Il passato remoto di conoscere, nella primera persona singolare, è conobbi. Da dove viene etimologicamente questa -bb- (che si usa anche nella terza persona singolare e plurale, conobbe, conobbero)?

In quali verbi si trova? Apparentemente non solo in quelli che finiscono in -escere, perchè avere tiene come passato remoto ebbi (ebbe, ebbero).

Chiarimento: In Latino, il perfetto ha -v-, ad esempio, cognōvī. Ma questo si estendeva a tutte le persone e a tutti(?) i verbi. Se la -bb- del passato remoto discende dalla -v- del tempo perfetto Latino, perchè la sua distribuzione è così ristretta, a solo poche persone e verbi?

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    It is from Latin: from cognovi to conobbi; from habui to ebbi. Is that what you meant? Can you clarify your question?
    – user193
    Commented Jan 17, 2014 at 5:20
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    actually "avere", since it comes from habeo, -es, habui made the opposite path: from b to v in the present
    – mau
    Commented Jan 17, 2014 at 9:28
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    Actually it is common for all romance languages to transliterate between b and v. In Spanish for example the distinction between the two letters has almost disappeared in the last 2 or 3 generations.
    – Bruno9779
    Commented Jan 17, 2014 at 12:49
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    @mau: There's no mystery about the v reflex of Latin b in the case of avere < habere. This is a case of intervocalic spirantization (which has become wholly automatic in Spanish, as Bruno notes immediately above). Avere preserves b whenever it is geminate: compare present tense 1pl abbiamo with 2pl avete. My question is about the -bb- reflex of perfective -v-: which verbs it is confined to and why. Commented Jan 17, 2014 at 14:41

1 Answer 1


I guess ebbi, ebbe, ebbero, whose -bb- comes directly from the b of Latin hab- root (like abbiamo, abbia etc.), have influenced the conjugation of conoscere, crescere and derived verbs (riconoscere, rincrescere and few others).

Notice that there was a competition between crebbi and crescetti. The latter sounds really awkward although more regular; in the look for an alternative to the ugly crescetti, a solution emerged that was borrowing -bb- from the past of avere while staying close to the Latin crēvī. (Also crescei was among the competitors but it could not prevail.)

Just a hypothesis but it sounds like a reasonable explanation for the unusual "inverse" evolution from v to b and the gemination of b.

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