This week Daniela introduces a very pesky topic indeed: direct object pronouns. Simply put, it’s when you replace a name or a noun with a pronoun, when it’s the object of the verb. We’re talking about words like “it” (which is the same as a subject and as an object), “me” as opposed to “I,” “us” as opposed to “we,” “them” as opposed to “they,” “him” as opposed to “he,” and “her” as opposed to “she.”
Object pronouns, both direct and indirect, are hard for just about anyone trying to learn Italian. This is partly because the position of the pronoun is different from that of the actual word it is replacing (as Daniela explains), and because these pronouns can so easily end up as part of a compound word, or worse, part of a contraction, especially in perfect tenses. And to make matters even more complicated, they can attach themselves to an indirect pronoun. So these short words can be hard to distinguish! (Yabla captions can be very useful in locating them!)
Learners know all too well that the gender of a word can be a challenge in itself, and we need to know the gender first of all. And even within the gender, we need to know what kind of article to use (il, lo, or l + apostrophe in the masculine, for example). So there’s lots to remember. But let’s take things one step at a time.
A very simple sentence with the verb leggere (to read) and the object noun il libro (the book) might be:
Leggo il libro.
I read the book.
The object pronoun in the masculine singular is always lo (it), so if we replace the object noun with an object pronoun, it becomes:
I read it.
Note that the pronoun in this case is placed before the conjugated verb. This is a very important rule.
In the following example, the verb is leggere as in the above example. The object is i nomi (the names) and is plural.
Se leggo i nomi, mi vengono subito le facce.
If I read the names, the faces come to me immediately.
Caption 52, La Ladra - EP. 1 - Le cose cambianoPlay Caption
If we go on to talk about these names, we can replace i nomi (the names) with a pronoun. We’ll need an object pronoun that’s plural, and masculine, since il nome is a masculine noun. The direct object pronoun for the masculine plural is li (them). If you’ve watched Daniela’s lesson, or if you think you know, try to construct a phrase on your own with the object pronoun of i nomi before looking at the example below. Attenzione! The object pronoun goes before the verb!
Se li leggo, mi vengono subito le facce.
If I read them, the faces come to me right away.
Thus far, we’ve looked at the masculine singular direct object pronoun lo (it, him) and the masculine plural direct object pronoun li (them). When Daniela talks about the feminine singular and plural direct object pronouns, we’ll cover them, too, so stay tuned!
Can you change the following nouns to pronouns?
Quando leggo il giornale, mi devo concentrare.
When I read the newspaper I have to concentrate.
Sposto lo sgabello in cucina.
I move the stool to the kitchen.
Cambio l’orologio per l’ora legale.
I change the clock for legal time [daylight savings time].
Porto Francesco quando è troppo stanco per camminare.
I carry Francesco when he’s too tired to walk.
Cucinerò tutti i pomodori prima che vadano a male.
I’ll cook all the tomatoes before they go bad.
Nel frattempo (in the meantime) why not do a Yabla search to distinguish lo as a masculine singular definite article—lo studente (the student), lo specchio (the mirror), etc.—from the masculine singular direct object pronoun, as discussed in this lesson and in Daniela’s video lesson.
Below are suggested solutions for the above exercise.
Quando lo leggo, mi devo concentrare.
When I read it, I have to concentrate.
Lo sposto in cucina.
I move it to the kitchen.
Lo cambio per l’ora legale.
I change it for daylight savings time.
Lo porto quando è troppo stanco per camminare.
I carry him when he’s too tired to walk.
Li cucinerò prima che vadano a male.
I’ll cook them before they go bad.