Unità 8

Cosa posso fare con il mio italiano?

Obiettivi per il capitolo

At the end of this unit, students will be able to:

  • talk about their past, present, and future work opportunities and experiences
  • identify and experiment with the typical steps and materials related to the job application process
  • relate secondhand information
  • describe and discuss cultural products and practices in their own and other countries

Vocabolario: l’Italia professionale. L’italiano nel mondo del lavoro.

Here are some words that will help you participate in the conversations in this chapter. Add these, and any other new words you find, to your course dictionary.

italiano English
andare in pensione to retire
l’assicurazione sanitaria health insurance
assumere to hire
il bando (di concorso) announcement (of public exam or job search)
i benefit benefits (seriously!)
il capo boss
la carriera career
la carta di credito credit card
il/la collega colleague
il colloquio di lavoro job interview
il concorso public exam or job search (typical in Italy)
il/la consulente consultant
il/la contabile accountant
il conto corrente checking account
il curriculum (vitae) resume / CV
dare le dimissioni to quit
il datore del lavoro employer
il direttore / la direttrice manager
il/la dirigente executive
la ditta / l’azienda company / firm
fare domanda (per un lavoro) to apply for a job
fare lo straordinario to work overtime
le ferie vacation / holidays
le finanze finances
finanziario/a financial
la formazione education / training
guadagnare to earn
impiegare to employ
l’impiegato/a employee
l’intervistatore / l’intervistatrice interviewer
investire to invest
il lavoro

-a tempo pieno

-a tempo parziale (part time)

work / job

-full-time

-part-time

la lettera di motivazione / presentazione / accompagnamento cover letter
la lettera di referenze letter of recommendation
licenziare to fire
licenziarsi to quit / to resign
la maternità maternity leave
il mestiere occupation / trade
l’offerta di lavoro job offer
l’orario di lavoro work hours / schedule
il padrone / la padrona owner
la posizione job / position
il posto (di lavoro) job / position
il prestito loan
la professione profession
la promozione promotion
il proprietario / la proprietaria owner / proprietor
le qualifiche qualifications
il risparmio savings
risparmiare to save (money)
il salario salary
il segretario / la segretaria secretary
lo sciopero strike
il sindacato labor union
lo stage internship
lo/la stagista intern
lo stipendio wage / salary
la tassa tax
le tasse universitarie tuition
il/la tirocinante apprentice / intern
il tirocinio apprenticeship / internship
l’ufficio office

Struttura 8.1 Il passivo

In contesto

L’impiegato è stato assunto dall’azienda.

Le tasse universitarie sono pagate dagli studenti e i loro genitori.

Il colloquio di lavoro sarà svolto nell’ufficio del dirigente dopodomani.

It is highly likely that in the course of your studies you have received feedback from a teacher or professor on your writing. And perhaps this feedback reminded you to use the active, rather than the passive, voice. This is definitely good advice, but there is a time and a place for the passive voice as well – and this is really your time to demonstrate all you know about Italian verbs!

Quando si usa?

Active voice

First of all, let’s make sure we understand the difference between the active and the passive voice. In an active sentence, the subject performs the action of the verb (Carlo mangia il panino). In this sentence, Carlo is the subject and mangia is the verb, the action that Carlo directly carries out. Il panino is the direct object, which receives the action of the verb.

Almost everything we have studied up to now is in the active voice and follows the general formula of subject + verb + direct object (+indirect object, possibly).

Es. Carlo mangia il panino. (Carlo eats the sandwich.)

subject + verb + direct object

Passive voice

So what if we switched this sentence around and the direct object became the subject? The panino is clearly not going to eat Carlo (unless this is a horror film?), so it is not an active subject. Instead, the action is done to the subject, and the person or thing performing the action is much less important. This is what that looks like:

Es. Il panino è mangiato (da Carlo). (The sandwich is eaten by Carlo).

In this case, the formula becomes subject + verb + agent (preceded by the preposition da).

We use this form to emphasize the direct object from the active voice and place lesser importance on the person or thing carrying out the action.

Come si forma?

If we look at the example above, we should notice a couple things about how the passive voice is formed.

Es. Il panino è mangiato (da Carlo). 

To form the verb in the passive voice, we use essere + the past participle of the main verb. Because we’re dealing with essere (even though this is not the passato prossimo–try not to confuse the two!), the past participle must also agree in gender and number with the subject.

Es. Carlo mangia la pasta. (Carlo eats pasta.) [active]

subject + verb + direct object

Es. La pasta è mangiata da Carlo. (The pasta is eaten by Carlo.) [passive]

subject + verb + agent (preceded by the preposition da).

As you can see in the second example, we use the past participle mangiata to reflect the feminine, singular subject of la pasta.

