Essere or Avere in the simple past?

The simple past is formed with an auxiliary verb plus the past participle. The two auxiliary verbs are essere and avere.

When to use avere

Avere is the most common auxiliary verb. It is used with transative verbs (verbs followed by a direct object). When in doubt, use avere.

When using avere, the past participle is always in the singular masculine which ends in -o.


1. Quante mele hai comprato? Ne ho comprato tre.

2. Mio nonno mi ha offerto lavoro estivale.

When to use essere

Essere is used in two situations.

Use essere to form the past tense of reflexive verbs.

Use essere to form the past tense of intransitive vebrs (verbs that do not take a direct object).

When using essere, the past participle changes to accommodate the gender and the number of the subject in the verb phrase.


Past tense of the reflexive

1. Mi sono svegliato alle undici. (masculine)

2. Mi sono svegliata alle undici. (feminine)

3. I miei fratelli ed io ci siamo trasferiti negli stati uniti. (masculine)

4. Le mie sorelle ed io ci siamo trasferite negli stati uniti. (feminine)

Past tense of intransitive verbs

1. Sei andato in spiaggia? (masculine)

2. Sei andata in spiaggia? (feminine)

3. I gatti sono venuti a casa mia perché gli offro solitamente un po' di latte.

Alex M. GCSE Italian tutor, A Level Italian tutor, IB Italian tutor

7 months ago

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