Italian Pronouns

We learned about articles, gender, number and adjectives – now it is time to learn about Italian pronouns. Pronouns are words that are used instead of a noun and they can take the place of the name of a person, place or thing. In this page we introduce and explain to you the subject, reflexive, direct object, and indirect object pronouns.

Pronomi | (Pronouns)

Pronouns are useful when we want to indicate or replace a person or an object that are doing an action, or receiving an action, without repeating or specifying their name again in a sentence. Based on their function in a sentence, pronouns change and are defined with a specific name: personali, riflessivi, diretti, etc.. Since there are many different types of pronouns and to be honest, they can get quite complicated at times for a non-native speaker, we are only going to analyze the main ones. Do not worry, in our opinion the best way to learn them is doing so passively – read, listen, speak and with time they will come natural to you and you won’t be forced to gather all of your neurons to use them properly!

Pronomi Personali | (Personal Pronouns)

Just like in English, personal pronouns in Italian can be emphatic (tonici – with tonic accent) or non-emphatic (atoni – without tonic accent).
  • Ho dato la matita a lui – (I gave the pencil to him) | emphatic
  • Gli ho dato la matita – (I gave him the pencil) | non-emphatic
These type of pronouns can be further divided into Subject, Direct Object or Indirect Object pronouns.

Pronomi Soggetto | (Subject Pronouns)

As the name says, these pronouns are used to specify the subject (who?) of a sentence. These pronouns can only be emphatic, therefore there is no non-emphatic version.

PersonaSingolare Plurale 
1stioInoiwe
2ndtuyouvoiyou
3rdluihelorothey
 leishe  
 Leiyou (formal)  

Because verbs in Italian are conjugated based on person/singular/plural, the subject pronouns are not obligatory. They are usually used when we want to emphasize a point.

  • Sono stanco – (I am tired)
  • Io sono felice e lui è triste – (I am happy and he is sad)
When speaking informally, Italians normally use “lui” (he) and “lei” (she), however, when speaking very formally or especially when writing,  the pronouns “egli” (he), “ella” (she), are used. Other formal variations include “esso” (it, m. sing.), “essa” (it, f. sing.), “essi” (they, m. pl.), “esse” (they f. pl).

Pronomi Complemento Oggetto Diretti | (Direct Object Pronouns)

The direct object pronouns can be both emphatic (tonici – with tonic accent) or non-emphatic (atoni – without tonic accent) and they answer the question “chi?” or “che cosa?” (who? or what?). They are mostly used in the non-emphatic version, unless there is a need to emphasize the person concerned.

Pronomi Diretti Tonici | (Emphatic Direct Object Pronouns)

As the name suggests, they are mainly used to emphasizes the person concerned and they generally come after the verb. They are called tonici in Italian because they possess a tonic accent.

PersonaSingolare Plurale 
1stmemenoius
2ndteyouvoiyou
3rdluihimlorothem
 leiher  
 Leiyou (formal)  
For Example:
  • Cercano me? – (Are they looking for me?)
  • Giorgio vuole sfidare te – (Giorgio wants to challenge you)
  • Sono venuto a trovare lei – (I came to see her)
Pronomi Diretti Atoni | (Non-emphatic Direct Object Pronouns)

Most direct object pronouns are used in the non-emphatic form (atoni). They are normally placed before the verb.

PersonaSingolare Plurale 
1stmimecius
2ndtiyouviyou
3rdlohimlithem (m.)
 laherlethem (f.)
 Layou (formal)  
For Example:
  • Mi dimentica sempre – (He always forgets me)
  • Ti ascolto – (I listen to you)
  • Lo chiamo subito – (I call him right away)

Pronomi Complemento Oggetto Indiretti | (Indirect Object Pronouns)

The indirect object pronouns can also be both emphatic (tonici – with tonic accent) or non-emphatic (atoni – without tonic accent) and they answer the question “a chi?” or “a che cosa?” (to whom? or to what?). Just like the direct object pronouns, they are mostly used in the non-emphatic version, unless there is a need to emphasize the person concerned.

Pronomi Indiretti Tonici | (Emphatic Indirect Object Pronouns)

They are very similar to the direct object pronouns. The only difference is that they are preceded by the “a” particle. They are called tonici in Italian because they possess a tonic accent.

