Mi Piace! – Part 3. Posted by Geoff on May 18, 2018 in Grammar
Did you like the lasagne? Did you like his brother? Common everyday questions that you’re likely to be asked or you’ll want to ask in Italian. But how to go about it?
N.B. before you read this article you’ll need to have studied the following:
Italian Indirect Personal Pronouns
Mi Piace! – Part 1.
Mi Piace! – Part 2.
So far in this series of articles we’ve seen that in order to know how to use the verb piacere to say ‘I like’, ‘you like’, ‘we like’ etc. it’s vital to understand the concept that “in Italian it’s not the person that does the liking, but the thing that pleases the person”. You also need a sound knowledge of indirect personal pronouns. Today we’re going to find out how piacere works in the past.
The past tense is constructed with the auxiliary verb essere (to be) and the past participle of piacere, i.e. piaciuto/a/i/e depending on the number and gender of the thing/s which please you. Most commonly you’ll be using the third person singular è (he/she/it is) and the third person plural sono (they are). In the following examples I’ll give the English phrase first in order to reinforce the process of changing perspective from ‘I like’ to ‘it pleases me’.
1. What I liked
‘I liked Lucca’ from an Italian perspective would be: Lucca pleased me, hence: Lucca mi è piaciuta (feminine because Lucca is una città)
‘I liked his brother’ would be: His brother pleased me, hence: Suo fratello mi è piaciuto
‘Did you like the film?’ would be: Did the film please you? hence: Ti è piaciuto il film?
‘Did you like the cake?’ would be: Did the cake please you? hence: Ti è piaciuta la torta?
‘I liked their children’ would be: Their children pleased me, hence: Mi sono piaciuti i loro bimbi
‘I liked the lasagne’ would be: The lasagne pleased me, hence: Mi sono piaciute le lasagne (lasagne is plural in Italian)
‘Did you like his trousers?’ would be: Did his trousers please you? hence: Ti sono piaciuti i suoi pantaloni?
‘Did you like her shoes?’ would be: Did her shoes please you? hence: Ti sono piaciute le sue scarpe?
2. What we liked
‘We liked Lucca’ would be: Lucca pleased us, hence: Lucca ci è piaciuta
‘We liked his brother’ would be: His brother pleased us, hence: Suo fratello ci è piaciuto
‘We liked their children’ would be: Their children pleased us, hence: Ci sono piaciuti i loro bimbi
‘We liked the lasagne’ would be: The lasagne pleased us, hence Ci sono piaciute le lasagne
3. What he/she liked
‘He liked Lucca’ would be: Lucca pleased him, hence: Lucca gli è piaciuta
‘She liked his brother’ would be: His brother pleased her, hence: Suo fratello le è piaciuto
‘He liked their children’ would be: Their children pleased him, hence: Gli sono piaciuti i loro bimbi
‘She liked the lasagne’ would be: The lasagne pleased her, hence Le sono piaciute le lasagne
4. She likes me!
Let’s finish off by putting those tricky conjugations from Part 2. into the past tense:
‘They told me that she liked me’ from an Italian perspective would be: ‘They told me that I pleased her’, hence: ‘Mi hanno detto che le sono piaciuto/a‘.
‘They said that they liked us’ would be: ‘They said that we pleased them’, hence: ‘Hanno detto che gli siamo piaciuti’.
‘I know that he liked you’ would be: ‘I know that you pleased him’, hence: ‘So che gli sei piaciuto/a‘.
Hopefully by now you’re getting the hang of how piacere works. In Part 4 we’ll be looking at the conditional.
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Thank you very much. Understanding how piacere works is very helpful!
Have you done something similar with “mancare”? If not, would you do so?
@Vicki Ciao Vicki, mancare is next on my ‘to do’ list. A presto 🙂
Is there a reason why sometimes you lead with the thing/person liked (Lucca gli e piaciuto) and sometimes with the person liking (Ti e piaciuto il film)? Could either construction be correct?
@Joan Engelhaupt Ciao Joan, see my reply to Maria. 🙂
An extremely clear and succinct explanation. Thank you.
@Elsa Grazie a te Elsa 🙂
Cara Serena: ho una domanda. Perché Ci sono piaciuti i loro bimbi invece de I loro bimbi ci sono piacciuti?
‘We liked the lasagne’ would be: The lasagne pleased us, hence Ci sono piaciute le lasagne. Le lasagne ci sono piaciute?
@Maria Salve Maria, that’s the beauty of the Italian language … you have the choice!
Italian syntax is generally more flexible than English. Both of those option are equally valid.
A presto, Geoff (sono io l’autore di questa serie di articoli su piacere 🙂 )
Mi è sempre piaciuta Lucca fin dalla mia prima visita 25 anni fa. E mi è piaciuto anche questo palazzo Pfanner che ho visitato per la prima volta un anno fa.
Very good lessons.