Nothing to do – da + infinitive verb: Italian grammar lesson 182


Unlock the secrets of the Italian language with the versatile “da + infinitive” construction! Learn how to express necessity, potential, and consequences like a native speaker. 🇮🇹✨

  • Grasp the Basics: The “da + infinitive” form is your go-to for saying what needs to be done. It’s like the English “to be + participle” but way cooler in Italian!
  • Express Necessity: When you’ve got something that needs doing, “da fare” is your phrase. It’s like saying, “Hey, this needs attention!” but in Italian style. 🛠️
  • Highlight Potential: Use “da + infinitive” to talk about what can be done. It’s perfect when you’re eyeing that last slice of pizza and thinking, “da mangiare” (that can be eaten). 🍕
  • Convey Consequences: Not just for necessity, “da + infinitive” can also show the result of something. Think “da ridere” for a joke so good, it’ll have everyone laughing! 😂
  • Practical Usage: When you’re stuck in a queue, remember “da aspettare” to remind yourself there’s a wait involved. It’s the Italian way of saying, “Patience is a virtue.” 🕰️
  • Travel Tips: Visiting Tuscany? Say “Lucca è una città da vedere” to sound like a savvy traveler who knows the must-visit spots. 🗺️

My thoughts

Da + infinitive verb in Italian

If you’ve been studying Italian, you’ve surely come across the construction da + infinito (the infinitive form of the verb).

Non ho niente da fare.

I have nothing to do.

La parmigiana è un piatto da provare.

Parmigiana is a dish to try.

This construction is used a lot, especially in spoken Italian, and it is extremely easy to learn and use!

Da +infinitive verb: Meaning

The construction da + infinito can be compared to the English “to be + participle” (to be done, to be seen, to be said, etc.).

Even if it is not always literally translated this way, it can have the same meaning as “(that needs) to be…”

C’è qualcosa da fare?

Is there anything to be done?

Firenze è una città da visitare.

Florence is a city that needs to be seen.

Marcello è una persona da evitare.

Marcello is someone to be avoided.

Giulio ha un problema da risolvere.

Giulio has a problem that needs to be solved.

Da + infinitive verb: Other meanings

Sometimes, the construction da + infinito in Italian can also mean “that can be + participle” and it is often used with an indefinite pronoun (qualcosa – something; qualcuno – someone; niente – nothing; etc.).

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Have a look at the examples below:

Non c’è niente da mangiare.

There is nothing to eat (that can be eaten).

La polizia non ha nessuno da interrogare.

The police have no one to interrogate (that can be interrogated).

Non ho tempo da perdere.

I have no time to waste (that can be wasted).

This construction can also have what we call a consecutive value, meaning that it describes a consequence. This use is not widespread, but it is good to at least know it so that you do not get confused when you hear expressions like:

una storia da ridere

a story that causes laughter

una situazione da non credere

a situation that causes incredulity


Portati qualcosa da leggere ci sarà da aspettare.

Bring something to read; we’ll have to wait.

C’è qualcosa da fare?

Is there anything that needs to be done?

Non abbiamo così tanti soldi da spendere.

We don’t have so much money to spend (that can be spent).

Lucca è una città da vedere se vai in Toscana.

Lucca is a city to see (that needs to be seen) if you go to Tuscany.

What's the meaning of Niente?

Niente is the Italian word for nothing (and occasionally for anything), it frequently appears with the negative adverb non to create a double negative.

What is da used for in Italian?

In this case, "Da + infinito" is comparable to the English "to be + participle" construction (to be done, to be seen, to be said, etc.).

Italian word of the day
Hai voglia di fare una passeggiata?
Do you feel like going for a walk?
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2 Responses

    1. Hi Ronele, “da bere” falls under the category of “da + infinitive verb” in Italian. This construction is often compared to the English “to be + participle”. So, “da bere” can be translated as “to be drunk” or “that needs to be drunk”. For example, “C’è qualcosa da bere?” translates to “Is there anything to drink?” or “Is there anything that needs to be drunk?”. I hope this helps! If you have any more questions, feel free to ask.

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