Italian Pronouns

Personal pronouns are little words that replace persons or things: he, she, they, it, me, her etc. Personal pronouns can play the role of subjects or be in a different role. For instance, in the sentence "I eat a food", "I" is a subject, but in the sentence "That lion wants to eat me", "me" is the object.

Other pronouns (not personal) also replace nouns, with a more specific usage. For instance, this can replace a noun, with a meaning similar to it (or he/she), e.g. in the sentence this is good for you.

The types of object pronouns are:

  • Italian subject pronouns
  • Italian object pronouns
  • Italian possessive pronuns
  • Italian relative pronouns

Subject Pronouns: Subject Pronouns are often omitted, since the verb form indicates the subject:

Ho freddo    I'm cold

Since the endings of conjugated verb forms indicate person and number, subject pronouns may be omitted in Italian except when necessary: (1) for clarity, (2) when modified by anche (also), or (3) when emphasis or contrast is desired. Examples:

Io ho freddo    I, for my part, am cold

Lui detesta il film    He hates the movie

Vorrebbe Lei venire con me?    Would you like to come with me?

It and they referring to things are almost never used in Italian and need not be translated. Below you can see a table with subject pronouns:

Persons Singular Plural
1st. person io » I noi » we
2nd. person familiar tu » you voi » you
2nd. person polite* Lei » you Loro » You
3rd. person lui » him loro » them
lei »her loro » them
esso » it (m.) essi » them (m.)
essa » it (f.) esse » them (f.)

In modern Italian he, she, and they are usually expressed by lui, lei, and loro, respectively. (Egli, ella, essi, and esse are used more in written Italian than in the spoken language. Esso and essa are seldom used.) Examples:

  • Tu ricevi una cartolina  »  You receive a postcard
  • Io arrivo alle otto  »  I arrive at 8
  • Lui entra in aula  »  He enters to the classroom
  • Sono felice  »  We are happy

Personal pronouns are the only part of the sentence in which Italian makes a distinction between masculine/feminine and neutre. Neutre gender is used for objects, plants and animals except man; but this distinction does not cause any important change, because all other parts of the sentence (nouns, verb inflections, adjectives, etc.) do not have a neutre gender, which is simply handled by using either masculine or feminine.

Object Pronouns: Object Pronouns are either direct or indirect, and cannot stand alone without a verb.  The direct object receives the action of the verb directly while the indirect object is indirectly affected by it.

(*) Note that second person polite form pronouns are capitalized.