There are five Italian verbs that have more or less the same meaning, but they’re used differently, in different contexts! We’re talking about: ACCADERE – SUCCEDERE – CAPITARE – AVVENIRE – AVVERARE. Today we’ll see together how they are used, what they mean and when they are used!

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To start with, we have to say that these verbs are used to talk about past, present or future facts and events. However, as we already said, there are some differences among them… Otherwise, there would be no reason to have five verbs to tell the same, right?

Let’s start!

CAPITARE: meaning and use

This verb is used for facts and events that happen by chance, without our will, but that have consequences, often negative. These consequences don’t have to be necessarily negative, but in almost 75% of the cases we tend to use the verb “capitare” with reference to negative things…

For example:

Poverino Fabio! Ogni anno gli capita una grande sventura! Prima perde il lavoro, poi la moglie, ora anche il figlio! (Poor Fabio! Every year a big misfortune happens to him! First, he lost his job, then his wife, now his son!)


Oggi mi è capitato di svegliarmi molto presto e per la prima volta nella mia vita ho visto l’alba. (Today I happened to wake up very early and, for the first time in my life, I saw the sunrise!)



Keep in mind that the verb CAPITARE is the only one, among the ones we’ll see today, that can be conjugated in every person! Aswe’re going to see, the other four verbs can only be used in third person!

For example:

Oggi sono capitata in una brutta strada nella quale mi hanno rubato il portafogli! (Today I happened in a bad street in which someone stole my wallet!)



SUCCEDERE: meaning and use

We can say that this verb is a kind of synonym of “capitare”, in fact it can be used to talk about something that happens by chance. The only difference with respect to “capitare” is that SUCCEDERE is not often referred to negative things, but it is basically neutral.

Furthermore, we often use it when we see, for example, that someone has something wrong or when we notice something uncommon, and we say:

Che cosa è successo? [formal – What happened?]


Cosa è successo? [neutral]


Che è successo? [informal]


For the record, SUCCEDERE also has another meaning! It is often used with the meaning of  “to come after”, with reference to events, things or people (in particular, sovereigns).

For example:

Il tuono succede il lampo. (The thunder follows the lightning)


Alla morte dell’attuale sovrano gli succederà il suo primogenito. (On the death of the current sovereign, he will be succeeded by his first son)



ACCADERE: meaning and use

Although it has the same meaning of the previous ones, this verb is definitely more formal, so you won’t hear it in conversations among relatives or friends.

For example:

Salve, signor avvocato. Vorrei sapere cosa è accaduto durante il processo. (Good morning, lawyer. I would like to know what happened during the trial)


From this verb there is also the noun: accaduto, which means “what happened”, assuming that the other person knows what we’re talking about.

For example:

Dopo l’accaduto, non esce più di casa. (After what happened, he doesn’t leave the house anymore)



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AVVENIRE: meaning and use

This verb, mainly used in the journalistic field, indicates the time and space coordinates of the event.

For example:

È con grande rammarico che vi segnaliamo che è avvenuto un omicidio a Roma tra le 19 e le 20 di ieri sera. (It is with regret that we report that between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. of yesterday evening a murder happened in Rome)



AVVERARE: meaning and use

This verb literally means “to come true”, “to become a reality”, therefore it is used when something that one desired or imagined finally comes true, becomes a reality.

For example:

Il mio sogno di insegnare l’italiano si è avverato! (My dream of teaching Italian became a reality!)

Remember: dreams, le prophecies and predictions can come true.

Watch also GUARDARE and co. and ASCOLTARE and co.!


Let’s see if you’ve mastered the contents of this class. Have a go at completing the exercises!



  1. Grazie mille per quello lezione ora è tutto chiaro. Ma che dire “verificare” ? Penso che possa anche significare “happen” in inglese.

    1. Ciao William! Sì, “verificare” può significare sia “happen” che “check”. Dipende dal contesto! 🙂

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