C'è un gatto in cucina

Hi! I’d be very grateful if anyone could explain this for me: C'è un gatto in cucina. - There is a cat in the kitchen. I understand the sentence, but I don’t understand the "c'è". What is the c'? I’ve learned that lí and lá means "there" so I don’t understand what c' is shortened from. I hope someone understand what I mean and can explain. :-)

September 13, 2018


Hello everyone.
CI or C'(i) is a pronoun and adverb with many many functions:


in c(i) '+ è and ci + sono (there + is/are) ci is an adverbial particle that works as the subject of the verb essere, and indicates:

  • the presence of people or things in a place e.g.

C'è una casa lungo la costa.
(There is a house along the coast.)
Ci sono molte persone in piazza.
(There are many people in the square.)

  • the existence of something in general e.g.

Ci sono molte specie di piante nel mondo.
(There are many species of plants in the world.)

exactly c'è/ci sono come from the verb

esser-e + ci → esser-ci
(to be here/to exist): Conjugation ESSERCI

Note1: for formal contexts, especially writing, these expressions are replaced with vi è and vi sono (ci → vi), that come from esser-e → esser-vi (to be here).

Note2: if c'è/ci sono or vi è/vi sono are coupled to potere/dovere e.g.

Possono esserCI / CI possono essere un mucchio di buone ragioni per piangere.
(There can be a lot of good reasons to cry.)
Dovrebbe esserCI / CI dovrebbe essere del formaggio in frigo.
(There should be cheese in the fridge.)

we have a double possibility of placement, as it happens for pronuns, when there is a modal verb.


it is an adverb of place like here/there, or like preposition of place (in , into, on) + it/them e.g.

Ci vado spesso. = Vado spesso là.
(I go there often. - for example to the park.)
Ci mangiamo spesso. = Mangiamo spesso qui/là.
(We eat here/there often, - for example a restaurant.)
Sarai a casa domani? Sì, ci sarò. = Sì, Sarò qui (a casa).
(Will you be at home tomorrow? Yes, I'll here, [at home] ).
Ci metto un' altra scatola. (nell'armadio). = Metto un'altra scatola dentro esso.
(I'll put another box in it. [in the colset] )

verbs: andar-ci, mangiar-ci, esser-ci, metter-ci

n.b. often ci as here/there can be used even though the place is already menioned, as a renforcement (especially in the colloquial language), taking an example above:

Ci mangiamo spesso. = Mangiamo spesso qui/là.
(We eat here/there often, - for example a restaurant.)


Ci mangiamo spesso al ristorante. = Mangiamo spesso qui/là al ristorante.
(We often eat here/there, at the restaurant.)

mangiarci al ristorante (to eat here/there, at the resturant)

since there is restaurant that ci is superfluous but it intensifies (translating into English normally this extra here/there is missing).


it acts as direct or indirect object pronoun (complemento oggetto and complemento di termine / complemento di vantaggio in Italian) in this way e.g.

Tu ci hai visto.
(You saw us. - direct)
Lui ci ha dato un libro. = Lui ha dato un libro a noi.
(He gave us a book./He gave a book to us. - indirect)
Lui ci ha fatto una torta. = Lui ha fatto una torta per noi.
(He made us a cake./He made a cake for us. - indirect)

Note 1: the ci as an indirect object only expresses a noi/per noi, so in cases where it can correspond to other people different from 'us' coupled with other prepositions, we'll have an adverbial pronoun and not a normal personal pronoun for the 1st p.p. Read the next section.

Note 2: as it happens for all the personal pronouns, the dative to us often replaces the possessive adjective our, so we have a strong difference between English and Italian in many cases e.g.

Ci (= a noi) hanno rubato la macchina.
instead of
Hanno rubato la nostra macchina.
(My car was stolen.)

Ci (= a noi) è morto il gatto.
instead of
Il nostro gatto è morto.
(Our cat died.)

La nostra mamma ci (= a noi) ha pettinato i capelli.
instead of
La nostra mamma ha pettinato i nostri capelli. X
(Our mom combed our hair.)

✔ = correct (but less common)

X = considered not correct

in these cases we can speak of possessive dative ans it's basically mandatory speaking of body parts.