The example above is an example of the passive voice in the present tense (yes, even though the past participle is used!). But the passive voice can exist in any tense (present, past, future, etc…) and any mood (indicative or subjunctive). This might sound like a lot, but in reality the only thing you need to know to form the passive in all tenses and moods is the conjugation of the verb essere! That’s it! Here are some examples:

presente L’italiano è parlato in Italia e Svizzera.

(Italian is spoken in Italy and Switzerland.)

passato prossimo La domanda è stata fatta dallo stagista.

(The job application was done by the intern.)

imperfetto Le tasse universitarie erano aumentate ogni anno.

(College tuition was raised every year.)

futuro Gli esami saranno corretti dalla professoressa.

(The exams were corrected by the professor.)

condizionale Il salario sarebbe fissato dal capo.

(The salary should be set by the boss.)

congiuntivo presente Penso che la posizione sia creata per te.

(I think the position was created for you.)

congiuntivo imperfetto Ho pensato che il colloquio fosse fissato per le 3.

(I thought that the interview was scheduled for 3.)

Passive voice with andare/venire

Most of the time, the passive voice is formed with the verb essere. However, there are times when the verbs andare and venire are used instead, though these verbs can only be used in the simple tenses (not passato prossimo or other compound tenses).

Andare is used primarily to express obligation.

Es. La domanda è fatta dallo stagista. → La domanda va fatta dallo stagista. (The application is done / must be done by the intern.)

Es. Il salario sarebbe fissato dal capo. → Il salario andrebbe fissato dal capo. (The salary should be / must be set by the boss.)

Venire, on the other hand, is more similar to the use of essere, though a bit more colloquial. It also helps to distinguish between the past participle as an adjective or a part of the verb. For example, La porta viene aperta (The door is opened) is clearly a passive sentence, whereas La porta è aperta can either mean “the door is opened” or “the door is open”.

Es. L’italiano è parlato in Italia e in Svizzera. → L’italiano viene parlato in Italia e in Svizzera. (Italian is spoken in Italy and Switzerland.)

Es. Le tasse universitarie erano aumentate ogni anno. → Le tasse universitarie venivano aumentate ogni anno. (University tuition is raised every year.)

It is enough to start to understand the forms with essere, but if you hear these forms with andare or venire, you know what they mean!

Una prova

Struttura 8.2 Il si impersonale e passivante

In contesto

Nelle università italiane si fanno esami sia orali e che scritti.

Per protestare le condizioni di lavoro, si fa uno sciopero.

In Italia si partecipa ai concorsi di lavoro.

There is also another, quite common, way to express the passive voice in Italian. Essentially, it is the equivalent of saying “one does this” or “one does that” and is also used when the person or thing doing the action is unimportant or unspecific. It is very common in Italian! Depending on whether or not the sentence has a direct object, this form is either known as the si impersonale or the si passivante. These two forms have a lot in common, with one key difference.

Come si forma?

Si passivante

The si passivante is a form of the passive voice that can be used specifically in sentences that contain a direct object. Much like the passivo, the agent of the action is de-emphasized and the object of the action of the verb becomes the focus/new subject. Let’s look at the difference between an active sentence, a passive sentence, and a sentence in the si passivante.

active passive si passivante
Gli studenti italiani fanno esami sia orali che scritti.

(Italian students take both oral and written exams.)

Gli esami sia orali che scritti sono fatti dagli studenti italiani.

(Both oral and written exams are taken by Italian students.)

Nelle università italiane si fanno esami sia orali e che scritti.

(In Italian universities, one takes both oral and written exams.)

You can see in the si passivante example that the subject gli studenti italiani disappears completely. The verb is formed with the pronoun si and the third person form of the verb. In the example above, the loro form is used because the subject (gli esami) is plural.

If the object is singular, the lui/lei form is used:

Per protestare le condizioni di lavoro, si fa uno sciopero.

(To protest working conditions, people go on strike).

Let’s look at a few more examples of the si passivante in the present tense.

Es. Negli Stati Uniti si pagano le tasse universitarie molto alte. 

(In the USA, people pay high tuition.)

plural subject – le tasse universitarie

Es. Per comprare una casa, si paga il mutuo ogni mese. 

(To buy a house, one pays the mortgage every month.)

singular subject – il mutuo

What happens if the si passivante is in the past (or other) tenses?

In compound tenses like the passato prossimo, the trapassato prossimo, the futuro anteriore, the condizionale passato, etc… the verb essere is used, and the past participle should agree in gender and number with the subject.

Es. Si è aperta la posizione la settimana scorsa.

(The position was opened last week).

Es. Si sono messi da parte i risparmi.

(Savings were put aside).

