Io lo so come ci si sente


Can anyone tell me why we say “ci si sente” here? What is the function of “ci”? I understand “si” changes the verb ‘sentire’ from meaning “hear” to “feel” but I’m not sure how “ci” functions in this context.


The Italian sentence is a common way to express empathy towards someone.

You cannot omit the “ci” to keep the same meaning: “So come si sente” means I know how (formal) you feel". I am not sure in this case if the “si” particle is acting as an impersonal pronoun or as part of the reflexive verb “sentirsi”. It kind of works a bit of both.

The “ci” in this case should be read as “in it”, “in this situation”.

So elaborating a bit, the Italian sentence means “I know how one must feel in this situation”.


That sentence should be Io lo so come si si sente in theory, but the first si (a “si impersonale” as in “si mangia bene in questo ristorante”) clashes with the si of the reflexive verb sentirsi.

In such circumstances, to avoid confusion (admittedly not always for foreign language learners!), a linguistic trick takes place: the first si is replaced by a ci.

It is formally referred to as a clitic substitution.

Here is another example:

  • Ci si diverte molto. = One has a lot of fun.

Thank you everybody for explaining this so well. I had completely forgotten that the si becomes ci!