4) ADVERBIAL PRONOUN (actualizing CI)

The adverb of place ci in 2 can be coupled to verbs as an ending in their infinitives just like a pronoun, as a consequence it's present in conjugation too, as I showed above in some examples e.g.

esser -ci = Io ci sono.
(to be here = I'm here.)
andar -ci = Io ci vado.
(to go there = I go there.)

and usually when a verb takes pronouns or adverbs this way they speak of pronominal verb.

By adding -ci the meaning of a verb tends to change necessarily because it has that locative element more to be considered.

Moreover thanks to this mechanism ci could even be desemantized, that is totally or only partially emptied of its original meaning and locative function to perform more functions.

Functions in summary :

[ A ] ci like the meaning of a verb
[B1] ci like element to include a complement into a verb
[B2] ci like element to include a complement with a demonstrative pronoun/ parts of phrases into a verb
[ C ] ci like element to renforce the meaning of a verb

some verbs always need -ci simply to have a specific meaning different from the usual one, so called verbi procomplementari; the meaning can be totally different or be the same but with a different nuance (see vedere and sentire) e.g.

volere → to want
voler-ci → to take, to need (time, quantity, need, effort)

Quanto tempo ci vuole per finire questo?
(How long does it take to finish this?)
Mi ci vuole più tempo!
(It takes me longer!)
Ci vuole più zucchero.
(You need more sugar.)
Quante mele ci vogliono per preparare la torta?
(How many apples do you need to prepare the cake?)

n.b. we only have ci vuole (3rd person singular) or ci vogliono (3rd person plural), since subjects can be only third people (in the examples time/sugar/apples).

mettere → to put
metter-ci → to take (time)

Quanto ci hanno messo per costruire questo edificio?
(How long did it take them to build this building?)

rimettere → to put (something) back
rimetter-ci → to loose, to waste (time, money, ect)

Lui ci ha rimesso la casa a causa del suo vizio del gioco.
(He lost his house because of his gambling habit.)

essere → to be
esser-ci → to be here / to be present, or to exist

Siete a casa? - Sì, noi ci siamo.
(Are you home? - Yes, we are here.)
Fortunatamente...Dio c'è!
(Fortunately...God is there!/God exists!)

stare → to stay
star-ci → to agree

Vuoi uscire con me? - Sì, ci sto!
(Do you want to go out with me? - Yes, Ok!/Good!/I agree)

rimanere → to stay, to remain
rimaner-ci → (+ adjetives/colloquial terms) to be upset / to feel bad about that, to be surprised, to die

Ci sono rimasta male.
(I was upset./I felt bad.)
Ci sono rimasto sorpreso/di stucco.
(I was surprised. )
Quell'uomo c'è rimasto secco.
(That man dead.)

entrare → to enter, to come in
entrar-ci → to have to do with it

Questo non c'entra nulla.
(This has nothing to do with it.)

n.b. entrar-ci = X ci entra = X c' entra, "X centra" without apostrophe means "X centers (something) / hits (a target)." (verb centrare)

provare → to try
provar-ci → to make a move on someone / to hit on someone

Voglio provarci con lei.
(I want to make a move on her.)

pensare → to think
pensar-ci → to take care about something or someone

Ci penso io a fare tutto.
(I'll take care of everything.)

vedere → to see
veder-ci = to be able to see

Io ci vedo bene.
(i can see well.)

sentire → to hear
sentir-ci → to be able to hear

Il mio dottore dice che non ci sento molto.
(My doctor says I can't hear much.)

Be careful, a few verbs of these above can have two versions, that is they can be a verbo procomplementare or not, such as:


(1) "to make a move on X" procomplementare
(2) "to try to do something" not procomplementare

because in the second case the -ci only serves to anticipate, to remplace a part of the sentence e.g.

Ho provato a farlo. = Ci ho provato.
(I tried to do it/that. = I tried to/it.)


(1) "to take care about X" procomplementare
(2) "to think about X" not procomplementare

because in the second case -ci only serves to anticipate, to remplace an indirect complement i.e. "about X" e.g.

Ci penso sempre. = Penso sempre a lui/lei/esso/loro.
(I always think about him/her/it/them.)

