Grammar: conjugation of avere

Learn the Italian grammar of avere with rules, examples, and links to practice.

In English, you’re hungry. In Italian, you have hunger.

So, you need to learn the present tense of the verb avere (“To have”).

Here is the conjugation of the Present Tense of avere:

  • io ho
  • tu hai
  • lei / lui / Lei ha
  • noi abbiamo
  • voi avete
  • loro hanno

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

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.

There are many other instances where Italian speakers “have”, instead of “be”. For example, you can also have thirst, sleepiness, hotness and coldness.

  • 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)

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:

  • (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).

Avere = to own?

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!”.


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