Translated by Alanna Quintyne
Are you struggling using the verb Piacere? Piacere is not easy at all. Many use it, but only a few people use it well!
If you are in a group that is struggling to understand how this verb works, today, I have the right article for you!
Read the following lines in which I tried to find the easiest way to explain the verb Piacere and, let me know in the comments if everything is clear or you need further explanations.
How’s it going with the verb Piacere? Piacere is a rather strange verb: it is used by many people, but few use it well!
Why am I saying this? Because its conjugation does not follow the pattern of verbs that end in -ere in the infinitive and personal pronouns are not used with it… In short, we should consider it a verb of its own kind!
I’m sure that if you study Italian or if you’ve been to Italy, you’ve probably said:
- Ti piace questa cosa? (Do you like this?)
- Sì, mi piace o Non mi piace! (Yes, I like it!/No, I don’t like it!)
But the knowledge related to Piacere does not end with these two forms. In fact, there is much more to discover in order to use it well!
I know that this introduction is not the most encouraging but as always I want to show you the limitations and mistakes of my students as well as tips and solutions in order to learn even this grammatical topic in the best way.
Forms of the Verb Piacere:
The first thing to know about the verb piacere is that it has only two forms piace and piacciono. In particular:
- Piace: is followed by either the singular noun or the verb.
- Piacciono: is followed by the plural noun.
Here are some examples:
- Mi piace la zuppa di zucca (I like pumpkin soup).
- Mi piace mangiare sano (I like to eat healthy).
- Mi piacciono le verdure di stagione (I like seasonal vegetables).
As you can see, in Italian with the verb piacere, we never use the personal subject pronouns – io, tu, lui, lei, noi, voi, loro – as many of my students try to do.
What do I mean by this? Simply that if I asked you to translate the following English sentence “I like pizza” in Italian, many foreigners would instinctively tend to say something along the lines of “Io piace pizza”, but this isn’t correct, but on the contrary…. If in:
- I like pizza “I” is the subject, in Italian the subject isn’t io, but instead it is la pizza. In fact, it’d be best to say :
- La pizza piace a me or, more commonly, mi piace la pizza!
Remember that the object of the English sentence becomes the subject in Italian.
Let’s take a look at another example:
– I like working, which translated to Italian becomes: Lavorare (which is the subject) piace a me or once again, more commonly Mi piace lavorare.
– I don’t like strawberries, is translated as Le fragole non piacciono a me or more simply Non mi piacciono le fragole.
Piacere and Indirect Pronouns
So far in the sentences, we have used exclusively the pronoun mi, or a me. But how can we formulate sentences with piacere by also inserting words other than mi o a me?
Simple: by using the other indirect pronouns. In fact, in addition to mi, and the longer form of a me, depending on the sentence and what we want to say, we can use all the other pronouns:
ti = a te
gli = a lui
le = a lei
ci = a noi
vi = a voi
gli = a loro
How about trying with some examples?
Below, I’ll give some mini dialogues with questions and responses, in order to give you a more comprehensive idea of the use of indirect pronouns associated with the verb piacere.
- Ti piace correre? (Do you like running?)
- Sì, mi piace molto. (Yes, I like it a lot.)
- A tuo fratello piace l’estate o l’inverno? (Does your brother like summer or winter?)
- In realtà gli piace tantissimo la primavera. (Actually he really likes spring.)
- È piaciuto a tua moglie il regalo che le hai fatto? (Did your wife like the gift you got for her?)
- Sì, le è piaciuto tantissimo. (Yes, she liked it so much.)
- Vi piacciono le escursioni in montagna? A noi piacciono molto! (Do you all like hiking trips in the mountains? We like it a lot!)
- Sì, ma ci piacciono di più le passeggiate in riva al mare. (Yes, but we like walks on the seashore more.)
- So che i tuoi bambini piace cantare. (I know that your children like singing.)
- Sì, gli piace da morire. (Yes, they love it to death.)
Short form or long form?
As you have already noticed, in Italian indirect pronouns can have two forms: a short form and a longer one. It is useless to highlight how Italian is much longer than other languages, that’s why most of the time we prefer to make our sentences as less long-winded as possible. For example, this can be done through the use of pronouns which help us to avoid repeating the noun. In the case of indirect pronouns, we always prefer the shorter form.
For example, I’d prefer:
- Mi piace tanto la Grecia to A me piace tanto la Grecia (I like Greece a lot).
- Le piacciono tanto i bambini to A lei piacciono tanto i bambini (She likes children a lot).
But pay attention!
If I want to emphasise something I tend to use the longer form. For example:
- Gli piacciono tanto i carciofi, ma a me non piacciono per niente. (They like artichokes a lot, but I don’t like them at all.)
In this case I voluntarily chose to highlight, to emphasize that there is something I don’t like.
The topic tackled in this article might seem a bit obvious and not very interesting for those who already know Italian well, but I felt the need to talk about it because I noticed many times that piacere is taken for granted too often.
Why do I say this? Because I happened to deal with students, who were already able to speak Italian, but who had recently begun to follow my lessons, who, allow me to say, they made “a sensational discovery” after hearing the explanation of the verb piacere and after understanding how to use it.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the verb piacere is a strange verb but once you understand the mechanisms behind its use, every piece of the puzzle will fall into place and everything will make more sense. But don’t worry, with a good explanation and a bit of practice, you will be able to master it with no difficulty.
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