LESSON 3 on
How do I use the Particle / Pronoun NE?
Watch lesson 1 and 2 first (Ask Manu Italiano - Episode 23 and 24)
Make sure you watch and study Episode 23 and Episode 24 of Ask Manu Italiano before moving on to this episode.
The Italian version of Phrasal Verbs
Similarly to phrasal verbs in English (verbs made up by a verb and one or more prepositions), Italian has lots of verbs that are made up of a verb and one or more pronouns or particles.
These verbs are tough to understand and use (for a non native Italian speaker), since the meaning of these verbs often differs from the sum of all its components.
For example, the verb VOLERCI is made up of VOLERE (to want) and the pronoun or particle (depends how you look at it!) CI (meaning “us” or “there”).
But guess what? VOLERCI is an impersonal verb that renders the idea of “the time that it takes for something to take place“:
PER ARRIVARE A ROMA CI VOGLIONO DUE ORE.
To get to Rome it takes two hours.
PER ARRIVARE A ROMA CI VUOLE UN’ORA.
To get to Rome it takes one hour.
As you can see, it does not refer to WANTING.
When the noun that NE is replacing is served or comes in a container, then the AGREEMENT will happen with the container, not the actual thing that we are replacing. Hold on, here’s what I mean!
If you had too much wine and said:
HO ESAGERATO CON IL VINO…
I went overboard with the wine…
And then specified how much you had:
NE HO BEVUTI TRE BICCHIERI
I drank 3 glasses (of the wine)
NE HO BEVUTE TRE BOTTIGLIE
I drank 3 bottles (of the wine)
As you can see the agreement of the past particles changes to masculine plural in the first sentence, but it changes to feminine plural in the second, But NE is still referring to the wine, right? Yes and no! It’s referring to the container of the wine.
So we had 3 glasses/bicchieri (masculine plural) or 3 bottles/bottiglie (feminine plural).
NE as part of a verb
NE is part of a bunch of verbs. These verbs end up having their own meaning and applications and you pretty much must learn them individually!
Let’s see a few of these.
This is the verb ANDARE (to go) with the reflexive pronoun SI and the NE particle.
It means: to leave, to go away, the hit the read, to take off, to be out of here
ME NE VADO!
I’m outta here!
A CHE ORA SE NE VA TUA MADRE?
What time does your mum leave?
What we are doing here is use the correct reflexive pronoun for the subject, but we are changing its vowel from an I to an E.
MI -> ME
TI -> TE
SI -> SE
CI -> CE
VI -> VE
SI -> SE
We are then adding the NE, and finally the correct form of the verb ANDARE.
In the first example, since “I am leaving” the pronoun is ME and the verb is VADO.
In the second example, “your mum” is leaving, so the pronoun is SE and the verb is VA.
How is ANDARSENE different from ANDARE or PARTIRE?
Well, PARTIRE is never used with this meaning. PARTIRE means “to leave” in the sense of “departing“, so it’s good for trains, people going on vacation etc.
ANDARE does mean “to go” but it MUST be followed by the destination:
VADO A CASA!
I’m going home!
A CHE ORA VA A LAVORO TUA MADRE?
What time does your mum go to work?
Once again this is the verb ANDARE plus NE. But it’s not reflexive, right?
So… different meaning!
ANDARNE kinda means “to be at stake“.
NE VA DEL MIO ONORE.
My honour is at stake.
“To take advantage“.
You must use this verb reflexively to have this meaning (as you see from the SE of the infinitive).
SERENA È UNA PERSONA MOLTO GENEROSA E MARCO SE NE APPROFITTA.
Serena is a very generous person and Marco takes advantage of it.
DIRNE is like saying “PENSARE DI“.
In English it could render a few concepts:
– How about… ?
– What do you say if…?
CHE NE DICI DI ANDARE AL CINEMA?
How about we go to the movies?
Here is a colorful and quite common Italian expression that uses this verbs:
DIRNE DI TUTTI I COLORI
which literally means “to tell things of all colors” and it basically means “to say horrible things about something or something“.
NE HA DETTE DI TUTTI I COLORI DELLA SUOCERA.
He/She said horrible things about his/her mother in law.
Why DETTE, you ask? Well, what the NE is replacing the omitted word COSE (“things”), which is feminine plural. This makes the past participle of the verb DIRE agree in number and gender…
Similar to this expression, but this time using the verb FARNE (FARE plus NE) is:
FARNE DI TUTTI I COLORI
“To cause a lot of trouble, make a mess“. Usually said of naughty children.
“To not care”
JACOPO SE NE INFISCHIA DI QUELLO CHE DICE LA MADRE.
Jacopo doesn’t care about what his mum says. (He ignores it).
FREGARSENE is similar to INFISCHIARSENE, but it’s definitely more colloquial and more common. Careful though! While FREGARSENE is not vulgar or anything like that, it is not work safe.
JACOPO SE NE FREGA DI QUELLO CHE DICE LA MADRE.
Jacopo doesn’t care about what his mum says. (He doesn’t give a rat’s ___ about it).
“To have knowledge”, “to be an expert”
SE VUOI COMPRARE UNA MACCHINA ITALIANA, PARLA CON MARCO. LUI SE NE INTENDE.
If you want to buy an Italian car, talk to Marco. He’s an expert (of them, of cars).
TE NE INTENDI DI MUSICA?
Do know you anything about music?
RESTARSENE, RIMANERSENE, STARSENE
Manu, what do you mean “to stay“?
RESTARE, RIMANERE and STARE already mean “to stay“!!
You would be right! But these are are reflexive and include the NE. They offer a more “involved” experience for the subject.
It’s similar to the difference between:
“I’m going to bed” and “I’m gonna put myself in bed”.
Same meaning, but the second sentence is more “personal”.
SONO STANCO. ME NE RESTO A CASA.
I’m tired. I’m gonna stay at home.
We could say the same thing with any of the other verbs:
SONO STANCO. ME NE RIMANGO A CASA.
SONO STANCO. ME NE STO A CASA.
Or even with the non-reflexive versions:
SONO STANCO. RESTO A CASA.
SONO STANCO. RIMANGO A CASA.
SONO STANCO. STO A CASA.
The reflexive ones with the NE are definitely the ones you’ll hear the most. Also note that there is a slight difference in meaning between STARE (“to stay“) and RESTARE/RIMANERE (“to remain“).
“To go back“
Like the previous group of verbs, this verb has roughly the same meaning as its plain relative TORNARE (“to return“). It’s just used more often to add color and a personal touch!
DOPO LA FESTA SE NE SONO TUTTI TORNATI A CASA A PIEDI.
After the party they all walked home (they all went back home on foot)
Which we could also say as:
DOPO LA FESTA SONO TUTTI TORNATI A CASA A PIEDI.
But we would be losing the “personal” involvement of the subjects. Using the reflexive version, TORNARSENE, would be like saying “they took themselves back home“, instead of a plain “they returned home“, rendered by TORNARE.
“To take a loooong time”
While its cousin VOLERCI refers to “the time that it takes for something to take place“, VOLERCENE has the added specific meaning of “it takes a lot!”.
PER IMPARARE UNA LINGUA… CE NE VUOLE!!
To learn a language, it takes a lot of time!
As you can see, VOLERCI is the verb VOLERE (wanting) used with the particle CI (which changed its vowel to E) and the particle NE.
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