Italian direct object pronouns

Italian_direct_object_pronounsItalian direct object pronouns

 In Italian language both indirect  and direct object pronouns are to be used in order to substitute the name of a person or of an object. With this post we are going to deal only with Italian direct object pronouns.

Direct object pronouns perform the function of a direct object.

Italian direct object pronouns are:

  • First person singular : mi
  • Second person singular: ti
  • Third person singular : lo / la / l’
  • First person plural : ci
  • Second person plural  : vi
  • Third person plural : li / le

Generally they are to be placed before the verb:

– Mangi la pasta? Sì, la mangio  (= Mangio la pasta)

– Hai spedito la lettera? Sì, l’ho spedita (= Ho spedito la lettera)

– Avete comprato il pane? No, non l’abbiamo comprato (= Non abbiamo comprato il pane)

If the verb is conjugated at the present perfect (passato prossimo), the past participle matches in gender and number with the direct object pronoun:

– Hai incontrato Marta e Giacomo?  Sì, li ho incontrati   (=Ho incontrato Marta e Giacomo)

Vi ho ascoltati (Ho ascoltato voi)

Conversely, when the verb is conjugated at the imperative (imperativo) or at the gerund (gerundio) or in presence of two consecutive verbs, Italian direct object pronouns are to placed after the verb as their suffix:

– Incontrandoti capirò meglio cosa fare (= Incontrando te capirò meglio cosa fare)

– Il medico verrà a visitarci domani (=Il medico verrà a visitare noi domani)

– Ammiratelo!  (= Ammirate lui!)

NOTA BENE: Since Italian direct object pronouns perform the function of direct object, they can be used only with transitive verbs, i.e. with verbs that can be followed by an object, such as mangiare, leggere, scrivere, etc

Now practise direct object pronouns with the following activity! Buon divertimento :)


The author of this grammar page is Vincenzo

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  1. Why can’t I put the pronoun aftr the verb if i’m using the future tense? Or the past tense?
    Why can’t I say: leggerlò, mangerlò or something like scrissilo? In which tenses I must the pronouna before the verb?

    • Ciao Tupic, this is just the nature of Italian pronouns (both direct and indirect ones). As the rule goes, these pronouns usually precede the verb, whereas they follow it if the verb has an infinitive, gerund or imperative mood.

      Hope this helps.

      Grazie, a presto 😉

  2. When the singular second person formal La is the direct object pronoun, and the person it represents is masculine, does the passato prossimo’s participle end in “o”? Conversely, if La respresents a feminine person, does the passato prossimo’s participle end in “a”?
    e.g., Professore, La ho (or L’ho) visto ieri.
    Professoressa, La ho (or L’ho) vista ieri.
    Furthermore, does La elide to L’ho, similar to la ho –> l’ho?

    • Ciao Ngai,

      ottima domanda! To answer your question:

      1) When preceded by politeness pronoun “La”, the past participle is feminine, no matter the gender of the person. The correct sentence is “Professoressa / Professore, L’ho vista ieri.”.
      2) as for “La”, yes, there is an elision when followed by verb “avere”.

      Hope this helped 😉

      Grazie mille,

    • Ciao Peter,
      “ne” is never used as a direct object. It usually replaces a noun when this is introduced by a number or an expression of quantity (molto/i/e, tanti/e, un po’, etc), such as in the following example:

      – Quanti libri hai letto? (How many books have you read?)
      – Ne ho letti cento (I have read one hundred).

      For more information please read my article CI and NE in Italian

      Hope this helps :)

  3. Can “La” be used as an indirect object?

    Just to confirm the “La” point you made previously: It appears
    readers cannot identify the person as male or female when “avere” is used,
    as accompanying past participle will always end in”a”.

    • Ciao Larry,
      thanks for your question.
      If you need an indirect object in that specific case, you will have to use “Le”: “Le posso scrivere un’e-mail, signora Rossi?” / “Le posso scrivere un’email, signor Rossi?”.
      Again, in neither case will you be able to make a distinction between male or female addressee.

      Hope this helps!

      • Surely the point that Larry Munro is making is covered by the rule that when it is used with avere as the auxiliary must agree in number and gender with any preceding DOP: lo, la, li, le and ne.

        One question I have on this is if the DOP is ‘ne’ does the past participle end in ‘i’ or ‘e’?

        • Ciao Tony,

          Grazie per il messaggio.
          With NE, the past participle can end in ‘o’, ‘a’, ‘i’ or ‘e’ depending on the number and gender of the noun that NE is replacing.

          Hai preso un po’ di cibo? Sì, ne ho preso un po’.
          Hai comprato della carta? Sì, ecco, ne ho comprata molta.
          Hai mangiato molti cioccolatini? No, non he ho mangiati molti.
          Hai acquistato delle banane? Sì, ne ho prese un paio.

          Hope this helps!

  4. Why is “Lo” used in future tense instead of “il”. Per esempio, lo faccio domani. Why isn’t it “il”. I thought “lo” was an article used with a singular s+consonant noun such as “lo stivalo”…

    • Ciao John,
      the word “lo” can be both an article (as in “lo stivale”) both a direct pronoun (“it” in English). This is why you should use LO (as a pronoun) in future tense. e.g. “I’ll do it tomorrow” –> “Lo farò domani”.

      Hope this helps!

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