In all languages, there are certain words that are tricky to fully understand. This is because they usually have many different meanings and are very common.
Ci is one of these words.
The good thing about it is that, at least, ci is a short word, so it’s not hard to remember.
Here are some examples for you to start familiarizing with this use:
Non ci vedo.
I can’t see.
Ci senti bene?
Can you hear well?
Verbs ending in ci in Italian
Let’s have a look at some verbs that change their meanings slightly when they end in ci.
Here’re two that, when they go together with ci, refer to the ability to do something:
- Sentirci: to be able to hear well
- Vederci: to be able to see well
Here’re four verbs that refer to something specific when they go together with ci:
- Crederci: to believe in something specific
- Pensarci: to think about something specific
- Provarci: to try something specific
- Tenerci: to care for something or someone specific
In English, we don’t necessarily need to translate ci since it might sound odd and obvious.
Just keep in mind the presence of ci gives a more complete meaning. Saying “credere” (to believe) is different from saying “crederci” (to believe in something specific).
When we use these verbs in a sentence, you’ll notice that ci goes before the verb, like in the examples we saw above (“Non ci vedo” and “Ci senti bene?”).
Vederci and sentirci in Italian
Let’s talk about the examples we saw earlier.
In Italian, we cannot just say, “Non vedo” because it sounds incomplete. If you say “Non vedo”, you need to complement the sentence by specifying what exactly you cannot see.
If you want to say you just cannot see, you need to add ci, which, in this case, could mean something like “anything at all”.
It’s the same in the second example. You cannot just say “Senti bene?” because it sounds incomplete. In “Ci senti bene?” ci could be translated as “at all”.
Also, that sentence has two potential meanings because ci also means “us”. It could also mean “Can you hear us well?”.
So, remember sometimes the meaning of a word or sentence depends on the context.
Let’s have a look at some more examples with vederci and sentirci:
Lei ci vede solo con gli occhiali.
She is only able to see with glasses.
Mia nonna non ci sente più.
My grandmother cannot hear anything anymore.
Crederci, pensarci, provarci and tenerci in Italian
As you’ll see in the examples below, sometimes ci refers to something specific that was previously mentioned and, thus, is translated as “it” or “about it”.
A: Mia sorella è incinta.
B: Non ci credo!
A: My sister is pregnant.
B: I don’t believe it!
A: Sto organizzando una festa. Volete venire?
B: Ci pensiamo e ti facciamo sapere.
A: I’m organizing a party. Do you want to come?
B: We’ll think about it and let me know.
A: L’esame è troppo difficile.
B: Almeno provaci.
A: The exam is too difficult.
B: At least try.
Vieni stasera. Ci tengo!
Come tonight. I care about it!
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