Appena is an Italian word that can have different meanings. Students are usually confused on how to use it, where to place it in a sentence and whether to use “non” or not?
In this article I’ll try to answer these three questions.
Appena can be used to indicate that something almost doesn’t happen or exists, that something isn’t almost possible. In short, it can be translated as barely.
a. Ci conosciamo appena
a. We barely know each others
b. La macchia si vede appena
b. You can barely see the stain
Appena can also be used to indicate that something happened only a short time before something else. When appena is used with this function, it can only be used with a compound tense and it’s always placed between the auxiliary and the past participle.
a. Cerchi Marco? Se n’è appena andato
a. Are you looking for Marco? He’s just left
b. Ho appena incontrato tua sorella al bar
b. I’ve just met your sister at the café
However, sometimes, you can see “appena” used only with a past participle. In this case it’s part of a temporal or a relative sentence.
a. Questa è una foto di me appena laureata -> Questa è una foto di me di quando mi ero appena laureata
a. This is a picture of me when I had just graduated
b. Questa è una casa appena ristrutturata -> Questa è una casa che è stata appena ristrutturata.
b. This house has just been restructured
- Appena can mean at the same time or a very short time after an event. Here you can decide if you want to add a pleonastic “non” before appena or not. The meaning of the sentence doesn’t change.
a. (Non) appena rientrarono, iniziò a piovere
a. As soon as they got back home, it started to rain
b. (Non) appena mi pagheranno, compreremo un’auto nuova
b. As soon as they pay me, we’ll buy a new car
4. When appena is used with numbers or words that indicate quantity, it means “only; just”.
Ex: Non posso pagare io il taxi, mi sono rimasti appena 5 euro!
I can’t be the one who pays the taxy, I’ve only got 5 euros left!
5. Finally, when appena is used with words that indicate a position in space or time it means “right”.
a. Appena prima di entrare in città c’è un distributore di benzina
a. Right before entering the town there’s a gas station
b. C’è una farmacia appena dopo l’hotel
b. There’s a drugstore right after the hotel
I hope I’ve helped you a little bit to understand how to use the Italian word appena. If you loved this article, don’t forget to share it!
Original image by suju