Easy Learning Italian

Verbal Idioms - Easy Learning Grammar Italian

  • Some important Italian verbs behave differently from their English equivalent, for example:
Mi piace l’Italia.I like Italy.
Mi piacciono i cani.I like dogs.
  • Both English sentences have the same verb like, which agrees with the subject, I.
  • The Italian sentences have different verbs, one singular (piace) and the other plural (piacciono). This is because the verb piacere literally means to be pleasing, and in one sentence what’s pleasing is singular (l’Italia) and in the other it’s plural (i cani).
  • If you use this wording in English you also get two different verbs: Italy is pleasing to me; Dogs are pleasing to me.
TipRemember to turn the sentence around in this way when talking about what you like in Italian.

1  Present tense of piacere

  • When talking about likes and dislikes in the present use piace if the subject of the verb is singular, and piacciono if it is plural.
  • Use the appropriate indirect pronoun: mi, ti, gli, le, ci, or vi.
  • Note that gli means both to him, and to them, so it is used to say what he likes, and what they like.
Questo colore non mi piace.I don’t like this colour.
(literally: this colour is not pleasing to me)
Ti piacciono le mie scarpe?Do you like my shoes?
(literally: are my shoes pleasing to you?)
Non gli piacciono i dolci.He doesn’t like desserts.
(literally: desserts are not pleasing to him)
Le piace l’Italia, signora?Do you like Italy, madam?
(literally: is Italy pleasing to you?)
Ci piace il mare.We like the sea.
(literally: the sea is pleasing to us)
Vi piacciono le montagne?Do you like the mountains?
(literally: are the mountains pleasing to you?)
Sono vecchi, non gli piace questa musica.They’re old, they don’t like this music.
(literally: this music isn’t pleasing to them)
TipUse the infinitive, not the gerund, when talking about the activities you like:
Mi piace cucinare.I like cooking.
Ci piace camminare.We like walking.
  • If it is not used with the pronouns mi, ti, gli, le, ci, or vi, piacere is followed by the preposition a.
Il giardinaggio piace a mia sorella.My sister likes gardening.
(literally: gardening is pleasing to my sister)
I suoi film non piacciono a tutti.Not everyone likes his films.
(literally: his films are not pleasing to everyone)
L’Italia piace ai tuoi?Do your parents like Italy?
(literally: Is Italy pleasing to your parents?)

2  Other tenses of piacere

  • You can use piacere in any tense.
Credi che la casa piacerà a Sara? Do you think Sara will like the house?
Questo libro ti piacerebbe.You’d like this book.
Da giovane gli piaceva nuotare.When he was young he liked swimming.
Il concerto è piaciuto a tutti.Everyone liked the concert.
Non credo che il calcio piaccia al professore.I don’t think the teacher likes football.
TipMi dispiace means I’m sorry. Change the pronoun to gli, le, ci and so on if you want to say He’s sorry, She’s sorry or We’re sorry.

3  Other verbs like piacere

  • There are a number of other important verbs that are used with an indirect pronoun, or are followed by the preposition a.
  • As with piacere, the person who is the subject of the verb in English is the indirect object in Italian.
  • convenire (literally) to be advisable
Ti conviene partir presto.You’d better set off early.
Non conviene a nessuno fare così.Nobody should behave like that.
  • mancare (literally) to be missing
Fammi sapere se ti manca qualcosa.Let me know if you need anything.
Mi manchi.I miss you.
  • interessare to be of interest
Se ti interessa puoi venire.If you’re interested you can come.
Pensi che interesserebbe a Luigi?Do you think Luigi would be interested?
  • importare to be important
Non mi importa!I don’t care!
Non importa a mio marito.My husband doesn’t care.
  • rincrescere (literally) to make sorry
Ci rincresce di non poterlo fare.We’re sorry we can’t do it.
Se non ti rincresce vorrei pensarci su.If you don’t mind I’d like to think it over.
  • restare to be left
Mi restano cinquanta euro.I’ve got fifty euros left.
A Maria restano solo ricordi.Maria only has memories left.
Key points
  • Turn the sentence around when using verbs like piacere.
  • Use the preposition a, or an indirect object pronoun.

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