Italian pronouns: what they are and how to use them

26th August 2018

Recently, we've been learning phrases like "mi ma…

No.51

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Recently, we've been learning phrases like "mi manchi" (I miss you) and "mi dispiace" (I'm sorry).  But what is the little "mi" at the beginning of these phrases? Learn about Italian pronouns and how to use them in Italian in episode 51 of 5 Minute Italian. 

To help you remember what you learnt in today's lesson, below you'll find bonus materials including word lists, quizzes and flashcards. But first...

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Bonus Materials

Remember what you learnt with the bonus materials for today's episode.

Today's Italian words

Io sono inglese e tu sei italiano = I'm English and you're Italian.

Io = I

Sono = am

Inglese = English

E = and

Tu = you

Sei = are

Italiano = Italian

Mangio = I eat

Mangi = you eat

Mangiamo = we eat

Beh...io bevo il caffè e tu bevi il tè = Well I drink coffee and you drink tea.

Beh = well

io = I

bevo = I drink

il caffè = (the) coffee

e = and

tu = you

bevi = you drink

il tè = (the) tea

Tu cucini bene la pasta e io cucino bene i dolci = You cook pasta well and I cook desserts well

Tu = you

Cucini = you cook

Bene = well

La pasta = (the) pasta

e = and

io = I

cucino = I cook

bene = well

i dolci = (the) desserts

Ma non ci conformiamo sempre agli stereotipi = But we don't always conform to stereotypes.

Ma = but

Non = not

Ci conformiamo = we conform

Sempre = always

Agli = to the

Stereotipi = stereotypes

Io arrivo sempre in anticipo, tu sei sempre in ritardo! = I always arrive early and you're always late.

Io = I

Arrivo = I arrive

Sempre = Always

In anticipo = early (as in arrive early)

Tu = you

Sei = you are

Sempre = always

In ritardo = late

io = I

tu = you

lui = he

lei = she

noi = we

voi = you plural (you all/you both/y'all/yous depending on where you're from!)

loro = they

Lui beve il caffè e lei beve il tè = He drinks coffee and she drinks tea

Noi mangiamo la pasta e loro mangiano la pizza = We eat pasta and they eat pizza

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Transcript

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.

K: Recently, we've been learning phrases like "mi manchi" (I miss you) and "mi dispiace" (I'm sorry).  The little "mi" at the beginning of these phrases is an example of an Italian pronoun. Today and in the next couple of lessons, you'll learn what Italian pronouns are and how to use them in conversation.

M: First, ascoltiamo la conversazione (let's listen to the conversation).

K: Matteo, io sono inglese e tu sei italiano.

M: Si.

K: Noti alcune differenze?

M: Beh...io bevo il caffè e tu bevi il tè.

K: Tu cucini bene la pasta e io cucino bene i dolci.

M: Ma non ci conformiamo sempre agli stereotipi.

K: No?

M: Io arrivo sempre in anticipo, tu sei sempre in ritardo!

K: So you heard me say:

M: Matteo, io sono inglese. E tu sei italiano. 

K: Matteo, I'm English and you're Italian. Word-for-word, that's:

M:

Io = I

Sono = am

Inglese = English

E = and

Tu = you

Sei = are

Italiano = Italian

K: The important words in this phrase for us today are: "io" (I) and "tu" (you), which are examples of Italian pronouns. What are pronouns?

Pronouns are just a fancy name for those little grammatical words which refer to people or things, like "I", "me" "you" and so on.

In today's lesson, we're looking specifically at subject pronouns, which are words like I, you, he, she, we, and they.  In English, they come before the verb and tell us who's doing the action.

"I eat"

"You eat"

"We eat"

And so on.

The important thing to know about subject pronouns in Italian is that we don't use them as often in English.

M: Yes, we don't need to, because in Italian, the verb already tells us who's doing the action. For example:

Mangio = I eat

Mangi = you eat

Mangiamo = we eat

K: The only time we use subject pronouns in Italian is when we want to add emphasis to the person, like in today's conversation. If I wanted to do this in English, I'd use intonation: "I'M English and YOU'RE Italian". But in Italian, we can't do this, so we add the pronouns instead, "IO sono inglese" and "TU sei italiano". We can also see this in the next sentence. I asked "noti alcune differenze?" Do you notice any differences? And Matteo said:

M: Beh...io bevo il caffè e tu bevi il tè.

K: Well I drink coffee and YOU drink tea.

M:

Beh = well

io = I

bevo = I drink

il caffè = the coffee

e = and

tu = you

bevi = you drink

il tè = the tea

K: Then I said:

M: Tu cucini bene la pasta e io cucino bene i dolci.

K: YOU cook pasta well and I cook desserts well.

M:

Tu = you

Cucini = you cook

Bene = well

La pasta = the pasta

e = and

io = I

cucino = I cook

bene = well

i dolci = the desserts

K: Then Matteo said:

M: Ma non ci conformiamo sempre agli stereotipi.

K: But we don't always conform to stereotypes.

M:

Ma = but

Non = not

Ci conformiamo = we conform

Sempre = always

Agli = to the

Stereotipi = stereotypes

Then I said "no?" as a question. And Matteo's explanation was:

M: Io arrivo sempre in anticipo, tu sei sempre in ritardo!

K: I always arrive early and you're always late. This is true I'm afraid - Matteo spends half his time waiting, trying to get me out the house, so we don't conform to stereotypes in this respect!

M:

Io = I

Arrivo = I arrive

Sempre = Always

In anticipo = early (as in arrive early)

Tu = you

Sei = you are

Sempre = always

In ritardo = late

K: So we've seen io and tu, which mean I and you respectively. What about the others?

M: We've got:

io = I

tu = you

lui = he

lei = she

noi = we

voi = you plural (you all/you both/y'all/yous depending on where you're from!)

loro = they

K: So if "he" or "she" drinks is "beve" how would you say "he drinks coffee and she drinks tea" (remember that in Italian we say "the coffee" and "the tea")

M: Lui beve il caffè e lei beve il tè.

K: Great. And how would you say "we eat pasta and they eat pizza" (remember it's "the pasta" and "the pizza"). Just in case you need a little reminder on how to conjugate Italian verbs, we eat is mangiamo. They eat is mangiano.

M: Noi mangiamo la pasta e loro mangiano la pizza.

K: So today we learnt about subject pronouns, next week we'll learn about object pronouns in Italian. To help you remember what you learnt today, you'll find bonus materials including a quiz and vocabulary flashcards on our website - head over to www.joyoflanguages.com/italianpodcast and scroll down to this episode. Or follow the link in the show notes to go straight there. You can also practice your Italian with us by joining our Facebook group, you'll find the link in the show notes below. Ciao for now, or as we say in Italian:

M: Alla prossima!

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Bellissimo!