The Verb VENIRE and its STRANGEST Uses: Learn How to Speak ITALIAN!

Let’s talk about the verb VENIRE (to come) in all its most particular uses and meanings, which are not explained in grammar books (at least not all together) but are very often employed during everyday conversations among mother tongues.

“VENIRE” and its Distinctive TRAITS

Okay, before getting started, to be thorough, let’s repeat the two most common meanings of the verb VENIRE:

1 – VENIRE indicates provenance

Carlos viene da Madrid.

(Carlos comes from Madrid).

L’aereo è venuto da Rio.

(The flight comes from Rio).

Questo vino viene direttamente dal Portogallo.

(This wine comes directly from Portugal).

2 – VENIRE explains “to move towards the direction either of the speaking person or of the person you are talking to”

Vieni, è pronto il caffè!

(Come here, the coffee is ready!)

La prossima settimana veniamo a trovarti nella tua nuova casa!

(Next week we are going to come to your new house).

Allora, amici! Sabato venite a casa mia per cena!

(Okay, guys! Come to my house for dinner on Saturday!)

Let us then look at the other more special cases in which Italians use the verb VENIRE. In my opinion, the last one will leave you speechless!

1 – VENIRE in the passive form

If your Italian level is either intermediate or advanced, surely this won’t be anything new to you.

In Italian, the passive form is composed by the verb ESSERE (to be) (conjugated to the suitable complement and time) + the past participle of the verb that indicates the action:

Le esibizioni saranno valutate dai giudici. 

(The performances will be evaluated by the judges).

Il libro è stato scritto da Mattia.

(The book was written by Mattia).

But in Italian there is also another way to form the passive, and that is by using the verb VENIRE instead of the verb ESSERE. But be careful: this is ONLY possible if it is conjugated to a simple tense (that is formed by only one word) and not a compound one.

Let’s resume the previous examples.

Le esibizioni saranno valutate dai giudici.

In this case, the verb “essere” is conjugated to the future simple : this is a simple tense because it is composed by a single word, so it is possible to replace “essere” (to be) with “venire” (to come) to form the passive:

Le esibizioni verranno valutate dai giudici.

Il libro è stato scritto da Mattia.

Here, the verb “essere” is conjugated to the past simple: this is a compound tense, since it is formed by two words, so it is not possible to substitute “essere” with “venire” to form the passive.

Il libro è venuto scritto da Mattia.

The choice to use ESSERE or VENIRE is up to the speaker and in general there are no differences: it is basically the same thing. 

However, there is an instance where we use VENIRE rather than ESSERE in order to avoid misunderstandings: that is when we have to indicate and underline the process of an action, which could be confused with “essere + aggettivo” (to be + adjective) which, instead, indicates the state of an action. 

Let’s go through some examples:

Le porte del negozio vengono chiuse alle 8 ogni sera. 

(The doors of the shop close at 8 pm every night).

Le porte del negozio sono chiuse alle 8 ogni sera.

(The doors of the shop are closed at 8 pm every night).

If I use VENIRE, there is no doubt and it is clear that the action takes place at 8 pm. My interlocutor, on hearing that sentence, imagines the doors closing at 8.

On the contrary, if I use ESSERE is much less clear: “sono chiuse” (they are closed) can be interpreted as the description of a situation, but maybe the action has happened long before. Perhaps, I pass by the shop every night and I see the doors already closed, I don’t see them during the process of closing. Therefore, maybe the doors were closed way before, such as at 5, at 6, at 7.

This happens because “chiuse” (closed) can be both past participle of the verb “chiudere(to close) and an adjective. Therefore, if used as an adjective, it describes the events standing still in time. Instead, VENIRE is only used in passive sentences, so it maintains and gives to the verb the necessary dynamism to describe the action, the process ongoing. 

2 – In the expression VENIRE FUORI

VENIRE, when followed by the adverb “fuori” (outside) can take on two particular meanings:

1 – venire alla luce, essere scoperto : to come to light, to get caught (said of things but not of people: the news, the truth, the secret…)

Dalle indagini sono venuti fuori dei dettagli molto preoccupanti.

(From the investigations came to light some concerning details).

Prima o poi la notizia della loro separazione verrà fuori! 

(Sooner or later the news of their separation will come to light!)

2 – avere delle uscite inaspettate, that is to say or do something weird or completely out of context all of a sudden, out of nowhere, that nobody expected. 

Luigi viene sempre fuori con una battuta delle sue.

(Luigi always comes up with one of his jokes).

