Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! Piacere: How Italians say, “I like it!”

Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2019? Well, let’s start-off running toward our goal this January by learning how to use the Italian verb piacere to say, “I like it!” in Italian.

The Italian verb piacere will allow us to describe an important part of our feelings – our likes and dislikes.  And, piacere is a very important verb for the traveler to Italy to know because there are so many places and things “to like” in Italy!

As I’ve said before, I believe that “commonly used phrases” are the key for how we can all build fluency in any language in a short time.  

If we learn to form sentences in Italian describing the places and things that we like, we will be on our way to building  own personal vocabulary of “commonly used phrases.”    Read below and you will see what I mean.

This post is the 18th in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!”  just click HERE

Many “commonly used phrases” that allow us to describe our feelings
start with the phrase
 “I like …”

 In order to describe what we like in Italian,
we must learn how to use the verb
Piacere

Piacere will also allow us to describe what we don’t like!

See below for how the Italian verb piacere works. Then see how many more ways you can think of to use piacere?

Please reply. I’d love to hear from you! Or join our Conversational Italian! group discussion on Facebook.

The basics of the Italian language are introduced in the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and reference books Just the Verbs and Just the Grammar  

                       found on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com.

The rights to purchase the Conversational Italian for Travelers books in PDF format on two electronic devices can also be obtained at Learn Travel Italian.com.

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How to Use the Italian Verb Piacere to Say…

“I Like It!”

The Italian verb piacere literally means “to be pleasing.” Italians use this verb when they want to express the idea that they like something. It is how Italians say, “I like it!”

It should first be noted that piacere has an irregular conjugation.  Also, because the verb piacere  is most often used to refer to one or many things that we like, it works  differently than the regular Italian verbs that have an -ere ending.  In effect, the subject of the sentence that uses the verb piacere will be the thing or things that are liked, and therefore  the conjugated forms of piacere  that will be used most often are the singular and plural third person. 

The singular third person form of piacere is piace and the plural is piacciono.

So, rather than conjugate the verb piacere in its entirety,  for now we will focus on the two most important conjugations of piacere listed above.  Simple enough! But, the tricky part is actually how to use the verb piacere! First, we will discuss how we approach the topic in English.  Then, read on to see how we must really learn to think in Italian when we use piacere to say, “I like it!”

 

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In English, when we say we like something, we mention two things: what thing is being liked and by whom. So in English, we would say, I like the car, and fulfill these two requirements with the subject pronoun “I” and the direct object “car.”

But in Italian, the indirect object is used instead of the direct object, to describe to whom the thing is liked by or  is pleasing. If we want to change up this same English phrase into the Italian way of thinking, we could say, “The car is pleasing to me.” You will hopefully find the mixed Italianized-English phrase “is pleasing  to…” to be very helpful to understand how piacere really works!

The tricky thing about this type of phrase in Italian is that the conjugation of piacere will have to agree with the number of things that are being liked. Remember that the subject of the sentence in Italian is actually the things themselves.

So, if one thing is liked, piace is used.

If many things are liked, piacciono is used.

Italians then put one of the indirect object pronouns – mi, ti, Le, le, gli, ci, vi, or glibefore the verb, at the beginning of the sentence, to denote to whom the thing is pleasing

As a refresher, here is the meaning of the indirect object pronouns in this situation:

mi to me
ti to you (familiar)
Le to you (polite)
le to her
gli to him
ci to us
vi to you all
gli to them

 

Now, lets put this all together!

For our examples below, let’s pretend we are in a store to buy a new dress – either for ourselves or someone we know.  The actual object we like is not important – the only thing that matters is if there is one or many of them.  The grayed out lettering is mixed Italianized-English to help us to understand how the verb piacere works.  

Piace — to be pleasing
Use these phrases if one thing is liked
Mi piace il vestito. The dress is pleasing to me. I like the dress.
Ti piace il vestito. The dress is pleasing to you. (fam.) You like the dress.
Le piace il vestito.

Gli/Le piace il vestito.

The dress is pleasing to you. (pol.)

The dress is pleasing to him/her.

You like the dress.

He/she likes the dress.

     
Ci piace il vestito. The dress is pleasing to us. We like the dress.
Vi piace il vestito. The dress is pleasing to you all. You all like the dress.
Gli piace il vestito. The dress is pleasing to them. They like the dress.

 

 

Piacciono — to be pleasing
Use these phrases 
if more than one thing is liked
Mi piacciono i vestiti. The dresses are pleasing to me. I like the dresses.
Ti piacciono i vestiti. The dresses are pleasing to you. (fam.) You like the dresses.
Le piacciono i vestiti.

Gli/le piacciono i vestiti.

The dresses are pleasing to you. (pol.)

The dresses are pleasing to him/her.

You like the dresses.

He/she likes the dresses.

     
Ci piacciono i vestiti. The dresses are pleasing to us. We like the dresses.
Vi piacciono i vestiti. The dresses are pleasing to you all. You all like the dresses.
Gli piacciono i vestiti. The dresses are pleasing to them. They like the dresses.

 

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Now that we understand the Italian way of thinking used to describe the things we like, we can use the same method to describe how  much we like what we are doing. 

 Simply follow the indirect object and the verb piacere in the third person singular – piace – with an infinitive verb! Notice that the infinitive Italian verb can be translated two different ways in English. 

Mi piace viaggiare in Italia. I like to travel/traveling to Italy.
Ti piace studiare l’italiano. You like to study/studying Italian.
Gli piace guidare la macchina nuova. He likes to drive/driving the new car.

 

And, to say that we do not like something, or something we are doing, just add “non”  before piace.  Below are our same three example sentences in the negative.

Non mi piace viaggiare in Italia. I don’t like to travel/traveling in Italy.
Non ti piace studiare l’italiano. You don’t like to study/studying Italian.
Non gli piace guidare la macchina nuova. He doesn’t like to drive/driving the new car.

 

Finally, if you really like something, add molto after piace!

Mi piace molto il vestito!  I really like the dress!

Remember how to use the Italian verb piacere, and I guarantee you will use it every day!

 

Conversational Italian for Travelers: “Just the Verbs”

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

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3 thoughts on “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! Piacere: How Italians say, “I like it!”

  1. I haven’t finished this excellent article but want to quickly mention that the indirect object placement description “to whom the thing is pleasing to” may confuse some. You don’t need the extra “to” at the end. Not “pleasing to.” You already say “to whom” in the beginning of the sentence. It actually makes it easier, just, to whom it is pleasing.

    Like

    1.         Good point! I've left the to... in to help people to remember to use the indirect object pronoun but taken it out of the translation of the verb. Grazie! I've used this article many times before and no one else has picked up on this!       
      

      Liked by 1 person

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