Could you please help me with this one?

I encountered this sentence "Io mi sono fatto una bistecca". I would like to ask why is here "fare" behaving like an intransitive verb?


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    – abarisone
    Commented May 1, 2019 at 9:16

1 Answer 1


This is not an intransitive verb. This is a form of reflexive voice. Italian verbs can be conjugated in three voices: active, passive and reflexive.

You can recognize the reflexive voice from the auxiliary essere and the presence of the clitic reflective pronoun (mi for the first person singular).

The reflexive voice comes in a number of flavours (for more details see the link above), but this is a case of indirect reflexive. You can distinguish it from other flavours of reflexive (like the direct reflexive, or the reciprocal reflexive) by the presence of the direct object ("una bistecca"). From the book Italiano by Serianni, XI.21-22 (my translation)

Indirect reflexives (called also apparents or pronominal transitives). The verbal action does not "reflect" directly on the subject, but it takes place to their benefit, in their interest or by their initiative. The clitic pronoun does not represent in this case a direct object, rather some indirect complement «mi domando se ho sbagliato» (="I ask to myself", not "ask of myself", like in the direct reflexive); «mi lavo le mani».

In this case the usage of the reflexive voice indicates that the action is done to the benefit of the subject, as opposed to the case of Ho fatto una bistecca, where the steak could have been cooked for someone else.

  • Thanks for the comprehensive answer! Commented May 1, 2019 at 9:31
  • @DennisNardin Your link to the Treccani explanation of reflexive verbs do not mention any concept of a "reflexive voice". All sentences mentioned there and here seem to be in active or passive voice. For instance, "io ho fatto una bistecca per me stesso" is in active voice and using a reflexive pronoun instead of "me stesso" to express the same meaning does not alter that. Have I missed something? Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 15:35
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    @AlanEvangelista Voice (in Italian "diatesi") is not a semantic property, it's a morphological one. "Io mi sono fatto una bistecca" and "Io ho fatto una bistecca per me stesso" have the same meaning, but they are in different voices as you can see since a different auxiliary is used (avere for the active voice, and essere for the reflexive one). To give a very loose analogy, thinks at the English sentences "The bus is leaving soon" and "The bus will leave soon". They have (roughly) the same meaning, but they are in different (grammatical!) tenses.
    – Denis Nardin
    Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 15:57
  • @AlanEvangelista Or, to give a simpler example, think about "Io mangio una mela" and "Una mela è mangiata da me". They have the same meaning, but they are in different voices (this time active and passive respectively), as you can see by how the verb is conjugated.
    – Denis Nardin
    Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 15:59

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