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Nothing to do – da + infinitive verb: Italian grammar lesson 182

Da + infinitive verb in Italian

If you’ve been studying Italian, you’ve surely come across the construction da + infinito (infinitive form of the verb).

  • Non ho niente da fare.
    I have nothing to do.
  • La parmigiana è un piatto da provare.
    Parmigiana is a dish to try.

This construction is used a lot, especially in spoken Italian, and it is extremely easy to learn and use!

da mangiare italian

Da +infinitive verb: Meaning

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The construction da + infinito can be compared to the English “to be + participle” (to be done, to be seen, to be said, etc.).

Even if it is not always literally translated this way, it can have the same exact meaning as “(that needs) to be…”

  • C’è qualcosa da fare?
    Is there anything to be done?
  • Firenze è una città da visitare.
    Florence is a city that needs to be seen.
  • Marcello è una persona da evitare.
    Marcello is someone to be avoided
  • Giulio ha un problema da risolvere.
    Giulio has a problem that needs to be solved.

da infinito italiano

Da + infinitive verb: Other meanings

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Sometimes, the construction da + infinito in Italian can also mean “that can be + participle” and it is often used with an indefinite pronoun (qualcosa – something; qualcuno – someone; niente – nothing; etc.).

Have a look at the examples below:

  • Non c’è niente da mangiare.
    There is nothing to eat (that can be eaten).
  • La polizia non ha nessuno da interrogare.
    The police have no one to interrogate (that can be interrogated).
  • Non ho tempo da perdere.
    I have no time to waste (that can be wasted).

This construction can also have what we call a consecutive value, meaning that it describes a consequence. This use is not widespread, but it is good to at least know it so that you do not get confused when you hear expressions like:

  • una storia da ridere
    a story that causes laughter
  • una situazione da non credere
    a situation that causes incredulity

da fare italian

Examples

  • Portati qualcosa da leggere ci sarà da aspettare.
    Bring something to read, we’ll have to wait.
  • C’è qualcosa da fare?
    Is there anything that needs to be done?
  • Non abbiamo così tanti soldi da spendere.
    We don’t have so much money to spend (that can be spent).
  • Lucca è una città da vedere se vai in Toscana.
    Lucca is a city to see (that needs to be seen) if you go to Tuscany.

 

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