Italian Word of the Day: Presto (early / soon / quick / easy)

There are four main ways to translate the Italian adverb presto into English: early and soon, which are the most common translations, and quick and easy. Let’s take a look at each translation now!

IPA: /ˈprɛ

Presto = Early

One of the most common translations of presto is early. The opposite of the adverb tardi (late), it may also translate as ahead of schedule. Below are a few verbs that are often paired with presto when the meaning is early.

  • alzarsi presto = to get up early
  • svegliarsi presto = to wake up early
  • arrivare presto = to arrive early
  • partire presto = to leave early

Mi alzo presto al mattino.

I get up early in the morning.

man in bed turning off alarm clock

Presto = Soon

When presto occurs in the following expressions, the meaning is soon rather than early.

  • il più presto (possible) = as soon as possible
  • presto o tardi = sooner or later
  • ben presto = very soon
  • tornare presto = to come back soon

It also appears in the greetings A presto! (See you soon!), Ci vediamo presto! (We’ll see each other soon!), Ci sentiamo presto! (We’ll talk soon!) and Guarisci presto! (Get well soon!)

Sarò presto papà!

I’ll soon be a dad!

man and woman with hands on her pregnant belly

Some possible synonyms include fra poco, a breve or entro breve tempo. To say as soon as possible, you can also use the word prima (earlier): il prima possibile.

Presto = Quick

When Presto! is used on its own as an exclamation, it means Quick! It also assumes this meaning when paired with the verb fare (to do).

  • Faccio presto! = I’ll be quick!
  • Faccio il più presto possibile! = I’ll be as quick as possible!

Presto, chiama un’ambulanza!

Quick, call an ambulance!

two men assisting injured woman

Possible alternatives are veloce (quick) or in fretta (quick / quickly):

  • Veloce, chiama un’ambulanza! = Quick, call an ambulance!
  • Faccio in fretta! = I’ll be quick!

Presto = Easy

Presto translates as easy when it appears in the idiomatic phrase Si fa presto a… which means It’s easy to…

  • Si fa presto a criticare. = It’s easy to criticise.
  • Si fa presto a dire / fare… = It’s easy to say / do…

Si fa presto a fare amicizia con le persone quando si condivide la stessa passione.

It’s easy to make friends with people when you share the same passion.

three friends with ping pong bats

Did you know that…?
The English expression Presto! (or Hey presto!), which magicians exclaim when announcing the successful completion of a magic trick, comes from the Italian presto.

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