Fa male / It hurts - in detail

Found this webpage which explains how to use "fa male" construction correctly. Hope you all find it useful.

September 5, 2016


Dear Hunter. I've seen your link. Funny the doctor, who speaks about viruses for an expression used when no one was in a condition to speak about them.... to that, add that his "hurt" comes from French, with the meaning of "to be a source of pain" (the I. "far male" is the Latin to do malum = bad, wicked things). So, says the physician, "it seems to me, (that the I.) implies that it is the cited part of the body that is causing hurt to the person.In contrast to this Italiano construction, in American English, the implied source of the hurt is typically outside the person hurting and due to something injurious or a virus or a bacterium that is not a part of the person -- to a cause alien to the person afflicted". Now, tell me, if my finger hurts, what I have to think? that the pain is coming from "outside the person hurting" or that my finger is the "source of pain", which is not the I., but the E. original definition?

September 8, 2016

Your question sounds rhetorical, but I'll assume it isnt...

I'm not sure that the thought process is different between Italian and English, it may just be that the grammar is different. Pain is pain right? If your finger hurts or "ti fa male il dito" it's just how it's said (secondo me).

When asked as a question the Italian and English are quite similar. E.g. "Does it hurt?" = "Fa male?" and "Do they hurt?" = "Fanno male?". One could even reply "It does hurt"/"They do hurt". ("yes" or "it does"/"they do" are more common answers though). Though the grammar works out differently because "do" in this case is auxiliary but "fa" is a verb, and "male" is an adverb but "hurt" is a verb.

P.s. "what I have to think" -- > "what am I to think" or "what must I think" or possibly "what do I have to think"

September 9, 2016

If I have well understood, for the physician the source of a painful sensation arises from something coming from "outside the person hurting". I think that - shamans excepted - anyone thinks that the sourse is from inside. "When asked as a question the Italian and English are quite similar": I agree. It's again the doctor who says that " In contrast to this Italiano construction..." I don't see this "contrast". Thanks for the correction, but I don't understand "What am I to think: Che cosa sono da pensare? Or "to be to think" means "che cosa devo/debbo pensare"? And "have" (in "what have I to think"?) does not mean "che cosa devo pensare? Thanks again

September 9, 2016

It may be that the doctor is not expressing himself well even in English. Maybe he is thinking of when a third party is actually harming you such as "he (has) hurt me" or "lui mi ha fatto male". But there is no difference in the usage here between the Italian and English.

All the corrections above mean the same thing: che cosa devo pensare

"have to" = "must", but "have" alone does not hold this meaning. "what am I to think" is probably just idiomatic "what am I to..." = che cosa devo... also common "what am I supposed to..."

The third example uses "have to" in which one is forced to use "do". I think most of the time "what"+verb needs "do". You don't need "do" for: can,must,should,are,have(not including "have to").

September 9, 2016

Thank you Hunter. It's the first time that I find the expression "to be to think" for "I must think". And for the doctor...if he makes mistakes using his language, I feel forgiven (and best wishes for his patients)

September 9, 2016


September 9, 2016

"to be to do" is an idiom only really used in the interrogative (and limitedly as a prescription). I wouldn't get into the habit of using it.

September 12, 2016
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