Translated by Dina Merali

Prendere, toccare, dire are three Italian verbs very common and learned almost immediately by Italian learners. In this article called “To take, to touch, to say: particular uses”, I will not focus on the meaning everybody knows, but I will let you know the particular uses of these Italian verbs.

In this article, I will discuss three very popular verbs in Italian: prendere, toccare, and dire.

Do you know their meaning? Surely. Do you use them constantly? I believe there is no other way to go about it. But did you know that these verbs could also be used in a different way?

At the beginning of our learning journey, we tend to study the language in, I would say “a mechanical way”. This means that every newly acquired word can be directly translated into a specific word in our mother tongue. Little by little, as we go deeper into acquiring another language, we become more confident in our skills and can assign several meanings to a single word. Over time, our rigid and mechanical understanding of a foreign language becomes expanded and more fluid.

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I already discussed this topic in another article titled Monolingual or bilingual dictionary?”. Consult it for related tips and explanations.

Prendere, toccare, dire

Let’s return to the topic at hand, the verbs prendere, toccare, dire.

The first meanings that may come to mind are:

  • Prendere means to grasp, to take.
  • Toccare means to engage in contact with someone or something (to touch).
  • Dire means to communicate something verbally (to say).

But this is not all, because there are hidden secondary meanings to all of the verbs above. Let’s see what they are:

Prendere as in to captivate

We can use prendere to indicate an object, a situation, or a person that captivates us and interests us immensely.

  • Ho letto quel libro in 2 giorni. Mi ha preso talmente tanto che l’ho letto tutto d’un fiato.   
  • I read this book in two days. It captivated me so much that I finished it in one sitting!
  • Marco mi ha detto che vuole continuare a studiare recitazione. Il corso l’ha preso completamente!
  • Marco told me that he wants to continue studying acting. The course captivated him completely!
  • Lucia esce ancora con Mario? Sì, lui l’ha presa davvero presa!
  • Lucia is still dating Mario? Yes, he really captivated her!

Toccare as in to move

Toccare is often used by Italians to mean to emotionally move someone.

  • Il discorso che hai fatto alla popolazione è stato superbo. Ha toccato tutti, dal primo all’ultimo.
  • The speech you gave was amazing. You moved everyone, from the first person to the last.
  • Siamo stati toccati profondamente dalle immagini della città di Roma deserta.
  • We were deeply moved by the images of deserted Rome.
  • È davvero uno strano essere umano: non lo tocca mai niente.
  • He really is a strange human being: nothing ever moves him.


Dire as in to think

Dire used to mean “thinking” is very popular amongst Italians.

  • Vorremmo andare a sciare il prossimo fine settimana. Che ne dici? Sei dei nostri?
  • We would like to go skiing next weekend? What do you think? Are you in?
  • Che dici? Pensi di poterti fermare un secondo al supermercato?
  • What do you think? Do you reckon we could stop by at the supermarket?
  • Che ne dici se stasera ci prepariamo una bella pizza?
  • What do you think if tonight we make a nice pizza?


As you can see, the Italian language (like many others) is a lot richer than what meets the eye. You will be able to realize it as you continue on with your studies. There is a similar article related to this one concerning verbs such as andare, fare, and sapere.

In this article, however, I wanted to give you a taste of alternative meanings to prendere, toccare, dire,  because I guarantee you that you can use these verbs in many other ways. 

But let’s not put too many irons in the fire! We will revisit this next time :) 

ila firma

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