I have recently heard:

Hai la patente?

Could this be rephrased to "Hai la tua patente?" ? Is the former more usual? In what other cases (besides body parts) is the possessive adjective often omitted?

  • 4
    The presence of a possessive adjective in such an Italian sentence is often a clue of a bad translation from English. ;)
    – DaG
    Aug 19, 2019 at 19:32

3 Answers 3


Yes, I’d say that the expression “la patente” is often used without the possessive adjective unless it is required to avoid misunderstanding.

Ho dimenticato la patente a casa.

Mi mostri la patente per favore.

Da quanto tempo hai la patente?

Dalla stampa:

Alla guida senza patente si spaccia per il fratello. Arrestato. Veronanetwork.it

Guidava senza patente: 5mila euro di multa ad un 53enne. Aostasera.it


Expanding to what @Gio said, the (driver's) license is issued to a specific person (and indeed it's often used as proof of a person's identity), and so it makes for limited logical sense to ask for "yours", because really, it'd be hardly relevant if you were carrying somebody else's license.

Imagine this conversation: "Do you have the licence?" "Yes of of course, here is my sister's license for operating heavy machinery". It's an odd enough thing to say to be funny to most people.

In Italian this kind of redundant statements (the use of the possessive adjective in this particular case) are avoided more often than not, especially in informal language. If I heard somebody use the possessive, and without extra context, I'd assume it being a more formal tone, maybe like an officer might use.

  • 9
    I add that "hai la patente?" can also mean "are you entitled to drive?" (i.e. you passed the exam and got it) rather than questioning the physical possession on the object. Aug 20, 2019 at 6:18
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    @AlanEvangelista People do say "hai la carta d'identità" or "hai il portafoglio?" in exactly the same way. This answer is spot on. Of course language is arbitrary but in this case it follows a clear pattern
    – Denis Nardin
    Aug 20, 2019 at 6:26
  • 1
    Benvenuto su Italian.SE!
    – Charo
    Aug 20, 2019 at 6:35
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    @Alan: yes as pointed out, you definitely say "hai il portafoglio?" to mean "do you have your wallet on you at this time?", "hai il tuo portafoglio?" I'd find stiff and very unlikely. Also, very well pointed out by Denis, you would most likely mean "are you entitled"/"have one been issued to you" when saying "hai la patente/il passaporto/la carta d'identità?", more than "is it on you at present". Somebody wanting to see would directly ask for it: "Mi dà la patente?" ("Would you give me your license?") Aug 20, 2019 at 6:47
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    @AlanEvangelista: “Anyway, often some things which are logic in a language are not in another”: this was exactly my point, wasn't it? Apparently I wasn't able to make it clearly.
    – DaG
    Aug 20, 2019 at 15:16

Patente both means the general concept of a driver's license, i.e. the ability to drive, and the plastic card that serves as a document. When associated with possessive adjective, it refers to the material plastic card.

Hai la patente?

It means "do you own a driver's license?", i.e. "are you enabled to drive?". One would ask this when offering someone to drive a car, regardless of the of the plastic card. Possessive is not required.

If you want to talk about the plastic card, i.e. you know the other person is enabled to drive but you want to make sure they have the plastic card handy, you will normally ask differently

Do you have your driver's license [card] with you?

Hai con te la patente? / Hai la patente con te? / Hai la patente a portata?

Anyway, if you speak about la tua patente, which is your driver's license, you are focusing on the plastic card

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    a portata = a portata di mano = at hand? Aug 20, 2019 at 13:54
  • 2
    Yes that's right, Alan. You also say "a tiro", they both kinda mean you can reach them without moving too much, the general meaning being on the desk in front of you, more than in your pocket. "At hand" is quite a good translation, in Tuscan dialects you occasionally say that exactly ("hai un bicchiere a mano?") Aug 20, 2019 at 21:22

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