Proprio in Italian
If you have been studying Italian, you surely have heard the word proprio in all kinds of conversations. This is a typical Italian word and, if you pay attention, you will find it is one of the most common words native speakers use.
- Sei proprio sicuro che tutti verranno con la propria macchina?
Are you really sure that everyone will come with their own car?
What you might be unsure about is how to use proprio, as it appears to have a wide variety of meanings and uses!
So, let’s look at all the different meanings of proprio to learn how to use it correctly.
Proprio as “one’s own”
First of all, proprio is used in Italian as a possessive adjective that can replace suo, sua, suoi, sue (his/her) or loro (their).
- Giulia ama il proprio – Giulia ama il suo lavoro.
Giulia loves his own job.
- Rimetti i piatti al proprio – Rimetti i piatti al loro posto.
Put the plates back in their (own) place.
In this case, proprio makes the sentence clearer as to whom we are talking about (like adding “own” in English).
On the other hand, proprio must be used as a possessive adjective with impersonal constructions (“one’s own”).
- Si sta sempre bene a casa propria.
One always feels good at one’s own
- Bisogna sempre dare la priorità al proprio
One must always prioratise one’s own wellbeing.
Remember, the word proprio as a possessive adjective must agree with the noun it describes in gender and number and it is almost always preceded by an article, unless it comes after the noun.
- a casa propria
at one’s own home
- di produzione propria
of one’s own production
Proprio as exactly, just, precisely
As we already mentioned, the word proprio has other meanings in Italian. In its masculine singular form it can be used to mean “really”, “just” or “exactly”, depending on the context.
- Questo succo è proprio
This juice is really good.
- Non so proprio.
I really don’t know.
- Ho finito proprio ieri.
I just finished yesterday.
- Ho chiamato Giulio proprio
I just called Giulio this morning.
- Questo è proprio ciò che volevo.
This is exactly what I wanted.
- Proprio così!
If used in a negative construction it can be an intensifier meaning “at all”:
- Questa pizza non mi piace proprio.
I don’t like this pizza at all.
- Oggi non voglio proprio
Today I don’t want to work at all.
Proprio in Italian expressions
Obviously, proprio is used in many Italian colloquial expressions, here are some you might want to know!
- A proprio rischio e pericolo.
At one’s own risk.
- Essere/sentirsi a proprio agio.
To be/feel at ease
- Amor proprio
- Lavorare in proprio
To be self-employed