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Conjugating Italian Verbs with “Ci”

By Beth Bartolini-Salimbeni

Part of Italian Grammar For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Some verbs add on two letters — ci (literally, here, there) — to the end of the infinitive and before their conjugated forms and thereby change their meanings. These verbs follow regular conjugation patterns but put the adverb of place ci (here, there) before each conjugated verb form. For example: vedo means I see; but ci vedo means I can see, I am able to see. The following table shows the conjugation with ci.

vedere (to see)
io ci vedo (I can see) noi ci vediamo (we can see)
tu ci vedi (you [informal] can see) voi ci vedete (you all [informal] can
lui, lei, Lei ci vede (he, she, it, you [formal]
can see)
loro, Loro ci vedono (they, you all [formal]
can see)
Verbs that change meaning when adding “ci”
Infinitive Infinitive with -ci Example conjugation with “ci”
vedere (to see) vederci (to be able to see) Ci vedete? (Can you see?)
sentire (to hear) sentirci (to be able to hear) Più forte! Non ci sento. (Louder! I
can’t hear.
pensare (to think) pensarci (to think about it) Ci penso. (I’m thinking about it.)
volere (to want) volerci (to take or to need) Ci vuol pazienza. (It takes
mettere (to put) metterci (to take an amount of time) Ci mettiamo mezz’ora. (It takes us half an
stare (to be) starci (to be up for, to be game) Ci sto! (I’m game!)
entrare (to enter) entrarci (to have to do with something) Cosa c’entra? (What does that have to do with
) Io non c’entro! (I don’t have
anything to do with it!
credere (to believe) crederci (to believe it) Ci credi? (Do you believe it?)

Other uses of ci include adding them to essere and avere, as shown below. With essere, ci is used in the common expressions there is, there are. With avere, ci simply makes the verb more emphatic. A common expression involves adding ci and la, which combine to become ce la, to the verb fare (to make, to do), resulting in farcela (to be able to do, to stand something). The following examples show these very common uses.

  • Essere (to be) attaches ci to the third person singular and plural forms to mean there is (c’è) and there are (ci sono).

  • Avere (to have) uses ci to emphasize the immediacy of having something: C’hai (ci + hai) le chiavi? (Do you have the keys — right here, right now?)

  • Averci is used informally, and ci doesn’t otherwise change the essential meaning of avere.

  • Fare (to make, to do) adds ci and the direct object pronoun la and becomes farcela (to be able to, to manage, to stand something). The conjugated verb puts ce la in front of each form: ce la faccio, ce la fai, ce la fa, ce la facciamo, ce la fate, and ce la fanno. You say, for example, Ce la fai? (Can you manage?) or Non ce la faccio (I can’t manage) (I can’t stand it). In Florence, you may hear ce la fo’ instead of ce la faccio.