How do you express percentages in Italian compared with English? Slightly differently. In Italian the number of the percentage is a singular subject, therefore requires a singular article and verb, whereas in English anything higher than 1 is a plural subject requiring a plural verb, and no article. Confused? Here are practical examples:

Il 95 per cento della popolazione vota alle elezioni perché il voto è obbligatorio = 95 per cent of the population vote at the elections because voting is compulsory; tra il 10 e il 20 per cento dei contagiati muore = between 10 and 20 per cent of infected cases die

And do you remember how to tell the time? In Italian it is understood that you are talking about ‘l’ora’ (fem. sing.) for ‘the time’, so it can also be plural (‘le ore’). In English you use ‘it’ as a subject so the verb is always singular. Not so in Italian. Check out these examples: Che ora è? È l’una – what time is it? It’s one o’ clock; it’s half past one = è l’una e mezza; it’s seven o’ clock = sono le sette; it’s quarter to seven = sono le sette meno un quarto. Similarly, a che ora vieni a pranzo? All’una e un quarto = at what time are you coming for lunch? At quarter past one; a che ora vieni a cena? Alle sette e mezza = at what time are you coming for dinner? At half past seven.

And to finish with, a couple of anglicised Italian words heard in the Italian community:

‘Bancare’ (to bank / deposit money at the bank). In Italian you would say versare soldi in banca. A bank deposit translates as un versamento bancario

Instead of ‘trastare’ (to trust someone) you can say fidarsi di qualcuno OR aver fiducia in qualcuno. Eg I trust my brother completely – ho piena fiducia in mio fratello/mi fido completamente di mio fratello. Have you noticed the use of different prepositions in the two possible translations?

Yvette Alberti