How do you use the word niente in Italian? What does it mean? How do you pronounce it?
In this lesson, we will look at how to use this word with the help of many audio recordings and example sentences. Read on to learn everything you need to know!
Niente in Italian
What is niente?
Niente is a pronoun that can be translated into English as “nothing” or “anything”.
Its pronunciation is close to nee-en-teh. If you have trouble pronouncing Italian sounds, check out the Italian pronunciation guide.
Now, let’s see some example sentences with niente in Italian, before we take a look at how to use this word.
Title: Italian All-in-One For Dummies
Language: English / Italian
Publisher: For Dummies
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Italian All-in-One For Dummies appeals to those readers looking for a comprehensive, all-encompassing guide to mastering the Italian language. It contains content from all For Dummies Italian language instruction titles, including Italian For Dummies, Intermediate Italian For Dummies, Italian Verbs For Dummies, Italian Phrases For Dummies, Italian Grammar For Dummies, and Italian For Dummies Audio Set.
Non ho niente da dirti.
I have nothing to tell you.
Senza aria né acqua, niente potrebbe vivere.
Without air and water, nothing could live.
Non c’è niente di cui aver paura.
There’s nothing to be afraid of.
Non ho niente di particolare da dire.
I have nothing particular to say.
Non ho fatto nulla durante le vacanze.
I did nothing during the holidays.
Now let’s see how to use niente in Italian.
Use of niente in Italian
We’ve said that niente in Italian is a pronoun that can mean “nothing” or “anything”. It is perfectly interchangeable with nulla, which also means “nothing”.
Niente is only used with things, never with people (and it doesn’t have to match the noun in gender and number). If you’re talking about someone, use nessuno.
Niente is also often used with adverbs such as mai (never), ancora (still) and più (anymore).
Now for the tricky part. Niente has a negative meaning when it’s used in front of a the verb.
Niente può fermarmi.
Nothing can stop me.
Niente mi fa paura.
Nothing frightens me.
However, it is accompanied by the negative adverb non when it comes after the verb, making it a double negative. Niente is most often used in this position.
Non può fermarmi niente.
Nothing can stop me.
Non mi fa paura niente.
Nothing scares me.
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Mio fratello non fa mai niente.
My brother never does anything.
Non ho più letto niente. Non ho mai tempo!
I haven’t read anything any more. I never have time!
Expressions with niente in Italian
There are a number of common idiomatic expressions featuring niente in Italian. These are…
- per niente (at all)
- niente male (not bad)
- niente paura! (there’s nothing to be afraid of!)
- buono a niente (good for nothing)
- far finta di niente (to play it off)
- come se niente fosse (as if nothing has happened)
- meglio di niente (better than nothing)
- per niente al mondo (at all costs)
- niente di niente (nothing at all)
- niente di tutto questo (none of this)
- niente a che fare con (nothing to do with)
- darsi al dolce far niente (to indulge in sweet idleness)
- non fare niente per niente (to do nothing for nothing)
- non avere niente di meglio da fare (to have nothing better to do)
- non c’entra niente (this has nothing to do with it)
- non c’è più niente da fare (there’s nothing left to do)
- non avere niente da ridire (to have nothing to complain about)
- niente di nuovo sotto il sole (nothing new under the sun)
And that’s the end of our lesson on how to use niente in Italian!
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