Qui ci si diverte molto

Discussion in 'Italian-English' started by duckie, Jan 26, 2007.

  1. duckie

    duckie Senior Member

    A couple of sentences that confuse me a bit.. I'm still fiddling with pronouns, and my book has some other examples for the use of 'si' where it changes into 'ci'.. only I don't quite follow:

    Qui ci si diverte molto - here one enjoys oneself

    Is the 'ci' a 'si' that refers to 'one' and the 'si' (or second si) refers to 'oneself'?

    Non ci si puo sbagliare - one cannot be mistaken

    Sbagliare is reflexive here? 'Ci' is 'one' and 'si' refers to reflexive self?
  2. Jana337

    Jana337 Senior Member

    In both sentences, "si" is reflexive and "ci" is one.

  3. giovannino

    giovannino Senior Member

    You are right: the "ci" makes the sentence "impersonal" and the "si" is part of the reflexive verbs "divertirsi" and "sbagliarsi".

    With non-reflexive verbs you use "si" plus the third person singular form of the verb in impersonal constructions: "qui non si lavora molto", "qui si mangia bene".

    With reflexive verbs you can't say "si si":cross: so "ci si" is used instead.
  4. duckie

    duckie Senior Member

    Gotcha, thanks both.. for some reason the reflexive form never ceases to confuse me, possibly because it's using a word that has several meanings..
  5. Evito Senior Member

    I believe that it is the contrary; si is, both in reflexive sentences and non-reflexive sentences the "one", and the "subject"

    qui si mangia bene
    qui ci si diverte

    "ci" is the "oneself", the reflexive part

    This does make sense because in a certain way "si" means "noi".

    In Tuscany, people say things like "Noi si vende libri"
  6. Jana337

    Jana337 Senior Member

    This is a formal question but I don't think you are right. Consider sentences like "lo si vede bene". What you say would violate the rules for the order of particles - the reflexive one must come second.

    Madrelingua, aiuto! :eek:

  7. giovannino

    giovannino Senior Member


    I checked in Serianni's grammar:

    "Quando la frase contenga un si riflessivo o riflessivo apparente non si adopera un altro si con valore diverso, ma si ricorre a ci"

    Since the "ci" replaces the "altro si" (i.e. the "impersonal" si) I think it's the "ci" that carries the impersonal meaning in "ci si".

    Anyway, as Jana says, it's only a question of formal linguistic analysis. The substance doesn't change: si si :cross: , ci si :tick:
  8. virgilio Senior Member

    English UK
    You wrote:" Consider sentences like "lo si vede bene". What you say would violate the rules for the order of particles - the reflexive one must come second.
    I'm afraid I don't understand. If it is true that "the reflexive one must come second", what about "Se lo mangia" "Se ne va" and a multitude of similar examples of a contrary rule.
    I believe that you may - if I have understood you aright - be abstracting a rule from an exception.
    May I suggest an alternative way of looking at these so-called 'impersonals'.
    When we want to say that something happens without saying who does it, there are at least three routes open to us:
    1) to use the passive voice.
    e.g Something is (oppure) gets done qualcosa è (oppure viene) fatto
    This is a method often preferred in English .
    (2) Something does itself. Qualcosa si fa.
    To English ears this sounds ridiculous but not to Italian, Spanish or Portuguese ears.
    An Englishman says "That's silly because everyone knows that things don't do themselves" The Latin temperament says "It is precisely because everyone knows that that we can say that things do themselves. Only a halfwit would be deceived."
    In a similar way in German "Es wurde getanzt" - "It got danced" = "There was some dancing"
    (3) to use "one" as a 3rd person singular pronoun
    One never knows Uno no sabe nunca nada Uno non sa mai nulla.

    What has happened, it seems to me, is that method (2) has come to be consciously translated as method (3).
    English people, for example, are frequently taught to think of "si" in such expressions as meaning "one":
    "qui si parla inglese" "One speaks English here" instead of what it actually means "Here English speaks itself".

    This is, I humbly suggest, a mistake occasioned by being obsessively concerned with translation rather than understanding.

  9. MünchnerFax

    MünchnerFax Senior Member

    Italian, Italy
    Let's start again from this:

    Qui ci si diverte molto.

