table of content chapter 1313.4.4 verbs which connect the infinitiv with da

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chapter 13: infinite verb forms

  13.4.4 verbs which connect the infinitiv with da

In all the examples we have seen until now the preposition didn't add any meaning, it was just a word that connected the infinitive to the finite verb and was completely arbitrary. The preposition da is something completely different. It has a very strong meaning.

1) The preposition da converts an infinitive (write) in a passive infinitive (to be written). In other words, the subject of the infinitive is not the executor of the action described by the infinitive, but the goal. This kind of construction it to be translated to English in passive voice.

2) It expresses obligation. In other words, the action described by the infinitive is not only performed on the subject of the infinitive, but has to be performed.

La macchina è da riparare.
  The car is to be repaired.

This type of construction may seem strange and it is strange indeed. Nevertheless it exists in other languages as well, for instance in german (Das Auto ist zu reparieren). It doesn't exist in Spanish but it does exist in French.

La voiture est à réparer.
  The car is to be repaired.


In Spanish this construction is not needed and therefore inexistent, because Spanish has a special construction with this meaning.

Hay que reparar el coche.
  The car is to be repaired.

Obviously this kind of construction can be transformed in a real passiv voice. Let' s have an example.

The forms are to be filled.
  I questionari sono da compilare.

Because essere + da + infinitivo corresponds to a sentence in passive voice and expresses obligation we have to do two things, if we want to transform the sentence. First the sentence is to be put in passive voice and second the obligation is to be expressed with the modal verb dovere.

I questionari devono essere compilati.
  The forms are to be filled.

The transformation shows the two elements of the construction da + infinitivo. With dovere the obligation is expressed and we see that the forms are the subject of the passive, they are the goal of the action described by the verb, but not the executor.

This construction is similar to the construction above, but if we have a closer look on it, we will see that there is a difference.

Ho un sacco di cose da fare.
  I still have a lot of things to do.  

This construction as well expresses obligation, the action is to be performed. But the goal of this action is not the subject of the sentence as in the first example (I questionari sono da compilare), but the direct object, cose / things. We can transforme the sentence in order to make the structure transparent. (The result is not Italian, but reveals the construction.)

Un sacco di cose sono da fare da me.
  A lot of things have to be done by me.

But this kind of construction would never be used by any Italian altough it is grammaticaly correct. And this kind of construction sounds strange as well, even if correct from a grammatical point of view.

Ho un sacco di cose che devono essere fatte.
  I have a lot of things which must be done.  

Besides these constructions with da there is third one, which has nothing to do with the two constructions mentioned above. This construction is not a masked passiv voice nor does it express obligation.

Che c' è da ridere?
  What is so funny about that?  
  C' è da ridere.
  That' s just funny.  

This kind of construction aren't a problem from a practical point of view, they are easy to use, but they are a problem from theoretical point of view. It is not possible to convert them, this construction has to be accepted like this.

We have therefore three constructions which add an infinitive with da and in this kind of construction, unlike the examples we have seen before, the preposition has a really semantic value and is not arbitrary.



passive voice and obligation
Questo problema è ancora da risolvere.
  This problem is to be resolved.
the direct object is the subject of the passive voice and obligation
  Lui ha veramente molti problemi da risolvere.
  He has a lot of problems to resolve.
in this case the direct object can be as well tutto or niente
  Non abbiamo niente da perdere.
  We have nothing to loose.
An unknown subject / idea is described as the cause of an action
  Questo è da impazzire.
  It is to get mad.

There are some verbs which connect the infinitive with da without having a special semantic value. We don't discuss these verbs, in total five, because these verbs more and more connect an infinitive with di as well.

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