The Many Uses of Ci in Italian

Weilà weilà raga! This post correlates with my video on the many uses of Ci in Italian. (A link for the video is at the end of this post). This tricky part of Italian grammar that gives a lot of Italian learners trouble. We'll be covering the majority of the most common uses of Ci.

We're going to begin with C'è (there is) & Ci Sono (there are). As a little extra for you guys, c'è is actually a contraction of ci + è, but the thing is, you never use them alone like that. 100% of the time you will always say "c'è".

Here are some examples:

C'è una persona qui = There is a/one person here

Ci sono molte persone qui = There are many people here 

In the video, I spent a few moments talking about pronunciation. In some Italian accents, the "s" in persona can sound like a "z". However, keep in mind that the standard pronunciation of the word is with that typical "s" sound that we English speakers are familiar with. (As I am the type of person who adopts the accent of whoever I'm around, I have said "perZona" before.)

The only time you should pronounce your "s" like a "z" is when saying the verbs sbagliare (to make a mistake) and svegliare (to wake up).

Now let's move on to see how Ci is used as a pronoun. We're going to begin with Ci as a Reflexive Pronoun.

Ci svegliamo alle 7 (sette) = We wake up at 7 am

The reason this is reflexive is because "svegliarsi" is a reflexive verb, it means "to wake oneself up." So literally, the sentence above means "we wake ourselves up at 7 am." And how do we know we're talking about 7 in the morning and not the evening? Well, you could add "nella mattina" (in the morning) at the end of the phrase. Or it's just implied to be 7 in the morning given that in Italian and Italy, a 24-hour clock system is widely used. So 7 in the evening would be 19.00 (as they write it in Italian).

Now we're going to look at Ci as a Direct and Indirect Object Pronoun. When it is a Direct Object Pronoun (DOP), it means simply "us". When it is an Indirect Object Pronoun (IOP) it means "to us".

DOP: Ci conosci? = Do you know us?

IOP: Ci porti il libro? = Can you bring us the book?/Are you bringing us the book. (In the video I didn't mention this other possible translation with "are" at the beginning.)

The difference here lies in how in the first example, the action is directly affecting the subject. Whereas in the second, it is indirectly affecting the subject.

We're now finally going to look at Ci used as an adverb, to replace things such as proper names of places, locations, and phrases such as "there" and "to it", to name a few.

Here's a statement: Devi venire in Italia! = You have to come to Italy!

Response: Sì, ci voglio venire! Or you could say, Sì, voglio venirci! Both of these mean "Yes, I want to come!" But think of it as "Yes, I want to come THERE" where THERE implies/takes the place of TO ITALY.

Why are there two ways of saying this? Because in Italian, unless you're using a compound verb tense with auxiliary verbs, when you have two verbs next to each other, the first will get conjugated and the second will not. When a verb is not conjugated it's referred to as being/remaining in its infinitive form. And whenever a verb is in its infinitive form, you can tack on DOPs and IOPs onto the end of them. I find this to be an easier way to form a statement in Italian because the ordering of words is more similar to English than with having the pronoun before the verb. Keep in mind, though, that this can only be done in the kinds of situations as in the example above.

Here's another example of Ci used as an adverb.

Question: Ma, vieni alla mia festa? / Ma, verrai alla mia festa? = So, are you coming to my party?

Response: Sì, ci vengo! = Yes, I'm coming!

Generally speaking, ma in Italian means but. However, given this context, I feel it's more appropriate to translate it as so. I've mentioned this in past posts and videos, sometimes in Italian you can use the present tense to also refer to the future. As you can see with our example. I provided an example doing just that and a literal, more specific one that explicitly deals with the future tense.

There are few other ways you can use Ci in Italian, but I think this is a good place to leave our explanation for now. Keep on practicing and you'll see how this will all sink in. You'll be speaking Italian like a total boss in no time!

Here's the video that correlates with this post:


Always remember to SPREAD THE LOVE!