Avere: whis is it so important?
Avere is the equivalent of the English verb to have and is used to indicate ownership or possession.
It translates to the obvious uses of ownership and possession (to have a sister or a cat, or a house, or a doubt, or a cold).
It can also translate in English to such things as to get, to have received (a package, say, or news) and to hold (a memory dear, for example).
In addition, it has a long list of daily uses beyond the obvious parallel ones in English: to be right or wrong, to be cold or scared.
It is also one of the two auxiliary verbs (the other one is essere – to be) in Italian.
This means that avere is also used to help conjugate transitive verbs in order to form compound tenses.
It means that avere enables the conjugation of all compound tenses of all transitive verbs (including itself).
Think of all verbs whose action has an object outside of the subject, like mangiare (to eat), baciare (to kiss), bere (to drink), vedere (to see), scrivere (to write), fare (to do), amare (to love).
However, transitive and intransitive verbs do not match exactly in English and Italian.
This makes avere is one of the most important verbs in the Italian language.
That’s why you should learn the conjugation of avere.
Italian verb avere: verb conjugation
In this post, you’ll learn the Italian grammar of avere with rules, sentences, examples, and links to practice.
Together with essere, avere is one of the two most common verbs in the Italian language. They are used in a wide variety of situations and serve as a grammatical aid in many situations.
In English, you’re hungry. In Italian, you have hunger.
So, you need to learn the present tense of the verb avere (“To have”).
Present tense of avere
Here is the verb conjugation of the present tense of avere:
- io ho
- tu hai
- lei / lui / Lei ha
- noi abbiamo
- voi avete
- loro hanno
Avere is not regular in all tenses, therefore it does not have a fixed pattern nor does it have the same suffixes that are used for regular verbs.
A simple sentence with avere meaning “to have” in Italian:
- io ho un gatto (I have a cat)
- tu hai un gatto
- lei / lui / Lei ha un gatto
- noi abbiamo un gatto
- voi avete un gatto
- loro hanno un gatto
In Italian, you can actually leave out the personal pronoun in front, unless you really want it for emphasis or clarity. There’s enough information in the Italian verbs to understand the subject.
Learn more about Italian verb conjugation.
Past tense of avere (passato prossimo)
The most used past tense in Italian grammar is the passato prossimo.
The present perfect tense of avere is formed by the present simple of the auxiliary verb avere (to have) + its past participle: avuto.
|Passato prossimo of avere|
|io ho avuto||I had / have had|
|tu hai avuto||you had / have had|
|egli ha avuto||he/she had / have had|
|noi abbiamo avuto||we had / have had|
|voi avete avuto||you had / have had|
|essi hanno avuto||they had / have had|
- Ho avuto una giornata lunga.
I had a long day.
Uses of the Italian verb avere
There are many other instances where Italian speakers “have”, instead of “be” in English.
For example, you can also have thirst, sleepiness, hotness, and coldness.
Here are some sentences:
- Stefano ha sete (Stefano is thirsty)
- Abbiamo freddo (we’re cold)
- I bambini hanno sonno (the children are sleepy)
- Hai caldo (you’re hot, i.e. not sexy)
Is anyone hungry here?
- Io ho fame (I’m hungry)
- Tu hai fame
- Lui ha fame
- Noi abbiamo fame
- Voi avete fame
- Loro hanno fame
These forms of avere don’t exist in English.
Pronunciation of avere
As you might have noticed, there is an H.
The reason is that this verb was spelt with an H in Latin (HABĒRE) (as it still is in English – HAVE).
As Italian evolved it lost the use of H for most words and, as you know, now H is always silent.
The reason AVERE still has H in some of its forms is purely for disambiguation.
You see, in Italian we have the following words:
- o (or)
- ai (to the)
- a (to)
- anno (year)
It would be very unclear if these words also meant:
- I have
- You have
- He/she has
- They have
For this reason, we kept the H in those forms of the Present Tense for the verb AVERE.
You don’t need to remember this bit of information. What you do have to remember is which forms of the present tense have the H and which ones don’t (noi and voi are the only forms without the H).
Italian sentences using avere
In English, you have breakfast, a bath, a shower, a nap, a cigarette, a coffee, etc.
In Italian, you don’t use avere for those things. We use it mainly to refer to possession. Remember this when you speak Italian!
Some examples to use avere:
- Io ho un gatto (I have a cat)
- Quante macchine hai? (How many cars do you have?)
- Non ho amici! (I have no friends!) (literally: I don’t have friends!)
- Avete informazioni? (Do you guys have any information?)
Avere is also needed to talk about your age: in Italian we are not an age, we have years of age.
- Ho trentadue anni (I’m 32)
- Alberto ha venti anni (Alberto is 20)
- Quanti anni hai? (How old are you?)
Next, some examples not to use avere, but prendere (to take) or fare (to do, to make), instead:
- Prendo una birra! (I’ll have a beer)
- Faccio il bagno! (I’ll have a bath)
- Facciamo colazione! (Let’s have breakfast!)
Audio lessons to practice avere
To practice avere, take Lesson 2 of the Italian audio course “Ripeti con me!”.
It’s a collection of 30 sentences to practice the conjugation of the verb avere naturally, without boring conjugation tables.
Here’s a preview: