Some weeks ago, I explained the main meanings of the Italian verb tenere and how to use it. Today, I’d like to focus on its reflexive form, tenersi. You’re going to learn all the most common meanings of the Italian verb tenersi and how to use it.
1. The first meaning of tenersi is to hold yourself to something, generally not to fall.
a. Tieniti (alla scala) che cadi
Hold to the ladder or you’ll fall
2. The second meaning of tenersi is to keep yourself in a certain state, position or situation for a certain period of time.
b. Devi tenerti aggiornato se vuoi fare questo lavoro
You have to keep yourself up to date if you want to do this job
c. Tieniti pronto, tra un attimo entriamo in azione
Be ready, we’re about to spring into action
3. The third meaning of the Italian verb tenersi is to follow a certain direction.
d. Siamo quasi arrivati, tieni la destra
d. We’re almost there, keep to the right
4. Another meaning of tenersi is to hold each other
e. Li ho visti tenersi per mano
e. I saw them holding their hands
5. Another meaning of the verb tenersi is to take care of your physical appearance, including how you dress.
f. Maria ha un aspetto giovanile anche se ha 65 anni, si tiene bene
f. Maria has a youthful appearance even if she’s 65, she takes care of her physical
6. Finally, the Italian verb tenersi is used in some idiomatic expressions such as:
Tenersi stretto qualcuno o qualcosa = To keep something or someone close because it’s unique or very important for you.
g. Marco è un buon amico, tienitelo stretto!
g. Marco is a good friend, keep him close!
Tenersi buono qualcuno = to keep a relationship of friendship with someone out of interest, fear or convenience.
h. Franco è molto influente, meglio tenerselo buono
h. Franco is very influential, better to have him as a friend
Tenersi sulle proprie = not to leave your comfort zone, not to know other people well or talk to them because you’re shy or because you think you’re better than other people. In short, it means to keep yourself to yourself
i. Davide si tiene sempre sulle sue
i. Davide always keeps himself to himself
Another way of say tenersi sulle proprie in Italian is stare sulle proprie.
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