https://www.duolingo.com/HelenDaisy

Il giorno/la giornata

In the dictionary these both mean 'the day'. Are they interchangeable, or are they used at different times because of subtle differences in meaning? Interesting that one is masculine and the other feminine. Is that just a 'random' happening? I so wish that Duolingo would put an article with every new noun it introduces to us, so that we would learn the gender with the word from the start. Thank you

October 12, 2017

17 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/CivisRomanus

Giorno is the word used for the astronomical day, a calendar day, a day on which something happens, a date:

  • Che giorno è? = What day is it?

  • Il primo giorno di ottobre. = The first day of October.

  • Un giorno festivo. = A holiday, a festive day.

  • Un giorno,... / Un bel giorno,... = One day,...

  • Il giorno fatidico. = The fateful day.

  • Il giorno del loro matrimonio. = The day of their wedding.

  • Il giorno di Pasqua. = Easter Day.

When giorno is used as opposed to notte ('night'), it usually indicates the daylight hours; but the more proper word for this would be (with an accented 'i'), a word which is now no longer commonly used.
Also when giorno is used in the adverbial expression di giorno ('during the day') it refers to the daylight time (di dì would sound terrible!), or to the time from morning to late in the evening, being notte usually restricted to hours from midnight to dawn.

Giorno is also used in the common idiom:

  • Cambiare dal giorno alla notte = To change completely, radically.

Giornata is more often used for indicating a day in terms of whatever happens during the length of time from morning to evening:

  • Una giornata noiosa. = A boring day.

  • Ho avuto una brutta giornata al lavoro. = I had a bad day at work.

  • Sarà pronto in giornata. = It will be ready during the day / within the day.

  • Vivere alla giornata. = To live from day to day, one day to the next.

  • Giornata Internazionale del Xxxxx. = International Xxxxx Day

  • Un operaio pagato a giornata = A workman payed by the day.

With regard to the last example, la giornata can also indicate whatever is earned in one day of work.

Nevertheless, giornata is also commonly used for referring to the weather:

È una bella giornata. = It's a fine day.

È una giornata un po' grigia. = It's a bit of a grey day.

Giornata can also indicate collectively the matches played on the same day in a championship or tournament (i.e. one round of matches).


Sometimes the choice between the two words can be extremely subtle:

  • Era un freddo giorno d'inverno. = It was a cold winter day. (→ this indicates a day, incidentally giving us information about the climate)

  • In una fredda giornata d'inverno,... = On a cold winter day,... (→ this introduction, which incidentally gives us information about the climate, is clearly followed by a description of what happens during the same day)

But in such cases either giorno or giornata can be freely used, without having to worry about intricate considerations.


As for being one word masculine and the other one feminine, it is merely a coincidence.
The suffix -ata is taken by many words, with different meanings too, and giornata can be considered as the result of giorno + -ata.
In a similar way (and with a similar meaning):

  • mattina or less often mattino ('morning') → mattinata

  • sera ('evening') → serata

  • notte ('night') → nottata.

October 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/HelenDaisy

Thank you CivisRomanus for your detailed reply with examples that I understand. From the time of my posting the query until I woke this morning to your reply, I conclude that you stayed awake half the night working to respond. Grazie mille.

I belong to a small group of 'oldies' trying to learn Italian, and our teacher will be away in November.. We could have 'giorno' as our word of the week. Please may I use your post to make sure we discuss it correctly when we have no one there to correct us?

I hope you get more sleep tonight.

October 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/CivisRomanus

Of course you can.
Since you'll be focusing on giorno for one whole week, let me add some further food for thought for your Italian class, concerning time phrases that include this word.


