Here’s a quick ‘cheat-sheet’ for you on Italian pronouns, which lots of OnlineItalianClub.com members tell me that they don’t really get.
It should take just five minutes or less to get the general idea, but note that I’ve skipped ALL of the complications. The idea is to give you an overview here of how things work in English, and in Italian, then cover the details in another article or articles (if you want more depth right now, there’s a really helpful webpage here).
“I teach, You learn.”
I & You are the subjects of the verbs teach & learn.
Subject pronouns in English: I, you, he, she, it, we, you, they
And in Italian:
io, tu, lui (he), lei (she), Lei (formal ‘you’ always with capital letter), noi, voi, loro
Now that didn’t hurt, did it?
Easier than they sound, reflexive pronouns are used when the subject and the object of the verb are the same (which seems to happen a lot more in Italian).
You teach yourself prounouns. Or you make yourself a stiff drink, instead.
Reflexive pronouns in English: myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves
Reflexive pronouns in Italian: mi, ti, si, ci, vi, si
Pretty easy, right?
Possessive adjectives & pronouns
My pizza is larger than yours.
My is a possessive adjective, which ‘describes’ the noun (my pizza).
Yours is a possessive prounoun, so stands in for the noun (‘yours’ instead of ‘your pizza’).
In English possessive pronouns and possessive adjectives have different forms:
adjectives: my, your, his, her, its, our, your, their
pronouns: mine, yours, his, hers, (its), ours, yours, theirs
In Italian they seem to be the same: mio, tuo, suo, nostro, vostro, loro
But of course, in Italian you have to remember to change the ending for masculine/feminine/singular/plural, and usually to use the article (“The my pizza” – La mia pizza)
Direct (object) pronouns
‘Me’ is the direct object of the verb ‘kiss’.
In English: me, you, him, her, it, us, you, them
In Italian: mi, ti, lo, la, ci, vi, li (masc. plural), le (fem.plural)
Notice that these are basically the same as the reflexive pronouns, except for the third person: lo, la, li, le
Indirect (object) pronouns
So, this is where English and Italian start to differ in potentially confusing ways.
In English, “Send a letter to your lover” with pronouns would be “Send it to her” (or him), or “Send her it”.
Notice how when the letter (direct object) comes first, we use the preposition “to” before then indirect object (her). But when the indirect object comes first, there’s no “to”.
Give me it. Give it to me.
Direct and indirect pronouns in English are the same, whereas in Italian, the third person (he/she/it, and they) forms differ.
mi, ti, gli, le, (Le for the formal ‘you’), ci, vi, loro
So, you have to watch how you deal with object pronouns… you’ll need to translate “him”, “her” and “them” differently, depending on whether what you’re talking about is the direct or indirect object of the verb.
“To me” & “from me” (Send it to me, A present from me) are prepositions with pronouns.
In English we use the same set of “object” pronouns, but in Italian there’s a special form: me, te, lui, lei (Lei), noi, voi, loro
The good news is that apart from the first two, me & te (which are dead easy anyway) they’re the same as the subject pronouns which we started with today.
Confused? Yeah, well me too, a bit.
But at least now you know what the terms mean, right?
And if you work through this again, you’ll see that the main differences come with the third person forms (him, her, it, them).
It does help to know that it’s not the whole pronoun system that’s causing the pain, but just one or two bad apples…
Got a question? Or found a mistake that you want to point out? Leave feedback on this article (please!)