Indicativo Presente

Present indicative tense is used when the action:indicativo

1) is taking place habitually;

2) is taking place at the moment of speaking;

3) has a future meaning.

Essere (to be) and avere (to have) are two special verbs in Italian that have their own conjugation, and will be essential when using Italian in the past tense.
Italian regular verbs are the easiest to conjugate, since they follow a specific pattern. Three groups of regular verbs exist: -are verbs, -ere verbs and -ire verbs.
-Ire verbs can be a tad tricky, since there are some variations in the endings.

-Are verbs are regular verbs that have the ending -are. To conjugate, remove the -are and add the appropriate endings. In this example, we will use the verb cantare (to sing):

io cant- o

tu cant- i

lui/lei cant- a

noi cant- iamo

voi cant- ate

loro cant- ano

The same process is done for -ere verbs, like the verb vedere (to see):

io ved- o

tu ved- i

lui/lei ved- e

noi ved- iamo

voi ved- ete

loro ved- ono

Notice the endings for -are verbs and -ere verbs are similar, except for the changes on the third person singular, second person plural and third person plural. This pattern continues with some of the -ire verbs, like sentire (to hear):

io sent- o

tu sent- i

lui/lei sent- e

noi sent- iamo

voi sent- ite

loro sent- ono

 

However, other -ire verbs, like finire (to finish) follow a different ending pattern:

io fin- isc- o

tu fin- isc- i

lui/lei fin- isc- e

noi fin- iamo

voi fin- ite

loro fin- isc- ono

Common -ire verbs that are conjugated like sentire include aprire (to open), coprire (to cover), divertirsi (to enjoy oneself), dormire (to sleep), offrire (to offer), partire (to leave), seguire (to follow), servire (to serve/need), soffrire (to suffer) and vestire (to dress).

Common -ire verbs that are conjugated like finire include capire (to understand), colpire (to hit), costruire (to build), fornire (to supply), guarire (to get better), preferire (to prefer), pulire (to clean), sostituire (to substitute), spedire (to send) and unire (to join).

Italian irregular verbs are verbs that do not fit into regular conjugation endings. We will go over the conjugation of the most common irregular verbs in Italian. Students should memorize these conjugations:

POTERE (can)

io posso

tu puoi

lui/lei può

noi possiamo

voi potete

loro possono

 

PIACERE (to like)

io piaccio

tu piaci

lui/leipiace

noi piacciamo

voi piacete

loro piacciono

 

FARE (to do, to make)

io faccio

tu fai

lui/lei fa

noi facciamo

voi fate

loro fanno

 

VOLERE (to want)

io voglio

tu vuoi

lui/lei vuole

noi vogliamo

voi volete

loro vogliono

 

BERE (to drink)

io bevo

tu bevi

lui/lei beve

noi beviamo

voi bevete

loro bevono

 

DARE (to give)

io do

tu dai

lui/lei

noi diamo

voi date

loro danno

 

DOVERE (must)

io devo

tu devi

lui/lei deve

noi dobbiamo

voi dovete

loro devono

ANDARE (to go)

io vado

tu vai

lui/lei va

noi andiamo

voi andate

loro vanno

DIRE (to say)

io dico

tu dici

lui/lei dice

noi diciamo

voi dite

loro dicono

SAPERE (to know)

io so

tu sai

lui/lei sa

noi sappiamo

voi sapete

loro sanno

STARE (to stay)

io sto

tu stai

lui/lei sta

noi stiamo

voi state

loro stanno

 

USCIRE (to go out)

io esco

tu esci

lui/lei esce

noi usciamo

voi uscite

loro escono

Maschile/Femminile

All Italian nouns have either a masculine or a feminine gender. Gender is a purely grammatical term. Nouns referring to human beings or animals sometimes have the same grammatical gender as their natural gender, but not always:

una giraffa (giraffe) is always feminine
un ippopotamo (hippopotamus) is always masculine

In order to provide the missing half, we have to say:

una giraffa maschio (a male giraffe)
un ippopotamo femmina (a female hippopotamus)

