The Verb ‘Piacere’ in Italian: A Simple Guide

Mi piace or non piace are verbs Italians use all the time. 

  • Ti piacciono quelle scarpe? – Do you like those shoes? 
  • Non ci è piaciuto quel film – We didn’t like that movie
  • Ti piace la cucina italiana? – Do you like Italian food?

As you might already know, piacere (and a few other verbs that I will list at the end of this post) doesn’t follow a regular conjugation pattern, and it’s used differently from its equivalent in English – I like

In fact, the Italian translation for I LIKE, is not io piaccio, but mi piace or mi piacciono. 

How to conjugate ‘piacere’? 

Piacere is conjugated only with the 3rd person singular and plural. The person who likes something (or someone) is denoted by an indirect object pronoun (mi, ti, gli/le, ci, vi, gli) and not by the regular subject pronouns (io, tu, lui, etc.).

So the conjugation of piacere looks like this:

Piacere in the present tense 

mi piace / piaccionoI like
ti piace / piaccionoyou like
gli/le piace / piaccionohe/she likes
ci piace / piaccionowe like
vi piace / piaccionoyou like
gli piace / piaccionothey like
conjugation of ‘piacere’

What is the difference between piace and piacciono?

Piace is used when the thing or person we like is a singular entity or an action (an infinitive verb).

Examples:

  • Mi piace Marco – I like Marco
  • Gli piace la pasta – He likes pasta 
  • Ti piace questo dolce? – Do you like this dessert?
  • Ci piace passeggiare nei boschi – We like to walk in the woods

Piacciono is used when the thing or person we like is a plural entity

  • Ti piacciono questi fiori? – Do you like these flowers?
  • Non ci piacciono questi mobili – We don’t like this furniture 

Avoid this very common mistake.

Piacere is always conjugated using indirect object pronouns, which are different from other pronouns, such as reflexive ones. Sometimes, students mix them up and use ‘si piace‘ in place of ‘gli’ or ‘le piace,’ which is incorrect.

Italian vs. English

The equivalent in English mi piace in Italian, is ‘something’ is pleasant for me/to you/to him, etc…

Mi piaceI likeIt’s pleasant for me.
Ti piaceYou likeIt’s pleasant for you.
Gli/Le piaceHe/She/You (formal) likesIt’s pleasant for him/her/you (formal).
Ci piaceWe likeIt’s pleasant for us.
Vi piaceYou all likeIt’s pleasant for you all.
Gli piaceThey likeIt’s pleasant for them.
conjugation of ‘piacere’

So, saying ‘mi piace la cucina indiana’ is literally translated as ‘Indian food is pleasurable for me.’ The verb ‘piacere’ is used only in this way.

When ‘piacere’ is followed by a verb, like ‘I like cooking,’ the verb that follows ‘mi piace’ always appears in the infinitive form.

Mi piace ballareI like to dance
Ci piace viaggiareWe like to travel
Ti piace disegnare?Do you like to draw?
piacere + infinitive

What do we say ‘A qualcuno piace…’

Why do you use ‘A’ before piacere, sometimes?

When the people who like something are explicitly mentioned, the noun must be preceded by the preposition ‘a’:

ItalianEnglish Literal English
A Marco piace viaggiareMarco likes travelingTo Marco traveling is pleasant
A Lucia non è piaciuto il filmLucia didn’t like the movieTo Lucia the movie was not pleasant
A Luca e Lea non piacciono i film americaniLuca and Lea don’t like American moviesTo Luca and Lea American movies are not pleasant
Agli italiani piace prendere il caffè al banconeItalians like drinking coffee at the counterTo Italian drinking coffee at the counter is pleasant

Piacere with the passato prossimo (I liked, I enjoyed)

Just like in the present tense, piacere follows a different conjugation pattern with the passato prossimo (past tense).

mi è piaciuto/ami sono piaciuti/eI liked
ti è piaciuto/ati sono piaciuti/eyou liked (Did you like..?)
gli è piaciuto/agli sono piaciuti/ehe liked
le è piaciuto/ale sono piaciuti/eshe liked
ci è piaciuto/aci sono piaciuti/ewe liked
vi è piaciuto/avi sono piaciuti/eyou (pl.) liked (Did you like?)
gli è piaciuto/agli sono piaciuti/ethey liked
conjugation of ‘piacere’ with the passato prossimo

As you can see from the list above, the past tense combines three elements: 

the indirect pronouns + the auxiliary essere + the past participle (piaciuto/a/i/e).

What’s the difference between:

  • mi è piaciuto il film – I liked the film
  • mi sono piaciuti i negozi – I liked the shops

In the first sentence, the object that is “pleasurable” is a singular entity (un film/a movie), whereas in the second sentence, the thing that is “pleasurable” is a plural entity (i negozi/the shops)

The auxiliary and the past participles always agree with the gender and number of the thing that is pleasant. So, if the entity being liked (the object) is a feminine noun, you will need to make sure that the participle is in agreement with the subject, for example

Mi è piaciuta la pasta → I liked the pasta

Mi sono piaciute le tue lezioni → I liked your your classes 

It’s important to note that you always need to use piacere always in the 3rd person singular or plural, no matter what tenses are being used.

Piacere with the imperfetto  

mi piacevaI liked
ti piacevayou liked
gli/le piacevahe/she/you liked
ci piacevawe liked
vi piacevayou liked
gli piacevathey/you liked
imperfetto of ‘piacere’

Example: 

  • Quando ero piccola mi piaceva passare le vacanze dai miei nonni – When I was little I liked to spend my vacations at my grandparents.

Piacere in the futuro semplice  

mi piaceràI will like
ti piaceràyou will like
gli/le piaceràhe/she/you will like
ci piaceràwe will like
vi piaceràyou will like
gli piaceràthey/you will like
future tense of ‘piacere’

Example:

  • Domani inizio un nuovo lavoro, ma non so se mi piacerà – Tomorrow I’ll start a new job, but I don’t know if I’ll like it 

Piacere with the present conditional 

mi piacerebbeI would like
ti piacerebbeyou would like
gli/le piacerebbehe/she/you would like
ci piacerebbewe would like
vi piacerebbeyou would like
gli piacerebbethey/you would like
conditional of ‘piacere’

Example:

  • Mi piacerebbe comprare una casa a Capri – I’d like to buy a house in Capri
  • Non ti piacerebbe venire con noi domani? – Wouldn’t you like to join us tomorrow?

Piacere in the congiuntivo presente 

mi piacciaI may like
ti piacciayou may like
gli/le piacciahe/she/you may like
ci piacciawe may like
vi piacciayou may like
gli piacciathey/you may like
congiuntivo presente of ‘piacere’

Example:

  • Spero che ti piaccia – I hope you like it 

Other verbs similar to PIACERE

Piacere is not the only verb that uses a different conjugation (also known as impersonal conjugation). The verbs shown below are used and conjugated, just like piacere.

My advice is first to learn how to use piacere, and then to apply the very same pattern to the other verbs

  • Servire – to need (something)
  • Bastare – to be enough
  • Mancare – to miss 
  • Interessare – to be interested 

About the Author

Serena Capilli

I’m the creative force behind both this blog and my collection of short stories in simple Italian for language learners, available on Amazon.

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I’m the creative force behind both this blog and my collection of short stories in simple Italian for language learners, available on Amazon.

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