Italian Language/Pero


Can you help me please with understanding the meaning of pero?  

I have classmates who use it all the time to link up sentences and those who have holiday homes in Italy seem to use it confidently, almost like I would use 'however' or 'therefore'.  I prefer to use quindi for therefore and have never been confident about pero, which I thought meant 'but'.

Can you help me, so I can sound more authentic and use pero with confidence?

Grazie mille,

Hi Robin,

Thanks very much for your question.

Although 'pero' typically means 'but', Italians tend to use it far more frequently than we would in English - it is a very flexible word that can be used in a variety of situations.

First and foremost, as you have correctly stated 'pero' is used to simply mean 'but' although there is actually a stronger preference for 'ma'. I would reserve 'pero' strictly for when you want to emphasise or stress something in this case.

Also, remember that unlike 'ma' which can only be placed at the beginning of a sentence, 'pero' can be moved around and still maintain its meaning.

'Pero' can equally stand in for 'however' and 'therefore' particularly in informal spoken contexts. (I would still continue to use 'quindi' in written Italian if I were you as this shows a higher linguistic register)

'Pero' can also be a contextual marker, often used to link phrases together or stall for time as you are thinking about something in the way. When used in this way, it can rougly be translated as 'although'. For example, ho fatto i miei compiti PERO troppo in ritardo.

'Pero' can also be roughly translated as 'yet' - e.g. pero si accorgereranno che hai ragione tu (yet they will come to realise that you are right)

Finally, 'pero' can be used in expressions of surprise to indicate the rough English equivalent of 'well'. For example, 'pero, non mi aspettava che ci riuscisse!' (well, I never expected you to succeed!)

Hope this helps. If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

Kind regards,

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Lauren O' Hagan


Although not my mother tongue, I have spoken Italian fluently for more than 12 years so I am very confident to answer any questions about the Italian language. I am also competent in Roman Dialect if there are any questions relating to this.


MA Applied Linguistics First Class Honours in Modern Language Studies (Linguistics, Italian, Spanish) Received the top grade in the whole of UK for GCSE Italian, receiving a letter of congratulations from the Italian Consulate Completed my two-year A Level in 1 year with a grade A country. Carried out many translation jobs for a wide range of clients and topics including self-help, literature and exam papers. For personal reference, I have also translated Federico Moccia's Tre Metri Sopra Il Cielo and 2 of Francesco Totti's book.

El Pensador, University of Bristol

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