Some animals – as in English – have two distinct names for the male and the female of the species:

un leone (lion), una leonessa (lioness)
un gallo (cock), una gallina (hen)

Some, but not all, professional and other titles may have a distinct form for the feminine. Nouns whose masculine form ends in -e have a feminine form ending either in -a or in -essa:

cameriere cameriera (waiter/waitress)
infermiere infermiera (nurse)
padrone padrona (master/mistress)
studente studentessa (student)
principe principessa (prince/princess)
conte contessa (count/countess)
barone baronessa (baron/baroness)

Most nouns with masculine form ending in -tore have a feminine form ending in -trice:

attore attrice (actor/actress)
autore autrice (author)
direttore direttrice (director, manager)
imperatore imperatrice (emperor/empress)
pittore pittrice (painter)
scrittore scrittrice (writer)
senatore senatrice (senator)

Note the following masculine nouns with feminine equivalent in -essa:

dottore dottoressa (doctor)
professore professoressa (teacher)

The gender and number determine the ending of the noun. These patterns of endings are called inflexions. Italian nouns can be divided into several different groups, according to their patterns of inflexion. The three most common patterns are:

Singular

Plural

Masculine

-o

-i

Femenine

-a

-e

Masculine or femenine

-e

-i

→ Note: Nouns in the third group (-e) have the same ending whatever the gender.

SINGOLARE

PLURALE

MASCULINE Tavolo Table Tavoli Tables
Albero Tree Alberi Trees
Sbaglio Mistake Sbagli Mistakes
Ragazzo Boy Ragazzi Boys
FEMENINE Donna Woman Donne Women
Parola Word Parole Words
Scuola School Scuole Schools
Ragazza Girl Ragazze Girls
MASCULINE Padre Father Padri Fathers
Studente Student Studenti Students
Bicchiere Glass Bicchieri Glasses
FEMENINE Madre Mother Madri mothers
Occasione Occasion Occasioni Occasions
Chiave Key Chiavi Keys

→ Note: In the plural, nouns ending in -co, -go; -ca, -ga; -cia, -gia present variations in their endings.


Coniugazione: tempi, persona e numero

There are three verb CONJUGATIONS (“coniugazione”) in Italian,
identified by the endings of the infinitives:

First Conjugation -are amare to love
Second Conjugation -ere prendere to take
Third Conjugation -ire dormire to slee

There are four SIMPLE TENSES:

PRESENT: Amo I love
FUTURE: Amerò I will love
IMPERFECT: Amavo I used to love
SIMPLE PAST: Amai I loved

There are four COMPOUND TENSES:

PRESENT PERFECT: Ho parlato I have spoken, I spoke
- Sono arrivato I have arrived, I arrived
FUTURE PERFECT: Avrò parlato I will have spoken
- Sarò arrivato I will have arrived
PLUPERFECT: Avevo parlato I had spoken
 - Ero arrivato I had arrived
PAST ANTERIOR: Ebbi parlato I had spoken
 - Fui arrivato I had arrived

 

There are four verbal moods or modes (“modi“):

INDICATIVE (stating a fact):  Parlo italiano <I speak Italian>

SUBJUNCTIVE (expressing an attitude):  Credo lei parli italiano <I think she speaks Italian>

CONDITIONAL (indicating a possibility):  Gli studenti parlerebbero italiano, se potesser <The students would speak Italian if they could>

IMPERATIVE (giving a command):  Parla italiano! <Speak Italian!>

The conjugated forms of verbs agree with the person and number of the subject.  There are two NUMBERS (singular and plural) and three PERSONS.  First person is the speaker; second person is the one spoken to; third person is the one spoken about.

1ST PERSON:  io canto  – I sing noi cantiamo  – we sing
2ND PERSON:  tu canti  – you sing voi cantate  – you sing
3RD PERSON:  lei canta  – she sings loro cantano  – they sing

Verbi attivi, passivi e riflessivi

Voice describes the relationship of the verb action with its subject and object. The different voices or relationships are:

  • Active voice

Normally the grammatical subject of the verb is the doer of the action or the main theme of the event, in which case the verb is active:

Andrea guarda Maria.

