Italian Word of the Day: Facile (easy)

The Italian word for easy or simple is facile. As you’ve probably guessed, it shares the same origin as the English word facile (meaning simplistic). Both come from the Latin facilis meaning easy.

IPA: /ˈfaː.tʃi.le/

The singular facile is used to describe both masculine and feminine subjects and there is only one plural (facili).

  • il libro facile (the easy book) = masculine, singular
  • la canzone facile (the easy song) = feminine, singular
  • i libri facili (the easy books) = masculine, plural
  • le canzoni facili (the easy songs) = feminine, plural

Non è facile smettere di fumare!

It isn’t easy to stop smoking!

man waking up in bed
Non è facile alzarsi presto la mattina! = It’s not easy to wake up early in the morning!

In order to form the construction easy to + verb in Italian, simply add the preposition da/a + the infinitive verb after facile. For example:

  • facile da/a fare = easy to do/make
  • facile da/a vedere = easy to see
  • facile da/a capire = easy to understand

La trama di questo film è molto facile da seguire.

The plot of this film is very easy to follow.

Facile + the preposition a + the infinite verb can also translate as prone to. For instance, someone who is prone to tears is facile al pianto whereas someone prone to rage is facile all’ira.

Combined with the verb essere (to be) and followed by a subjective phrase, facile expresses a probability or possibility.

È facile che il brutto tempo continui fino a domani.

It is probable that the bad weather will continue until tomorrow.

Facile can also be used to express someone’s readiness to do something when used with the following structure: avere (to have) + noun + facile. Below are a few of my favourite examples amongst the many that exist:

  • avere la parola facile = to never be stuck for words (lit: to always have words ready)
  • avere la risata facile = to laugh at just about anything (lit: to always be ready with a laugh)
  • avere il bicchiere facile = to be a heavy drinker (lit: to always have a glass ready)
  • avere la pistola facile = to be quick on the trigger (lit: to always have the pistol ready)

The meaning of facile also changes depending on whether you are describing a man or a woman. Una donna facile is a promiscuous woman whereas un uomo facile is a man who is easygoing, amiable and easy to get along with. That’s sexism in language for you, folks!

To conclude, let’s take a quick look at some other words that are directly related to facile:

  • facilino = quite easy
  • facilmente = easily
  • facilitare = to simplify, facilitate
  • facilità = ease, facility
  • facilone = someone who takes everything lightly, who behaves superficially

Idioms featuring ‘facile’

Facile come bere un bicchier d’acqua

Literal meaning: as easy as drinking a glass of water
English translation:
very easy

Facile come bere un uovo

Literal meaning: as easy as drinking an egg
English translation:
very easy

Essere (una persona) di facili costumi

Literal meaning: to be (a person) of easy costumes
English translation:
to not be serious, to be frivolous, to be of loose morals or ill-repute (when talking about women)

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