PIACERE in Italian: the ultimate guide to talking about things you like

28th June 2020

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I like it, you like me, we liked them… in this episode you’ll learn how to use the verb PIACERE in all its different forms, just like an Italian would. 

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Vocabulary: Piacere in Italian

  • Mi piace = I like it (lit. to me, it pleases)
  • Ci piace cucinare = We like cooking. (lit. to us, it pleases)
  • Ci = to us
  • Piace = it pleases
  • Cucinare = cooking
  • Mi piace = I like it (lit. to me, it pleases)
  • Ci piace = we like it (lit. to us, it pleases) 
  • Ti piace = you like it (lit. to you, it pleases)
  • Gli piace = He likes it, they like it (to him/them, it pleases) 
  • Le piace = She likes it, you formal like it (to her, you formal, it pleases) 
  • Ci piace = We like it (to us, it pleases) 
  • Vi piace = You plural like it (to you plural, it pleases)
  • Mi piacciono = I like them (to me, they please)
  • Ti piacciono = You like them (to you, they please)
  • Gli piacciono = He/they likes them (To him/them, they please)
  • Le piacciono = She likes them, you formal like them (To her/you formal, they please)
  • Ci piacciono = We like them (To us, they please). 
  • Vi piacciono = You plural like them (To you plural, they please). 
  • Mangi = you eat
  • Piaci = you please
  • Mi piaci = I like you (lit. to me, you please)
  • Piacete = you plural please
  • Mi piacete = I like you guys (lit. to me, you plural please)
  • Mangio = I eat
  • Piaccio = I please
  • Ti piaccio = You like me (lit. to you, I please)
  • Piacciamo = we please
  • Ti piacciamo = you like us (lit. to you, we please)
  • Mi sta simpatico = I like him (clearly platonic)
  • Mi sta simpatica = I like her (clearly platonic)
  • Mi piace cucinare = I like cooking (lit. to me, it pleases, cooking) 
  • Mi piace andare al cinema = I like going to the cinema (lit. to me it pleases, going..)
  • Mi piace mangiare = I like eating (to me, it pleases, eating). 
  • A mia mamma piace = my mum likes it (lit. to my mum, it pleases)
  • A mia sorella piace = my sister likes it (lit. to my sister, it pleases)
  • A Katie piace = Katie likes it (lit. to Katie, it pleases)
  • A Matteo piace = Matteo likes it (lit. to Matteo, it pleases)
  • A me piace = I like it (lit. to me, it pleases) for emphasis
  • A te piace = You like it (lit. to you, it pleases) for emphasis 
  • A lui piace = he likes it (lit. to him, it pleases) for emphasis
  • A lei piace = she likes it (lit. to her, it pleases) for emphasis
  • A noi piace = we like it (lit. to us, it pleases) for emphasis
  • A voi piace = you plural like it (lit. to you plural, it pleases) for emphasis
  • A loro piace = they like it (lit. to them, it pleases) for emphasis. 
  • Ti è piaciuto? = did you like it? (lit. to you, it is, pleased). 
  • Ti = to you
  • È = it is
  • Piaciuto = pleased
  • Mi è piaciuto = I liked it (to me, it is, pleased). 
  • Piaciuta = pleased, for feminine things, “la pasta”
  • Mi è piaciuta = I liked it, for feminine things like “la pasta”. 
  • Mi sono piaciuti = I liked them
  • Mi = to me
  • Sono = they are
  • Piaciuti = pleased (masculine plurals, like “i biscotti”)
  • Piaciute = pleased (feminine plurals, like “le torte”)
  • Mi sono piaciute = I liked them (le torte)
  • Mi sei piaciuto = I liked you (lit. to me, you are, pleased). 
  • Mi sei piaciuta = I liked you, when talking to a woman.
  • Ti sono piaciuto = Did you like me? (lit. to you, I am, pleased?) 
  • Ti sono piaciuta = Did you like me? When you’re a woman. 
  • Ci siete piaciuti = We liked you guys. (lit. to us, you are, pleased). 
  • Ci siete piaciute = We liked you guys. When talking to a group of women. 
  • Vi siamo piaciuti? = Did you guys like us? (lit. to you plural, we are, pleased?)
  • Vi siamo piaciute? = Did you guys like us? When we’re a group of women. 
  • Mi piaceva = I liked it (lit. to me, it pleased) long lasting. 
  • Ti piaceva = You liked it (lit. to you, it pleased) long lasting. 
  • Gli piaceva = He/they liked it (lit. to him/them it pleased) long lasting. 
  • Le piaceva = She/you plural liked it (lit. to her/you plural it pleased) long lasting. 
  • Ci piaceva = We liked it (lit. to us, it pleased) long lasting. 
  • Vi piaceva = you guys liked it (lit. to you plural, it pleased) long lasting. 
  • Mi piacevano = I liked them (lit. to me, they pleased) long lasting. 
  • Mi piacevi = I liked you (lit. to me, you pleased) long lasting. 
  • Ti piacevo = You liked me (lit. to you, I pleased) long lasting. 

