QUESTION: Dear Maria,
Can you please tell me if an unstressed pronoun (either a direct object pronoun or an indirect object pronoun) can ever be used with the transitive verb - “cercare”.
For example, would it be possible to say- “Mi cercavano” and if so – what would this sentence mean?
If it is not possible to use unstressed pronouns with “cercare”, can you please explain why?
I was wondering if it is not possible to use unstressed pronouns with “cercare” because the meaning of “cercare” includes the preposition “for” as in- “cercare = to look for”)
Can only stressed pronouns be used with “cercare”? For example, is it possible to say - “Cercavano me” (They looked for me). I would think this is not possible because, as explained in the past, this sentence does not show emphasis. I think that one could only say - “Cercavano me, non voi”
I’ m so sorry to bother you with these questions. But, since it is not possible to say “cercavano me”, would you please also tell me how an Italian would say- “They looked for me”.
Thank you so much. As you can see- I’m quite confused.
ANSWER: Dear Rich,
an unstressed pronoun can be used with the transitive verb “cercare”.
For example, it is possible to say “Mi cercavano” meaning “They looked for me”, since the verb “cercare” corresponds here to “to look for someone”, i.e. “cercare qualcuno”.
In short, the transitive verb “cercare” takes the direct object, whereas the English verb “look for” takes an indirect object.
As you can see, the transitive verb “cercare” can have only a direct object (either unstressed pronouns or stressed pronouns), but not an indirect object which in Italian follows the intransitive verbs.
So, stressed pronouns can be used with “cercare”, provided that they are direct object.
For example, it is possible to say “Cercavano me” (They looked for me), when you want to emphasize the pronoun, while in “Mi cercavano” there is no emphasis.
To sum up, you can say either “Cercavano me, non voi” or simply “Cercavano me” only when you want to show emphasis, even if there is no contrast.
Hope this can help you, so that you are confused no more.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Dear Maria,
Thank you very much for your great help with this question.
I am very sorry to bother you again, but I really don’t understand the following, and I hope that you will not mind explaining this to me.
Can you please explain why saying - “Cercavano me” is correct as it shows emphasis even with no contrast, but saying - “Sei molto gentile a spiegare questo concetto a me”, is wrong as it cannot show emphasis with no contrast.
I had thought that saying - “Sei molto gentile a spiegare questo concetto a me” would show emphasis in demonstrating (by use of a stressed pronoun) how strongly I feel that you are kind to explain the concept to me.
Thank you very much for your patience with my lack of understanding.
saying “Cercavano me” (composed only of the verb and the stressed pronoun) is correct as it shows emphasis even with no contrast, but saying “Sei molto gentile a spiegare questo concetto a me” (composed of a main clause and a subordinate clause) is not so correct as this context does not show emphasis, as we see instead in e.g. in “Sei molto gentile a spiegare questo concetto a me, e non a loro”.
In short, we say correctly “Cercavano me” and “Sei molto gentile a spiegarmi questo concetto” or “Sei molto gentile a spiegare questo concetto a me, e non a loro”, as the use of stressed or unstressed pronouns also depends on the context of the sentence.
I’m sorry, but I’m afraid I cannot help you more because it is also the use of the language that determines whether you can use the “pronomi personali tonici” (stressed pronouns) or the “particelle pronominali” (unstressed pronouns).
This is just the reason why I've suggested to use Italian in writing your questions in order to improve your knowledge of this language.
All the best,