Italian Grammar Lessons: Direct Object Pronouns

A pronoun is a word used instead of a noun. Pronouns can have different grammatical functions.

Here we focus on one type of pronoun: direct object pronouns, or “pronomi diretti” as they are known in Italian. To understand what these are, look at this example:

I like tea. I drink IT every day.

(IT represents “tea” – we use the pronoun as a sort of shorthand, to avoid the necessity of repeating the noun).

In Italian, pronouns are sometimes actually the same words as the definite article (the), which as you have already studied, and so change according to:

  • masculine or feminine
  • singular or plural
  • the spelling of the word following

Study these examples and note how and why the article in the first sentence changes or remains the same when it is used as a pronoun in the second sentence.

  1. Vorrei due etti di mortadella, ma vorrei la mortadella affettata sottile.
    Vorrei due etti di mortadela, ma la vorrei affettata sottile.
  2. Vorrei un pezzo di parmigiano, vorrei il parmigiano fresco.
    Vorrei un pezzo di parmigiano, lo vorrei fresco.
  3. Vorrei due yogurt, vorrei gli yougurt magri.
    Vorrei due yogurt, li vorrei magri.
  4. Vorrei due etti olive, vorrei le olive verdi.
    Vorrei due etti di olive, le vorrei verdi.

Another pronoun is “ne” which means “of it” or “of them” and is used when talking about quantity. For example:

How much tea do you drink every day?
I drink a lot OF IT.

Quanto/Quanta/Quanti/Quante ne vuole? – How much of it/How many of them do you want?

Back to Italian lesson on: Direct & Indirect Object Pronouns