No sooner are you on your way to learning Italian when you meet these two trolls guarding the bridge to your success. These two pests can take up shop next to the subjunctive, and the rules for the the use of the imperfect as one of the most frustrating aspects of learning Italian. However, as with any difficult subject, with a significant amount of commitment and attention you can master it.
You may not have heard of particles because they don't really fall into any of the traditional categories of parts of speech. Basically, particles are small words that have little to no meaning on their own and don't change in form. An example of a particle in English is the to paired with an infinitive, as in to fall. The particle doesn't have any function other than its attachment to the verb in the infinitive.
ci from latin hic there and ne from inde from there
If I were forced to summarize the uses of ci and ne in 30 seconds, I would say the following:
ci and ne replace prepositional phrases...
1. If you are replacing a phrase introduced by a, you can use ci:
Sei mai andato
a Firenze? Non ci sono mai andato.
2. If you are replacing a phrase introduced by di, you use ne:
di una macchina ? Non ne ho bisogno.
In truth, this would be correct 90% of the time (not an actual statistic). So if you walked away at this moment, you would be correct most of the time. What is presented in the remainder of this page is a far more nuanced explanation of the rules that govern ci and ne.
One reason that ci can be troublesome is it can be confused with a few other unrelated categories of words. You may be familiar with the ci meaning us or to us from the direct and indirect object pronouns respectively. There is also the ci used in the first person plural (noi form) when conjugating reflexive verbs (e.g. ci trasferiamo) and reciprocal verbs (e.g. ci telefoniamo). One has to use context and logic to tell all of these instances of ci apart from each other.
Aside from these pronominal uses of ci, the particle ci has a very different meaning. Watch the following video to learn the uses of this word. At the end of the video there are exercises to reinforce what you've learned. Further down the page there are notes on the use of ci.
Here is the video lesson on the uses of ci:
*An expression with da can also be substituted when the sense is that of a location or motion towards.
**ci is often used with the following verbs: andare, venire, stare, rimanere, restare, as these verbs are often linked to a prepositional phrase dealing with locations.
*This often occurs with the following verbs: pensare (a), credere (in/a), riuscire (a), contare (su)
The following verbs all use ci as an integral part of their construction:
Idiomatic verbs that use 'ci'
|avercela*||to be angry with||Ce l'ha con me||he/she is angry with me|
|capirci||to understand something||Non ci capisco niente||I don't understand anything|
|cascarci||to fall for it||Ci sei cascato||you fell for it|
|entrarci||to have something to do with||Cosa c'entra?||What's that got to do with anything?|
|esserci||be (there)||Ci sono due studenti||There are two students|
|farcela*||to manage, succeed||Non ce la faccio più||I can't take it anymore|
|metterci||to take (time)||Ci mette due ore per prepararsi||he/she takes two hours to get ready|
|mettercela tutta*||to do one's best||Ce l'ho messa tutta||I did my best|
|prenderci gusto||to develop a taste||Da bambino non mi piaceva il senape, ma adesso ci prendo gusto a mangiarlo.||As a child I didn't like mustard, but now I'm starting to like it.|
|saperci fare||to be good at something||Ci so fare||I'm good at it|
|sentirci||to hear well||Non ci sento da quell'orecchio||I don't hear well out of that ear|
|starci||to agree with||io ci sto||I agree|
|tenerci||to mean a lot||Ci tengo molto a vedere quel film||It means a lot to me to see that movie|
|vederci||to see||Ci vedo bene||I see well|
|volerci||to require/need||Ci vuole un albero||you need a tree|
*As with double object pronouns when 'ci' is combined with another pronoun (here 'la') the ci changes to 'ce'
The particle ne is similar to ci in that it also replaces a prepositional phrase. Watch the following video to learn the uses of this word. At the end of the video there are exercises to reinforce what you've learned. Further down the page there are notes on the use of ne.
Here is a video how to use ne:
*There are exercises at the end of the video to reinforce what you have learned.
The following verbs all use ne as an integral part of their construction:
Idiomatic verbs & expressions that use 'ne'
|andarsene||to leave||Me ne vado||I'm leaving|
|averne fin sopra i capelli||to have it up to here (fig.)||Ne ho fin sopra i capelli!||I've had it up to here!|
|fregarsene*||to not give a damn||Non me ne frega niente||I don't give a damn|
|importarsene||to not care||Non me ne importa||I don't care about that|
|infischiarsene*||to not give a damn||Francamente me ne infischio||Frankly, I don't give a damn|
|non poterne più||to not be able to manage||Non ne posso più||I can't do it anymore|
|starsene||to hang around||Stasera me ne sto a casa||Tonight I'm hanging out at home|
|valerne la pena||to be worth it||Ne vale la pena||It's worth it|
*colloquial; not for formal situations