In this article, I am going to talk about how to use proprio in Italian. It is one of those tricky words for Italian learners because it can change its meaning according to the context. In the following paragraphs, I tried to explain as simply as possible, and hopefully, you will find this article useful.

If you want to know more about these tricky Italian words besides the one discussed in this article about how to use Proprio, I have already written something about the words Ormai and Magari.

The idea of writing an article about the word proprio was born during a lesson with a student of mine who, on reading a book, noticed that this is a common word in Italian, used with different functions and meanings. For this reason, I will use this article to share with you what I said in that lesson.

I have tried to simplify the explanation as much as possible, by giving only a few hints about grammar and using some synonyms that can best replace the word proprio.

What more is there to say?! Let’s start with the explanation, and let’s examine some examples together.

1. Proprio used as Really

In this case, it does serve as an adverb, and by reading the following sentences, you can better understand how to use it.

  • Sei proprio insopportabile. = You’re just unbearable.
  • Sei proprio in gamba. = You’re really a smart person.
  • Sono davvero orgoglioso di te. = I am really proud of you.

2. Proprio used as Exactly

Even in this case, it does serve as an adverb, but its meaning this time is exactly. Read the following sentences:

  • Papà, voglio proprio quel giocattolo. = Dad, I want exactly that toy (and no one else).
  • Quello che dici è proprio quello che penso . = What you say is exactly what I think.
  • Assaggerò proprio quel dolce = I’ll taste that sweet (and not another one).

3. Proprio used as Just

In this case, it serves to reinforce what we are saying. In fact, the following sentences retain the same meaning even if we eliminate the word proprio. However, without this word, the sentences are less precise as well as less powerful.

  • Proprio pochi giorni fa ho visto un attore famoso. = Just a few days ago I saw a famous actor.
  • Ho finito di mangiare proprio poco fa. = I just finished eating.
  • Me l’ha detto proprio l’altro giorno. = He told me about it just the other day.

4. Proprio used as Typical

The word Proprio can also get the meaning of typical. In this case, it becomes an adjective, and the final of this adjective can change depending on the accompanying name. Let’s look at some examples.

  • Queste tradizioni sono proprie di questa regione. = These traditions are typical of this region.
  • Il linguaggio è proprio dell’uomo. = Language is typical of humans.
  • Il clima freddo e secco è proprio di questa zona. = The cold and dry climate is typical of this area.

5. Proprio used as At all

In this case, Proprio is used in negative sentences to reinforce them, and it means at all.

  • Non mi piace proprio. = I don’t like it at all.
  • Non ho proprio voglia di uscire. = I don’t want to go out at all.
  • Non mi sento proprio bene. = I don’t feel good at all.

6. Proprio used as a possessive adjective

In this last case, proprio can replace the possessive adjectives suo, sua, suoi, sue and loro.

  • Laura è andata al mare con la propria auto. = Laura went to the sea with her car.
  • Ognuno è libero di esprimere il proprio pensiero. = Everyone is free to express their thoughts.
  • Si pensa sempre ai propri interessi. = You think about your interests.


As I said earlier, to avoid overcomplicating the explanation, I tried to simplify it as much as I could, giving just a hint about the grammar, and resorting to some words that can substitute proprio. Through the examples, I showed you how flexible the word is and how it is used in various situations.

But before I finish this article, I want to give you some advice. In order to learn how to use it quickly and effectively, I suggest you read, and whenever you are faced with this word, try replacing it with the terms provided above. With a little bit of practice, you will be able to understand the function of proprio and use it based on the context.

I hope you found this article useful and  easy to understand, and I hope it will make you take a step forward in learning Italian.

Read this text in Italian!

Challenge yourself and check your knowledge of the word proprio.

firma ilaria

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