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A few days ago I wrote about the impersonal pronoun ‘si’: Si Impersonale – part 1
Today I’ll continue by looking at some other aspects of the si impersonale.
1. Verbi Riflessivi (Reflexive Verbs)
Let’s see how the si impersonale is used with reflexive verbs. Take for example the reflexive verb riposarsi (to rest oneself): mi riposo (I rest myself), lui/lei si riposa (he or she rests himself/herself), noi ci riposiamo (we rest ourselves) etc. Now, when we use a reflexive verb in the impersonal form, we have to make a small modification in order to avoid repeating ‘si’, therefore, instead of saying ‘si si riposa’ (one rests oneself – reflexive pronoun + impersonal pronoun) we change the first ‘si’ to a ‘çi’ to make ci si riposa (one rests oneself), e.g. la domenica ci si riposa (one rests oneself on Sundays). Follow the same rule for all reflexive verbs, e.g. ci si veste (one dresses oneself), ci si alza (one gets oneself up) etc.
2. Accordo del participio passato (Agreement with the past participle)
As I explained in part 1 of this blog, the passato prossimo (present perfect) is always built with the verb essere, even with transitive verbs that would normally have the verb avere. If you need to revise the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs, you’ll find my blog on the topic here: Transitive and Intransitive Verbs. However, there are several possibilities for the ending of the participio passato (past participle). Let’s have a look at them:
a. If the verb is transitive and is not followed by a direct object, the past participle ends in o, e.g. dopo che si è studiato, ci si può rilassare (after one has studied, one can relax).
b. When the transitive verb is followed by a direct object, the past participle agrees with the object, i.e. the ending changes from masculine to feminine, and from singular to plural, e.g.:
dopo che si è messa l’acqua nella pentola (fem.singular – after you’ve put the water in the saucepan);
dopo che si sono messe le patate nella pentola (fem.plural – after you’ve put the potatoes in the saucepan);
dopo che si è messo il riso nella pentola (masc.singular. – after you’ve put the rice in the saucepan);
dopo che si sono messi gli spaghetti nella pentola (masc.plural – after you’ve put the spaghetti in the saucepan).
c. In reflexive verbs, the past participle is normally masculine plural, e.g. una volta che ci si è riposati, si può continuare il viaggio (once one has rested, one can carry on with the journey).
d. With intransitive verbs such as andare (to go), which would normally use the verb essere in the passato prossimo, the impersonal form has the past participle in the masculine plural, e.g. una volta che si è andati via, non bisogna ritornare (once you’ve gone away, you don’t need to come back).
e. With intransitive verbs such as camminare (to walk), which would normally use the verb avere in the passato prossimo, the impersonal form has the past participle in the masculine singular, e.g. fanno male le gambe dopo che si è camminato molto in montagna (your legs hurt after you’ve walked in the mountains for a long time).
OK, I’d intended to finish off this post by mentioning how the si impersonale is affected by other personal pronouns, together with a couple of curiosities linked to this construction. But the more I think about it, the more complicated it becomes … so there will be a Part 3!