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Avere and Essere are both auxiliary verbs. In other words they are the 'helper verbs' which have to be there in order to form compound tenses.
So, if we take the perfect tense then, just to recap, we need to remember that there are 2 separate parts:
1) The auxiliary- Avere or Essere (such as 'ho', 'sono stato' )
2) The past participle - 'mangiato' or 'andata' for instance.
In simple terms, Avere (to have) is used for:
1) All transitive verbs- these are verbs that always take a grammatical direct object- in other words we can ask the questions, what? or who? after them.
For example: ho mangiato due pizze, ha già studiato la lezione.
2) But sadly there are some exceptions so some Intransitive verbs also take Avere. Some common examples are:
CAMMINARE (to walk), PASSEGGIARE (to stroll), VIAGGIARE (to travel), NUOTARE (to swim), BALLARE (to dance), DORMIRE (to sleep).
eg: Ho dormito molto ieri.
Essere is used for: Intransitive verbs - those that don't take a direct object, and can't give an answer to who? what? Also, rememeber: The past participles have to AGREE.
So these are:
1) All verbs of movement (I like to remember this by thinking that Essere has two 's's and well, if we imagine a stick man, these could look like a runner!) Eg: sono partito presto
2) Verbs that show a change of state. For instance: sono cresciuto(-a) (remember that when we use Essere, all the past participles must agree with the person who is doing the action. So here, -o is the singular masculine ending and -a is the singular feminine one.)
3) Reflexive verbs also use Essere. For instance, we could say: ci siamo alzati/e alle 7, (again here the -i/-e, this is for agreements- the -i is the plural masculine ending and the -e is the plural feminine ending).
There are a few odd cases though, and either can be used depending on the meaning
1) The Weather: can use either
2) Cominciare: - in the sense of a state or to describe when something started = Essere. Eg: Il programma è gia cominciato. In the Iniziare sense- the actual act of starting, use Avere. Eg: Ho cominciato un nuovo libro.
3)Finire: - in the sense of a state or to describe when something finished= Essere. Eg: A che ora è finita la lezione? But, if the verb shows an act of finishing and in the majority of cases is followed by a 'di', use Avere. Eg: Ho appena finito di leggere il libro.
4) Correre: - if a specific destination is mentioned use Essere. Eg: Sono corso alla stazione. For anything else, use Avere.
5) Cambiare:- to describe a state use Essere: La vita è cambiata molto per i giovani. But to describe an act of changing use Avere: Ha cambiato la macchina- He physically changed his car.
6) Salire/ Scendere: For the descriptive sense, or to describe a state, use Essere: Sono salita sull'autobus. For the act, use Avere: Ho salito le scale a piedi.
7) Aumentare/ Diminuire: For the state, or a description use Essere: I prezzi sono molto aumenti. For the acts, use Avere: Il governo ha aumentato le tasse. The government are actually rising the....
One other thing to be aware of: Modal verbs- Dovere, Volere and Potere- these use the auxiliary that the following verb needs. Perhaps we can imagine it this way, modal verbs are 'super helper verbs' and even use the 'helper verb' that the verb they are helping needs. So, for instance:
- Ho dovuto mangiare una pizza- mangiare is a transitive verb and needs Avere, so Dovere takes avere too
To sum up: If a verb is transitive it takes Avere, if a verb is intransitive it takes Essere.
There are a few exceptions where both are possible- with finire, cominciare, correre, cambiare, salire, scendere, aumentare, diminuare- if the verb is indicating more of a state, use Essere, more of an action, use Avere.see more
A possessive adjective indicates ownership of something and in Italian they would translate as my, hers, yours, theirs, ours... There are different forms depending on who we are talking about- for instance, if I was talking about myself I would use of of the forms of mio- the exact form depends on the gender and the number of the noun being possessed. If I was talking about them over there, the 'they' category grammatically speaking, I would use one of the forms of 'loro''.
So, the Italian forms are as follows:
Singular: il mio, il tuo, il suo, il nostro, il vostro, il loro.
Plural: i miei, i tuoi, i suoi, i nostri, i vostri, i loro.
Singular: la mia, la tua, la sua, la nostra, la vostra, la loro.
Plural: le mie, le tue, le sue, le nostre, le vostre, le loro.
So, now we have seen the forms themselves, we'll have a look at some of their rules.
One of the first things to note is that they agree in gender and number with the noun possessed, not with the possessor. So, for example, a boy called Bob wants to talk about his car. But, in Italian, car = la macchina (a feminine noun). So, we would use the feminine singular form of 'sua'- la sua, regardless of the fact that Bob is male. Thereofre = la sua macchina. His car. The possessive adjective agrees with the noun being possessed. We'll take another example: Bob wants to talk about his two pizzas. Now, pizzas are feminine, and also, we need to take into consideration that Bob has two of them (remember as we have seen above, there are different versions of the adjectives for singular and plural) So, regardless of the fact that Bob is male and that there is only one of him, we would use the feminine plural form: le sue. Therefore = le sue pizze. His pizzas
Something else to note: Loro is invariable in gender and in number. When other forms like mio change (mio, mia, miei, mie) loro always stays the same.
Also, as we have seen, unlike in English the Italian possessive adjectives are also preceded by definite articles (il, la, i, le), so if we were to translate them directly back into English, it would be like saying: 'the my book', 'the her car'.
