Forum Rocket Italian Italian Grammar Lesson 1.4 - Piacere Grammar Question

Lesson 1.4 - Piacere Grammar Question

JaeL

I have a question about the grammar in this exchange:

Ti piacere la cucina romana?

Si, mi piace tutta la cucina italiana!

In a previous lesson, we learned that questions can be made without having to change the syntax from the statement, simply by using intonation and inflection.

My question is: 

Why is the indirect object pronoun used "ti piace" ? Is it possible to say: "Piace cucina romana? / Tu Piace la cucina romana?"

And is it possible to reply: "Si, piaccio la cucina romana?"

I'm curious, is it because the first question is asked using an auxillary verb (in the English equivalent?) Is it because the question is asked with the indirect object pronoun "ti piacere ......" that I must also answer with the same grammar equivalent, "Si, mi piace....."

Thanks!

Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

Hi JaeL,

Piacere translates to like, but the way you use it is very peculiar, so that we could literally translate it as...

Mi piace la cucina italiana.
To me it likes Italian cuisine.

Mi translates to me. You'll find this often in other sentences in later lesson.
Piace is the third person singular conjugation of the present tense of piacere.
Put this all together and you have a very rough "to me it likes".

You can replace "to me" with any of the other possibilities: to you, for example, is translated as ti.

Ti piace la pasta.
You like pasta. ("To you it likes pasta.")

Other pronouns can be...

Gli piace cantare.
He likes to sing. ("To him it likes to sing.")

Le piace leggere.
She likes reading. ("To her it likes to read.")

You can't say Tu piace la cucina italiana, because this conjugation of piacere never follows a subject pronoun (I, you, we...). You use an indirect pronoun instead: mi, ti... to me, to you...

Piacere, when used to mean "I take pleasure in...", has two forms according to the number of objects in the sentence:

Third person singular...
Mi piace il libro.
I like the book.

Third person plural...
Mi piacciono i libri.
I like the books.

When piacere is followed by an infinite verb, you always use the singular form:

Mi piace cucinare, ci piace nuotare, vi piace studiare.
I like to cook, we like to swim, you (plural) like to study.

Thus these are all the possible combinations at the present tense:

Mi piace - Mi piacciono
I like [object] - I like [objects]

Ti piace - Ti piacciono
You like [object] - You like [objects]

Gli/le piace - Gli/le piacciono
He/she likes [object] - He/she likes [objects]

Ci piace - Ci piacciono
We like [object] - We like [objects]

Vi piace - Vi piacciono
You like [object] - You like [objects]

A loro piace - A loro piacciono (informal: Gli piace - Gli piacciono)
They like [object] - They like [objects]

A loro literally translates to them.

When piacere is used to mean "to look cool/attractive/nice to the eyes of someone else", you use another conjugation, this time using subject pronouns:

Io piaccio.
I am liked [by people]

Tu piaci.
You are liked [by people]

Lui/lei piace.
He/she is liked [by people]

Noi piaciamo.
Voi piacete.
Loro piacciono.

Piaccio can only be used in "reflexive" sentences:

Mi piaccio.
I like myself.

Ti piaccio?
Do you like me? ("To you I like?")

Then you can have:
Tu mi piaci.
I like you.

Literally, this is: You to me like.

More examples:

Ci piace il cioccolato. A noi (to us) piace il cioccolato.
We like chocolate.
Noi piaciamo a tutti.
Everybody likes us. ("We are liked by everybody.") 

Mi piacciono le mele e le arance. A me (to me) piacciono le mele e le arance.
I like apples and oranges
Mi piaccio così come sono.
I like myself as I am.

Piacere can be a tough topic, so please let me know if you have any other questions or if something is confusing. It's radically different from English so it might take a while to get accustomed to it.

Lucia

JaeL

Grazie Lucia!

Thanks for the clarification,

Is there any pattern or way of knowing which verbs aren't conjugated normally with subject pronouns like Piacere? Or is this something that you must just learn and memorize. I've noticed the same for the chiamare and amare. "called" and "love"

Seen as "Mi chiamo...." "Ti amo" 

It's been fun and challenging learning verb conjugation in Italian, but understanding which verbs conjugate with normal subject pronouns, and which normally conjugate with indirect object pronouns feels tricky.

Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

Mi chiamo is used to translate My name is or, more literally, I am called. The literal translation would be "I call myself".

The particle "si" can be attached to the end of many verbs to make them reflexive verbs. Thus:

Chiamare. To call.
Io chiamo il mio gatto. I call my cat.
Mi chiamo Ettore. My name is (I call myself) Ettore.
You can also say: Il mio nome è Ettore (literally, My name is Ettore), although it's less common.

In ti amo, the verb is not reflexive:
Ti amo. I love you.

Amo comes from amare, to love. This is the infinitive verb, and if you attach "si" to it, it becomes amarsi, the reflexive variant "to love oneself". You'll then have...

Io mi amo. I love myself.
Lui si ama. He loves himself.
Loro si amano. They love themselves.
And so forth.

To say I like myself, however, you would say Mi piaccio, not Mi piace. When used in its reflexive variant, the verb must be conjugated according to the subject.

Mi piaccio. I like myself. ("A me piaccio")
Mi piace. I like (it). ("A me piace")

Another example verb can be fare male (to hurt):

Mi faccio male alla gamba. I hurt my leg. ("I hurt hurt myself at the leg")
Mi fa male la gamba. My leg hurts.

The reflexive verb changes depending on the subject in the first sentence:
Io mi faccio male, tu ti fai male, lui/lei si fa male, noi ci facciamo male, voi vi fate male, loro si fanno male. I hurt myself, you hurt yourself, he hurts himself, etc.

The verb in the second sentence doesn't change, however, because it is not a reflexive verb. We could translate the sentence roughly as "To me hurts the leg". Notice that the subject pronoun is not used.
Mi fa male, ti fa male, gli/le fa male, ci fa male, vi fa male, a loro (gli) fa male.
It hurts me, it hurts you, it hurts him, etc.

Hope this helps!

Lucia

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