It doesn’t make sense but it has sense … doesn’t it? Posted by Serena on Jul 22, 2013 in Grammar, Italian Language
It’s very easy to get caught out by the verbs avere (to have) and fare (to do / to make), as they both have a wide variety of uses beyond their usual literal translation.
Take the expression ‘to make sense’ for example. If we translate this literally into Italian we get fare senso which has an entirely different meaning: ‘to give one the shivers’, e.g. i ragni mi fanno senso (spiders give me the shivers). When we want to say ‘make sense’ in Italian we use the verb avere: ha senso = it makes sense, e.g. questa frase non ha alcun senso (this sentence doesn’t make any sense).
In Italian we often use avere (‘to have’) where in English you would use ‘to be’. Let’s have a look at some examples:
We use the verb avere followed by a noun to describe a physical sensation, e.g. avere caldo / freddo (to be hot/cold), avere sete / fame (to be thirsty/hungry), avere sonno (to be sleepy) e.g. Ho freddo, mi vado a mettere la felpa (I’m cold, I’m going to put my sweatshirt on) or Se hai sonno perché non vai a fare un riposino? (If you are sleepy, why don’t you go and take a nap?)
Feelings and Emotions
Avere is often followed by nouns describing feelings and emotions, e.g. avere paura / timore di (to be scared / afraid of), avere coraggio / forza (to be courageous / strong), avere pietà / compassione di (to feel pity / compassion towards), avere passione / amore per (to be passionate about), avere voglia di (to be in the mood for) e.g. Luca ha paura del temporale (Luca is scared of the thunderstorm) or Ho proprio voglia di un caffè (I’m really in the mood for a coffee)
Here are a few more instances in which we use the verb avere, where in English you would use ‘to be’: avere torto / ragione (to be wrong / right), avere colpa (to be guilty), avere fortuna / sfortuna (to be lucky / unlucky), avere l’obbligo di (to be required), avere valore / importanza (to be valuable / important) e.g. Povero Gianni, lo hanno punito anche se non aveva alcuna colpa (Poor Gianni, he was punished even if he wasn’t guilty at all) or Quando guido ho l’obbligo di portare gli occhiali (when I drive I am required to wear glasses)
Finally, we use the verb avere when talking about age, e.g. avere … anni / mesi (to be … years /months old) e.g. Quanti anni hai? Ho quindici anni (How old are you? I’m fifteen), or Quanto tempo ha la bambina di Costanza? Ha cinque mesi (How old is Costanza’s child? She’s five months old). N.B. when talking about a little child we use the word tempo (time) instead of anni (years).
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