Italian Language/complementi

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Question
Dear Maria,

I hope that you had a very nice vacation!!  Thank you for allowing me to ask the following:

My question is about the following sentence:
“Il cane è sotto il letto.”

Can you please tell me if “sotto il letto” is a “complemento indiretto (indirect object) in this sentence.

If “yes”, can you also please tell me if I am correct in thinking that “complementi indiretti” (Italian indirect objects)  can sometimes consist of one word,  and at other times - as in the above example, consist of an entire phrase that is made up of several words.    (This is a bit confusing to me because in English indirect objects are just one word)

I am also wondering about the terms “complemento” and “complemento indiretto” and hope that you will not mind helping me to make sure that I use these terms correctly.  

I was once told that, in Italian, when a preposition is placed before a noun that this construction is called a “complemento” and also that this construction is equivalent to an English prepositional phrase.  I am now wondering,  if it is also true that although this structure can correctly be called a “complemento” (object),  that it would be even more accurate to call this structure a “complemento indiretti” (indirect object).  Would you please tell me if this is correct.

I am thinking that, maybe, this is the same as in saying in English that an “indirect object” can be called an “object” to distinguish this object from the subject,  but it is more accurate to use the term “indirect object” as this also distinguishes this  “indirect object” from a “direct object”.

So, I am thinking that the term “complemento” does not distinguish whether or not a word is a “complemento indiretto” or a “complemento oggetto”.  And therefore, the term “complemento” is a  general term that could be used to identify either a complemento indiretto or a complemento oggetto.  Would you please tell me if this is also correct.

Thank you very much for your help.

Sincerely,

Rich

Answer
Dear Rich,

In  the  sentence: “Il cane è sotto il letto”, the expression “sotto il letto” is an indirect object that in Italian parsing is called “complemento di stato in luogo” as it indicates where someone/something is, i.e. "under/ beneath (sotto) the bed (il letto)", in this sentence.

Please note that in Italian the term “complemento indiretto” sounds quite generic, since we use the specific denomination of every indirect object such as “complemento di specificazione”(Il libro di Mario), “complemento di termine”(Ho parlato a Mario), “complemento di stato in luogo”(Mario è a casa), “complemento di moto a luogo”(Mario va a casa), “complemento di moto da luogo”(Mario viene da casa), ”complemento di mezzo” (Scrivo con la penna), “complemento d’agente” (La casa fu costruita da mio padre), “complemento di modo” (Ti ho rivisto con grande gioia), etc.

In short, whereas in English indirect objects are just one word, in Italian they almost always consist of several words and moreover have specific denomination such as “complemento di specificazione”, “complemento di termine”, etc.

Therefore it is not correct to say simply “complemento indiretto” as we need to specify the appropriate denomination of every indirect object as well as the appropriate denomination of the direct object such as “complemento oggetto” (Sto leggendo un libro), “complemento dell’oggetto interno” (Ho vissuto una bella vita) and “complemento oggetto partitivo” (Ho bevuto  del buon vino).


Lastly, you are correct in  thinking that the term “complemento” does not distinguish whether or not a word is a “complemento indiretto” or a “complemento oggetto”.  And therefore, the term “complemento” is a  general term that could be used to identify either a complemento indiretto or a complemento oggetto.

Hope this is clear enough, though the Italian “analisi logica” (parsing) can be quite difficult.

Best regards,

Maria

Italian Language

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Maria

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Italian is my mother tongue and I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning Italian Language.

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Over 25 years teaching experience.

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I received my Ph.D.in Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy).

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