Forum Rocket Italian Italian Grammar Where to put "Lei" in the sentence

Where to put "Lei" in the sentence

daytripper90

daytripper90

If I'm using the polite form to address an individual, how do I know where to put their pronoun in the sentence? In "Lei è qui in vacanza? " it's is in the beginning, while in "Viene anche Lei?" it's at the end. What's the rule for this?

Grazie,

Mike
Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

Hi Mike,

In the affirmative and negative forms, the pronoun is placed just before the verb as it is normally in English. In the negative form, non is placed in between. When used as subject, lei is the first element.

Lei è molto gentile.
You are very kind.

Lei non è molto gentile.
You are not very kind.

In questions, you can put it either at the beginning of the sentence (unlike English), or at the end. Where you place it depends on your taste.

Lei sa come arrivare in piazza?
Do you know how to get to the square?
Sa come arrivare in piazza, lei?

I'd say the latter form is slightly informal, but grammatically correct and used in the language. If you're not sure of the grade of politeness required by the situation, just stick to the first example and let lei always come first! The verb remains in the second position.

Then you can use lei as an object.

Non c'è nessuno migliore di lei.
Nobody's better than you. [There isn't anyone better than you]

In these sentences, its position is the same as in English.

In the imperative form, however, lei is always placed at the end, unlike English.

Scelga lei!
You choose!

Many times, lei is implied and is not written / pronounced at all.
Sa come arrivare in piazza?
Do you know how to get to the square?

This omission is not advisable however in the imperative form because it makes the sentence sound as an harsh order.
Scelga!
You choose!

You might ask yourself why I don't capitalize lei. It's never capitalized in the written language, but it frequently is in language courses to help students distinguish the formal lei from lei, meaning she. You know we're talking about the first variant here, so I think there's no room for confusion!

And this should be all! :)
daytripper90

daytripper90

Thanks again Lucia. How about the sentence "Scusi, aspetta anche Lei un taxi?" That's where it really threw me off since it's right in the middle.
 
Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

In that case, "anche" is influencing the position of the pronoun. Without it, you would place "lei" at the beginning as usual. Lei aspetta un taxi? Anche lei aspetta un taxi? Aspetta un taxi anche lei? As you see, the order of the other elements is free. "You too", however, is almost always translated with "anche lei" (or "anche tu"). In very few instances you can also say "lei anche / tu anche" to give a particular emphasis but only the first form is accepted in the example.
daytripper90

daytripper90

Thanks! Other than "anche", can any other words change the pronoun placement?
Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

In WH questions, pronouns can be placed both at the beginning or at the end.

Cosa (what):
Lei cosa fa? / Cosa fa lei? Cosa lei fa?

Dove (where):
Lei dove lavora? / Dove lavora lei? Dove lei lavora?

Come (how):
Lei come lo trova? / Come lo trova, lei? / Come lei lo trova?

Quando (when):
Lei quando va via? / Quando va via lei? / Quando lei va via?

But:
Perché (why):
Lei perché non viene? / Perché non viene, lei? Perché lei non viene?

Similar constructions to anche lei may also influence the position of the pronoun, such as perfino lei, "even you, you even". Lei perfino is rarely used and sounds odd in most contexts.

Perfino lei sa che non possiamo attraversare la strada!
Even you know that we cannot cross the road!

(A more practical example fails me at the moment, sorry.)

Io stesso / tu stesso / lui stesso...
It's the Italian translation of "I myself, you yourself etc".
Stesso io / stesso tu / ...

Sono andato io stesso in posta.
Tu stesso lo sai bene.
Lei stessa [she] ha ammesso di essere colpevole.


Incluso me / incluso te / ...
It translates "myself included, yourself included". The pronoun usually comes second, but the other form is also common and accepted.
Note: they are object pronouns, but they are used as subjects.

Andremo tutti, incluso te.
Andremo tutti, te incluso.


Proprio io / Proprio tu / Proprio lei ...
A rough English translation is really. It's much used to give emphasis on the pronoun that comes next, such as in sentences like:

Why me?!
Perché proprio io? Perché io proprio?

But:

Lui non sa proprio che cosa fare.
Lui proprio non sa che cosa fare.
He doesn't really know what to do.

Proprio lui non sa che cosa fare!
He [out of all the other existing people out there who could happen not to know, because he always knows everything] doesn't know what to do!


The first form conveys a general message, it gives an information.
The second form casts a negative shadow on the sentence. The brackets contain the implications of proprio placed at the beginning of the sentence.

The basic difference is:
The first proprio modifies the action of not knowing.
The second proprio modifies the pronoun.

But, again:
Guarda, è proprio lui!
Look, it's really him!


Guarda, è lui proprio!

The best way to learn how to use these words is by constant practice, I think. They are much used in the language and their position looks totally random even from a native's point of view. The more you use them, the easier it will be for you to place them (and the pronouns, too) in their right spot!
daytripper90

daytripper90

Ok thanks!

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