Quiz: Piacere in Italian

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Transcript: Piacere in Italian

Please note, this is not a word for word transcript.

Katie: Ciao a tutti e benvenuti a 5 Minute Italian. I’m Katie. 

Matteo: And I’m Matteo. Ciao! 

K: Over the last few lessons we’ve gone into a lot of depth about how to talk about liking stuff in Italian and how the phrase changes, for example, if the thing you like is singular or plural, to talk about different people liking things and how to use it in the past. 

In this episode, we’re going to review all the individual episodes and pull it all together. 

M: As this is an ultimate guide, we’re going to go into a lot of detail so you have all the information to use this verb like an Italian would.

K: For this reason, it will be a bit longer than our usual episodes, but we hope you find it useful to have everything in one place. Let’s get started: 

M: Cominciamo. 

K: Let’s start with the present tense. To say I like it in the present we say: 

M: Mi piace. 

K: And this leads us to the most important thing if you want to use this verb correctly. Mi piace is not a direct translation of “I like”. It literally means “to me, it pleases”. So in Italian, we don’t say that we like a thing, but rather, the thing pleases us. 

M: This knowledge is fundamental for when you want to talk about different people.

K: For example, in the first episode in this mini series (82), we talked about things Matteo has (or doesn’t) have in common with his family. Matteo said: 

M: Ci piace cucinare

K: We like cooking. Can you remember what that little “ci” means? It’s a shortened version of “to us”

M: 

Ci = to us

Piace = it pleases

Cucinare = cooking

K: Here we see that when we change the person, we don’t change the verb. Piace stays the same for different people, because it’s always “it pleases”. We change that little word at the beginning. So we’ve got: 

M: 

Mi piace = I like it (lit. to me, it pleases)

Ci piace = we like it (lit. to us, it pleases) 

K: Let’s go through all of them one by one. I like it, literally “to me, it pleases” is: 

M: Mi piace 

K: You like it, literally, to you, it pleases is: 

M: Ti piace

K: He likes it (to him, it pleases)

M: Gli piace 

K: That’s spelt g - l - i  and pronounced like an L but the tongue is flat and glides across the roof of your mouth. Gli. 

K: He likes it is also the same as “they like it”, when talking about men, women or mixed groups: 

M: Gli piace.

K: Next, she likes it (to her it pleases)

M: Le piace. 

K: And this is the same form that we use in the formal address, for men or women. So if you wanted to say “you like it” addressing someone you don’t know, like a hotel receptionist, how would you say that? 

M: Le piace. 

K: And if the receptionist is a man? 

M: Le piace. In the formal address, it’s the same for men and women.

K: Next we like it (lit. to us, it pleases) 

M: Ci piace.

K: In Italian, we have the plural address too, for when we’re talking to more than one person, like saying “you all” or “you both” or “y’all” like it: 

M: Vi piace

What about when we like more than one thing? Or, more specifically when it’s more than one thing that pleases us? It doesn’t make sense to say “it pleases” any more. We have to say “they please”. 