If you want to use direct or indirect object pronouns with these sentences, the form changes a bit. You would use the singular form of the verb no matter what, and put the direct object pronoun before the si.

Es. Si mettono da parte i risparmi. → Tipicamente li si mette in banca.

(People put aside their savings. → Typically they are put in the bank.)

Es. Si pagano le tasse universitarie ogni semestre. → Le si paga prima che inizino i corsi.

(We pay tuition every semester. → We pay it before classes begin.)

Il si impersonale

All of the examples we looked at above have one big thing in common: they all have direct objects in the active voice (i.e. they are transitive verbs!). But what if we just want to express a general action, transitive or intransitive? In this case, we use the si impersonale, which is essentially identical in form to the si passivante, with the exception that the form is consistent: the pronoun si + the third person singular form of the verb (the lui/lei form).

Es. Alle università italiane, si studia in modo indipendente.

(At Italian universities, one studies independently.)

Es. Il sabato sera, si esce con gli amici.

(One goes out with one’s friends on Saturday night / We go out with our friends on Saturday night.)

Es. Nelle mense di UMass, si mangia bene.

(You eat well in the dining halls of UMass.)

If the verb in question is essere or diventare (verbs that express a state of being), the form is a bit particular: it uses the third person singular form of the verb but the masculine plural form of the adjective or noun that follows it. This is strange! You’re basically creating a sentence that is both singular and plural and it’s actually grammatically correct (the antithesis of every other rule of agreement you’ve ever learned):

Es. Al lavoro si è cordiali con i colleghi.

(At work one is cordial with one’s colleagues / At work we are cordial with our colleagues.)

Es. Dopo la scuola di medicina, si diventa dottori.

(After medical school, you become doctors.)

So what happens when you have a reflexive or reciprocal verb that already has the si pronoun? How do we make that impersonal or passive? Well, we don’t want to have two si-s in a row, so in order to avoid that, we replaced one with ci.

Es. Ci si sveglia tardi la domenica.

(On Sundays one sleeps late. / On Sundays we sleep late.)

Es. Ci si diverte molto durante le lezioni d’italiano.

(One has fun during Italian class. / We have fun during Italian class.)

Quando si usa?

Whether it’s the si impersonale or passivante, these passive forms are really common in Italian. They are used in conversation and also on signs, advertisements, and announcements. It is not uncommon to see signs that read “Vendesi” or “Affittasi” for apartments, cars, etc…like this one:

You can also see from all of the previous examples that this impersonal form can translate differently: it can mean you, we, one, they, etc…whatever you would use to indicate a general, rather than specific, subject.

Even among friends, it is quite common to use the si impersonale to talk about plans:

Es. Che si fa stasera?

(What are we doing tonight?)

Es. A che ora ci si vede?

(What time are we meeting?)

It can also be used to give information, instructions, or permission.

Es. Si deve aspettare il bando prima di fare domanda per il lavoro.

(You have to wait for the announcement before you apply for the job.)

Es. Non si lavora nei giorni festivi.

(We don’t work on holidays.)

Es. Si può chiedere un aumento di stipendio una volta all’anno.

(You can ask for a raise once a year.)

Una prova

Struttura 8.3 Il discorso indiretto

In contesto

Il dirigente dice che gli impiegati devono fare lo straordinario durante il weekend.

Gli impiegati hanno risposto che avrebbero dato le dimissioni.

Il fine giustifica i mezzi” – you’ve probably encountered this quote from Machiavelli’s Il principe in your studies of Italian, or political science. We can attribute this quote to Machiavelli by saying something like Machiavelli scrisse: “Il fine giustifica i mezzi”  (Il Principe, pg x). This citation is an example of direct discourse, which means that we relay verbatim the words that were said, usually using quotation marks. You’re familiar with this, right?

Well, what happens if we want to relay the gist of the idea but not necessarily the direct quote? Changing from direct discourse to indirect discourse can require a shift in certain elements of the sentence (this will be reminiscent of tense sequencing – sorry!).

In the example above, we can change the sentence from direct to indirect discourse in the following way:

Es. Machiavelli scrisse che il fine giustificava i mezzi.

(Machiavelli wrote that the ends justified the means.)

Because the verb in the first part of the sentence is in the past, then the verb after che has to shift as well. Sometimes the shift from direct to indirect discourse involves nothing more than that che, and other times the sentence has to undergo a greater transformation.

Come si forma?

Let’s start with the combinations that undergo the fewest changes.

