Infinitive in Italian
- 1.What is the infinitive (infinito) in Italian?
- 1.1.Use of the infinitive mood in Italian
- 2.How to conjugate the infinitive in Italian
- 2.1.Tenses of the infinitive mood
- 2.1.1.Past infinitive: the choice of the auxiliary
- 3.How to use the Italian infinitive
- 3.1.Independent clauses
- 3.2.Dependent clauses
What is the infinitive (infinito) in Italian?
The Italian infinitive mood (modo infinito) is mainly the basic grammatical form of a verb.
Use of the infinitive mood in Italian
For Italian speakers, the infinitive mood specifies:
- the action conveyed by the verb in general terms;
- the specific conjugation the verbs belong to.
How to conjugate the infinitive in Italian
The main peculiarity of Italian infinitive is the absence of persons, both singular and plural, inside its conjugation pattern.
Indeed, the infinitive mood has an impersonal function.
You can find three main conjugations:
|Conjugations||Root + ending|
|First conjugation: -are||am-are (to love)|
|Second conjugation: -ere||tem-ere (to fear)|
|Third conjugation: -ire||serv-ire (to serve)|
Tenses of the infinitive mood
The infinito has two main tenses, present and past.
Past infinitive: the choice of the auxiliary
The Italian infinito passato chooses the auxiliary following the verb nature or the contexts rule:
- avere (to have), for the active sentences and for transitive verbs;
- essere (to be), for the passive sentences and for pronominal and impersonal verbs.
Let's see some verbs that could occur both in active and passive sentences.
|Present infinitive||Past infinitive for active context||Past infinitive for other contexts|
|Amare (to love)||avere amato (to have loved)||essere amato (to be loved)|
|Temere (to fear)||avere temuto (to have feared)||essere temuto (to be feared)|
|Servire (to serve)||avere servito (to have served)||essere servito (to be served)|
How to use the Italian infinitive
The infinitive mood can have both nominal and verbal values.
In the main clause, the infinitive in Italian can express:
- an order or a prohibition for everyone: e.g. Non fumare! (Don't smoke);
- a doubt or a desire in interrogative or exclamative sentences: e.g. Che fare? (What's to be done?).
This use often occurs in the implicit sentences to convey several message that can be expressed explicitly by the subjunctive mood.
The present infinitive usually specify a contemporaneity relation between sentences. The past infinitive instead specifies an anteriority relation.
Hence, below you can find the main dependent clauses in which the infinitive occurs.
|Type of sentence||Example||Translation|
|Objective||Pensa di fare grandi cose.||She thinks she will do great things.|
|Subjective||Credevo di essere stato chiaro.||I thought I was clear.|
|Declarative||L'obiettivo è andare via.||The aim is to go away.|
|Interrogative||Non so cosa pensare.||I don't know what to think.|
|Causative||Si è fatto male per aver saltato oltre il muro.||He hurts himself because he jumped over the wall.|
|Consecutive||Mi sono spaventata tanto da rimanere lì.||I was so much frighten that I remained there.|
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