Time expressions - part II - The days of the week.
part I - The parts of the day
part III - The months and the seasons of the year
part IV - Years and centuries
part V - Duration forms - prepositions
part VI - Duration forms - constructions
part VII - Duration forms - more constructions
The Italian names of the seven days of the week are:
lunedì = Monday
martedì = Tuesday
mercoledì = Wednesday
giovedì = Thursday
venerdì = Friday
sabato = Saturday
domenica = Sunday
The Italian week starts with Monday, as in most countries of the world.
The final -dì that five names share is the alternative word il dì for "the day". These names are the Italianized version of their Latin equivalents (e.g. dies lunae → lunedì, dies martis → martedì, etc.), whose etymology is based on the names of the seven planets according to the old Ptolemaic system: Luna (Moon), Marte (Mars), Mercurio (Mercury), Giove (Jupiter) Venere (Venus). Originally, there were two more, dies saturni ("the day of Saturn"), which was also called dies sabbati ("the day of Shabbath"), whence sabato, and dies solis ("the day of the Sun") which changed into dies dominicus ("the Lord's day") sometime after the Christian religion replaced the Roman one, whence domenica.
Note that these names are not capitalized as they are in English. They are all dealt with as masculine nouns (il lunedì, il sabato), except la domenica which is feminine.
The five names that end with -dì are invariable because of the last accented vowel:
i lunedì = the Mondays
i mercoledì = the Wednesdays
i venerdì = the Fridays
Instead sabato and domenica have regular inflections for the plural:
i sabati = the Saturdays
le domeniche = the Sundays
Time phrases (e.g. "on Monday") do not require any preposition nor article. The position of the day within the sentence is quite free, as it can stand at the beginning, or after the subject, or at the end of the sentence, where it takes a slight emphasis:
Martedì (noi) partiamo per Parigi. = On Tuesday we are leaving for Paris.
Paolo sabato è andato al cinema. = On Saturday Paul went to the cinema.
Il campionato comincia domenica. = The championship starts on Sunday.
The adjectives "next" and "last" translate to prossimo and scorso, respectively. They can be used with two different patterns:
lunedì prossimo or il prossimo lunedì = next Monday
domenica prossima or la prossima domenica = next Sunday
mercoledì scorso or lo scorso mercoledì = last Wednesday
sabato scorso or lo scorso sabato = last Saturday
Il campionato comincia domenica prossima. = The championship starts next Sunday.
Il campionato comincia la prossima domenica. = (same as above)
Giovedì scorso ho parlato con Gianni. = Last Thursday I spoke with John.
Lo scorso giovedì ho parlato con Gianni. = (same as above)
The word order is fixed, so
scorso giovedì ← wrong!
il giovedì scorso ← wrong!
In informal Italian, questo ("this") is sometimes used in place of prossimo, always without an article, in either position:
questo lunedì or lunedì questo = next Monday (literally "this Monday")
questa domenica or domenica questa = next Sunday (literally "this Sunday")
This is the only case in which questo (a determiner) is ever used after a noun; in this position it sounds even more emphatic or informal than when it stands before the name of the day.
Another very informal replacement for prossimo is che viene (literally "that is coming" → forthcoming); the use of an article is optional:
lunedì che viene or il lunedì che viene = next Monday, the forthcoming Monday
domenica che viene or la domenica che viene = next Sunday, the forthcoming Sunday
The adjective successivo means "following", and requires the use of the definite article, regardless of its position:
il lunedì successivo or il successivo lunedì = (on) the following Monday
la domenica successiva or la successiva domenica = (on) the following Sunday
Wishing to express a time reference for successivo, the preposition a must be added, and the adjective must stand after the name of the day:
il venerdì successivo allo sciopero = on (the) Friday following (after) the strike
la domenica successiva al 5 maggio = on (the) Sunday following (after) the 5th of May
THE USE OF ARTICLES BEFORE DAYS OF THE WEEK
When a day of the week is specified by means of a reference (e.g. "the first Saturday of the month"), it is definite and therefore requires the relevant article:
Il primo sabato del mese. = (On) the first Saturday of the month.
L'ultima domenica dell'anno. = (On) the last Sunday of the year.
Il giovedì prima del suo compleanno. = (On) the Thursday before his/her birthday.
