I was talking to my Italian professoressa and we were basically discussing how our long weekend went. Being an Italian class, she expected me to describe the whole endeavor in Italiano. However, our conversation stopped when I said the phrase, Noi avevamo molto divertiti. To this, my professoressa responded, That is incorrect. Italians do not have fun. (she emphasized the "have")

At this point, she was about to explain herself, but one of the higher board members came in to talk to her and eventually she had to leave the classroom.

Why does Noi avevamo molto divertiti not work as a phrase? I'm assuming that in Italian, some other verb must be used; however, I am not exactly sure which one that could possibly be.

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    Because Italians are fun :). (I'll expand in answer soon but I'm amused by how "correct" this is :P)
    – Denis Nardin
    Mar 29, 2016 at 0:27

3 Answers 3


Your misconception arises from trying to translate too literally idiomatic expressions. To give a simpler example, in English you pay attention but in Italian fai attenzione (you do attention). In English you have a shower but in Italian fai una doccia (you do a shower).

Similarly, in English you have fun, but in Italian ti diverti (you fun yourself). That is we use a verb which literally means "to have fun". This verb is divertirsi and it has the auxiliary essere (to be). So the correct translation is

Ci siamo divertiti molto

("We funned ourselves a lot")

  • 5
    Even if noi ci eravamo divertiti corresponds, as a verbal tense, to the suggested, non-existent noi avevamo molto divertiti, speaking of past weekend I'd say ci siamo divertiti (unless this is part of a longer story: ci eravamo divertiti, ma poi è scoppiata la tragedia). And I'd take the occasion to suggest the OP omitting the explicit subject: ci siamo divertiti (unless, again, it is important to contrast the sentence with something else: noi ci siamo divertiti, ma i nostri amici rimasti in città si sono annoiati mortalmente).
    – DaG
    Mar 29, 2016 at 8:20
  • @DaG Sure, without more context it's impossible to determine the correct tense. I erred on the side of keeping the tense in the OP but maybe I should incorporate your explanation
    – Denis Nardin
    Mar 29, 2016 at 11:31
  • @DaG The basic context is that I was discussing how me and my good friends went out to New York City, and thus "we had a lot of fun." I do appreciate the help and answers too. Thanks! :)
    – Veer Singh
    Mar 29, 2016 at 13:27
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    Non sarebbe meglio c'eravamo divertiti? O ci siamo divertiti, perché eravamo ha un significato un po' diverso.
    – egreg
    Mar 29, 2016 at 13:41
  • @DigitalVeer The correct translation of we had a lot of fun is ci siamo divertiti molto, as DaG says. egreg: I dislike those elisions in writing but I suppose it's a matter of taste
    – Denis Nardin
    Mar 29, 2016 at 13:44

The verb in Italian for 'to have fun' is divertirsi. (Notice it is reflexive as is often indicated by the -irsi ending.) Reflexive verbs are conjugated with the auxiliary verb essere (as opposed to avere). The correct conjugation your professoressa was looking was:

ci siamo divertiti molto.

Side note: This kind of mistake happens often in the beginning Italian classroom when translating from English. My personal favorite mistake of a mistranslation is "abbiamo avuto un buon tempo" when a student wants to say "we had a good time" when in reality they were saying "We had a good weather."

  • To add to the confusion, avere (or darsi) (un) buon tempo, literally to have (a) good time, is a (very archaic, dating to the 1200) italian form.
    – LSerni
    Mar 30, 2016 at 9:09

As Italian mother-tongue speaker I approve the explanation of gbutters, but the correct translation is: "Noi ci siamo divertiti."

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    Welcome! In my mother language (Italian), the pronoun “noi” would be omitted. ;-)
    – egreg
    Mar 29, 2016 at 13:39
  • Omitting pronouns is not a good thing to do, we do not do that always, depends on situation and coherence of the phrase..
    – Desarius
    Mar 31, 2016 at 14:35
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    You should admit that the pronoun is omitted more often than not. Much more, I'd say.
    – egreg
    Mar 31, 2016 at 16:29
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    Sorry, but the correct answer to “Vi siete divertiti?” is “Ci siamo divertiti”, without noi. In standard Italian, at least. If we want to teach Italian, we should follow standard usage.
    – egreg
    Apr 1, 2016 at 15:09
  • 2
    Desarius, can you name a single, reliable source supporting your view that “Omitting pronouns is not a good thing to do”? Should Dante's Inferno begin Nel mezzo ... io mi ritrovai per una selva oscura?
    – DaG
    Apr 1, 2016 at 20:13

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