By- Claudia Quesito
I pronomi are typically dreaded by language learners, but they are, in fact, here to help! They are used to make conversation smoother and avoid repetitions. The word pronome comes from Latin and it means “in place of the noun.” Indeed, a pronoun replaces a noun that has been just mentioned or that it can be easily assumed by the context. There are different kinds of pronouns: pronomi soggetto, pronomi complemento, and pronomi riflessivi.
The pronomi soggetto are io, tu, lui & lei, noi, voi, and loro (Remember the ones you see when learning a new verb?); they specify who is performing the action expressed by the verb. In Italian they are normally omitted since the verb itself, with its ending, reveals the subject. However, the subject pronoun sometimes needs to be used for contrast or emphasis, as in Io vado a Genova, lui va a Torino. Instead of lui and lei, you might encounter egli & esso and ella & essa. These forms are not common anymore, however, and are almost exclusively found in written language.
The pronomi complemento are used to replace direct or indirect objects. (Reminder: A direct object answers the question What? or Whom?, while an indirect object answers the question To Whom? or For Whom?) Direct and indirect object pronouns are basically the same except in the third person singular and plural (direct: mi, ti, lo & la, ci, vi, li & le; indirect: mi, ti, gli & le, ci, vi, gli). Please note that instead of gli, you might hear or read loro.
Finally, the super easy ones: reflexive pronouns (mi, ti, si, ci, vi, si). They are used in connection with reflexive verbs and never change. Just remember to use them, however, since Mi annoio facilmente (I easily get bored) doesn’t really make sense without that mi.
To properly use pronouns, you need to ask yourself what you are replacing. Let’s take Anna ama Lorenzo and replace the nouns: Lei lo ama. The subject is Anna (she) and the direct object (The answer to Whom does Anna love?) is Lorenzo (him). It’s easier than it sounds since most of the time is just like in English. As always, try not to overthink it and remember that things will get easier with time and practice.