Andrew watches Mary.

Il tecnico ripara il computer.

The technician repairs the computer.

  • Passive voice

But sometimes the person or object on the receiving end of the action is the grammatical subject, and in this case the verb is passive:

Maria è guardata da Andrea.

Mary is watched by Andrew.

Il computer  è riparato dal tecnico.

The computer is repaired by the technician.

In the second example, the agent of the action is clearly the technician (the one who repairs the computer), but the grammatical subject of the passive verb is the computer.

  • Reflexive and pronominal voice

A verb form is reflexive when its subject and object are the same:

Andrea si guarda allo specchio.

Andrew looks at himself in the mirror.

There are other verb forms that are not strictly speaking reflexive but are similar in form.

The passive of Italian verbs is formed by the use of the past participle and the auxiliary essere, using the same tense as the corresponding active form.

The passive can also be formed using venire or andare as auxiliary instead of essere or by using the pronoun si and the third person of the verb.

Only transitive verbs can have a passive form.

Passive sentences (sentences based on a passive verb) are used when we want to focus on the action itself or the object of an action, rather than on the agent of an action.

Reflexive verbs are active verb forms accompanied by a reflexive pronoun:

Andrea sta lavando la macchina.

Andrew is washing the car.

Andrea si sta lavando.

Andrew is washing himself.

In the first example above, the direct object of the action of washing is the car. It is separate from the person who is doing it (the subject of the action). In the second example, the subject and the object of the action are the same person (Andrea). This is the reflexive form, in which the reflexive pronoun refers to the person carrying out the action, but at the same time is also the object of it.

There are a few Italian verbs that are always (or almost always) used with a reflexive pronoun, because of the ‘psychological’ and subjective meaning they convey, for example:

accorgersi: to realise, to be aware

arrabbiarsi: to get angry

divertirsi: to have fun

innamorarsi: to fall in love

pentirsi: to regret, repent

vergognarsi: to be ashamed

Preposizioni

Prepositions are short words which express conditions, directions, specifications, such as: of, over, to, from, etc.

Prepositions are those little words that mark places in space or time. When prepositions are used together with definite articles, the preposition and the article are sometimes condensed into a single word. When they are not followed (and bound) to articles, they are called “simple prepositions“.

Simple prepositions  are words that aren’t followed by articles. They are:

di (d’) → of

a → to

da → from, by, since

in → in

con → with

tra, fra → between

su → on

per → for

Di means “of”, indicating possession, or “from” (to be from).
Examples:

Un bicchiere di vino  »  a glass of wine

Una casa di legno  »  a house of wood

Il computer di Andrea»  Andrea’s computer (literally: “the book of Andrea”)

La madre di Anna  »  Anna’s mother

Io sono di Siracusa»  I am from Syracuse

I miei amici sono di Catania»  my friends are from Catane

A means “to” (indirect object and movement) or “in”, indicating location (cities and places).

When preposition “a” is followed by another word starting with a vowel, for phonetic reasons it changes to “ad”.
Examples:

Presto il libro a Giovanni»  I lend the book to John

Venderò la bicicletta a Laura»  I will sell the bycicle to Laura

Gira a destra a destra  »  Turn to the right (→ note:  in Italian the two directions have no article)

Tornerò a New York  »  I will return to New York

Siamo sdraiati a letto  »  We are lying  in bed

Tu vivi a Roma   »  You live in Rome

Da means “since”, “from” (to come from), “by” (passive) and it’s used with location referring to people.
Examples:

Vivo a Catania da 30 anni   »  I’ve lived in Catane for 30 years

Vengo da Siracusa»  I come from Syracuse

Questo corso è stato fatto da Maria»  This course was made by Maria

Sono da Davide   »  I’m at Davide’s

In usually means “in”.
Examples:

Vivo in una bella città   »  I live in a beautiful city.

