The word for yesterday in Italian is ieri. Both this word and the ‘yester‘ in yesterday can be traced back to a common Indo-European root shared by the Latin heri and the Greek khthes.
As in English, the Italian ieri can be divided into the four times of day:
- ieri mattina = yesterday morning
- ieri pomeriggio = yesterday afternoon
- ieri sera = yesterday evening
- ieri notte = yesterday night
The day before yesterday can be expressed with l’altro ieri. Another version, ieri l’altro, also exists but is less common. Note that in Tuscany, l’altro ieri tends to be interpreted as a few days ago.
Non sono mica nato ieri!
I wasn’t born yesterday!
If you say that something happened da ieri a oggi (literally ‘from yesterday to today’), the implication is that it took place over the course of twenty-four hours or a very short period of time.
An interesting expression without an English equivalent is ieri a otto (literally ‘yesterday to eight’) which means ‘a week ago counting from yesterday‘. You can also say ieri a un mese, or ‘a month ago counting from yesterday‘.
By extension, ieri can also refer an undefined period in the past. When used in this sense, it translates as old or not so long ago.
Sono cose di ieri.
It’s old news.
Per gli anziani, la vita di ieri era molto meglio di quella attuale.
For the elderly, the olden days were much better than today.