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In part 1 of this article I introduced the forme toniche (stressed forms) of the indirect personal pronouns; in this second part we’re going to have a look at the forme atone or ‘unstressed forms’, which are less emphatic than the forme toniche. In more technical terms, the forme atone have the grammatical function of the complemento di termine or dative.
Here is the complete list:
mi (to me)
ti (to you, singular, informal)
gli (to him)
le (to her / to you, singular, formal)
ci (to us)
vi (to you, plural)
gli / loro (to them); in spoken Italian the form gli is now commonly used also for the plural, instead of the more correct loro.
Forme atone are more commonly used in everyday language than forme toniche preceded by the preposition a. Here are two examples that illustrate the difference between the two forms:
Forme atone: gli ho dato il libro (I gave him the book). Forme toniche: ho dato il libro a lui (I gave the book to him).
Forme atone: Gianni: Ti assicuro che è tutto vero! Luca: Va bene, ti credo (Gianni: I assure you that is all true! Luca: OK, I believe you). Forme toniche: Gianni: A chi credi, a me o a Bruno? Luca: Va bene, credo a te (Gianni: Who do you believe, me or Bruno? Luca: OK, I believe to you).
Because of its dative value, la forma atona is normally used with the verb piacere, e.g. mi piace il mare (I like the sea); le piace la montagna (she likes the mountain). However, if you need to emphasize the pronouns, you should use the forme toniche, for example: a me piace il mare, ma a lei piace la montagna (I like the sea, but she likes the mountain).
Because of their lack of stress, le forme atone normally come immediately before the verb, but in the following cases they are joined onto the end of the verb:
after an infinitive: siamo venuti per parlarvi (We have come to talk to you)
after a gerundive: non voglio offendere Giorgio dicendogli questo (I don’t want to offend Giorgio by telling him this)
after the imperative: non ditele nulla (do not tell her anything); parlami! (talk to me!).
The forme atone cannot be used in the following situations:
With the prepositions di, da, in, con, su, per, tra / fra
In comparisons after come (like/as) or quanto (as much as), e.g. A Gianna piace il gelato al cioccolato come a me (Gianna likes chocolate ice cream like me)
After the conjunctions anche (also, too), neanche (not even, neither), pure (even), and neppure / nemmeno (not even), e.g. Mario: mi piace il mare. Luca: Anche a me (Mario: I like the sea. Luca: me too), Mario: Non mi ha dato il libro Luca: Neanche a me (Mario: He didn’t give me the book. Luca: He didn’t give it to me either).