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PRONOUNS

The pronouns are the elements of the sentence that indicate or replace the person, the animal or the object, that is doing an action, or receiving an action, without specifying (or repeating) his/her/its name or noun.

 

SUBJECT PRONOUNS Lesson b_1 back buttoncuore

 

These pronouns indicate who is the subject of a sentence.

 

In a very formal use of the language, (especially in writing), the pronouns "egli" (he), "ella" (she), replace "lui" and "lei". Rarely used, "esso" (it, m. sing), "essa" (it, f. sing), "essi" (they, m. pl.), "esse" (they f. pl) refer to animals or inanimate objects ("essi/esse" also to people).

 

To indicate inanimate objects, Italians commonly repeat the name of the object, or use "questo/a, questi/e" (this, these) instead of "esso/a, essi/e".

 

Person Singular   Plural  
1st io I noi we
2nd tu you voi you
3rd lui he loro they
  lei she    
  Lei you (formal)    

 

 

REFLEXIVE PRONOUNS Lesson i_3 back buttoncuore

 

Reflexive pronouns are used when the action of the verb falls back on the subject of the verb.

 

They usually precede the verb: "mi lavo..." (I wash myself), unless the verb is in the infinitive form, in which case the pronoun is attached to the ending of the verb dropping the final "e" of the verb: "vado a lavarmi" (I go to wash myself.) With the forms "gerundio", past participle and imperative, the pronouns are attached to the ending of the verb: "lavandomi, lavatosi, lavati" (washing myself, having washed himself, wash yourself!)

 

If the verbs "dovere, potere, volere" precede the infinitive of another verb, the pronoun may precede the form of "dovere, potere, volere" or may be attached to the ending of the infinitive:"mi devo lavare" or "devo lavarmi" (I have to wash myself.)

 

In a negative sentence the pronoun remains in front of the verb: "non mi lavo" (I don't wash myself.)With compound tenses the pronoun remains in front of the verb: "mi sono lavato" (I have washed myself.)

 

Person Singular   Plural  
1st mi myself ci ourselves
2nd ti yourself vi yourselves
3rd si himself si themselves
  si herself    
  si yourself (formal)    

 

 

DIRECT OBJECT PRONOUNS Lesson i_4 back buttoncuore

 

These pronouns answer the questions "Chi? che cosa?" (whom? what?)"

 

-"Guardo la televisione" (I watch TV)

-"Cosa guardi?" (What do you watch?)

-"Guardo la televisione. La guardo." (I watch TV. I watch it.)

 

Direct object pronouns precede the verb "la guardo" (I watch it), unless the verb is in the infinitive form, in which case the pronoun is attached to the ending of the verb dropping the final "e" of the verb: "vado a guardarla" (I go to watch it.) With the forms "gerundio", past participle and imperative, the pronouns are attached to the ending of the verb: "guardandola, guardatala, guardala!" (watching it, having watched it, watch it!)

 

If the verbs "dovere, potere, volere" precede the infinitive of another verb, the pronoun may precede the form of "dovere, potere, volere" or may be attached to the ending of the infinitive: "la devo guardare" or "devo guardarla" (I have to watch it.)

 

In a negative sentence the pronoun remains in front of the verb: "non la guardo" (I don't watch it.)

 

With compound tenses the pronoun remains in front of the verb: "L'ho guardata" (I watched it.) Remember that "lo" and "la" drop the vowel and take the apostrophe in front of the conjugated forms of "avere".

 

Please note: the past participle agrees with the object replaced by the direct object pronoun: "l'ho vista" (I saw her), "l'ho visto" (I saw him)...

 

Person Singular   Plural  
1st mi me ci us
2nd ti you vi you
3rd lo him li them (masculine)
  la her le them (feminine)
  La you (formal)    

 

 

INDIRECT OBJECT PRONOUNS Lesson i_5 back buttoncuore

 

These pronouns answer the questions "A chi? A che cosa?" (to whom? to what?)"

 

-"Io parlo" (I talk)

-"A chi parli?" (To whom are you talking?)

-"Parlo a Mario. Gli parlo." (I talk to Mario. I talk to him.)

 

Indirect object pronouns precede the verb, "gli parlo" (I talk to him), unless the verb is in the infinitive form, in which case the pronoun is attached to the ending of the verb dropping the final "e" of the verb: "vado a parlargli" (I'm going to talk to him.)

