If you buy someone a gift or cook them a meal, you might want to ask the question Ti piace? (Do you like it?) to find out if your thoughtful gesture was appreciated.
The phrase is made up of the second person indirect pronoun ti (you or to you) and the verb piacere (to like) in the third-person singular form.
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Piacere is quite a tricky verb for English speakers to master because the subject of the sentence is the thing one likes. This is why, when you first start learning Italian, it is best to think of piacere as meaning “to please” or “to be pleasing to” rather than “to like“.
Do you like it?
(Does it please you? / Is it pleasing to you?)
To complicate matters, the subject “it” is always omitted from the phrase Ti piace? because it is implicit. In other words, what you are actually saying is Do you like?
The same rule applies if the subject is “them” except that you’d use the third-person plural form piacciono instead of the third person-singular piace.
Do you like them?
(Do they please you? / Are they pleasing to you?)
In most other cases, the subject is required. Note that the word order is flexible in that the subject can come before or after ti piace / ti piacciono. For example:
- Ti piace il caffè? OR Il caffè ti piace? = Do you like coffee? (Does coffee please you?)
- Ti piacciono i cani? OR I cani ti piacciono? = Do you like dogs? (Do dogs please you?)
You can respond to these questions in the following manner:
- Sì, mi piace. = Yes, I like it. (Yes, it pleases me.)
- Sì, mi piace un sacco! = Yes, I like it a lot! (Yes, it pleases me a lot!)
- Sì, mi piacciono. = Yes, I like them. (Yes, they please me.)
- No, non mi piace. = No, I don’t like it. (No, it doesn’t please me.)
- No, non mi piace per niente. = No, I don’t like it at all. (No, it doesn’t please me at all.)
- No, non mi piacciono. = No, I don’t like them. (No, they don’t please me.)
Ti piace questo vestito? – No, non mi piace tanto. Preferisco questo qui.
Do you like this dress? – No, I don’t really like it. I prefer this one here.
All the forms we’ve mentioned up until now are informal. The formal equivalent, which should always be used with older people and those you don’t know very well, is Le piace? or Le piacciono?
An even more formal way would be to use the phrase È di suo gradimento? or Sono di suo gradimento? where gradimento means appreciation or approval.
The verb piacere can also be used to say that you like a person romantically. It doesn’t mean that you are in love but that you are attracted to him or her. Although Italians will often include the pronoun or name of the person in question, the phrase can also be used on its own. The question Ti piace? in this case means Do you like her / him? and mi piace means I like him / her.
If you were to speak directly to the person of interest, then you would ask Ti piaccio? (Do you like me? – Do I please you?) or say Mi piaci (I like you – You please me).
È da sta mattina che non fai altro che parlare di questa ragazza. Di’ la verità, ti piace!
You haven’t stopped talking about this girl all morning. Tell me the truth, you like her!