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Lei, Le or La?–The Solutions Posted by on Sep 10, 2013 in Grammar

Here are the solutions to our quiz about Lei, Le and La which we published a few days ago. If you haven’t seen it yet you’ll find it here:

1. Buon giorno Dottor Bianchi, le avevo telefonato ieri mattina per fissare un appuntamento, si ricorda? (telefonare a qualcuno, indirect object) = Good morning Doctor Bianchi, I phoned you yesterday morning to make an appointment, do you remember?

2. Noi pensavamo di andare al ristorante. Lei è d’accordo, Signora? = We were thinking of going to the restaurant. Is that that all right with you, Madam?

3. Mi ha fatto molto piacere conoscerla, Signor Rossi. A presto! (conoscere qualcuno, direct object) = It was a pleasure to meet you, Mr Rossi. See you soon!

4. Passo da lei dopo il lavoro, va bene? (passare da qualcuno, indirect object) = I’ll come by to see you after work, is that all right?

5. Signora Giorgi, il libro che aveva ordinato è arrivato. Passa a ritirarlo lei o glielo devo portare io? = Mrs Giorgi, the book you ordered has arrived. Will you come to collect it yourself or shall I bring it to you?

6. Ah! È stato in Inghilterra! Le è piaciuta? (piacere a qualcuno, indirect object) = Ah! You’ve been to England! Did you like it?

7. Mi congratulo con lei per la sua promozione, Ingegnere! (congratularsi con qualcuno, indirect object) = My congratulations for your promotion, Engineer!

8. Complimenti, Signora, la trovo bene. Queste vacanze le hanno fatto proprio bene! (trovare qualcuno, direct object; fare bene a qualcuno, indirect object) = My compliments, Madam, you look well. These holidays have really done you good!

9. Ben arrivato, Signor Bianchi! La stavamo aspettando per cominciare la riunione (aspettare qualcuno, direct object) = Welcome, Mr Bianchi! We were waiting for you before starting the meeting

10. C’è una lettera per lei, Signora Bruni. Vuole che gliela metta da parte? = There’s a letter for you, Mrs Bruni. Would you like me to put it aside for you?

A little note:

Many grammar texts for learners of Italian use the convention of writing the formal pronoun with the capital letter in order to distinguish it from the feminine third person pronoun, e.g. Lei = you (polite, singular), and lei = she. This can be misleading for many students, as was clear to me from a couple of the comments I received. If you look at my examples, you may notice that, apart from those cases in which the formal personal pronoun is at the beginning of a sentence (i.e. numbers 2, 6, 10), I didn’t write the pronouns with a capital letter because all my examples were meant to represent spoken language. In fact, if you read an interview or a novel, you’ll find that the dialogues that use lei to mean ‘you’ (polite) are written without the capital letter if they are in the middle of a sentence, as in this example taken from the novel “Privo di Titolo”, by Andrea Camilleri (page 182): “Signora, la sera del 24 aprile, quando ci fu la sparatoria, lei era al balcone?” = “Madam, on the evening of the 24th of April, when the shooting took place, were you on the balcony?”

However, we do use the capital letter to represent ‘you’ (polite) in the middle of a sentence in written communications when we want to show a high degree of respect. Here is an example taken from an e.mail sent to me by my electricity provider: Restiamo a Sua disposizione per eventuali chiarimenti e Le ricordiamo che per ogni necessità può contattare il nostro Servizio Clienti … = “We remain at your disposal for any clarifications and we remind you that you can contact our Costumer Service for any necessity …” Note that in this case even the possessive adjective/pronoun Sua is written with a capital letter.

Next  week I’ll go into a bit more depth on the topic of how to distinguish the pronoun lei = you (polite) from lei = she.


P.S. Complimenti a Robin per aver dato tutte le risposte giuste!

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