Pronouns are like pesky little siblings that won’t leave you alone. As much as you try to avoid them, they still pop up and expect your full attention. Since they’re not going away anytime soon, it’s time you learned to love them.
One way you can do that is by learning the common mistakes English speakers make when it comes to Italian pronouns.
That way, you can confidently avoid them. ;]
Note: If any of the explanations are above your head or you feel like you’re missing pieces of the story, you may want to check out the 10-Day Italian Pronouns Challenge. It’s a progressive, ten day learning experience that walks you through the what, why & how of pronouns with explanations, examples, and exercises.
3 Common Mistakes English Speakers Make with Italian Pronouns
1. Forgetting to put “a” before “loro” with the verb “piacere”
When you want to say that “they” like something, you might know to use the pronoun “loro”. However, you also have to use the preposition “a” before “loro” in order for the entire sentence to be grammatically correct. That being said, if you don’t use “a”, you’ll still be understood and I can guarantee that no one will be completely confused.
Example: Do they like strawberries? – A loro piacciono le fragole?
2. Confusing which verbs to use with indirect object pronouns.
In order for this to make sense, you have to know the basics of how direct and indirect object pronouns work.
To give you a quick rundown, direct object pronouns answer the questions “What?” or “Whom” and indirect object pronouns answer the question “To whom?” or “For whom?”
Direct object pronoun example: I bought it (the apples). WHAT did you buy? I bought the apples.
Indirect object pronoun example: I wrote the letter to her. TO WHOM did you write the letter? I wrote it TO her.
Indirect object pronouns are typically used with verbs that have to do with giving or communication.
This is where English speakers get tripped up.
Since these verbs don’t translate 100% from Italian to English, there may be verbs that Italians would use to say “to” or “for” where English speakers might avoid using those words.
For example, in English we can say “I gave him a gift” without saying “to him”, but in Italian, it’s always said using “to him.”
That would be: Gli ho dato il regalo.
Here are some verbs that have to do with giving that require an indirect object pronoun:
— Dare – to give (Think: To give TO someone)
— Prestare – to lend (Think: To lend TO someone)
— Mandare – to send (Think: To send TO someone)
— Regalare – to gift (Think: To gift TO someone)
— Assegnare – to assign (Think: To assign TO someone)
Here are some verbs that have to do with communication that require an indirect object pronoun:
— Spiegare – to explain (Think: To explain something TO someone) — Parlare – to speak (Think: To speak TO someone)
— Scrivere – to write (Think: To write TO someone)
— Insegnare – to teach (Think: To teach TO someone)
— Chiedere – to ask (Think: To ask TO someone)
— Consigliare – to advise (Think: To give advice TO someone) — Telefonare – to phone (Think: To phone TO someone)
3. Trying to say “to her” using “le” as a double object pronoun
Now, here’s something cool that happens when “le” becomes a double object pronoun.
When you pair the feminine, indirect object pronoun “le” with another direct object pronoun, like “lo”, it MUST to change to “gli”.
So “lelo” would become “glielo”, adding that little “e” in between to make it sound so much more beautiful.
For example, if you wanted to say “I wrote her a letter”, you would use “le” as the indirect object pronoun.
That sentence would look like “Le ho scritto una lettera.”
If you wanted to say “I wrote it to her”, with “it” being “the letter”, you would have to use a double object pronoun.
Then the sentence would become “Gliel’ho (gliela ho) scritta.”
The others would be:
— Gliela – When referring to something singular and feminine
— Glieli – When referring to something plural and masculine
— Gliele – When referring to something plural and feminine
So there you have it!
Those are three common mistakes that English speakers make when trying to use Italian pronouns.
These explanations can get pretty specific and be confusing if you’re not already aware of the basics of how to use pronouns.
If any of the explanations are above your head or you feel like you’re missing pieces of the story, here are some resources to check out: