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Italian Indirect Object Pronouns: Explained

Pronouns are words that refer and substitute nouns, usually expressed in a previous sentence or implied in the context.

Indirect object pronouns (pronomi complemento indiretto) are pronouns that substitute for nouns that serve as the indirect object of the sentence verb, indicating to whom or to what (or for whom or for what, with whom or with what, etc.) an action was done. An indirect object pronoun is used to refer to the person or thing an action is intended to benefit or harm.

Indirect object pronouns are used in English as well. For example:

She gave him the book

In this sentence, “him” is an indirect object pronoun that answers the question “whom was the book given to?”.

The only difference between English and Italian, is that English has only one set of object pronouns, while Italian has two different kinds: direct object pronouns and indirect object pronouns.

For a comparison between Italian and English pronouns, please see the table below:

Person

(English)

Person

(Italian)

Object Pronoun

(English)

Direct Object Pronoun

(Italian)

Indirect Object Pronoun

(Italian)

I io me mi mi
you tu you ti ti
he / she / it lui / lei him / her / it lo / la gli / le
we noi us ci ci
you voi you vi vi
they loro them li gli

Italian Indirect Object Pronouns: Rules

The most important rule to keep in mind about Italian object pronouns is that they usually appear before the verb, while in English they follow the verb. The word order in Italian is:

Subject (if expressed) + indirect object pronoun + verb.

Cosa hai regalato a Marta per il suo compleanno?

(What did you gift Marta for her birthday?)

(Io) Le ho regalato un libro.

(I gifted her a book.)

(Io) le ho regalato un libro
Subject indirect object pronoun verb

Italian Indirect Object Pronouns: Examples

See the following examples:

Le ho telefonato diverse volte, ma non mi ha risposto.

I called her several time, but she didn’t pick up.

Gli voglio fare una sorpresa!

I want to surprise him.

Perché non mi vuoi parlare?

Why don’t you want to talk to me?

Ti ho scritto una lettera. L’hai ricevuta?

I wrote a letter to you. Did you receive it?

Vi chiediamo scusa.

We ask for your forgiveness.

Ci puoi portare qualcosa da mangiare?

Can you bring us something to eat?

Italian sentences using indirect object pronouns

To practice indirect object pronouns, take Lesson 73 of the Italian audio course “Ripeti con me!”.

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