Imagine being on a bus in Italy and someone kindly offers to help you with your suitcase. You don’t need their help though, so you want to tell them: ‘it’s ok, thanks. I can manage’. Or you’re walking up to your apartment with your shopping and a neighbour offers to help, but you’re ok so you say ‘Thanks for your offer, but I can do it myself’.
We may be tempted to use the verb ‘potere’ here, which means ‘can’ or ‘to be able to’. But it’s not the right one to use here. One option is to use the verb ‘farcela’, which means to be able to do something / to manage / to succeed / to achieve something.
Ce la fai con quella valigia? – Can you manage with that suitcase?
Sí, ce la faccio da sola grazie – Yes I can manage on my own, thanks
Ce la fai con tutte quelle buste – Can you manage with all those shopping bags?
No, non ce la faccio. Mi dai una mano? – No, I can’t manage. Can you give me a hand?
In grammar terms, this type of verb is called a pronominal verb as it has pronouns in it: ‘ci’ (which changes to ‘ce’) and ‘la’. The present tense verb table is:
Io ce la faccio – I can manage
Tu ce la fai – You (singular) can manage
Lui / lei ce la fa – He / she can manage
Noi ce la facciamo – We can manage
Voi ce la fate – You (plural) can manage
Loro ce la fanno – They can manage
Another pronominal verb with a similar meaning is ‘cavarsela’. This also means to manage, to succeed or to achieve something. It also means to get by or to muddle through something. For example:
Come va il tuo italiano? – How’s your Italian coming along?
Non ho studiato molto in questo periodo ma me la cavo – I haven’t studied a lot recently but I get by / I haven’t studied a lot recently but I’m managing
Come vanno le tue figlie a scuola? – How are your daughters getting along at school?
Diciamo bene. Se la cavano bene in quasi tutte le materie – Quite well. They are getting by in nearly all subjects.
The full verb is:
Io me la cavo – I get by
Tu te la cavi – You (singular) get by
Lui / lei se la cava – He / she gets by
Noi ce la caviamo – We get by
Voi ve la cavate – You (plural) get by
Loro se la cavano – They get by
Finally the third verb you could use to say ‘I can manage’ is the verb ‘riuscire’. It’s not a pronominal verb but it is an irregular one. It means to manage, to be able to do something or to succeed in doing something.
Here’s the full verb:
Io riesco – I manage
Tu riesci – You (singular) manage
Lui / lei riesce – He / she manages
Noi riusciamo – We manage
Voi riuscite – You (plural) manage
Loro riescono – They manage
Here are some examples:
Non riesco a trovare il ristorante, mi aiuti? – I can’t find the restaurant, can you help me?
Certo! – Of course!
Ci riesci ad aprire quella porta? – Can you manage to open that door?
Sì penso di riuscirci! – Yes, I think I can manage!