Italian Word of the Day: Subito (immediately)

If you are the kind of person who likes getting things done quickly and efficiently, you’re going to love our word of the day!

The adverb subito, which derives from the Latin word of the same spelling, can translate in numerous ways including immediately, right away or quickly.

IPA: /ˈsuː
  • Torno subito. = I’ll be right back.
  • Si è addormentato subito. = He fell asleep right away.
  • Si asciuga subito. = It dries very quickly.
  • Subito a letto! = Straight to bed!

Per favore vai all’ufficio postale. Questo pacco dev’essere spedito subito.

Please go to the post office. This parcel must be sent right away.

close-up on a parcel being given by a woman to another person
Questo pacco è urgente. Vai subito a spedirlo! = This parcel is urgent. Go ship it right away!

Attaching the suffix -issimo to the end of subito creates the intensified adverb subitissimo (very quickly). Another way to intensify the word is to repeat it twice (subito subito).

Lo faccio subito subito!

I’ll do it right away!

Subito prima means right before whereas subito dopo means right after, whereas fin / sin da subito means right from the start:

  • Usciremo subito prima di mangiare. = We will go out right before eating.
  • Usciremo subito dopo aver mangiato. = We will go out right after eating.
  • Ho capito fin da subito che era timido = I realised right from the start that he was shy.

Subito on its own may also be used as an answer to a call or order by someone in a subordinate position.

Cameriere, un’altra birra per favore. – Subito, signore!

Waiter, another beer please. – Right away sir.

waiter serving pints of beer to customers in a pub
Ci ha portato subito un’altra birra. = He brought us another beer right away.

The expression Ed è subito… is used in journalistic and advertising language to indicate the suddenness with which a fact or situation arises and spreads (such as, for example, a crisis or a controversy). It was inspired by the title of the collection of poems Ed è subito sera by Salvatore Quasimodo.

Ed è subito crisi! Il turismo crolla a causa del maltempo.

And suddenly, a crisis. Tourism collapses because of the bad weather.

Finally we have the expression d’un subito which means all of a sudden.

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