Italian Double Object Pronouns: A Simple Guide

In Italian, it’s very common to use a direct object pronouns and an indirect object pronouns together before a verb. This use appears in chunks like me lo, te lo, ce lo, ve lo, etc, and happens when we want to replace both the direct and indirect objects in a sentence or question. If you’re not familiar with the idea of pronouns, this concept might be a little tough for you, and I encourage you to have a look at these articles first.

The reason why we use double object pronouns (pronomi doppi or pronomi combinati in Italian) and, in general, all pronouns, is to make our speech more concise and natural. Italians use these sorts of pronouns in conversations literally all the time.

Italian Double Object Pronouns

Italian SentenceDirect ObjectIndirect ObjectEnglishDouble Pronoun ExamplePronoun Translation in English
Hai detto a Luca quella cosa?quella cosa (that thing)a Luca (to Luca)Have you told Luca that thing?Gliel’ hai detta?Have you told it to him?
Hai dato la posta a Gianni?la posta (the mail)a Gianni (to Gianni)Have you given Gianni the mail?Gliel’hai data?Have you given it to him?
Italian double of object pronouns chart

As you can see, the sentences above in yellow are shorter and more natural than the first one in green. In the yellow sentences, I’ve replaced the direct objects and the indirect objects with their respective pronouns. This is possible in Italian all the time when you know what you are talking about or when you don’t want to repeat something that was previously stated.

Double Object Pronouns: The Order

As you can see from the below chart, the indirect object pronoun comes before the direct object pronoun, and mi, ti, gli, ci, and vi become me, te, glie, ce, and ve. 

indirect +
direct pronouns
LOLALILENE
MIMe loMe laMe liMe leMe ne
TITe loTe laTe liTe leTe ne
GLI/LEGlieloGlieleGlieliGlieleGliene
CICe loCe laCe liCe leCe ne
VIVe loVe laVe liVe leVe ne
GLIGlieloGlielaGlieliGlieleGliene
Italian double object pronouns chart

More examples using the double object pronouns 

Sentence without using Double PronounDouble Pronoun SentenceDirect ObjectIndirect ObjectEnglish EquivalentDouble Pronoun English Equivalent
Ti porto la bicicletta staseraTe la porto staserala bicicletta (the bike)Ti (to you)I will bring you the bike tonightI’ll bring it to you tonight
Mi hai mandato la mail?Me l’hai mandata?la mail (the email)Mi (to me)Have you sent me the email?Have you sent it to me?
Gli hai comprato l’acqua?Gliel’hai comprata?l’acqua (the water)Gli (to him)Have you bought him water?Have you bought it for him?
Mi dai il tuo numero di telefono?Me lo dai?il tuo numero di telefono (your number)Mi (to me)Can you give me your number?Can you give it to me?
Ci presti la tua macchina?Ce la presti?la tua macchina (your car)Ci (to us)Can you lend us your car?Can you lend it to us?
double object pronouns in Italian

Things You Should Know About the Double Pronouns in Italian

  1. Double object pronouns are combinations of direct and indirect object pronouns, that allow you to express yourself concisely when speaking Italian.  
  2. The indirect object pronouns mi, ti, gli, ci, and vi change to me, te, glie, ce, and ve when they are combined with direct object pronouns, as in the above chart.
  3. Glielo and gliela become gliel’ if they precede a vowel or “h” (gliel’ho detto – I told it to him)  
  4. In the negative form, the “non” comes right before the pronouns (non te lo dicoI am not telling you it)
  5. The double object pronouns are written as two words, except for glielo, gliela, glieli, gliele and all the pronoun combinations when they are attached to the infinitive (e.g in the imperative form)
  6. When the pronomi combinati are used with the passato prossimo, the past participle must agree with the direct object pronoun incorporated in the double object pronouns (te l’ho scritta, glieli ho mandati..).

How to use double object pronouns and Passato Prossimo 

In the Passato Prossimo, the past participle must agree in gender and number with the direct object when the direct object is a person or a thing. The agreement is made with the past participle, not the pronoun.

So, it’s important to identify the gender and number of the direct object pronoun and have the past participle of Passato Prossimo agree with it.

Example:

Italian SentenceEnglish TranslationDirect Object Direct Object Pronoun Past Participle Agreement
– Mi ha mandato la lettera?Did he/she send me the letter?la lettera
– Sì, te l’ho mandata.Yes, I sent it to you.l’ (la + lo)mandata
Italian SentenceEnglish TranslationDirect Object (DO)Direct Object Pronoun (DO)Past Participle Agreement
Hai dato i documenti a Marco?Did you give the documents to Marco?i documentidati
Sì, gliel’ho dati.Yes, I gave them to him.glielo (gli + li)dati
Italian SentenceEnglish TranslationDirect Object (DO)Direct Object Pronoun (DO)Past Participle Agreement
Hai incontrato le tue amiche?Did you meet your friends?le tue amicheincontrate
Sì, le ho incontrate.Yes, I met them.leincontrate

The pronouns ‘me ne’, ‘te ne’, ‘gliene’,’ce ne’, ‘ve ne’

The double object pronouns also incorporate the particle ‘ne’. If you are familiar with intermediate Italian grammar, you know that ‘ne‘ means some of it/some of them and tends to be used as answers to questions asking Quanti/How many?

Examples:

Quanti pacchi gli hai dato?How many packages did you give him?
Gliene ho dati treI gave him three (of them)
Quanti biglietti mi dai?How many tickets are you giving to me?
Te ne ho do dueI’ll give you two (of them)
Quanti pacchi ci mandate?How many packages are you sending us?
Ve ne mandiamo cinqueWe’ll send you five (of them)

How to use double object pronouns in the imperative

The double object pronouns are used, especially when giving a command in a concise way.

Dammelo!Give me (it)
Dimmelo!Tell me (it)
Mandaglielo!Send him (it)
Non dirglielo!Don’t tell him (it)

All the mentioned forms appear in the imperative, which is used to give a command in Italian. As you may notice, the imperative has the pronouns attached at the end of the verb. This is a particular feature of the imperative in Italian.

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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