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Italian expression of the day: ‘Ti conviene’

It's in your best interests to familiarise yourself with this handy verb.

Italian expression of the day ti conviene
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

When someone tells you “ti conviene…” they might be doing any of offering a friendly piece of advice, giving instructions, issuing a veiled threat, or complaining – whichever it is, you’d better (ti conviene) pay attention.

The phrase – the second person indirect object pronoun ti followed by the third person singular conjugation of the verb convenire – can mean any of ‘It is advisable to you/ it is convenient to you/ it suits you/ you should/ you’d better’, but sounds more natural than most of those options do in English.

Ti conviene darti una mossa, il treno parte fra un’ora.
You’d better get a move on, the train leaves in an hour.

Non ti conviene andare a quest’ora, l’ufficio sarà già chiuso.
You don’t want to go at this hour, the office will already be closed.

Ti interessi alle nostre vite solo quando ti conviene.
You only take an interest in our lives when it suits you.

You’ll notice it’s always followed by an infinitive verb, and you can switch out the pronoun with any of mi/ti/le/gli/vi/ci depending on who you’re talking about (or to).

Non mi conviene accettare questo lavoro se si tratta di un viaggio di due ore a tratta.
It’s not worth it for me to take this job if it involves a two hour commute each way.

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Gli conviene dirci la verità.
It’s in his best interests to tell us the truth.

or simply dispense with it altogether:

Conviene prenotare in anticipo, gli alberghi si riempiono rapidamente in questo periodo dell’anno.
It’s worth booking ahead, the hotels book up quickly this time of year.

Non conviene andare in spiaggia in agosto, sarà strapiena di gente.
It’s not worth going to the beach in August, it’ll be packed to the gills.

The verb’s infinitive form convenire, can, used differently, also mean ‘to agree upon’, ‘to gather or assemble’, or ‘to be cheap’ (conveniente is an Italian false friend, meaning ‘affordable’ rather than ‘convenient’).

Comprare le cose dal mercatino dell’usato conviene sempre.
It’s always cheaper to shop at the second hand market.

Now you know how to use this phrase, ti conviene try it out in a conversation at the first opportunity.

Do you have an Italian word you’d like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.

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For members


Italian expression of the day: ‘Dimmi tutto’

Let us tell you all about this Italian phrase.

Italian expression of the day: 'Dimmi tutto'

The Italian language has no shortage of words and phrases that can quickly convey a surprising depth of meaning.

Today’s everyday phrase is one of them: Dimmi tutto literally means “tell me everything” and it’s just what it sounds like: an invitation to share your thoughts.

But we don’t quite have an equivalent phrase in English. 

Dimmi tutto (hear the pronunciation here) is an expression of curiosity and interest in hearing someone’s complete story, with all its details and nuances – whether it’s about their disastrous love life, their travel adventures, or just the technical issues they’re having with their wifi connection.

The phrase is formed from the verb dire (‘to say or tell’) in the imperative, with the pronoun mi (me) added as a suffix, plus tutto (‘everything’).

It’s the sort of phrase you’d probably expect to hear from a close friend or family member. In that context, it can mean “I’m here for you. You can share anything with me.” From someone you’re getting to know better, it could show a desire to connect on a more profound level.

Somewhat less romantically, you’re also likely to hear it from your Italian boss, colleague, or teacher. You could hear it if you call an Italian technical service hotline, visit the doctor, or approach any sort of advisor or expert for help.

Count yourself lucky if you do hear it in these contexts, since it means you have the listener’s full attention and that they sincerely want to hear everything you have to say. Whatever the topic – technical, trivial, or emotional – hearing a warm dimmi tutto should take a weight off your shoulders.

The concept might seem a bit touchy-feely to those of us from colder climes, unused as we are to having strangers and professionals (or even loved ones) declare that we have their unfailing attention.

But perhaps it’s not surprising that it’s used so much in Italy, where relationships are highly valued and trust is paramount in pretty much any situation. Using a phrase like dimmi tutto can be a way of building trust by assuring someone that you’re ready to listen.

It’s also used generally to indicate sincere curiosity and interest, whatever the situation. For example, it’s the sort of thing you might say when a friend returns from a trip abroad and you want to hear all about it.

Even more commonly, you’ll hear this phrase informally shortened to an (equally warm) dimmi.

For example, you could have the following exchange with your Italian teacher:

– ho una domanda

– dimmi

– I have a question

– Go on, I’m listening

The literally-translated response “tell me” in English would sound pretty abrupt. But in Italian, dimmi invariably manages to sound cute and caring.

You might even be greeted with a friendly dimmi at the coffee bar, when you catch the attention of a busy barista who wants your order.

In all of these situations, the person is saying that they’re listening and they’re interested in what you’re saying – all of that conveyed in just two little words, or even two syllables.

Do you have a favourite Italian word or phrase you’d like us to feature on The Local? Dimmi tutto.

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