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The pronoun "lei" means "she" but there's a complication in that, with a capital ("Lei"), it is also used in formal speech to mean "you" (that is, when talking to a stranger to whom you want to be especially polite or to a superior). I think it's best not to think about that when just beginning Italian because it's too much to learn at once. It's best to think only of "tu" and "voi" as being the pronouns for "you".
I have bought an Italien Verb Drill book that has been helping me. The verb leggere (infinitive) is a regular verb. All REGULAR verbs with ending ERE will be conjugated by keeping the root LEGG and adding the proper ending: O, I, E, IAMO, ETE and ONO. So:
Io leggo Tu leggi Lui OR Lei legge Noi leggiamo Voi leggete Loro leggono
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . HARD "G" vs SOFT "G"
HARD "G"(girl): ga, ghe, ghi, go, gu, and the g+consonant
• gatto (cat), ghepardo (cheetah), ghiro (dormouse), gomma (rubber), gustoso (tasty), grazie (thanks)
SOFT "G"(genuine): ge, gi
• gelato (ice cream), giovedì (thursday)
The rule does not change even with the double "gg"
• hard "g" - leggo (I read), leggono (they read)
• soft "g" - leggi (you read), legge (he/she reads), leggiamo (we read), leggete (you all read)
Furthermore, there are the particular combinations "gn" and
"gli", where the G-sound disappear completely forming two new sounds
• pigna (pine cone), ragno (spider)
• figlio (son), famiglia (family)
In Italian, the letters 'g' and 'c' both change their sound depending on the following vowel.
'a', 'o' and 'u' result in a hard sound ('g' as in gate, 'c' as in cat) ie. leggono, mucca
'i' and 'e' result in a soft sound ('g' sounds like 'j' in joy, 'c' sounds like 'sh' in shoot) ie. legge, pesci
If you want to soften the hard 'g' or 'c' you add an 'i' before the a/o/u, (ie. mangiare) And if you want to harden the soft 'g' or 'c' you add a 'h' before the e/i, (ie. mucche, bianchi)
"she read the book yesterday"
• Lei ha letto il libro ieri (passato prossimo)
• Lei lesse il libro ieri (passato remoto)
This is so hard! I never did well in English class trying to learn pronouns, verbs adjectives, conjunctives... how am I supposed to learn a new language when there seem to be too many ways to say the same thing depending on who you are speaking to? Also, are inanimate objects considered feminine and masculine? And if they are is there some sort of rule? Or are you just supposed to memorize? I'm feeling so defeated!
It's best not to think of objects as being masculine or feminine but to think of nouns as being put into categories according to their characteristics such as for example whether they end in an "o" or "a" or whatever. In Italian there are two categories and they've been given the labels "masculine" and "feminine". Nouns referencing inanimate objects and animals get allocated to one or other category. You just have to memorise them, I'm afraid, but as we progress we'll probably find patterns to help us so we'll learn to tell just from the sound of the word sometimes whether it belongs in the "masculine" or "feminine" category.
Nobody should get discouraged. When we're at school teachers demand "correct" grammar as they have to get us through exams, but the important thing in using a new language is to be understood.
It's the plural form of you but not the formal you. (Possibly you're confusing it with French where the same congugation is used for plural you and formal you). In Italian, formal you uses either the Lei form (singular) or the Loro form (for plural), but they are rarely used in spoken Italian these days. In written Italian the pronoun is usually capitalized when it indicates formal you.
Can someone explain to me when you would use the other options. Thanks in advance!