The 3 ways of saying TIME in Italian – ORA/TEMPO/VOLTA
Translating the word time into Italian sometimes causes a lot of confusion. The reason is that Italian has three different ways to say time, which are ora, tempo and volta.
When time means ORA
Ora (or ore, in the plural form ) is used to ask the time
- Che ora è? – What time is it?
- Che ore sono? – What time is it?
(Both questions are equally used)
Ora is also used in the common expression it’s time to…
- E ora di andare a letto! – It’s time to go sleep
Ora has another common meaning in Italian, which is now. In this case, ora is a synonym of adesso.
Ora is also used in the common Italian idiom non vedo l’ora, which means. I can’t wait
- Non vedo l’ora che arrivi l’estate – I can’t wait for the summer
When time means TEMPO
The word tempo is used to describe the abstract idea of time or the time’s passing.
- Il tempo vola – time flies
- Hai tempo per oggi? – Do you have time for me today?
- Non ho mai tempo per i miei amici – I never have time for my friends
Tempo is also used in many time expressions too, for instance
- molto tempo – long time
- molto tempo fa – a long time ago
- poco tempo fa – a short while ago
- il tempo libero – free time
But tempo also means weather, and so it used to speak about the weather…
- Che tempo fa? – How is the weather?
- Il tempo è bello oggi – It’s nice/sunny today
When times means VOLTA
Volta (or volte, the plural fom) is generally used in combination with other words resulting in time expressions.
We use volte to say how many times you have done something.
- molte volte – many times
- poche volte – few times
- qualche volta – sometimes
- una volta – once
- due volte – twice
We use the word volta in expressions like the first time, the second time, etc..
- prima volta – first time
- seconda volta – second time
And, finally, we use volta in several other time expressions like
- c’era una volta – once upon time
- una volta – once
- un poco alla volta – little by little