In this post, you’ll learn how to master Italian Indirect Pronouns with simple examples and illustrations to improve your Italian language because understanding Italian Indirect Pronouns it’s crucial to avoid mistakes.
WHAT IS AN INDIRECT PRONOUN
An indirect object is the indirect recipient of the action of a verb.
While subject pronouns replace the subject of the sentence, indirect object pronouns (pronomi indiretti) are used to substitute indirect objects and they answer the question: “a/per chi?” (to/for whom?) or “a/per che cosa?” (to/for what?)
The structure of Italian and English indirect object pronouns is quite different, so take your time and practice as much as possible.
Luca scrive a Marco (Luca writes to Marco)
To whom Luca write? –> TO MARCO –> that’s the indirect object
Compro i fiori per mia madre (I buy flowers for my mother)
For whom do I buy? –> for my mother –> that’s the indirect object.
HOW TO REPLACE THE INDIRECT OBJECT WITH A PRONOUN
Prepositions used with indirect objects can include a/per/con (to/for/with) + a person or animal while direct object pronouns answer the question what? or whom?
As you can see in this example usually the object pronoun goes before the verb.
Il cuoco prepara la pasta per il cliente (The chef prepares the pasta for the customer)
GLI prepara la pasta (The chef prepares pasta for him)
Scrivo a Carla domani (I’ll write to Carla tomorrow)
Le scrivo domani (I’ll write to her)
Mando cartoline a tutti i miei amici (I send postcards to all my friends)
Gli mando le cartoline / mando loro le cartoline (I send cards to them)
An indirect object pronoun replaces a noun used as an indirect object; it must, therefore, agree in gender and number with the noun it refers to.
Follow these rules to use the indirect pronouns in a phrase:
|TO/FOR ME||MI pronoun|
|TO/FOR YOU||TI pronoun|
PREPOSITION + MASCULINE NAME
PREPOSITION + FEMININE NAME
|TO/FOR US||CI pronoun|
|TO/FOR YOU (ALL)||VI pronoun|
|TO/FOR THEM||GLI o LORO pronoun|
HOW TO MASTER THE THIRD PERSON Direct PRONOUNS
Replacing the object with a pronoun can be challenging ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU WANT TO REPLACE A THIRD PERSON SUBJECT.
In the third-person plural form, loro or gli is used for both masculine and feminine forms.
FORMAL both masculine and feminine
INFORMAL both Masculine and Feminine
In today’s informal Italian language GLI is often used in place of LORO. So GLI is used for the singular masculine and for the plural masculine and feminine.
You also can use gli for only males or male and female combined, as in
“Cosa regali ai nonni per Natale?” “Gli regalo una radio”
(“What are you giving our grandparents for Christmas?” “I’m giving them a radio”).
Where I’m going to put this indirect pronoun in a sentence?
Sometimes a problem is to know how the word order changes when object pronouns are introduced.
In the Italian language, the object pronoun goes before the verb.
What happens if the phrase has 2 verbs?
You put the pronoun before the first verb.
In this case, you can also attach the pronoun to the last verb (the infinitive verb)
Quando vedo Maria le racconto tutto. –> [le stands for a Maria (fs)]
When I see Maria I’ll tell her everything.
Non telefono a Carlo, gli scrivo. –>[gli stands for a Carlo (ms)]
I’m not going to phone Carlo: I’ll write to him.
Paolo non ci dice mai la verità. —> [ci stands for a noi]
Paolo never tells us the truth.
Mi mandi una cartolina da Roma?
Will you send me a postcard from Rome?
Vi scrivo appena arrivo.
I’ll write to you as soon as I arrive.
È il compleanno di Anna: le regalo un CD.
It’s Anna’s birthday: I’m giving her a CD.
Se Dario non ha l’auto, gli dò un passaggio.
If Dario hasn’t got his car, I’ll give him a lift.
Ti presto i soldi.
I’ll lend you the money.
‘Scrivi agli zii?’ ‘No, gli telefono domani/No, telefono loro domani.’
‘Are you going to write to your uncles?’ ‘No, I’ll phone them tomorrow.’
Gli dico la verità/Dico loro la verità.
I’m going to tell them the truth.
The following verbs commonly take the indirect object:
assomigliare: to resemble
chiedere: to ask
dare: to give
dire: to say
domandare: to ask (for)
donare: to donate to
prestare: to lend
insegnare: to teach
mandare: to send
portare: to bring to
rispondere: to answer
scrivere: to write to
telefonare: to call (telephone)
vendere: to sell
volere bene a: to love
Lui assomiglia a suo padre. – Lui gli assomiglia – He looks like his father.
Io chiedo a Maria di uscire – Le chiedo di uscire – I ask Maria to go out with me. con me.
Scrivo una lunga lettera a lei. Le scrivo una lettera – I write her a long letter.
Vendiamo la casa ai nostri figli.- Gli vendiamo la casa (vendiamo loro la casa) – We are going to sell the house to our kids.
Riccardo vuole bene alla nonna. – Riccardo le vuole bene – Riccardo loves his grandmother.
Address people formally with pronouns
When you address people formally, you use the Le form in the third-person singular for both males and females, as in:
Signore/Signora, Le apro io la porta
(Sir/Madam, I’ll open the door for you).
Note that the third-person plural form has two options that mean the same thing.
The gli form is being used more frequently in modern spoken Italian, although the loro form is still acceptable.
In the plural, you may use the pronoun Loro after the verb with or without a preposition, as in
Signori/Signore/Signore e Signori, apro Loro la porta/apro la porta per Loro
(Gentlemen/Ladies/Ladies and gentlemen, I’ll open the door for you).