I'm still confused, if someone could help me. I've read that stesso is an emphatic form of reflexive pronoun. "Stessi" is plural and "se" is 3d person. So it would seem to me that "se stessi" would translate to "themselves". "Ourselves" is 1st person plural and "oneself" is 3d person singular. If it is an idiomatic expression which can cover any of the cases, then that is fine too. I'd just like to know. Thanks.
as you have said, "se" is a third person reflexive pronoun, but as f.formica pointed out, this sentence emphasizes more on the "self" idea of "se" while "stesso" adds strength to it. I hope that helps... when translating these kind of sentences, I find it easier to first think of how you might say it in English, and then go back and look at the context to see if it makes sense. :)
Ahhhh. Io capisco! You may be confusing "se stessi" as an Italian reciprocal verb (to get to the English translation of each other)! "In Italian we express reciprocal actions by using a plural reflexive pronoun (ci, vi, si), plus a corresponding plural verb form (noi, voi, loro)." (e.g., noi ci baciamo.) I hope I solved your confusion... maybe someone else can verify?
Here's a link on Italian reciprocal verbs: http://tutorino.ca/grammatica/2007/4/2/saying-each-other-italian-reciprocal-verbs.html
Thanks for the reply formica. I have a list of reflexives but can find in mine only "si" which is what puzzled me. "se" isn't by any chance a "personal object pronoun - strong" is it, where I have found se (excuse lack of accent here). A grammar of mine says "These pronouns are called "strong" because they create emphasis in the sentence.They are used only after a preposition or a verb"
Apologies again if I'm being thick - entirely possible.
Haha, you have a point :)
"Si" is the clitic version of the reflexive pronoun, so for some examples:
- Io mi lavo (I wash) -> Io lavo me stesso
Lui si lava (he washes) -> lui lava se stesso
Io faccio da me (io do by myself, i.e. I don't need help)
- Lui fa da sé (here "stesso" would be redundant).
"È difficile conoscerci"; the clitic is affixed to infinitives, as in Spanish I guess. If you were translating from English that would be correct, but that's just one of the possible interpretations of this Italian sentence; English simply doesn't have any equivalent impersonal pronoun.
I am not sure, but it seems to me the sentence is the general statement, that it is easier to know another person than to know the person in the mirror, because each of us is too biased, too afraid or too wishfully thinking and - too close.
In German I would immediately go for se stessi* means "sich selbst" in this context and if I had to translate that into English first choice would be "oneself" and in a more engaged dialog with a close friend may be "yourself". I wouldn't dare to make such a statement for "them", "her", "him" or "us". In my opinion the neutral (myself including) "oneself" fits best to the general statement.
*corrected from stesso to stessi
Why isn't it se stesso, se stessa, or noi stessi? "se stessi" is not included in the dictionary. https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/italian-english/stessi
I've followed all these arguments, and I still haven't a clue what the sentence means. How can it possibly translated as "It is difficult to know themselves", as DL says? That is a total nonsense. Maybe the best translation is: "It is difficult to guess what the right answer is."
Just for the record, Google Translator seems to believe that "È difficile conoscere NOI stessi" is just fine. If so, it tends to make a simpler sense and removes the need to labor over obscure grammar. Do any Italian speakers know if this is, in fact, and grammatically acceptable translation?