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Italian Clitcs from Duo Lingo by Murray Abby

Italian Clitcs from Duo Lingo by Murray Abby

Murray's chart has been re-integrated for ease of use.

First of all, let's hear from Marta:

So these are used with the transitive verbs, which makes it easier to understand which to use.

The difference between indirect and direct pronouns is usually the presence of a preposition. This can be thought of more easily as a pre-position. These proceed the pronoun in English and are obvious in phrases such as 

She sent the letter to you.

I will get the package for you.

The pronoun you is indirect in these cases.

A direct pronoun has no pre-position and so takes form such as:

No Susan, she wants you to go with her.

Are you finished?

These are direct pronouns and have no preposition/por-position. Their position is absolute and no pretext is required.

So the only difference between direct and indirect in an Italian sentence, is also a preposition. The two most common prepositions in Italian are “a” and “di”.  But there are others, such as "su", "per", "con", "da", ...etc. A preposition is a "linking" word that "shows the relationship between a noun or pronoun and other words in a sentence." In English, "to", "of", "on", "by", "with", "from", ...as above.

In Murray's diagram, you will notice that for the same object/ subject for both direct and indirect pronouns, some of the terms are shared; specifically “mi”, “ti”, “ci” and “vi”.

So the lazy method is to memorize that the presence of the English words to OR for are a giveaway for “indirect”, keeping in mind that it doesn’t work for verb infinitives— mangiare is the verb “to eat”, but there are no pronouns involved there, so there’s never any “direct” or “indirect” verbs. Only with objects and people. (We’re not even going to start discussing “Piacere” here, so forget that!)

So looking at a few lines of the table, you’ll see that:

  • mi means me (direct), but both mi and a me mean either to me , or for me (indirect).

  • lo means him (direct), but gli means either to him , or for him (indirect) , or even to/ for them (indirect).

and so on.

Thus; if you give something to someone, or make something for someone, then you need to look on that table for the indirect object pronoun. Again, the presence of “to” or “for” is your quick magic reminder for indirect objects but, indeed, any preposition should raise the same flag.

You probably already know this, now, but the “clitic” pronoun form is placed in front of the verb form. The verb form tells you who the person performing the action (a verb) is.

It is easy to practice in English. You would never say “To him I see”, so in Italian you would never say “Gli vedo”, because “Gli” is “To him”. Not just plain “him”; “To him”. Meanwhile, you’d never say “I give a book her”. You’d say “I give a book to her”, so “to her” is le , not la and you’d obviously use “Le dò un libro”. Where it sometimes gets tricky is when the preposition is only implied in English. “I read him a book” or “I ask her a question” needs to be considered in Italian as “I read (to) him a book” and “I ask (of her) a question”.

Here are some basic examples to help (and hopefully not confuse) you:

  • ama He loves or She loves (or even It loves ); Ci ama he/ she/ it loves us.

  • scrivo I write ; Lo scrivo I write it. Note that it wouldn’t be, “I write him” or “her”. Meanwhile...

  • gli scrivo; gli is “to him”, so then I write to him.

  • Le is “to her”, so then le scrivo I write to her. Unfortunately, le is also feminine “them” on the direct pronoun side, so if the subjects being written are all of feminine gender, Le scrivo could also mean “I write them”.

  • What about a double pronoun sentence? “I read it to him”? That’s easy: Lo leggo a lui

  • I see you Ti vedo (there is no “to” or “for”, so use the table for direct object pronoun).

  • I play for him Gli suono (it can’t be direct, Lo suono, because of the word “for”). You can say the very same thing by using the “stressed form”, but after the verb: Suono a lui.

  • Lo suono is “I play it” (it being a direct object, masculine, such as “un flauto”. Use La suono for “I play it”, it being a direct feminine object, such as “una chitarra”).

The Stressed pronouns do not get placed before the verb; they come after it.

Many of them can also be placed into the verb.

  • Posso farlo (I can do it), comes by dropping the "e" from Fare (to do) and adding the pronoun "lo". Do that with most any verb infinitive.

Finally, when used in a negative sentence, the pronoun always goes between non and the verb: Non lo vedo = "I don't see him", or "I don't see it".

That should get you well on the way, and at least 3/4 the way through the Clitics lessons. I’ll leave it to others to explain “Ce” and “Ne”.

By the way, you can quickly spot a Reflexive Sentence if the subject and the pronoun being used are on the same line of the table above, or if the word “si” is present before a verb. (And not sì, meaning “yes”...).

  • Mi lavo; I wash myself (same line for io (lavo) and Mi makes this sentence reflexive).

  • Ti vedi; You see yourself (Tu vedi and Ti on the same line).

  • Ci chiediamo; We ask ourselves (Noi chiediamo/ Ci on the same line).

The word “si” goes in place of him/ her/ it and also them, so there is no Gli/ Lo/ La/ Le/ Li to worry about in reflexive:

  • Si lava; He washes himself, or She washes herself, (or even) It washes itself.

  • Si lavano; They wash themselves. It is obviously not “They wash himself”. “They wash him”, on the other hand, is not reflexive, does not use “si”, and is simply “Lo lavano -- as per the rules on direct pronouns, in the initial section of this essay.

