How to Use Ci and Ne in Italian

Ci and ne are two small particles that, despite being key elements of the Italian language, often appear arcane, and confuse even those who are no longer beginners. Not only do these particles have several meanings, but they can also be placed in different positions of the same sentence, and they can even (slightly) change their shape. 

I think that the best thing to do to decipher ci and ne is to examine them separately in a schematic way, with easy examples that reproduce an everyday context. In this article, you will find a map that you can consult every time a ci or a ne seems to go in an unknown or unexpected direction.

Written by Nicco Curini, certified teacher of Italian since 2016, working online since 2019. Website: | Social media: InstagramFacebookTwitter

how to use ci and ne in italian


1. Ci as a personal pronoun

Ci can have the meaning of us, the first person plural pronoun, and it can be (a) a direct pronoun, (b) an indirect pronoun, and (c) a reflexive pronoun placed before the verb. In fact, ci cannot come separately after the verb although it can be attached to it when in its infinitive or imperative form, as can also be seen in the examples below. Please follow the passages attentively.

1. a) Ci as a direct pronoun → us

È meglio se parcheggiamo davanti alla stazione, altrimenti Marco non ci vede.

It’s better if we park in front of the station, otherwise Marco won’t see us.

Hanno detto che ci possono chiamare più tardi.

They said they can call us later.

And here is an equivalent version of the second example with ci attached to the infinitive verb chiamare:

Hanno detto che possono chiamarci più tardi.

1. b) Ci as an indirect pronoun → to us

In this case, the meaning of ci also includes a preposition. Nevertheless, in some cases in the English translations of the following examples the preposition may not be needed.

Ci puoi dire la tua opinione, se vuoi.

You can tell us your opinion if you want.
(Literally: ‘you can tell to us‘)

Alternative version with ci attached to the infinitive verb dire:

Puoi dirci la tua opinione, se vuoi.

Alternative version with the indirect pronoun placed after the verb, but not attached to it:

Puoi dire a noi la tua opinione, se vuoi.

Reformulation of the example with the imperative form of dire:

Dicci la tua opinione!

Tell us your opinion!

Alternative version of the imperative form with the indirect pronoun placed after the verb, but not attached to it:

Di’ a noi la tua opinione!

In this case ci can’t be placed before the verb:

Ci di’ la tua opinione.

1. c) Ci as a reflexive pronoun

Italian reflexive verbs have to be conjugated with the appropriate reflexive pronouns. As you can see in the examples below with the verb svegliarsi / to wake up, ci is the one used for the first person plural.  

Io mi sveglio – I wake up

Tu ti svegli – You wake up

Lui/lei si sveglia – He/she wakes up

Noi ci svegliamo – We wake up

Voi vi svegliate – You (all) wake up

Loro si svegliano. – They wake up

Speaking of reflexive verbs, I also have to say that ci is needed to formulate the impersonal form of a reflexive verb to avoid the repetition of the impersonal pronoun si

Let’s see an example of the impersonal use of a non-reflexive verb and a reflexive one to better understand this situation.

Impersonal form of a non-reflexive verb: vedere / ‘to see

Dal Campanile di Giotto si vede molto lontano.

From Giotto’s bell tower one sees very far away.

Impersonal form of a reflexive verb: vedersi / ‘to see each other

Ciao Gianni, come va? È da un po’ che non ci si vede.

Hi Gianni, how are you? We haven’t seen each other for a while.

2. Ci as “here or there”

Ci can also indicate a place, either near or far, in order to avoid mentioning or repeating the name of a location that is implicit in the conversation.

Amo la Sicilia, ci vado tutti gli anni.

I love Sicily, I go there every year.

Sei già stato in palestra questa settimana? Io ci vado dopo.

Have you already been to the gym this week? I’m going there later.

Ci vieni spesso?

Do you come here often?

3. EsserCI → c’è = there is | ci sono = there are

Close to the meaning discussed in the previous paragraph, ci can be combined with the verb essere / to be, therefore becoming esserci / to be present. You need this verb in order to state the physical presence of a person or a thing.  

Below you can see the Italian tenses presente, imperfetto and passato prossimo of esserci, but of course it can be conjugated in all the other tenses as well.

Io ci sonoc’ero ci sono stato/a

Tu ci sei c’eri ci sei stato/a

lei/lui c’èc’erac’è stato/a 

Noi ci siamo c’eravamoci siamo stati/e

Voi ci sietec’eravateci siete stati/e

Loro ci sono c’erano ci sono stati/e

Some examples:

C’è ancora un po’ di tè, lo vuoi finire?

There is some tea left, do you want to finish it?

Alla festa c’erano quasi tutti i miei amici.

Most of my friends were (present) at the party.

4. Pronominal Verbs with CI

Exactly as it happens with esserci, the pronoun ci can be added to some other verbs. This however affects their original meaning.

Volerci = to be necessary (also related to time), to need

Volerci = to be necessary (also related to time), to need

Per una festa di compleanno ci vuole una torta.

For a birthday party you need a cake.

Ci vogliono due ore di aereo per andare a Londra.

It takes two hours by plane to go to London.

Mettere = to put

Metterci = to take time to do something; to put in, to insert

Ci ho messo solo due ore per fare questa torta.

