Idiomatic Verbs Using ‘Ci’ Posted by Geoff on Aug 29, 2018 in Grammar
In my previous article about ‘ci‘, we looked at its use as the personal pronoun ‘us’, ‘each other’, or ‘we’, and as the adverb ‘there’ or ‘here’. Today, things get a bit more complex as we move into the mystic realm of idioms.
Ci is used in a number of important idiomatic verbs that can be difficult to pick up if you’re not regularly speaking and listening to colloquial Italian. In fact, many of these idiomatic verbs merit a blog in their own right.
NB: the use of ci in the following verbs is idiomatic, so don’t try and translate it literally as it will not usually make any sense.
1. Volerci (to need). Volerci is constructed from the verb volere (to want) and ci. The singular form is ci vuole, and the plural ci vogliono:
ci vuole circa un’ora per arrivare a Parma da casa nostra = you need about an hour to get to Parma from our house
ci vogliono scarponi robusti per fare una passeggiata in montagna = you need strong hiking boots to go walking in the mountains
2. Metterci (to take, when talking about time). Metterci is constructed from the verb mettere (to put) + ci.
ci metto circa un’ora per arrivare a Parma da casa nostra = it takes me about an hour to get to Parma from my house
quanto ci metti per scrivere un articolo? = how long does it take you to write an article?
l’aereo ci mette due ore da Pisa a Londra = the plane takes two hours from Pisa to London
ci abbiamo messo due giorni per imbiancare il salotto! = it took us two days to paint the living room!
3. Tenerci (to care about something, to say that something is important to you). Tenerci is constructed from the verb tenere (to hold) + ci.
ci tengo molto a questo lavoro = I really care about this job, or this job is very important to me
ci tengo a chiedergli scusa = it’s important to me that I say sorry to him
perché ci tieni a quella vecchia macchina? = why is that old car so important to you?
4. Arrivarci (to get it, to understand something). Arrivarci is constructed from the verb arrivare (to arrive) + ci.
questo problema di matematica è troppo difficile, non ci arrivo proprio = this maths problem is too difficult, I really can’t understand it
ah, finalmente ci sono arrivato/a! = ah, I finally get it!
5. Esserci (to get it, to understand something). Esserci is constructed from the verb essere (to be) + ci.
ci sono! Ho capito finalmente come funziona = I’ve got it! I’ve finally understood how it works
allora, ci siete? Avete capito la differenza fra i due? = So, do you get it? Do you understand the difference between the two?
6. Cascarci (to fall for it, or ‘to swallow the bait’). Cascarci is constructed from the verb cascare (to fall) + ci.
mannaggia, ci sono cascato/a! = damn, I fell for it!
vediamo se Giovanni ci casca! = let’s see if Giovanni will swallow the bait!
7. Contarci (to count on, to rely). Contarci is constructed from the verb contare (to count) + ci.
mi raccomando, mandami subito il pacco, ci conto, ok? = please, send me the packet straight away, I’m counting on it, o.k.?
lui ha promesso di aiutarti? … non ci conterei! = has he promised to help you? … I wouldn’t count on it!
8. Entrarci (to have something to do with something). Entrarci is constructed from the verb entrare (to enter) + ci.
io non c’entro niente! = I haven’t got anything to do with it!
ma cosa c’entra? = but what’s that got to do with it?
9. Starci (to agree with, to join in). Starci is constructed from the verb stare (to be/stay) + ci.
vogliamo comprare il regalo di nozze per Maria tutti insieme, ci state? = we all want to get Maria’s wedding present together, are you in/do you agree? (state = you plural)
se stasera andate in pizzeria, io ci sto = if you’re going to the pizzeria this evening, I’m in/I’ll join you.
So many ci‘s … and that’s not the end of it!
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