If you’re studying Italian, you’ve probably encountered the clitics: the (in)famous particles Ci and Ne in the Italian language, and you may have wondered:
What do they mean?
When and how are Ci and Ne used in Italian?
What are the clitics used for?
Most importantly – what is the difference between Ci and Ne in Italian?
Don’t worry; you’ve come to the right place! Now we’re going to explore its characteristics to see more clearly, and, at the end of this article, you’ll understand a lot more.
What is the function of the particles, Ci and Ne in Italian?
Basically, what are Ci and Ne used for? Their main function is to replace words or parts of sentences, thus avoiding repetitions that would make the text redundant.
Usually placed before the verb, they help to give the text more fluidity and smoothness, making it much more pleasant to read.
But let’s see more in detail what these two particles replace and how they are used in the Italian language.
Ci particle in the Italian language: how to use it
The Ci particle has several uses in the Italian language. Here are the main cases we might encounter, with several examples to better understand its use.
Ci as a direct or indirect personal pronoun in Italian
The simplest function of Ci is as a personal pronoun, either direct or indirect. In this case, Ci takes the place of “We” and “To us.”
Let’s look at two examples:
- Il taxi ci ha portato in aeroporto –> Il taxi ha portato noi in aeroporto.
- Luca ci ha dato un buon consiglio –> Luca ha dato a noi un buon consiglio.
As you can see, the meaning doesn’t change, but you might already notice more fluidity in the sentence with the Ci particle.
In Italian, there are many so-called reflexive verbs. For example: to see oneself, to wash oneself, to get up, to wake up, to meet, to turn around, to rest…
When we conjugate these verbs, in the first person plural, that is, with “we,” these verbs acquire the Ci particle before the verb, which thus becomes a reflexive pronoun.:
- Dove ci incontriamo stasera?
- Ogni mattina ci svegliamo presto.
The particle can remain attached to the verb in its final part when it refers to us while remaining in the infinitive:
- Dove vogliamo incontrarci stasera?
- Non riusciamo mai a svegliarci in tempo.
Pronominal Particle in Italian: To whom/what? With whom/what?
Ci can answer the questions: To whom/what? With whom/what? It thus becomes a pronominal particle, replacing “To this/that” and “With this/that.”
Let’s look at some examples of the use of the clitics in Italian:
- – Hai mai pensato a cosa fare da grande? – Sì, ci ho pensato tanto.
In this case, Ci answers the question “To what?” Imagine what this sentence would be like without it:
– Hai mai pensato a cosa fare da grande? – Sì ho pensato tanto a cosa fare da grande.
That doesn’t sound all that great, does it?
- Marta è molto simpatica, ci parlo molto volentieri.
It’s the same here, too, even though this time the question is “With whom?” “I very happily talk with Marta” would make the sentence redundant and not very smooth.
Adverb of place
The particle in question can also take on the appearance of an adverb of place, thus answering the question, “Where?”
– Come torni a casa? – Ci vado in macchina.
Again, the sentence is much smoother than in:
– Come torni a casa? – Vado a casa in macchina.
Ci with special expressions
Then there are verbs that are closely related to the particle, Ci, which mostly neither adds nor takes away anything from the sense of the sentence.
For example, here is the verb to see –> I don’t see anymore (but also “I don’t see”); or to want and to put –> How much longer will it take? How long will it take you?
In questi casi il Ci non sostituisce alcuna parola o parte di frase, ma è parte integrante del verbo.
The function of the Ne particle in Italian
The Ne particle, a bit like Ci, serves to avoid unnecessary repetition in a sentence and make it flow more smoothly. It has the function of a pronoun and can have multiple uses. Let’s look at the main ones.
Indirect personal pronoun in Italian: Of whom? Of what?
One of Ne‘s main functions is to replace part of a sentence, answering the questions, “Whose?”, “What about?” Let’s take a look at an example:
– Oggi mi sento triste, ma non ne voglio parlare.
What don’t I want to talk about? About the fact of being sad, about the reason that makes me sad. Grammatically it would not be wrong to repeat this part of the sentence, but this would make the text heavier and not very pleasant to read.
Indirect personal pronoun: From what? From whom?
Another similar use of Ne is related to its use in response to the questions, “From whom?”, “From what?” For example:
– Lo so che la situazione è difficile, ma riuscirai ad uscirne.
As you can see, in this case, the particle is an integral part of the verb, as it is in the infinitive, and for this reason, it follows the verb instead of preceding it.
Again, if we say, “ma riuscirai ad uscire da questa situazione,” you can see the lack of fluidity.
Ne as a partitive: how many?
Finally, Ne can be used as a partitive, meaning it indicates a part of the quantity of something. It therefore answers the question “How many?” Take, for example, the sentence:
– Che belle queste magliette, ne compro 3!
Clitics in Italian: it’s time to exercise!
I know, it might be hard to learn all these rules by heart. Don’t worry! Give yourself enough time and you’ll learn how to use Ci and Ne like a native!
I prepared a couple of exercise for you to test yourself and to learn how to use the clitics in Italian.
Aristotle, the great Greek philosopher, used to say:
What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing it
Clitics in Italian – Exercise 1: Ci or Ne?
Complete the sentences using Ci or Ne.
- Puoi venire a cena da me. Cosa ____ dici?
- Roma mi è piaciuta molto, ____ tornerò appena possibile.
- Stavolta offro io, ____ tengo molto.
- Che storia fantastica, ____ sono rimasto affascinato.
- Incontriamo____ al solito posto!
- Cos’è successo? Non ____ sapevo niente.
- Per arrivare a Torino ____ vogliono 5 ore di auto.
- L’anno scorso non sono andato al mare, ma quest’anno ____ voglio andare.
Solutions: 1. ne, 2. ci, 3. ci, 4. ne, 5. ci, 6. ne, 7. ci, 8. ci.
Clitics in Italian – Exercise 2: Ci or Ne?
Complete the sentences using Ci or Ne.
- Venite al museo con me domani? No, ___ siamo già andati ieri.
- Ora basta parlare a voce alta!! ___ ho abbastanza!
- Va sempre tutto male.. ___ mancava solo questa!
- Mi daresti un po’ d’acqua? Sì ma usane poca, non ___ ho molta.
- Avevo tantissimi compiti da fare! ___ ho messo 4 ore!
- Come ha fatto ha vincere la partita? Non dirmelo! Non posso creder___!
- Questo posto non mi sembra nuovo. ___ siamo già stati?
- Qui è molto noioso. Io me ___ vado.
Solutions: 1. ci, 2. Ne, 3. Ci, 4. ne, 5. ci, 6. ci, 7. Ci, 8. ne.
I hope this article was helpful!
Got any question about the clitics in Italian?
Just drop me a comment below!