Stuck with Italian (syntax)
Next to Duolingo I also decided this summer to take a minor in Italian language at my University, I had the idea that since I finished my Duolingo tree for 70% I would have a pretty big advantage on other students and this all would be no problem.
Three weeks after starting it all is beginning to look like a huge disappointment. The pace at Uni is insane, we need to learn from level A1 tot B2 within six months, and I never ever before had any trouble with the 'pace' of University, but now with Italian ... whole different story.
I feel like I am 'stuck' at a certain point, I keep making the same mistakes and having difficulties with some key elements of the language.
Yesterday I realized that the hardest and most confusing thing for me is the build up of sentences in Italian, the syntax. I am personally used to the English, German or Dutch, and the build up of words and sentences in these languages is completely different.
For example some sentences in Italian:
• Ti sto dando una mano ... this literally says: You I am, I am giving a hand
For me, a more logical order would be:
Sto dando ti una mano (I am giving you a hand) literally translation
• Eppure mi hai cambiato la vita ... this litterally says: Even though, me, you have changed the life
For me more logical order would be: Eppure hai cambiato la mia vita (Even though you have changed my life) literally translation
• Lei sta parlando al telefono ... literally translation: She is talking on the phone, same word order as in English, great. But why can't this always be the case?
So it is clear that sometimes the word order in sentences can be the same as in English, but sometimes it differs tremendously, especially when clitics seem to play a part.
But how do I know and learn to understand in what order they should be written said or even interpreted? Because sometimes even with reading, I know the words in a sentence, but due to the different order I get lost.
Not sure if I am the only one with the problem, but I hope there are some people who know some tricks to make this more easy or have some more explanation about the syntax in Italian and how to work with this.
Oh, pretty difficult problem to deal with :) I understand, I suffer the same in German, as all I was learning before were Romance languages, also Russian and English, and German has completely different syntax in some cases.
With Italian, try to remember like this: indirect pronouns, (Mi, ti, gli, ci, vi, le, loro) always comes in front of the verb, for example "Mi stai mandando un messaggio", here "messaggio" is direct object, "tu", that isn't often being written, is the subject, and "mi" is the indirect object, therefore, "mi" comes in front of the verb. :) I remembered it like that. look at other examples: "Che le hai dato?" "Gli stiamo chiamando", etc. (except loro, loro always follows the verb, "Parliamo loro domani").
As for direct pronouns, (Mi, ti, lo, la, ci, vi, li, le) they also follow the same rule, are placed in front of the conjugated verb. "Io ti invito", "io vi parlo", "io lo mangio", etc.
If indirect pronoun is shown with "a" (a lei, a lui, a noi, a voi, a loro, a me, a te) then these kind of pronouns come at the end of the sentence. "do un ghiaccio a te, but if there is an adverb, they're placed then in front of the adverb, "daro un ghiaccio a te domani".
But, know that there are also other cases: for example, you can put indirect or direct pronoun after a verb, but, in that case, it should stick with the verb, for example: "Sto dandoti una mano", but if there's an infinite verb, it will stick with infinite one, example: "Puoi mandarmi un messaggio?" "Io voglio invitarti", etc.
Hope this helps :) Good luck with learning!
Gli stiamo chiamando", etc. (except loro, loro always follows the verb, "Parliamo loro domani").
Stiamo chiamando chi? Che cosa? -> loro -> li.
Parliamo a chi? A che cosa? -> a loro -> gli. ("Parliamo loro domani" lo definirei letterario).
Finalmente fai qualche errore Tamuna :)
If you translate everything 1:1 in English, and mostly wrong, you won't go far.
How long did it take you to arrive at 70% of the tree? I feel most people rush through the tree to impress, but then retain nothing. I'm pretty much at 70% in German and it took me almost one year.
 for example Ti sto dando una mano literally says: to you I am giving a hand. Is it so strange after all?
stare + gerundio (ex. (io) sto mangiando) it's exactly like the continuous form (an action that is going on in present, past, or future... it depends on stare).
mi, ti, ci, vi (me/a me, te/a te, noi/a noi, voi/a voi) are used in substitution of the direct object OR the indirect object (pay attention to the verb and to the context). The third person is special, no way to confuse direct and indirect, we have lui = lo, a lui = gli, lei = la, a lei = le.
"Ti sto dando una mano", literally: to you, I'm giving a hand (ti = a te, to you).
"Eppure hai cambiato la mia vita" is correct, the difference with "mi hai cambiato..." is almost nill (you changed my life, you changed the life to me... the latter sounds strange to me in english, but then again I'm italian XD).
For simple phrases you can go like this: subject, verb, direct, indirect(s) → I'm giving a hand to you → Io sto dando una mano a te Just remember to filter out the subject, it's not necessary.
As already said by Tamuna, mi, ti, gli, le, etc are always before the verb, but you can use the extended form if you're more confortable with them.
There's actually a miniscule difference in the extendend and brief form, but I don't think it should matter that much, anyway it's in the stress: 1. Sto dando una mano a te, I'm giving you a hand. 2. Ti sto dando una mano, I'm giving you a hand.
I hope it helped a bit, keep up :)
Tamuna gave you some really useful tips on how to use clitics. By the way, when it comes to syntax, I think that the thing that's really going to help you is reading, reading, reading a lot. Instead of focusing on grammar and trying to find an explanation for everything (sometimes there is no explanation at all) you have to get to a point where some things will just sound wrong or strange. Try with some books you have already read in your native language, or something like comic books.