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Pronomi Combinati–Part 1 Posted by on Feb 4, 2013 in Grammar

Personal pronouns are always a confusing subject to master for students of Italian, so today I’m going to look at the combined personal pronouns using practical examples.

The combined pronouns normally precede the verb in the following order: first comes the unstressed form of the indirect personal pronouns (mi, ti, gli, ci, vi), or the reflexive pronoun (mi, ti, si, ci, vi), which is then followed by the direct object pronoun (lo, la, li, le), or the pronoun ‘ne’. Both the indirect pronouns and the reflexive pronouns change their vowel becoming me, te, se, glie, ce, ve. In the following examples I’ve highlighted the indirect or reflexive pronoun in red, and the direct object or ‘ne’ pronoun in blue:

Ti serve una penna? Te la presto io (Do you need a pen? I’ll lend it to you)

Hai fatto delle foto durante le vacanze? Me le fai vedere? (Did you take some pictures during your holidays? Will you show them to me?)

Non conoscete i Signori Rossi? Ecco, ve li presento (Don’t you know Mr and Mrs Rossi? Here, I’ll introduce them to you)

Il vino? Doveva portarlo Mario, ma se lo è scordato (from the reflexive verb ‘scordarsi’) (The wine? Mario was meant to bring it, but he forgot it)

Ti piacciono i miei capelli? Me li sono tagliati ieri (from the reflexive verb ‘tagliarsi’) (Do you like my hair? I had it cut yesterday)

Quante sedie servono? Ce ne servono ancora tre (How many chairs do we need? We still need three. Lit. Three of them are still needed to us)

N.B. The third person singular of the indirect pronoun behaves slightly differently from all the others when combined with another pronoun. First of all we only use the masculine form ‘gli’ (to him/her/it) for both the masculine and the feminine (which would normally be ‘le’). Secondly, ‘gli’ becomes ‘glie’ and is attached to the direct pronoun in the following way:

Hai visto la nuova macchina di Marco? Gliel’hanno regalata i suoi genitori per la laurea (Have you seen Marco’s new car? His parents gave it to him as a present for his graduation)

Questo è il pane per Maria. Glielo dai tu? (This is Maria’s bread. Will you give it to her?)

The pronoun ‘gli’ is also used in formal situations, e.g:  Vuole parlare col direttore? Certamente Signor Bianchi, glielo chiamo subito (You wish to talk to the director? Certainly Mr Bianchi, I’ll call him for you straight away)

Finally, there are situations in which the impersonal pronoun ‘si’ is also used. In this case the order is the following: 1. indirect or reflexive pronoun, 2. direct object pronoun, 3. si impersonale. In the following examples I’ve highlighted the impersonal si in green:

Te lo si legge in faccia (it’s written all over your face. Lit. ‘to you one reads it in your face’) Simona era molto sconvolta, glielo si leggeva in faccia (Simona was very upset, you could see it in her face)

Non ce lo si può permettere (‘we/one can’t afford it’. Lit. ‘to oneself one cannot allow it’) Andate ancora a Roma in macchina tutte le settimane? No, fra costo della benzina e pedaggio dell’autostrada non ce lo si può più permettere (Do you still drive to Rome every week? No, what with the cost of the fuel and the toll on the motorway it’s not affordable anymore)

In Part 2 I’ll be looking at how and when to use the combined pronouns after a verb.

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  1. Edoardo:

    Grazie tante Serena, la tua spiegazione è chiaríssima, il probrema é ricordare (ricordargliele?)

  2. Robin:

    Thank you. I didn’t realise about gli being used for both lui and lei.

  3. Peter:

    In first example, why not mostrare? Could it be me le fai mostrare instead of ” Me le fai vedere “?

    • Serena:

      @Peter Salve Peter!
      You wrote:
      In first example, why not mostrare? Could it be me le fai mostrare instead of ” Me le fai vedere “?

      “Mostrare” is correct, but it must substitute the whole expression “far vedere”, therefore instead of “me le fai vedere?” you can say “me le mostri?”. I believe that “far vedere” is more colloquial than “mostrare”.

      Saluti da Serena

  4. June:

    Ti piaciono i miei capelli??? Pensavo: Ti piacciono i miei capelli? Tutt’ e due vanno bene?

    • Serena:

      @June Ciao June, grazie per aver notato lo sbaglio, l’ho corretto immediatamente.
      Un saluto da Serena

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