We have talked about pronominal verbs before, and we have mentioned our featured pronominal verb andarsene in a lesson about telling someone to "get lost." But let's delve deeper.
Perhaps if we talk about pronominal verbs often enough, they will be less daunting, and they will start making more sense. Andarsene (to leave, to take one's leave) is perhaps even more common than farcela, which we have talked about very recently, but they are both high up on the list of pronominal verbs to know and love. So let's dive in!
Andarsene has as its main verb, the irregular verb andare (to go). But instead of just going, we add on some particles that make it mean something more. We make it personal with se (oneself), and we imply we are leaving a place, person, or situation, or, we could say, "going away from a place, person or situation" with the particle ne. In this context, ne is a pronoun representing an indirect object with its preposition, all in one!
Se uno sta bene in un posto, embè, deve avere una ragione forte per andarsene, se no...
If one's happy in a place, well, they have to have a really good reason for leaving it, otherwise...
Captions 33-34, Il Commissario Manara S1EP12 - Le verità nascoste - Part 8Play Caption
Let's also mention that in a way, andarsene (to leave, to go away from a place) is the opposite of going somewhere — to a place. When we go somewhere, we can use the particle ci (to, in, or at that place) as an indirect pronoun including the preposition. In English, "there" stands for "to/at/in that place."
Hanno suonato alla porta. Ci vado io (the doorbell rang. -I'll go [there]).
It's easy to get mixed up between ne and ci.
When we conjugate andarsene, we split the verb in different ways, depending on the conjugation.
When you simply want to say, "I'm leaving [this place]" you can say:
Me ne vado (I'm leaving).
It's the equivalent of vado via (I'm leaving, I'm going away).
When no modal verb is involved, we generally have the person, the place (from this place) and then the verb in third place, conjugated. The same goes for other persons:
Alle otto se ne vanno a casa e non escono più, come le galline.
At eight o'clock they leave and go home and don't go out again, like hens.Play Caption
However, if we use a modal verb such as potere (to be able to) or volere (to want to), dovere (to have to), then we conjugate the modal verb and the pronominal verb remains in the infinitive, although the particles may be separate from it.
Ecco perché io non me ne voglio andare.
That's why I don't want to leave here.Play Caption
It's also possible (when there is a modal verb) to mix the parts of the pronominal verb up differently and say:
Ecco perché non voglio andarmene (that's why I don't want to leave here).
In the following example, we have 2 different conjugations. The first one is one word, a command, with the verb root first: the imperative of andare, va', then the person, te, and then our "place" particle, ne. In the second sentence, the modal verb dovere (to have to) is used.
Ricotta! -Oh, vattene! Te ne devi andare!
Ricotta! -Oh, get out of here. You have to leave!
Caption 47, Non è mai troppo tardi EP 2 - Part 7Play Caption
Let's remember that the verb andare takes essere (to be) as an auxiliary verb for compound tenses such as the passato prossimo, which conjugates like the present perfect in English. We conjugate the auxiliary verb and the root verb is in its past participle form.
Finalmente se ne sono andati.
Finally, they've gone.
Caption 15, Acqua in bocca Allarme gita - Ep 9Play Caption
Try thinking of people you know, or can imagine, and combinations of people. 1) They might be leaving a theater or a party... one by one, in couples, all of them 2) They never seem to leave but you would like them to. 3) They have all left. We'll need the passato prossimo for that. Have they left together or in dribs and drabs? Let us know how you do.
Many of us know that questo means "this" and quello means "that." They work similarly to English when they are adjectives.
When they function as pronouns, things change somewhat. When it comes to things and ideas, Italian and English can work similarly.
È quello che voglio dire (that's what I mean). Literally, "It's that that I mean".
But when it comes to certain constructions, English has some usage rules that differ from Italian. Sometimes it helps to look at one's native language to get more insight into the differences. Check out this WordReference article about this and that. But with that in mind, let's focus on how Italian works.
When we are choosing something in a shop or at a bancarella at the market, instead of saying, "I'd like that one," we can just use quello or quella. In this case, if there is no noun following them, quello and quella are pronouns.
Vorrei quello (I'd like that one).
Vorrei quello lì (I'd like that one over there).
In the same vein, when talking about people, Italians often use questo/a or quello/a to talk about "this guy," that guy," "this lady/girl/gal/woman," "that lady/girl/gal/woman"). Italians don't need to use "that" as an adjective in this case. They can use questo/a or quello/a as a pronoun. We determine the gender of the person or animal referred to by the ending a or o.
Further, where we might think of using "that" because the person we're talking about is not close by, Italians might use questo (this) anyway, when it is close to them in mind, but not necessarily spatially.