 

With the forms "gerundio", past participle and imperative, the pronouns are attached to the ending of the verb: "parlandogli, parlatogli, parlagli!" (talking to him, having talked to him, talk to him!)

 

If the verbs "dovere, potere, volere" precede the infinitive of another verb, the pronoun may precede the form of "dovere, potere, volere" or may be attached to the ending of the infinitive: "gli devo parlare" or "devo parlargli" (I have to talk to him.)

 

In a negative sentence the pronoun remains in front of the verb: "non gli parlo" (I don't talk to him.)

 

With compound tenses the pronoun remains in front of the verb.

 

Please note: with compound tenses the verb never agrees with the indirect pronoun: "gli ho parlato" (I talked to him), "le ho parlato" (I talked to her.)

 

In formal writing the pronoun "loro" is preferred to the plural pronoun "gli" (to them.) "Parlo loro" (I talk to them) instead of "gli parlo". Notice that "loro" follows the verb.

 

Person Singular   Plural  
1st mi to me ci to us
2nd ti to you vi to you
3rd gli to him gli to them (masculine)
  le to her gli to them (feminine)
  Le to you (formal)    

 

 

PRONOUNS "NE" and "CI" Lesson i_6 back buttoncuore

 

"Ne" and "ci" are pronominal particles.

 

"Ne" replaces "di questo/a/i/e, un po' di, alcuni/e, di ciò..." (of it, of them, some of it, any, about this...) or an entire sentence.

"Ci" replaces "là, lì, qui, qua" (there, here) or a previously mentioned place.

 

They follow the rules of the other pronouns:

  • They precede the verb, "ne prendo" (I take some of it), "ci vado" (I go there), unless the verb is in the infinitive form, in which case the pronoun is attached to the ending of the verb dropping the final "e" of the verb: "vado a prenderne" (I'm going to take some of it),"voglio andarci" (I want to go there.) With the forms "gerundio", past participle and imperative, the pronouns are attached to the ending of the verb: parlandone, parlatone, parlane!" (talking about that, having talked about that, talk about that!)
  • If the verbs "dovere, potere, volere" precede the infinitive of another verb, the pronoun may precede the form of "dovere, potere, volere" or may be attached to the ending of the infinitive: "ne devo prendere" or "devo prenderne" (I have to take some of it); "ci devo andare" or "devo andarci" (I have to go there.)
  • In a negative sentence the pronoun remains right in front of the verb: "non ne prendo", "non ci vado" (I don't take any of it; I don't go there.)
  • With compound tenses the pronoun remains in front of the verb. Please note: with compound tenses the past participle agrees with the object replaced by ne: "ne ho prese due" (di mele ) (I took two apples); "ne ho presi due" (di libri) (I took two books.)

 

RELATIVE PRONOUNS Lesson i_7 back buttoncuore

 

Relative pronouns substitute a noun and create a 'relation' between two sentences:

  • "Abbiamo conosciuto delle persone che sono molto simpatiche". (We have met some people who are very nice).

The pronouns "che", "cui", "il quale, la quale, i quali, le quali" (who, which, whom, that) are relative pronouns.

  • "che" is the most used relative pronoun, but it cannot be used after a preposition:
    1. "L'amica che arriva si chiama Roberta." (The friend who is arriving is called Roberta.)
    2. "Il libro che leggo è interessante." (The book that I read is interesting. The book I'm reading is interesting.)
  • "Cui" is used after a preposition:
    1. "L'amica a cui scrivo si chiama Roberta." (the friend to whom I'm writing is called Roberta.)
    2. "La penna con cui scrivo non funziona bene." (The pen with which I'm writing doesn't work well.)
  • "il quale, la quale, i quali, le quali" may replace "che" or "cui". They are used, especially in writing, to create emphasis or to be more specific:
  1. "L'amica alla quale scrivo si chiama Roberta." (The friend to whom I'm writing is called Roberta.)
  2. "La penna con la quale scrivo non funziona bene." (The pen with which I'm writing doesn't work well.)
  3. "Il documento, il quale è stato firmato da voi, è stato spedito ieri." (The document, which has been signed by you, was delivered yesterday.)
  4. L'amica di Roberto, il quale è ospite da me, è simpatica. (The friend of Roberto, who is living with me, is very nice. In this case "il quale" specifies that Roberto is the one living with me.)
  5. L'amica di Roberto, la quale è ospite da me, è simpatica. (The friend of Roberto, who is living with me, is very nice. In this case "la quale" specifies that the friend is the one living with me.)

