Italian Language Blog

A Bit More About Indirect Personal Pronouns Posted by on Apr 30, 2018 in Grammar

In my last blog we explored the basic functionality of pronomi personali indiretti. Today we’re going to see how the forme atone combine themselves with other pronouns or verbs.

Let’s begin by revising the forme atone:

mi = to me
ti = to you (singular)
gli = to him
le = to her
ci = to us
vi = to you (plural)
gli = to them

Now here are some examples which show how the indirect personal pronoun is modified by other pronouns or verbs. The rules to bear in mind as you read through the examples are:

1. When the indirect personal pronoun is followed by a direct object pronoun, i.e. lo, la, li or le, it changes in the following way:
mi becomes me
ti becomes te
gli becomes glie
le becomes glie
ci becomes ce
vi becomes ve
gli becomes glie

2. When the indirect personal pronoun follows an imperative or an infinitive, it attaches itself to the end of the verb, e.g. dammi le chiavi (give me the keys, imperative), puoi darmi le chiavi? (can you give me the keys?, infinitive), facci vedere (show us, imperative), puoi farci vedere? (can you show us?, infinitive)

3. This is a combination of rules 1. and 2. i.e an imperative or infinitive followed by an indirect personal pronoun, followed by a direct object pronoun, e.g. dammele (give me them), puoi farcelo vedere? (can you show us it?).

“dammi la chiave per favore” = “give me the key please”.  An old key that we found on our land. Photo by Serena.

Paolo mi ha dato il libro
= Paolo gave me the book
Paolo me l’ha dato = Paolo gave me it
dammi il libro = give me the book
dammelo = give me it

volevo darti questa foto = I wanted to give you this photo
volevo dartela = I wanted to give it to you
ti do la foto = I’ll give you the photo
te la do = I’ll give it to you

gli puoi passare il sale? = can you pass him the salt?
glielo puoi passare? = can you pass it to him?
puoi passarglielo? = can you pass it to him?
passagli il sale = pass him the salt
passaglielo = pass it to him

le puoi chiedere se vuole venire con noi? = can you ask her if she wants to come with us?
glielo puoi chiedere? = can you ask her?
puoi chiederglielo?
= can you ask her (it)?
chiedile se vuole venire con noi
= ask her if she wants to come with us
= ask her (it)

ci hanno spiegato come funziona = they explained to us how it works
ce l’hanno spiegato = they explained it to us
potete spiegarci come funziona? = can you (plural) explain to us how it works?
potete spiegarcelo? = can you (plural) explain it to us?
spiegatecelo = (you plural) explain it to us

vi spediremo i pezzi di ricambio = we’ll send you (plural) the spare parts
ve li spediremo = we’ll send them to you (plural)
quando possiamo spedirvi i pezzi di ricambio? = when can we send you (plural) the spare parts?
quando possiamo spedirveli? = when can we send them to you (plural)?

gli ho dato la lettera = I gave them the letter
gliel’ho data = I gave it to them
dagli la lettera = give them the letter
dagliela = give it to them

Finally, dear readers, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to memorise these rules and formulate sentences ‘on the fly’. These are things that will come with time and practice. At the end of the day, there’s really no substitute for conversing regularly in Italian.

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  1. Barbara:

    Very clear and useful – thank you

  2. Jan:

    Thank you so very much for this straightforward explanation…it’s a keeper! 😀

    • Geoff:

      @Jan Sono contento, grazie Jan. 🙂

  3. Jack:

    Very nice review. Can’t seem to go over this enough.

    • Geoff:

      @Jack Sei il benvenuto Jack! A presto!

  4. Elsa:

    Thank you for such a clear explanation, the best I’ve read yet. Now I understand what I’m coming across in some of my reading.

    • Geoff:

      @Elsa You’re welcome Elsa, glad you found it helpful.

  5. Patty Azzarello:

    Thank you!
    This is the clearest explanation of this that I have ever seen. Still impossible, but very clear!

  6. Joseph T. Madawela:

    this helped me a lot thanks

  7. Jan Keeys:

    Eccellente come sempre. 🤗

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