    The si is the impersonal form (let's say it means one, although this is not true from a grammatical point of view); ci is the reflexive. As giovannino pointed out correctly, the reflexive form in the third person is not si but ci, if there's already another si.
    As for their order, yet another surprise: this is an exception of the rule Jana has mentioned. With a reflexive verb in the impersonal form: first comes ci, then si.
  10. Jana337

    Jana337 Senior Member

    Well, that's different.
    Se lo mangia spesso. - "Se" is a reflexive particle for the 3rd person.
    Lo si mangia spesso. - "Si" is an impersonal construction here, not the 3rd person.

    "Ci si diverte" is, to me, more of the second kind.

    While my argument may be flawed (and it probably is :D), I don't think it can be dismissed by "se lo mangia".

  11. giovannino

    giovannino Senior Member

    Virgilio, while I find your analysis very interesting, I'm afraid I have to disagree about your analysis of "qualcosa si fa" as "something does itself".

    I can't speak for other native speakers, of course, but I instinctively perceive reflexive "si" and impersonal "si" as two completely different entities.

    I perceive more of an affinity between impersonal "si" and passive "si". This seems borne out by what Serianni writes in his Grammatica, i.e. that in some cases it's difficult to tell whether one or the other is being used:

    "Una frase come "alle nove si serve il caffè" può rappresentare sia "alle nove qualcuno serve il caffè", sia "alle nove il caffè viene servito"
  12. virgilio Senior Member

    English UK
    I wouldn't dream of "dismissing" your argument, or anyone else's. I was simply trying to find out where the flaws are in my own. This whole thread touches in my opinion on a fascinating area of language study and it is a privilege to be able to compare notes with you and with other students of Italian.

  13. virgilio Senior Member

    English UK
    Thank you for your kind reply. When you write:" I instinctively perceive reflexive "si" and impersonal "si" as two completely different entities", that is an experience that I as a English-speaker cannot have and so it interests me greatly that you feel it.
    The problem for someone trying, as I am, to evolve a system of what one might call "logocentric" syntax - syntax based on giving words -as far as possible - a single area of meaning and then adapting the syntax rules to tally with those given areas of meaning, is to beware, as far as possible, of seeing an objective rule in what might be a subjective emotional response.
    For example, many English speakers "feel" little or no etymological connection between "I ought to do this" and "I owe you some money", although they are two forms of the same verb.
    By the way, you refer to "an affinity between impersonal "si" and passive "si"". I assume that the impersonal "si" is the "si" which English students think of as the pronoun "one: but, if that is so, what is the passive "si"?
    I would appreciate an example or two.
    In order to avoid boring other readers, you might consider sending a private message.
    Thank you
  14. Evito Senior Member

    There are two si-s

    I will hereby paraphrase my Italian grammar by Dr. J. Brinker, the original Dutch version, pages 219-220 of the 16th 2005 Edition by Prisma.

    1. Si-indefinito:
    • A: Si is used as subject with intransitive verbs
      • Si parte alle otto (One leaves at eight)
      • Si è partiti alle otto (One has left at eight)
      • Si lavora a lungo (One works long)
      • Si è lavorato a lungo (One has worked long)
    Note by the author: The auxiliary verb is always essere. When the normal auxiliary verb for the verb is also essere (sono partito) the participle ends in -i (when speaking about just females in -e). If the normal auxiliary verb for the verb is avere (ho lavorato) the participle ends in -o. This is in analogy to "siamo partiti", and "abbiamo lavorato", emphasizing the collective meaning of the si -form.
    • B: Si as subject with a verb in the passive form
      • Si è (si viene) licenziati (One is fired)
      • Si è (si viene) svegliati (One is woken up)
    • C: Si as subject with a reflexive verb
      • Ci si lava (One washes oneself)
      • Ci si è lavati (One has washed oneself)
      • Ci si picchia (One beats oneself)
      • Ci si è picchiati (One has beaten oneself)
    Note by the author: The reason that si must be considered to be the indefinite form, and ci the reflexive form is that si with the exception of one case (se ne) is always placed right before the verb.​
    2. Si-passivante
    • Si is only used with transitive verbs
      • Si compra una casa (One buys a house) (Although the translation with "one" doesn't seem so great to me here, in, for example, "Dove si compra il biglietto?", better than "Where does one buy the ticket?" would be "Where do I/you/we buy a ticket?")
      • Si comprano due case (One buys two houses)
      • Si è comprata una casa (One has bought a house)
      • Si sono comprate due case (One has bought two houses)
    Note by the author: The apparent object of the phrase (una casa, due case) is in fact subject of the Italian phrase!

