Italian verbs are grouped into three main types. According to the infinitive mood they can end in -are, -ere, -ire. But don’t worry, there are rules to predict their behaviour and we are going to nail them down today.
Have you ever listened to the song “Nel blu dipinto di blu”? It’s a legendary Italian song, also known as “volare”. It goes, “Volare, oh ohh, cantare , oh ohh ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬”. Listen to it, it’s a piece of Italian history and it will help to understand today’s topic: Italian verbs.
“Volare” and “cantare” are two Italian verbs in their infinitive mood, equivalent to the English “to fly” and “to sing” But whilst in English there is only “to —” for defining the infinitive,in Italian there are 3 main groups, ending in -are, like volare, mangiare (to eat), comprare (to buy), -ere like leggere (to read) and -ire like dormire (to sleep).
Like in other European languages, Italian verbs change according to tense (past, present and future), mood (indicative, subjunctive, conditional, imperative, infinitive, gerund and participle) and sometimes by gender of the subject or of the object (masculine of feminine).
Unlike other languages, for example English, it is not mandatory to put the pronoun before an Italian verb, since each conjugation is unique and contains a meaningful link with the subject.
In other words, when in English I have to say I eat, because eat can agree with I, you, we and they in Italian I can avoid the pronoun, and say only mangio because it agrees only with io, I. There is no ambiguity.
Today we will concentrate on the Present Indicative tense, or Presente Indicativo
The rules above are valid for regular verbs and most irregular Italian verbs, although each irregular verb must be considered separately and will be discussed later on or during one of our live lessons.
Let’s show some examples of Presente Indicativo:
Guardare la tivù (to watch TV) will apply the rules of the column -are
So, if I want to say Maria watches TV, I say Maria (lei/she) guarda la tivù
- Maria and I watch TV = Io e Maria (noi) guardiamo la tivù
- They watch TV = (loro) Guardano la tivù
- You watch TV = (tu) Guardi la tivù
Leggere, to read
- Io leggo
- Tu leggi
- Lui/Lei legge
- Noi leggiamo
- Voi leggete
- Loro leggono
As you have surely noticed, the root of the verb does not change, for conjugating leggere it is enough to pick the root legg- and attach it to the proper ending.
Finally, the conjugation -ire has 2 different versions. Some verbs like dormire (to sleep) act like -are and -ere, others have a longer ending, like the verb capire (to understand).
- Io dormo
- Tu dormi
- Lui/Lei dorme
- Noi dormiamo
- Voi dormite
- Loro dormono
- Io capisco
- Tu capisci
- Lui/Lei capisce
- Noi capiamo
- Voi capite
- Loro capiscono
It’s a bit of rules to learn but very automatic, and you will pick it up quite smoothly with some experience. We hope you enjoyed this simple recap. Please join our live lessons with a native teacher. Save time and money, study Italia online with dante-learning!
Take some time to solve the fast quiz below about Italian verbs and Presente Indicativo