I heard this before - maybe a point where thinking too much about grammar makes it harder? Because i just think of gli=he/they and piacie=likes and la birra = the beer.. so (he) (likes) (the beer) - easy right.
EDIT: ok 2 weeks later, I think I would instead say "to him" = gli, "it is liked" = piace, "the beer" = la birra.
This makes "gli piace la birra" = "To him, it is liked, the beer". But i guess there is nothing wrong with your phrasing either CreyB. It's just easier for me to work with the grammar the order that it is in.
Decades ago, "Gli piace la birra" meant only "He likes beer".
"They like beer" would have been "A loro piace la birra". (still correct)
There has been quite a debate in the last years, but nowadays, "gli" is (alas!) commonly adopted for "they / them" by so many italians that it has been accepted.
Take the sentence "la birra piace al'uomo" = "the beer is pleasing to the man". The man is the indirect object of the sentence.
(This may be slightly confusing for English native speakers because it is the thing being liked - the beer - that is doing the verb.)
We can replace uomo with a pronoun (i.e. the man - him). The 3rd person singular masculine unstressed pronouns (the clitics for lui) are lo (direct object), gli (indirect object), and si (reflexive). Uomo isn't a direct object because it follows a preposition (al', or to the), so we use the indirect object pronoun, gli.
Clitics must also position themselves alongside the verb, like so: "la birra gli piace" = "the beer is pleasing to him" = "he likes the beer". This can be written "gli piace la birra" as well, so long as the clitic stays with the verb.
To answer another question in this thread, gli is also the indirect object clitic for loro, so this sentence could also be translated "they like the beer". In both sense, la birra is doing the verb and so piacere is conjugated as 3rd person singular (the lui/lei form).
Edit: Scroll down for another explanation, and/or check out my post here: A Duolingo Beginners' Guide to Clitics
I don't get this response.....Piacere requires the prep. 'a," which is included in "Gli" which is Lui+ a ....
Sure I see... * a lui piace la birra... there's the ..a
BUT... Where is the ..a... in Gli.... The above DUO answer just said "Gli piace la birra. It didn't do .. a... before or after GLI - like with * a lui .
This is just confusing, when there is No letter included in Gli * like you said above.
"Piacere" works in reverse. Not someone likes something, but something is-pleasing to someone. So we always need something like "to him", which in Italian is "a lui". The clitic pronoun "gli" is equivalent to "a lui":
- Gli piace la birra = A lui piace la birra = La birra piace a lui
- To-him is-pleasing the beer = The beer is-pleasing to-him = He likes beer
You know it but don't recognize it. Think of the verb amare (love). Actually amare means "TO love", amo mean "I love", ami means YOU love etc. So you do not need to write "Io amo___" because the "Io" is included in the meaning of the verb without being written. So as a clitic "Gli" stands for "a lui"--it does not need to be written.
Equivalent, I'd say. It depends on if you want to emphasize the beer or... him :)
In the first case, perhaps "gli" is more natural. E.g. "Gli piace la birra, ma non il vino". (He likes beer, but not wine).
In the second case, "a lui" is more natural and sometimes even mandatory. E.g. "A tanta gente piace il vino, ma A LUI piace la birra". (Many people like wine, but HE likes beer).
This is an awkward bit of Italian grammar that Duolingo makes a lot harder by not actually explaining properly. Forgive how long this message is, but hopefully this should clear everything up:
For each the third person pronouns (he, she, the masculine they and the feminine they) there are two object pronouns - one for direct objects and one for indirect objects.
The object is the thing the verb is acting on. In the sentence «lui dà il fiore a Maria», "he gives the flower to Maria", the flower is the direct object (it is the thing being given). Maria is the indirect object: she is affected by the verb but isn't the thing being given. Indirect objects often need a preposition before they make sense (a in this sentence).
We can replace direct objects like «il fiore» with the direct object pronoun that matches the person, number, and gender (i.e. 3rd person singular masculine). So:
«lui dà il fiore a Maria» - «lui lo dà a Maria» "he gives it to Maria" (3rd person singular masculine, he)
«lui dà i fiori a Maria» - «lui li dà a Maria» "he gives them to Maria (3rd person plural masculine, they)
«lui dà la scatola di cioccolatini a Maria» - «lui la dà a Maria» "he gives it to Maria" (3rd person singular feminine, she)
«lui dà le scatole di cioccolatini a Maria» - «lui le dà a Maria» "he gives them to Maria" (3rd person plural feminine, they)
From this you can see that Maria is a pretty lucky girl indeed. These are not too hard to remember either: the direct object pronoun for he is lo, which looks like a masculine word (it ends in 'o') and pluralises to li, the direct object pronoun for they (masculine or mixed genders); the direct object pronoun for she is la, which looks like a feminine word (it ends in 'a') and pluralises to le, the direct object pronoun for they (feminine).
