To manage to/to be able to: Italian grammar lesson 185


Dive into the nuances of the Italian verb riuscire, and master expressing your triumphs (or the occasional flop) in the beautiful language of Italy. From conjugation to context, this guide has you covered!

  • Conjugate with Confidence: Riuscire is the go-to verb for boasting success. Nail its irregular pattern, similar to uscire, and you’ll be saying “I manage” like a native!
  • Past Tense Power: Pair riuscire with essere to recount your victories (or admit defeat) in the past. Remember, the participle changes with gender and number!
  • Preposition Perfection: Always couple riuscire with “a” when followed by another verb. It’s like saying “manage to” in English, but with Italian flair!
  • Shortcut with “Ci”: Avoid sounding like a broken record. Use “ci” before riuscire to keep things fresh and avoid repeating yourself. It’s slick, it’s quick, it’s Italian efficiency! 😉
  • Embrace the Negative: When riuscire goes negative, it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s just the Italian drama of saying you’re throwing in the towel because something’s just not happening.

My thoughts

Expressing ability and success

Unlike the verb potere, riuscire has a connotation of success (or lack of success).

Keep this in mind when you read the examples later on.

Riuscire: conjugation

Riuscire is an irregular verb. Remember irregular verbs don’t follow the usual pattern of regular verbs.

In this case, riuscire behaves like the verb uscire.

Let’s have a look at its conjugation:

  • io riesco – I manage
  • tu riesci – you manage
  • lui/lei riesce – he/she manages
  • noi riusciamo – we manage
  • voi riuscite – you manage
  • loro riescono – they manage

If you’re speaking in the past, you’ll need the auxiliary verb essere + the past participle which is: riuscito/riuscita/riusciti/riuscite.

Here are some examples:

Siamo riusciti ad arrivare in tempo.

We managed to arrive on time.

Sei riuscita a trovare il posto?

Did you manage to find the place?

Riuscire + a + (verb)

As you probably already noticed, riuscire is usually followed by the preposition “a” and a verb.

Here’s the structure: riuscire + a + (verb).

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Have a look at the examples below:

Riesci a dormire con quel rumore?!

Are you able to sleep with that noise?!

Lei riesce a scrivere bene con la mano sinistra.

She manages to write well with her left hand.

Sono troppo stanca, non riesco a guidare.

I’m too tired. I cannot drive.

Anna non è riuscita a venire alla festa.

Anna didn’t manage to come to the party.

“Ci”: avoiding repetition

However, if we already know what we’re talking about or if we want to avoid repetition, we can use the pronoun “ci” before the verb riuscire.

Here are some examples:

Ci sono riuscita!

I managed to do it!

Riesci a fare la doccia in 3 minuti?

Can you take a shower within 3 minutes?

No, non ci riesco. È impossible.

No, I can’t. It’s impossible.

Non riuscire: giving up

Sometimes, when we use riuscire in the negative, we’re implying that we’re giving up because we’re not being successful in doing something.

Have a look at the sentences below:

Alice deve scrivere sei articoli in due ore ma non ci riesce.

Alice has to write six articles within two hours, but she can’t.

Devi correre più velocemente.

You have to run faster.

Non ci riesco. Mi fa male il piede.

I can’t. My foot hurts.

How do you use Riuscire in Italian?

Riuscire is an Italian verb meaning "to succeed". For example, the phrase "Sono riuscito a convincerlo" translates to "I succeeded in convincing him.

What is the difference between riuscire and potere?

In English, the Italian verb "riuscire" can be translated to mean "to be able to" or "to succeed". It is distinct from the verb "potere" in that it implies a greater degree of success. Thus, it has a slightly different connotation than its English equivalents.

Italian word of the day
Cosa mangi a colazione? Mangio una mela.
What do you have for breakfast? I eat an apple.
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