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  • Writer's pictureTeacher Stefano ENG

How To Use "Piacere" in Italian - Complete guide to saying "I like" in Italian

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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:

  1. Mi piace la pizza = I like pizza

  2. 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!

  1. Mi piace cantare = I like singing

  2. Mi piace cucinare = I like cooking

  3. Mi piace viaggiare = I like travelling

Do you want to take your Italian to the next level? Check out my Online Italian course for beginners "Be Italiano" and start learning today to become a real Italiano, like me!

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:

  1. Ti piacciono i film d'azione? = Do you like action movies? (Are action movies pleasing to you?)

  2. Le piace la pasta = Does she like pasta? (Is pasta pleasing to her?)

  3. Vi piacciono queste foto? = Do you like these photos? (Are these photos pleasing to you?)

  4. 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.

4. Expressing the subject

One last thing before you start practicing with piacere! Sometimes you might need to say "Stefano likes pizza" or "My mother likes reading". Basically, you need to express the subject!

What do we do in this case? Well, if you're thinking Stefano piace la pizza... you're wrong, unfortunately.

If you phrase this way, you're missing a very important part of the sentence: to. Again, remember that the translation would be: pizza is pleasing TO Stefano. So, where's the TO there?

No worries, it's very easy! You'll need to add the preposition A (= to) in front of the person that is doing the liking.

The correct way to say Stefano likes pizza is A Stefano piace la pizza. It's not that bad, isn't it? Let's see some other examples:

  1. A mia madre piace leggere = my mother likes reading

  2. Ai miei figli piacciono le patatine fritte = my kids like french fries/chips

  3. A Marco piace il mare = Marco likes the sea

Final recap

I have to admit, that was a lot to take in! Let's do a quick recap of what we talked about today:

  1. You choose piace or piacciono based on how many things you like. Piace if singular, piacciono if plural.

  2. You use the indirect object pronouns (mi, ti, gli, le, ci, vi, gli) to conjugate the verb piacere.

  3. You add the preposition A in front of the person who is doing the liking if you decide to express the subject!

I hope this helps! If you have any questions just send me a message in the contact section of the website and don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel for more Italian tips!

Ci vediamo presto, ciao!

Do you want to take your Italian to the next level? Check out my Online Italian course for beginners "Be Italiano" and start learning today to become a real Italiano, like me!

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1 comentario

Jennifer Benner
Jennifer Benner
16 may

how does piacerebbe fit in to this?

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