In the example below, the speaker uses both quella and questa to refer to the same person (a girl in a certain class at school). In the first case, it's a pronoun referring to "that girl." In the second case, questa is being used as an adjective describing the same girl.
Quella di quinta C. 'Sta [questa] stronza.
The one from five C. That bitch.Play Caption
Let's also note that the speaker truncates questa to 'sta, something that is very common, but doesn't really work with quella.
So in English, you might say, "That idiot!" but in Italian, it might very well be Quest'idiota! It could also be Quell'idiota.
To sum up, it's good to keep in mind that Italians don't always have the same parameters English speakers do when it comes to questo/a and quello/a — this and that.
After telling us about the different relative pronouns, which in some cases are interchangeable, Daniela finishes up by telling us that in certain cases, when we are talking about a place or situation, we can use dove (where) instead of in cui (in which). To back up a moment, we're talking about object relative pronouns, indeed, indirect object pronouns, because in the case of cui (which), we often need a preposition right before it. Here's how she summarizes cui. If you can watch the lesson it might be helpful!
Indipendentemente dal genere o dal numero, io uso sempre "cui", che è invariabile, sempre preceduto da una preposizione semplice, quindi da "di", da "da", o da "a".
Regardless of the gender or the number, I always use "which," which is invariable, always preceded by a simple preposition, so by "of," by "from," or by "to."
Captions 43-46, Corso di italiano con Daniela - Pronomi relativi - Part 3Play Caption
The good news here is that we don't have to consider gender when we use cui. Getting stuck mid-sentence looking for the right article can hamper the telling of a good story. So cui is a good relative pronoun to be familiar with. But many of us might not feel so comfortable using cui. Indeed, you don't need to think about gender, but you do have to think about which preposition to use: There is an alternative that you might like.
Using dove (where) can simplify life, actually. Certainly, Italians use dove (where) as a relative pronoun, even when we're not strictly talking about places and situations. And we do this in English, too, so it won’t seem too odd!
Following are some examples from Yabla videos. Let's remember that dove (where) is not always a relative pronoun, and it is not always a relative pronoun taking the place of in cui, but the following examples have been selected because they do fit into this category.
E, invece, oggi, come potete vedere, è una giornata molto tranquilla dove si può prendere il sole in santa pace.
And, on the other hand, today, as you can see, it's a very quiet day in which one can get some sun in blessed peace.
Captions 39-40, Francesca - sulla spiaggia - Part 1Play Caption
Vengo qui da lei, perché so di poter trovare un ambiente tranquillo, calmo, dove potermi riposare.
I come here to her place, because I know I'll find a peaceful, calm atmosphere, where I can rest.
Captions 36-37, Adriano - NonnaPlay Caption
Noi ora stiamo entrando nel cuore della Reggia di Caserta, il luogo dove si gestiva il potere.
We're now entering into the heart of the Caserta Royal Palace, the place where power was administered.
Captions 36-38, Alberto Angela - Meraviglie - Ep. 1 - Part 3Play Caption
Sono due posti qui vicino Roma, dove si producono questi tipi di pane casareccio [casereccio].
They're two places near Rome, where they produce these types of home-style bread.
Captions 49-50, Anna e Marika - Il panePlay Caption
Mi piacciono anche i libri antropologici, per esempio, dove ci sono scoperte...
I also like books on anthropology, for example, where there are discoveries...
Captions 44-45, Arianna e Marika - L'importanza di leggerePlay Caption
Poi c'è un giorno a settimana dove i negozi sono chiusi.
Then, there's one day a week when the shops are closed.Play Caption
Un altro caso dove uso il congiuntivo è quando abbiamo dei verbi impersonali...
Another case in which I use the subjunctive is when we have impersonal verbs...
Captions 40-41, Corso di italiano con Daniela - Il congiuntivo - Part 11Play Caption
Now that you have looked at all these examples, why not try transforming them into sentences with in cui? If that is too easy, try the same thing with nel quale, nella quale, nei quale, or nelle quale. For this, you will need to consider gender and number! Here’s the link to suggested solutions. Non barare (don't cheat) — unless you have to!
Let us know if you like this system of exercises and their solutions! Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Relative pronouns allow us to combine two shorter sentences that are related to each other into a longer one made up of two clauses. Similarly to English, we distinguish between main or independent clauses and subordinate dependent clauses. And when there is a relative pronoun present, it is part of what's called "a relative clause."
The first relative pronoun that Daniela describes is che (that/which).
In questo esempio, quindi, il pronome relativo fa vece di pronome perché sostituisce la parola "casa" ma fa anche vece di congiunzione perché unisce le due frasi [sic: proposizioni].
In this example, therefore, the relative pronoun stands in for the pronoun because it replaces the word "house," but it also
takes on the role of a conjunction, because it joins two clauses.