-----"During the day"-----

giorno (without any further specification) always takes the preposition di:

  • di giorno = during the day(time)

Giornata, instead, always takes in:

  • in giornata = during the day(time), within the day

The difference in meaning is that di giorno refers to any day (i.e. during the daytime of any day), whereas in giornata usually refers to one specific day; if the day is not specified, it refers to the present day, otherwise the sentence (or the context of speech) must provide an indication:

  • Cosa fai di giorno? -- Studio. = What do you do during the day? -- I study. (→ every day)

  • Cosa fai in giornata? -- Studio. = What will you do (today) during the day? -- I'll study. (→ today only)

  • Cosa fai giovedì in giornata? -- Studio / Studierò. = What will you do (on) Thursday during the day? -- I'll study. (→ Thursday only)

  • Cos'hai fatto l'altroieri in giornata? -- Ho studiato. = What did you do the day before yesterday during the day? -- I studied. (→ the day before yesterday only)


-----"On what day ...?"-----

Asking on what day of the week a holiday (or any other event) falls, the preposition di is used.
The verbs used are cadere (proper) and venire (colloquial):

  • Di che giorno cade il✱ Natale quest'anno? -- Cade di lunedì. [proper] = On what day does Christmas fall this year? -- On Monday.

  • Di che giorno viene Natale quest'anno? -- Viene di lunedì. [colloquial]

✱ Using the definite article (il Natale) is more proper/formal, but in ordinary conversation it is almost always dropped, using Natale as a proper name.

Colloquially, the preposition di is often omitted (strictly speaking, this is ungrammatical but widely accepted):

  • Che giorno viene Natale quest'anno? [very colloquial]

In replying, also the verb capitare is sometimes used, which in this context means 'to happen to be', i.e. as if remarking an element of chance. It is quite colloquial:

  • Viene di lunedì. = Capita di lunedì.

When the expected answer is a day of the month, the preposition in is used:

  • In che giorno sei nato? = What day were you born?

Again, in colloquial speech the preposition is commonly dropped (as in English); this is ungrammatical, but widely spoken:

  • Che giorno sei nato?

No preposition is needed in replying:

  • Sono nato / nata il ... = I was born on the ... [date]

-----"The day (that/on which/when) ..."-----

When speaking of the day when something happened (or will happen), Italian deals with this construction as a relative clause. The preposition in is followed by the relative pronoun che ('that' / 'which'), which turns into cui due to the preposition (in + che → in cui):

  • Il giorno in cui sono tornato. = The day (on which) I returned.

  • Il giorno in cui l'ho incontrato. = The day (that) I met him.

  • Il giorno in cui sono nato. = The day (when) I was born.

In English you can easily by-pass the problem of choosing a relative pronoun by simply dropping it, but in Italian it has to be spoken, otherwise the sentence becomes meaningless.

In everyday's speech, the preposition in is often dropped (but not the relative pronoun, which turns back into che). So the colloquial version of these sentences is:

  • Il giorno che sono tornato. = The day I returned.

  • Il giorno che l'ho incontrato. = The day I met him.

  • Il giorno che sono nato. = The day I was born.

October 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/HelenDaisy

Thank you again CivisRomanus. That will be good for me to understand, and for discussion in the group. I think my next question has to be:- 'how does one thank someone who gives so much of their time and wisdom, with such kindness, adequately?' Grazie mille

October 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/CivisRomanus

Don't mention it.
In Duolingo I'm learning a language free of charge, so tutoring the Italian course is simply giving something in return.

October 15, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/CristinaMa670333

CivisRomanus, what about "un uovo al giorno" ? Is "al giorno" generally used for "daily"" in Italian language? Thank you in advance.

November 10, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Linda7Italian

Good to keep a dictionary handy. DL can't spoil us too much, for free.

October 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/HelenDaisy

Very true, and that is how I study. But I am doing it at a table at home, not so easy for learners standing on a commuter train.

October 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/David858225

If you have a smartphone and have internet access during your commute, you could download the Oxford Paravia Italian dictionary Helen. Opt for the version with adverts and some restrictions (no audio for pronunciations) and it's free (free is perfectly usable, otherwise £10 when on offer, a steep £20 at full whack). But importantly it makes the gender of nouns clear and gives you some good examples as a good dictionary should do. For verbs, it also points you to some useful conjugation tables. I'm using the app on an iPhone - I don't know if it's available on Android phones.

