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Novembre 2019
The Speak Up blog answers any questions you may have either about the English language or our articles. Write to us at: http://blog.speakuponline.it. The most interesting questions will be published on this page. A word of warning, though: our blog is not a translation or homework service!


Dear Speak Up,
Could you please explain how English people name themselves? Is ‘first name’ what we call ‘nome’? What is the difference between ‘surname’ and ‘last name’? What is a ‘middle name’?
Thank you, Marta

Dear Marta,
This is indeed a tricky question than can confuse Italian-speakers, especially since in the English-speaking world ‘name’ can be used to refer to both ‘nome’ and ‘cognome’. To avoid this mistakes, one can use ‘first name’ as ‘nome’ and ‘last name’ or ‘surname’ as ‘cognome’. The ‘middle name’ is a secondary given name which is placed between the first name and the surname. Many people include their middle name as an initial after their first name, for example George W. Bush. In the US, surnames of relatives (and especially the mother’s maiden name) are often employed as middle names.


Hello Speak Up!
Could you explain please which is the rule for using “to” or “for”?
Thanks in advance, M

Dear M,
I’m afraid there’s no simple explanation because ‘to’ and ‘for’ don’t always correspond to the Italian usage of ‘a’ and ‘per’, so all you can say is that it depends on the sentence.
Maybe it’s worth indicating that one very common error made by Italian speakers when deciding whether to use ‘to’ or ‘for’ is in expressions of purpose such as: ‘Vado a lezione per imparare l’inglese’.
This in English would be ‘I go to class to learn English’ (not ‘for learn’ or ‘for learning’).
I hope that helps!

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