Understanding the use of ‘Anzi’ in Italian

What does ‘anzi’ mean? 

Anzi is hard to translate in English, so its meaning can throw off non-native Italian speakers. 

However, this adverb is very common in spoken Italian because it works as a shortcut to rephrase something previously mentioned.

Generally, we can say that anzi modifies or emphasizes something that was previously stated in sentences. It means, depending on the context and intonation…

  • instead
  • on the contrary
  • better 
  • actually
  • rather 

What’s an adverb? 

An adverb is a part of the speech that modifies a verb, an adjective, or another part of a sentence. Adverbs are an invariable part of the speech: it means that they can’t be modified. So, anzi, never changes.

How To Use ‘Anzi’

Let’s look at this in greater detail: 

Anzi’ is used to correct a previously denied statement with the meaning of “actually” or “on the contrary”.

Anzi = actually

Marco non è un ragazzo superficiale, anzi, secondo me è molto intelligente.Marco is not naive. Actually, I think he is very smart.
Non mi disturbi per niente, anzi, grazie per avermi chiamato.You are not disturbing me at all. Actually, thank you for calling.

Anzi’ is also used to modify something that we have just said and we want to rephrase. Technically, we want to change what we mentioned in the first part of the sentence. In this case, anzi has the meaning of actually, better, rather.

Facciamo l’esercizio numero 4….anzi no, il numero 5!Let’s do exercise number 4 … actually no, number 5!
Stiamo adatta alla Pizzeria Borghese, anzi no, andiamo da PippoWe are going to the Pizzeria Borghese, actually no, we are rather going to Pizzeria Pippo
Mi porta un Bloody Mary, per favore? Anzi no, un Mojito!Can you bring me a Bloody Mary, please? … No, actually, I’d rather have a Mojito!

Anzi is used to emphasize or intensify something, previously mentioned: in this case, ‘anzi’ has the meaning of actually, better or rather.

Anzi = actually, better, rather

Sei brava, anzi bravissimaYou are good, actually very good.
Sei bella, anzi bellissimaYou are beautiful, actually beautiful.

Anzi has a fourth meaning. When it’s is used in an answer and as an exclamation, anzi means something like figurati which is a colloquial way of saying you’re welcome or not at all in Italian.

Anzi = not at all

Ti dispiace se mi siedo qui? No, anzi!Do you mind if I sit here? Not at all!
Ti dispiace farci una foto? No, anzi!Do you mind taking a picture of us? Not at all!

About the Author

Serena Capilli

I’m the creative force behind both this blog and my collection of short stories in simple Italian for language learners, available on Amazon.

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Ciao, I'm Serena!

I’m the creative force behind both this blog and my collection of short stories in simple Italian for language learners, available on Amazon.

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