poco or po'

Discussion in 'Italian-English' started by duckie, Sep 14, 2006.

  1. duckie

    duckie Senior Member

    Copenhagen
    Denmark
    When is po used instead of poco?
     
  2. pizzi

    pizzi Senior Member

    Aosta
    Italian, Italy
    po' is the shorter form for poco = po'(co)
     
  3. duckie

    duckie Senior Member

    Copenhagen
    Denmark
    I was just wondering when one uses po and when one uses poco, because it seems to depend on the words it's referring to..
     
  4. ElaineG

    ElaineG Senior Member

    Brooklyn NY
    USA/English
    Hey Untold,

    Welcome to WRF. Please remember to try to write using the most correct English you possibly can when posting here. Our Italian friends depend on us to learn how to write English, including punctuation and where we put capital letters.

    Thanks so much, and glad to have you here,

    Elaine
    Moderator
     
  5. claudine2006

    claudine2006 Senior Member

    Andalucía Spain
    Italy Italian
    È poco simpatico. (you can't say È po' simpatico)
    È un poco noioso = È un po' noioso
     
  6. duckie

    duckie Senior Member

    Copenhagen
    Denmark
    Ok, so un poco or un po' :)

    Does it sound formal to say un poco?
     
  7. MünchnerFax

    MünchnerFax Senior Member

    Germany
    Italian, Italy
    The two forms are not interchangeable.

    You may say only the long form, poco, when you mean a small amount of something (English little or few):

    C'è poca benzina nel serbatoio.
    C'erano pochi spettatori al concerto.

    The short form un po' is only to be used as to indicate an uncertain quantity (English a bit of):

    Metto un po' di sale nell'acqua per la pasta.
    Ho avuto un po' da fare questa settimana.


    Compare:
    Ho avuto poco da fare
    = I had little to do
    Ho avuto un po' da fare = I had quite a lot to do

    Hope it helps...
    Ciao
     
  8. claudine2006

    claudine2006 Senior Member

    Andalucía Spain
    Italy Italian
    No, it doesn't. But "un po'" is a little more informal.
     
  9. duckie

    duckie Senior Member

    Copenhagen
    Denmark
    MünchnerFax,

    Why does ho avuto un po' da fare = I had quite a lot to do?

    claudine, ok - I'll probably stick to poco for now then until I've figured out everything a little better :)
     
  10. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    I think it's missing the English "quite"

    I had a bit to do
    I had quite a bit to do

    They both mean, to an Italian "a bit" and "a lot" respectively, I think this is the case.
     
  11. duckie

    duckie Senior Member

    Copenhagen
    Denmark
    Ah.. that's very tricky.
     
  12. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Providing I am right, of course, please wait for a confirmation! :p
     
  13. MünchnerFax

    MünchnerFax Senior Member

    Germany
    Italian, Italy
    Maybe a lot was too exaggerated and might have confused you; I'm sorry if it's so. Un po' works like the English a bit, but actually indicates an uncertain amount of something. This uncertain amount is anyway more than the small amount indicated by poco alone... I realise this is just a terrible explanation, I think you can get the meaning by having some examples and just practising.

    From my example:

    Ho avuto poco da fare
    ... so I had plenty of spare time to do something else.
    Ho avuto un po' da fare... so I didn't have time to phone you.

    Other examples:

    C'è poca benzina nel serbatoio... we'll have to refuel as soon as possible.
    C'è un po' di benzina nel serbatoio... we can reach Milan without stopping.

    Ti è piaciuta la festa? - Poco... it was boring.
    Ti è piaciuta la festa? - Un po'... there might be better parties, but we had some fun anyway.

    Hope I've made it a bit clearer (...un po' più chiaro!) rather than confusing you more!
    Ok, another go with this one:
    Ora è poco più chiaro - Very little has changed from before
    Ora è un po' più chiaro - I didn't get it completely, but I understood enough to use the two forms correctly.
     
  14. duckie

    duckie Senior Member

    Copenhagen
    Denmark
    That helps a lot, thanks!

    I understood the sentences except maybe for the last two examples, is this right?

    1) Now it's a little bit clearer
    2) It's a bit clearer now (it's very subtle, but that does indicate that things are somewhat clearer and have therefore improved).
     
  15. claudine2006

    claudine2006 Senior Member

    Andalucía Spain
    Italy Italian
    I don't get the first one.
    I've heard "Ora è molto più chiaro" or "Ora è un poco/un po' più chiaro" but never "Ora è poco più chiaro".:confused:
     
  16. SleepingLeopard Senior Member

    English - United States (New York)
    Ciao a tutti,

    Here's a silly little question:

    I'm simply wondering if po' is an acceptable word to write in a very formal letter, or if I should write out the word poco.

    Grazie :)
     
  17. Stiklas Junior Member

    US- The lake
    Lithuanian
    Try thinking of "poco" as the English "not much"-
    That would make this last one:
    Hope that helps... :)
     
  18. gatto

    gatto Senior Member

    L'Aquila, Italy
    Italian-Italy
    I'm afraid the answer to this question is it depends...
    You have some contest, or is it just a general question?
     
  19. Necsus

    Necsus Senior Member

    Formello (Rome)
    Italian (Italy)
    As gatto said (yes, again :)), it depends. Anyway they are not exactly he same: po' is always preceded by article and it is used to soften or intensify the meaning.
     
  20. SleepingLeopard Senior Member

    English - United States (New York)
    Hi,

    It's for a letter I'm writing, but have not completed yet. The sentence is going to be something similar to: "We need a little more time to consider your request". This is a very formal letter, written from one company to another.

    For "a little" in a sentence like this, does "un po'" sound too informal? It sounds strange to me to say "un poco" in Italian (it makes me feel like I'm mixing up my Italian and Spanish :p).

    Thank you very much.
     
  21. gatto

    gatto Senior Member

    L'Aquila, Italy
    Italian-Italy
    To me, it seems appropriate to use 'un pò' in this case.
    'Abbiamo bisogno di un altro pò di tempo/di un pò più di tempo...'
     
  22. Necsus

    Necsus Senior Member

    Formello (Rome)
    Italian (Italy)
    I'd simply say "abbiamo bisogno di più tempo (/di qualche giorno/ settimana in più) per valutare la vostra richiesta". ;)
     
  23. SleepingLeopard Senior Member

    English - United States (New York)
    Perfetto! Grazie mille, Gatto e Necsus. :)
     
  24. Necsus

    Necsus Senior Member

    Formello (Rome)
    Italian (Italy)
    Figurati...!
     
  25. gatto

    gatto Senior Member

    L'Aquila, Italy
    Italian-Italy
    I agree with Necsus on the translation for your letter, but not about his remark about "un poco".
    I know you probably meant it referred to this particular case, but it should be remarked that IN GENERAL, you can find it used in a number of expressions like:
    un 'poco di buono'
    un poco alla volta (also un pò alla volta)
     
  26. Necsus

    Necsus Senior Member

    Formello (Rome)
    Italian (Italy)
    because
    but obviously I didn't make myself enough clear, my fault. :)
     
  27. SleepingLeopard Senior Member

    English - United States (New York)
    Grazie a tutti e due per le spiegazioni agguinte di "un poco". Ho detto sempre "un po'", e non sapevo se "un poco" sia usato. Molto interessante!

    Ciao :)
     
  28. gatto

    gatto Senior Member

    L'Aquila, Italy
    Italian-Italy
    E' stato un piacere, specie fare la ramanzina a Necsus :D
     
  29. Necsus

    Necsus Senior Member

    Formello (Rome)
    Italian (Italy)
    Prego, SleepingLeopard!

    Precisazioni e puntualizzazioni sono sempre utili (e benaccette) quando non pedanti o autocelebrative. ;)
     
  30. gabrigabri

    gabrigabri Senior Member

    奥地利
    Italian, Italy (Torino)
    Hi!

    In a formal letter I wouldn't use "un po'" (or un poco), just something more formal (as above suggested). You should use other words to explain it:

    f.e. abbiamo bisogno di più tempo
    abbiamo bisogno di maggior tempo


    Po' vs. Poco
    In my opinion, you can't interchange them:

    Ho un po' di fame is for me 99% better than "ho un poco di fame".
    È un po' stanco = è un poco stanco:cross: (that sounds from Naples only to me?)
     

Share This Page