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How to say “rather” – anzi: Italian grammar lesson 162

How to say “rather” in Italian

Anzi is such a common and useful conjunction in Italian. Remember, a conjunction is a word used to connect clauses or sentences or to coordinate words in the same clause. Anzi has different meanings depending on the context.

So, if you want to learn how to say “rather” in Italian, here are the main contexts and meanings:

It can be used to say the opposite of what has just been said. It usually introduces a sentence that adds contradicting information. Basically, it’s used when there’s more to say about a topic and usually refutes the main point. In this case, it might mean: on the contrary, in fact, actually, or rather.

  • Non mi dispiace, anzi, mi fa tanto piacere!
    I don’t mind, in fact, I’m glad about it!
  • Non ho fame, anzi, sono piena!
    I’m not hungry, actually, I’m full!
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Anzi can also be used to say that something is better than what has just been said. In this case, it might mean: indeed, or better still, or better yet, or even.

  • Sto bene, anzi, sto benissimo!
    I’m good, indeed I’m really good!
  • Lei è simpatica, anzi, forse è la persona più simpatica che conosco.
    She’s nice, or better, she’s maybe the nicest person I know.

Anzi: other uses

How to say rather Italian 3

Anzi can also be used in a very specific situation: when someone says something, and they correct themselves straight away. In English you’d say “or rather,” or “I mean.”

  • Vorrei un bicchiere di vino, anzi, una birra.
    I’d like a glass of wine, I mean, a beer.
  • Ho comprato, anzi, mia mamma mia ha comprato questo cellulare.
    I bought, or rather, my mum bought me this cell phone. 
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Sometimes, anzi is so full of meaning that Italians don’t need to complete the sentence. This is a very common characteristic in Italian and it might be because Italians are so expressive that sometimes they don’t need many words. 

Just one word or gesture is enough. In this specific case, anzi contradicts a negative phrase but doesn’t need to be followed by something positive because we already know (just because of the presence of anzi) that we’re contradicting whatever we said before.

  • Non sono triste, anzi!
    I’m not happy, on the contrary

If the person talking were to complete the sentence, they’d say something like:

  • Non sono triste, anzi, sono contentissima!
    I’m not happy, on the contrary, I’m so happy!

Anzi combined with other words

How to say rather Italian 2

Apart from the uses mentioned above, anzi is also part of two important compound words such as anziché (instead of, rather than) and innanzitutto (firstly, first of all) among others.

  • Ha preferito mandare i suoi figli ad una scuola pubblica anziché privata.
    He preferred to send his children to a state school, rather than a private one.
  • Innanzitutto, vorrei ringraziare di essere venuti alla mia festa.
    First of all, I’d like to thank you all for coming to my party.
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