Italian Pronouns: A Beginner's Guide

avatarMille Larsen
4 mins read

Pronouns are among the most used of any word in any language, and they have many uses. Today I'd like to take a look at some of the ways they are used in Italian.

Subject pronouns

By this point, you've probably already figured out that subject pronouns are frequently omitted. We learn the subject pronouns (io, tu, lui, lei, noi, voi, loro) as we learn conjugations, but since the conjugations themselves tend to indicate the subject, it becomes very formal and stiff sounding when you use subject pronouns with them.

So for example, instead of asking dove tu vai? and answering io vado al negozio di ferramente, it sounds more natural to ask dove vai? and answer vado al negozio di ferramente.

That's all I'm going to say about subject pronouns.

Relative pronouns

In addition to its role as an interrogatory pronoun, the word che (what) also functions as a relative pronoun. When used as a relative pronoun, it functions in the same way as the English words who, whom, that, and which.

Spero che la nostra squadra vinca.

I hope that our team wins.

Questa è la macchina che voglio.

This is the car that I want.

Another interrogatory pronoun which also serves a role as a relative pronoun is chi (who), which can be used to distrubite an abstract action, similar to the way we do in English with "he who {a} shall {b}". When used in this way, it is always paired with the third-person singular form of the verb.

Chi cerca, trova.

He who searches shall find.

Chi chede, riceve.

He who asks shall receive.

The relative pronoun cui is only used as an object of a preposition, and is used in the manner of "to whom", or "to which".

La persona cui scrivo è il mio amico.

The person I'm writing to is my friend.

However quale is often used (with an article) instead of cui, to avoid ambiguity.

La moglie del mio amio, il quale vive a Roma, mi scriva.

The wife of my friend who lives in Rome writes to me.

La moglie del mio amico, la quale vive a Roma, mi scriva.

My friend's wife, who lives in Rome, writes to me.

Indefinite pronouns

An indefinite pronoun is a pronoun that refers to none, one, or more unspecified nouns, or to specified nouns with unspecified or indefinite qualities.

The Italian word alcuno functions like the English word any.

Non ha alcun amico.

He doesn't have any friends.

C'è alcuno bichiere qui per la mia acqua?

Are there any glasses here for my water?

In its plural form alcuni, it takes on a meaning more like some.

Invitò alcuni suoi amici.

He invited some of his friends.

Vorrei alcuni di questi peperoni.

I would like some of these peppers.

The word qualcuno works like someone or somebody.

C'è qualcuno?

Is anyone here?

Poco fa qualcuno ha bussato alla porta.

Not long ago, somebody knocked at the door.

In a similar fashion, the word qualcosa means something.

Voglio qualcosa di diverso.

I want something different.

Cerchiamo qualcosa da mangiare.

We're looking for something to eat.

Nessuno means nobody or no one.

A nessuno è permesso di parcheggiare in quella strada.

Nobody is allow to park in this street.

Non ho visto dei tuoi amici.

I haven't seen any of your friends.

The word chiunque indicates a vagueness equivalent to the English word anyone.

Chiunque può farlo.

Anyone can do it.

In its singular form, tutto means everything.

Tutto è possibile.

Everything is possible.

Raccontami tutto.

Tell me everything.

However, in a plural form, tutti tends to mean everybody, or everyone.

Lo sanno tutt.

Everyone knows.

Grazie a tutti!

Thank you, everyone!