Beware that using the definite article without any specification gives the expression a habitual meaning:
il sabato = on Mondays (on every Monday)
la domenica = on Sundays (on every Sunday)
il venerdì = on Fridays (on every Friday)
(Noi) facciamo la spesa venerdì. = We'll do the shopping on Friday. (once)
(Noi) facciamo la spesa il venerdì = We do the shopping on Fridays. (usually)
(Voi) cosa fate sabato e domenica? = What will you do on Saturday and Sunday?
(Voi) cosa fate il sabato e la domenica? = What do you do on Saturdays and Sundays?
As an alternative to the definite article, also the simple preposition di can take the same meaning:
(Noi) facciamo la spesa di venerdì = We do the shopping on Fridays.
(Voi) cosa fate di sabato e di domenica? = What do you do on Saturdays and Sundays?
In polished / literary Italian, also the articulated preposition al or alla can be used with the same meaning, but you'll never hear this pattern in the spoken language:
- Alla domenica molti negozi sono chiusi. = On Sundays many shops are closed.
This would be commonly spoken as:
- La domenica / Di domenica molti negozi sono chiusi.
The plural article is used when mentioning all the same days included within a time interval:
Le domeniche d'estate. = The summer Sundays.
I lunedì di gennaio e febbraio. = The January and February Mondays, the Mondays in January and February.
Also indefinite articles can be used:
È stato un lunedì noioso. = It has been a boring Monday.
Una domenica come tante altre. = A Sunday like many others.
USING TUTTO / TUTTI AND OGNI WITH THE DAYS OF THE WEEK
Using tutto, the name of the day should take the article (after the adjective, this is a peculiarity of tutto):
(Io) ho passato tutto il sabato a lavorare. = I spent all Saturday working.
(Noi) siamo stati in campagna tutta la domenica. = We have been in the countryside all Sunday.
But especially in some parts of the country the article is dropped, and you'll hear also:
(Io) ho passato tutto sabato a lavorare.
(Noi) siamo stati tutta domenica in campagna.
Instead, using the plural form tutti the article is always mandatory (after the adjective):
(Io) ho passato tutti i sabati del mese a lavorare. = I spent all the Saturdays of the month working.
(Noi) siamo stati in campagna tutte le domeniche. = We have been in the countryside all Sundays.
The adjective ogni ("every", singular, invariable), instead, is always followed by the name of the day in singular form, without any article:
(Io) ho passato ogni sabato del mese a lavorare. = I spent every Saturday of the month working.
Ogni domenica (noi) andiamo in campagna. = Every Sunday we go to the countryside.
EVEN DAYS AND ODD DAYS
In timetables, schedules, etc. Monday, Wednesday and Friday are often referred to as i giorni dispari ("the odd days", i.e. the first, third and fifth days of the week), as opposed to Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, i giorni pari ("the even days", i.e. the second, fourth and sixth days):
L'ufficio è aperto di mattina i giorni dispari. = The office is open in the morning on Mon-Wed-Fri.
I giorni pari (noi) andiamo in palestra. = On Tue-Thu-Sat we go to the gym.
Sosta vietata i giorni dispari. = No parking on Mon-Wed-Fri.
Sunday is usually not included in this scheme, being a holiday, i.e. a non-working day.
Hello, thanks for your efforts. Is there a main topic with links to all those grammar posts?
Not yet, before publishing them I'm trying to arrange them in a logical order (I'm still uncertain which one, though).
Is it actually possible, if you or others develop such good explanations, to include them in the Tips and Notes? Or don't you want to?
I'm afraid this would be impossible.
In first place, for practical (space) reasons, as the Tips and Notes section is usually much shorter (or less bulky) than this.
In second place, because each unit tends to include fewer rules at a time; this post alone would require at least two or three units.
In third place - this is the most important reason - Duolingo's teaching strategy differs considerably from the more traditional grammar approach I follow. So mixing up the two methods would not be a good idea.
When I started to use Duolingo, I thought that the Tips and Notes section was its major weakness - more than half of the Italian "skills" (chapters) do not even have Tips and Notes.
As I had many, many questions, I had to do my own research on the Internet. I have found a lot of useful websites, blogs, YouTube channels, etc. It is weird, but now I must say that without that major weakness, I would never find those valuable resources!