Who hasn’t had an old aunt or grandmother carrying around one of those big bags filled with everything the world could hold? At least that’s what we thought when we were kids. One of those Mary Poppins wallets that could materialize anything from a handkerchief to a box of chocolates. Well, the Italian word “Prego” is very similar to one of these fabled bags. It may be a small word, but it contains a multitude. This of course makes it a very tricky word to learn, and also a very important word that is right to start with.
If you’ve ever spent some time in Italy, you’ve probably heard this word a thousand times a day when you entered this lovely shop on the main street or in a bar, on the subway, in your hotel. Pretty much everywhere.
But where does “prego ” I’m from?
Its original meaning is the first person of the verb pregare, “pray”: “Io prego”, I pray. This meaning was common in the time when etiquette required a certain respect. Some examples: “La prego di perdonarmi”I pray for your forgiveness
Nowadays one hears expressions like: “Ti prego, ascoltami“Which means” please, listen to me “. Note, however, that when used this way,”pregoHas a kind of pleading tone.
It is probably because of this original meaning (the verb “to pray”) that “Prego” has become the immediate answer to “Grace”which means “thank you”. It was probably once an expression of wishing well to someone who had been kind to you, something like “I pray for your well-being.”
Back to modern times prego is a very versatile word. It’s easy to get confused, but context can really help you understand the importance of fishing out of our “multiverse wallet”.
Remember, basically anything that revolves around our little magic word has to do with politeness in one way or another.
Let’s see some possible meanings of the word “prego“And see how the situation you are in can help you figure out which is right for the occasion.
1. May I help you
The “grace ”-“ prego ” Combination is a must in the Italian language. It’s basically an automatism and is seen as the cornerstone of basic courtesy. When someone says “grace“You and you don’t answer”prego,“You might be seen as rude, so be careful!
Example: You are in your favorite bar, you order a nice cappuccino to start your day on the right foot, the barista gives you the mug. Now you say “grace“And they answer”prego.”
Of course, this can be useful in myriad different situations – from the grocery store to the museum – but all you really need to do is remember it when someone says “Grace” you should say to you “Prego” back. As simple as that.
If you happen to forget whoever is on your “prego“Might yell at you” prego eh,Just to remind you that you should have said it.
2. Come in
You were invited to someone’s home for dinner or dinner aperitivoThey ring the doorbell and wait for them to come and open the door. When they do, they’ll smile and say “prego” which gives you room to enter the house. As you can see, context helps and guides you to the right meaning, which is “come in”.
The same thing can happen when you get into a store. The clerk will smile at you behind the counter and say “Prego”importance “Come in.” Basically, it’s a great way to initiate someone and show that you are a good host.
Remember, basically everything that revolves around our little magic word has to do with politeness in one way or another.
3. After you
“Prego“May also mean” after you. “Let’s say you are about to get into the mail. There is another person who will do the same. You stop at the threshold and say,”prego.“Or you’re on a date and want your partner to come to the restaurant first. You step aside and say,”prego.”
4th You’re welcome
This special meaning now has different shades of color. Didn’t we say that the “Prego” multiverse is full of surprises?
That’s why you’re back with your Italian friend aperitivoYou are sitting in a comfortable armchair and your host comes up to you and holds a tray with some of them Bruschetta. They bend over to you and say: “prego,“What does” please conform. “
You can also use our little chameleonic word to offer someone a seat: “prego, si accomodi,“That means” please take a seat. “
It could also be the answer someone gives you when you ask to take something.
Question: Posso prendere questa scatola? (Can i take this box?)
Reply: Prego. (Which would mean something like, “Please, don’t hesitate to do this.”)
5. how can I help you
Don’t be surprised if the shopkeeper stands next to you and asks while you are looking around a store: “Prego, Signora / Signore?“What you want to ask is,” How can I help you, Miss / Sir? “
6th I’m sorry
Normally you would like this kind of “pregoIn a more formal setting. Imagine having a conversation with someone older than you, or with someone you don’t know very well, or with a business associate. You say something too quickly or in a voice that is too low and you cannot hear it well or understand it properly. To make them repeat what they just said, you say: “prego?”
Remember that in this particular case, your voice should have a questioning tone. This simple rise in the tone correctly instructs the person you are speaking to to respond accordingly.
As an aside, there are several ways to ask someone to repeat something they just said, such as:Come? “and the very colloquial”eh? ”But these would not work in a formal setting as they would be considered rude. Better to stay with our “prego” or to “può ripetere, per favore? “(Can you repeat that, please?).