Please note: in Italian there are other uses of "che". In order to know if "che" is a relative pronoun, you can substitute it with "il quale, la quale...". Otherwise it may be one of the following:

  • Interrogative adjective: Che libro porto a scuola oggi? (Which book do I bring to school today?)
  • Interrogative pronoun: Che vuoi? (What do you want?)
  • Exclamatory adjective: Che macchina! (What a car!)
  • Exclamatory pronoun: Che devo sentire! (What do I have to listen to!)
  • Comparative: È più bello mangiare che studiare! (Eating is better than studying.)
  • As a conjunction: Lui ha detto che torna domani. (He said that he is coming back tomorrow.)

Please note: do not confuse "che" (il quale, la quale...) with "chi" (colui che, colei che, la persona che...):

 

"La ragazza che ho conosciuto ieri è simpatica." (The girl whom I met yesterday is nice.)

"Ho trovato chi farà il lavoro". (I found the person who will do the job.)

 

"Chi" is a mixed relative pronoun (indefinite or interrogative):

  • Interrogative: "Chi viene a cena?"

  • Indefinite: "Chi mi ama mi segua!"

 

COMPLEMENTO DI SPECIFICAZIONE Lesson a_3 back buttoncuore

 

The definite article, "il, la, i, le", + "cui" + noun, forms the "complemento di specificazione" (whose.) The article must agree in gender and number with the noun that follows "cui":

  • Alberto, la cui sorella hai conosciuto ieri, è partito per gli Stati Uniti. (Alberto, whose sister you met yesterday, left for the United States.)
  • Alberto, il cui fratello hai conosciuto ieri, è partito per gli Stati Uniti. (Alberto, whose brother you met yesterday, left for the United States.)

 

PERSONAL OBJECT PRONOUNS - STRONG Lesson i_7 back buttoncuore

 

These pronouns are called "strong" because they create emphasis in the sentence.

 

They are used only after a preposition or a verb:

  • "Vieni con me" (come with me)
  • "Lui pensa solo a sé"
  • "Voglio chiamare te

 

Compare:

  • Il direttore mi ha invitato a cena. (The director invited me for dinner).
  • Il direttore ha invitato me a cena. (The director invited me, just me, for dinner!)
Person Singular   Plural  
1st me me noi us
2nd te you voi you
3rd lui, sé him, himself, loro, sé them, themself (masculine)
  lei, sé her, herself loro, sé them, themself (feminine)
  Lei you (formal)    

 

 

DOUBLE OBJECT PRONOUNS Lesson a_4 back buttoncuore

 

The indirect object pronouns combined with the direct object pronouns form the double object pronouns.

 

Double pronouns avoid repetitions and create a certain emphasis and 'speed' in the sentence.

  • "Mando una lettera a lui. Gliela mando." (I send a letter to him. I send it to him.)

Here is a chart with the double object pronouns combinations:

 

Indirect Object Pronoun + Direct Object Pronoun = Double Object Pronouns
mi + lo, la, li, le, ne = me lo, me la, me li, me le, me ne
ti + lo, la, li, le, ne = te lo, te la, te li, te le, te ne
gli + lo, la, li, le, ne = glielo, gliela, glieli, gliele, gliene
le, Le + lo, la, li, le, ne = glielo, gliela, glieli, gliele, gliene
ci + lo, la, li, le, ne = ce lo, ce la, ce li, ce le, ce ne
vi + lo, la, li, le, ne = ve lo, ve la, ve li, ve le, ve ne
gli + lo, la, li, le, ne = glielo, gliela, glieli, gliele, gliene
si + lo, la, li, le, ne = se lo, se la, se li, se le, se ne

 

The position of the double object pronouns in the sentence follows the rules of the other pronouns:

  • Double object pronouns precede the verb, "gliene parlo" (I talk to him about that), unless the verb is in the infinitive form, in which case the pronoun is attached to the ending of the verb dropping the final "e" of the verb: "vado a parlargliene" (I'm going to talk to him about that.) With the forms "gerundio", past participle and imperative, the pronouns are attached to the ending of the verb (parlandogliene, parlatogliene, parlagliene!) (talking to him/her about that, having talked to him/her about that, talk to him/her about that!)
  • If the verbs "dovere, potere, volere" precede the infinitive of another verb, the pronoun may precede the form of "dovere, potere, volere" or may be attached to the ending of the infinitive: "gliene devo parlare" or "devo parlargliene" (I have to talk to him about that.)
  • In a negative sentence the pronoun remains in front of the verb: "non gliene parlo" (I don't talk to him about that.)
  • With compound tenses the pronouns remain in front of the verb. Please note: the past participle agrees with the object replaced by the double object pronoun: "le ho dato la mela" (I gave her the apple), "gliela ho data" (I gave it to her.)
  • Remember that "lo" and "la" drop the vowel and take the apostrophe in front of the conjugated forms of "avere": "gliel' ho data" (I gave it to her) "me l' ha data" (he/she gave it to me)...

