Wednesday Word: la pasta / il pasto

The words pasta and pasto are very close in terms of sound and spelling, but that’s where the similarities end.

The feminine singular noun pasta is pronounced PAH-stah. La pasta has five (count ’em five) main definitions:
1 dry or fresh noodles, made from grain flour and water, sometimes with egg or other additions, of any shape and size
2 dough, of any kind, for noodles, bread, pizza, etc.
3 a small pastry, synonymous with un pasticcino
4 a pasty substance (such as pasta di mandorla [almond paste])
5 nature or character: if someone says you have a pasta buona, that means you have good character

Il pasto, however, is a masculine singular noun pronounced PAH-stoh and only has two main definitions:
1 meal
2 a general term for food, synonymous with il cibo

You can eat la pasta for un pasto, but it doesn’t work the other way around.

20170405_082325
la pasta per un pasto

La pasta and il pasto also have different roots: la pasta comes from the late Latin term păstam, which means dough. Il pasto comes from the Latin verb pascĕre, which means to feed or to graze.

Just like la pasta / il pasto, there are a few more foodie terms that have different meanings in different genders:     il tavolo / la tavola    l’arancio / l’arancia    il melo / la mela    il pesco / la pesca   

Most of these terms are covered in Italian Through Food. You can also find an explanation of how these words work (in Italian) here, or look them up in a bilingual dictionary.

If this is the kind of learning you like to do, pick up a copy of Italian Through Food!

© 2017

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s