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How do I use "Essere" and "Avere" in the perfect tense?

First of all, in Italian the perfect tense has a precise structure:

-The auxiliary verb, essere or avere, in his present form (Io ho, tu sei, egli ha)

-The past participle, such as "mangiato" or "andato".

For example: Io ho mangiato ( I have eaten), Io sono andato ( I have gone), Io sono cresciuto ( I have grown up), Tu hai finito ( You have finished).

AVERE is used for all transitive verbs, even if it is used sometimes with other intransitive verbs ( e.g.: Camminare (to walk), Dormire (to sleep), Viaggiare (to travel).

ESSERE is used to express the "reflexive verbs", such as "Mi sono lavato" ( I washed myself).Furthermore, this auxiliary verb is also used for all verbs of movement and for verbs that express a change of state ( i.e. to grow up, to die).

However, there are a few exceptions where both are possible:  if the verb is indicating a change of state, you use Essere, if it indicates more of an action, use Avere. Some of this special verbs are cambiare, salire, scendere, aumentare, diminuire, finire, iniziare.

Filippo  P. GCSE Italian tutor, IB Italian tutor, A Level Italian tutor

6 months ago

Answered by Filippo , an IB Italian tutor with MyTutor


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