I 'third' this - I'm finding this section very confusing. Unless this sentence is better translated as "he says to her that it is impossible", then I don't see why we should be reading 'le' as an indirect object. I would think "He tells her" is best translated as "Lui la dice".
This is the feminine singular indirect object 'le' not the plural direct object 'le'. That's because it's 'to her' -- He tells something (the direct object) to her (the indirect object).
We find this difficult because direct and indirect object pronouns in English are mostly the same, and because the 'to' is implied with the verb 'tell' (and many other verbs). But they're two different cases.
Apparently, when you see any conjugation of the word 'dire' you can assume the object pronoun is indirect, right? Same with chiedere. btw, there's a good clitics chart here: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/16418558/A-Duolingo-Beginners-Guide-to-Clitics
There is a difference between direct and indirect pronouns.
Here, it is an indirect object: he says to her. She is kind of a destination, not the direct object (che è impossibile).
So, following this chart, "la" is direct singular feminine and "le" is indirect singular feminine. The problem is that "le" is also the direct plural feminine:
Lui le dice che è impossibile ==> He tells her that it is impossible
what is the action/verb?
dice = (he/she/it) says/tells, verb
who does the action?
lui = he, subject
what/who does the subject action (who does he tell/say) ?
che è impossibile = that it is impossible, direct object
to whom/what does the subject action the direct object (to whom/what does he say that it is impossible)
le = (to) her, indirect object.
He (to) her says/tells that it is impossible ==> He says to her that it is impossible or he tells her that it is impossible
I'm not sure if italians say such a thing, but if they did, it would definitely require 'lei', to make it clear who/what are we speaking about. The sentence is clearly misunderstandable, so i'd rather say: "Lui le dice che lei è impossibile"
It also common to say the personal pronoun when we use the subjunctive, where the first three conjugations, in present tense, are exactly the same (so the conjugation will become io sia, tu sia, lui/lei sia, etc.). Thus, this is a quite vague sentence:
Penso, che sia bella.
If you wanted to say, that she is beautiful, you have to say 'lei' to avoid confusion:
Penso, che lei sia bella.
Because 'gli' is the indirect singular masculine pronoun, 'le' is the feminine. See http://italian.about.com/library/fare/blfare117a.htm. BohemianCoast is right - he tells something to her (or maybe it's easier to see if we use the phrase 'he says to her (indirect object) that it is impossible'). I was initially confused because 'He tells her' resembles a transitive form such as 'he kisses her', but 'her' is an indirect object in the first case (the direct object being unspecified but implied) and a direct object in the second case (he doesn't kiss something else to her:)).
I made a (simple) clitics table
to help wrap my brain around the use of the pronouns. See if it helps to view the tables this way ..
where can one purchase this "QuickStudy" ?
and... if in this example le refers to her as it is implied indirect object. how would we use same example, but to "THEM" ?
i thank you for your time in advance :-)
okay i have answered my own question.
He tells them that it is impossible - lui li dice che e' impossibile