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Po' o poco? Non parlare come uno straniero!

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  • Po' o poco? Non parlare come uno straniero!

    Living in Rome, one of the things I heard over the years, speaking with many foreigners, is that, strangely, the use of "po' " it's not so natural among italian learners, I don't why. Very often a foreigner would say "Parlo un poco di italiano" or answering the question "parli italiano?" will answer "un poco". Italian people never say "poco" when they want do indicate something abstract or generic, so if I ask someone "sei stanco?" they will always answer "un po' " never "un poco". We use "poco" only when we want to indicate the real amount of something, like "Ti basta questo spazio?" (is this space enough for you?) "no, è poco", or "ho poco tempo". But if I ask someone "hai tempo per parlare con me?" the answer will be "sì, un po' " never "un poco".

    Moreover, you can use "poco" also in the negative, but not "po' ", so:

    Marco è poco paziente (Marco is not very patient) not "Marco è un po' paziente". If you say "po' " it means the affirmative, you stress more this, like:

    Marco è un po' brillo (Marco is a bit tipsy)

    Mind the use of the apostrophe in "po' " never and be careful that PO (without accent or apostrophe) is the biggest italian river, so remember to write po' with the apostrophe.

  • #2
    I've noticed that problem in myself, I don't know when to use po' or poco.
    And... What about using "un pocchino" everytime? That's my solution for it... I mean, the diminutive pocchino serves for both words?


    • #3
      "pochino" it's correct but it would sound sometimes a little childish, not always, but personally all the diminutives outside of a friends circle have to be used with caution. "Parli italiano?" "Un pochino", it's correct but does not sound so well, "po' " would be definitely more native like.


      • #4
        That's very true! Lots of Italians don't use "po' " in a correct way. At school teachers always remind to kids how important using " po' " instead of "po " or "pò" is!


        • #5
          Talking about that... "Po" is the river, but what is "pò". And also, this kind of use of apostrophe is nut usual in Italian, is it? And what are we apostrophing in this case? It was also "poco" in the origin, or other word?


          • #6
            Pò written with the accent is wrong, does not exist, it should be with the apostrophe. This ò is usually found at the end of words, like "però" to make you understand where to put the stress, otherwise "pero" with no accent it means "pear tree".


            • #7
              Very useful - thanks from a beginner. Oh dear, I've been getting it SO wrong. When asked if I speak Italian I've said "un pochito"! Mixing my Spanish with my Italian!! From now on it's "si, un po'"