Idioms with letters in Italian

In this lesson you’ll learn the most common and interesting idioms with letters in Italian.

Let’s start!

Click here to go to the idioms with letters in Italian interactive exercises!


Idioms with letters in Italian

The first we’re going to see translates to to dot your i’s.

Mettere i puntini sulle i

This is used to address a nitpicky kind of person.

Mettere i puntini sulle i
To dot your i’s
Literally: to put the small dots on the i’s

Il mio commercialista è molto preciso. Gli piace mettere i puntini sulle i.
My accountant is very precise. He likes dotting his i’s.

idioms with letters in italian - puntini sulle i
Mettere i puntini sulle i
To dot your i’s

Non capire un’acca

Latin used to aspirate h‘s, and so does Italian nowadays. In modern Italian, hai and ai are pronounced exactly the same. You can’t really hear the h sound.

This gave way to the idiom non capire un’acca, meaning “to not understand anything”.

Non capire un’acca
To not understand anything
Literally: to not understand an h

Puoi parlare più forte? Non capisco un’acca!
Can you speak louder? I can’t understand anything!


Non valere un’acca

Likewise, non valere un’acca was born. Since h’s don’t really serve a purpose in Italian, non valere un’acca means “to be worth nothing”.

Non valere un’acca
To be worth nothing
Literally: to not be worth an h

Non vale un’acca come cuoco. Brucia sempre tutto.
He’s worth nothing as a cook. He always burns everything.

idioms with letters in italian - non valere un'acca
Non valere un’acca
To be worth nothing

Dalla a alla zeta

This will hopefully be straightforward, as there’s direct correspondence with its translation to English: from A to Z. From beginning to end.

Dalla a alla zeta
From A to Z

Questo negozio vende un po’ di tutto, dalla a alla zeta.
This shop sells a bit of everything, from A to Z.


Imparare l’ABC

Contrary to what it may seem, this idiom does not refer to the Italian alphabet. Imparare l’ABC means “to learn the basic theory of a subject”.

Imparare l’ABC
To acquire the basics
Literally: to learn the ABC

A scuola dovrebbero insegnare l’ABC dell’economia.
Schools should teach basic concepts of economy.

idioms with letters in italian - imparare l'abc
Imparare l’ABC
To acquire the basics

What next?

Click here to go to the idioms with letters in Italian interactive exercises!

Now that you’ve seen the most common idioms with letters in Italian, you might want to keep learning Italian online with these free Italian resources:

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