They please is “piacciono”. So to say “I like them” (to me, they please) we get:

M: Mi piacciono. 

K: Let’s try it with other people. You like them, lit. to you, they please: 

M: Ti piacciono.

K: He likes them. To him, they please: 

M: Gli piacciono 

K: And we know that “to them” is the same. So how would you say: to them, they please?

M: Gli piacciono. 

K: She likes them. Lit. To her, they please: 

M: Le piacciono. 

K: Which is the same as the formal. So how would you say “you like them” if you’re using the formal address? 

M: Le piacciono

K: We like them. Lit. To us, they please. 

M: Ci piacciono 

K: You like them, when talking to more than one person? To you plural they please: 

M: Vi piacciono. 

K: What about if you want to talk about liking people? You already know a couple of forms. 

K: To say I like him or her, it’s the same as the third person “it”. To me, he, she or it pleases: 

M: Mi piace

K: And you already know how to say “I like them” (to me, they please)

M: Mi piacciono. 

K: But what about if you want to say “I like you”? As you know, we literally say “to me, you please”. So we need to know how to say “you please”. How does the “you” form normally end? For example, how would you say “you eat”? 

M: Mangi. 

K: Ending in -i, pronounced as -i. Mangi. So how might you say “you please”? 

M: Piaci 

K: Again, with the “you ending” -i, pronounced as -i. Piaci. So to say “I like you”, literally, to me you please: 

M: Mi piaci

K: What about the plural? As in “I like you guys”. A little trick to get the you plural, just take the baseform of the verb (the one that ends in ARE, ERE or IRE) and change the R to a T. In this case, the verb is PIACERE. So we change the last R to a T and we get…

M: Piacete. 

K: And how would you say “I like you guys”. To me, you please (plural form): 

M: Mi piacete 

K: Let’s change things around a bit. What if I want to say “you like me”? In this case, we’d need to say “to you” I please. Let’s start with “I please”. So we need to get the i form of the verb. To jog your memory, how would you say “I eat”?

M: Mangio 

K: Great, ending in -o. So can you start to guess how you might say “I please”?

M: piaccio

K: Spelt p - i - a - double c - i - o. This verb is a little irregular in the spelling because the c doubles up in the “I” form: piaccio and the they form “piacciono”. But for now, the most important thing to know is that the “I please” form is: 

M: Piaccio. 

K: So to say “you like me” lit. To you I please? 

M: Ti piaccio. 

K: Next let’s try “you like us”. Lit. to you we please. Can you add the “we” ending thi time? How would you say we please? 

M: Piacciamo. 

K: You like us: to you, we please? 

M: Ti piacciamo. 

K: So now you know how to talk about different people liking different people. Am I right in thinking that when talking about people, piace sometimes has more of a romantic connotation compared to in English? When I first moved to Italy I remember a misunderstanding, I was talking to my friend about people in my class and I meant it as in “he’s a nice guy” but my friend thought I was giving her gossip about someone I was into. 

M: Not always, but yes, if you want to be clear that you like a person in a platonic way, you can say “mi sta simpatico” for a man or “mi sta simpatica” for a woman. 

K: Next, sometimes the thing you like isn’t really a thing at all, it’s an activity. Like “to cook” or “to go to the cinema” or “to eat”. To cook, to go, to eat, these are all doing words, also known as verbs. In this case, no need to worry about word endings, we always use “piace”. For example: 

M: 

Mi piace cucinare = I like cooking (lit. to me it pleases cooking) 

Mi piace andare al cinema = I like going to the cinema (lit. to me it pleases going..)

Mi piace mangiare = I like eating (to me, it pleases eating). 

K: So far, we’ve seen the shortened versions: mi, ti, ci etc, which are the most common. But we don’t always say “me, he or she”. Sometimes we give the name or title of someone, for example: My mother likes it or my sister likes it, Matteo likes it, or Katie likes it etc. 

