9 things about Italian pronominal verbs

 

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 widely used in conversational Italian and slag. 

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: 


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)

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 FATT( agreement with the feminine pronoun la)

ME LA SONO PRES(agreement with the feminine pronoun la)

 

8. Some verbs are matched with fixed prepositions 

 

Farcela A

Sentirsela DI

Avercela CON

 

 9 Using the Italian pronominal verbs will make you sound more natural. Let’ss 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

 

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

 

NE

NON POTERNE PIÙ – can’t put up with something or someone anymore


SELA

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

 

CELA

METTERCELA TUTTA –  to do one’s best 

AVERCELA CON – to be upset with someone

 

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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