Verbs conjugated using essere (to be) and avere (to have)

Reminder: in il passato prossimo (the perfect tense), verbs can be conjugated with avere (to have) or essere (to be).

Mario ha mangiato la polenta.

Mario ate the polenta / Mario has eaten the polenta.

Toni è andato a Milano.

Toni went to Milan / Toni has gone to Milan (literally “Toni is gone to Milan”).

With most verbs, we use avere (to have), especially those with a direct object.

Ho visto Lucia al supermercato.

I saw Lucia at the supermarket / I have seen Lucia at the supermarket.

Abbiamo preparato un dolce.

We made dessert / We have made dessert.

We use essere with:

  • Reflexive verbs like lavarsi (to wash), vestirsi (to get dressed), divertirsi (to have fun), etc.:

Mi sono divertita alla festa.

I had fun at the party.

Dove vi siete conosciuti?

Where did you meet each other?

  • Verbs showing movement, place, or change.

Ieri sono andato al cinema, mentre Bianca è rimasta a casa.

Yesterday I went to the movies, but Bianca stayed home.

Ma come sei cresciuto!

My, how you've grown!


  • In compound tenses, verbs that are only used in the third person like piacere (to please), sembrare (to seem), accadere (to take place), succedere (to happen), capitare (to occur), bastare (to be enough) or mancare (to be missing) are conjugated using essere (to be).

Mi è sembrato di vedere un gatto.

It seemed to me that I'd seen a cat.

Quanto è durato il film?

How long did the film last?

  • Some verbs can be used with either avere (to have) or essere (to be).

Abbiamo cominciato l'università. 

We started university / We have started university.

La lezione è cominciata?

Has class started?

  • We use the auxiliary verb avere (to have) when avere is the main verb and the auxiliary verb essere (to be) when essere is the main verb.

Ciro ha avuto in regalo un conto in banca.

Ciro has had a bank account given to him as a gift.

Betty è stata la proprietaria del Baldoria.

Betty was the owner of the Baldoria (more literally “has been”).

Still facing difficulties with 'Verbs conjugated using essere (to be) and avere (to have)'? 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.