The previous lesson covered two verbs, avere and tenere. In that lesson, we learned the conjugations and how their usages are often used incorrectly. This sequel will stress the main usage of avere.
Besides being a foundational verb in its own right, the Italian verb avere, or “to have”
in English, has a particularly important role in Italian as an auxiliary verb. This second-conjugation irregular verb facilitates – together with partner essere – all compound tenses of all modes of all verbs: avere for many transitive and intransitive verbs, and essere for reflexive verbs, verbs of movement, and many other intransitive verbs as well.
You would not be able to say that you drank a lemonade (ho bevuto una limonata), you studied hard (ho studiato tanto!), you loved your old car (ho voluto molto bene la mia vecchia macchina), or that you had hoped to take a trip to Italy (avevo sperato di fare un viaggio in Italia!) without the verb avere (together, of course, with past participles).
Let’s move on now to learn about the other special ways in which the verb avere is used to express daily living in Italian.
Avere is used to express a series of important feelings, many of which are rendered in English with the verb “to be” or “to feel” and that are used very frequently.
Most important is the expression of a desire to do something: avere voglia di, or non avere voglia di. For example: Ho voglia di mangiare un panino (I feel like eating a sandwich); non abbiamo voglia di andare a scuola (we don’t feel like going to school); mio figlio non ha voglia di andare dal medico (my son doesn’t feel like going to the doctor). Avere voglia is subtly different from wanting or volere: a bit less resolved, more temporary and a bit capricious.
You also use avere to express your age: Ho dieci anni (I am 10 years old), or mio zio ha novanta anni (my uncle is 90).
Here are the other most important ones:
|Avere freddo||to be cold||Fuori ho freddo.||Outside I am cold.|
|Avere caldo||to be hot||Dentro ho caldo.||Inside I am hot.|
|Avere sete||to be thirsty||Ho sete!||I am thirsty!|
|Avere fame||to be hungry||Abbiamo fame!||We are hungry!|
|Avere paura di||to be afraid||Ho paura del buio.||I am afraid of the dark.|
|Avere sonno||to be sleepy||I bambini hanno sonno.||The children are sleepy.|
|Avere fretta||to be in a hurry||Ho fretta: devo andare.||I am in a hurry: I need to go.|
|Avere bisogno di||to be in need of||Ho bisogno di un dottore.||I need a doctor.|
|Avere torto||to be wrong||Hai torto.||You are wrong.|
|Avere ragione||to be right||Ho sempre ragione.||I am always right.|
Besides expressions of feeling, avere is used in a long list of idiomatic expressions, called locuzioni in Italian. Unabridged Italian dizionari are full of them. Here we do not cite the many that use avere literally and are similar to English (“to have in mind” or “to have a screw loose”), but this is a good sampling of the most interesting and frequently used:
|avere del matto (del buono, del cattivo)||to seem a bit crazy (or good, or bad)|
|avere l’aria di||to seem (give off the air of)|
|avere la borsa piena||to be rich (have a full purse)|
|avere caro||to hold (something) dear|
|avere su (addosso)||to have on (wear)|
|avere (or non avere) a che vedere||to have something to do with|
|avere nulla da spartire||to have nothing in common with somebody|
|avere a che dire||to have something to say|
|avere (or non avere) a che fare con||to have something to do with something or somebody|
|avere a mente||to remember|
|avere a cuore||to hold dear|
|avere importanza||to be important|
|avere luogo||to take place|
|avere inizio||to begin|
|avere presente||to picture something clearly in one’s mind|
|avere (qualcuno) sulla bocca||to talk about someone often|
|avere per la testa||to have something in one’s head|
|avere da fare||to be busy|
|avere le madonne||to be in a bad mood|
|avere l’acquolina in bocca||to salivate/to have a watering mouth|
|avere la meglio/la peggio||to best/to lose|
|avere occhio||to watch out/to have a good eye|
|avere le scatole piene||to be fed up|
|avere (qualcuno) sullo stomaco||to dislike someone|
|avere il diavolo addosso||to be fidgety|
|avere (qualcosa) per le mani||to be dealing with something|
|avere cura di||to take care of someone or something|
|averla a male||to be offended|
|avere in odio||to hate|
|avere un diavolo per capello||to be furious (to have a devil for each hair)|
A reminder about tenere in relation to avere: In Southern Italy tenere is often used in the place of avere. You hear people say, tengo due figli (I have two children) and even tengo fame (I am hungry), or tengo trent’anni (I am 30 years old). This is a widespread but regional use of the verb. The verb tenere means to hold, keep, maintain, hold onto.
This month’s proverb
Italiano: Al bisogno si conosce l’amico.
English: A friend in need is a friend indeed.
This month’s falso amico
It is argomento, meaning topic, subject, theme or evidence. Argument in Italian is expressed by the words discussion or litigio.