Italian subject pronouns

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Learn the Italian subject pronouns!

Italian subject pronouns

In Italian the verbs follows a conjugation pattern that distinguishes six persons: three singular and three plural.

singular1stioI
2ndtuyou
3rdlui | lei | Lei he | she | polite you
plural1stnoiwe
2ndvoiyou (all)
3rdlorothey

In Italian the 3rd person singular distinguishes between male (lui) and female (lei). The plural doesn’t make such distinction and has only one form (loro).

You also distinguish between talking to one person (tu) and to more than one (voi).

There is also a polite form, when you talk to someone and you want to show respect. For the polite form, the feminine 3rd person singular is used: lei. That means that lei means both 1) “she” and 2) “you” when you are speaking formally, no matter if you are talking to a man or a woman. In this last case, Lei is normally capitalized.

leishe (sg.)
a woman
Lei è Fiona e abita a Roma.She’s Fiona and she lives in Rome.
LeiYou (polite)
mr. / ms.
Signor Rossi, Lei abita a Roma?Mr. Rossi, do you live in Rome?

Learn more about the polite form in Italian in our lesson The Italian polite form.

Alternative pronouns

In Italian there are other pronouns for the 3rd person singular and plural. However these pronouns are very old-fashioned and not much used anymore, even in the written and formal language.

masculinefeminine
3rd singularlui, egli, essolei, ella, essa
3rd pluralloro, essiloro, esse

Use of subject pronouns

In Italian you don’t need to say the subject pronoun explicitly, since the person is usually clear through the verb ending or the context. So you normally say:

Sono Fiona.I’m Fiona.
Abbiamo un gatto.We have a cat.
Dove abiti?Where do you live?

You need to say the subject pronouns when you emphasize that it’s about a certain person, for example when you introduce someone, or when you talk about two people, in order to make it clear who you are talking about. In general you should consider that when your sentence may be unclear, you better add the pronoun.

Loro sono Anna e Matteo. They are Anna and Matteo.
Lei abita a Milano, invece lui abita a Roma.She lives in Rom, whereas he lives in Milan.

Esercizio

1. I pronomi soggetto

Learn more about the polite form in Italian in our lesson The Italian polite form.

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