I. Negative forms

Besides the simple negative form (non before the verb), the following negatives are common. Review those you already know, and learn the others.

nonpiù                                            no more, no longer

nonniente (or nonnulla)                 nothing, not anything

nonmai                                            never, not ever

nonnessuno                                    nobody, not anybody

nonaffatto (or nonpunto)               not at all

nonneanche (or nonnemmeno      not even

or nonneppure)

nonche                                            only, nothing but

non                                       neither…nor

Study the following examples, arranged in the order used in the preceding list.

Egli non parla più. –“He no longer talks.”

Essa non dice niente (nulla). –“She says nothing.”

Non lo vediamo mai. –“We never see him.”

Non viene nessuno. –“No one comes (is coming).”

Non li conosco affatto. –“I don’t know them at all.”

Non vuole neanche (nemmeno/neppure) mangiare. –“He doesn’t even want to eat.”

Non ne abbiamo che quattro. –“We have only four (of them).”

Non vedo nè il ragazzo nè la ragazza. –“I see neither the boy nor the girl.”

Observe that niente, nulla, mai, nessuno, and may also precede the verb, in which case non is omitted.

Niente è impossibile. –“Nothing is impossible.”

Nulla è eterno nella vita. –“Nothing is eternal in life.”

Nulla di ciò che dice è vero. (Non dice nulla di vero.) –“Nothing (of what) he says is true” (He says nothing that is true.”)

Mai lo dirà. (Non lo dirà mai.) –“He will never tell it.”

Nessuno parla. –“No one is speaking.”

Nè Giovanni nè Roberto è venuto. –“Neither John nor Robert came (has come).”

NOTE: 1. When used after the verb (after the auxiliary, in compound tenses) and without non, mai means “ever.”

È mai stato in Italia Lei? –“Have you ever been in Italy?”

  1. Non is sometimes used redundantly, particularly in comparisons of inequality.

È più ricco che non si creda. –“He is richer than you think (one thinks).”

  1. Se non, “if not,” may be translated as “except.”

La terra non si conquista definitivamente se non con l’aratro. –Ferrero “The land is not definitively conquered except by the plow.”


to perceive; to become aware; to realize
hundredth, hundredth part
*danaro (also denaro)
e’ = egli *farsi
to become
*mestiere (m.)
trade, occupation
*servirsi di
to use, to make use of
on, upon; over; above
wonder, astonishment, amazement
*su (adv.)


*chiave (f.)
descended, came down (3d sing. past abs.,discendere)
*genere (m.)
kind, sort
(cf. genere)
to throw
niuno (archaic)
(= disprezzare)
to despise, to scorn;to look down on


to place; to employ
to fuse
to take refuge
cuoca       cook imbastardire
to debase, to corrupt, to degenerate
to show
*per il tramite dithrough, by
sgorbioblot squilibrato
partial (literally,cut in half)
fool; foolish,
to undergo means of
to toil, to strive


Last revised on October 5, 2017.

II. Irregular verb dovere

The irregular verb dovere may be translated in various ways. When it is used as a transitive verb, it means “to owe.” When it is used as a modal auxiliary, it means “to have to,” “to be (supposed) to,” “must,” “should,” or “ought.”

Present: devo (or debbo), devi, deve, dobbiamo, dovete, devono (or debbono)

Stem for future and conditional: dovr-: dovrò, etc.: dovrei, etc.

Present subjunctive: deva (or debba), deva (or debba), deva (or debba), dobbiamo, dobbiate, devano (or debbano)

Alongside the regularly formed past absolute, there are alternate forms in the first and third persons singular and the third person plural: respectively, dovetti, dovette, dovettero. (Cf. page 54, footnote 1.)

Some of the various meanings of dovere in different contexts and tenses are illustrated in the following sentences.

Mi deve (mi doveva) dieci dollari. –“He owes me (owed me) ten dollars.”

Deve cantare. -:He is to (is supposed to, is expected to, has to, must) sing.”

Doveva cantare. –“He was to (was supposed to, was expected to, had to) sing.”

L’ha dovuto fare. (Ha dovuto farlo.) –“He had (has had) to do it.”

Dovrà partire. –“He will have to leave.”

Non è venuto; ha dovuto essere ammalato. –“He did not come; he must have been (probably was) ill.”

Dovrebbe pagarmi. –“He ought to (should) pay me.”

Avrebbe dovuto farlo. –“He ought to (should) have done it.”

NOTE: The conditional of dovere always means “ought to” or “should,” and the conditional perfect, “ought to have” or “should have.” Each of these tenses implies the idea of moral obligation.


to perceive, to notice
custom, usage; habit; (pl.) morals; costume
*d’intorno (= intorno)
*dovere (m.)

misunderstood, misinterpreted (past part., fraintendere)
to undertake, to begin
(cf. impresa)
meant, intended (past part.,intendere)
age-old; secular
tangible, notable,
sensible (i.e., that which can be perceived by the senses); sensitive
immeasurable; immense
foolishness, stupidity (cf. stolto)


Last revised on January 30, 2017.