I have arrived (Ho arrivato o Sono arrivato)

I've seen it is "Sono arrivato". Why? It is still confusing for me. I can't see the difference. ┬┐When "To Have" will be translated as "Essere" and when "Avere"? Sono confuso!

March 2, 2016


You use avere with a transitive verb, i.e. one that takes a direct object. For example, mangiare - ho mangiato, because you can say things such as 'I ate it', 'it' being the direct object. You use essere when you have a intransitive verb. Arrivare is such a verb because you couldn't write something like 'I arrived it', 'I arrived you', etc...

Note though that reflexive verbs will also use essere. Some verbs can be either transitive or intransitive depending on how they are used. Return is such a verb since you can say...

I returned it (transitive)

I returned to the place (intransitive)

March 2, 2016

And in Italian:

L'ho ritornato
(or: L'ho ritornata , if the object ("it") being returned is a feminine noun)

Sono ritornato al posto
(or: Sono ritornata al posto, if a female is speaking.
To take it further: Sono ritornati al posto means "They returned to the place; you need the "i" ending to tell that the subject (they) is plural.
Also, siamo ritornati for "we returned"/ Siete ritornati for "you (all) returned".

March 4, 2016

Guys, although dictionaries say that "ritornare" can be transitive, i advise you to never use in that way because sounds strange..."l'ho ritornato" is more a dialectal form, it's better to say "l'ho restituito"

March 5, 2016

Exactly, I wanted to see how it was in Italian!

I returned it --> L'ho ritornato (transitive) I returned to the place --> Sono ritornato al posto (intransitive)

I need to practice.

Grazie mille!

March 5, 2016

Ok, got it! However, at least I understood how this intransitive and transitive stuff works...

Thanks for your clarification.

March 6, 2016

Muckle_ewe pretty much nailed it, I think. Just one more distinction to consider, though.

The use of essere vs. avere in perfect constructions does depend on the transitivity of the verb, as well as the flavour of intransitivity. If the intransitive verb is unergative (meaning, the subject of the verb is an actor/doing something), it should take avere. If the intransitive verb is unaccusative (meaning, the subject of the verb is being acted upon), it should take essere.

The different behaviour between unergatives and unaccusatives has to do with the original position of the subject. In unaccusatives, like 'arrivare', the surface subject of the sentence is actually generated as an object and then moved. For instance, many transitive verbs in English. like 'melt', alternate with an unaccusative counterpart. English unergatives, like 'sleep' do not have transitive counterparts.

  1. a. The snow melted.

    b. The sun melted the snow.

  2. a. The baby slept.

    b. *The mother slept the baby.

To try and distinguish the two, one can ask 'what did x do?' vs. 'what happened to x'.

What happened to the snow? It melted = unaccusative = takes 'essere'

What did the baby do? She slept = unergative = takes 'avere'

You can see the tendency for unaccusatives to take 'essere/be' in other languages as well. Take English again. The verb 'fall' is unaccusative, and it is perfectly acceptable to say 'London is fallen' in the perfect construction. But 'The baby is slept' is nonsense.

TL;DR If the subject of the verb is acting/doing something volitionally, the verb will take 'avere' in the perfect. If the subject of the verb is being acted upon, the verb will take 'essere' in the perfect.

Hope this helps!!

March 4, 2016

"Have" meaning possession is "avere," as in "Ho una maglia,"= I have a sweater. "Have" used as a part of the verb to put it in past tense is usually "avere," as in "l'ho perso"=I have lost it. But some verbs, usually verbs that indicate motion, use "essere" to idicate a past tense, so "I have arrived" is "sono arrivato."

March 2, 2016

Unfortunately there is not a general rule..With practice you will know when to use "essere" or "avere"

March 2, 2016

Thank y'all guys.. Your comments are very helpful. I need to comprenhend well all this stuff of intransitive, transitive, unergative, unaccusative... It's ok, I think I've already got it... I just need to practice it!

Thank you very much!

March 4, 2016
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