careful: ✓ be careful ✗ pay attention

By | March 28, 2017
careful: be careful
pay attention
A man can't be too careful in the choice of his enemies.
Un uomo non può stare troppo attento nella scelta dei suoi nemici.
- Oscar Wilde
Be careful who you tell.
*Pay attention* to who you tell.
Attento a chi lo dici.
A very common “Italianism" is the use of the expression pay attention (or simply attention) when it would be better to say be careful (or just careful). When we give something or someone our attention, we look at them or listen to them carefully. For example:
Pay attention to the artist's use of colour.
*Be careful* about the artist's use of colour.
Guardate con attenzione l'uso del colore da parte dell'artista.
✓ Sorry, my attention was elsewhere. What were you saying? You have my undivided attention.
Scusa, la mia attenzione era altrove. Cosa dicevi? Hai tutta la mia attenzione.
In contrast, if you see that my cup is going to fall off the table, like this:
you could say:
Be careful! Your cup's going to fall off the table! (Be careful! = Look out! Watch out!)
*Attention!* / *Pay attention!* Your cup's going to fall off the table!
Attenzione! La tua tazza sta per cadere dal tavolo!

Now try the quiz below! There are TEN answers. The pass mark is 90% (9 out of 10). Click on the blue arrows to go to the next or previous question. You can check your answers immediately or when you've finished the quiz.

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