Italian Word of the Day: Dunque (so / then / therefore / well)

Today we’re going to be investigating a lovely word that every learner of Italian should master – dunque – which translates to so, then, therefore or well depending on the surrounding context.

/dùn·que/ – [ˈdunkwe]
Italian word "dunque"

Dunque comes from the Vulgar Latin *dunquam, which is a cross of the Vulgar Latin dunc and Latin unquam (meaning “ever”).

In its most basic form, dunque is a conjunction used to introduce a consequence, much like the words therefore and so in English. For example:

A defensive phrase you’ll often hear in everyday Italian is E dunque?, which is similar to the English So what?, What’s it to you? or What’s the big deal? It’s synonymous with the phrase E allora? or E quindi?

Despite being defined as a conjunction in most dictionaries, it is far more common for dunque to be used as an adverb whose purpose is to add emphasis to a phrase, or resume a previous topic of conversation, much like the words so, then and well in English. Consider the following examples:

Colloquially, dunque is frequently used to gain a few extra seconds to think before responding to a question, starting a conversation, or beginning a speech.

Woman at home deep in thoughts thinking and planning
Dunque, fammi pensare… = Hmm, let me think…

So far, we’ve seen the usage of dunque as a conjunction and adverb, but did you know that it also functions as an invariable noun with the meaning of point or crux? Used in this way, it almost always appears in the set expression venire al dunque, which means to get to the point.

You may also hear the alternatives andare al dunque (literally “to go to the point”) and arrivare al dunque (literally “to arrive at the point”), both of which mean the same thing as venire al dunque.

Another common expression is Eccoci al dunque! which means Here we are at the turning point!

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