Italian Phrase: Non ci posso credere! (I can’t believe it!)

This week’s phrase is bound to come in handy if you see or hear about something that defies belief.

Non ci posso credere!

I can’t believe it!

It is made up of the following components:

  • Non >> A very common adverb of negation. In this particular phrase, it translates as not in English.
  • Ci >> A common pronoun and adverb with various meanings. In this case, it is another way of saying a ciò (literally: to that) or a questo / quello (literally: to this / that).

    Non ci posso credere. = Non posso credere a ciò / a questo / a quello.
    Literally: I can’t believe (to) this / that.
  • Posso >> The first person singular present conjugation of potere (can, to be able). In English, it translates as I can.
  • Credere >> The infinitive verb to believe in Italian. It is usually followed by the prepositions a (to) or in (in).

    credere a qualcuno / qualcosa = to believe somebody / something
    credere in qualcuno / qualcosa = to believe in somebody / something
Young startuppers reading shocking news on laptop screen
Abbiamo vinto! Non ci posso credere! – We won! I can’t believe it!

Note that it is possible to move ci from its position between non and posso to the end of credere without changing the meaning of the sentence. This is because direct objects can be attached to the end of infinitives in Italian:

Non posso crederci!

I can’t believe it!

Another variation on this phrase removes the verb potere from the equation altogether. The only difference is that credere has to be conjugated into its first person singular present form credo (I believe).

Non ci credo!

I don’t believe it!

I'm so excited and shocked!
Non posso crederci. Mi ha chiesto di sposarlo finalmente! – I can’t believe it. He finally asked me to marry him!

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