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confusion of the italian word "non"

Whenever I am learning or practicing italian I run into problems with the Italian word "non". It's usage confuses me, especially in the sentence "no, non sono io, tu sei". When I see this sentence I read it as "no, not is me, it is you" not as it translates to " no, it is not me, it is you." Can someone please explain how to use this word and its weird attributes.

May 16, 2013



From what I know, "non" is used to make the verb before which it usually appears into a negative. This particular example might be a tough one, because in this case English changes the order--for example, if you say "non leggo" it has the same order in English: "I'm not reading". But for the verb "essere"--"to be"--English reads in a different order when it is negative: "Io non sono" is "I am not" instead of the literal "I not am".


I recommend not thinking about "no, non sono io, tu sei" when trying to understand 'non'. I believe the English and the Italian are idiomatic to some extent.

Part of translating is learning to express the sentence in the correct way for that language. You can't always translate word by word.

"Non sono io" literally translated would be "not am I". But that doesn't make sense in English, so when you translate it you have to work out what is the meaning behind this sentence and how would an English speaker express that. That's why this becomes "It is not me..."

But when you are trying to understand how to use "non" in Italian you shouldn't think about the weird circumstances. In general...

"non" in Italian goes directly in front of the verb. It makes the verb negative. It typically translates into English as the word "not", but not always - English has a couple of ways of making things negative.

Io leggo - I am reading / I read

Io non leggo - I am not reading / I don't read

Tu sei un uomo - you are a man

Tu non sei un uomo - you are not a man

La ragazza mangia mele - the girl eats apples

La ragazza non mangia mele - the girl does not eat apples


Going to move this to the Italian discussion where it will be more appreciated :)

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