• Italian classes in Didsbury: Italian Indirect Object pronouns

    “I told Sarah that I wanted to go to Rome, but when I told Sarah that, she wasn’t listening. I don’t know why I try to talk to Sarah.”

    While you can easily understand the sentences above, they sound a bit forced, a bit repetitive and that’s because instead of using a pronoun, like “her”, I chose to just repeat “Sarah” over and over again.

    This is where the Italian indirect object pronouns become useful.

    While direct object nouns and pronouns answer the questions whator whom?, indirect object nouns and pronouns answer the questions to whom? or for whom?.

    In English the word to is often omitted: We gave a bottle of wine to Sarah.—We gave Sarah a bottle of wine.

    However, in Italian, the preposition a is always used before an indirect object pronoun.

    • Abbiamo regalato un libro allo zio Pietro. – We gave a book to uncle Peter.
    • Perché non regali un mazzo di fiori alla mamma? – Why don’t you give mum a bouquet of flowers?
    • Puoi spiegare questo compito a Gianna? – Can you explain this homework to Joan?

    As you saw above in the example with “Sarah”, Italian indirect object pronouns (i pronomi indiretti) replace indirect object nouns. They are identical in form to direct object pronouns, except for the third person forms gli, le, and loro.

    mi (to/forme ci (to/forus
    ti (to/foryou vi (to/foryou
    Le (to/foryou (formal m. and f.) Loro (to/foryou (form., m. and f.)
    gli (to/forhim loro (to/forthem
    le (to/forher


    Indirect object pronouns, just like direct object pronouns, precede a conjugated verb, except for loro, which follow the verb.

    • Le ho comprato due biglietti . – I bought her two tickets.
    • Ci regalano una bottiglia di vino. – They bought us a bottle of wine as a gift.
    • Gli scrivo un’email dopo. I’ll write him an email.

    A: Che cosa regali alla nonna Monica? – What are you giving granny Monica as a gift?

    B: Le regalo un profumo. – I’ll give her a perfume.

    Indirect object pronouns can also be attached to an infinitive, and when that happens the –e of the infinitive is dropped.

    • Non ho tempo di parlargli. – I have no time to talk to him.
    • Non ho tempo di parlarle. – I have no time to talk to her.

    If the infinitive comes before a form of the verbs dovere, potere, or volere, the indirect object pronoun is either attached to the infinitive (after the –e is dropped) or placed before the conjugated verb.

    Voglio parlargli / Gli voglio parlare. – I want to talk to him.

    FUN FACT: Le and gli never connect before a verb beginning with a vowel or an h.

    • Le compro un gelato – I bought her an ice cream.
    • Gli hanno detto «Arrivederci!». – They said “Goodbye!” to him.


    The following common Italian verbs are used with indirect object nouns or pronouns.

    dare to give
    dire to say
    domandare to ask
    (im)prestare to lend
    insegnare to teach
    mandare to send
    mostrare to show
    offrire to offer
    portare to bring
    preparare to prepare
    regalare to give (as a gift)
    rendere to return, give back
    riportare to bring back
    scrivere to write
    telefonare to telephone

    If you’d like to learn more, join my intermediate or advanced Italian class in Didsbury – we cover all kinds of interesting topics and practical Italian you can use in everyday life and on holiday in Italy.


    Amedea De Cataldis aka Learn Italian Manchester specialises in one-to-one and group Italian classes in Manchester for all levels. Originally from Turin, Northern Italy, Amedea has been teaching Italian for over 10 years.

    Her informal, relaxed and fun classes cater for absolutely everyone, from complete beginners to those wanting to improve and perfect their current level. What’s really special about her as an Italian language tutor is her ability to speak fluent English. Having lived in the UK for many years she has a strong understanding of the English language, with all its subtleties, local expressions, irony and colloquialism. This is a huge advantage in her work as it helps to explain and be better understood in teaching.

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