Passive voice with essere or venire

Discussion in 'Italian-English' started by swinginscot, Jan 31, 2007.

  1. swinginscot Senior Member

    English, UK/US
    Ciao a tutti,
    I recently started learning about the passive voice and am a little confused when to use essere or venire. I know that venire can only be used with with simple tenses but still don't understand if there are specific cases to use one or the other or if they are interchangeable. Per esempio:

    Active voice: Ogni anno molti turisti visitano Venezia.
    Passive voice: Ogni anno Venezia e' visitata da molti turisti (this makes sense to me)
    BUT: my book also showed this as an example of passive voice:
    Ogni anno Venezia viene visitata da molti touristi. (viene seems weird here to me)

    Are both of these acceptable ways to say it or do they mean something slightly different? Is there a way to know whether it is better to use essere or venire or just based on personal preference with no difference?

    Grazie mille :)
  2. irene.acler Senior Member

    Trento - Italy
    Both sentences are perfect in Italian.
    The passive voice can be formed with essere and also with venire, but there's not a difference in meaning.
    I think that there's not a way to know when to use one verb or the other, maybe it just depends on personal preference.

    Hope it helps.
  3. SvenKr Member

    Copenhagen, Denmark
    Italian, Italy
    I was told a few times that the passive construction with essere is more correct, even if venire is more used, especially in conversational Italian.
  4. swinginscot Senior Member

    English, UK/US
    tante grazie per l'aiuto. A me, essere suona meglio cosi' forse lo usero' piu'.
  5. MünchnerFax

    MünchnerFax Senior Member

    Italian, Italy
    Well, I think there is actually a difference. Venire usually represents an on-going action, whereas essere usually fits any case and represents kind of a 'status', a feature of the subject:

    Ogni anno Venezia è visitata da molti turisti. I, personally, wouldn't use venire here, as the sentence describes a habitual situation (every year). Being visited is a 'feature' of Venice.
    Il dottore è entrato poco fa, in questo momento il paziente viene visitato. The patient is being visited now, the action is taking place. It would be strange for me to hear 'è visitato' in this case.
  6. swinginscot Senior Member

    English, UK/US
    "Ogni anno Venezia viene visitata da molti touristi. "

    In this case does viene mean something like " every year Venice has come to be visited by many tourist? I know I shouldn't be trying to translate literally but using essere at least makes sense when I translate it (is visited by many tourists) why exactly is the verb 'to come' used?
  7. MünchnerFax

    MünchnerFax Senior Member

    Italian, Italy
    As I meant in my previous post (a few seconds before your last one... :) ), both sentences with essere and venire have just a passive meaning: Venice is visited by many tourists. If you really want to have a translation scheme, I'd suggest venire = "something is being done", essere = "something is done". This usually fits the usage of the two different verbs, but don't stick to it as it's not a rule but rather a slight tendency.

    My "rule" (which isn't a rule) won't work in many cases, e.g. in the passato remoto past tense and in the future tense.

    Just a last thing: you can't use venire as passive auxiliary in compound tenses like passato prossimo, trapassato prossimo. With these tenses, you must use essere.
  8. swinginscot Senior Member

    English, UK/US
    Grazie mille :D
  9. Pasquale Gatto

    Pasquale Gatto Senior Member

    Pennsylvania, USA
    English USA
    Ciao a tutti,

    My book interprets "Il modem viene usato per accedere all’Internet." as "The modem is used to access the internet." There is no context. It is an example sentence for the use of venire as an auxiliary in the passive voice (il passivo). Would a better interpretation be "The modem is being used to access the internet."?

    Grazie in anticipo,

  10. infinite sadness

    infinite sadness Senior Member

    Se non c'è contesto è preferibile la prima interpretazione, "the modem is used..."
  11. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Certainly not, Pasqua.

    And I do not agree with Muench when he speaks of a tendency for "venire" to be used for ongoing actions.

    The only way to know when to use "venire" instead of "essere" is most probably this: If "essere + Past Part." is ambiguous, ie can be interpreted either as the description of a state or as a passive, then use "venire + Past Part." to express passiveness.

    Trite example:

    "La porta_______ tutte le sere alle 20:00"
    1. condition of door at that hour --> è chiusa
    2. passive reading --> viene chiusa

  12. Pasquale Gatto

    Pasquale Gatto Senior Member

    Pennsylvania, USA
    English USA
    Grazie Giorgio e infinite_sadness. Capisco. Le vostre risposte sono molto utili per me.

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