Italian Language/casual phrase

Advertisement


Question
QUESTION: Dear Maria,

Would you please tell me if the following sentence is acceptable or not:
“Sei molto gentile spiegarmi questo concetto.”  

I was trying to write the following:
“You are very kind to explain this concept to me.”

I was wondering if I would be correct to think that -  “spiegarmi questo concetta” would be classified as a “casual adverbial phrase” that is being used to modify the adjective “gentile”.

Could you also please tell me if it would be acceptable to use the stressed pronoun – “me” (instead of the indirect object pronoun- mi)  and say/write the following:

“Sei molto gentile spiegare questo concetto a me.”  
(You are very kind to explain this concept to me.)

Thank you so much for all of your great help.


Very Sincerely,

Rich

ANSWER: Dear Rich,

You should have said “Sei molto gentile a spiegarmi questo concetto” with the preposition “a” after the adjective “gentile” just like the English “to” after “kind” in “You are very kind to explain this concept to me.”

As for  the infinitive   “spiegarmi” in  the phrase “spiegarmi questo concetto”,  it is used just  to modify the adjective “gentile” which is usually followed by an infinitive as in e.g.”Sei stato gentile a venirci a trovare”.

In short, “a spiegarmi questo concetto” and “a venirci a trovare”, both depending on “gentile”, are classified as “causal clauses” (proposizioni causali) because both  “a spiegarmi” and “a venirci” explain the reason why somebody is kind , i.e.  “gentile”.

Lastly, it is not  acceptable to use the stressed pronoun – “me” (instead of the indirect object pronoun- mi)  and say/write the following:“Sei molto gentile a spiegare questo concetto a me”, unless you want to emphasize “a me” as in contrast with e.g. “ a lui”  as in “Sei molto gentile a spiegare questo concetto a me, e non a lui”.

Best regards,

Maria


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Maria,

Thank you for your help with this question.  

I am having a very difficult time understanding why the stressed pronoun “mi” is not acceptable in this sentence, and therefore hope that you will not mind a follow-up question.

Can you please explain why it is not acceptable to use “a mi” and say:
“Sei molto gentile spiegare questo concetto a me.”  
You are very kind to explain this concept to me.

Is this more of a matter of style, or is this a strict grammatical consideration.

If it is grammatical, can you please explain the grammatical reason.  

I am just at a total loss as to how to understand, because, in the past I learned that a stressed pronoun could be used instead of a standard object pronoun basically to express the same thought, but with greater emphasis.

I’m sorry to bother you with this, but I just don’t know how else to come to this understanding.

Thank you very much.

Sincerely,

Rich

Answer
Dear Rich,

the stressed Italian pronoun “me” is not acceptable in the translation of “You are very kind to explain this concept to me” which translates correctly as “Sei molto gentile A spiegarmi questo concetto”, not as “Sei molto gentile  a spiegare questo concetto a me”.

In a sentence like this it would be acceptable to use  the  stressed pronoun “me” only if you want to emphasize “a me” as in contrast with e.g. “ a lui”,  like  in e.g.  “Sei molto gentile a spiegare questo concetto a me, e non a lui”, just as I’ve said in the last part of  my previous answer.

In short, the use of the particella pronominale "mi” in this sentence  is not a matter of style, but a  grammatical consideration, because the  stressed pronoun “me” is just used instead of the enclitic unstressed pronoun “mi” only  when this indirect object expresses the same thought, but with greater emphasis, like in “Sei molto gentile a spiegare questo concetto A ME, e non A LUI” where there is an emphasis on “a me” and “a lui”.

I have however  to tell you that the use of the stressed pronouns  instead of the unstressed pronouns can also depend upon the context of the sentence and the verb which is used there.

See for example: “Dimmi tutto quello che sai”(instead of “Di’ a me…”; “Non tacere, parlami!”(instead of “non tacere, parla a me”);”Volle riferirmi  molte novità”(instead of “Volle riferire  a me molte novità”);etc.

To conclude, you must pay attention to the verb as well as to the context/emphasis and you must not translate literally an English sentence as e.g. “You are very kind to explain this concept to me” where “to me” does not correspond to “a me”, but to the enclitic “-mi” attached at the end of the verb “spiegare”, since this verb takes a Dative of the person affected by the action of the verb.

In Italian, in fact, the pronominal particle “-mi” used as an enclitic in e.g.  “dimmi”, “spiegarmi”, “parlami”, “riferirmi” is a “complemento di termine”(aka Dative case), i.e. an indirect object denoting a person indirectly affected by the action of a verb.

Such a “complemento di termine” (aka Dative) is usually preceded in English  by “to” as in “to me” (See “You are very kind to explain this concept to me”).

Finally, I think that you could try to translate into Italian some English sentences where there is “to me” as an indirect object (Dative case), in order to test your understanding about this matter.

Best,

Maria

Italian Language

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Maria

Expertise

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

Experience

Over 25 years teaching experience.

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

This expert accepts donations:

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.