This topic is explained in the next points (B1 / B2).

it can express various indirect complements generally introduced by prepositions con, su, a (indicating people and complements that are different from us and to/for us, the normal personal pronoun) e.g.

ci = con expresses company or instrumental value e.g. uscir-ci, parlar-ci, giocar-ci

Ci uscirò domani. = Uscirò con lei/lui/loro domani.
(I'll go out with her/him/them tomorrow.)
Ci parlerò domani. = Parlerò con lei/lui/loro domani.
(I'll speak with her/him/them tomorrow.)
Cosa stai facendo con quel pallone? Ci sto giocando = Sto giocando con esso.
(What are you doing with that ball? I'm playing with it. )

with con the particle can only indicate the 3rd person singular/plural. (him/her/it/them);

ci = su expresses a (figurative) place e.g. contar-ci

Posso contare su di te? Sì, ci puoi contare. = Sì, puoi contare su di me.
(Can I count on you? Yes, you can count on me.)

ci = in expresses a (figurative) place e.g. creder-ci

Tu credi in lui? No, non ci credo. =No, non credo in lui.
(No, I don't believe in him.)

ci = a expresses a (figurative) place e.g. tener-ci, pensar-ci

Ci tengo molto. = Tengo molto a lui/lei/esso/loro.
(I care about him/her/it/them very much.)
Pensi a lui? No, non ci penso affatto. = Non penso affatto a lui.
(Are you thinking about him? No, I am not thinking about him at all.)

with pensarci / tenerci the adverbial particle only correspond to a + 3rd person singular/plural (him/her/it/them);
using -ci with pensare, instead of a normal personal pronoun as object, you can change its meaning, e.g. ci instead of him:

A. Io ci ho pensato. = Io ho pensato a lui.
(I thought about him. - here the concept is "to turn your mind towards a figurative place" with sentiment, in this example a person.)

B. Lo penso. = Io penso lui.
(I think about him. - like "to imagine/represent him in my mind", less emotional than the first one.).

also in the first case the verb is intransitive while in the second one becomes transitive.

it can also introduce indirect complements following the pattern preposition + demonstrative pronoun "that" speaking of things e.g. creder-ci, contar-ci, sperar-ci, capir-ci

Non ci credo. = Non credo a quello/ciò.
(I don't believe that/it, - indication about something already said.)
Ci conto! = Conto su quello/ciò!
(I'm counting on it! - it's the same type of indication as in the previous example)
Ci spero così tanto. = Spero così tanto in quello/ciò.
(I hope so much. - it's like above)
Non ci capisco nulla. = Non capisco nulla di/riguardo a quello/ciò.
(I'm not getting anything about that!)

Furher, sometimes it could be used to not repeat longer parts of phrases (with verbs and not only) e.g. provar-ci

Proverai a fare quel lavoro? Sì, ci proverò. = Sì, proverò a fare quel lavoro.
(Will you try to do that work? Yes, I'll try [to/it].)

sometimes -ci can only have a function of intesifying the meaning of a verb, considering some examples already mentioned e.g.

  • tenere a/tener-ci a (to care about)

  • parlare con /parlar-ci con (to speak with [/to])

Io tengo molto a te. / Io ci tengo molto a te.
(I care about you very much. - ci underlines your feeling because it repeats the meaning "about you")

Non parlo con quella gente. / Non ci parlo con quella gente.
(I don't speak with [/to] those people. - ci stresses the concept because it repeats the meaning "with them")

About this, there is also a note on avere/aver-ci at the end, because that is a more particular case and moreover linked to rules mentioned below (note2).


as every reflexive pronoun, it's coupled to proper reflexive verbs or to the ones without reflexive nature but that follow the formal rules about the reflexive conjugation (infinitive with -si/reflexive pronouns in conjugation/auxiliary 'essere' in compound tenses) e.g.

Noi ci laviamo.
(We wash ourselves.)
Noi ci riposiamo.
(We rest.)
Noi ci stiamo arrabbiando.
(We are getting angry.)
Noi ci stiamo guardando.
(We're looking at each other/one another.)

theoretically it'd be like ourselves, however it has many translations as you see in the examples, anyway ourselves covers some cases (some) in which we have a real reflexive verb in Italian.


