What is the meaning of ci in Italian?
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, it’s a short word so it’s not hard to remember.
In this grammar note, ee’re going to focus on a specific use of ci: used together with a verb to emphasize its meaning or to change it. Examples can be words like vederci, sentirci, etc.
Here are some other examples for you to start familiarizing with this use:
Non ci vedo.
I can’t see.
Ci senti bene?
Can you hear us well?
How to use verbs ending in -ci?
Let’s have a look at some verbs that change their meanings slightly when they end in –ci.
These two 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’s 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.
How to use vederci and sentirci?
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.
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.
Additionally, that sentence has two potential meanings because ci also means us. It could be “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.
How to use crederci, pensarci, provarci and tenerci?
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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