The Correct Usage of PIACERE
Posted On June 2, 2018
How many times a day do you use the verb to like? Quite a few times I’m sure. It is a very common verb and of course language learners are keen to learn its usage as soon as possible.
However, it is not only for this reason that I have chosen to write about PIACERE (to like, to please), it just happens that expressing what you like (and dislike) in Italian is harder to grasp than expected.
In English when we want to say we like something we generally use the following sentence order:
SUBJECT + VERB + DIRECT OBJECT
I + like + cake
In Italian the word order appears most often as the following:
INDIRECT OBJECT + VERB + SUBJECT
To me + is pleasing + the cake
(NB: If you learn PIACERE as meaning “to be pleasing to” and not “to like” the learning process becomes much easier)
Now let’s look at this sentence in Italian:
Mi piace la torta
As you can see the indirect pronoun to me has been used. You need to be familiar with the indirect pronouns (mi, ti, gli/le, ci, vi, a loro/gli) in order to construct sentences using PIACERE. If your sentence does not use the indirect pronoun the indirect object needs to be introduced by using the preposition “a”.
A Roberto piace la torta
The verb conjugates to match the subject of the sentence. If you wanted to say they like the cake it would be as follows:
A loro piace la torta
The verb remains in the singular, as the subject the cake is singular. If you were to say they like the cakes the verb would need to be conjugated as a plural:
A loro piacciono le torte
However, if the subject is also a verb (always in the infinitive) PIACERE is singular. For example:
A loro piace fare le torte They like making cakes
Now, at the risk of confusing you, I would also like to explain circumstances where PIACERE would be conjugated like other verbs in Italian.
The easiest way to show you the circumstances in which this conjugation is necessary is to show you a few examples:
Tu piaci a mio fratello My brother likes you (You are pleasing to my brother)
Io piaccio a quella persona That person likes me (I am pleasing to that person)
If you remember what I mentioned above – the indirect object (what is doing the liking) is indicated by “a”. This is a good thing to look for when trying to understand the sentence.
I realise that there are many aspects of the verb PIACERE that I have not covered in this post (other tenses primarily) however I believe that I have introduced so much that we all need a break.
Let me know if you have any questions or comments!