Italian Language/in piedi


Dear Lauren,  

My question is about the following sentence:
“La donna è in piedi.”

I am thinking that the literal translation of this sentence is:
“The woman in on feet.”

In my attempt to understand the Italian grammar in this sentence – I am thinking that “in piedi” is actually an Indirect Object in this Italian sentence, and that this Italian Indirect Object translates into English as the Adjectival Prepositional Phrase “on feet” that modifies “woman” in the English sentence.

But, since saying - “The woman is on feet” sounds so awkward in English, we use the adjective “standing” (the equivalent of “on feet”) and say - “The woman is standing.”

Would you please tell me if I am correct or not.  

I would really appreciate your help with this.  It’s very hard for me just to accept that “in piedi” means “standing” without understanding the grammar that makes this so.   

Thank you for your patience and help with my questions.



Hi Rich,

The correct translation of “La donna è in piedi" is "the woman is standing". In Italian, "stare in piedi" means "to stand", literally "to be on feet".

With regards to the grammar behind the sentence, "in piedi" is acting as an indirect object in this sentence which could consequently be literally translated into English as an adjectival prepositional phrase (on feet) that modifies the direct object "woman". However, in English, it would obviously be semantically incorrect to say "the woman is on feet" so the translation is simply "the woman is standing."

I know it can be hard to get out of an English mind frame when learning a language but with some examples that are so different from what we are used to (such as this example of "in piedi"), it is best to try and understand it within the Italian context only and always translate it so that it makes sense rather than for its literal meaning.

"In piedi" is very commonly used in Italian and can cover a range of different meanings. See below for just some I can think of from the top of my head:
balzare in piedi - to leap up
cadere in piedi - to land on one's feet
dormire in piedi - to daydream
essere in piedi - to be up (as in 'to be awake')
mantenere in piedi - to keep something going (e.g. a relationship)

Hope this helps,
Kind regards,

Italian Language

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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

See expertise section

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

Past/Present Clients
ZigZag Education Ultimate Lifestyle Project Victor Lujan

©2017 All rights reserved.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]