PersonaSingolare Plurale 
1sta meto mea noito us
2nda teto youa voito you
3rda luito hima loroto them
 a leito her  
 a Leiyou (formal)  
For Example:
  • Hanno spedito questa lettera a me – (They sent this letter to me)
  • Maria pensa solo a te – (Maria only thinks about you)
  • Ho dato i soldi a lui – (I gave the money to him)
Pronomi Indiretti Atoni | (Non-emphatic Direct Object Pronouns)

Most direct object pronouns are used in the non-emphatic form (atoni). They are normally placed before the verb.

PersonaSingolare Plurale 
1stmimecius
2ndtiyouviyou
3rdglihimloro/glithem (m.)
 leherloro/glithem (f.)
 Leyou (formal)  
For Example:
  • Mi pare strano – (It looks strange to me)
  • Ti piace? – (Do you like it?)
  • Gli ho dato il biglietto – (I gave him the ticket)

Other Rules to Keep in Mind

  • Non-emphatic personal pronouns come before the verb, however, they follow the verb when a gerundio, infinitive, participle, and certain forms of the imperative are present.
Bisogna farlo – (It needs to be done) Fammi un piacere! – (Do me a favor!) Leggiamolo adesso! – (Let’s read it now!) Portandolo ora… – (By taking it now…)
  • Loro always comes after the verb.
Scrive loro tutte le settimane – (He writes to them every week)
  • The emphatic forms of lui, lei, loro can be used for both persons and animals, while esso, essa, essi for animals, things or situations. Lastly, lo can be used for persons, animals, things, and situations.
Quel cane? Lo vedo sempre – (That dog? I see it all the time)
  • Lo and la can be substituted with l’ when present before words that begin with a vowel.
Dov’è il mio telefono? L’avete visto? – (Where is my phone? Did you see it?) L’ho salutata – (I said hello to her)

Pronomi Combinati | (Combined Forms of Personal Pronouns)

Direct and Indirect object pronouns in the non-emphatic form can be combined to create the double object pronouns.

The double pronouns are very useful to avoid repetitions and also help us to get to the point quickly.

 lolalilene
mime lome lame lime leme ne
tite lote late lite lete ne
gliglieloglielaglieliglielegliene
le     
cice loce lace lice lece ne
vive love lave live leve ne
sise lose lase lise lese ne
For Example:
  • Me lo sono dimenticato – (I forgot it)
  • Te la sei ricordata? – (Did you remember it?)
  • Glielo dico sempre – (I always tell him)
  • Ce ne portiamo sempre due – (We always bring two with us)
  • Ve le siete mangiate tutte? – (Did you eat them all?)
  • Se li ricordano tutti – (They remember them all)
Other Rules to Keep in Mind
  • They normally precede the verb, unless the verb is in the infinitive form. When that is the case the pronoun is attached to the ending of the verb by dropping the final “e” of the verb.

Devi andare a parlargliene – (You need to go talk to her about that)

  • With the forms gerundio, past participle and imperative, the pronouns are attached to the ending of the verb.

Mostrandoglielo – (Showing it to him/her)

Parlatogliene – (Having talked to him/her about that)

Lasciagliela! –  (Leave it to him/her!)

  • When using modal verbs (dovere, potere, volere) with the infinitive of another verb, the pronoun may be attached to the ending of the infinitive or it may precede the form of dovere, potere, volere.

Devi ricordargliela or gliela devi ricordare  – (You have to remind it to her)

  • In a negative sentence the pronoun remains in front of the verb.

Non gliele invio – (I won’t send them to him)

  • Remember that lo and la drop the vowel and take the apostrophe in front of the conjugated forms of avere.

Gliel‘ho promesso (I promised it to her)

Me l‘ha promesso – (he/she promised it to me)

Pronomi ci e ne | (Pronouns ci and ne)

They are essentially pronominal particles. Ne is used in place of:

  • di questo/a/i/e – (of this/it/them)
  • un po’ di – (some of it)
  • alcuni/e – (any)
  • di ciò – (about this)
  • an entire sentence

Ci instead is used in place of:

  • là / lì – (there)
  • qui / qua” (here)
  • a previously mentioned place

Luckily, they behave and follow the rules of the other pronouns.

