How to Use Italian Personal Pronouns

Pronomi Personali in Italiano

Group of friends relaxing together, sitting on wall, outdoors, eating
Mi piace quel cane perché (esso) sia un bastardino. I like that dog because (he) is a mutt. Cultura Exclusive/Sofie Delauw/Getty Images

Italian personal pronouns (pronomi personali) replace proper or common Italian nouns (and in some cases even animals or things). There are three forms in the singular and three forms in the plural. They are also further divided into personal subject pronouns (pronomi personal soggetto) and personal object pronouns (pronomi personali complemento).

Personal Subject Pronouns (Pronomi Personali Soggetto)

Oftentimes in Italian, the personal subject pronouns are implied because the form of the verb indicates the person.

  • egli (he) and ella (she) refer only to people:

Egli (Mario) ascoltò la notizia in silenzio.
He (Mario) heard the news in silence.

Ella (Marta) gli rimproverava spesso i suoi difetti.
She (Martha) often reproached him for his faults.

NOTE: ella is now a literary form and has fallen into disuse in spoken language.

  • esso (he) and essa (she) refer to animals and things:

Mi piace quel cane perché (esso) sia un bastardino.
I like that dog because (he) is a mutt.

NOTE: In colloquial language essa is also used to indicate people.

  • essi (they) and esse (they) refer to people, animals and things:

Scrissi ai tuoi fratelli perché (essi) sono i miei migliori amici.
I wrote to your brothers because they are my best friends.

Il cane inseguì le pecore abbaiando ed esse si misero a correre.
The barking dog chased the sheep and they began to run.

NOTE: Often, in the spoken language, but also when written, the personal object pronouns lui (him), lei (her), and loro (them) function as the subject, and in particular:

» When they follow the verb

È stato lui a dirlo non io.
It was him who said it, not I.

» When you want to give special emphasis to the subject

Ma lui ha scritto!
But he wrote!

» In comparisons

Marco fuma, lui (Giovanni) non ha mai fumato.
Mark smokes, he (John) has never smoked.

» In exclamations

Povero lui!
Poor him!

Beata lei!
Lucky you!

» After anche, come, neanche, nemmeno, persino, proprio, pure, and quanto

Anche loro vengano al cinema.
They too are at the cinema.

Nemmeno lei lo sa.
Not even she knows.

Lo dice proprio lui.
He says it himself.

Personal Object Pronouns (Pronomi Personali Complemento)

In Italian, personal object pronouns replace direct objects and indirect objects (that is, those preceded by a preposition). They have toniche (tonic) and atone (atonic) forms.

  • toniche or forti (strong) are those forms that have a strong emphasis in the sentence:

È a me che Carlo si riferisce.
It's me that Charles is referring to.

Voglio vedere te e non tuo fratello.
I want to see you and not your brother.

  • atone or debole (weak) (also called particelle pronominali) are those forms that do not have particular significance and that may depend on the adjacent word. The unstressed forms are referred to as:

» proclitiche when they relate to the word they precede

Ti telefono da Roma.
I'll phone from Rome.

Ti spedirò la lettera al più presto.
I'll send the letter as soon as possible.

» enclitiche, when they relate to the previous word (usually the imperative or indefinite forms of the verb), giving rise to a single form

Scrivimi presto! Write to me soon!

Non voglio vederlo.
I do not want to see it.

Credendolo un amico gli confidai il mio segreto.
Thinking he was a friend, I confided in him my secret.

NOTE: When verbal forms are truncated the consonant of the pronoun is doubled.

fa' a me—fammi
di' a lei—dille

Pronomi Personali

Forme Toniche Forme Atone
1a singolare io me mi (reflexive)
2a singolare tu te ti (reflexive)
3a singolare maschile egli, esso lui, sé (reflexive) lo, gli, si (reflexive), ne
femminile ella, essa lei, sé (reflexive) la, le, si (reflexive), ne
1a plurale noi noi ci (reflexive)
2a plurale voi voi vi (reflexive)
3a plurale maschile essi loro, sé li, si (reflexive), ne
femminile esse loro, sé le, si (reflexive), ne
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Your Citation
Filippo, Michael San. "How to Use Italian Personal Pronouns." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Filippo, Michael San. (2023, April 5). How to Use Italian Personal Pronouns. Retrieved from Filippo, Michael San. "How to Use Italian Personal Pronouns." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 30, 2023).