Ti piace…? How to Say What You Like in Italian

In this post we’ll look at how to say what you like in Italian. You use a construction that’s a bit different than in English.

Mi piace il/la…

To say what you like in Italian, use mi piace il/la/l’/lo or mi piacciono i/gli/le…  Grammatically, the thing you like is the subject, and you are mi (to me). Literally translated, the construction mi piace X is X pleases me or X is pleasing to me. We’ll come back to piacciono in a moment.

  • Mi piace il calcio.
    I like soccer.
  • Mi piace il cibo italiano.
    I like Italian food.
  • Mi piace il cinema italiano.
    I like Italian cinema/movies.
  • Mi piace la musica italiana.
    I like Italian music.
  • Mi piace Andrea Bocelli.
    I like Andrea Bocelli.

Notice that you use the (il, la, l’, lo...) when you say what you like in Italian, unless of course you’re using a proper noun like Andrea Bocelli. That’s because Italian uses the definite article (the) when you’re talking about things in general. For example, in English you say Italian food is delicious. But in Italian, you add the (il): il cibo italiano è delizioso. When you talk about what you like, you’re making a general statement about that category of things, and when you do that in Italian, you use the equivalent of the.

Do you like? Ti piace?

To ask someone else whether they like something, use ti (for someone who’s a tu) or le (for someone who’s a Lei.) The answer will be sì, mi piace… or no, non mi piace…

  • Ti piace la pizza, Giovanni?
    Do you like pizza, Giovanni?
  • Sì, mi piace la pizza.
    Yes, I like pizza.
  • Le piace la pizza, Signor Rossi?
    Do you like pizza, Mr. Rossi?
  • No, non mi piace la pizza.
    No, I don’t like pizza.
Mi piace cantare

If you like to do something, just use the infinitive (-are, -ere, -ire) form of the verb after piace.

  • Mi piace cantare in italiano.
    I like to sing in Italian.
  • Mi piace viaggiare.
    I like to travel.
  • Non mi piace aspettare.
    I don’t like to wait.
  • Cosa ti piace fare?
    What do you like to do?
Piace or piacciono?

Just remember that, grammatically, the thing you like (or not) is the subject, not you. The best way to think about it is that awkward English translation: soup is pleasing to me. Sounds awful in English, but it helps make an important point.

If you’re talking about shoes (scarpe), what would you say, is pleasing, or are pleasing? Are pleasing, since shoes is plural. In Italian, that means that you use piacciono (they are pleasing) instead of piace (it is pleasing.)

  • Ti piacciono le scarpe?
    Do you like shoes?
  • Sì, mi piacciono le scarpe.
    Yes, I like shoes.
  • Ti piacciono i gatti o i cani?
    Do you like cats or dogs?
  • Mi piacciono i cani.
    I like dogs.
I really like: Mi piace (piacciono) molto

If you really like something, just add molto (a lot) after piace or piacciono.

  • Mi piace molto il cibo italiano.
    I really like Italian food.
  • Mi piacciono molto i film di Federico Fellini.
    I love/really like Federico Fellini’s films.
  • Mi piace molto questa canzone.
    I love/really like this song.
Taking It Further: ci, vi, gli, a loro piace…

So far you’ve seen that mi means to me, ti means to you (for tu), and le means to you (for Lei). What about we like, they like, she likes, and so on? For those you use the exact same construction, but you change the mi/ti/le. For example:

  • ci = to us
    Ci piace molto la cucina italiana.
    We like Italian cooking very much.
  • gli = to him
    Gli piacciono le lezioni.
    He likes the lessons.
  • le = to her
    Le piace molto questa città.
    She likes this city a lot.
  • vi = to you (plural, for voi)
    Vi piace il vostro insegnante?
    Do you (all) like your teacher?
  • a loro = to them
    A loro piace questa casa.
    They like this house.

The pronouns mi, ti, le, gli, ci, vi and a loro are called indirect object pronouns. They’re used in pretty much the same places we use (to) me/you/him/her/us/them in English, for example with verbs like dare (give): Gli do il mio indirizzo. I give him my address. Do means I give, and gli is used to show who I’m giving my address to: (to) him. Again, if you think about that awkward English literal translation of mi piace (is pleasing to me) you can see why we use the indirect object pronouns in Italian with this construction.

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