Differences between Italian sentences with the word "esempio"

fare un esempio vs dare l'esempio.jpg

A few weeks ago, a student of Italian asked “Mi dai un esempio?”. While on one hand this is the right way to improve language skills, that’s not how you say it.

This is the result of a literal translation from English: “Can you give me an example?” and it is wrong.

When you don’t know something and are looking to learn how to use a word, grammar rule or anything else, you can ask: “Mi fai un esempio?”. And it would be better if you also added “per favore”.

  • "Non ho capito, puoi farmi qualche esempio, per favore?"

         (I don’understand, can you give me some examples, please?)


“Dare un esempio” in Italian means something different, and you can translate it into English as “set an example”. It refers to good behaviour.

  • Visto che sei più grande, dovresti dare l’esempio

         (Since you are the eldiest, you should set an example)


Also similar is “Essere d’esempio”.

  • Il maestro deve essere d’esempio per i suoi studenti

         (The teacher should set an example for his students)


From the perspective of morality, Italian people often say “Prendere esempio da qualcuno”, which means “To take a leaf out of someone’s book”.

  • Potresti prendere esempio da Lucia

         (You could take a page out of Lucia’s book)