Italian School of Dallas



Io piaccio (I am pleasing to …)              mi piace/piacciono   (I like)

Tu piaci   (you are pleasing to …)          ti piace/piacciono     (you like)        

Lui/lei piace  (he/she is pleasing to …)    gli/le piace/piacciono (he/she likes)

Noi piacciamo (we are pleasing to …)       ci piace/piacciono    (we like)

Voi piacete      (you are pleasing to …)     vi piace/piacciono    (you like)

Loro piacciono (they are pleasing to …)     gli piace/piacciono     (they like)


Although piacere and to like have the same meaning, as you have probably already noticed, they are used very differently.

While in English, there is an active subject who likes something or someone (= direct object), in Italian, the sentence is turned completely around, what is liked is actually the subject of the sentence and the person who is doing the liking is receiving the action (= indirect object).  So, the subject (a person, thing, or activity) is pleasing TO someone (= indirect object). 

So if we translate a sentence like, ‘Mi piace la pizza,’  into ‘pizza is pleasing to me’ the construction of the sentence starts making a little more sense.  Let’s look at it piece by piece:

‘Mi’ =  indirect object (to me),

Piace = verb, (is pleasing – in the third person singular because ‘pizza’ is singular),

La pizza = subject

Other Examples:

Ci piacciono molto queste scarpe  (to us these shoes are very pleasing = we like these shoes a lot)

Ti piace Boccelli?  (to you is Boccelli pleasing? = do you like Boccelli?)

A Mario piace giocare a tennis.   (to Mario playing tennis is pleasing = Mario likes playing tennis)


Note that there are various ways to show the indirect object (the person to whom something is pleasing):


With the preposition a + someone’s name, or noun:  A Maria piace studiare; a Giovanni...; alla professoressa piace …; al dottore piace …; agli italiani piace il calcio.

With the preposition a +  a subject pronoun: A lei piace studiare; a lui...  (used most often when we want to emphasize whom is doing the liking of a particular thing/person)

With an indirect pronoun: Le piace studiare; Gli piacciono I tuoi regali...  (this is the most common way, when using a pronoun)



Remember also that, because what or whom we like is the subject of the verb, we tend to use the third person singular and plural of the verb (piacepiacciono) most often.  Because when you think about it what we like, be it a person, thing or activity can be either singular or plural:

Mi piace il nuovo libro di Ammaniti.   (to me the new book by Ammaniti is pleasing – I like Ammaniti’s new book)

Mi piacciono molto queste scarpe nere.   (to me these black shoes are very pleasing  -  I like these black shoes)



Like any verb, piacere can be conjugated in any tense.  To form compound tenses like the passato prossimo use essere.  The past participle will always agree with the subject:


Mi è piaciuta la bistecca.  

Non mi sono piaciuti gli spaghetti.

Non ci è piaciuto guidare per tante ore.  

Vi sono piaciute le montagne?



Other Verbs that Act Like Piacere

dispiacere—to displease, to upset
mancare—to be lacking, to miss
occorrere—to require, to need
servire—to need

Mi serve/servono (I need)                            mi manca/mancano (I miss)  

Ti serve/servono (you need)                        ti manca/mancano (you miss)

Gli/le serve/servono (he/she needs)              gli/le manca/mancano (he/she misses)

Ci serve/servono (we need)                         ci manca/mancano (we miss)

Vi serve/servono (you need)                        vi manca/mancano (you miss)

Gli serve/servono (they need)                      gli manca/mancano (they miss)



Mi serve più tempo per finire i miei compiti.   (I need more time to finish my homework).

Ti è mancata la tua famiglia?  (did you miss your family?)

Le mancano i suoi genitori.   (she misses her parents)

Mi servono più soldi per comprare una casa.   (I need more money to buy a house)