“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 what? or 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.
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/for) me||ci (to/for) us|
|ti (to/for) you||vi (to/for) you|
|Le (to/for) you (formal m. and f.)||Loro (to/for) you (form., m. and f.)|
|gli (to/for) him||loro (to/for) them|
|le (to/for) her|
Indirect object pronouns, just like direct object pronouns, precede a conjugated verb, except for loro, which follow the verb.
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.
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.
The following common Italian verbs are used with indirect object nouns or pronouns.
|regalare||to give (as a gift)|
|rendere||to return, give back|
|riportare||to bring back|
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.