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Nov 09, 2023 - 10:19 AM
Mille grazie al miglior insegnante di italiano!: La signora Isabella Hostrup.
Reflexive or reciprocal verbs with modal verbs in past tense: ESSERE or AVERE?
When in a sentence in passato prossimo, a modal verb is followed by the infinitive form of any reflexive or reciprocal verb, you can use either Essere or Avere, but you have to follow the rules below. The two forms are equally common and used.
1) If you put the reflexive pronoun before the auxiliary verb, you must use the auxiliary ESSERE which is the auxiliary of reflexive verbs.
Example: Maria si è dovuta alzare molto presto. Maria had to wake up very early.
The past participle must agree with the subject: Maria = singular and feminine, as with any past tense using ESSERE.
2) When instead you attach the reflexive pronoun to the infinitive you must use the auxiliary AVERE and no agreement is necessary with the past participle but in both cases the reflexive pronoun agrees with the subject.
Examples: Maria ha dovuto alzarsi molto presto. Maria had to wake up very early.
Voi avete dovuto alzarvi molto presto. You all had to wake up very early.
The past participle (dovuto) now doesn't agree anymore because you are using AVERE, the reflexive pronoun attached to the infinitive agrees with the subject.
I bambini si sono voluti divertire. I bambini hanno voluto divertirsi.
The kids wanted to have fun.
NOTE: You can use the reflexive pronoun only once, just change its place. That place cannot ever be between modal verb and reflexive verb. This rule applies to all the tenses that use a helping verb.
Maria si sarebbe dovuta lavare i capelli. Maria should have washed her hair.
Maria avrebbe dovuto lavarsi i capelli.
NOTE: If a direct object pronoun is present, you must do the agreement even with AVERE, if it precedes the modal verb (we will see that later).
(Marie e Lisa) Le abbiamo potute vedere. Abbiamo potuto vederle.