In this case, we spell it out. So we literally say “to my mum it pleases” 

M: 

A mia mamma piace = my mum likes it (lit. to my mum, it pleases)

K: “Sister” is “sorella”. How would you say “my sister likes it”? 

M: A mia sorella piace

K: Katie likes it? 

M: A Katie piace.

K: Matteo likes it. 

M: A Matteo piace. 

K: There are other times when we spell out the full version, for example, if we want to give emphasis. In English, we often do it with a tone of voice. For example: SHE doesn’t like it, but I do. 

Let’s imagine someone’s talking about a film they don’t like. You could say “I like it” (as in YOU might not like it but I do). 

So to say “I like it” when giving emphasis, we say it word for word: “to me it pleases”:

M: A me piace

K: You like it

M: A te piace

K: He likes it

M: A lui piace

K: She likes it

M: A lei piace

K: We like it

M: A noi piace

K: You like it, in the plural, when addressing more than one person. 

M: A voi piace

K. They like it

M: A loro piace

K: Phew! That’s it for the present. What about the past? In the episode, I asked Matteo if he liked the last Star Wars film. To ask him “did you like it”? I said: 

M: Ti è piaciuto? 

K: Literally “to you, it is, pleased”. And here we see how to make the past with this phrase. The mi, ti, ci part stays the same. 

To make the past in Italian, we need a helper verb, either “to have” or “to be”. For piacere, the helper verb is “essere” (to be). 

We’re talking about “it” as in “the film” so we need to say “it is” which in Italian is è. So far, we’ve got “ti è”. Then we need to turn piacere into the past, a bit like turning like to liked, or more accurately please to pleased. The past form of piacere is “piaciuto”. All together we get:

M: Ti è piaciuto = You liked it (to you, it is pleased). 

K: How would you say “I liked it”? 

M: Mi è piaciuto = I liked it (to me, it is pleased). 

When we make the past with the helper verb “to be” (essere), the last letter has to agree with number and gender. In this case, I asked about the film, so I said “piaciuto”. But if I was asking about “la pasta”, I’d say… 

M: Piaciuta

K: So how would you say “I liked it” when referring to the pasta? 

M: Mi è piaciuta. 

K: Now, what about if I’m talking about more than one thing that pleased us, for example, I liked the biscuits? Let’s start with “to me”. 

M: Mi

K: Now è doesn’t work here, because we’re talking about them, the biscotti, they pleased me. So we need to say “they are”. Do you know how to say this? 

M: Sono 

K: Finally, we need to turn piacere into the past: 

M: Piaciuto. 

K: But there’s one last step. Here we’re talking about i biscotti. Masculine plural. The last letter has to agree with the gender and number. So we’d get: 

M: Piaciuti

K: All together? 

M: Mi sono piaciuti 

K: What about if it’s a feminine plural, like “the cakes”? Le torte. How would the word piaciuto end? 

M: Piaciute

K: With the feminine plural ending -e, pronounced as -e. So to say I liked them, as in “I liked the cakes?”

M: Mi sono piaciute. 

K: Now time for some pro grammar. I mean this was already pro grammar, but we’re going to take it up to olympic athlete level. How might you say “I liked you”? Literally, that would be… to me, you pleased. Let’s start with “to me”: 

M: Mi

K: Now in this part, we don’t need è, which means “it is”. We don’t need “sono” which means “they are”. We need “you are” which is…

M: Sei

K: So to say “I liked you”, when talking to a man: 

M: Mi sei piaciuto. 

K: What about a woman? What would happen to the last letter? 

M: Mi sei piaciuta. 

K: And sometimes people say this related to merit - if you did something really well, for example, you gave a great presentation, you might hear “mi sei piaciuto”. But I think it’s kind of slangy, is that right? 

M: 

K: What about to ask “did you like me?” Literally, to you, I am, pleased? To you is: 

M: Ti

K: I am is (the same as “they are”)

M: Sono

K: pleased, if I’m a man: 

M: Piaciuto.

K: If I’m a women:

M: Piaciuta. 

