In Italian there is a group of verbs called pronominal verbs.
Italian pronominal verbs are verbs that change their meaning when combined with pronominal particles – ci, ne, la – or with reflexive pronouns.
Sometimes this change is small, some others it’s rather deep.
So, today you’re going to learn seven very common Italian pronominal verbs.
Farcela in Italian means to succeed in doing something or manage to reach a goal.
Ex: Ce l’ho fatta! Ti ho battuto!
I did it! I’ve beaten you!
Another common meaning of the Italian pronominal verb farcela is to be tired, fed up with something.
Ex: Voglio cambiare lavoro. Non ce la faccio più
I want to change my job. I’m fed up with it
Avercela is another common Italian pronominal verb and means to be angry with someone.
Ex: Ce l’ho con lui perché si è scordato che ieri era il mio compleanno
I’m angry with him because he forgot that it was my birthday yesterday
Sentirsela in Italian means to be willing to do something, to have the courage to do something, or to feel like to do something.
Ex: Non me la sento di parlare di questo con te
I don’t feel like discussing this with you
Cavarsela is an Italian pronominal verb that means to manage to get out from a difficult situation – sometimes with few or no damages.
Ex: Luca ha avuto un incidente ma se l’è cavata con dieci punti e una gamba rotta
Luca had an accident but he came out of it with a broken leg and ten stitches
Another very common meaning of the verb cavarsela is to manage to do something.
Ex: In matematica me la cavo bene
I’m good at maths
Prendersela in Italian means to get angry.
Ex: Se l’è presa con lui perché gli ha fatto uno scherzo
He got angry with him because he pulled a prank on him
Another common meaning of the Italian pronominal verb prendersela is to do something slowly, with calm, to take something easy. With this meaning, it’s sometimes used in a negative sense. There is a very common Italian expression where the verb prendersela has this meaning: prendersela calma.
Ex: Gli operai se la sono presa calma e tre giorni dopo, finalmente, hanno finito il lavoro
The workmen took it easy and, finally, three days later they completed the job
And now two very common expressions with Italian pronominal verbs.
LEGARSELA AL DITO
The Italian expression legarsela al dito means not to forget an offense, a wrongdoing, waiting for the perfect time to seek revenge.
Ex: Tu non le hai dato un passaggio quel giorno che diluviava e lei se l’è legato al dito
You didn’t get her a ride that day when it poured and she now bears you a grudge
Passarci sopra means to let go of something – especially an offence or a wrongdoing.
Ex: Non puoi passarci sopra! Ti ha tradito, devi fargliela pagare!
You can’t just let it go! He cheated on you, you’ve to make him pay for that!
As you’ve surely noticed by looking at the examples, when Italian pronominal verbs are conjugated, reflexive pronouns change according to the person they refer to, while pronominal particles remain unchanged.
If you need to master or revise intermediate Italian grammar, have a look at my book Sos Italian grammar B1-B2.
Did you already know these Italian pronominal verbs? Now try to make some sentences with them.
Original image by Hans