Weilà raga! Let's talk about Italian Double Object Pronouns - a really great and fun topic. In Italian these are called pronomi doppi or pronomi combinati.
Double Object Pronouns are formed when you have an Indirect Object Pronoun followed by a Direct Object Pronoun. These help us to make our speech even more condensed than when using Indirect or Direct Object Pronouns alone. If you would like to review Indirect and Direct Object Pronouns, I'll have their videos and blog posts linked down at the bottom of this post.
Here's a chart that I made showing how to form Double Object Pronouns
Here's how you work the chart: on the left you have the Indirect Object Pronouns and on the top you have the third person singular and plural Direct Object Pronouns plus ne. Then in the middle in italics you have the Double Object Pronouns. Treat this like you would a multiplication table.
I included ne, despite it not being either an Indirect or Direct Object Pronoun, because I've found people tend to use it often when using Double Object Pronouns.
Let's now break each one of these down, they're pretty simple to use once you get the hang of them. I'll also include some examples of them in phrases.
Mi (to me):
mi + lo = me lo
mi + la = me la
mi + li = me li
mi + le = me le
mi + ne = me ne
Mi dai il pane?
- Can you give me the bread?
Me lo dai?
- Can you give it to me?
See how using a Double Object Pronoun in the second phrase made our question a lot shorter? But keep in mind that you can only use these pronouns when you know what you're referring to. So think of the second question as you repeating the yourself to someone after already having asked for the bread. That way, it's clear than when you're asking for "it" you're referring to "il pane" (the bread). Otherwise, as in any language, just saying "can you give it to me" doesn't make any sense if we don't know what it is first.
There's an even more condensed way of saying this, but this is when you're giving a command:
- Give it to me
I think we'll dive deeper into these sorts of commands in another lesson. But I just wanted to show it to you because it does exist and you will certainly hear stuff like this around.
Let's now move onto the next pronoun.
Ti (to you):
ti + lo = te lo
ti + la = te la
ti + li = te li
ti + le = te le
ti + ne = te ne
Ti voglio offrire una birra
- I want to offer you a beer
Te la voglio offrire
- I want to offer it to you
Here you could also use ne by saying "Ti voglio offrirne una" = "I want to offer you one." But that's obviously not a phrase with a Double Object Pronoun.
We're now going to look at the third person singular and third person plural Double Object Pronouns together because they're the same! This is fantastic as it means we've got less to memorize! Also, it's important to note that BOTH the Indirect Object Pronouns gli & le become glie when placed next to Direct Object Pronouns. You'll see that here in our breakdown:
Gli & Le (to him & to her):
gli/le + lo = glielo
gli/le + la = gliela
gli/le + li = glieli
gli/le + le = gliele
gli/le + ne = gliene
Gli (to them):
gli + lo = glielo
gli + la = gliela
gli + li = glieli
gli + le = gliele
gli + ne = gliene
For the examples, I'd like to now take a different approach and show you questions and answers:
Puoi spiegare la regola a Maria?
- Can you explain the rule to Maria?
Certo, gliela spiego subito
- Sure, I'll explain it to her right away
(Keep in mind that sometimes, in situations like this, we can use the Italian Present Tense to talk about things that will occur in the future. Whereas in English this is not possible, as you can see by our translation.)
In this example, we said gliela because we're talking about explaining la regola to Maria, and regola is a feminine word. It doesn't matter that we're talking about explaining the rule to a girl, because for both males and females the Double Object Pronoun is glie.
So if I just changed Maria to Tom the sentence would be exactly the same in Italian. Just in English we'll see a difference.
Puoi spiegare la regola a Tom?
- Can you explain the rule to Tom?
Certo, gliela spiego subito
- Sure, I'll explain it to him right away
Now let's look at this example when referring to plural items, like le regole (the rules).
Puoi dire le regole a loro, per favore?
- Can you tell them the rules, please?
Ok, gliele dico adesso
Okay, I'll tell them now
Here, we could easily swap out them for either Tom or Maria and the phrases would be exactly the same in Italian. The reason goes back to how there is only one Double Object Pronoun when dealing with the third person, whether singular or plural.
Now let's move on to ci & vi!
Ci (to us):
ci + lo = ce lo
ci + la = ce la
ci + li = ce li
ci + le = ce le
ci + ne = ce ne
I've found with ci a great way to learn how to use it as a Double Object Pronoun is actually to talk about quantity, when we use c'è & ci sono (there is & there are, respectively). Take a look at this example:
Quanti negozi ci sono qui?
- How many stores are there here?
Ce ne sono molti
- There are many (of them)
Here's an example with ci used as "to us":
Chi ci porterà i biscotti?
- Who will bring us the cookies/biscotti?
Giovanna ce li porterà
- Giovanna will bring them to us
Vi (to you guys/all):
vi + lo = ve lo
vi + la = ve la
vi + li = ve li
vi + le = ve le
vi + ne = ve ne
Ci prometti che verrai alla festa?
- Promise us you'll come to the party?
Ve lo prometto
- I promise (it to you guys)
Here I'd just like to note that I used lo as the Direct Object Pronoun. That's because generally you'll find Italians use lo whenever referring to a verb. In this last example I said "promise us you'll come to the party". What's the main thing here we're asking? That you'll come. Because of that, because we're talking about a verb, use lo. I realize this may not necessarily make that much sense, but trust me on it.
As an little added bonus for you guys reading this blog post, I'd like to share some examples of how you can use Double Object Pronouns in a compound verb tense. I've got some examples with them used in the Passato Prossimo. Keep in mind that you usually attach lo & la onto the auxiliary verb avere and you need to be mindful of gender and the number of things you're talking about.
Ho sentito che Gianna non è all'aeroporto
- I heard that Gianna is not at the airport
Chi te l'ha detto?
- Who told you (that)?
Dai i biscotti al cane
- Give the cookies to the dog
Gliel'ho dati già
- I already gave them to him/her
When using Indirect, Direct, and Double Object Pronouns in a compound verb tense (in other words, a verb tense that has helping verbs) you need to be mindful of the gender and number of things you're talking about. Despite the fact that you may not always have the verb essere involved. If this is something that seems a bit confusing right now, just know that with time it will make sense.
So that is my explanation of the Italian Double Object Pronouns. I did my best to explain it in as simple and straight forward of a way as I could think of. Feel free to reach out on social media with any questions, I'll do my best to help you out!
Always remember to SPREAD THE LOVE!
Learn Italian - Direct Object Pronouns:
Learn Italian - Indirect Object Pronouns:
How to use "ne" in Italian: