Come va/sta?

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svaens
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Nov 05, 2016 5:36 am

Come va/sta?

Postby svaens » Sat Nov 05, 2016 5:49 am

I've been inspired during our last trip to Sicily to learn italian.
So I've bought a few books. However,
I got to something which i think must be an error in the book.  Can you help?

First their translations:

Come va?   Wie geht's?
Come sta?   Wie geht es Ihnen

Now their sentence

Buongiorno signora, come va?

Which they translate then, in German, to

Guten Tag, (die Dame,) wie geht es Ihnen?

I'm living in Germany at the moment, and speak it, so i can tell you that Ihnen is the formal personal pronoun "you", whereas "dir" would have been informal.

Good day, (to the lady) how are you (formal)?

--+----

There seems to be a discrepancy between their earlier translation and then the translation of the later sentence. The first is non formal, the later (in German) shows it as formal.

So which is it?

Thanks for your help!

Dylan Thomas
Posts: 80
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2012 11:08 pm

Re: Come va/sta?

Postby Dylan Thomas » Sat Nov 05, 2016 7:32 pm

Hi Svaens.

“Come va?” is both formal and informal.

Today I met one of my students after a long time:
“Ciao Marcello! Come va?”

Today I met my former headmaster:
“Buongiorno preside. Come va?”

“Come sta?” is usually formal. The subject pronoun “Lei” is here understood.

“Buongiorno preside. Come sta?”

Sometimes it does not have any particular shades of meaning:

“Ho visto tuo padre ieri. Come sta?” (I saw your father yesterday. How is he?)
“Come sta sua moglie, professor Lewis?” (How is your wife, Professor Lewis?)

Hope this is fairly clear.
DT

Geoff
Posts: 242
Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2008 7:55 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Come va/sta?

Postby Geoff » Sun Nov 06, 2016 12:18 am

Va here is an impersonal usage of the verb andare. "Come va?" means "How is it going?". I personally wouldn't use it in a formal situation.

On the other hand, "Come stai/sta?" means "How are you?" and you choose the appropriate form of stare depending on whom you are talking to. In my opinion, it is safer to use "Come sta?" than "Come va?" in a formal situation.

Dylan Thomas
Posts: 80
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2012 11:08 pm

Re: Come va/sta?

Postby Dylan Thomas » Sun Nov 06, 2016 11:49 am

Hi Geoff.

I use “va” in formal contexts all the time. I guess it’s a matter of personal choice, though.
Between “va” and “sta”, I use the one which first comes to my mind.

DT

Geoff
Posts: 242
Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2008 7:55 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Come va/sta?

Postby Geoff » Sun Nov 06, 2016 11:41 pm

Dylan Thomas wrote:Hi Geoff.

I use “va” in formal contexts all the time. I guess it’s a matter of personal choice, though.
Between “va” and “sta”, I use the one which first comes to my mind.

DT


OK DT, I happily stand corrected. As a non-native speaker, I admit to being a bit paranoid about giving offence.

svaens
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Nov 05, 2016 5:36 am

Re: Come va/sta?

Postby svaens » Mon Nov 07, 2016 6:06 am

Thanks for all the replies! Is also very interesting to have read the differences of opinion.

I had also asked a italian friend of mine. Just in case someone might find it adds to thread, i paste it in here:

It all depends on the subject of the short phrase:

COME VA? means approximately HOW IS LIFE GOING? So you have an implicit third person singular subject, which is more or less like ES/IT. In Italian you don´t use the subject as in English/German: it is often left unsaid.

COME STA? COME STAI? Here the subject is the person you are talking to: thus Come stai (TU)? Come sta (LEI)? So you have respectively a second person singular subject (if you talk to a friend) or a third person singular form, which is used when you talk to an acquaintance corresponding to the German “Sie” (however, to make things more complicated, Sie is plural in German…).

In German, with this phrase you can see the difference if you talk to a friend or to an acquaintance from the dative pronoun “dir” or “Ihnen”, not from the subject, which remains the neuter "es".

“come va” it is neither formal or informal, as you are not using a direct pronoun to address your dialogue partner. However you would not address such a question to the Chancellor… It would be more appropriate to use “Come sta ( meaning Lei)”, that is directly addressing the person with the verb in the third person.

Dylan Thomas
Posts: 80
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2012 11:08 pm

Re: Come va/sta?

Postby Dylan Thomas » Tue Nov 08, 2016 8:32 pm

svaens wrote:“come va” it is neither formal or informal, as you are not using a direct pronoun to address your dialogue partner. However you would not address such a question to the Chancellor… It would be more appropriate to use “Come sta ( meaning Lei)”, that is directly addressing the person with the verb in the third person.


What your friend said is exactly right and confirms what I wrote in my first post.
I also agree that in a few limited situations I wouldn’t use “come va”,
for instance when addressing the highest offices of state.

DT


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