If there’s one verb that gave me a lot of trouble when I first started learning Italian grammar that verb was “piacere” (to like”).
Many of the Italian lessons and classes that I took in order to learn Italian only confused me even more about the use of piacere.
“Piacere” means “to be pleasing to” or “to find pleasant”. But in many instances, Italian speakers use it the same way that we use the verb to like. For example, in Italian you don’t literally say:
I like the dog.
In Italian you would say:
Mi piace il cane.
That literally means the dog is pleasing to me. Actually, it means “it pleases me the dog”. It may sound strange to your English-hearing ears. But you will get used to it. Let’s try it:
I like the house. = Mi piace la casa.
I don’t like the car. = Non mi piace la macchina.
You like the icecream. = A te piace il gelato.
He likes the sea. = A lui piace il mare.
We like the bridge. = A noui piace il ponte.
They like to lie. = A loro piace mentire.
Italian Grammar Conventions With Piacere – Piacere and the plurals
If you want to say “I like the dogs,” a couple of changes have to take place. Can you guess what those changes are? Of course dog (“cane”) must now become plural (“cani”).
But the article (“il”) must also become plural (“i”). And the verb must change from third person singular (“piace”) to third person plural (‘piacciono”). Let’s try it:
I like the dogs. = Mi piacciono i cani.
He likes the sports. = A lui piacciono gli sport.
You like the lakes. = A te piacciono i laghi.
She likes the streams. = A lei piacciono i torrenti.
We like the rivers. = A noi piacciono i fiumi.
They like the waterfalls. = A loro piacciono le cascate.
The following is the manner that we add clarity or emphasis, or mention the name of the person or persons that the object is pleasing to.
A Carlo piace nuotare. = Carlo likes to swim.
A me piace la spiaggia. = I like the beach.
A te piace la riva del mare. = You like the seashore.
The boys like the forest. = Ai ragazzi piace la foresta.
They like the pool. = A loro piace la piscina.
Italian Verbs with the Same Construction as “Piacere”
There are quite a few verbs in Italian that follow the same construction as the verb “piacere.” Here are just a few.
- Importare (to be important to)
- Interessare (to be interesting to)
- Mancare (to be lacking to)
- Infastidire (to bother or to annoy – note that this word does not mean to “molest”)
- Incantare (to like)
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Italian Grammar Conventions With “Piacere”
Different uses of “piacere.”
I have also been confused about when to use “piacere.” Despite what the textbooks say, you can use “piacere” to indicate that you like someone as in “being physically attractive to someone.” For example:
Tu mi piaci. = I like you.
Me piace Paola. = I like Paola.
But if you want to say that you like someone as in I get along well with (name), there’s a different way to say it.
Mi trovo bene con Paola.
I like Paola or I get along well with Paola.
Literally, it means:
I find myself well with Paola falls well on me.
I feel comfortable with Paola
Non mi trovo bene con Maria – Non vado d’accordo con Maria.
I don’t like Maria – I don’t get along well with María.
Non mi trovo bene con te. – Non vado d’accordo con te.
I don’t get along well with you.
Italian Grammar Conventions With “Piacere” – Exercises
Let’s do a few exercises with “piacere.”
Translate the following sentences adding emphasis on the person or persons that the object is pleasing to. The answers appear below.
1. I like cats.
2. You like the wedding. (Add emphasis to “you” using the familiar form of “you.”)
3. Joseph likes the building.
4. We like shirts.
5. All of you like insects. (Add emphasis to “all of you”)
Italian Grammar Conventions With Piacere – Answers
1. Mi piacciono i gatti.
2. A te piace il matrimonio.
3. A Giuseppe piace l’edificio.
4. A noi piacciono le camicie.
5. A tutti voi piacciono gli insetti.