Ciao a tutti! – Hiya all!
This is the last part about Italian modal verbs. But first let’s refresh our memory. We know 3 modal verbs (verbi modali) and theirs forms:
- potere – can (posso, puoi, può, possiamo, potete, possono)
- volere – want (voglio, vuoi, vuole, vogliamo, volete, vogliono)
- dovere – must/have to (devo, devi, deve, dobbiamo, dovete, devono)
Today we’ll talk about fourth modal verb (or modal helper) – sapere (know/know how/can). Typical usage – we know and can do something well:
- I can drive a car (I know how to)
- I know how to cook
See, looks somehow similar to potere examples. But sapere and potere are different. Later we’ll see that.
Sapere – know/know how/can (irregular modal verb)
- io so – I know
- tu sai – you know
- lei/lui sa – she/he knows
- noi sappiamo – we know
- voi sapete – you know (plural)
- loro sanno – they know
As usual, dozen of new phrases to learn. Let’s think about the things what we know how to do well, because sapere means a skill, an ability to do something (not right now, but in general):
- suonare la chitarra – to play guitar
- ballare la salsa – to dance salsa
- riparare il computer – to fix a computer
- guidare la macchina – to drive a car
- insegnare lingue straniere – to teach foreign languages
- cucinare – to cook
As usual, in sentences with 2 verbs, only first (modal) changes. Second verb is always used in infinitive. And typically we don’t use pronouns anywhere – by the form of the first verb, the actor is clear.
- So suonare la chitarra – I can play guitar (=I know how and I can play well)
- So cucinare – I know how to cook
- Non so cucinare – I can’t cook
- So guidare la macchina – I’m able to drive a car
- Non so guidare la macchina – I don’t know how to drive a car
- Sai guidare la macchina? – Can you drive a car?
- So ballare – I can dance (I know how to dance)
- So ballare la salsa – I can dance salsa
- Sai ballare la salsa? – Do you know how to dance salsa?
- Non so ballare la salsa – I don’t know how to dance salsa.
Andare in bicicletta – to cycle (to ride a bicycle)
- So andare in bicicletta – I can cycle
- Non so andare in bicicletta – I can’t ride a bicycle
- Sai andare in bicicletta? – Can you ride a bicycle? (singular, when you ask a person)
- Sapete andare in bicicletta – Can you cycle? (plural – question addressed to a group)
- Non sappiamo andare in bicicletta – We cannot ride a bicycle.
Insegnare lingue straniere – to teach foreign languages
- So insegnare lingue straniere – I know how to teach foreign languages (because I’m teaching students)
- Sai insegnare lingue straniere? – Can you teach foreign languages?
- Non sappiamo insegnare lingue straniere – We don’t know how to teach foreign languages.
And what you can do? Write few sentences about yourself, please!
- So suonare la chitarra – I can play guitar
- Non so ballare la salsa – I don’t know how to dance salsa
- So cantare – I can sing
- Non so cucinare molto bene – I can cook well
- So nuotare – I can swim
- So guidare la motociclo – I can drive a motorbike
- So andare in bicicletta veloce – I can cycle fast
- So riparare la bicicletta – I know how to repair a bicycle
Potere vs Sapere
Potere means a physical or mental possibility, opportunity to do something, but not skill. We use potere (posso, puoi, può, possiamo, potete, possono) in the following situations:
- Posso chiamare alle 5 – I can call you at 5 (I’ll be free to call you at 5 = I can = posso)
- I can help you with your bags (physical possibility, I’m strong = I can = posso)
- I can learn 4 foreign languages (I have the time to do that = I can = posso)
- I can’t start a car! (I’m trying but it’s broken = I can’t = Non posso)
Again: sapere – skill, potere – opportunity. Compare these situations:
- I can play guitar (give me guitar, I’ll play you right now, probably I even don’t know how, but I’ll play, because there’s a guitar in the room and I have an opportunity to touch the strings) – Posso suonare la chitarra
- I can play guitar (I play well in general, I know how to play, I know music theory, really, I have that skill) – So suonare la chitarra
- I can dance salsa with you (right now, let’s try, we have a chance to try, we have the time to dance) – Posso ballare la salsa
- I can dance salsa (this is not about this very moment, just in general I’m a good salsa dancer, I was taught how to, I dance well) – So ballare la salsa
- I can fix your car (may be I know how to, may be not – but I have the time and I just want to help) – Posso riparare la macchina
- I know how to fix cars (I’m a professional mechanic, I have skill and experience) – So riparare i macchini – I can fix cars.
- If you want to ask for a help – use potere (Puoi riparare la macchina? – can you fix my car? Can you at least look? Do you have the time?)
- If you just want to ask if a person knows or not how to fix cars – use sapere (Sai riparare la macchina? – Do you know how to fix a car? In general – do you understand how this mechanical stuff works?)
See, Italian is not a hard to learn language. Just work systematically, day by day learn grammar, new words and do the homework. Easy! :)
Two exercises today – English to Italian (1) and Italian to English (2). In some sentences you’ll need sapere, in some – potere. Answers in the next lesson.
- I can come today
- She can cook well
- I can call at 3 o’clock
- We can come at 2
- I can sing well
- Can you drive a car?
- They can teach languages
- Can you teach (me) English today?
- Can they swim?
- Non so cucinare
- Sai ballare la salsa?
- Non può venire alle 2
- Sai guidare la macchina?
- Non possono comprare una bicicletta
- Sapete riparare il computer?
- Non possiamo chiamare.
- Non sappiamo suonare la chitarra
- Non possono cantare oggi
Lesson 9 – homework answers
- Lui ascolta musica ogni giorno
- Compriamo una macchina nuova
- Non vivono a Londra
- Oggi gioca a calcio
- Venite oggi?
- Imparo spagnolo.
- Leggi i libri?
- Guardano i video su youtube
- Faccio esercizi
- Vogliono mangiare qualcosa
- Dobbiamo studire la grammatica
- Voglio andare in Italia
- Non vuole chiamare alle 3
You read till the end? Perfetto! Molto bene!
A dopo! – See you later!