WHAT THE HECK IS "NE" IN ITALIAN?
So I don't know about you, but there can be certain words in new languages that seem to make no sense or can be really hard to grasp. The word "ne" in Italian is no exception.
I love Italian so much but it seems that this word just never really fit in or stuck with me. I figured since it wasn't the easiest thing for me to grasp, you might be having a similar experience when learning to speak Italian.
This is one of those words that always puzzled me when I was first learning to speak Italian and I felt like every time someone tried to explain it to me, I still felt lost. After many explanations and lots of learning, I finally understood it and could use it! I realized it wasn't nearly as hard to understand as I thought.
I have had students ask me this in the past what it meant and then recently someone reached out and asked if I could make a video about it!
So I decided to do it but I thought it might be more fun to have a friend with me this time to help out! We get into some different examples together and have some fun talking about "ne". Però, possiamo parlarne più tardi ;) Enjoy the video!
You can scroll below the video to read the English script. Make sure to click the "CC" button on bottom right of the video to view subtitles in Italian! You can always do the auto-translate subtitles to get the English too.
Learn To Speak Italian: WHAT THE HECK IS "NE" IN ITALIAN?
Luke: Hi Lucrezia!
Lucrezia: Hi Luke!
Luke: How are you?
Lucrezia: I’m fine, and you?
Luke: Everything’s fine, everything’s fine. So, somebody asked me about a very very important thing in Italian: the word “ne”. Because for foreigners, in general, it’s a bit difficult to undestand how to use it, so today we’ll talk about this word, from your point of view and also from mine, is it OK?
Lucrezia: Very well.
Luke: So, where could we start? Ne.
Lucrezia: I’d like to begin with an example, if you agree.
Luke: OK. So... perhaps we would like to travel to Germany, for example, and I ask you “So, Lucrezia, would you like to talk about travelling or booking something in Germany?” but maybe you can’t talk now because you’re not free, so you could say something like “Possiamo parlarne più tardi?” (Shall we talk about it later?), right?
Luke: What is “ne” in this case?
Lucrezia: “Ne” here means “we can talk about this later”.
Luke: Exactly, because we don’t want to repeat it, right?
Lucrezia: Exactly, exactly. Another example could be: I’m drinking a coffee and ask you "Io sto bevendo un caffè, ne vuoi un po'?" (I’m drinking a coffee, would you like some?)
Lucrezia: So “ne” refers to “coffee” and in order not to repeat “I’m drinking coffee, would you like some coffee?” I say “ne”. It practically means “some” in English.
Luke: Exactly, because in Italian we have to say this word, “ne”, but in English you don’t need to say it. As you said, in English it’s "Do you want some tea?", instead of saying Tea, "Do you want some?", that’s it. In English it would be "Do you want some of it?", "Do you want some (NE – in Italian) of it?".
Lucrezia: In fact in Italian “ne” is a pronominal grammar element because it substitutes the noun.
Lucrezia: A pronoun is something that takes the place of a noun, so “ne” in this case becomes a pronoun because it actually substitutes a name, because we don’t want to repeat it.
Luke: Exactly, or another example could be if there is something, a noise outside that annoys me, something or someone that makes me angry, I can say "Non ne posso più", right?
Luke: In English it would be "I can't stand it anymore!", "I can't take it anymore", .i.e. I can’t stand this thing that’s happening.
Lucrezia: Exactly, so instead of saying “I can’t stand anymore this thing that is happening” I say “Ne”, “non ne posso più”.
Luke: Yes, so it’s something to speak more briefly, without repetitions, let’s say.
Lucrezia: Exactly, “linguistic saving” because we summarise, so it’s better for talking.
Luke: Yes, “non ne posso più, basta” (I can’t stand it anymore, stop) is much easier to say.
Luke: In general, as in the first example we did, "possiamo parlarne dopo" (we can talk about it later), if you’re learning and say "possiamo parlare dopo" (we can talk later) it’s OK as well as we know, but if you want to be more specific "possiamo parlarne dopo", it’s not a bad mistake if you don’t use it.
Lucrezia: No, but in that case you could also omit it.
Luke: But if you hear someone who says that word, you might understand better, “OK, about this thing”, right?
Lucrezia: Right, but in that case you can also say “Parliamo dopo” (Let’s speak later).
Luke: Yes, there are different ways.
Lucrezia: Anyway, using “ne”is very useful, so you must learn it.
Luke: And you can leave a comment below if you have more questions.
Lucrezia: Exactly, or also if you have another example to share with everybody, just write it in the comments.
Luke: Yes, exactly. And we’ll see you in the next video, sound good?
Luke: OK, guys, bye bye!