Sometimes "vivere" is a transitive verb (i.e., has a direct object) and then the right auxiliary is "avere". When it is intransitive, the right auxiliary is "essere" usually. There are a few controversial cases where "avere" is used with the intransitive also. http://www.wordreference.com/iten/vivere
a hint that really helps me to know wether to use avere or essere is to know (that besides reflexives) most of the verbs that describes states, or changes between states, or remaining in state, or movement from one to another are with essere:
crescere / diminuire
nascere / morire
ingrassare / dimagrire
peggiorare / migliorare
cominciare , iniziare / terminare cambiare , riuscire
diventare, invecchiare (envejecer). sorgere, tramontare
parere, sembrare piacere / dispiacere costar , valere rimanere, stare partire, andare, venire, arrivare salire, scendere, cadere entrare, uscire</pre>
hope it helps :)
http://www.k12reader.com/transitive-and-intransitive-verbs/ Maybe this will help! In this context I think:
transitive = I lived here, ho vissuto qui
Intransitive = I lived, sono vissuto
I am completely confused by this translation and the answers given so far. My understanding is that "I have lived here" and "I have lived in the city" are both transitive, so surely should use 'abbiamo'. As kbrimington says, there is another example in Duolingo "Non abbiamo vissuto qui...". So isn't the translation here incorrect? Google Translate also uses 'abbiamo' here.
Looking back on this discussion, I now see that Viaggiatore accidentally wrote 'transitive' in his second posting, when he meant 'intransitive'. I lived here and I lived in the city do not have an object, and so are intransitive, so 'essere' is correct. I have lived a good life does have an object, so is transitive, so uses avere. Simple!
UPDATE 24/5/20: Not quite so simple! Firstly, Vivere can also be translated as "Live through", so "I lived through hard times" is actually transitive and needs avere, even though "through hard times" sounds more like a prepositional phrase. Secondly, for intransitive use, the choice of using essere or avere is "a matter of personal choice, or habit" (i.e. colloquially, many people use avere, and that is fine).
Another sentence in this exercise uses vivere with avere i.e. "Noi abbiamo vissuto in Canada".
Why avere in that case where as essere in this instance?
“When this verb is used transitively, its compound tenses are formed with the auxiliary avere. In intransitive usage, compound tenses may be formed with EITHER avere or essere, although essere is more common. The transitive and intransitive usages have similar meanings.” I copied this from one of the many websites discussing the Avere/Essere debate. But knowing that is only marginally useful. Several of the posters have posted websites that shed light on this mystifying concept. Here is yet another one written, apparently, by an Italian teacher: https://blogs.transparent.com/italian/to-be-or-to-have/
When you're talking about those controversial cases do you mean: camminare, correre, visitare, viaggiare ? (to walk, run, visit, travel)
list of verbs that may be transitive and intransitive: http://italian.about.com/library/fare/blfare147b.htm
do you think it's hopeless for me to ever learn this (or any) language if I can't understand the concepts of transitive verbs, pronouns etc...? I don't even mean this in jest, I don't understand these concepts at all. Even when I try to read about the comparative concept in english (so I can understand it as it relates to the english language and then apply) I still have no idea.
It is not hopeless! I had a lot of problems with this myself because parts of speech were things I learned when I was much younger and as English speakers we don't necessarily think about how we're using them when speaking/writing. In learning Italian, I've had to relearn these things. Just take it step by step. Sometimes you pick up on rules by seeing how some things work together. The comments here definitely help!
I have a really good book called; "English Grammar for students of Italian" by Sergio Adorni and Karen Primorac . In the contents it has chapters called, for example ;" What is a noun?' "What are objects?" (this is where transitive and intransitive verbs are explained) right up to "What are positive and negative indefinites? (whatever the hell they are, haven't read that bit yet!) It just explains what is meant in a simple way with examples that are easy to understand. I bought it second hand from Abe Books and it has helped me a lot, I don't sit down and read it, but if I can't understand something I look in the book and find the explanation of how it is in English and how it correlates with Italian. Don't be too discouraged, it takes children years to learn to speak their parents language and you obviously managed that, so it will make sense eventually!
You learnt English as a baby without understanding any of this stuff. Knowing it is helpful, because then you can have things explained using those concepts. But it's not necessary; you can still practice and practice until the rules are internalized, whether or not you've ever learnt them explicitly. And you have to practice anyway to get fluent!
'città' is used for both town and city -- you can't distinguish in Italian (indeed, the old English distinction, that a city has to have a cathedral, is now obsolete). If, Duolino, you can tell me how to say 'we have never lived in the town', then you are entitled to mark my answer wrong. Until then . . .
You can live a life. You can live a dream. Both are transitive usages. But living "in a city" is intransitive in English, at least. And living "here" is just "in this place". So I would argue that both of the last two are intransitive uses and should take essere, while the first two are transitive. I suspect the duo grading here is not absolute in reality.