Learn the Italian direct and indirect pronouns with exercises

Italian direct and indirect pronouns

Today we will learn about the Italian direct and indirect pronouns. Accordingly, when we need to substitute certain nouns -to avoid using them too repeatedly in a phrase or group of phrases-we rely on pronouns. This is possible when the noun we are swapping for a pronoun is quite understood. 

For illustration, we write or say the following: 

  • James will come and I’ll give the phone back to him

Instead of simply repeating the phone owner’s name:

  • James will come and I’ll give the phone back to James

Hence, we are placing him in lieu of James because of morphology and grammar (James=masculine, singular; him=masculine, singular).

As we are learning Italian, keep in mind that Italian direct and indirect pronouns shapeshift (this is, accommodate per grammar gender, and number) depending on what position they take in the sentence.


Let’s take the notion of direct objects pronouns in Dante’s language. In sentences, actions are represented by verbs. The action doer is the one we refer to as the subject.


Oftentimes, when the verb accepts so, the action affects an object or a person directly or indirectly. Likewise, we say that the action affects an object or a person directly when there isn’t any preposition between the verb and the object/person. For instance:

  • L’insegnante spiega la storia del Vaticano (The teacher explains the history of Vatican City)

In this sentence, la storia del Vaticano is the direct object because there is no preposition between the verb (spiega) and the object (la storia del Vaticano). Considering that the object is feminine, singular, we need to the use the pronoun la:

  • L’insegnante la spiega

Now, look at the Italian direct object pronouns in the following table:

1st. personmici
2nd. persontivi
3rd. person masculineloli
3rd. person femininela (La)le
  • Direct pronouns will always precede the verb:

Mi ami? Sì, ti amo (Do you love me? / Yes, I love you)

  • The 3rd person, singular, is useful to address a person respectfully. The pronoun comes with a capital letter:

Signore, La prego di chiudere la porta (Sir, please close the door).

  • You can even change a full block of information or a whole sentence with a direct object pronoun:

Question: Dov’è la stazione?. (Where is the train station?).

Risposta: A dire il vero, non lo so (To be honest, I don’t know).

  • Every now and then, when we need to stress the importance of something, we place the direct object pronoun next to the noun being substituted:

La lavastoviglie non la uso mai (I never use the dishwasher).

  • When it comes to Italian modal and phrasal verbs such as volere, potere, dovere, finire di, etc., the direct object pronoun can be found before the verb or tailing the accompanying infinitive:

Lo posso fare? / Posso farlo? (Can I do it?).

Direct and indirect objects in Italian


As we are speaking of Italian direct and indirect pronouns, it’s time to introduce the indirect kind. Obviously, we’re not getting there without providing the following table for our readers:  


1st personmi (a me)Ci (a noi)
2nd personti (a te)vi (a voi)
3rd person, masculinegli (a lui)gli (a loro)
3rd person, femininele/Le (a lei/a Lei)gli (a loro)

Let’s take the previous example about the teacher explaining the history of Vatican City:

  • L’insegnante spiega la storia del Vaticano

Adding that this person is teaching such important topic to someone else, in this case, Marco:

  • L’insegnante spiega la storia del Vaticano a Marco

In this case, we need to use an indirect pronoun because between the verb (spiegare) and the person (Marco) there is the preposition a. Therefore, the phrase is placed as the following:

  • L’insegnante gli spiega la storia del Vaticano
  • Note that the pronoun sequence can vary depending on whether we are using a modal or phrasal verb, as in the direct pronouns. For instance: 

Vi voglio dire la verità / Voglio dirvi la verità (I want to tell you the truth).

  • As for the 3rd person, plural, we may rely on either gli or loro. Loro can only be placed after the verb. 

L’agenzia ha venduto tutti i biglietti ai turisti che desiderano conoscere Roma (The agency has sold out the tickets for the tourists desiring to visit Rome).


L’agenzia gli ha venduto tutti i biglietti or L’agenzia ha venduto loro tutti i biglietti.

Let us review what we have learned about these Italian direct and indirect pronouns by completing a few exercises. We hope this article has been useful to you!


Choose the direct or indirect pronoun.

1. Ho parlato con Maurizio e __ ho spiegato tutto.

2. Signore, __ dispiace aprirmi la porta?

3. Hai visto questo film? Non ancora, __ vedrò stasera.

4. Ho scritto a Francesca e __ ho chiesto di andare a mangiare una pizza.

5. Mangi spesso la frutta? Sì, __ mangio tutti i giorni.

6. Usi spesso il computer? Sì, __ uso per lavorare.

Do you want to learn Italian? Sign up for our online courses!

Follow us on YouTubeInstagram and Facebook!