1) you need to study the ethical dative too, because in the spoken language transitive verbs can be used with a reflexive conjugation only to emphasize expressions, that is you could add the reflexive ci even when it's not necessary (this happens with all the people io, tu ect) e.g.

(Noi) Abbiamo mangiato una pizza.
= (Noi) Ci siamo mangiati tutta la pizza.

(We ate a pizza ourselves.)
(Noi) Dobbiamo studiare questo pronome.
= (Noi) Ci dobbiamo studiare questo pronome.

(We must study this pronoun ourselves.)
(Noi) abbiamo comprato un televisore.
= (Noi) Ci siamo comprati un televisore.

(We bought a television ourselves.)
(Noi) Ricordiamo tutto.
= (Noi) Ci ricordiamo tutto.

(We remember everything ourselves.)

mangiare → mangiar-si, studiare → studiar-si ect.

2) You need to remember the possessive dative too, already mentioned with regard to the normal personal pronoun in 3, since verbs could become reflexive to replace possessive adjectives with the reflexive ci (or other relfexive pronouns), here it takes the meaning of to ourselves but really it means our e.g.

Ci siamo persi il gatto.
instead of
Abbiamo perso il nostro gatto.
(We lose our cat.)

✔ = correct (but less common)

perdere → perder-si

and be careful, this form is mandatory when the object of the verb is a body part and normal about clothes/wearable objects because possessive adjectives can appear redundant e.g.

Entrambi ci siamo rotti il braccio.
(Both of us broke our arm.)
Ci siamo messi le scarpe.
(We put our shoes on.)

rompere → romper-si, mettere → metter-si


normally the impersonal form uses the particle si that can mean "someone/people/we" in general (impersonal you/one/we/they) e.g. Si dice che lui sia in prigione. / Si sentono strani pettegolezzi in ufficio., but when after it there is a reflexive verb you need ci in the following order: ci + si e.g.

Qui ci si saluta sempre.
(Here you always say hello.)
In vacanza ci si rilassa.
(You can relax on holiday.)

the verb is conjugated in third person singular.

pay attention to ci/si:

a. ci could also be the normal personal pronoun in 1st p.plural + a reflexive verb related to a specific subject in 3rd p. singular/plural that wants the reflexive pronoun si e.g.

A noi + si è rotta la finestra. = Ci + si è rotta la finestra. (lit. To us + the window broke. i.e. Our window broke.)

b. ci could be an adverb (place/adverbial pronoun, mentioned in 2/4) + a reflexive verb with the subject in 3rd person singular/plural again e.g.

Carlo ci si è sdraiato ieri. = Carlo si è sdraiato qui/lì ieri.
(Carlo lay here/there yesterday.)

Carlo e Mary ci si fotografano. = Carlo e Mary si fotografano con esso. (e.g. un telefono)
(Carlo and Mary are photographing themself with it. [e.g. a cellphone]).


A) ci is turned into ce whenever it's followed by some clitic pronouns - the direct object lo, la, le, li - or the pronominal particle ne (which has various functions). This happens:

  • with ci as personal pronoun, indirect object e.g.

Lui vi ha dato il libro? Sì, ce lo ha dato. = Sì, lui ha dato esso a noi.
(Did he give you the book? Yes, he gave it to us.)

I'll open a parenthesis, this change happens to all indirect personal pronouns: Imgur

  • in any other case where ci can be followed by those even though it's not a normal personal pronoun, e.g.

Il sale basta? No, ce ne vuole di più.
(Is the salt enough? No, you need more of that.)

B) about c'è/ ci sono - vi è/vi sono, they become ce n'è/ce ne sono - ve n'è - ve ne sono because of the ne e.g.

Ci sono gli studenti oggi? Sì, ma ce ne sono pochi.
(Are the students here today? Yes, but there are few of them.)
Di persone buone ce ne sono tante./Ce ne sono tante di persone buone.
(There are a lot of good people.)

note2 'CI' AS ACTUALIZING ELEMENT in 'avere'

The adverb of place ci in 2 could be desemantized as already said in 4, and it is used a lot this way with avere, so it's better to speak of it. Three observations about this verb:

  • ci is used with it only for emphasizing 'having something', so without any locative function.

