Cosa ne penseranno le società?

In this sentence I do not really understand what is happening to the "ci"-part of the word "pensarci" - to think "about it". Do we not need it anymore, when "ne" has (like here) the meaning of "about it" - is it substituting "ci"? Or would it also be ok to say:

Cosa ce ne penseranno le società?

August 6, 2018


Pensare is indeed a tricky verb to use when clitic pronouns come with it.
I'll give a short answer to your query here, and as soon as possible I'll post a longer article about this verb, with more examples.

Pensarci (pensare + ci) can take two meanings, "to think about it/them" and "to take care about it/them".

When it takes the first meaning, ci stands for a + pronoun for inanimate objects:

  • (Io) ci penso. = (Io) penso ad esso / ad essa / ad essi / ad esse. (these pronouns are barely ever used in the spoken language)

This translates as  "I think / am thinking of it/them".

When it takes the second meaning, ci stands again for a + pronoun for inanimate objects, but the subject is constantly postponed, i.e. it stands after the verb, therefore it is emphasized, and always explicitly spoken (never dropped):

  • Ci penso io. = penso io ad esso / ad essa / ad essi / ad esse

This translates as  "I (not others) take care / am taking care / will take care of it/them".

With either word order, ci means (literally) "at it/them", because in Italian one thinks "at something" (not "of something" as in English).
So one may wrongly think that both ci and ne have the same meaning ("of it/them"), but this depends on the different preposition used after the verbs pensare and "to think".
When ci is used with the verb pensare it is more similar to an indirect object personal pronoun (e.g. mi = a me, ti = a te, etc.).

The clitic pronoun ne can combine with pensare only when che cosa (or cosa, or che) comes before the verb; this occurs in direct questions and indirect questions (i.e. indirect interrogative clauses):

  • (Tu) cosa ne pensi? = (Tu) cosa pensi di esso / di essa / di essi / di esse?

This translates as  "What do you think of it/them?" (direct question).

  • (Io) non so cosa (tu) ne pensi. = (Io) non so cosa (tu) pensi di esso / di essa / di essi / di esse.

This translates as  "I don't know what you think of it/them."  ("what you think of it/them" is an indirect question, i.e. an indirect interrogative clause).
Also note the different position of the subject pronoun tu in these sentences: always before the interrogative pronoun in direct questions, while in indirect questions it can stand either before che cosa or after it (as in the last example).

The sentence  Cosa ne penseranno le società?  is a direct question (pensare + ne), with a postponed subject (le società) which is therefore slightly emphasized: "What will societies (not others) think of it/them?"

Instead, without a question (either direct or indirect) pensare takes ci:

  • (Tu) ci pensi? = (Tu) pensi ad esso / ad essa / ad essi / ad esse?

This translates as  "Do you think / Are you thinking of it/them?".

So ci and ne are never interchangeable when they combine with pensare.

I hope every part of the reply is sufficiently clear.

August 6, 2018

This is extensive. Someone should collect your comments and compile them in a document or in a database. Thanks a lot!

August 6, 2018

Is this extensive? Wait and see the article!✱ :-D
Thanks for your appreciation!

✱ Someone should cheer up Vesna.

August 6, 2018

Then I'm curious to see your full article. O.O

August 6, 2018

Trust me! You don't want to see it ! :-D

August 6, 2018

Now I'm even more curious. How much can one write about two two-letter words in front of one verb..... Ok, I'll be patient.

May I offer you a coffee in the meantime?

August 6, 2018

Don't worry! :-D
The essential rules about pensare are already included in this reply.
The article will cover some extra parts, such as the use of the verb with people (e.g. "I am thinking of you / him / her"), and the use of an alternative verb, occuparsi ("to take care"), plus a few more examples.

August 6, 2018

If you ever want to start with it, have a look at this side (you have to scroll down): My private CRGB (CivisRomanus Grammar Book) has about 250 pages now :-D

August 7, 2018

Thank you for your endorsement! :-D
I do keep a database (an Excel spreadsheet) of the main stuff I posted, otherwise I would have to write it all over again every time.
An updating of the Civislingo series (September 2017-March 2018) is available here:

August 7, 2018

........and I print it. Having invested in a new printer and a forest worth of paper, I am now on the fourth file:-)

August 7, 2018

Una risposta "breve"?!? Cosa ne penso? => È magnifica, formidabile!! E tutto quello che hai scritto è chiaro e così utile (come sempre!). Grazie mille !!!

August 7, 2018

There is "short" and then there is "Civis short". They are different kinds of short. :-)

August 7, 2018

As far as I know "ne" also means "about it" or "of it", so the "ci" (or "ce") would be pleonastic.

August 6, 2018

There is no reply button to answer. Yes, thank you. While we are waiting for the coffee, I will check my dictionary to see what pleonastic means. :-)

August 6, 2018

I've already been proven wrong :-D, it's not pleonastic in the narrow sense. I'll stay tuned and see what else I can learn.

August 6, 2018

Vesna. Pleonastically speaking, I so enjoyed this Discussion. Knowledge and humour is a delightful mix.

August 8, 2018

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