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Indirect and Direct Object Pronouns Posted by on Jun 28, 2020 in Grammar

Oh, pronouns! Last week we saw them in certain expressions. This week, let’s take a look at indirect and direct object pronouns in more detail.

Learning these little important tidbits in any language always seems to be a bit of a pain, and in Italian it’s no different. But without them we would sound repetitive and strange! So here is a quick explanation:

Indirect Object Pronouns

IDOPs will be used to answer the question “to whom?” or “for whom?”

We will see these IDOPs with verbs that take the preposition ‘a’ in Italian. You will see that some verbs take an IDOP in Italian even though in English the verb is direct.*

Let’s see some of these common IDOP verbs: 

Scrivere a qualcuno – to write to someone

*Dare a qualcuno – to give to someone 

*Telefonare a qualcuno – to call to someone

Mandare a qualcuno – to send to someone 

Portare a qualcuno – to bring to someone 

*Domandare a qualcuno – to ask to someone 

Dire a qualcuno – to say to someone 

Parlare a qualcuno – to speak to someone

**Piacere a qualcuno – to like [be pleasing] to someone (Italians say that is liking [pleasing] to me.)

Here are the IDOPs:

Qualche esempio:

Mi piace giocare – I like to play (Literally, playing is pleasing to me)

Mi piaci – I like you (you are pleasing to me)

Le scrivo una lettera – I am writing a letter to her.

Ci domandi qualcosa? – Are you asking (to) us something?

*Non gli parlo – I’m not speaking to them

*Non parlo loro – I’m not speaking to them

* In the third person plural form, there are two possibilities as seen in the example above. You could either use “gli” and put it before the verb, or use “loro” and put it after the verb.

Direct Object Pronouns

DOPs answer the question “who?” and “what?” These are used with verbs that do not take the preposition ‘a’ in Italian.

Some verbs that take direct object pronouns In Italian, that are actually indirect in English:

Ascoltare – to listen to 

Aspettare – to wait for

Cercare – to search for 

Guardare – to look at 

Notice there is no need for the preposition in Italian! Below you will find the complete list of DOPs and then some examples:

Qualche esempio: 

Mi ascolti? – Are you listening (to) me?

Lo aspetto – I am waiting (for) him

Li cerchiamo – We are looking (for) them

Mi invita – He is inviting me

Lo compro – I’m buying it

Double Object Pronouns

In sentences where you need to use both a direct and indirect object pronoun, these pronouns will combine and slightly change. Essentially, the vowel in mi, ti, ci, vi changes from ‘i’ to an ‘e’, and then in the gli form an ‘e’ is added and the pronouns are combined into one word.

Check out the table below to see the combinations:

Qualche esempio:

Me lo prenderesti? – Would you loan it to me?

Glielo scrivo  – I’m writing it to him

Ve li domandiamo – We ask it to all of you

Would you like to practice? Check out this link for some indirect, direct, and combined object pronoun practice! Let me know how it goes in the comments below! 


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About the Author: Bridgette

Just your average Irish-American Italo-Francophone. I am also the creator of A Polyglot's Inkblot where I document my leap into a digital nomad lifestyle:


  1. Dr Bil:

    One of the absolutely clearest explanation of this I have ever seen.


    Dr Bil

    • Bridgette:

      @Dr Bil Thank you so much, Dr Bil! Glad that it was straightforward.

  2. Dmitry:

    There’s typo.
    “Some verbs that take direct object pronouns In Italian, that are actually direct in English”
    You mean “INdirect in English”

    • Bridgette:

      @Dmitry Thank you! It is fixed now. 🙂

  3. Joan:

    I’m confused on the direct object pronoun for LORO. You give both GLI and LORO. What determines which I use? Also, I tried the link to the practice exercises, did very badly, and as the correct answers are not given, don’t know which were wrong and why.

    • Bridgette:

      @Joan Hi Joan! You can use either, it’s up to you. They are both correct and interchangeable. As far as the exercises, which did you do? I can do them and send you the correct responses.

  4. Joan:

    Hi, Bridgette! Thank you for your response. Re: using LORO and GLI interchangeably as a direct object, am I right that I wouldn’t combine LORO

  5. Joan:

    Hi, Bridgette! My flying fingers accidentally sent off my comment before I finished it! I was asking for confirmation that LORO wouldn’t be combined with the indirect object pronouns like GLI can be. The exercise that I tried so unsuccessfully was Pronomi Diretti, Attivita 4, Esercizio di riempimento, Una Festa a Sorpresa, Livello A2. If you have my email, maybe it would be better to send me the correct answers that way rather than filling up your blog.

  6. Alex:

    Would you explain this sentence translation to me please?
    You wrote: “Me lo prenderesti? – Would you loan it to me?”
    I see “would you pick it up for me?” Does that mean loan in Italian?

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