The past infinitive: avere mangiato (to have eaten)

The past infinitive is made up of the infinitive essere (to be) or avere (to have) + past participle of the verb.

Mangiare → avere mangiato. 

To eat → to have eaten.

Andare → essere andato. 

To go → to have gone (literally, “to be gone”).

The past infinitive is mainly used for the following:

  • to indicate an action that took place and ended earlier in sentences that have two actions in the past tense.

Dopo aver chiuso le persiane, Laura andò a dormire. (1ª azione: Laura chiuse le persiane; 2ª azione: Laura andò a dormire)

After having closed the shutters, Laura went to sleep. (1st action: Laura closed the shutters; 2nd action: Laura went to sleep) 

Il calciatore è stato espulso per avere commesso un fallo. (1ª azione: il calciatore ha commesso un fallo; 2ª azione: il calciatore è stato espulso)

The soccer player was sent off for having committed a foul. (1st action: the player committed a foul; 2nd player: the player was sent off)

  • to express desire, remorse or regret relating to actions that have not happened.

Averlo salutato! Mi sarebbe piaciuto, ma ormai è troppo tardi.

I would have liked to have said hello to him, but now it's too late.

Mi dispiace di non essere andato alla festa.

I'm sorry I didn't go to the party (literally, “…for not being gone to the party…”).

Vorrei avere partecipato al loro matrimonio.

I would like to have attended their wedding.


  • In order to use the past infinitive, the subject of both actions must be the same, but we don't repeat the subject as this would sound unnatural in Italian (note that this is not always the case in English).

Io pensavo che io avevo chiuso la porta → Io pensavo di avere chiuso la porta.

I thought that I'd closed the door (literally “I thought to have closed the door”).

Lui credeva che lui avesse finito → Lui credeva di avere finito.

He thought he had finished.

  • The infinitives essere (to be) and avere (to have) are often shortened to esser or aver respectively in the past infinitive, especially in spoken Italian.

Sembra esser andato in vacanza tutto solo.

He seems to have gone on vacation by himself.

Dopo aver cambiato idea mille volte, ha seguito il mio consiglio.

After having changed her mind a thousand times, she followed my advice.

Still facing difficulties with 'The past infinitive: avere mangiato (to have eaten)'? Enhance your grammar and learn Italian through our online Italian lessons.
Start with a free test and improve today!

What our users say:



I enjoy doing my online Italian lessons. Only ten minutes daily are enough...Thank you!



I love your innovative method which allows me to learn a new language and have fun at the same time!



Your method is unique! Your courses have helped me to progress and gain confidence during my travels.



Gymglish has allowed me to improve my Italian. A daily routine I wouldn't miss for anything in the world!

More testimonials.

Improve your Italian further and test Saga Baldoria, online Italian course.