This is practically always the case and the definite article is virtually always present, but, well ,grammar wouldn't be so exciting if there wasn't always some lovely exceptions! So, here goes:
1) Never use the article with close family members
So we would say, mia madre, mio padre, sua zia, suo nonno..
2) But, DO USE THE ARTICLE with plural family members.
So, we would say, le mie zie but mia zia.
3) USE THE ARTICLE with definite family members- those with an adjective- so la nonna materna, il zio di napoli...
4) COLLOQUIAL TERMS FOR FAMILY MEMBERS NEED AN ARTICLE: la mia mamma, il vostro papa.
5) Altered nouns relating to family members do need an article- these are nouns with suffixes (-etto, ello)
Eg: il mio cuginetto. My little cousin.
6) And just to make things confusing, non of these rules apply to 'loro'- their. (as we saw earlier, it's a bit of an odd one out) In the singular and in the plural, a definite article is always needed.
Now, with all this to remember, it is perhaps pleasing that these possessive adjectives are not in fact used as extensively in Italian as they are in English.
1) They are not used when it is clear who something belongs to. Eg: ho lasciato a casa il passaporto- it's clear that I left my passport at home, so we don't need to say it.
2) They are not used to refer to body parts/ clothes/ hair/ personal belongings. So in Italian, you can say: Voglio lavarmi i cappelli oggi - we don't need to say 'my' hair. Mi fa male il braccio- my arm hurts. We know from the sentence that we are discussing 'my' arm.
And to finish up, a few odd rules:
1) The possessive adjective usually always precedes the noun, but sometimes it doesn't. As in the following cases:
a casa mia (my house)
è colpa sua (it's his/her fault)
è merito tuo (it's your merit)
piacere mio (my pleasure)
Never say vado alla mia casa- this is wrong. say Vado a casa mia.
2) i miei, i tuoi, i suoi depending on the context, can be short for i genitori (parents). So we can say, i miei hanno un gato. My (parents) have a cat.
So, I hope this helps. In terms of learning them, I would suggest if you wrote them out in collumns- all the masculine ones - having the singular on the left and the plural on the right, then the feminine.. And if you are stuck thinking about their endings, just think back to the normal adjective endings: -o is masculine singular, -a is feminine singular, -i is masculine plural, -e is feminine plural.
Good luck!see more
The Passive, as in English is one of the three grammatical voices and is used to say that something is 'being done by somebody else'. In grammatical speak, we would say that the action that's described by the verb (eating, organising or whatever) is being done to the subject by an agent.
For instance: if we said in the active voice: 'the students are organising a party', in the passive voice, this would become 'a party is being organised by the students'. The verb with the action is organise, the subject is the party and the agent is the 'students'.
Just like with the active voice (where the subject of the verb actually does the action) it is available in all tenses - in the indicative and in the subjunctive.
A preposition is usually required and this is either par or de.
So, how does it work?
1) Move the direct object of the verb into the place of the subject.
2) Replace the verb form with the appropriate tense of etre + a past participle.
Now, this être must be in the same tense as the original main verb. Also, the past participle needs to agree in gender and number with the subject- like in any etre past tense verb.
Preposition wise: DE when we have a vague, indeterminate or habitual relationship- for instance: ....les legumes suivi de tiramisu
PAR when we have a specific, definite, or unusal relationship:
..Paul a été battu par Bob.
So, let's have a look at an example:
Les étudiants organisent une fête.
1) Move 'une fête' to the begining of the sentence.
2) The main verb, organisent' is in the present indicative, so we need to use the present indicative of etre in the passive sentence. In this case, we need 'est'
3) Agreements: fête is feminine so, our past participle must agree: 'organisée'
4) Preposition: par - this is a specific thing
Altogether: Une fête est organisée par les étudiants.
But, one important thing, Only the direct object of a verb can become a subject of a passive. INDIRECT OBJECTS CAN'T. Therefore, verbs that take an indirect object cannot be used in the passive voice.
So, for instance, 'demander x à quelqu'un' - this takes an indirect object, so the verb 'demander' can't be used in the passive voice.
Some other common examples include:
apprendre qc à qn: to teach somebody something
conseiller qc à qn: to advise somebody to do something
donner qc à qn: to give somebody something
But, ok, now we have seen the rules, why do we need it?
Basically just for stylistic purposes:
- To emphasise the sufferer of the action instead of the agent.
-As an alternative to 'on' when we don't know who did something- such as in police reports.
-Certain verbs + de to express descriptions: Le panier etait rempli de fraises.
- Certain verbs + de to express feelings, attitudes, and states of knowledge. Eg: Elle étatit connue de tout le quartier (we use de here because 'quartier' is quite vague and we don't know exactly who knows her).
But, when we have one of those verbs which cannot be used in the Passive, (verbs which are followed by an indirect object), it is important to be aware that it can be avoided.
There are many ways to avoid the passive, but, we shall focus on two for the moment and of those the safest by far is by using ON:
eg: On demande à Bob de partir.
Se voir + an Infinitive is also an option: Il s'est vu refuser: he was refused
To sum up, don't worry about the passive, just remember to make your past participles agree and don't use it with indirect objects!see more