GIORNO and GIORNATA: how to use them

April 17, 2017

Today I decided to write about something that I am very often asked by my students: the difference between the words giorno e giornata  and how to use them.

Giorno and giornata are essentially synonyms, with slight differences of usage.

Giornata is used when referring to the approximate duration of the day from morning to evening or when speaking about the weather or characteristics of day.

  1. Che bella giornata oggi! Ho passato un bel giorno
  2. Una giornata soleggiata. Un giorno soleggiato.
  3. Ho passato una bella giornata . Ho passato un bel giorno.
  4. Ho avuto una giornata pienissima . Ho avuto un giorno pienissimo.

The word giornata is often accompanied by a specification or an adjective

Giornata is also used when referring to special celebration or commemoration, often with a social or political aim such as

  • Giornata della musica. Giorno della musica. 
  • Giornata delle lingue moderne nel mondo. Giorno delle lingue moderne nel mondo.
  • Giornata della donna. Giorno della donna.

Also, giornata is the amount of hours worked in a day, so it used to say something about the working day.

  • Che giornata faticosa a lavoro!
  • Questa giornata non finisce più!

Of course there are several idiomatic expressions that use it

  • Fare le cose in giornata, doing something by the end of the day
  • È a una giornata di macchina, it’s a day by car
  • Giornata lavorativa, working day
  • Vivere alla giornata, to live one day to the next

Giorno is used when referring to the astronomical days, indicating the 24 h period.

Giorno is more generic and is used when referring about several days or a duration of time

  • Vado in vacanza per 10 giorni.
  • Ho preso 3 giorni di ferie.

and it is  used in several idiomatic expressions also

  • Ogni giorno/settimana/mese/anno, every day/week/month/year
  • Da un giorno all’altro, from one day to the next
  • Tutto il giorno, all day long
  • Uno di questi giorni, one of these days



4 thoughts on “GIORNO and GIORNATA: how to use them

  1. This is great!
    I’m learning Italian while standing in a queue 🙂

    Istituto italiano di cultura
    in Dublin
    posted a link to your article on Latin phrases used in Italian on Facebook which is how I got here 🙂

  2. I am planning to make a stool or foot rest for my sister-in-law. With padding and a pretty white fabric on top to have an inscription something like: Domenica: Giornata di Pasta, which means Sunday: Pasta Day. On your site I found the difference between “giorno” = generic day, and “giornata” = special day, or the usage when meaning characteristics of the day. I had never heard “giornata” before. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *