Parecchio, Abbastanza, and Piuttosto: Three important quantifiers

| Thu, 11/26/2020 - 09:55
milan italy

Once your language skills clear the initial hurdles of basic grammar rules and a vocabulary large enough to navigate daily life, it’s time to start working on some of the subtleties and nuances that separate the beginners from those who are starting to edge towards mastering Italian in all its beauty and complexity.

One way to do that is to start “doubling up” on your vocabulary, or learning more than a single way to express an idea or thought. Sure, “bello” works in a bunch of situations, but why not add some color to your speech with a smattering of synonyms to switch out for this all-purpose “nice”?

“Parecchio”, “abbastanza”, and “piuttosto” fall into this category. You can definitely get by without these three quantifiers, but with them, your Italian will take on significantly more life. That said, they can be tricky to use correctly. 

Here’s a quick guide:

How to use “parecchio”

Use “parecchio” to indicate a large number or quantity instead of “molto” or “tanto”. 

Depending on its use, “parecchio” works as either a quantifying adverb or adjective and can substitute:
Quite a bit...
A lot of...
Lots of...
Plenty of...
A great deal of...
...and so on

“Parecchio” is used quite often in spoken Italian, and your mastery of it will lend your speech a more natural tone. It is usually placed before the noun and matches it in gender and number when used as an adjective; when used as an adverb, it is used in the singular masculine.

Suono il pianoforte da parecchio tempo. - I have been playing the piano for quite a long time.
Questa settimana fa parecchio freddo. - It’s very cold this week.
Ho parecchie cose da fare prima di partire per le vacanze. - I have a lot to do before I leave on vacation.
Abbiamo portato dietro parecchia acqua per la camminata. - We brought plenty of water for the walk.

La macchina è parecchio lenta. - The car is very slow.
Oggi sta parecchio meglio. - He feels much better today.

“Parecchio” can also be used as a pronoun when it’s easy to understand what it substitutes.

Parecchi non finiscono il corso. - Many (students is assumed) don’t finish the course.
E’ da parecchio che aspetti il treno? - Have you been waiting long (time is assumed) for the train?
Ho speso parecchio per il biglietto. - I spent a lot (money is assumed) for the ticket.

How to use “abbastanza”

Use “abbastanza” to indicate a sufficient number or quantity instead of “piuttosto”. 

Depending on its use, “abbastanza” works as a quantifying adverb or pronoun and can substitute:
...and so on

“Abbastanza” is a mainstay of conversational Italian and its meaning can be nuanced depending upon the context and tone of the speaker. It is usually placed before the noun but does not match it in gender and number when used as an adverb, instead of remaining unchanged regardless of its use.

Sei abbastanza grande per uscire da sola. - You are old enough to go out alone.
Canta abbastanza bene per la sua età. - He sings quite well for his age.
Il prezzo mi sembra abbastanza alta. - The price seems rather high to me.
“Abbastanza” can also be used as a pronoun when it’s easy to understand what it substitutes.

Ho mangiato abbastanza. - I’ve eaten enough (food is assumed).
Ne ho avuto abbastanza! - I’ve had enough! (frustration is assumed).
Note: “abbastanza” is also sometimes used to denote a lack of enthusiasm or ambivalence, expressed via tone of voice:

Era buona la cena? Si, abbastanza. - Was dinner good? Yes, good enough.
Come va a scuola? Abbanstanza bene. - How is school going? Well enough. 

How to use “piuttosto”

Use “piuttosto” to indicate “more” (to a greater extent, to a considerable extent). “Piuttosto” is always used as an adverb preceding an adjective or adverb and can substitute rather (meaning both “a bit” and the indication of a preference).

“Piuttosto” is considered a rather refined form of speech and will give your conversation the tone of someone who has studied Italian grammar and syntax with diligence. 

Sono piuttosto stanca stasera. - I’m rather tired this evening.
Prendo piuttosto il treno. - I’d rather take the train.
Bevo il vino piuttosto che la birra. - I’d rather drink wine than beer.
Piuttosto la morte che mangiare la pizza con l’ananas. - I’d rather die than eat pizza with pineapple. 
Mangiamo sempre fuori. Piuttosto, perchè non prepariamo qualcosa a casa stasera? - We always eat out. Rather, why don’t we make something at home tonight?

Let’s see how you add these three great Italian quantifiers into your next conversation!