Modal Verbs and Phraseological Verbs in Italian

Verbi Servili e Verbi Fraseologici

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Filippo, Michael San. "Modal Verbs and Phraseological Verbs in Italian." ThoughtCo, Jul. 28, 2015, thoughtco.com/italian-modal-and-phraseological-verbs-2011723. Filippo, Michael San. (2015, July 28). Modal Verbs and Phraseological Verbs in Italian. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/italian-modal-and-phraseological-verbs-2011723 Filippo, Michael San. "Modal Verbs and Phraseological Verbs in Italian." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/italian-modal-and-phraseological-verbs-2011723 (accessed September 20, 2017).

In addition to the Italian auxiliary verbs essere and avere, Italian modal verbs and phraseological verbs also serve as "support" to other verbs.

Modal Verbs
The Italian modal verbs are dovere, potere, volere; they precede the infinitive of another verb, and indicate a mode (respectively: necessity, possibility, volition):

Sono dovuto tornare (necessità)
Non ho potuto aiutarlo (possibilità)
Rita vuole dormire (volontà).

To underscore the close link between the modal verb and the verb that follows it, the former usually takes the auxiliary of the second:

Sono tornato / Sono dovuto (potuto, voluto) tornare;
Ho aiutato / Ho potuto (dovuto, voluto) aiutare.

But it is common to encounter modal verbs with the auxiliary avere, even when the governing verb requires the auxiliary essere:

Sono tornato / Ho dovuto (potuto, voluto) tornare.

In particular, the modal verbs take the auxiliary verb avere when they are followed by the verb essere:

Ho dovuto (potuto, voluto) essere magnanimo.

The presence of an unstressed pronoun, which can be placed before or after the servile verb, has an effect on the choice of the auxiliary verb:

Non ho potuto andarci; *Non sono potuto andarci;
Non ci sono potuto andare; *Non ci ho potuto andare.

In addition to dovere, potere, and volere, other verbs such as sapere (in the sense of 'being able to'), preferire, osare, and desiderare can also "support" the infinitive forms:

So parlare inglese; Preferirei andarci da solo;
Non osa chiedertelo; Desideravamo tornare a casa.

Phraseological Verbs
Italian phraseological verbs (verbi fraseologici) are those such as stare, cominciare, iniziare, continuare, seguitare, finire, and smettere that, when used before another verb (mostly in the infinitive, but also as a gerund), define a particular verbal aspect:

Sto parlando (azione durativa)
So per parlare (azione ingressiva)
Cominciai a parlare (inizio dell'azione)
Continuai a parlare (proseguimento dell'azione)
Smisi di parlare (fine dell'azione).

There are various phrases and expressions that are used idiomatically: essere sul punto di, andare avanti a etc.

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mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Filippo, Michael San. "Modal Verbs and Phraseological Verbs in Italian." ThoughtCo, Jul. 28, 2015, thoughtco.com/italian-modal-and-phraseological-verbs-2011723. Filippo, Michael San. (2015, July 28). Modal Verbs and Phraseological Verbs in Italian. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/italian-modal-and-phraseological-verbs-2011723 Filippo, Michael San. "Modal Verbs and Phraseological Verbs in Italian." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/italian-modal-and-phraseological-verbs-2011723 (accessed September 20, 2017).