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Italian Language/active past infinitive


Dear Lauren,

Can you please help me to understand the “past infinitive”.

It would help me so much if you would tell me if the following is correct or not:

The active past infinitive is composed of the infinitive of “avere” plus the past participle of a “transitive” verb.

  Example:  avere aiutato  =  to have helped

The active past infinitive is composed of the infinitive of “essere” plus the past participle of an “intransitive” verb.

  Example:  essere venuto  =  to have come

Thank you



Hi Rich,

Yes, you are correct. The active past infinitive is indeed composed of the infinitive of 'avere' plus the past participle of a transitive verb.

Regarding essere, the active past infinitive is composed of the infinitive of essere plus the past participle of THE MAJORITY of intransitive verbs. There are still a few that do not take essere but it would be too difficult to single them out.

I can tell you, however, that the main intransitive verbs to use essere are:
-those that involve movement or lack of movement (andare, arrivare, cadere, entrare, essere, fuggire, giungere, partire, restare, rimanere, salire, scappare, scendere, stare, tornare, uscire, venire)
- those that indicate a process of change (apparire, arrosire, crescere, dimagrire, divenire, diventare, guarire, ingrassare, invecchiare, morire, nascere, scomparire, scoppiare, sparire, svenire)

The 'essere' construction is also used with impersonal verbs such as accadere, avvenire, bastare, capitare, costare, dispiacere, mancare, parere, piacere, sembrare, servire, succedere, valere, volerci.

Reflexive verbs will also always take 'essere'.

Please bear in mind, however, that some verbs will take essere or avere depending on whether they are used intransitively or transitively.

For example:
Sono saliti sul pullman (They got on the coach - intransitive)
Hanno salito le scale (They went up the stairs - transitive)

Hope this helps,
Kind regards,

Italian Language

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Lauren O' Hagan


Although not my mother tongue, I have spoken Italian fluently for more than 12 years so I am very confident to answer any questions about the Italian language. I am also competent in Roman Dialect if there are any questions relating to this.


MA Applied Linguistics First Class Honours in Modern Language Studies (Linguistics, Italian, Spanish) Received the top grade in the whole of UK for GCSE Italian, receiving a letter of congratulations from the Italian Consulate Completed my two-year A Level in 1 year with a grade A country. Carried out many translation jobs for a wide range of clients and topics including self-help, literature and exam papers. For personal reference, I have also translated Federico Moccia's Tre Metri Sopra Il Cielo and 2 of Francesco Totti's book.

El Pensador, University of Bristol

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