What is the difference between solo, soltanto and solamente in Italian? English speakers often confuse them. Are there any situations in which you have to use one or the other? Are they even interchangeable?
In this lesson, we will look at how to use these words with the help of many audio recordings and example sentences. Read on to learn everything you need to know about the difference between solo, soltanto and solamente!
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Solo, soltanto and solamente in Italian
Many students wonder what the difference is between solo, soltanto and solamente in Italian. These words all translate to English as only, so how to choose between them?
Actually, these words are interchangeable.
How do you use solo in Italian?
Solo is an adverb with the meaning of “only”.
Mia sorella ha solo cinque anni.
My sister is only five years old.
How do you use soltanto in Italian?
Soltanto is an adverb with the meaning of “only”. It can replace solo to give more emphasis to the sentence. Solo is more common than soltanto in everyday speech.
Queste scarpe costano soltanto venti euro.
These shoes cost only twenty euros.
How do you use solamente in Italian?
Solamente is an adverb with the meaning of “only”. It can replace solo and soltanto to give more emphasis to the sentence. This is the less common adverb between the three.
Solamente uno diventerà re.
Only one will become king.
Solo, soltanto and solamente as conjunctions
Solo, soltanto and solamente in Italian can also be conjuctions. When used this way, they are paired with che to translate the English “only” when it has the meaning of “but”.
Mi piace questa casa, solo che è troppo costosa.
I like this house, only it’s too expensive.
Ho cercato di chiamarti, soltanto che il tuo telefono era spento.
I tried to call you, but your phone was off.
Solo as a noun and adjective
Another difference between solo, soltanto and solamente in Italian is that solo can also be a noun and an adjective.
As a noun, solo has the meaning of “the only”, “the one”. For example, you can find it in the expression il solo e unico, “the one and only”.
Il ragazzo fu il solo ad alzarsi.
The boy was the only one who got up.
Use la sola if the subject is feminine singular, le sole if the subject is feminine plural and i soli when it’s masculine plural.
Marta è la sola che possa aiutarci.
Marta is the only one who can help us.
Title: Italian All-in-One For Dummies
Language: English / Italian
Publisher: For Dummies
Learn to speak Italian like a native? Easy.
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.
As an adjective, solo has the meaning of “alone”. It often takes the form of da solo, but the meaning is unchanged. For example, you can say:
Mio zio vive solo.
My uncle lives alone.
Elena lavora da sola in ufficio.
Elena works alone in the office.
And that’s the end of our lesson on the difference between solo, soltanto and solamente in Italian!
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