C'è / Ci sono / lepri & zuppa
In Italian, the particle 'Ci' is often characterised by an aura of mystery and confusion due to its multiple uses. Today we are going to learn a bit more about its use along with the presence of the verb 'essere'.
Amongst the possible uses of the particle 'ci' it is possible to include functions such as adverb, pronoun, complement, and more. But why this small word has all these mutable aspects? To find a possible explanation to that we could look at its etymology :
It derives from the latin : 'hice / hic'
(demonstrative pronoun) and also helped to
describe the idea of location. It had a function
that was in between the meaning of 'this/that'
and 'here/there', and related to the speaker.
As discussed in a previous post, the verb 'essere' allows us to define the idea of existence (or being). When we use 'essere' along with the particle 'ci', we are defining the presence/existence of something. From the point of view of the use it's fairly straightforward, it reflects the 3rd person and can be used in the singular or plural form.
Let's now imagine you are in Italy. It's a lovely evening, and you've just found the perfect place to have dinner. You know, something light like soup!
You greet the people inside, take place and order it. Simple as that. Something like :
'Mi scusi, vorrei una zuppa. Grazie!'
Then you wait. After 10 minutes the 'cameriere' comes back with your 'zuppa' but there's a big problem :
You find a hare ( lepre [ita]) in your 'zuppa'. What to say? nothing really but you could try to explain that with 'ci' and the verb 'essere'!
Luckily for you, the lepre is just one so you should opt for 'ci' followed by the singular form of the verb : ' è '
Because 'i' and 'e' (in terms of sounds) are classified as vowels they don't get along very well one next to the other, so what happens is that the 'i' is dropped and the apostrophe ' is used as a reminder of that. > c'è
'Mi scusi, c'è una lepre nella mia zuppa'
The cameriere is so sorry and kind that he brings the dish back to the kitchen and comes back after just 5 minutes. But the situation didn't get better!
It's a complete disaster, you've got two of them now. It's time to drop the big weapons and use the plural. You shouldn't have any issues by now. It's the moment to use your trustworthy particle 'ci' and add the plural form 'sono'. Afterall, you've got two hares on your plate!!
No apostrophes needed or other technicalities, the 'i' this time is followed by a consonant, 's', just the two words together plus your plain and honest despair :
Cameriere, mi scusi. Ci sono due lepri nella mia zuppa...
The night is over, your hungry and angry and it's time to walk back home. In the streets 'ci sono' just drunk happy people but eventually, you see it. That's it. 'C'è una pizzeria' still open. Buona cena. Buona notte.