Ciao a tutti. Today we’ll see how Italian modal verbs (I verbi modali: dovere, potere, volere, sapere) interact with reflexive verbs. Free Quiz and Podcast for everyone.
I have just published an overview about reflexive verbs. Please have a look if you don’t know what is a verbo riflessivo. Today I’ll go deeper into details with a very common structure: reflexive and modal verbs together.
Domani MI SVEGLIO presto.
This is the simplest form of a reflexive sentence. We have a reflexive pronoun (mi) and a simple presente tense.
If we add the verb DOVERE we obtain…
Domani MI DEVO SVEGLIARE presto.
Domani DEVO SVEGLIARMI presto.
They both mean that Tomorrow I have to get (myself) up early. The modal verb dovere (must, have to) in combination with a reflexive verb (svegliarsi, to wake up) can have two possible combinations with a simple tense, in this case a simple present. The pronoun can be put before dovere ( mi devo…) or attached to the infinitive (svegliarmi).
This is valid for all simple tenses. Let’s take the same sentence and change it with other simple tenses.
Normally compound tenses of reflexive verbs always have essere as auxiliary verb. For example, the passato prossimo:
Ieri MI SONO SVEGLIATO presto. (never
MI HO SVEGLIATO)
When we add a modal verb (dovere, potere, volere, sapere) everything changes, and it is possible to use avere. For example:
Ieri MI SONO DOVUTO SVEGLIARE presto.
Ieri HO DOVUTO SVEGLIARMI presto.
Again, the reflexive pronoun, in this case mi, can move before dovere or attached to the infinitive. In the second case, we need to use avere. If we decide to use the first option, we need to remember that the past participle needs to agree in number and gender with the subject (maschile, femminile, singolare, plurale). For example:
Ieri Luca si è dovuto svegliare presto.
Ieri Laura si è dovuta svegliare presto.
Ieri Federico e Mario si sono dovuti svegliare presto.
Ieri Marta e Giulia si sono dovute svegliare presto.
Let’s see how the example works with other compound tenses.
Compound tenses are obviously more difficult to put together and remember, but with some practice I’m sure you can handle it. Please have a look at the quiz and listen to the podcast. A presto!