Ho delle caramelle in tasca   »  I have some candies in my pocket

Attraverseremo il fiume in barca   »  we will cross the river by boat

Con means “with”.
Examples:

Sono con te  »  I’m with you

Ho comprato il libro con pochi soldi   »  I bought the book with little money

Andrea era con sua sorella   » Andrew was with his sister

Su means “on(to)”, “over”.
Examples:

I libri sono su una scrivania   »  The books are on a desk.

L’aereo vola su Roma»  The plane flies over Rome

Per  can translate English for, to, by, or even as, according to the different use.
Examples:

Questo regalo è per te   »  This present is for you

Ho un biglietto per il teatro   »  I have a ticket for the theatre

Tra-fra mean “between” or “in” followed by a time expression.
Examples:

Vengo a casa tra(fra) due minuti  »  I’d come home in two minutes

L’autobus passerà fra(tra) due ore  »  The bus will pass in two hours

L’albero fra(tra) le due case è alto   »  The tree between the two houses is tall

Transitive and Intransitive verbs

The actions that we express by using verbs can be completed with an object. There may be a direct object as in:

Silvana scrive una lettera      Silvana writes a letter
Cerchiamo una macchina nuova     We look for a new car

Here the action of the verb can be completed by answering the question “what?” (che cosa?). The direct object of the verb is the noun that can answer this question without the use of a preposition (in this case una lettera and una macchina):

Che cosa scrive Silvana? What is Silvana writing?
Silvana scrive una lettera Silvana is writing a letter

Che cosa cerchiamo? What are we looking for?
Cerchiamo una macchina. We’re looking for a new car.

If we can ask and answer the question che cosa?, the verb is transitive, and it will use the auxiliary avere in compound tenses:

Silvana ha scritto una lettera      Silvana wrote a letter
Abbiamo cercato una macchina nuova     We looked for a new car

But some Italian verbs cannot be completed by a direct object and the question che cosa? would not make sense; these are intransitive verbs and they normally use essere as the auxiliary:

Andiamo a scuola alle 8.00. We go to the school at 8.00.
Il volo per Roma parte alle 6.00. The flight to Rome leaves at 6.00.
Siamo andate in ufficio alle 9.00. We went to the office at 9.00.
Il treno per Roma è partito alle 6.00. The train to Rome left at 6.00.

Here some examples of English phrases that cannot be translated directly into Italian, since the verbs camminare, volare, guidare and viaggiare are not generally used transitively:

I’m going to walk the dog.
I’m Sharon. Fly me!
Can you drive me home?
Travel the world with Airmiles!

Some verbs can be used both transitively (with a direct object) and intransitively (without a direct object), for example aumentare, cambiare, cominciare, crescere, diminuire, finire and passare. In the following examples, the subjects of these actions – beginning and finishing – are people and the verbs have direct objects (‘the medical visits’, ‘the holidays’):

Il dottore comincia le visite alle 10.00.
The doctor begins the medical visits at 10.00.
Finiamo le vacanze in agosto.
We finish our holidays in August.

In the next two examples , the same verbs (this time with ‘the medical visits’ and ‘the holidays’ as subject) cannot have a direct object:

Le visite mediche cominciano alle 10.00.
The medical visits begins at 10.00.
Le vacanze finiscono in agosto.
The holidays finish in August.

→ When used transitively, verbs such as correre ‘to run’, saltare ‘to jump’, vivere ‘to live’ take avere:

Hanno corso per 10 km
They ran for about 10 km

Oggi ho saltato la lezione
Today I skipped the lesson

Ho vissuto un’esperienza indimenticabile
I have lived an unforgettable experience

Generally Italian transitive verbs use the auxiliary avere, while intransitive verbs use the auxiliary essere in the compound tenses. However, there are quite a few verbs that use the auxiliary avere even when used intransitively. Here are the most common:

camminare - to walk
piangere - to cry
dormire - to sleep
riposare - to rest
giocare - to play
viaggiare - to travel
passeggiare - to walk

Caratteristiche generali dei verbi

Usually the subject of a verb is the ‘agent’ or ‘doer’ of an action, the ‘protagonist’ of an event:

