La libertà è inutile se non la si utilizza.

English Translation

Freedom is useless unless it’s used.

I wonder if you couldn’t just say “se non si utilizza”.


That’s a tough one, I am not sure.

The si passivante is used with transitive verbs so perhaps it does need the direct object? Then again, maybe the direct object is already clear from the first part of the sentence.

Another possibility is that Italian often repeats the object for emphasis, so maybe that’s the case with this one. It is a solemn statement, so perhaps the repetition adds gravitas.

I suppose the passive verb form could also be used here; …non è usata or …non viene usata.


I should confess that I’m basing my thinking on Spanish, which has the same passive construction: you would say “se utiliza”, not *“se la utiliza”.

Note that if “utilizzarsi” had been a reflexive verb, I would have expected “ci si utilizza”.

That sounds like the safest bet.


@mike-lima, I wonder what you might say about this? :slightly_smiling_face:

I also looked at this from the “emphasis” angle.

Approaching the sentence from English I would also go for David’s “… se non e usata”.

From German (", wenn man sie nicht benutzt") the first solution " … se non la si utilizza" is almost word-by-word and therefore would be my first choice.

Of course, that’s not an argument for one or the other. It just shows what a tricky business translation is.

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It is safe to omit “la” in “non la si utilizza”, since the subject is clear, but it is common to include it.

The listed alternatives, “non è usata”, “non viene usata” are also perfectly fine.

“Utilizzare” is probably used more often than “utilize” in English, but it has the same meaning of “to put to use”. If you think in those terms, “if it (freedom) is not put to use” using the “si passivo” it becomes “la si utilizza”.