We can also replace indirect objects like «a Maria» with an indirect object pronoun that matches the person, number, and gender (i.e. 3rd person singular feminine). The indirect object pronouns for the 3rd person are different from the direct object pronouns.
«lui dà il fiore a Maria» - «lui le dà il fiore» "he gives the flower to her"
«Maria dice grazie a lui» - «Maria gli dice grazie» "Maria says thanks to him"
The 3rd person plural indirect object is the same for both genders, loro.
«il poliziotto dice loro di uscire il cimitero» "the policeman told them to leave the cemetery"
Further up this page I explain what the gli is doing in this specific sentence.
Edit: loro for "to them" is common in formal writing, but using gli (for both genders) is also correct. The above sentence could read «il poliziotto gli dice di uscire il cimitero». Note that loro is written after the verb in the example above.
Most of this is understandable - except one part seems contradictory.... «lui dà il fiore a Maria» - «lui le dà il fiore» "he gives the flower to her"
A few sentences above it says... le is the feminine plural... la is the feminine singular. It gave an example of:.... "«lui dà la scatola di cioccolatini a Maria» - «lui la dà a Maria» "he gives it to Maria" (3rd person singular feminine, she)..."
Sooooo - why would you use.... LE for he gives the flower to her??? Isn't THE flower a singular flower??? ... so looks like it would be LA again. Pls clarify. Grazie.
In «lui le dà il fiore», le doesn't stand in for 'the flower', it stands in for to her.
Remember we are dealing with two different things here, direct object pronouns and indirect object pronouns.
A short time ago I expanded this answer for a post in the Italian discussion forum - check out A Duolingo Beginners' Guide to Clitics.
Hope that helps!
MrMacbeth...re: In «lui le dà il fiore», le doesn't stand in for 'the flower', it stands in for to her.... OK.
But I thought since Her is singular... the stand-in for a Singular Feminine word is: La. Then with Le for Plural Feminine.
Is this not correct?
If so, one would thing it would/should be La. (One woman). ex: Lui la da il fiore. If not, can you please advise & clear up us who are confused??? Why is it LE for One lady?
The difference is whether it is a direct object or an indirect object.
Consider the sentences:
- "I feed the tuna to the cat."
- "I feed the cat to the tuna."
Those sentences describe two very different situations, even though they use all of the same words. In (1), "the tuna" is acted on by the verb - it is the direct object. In (2), "the cat" is the direct object. In (1), "the cat" is affected by the verb, but isn't being acted on directly - it's not being given as food. It is the indirect object. In (2), "the tuna" is the indirect object.
Often, we use a preposition to tell the direct and indirect objects apart ("to" in this case).
In "he gives the flower to Maria", "he" is the subject - the one doing the verb - and "gives" is the verb.
"the flower" is the direct object. It is the thing being given.
"to Maria" is the indirect object. Maria isn't being given, but she is affected by the verb.
I know this is confusing, because "le" might be the direct object feminine plural or the indirect object feminine singular. It depends on whether it is the direct or indirect object.
Not only is "le" the plural definite article for feminine words, but the very same word "le", with the exact same pronunciation, is also the indirect object feminine pronoun, meaning "to her", as in "the beer is pleasing to her" in this example. The context can help tell them apart.
Why isn't it "A gli piace la birra"? I thought that "gli" was the indirect object here (meaning either him or them), and would have to be proceed be "a." Wouldn't we say, "A me piace la birra" to mean, "I like the beer"? What happened to the "a" in the third-person phrasing?
Hello, Jean. "gli" is indeed the indirect object pronoun here. It does not need the preposition "a" in front of it when it appears in front of the verb, as in this example, or when attached to the tail end of the infinitive.
So, "Gli piace la birra" = "La birra piace a lui", or "Mi piace la birra" = "La birra piace a me".
An example of being attached to an infinitive, keeping with the beer theme, is, "Voglio dargli una birra" = "Voglio dare una birra a lui".
To make the confusion perfect:
He likes beer seems to be equal correct as what I wrote he likes the beer
How would I be able to understand the difference in Italian, if he likes beer is also right. For me the two English translations are different in their meaning. With the it's refers to a special brand, bottle or glass of beer, without the it means he likes beer in general.