Sei proprio strano, vieni sempre fuori con certi discorsi filosofici! Ti ricordo che stiamo giocando a tennis! Non rovinarmi il set…

(You are really weird, you always come up with some philosophical discourses! I remind you that we are playing tennis! Don’t ruin the set…)

3 – In the expressions VENIRE a sapere/a scoprire/a conoscenza (di) 

It is possible to use VENIRE in this way with the meaning of “apprendere(to learn) or “acquisire conoscenza(to gain knowledge) through information from other sources or people. Often (but not always!) the source is not explicit. 

Siamo venuti a scoprire che ci avete tradito, perciò non possiamo fare altro che licenziarvi.

(We found out that you guys betrayed us, so we can do nothing but fire you).

Sono venuto a sapere da Sara quello che hai fatto. Non ti vergogni neanche un po’?

(I learned from Sara what you did. Are you not ashamed at all?)

Era venuta a conoscenza della loro relazione: per questo era su tutte le furie.

(She gained knowledge of their relationship: that’s why she was furious).

4 – To PROVOKE the appearance of…

In addition, we use the verb VENIRE to state the appearance of something, which was caused by something else. 

In this instance, it is usually employed in three ways:

1 – with an indirect object (which denotes the person) + a noun (which indicates what was caused)

Mi viene la nausea quando mangio una torta troppo dolce.

(I feel nauseous when I eat a cake that is too sweet).

Ad Annagrazia è venuto il mal di testa, per questo è andata a letto. 

(Annagrazia has a headache, that’s why she went to bed).

Non mi viene in mente il nome di quello scienziato di cui stavamo parlando.

(I can’t remember the name of the scientist we were speaking about).

2 – with an indirect object (which denotes the person) + the preposition “DA” + an infinitive verb (which indicates what was caused, here meant as an action) 

Ogni volta che ascolto questa canzone mi viene da piangere.

(Every time I hear this song I feel like crying).

Se entro in quella stanza polverosa, mi verrà da starnutire. 

(If I go into that dusty room, I am going to sneeze).

3 – in the making of “far venire”, when the subject of the sentence is what causes the thing in question (an indirect object) + indirect object (which denotes the person).

Basically, it is possible to resume the sentences seen before and modify them by changing the subject. Clearly, this can ONLY happen when you know the cause of what appears.

Mi viene la nausea quando mangio una torta troppo dolce.  —> Una torta troppo dolce mi fa venire la nausea (A cake too sweet makes me nauseous).

Ad Annagrazia è venuto il mal di testa, per questo è andata a letto. —> here it is not possible to make the change because we don’t know what actually caused the headache, so the subject of the sentence would be missing.

Non mi viene in mente il nome di quello scienziato di cui stavamo parlando. —> same thing here.

Ogni volta che ascolto questa canzone mi viene da piangere.  —> Questa canzone mi fa venire da piangere ogni volta (This song makes me cry every time).

Se entro in quella stanza polverosa, mi verrà da starnutire. —> Quella stanza polverosa mi farà venire da starnutire (That dusty room will make me sneeze).

5 – With prices

In commerce, it is possible to use the verb VENIRE with the meaning of “costare(to cost), to express the price of something.

Bella questa lampada: quanto viene?

(That’s a very pretty lamp: how much is it?)

Se decidessi di far riparare a Lei la mia macchina, quanto mi verrebbe?

(If I decide to have you repair my car, how much would it cost me?)

Preferisco comprare i vestiti su Internet perché mi vengono a costare molto meno.

(I would rather buy clothes on the Internet because I pay much less).

Dunque, la camicia verrebbe 50€, ma siccome Lei può usufruire dello sconto, le viene solo 35!

(So, the blouse would be 50€, but since you can get the discount, you owe only 35€!)

6 – For results

We use the verb VENIRE… also with the meaning of “riuscire” (to succeed), that is to speak about results. Basically, if we say “venire bene“, it means that the result is good; on the contrary, “venire male” means that the result is awful. And so on. This is a very common custom! 

Come è venuto il mio disegno secondo voi? Ah… A me non piace proprio come è venuto… Devo ammetterlo: non sono proprio capace a disegnare!

(According to you, how did the drawing come out? Ah… I don’t really like the result… I have to admit: I am not really able to draw!)

Uffa! Questo problema di matematica proprio non mi viene! Secondo il libro, viene 55, ma a me viene 245! Aiuto!

(Ugh! I can’t get the correct result of this math problem! According to the book, the result is 55, but I get 245! Help!)

That’s all, if you are interested in the topic, I highly recommend you take a look at the article related to all of the verbs with VENIRE!

And don’t forget to learn the Italian spoken daily by native speakers with our book Italiano Colloquiale: Parole ed Espressioni per Tutti i Giorni!

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