Noi partiamo per l’America
We leave for America

Andrea e Maria partono per l’America
Andrea and Maria leave for America

Sometimes we talk of facts rather than actions. Here the ‘subject’ of the verb is not ‘doing’ anything, but is the theme or main topic expressed by the verb:

Anna è bionda
Ann is blonde

Questo film dura due ore
This film lasts two hours

The different forms of the verb, determined by its grammatical subject, are called the persons:

Io

I

Singular first person (the speaker)

Tu

You

Singular second person (the person addressed)

Lui/Lei

He/She/It

Singular third person (the third party)

Noi

We

Plural first person (the speaker + other people)

Voi

You

Plural second person (the people addressed)

Loro

They

Plural third person (the third parties)

In each tense, Italian verbs have six different endings, depending on who or what is carrying out the action. The different endings immediately identify the ‘person’ – the subject of the action – unlike in English where only the third person singular has a distinctive ending (‘I drink, you drink, he drinks’).

It is not necessary to use subject pronouns (I, you, he/she,etc.) in Italian, unless we need to give particular emphasis to the subject.
Traditionally we distinguish three conjugations defined by the form that the verb takes in the infinitive (the infinitive is the form used in dictionary entries):

1st conjugation ending in -are as cant-are ‘to sing’
2nd conjugation ending in -ere as cred-ere ‘to believe’
3rd conjugation ending in -ire as dorm-ire ‘to sleep’

The verbs of the 3rd conjugation (ending in -ire) follow two distinct patterns, the second of which, with endings in -isco, as in fin-ire/fin-isco ‘to finish’, is the most frequent. Both patterns, however, are considered as belonging to the same conjugation, because of the -ire ending of the infinitive.
The different forms and uses of Italian verbs are traditionally grouped in seven moods. These convey the different characteristics of the actions or facts that the speaker or writer wants to communicate: certainty or doubt, politeness or straightforwardness, command, etc.
The seven moods are:

indicative
conditional
subjunctive
imperative
participle
infinitive


Aggettivi e pronomi possessivi

Possessive adjectives (aggettivi possessivi) and possessive pronouns (pronomi possessivi) are usually compound forms which include a definite article that is not translated into English. The forms of the possessive adjective are:

MASCULINE
SINGULAR
MASCULINE
PLURAL
FEMININE
SINGULAR
FEMININE
PLURAL
MEANINGS
il mio i miei la mia le mie my
il tuo i tuoi la tua le tue your, familiar
il suo i suoi la sua le sue his, her or your, polite
il nostro i nostri la nostra le nostre our
il vostro i vostri la vostra le vostre your, familiar
il loro i loro la loro le loro their, theirs or your, polite 

Possessive pronouns are the same in form to possessive adjectives; the difference is in meaning.  Where possessive adjective il mio means my, for example, possessive pronoun il mio means mine:

le tue scarpe e le mie (your shoes and mine)

It is important to note that possessives agree in gender and number with the thing possessed, rather than with the possessor:

i miei amici  (my friends), la loro automobile  (their car)

If ambiguity results from the use of possessives, possession may be expressed by means of di with a disjunctive pronoun:

la sua valigia (his or her or your suitcase); la valigia di lui (his suitcase)

If the possessor is also the subject of the sentence,  proprio may be used instead of suo or loro:

Giovanni porta la propria valigia (John carries his own suitcase)

Proprio must be used after impersonal expressions:

Bisogna portare le proprie valigie (must carry one’s own pieces of luggage)

Aggettivi

An adjective is a word that qualifies the meaning of a noun by adding some specification or description to it and usually it comes after the noun in Italian (while in English they come before the noun).

There are many different categories of adjective including demonstrative (questo, quello), interrogative (quale), possessive (mio, tuo), indefinite (alcuni, qualche) and negative (nessun).

