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Italian expression of the day: 'Ci penso io'

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Italian expression of the day: 'Ci penso io'
Photo: DepositPhotos
17:59 CEST+02:00
This is a phrase that's nicer to hear than to say.

Whether it's someone offering to negotiate with an obstinate landlord on your behalf or the rare bureaucrat who tracks down that missing form so you don't have to, it's always a relief to be told ci penso io – 'I'll take care of it'.

Pronounced "chee pen-so ee-oh", the phrase literally means 'I'll think of it', and it suggests that whoever's saying it is so far ahead of you that you don't even need to consider whatever task they're talking about, let alone do it yourself.

Non preoccuparti, ci penso io.
Don't worry, I'll take care of it.

In effect, pensare a qualcosa can mean 'to handle' or 'to deal with something'.

When you've established what it is you're talking about, instead of repeating yourself you can use the pronoun ci to replace a [qualcosa] – just like saying 'with it' rather than 'with [the thing we're talking about]' in English.

Devo pensare al pagamento.
I should deal with the payment.

Ci devo pensare.
I should deal with it.

And while most language learners will have had it drummed into them that Italian verbs don't require subject pronouns – 'I', 'you' 'she', 'we', etc – sometimes you do actually use them, usually when it's important to emphasize who is doing something.

Think of it as the equivalent of stressing the pronoun with your voice in English.

Basta! Ci penso io.
That's enough! I'll take care of this.

For super-duper stress, Italians often place the subject pronoun behind the verb itself – so it's the very last thing you hear in the sentence (and presumably, the word that makes the biggest impression). 

Non puoi decidere tu.
You don't get to decide.

Vado io.
I'll go.

So while it's perfectly correct to say "io ci penso", flipping the word order means you're really underlining the fact that you'll handle something so someone else doesn't have to. 

Though of course, the case could be quite the opposite.

Mamma mia, al resto ci pensi tu!
For goodness' sake, you take care of the rest!

Do you have an Italian word you'd like us to feature? If so, please email our editor Jessica Phelan with your suggestion.

 

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