Pronouns (pronomi) are words used instead of nouns, or words that take the place of nouns that have already been mentioned. English pronouns include such words as I, you, it, him, them, herself, mine, that, and some. There are several classes of pronouns in Italian (like in English), and on this page you will find an overview of them. At any time, click a link below to find out more information on each of them.
- Personal pronouns represent people: I, you, we, him. In English and in Italian we differentiate between pronouns that are subjects in the sentence and pronouns that are objects.
- Ne and Ci are two very common pronouns in Italian that do not have easy equivalents in English, but can be loosely translated as of it, about it or there. Ne is used with particular frequency when answering questions involving quantity (e.g. How many classes are you taking? – I’m taking three (of them) and Ci is often used when referring to destinations or locations that have already been mentioned (e.g. When are you going to Italy? – I’m going (there) next summer).
- Possessive pronouns (mine, yours, etc.) follow the forms of possessive adjectives (my – mio, your – tuo, etc.) except they stand alone.
- Demonstrative pronouns (equivalent to this and that (in Italian questo and quello) follow the forms of their corresponding adjectives, except they too stand alone, after the nouns have already been introduced in the sentence.
- Indefinite pronouns express the idea of general groups, rather than particular people, place or things. (Examples include some, something, or everyone). (In Italian: alcuni, tutto, and qualcosa)
- Reflexive pronouns correspond to the English words myself, yourself, herself, etc., and in Italian they are learned in the context of reflexive and reciprocal verbs. Reflexive and reciprocal expressions using these pronouns are much more common in Italian than in English, used to express actions people do to themselves (e.g. prepare oneself) or reciprocally with someone else (e.g. talk to each other). They are also used to express someone’s changing physical or mental state (e.g. getting sick, getting tired, bored, angry, etc.)
- Relative pronouns are pronouns that connect a relative (or dependent) clause to a main clause. The relative clause serves to identify an element in the main clause or to add extra information (e.g. The language that I first learned was Spanish; My Spanish friend, whom I was talking about last week, is arriving this evening from Madrid.) Relative pronouns in English include who, that, which, and whoever (in Italian – che, cui, quello che, chi and others.
✽ Subjects in sentences are those nouns or pronouns (people, place or things) that carry out the action (represented by the verb); Objects in sentences are those nouns or pronouns that receive the action or that are acted upon.
Italian distinguishes further between direct object pronouns and indirect object pronouns.
✽ Direct Objects are those nouns or pronouns that receive the action, that is, the element that the action is being done to. (e.g. the book that you bought or the friend whom you met). Indirect Objects are those nouns or pronouns that receive the direct object or for whom the action is intended. (e.g. the person to whom you gave the book).