For Example:
  • Ci puoi contare – (You can count on it)
  • Ci andiamo sempre – (We always go there)
  • Ne sono fiero – (I am proud of it)
  • Vuole delle mele? Si, ne prendo 3 – (Would you like some apples? Yes, I’ll take 3 [of them])
  • Se li ricordano tutti – (They remember them all)

Pronomi Dimostrativi | (Demonstrative Pronouns)

They are used to refer to this [one] or that [one] and are pretty straightforward.

  • questo/a/i/e – (this [one])
  • quello/a/i/e – (that [one])
  • ciò (this/that – for neutral objects)

Questo and quello are also used to describe situations or things in general. Also, quello can also be used as a substitute for a noun mentioned before.

For Example:
  • Non volevo dire questo – (I didn’t want to say this)
  • Pensi sempre e solo a quello – (You only and always think about that)

Lastly, when using them in a comparison, questo always comes first, then quello.

  • Questa [maglietta] è bella, ma quella è più elegante – (This [t-shirt] is nice, but that one is more elegant)

Pronomi Indeterminati | (Indefinite Pronouns)

These pronouns, as the name suggests, are used to give generic information about the object or subject they refer to. We have collected the most common ones in the below chart.

  Notes
only with singular formnessuno/a
(nobody)

When used before the verb it does not need non.

Example: Nessuno ha chiamato – (Nobody called)

When used after the verb it needs non.

Example: Non ha chiamato nessuno – (Nobody called)

niente
(nothing)

When used before the verb it does not need non.

Example: Niente lo sveglia – (Nothing wakes him up)

When used after the verb it needs non.

Example: Non lo sveglia niente – (Nothing wakes him up)

nulla
(nothing)

Exactly the same as niente.

Example: Nulla lo sveglia or Non lo sveglia nulla – (Nothing wakes him up)

ognuno/a
(each one)
Example: Ognuno ha i suoi problemi – (each one has its own problems).
chiunque
(anybody, anyone)
Example: Può essere stato chiunque (It could have been anybody).
uno/a
(one, someone)
Example: Me lo ha detto uno – (Someone told me).
qualcuno/a
(someone, somebody)
Example: Qualcuno ha mangiato la torta – (Someone ate the cake).
qualcosa
(other, different)
Example: Manca qualcosa – (Something is missing).
both singular and plural formtutto/a/i/e
(everything, all)
Example: Hai rotto tutto! – (You broke everything!).
tanto/a/i/e
(many, much, a lot)
Example: Tanti non vengono – (Many are not coming).
troppo/a/i/e
(too many, too much)
Example: Troppi stanno male – (Too many are sick).
molto/a/i/e
(many)
Example: Molti hanno paura – (Many are scared).
diversi/a/i/e
(various, several)
Example: Diversi sono in ritardo – (Several are late).
parecchio/a/chi/chie
(several, quite a lot)
Example: Parecchi sono già andati – (Quite a lot have already gone).
alcuno/a/i/e
(some, a few, no, not any)

In the singular form it is only used in negative sentences.

Example: Non ne ho alcuna – (I don’t have any).

While in the plural form it requires the object or subject to whom it refers to be in the plural form too.

Example: Alcuni amano il cibo piccante – (Some like spicy food).

altrettanto/a/i/e
(as many, as much)
Example: Altrettanti hanno detto di si – (As many have said yes).
certo/a/i/e
(some people, some things)
Example: Certi credono di sapere tutto – (Some people think they know everything).
tale/i
(certain, a certain)
Example: Tali oggetti sono ormai rari – (Certain objects are now rare).
vario/a/ri/rie
(various, several quite a few)
Example: Ne abbiamo viste varie – (we have seen various).

Pronomi Riflessivi | (Reflexive Pronouns)

These pronouns are used with reflexive verbs and where the subject and the object of a sentence are the same. So in other words, when action of the verb refers to the subject of the verb.

PersonaSingolare Plurale 
1stmimyselfciourselves
2ndtiyourselfviyourselves
3rdsihimselfsithemselves
 siherself  
 siyourself (formal)  

How are the Pronomi Riflessivi used?

They normally come before the reflexive verb, however, when the verb is in the infinitive form, the pronoun is attached to the end of the verb by dropping the final vowel of the word.

  • Mi vesto – (I get myself dressed) or Vado a vestirmi – (I go get myself dressed)
  • Ti lavi (You wash yourself) or Vai a lavarti – (Go wash yourself)
  • Marco si addormenta – (Marco falls asleep) or Marco sta per addormentarsi – (Marco is about to fall asleep)

However, when using the gerundio, past participle and imperative forms, the pronouns are always placed at the end of the verb.

  • Alzandomi – (getting myself up)
  • Alzatosi – (having gotten himself up)
  • Alzati! – (get [yourself] up!)

When dovere, potere, volere (verbi modali) are used with the infinitive form of another verb, the pronoun can be either attached to the end of the infinitive verb or it can precede the form of dovere, potere, volere.

  • Mi devo calmare or devo calmarmi – (I have to calm myself)
  • Ti posso chiamare? or posso chiamarti? – (Can I call you?)
  • Luca si vuole sposare or Luca vuole sposarsi – (Luca wants to get married)

When in presence of a negation, the pronoun always remains in front of the verb.

  • Non mi siedo – (I don’t sit myself)
  • Non ti addormenti? – (You don’t fall asleep)
  • Non si asciuga – (It doesn’t dry itself)

Lastly, when using a compound verb tense (e.g. passato prossimo), the pronoun always remains in front of the verb.

  • Mi sono lavato – (I washed myself)
  • Ti sei seduto? – (Did you sit?)
  • Si sono salutati – (They greeted themselves)

Pronomi Relativi | (Relative Pronouns)

Relative pronouns have the function of connecting two sentences together. They connect the main sentence with the subordinate one. So the relative pronoun substitutes in the subordinate sentence a noun, another pronoun or an entire sentence present in the main one.

 SingolarePlurale

as a subject or direct object

chethat, which, whoche that, which, who
after a prepositioncuiwhom/whosecuiwhom/whose
in every positionil/la quale that, which, whoi/le quali that, which, who
For Example:
  • La penna, che è sul tavolo, è di Sara – (The pen, that is on the table, is Sara’s)
  • Le donne che cantano… – (The women who sing…)
  • Il personaggio di cui parliamo… – (The character of whom we speak…)
  • Le ragazze le quali si sono presentate… – (The girls who turned up…)

Also, note that the relative pronoun cui can also be preceded by a definite article – il/la cui or i/le cui.

  • Mario, la cui casa è qui vicino… – (Mario, whose house is nearby…)

Pronomi Possessivi | (Possessive Pronouns)

The possessive pronouns are very similar to the possessive adjectives we discussed in our other lesson. It’s quite easy to confuse the two. Below are some examples that can help you to recognize and distinguish them.
  • Adjective: La tua casa è molto piccola – (Your house is very small)
  • Pronoun: La loro è più grande – (Theirs is bigger)
However, unlike the possessive adjectives, the article is always used with nouns referring to members of the family.
  • Adjective: È quella tua sorella? – (Is that your sister?)
  • Pronoun: No, la mia è quella con i capelli scuri – (No, my sister is that one with dark hair)
Lastly, when a sentence is composed with the verb essere + a possessive pronoun, the article can be omitted.
  • Di chi sono queste scarpe? Sono mie – (Whose are these shoes? They’re mine)

Pronomi Interrogativi | (Interrogative Pronouns)

The interrogative pronouns are used to enquire about a person, object, situation or a quantity.
  • Chi? – (Who?)
  • (Che) cosa? – (What?)
  • Quanto/a/i/e? – (How much/many?)
  • Che or quale? – (Which?)
For Example:
  • Chi è stato? – (Who was it?)
  • A chi scrivi? – (Who are you writing to?)
  • (Che) cosa vuoi? – (What do you want?)
  • A (che) cosa pensi? – (What are you thinking about?)
  • Quanti libri sono? – (How many books are there?)
  • Quanto costa? – (How much does it cost?)
The interrogative pronouns che and quale are normally used to ask about a specific person, object, or situation.
  • Che film guardi? – (Which movie do you watch?)
  • Quali canzoni preferisci? – (Which songs do you prefer?)

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