 

INDEFINITE PRONOUNS Lesson i_9 back button

 

Indefinite pronouns give a very generic or indefinite information about the object or subject they refer to. Here is a chart of the most used:

 

    Special notes
used only at the singular chiunque
(anyone, anybody)
 
ognuno/a
(each one)
 
nessuno/a
(nobody)
when placed before the verb it does not require "non": "nessuno ha chiamato" (nobody called.) After the verb it requires "non": "non ha chiamato nessuno" (nobody called.)
niente
(nothing)
when placed before the verb it does not require "non": "niente gli fa paura" (nothing scares him.) After the verb it requires "non": "non gli fa paura niente" (nothing scares him.)
nulla
(nothing)
when placed before the verb it does not require "non": "nulla gli fa paura" (nothing scares him.) After the verb it requires "non": "non gli fa paura nulla" (nothing scares him.)
qualcuno/a
(someone)
 
qualcosa
(something)
 
uno/a
(one, someone)
 
used mostly or only at the plural alcuni/e
(some -people, things)
it is mostly used in the plural form and it requires the object or subject to whom it refers to be in the plural form: "alcuni non amano leggere" (some people don't like to read.)
certi/e
(some -people, things)
 
used at the singular and plural alcuno/a/i/e
(nobody, nothing, not any)
it is used in the singular form only in negative sentences:
"ti ho già detto che non ho penne; non ne ho alcuna" (I already told you I don't have pens; I don't have any.)
altrettanto/a/i/e
(as much, as many)
 
altro/a/i/e
(other, different)
 
   
ciascuno/a/i/e
(each one)
 
diverso/a/i/e
(several, various)
 
molto/a/i/e
(many)
 
parecchio/a/chi/chie
(quite a lot of, several)
 
poco/a/chi/che
(little, few)
 
tale/i
(certain, a certain)
it is used in general with the article ("un tale; una tale") when it refers to something or someone that is not known or specified: "ti ha telefonato un tale"; "ti ha telefonato una tale" (someone called you.)
tanto/a/i/e
(a lot of, much, many)
 
troppo/a/i/e
(too much, too many)
 
tutto/a/i/e
(all)
 
vario/a/ri/rie
(various, several quite a few)
 

 

 

PREPOSITIONS

 

The prepositions link and establish specific relations among words or group of words. They are divided in Simple and Combined.

 

SIMPLE PREPOSITIONS Lesson b_8 back buttoncuore

 

Di of, made of, about, by, from
A to, in, at
Da from, to, at, by
In in, into, by, on
Con with
Su on, upon
Per for, in order to, through
Tra, Fra among, between, in, within

 

 

COMBINED PREPOSITIONS Lesson b_9 back buttoncuore

 

The definite articles, "il, lo, l', la, i, gli, le"(the), combined with the simple prepositions, "di, a, da, in, su" (of, to, from, in, on), form the combined prepositions.

 

Con, per, tra and fra do not combine with the article (e.g.: vado CON GLI amici - I go with the friends)

 

Articles il lo l' la i gli le
Prepositions              

Di

del dello dell' della dei degli delle

A

al allo all' alla ai agli alle

Da

dal dallo dall' dalla dai dagli dalle

In

nel nello nell' nella nei negli nelle

Con

             

Su

sul sullo sull' sulla sui sugli sulle

Per

             

Tra, Fra

             

 

 

USE OF PREPOSITIONS Lesson b_8, Lesson b_9 back button

 

The use of prepositions can, at times, be very confusing. Besides the most logical uses (e.g. "di" = of, used to indicate possession) prepositions are often used in an idiomatic way. Certain verbs, words and expressions require the use of specific prepositions.

 

The only way to learn the idiomatic uses of prepositions is by practicing the language, reading Italian texts, checking the dictionary (a good dictionary always indicates which prepositions are used with certain verbs or words) or asking an Italian friend or teacher for clarifications.