Captions 44-48, Corso di italiano con Daniela - Pronomi relativi - Part 1Play Caption
After watching the video, let's look at some further examples of what Daniela is talking about.
Ci troviamo sulla spiaggia di Mondello, che è la spiaggia dei palermitani.
We're on the beach at Mondello, which is the beach used by Palermo's inhabitants.
Caption 3, Adriano - a MondelloPlay Caption
Let's take this sentence apart and put it back together again.
The first sentence could be:
Ci troviamo sulla spiaggia di Mondello.
We're here on the beach at Mondello.
The second sentence could be:
La spiaggia di Mondello è la spiaggia dei palermitani.
The Mondello beach is the beach of the inhabitants of Palermo.
In order to combine these two short sentences, we use a relative pronoun to connect the clauses. We replace la spiaggia di Mondello with che (which), so it's both a pronoun that replaces a noun, and a conjunction that connects two parts of the [new] sentence.
Ci troviamo sulla spiaggia di Mondello, che è la spiaggia dei palermitani.
Let's look at an example in which che translates nicely with "that," but can work fine with "which," too. In English, "that" and "which" are often interchangeable, but we need to keep in mind that "which" needs a comma before it, and "that" doesn't (most of the time).
C'è un ballo tradizionale che si chiama il "salterello" [saltarello].
There's a traditional dance that is called the "saltarello" [literally, little jump].
There's a traditional dance, which is called the "saltarello" [literally, little jump].
Caption 38, L'Italia a tavola - Interrogazione sulle MarchePlay Caption
Gli alpeggi sono le attività agricole zoologiche che si svolgono in estate in montagna.
Alpine grazing is an agricultural, zoological activity that take place in summer in the mountains.Play Caption
In Italian, the relative pronoun che can refer to things or people. So in the following example, we can translate che as "who."
C'è sempre tantissima gente che aspetta di salire su.
There are always plenty of people who are waiting to go up.
Caption 17, In giro per l'Italia - Firenze - Part 5Play Caption
English doesn’t make the distinction — as far as pronouns go — between familiar and polite forms, but many languages do.
In a recent documentary about how the Italian language was influenced by Italian fascism, we learn that Lei, the polite form of “you” (singular), was actually banned from the language by Mussolini, and that the form Voi was imposed. But what’s this all about?
Let’s clarify, right away, that voi with a lowercase “v” is the second person plural personal pronoun, that is, “you” plural. We use it all the time. What we’re discussing here, however, is the use of Voi — with a capital letter — as a second person singular, polite form. It uses the same conjugation as voi (you plural).
The story is a long, complicated, and fascinating one, but here are the basics.
In ancient Rome, people used only the familiar form, “tu” which later became the Italian tu (you, singular).
At a certain point, around the year 300, the Latin “Vos” ("you" plural used as a singular) began to be used with important figures such as emperors, much the same way as the pluralis majestatis was used.
“Vos” then became Voi in Italian, and was commonly used from the 1200’s to the 1400’s for addressing artists, nobility, etc. Dante used tu and Voi. Later, in the Renaissance, with the return to studying the Greek and Roman classics, there was a tendency to go back to the “Roman” tu.
Also in the Renaissance, Lei began to be used in offices and courts as a polite form of address. Lei corresponds to the third person feminine singular (she/her). The words used for prominent figures, like Eccellenza (Excellence) and Maestà (Majesty) are feminine nouns, and so, this led to a feminine pronoun: Lei. Lei was used alongside Voi for centuries as a deferential form of address, with tu as a familiar and intimate one. Many consider that the use of Lei came into use following the model of the Spanish, whose presence was felt in Italy during the 16th Century.
So, though not actually foreign (but believed to be, at least, partially), Lei was banned by Mussolini as being a non-Italian word:
Imposizione del Voi ...
The imposition of “Voi” ["you" singular, formal] ...
Parole straniere bandite e sostituite per legge.
Foreign words banned and replaced by law.
Captions 6-9, Me Ne Frego - Il Fascismo e la lingua italianaPlay Caption
Thus, Voi was revived and/or imposed all over Italy. After the fall of fascism, Voi fell into disuse in many parts of Italy, where it had not really had time to be assimilated.
In much of southern Italy, however, Voi, as a deferential form of address, had never gone out of fashion, as it had in the north. So, it simply remained, and to this day it’s still used as a sign of respect, especially in families: a nipotino (grandson) in speaking to his nonno (grandfather), for example.
If you are an adult and go on a trip to Naples, Sicily or other southern Italian destination, you may very well be addressed as Voi. This is a sign of respect.
Lei has entered Italian vocabulary and grammar books as the official personal pronoun for addressing someone formally. But since language is fluid and ever-changing — not by law and imposition, but by common use — this could change. There's a lesson about this!
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