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Si, Si, and Ci - L'impersonale - Part 3

L'impersonale - Nothing Personal! - Part 1

L'impersonale - Where's the Subject? - Part 2

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There's still a lot more to talk about regarding the impersonale. Review previous lessons here.  

Sometimes the verbs we use in the impersonal form, happen to be reflexive verbs as well. Before tackling reflexive verbs in the impersonal, it's a good idea to be familiar with how reflexive verbs work. But we're in luck because this week, Daniela happens to be talking about just that in her video lesson!  

As also mentioned in previous lessons, reflexive verbs have si attached to them in the infinitive, for example, lavarsi (to wash oneself). When conjugated, the verbs are commonly separated into si + verb root: 

Mario si lava ogni mattina.
Mario washes [himself] every morning.

Daniela explains that if you know how to conjugate the verb root, then you know how to conjugate the reflexive verb.

In the above example, Mario is the subject, and Mario is also the object (si), which is what reflexive verbs are all about. 

So we've seen that the reflexive form uses si, (as part of the infinitive, and in the third person singular conjugation) but it's not the same as the si in the impersonal, so this is where things get a bit tricky. To avoid using si twice in a row, we use ci for the impersonal.

Marika gives us the rule:

 

La forma impersonale dei verbi riflessivi invece si forma con:

The impersonal form of reflexive verbs on the other hand is made with:

"ci "più il verbo alla terza persona singolare.

"ci" plus the verb in the third person singular.

Per esempio: in Italia ci si sposa sempre più tardi,

For example: In Italy one gets married later and later,

quindi il verbo sposarsi più "ci", più "si".

so the verb to get married plus "ci" plus "si."

Captions 45-48, Marika spiega - La forma impersonale

 Play Caption

 

So where you might think: si (impersonal) si (reflexive) sposa (verb in the third person), you need to use ci in place of the impersonal si. Here's a practical example:

 

Con loro non ci si annoia mai.

With them you are never bored.

Caption 41, Acqua in bocca - Un amico per Pippo - Ep 1

 Play Caption

 

Attenzione! Ci also has a long list of uses, which you can check out in these lessons.

The good news is that you can get by most of the time without using the impersonal plus reflexive. Don't let it prevent you from trying to express yourself in Italian. One workaround is to avoid using too many pronouns at once. Common expressions using both can be learned one by one, con calma (without rushing it).

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You could say for example, remembering that "people" is singular in Italian (the si is reflexive):

La gente si sposa sempre più tardi.
People get married later and later.

For more about what’s been discussed in these lessons, see these very helpful blog entries:

Si impersonale part 1
Si impersonale part 2

We're still not entirely finished with the impersonal, but there's already plenty to digest.
We'll be back!

Grammar

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