I verbi impersonali: guide & quiz

verbi-impersonaliItalian impersonal verbs (verbi impersonali) are very common in the spoken and written language.

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LEVEL: B1

The verbi impersonali don’t have a specific subject. They are common across all tenses and moods and we conjugate them using the third singular person, or with simple indefinite moods (infinito, participio, gerundio).

Let’s see together some examples and review with the quiz.

Domani pioverà

This is a typical example of verbs without subject.

  • piovere: Oggi piove

  • nevicare: Domani nevicherà

  • grandinare: Ieri ha grandinato

I used the indicativo to keep it simple, but we could say

  • Penso che domani nevichi

and use, for example, a congiuntivo.

The passato prossimo, or any other compound tenses of verbi atmosferici, work with both essere or avere:

  • Ieri ha piovuto and Ieri è piovuto are equivalent.

Similar expressions with the verb FARE and an adjective or a noun, can act as impersonal verbs:

  • fa caldo, fa freddo, fa bello (fa bel tempo), fa brutto (tempo),

Bisogna andare!

There are some particular verbi impersonali introducing a so called “proposizione soggettiva”, a subjective clause: a sentence acting as a subject. If you are not a grammar freak, we can go through that quite easily. An example:

  • Bisogna che tu vada a casa. It is necessary that you go home.

(The fact that) you go home = …che tu vada a casa is the subject (proposizione soggettiva)
is necessary = bisogna  is an impersonal verb.

We can have a variety of solutions, depending on the verb, preposition, conjunction, different elements in the period. In this case we used a congiuntivo, in others we can use the infinito.

  • Bisogna essere onesti = it is necessary to be honest

Other verbs and examples. You will notice some synonyms. Try to understand and translate them.

  • accadere = to happen- Accade spesso di perdersi.

  • bisognare = to be necessary – Bisogna fare attenzione.

  • avvenire = to happen – Avviene raramente di vedere una Ferrari.

  • parere = to seem – Pare che Mario parli bene il tedesco.

  • convenire = to be convenient – Conviene andare in vacanza a settembre.

  • occorrere = to be necessary – Occorre che cambiamo macchina al più presto.

  • succedere = to happen – Non succede mai di vincere alla lotteria.

  • capitare = to happen (by chance) – Capita a tutti di fare errori.

  • importare = to matter – Non importa se hai sbagliato.

  • dispiacere = to feel sorry – Dispiace vedere tanti giovani senza lavoro.

  • bastare = to be enough – Basta mangiare poco per dimagrire.

  • servire = to be necessary – Serve studiare di più.

Ci si vede

There’s always some confusion when we see a single pronoun with different functions. It is the case of the “si impersonale” and “si riflessivo”.

Si impersonale

We can use the “si impersonale” with any verb, as long as we don’t mention any object.

  • In Italia si mangia bene.

  • Quest’anno non si va in vacanza.

It means that eating in Italy is always good. No subject. In this case the “si” is a handy impersonal pronoun.

Si riflessivo impersonale: CI SI…

Usually, this is the structure of a sentence with a regular “verbo riflessivo”.

  • Luigi si lava in bagno.

I have already mentioned that impersonal verbs need to be 3rd person singular

–>  si lava.

In order to make it impersonal we should add another “si” impersonale, which would sound horrible: “si si”. So, we say “CI SI”.

  • Ci si lava in bagno.

Meaning that (everyone / people / one) wash (oneself) in the bathroom.

 

I hope this post will help you to understand the Italian verbi impersonali. Enjoy the quiz!

 

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About the author

Riccardo Cristiani

Head Teacher at Dante Learning, I was born in Milan, where I graduated in Italian Language and Literature at the “Università degli Studi”. I started to teach Italian online in Japan back in 2003, well before the Skype era. I usually spend my winters in Tokyo and come back to Italy after the cherry blossoms lose their petals.

2 Responses to I verbi impersonali: guide & quiz

  • Carolyn Henstridge

    I enjoyed your post very much. Would it be possible to add me to your email list for podcasts and quizzes.

    Thank you in advance

    Carolyn

    • Riccardo

      Done. Ciao!

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