Updated: Dec 17, 2021
The verb "piacere" is a bit tricky but once you understand how it works, I am sure you won't have any problems using it correctly during conversation. Let's dive right in!
The verb piacere is one of the trickiest verbs in Italian because it works very differently compared to English. In today's article, we will see how it is used, the grammar rules behind it, and I will be giving you an awesome tip that will make this verb much easier to understand.
Before we start talking about how piacere works in Italian, let's look at the main differences compared to English:
In English, you would say: I like something. "I" is the subject of the sentence, the person doing the "liking". The thing you like (something) is the object of the action.
In Italian, the thing you like will become the subject of the sentence and the person who does the liking is the person the action is directed to. So, you would say Mi piace qualcosa.
To make things a little bit easier, I always tell my students to think it this way; instead of saying "I like something", think it as "something is pleasing to me".
As you can see from the previous example, something is now the subject of the action and to me (the person who's doing the liking) becomes the person the action is directed to.
This is the logic of the verb piacere in Italian! Now let's see the actual rules!
1. Piace and Piacciono
You probably already know that mi piace means I like, however that is not completely true. This is because you need to choose the right form of piacere based on the object that is liked.
Mi piace means I like only when the object that is liked is singular. But if you like multiple objects, then you will have to choose piacciono.
Let me give you a few examples to better understand:
Mi piace la pizza = I like pizza
Mi piacciono le canzoni d'amore = I like love songs
In the first example, we're choosing piace because the object that is liked (la pizza) is singular! In the second example, we're choosing piacciono because we like multiple things. The object that is liked (le canzoni d'amore) is plural!
This is the first rule you need to remember: you choose piace when the object that is liked is singular and piacciono when it's plural!
2. Piacere with a verb
Sometimes, you might need to say that you like doing something. For example, I like singing, cooking or travelling. Well, in that case, you will need to use the singular form piace!
Mi piace cantare = I like singing
Mi piace cucinare = I like cooking
Mi piace viaggiare = I like travelling
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3. Conjugation of Piacere
The main problem with the verb piacere is that you won't always say mi piace, sometimes you'll need to say that you like or he likes. How do we do that?
First of all, you can notice that I am not using the usual personal pronoun io with the verb piacere, I am not saying io piace or piacciono. Instead, I am saying mi.
That's because mi means to me, and it's an indirect object pronoun.
I've never talked about indirect object pronouns on my blog or my YouTube Channel, but I will very soon!
In the meantime, let me show you how these pronouns work so you can start to memorize them and use them in real conversation. Let's go over the conjugation of piacere in the present, together with indirect object pronouns:
Mi piace/piacciono = I like
Ti piace/piacciono = You like
Gli piace/piacciono = He likes
Le piace/piacciono = She likes
Ci piace/piacciono = We like
Vi piace/piacciono = You (guys) like
Gli piace/piacciono = They like
Does that make sense? All these pronouns translate "to + pronoun".
When I am saying mi piace or piacciono, I am actually saying that something is pleasing to me. The same thing applies to ti that actually means to you. Let me show you the translation of these pronouns to better understand and visualize them:
Mi = to me
Ti = to you
Gli = to him
Le = to her
Ci = to us
Vi = to you guys
Gli = to them
Pronouns in Italian are much more complex than this, but this is how they work with the verb piacere. Let me give you a few examples to better understand:
Ti piacciono i film d'azione? = Do you like action movies? (Are action movies pleasing to you?)
Le piace la pasta = Does she like pasta? (Is pasta pleasing to her?)
Vi piacciono queste foto? = Do you like these photos? (Are these photos pleasing to you?)
Gli piace nuotare? = Does he like swimming? (Is swimming pleasing to him?)
Makes sense? I think it does! As you can see, if you think the verb piacere as to be pleasing to someone you will also understand why you're using piace or piacciono.
In the first example we are saying ti piacciono because i film is plural. That's why in English we're saying "ARE action movies pleasing to you?". In the second example, we're saying "IS pasta pleasing to you?", making it singular, and that's why we use piace.