The trickiest words in a language are usually the ones that both have several meanings and are widely used.
Let’s take the Italian word ci, for example. It’s pretty short, and it’s surely not difficult to remember. However, its different uses make it one of the trickiest words to master for an Italian learner.
So, today I’m going to explain the meaning of the word ci in Italian and how to use it.
DIRECT AND INDIRECT OBJECT PRONOUN
Ci in Italian can be both a direct object pronoun and an indirect object pronoun.
As a direct object pronoun ci refers to the first person plural and answers the question “who?” “what?” – Chi? Che cosa?
Instead, as an indirect object pronoun ci can refer to both the third person singular and the first person plural, and it answers the question “to whom?” “with whom?” “from whom?” – A chi? Con chi? Da chi?…
So, in these cases, the meaning of the word ci is generally similar to us, him or her in English.
Linda ha dato un cd a noi becomes Linda ci ha dato un cd (to whom did Linda give a cd?)
Linda gave us a cd
Riccardo ha salutato noi becomes Riccardo ci ha salutato (Who greeted Riccardo?)
Riccardo greeted us
Sto bene con lui becomes Ci sto bene (with whom do I feel good?)
I feel good when I’m with him
Ci can be also used as a reflexive pronoun for the first person plural. In this case, the meaning of the word ci is usually ourselves.
Ci stiamo lavando
We’re washing ourselves
Ci stiamo vestendo
We’re dressing ourselves
ADVERB OF PLACE
As an adverb of place ci can indicate a position, and a direction. In this case, ci doesn’t always have a specific meaning in English.
Parigi è la città dell’amore. Non ci vivresti? (Non vivresti a Parigi?)
Paris is the city of love. Wouldn’t you live there?
Sabato Anna e Daniela danno una festa. Tu ci vai? (Tu vai alla festa?)
Anna and Daniela are throwing a party on Saturday. Are you going?
THERE IS, THERE ARE
Finally ci is used to form the expressions c’è – there is – and ci sono – there are.
C’è del latte in frigo?
Is there any milk in the fridge?
Ci sono due macchine rosse parcheggiate di fronte alla banca
There are two red cars parked in front of the bank
Sometimes ci is placed after certain verbs like stare, mettere, volere, which acquire a whole new meaning.
Starci means to agree; to accept; to fit in.
Se volete prendere un regalo a Francesco, io ci sto.
If you want to make a gift to Francesco, I’m in.
Questo vestito è troppo piccolo per te, non credo che ci starai.
This dress is too small for you, I don’t think you’ll fit in it.
Metterci indicates the time you take to do something.
Quanto tempo ci metti per andare al lavoro?
How long do you take to go to work?
Volerci indicates the time necessary to get somewhere; it can also mean to require, need.
Ci vogliono due ore per arrivare all’aeroporto
It takes two hours to get to the airport
Per cucinare la cotoletta alla Milanese ci vuole il burro
You need butter to cook Milanesa
With this article, I really hope I’ve helped you understand the meaning of the word ci in Italian and how to use it.
Do you want to know also how to use the italian word ne? Here’s the article: Ne in Italian – What does it mean?
Original image by qimono