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Italian Language/use of: “che si è appena chiusa”

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QUESTION: Dear Maria,

Thank you for your help with my previous question about “che si è appena chiusa”.

I am trying to understand why the “passive si” must be included in this clause.   

I understand that normally essere is used as a helping verb with a “transitive” verb to form the passive voice or that essere can be used simply as a linking verb.   Is it possible that essere can also be used with an “intransitive” verb to form the passive voice, but that in order to do so -  the passive si must also be included?

If “yes” does this mean that chiusa in - “che si è appena chiusa” is the past participle of the “intransitive” verb chiudere?  

If this is true, does this mean that the passive si can be used with essere and the past participle of any intransitive verb to form the passive voice?

Also, can you please tell me if it is true that when the passive si is used with a form of essere and an intransitive verb to form the passive voice in Italian, that this will always stand for the Italian passato prossimo in the passive voice which translates into English as the English present perfect in the passive voice?

This is all a bit confusing for me because in English “to be” is always a linking verb or a helping verb  used to form the passive voice, but cannot by itself and be made into the passive voice.  But, it appears that the linking verb “essere” can be made passive in Italian by use of the passive si.  

I am also very confused as to why a person could not say -“che è appena chiusa” to mean “that is just closed”?  If this is possible, could you please explain if “è chiusa” would be the passive form of the transitive verb “chiudere”?  Or, is “è chiusa” a form of the linking verb essere and the predicate adjective chiusa?

Thank you very much for your great patience with my questions.

Very Sincerely,

Rich

ANSWER: Dear Rich,

first of all the verb “essere” in “che si è appena chiusa”, which is the alternate form of the phrase “che  è appena stata chiusa” (view my previous answer) is exactly  a helping verb (verbo ausiliario) of  the  “transitive” verb  “chiudere” to form the passive voice.

As for “chiusa”, it is NOT being used as an adjective, but it is  the feminine singular of  the past participle  of the verb “chiudere” used here as a transitive verb, though “chiudere” can also be used as an intransitive verb.

For example, we can say: ”chiudere una finestra”(to shut a window), “chiudere un libro”, “chiudere una porta”, “chiudere una conferenza (to close a lecture)”, etc., where “chiudere” is a transitive verb as it has  a direct object.
But we can also say “La finestra non chiude” (the window won’t close), “I negozi chiudono alle sei “ (the shops close at six) where “chiudere” is an intransitive verb as it has no direct object and thus indicates a complete action without being accompanied by a direct object.

In short, the ‘passive si‘ is used here with ‘essere’ and the past participle of a transitive  verb to form the passive voice, since “si è appena chiusa” stands for “ è appena stata chiusa” where “è stata chiusa” is the passive form of the TRANSITIVE verb “chiudere”, NOT  a form of the linking verb “essere” and the predicate adjective “chiusa” as in e.g. “La porta era chiusa” (The door was closed) or “I negozi sono chiusi la domenica”.

To conclude, in Italian as well as in English  “essere” ( “to be”) is always a linking verb (verbo copulativo)  or a helping verb  (verbo ausiliario) used to form the passive voice.

I think that this is a bit confusing for you because you have a hard time in understanding the use of the “passive si” (si passivante) that we often use in Italian  to make a sentence passive.

See for example: “La mostra s’inaugura il mese prossimo” ( the exhibition will be inaugurated next month); “La mostra si è appena chiusa” (The exhibition   has just  been closed “, “ In Italia si  producono ottimi vini” ( excellent wine is produced in Italy) ;”Qui  si  parla Inglese” ( English is spoken here )|, etc.,  where “s’inaugura”, “si è appena chiusa”, “si  producono”, “si parla”  stand for  “sarà inaugurata”, “è stata appena chiusa”,” sono prodotti” , “è parlato” respectively.

Lastly, I have to point out that “si è chiusa”  ( has just been closed) in “che si è appena chiusa” is the indicative  “passato prossimo” with the “passive si”, NOT  the present indicative  “si chiude”( is closed)  with the “passive si” as in “La mostra si chiude domani” (the exhibition will be closed tomorrow).

Hope this can be helpful.

Best regards,

Maria
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P.S. Please note that  the verb “chiudere” can also be used as a reflexive/pronominal verb, i.e. “chiudersi” as in “chiudersi in casa” (to shut oneself up at home), “La finestra si chiuse da sola” (the window shut by itself).