 

A small list of rules for the use of prepositions:

  • with the name of a town we use the preposition "a"; "abito a Roma" (I live in Rome)
  • with the name of a country we use the preposition "in"; "abito in Italia" (I live in Italy)
  • with names of countries used in the plural (e.g. "Stati Uniti") we use the preposition combined with the article; "abito negli Stati Uniti; vengo dagli Stati Uniti" (I live in the United States; I'm coming from the States)
  • with "signora, signor, signore" and with names defining a profession (e.g. "dottore, professore, avvocato...") we use the preposition combined with the article; "vado dalla signora Rossi. Telefono al dottore" (I pass by Mrs. Rossi. I call the doctor)
  • going to a place defined by the name of a person or by the profession of a person we use "da"; "vado da Mario. Vado dalla signora Rossi.Vado dal dottore" (I'm going at Mario's. I'm passing by Mrs Rossi's apartment. I'm going to the doctor)
  • to quantify time in the past we use the preposition "da"; "abito in Italia da tre anni" (I've been living in Italy for three years)
  • to express the use or destination of an object we use "da"; "vestito da sera; tazza da tè" (evening dress; tea cup)

The following words are commonly used with the following prepositions:

  • lontano da; "abito lontano da te" (I live away from you)
  • vicino a; "abito vicino a te" (I live near by you)
  • prima di; "prima di dormire lavo i denti" (before sleeping I brush my teeth)
  • di fronte a; "abito di fronte alla scuola" (I live in front of the school)
  • sono felice/contento di; "sono felice di vederti; sono contento di andare al cinema" (I'm happy to see you; I'm happy to go and see a movie)
  • avere bisogno di; avere bisogno di qualcuno o qualcosa, ho bisogno di te, ho bisogno di una penna (to be in need of; to need someone or something. I need you, I need a pen)
  • vado in montagna (I go to the mountains)
  • vado in campagna (I go to the countryside)
  • vado al mare (I go to the seaside; in this case the preposition "a" is combined with the article "il")
  • vado a casa (I go home)
  • vado a scuola (I go to school)
  • vado in ufficio (I go to the office)
  • vado al cinema (I go to the movie theatre; in this case the preposition "a" is combined with the article "il")
  • avere fiducia in qualcuno (to trust someone)
  • fino a... (until...)

VERBS FOLLOWED BY PREPOSITIONS Lesson a_2 back button

 

The following verbs are commonly used with the following prepositions:

  • telefonare a; "io telefono a mia madre" (I call my mother)
  • insegnare a; "insegno ai bambini; insegno a parlare italiano" (I teach children; I teach them to speak Italian)
  • andare a; "vado a casa. Vado a trovare il mio amico" (I'm going home. I'm going to visit my friend)
  • aiutare a + infinito; "aiuto i bambini a fare i compiti" (I help the children with the homeworks)
  • cominciare a + infinito; "comincia a fare freddo" (it is starting to be cold)
  • continuare a + infinito; "continua a studiare" (keep on studying)
  • divertirsi a + infinito; "mi diverto a dare fastidio al gatto" (I'm having fun bothering the cat)
  • imparare a + infinito; "imparo ad andare in bicicletta" (I'm learning to bike)
  • iniziare a + infinito; "inizio a studiare francese" (I'm starting to study French)
  • riuscire a + infinito; "riesco a pattinare un po'" (I manage to skate a little bit)
  • sorridere a + oggetto; "sorridere a qualcuno; sorrido a te" (to smile at someone; I smile at you)
  • venire a + infinito; "vengo a trovarti" (I'm coming to visit you)
  • cercare di + infinito; "cerca di imparare" (try to learn)
  • chiedere di + infinito; "ti chiedo di studiare di più" (I'm asking you to study more)
  • credere di + infinito; "credo di avere la febbre" (I believe I'm running a fever)
  • dimenticare di + infinito; "ti dimentichi sempre di telefonare!" (you always forget to call)
  • dire di + infinito; "la mamma dice di fare silenzio" (mommy says to be silent)
  • pensare di + infinito; "penso di studiare francese" (I'm thinking about studying french)
  • ricordarsi di + infinito; "ricordati di telefonarmi" (remember to call me)
  • smettere di + infinito; "smetti di fare così" (stop doing that)
  • suggerire di + infinito; "il professore suggerisce di studiare e fare sport" (the teacher suggest that we study and do sport)