the English plural i/le fans, depending on the gender!

Il ventilatore: this is the¬†fan¬†that you plug in that blows air around to keep you cool. It should not be confused with…

Il ventaglio: this is a fan that you hold in your hand and wave at yourself (or have someone wave at you); they are often made of silk or paper.







*Image has been released to the public domain: 

dare la zampa

Today’s¬†Parola del Giorno is the expression¬†dare la zampa, which means¬†to shake or¬†to give one’s paw. I am sure that one of us at one time has tried to teach our dog to shake our “hands”!

See the expression used below:

Ci ho messo un po’ di tempo e ci √® voluta un po’ di pazienza ma finalmente ho insegnato al mio cane a darmi la zampa! Che cane intelligente che ho!

It took me a bit of time and required a bit of patience, but I finally taught my dog to shake my hand! What an intelligent dog I have!

[audio:|titles=dare la zampa]

lo spaventapasseri

Today’s¬†Parola del Giorno¬†is the noun¬†lo spaventapasseri, which means¬†scarecrow.

Note that the noun¬†lo spaventapasseri is invariable — it has the same form in both the singular and plural:

lo spaventapasseri -> gli spaventapasseri

See the noun used below:

In quel campo di grano ormai abbandonato era rimasta la sagoma di un vecchio spaventapasseri, su cui erano appoggiati alcuni corvi.

In that now abandoned wheat field, there was the shape of an old scarecrow that some crows were resting on.

[audio:|titles=lo spaventapasseri]


il fuoco di paglia

Today’s¬†Parola del Giorno is the expression¬†il fuoco di paglia, which can mean¬†a flash in the pan. It is usually used to describe something that doesn’t last long and has little chance of being repeated, such as straw on fire (which is what the expression literally means).

See the expression used below in its context:

L’amore tra Carolina e Umberto √® stato un fuoco di paglia, dopo due mesi che si frequentavano, si sono lasciati.

The love between Carolina and Umberto has been a flash in the pan that after two months of seeing each other, they broke up.

[audio:|titles=il fuoco di paglia]

News, Updates, and Apologies


I apologize for the lack of posts, but I had a lot of exams to grade this semester (as well as finishing my own exams and papers), and I also had an important research project to finish for a conference as well as a multitude of other commitments. Posts should resume more regularly now that the semester has ended.

Piccole Guide Update

  1. Volume 3 of our Piccole Guide series is almost done! It is a language guide on important Italian verbs all users should now when learning Italian, key grammar tips, and other important aspects of Italian verbs.

    I just have to finish the appendix, and it will be available to all subscribers electronically. As the date gets closer, I will send out another email.

    Volumes 4 and 5 should also be ready this summer, too! Volume 6 will be completed (I hope) after Christmas and early 2019 if not sooner!

  2. Volume 1 of our Piccole Guide series¬†on Italian Prepositions¬†has been re-issued in “black and white” for those of you who requested a more economical paperback version of the language guide.

    The black and white versions of the remaining Piccole Guide will have the same titles but will not be published as a series (they will not be numbered), and all the black-and-white versions will be printed with covers featuring important places/sites from Firenze to distinguish them from the regular language series. Volume 1 is on Italian Prepositions, and you can get a copy in black-and-white for $4.79 (excluding shipping and sales tax, if applicable) from Copies will also be available for sale on Amazon, B&N, and other booksellers once the book is added to their respective online catalogs.

  3. Lastly, I just want to remind readers and visitors to the site that I am currently in a PhD program, and it requires a considerable amount of my time and energy. I just finished my second year, and I will be starting my third year in the Fall. I am still working on an effective workflow to keep the site up and running, but I am finding it to be a challenge. I hope to be able to automate some aspects of the web site this summer, time permitting!

il rincaro

Today’s¬†Parola del Giorno¬†is the noun¬†il rincaro, which means¬†increase¬†or¬†rise. See the noun used below:

Ogni anno vediamo un rincaro dei prezzi di qualsiasi prodotto. Per i giovani italiani è davvero difficile vivere e mantenersi da soli, visto che al rincaro dei prezzi non sempre corrisponde un aumento degli stipendi.

Every year we see an increase in the prices of common products. For young Italians it is really difficult to live and earn a living, since an increase in the prices does not always correspond to an increase in wages.

[audio:|titles=il rincaro]


Parola del Giorno is the verb, accartocciare, which means to crumple (something) up. See the verb used below in its context:

Ho provato a scrivere molte lettere ma nessuna mi piaceva: dopo tre righe mi innervosivo e accartocciavo il foglio buttandolo sotto la scrivania.

I tried to write many letters, but I didn’t like any: after three lines, I was getting irritated¬†and was crumpling¬†the paper up, throwing it under the desk.

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