New Year’s Resolution: the Italian verb “volere”.

Learn conversational Italian using the verb “volere”.

A famous Italian dramatist and poet of the 18th century, Vittorio Alfieri, after the success of his first drama, Cleopatra, became so determined to study, learn and write more, that he asked his servants to tie him tight to his chair with rope while he was working on new pieces, to avoid distraction. His motto was “volli, sempre volli, fortissimamente volli”. I wanted, always wanted, very strongly wanted.

If your New Year’s resolution is learning Italian, you have to practice the verb “volere”, want. Voglio imparare l’italiano, I want to learn Italian, is going to be your new mantra.

Today we are going to learn some alternative uses of the verb volere and a few idioms. Sentences will be in Italian, try to translate them.

  • VOLERCI – to be necessary – Per imparare l’italiano ci vuole tanta pazienza.
  • VOLERE BENE – to love – Voglio bene alla mia famiglia e ai miei amici.
  • VOLERE DIRE – to mean – La parola inglese “boat” vuol dire “barca”.
  • VOLERSELA – he asked for it! – Ho punito mio figlio ma se l’è voluta!
  • VOLERNE a qualcuno – Non me ne volere – Do not hold it against me.

As you can see, when we combine a verb with some pronouns, like CI and NE, we can change completely the original meaning. For example, just adding CI to volere, we change it from “want” to “be necessary”.

And now some set phrases, proverbs and idioms with volere:

  • Voglio proprio vedere la sua faccia. – I really want to see his face – used ironically
  • Qui ti voglio! – Let’s see how you handle it…
  • Volere è potere – Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
  • Non ne voglio sapere – I don’t want to know about it.
  • Non ne vuole sapere – He doesn’t want to do it.

And finally…

  • “Vuoi la botte piena e la moglie ubriaca” – Lit: “You want a full barrel and a drunk wife”. Old proverb, meaning that you want only positive things where it’s not possible.

These are just a few examples, good for beginners to practice and for more advanced students to make their Italian more natural. Hopefully, this brief post on the Italian verb volere will give you some motivation for learning our beautiful language.



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Milanese, graduated in Italian literature a long time ago, I began teaching Italian online in Japan back in 2003. I usually spend winter in Tokyo and go back to Italy when the cherry blossoms shed their petals. I do not use social media.

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