  • in general this reinforcement is superfluous, this means that we can use both aver-e and aver-ci, in this second case ci is placed before the verb in conjugation. Compare the two versions e.g.

(Io) Ho fame./C(i)' ho fame.
(I am hungry)
(Lei) Ha molti amici./C(i)' ha molti amici.
(She has many friends.)
(Noi) Avevamo un cane una volta./C(i)' avevamo un cane una volta.
(We had a dog once.)
(Tu) Hai un ombrello?/C(i)'hai un ombrello? - Sì, ce l'ho.
(Do you have an umbrella? Yes, I have it.)

  • however this element becomes mandatory when using some pronouns after it, i.e. direct object lo, la, le, li e.g.

(Tu) Hai un ombrello?/C(i)'hai un ombrello? - Sì, ce l(o)'ho.
(Do you have an umbrella? Yes, I have it.)
(Tu) Hai una ragazza?/Ce l(a)'hai una ragazza? - Sì, ce l(a)'ho.
(Do you have a girlfriend? Yes, I have her.)

while in English it's even possible to say 'Yes, I have.' only, in Italian 'Si, l'ho.' (Yes, I have it) is not enough, you need ce for expressing that 'in this moment I have X (girlfriend)' or 'I have X here with me (umbrella)'.

instead when there is the particle ne you can choose answer A or B:

A. Hai delle penne?/C(i)'hai delle penne? - Sì, ne ho due.
B. Hai delle penne?/C(i)'hai delle penne? - Sì, ce ne ho due.
(Do you have any pens? Yes, I have two [of them].)

In summary, we can say that ci as actualizing element can be facultative and mandatory at the same time with avere .


September 13, 2018

Thank you, very well explained. I find example sentences very helpful.

September 13, 2018

You're welcome : ) I' m glad!

September 13, 2018

This is by far the best explanation of any language element I've seen from any user on Duolingo. Maybe I just don't hang out on the forums enough but wow - this completely demystifies everything, including the mandatory 'averci' form when referring to third-person pronouns!

June 12, 2019

C'è is a contraction of "ci è" (plural: Ci sono), it's a third-person singular present indicative of esserci (there is)

September 13, 2018

Thank you so much!

September 13, 2018

As you're discovering, ci is a complicated word in Italian.
There are about 6 different uses for it if you include reflexive and direct/indirect pronouns.

September 13, 2018

Oh no... It seems there are so many words that are complicated in italian. Let’s hope my brain can remember all of it. :)

September 13, 2018

buona fortuna a te..:-)))

September 13, 2018

I just checked out the video that you recommended! Absolutely awesome ,very clear explanations with visually easy to understand examples grazie mille for sharing this!!

September 13, 2018

You're welcome :)

September 13, 2018

Ci è → c'è

Ci is a locative clitic pronoun, which can mean "here", "there", "in this place", "in that place", etc. according to the context.

È is the 3rd person singular of the present indicative tense of essere.

So c'è literally means "there (in that place) is".

September 13, 2018

Also the sentence in italian should be "C'è un gatto nella cucina".

September 13, 2018

Actually, "in cucina" is correct.

September 13, 2018

It's true Mabby, "nella cucina" is also correct, the problem is that you always use "the" before the names of rooms and some other places (at least I know so), whereas we can use it or not:

Dove sei Mabby? Sono in cucina or Sono nella cucina

maybe it's more common "in cucina" because it's easier and immediate.

We must use nella (= in + the) only when the sentence continues, specifying other information, e.g.:

Io sono nella cucina della mia amica (I'm in my friend's kitchen)

Io sono nella cucina che ho sempre sognato! (I'm in the kitchen that I've always dreamed of!)

because we're talking of a specific kitchen. This is a rule that you can also use in other cases, e.g.

Sono in stazione (I'm in the station)

Sono nella stazione di fronte al bar (I'm in the station in front of the bar).


"I'm in the bar": Sono nel bar and not Sono in bar

(nel bar, nella scuola, nel cinema, nel parco, nel viale ect).


September 13, 2018

Mabby is right, in cucina is correct.
An explanation of in cucina vs. nella cucina can be found here:

September 13, 2018
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