If you’ve been living in Italy for any amount of time, you will have surely come across the phrase va bene in conversation!
Literally translating as (it) goes well, it can be used as a substitute for the affirmative responses okay, alright or (that’s) fine in English.
Mangiamo fuori stasera? – Va bene.
Shall we eat out tonight? – Okay.
Below are a few additional examples:
- Come va? (How is it going?) = Va bene. (Fine.)
- Vuoi venire? (Do you want to come?) = Va bene. (Okay.)
- Aspetta qui un attimo. (Wait here a minute.) = Va bene. (Alright.)
- Sono in po’ in ritardo. (I’m a bit late.) = Va bene, non preoccuparti. (That’s fine, don’t worry.)
Va (goes) + bene (well, good)
To give extra emphasis to the phrase, you can add on the suffix -issimo to bene to create va benissimo (that’s absolutely fine).
Ci vediamo verso le otto? – Sì, va benissimo!
See you at around eight? Yes, that’s absolutely fine.
Did you know that…?
There are numerous regional variations on the expression va bene including va bin (Piemonte), va ben / va bon (Veneto) and va buono (Neapolitan). Va buono in particular is widely diffused across the country these days.
It is important not to confuse the phrase va bene with the similar sounding vabbè. The latter communicates a lack of real enthusiasm for the other person’s proposal, similar to the English word whatever. For example:
- Vuoi guardare un film? (Do you want to watch a movie?) – Vabbè. (Whatever.)
- Che ne dici di bere qualcosa stasera? (How about we go out for a drink tonight?) – Sì, vabbè, perché no? (Ok, whatever, why not?)
Another possible translation is oh well, meaning that you accept the situation but you aren’t particularly happy about it.
- Non posso prestarti il libro, scusa. (I can’t lend you the book, sorry.) – Vabbè, non fa niente. (Oh well, it doesn’t matter.)