1. Pronominal verbs mean “related to a pronoun”
in fact, the Italian pronominal verbs are a combination of a basic verb and one or two pronouns, for instance, the verb andarsene is a combination of andare+se+ne.
2. The pronouns are joined onto the infinitive of the verb
and slightly or entirely change the original meaning of the verb. That’s why sentirsela (to feel like, to have the courage) is different from sentire (to hear) or sentirsi (to feel)
3. Pronominal verbs are vastly used in conversational Italian and sometimes in slang.
4. They are difficult to translate into your native language
as they don’t have a sole translation, and the meaning can slightly vary from one context to the next. Let’s take the example of the verb farcela (which is a combination of fare+ce+la). It has two principal meanings: to manage and not to manage
5. They are easy to conjugate verbs, yes they are!
How to conjugate a pronominal verb in Italian? First of all, make sure to separate the pronouns from the infinite. Then, conjugate the verb as usual. Place the pronouns before the verb. Lest’ use the verb FARCELA as an example:
FARCELA = FAR(E) + CE + LA
Ce la faccio
Ce la fai
Ce la fa
Ce la facciamo
Ce la fate
Ce la fanno
The pronouns CE, NE, LA do not change. However, when it comes to a pronominal verb including SE (sentirsela, bersela, andarsene), you will need to decline the reflexive pronouns in its double pronouns version (me, te, se, ce, ve, se)
ANDARSENE= ANDAR(E) + SI + NE
Me ne vado
Te ne vai
Se ne va
Ce ne andiamo
Ve ne andate
Se ne vanno
6. The Italian pronominal verbs ending in -sela or -sene use “essere” as an auxiliary verb in compound tenses. As a consequence, the past participle agrees with the pronoun or subject, like in the examples
NON ME LA SONO SENTITA (agreement with the feminine pronoun la)
ME NE SONO ANDATA (agreement with the feminine subject)
7. If the pronominal verb ends in –ci, –ne, -cela, -cena the auxiliary verb to use in compound tenses is “avere”
NON CE L’HO FATTA ( agreement with the feminine pronoun la)
ME LA SONO PRESA (agreement with the feminine pronoun la)
8. Some verbs are matched with fixed prepositions
9. Using the Italian pronominal verbs will make you sound more natural.
Let’s see a few examples of colloquial Italian sentences using pronominal verbs:
Passarsela means “stare (bene/male)”
- Come te la passi? – how are you doing?
Fregarsene means “not to give a damn about something”
- Me ne frego di quello che pensi – I don’t care about what you think
Farcela (positive) means “to manage”
- Ce la facciamo a finire questo lavoro entro oggi? – Can we manage to finish this work within today?
Arrivarci means “to understand something (colloquial)”
- Me lo puoi ripetere? Non ci arrivo – Can you repeat it? I don’t get it
Farcela (negative) means “to be fed up, to be exhausted or to be unable to cope with something”
- Non ce faccio più! – I am exhausted!
Spassarsela means “to have a blast”
- Ce la siamo spassata l’altra sera- we had a blast the other night
Most common Italian pronominal verbs
Italian pronominal verbs with CI
ENTRARCI CON – to have to do with something
ENTRARCI IN – to fit in something
VOLERCI – to take time (with no subject, impersonal)
METTERCI – to take time (with a subject)
ARRIVARCI – to understand
Italian pronominal verbs with NE
NON POTERNE PIÙ – can’t put up with something or someone anymore
SENTIRSELA DI – to have the courage of doing something
CAVARSELA IN + nome / A + infinito – to be good enough in something
PRENDERSELA CON – to be irritated with someone
PASSARSELA (bene/male) – to be good or bad
SPASSARSELA – to have a blast
SBRIGARSELA – to sort out a situation in a short time
CAVARSELA – to come out of difficult situations, easily
TIRARSELA – to show off
Italian pronominal verbs with CELA
METTERCELA TUTTA – to do one’s best
AVERCELA CON – to be upset with someone
Italian pronominal verbs with SENE
FREGARSENE DI – to not care about something or someone
ANDARSENE – to go away somewhere
Italian pronominal verbs and the imperative tense
The rule of thumb is that, when it comes to giving a command or piece of advice (imperative tense), the pronouns follow the verb and are joint to it.
- Smettila! – enough!
- Metticela tutta! – do your best!
- Vattene! – go away!
- Non andartene! – don’t go!
- Non avercela con me! – don’t be mad at me
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Serena is a proud polyglot, teacher and language expert. After learning 8+ foreign languages and working long hours a job she was not born for, she decided she urged a significant life change. She is now combining what she loves doing with what she is good at, helping people to learn Italian online. She has been sharing her love for Italy and the Bella Lingua across the world for the last four years. Her goal is helping enthusiastic humans to transform Italian Language Learning into a habit in their lives.