K: All together: 

M: Ti sono piaciuto or ti sono piaciuta. 

K: What about “we liked you guys” you plural. To us you guys are pleased. To us is: 

M: Ci

K: To say “you are” in the plural we get:

M: Siete

K: Then pleased, if the people who pleased or did a great job is a masculine or mixed plural?

M: piaciuti. 

K: all together

M: Ci siete piaciuti.

K: And for a group of women?

M: Ci siete piaciute. 

K: And to ask: Did you like us? Lit. to you plural, we are, pleased. To you plural is: 

M: Vi

K: We are: 

M: Siamo 

K: So how would you say “did you like us” to a group? Lit, to you plural, we are, pleased.

M: Vi siamo piaciuti? 

K: Group of women? 

M: Vi siamo piaciute? 

K: If this all feels a bit overwhelming, don’t stress, these sentences are actually quite rare - it’s not actually that common that people ask “did you like us”, so if you decide your brain is not ready to take that in, feel free to skip it for now. You can just see it as a little way to start to get used to the logic of how all the pieces slot into each other. 

Finally, in the last episode, we talked about how to use piacere in the past for feelings that lasted for a while or were repeated. For example, I was talking about how I didn’t like Milan at first (a long-lasting feeling) and I said “non mi piacEVA”. 

This contrasts with a short event, such as watching a film, when I’d say “non mi è piaciuto”. 

For long lasting feelings we use a tense called the imperfetto. It’s the one that has a V in it. The “he, she it” form ends in -EVA. So to say “I liked it”, to me it pleased is: 

M: Mi piaceva.

K: And we can change around the people in this tense too, just like we did before. So let’s imagine we’re talking about something you liked for a long time in the past, for example, a city. How would you say “you liked it”? To you, it pleased? 

M: Ti piaceva.

K: He liked it? Or they liked it? To him or to them, it pleased? (it’s the same)

M: Gli piaceva.

K: She liked it? Or you formal liked it? To her or to you formal, it pleased? (it’s the same)

M: Le piaceva. 

K: We liked it? To us, it pleased? 

M: Ci piaceva

K: You plural liked it? To you plural, it pleased? 

M: Vi piaceva. 

And when we want to talk about liking different things, so different things pleasing us, which part do we change? As usual, we change the word endings of piacere. It pleased is: 

M: Piaceva. 

K: They pleased is… 

M: Piacevano. 

K: So how would you say “I liked them” for something that lasted a long time, for example, a pair of shoes you had. 

M: Mi piacevano = I liked them (lit. to me, they pleased). 

K: And we can do this for people too. As we know, the “you” ending often ends in -i. You pleased is: 

M: Piacevi.

K: I liked you? When I’m talking about an emotion that lasted for a long time in the past? Lit. to me, you pleased? 

M: Mi piacevi. 

K: What about the opposite. You liked me. Literally, to you, I pleased. To you is: 

M: Ti

K: I pleased? How does the “I” form usually end? With the letter -o. 

M: Piacevo. 

K: You liked me? To you, I pleased? 

M: Ti piacevo. 

K: Learning how to use PIACERE in all of its different forms requires a lot of mental gymnastics, so don’t worry if it hasn’t sunk in perfectly yet. As long as you’ve got the basic concept, that in Italian, we say “to me, it pleases” and that there are lots of variations in the past, with different people etc that center around this logic, you’re already a long way to mastering it. The rest will fall into place as you become more comfortable with the different forms. 

There’s a lot to take in with this episode, so I’d suggest putting aside around an hour, making yourself a nice caffè and printing off the transcripts so that you can really start to make sense of all the different forms. 

To get the transcripts for this episode and other bonus materials like a quiz and flashcards to help you remember the phrases. Go to www.joyoflanguages.com/italianpodcast and scroll down to episode 86. If you’d like to join our Italian club and get free mini Italian lessons every week, we’d love to see you there. You’ll find the link in the show notes. 

See you next time, or as we say in Italian

Alla prossima!

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