Today we are going to talk about the Italian verbs essere and avere. As you may know, these two verbs are very important in Italian, because apart from having their own meaning, they are also used as auxiliary verbs.
Italian Verb ESSERE (to be):
In Italian the infinitive form of the verb TO BE is ESSERE. Let’s see an example with this verb.
- Io sono italiano. Tu di dove sei? = I am Italian. Where are you from?
If you want to see how to conjugate the Italian verb ESSERE, click here.
Italian verb AVERE (to have):
In Italian the infinitive form of the verb TO HAVE is AVERE. Let’s see an example with this verb.
- Io ho un cane e due gatti. E tu hai animali domestici? = I have one dog and two cats. Do you have any pets?
If you want to see how to conjugate the Italian verb AVERE, click here.
COMPOUND VERBS: ESSERE or AVERE?
If you are learning Italian, it’s very important that you study the Italian verbs essere and avere because, as we said before, they are also used as auxiliary verbs.
In English the auxiliary verb for compound verbs is always the verb ‘to have’; however, in Italian we sometimes use the verb ‘to be’ (essere) and sometimes the verb ‘to have’ (avere).
It’s essential to know how to use these two auxiliary verbs in order to speak Italian properly. So, read some important rules below that you can use to choose the correct auxiliary verb.
Italian verbs which use the auxiliary verb AVERE:
- The transitive verbs; that means those verbs that only make sense if they have a direct object, something or someone who receives the action of the verb. For example: Hai letto questo libro? – Have you read this book?
- Some intransitive verbs; that means those verbs that don’t need a direct object. Some examples of intransitive verbs which use the auxiliary verb avere are: camminare (to walk), cenare (to have dinner), chiacchierare (to chat), mentire (to lie), nuotare (to swim), parlare (to talk), pattinare (to skate), russare (to snore), scherzare (to joke), telefonare (to phone), tossire (to cough), tremare (to shake), ubbidire (to obey), viaggiare (to travel).
Italian verbs which use the auxiliary verb ESSERE:
- The reflexive verbs. For example: Mi sono appena svegliato/a = I have just woken up.
- The impersonal verbs, for example piacere (to like), succedere (to happen), sembrare (to seem), etc.
- Some intransitive verbs, especially the verbs of movement, for example andare (to go), venire (to come), arrivare (to arrive), tornare (to come back), partire (to leave), entrare (to enter), salire (to go out), and the verbs of change, for example diventare (to become), nascere (to be born), morire (to die), etc.
Important: In conjugations with avere, the past participle doesn’t agree with the subject, whilst in conjugations with essere, it must. For example:
- Lui/Lei non mi ha ancora telefonato = He/She hasn’t called me yet
- Lui/Lei è appena andato/a via = He/She has just left
Now that you know how to use the Italian verbs essere and avere, you only need to put them into practice.
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