Saturday, August 13, 2016

How to say “supposed to” in Italian and other useful tips

What is the proper way of translating “supposed to” into Italian? Learn how to master this expression. 

Read the article below and compare it to the source text in blue to see how I've translated words and expressions, then read my final tips and test your knowledge with a short exercise.

How to Say “Supposed to” in Italian
Come dire “Supposed to” in italiano

Have you ever wondered how to say “supposed to” in Italian?
Ti sei mai chiesto/a come si dice “supposed to” in italiano?

Like “She was supposed to go to the store to buy torrone, but she forgot” or “He was supposed to meet me at 5, but I guess he’s on Italian time”.
Come in “She was supposed to go to the store to buy torrone, but she forgot” oppure “He was supposed to meet me at 5, but I guess he's on Italian time”.

When you want to express that something was supposed to happen, but didn’t for whatever reason, you use the verb “dovere – must, have to” in the imperfect tense.
Quando vuoi esprimere qualcosa che sarebbe dovuto succedere, ma che non si è avverato per qualsiasi motivo, utilizzerai il verbo “dovere” (“must, have to”) al tempo imperfetto. 

If you’re still starting out and you’re not sure what the heck I’m talking about when I say the imperfect tense, it’s the one you use when you want to talk about things in the past, like weather, descriptions or routines.
Se sei ancora agli inizi e non sai bene di che diamine io stia parlando quando dico tempo imperfetto, è quello che usi quando vuoi parlare di eventi nel passato, come il tempo, descrizioni o routine. 

Now, to help you get an idea of how to use this in real life, here are some examples:
Quindi, per aiutarti ad avere un'idea di come utilizzare ciò nella vita vera, ecco alcuni esempi:
  • I wasn’t supposed to work today, but Giulia was sick - Non dovevo lavorare oggi, però Giulia si è sentita male.
  • We were supposed to meet each other at 5, but he’s late…like always. - Dovevamo incontrarci alle 5, ma lui è in ritardo…come sempre.
  • She was supposed to go to the store to buy some torrone, but she forgot. - Doveva andare al supermercato per comprare del torrone, ma ha dimenticato.
  • Why is she here? You weren’t supposed to invite her! - Perché lei è qua? Non dovevi invitarla!
Of course, you can also use “dovere” in the imperfect tense to mean “should have” or “must have”, like in the examples below.
Puoi senza dubbio utilizzare “dovere” al tempo imperfetto anche per dire “should have” o “must have”, come negli esempi in basso.
  • He shouldn’t have done it. - Non doveva farlo.
  • Ah, I remember what I had to tell you. - Ah, mi ricordo cosa dovevo dirti! 
Have questions? Leave a comment below
Hai delle domande? Scrivi un commento in basso!

Link to source article / Link all'articolo originale: How to Say “Supposed to” in Italian
Author / Autrice: Cher
Translator / Traduttore: Alexandro Piccione


“Supposed to” is most of the time translated into Italian with the verb “dovere”, but there are a couple of other ways of expressing the same meaning in a given situation. Here is an example:
  • This pizza is supposed to be edible, but it tastes like garbage.
You could of course translate this sentence with dovere:
  • Questa pizza dovrebbe essere mangiabile, ma sa di spazzatura. 
Or you could use “pare che” at the beginning of the sentence instead:
  • Pare che questa pizza sia mangiabile, ma sa di spazzatura.
Sometimes, “Si dice che” (“It is said that”) can be used instead, but just like English, the meaning is not exactly the same:
  • Jamaicans are supposed to be very fast. =
  • Si dice che i giamaicani siano molto veloci.
Here's the pizza used in the first example:


Translate the following sentences using “dovere” (properly conjugated), “pare che” or “si dice che”:
  • Paris is supposed to be the most charming city in the world.
  • I'm supposed to go to lunch but I don't have the time.
  • You weren't supposed to buy a €5000 dress!
As always, make sure to write your translations in the comment section. I'll correct them and give you a feedback for free!

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If you have any questions or you just want to chat, feel free to leave a comment in English or Italian. See you next week.

Per ogni eventuale domanda o considerazione sulla traduzione ti invito a lasciare un commento in lingua italiana o ingleseAlla prossima settimana.

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