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The Little Words: Particles ne and ci in Context

Even though Marika has talked about the particles ne and ci in her video lessons, actually using them in conversation takes some practice. Let’s have a quick look at a few examples in this week’s episode of Commissario Manara.


We often don’t even hear these particles, because we aren’t looking for them. In English, equivalents for them are often superfluous.


This one little word ne represents a preposition plus an indirect object. In the following example, Lara could have said much the same thing leaving out the ne, but using it is more precise. It’s the difference between “I’m sure” and “I’m sure of it.” But in Italian, the particle goes before the verb, as if it were “of it I’m sure.”


Comunque ne sono sicura, non si è uccisa.

Anyway, I'm sure of it. She didn't kill herself.

Caption 4, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP12 - Le verità nascoste

 Play Caption


In the following example, we have ci in the first part, which represents "on the furniture" and then, ce neCe represents “there (on the furniture)” and ne represents “of them” (the prints). Remember that when we have a direct object together with the indirect object ci, the ci changes to ce!


Se lei ci fosse salita sopra, sarebbero rimaste le impronte

If she had climbed up on it, the prints would have remained,

e invece non ce ne sono.

but there aren't any [of them].

Captions 8-9, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP12 - Le verità nascoste

 Play Caption


In the following example, ci represents noi (to us).


Senti, prima ho trovato il diario di Iolanda.

Listen, earlier I found Iolanda's diary.

Forse può esserci utile.

Maybe it could be useful to us.

Captions 17-18, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP12 - Le verità nascoste

 Play Caption


Ci is complicated. It means different things in different contexts. So we will keep on talking about ci.


See more lessons about ci.



The new Yabla feature, Scribe, is not just a game, even though you'll find it in the "Games" tab (orange button) in the lower right-hand corner of the Player video window. Playing Scribe can be a big help in getting accustomed to particles like ne and ci/ce, because in Scribe we have to try to write down what we hear. And once we start hearing these particles, it will be easier to start using them and putting them in the right place. Stay on the lookout for further information about how to make the most of Scribe to boost your Italian comprehension and spelling skills. Meanwhile, perché non farci un giro (why not give it a whirl)? 


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