You are here:

Italian Language/Differences/similarities: Direct/Indirect objects


Let me start with the difference between direct and indirect objects has been somewhat of a nightmare.  We study from Prego 8th edition and are now in Chap six.  It is difficult to tell the difference between direct and indirect object pronouns and the book gives very few examples.
I saw your answer to Liz in 2011 and would greatly appreciate it if you could expand by giving many more examples of each, a way to categorize them to remember more easily or a website with practice sentences. is limited and they use the same examples as in the textbook! Is there a good way to sort out the difference and store them in permanent memory!   THanks!

Hi Chris,
I went back to my answer to Liz about 4 years ago to see how I explained the grammatical structure of object pronouns to her and I think it's pretty thorough. I'm sure you have seen these charts in any grammar books you may have used, but just in case:


Person    Singular         Plural     
1st    mi    me    ci    us
2nd    ti    you    vi    you
3rd    lo    him    li    them (masculine)
    la    her    le    them (feminine)
    La    you (formal)


Person    Singular         Plural     
1st    mi    to me    ci    to us
2nd    ti    to you    vi    to you
3rd    gli    to him    gli    to them (masculine)
    le    to her    gli    to them (feminine)
    Le    to you (formal)

As you can see, in many cases, the pronouns are the same whether direct or indirect. Don't let this overlap throw you off. I don't want to add any confusion so I will just remind you that direct objects answer the questions what or whom, and indirect answer to or for what or whom. Keep in mind that some verbs in Italian act differently than their English counterparts in regards to objects. For example, in Italian, you call someone (DO) but you telephone to them (IO); you look someone or something (DO) but you think to someone (IO).
These quirks come with experience. Listen to the mistakes that Italian speakers make when speaking English--this will give you some insight to the structure of their Italian grammar. Look for exercises in college-level Italian course books--unfortunately I do not have any on hand to recommend but I'm sure you can find them in bookstores. Keep practicing and the patterns will become clear to you. Good luck!

Italian Language

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Chris Platamone


I can answer all basic to advanced grammar questions. Italian is not my native tongue, but I have an excellent handle on all things grammatical and can help people bridge the gap between English and Italian by teaching Italian grammar from the English-speaker's point of view.


I attended school in Florence, Italy for 1 and a half years.

I am already an expert on is a new application because my email address has changed.

I have published a translation of a short story in an anthology of Italian women writers, and I have had a letter published on the web site of Italian journalist Beppe Severgnini.

Bachelor's degree, Italian language and literature, San Francisco State University, 1984. Secondary Teaching Credential, San Francisco State University, 1990.

Past/Present Clients
I have taught hundreds of students in both high school and adult education classes over the past 18 years.

©2016 All rights reserved.