Learn the Italian object pronouns (atoni and tonici), listen to the podcast.
A direct object (complemento oggetto in Italian) is a word that receives the action expressed by a verb. It answers the questions: Whom? or What?; Chi? Che cosa? In other words:
- Mangio un gelato.
- Porto mia madre al cinema.
Two types of Italian object pronouns
Just like in English, if we know what the object is, we can omit to write (or say) again gelato or mia mamma using a pronoun, in Italian pronome diretto or pronome complemento diretto.
- Lo mangio.
- La porto al cinema.
I eat it, I take her to the movies. The choice of the right pronoun depends on the gender and number of the noun we need to replace. Gelato is singular masculine, mia madre is singular feminine, both are 3rd person singular.
Unlike English, we have two sets of object pronouns.
1. Pronomi tonici: the focus (or accent) of a sentence is on the pronoun itself. We want to emphasize the object as main element in a sentence. The pronoun comes after the verb. The pronomi tonici make sentences less fluid. Morevoer, the ones you see above are valid for people, not for objects. I could never turn Mangio il gelato into
Mangio lui. If I talk about my mother…
- Porto LEI al cinema.
2. Pronomi atoni: the focus of the sentence is not the pronoun. The pronome atono comes before the verb and it’s strictly linked to it. It is more common than the equivalent pronome tonico in spoken Italian and the sentence is more fluid.
- LA porto al cinema.
Unless you really need to put the object at the center of the sentence, your choice will go on the pronome atono, more common and useful in spoken Italian.
EXAMPLES AND PODCAST
- Guardi spesso la tivù? – Sì, LA guardo tutti i giorni.
- Stai cercando un lavoro? – Sì, LO sto cercando.
- MI chiami stasera? – No, TI chiamo domani.
- CI invitate alla festa? – Sì, VI invitiamo.
- Hai comprato le fragole? – No, non LE ho comprate.
- Avete visto i miei figli? – Sì. LI abbiamo visti in piazza.
We’ll dedicate more posts to pronouns. Thanks for reading!