How and When are CI and VI used in Italian? Learn all their MEANINGS and USES!

In this video we will deal with two little words that, surely, at least once have created many doubts during your study of Italian. I am referring to CI and VI, which have different meanings and uses. In particular, there is one case on which we will focus more, namely their use as ADVERBS OF PLACE, such as ci sono delle novità” o “vi sono delle novità”.

What’s the difference between CI and VI in Italian?

CI or VI? This is the dilemma! Let’s see the different uses and meanings of these two words:

CI and VI as personal pronouns

They may be used as personal pronouns in the first and the second person plural:

WE –> CI


In the role of personal pronouns may assume these functions:

DIRECT OBJECTCi ha chiamato tre volte ieri sera. (= he called us)


Vi immaginavo diversi (= I imagined you)

TERM COMPLEMENTCi hanno regalato un nuovo frullatore (= they gave it to us)


Vi porterò una torta di mele per festeggiare (= I will bring it to you)


Ci vestiamo sempre di rosa il mercoledì (vestirsi –> reflexive verb)


Vi siete salutati velocemente? (salutarsi –> reciprocal verb)

Probably, in some cases, you heard CE or VE instead of ‘ci’ and ‘vi’. You should know that this happens when CI and VI as pronouns are followed by another particle (in particular NE) or another unstressed pronoun, such as: LO, LA, LI, LE. Mainly this happens for a reason of sound, simply because they sound betterFor the same reason, when CI or VI are followed by SI do not change, because they sound better. In any case, let’s see some examples:

Ci racconti una storia? –> Ce la racconti? (= do you tell us a story?)

Vi preparo una torta –> Ve la preparo (= I’ll make a cake for you)

Vi lascio delle riviste –> Ve le lascio (= I leave the magazines to you)

Ci ha portato alcuni libri –> Ce li ha portati (= He brought us some books)

Vi ho comprato una macchina –> Ve l’ho comprata (= He bought you a car)

CI in some verbal expressions

CI can be used in some verb expressions with indeterminate value (you have to memorize these expressions as they are). For example:

Volerci                                  Ci vuole un fisico bestiale!

Rimanerci                            Ci sono rimasta malissimo.

Vederci/Sentirci                 Ci vedo benissimo con i nuovi occhiali!

CI in sobstitution of some complements

CI can be used to replace complements introduced by preposition, generally: IN, SU, A. For example:

Non ci posso credere (= i can not believe it)

Ci puoi contare (= You can count on this)

E io cosa ci posso fare? (= What can I do about this?)

Ma io cosa c’entro? (= What is my role in this?)

For now we have seen complements regarding things and objects, but CI can also refer to people, always introduced by the same prepositions we have just seen. For example:

Conosco molto bene Laura, ci sono andata in vacanza insieme l’anno scorso (= I went on vacation with her, with Laura)

Ho un ottimo rapporto con i miei genitori e so che potrò sempre contarci (= I know I can always count on them)

CI with some questions

CI must also exist when we answer the questions that provide for the verb to have and a direct object. For example:

A: Hai il libro?

B: Sì, ce l’ho.

Thid CE does not replace anthing in the sentence, it does not have any meaning, but it it is necessary to empower the answer. 

A: Avete tutte le informazioni?

B: Sì, ce le abbiamo!

CI as reinforcement

Another frequent use of CI is in spoken, colloquial and informal Italian. In this case, CI is often used as a reinforcement of the verb avere. We speak of CI ATTUALIZZANTE.

That’s why you might hear yourself say:

C’ho un caldo pazzesco.

Non c’ho proprio voglia.

C’ho una fame da lupi.

CI and VI as adverbs of place

Now we have arrived at the bigger existential question: what happens with CI and VI as adverbs of place?

Non ci ho trovato nulla


Non vi ho trovato nulla

You should know that when CI and VI are used as adverbs of place, they are interchangeable, they can be used in the same way, with the same meaning. However, the form with VI is definitely the more formal one, so you won’t hear much in speech and even in writing you will find it in more formal contexts.

In the role of adverbs of place, CI and VI can be used to replace common expressions such as: QUI, IN QUESTO LUOGO or LÌ, IN QUEL LUOGO. Often, but not always, they are followed by adverbs indicating motion to place or state in place, for example:

Conosco bene Madrid perché ci vado in vacanza ogni anno (= I go in that place)

Ho letto 10 volte questo saggio e vi ho trovato molti spunti interessanti (= I have found in this essay some interesting ideas)

CI and VI as reflexive verbs

Be careful when using CI and VI with REFLEXIVE VERBS. We can say that when reflexive verbs are conjugated to the first and second singular persons (with MI and TI), we usually always use CI.

Mi ci sono recata.

Ti ci sei trovato.

When, instead, we combine the reflexive verb to the first person or to the second person plural (with CI and VI), we tend to avoid using CI and VI, because they would create confusion. Rather, we use: LÌ, QUI, IN QUEL POSTO, IN QUESTO POSTO. For example:

Ci siamo recati lì.

Vi siete trovati qui.

Concerning the SI, when we conjugate the reflexive verb at the third person singular or plural, we tend to to use VI. I’m not saying we don’t use CI, but it’s quite common that you can hear VI. For example:

Vi si è trovato.

Vi si sono recati.

This is why, when we use CI we will risk to create confusion with the IMPERSONAL SI AND THE REFLEXIVE VERBS.

Ci si è trovati.

Ci si è recati.

In this case, that CI does not have the function of adverb of place to indicate“there”, but it would represent the IMPERSONAL SI.

CI and VI with the verb essere

CI and Vi, in the role of adverbs of place, can be used also with the verb essere to indicate the existence of something or someone in a specific place. For example:

Mi dispiace, non c’è più tempo.

Ops, ci sono dei topi in soffitta.

In this case it is possible to use interchangeably VI, but it may give to the sentences a formal and archaic mood.

We have finally arrived at the end of this lesson, I hope it was exhaustive and I hope you could do a general review of  CI and VI, learning something new. If you want to keep studying Italian grammar, I suggest that you also look at the lesson dedicated to the particle NE.

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

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