Essential Italian Grammar – Interjections and Exclamations
(Interiezioni o Esclamazioni)
An interjection is commonly used in everyday language to convey the speaker’s emotions and sensations such as happiness, joy, rage, annoyance, impatience and so on. Interjections are typical of the more spontaneous registers of the spoken language, so they are a bit rarer in the written language, and usually absent in formal written language. In writing, an interjection is usually followed by an exclamation mark (!) to convey its immediateness.
They are quite common in every language and Italian is not an exception, as it presents a big number of interjections. Some of them are common in the whole peninsula, while some others are part of a regional variety of dialect. Some interjections are “evergreens,” while others go out of fashion after a while. Some speakers use them daily, while some others don’t like them too much. It is a matter of personal taste and sensibility. An interjection can be used on its own or can be inserted in a sentence to add flavor and reinforce the meaning of the sentence itself.
Proper interjections or interiezioni proprie are those words used only as interjections and are of two types – semplici (simple) and composte (compound). To this group it is possible to add the so-called interiezioni improprie (non-proper interjections), words belonging to another grammatical category but sometimes used as an interjection. A fourth category is that of locuzioni interiettive, short sentences used as exclamations. Some grammatical categories rate onomatopoetic sounds among the interjections.
The speaker pronounces the interjection with a specific intonation to transmit a certain meaning.
Semplici (simple interjections)
||In case of injury/pain
||Ahi! Mi sono tagliato un dito.
||Ouch! I cut my finger.
||To express hesitation
||Che cosa ne pensi?
Beh… non so…
|What do you think about that?
Well…I don’t know…
||To convey skepticism/perplexity
||Mah, non penso sia una buona idea.
||Well, I don’t think that’s a good idea.
||To communicate a lack of knowledge
||Dove sono le mie sigarette?
|Where are my cigarettes?
Boh! (I have no idea)
|Ehi! / Ehilà!
||To call attention
||Ehi! Tu! Vieni qui!
||Hey, you! Come here!
||To hush somebody
||Ssssh! Non sento niente.
||Shush! I can’t hear a thing.
|Bleah! / Puah!
||To express disgust
||Bleah, che schifo!
||Ugh, that’s disgusting!
||To show annoyance/signs of impatience
||Uffa, non riesco a trovare le chiavi.
||Oof, I can’t find my keys.
||Can be used to show one is thinking or to show one’s hesitation
||Uhm, penso che prenderò questo, grazie.
||Um, I think I’ll take this one, thanks.
|Ah! / Uh! / Oh!
||To express surprise, or satisfaction
||Ah! Non me l’aspettavo!
||Oh, I didn’t expect that!
Composte (compound interjections)
||To express sadness, sorrow
||Ahimè, che vitaccia!
||Poor me, what a sad life!
||To show disbelief with an ironical twist
||Ohibò, cosa mi tocca sentire!
||Oh, what I must listen to!
||To urge someone to do something
||Orsù, cerca di sbrigarti.
||Come on, just be quick.
||To bid farewell
||Addio! Me ne vado per sempre.
||Farewell, I will never come back.
||To express surprise
||Perbacco, questa sì che è bella.
||Oh well, that’s a good one.
They originally have different grammatical functions, but they are used as interjections. This is an open category as it contains words, adjectives, adverbs and verbs.
||Zitto! Non ti sopporto più.
||Shut up! I can’t stand you anymore.
||Bene! Sei migliorato molto.
||That’s good! You improved a lot.
||Vipera! Sei odiosa!
||You’re a viper! You’re obnoxious!
||Peccato che tu non sia potuto venire!
||It’s a pity you couldn’t come!
||Basta! Non ce la faccio più a studiare, ho mal di testa.
||Enough! I can’t study anymore. I’ve got a headache.
||Vergogna! Non si fanno queste cose.
||Shame on you! You can’t do such things.
They are short sentences formed by two or more words.
||Mamma mia, che emozione!
||Oh my! I’m so excited!
|Oh mio Dio!
||Oh mio Dio, dici davvero!
||Oh my God, are you serious!
|Per amor del cielo!
||Per amor del cielo, non fare così!
||For Heaven’s sake, don’t act like that!
||Te l’avevo detto, porca miseria!
||I told you, damn it!
||Meno male che sei arrivato in tempo!
||Thank goodness you arrived on time!
Onomatopoetics are those words that describe a real-life sound. They are often used in comics, but sometimes also in the spoken language. Some of them are derived from English.
||Used to describe a sigh or when a character is crying
||Used to describe a noisy gulp or when the character is surprised
||It is the sound of a dog barking
||A cat’s meow
||The sound of a clock
|Etcì! / Etciù!
||Someone is sneezing
||The sound of a gun
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