1. When the verbs that introduce the indirect discourse (like dire, chiedere, rispondere) and the verbs in the quotation are similar in tense (like present, future, imperfect or trapassato), there is no change in tense (just in conjugation).

present Michele dice: “Faccio domanda per quel lavoro.” (diretto)

Michele dice che fa domanda per quel lavoro. (indiretto)

(Michele says he’s going to apply for that job.)

future Michele chiede: “Quando ci sarà il colloquio?” (diretto)

Michele chiede quando ci sarà il colloquio.  (indiretto)

(Michele asks when the interview will be.)

imperfect Michele ha detto: “Sembrava una bella posizione di lavoro. (diretto)

Michele ha detto che sembrava una bella posizione di lavoro. (indiretto)

(Michele said that it seemed like a good job.)

trapassato Michele ha domandato: “Avevate ricevuto il mio CV?” (diretto)

Michele ha domandato se avevamo ricevuto il suo CV. (indiretto)

(Michele asked if we had received his CV.)

Note in the last example that even when the verb tense remains consistent, there are still changes to be made, such as the conjugation (from the voi to the noi form) and to the possessive, from il mio to il suo, since we’re talking about Michele in the third person.

2. When the verb tenses in the direct discourse differ, then the shift is greater. The Machiavelli quote is a good example. The introductory verb is in the passato remoto, but the verb tense in the quotation is in the present. That’s a pretty big discrepancy. To balance everything out in the indirect discourse, the verb tense in the quotation has to change to the past as well – specifically, the imperfect. Machiavelli scrisse che il fine giustificava i mezzi.

discorso diretto discorso indiretto
present → imperfect Martina ha chiesto: “Dove andiamo a cena?” Martina ha chiesto dove andavamo a cena.

(Martina asked where we were going for dinner.)

future → conditional past Martina ha chiesto: “Dove andremo a cena?” Martina ha chiesto dove saremmo andati a cena.

(Martina asked where we were going for dinner.)

passato prossimo → trapassato Martina ha chiesto: “Dove siete andati a cena?” Martina ha chiesto dove eravamo andati a cena.

(Martina asked where we went / had gone for dinner.)

imperativo → congiuntivo imperfetto Martina ha detto: “Dimmi il nome del ristorante!” Martina ha detto che le dicessi il nome del ristorante.

(Martina told me to tell her the name of the restaurant.)

imperativo → di + infinitive Martina ha detto: “Dimmi il nome del ristorante!” Martina ha detto di dirle il nome del ristorante.

(Martina told me to tell her the name of the restaurant.)

These might seem a little strange, particularly the shift from the future to the conditional past in the second example. It will definitely take practice before these become second nature, but just like tense sequencing, they do follow a formula. In the final example of the imperative, either option (the congiuntivo imperfetto or di + infinitive) is acceptable.

3. Finally, hypothetical phrases (which you studied in Unità 7), all shift to the same tenses in the indirect discourse: congiuntivo trapassato (past perfect subjunctive) in the “if” clause and condizionale passato (past conditional) in the main clause.

discorso diretto discorso indiretto
Martina ha detto: “Se andremo in pizzeria, prenderò una margherita.” Martina ha detto che se fossimo andati in pizzeria, avrebbe preso una margherita.

(Martina said that if we had gone to the pizzeria, she would have gotten a margherita pizza.)

Martina ha detto: “Se andassimo in pizzeria, prenderei una margherita.” Martina ha detto che se fossimo andati in pizzeria, avrebbe preso una margherita.

(Martina said that if we had gone to the pizzeria, she would have gotten a margherita pizza.)

Martina ha detto: “Se fossimo andati in pizzeria, avrei preso una margherita.” Martina ha detto che se fossimo andati in pizzeria, avrebbe preso una margherita.

(Martina said that if we had gone to the pizzeria, she would have gotten a margherita pizza.)

Quando si usa?

There are lots of situations that require indirect discourse. We don’t go around directly quoting people all day long! It is common to relay information in this way. Common verbs that introduce this discourse are dire, chiedere, domandare, rispondere, and ripetere.

Es. Marcello ha detto: “Arriverò alle 8!” → Marcello ha detto che sarebbe arrivato alle 8. 

(Marcello said he’d be here at 8.)

Es. Flavio ha chiesto: “Potete aiutarmi ora?” → Flavio ha chiesto se potevamo aiutarlo allora.

(Flavio asked if we could help him then.)

Es. Io ho risposto: “Ti possiamo aiutare adesso.” → Io ho risposto che lo potevamo aiutare in quel momento.

(I responded that we could help him in that moment.)

Note all of the other changes that need to happen to the sentence, from verb tenses to pronouns (ti → lo) to time expressions (ora → allora). You can do this! You have all the tools to adjust all of these elements of the sentence – it’s a great way to remind you of all you have learned about Italian up to now.

Una prova

 

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Torniamo a tavola! Volume 2 by Melina Masterson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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