October 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/HelenDaisy

Thank you David for that excellent advice. I am going ahead with that, especially as some of the Duolingo vocabulary is not in my little 'starter' dictionary. Really useful for travelling.

October 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/drtiny
  • 1545

I would say that giorno is a bit more general and more frequently used (see), the main difference is that giornata is about the daytime (as opposed to nottata/serata) while giorno can be the complete 24h (it can also be just the daytime, they seem to me pretty interchangeable, still giorno is more common).

Also I can't help to think about the difference they make in France: the feminine expresses the duration while the masculine is about the point in time, I'm not sure there's a connection.

I hope someone else can chime in :)

October 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/HelenDaisy

Thank you for helping me.

October 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/art_parr

Il giorno - The day La giornata - It's about time of the day like ' Working day '

Un giorno lo farò - One day I'll do it. Spero che abbia una bella giornata - I hope you have a good day

I hope you can understand the context, I don't know how to make you understand, sorry.

October 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/HelenDaisy

Please do not apologise, I am grateful for all the help I can get. Italian is difficult for me, but I am loving the attempt. Thank you.

October 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/MABBY

It was an excellent question. I hadn't even considered the subtleties of the words until you mentioned them here.

October 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/HelenDaisy

Thank you Mabby. Appreciation from you means a lot. In our Duo world where none of us knows anything about anyone else, you have become a bit of a role model.

October 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/nguyenvanloc1234

Giorno is the word used for the astronomical day, a calendar day, a day on which something happens, a date:

Che giorno è? = What day is it?

Il primo giorno di ottobre. = The first day of October.

Un giorno festivo. = A holiday, a festive day.

Un giorno,... / Un bel giorno,... = One day,...

Il giorno fatidico. = The fateful day.

Il giorno del loro matrimonio. = The day of their wedding.

Il giorno di Pasqua. = Easter Day.

When giorno is used as opposed to notte ('night'), it usually indicates the daylight hours; but the more proper word for this would be dì (with an accented 'i'), a word which is now no longer commonly used. Also when giorno is used in the adverbial expression di giorno ('during the day') it refers to the daylight time (di dì would sound terrible!), or to the time from morning to late in the evening, being notte usually restricted to hours from midnight to dawn.

Giorno is also used in the common idiom:

Cambiare dal giorno alla notte = To change completely, radically. Giornata is more often used for indicating a day in terms of whatever happens during the length of time from morning to evening:

Una giornata noiosa. = A boring day.

Ho avuto una brutta giornata al lavoro. = I had a bad day at work.

Sarà pronto in giornata. = It will be ready during the day / within the day.

Vivere alla giornata. = To live from day to day, one day to the next.

Giornata Internazionale del Xxxxx. = International Xxxxx Day

Un operaio pagato a giornata = A workman payed by the day.

With regard to the last example, la giornata can also indicate whatever is earned in one day of work.

Nevertheless, giornata is also commonly used for referring to the weather:

È una bella giornata. = It's a fine day.

È una giornata un po' grigia. = It's a bit of a grey day.

Giornata can also indicate collectively the matches played on the same day in a championship or tournament (i.e. one round of matches).

Sometimes the choice between the two words can be extremely subtle:

Era un freddo giorno d'inverno. = It was a cold winter day. (→ this indicates a day, incidentally giving us information about the climate)

In una fredda giornata d'inverno,... = On a cold winter day,... (→ this introduction, which incidentally gives us information about the climate, is clearly followed by a description of what happens during the same day)

But in such cases either giorno or giornata can be freely used, without having to worry about intricate considerations.

As for being one word masculine and the other one feminine, it is merely a coincidence. The suffix -ata is taken by many words, with different meanings too, and giornata can be considered as the result of giorno + -ata. In a similar way (and with a similar meaning):

mattina or less often mattino ('morning') → mattinata

sera ('evening') → serata

notte ('night') → nottata.

October 14, 2017
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