What is a pronoun?
To get started with today’s lesson, have a look at the following sentences:
Ho perso la mia borsa. Fammi sapere se la trovi.
I lost my bag. Let me know if you find it.
Perché non gli dici di venire?
Why don’t you tell him to come?
In the examples above, la and gli are pronouns and mean it and him, respectively.
Pronouns are those tiny words that refer to objects or people. We use them when we don’t need or want to name someone or something directly.
This might be because we have just mentioned them (like what we just did with “them” referring to “pronouns”) or because it’s obvious who or what we’re referring to.
If you need to review Italian pronouns, we recommend having a look at the following two posts:
Learn more about Direct object pronouns
Learn more about Indirect object pronouns
In today’s post, we’re going to focus on pronouns at the end of the verb.
How to use pronouns at the end of the verb?
In Italian, in certain cases (not always), we can place the pronouns at the end of the verb.
This means the pronoun is joined onto the verb. There are two specific cases when we can do this:
- With a verb in the infinitive (like fare or vedere)
- With a verb in the imperative (like fai! or vedi!)
Have a look at some examples:
I want to see her.
Perché non vuoi comprarmelo?
Why don’t you want to buy it to me?
Per piacere, prendilo.
Please, take it.
Daglielo oggi. Non ti dimenticare.
Give it to her today. Don’t forget.
How to use infinitive + pronoun?
There are three verbs that are usually followed by a verb in the infinitive:
- Potere (can or to be able to)
Example: Posso venire? (Can I come?)
- Dovere (must or to have to)
Example:Devi finire tutto. (You have to finish everything)
- Volere(to want to)
Example: Non voglio uscire. (I don’t want to go out)
Now that you know this, have a look at these two examples and see if you notice anything:
Lo puoi fare tu?
Can you do it?
Puoi farlo tu?
Can you do it?
You probably noticed both sentences mean exactly the same.
This is because both options are correct: we can place the pronoun before the verb in the infinitive or at the end of it.
It’s up to you to choose how to do it. But if you decide to attach the pronoun to the verb, here’s one rule you need to know:
The final -e of the infinitive is dropped. Meaning fare + lo becomes farlo.
Infinitive + pronoun: examples
Let’s have a look at some more examples with a pronoun at the end of the verb in the infinitive:
Puoi aiutarli per piacere?
Can you help them, please?
Devo farlo per forza?
Do I really have to do it?
I should write to him.
Non voglio parlarle.
I don’t want to speak to her.
Let’s have a look at some examples with both pronouns at the end of the verb:
Puoi dirglielo tu?
Can you say it to him?
Ho dei regali per voi. Vorrei darveli stasera.
I have a present for you. I’d like to give them to you tonight.
Also, sometimes it’s possible to have two infinitive verbs close to each other, so you’re free to place the pronoun at the end of either, like in the examples below:
Puoi venire a prendermi?
Puoi venirmi a prendere?
Can you come to pick me up?
How to use the imperative + pronoun?
We also place pronouns at the end of verbs in the imperative. And we use the imperative to give orders and instructions.
Unlike with the infinitive, with the imperative, this is obligatory, which means placing the pronoun before the verb in the imperative is wrong.
Here’s one example:
Buy it later.
Here’s a rule you need to keep in mind: If the verb consists of just one syllable, we double the consonant the pronoun starts with (except in the case of gli).
And here are two examples:
Do it now!
Dille la verità!
Tell her the truth!
There’s only one exception to this rule concerning the imperative: when we’re addressing someone in a formal way and we use the formal lei.
Only in this case, the pronoun goes before the verb like in the examples below:
Lo faccia subito!
Do it now!
Glielo dica il prima possibile.
Say it to him as soon as possible.
Imperative + pronoun in Italian: Examples
Let’s have a look at some more examples with a pronoun at the end of the verb in the imperative:
Dimmi dove sono.
Tell me where they are.
Dacci i documenti.
Give us the documents.
Puliscila subito! Cosa aspetti?
Clean it now! What are you waiting for?
And here are some examples with both pronouns at the end of the verb:
Se volete la televisione, prendetevela pure.
If you don’t want the TV, go ahead and take it yourself.
Diglielo appena puoi.
Say it to him (her or them) as soon as you can.
Again, when we add both pronouns at the end of the verb, the indirect object goes before the direct object pronoun.
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