How to master the Italian particles CI and NE
Have you learned Italian for a while? Then, I am sure you have been faced with the quirky usage of the Italian particles CI and NE (aka particelle pronominali in Italian).
And have been wondering dozens of times how to use ci and how to use ng ne.
Maybe you have also decided to neglect their use, thinking using ci e ne is not essential when speaking Italian Italian. Instead, it is. Italians throw in ci and ne in conversations all the time because it helps them be more concise and convey a message faster. That’s why mastering these two little words will take your Italian very far, other than making your Italian sounds ten times more natural when you use them. Guarantee.
Let’s break down this topic in simplified bites for you.
💡 Smart tip
To master the Italian pronouns ci and ne, you’d better learn the recurring combinations of verbs and pronouns in which they appear. For instance: ne often appears with parlare, and ci often appears in combination with pensare and credere. This will save you a lot of time and headaches 🙂
WHAT DOES THE PARTICLE “NE” MEAN?
WHEN “NE” MEANS ABOUT IT/THEM
Ne is nothing else than a pronoun. It replacing chunks of sentences introduced by di.
As previously mentioned, the best way to learn the correct usage of ci and ne is the context, or in combination with a verb. The best way to use correctly ne is to memorize the verbs that use ne as a pronoun. The most common verbs are using the pronoun ne are
- parlare di – to speak about
- essere sicuro di – to be sure about
- avere bisogno di – to need
- avere nostalgia di – to feel nostalgic
What do all these verbs have in common? They are followed by the preposition “di”.
In other words, we can say that…
The “particle NE” replaces the combination of di+ something (complemento di specificazione, in Italian) when you don’t want to repeat something that has already been mentioned.
- Che pensi di Maria? – What do you think about Maria?
- Che ne pensi? – What do you think about her?
- Noi parliamo di politica– We talk about politics
- Ne parliamo – We talk about it
- Hai bisogno di una macchina per andare a lavoro? – Do you need a car to go to work?
- No, non ne ho bisogno – No, I am not in need of it
- Sei sicuro di quello che hai detto? – Are you sure about what you said?
- Sì, ne sono sicuro – Yes, I am sure about it
In a nutshell, the Italian pronoun/particle NE means (and replace) of it/of them or about it/them.
WHEN “NE” MEANS SOME
There is a second usage of the pronoun “NE”, and it occurs when ne indicates quantities and amounts and it means some of something previously mentioned.
- Vuoi del formaggio? – Do you want some cheese?
- Si ne voglio – I want some of it
- Vuoi un pezzo di torta? – Do you a picee of cake?
- No, ne voglio due! – I want two of them
In short, in this case “ne” indicates some of something else (some of it or some of them)
How “ce ne sono” is different from “ci sono“?
- ci sono means there are
- ce ne sono means there are some of them
You are using ce ne sono in Italian, to refer to something that has already been mentioned. Usually, these sentences is used as a reply to a questions starting with Quanti/e?
- Quante finestre ci sono in questa stanza? – How many windows there are in this room?
- Ce ne sono tre. – There are (3 of them)
WHAT’S THE POSITION OF “NE” IN A SENTENCES?
NE usually comes before the verb (ne parlo = I speak about it), except when the verb is an imperative (order) or an infinite.
When ne it comes with an infinitive, the final -e of the verb is dropped.
- Voglio parlarne – I want to talk about it
- Parlane! – Talk about it! (imperative)
Note also that, when joined to ne, mi becomes me, ti becomes te, ci becomes ce, vi becomes ve and gli and le becomes glie.
- me ne vado! – I am leaving!
WHAT DOES THE PARTICLE “CI” MEAN?
WHEN “CI” MEANS ABOUT IT
The use of the “particella ci” is similar to the use of ne, but CI is required with the verbs followed by prepositions a, in, su, con (while ne would replace the prepositions di)
The most common verbs using the particle CI are:
- pensare a – to think about
- credere in/a – to believe in
- contare su – to count on
- andare a/in – to go to
- riuscire a – to manage
- fare caso a – to notice
We use the pronoun ci to replace something that has already been mentioned in the conversation.
- Pensi a Maria? – Are you thinking about Maria?
- Ci penso – I think about her
- Credi in Dio? – Do you believe in God?
- Ci credo – Yes, I believe in him
- Conti su di me? – Are you counting on me?
- Sì, ci conto – Yes, I count on you
WHEN “CI” REPLACES “there”
Ci is also used with the meaning of “there”.
- Sei stato a Londra? – Have you been to London?
- Sì, ci sono stato – Yes, I have been there
As you can see in the above example, ci is replacing Londra in the sentence.
Italian use ci to replace the name of place that has already been mentioned
- Vai a Milano ogni venerdì? – Are you coming to Milan every Friday?
- Sì, ci vado – Yes, I go there
E adesso? Use it or lose it! Leave a comment and try use in or two sentences the pronouns ci and ne.