Comparison of Italian and Spanish
The Italian Clitic Pronouns ne and ci
- Italian has two so-called 'clitic pronouns', ne and ci,
which have no direct equivalent either in Spanish or English.
- They have a similar function to the French words en and y,
- The clitic ne is perhaps easiest to deal with. It can replace a countable
noun, or it can replace an object phrase beginning with either di or da.
- An example of the first use: in response to Hai televisori in casa? you
could say Sì, ne ho due. Here, ne substitutes televisori.
In Spanish, one would normally simply say Sí, tengo dos.
- An example of the second use: in response to Il tuo nonno parla spesso
della guerra? one could say No, non ne vuole parlare. Here, ne
substitutes della guerra. In Spanish, one would normally say something like
No, no quiere hablar de eso.
- An example of the third use: Mentre guardava la casa, ne è uscita
una donna. Here, ne substitutes dalla casa. In Spanish, one would
probably simply say Mientras miraba la casa, salió una mujer.
- The clitic ci is more tricky, because it has a large number of uses in
Italian. This can be a source of great confusion for Spanish-speakers.
- We have already seen that ci functions as an object pronoun
(ci ha dato un regalo), a reflexive pronoun (ci siamo alzati) and in
the locative construction ci+essere (c'è un gatto).
- A fourth function of ci is to replace an object phrase beginning with any
preposition other than di or da.
- An example: in response to Sei mai stato in Germania? one could say
No, non ci sono mai stato. Here, ci substitutes in Germania.
In Spanish, one would normally respond with something like
No, nunca he estado allí.
- Another example: in response to Dovresti pensare su questo problema
one could say Ci ho già pensato. Here, ci substitutes
su questo problema. In Spanish, one would normally respond with something
like Ya he pensado en eso.
Created October 2006 by Adam N. Letchford.
Last updated August 2011.