My Italian Word of the Week - Caro

Caro (and Cara, Cari, Care)

adj. beloved, dear, dearest, darling, sweetheart, precious
 good, kind, expensive, pricey 
n. a loved one, loved ones (fig. family)

from Word Reference

Welcome to this week's installment of IWOW.

Since this is only my second IWoW post, I'll start by very briefly and superficially going over two grammar points.

An Italian film poster

An Italian film poster

  • Adjectives that end in "o" (ex. caro), change endings depending on the noun it modifies. As such, caro (masculine singular) turns into cara if the subject/object is feminine singular, cari if it's masculine plural, and care if it's feminine plural.
  • Nouns that end in "o" also change when they become plural. Instead of adding an "s," as in the case of English, Italians change the "o" to an "i". In other words, caro (n. loved one) becomes cari (n. loved ones).

Basta (that's enough) with grammar. So why do I think caro is cool?

First off, most romance readers have come across the expression "Cara mia" (my dear) at some point. For one, Lisa Marie Rice wrote quite a number of romances set in Italy and/or with Italian male leads. Of course, the "mia" (my, feminine singular) is just for emphasis--cara can be used on it's own to express "dear, darling, sweetheart" as well. Oddly enough, what comes first to my mind when I hear cara mia is Gollum's ravings over "my precious" from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. After all, "precious, mine" would be the most literal translation of cara mia.

I stumbled upon the use of caro/cari as a noun during my Disney Study Sessions, during which I watch youtube clips of Italian-dubbed soundtracks (that counts as work right?). In Mulan's Riflesso (aka. Reflections...yes, it's a Christina Aguilera song), there's this line that took me forever to figure out: 

se io facessi ciò che vorrei, i miei cari perderei

which roughly translates to "If I do as I'd like, I'd lose my loved ones (fig. family)." The line forced me to look the word up--until I did, I had no idea caro/cari could be used as a noun.

Of course, the usage of caro/cara a new Italian student would most likely learn is in reference to an "expensive" object. Since caro literally means "precious", it's very frequently used to describe the monetary value of items. Just to keep non-native speakers on their toes, however, poco (adv. few) caro = affordable.

By the way, a useful tourist-Italian phrase to know would be "No, grazie. è troppo caro,"  which means "No, thank you. (it's) too expensive."  And thus concludes this post. If you have any cool Italian words you'd like me to look up, just leave a comment pointing me in the right direction.

Disclaimer: I am writing this as a student of Italian. If there is anyone out there who would like to add to or correct my post, please leave a comment. This is a learning process for me as well. 

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Tara Quan

Globetrotter, lover of languages, and romance author, Tara Quan has an addiction for crafting tales with a pinch of spice and a smidgen of kink. Inspired by her travels, she enjoys tossing her kick-ass heroines and alpha males into exotic contemporary locales, fantasy worlds, and post-apocalyptic futures. Visit Tara at www.taraquan.com

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