It only took me two hours to make this cake.

Ci metti molto burro?

Do you put a lot of butter in it?

Stare = to stay

Starci = to be in, to be down (for something), to allow 

Ti va bene se paghiamo a metà? Sì, ci sto!

Is it okay if we go halves? Yes, sounds good!

5. CI with verbs that use A, SU or IN

There are verbs that need a preposition to complete the information we want to communicate. Below you can find four of them as an example:

1. Pensare aPenso spesso a quella bella vacanza

I often think about that beautiful vacation.

2. Provare aHai provato a chiamarlo tu?

Have you tried calling him? 

3. Credere inNon crediamo in queste cose

We don’t believe in these things

4. Contare suConto sul tuo aiuto

I count on your help

Well, the entire piece of sentence coming after the verb, including the preposition, can be replaced by ci if what we are referring to is already implicit (or already clear from the context):

1. Ci penso spesso

I often think about it

2. Ci hai provato?

Have you tried [doing it]?

3. Non ci crediamo

We don’t believe (in them)

4. Ci contiamo

We count on it

6. CI can be CE!

Finally, I have to say that ci can become ce, without changing the meanings and functions discussed above. We say and write ce when ci is immediately followed by another pronoun.

Ci metti il sale? →  Ce lo metti?

Do you put salt in it?Do you put it in there?

È una bella casa, ma non cela possiamo permettere

It’s a beautiful house, but we can’t afford it

Hai il biglietto con te? Non ce l’ho, me lo sono dimenticato!

Do you have your ticket with you? I don’t have it, I forgot it!


Another little word with several meanings that can be quite confusing is the pronoun ne. However, I think it will be a little easier than ci to schematise.

1. NE as ‘a part of something’

This pronoun can refer to amounts and quantities in the same way words like some and any do in English. 

Vuoi delle patatine? = Ne vuoi?

Do you want some chips? = Do you want some?

Non ne voglio, grazie

I don’t want any, thanks

2. NE = of it/them, about it/them

Ne is also frequently used with the meaning of ‘of it/them’, ‘about it/them’. Therefore we can easily find it near verbs and adjectives which are followed by the preposition di.

Marco parla sempre di calcio = Marco ne parla sempre

Marco always talks about football = Marco always talks about it

Sei sicuro di questa cosa? No, non ne sono molto sicuro

Are you sure about this? No, I’m not so sure (of it)

Hai ottenuto un buon risultato, ma non ne sembri molto contento

You got a good result, but you don’t seem very happy (about it)

3. Ne = from it/them

Similarly to the previous point, ne also has the meaning of ‘from it/them’. However, I would say that this function is a little less frequent and it belongs to a more formal register.

Le piante ricavano nutrimento dalla terra = Le piante ne ricavano nutrimento

Plants get nourishment from the soil = Plants get nourishment from it

Luca ottiene buoni risultati da questo nuovo metodo = Luca ne ottiene buoni risultati

Luca gets good results from this new method = Luke gets good results from it

4. Ne in ‘andarsene’

Ne is often used together with the verb andare / to go, adding the meaning of ‘from here’ or ‘away’ to it.

Basta, me ne vado!

Enough, I’m leaving!

Literally: Enough, I’m going away from here!

Quando è finita la musica, ce ne siamo andati

When the music was over, we left

Literally: When the music was over, we went away from there

5. Other pronominal verbs and expressions

There are other expressions and pronominal verbs that, combined with ne, acquire new shades of meaning according to the points described above.

Non ne posso più! = I can’t take any more [of it]!

Ne ho abbastanza! = I’ve had enough [of it]!

Fregarsene / infischiarsene = not to give a damn [about it]

6. The position of NE

Similarly to what we saw for ci, ne goes before the conjugated verb (1), but it can be associated with it if the verb is in the infinitive (2) or in the imperative (3).

If I say:

Ci sono delle caramelle sul tavolo…

There are candies on the table…

I can complete the sentence in these 3 possible ways:

(1) Ne prendo una, posso? I’ll take one (of them), may I?

(2) Posso prenderne una? May I take one (of them)?

(3) Prendine quante ne vuoi! Take as many as you want (of them)!


CI and NE together?

Yes, it is absolutely possible to use ci and ne in the same sentence. We just need to remember that ci before another pronoun becomes ce (see above: 6. CI can be CE!).

Certo, non ce ne siamo dimenticati!

Sure, we haven’t forgotten about it!

Vorrei due biglietti, ce ne sono ancora?

I would like two tickets, are there any left?

ci and ne in italian

Ethics statement: Below you will find affiliate links. If you buy something after clicking the link, we will receive a small commission. To know more about our ethics, you can visit our full disclosure page. Thank you!

Lingopie (affiliate link) is the Netflix of language learning application that uses real TV shows and movies to help you learn a new language. You can choose a show to watch based on your fluency level, and use the interactive subtitles to get instant translations to help you learn quickly.

Are you interested in improving your Italian in a fun and stress-free manner? Then we highly recommend Serena Capilli's short stories in Italian (affiliate link), designed for beginners, advanced beginners, and lower intermediate learners (A1-B1 CEFR). These stories have been optimised for English speakers in search of a fun, laid-back learning experience! Read our full review here.

Leave a Comment