Italian Adverbs of Time

Learn how to express things like “today,” “the other day,” and “right away”

Adverbs of time in Italian
Adverbs of time in Italian. Anthony Harvie

When did you visit Vatican City? Yesterday? Today? When you’re in Rome?

The way that you express these words are using adverbs of time. They refer to the time an action is carried out, whether a moment fixed in time or continuous. To learn how to tell the time, click here.

The most common are:

  • Quando - When

  • Adesso - Now

  • Ora - Now

  • Allora - Then

  • Subito - Right away

  • Prima - Before

  • Poi - Then

  • Dopo - After

  • Presto - Soon

  • Tardi - Late

  • Ieri - Yesterday

  • Oggi - Today

  • Domani - Tomorrow

  • Sempre - Always

  • Mai - Never

  • Già - Already

  • Spesso - Often

  • Ancora - Still, yet

Here are some examples:

  • Quando sarai arrivato, telefonami. - When you arrive, call me.

  • No, ora non posso. - No, now I cannot.

  • Va bene, vengo subito. - Okay, I'm coming immediately.

  • Pensarci prima, per non pentirsi poi. - Think of it first, so that you don't regret it later.

  • La vedrò oggi, perché domani partirà. - I'll see her today, because she's leaving tomorrow.

  • È sempre allegra. - She is always cheerful.

  • L'ho incontrato spesso. - I met him often.


More Specific Meanings


1) “Quando - When, in questions, becomes an :

  • Quando comincerai a lavorare seriamente? - When will you start to work seriously?

» “Quando” can also function as a relative adverb, if it’s connecting two clauses:

  • Lo farò quando lo riterrò più opportuno. - I will do so when deemed appropriate.

2) “Mai - never” can have different meanings:

» in nessun caso, in nessun momento (in negative sentences). It’s often accompanied by the denial “non, except when it precedes the verb.

  • No te lo dirò mai. - No I'll never tell you.

  • Mai me ne pentirò. - I'll never regret it.

  • Non l'ho mai visto. - I've never seen it.

  • Non obbedisce mai. - He never obeys.

    » in qualche caso, qualche volta

    • L'hai mai visto? - Have you ever seen it?

    • Se mai capiterai a Roma, vieni a trovarmi. - If you ever come to Rome, come see me.

    • Se mai la incontrassi, riferiscile l'accaduto. - If you ever meet her, tell her what happened.

    • Sei mai stato a Londra? - Have you ever been to London?

    » as an intensifier; it is usually used in exclamatory phrases

    • Che dici mai! - What are you saying!

    • Che pensi mai! - What ever are you thinking!

    • Chi mai avrebbe potuto saperlo! - Who could have known!

    • Mi perdonerai? Mai! - Will you ever forgive me? Never!

    3) “Già - Already” can have different shades of meaning and can express:

    » an action that has already occurred

    • Ha già telefonato. - He has already called.

    • L'hai già spedito? - You've already sent it?

    • Lo so già. - I already know.

    » wonderment

    • Sei già arrivato? - You’ve already arrived?

    » can also mean oramai

    • È già passato troppo tempo, non verrà più. - It's already been too long, she will no longer come.

    » sometimes has the meaning “di fin da ora - immediately, already“

    • Immagino già che cosa diranno. - I can already guess what they say.

    » sometimes means prima d'ora

    • L'ho già visto da qualche parte. - I've already seen it somewhere.

    » can also be used as an affirmation

    • Ti hanno multato? Già! - You were fined? Yes!



    There are numerous locuzioni avverbiali di tempo (adverbs of time idioms), including:

    • Un giorno - One day

    • Di quando in quando - Once in awhile

    • D'un tratto - Suddenly

    • Di botto - Suddenly

    • Tutta un tratto - Suddenly

    • In un batter d'occhio - In the blink of an eye

    • Nel frattempo - In the meantime

    • Di buon'ora - Early; in the morning

    • In tempo - In time

    • Per tempo - As soon as possible

    • In men che non si dica - in a flash

    For actions that takes place in the span of a day, there are the terms:

    • L’altro ieri - The other day

    • Ieri - Yesterday

    • Oggi - Today

    • Domani - Tomorrow

    • Dopodomani - The day after tomorrow

    To refer to a point in time greater than two days from today, here are some phrases:

    • X giorni fa  - X days ago

    • Fra x giorni - In x days

    • Di qui a x giorni - X days from now

      NOTE: Italian uses to indicate an action that began in the past and is still going on in the present.

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      Your Citation
      Filippo, Michael San. "Italian Adverbs of Time." ThoughtCo, Oct. 21, 2016, Filippo, Michael San. (2016, October 21). Italian Adverbs of Time. Retrieved from Filippo, Michael San. "Italian Adverbs of Time." ThoughtCo. (accessed December 13, 2017).