7.7.2 redundant personal pronouns

We call a personal pronoun redundant, if it doesn't add any extra information to the sentence, if the sentence is understandable as well without this personal pronoun. The redundant pronoun represents only something already mentioned in the sentence or something that is going to be mentioned. In English redundant pronouns don't exist, so it is something difficult to understand. Let's start with some examples. A normal phrase follows the rule subject => predicate => object.

Do la mia macchina a Maria.
I give Maria my car.

A problem arises for instance if you want to put a stress on Maria. For instance in a sentence like that.

A Maria le do la mia macchina, ma non a te.
I give my car to Mario, but not to you.

The problem is that in this case the sentence doesn't follow the general rule anymore, subject => predicate => object because now the object is in front of the predicate. This problem can be resolved by putting a personal pronoun in front of the noun, because the pronouns stands before the predicate and we get a more "normal" sentence.

wrong: A Maria do la mia macchina, ma non a te.
correct: A Maria le do la mia macchina, na non a te.

If we add le, we get a "normal" sentence: Le do la mia macchina.

So if want an explication for the use of the redundant pronouns in romance languages you can say, that they are needed to get something closer to a "normal" sentence.

The table below shows when the redundant pronoun is compulsory and when it can be used, without being compulsory.

  summary
1)   A direct object which stands at the left of the verb this object must be resumed (compulsory) by a pronoun which stands before the verb, or, in the case that there an infinitive, added to the infinitive, if this object can be represented by the personal pronouns lo, la, li, le or ne, ci. The past participle matches in gender and number with this pronoun.
    I haven' t seen the children.
I bambini, non li ho visti.
    I left the book on the table.
Il libro l' ho lasciato sulla tavola.
    I couldn' t see the David of Michelangeolo.
Il David di Michelangelo, non ho potuto verderlo.
    There is nothing left of the coffee.
Del caffè non ne rimane niente.
  2) An indirect object or an adverbial qualification on the left side of the verb can be resumed
    Maria doesn' t like coffee.
A Maria non le piace il caffè. <=> A Maria non piace il caffè.
    I can' t ask my father.
A mio padre non gli posso chiedere. <=> A mio padre non posso chiedere.
    I never go to the swimming pool.
Alla piscina non ci vado mai. <=> Alla piscina non vado mai.
  3) An indirect / direct object or an adverbial qualification on the right side of the the verb can be resumed, but it is not compulsory.
    When did you buy these books?
Quando li hai comprati questi libri? <=> Quando hai comprato questi libri?
    Does he go to Rome?
Ci va molto spesso a Roma? <=> Va a Roma molto spesso?
    When do you talk to Maria?
Quando le parli a Maria <=> Quando parli a Maria?
  4) If other pronouns can be resumed is a controversial discussion
    Those who speak Spanish have to pay attention now. Construction of this type are correct in Spanish and common.

I don' t like it at all.
A mi no me gusta nada.

I don't give him anything.
A él no le voy a dar nada.
    In Italian you can hear construction of this type, but they are subject of a controversial debate.
    I don' t like it at all.
A me, non mi piace.
    I won' t give him anything.
A lui, non gli do niente.

concerning 4): That these kind of constructions are not allowed in the standard grammar puzzles the Italian as well.

"A me non mi interessa niente - Il pronome ridondante, in formule come questa (a me non mi interessa, a lui non gli piace) non è ammesso dalla grammatica, tantomeno nella lingua scritta. Tuttavia, a parte una certa frequenza d'uso nel parlato, in molti casi quella ripetizione è importante per sottolineare un contrasto: a me non mi piace, a lui sì. D'altra parte questo genere di formule si stanno diffondendo progressivamente grazie soprattutto ai testi cinematografici e anche a testi di canzoni."

  A me non mi interessa niente (I am not interested at all) - The redundant pronoun in construction like this (a me non mi interessa / I am not interested at all, a lui non gli piace / he doesn' t like it all) are considered as grammatically wrong, at least in writing. But notwithstanding an abuse in the spoken language this resumption is important to emphasize something: a me non mi piace, a lui si / I don' t like it, but he does. Expressions of this kind become more and more usual because they are used in movies and in songs.  

Summary: The rules only apply if the object can be resumed with lo, la, li, le, ne or ci.





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