Forming Adjectives:
Some adjectives are formed from verbs by adding the suffix -nte. Such adjectives are actually archaic forms of the present participle:

ardere (to burn) , ardente (hot)
fortificare (to fortify), fortificante (fortifying)

Other adjectives are derived from the past participles of verbs:

scrivere (to write), scritto (written)
contorcere (to twist), contorto (twisted)

Adjectives are sometimes formed from nouns by adding the suffixes -so (English -ous) and -ico (English -ic):

miracolo (miracle), miracoloso (miraculous)
letargo (lethargy), letargico (lethargic)

Adjectives agree in gender and number with the nouns they modify.
Regular adjectives with separate masculine and feminine forms end in -o (m.) and -a (f.) in the singular, -i (m.) and -e (f.) in the plural:

Il battello è bianco (The boat is white)
La colomba ha un’ala bianca (The dove has a white wing)
I miei denti sono bianchi (My teeth are white)
Le mie scarpe sono bianche (My shoes are white)

Regular adjectives with identical masculine and feminine forms have a singular ending -e and a plural ending -i:

un vestito verde (a green dress)
una mela verde (a green apple)
dei alberi verdi (some green trees)
delle tartarughe verdi (some green turtles)

Adjectives describing colors by means of nouns do not change form to show gender or number:

la rosa (the rose), rosa (pink), dei fiori rosa (some pink flowers)
la viola (the violet), viola (purple), un vestito viola (a purple dress)

The position of adjectives follows certain rules. In general, adjectives which describe or differentiate follow the nouns they modify:

una fontana magnifica (a magnificent fountain),  la mano destra (the right hand)

Adjectives precede nouns they modify when they express an essential or characteristic quality, and when they limit or quantify:

un piccolo asino (a small donkey), le poche case (the few houses), alcuni romanzi (some novels)

Some adjectives change meaning when they precede the noun, taking on a figurative sense:
un uomo povero (a poverty-stricken man) but un pover’ uomo (an unfortunate fellow)

 

Related article:

To form plurals of compound nouns (http://ehsanblogs.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/to-form-plurals-of-compound-nouns/)

 

Sostantivi

Nouns (sostantivi) can have two genders (generi), masculine and feminine, and two numbers, singular and plural.

In general, masculine nouns end in -o (plural -i) and feminine nouns end in -a (plural -e):
il libro  (the book), i libri (the books), la casa (the house), le case (the houses).

There are exceptions:
Some feminine nouns end in -o. They either form the plural in -i:

la mano (the hand), le mani (the hands);

or (if foreign loanwords ) remain unchanged,

la foto (the photograph), le foto (the photographs).

Some masculine nouns end in -a; they form their plural in -i:

il problema (the problem), i problemi (the problems)

Some masculine nouns change their gender to feminine in the plural, with a singular-type -a ending rather than the usual plural form -e:

l’uovo (the egg) but le uova (the eggs)
il dito (the finger) but le dita (the fingers)

There are also a number of nouns which do not end in -o or -a. Nouns ending in -e, whether masculine or feminine, invariably form the plural in -i:

il fiore (the flower), i fiori (the flowers)
la lezione (the lesson), le lezioni (the lessons)

Nouns ending in -i or an accented vowel do not change in the plural:

la crisi (the crisis), le crisi (the crises)
la virtù (the virtue), le virtù (the virtues)
la città (the city), le città (the cities)

The same is true of one-syllable nouns, and of foreign loanwords ending in a consonant:

il re (the king), i re (the kings)
il film (the movie), i film (the movies)

Some nouns ending in -a or -e can be either masculine or feminine, depending on the gender of the person being named by the noun:

il pianista (the male pianist), la pianista (the female pianist)
il cantante (the male singer), la cantante (the female singer)

There are also nouns that have both genders, but with a different meaning for each:

il fine (the purpose), la fine (the conclusion)

A noun and its modifiers have the same gender and have number agreement.  If a noun is feminine, its modifiers will be feminine:

una antica chiesa (an old church)

If a noun is plural, its modifiers will be plural:

i capelli grigi (gray hairs)

There are also nouns that have both genders, but with a different meaning for each:

il fine (the purpose), la fine (the conclusion)



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