Italian word of the day: ‘Ferie’
Here’s a useful adverb to have on hand when practicing your conversational Italian: quanto meno.
It can be used in a couple of different ways, but most commonly means ‘at least’.
We’re calling this a word rather than an expression because although ‘quanto meno’ is slightly more common in contemporary Italian, it can equally be written as ‘quantomeno’.
In many contexts, quanto meno and almeno are effectively synonyms. The only difference is that almeno simply means ‘at least’, while quanto meno sometimes implies a more emphatic ‘at the very least’ or ‘as a minimum’.
Mi potevi almeno accompagnare alla stazione.
You could have at least accompanied me to the station.
Se avessi saputo prima avrei potuto quanto meno darvi una mano.
If I had known earlier I would have at least been able to give you a hand.
– Il traffico sulla strada per Como è stato tremendo.
– Quanto meno avete avuto bel tempo.
– The traffic on the way to Como was terrible.
– At least you had good weather.
In other situations, however, quanto meno takes on a different meaning, becoming ‘to say the least’:
I suoi piani sono quanto meno avventurosi.
Her plans are adventurous to say the least.
I risultati sono preoccupanti, quanto meno.
The results are disturbing, to say the least.
There’s a third word that’s another synonym for ‘at least’: perlomeno. You’ll sometimes see it separated out into three words: per lo meno. Again, it can often be used more or less interchangeably with almeno.
Vorrei prendere perlomeno una settimana di vacanza quest’estate.
I want to take at least one week off this summer.
Perlomeno and quanto meno can also both mean something like ‘at any rate’.
Non verrebbe mai a trovarmi a casa, perlomeno.
She would never come to visit me at home, in any event.
Sei molto più in forma di me, quanto meno.
You’re in much better shape than me, at any rate.
None of these are to be confused with the quite different tanto meno, which means ‘much less’:
Non ho mai incontrato Laura, tanto meno sua sorella.
I’ve never met Laura, much less her sister.
Può a mala pena dirlo, tanto meno farlo.
He can barely say it, much less do it.
Got all that? Now see if you can fit quanto meno, perlomeno and almeno into at least one conversation this week.