Da dove vieni?
Cosa fai qui?
Who are you?
Where do you come from?
What are you doing here?
These are the questions you are likely to hear on a trip to Italy as soon as the people around you notice that you speak some Italian. To answer them, you will end up talking not only about your present, but also about past experiencies and your future projects. Past, Present, Future – your life is a timeline.
Of course, life has been, is and will be a succession of entangled and complex events, and you’ll need precise instruments to narrate them. Happily, Italian action words (or verbs) have 14 time slots to describe the events of your life. The first four time slots will be presented in Level 1.
To populate your timeline, you need people. For conversational purposes, three groups do it all: In Group 1, the pole position, there is nobody other than yourself and you refer to yourself as ‘I’. Now divide the 7 billion human beings who share planet Earth with you into Groups 2 and 3. In Group 2, put the person you are currently talking to (you refer to him or her as ‘you’), whereas in Group 3 you’ll put the rest of the world, the people you may be talking about with your conversation partner (you’ll refer to them as ‘he/she’).
The result is a triangle. ‘I’ talks to ‘you’, ‘you’ responds; and ‘I’ and ‘you’ talk about ‘he/she/it’ (see the hollow arrows). As only one person is involved in each case, I, you, he/she/it are so-called singular personal pronouns. Here they are with their Italian counterparts:
A second triangle describes situations with more than one person. We talk to you, you respond, and together, we talk about them. In these cases, we use the so-called plural personal pronouns.
Taken together, the three singular forms and the three plural forms condense into a sextet. Later, you will meet dozens of these sextets, so try to become familiar with their structure:
|1st person singular||io||I|
|2nd person singular||tu||you|
|3rd person singular||lui/lei||he/she/it*|
|1st person plural||noi||we|
|2nd person plural||voi||you|
|3rd person plural||loro||they|
* The Italian language has no equivalent for it.
Please memorize io-tu-lui/lei | noi-voi-loro.