Combined Object Pronouns in Italian

Fri, 09/03/2021 - 04:56

As we have already seen, direct object pronouns in Italian substitute direct objects (the “sufferer” of the action) in the sentence while indirect object pronouns replace nouns or noun phrases that answer the question “to whom” or “to what”. 

Here we’re going to see what happens when we combine these two types of pronouns, but don’t panic! I pronomi combinati are much easier than you would think.

How to Form Combined Object Pronouns: Me and You

Take a look at this sentence: 

C’è una mela sul tavolo. Me la puoi dare? – There’s an apple on the table. Can you give it to me?

Well, mela means apple, while me la is a combination of the indirect object pronoun mi (to me) and the direct object pronoun la (it). The indirect pronoun changes its form slightly for ease of pronunciation. Thus, mi changes its form to me.

The combinations for i pronomi combinati are:

me lo – it (masculine singular) to me

me la – it (feminine singular) to me

me li – them (masculine plural) to me

me le – them (feminine plural) to me

Dov’è il quaderno? Me lo dai?  - Where is the exercise book? Could you give it to me?

Come vogliamo asciugare i capelli? - How would you like your hair dried?

Me li fai mossi? - Could you make it wavy (for me)?

Hai comprato una macchina? Quando me la fai vedere? – Did you buy a car? When will you show it to me?

As you can see, the indirect object pronoun always goes before the direct object pronoun when combined.

Ti - to you (familiar), in combination with a direct object pronoun changes its form to te:

te lo – it (masculine singular) to you

te la – it (feminine singular) to you

te li – them (masculine plural) to you

te le – them (feminine plural) to you

Mi puoi mandare quella lettera oggi? - Can you send me that letter today?

Si, te la mando subito. - Yes, I will send it to you right away.

Quanto sono belli questi orecchini! - These earrings are so beautiful!

Ti piacciono? Te li regalo! - Do you like them? I’ll give them to you!

Fai il bravo e ti compro un gelato. Te lo prometto. – Be a good boy and I’ll buy you an ice cream. I promise (it to you).

Keep in mind that some double object verbs in Italian like dire (qualcosa a qualcuno), chiedere (qualcosa a qualcuno), ricordare (qualcosa a qualcuno), spiegare (qualcosa a qualcuno), promettere (qualcosa a qualcuno), etc. always require two object pronouns, while in English they may require only the direct object pronouns or no pronoun at all.

Glie-: Combined Object Pronouns for Him/Her and Them

When the indirect object pronouns gli (to him, to them) or le (to her) are used in combination with a direct object pronoun, they become glie-. Therefore, glie- can refer to four different people: him, her, the formal you, and them. You can understand which of them it is from the context.

gli + lo = glielo - it (masculine singular) to him/her/them/polite you

gli + la = gliela - it (feminine singular) to him/her/them/polite you

gli + li = glieli - them (masculine plural) to him/her/them/polite you

gli + le = gliele - them (feminine plural) to him/her/them/polite you

Vorrei un cappuccino, per favore. - I’d like a cappuccino, please.

Certo, glielo faccio subito! - Sure, I’ll make it (for you) right away!

Ho comprato dei biscotti per la mamma. Glieli porti tu stasera? – I bought some biscuits for Mom. Would you bring them to her tonight?

Devi dire la verità a Giovanni! - You have to tell Giovanni the truth!

No, non gliela dirò mai! - I will never tell him (it)!

Dovremmo spedire delle cartoline ai nostri genitori!  - We should send postcards to our parents!

Gliele spediamo dopo pranzo. - We will send them (to them) after lunch.

Puoi prestare i tuoi libri a Cristina per un paio di giorni? - Can you lend Cristina your books for a couple of days?

No, non glieli presto. Non mi restituisce mai le mie cose! - No, I won’t lend (them to her). She never gives my things back!

Combined Object Pronouns for Us

The combinations with ci (to us) are:

Ce lo - it (masculine singular) to us

Ce la - it (feminine singular) to us

Ce li - them (masculine plural) to us

Ce le - them (feminine plural) to us

A che ora comincia la lezione domani? - What time does the lecture start tomorrow?

Il professore ce lo dirà più tardi. - The professor will tell us (it) later.

Carla vi ha raccontato di quello che è successo stamattina? - Did Carla tell you about what happened this morning?

No, ce lo racconta quando torna a casa. - No, she’ll tell us (it) when she’s back home.

As you can see from these two examples, the direct object pronoun lo here replaces a noun phrase, so you don’t have to repeat the whole phrase again. 

Stasera vengono le sorelle di Marco? - Are Marco’s sisters coming tonight?

Si, finalmente ce le presenta! - Yes, he’ll finally introduce them to us.

Combined Object Pronouns for You (Plural)

The combinations with vi (to you plural) are:

Ve lo – it (masculine singular) to you (plural)

Ve la – it (feminine singular) to you (plural)

Ve li – them (masculine plural) to you (plural)

Ve le – them (feminine plural) to you (plural)

Possiamo avere il conto, per favore? - May we have the bill, please?

Ve lo porto subito! - I’ll bring it (to you) right away!

Ti è piaciuto il film? - Did you like the film?

Si, e ve lo consiglio vivamente! - Yes, and I highly recommend it (to you)!

Ci potresti inviare le foto dal matrimonio? - Would you send us the wedding photos?

Certo! Ve le invio al più presto possibile! - Sure! I’ll send them (to you) as soon as possible.

Some Final Tips for Combined Object Pronouns

Just as we have seen in one of our previous articles, the direct object pronouns lo and la become l’ before the auxiliary verb avere in the past tense. So, in combination with an indirect object pronoun, the form is:

La cartolina? Te l’ho mandata. – The postcard? I sent it to you!

Remember that in colloquial speech you can easily stumble upon phrases where a direct and an indirect object pronoun are used as well as the noun they refer to:

Glielo dico a Paola? - Should I tell Paola?

There’s no need to use both, unless you want to emphasize the object. You can simply say:

Lo dico a Paola

Test Your Combined Object Pronouns

Now try to insert the correct pronoun combinations into the following:

[It, masculine, to her]dico. Glielo
Le mele?[them, feminine, to you, familiar] offro.Te le
La fotografia? Maria [it, feminine, to us] mostrata.Ce l'ha
Le email? [them, feminine, to them] invio ora.gliele invio
Mamma, una caramella [it, feminine, to me] dai?Me la
Che belle scarpe! [them, feminine, to me] regali?Me le
Non comprate la torta! [it, feminine, to you, plural] porto io.Ve la
Non conosci Francesca? [her, to you, familiar] presento volentieri! Te la
È successo qualcosa? [it, to us] puoi raccontare.Ce lo



Combining direct and indirect object pronouns is actually much easier than it seems at first sight. It will take you some time to work out, but these pronouns do become automatic and you won’t have to think too much before using them. Continue practicing and you’ll become very good at it, te lo promettiamo!

(Note: This article was originally written for Italy Magazine on November 29th 2013. It has been updated and expanded.)


This language article is curated by the expert instructors from L'Italiano Porticando Italian language and culture school located in the heart of historic Turin. Accredited by the ASILS (Association of Schools Teaching Italian as a Second Language), L'Italiano Porticando offers individual and group lessons, themed courses, and cultural classes on everything from Italian cinema to Turin’s famed chocolate.