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Il 'Ci' locativo : what, where, and why

Updated: Oct 8, 2022

There are recurring elements in the Italian language that are not always clear. The particle 'ci' is definitely one of these, a little word that pops out every now and then. In this article, we are going to see how to use it in relation to places as 'ci' locativo.

Mario Rossi : 'Di dove sei?'
John Smith: 'Sono Inglese, di Londra!'
Mario Rossi : 'Io amo Londra, ci vado molto spesso!'

'Ci vado', 'ci sono stato', 'ci sono', 'ci sei?', all these expressions use the particle 'ci', and looking at them, one noticeable aspect is that all those verbs refer to an action of movement. 'Vado', is the first person singular of the verb 'andare' ('I go' [eng.]) while the other three are forms of the verb 'essere'. Even though 'essere' doesn't directly indicate a 'movement' in the strictest sense of the word, as we saw in this article it can be used to express a state of a body such as 'I exist'; Just as in English, we use it to tell where we are (e.g. I am here). So it is fair to say that this function of 'ci' it is related to something concerning movement. But let's find out a bit more about it.

This 'ci' is an adverb, that very often replaces a name that has already been mentioned in a conversation. This particle has got many possible values and it is often used to avoid repetition and to make the conversation flow more easily, replacing "a place". When we speak our first language we use various tricks not to sound like robots.

In a sentence like the one on top of the article, the 'ci' is used to replace the name of the city named by mister Smith, 'London'. This system can be used to indicate any sorts of places we want to mention. For instance, if I'm going to a concert I want to invite a friend of mine I could easily say something like :

Vado al concerto dei The Cure questa sera, ci vieni?

That 'ci' helps me to avoid a longer and much weirder sentence such as :

'Vado al concerto dei The Cure questa sera, vieni al concerto dei The Cure?'

the whole part 'a̶l̶ ̶c̶o̶n̶c̶e̶r̶t̶o̶ ̶d̶e̶i̶ ̶'̶T̶h̶e̶ ̶C̶u̶r̶e̶'̶' is expressed with a simple 'ci'.

Remember where

If you look at all the examples on this page, and everywhere else, you will notice that the use of the 'ci locativo' normally comes before the verb. I like to use 'normally' because the norm in the language is the presence of anomalies, and once or two times in your life you might find something different like a specific dialect that uses 'ci' somewhere else or particular situations in which it might be presented in another location (poetry, for instance).

The 'ci' in Italian has various uses, today we covered one of them. If you are interested in learning more about its uses and much more, subscribe to our newsletter and keep reading our articles!

A presto!

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