Glielo? Te lo? The Double Object Pronouns in Italian and How to Use Them
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 in use
Let’s see a couple of examples..
Hai detto a Luca (indirect object) quella cosa (direct object)? – Have you told Luca that thing?
- Gliel’ hai detta? – Have you told it (that thing) to him? (lit.)*
Hai dato la posta (direct object) a Gianni (indirect object)? – Have you given Gianni the mail?
- Gliel’hai data? – Have you given it (the mail) to him?
As you can see, the sentences in bold are shorter and more natural than the first ones, because I have replaced both the direct objects and the indirect objects with their respective pronouns. This is possible all the time in Italian when you know what you are talking about or you don’t want to repeat something that was previously stated.
How do the double object pronouns work together?
As you can see from this 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.
More sentences using the double object pronouns
Ti porto la bicicletta stasera – I will bring you the bike tonight
- Te la porto stasera – I’ll bring it (the bike) to you tonight
Mi hai mandato la mail? – Have you sent me the email?
- Me l’hai mandata? – Have you sent it (the email) to me?
Gli hai comprato l’acqua? – Have you bought him water?
- Gliel’hai comprata? – Have you bought it (water) for him?
Mi dai il tuo numero di telefono? – Can you give me your number?
- Me lo dai? – Can you give it (your number) to me?
Ci presti la tua macchina? – Can you lend us your car?
- Ce la presti? – Can you lend it (your car) to us?
Six things you should know about double object pronouns
- Double object pronouns are combinations of direct and indirect object pronouns, that allow you to express yourself concisely when speaking Italian.
- 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.
- Glielo and gliela become gliel’ if they precede a vowel or “h” (gliel’ho detto – I told it to him)
- In the negative form, the “non” comes right before the pronouns (non te lo dico – I am not telling you it)
- 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)
- 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 with the passato prossimo
- Me l’hai mandata? – “L‘” can be una lettera, una mail, etc…
- Me le hai mandate? – “Le” can be delle lettere, delle mail, etc..
- Me li hai mandati? – “Li” can be dei biglietti, dei pacchi, etc..
The pronoun “GLIENE”
The double object pronouns also incorporate the “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?
Quanti pacchi gli hai dato? – How many packages did you give him?
- Gliene ho dati 3 – I gave him 3 (of them)
Quanti biglietti mi dai? – How many tickets are you giving to me?
- Quanti me ne dai? – How many of them are you giving (me)?
Quante fatture mi mandi? – How many invoices are you sending me
- Quante me ne mandi? – How many of them are you sending (me)?
How to use double object pronouns with 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.
Do you want to practice with me the Italian double object pronouns? Take a 1-time lesson with me on this or another topic.
Having a hard time with Italian pronouns? These textbooks might be useful.
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