How and when to use NE in Italian: Explanation and Examples

In this lesson, we will see together the use and the meaning of the Italian particle NE, so that you can learn how to recognize and use it, like Italian natives do! If you continue to read, you will find the exercises after the written explanation!

Learn How To use The Italian Particle NE

Forget about the boring grammatical explanations (“NE replaces indirect complements, partitives, genitive cases…”)!

Just know that…

1) NE replaces:

DI / DA + something or someone mentioned before

How can we know whether to use NE or not? We can check it with 4 questions. In fact, it is possible to use NE when you can answer one of the following questions:

DI CHI? DI CHE COSA? (Of whom? Of what?)

DA CHI? DA CHE COSA? (By whom? From what?)

For example:

– Hai conosciuto il nuovo fidanzato di Sara? Che ne pensi? → Che pensi (di chi?) del nuovo fidanzato di Sara / di lui [Have you met Sara’s new boyfriend? What do you think about him? → What do you think (about whom?) about Sara’s new boyfriend?]

– Sì, l’ho conosciuto e ne sono rimasta affascinata. → Sono rimasta affascinata (da chi?) dal nuovo fidanzato di Sara / da lui [Yes, I met him and I was completely fascinated by him. → I was fascinated (by whom?) by Sara’s new boyfriend]

– Hai paura dei ragni? – Sì, ne ho paura.  Ho paura (di che cosa?) dei ragni / di loro [- Are you afraid of spiders?Yes, I’m afraid of them. → I’m afraid (of what?) of spiders?]

– Sono andata in banca alle 8 e ne sono uscita solo alle 11!  Sono uscita (da che cosa?) dalla banca [I went to the bank at 8 and I just got out at 11! → I got out (from what?) from the bank ]

As you can see, if the sentence is explicit (that is, if we use the complement  di/da + thing or object), the complement goes after the verb. Instead, if you use NE, it always goes before the verb!

2) NE is also used to indicate part of a quantity

For example:

– Quanti caffè hai bevuto? – Ne ho bevuti solo due.  Ho bevuto solo due (di che cosa?) di caffè. [– How many coffees did you drink? – I just had two.→ I had only two (of what?) of coffee]

Ho comprato sette riviste ma ne ho lette solo tre.  Ho letto solo tre (di che cosa?) di riviste. [I bought seven magazines but I only read three.→ I read only three (of what?) of magazines]


In this case, that is when NE indicates part of a quantity, the past participle agrees with gender and number of the name it replaces.

For example:

– Quanti caffè hai bevuto? Ne ho bevuti solo due. -i (maschile plurale, come “caffè”)

[– How many coffees did you drink? – I just had two. -i  masculine plural, like “coffees”]

– Ho comprato sette riviste ma ne ho lette solo tre. -e (femminile plurale, come “riviste”)

[I bought seven magazines but I only read three.-e  feminine plural, like “magazines”]

3) NE replaces also a zero quantity. But in this case, the past participle agrees only with the gender (and not number!) of the name it replaces (the quantity is zero, after all)

For example:

– Quanti caffè hai bevuto? Non ne ho bevuto nessuno. (– How many coffees did you drink? – I didn’t drink any.)

– Quante riviste hai letto? – Non ne ho letta nessuna. (– How many magazines did you read? – I didn’t read any.)

4) NE is also used to replace a whole sentence said before.

For example:

– Oggi è una bella giornata! Potremmo andare al mare! Che ne pensi? → Che pensi (di che cosa?) del fatto che potremmo andare al mare 

[Today is a beautiful day! We could go to the beach! What do you think about that? → What do you think (about what?) about the fact that we could go to the beach]

Once again, we use NE when it is possible to answer one of the 4 questions we have seen before.

PAY ATTENTION! Italians sometimes use sentences like “Che ne dici di andare al mare?” with both the explicit form and the “ne”. In these cases, the “ne” is useless and it is only used to emphasize what stands after.

5) Last, but not least, you should know that there are verbs and expressions that are formed with NE:

ANDARSENE (to go away, to leave the place in which we are)

– Basta! Me ne vado! → Vado via (da che cosa?) dal posto in cui mi trovo.  [That’s enough! I’m going away! → I’m going away (from where?) from the place where I am.]

NON POTERNE PIÙ (to be tired of something, to be done)

– Sei di nuovo in ritardo! Non ne posso più! Sono stanca (di che cosa?) del tuo ritardo. [You are late again! I’m done! → I’m tired (of what?) of you being late.]

VALERNE LA PENA (something is worthy of efforts and commitment, it deserves them)

– Visitare Firenze in un giorno è stato faticoso ma ne è valsa la pena! Che città meravigliosa!  Firenze è stata degna (di che cosa?) della fatica che abbiamo fatto per vederla in un giorno

[Visiting Florence in a single day was tiring but it was worth it! What an amazing city! → Florence was worthy (of what?) of the effort we made to see it in a single day]

However, in some expressions the use of NE doesn’t follow any of the rules mentioned above; these expressions must be memorized 

VOLERNE a qualcuno (to be angry with someone)

– Non me ne volere ma penso che tu stia sbagliando. Non essere arrabbiato con me ma penso che tu stia sbagliando. (Don’t be angry with me but I think you are wrong)

FARNE DI TUTTI I COLORI (to mess something up)

– I figli di Mario sono delle pesti! Ne fanno sempre di tutti i colori!  I figli di Mario sono delle pesti! Combinano sempre dei pasticci! (Mario’s children are pests! They always mess something up!)

DIRNE DI TUTTI I COLORI (to say unpleasant things about someone)

– Dopo aver litigato col fidanzato, Roberta ne ha dette di tutti i colori su di lui!  Dopo aver litigato col fidanzato, Roberta ha detto molte cose spiacevoli su di lui! (After having argued with her boyfriend, Roberta said many unpleasant things about him!)

NE + another pronoun

As you must have noticed with the verb “andarsene”, when NE is used with another pronoun, NE goes in the second place. The other pronouns standing before NE, instead, change their -i into an -e.

This happens with reflexive pronouns (such as in the case of “andarsene”):

Mi + ne = me ne (Me ne vado)
Ti + ne = te ne (Te ne vai)
Si + ne = se ne (Se ne va)
Ci + ne = ce ne (Ce ne andiamo)
Vi + ne = ve ne (Ve ne andate)
Si + ne = se ne (Se ne vanno)

Doubts about reflexive pronouns? There’s our fantastic lessons!

And the same also goes for indirect pronouns (a me = mi, a te = ti…)

Mi + ne = me ne (Me ne dai)
Ti + ne = te ne (Te ne do)
Gli / le + ne = gliene (Gliene do) !!! (they became one word, which is the same for both masculine and feminine) 
Ci + ne = ce ne (Ce ne dà)
Vi + ne = ve ne (Ve ne diamo)
Loro + ne = ne … loro (Ne do loro!!! (“loro” remains after the verb)

Doubts about indirect pronouns and their formation or use? Review them with us!

Instead, if you’re looking for a lesson about CI, well, you’ve found it!

Let’s see if you’ve mastered the contents of this class. Have a go at completing the exercises!

Leave a Reply