    3. Si-somewhere-between-passivante/indefinito

    Note by the author: Because the subject of the si passivante is often behind the verb, this has lead to the fact that sometimes the Italian does no longer consider it a subject; so instead of saying si comprano due case he might say si compra due case! Especially this happens in two cases:
    • A: Where there is a si passivante in comvination with a personal pronoun; In Si chiama lui (He is called; people call him) lui is emphasized and subject. But when it is replaced with an non-emphasized personal pronoun, lo, it is considered object: lo si chiama! Si then becomes indefinito and subject!
      • Mi si chiama (They call me)
      • Ti si chiama (They call you)
      • Me lo si dirà (They will say it to me) (Rather to be avoided)
    • B: Second case of a si indefinito with a transitive verb is when si has the meaning of noi. This is used especially in Tuscany and in the North. Noi can even be used before si.
      • (Noi) si vende libri (We sell books)
      • (Noi) si è venduto cinquemila cartoline (We have sold five thousand cards)
    I hope this information is clear to everybody. It certainly isn't easy.
  15. virgilio Senior Member

    English UK
    Many thanks. That's certainly pretty exhaustive and certainly an excellent vade-mecum for someone with already a fair grasp of Italian. I wonder, however, how useful such comprehensive statements are for those still ascending the 'foothills' of the language. There are, after all, in the day-to-day usage of any language quite a few illogicalities:
    Si è partiti alle otto.
    Correct in that it is used but contrary to the logic of normal syntax.
    We have the same sort of thing in English:
    If any student wants a ticket for the concert, they must apply to the office.

    English, moreover, has misspelled the adjective "responsable" for so long now that even the OED has accepted the misspelling "responsible".

    Best wishes
  16. duckie

    duckie Senior Member

    Evito's list is great - but like virgilio says, beginners like me could really use some help with it. A translation of each Italian sentence would clarify a lot. Then I could print it out and keep it handy..
  17. Evito Senior Member

    This is not very easy because according to my knowlegde in English there isn't a great translation for "si". You can use "one", or "you", or "we". In Dutch, for example, we have a special "undetermined" personal pronoun which we can use for these situations. For me, it's better than the English "one" but I will try! I will again edit my original post with translations
  18. giovannino

    giovannino Senior Member

    Thank you for an extremely comprehensive list of uses of "si", evito. It helped me realize how baffling this word must be to foreign learners.

    I only disagree with

    To me the only possible interpretation here is "they/people beat each other up", i.e. in a "reciprocal" sense.

    An example:

    In questa scuola ci sono molti ragazzi violenti. Ci si picchia per un nonnulla
  19. duckie

    duckie Senior Member

    Thank you Evito! I will keep that for reference, there are some common Italian words that have a lot of meanings and they tend to keep me permanently confused on some level or other ;)

    There's an unspecified pronoun for 'one' in Danish as well, but personally I have no problem using the English 'one' as a replacement.. one can do that!
  20. Evito Senior Member

    Thanks for the correction on this, indeed as I said the "one"-translation in English isn't covering all grounds of the "si"- word
  21. virgilio Senior Member

    English UK
    I said the "one"-translation in English isn't covering all grounds of the "si"- word"
    Indeed it doesn't - not by a long chalk!

  22. matteo86 Member

    USA, English
    Could someone clarify the use of "ci si" in the following sentence...

    "Ci si era divertita insieme, almeno all'inizio, quando non doveva farsi il culo all'istituto."

    Why would one use "ci si" in this sentence when it's not an impersonal construction? Or is it, "she had enjoyed them (being) together"?
  23. giovannino

    giovannino Senior Member

    Here "ci" means "with him/her/them" (depending on context): "she had had a good time with him/her/them". I guess it's "them" in your sentence.

    From De Mauro:

    colloq., con lui, con lei, con loro: ci parlavo già da un po’ quando sei arrivato
  24. turkjey5 Senior Member

    English - USA
    From Maiden's A Reference Grammar of Modern Italian pg 123:
    The impersonal si is always the last clitic, except for ne, in any series of clitics.

    Therefore in Qui ci si diverte molto -
    ci = the reflexive pronoun
    si = impersonal si
  25. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member


    Qui ci si diverte molto
    - here one enjoys oneself: CI=WE, SI=ONE (Qui la gente si diverte molto; Qui ci divertiamo molto)

    Non ci si puo sbagliare - one cannot be mistaken: DITTO (Non è possibile sbagliare; Non è possibile sbagliarsi)


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