Depending on the context, the word “time” in Italian can be translated in a variety of ways. Every word has its own meanings and implications, so understanding the differences between them is critical. Here are the four most commonly used translations: Volta, Momento, Tempo, and Ora.
Look at these examples to see how these words are used in Italian.
Ti ho sempre aiutato, ma questa volta non posso.
Il mattino è il momento più bello: hai un’intera giornata davanti a te!
La fabbrica è stata chiusa poco tempo fa
Che ora è? Sono le tre.
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Read the explanation to learn more.
1. VOLTA ⇒ occasion
This term refers to the act of repeating an action, whether it be once, twice, three times, or only once in a while.
♦ Una volta/due volte/tre volte (once/twice, three times)
♦ Questa volta (this time)
♦ La prima volta (the first time)
♦ Un’altra volta (again)
♦ Ancora una volta (once again)
♦ La prossima volta (next time)
♦ Di volta in volta (from time to time)
♦ A volte (at times)
♦ Ogni volta (every time/each time) every time she sings, I’m happy)
♦ Per volta (at a time)
♦ Fare una cosa per volta (to do one thing at a time)
♦ C’era una volta (once upon a time)
♦ Per l’ennesima volta (once more time)
2. MOMENTO ⇒ point in time
We use this word to refer to a small amount of time, a very short amount of time. There is no m. to lose; it has meant something like ATTIMO/ISTANTE, with which it is frequently replaced: Non c’è un momento da perdere (there is no time to lose.)
♦ In qualunque/qualsiasi momento (any time) –> You can call me any time if you need me
♦ Da un momento all’altro (any time now) –> We’ll be ready to leave any time now.
♦ In un momento successivo ( later time) –> We can discuss it at a later time
♦ Al momento (at the present time) –> At the present time there are many problems
♦ In quel momento (at that time) –> At that time I didn’t understand what she meant
♦ In questo momento (at this time) –> That car model is not available at this time
3. TEMPO ⇒ length of time
This word is used to describe the passing of time.
♦ Arrivare in tempo per (right time for)
♦ Aver tempo di fare qualcosa (to have time to do something)
♦ Perdere tempo (to waste time)
♦ (per) Tutto il tempo (for the whole time)
♦ Nel giro di poco tempo (within a short space of time)
♦ Il tempo giusto per (right time for)
♦ Arrivare in tempo per (to arrive in time to)
♦ In tempo di guerra (in wartime)
♦ Allo stesso tempo (at the same time)
♦ Per molto tempo (for a long time)
♦ Fuori tempo (out of time)
♦ Perdita ti tempo (waste of time)
♦ Quanto tempo! (it’s been a long time)
♦ Tanto tempo fa (tanto tempo fa)
4. ORA – ORARIO ⇒Time Unit
(time relating to the hour of the day or to timetables)
Ora refers to the present moment or the time of day. It can be used to ask for the current time, as in “Che ora è?” (What time is it?). “Ora” can also be used to describe what someone is doing right now: as in “Vengo subito, sono occupato ora. (in questo momento)(I’ll be right there, I’m busy at the moment).
♦ Che ore sono? (What time is it?)
♦ Hai l’ora esatta? (Do you have the right time?)
♦ È ora di andare (It’s time to go)
♦ Domani a quest’ora (this time tomorrow)
♦ Era ora! (About time!)
♦ L’ora di punta (the rush hour)
♦ L’ora di pranzo (lunchtime)
♦ L’orario d’uffico, di lavoro, delle lezioni (office, work, school hours)
♦ L’orario di apertura/chiusura (opening/closing times)
♦ In orario (on time, according to the timetable)
It’s essential to understand these distinctions to use the words accurately in the right context. Whether you’re learning Italian or travelling to Italy, mastering the usage of these words will help you communicate more effectively and better understand the culture.
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