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)

Suspended Coffe, Empathetic Coffee.

caffè sospeso.jpg

Do you know what “un caffè sospeso” is? The idea was born in Naples. It is thus basically a way to anonymously offer a coffee to someone who cannot afford to pay for their own. When you go inside a cafè, you can pay a coffe for you and a suspended coffee for a needy stranger. Thanks to social networks, a lot of cafès around the world have signed up to the goodwill initiative. 

In this video, Denise Lawson explains why she wanted to introduce this custom in her library in UK.

 The interview is in Italian but you can download the transcript here.

Italian Idiom: Stare a Mollo


There are a lot of ways to have sea bath. You could be a dynamic person. So you can’t wait to go to the sea to swim, to snorkel or to surf. You could be at the opposite, instead. You could love to go to the beach to put yourself in the water and stay.

In Italian, the last option is STARE A MOLLO. These days, Italy has been hit by a scorching heatwave, with record high temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius.

In this situation, vorrei stare a mollo tutto il giorno!

I will sit and sock in the sea water for the whole day!

You can also use the expression STARE A MOLLO referring to things or food. In this case, the slightly different version TENERE A MOLLO is more common.

For example,

Tieni a mollo i piatti prima di lavarli.

Soak the plates before you wipe them.

Il macellaio mi ha consigliato di tenere a mollo la carne prima di cucinarla.

I got a great tip from the butcher on soaking the meat before you cook it.