Proprio is an Italian word that can have different meanings according to the context in which it’s used. So, let’s see how to use proprio in Italian without making mistakes.
1. The first meaning of proprio in Italian as an adverb is really.
a. E’ proprio buono!
a. It’s really good!
b. Mi ha proprio fatto piacere vederti!
b. It was really nice seeing you!
2. As an adverb proprio in Italian can also be used as an intensifier and its equivalent in English, when it’s possible to translate it, can be the word right.
c. E’ atterrato proprio adesso
c. He’s landed right now
d. Perché devi partire proprio domani?
d. Why do you have to leave tomorrow?
3. Proprio in Italian can also be an adjective and it can mean typical.
e. E’ proprio da Giada dimenticarsi un appuntamento
e. It’s typical of Giada to forget an appointment
f. Il clima piovoso è proprio di questa parte della regione
f. Rainy weather is typical of this part of the region
4. Finally, proprio in Italian can be used as a possessive adjective instead of the third person singular – suo, sua, suoi, sue – and the third person plural – loro.
g. Luigi pensa alla propria vita -> Luigi pensa alla sua vita
g. Luigi thinks about his life
h. Maria e Paola puliscono la propria stanza -> Maria e Paola puliscono la loro stanza
h. Maria and Paola clean their room
However, the use of proprio is mandatory in impersonal sentences or in sentences with an unspecified/general subject:
i. Ogni persona ha le proprie idee
i. Everyone has their own ideas
l. Bisogna difendere i propri valori
l. We need to defend our values
Can proprio always replace suo, sua, suoi, sue, loro?
No, it cannot.
Proprio can be used only when the possessor is also the subject of the sentence:
m. Maria pulisce la propria stanza -> Maria pulisce la sua stanza
m. Maria cleans her room
In the example above, Maria is the subject of the sentence and owns the room. So, I can use “proprio”.
n. Ho parlato con Maria e con suo fratello -> Ho parlato con Maria e con il proprio fratello wrong!
n. I spoke with Maria and with her brother
In the sentence above, I am the subject of the sentence but it’s Maria’s brother, not mine. So, I can’t use “proprio” here.
Is it better to use suo, sua, suoi, sue, loro or proprio, when the replacement is possible?
It depends on two things.
Firstly, suo, sua, suoi, sue and loro are definitely much more common than proprio in spoken Italian. Proprio is a little bit more formal.
Secondly, you should ask yourself is my sentence ambiguous? If the answer is yes, you should definitely use “proprio”. Let’s see an example:
o. Sara ha parlato con Giorgia dei suoi progetti
o. Sara spoke with Giorgia about her projects
The sentence above carries some ambiguity. Whose projects are they? Sara’s or Giorgia’s?
If we use proprio this ambiguity doesn’t exist anymore because it’s clear that we’re talking about Sara’s projects!
p. Sara ha parlato con Giorgia dei propri progetti
p. Sara spoke with Giorgia about her projects
I hope I’ve helped you a little bit to understand how to use proprio in Italian. If you liked this post, don’t forget to share it!
Original image by guvo59