Forum Rocket Italian Conversation in Italian A question about sentence structure

A question about sentence structure



In module 2, the lesson "The Perfect Tourist", Alessandro says, "Mi puo' fare una fotografia con dietro la chiesa".

Every time I think I'm beginning to understand Italian sentence structure, I get thrown for a loop again. Literally translated, this means "Me can make photograph with behind the church".  I'm starting to understand the object pronouns, contracted pronouns, etc. What I don't understand is putting "behind" before "church".

'Splain, please? ;)


Here's another from Module 2, Waiting for a Taxi:

"Scusi, aspetta anche Lei un taxi "

Literal English translation is "Excuse me, waiting also you a taxi?"

How can we know how to construct sentences such as this, or is that something for much, much later?
Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

Hi Dick-B4,

The order of words, in Italian, is mainly a matter of personal preference.

There's really no difference between these sentences:
"Scusi, aspetta anche lei un taxi",
"Scusi, aspetta un taxi anche lei",
"Scusi, anche lei aspetta un taxi"...
"... per andare al centro?"
All three of them are grammatically correct and convey the same meaning.
The only thing you have to pay attention to is anche lei, which is, in this case, a rigid combination - lei anche is not allowed.

The syntax of Italian is rigid in some cases - it is firmly an SVO language, Subject-Verb-Object - but in some other cases (like the two you mentioned) it is very flexible.

It is also completely fine to say "Mi può fare una fotografia con la chiesa dietro?". Both examples sound natural to a native's ear, although you may want to use them in informal speech only.
A little less informal way to ask this could be:
"Mi può fare una fotografia con la chiesa sullo sfondo?"
Translated, "Could you take a photo of me, with the church in the background?"

A little note on your literal translation.
Whereas English uses the present continuous tense, "Are you waiting...?", Italian uses the present simple tense. The literal translation is (keep in mind that Italian uses "she" as form of address in formal situations):
"Excuse me, waits also she a taxi?", which in informal situations becomes "Excuse me, wait also you [singular] a taxi?".

Hope it helped! If you have any further questions, don't hesitate to ask :)


Thanks for the reply. It sort of makes sense. ;)  When I read posts on forums from Italy, I'm usually confused by the sentences. Without structure, understanding is difficult. 

If you said, Excuse me, wait also you a taxi?" in America, people would look at you funny and walk away.
Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

Ahah it does sound really strange when literally translated! My advice is to keep practicing and using the language actively (constructing similar sentences to the ones shown in the course, etc). With enough practice, putting words in their right order will become automatic!

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