 

ne, ci and se - Learning Grammar Italian

  • ne and ci are two extremely useful pronouns which have no single equivalent
    in English. There are some phrases where you have to use them in Italian.

Ci substitutes phrases or words introduced by: a, in, con, su or with places. 

No, non ci voglio uscire 

 

Ne substitutes phrases or words introduced by: di/della or with amounts/quantities. To have / avere.

sei felice della sorpresa?

 

1  ne

  • ne is a pronoun with several meanings.
  • It can refer to amounts and quantities.
  • Ne is used with words and phrases that are introduced by DA or DI
  • It means some, and can be used without a noun, as in English.

So it is used with: Bisogno, avere, essere, felice,  essere sicuro, parlare, sentire parlare, dimenticarsi, non sapere niente.

Ne vuoi? Would you like some?
Vuoi del pane? – Ne ho grazie. Would you like some bread? –
I’ve got some, thanks.
  • In English, when talking about amounts and quantities, you can say How much do you want of it?or How much do you want? and How many do you want of them?, or How many do you want? Ne translates of it and of them but it is not optional. So you need to remember to use it in sentences of the kind shown below.
Ne ho preso la metà. I’ve taken half (of it).
Ne vuoi la metà? Do you want half (of it/of them)?
Quanti ne vuole? How many (of them) do you want?
Ne voglio pochi. I don’t want many (of them).
  • Ne also means about it/themof it/them, with it/them, and so on, when used with Italian adjectives or verbs which are followed by di, for example contento di (meaning happy about), stufo di (meaning fed up with), aver paura di (meaning to be afraid of), scrivere di (meaning to write about).
Ne è molto contenta. She’s very happy about it.
Ne sono conscio. I’m aware of it.
Ne erano stufi. They were fed up with it.
Ne sei sicura? Are you sure (of it)?
Ne hai paura? Are you afraid of it?
Ne ha scritto sul giornale. She’s written about it in the paper.
Non se ne accorge. He doesn’t realize it.
  • With adjectives and verbs followed by dine can be used to refer to nouns that have already been mentioned.
Parliamo del futuro. – Let’s talk about the future.
Sì, parliamone Yes, let’s talk about it.
Hai bisogno della chiave? – Do you need the key?
No, non ne ho più bisogno. No, I don’t need it anymore.
  • Ne usually comes before the verb, except when the verb is an order or the infinitive (the –re form of the verb).
  • When it comes after the verb the final –e of the infinitive is dropped.
Volevo parlarne. I wanted to talk about it.
  • It follows any other pronoun and is written as one word with it and the verb form.
Dammene uno per favore. Give me one of them please.
Dagliene due rossi. Give him two red ones.
  • Note that when joined to nemi becomes meti becomes teci becomes ce,
    vi become ve and gli and le become glie.
Key points
  • ne can be used to mean some.
  • ne can also be used to mean of it or of them when talking about amounts and quantities. Unlike English, it is not optional.
  • ne is used to mean about it or about them with verbs and adjectives followed by di.
  • ne usually comes before the verb.

2  ci

  • Ci is used with certain verbs to mean it or about it.

Ripensandoci mi sono pentito. When I thought it over I was sorry.
Non ci credo per niente. I don’t believe it at all.
Ci penserò. I’ll think about it.
Non ci capisco niente. I can’t understand it at all.
Non so che farci. I don’t know what to do about it.
Provare  Provare a qualcosa
Essere  Essere a qualcuna
Abituato  Abituato a qualcosa
Stare attento  Stare attento a qualcosa
Riuscire  Riuscire a qualcosa
Pensare pensare qualcosa
  • Ci is often used with Italian verbs which are followed by a, for example:
  • credere a qualcosa to believe something, to believe in something
Non ci credo. I don’t believe it.
  • pensare qualcosa to think about something
Non voglio nemmeno pensarci. I don’t even want to think about it.
  • far caso qualcosa to notice something
Non ci ho fatto caso. I didn’t notice.
  • Note that the equivalent English verb may not be followed by any preposition at all.
  • With verbs followed by aci can be used to refer to nouns that have already
    been mentioned.
I fantasmi, non ci credi? Ghosts – don’t you believe in them?
Non pensi mai al futuro? – Don’t you ever think about the
Ci penserò quando sarò più vecchio. future? – I’ll think about it when I’m older.
  • ci is used with the verb entrare in some common idiomatic phrases.
Cosa c’entra? What’s that got to do with it?
Io non c’entro. It’s nothing to do with me.
  • Like neci usually comes before the verb, except when the verb is an order,
    the infinitive (the –re form of the verb) or the –ing form.
Key points
  • ci is used to mean it or about it.
  • ci is used with verbs which can be followed by the preposition a.
  • ci usually comes before the verb.

"Ce" is the form that the "ci" particle assumes when put in front of "lo", "la", "li", "le", or "ne"

3  se

  • This is slightly different as it either means if or self.

La bambina parla con se stessa

The girl speaks to herself

Se means self in the above

 

Lei non sa se viene o va

She does not know if she is coming or not

Se means If in the above.

Conversely, Si can mean we rather than yes in the same way.

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