Light year in Italian

How do you translate light year in Italian?

In this lesson we’ll take a look at this very expression, also known as collocation, and will even mention a few words you can use along with anno and luce to enhance your Italian vocab.

Let’s go! Iniziamo!

Light year in Italian

First things first, let’s translate light year in Italian.

Anno luce
Light year

light year in italian - anno luce - spaceship travelling through space

Light year in Italian – Let’s break this up!

Anno luce is made up of two words.



What’s an anno luce? It is not a period of time, a periodo di tempo, but a distance, una distanza.

It is basically the distance that light travels in a year. It is known that the speed of light is around 300.000.000 m/s, which you would read in Italian as trecento milioni di metri al secondo, three hundred million meters per second.

L’anno luce non definisce un periodo di tempo, ma una distanza.
The light year does not define a period of time, but a distance.

Because the universe is so vast, astronomical distances are calculated in light years, anni luce.

Notice that anno, year, changes to anni, years. You can’t say anni luci in Italian as a plural, because luce is used as an uncountable noun here.

If you want to ask what the distance between this and that object is, you can ask…

Qual è la distanza da/tra…?
What’s the distance between…?

Quanto dista…?
How far away is…?

light year in italian - quanto dista - the universe with stars and planets

You can also use anno luce as a figure of speech to mean that something is much more advanced than something else or simply that we don’t yet have the means to achieve something in the foreseeable future.


We said that the translation for light year in Italian is anno luce. Anno is a masculine noun. It is often followed by a descriptive adjective.

Un anno
A year

Degli anni
Some years

The year

Gli anni
The years

anno - year - man looking at calendar on the wall

What kinds of anno are there in Italian? Let’s see some.

Anno accademico
Academic year

Anno bisestile
Leap year

Anno sabbatico
Sabbatical year

For example, you could say:

L’anno accademico inizia a settembre.
The academic year starts in September.

Qual è stato l’ultimo anno bisestile?
What was the last leap year?

Voglio prendermi un anno sabbatico per vedere il mondo.
I want to take a sabbatical to see the world.


Luce is a feminine noun.

Una luce
A light

Delle luci
Some lights

La luce
The light

Le luci
The lights

light year in italian - light surrounded by butterflies

Accendi la luce, per favore. Non si vede niente.
Turn on the light, please. I can’t see anything.

C’è troppa luce in questa stanza.
There is too much light in this room.

Unlike a language such as German where compound words take on the gender of their last component, the gender of an Italian compound word reflects the gender of the first component.

So anno luce in Italian is a masculine noun since anno is masculine.

That said, let’s see what we can accompany luce with.

Luce del sole

Gioco di luce
Light play

Mettere in buona/cattiva luce
To put in a good/bad light

For example, you could say…

La luce del sole entra dalla finestra.
Sunlight comes in through the window.

La lampada di cristallo crea giochi di luce sulla parete.
The crystal lamp creates a light play on the wall.

Questo scandalo metterà in cattiva luce la nostra azienda.
This scandal will put our company in a bad light.

Light year in Italian – Examples

Qual è la distanza tra la Terra e la Luna?
What is the distance between the Earth and the Moon?

La distanza tra le stelle si misura in anni luce.
The distance between stars is measured in light years.

La Galassia di Andromeda dista circa 2 milioni e mezzo di anni luce.
The Andromeda galaxy is about 2.5 million light years away.

La nostra azienda è ad anni luce da qualsiasi altra impresa.
Our company is light years ahead of any other business.

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