Italian Language/ascoltare


Dear Lauren,

Would you please tell me if the following translation is correct:

Il bambino ascolta.
The boy listens.    or    The boy is listening.

I thought that the verb “ascoltare” meant “to listen to”.   

Can “ascoltare” also be translated as “to listen”  - without including the preposition “to”?

Therefore, does "ascoltare" mean either "to listen to"  or  "to listen" -  depending on context?

Thank you.



Hi Rich,

'Ascoltare' can mean both 'to listen' and 'to listen to' depending on whether it is followed by a direct object or not.

So in your example above, it is simply 'il bambino ascolta' so it would not make sense to translate this as 'the boy listens to' but rather 'the boy listens.' However, if we were to add 'il bambino ascolta la music', this would automatically change the translation to 'the boy listens to music' as we know that is semantically incorrect to say 'the boy listens music.'

Hope this helps,
Kind regards,

Italian Language

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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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Letter of recognition from the Italian consulate MA Applied Linguistics BA Hons Modern Language Studies CELTA qualified C1 CILS C2 DELE

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