Italian word of the day: ‘Basta’

It’s been said that Italians are some of the best talkers in the world. They’re also – in our humble opinion – the best at telling you when to shut up.

Today’s word is a wonderfully peremptory phrase for signalling that you’ve had just about all you can take: enough. It means ‘that’s enough!’ and we like to imagine saying it while reclining on a divan and raising a single finger to signal our displeasure.

Thats enough!
Enough already!

Of course, whoever’s listening to you should get the hint and realize that what you’re really saying is: ‘Stop’. You can specify exactly what afterwards, with or without using with (‘with’).

Enough of this noise!
Stop this racket!

Stop talking!
No more talking!

You can also direct enough at more abstract targets: you might hear it chanted at protests or spot it on placards, where it’s the equivalent of ‘down with…’

Enough injustices.
Down with injustice, no more injustice.

Not that enough always has to be angry. You can also use it as a neutral phrase to close one conversation or activity and move on to the next.

Enough, I’m leaving.
Right then, I’m off.

And you’ll hear it all the time in shops or restaurants when staff want to check if you’ve finished ordering.

– That’s enough?
– Thanks, that’s enough.

– Is that everything? (literally, enough like that?)
– That’s it, thanks.

Also – and here’s where context comes in – enough can be an encouragement rather than a reprimand. Take the example we used earlier, stop talking: yes, if you’re angry it might mean ‘enough talking already!’; but said in a different tone, it could also be ‘it’s enough to talk’ or ‘all you have to do is talk’.

There’s no grammatical difference between the two meanings; this is one you’ll just have to judge for yourself.

Just the thought.
It’s the thought that counts (literally, the thought is enough).

Just the word.
Just say the word (literally, the word is enough).

The other form you should be aware of is as long as…, which is an informal way of saying ‘provided that…’ or ‘so long as…’ You’ll need to follow it with the subjunctive.

You can play, as long as you don’t break anything.
You can play, so long as you don’t break anything.

Did we cover everything? It’ll do. Now feel free to tell us – waving that finger – ‘Basta!’

Do you have an Italian phrase you’d like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.

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