Italian Language/use of

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QUESTION: Dear Maria,

My question is about the use of “si svolge” in the following sentence:

“Per favore, potresti dirmi se ho tradotto correttamente questo dialogo che si svolge tra Gabriella e Piero?  
[Would you please tell me if I have correctly translated the following dialogue that takes place between Gabriella and Piero]

Would you please tell me if I am correct in thinking that in the above sentence - “si svolge” is the “passive si” used with the 3rd person singular form of the transitive verb “svolgere”.

If this is correct, can you also please verify that the transitive verb “svolgere” means “to take place” (my dictionary does not include this definition for svolgere)

I am also wondering why the verb “succedere” cannot be used in place of “svolgere” as in the following sentence:
“Per favore, potresti dirmi se ho tradotto correttamente questo dialogo che si succede tra Gabriella e Piero?  

I think it would help me to better understand if I knew the correct translation of the Italian verb “succedere”.  Can you please tell me the meaning of “succedere”.

Thank you so much for your patience and help with my difficulty in understanding this sentence.

Sincerely,

Rich

ANSWER: Dear Rich,

the verb  “si svolge” in the sentence “Per favore, potresti dirmi se ho tradotto correttamente questo dialogo che si svolge tra Gabriella e Piero?“ is not a “passive si”, but an intransitive pronominal form of the transitive verb “svolgere”.

So, “svolgersi”, as an intransitive pronominal verb, corresponds to “avvenire” as well as to “aver luogo” (to take place), and therefore we could also  say:”.. ...questo dialogo che  ha luogo tra Gabriella e Piero” or ”...questo dialogo che  avviene tra Gabriella e Piero”.

As for “succedere” in ”.....questo dialogo che succede tra Gabriella e Piero”, it sounds not so good in Italian, because  with the noun “dialogo” we prefer to use “svolgersi” or maybe “aver luogo”/”avvenire”/”accadere”, though in this context the best verb is “svolgersi”.

Finally, the intransitive verb “succedere”, as a synonym of “avvenire” /”accadere” (to happen / to occur), is used in sentences like e.g. “Sono cose che succedono” ( these things happen),  “Qualsiasi cosa succeda” (whatever happens), “Qualunque  cosa succeda,  ci sarò “ (whatever happens I’ll be there), etc.

Anyway, “succedere” can also be translated as “to succeed” as in “Successe  al padre negli affari” ( he succeeded his father in the business),” Re  Vittorio Emanuele III succedette a Umberto” (”Vittorio Emanuele III succeeded Umberto I ),  or as “to follow” as in “Un tuono succedette al lampo” (a roll of thunder followed the lightning)  and “ Spesso a un periodo di boom succede un periodo di crisi” (a crisis often follows a boom).

Best regards,
Maria


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Maria,

Thank you very much for your help with this question.

Can you please tell me if I am correct in thinking that the verb “succedere” (to happen, to occur, to succeed, to follow) is an impersonal verb, and as such -  “succedere” is always used without a subject and is always  used in either the 3rd person singular or 3rd person plural.

Would you please tell me if I have correctly identified the forms of “succedere” in the following sentences.


[1]   Sono cose che succedono.
   succedono  =  3rd person plural present indicative

[2]   Qualsiasi cosa succeda.
   succeda =  3rd person singular present subjunctive

[3]   Qualunque  cosa succeda,  ci sarò.
   succeda =  3rd person singular present subjunctive

[4]   Successe  al padre negli affari.
   successe = 3rd person singular passato remoto

[5]   Re Vittorio Emanuele III succedette a Umberto.
  succedette =    3rd person singular passato remoto

[6]   Un tuono succedette al lampo.
  succedette =    3rd person singular passato remoto

[7]   Spesso a un periodo di boom succede un periodo di crisi.
   succede = 3rd person singular present indicative

Would you also please tell me if it is true that all Italian impersonal verbs are used without a subject.

Finally, I just want to make sure that I correctly understand the use of the subjunctive in sentence 2 and in sentence 3.  Would I be correct to think that in these sentences the subjunctive (succeda) is being used in a main clause and therefore the subordinating conjunction “che” (that usually precedes the subjunctive) is not required to be used before the subjunctive in these sentences?

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Rich

Answer
Dear Rich,

Actually the verb “succedere” (to happen, to occur, to follow,to succeed) is not  an impersonal verb, but an intransitive verb that has a subject, as you can see e.g. in “Qualsiasi cosa succeda” (whatever happens) , “Sono cose che succedono” ( these things happen),  “Qualunque  cosa succeda,  ci sarò “ (whatever happens I’ll be there) where the subjects are “Qualsiasi cosa”, “...cose che” and “Qualunque cosa”  and the verb is used in  the 3rd person singular or 3rd person plural, according to the subject, of course.

As for the sentences that you mention, you  have correctly identified the forms of “succedere”.

Finally,  in sentence 2 and in sentence 3 the subjunctive (succeda) is being used with an indefinite relative pronoun ( qualsiasi/ qualunque) in a subordinate clause denoting a possibility, not real facts, and you know that in Italian  we use the subjunctive to mean a possibility, while the indicative is the mood of the real facts.

Please note that in sentence 3 “Qualunque  cosa succeda, ci sarò...”  the main clause is “ci sarò", while “Qualunque cosa succeda” is the subordinate clause denoting a possibility.

The same happens in sentence 2  “Qualsiasi cosa succeda” where the main clause is implied.

Hope all is clear enough.

Best regards,

Maria

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Maria

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Italian is my mother tongue and I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning Italian Language.

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