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I am learning indirect object pronouns and I am wondering why in some cases the 'a + pronoun' form is used instead of the contracted form.

Are both forms used interchangeably?

As another example, I often here 'ti amo' used and not 'amo a te', but are both technically correct?

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In ti amo, ti is the direct object. It is not changeable into amo a te, but only into amo te (the same as the English “I love you”).

In grazie a te there is an implicit verb: (dico) grazie a te. In this case it's not possible to invert the position, because the “weak” pronoun ti can only be attached to the verb. So you can say ti dico grazie, but not ti grazie.

There is a slight difference between ti amo and amo te; the latter is more emphatic when used absolutely (I love you and nobody else). It is also mandatory when followed by some opposition: amo te e non (add name here). The former is more intimate: you won't whisper amo te to your lover, but only ti amo.

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    Perfect answer. egreg, perhaps you might want to add something about the version with te or a te being generally more emphatic (amo te, non tua sorella)? – DaG Jun 27 '16 at 9:38
  • Adding to this... is 'ti ringrazio' not used in favour of 'grazie at te'? From what I understand, 'ti ringrazio' literally means 'I thank you', right? – pj2452 Jun 27 '16 at 16:15
  • @pj2452 Yes, you're right, but it confirms that you need a verb for the "ti" form. – egreg Jun 27 '16 at 17:03
  • OK, understood. Thanks again, that cleared my question up. – pj2452 Jun 27 '16 at 19:07

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