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Knowing how to use double pronouns in Italian is a task that makes you suffer from cervelli fritti (fried brains), as one of our readers so nicely put it. Therefore, it’s important to keep revisiting the topic. Suppose you wanted to reply to the question: “Ti sei ricordato di comperare il pane?” (‘Did you remember to buy the bread?’) with “Yes, of course I remembered it”. Well, in this case you’d need to use a double personal pronoun: Sì, certo che me lo sono ricordato’
So, today’s focus is going to be on the use of verbi riflessivi (reflexive verbs) conjugated in the passato prossimo (present perfect or past tense) combined with i pronomi oggetto diretto (direct object pronouns).
Let’s first revise the direct object pronouns:
lo (masculine singular) = him/it, la (feminine singular) = her/it, li (masculine plural) = them, le (feminine plural) = them
Now for the reflexive pronouns:
mi (first person singular) = myself, ti (second person singular) = yourself, si (third person singular) = himself/herself/itself, ci (first person plural) = ourselves, vi (second person plural) = yourselves, si (third person plural) = themselves
Here are some practical examples of how to combine these two in the past tense. Remember that the reflexive pronoun changes its ending from –i to –e when it precedes the direct object pronoun, e.g. ti becomes te, ci becomes ce and so on:
eccoti il gelato: te lo sei proprio meritato = here’s your ice cream: you really earned it – from the reflexive verb meritarsi = to deserve/earn
eccovi il gelato: ve lo siete proprio meritato = here’s your ice cream: you really earned it
la chiave? Accidenti, ce la siamo dimenticata= the key? oh dear we forgot it – from the reflexive verb dimenticarsi = to forget
la chiave? Accidenti, se la sono dimenticata = the key? oh dear, they forgot it
ti piacciono i miei nuovi orecchini? Me li sono comprati ieri = do you like my new earrings? I bought them yesterday – from the reflexive form of the verb comprare – comprarsi = to buy for oneself
ti piacciono i nuovi orecchini di Laura? Se li è comprati ieri = do you like Laura’s new earrings? She bought them yesterday
ti sei lavato le mani? Sì, me le sono già lavate = have you washed your hands? Yes, I’ve already washed them – from the reflexive form of the verb lavare – lavarsi = to wash oneself
Giorgio si è lavato le mani? Sì, se le è già lavate = has Giorgio washed his hands? Yes, he’s already washed them
Another important thing to note is that the direct object pronoun influences the ending of the past participle: me lo sono dimenticato (il pane, masc.), me la sono dimenticata (la chiave, fem.).
You can find out more about the influence of the direct object pronoun on the the past participle by clicking HERE
You can find out more about the reflexive verbs by clicking HERE
Now don’t worry if this seems a bit complicated … it is. In fact it’s quite difficult to get the hang of it unless you are speaking Italian on a regular basis with native speakers. But if you stick with it ce la farete (you’ll get there)!
If anyone is interested, I can follow up this post with my mother’s recipe for fried brains