How to Use HO or CE L’HO

Why do we say: “ho, or “ce l’ho” in Italian? This peculiar form of Italian has its own reason for existing. We explain briefly and clearly in this post how to Use HO or CE L’HO.

While using the verb form of “io ho” is pretty straightforward, many students don’t always understand the use of “ce l’ho“.

Let’s delve into the world of ‘ho’ and ‘ce l’ho’ to unravel their differences.

HO – Verb Avere

‘Ho’ is the first person singular form of the verb ‘avere,’ which means ‘to have’ in Italian.

It’s straightforward and used to express ownership or possession.

We use HO when we name the object in the sentence


Ho la macchina (espresso nella frase -> la macchina)

How to Use HO or CE L'HO

In this sentence, ‘ho’ directly indicates possession without any additional information. It’s used when you want to say that you possess or own something.

Abbiamo molte cose da fare (oggetto espresso nella frase -> molte cose)

Abbiamo molte cose da fare (oggetto espresso nella frase -> molte cose)

CE L’ HO – Different form of Verb Essere

‘Ce l’ho’ is a more nuanced expression. It combines ‘ce,’ which is short for ‘ci,’ meaning ‘there,’ and ‘l’ho,’ which is the contraction of ‘la ho’ or ‘lo ho,’ referring to ‘I have it.’ This construction is used when you want to emphasize that you have something specific or that you have it with you.

Let’s see in more detail:

In this form, we have a CI that is not easily explained.

The use of CI to emphasise the verb avere is every day in informal speech and writing.

The uncontracted form is “ce lo ho,” where “ce” is a phonetic alteration of the particle “ci” in front of lo, la, li, le. As a result, “Ce” can function as a place adverb, pronominal particle, complement, or as part of peculiar spoken word expressions.

ce   l'ho How to Use HO or CE L'HO
  • CE is the particle CI
  • L’ is the pronoun LO
  • HO is the 1st person of the verb AVERE

We use this verb form when the expression indicates possession and refers to something previously mentioned to avoid repetition.

We use CE L’HO when we replace an object already named before


Hai la macchina? Si, ce l’ho (sostituisce l’oggetto “la macchina” – già nominato)

How to Use HO or CE L'HO hai la macchina? si, ce l'ho

Credevo di avere il portafoglio, invece non ce l’ho (sostituisce l’oggetto “il portafoglio”)

How to Use HO or CE L'HO credevo di avere il portafoglio invece non ce l'ho

If the object is plural – masculine or feminine …


HAI le chiavi? Sì, che le ho (le sostituisce “le chiavi”) (DO YOU HAVE THE KEYS? Yes, I have them (it replaces “the keys”)

How to Use HO or CE L'HO hai le chiavi? SI, ce le ho

Hai i soldi? No, non ce li ho (li sostituisce “i soldi”) (Do you have the money? No, I don’t have it (replaces “money”)

How to Use HO or CE L'HO hai i soldi? No, non ce li ho

Ce l’ho’ not only indicates possession but also implies that you have the item in question with you or that it’s readily available.

It’s often used in conversations to confirm the possession of a specific object or to respond to a request.

Practice is the key to grasping ‘ho’ and ‘ce l’ho’. Engage in conversations and see how native speakers use these terms. By combining them properly into your Italian, you will deal with the language with precision.

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Everything about CI in Italian – 7 ways to use it

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