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A direct object is a noun, whether person or thing, that someone or something acts upon. In the simplest sentences, the direct object directly follows the verb, so it’s very easy to see the effect that the verb has on the noun.
|Voglio la pittura.||I want the painting.|
|Lei conosce Nico.||She knows Nico.|
|Sto leggendo un romanzo.||I’m reading a novel.|
Characteristics of direct objects
- Are always used with transitive verbs
- Are never preceded by prepositions
- Cannot be removed without altering the meaning of the sentence
- Become the subject when sentence is turned around into the passive voice
- Can always be found by asking "Whom?" or "What?"
|What do I want?||The painting.|
|Whom does she know?||Nico.|
|What am I reading?||A novel.|
Direct object pronouns
In order to avoid repeating nouns in a series of sentences or when answering questions, both Italian and English replace direct objects with direct object pronouns.
|Vede Nico. Conosce Nico da 3 anni.||She sees Nico. She’s known Nico for 3 years.|
|Vede Nico. Lo conosce da 3 anni.||She sees Nico. She’s known him for 3 years.|
As you can see, the second version sounds much more natural, in both languages.
Italian direct object pronouns
+ The third person singular pronouns have two forms:
- Normal forms: lo and la
- Contracted form: l’ for use only in front of avere when it’s an auxilary verb.
+ Lo replaces any masculine noun, whether human or inanimate, while la replaces any feminine noun.
+ Likewise, the plurals li and le replace masculine/mixed and feminine groups of nouns, respectively.
+ Capitalized La is the formal direct object pronoun to be used with people you address as Lei (see tu vs Lei).
In Italian, direct object pronouns generally precede the verb, whereas in English they follow it.
|Lo conosco.||I know him.|
|La beviamo.||We’re drinking it.|
|Mi ami?||Do you love me?|
|Loro vi vedono.||They see you.|
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