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

QUESTION: Dear Maria,

Thank you for your help with this question.  Thanks to you, I am making progress in my understanding of the clause - “che si è appena chiusa”.

I think that you are correct in saying that my difficulty comes from not understanding the use of the “passive si”.  

To explain my confusion, I thought that the passive voice is formed by either the use of the passive si with the third person form of a verb,  or by use of the helping verb essere with the past participle of a transitive verb.  But, in the clause “che si è appena chiusa” both methods are being used at the same time - the passive si is placed before è, and è is used with the past participle of a transitive verb.

I am trying to understand why both the passive si and the helping verb è (used to form the passive voice) are included in “che si è appena chiusa”

Does the use of the passive si with a verb already in the passive voice (such as - è chiusa) make this passive voice verb the into a passive voice verb in the passato prossimo?  

In other words - is “è chiusa” the present passive voice (is closed) while “si è chiusa” is the passato prossimo in the passive voice (has been closed)?

Is the construction - “passive si” plus “è” plus the “past participle of a transitive verb” ( as in “si è chiusa”) simply another way to express the passato prossimo in the passive voice (as opposed to saying- “è stata chiusa”)?

Maybe it would help me if you would please, once again, tell me the translation of the following clauses:  “che è appena chiusa” and “che si è appena chiusa”

Thank you so much for your patience with my lack of understanding.

Sincerely,

Rich

Answer
Dear Rich,

It is so: your  difficulty comes from not understanding the use of the “passive si”.  
In fact, when you say:  “the passive voice is formed by either the use of the passive si with the third person form of a verb,  or by use of the helping verb essere with the past participle of a transitive verb”  you are mixing up the “passive si”,  that needs the helping verb ‘essere’ with the past participle of a transitive verb,  and the “ impersonal si” that is used with  the third person singular, active voice,  of a transitive/intransitive verb as in e.g.“Si dice” (They say/People say/One says), “Si parte tra poco” (We're leaving soon), “A scuola si viene in orario” (You must come to school on time).

Such an “impersonal si” -which  is NOT passive  and has no subject- is  always placed  before a verb in the 3rd.person singular and can be translated into English  as "One", "You", "We", "They", "People", "Man" followed by the verb.

On the contrary, the “ passive si” -which is used in the third-person singular or third-person plural, according to the subject of the sentence, like in e.g. “La mostra si inaugurerà il mese prossimo” ( the exhibition will be inaugurated next month)  or “Le mostre si inaugureranno il mese prossimo” (the exhibitions will be inaugurated next month)-  has a subject, as you can see, and moreover can be replaced with a real passive verb such as e.g. “La mostra sarà  inaugurata il mese prossimo”/”Le mostre saranno inaugurate il mese prossimo”.

In short,  in the clause “che si è appena chiusa” both methods are NOT being used at the same time, simply because  both the “passive si”  placed before “è” and “è” used with the past participle of a transitive verb are really the way to express the passive form “ che è appena stata chiusa”  that we can also use instead of “che si è appena chiusa” with the "passive si"

Therefore the use of the “passive si“ with a verb, such as-"si è chiusa", is the alternate form of “ è stata chiusa” as the "passive si" makes the transitive verb "chiudere" a passive voice  in the "passato prossimo", since "si è chiusa" indicates that the action expressed by the verb "chiudere"  has already happened.

In other words, “si è chiusa” is NOT the PRESENT passive voice, but  the PASSATO PROSSIMO in the passive voice (has been closed), as I’ve already said.

In fact, “La mostra si chiude oggi” would be the PRESENT passive voice, while “La mostra si è chiusa” is the PASSATO PROSSIMO in the passive voice (has been closed).

Thus the construction - “passive si” plus “è” plus the “past participle of a transitive verb” ( as in “si è chiusa”) is simply  another way to express the “passato prossimo” in the passive voice (instead of  saying- “è stata chiusa”).

To conclude, the translation of “che si è appena chiusa” is :”that has just been closed”.

As for  “che è appena chiusa”, it is wrong,  because a sentence such as “La mostra che è appena chiusa” makes no sense at all in Italian, since we must use the “passato prossimo “ and say correctly “La mostra che è appena stata chiusa” just to indicate that the action of the verb "chiudere"  has already been completed.

Hope this can help you a little more in understanding this matter that is not so easy.

Best regards,
Maria

Italian Language

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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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