Have you ever come across one of those short words like la, lo, gli? If you have, you might already recognise them as articles (the). What you might not know, is that these same words have another important function: they can be used as pronouns. This article will teach you everything you need to know about Italian pronouns!
Before we go any further, let’s clarify what a pronoun is.
What is a pronoun?
A pronoun is a short word that’s used to replace a noun (hence the name pro-noun), for example when you don’t want or don’t need to name something or someone directly.
- Do you drink coffee? Yes, I drink it everyday.
- Have you seen Maria recently? No, I haven’t seen her.
In these 2 sentences, the pronouns are it and her. This way, we don’t have to repeat the words coffee and Maria. In Italian, it is the same concept, and learning these will help you talk in a much more natural way!
Now that you know what a pronoun is, let’s learn some important pronouns in Italian, in particular we will focus on direct and indirect pronouns.
Subject vs object pronouns
When you start learning Italian, one of the very first things you learn is the so called subject pronouns: io (I), tu (you), lui (he), lei (she), noi (we), voi (you), loro (they). It is used for the person or thing performing the action expressed by the verb.
- I want you. Io voglio te.
- She drives a car. Lei guida una macchina.
- We go to the cinema. Noi andiamo al cinema.
Today we’ll be focusing on the so called object pronouns, used for the person or thing most directly affected by the action.
- I want you. Io ti voglio.
- We see it. Noi lo vediamo.
- They buy them. Loro li comprano.
Direct object pronouns in Italian
Direct object pronouns answer the question what? or whom?, and they always precede the verb. Take a look at the following sentences:
- Mi piace il cappuccino! Lo bevo tutti i giorni. I love cappuccino. I drink (what?) it everyday.
- Guardi la TV la sera? Sì, la guardo sempre. Do you watch TV in the evening? Yes, I watch (what?) it all the time.
- Conosci Maria? No, non la conosco. Do you know Maria? No, I don’t know (whom?) her
So, here are the direct object pronouns:
Indirect object pronouns in Italian
Indirect object pronouns answer the question to what? or to whom?, and they always precede the verb, apart from loro (to them), which follows the verb. Take a look at the following sentences:
- Ti spiego come funziona il gioco. I explain (to whom?) to you how the game works.
- Mi dai il tuo numero? Can you give your number (to whom?) to me?
- Scrivo loro una lettera. I’m writing a letter (to whom?) to them.
Here are the indirect object pronouns:
Passato Prossimo and Direct Object Pronouns
When you are talking about tha past using the Passato Prossimo and the direct object pronouns, you have to remember to make the past participle agree with the noun you’re referring to. For example, this means you might have to change the -o to an -a when using the pronoun la before the verb:
- Hai visto Sara? Sì, l’ho vista ieri. Have you seen Sara? Yes, I saw her yesterday.
- Li abbiamo comprati nei saldi. We have bought them in the sales.