Italian Grammar Rules

Understanding Italian Grammar

Italian grammar is the body of rules describing the properties of the Italian language. The Italian language is based on the following categories: articles, adjectives, nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions.

Italian Articles

In Italian articles are more than just simple words before the nouns. They identify the genre and the number of the nouns and are essential in order to recognize irregular nouns. They can be masculine or feminine, singular or plural and, except in some specific cases, they must always be used.

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Il cane
the dog
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lo studente
the student
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la casa
the house
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i cani
the dogs
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gli studenti
the students
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le case
the houses

Italian Adjectives

Adjectives are words that describe a person or a thing.

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Un cappello rosso
A red hat
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Un pranzo italiano
An Italian meal
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La camera è quadrata
The room is square Nouns

Italian Nouns

Nouns are words that refer to a person or a thing; they can be masculine or feminine, singular or plural. Many Italian nouns have irregular form.

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Gatto
cat
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Salute
health
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Enrico
Enrico
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Parigi
Paris

Italian Pronouns

Pronouns are words that are used in place of a noun. They can stand in for the subject, Io mangio - I eat; the object, Paola mi ama - Paola loves me; or the complement, Io vivo per lei - I live for her. There are many kinds of pronouns: personal, possessive, demonstrative, interrogative and indefinite.

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Io mangio
I eat
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Paola mi ama
Paola loves me
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Io vivo per lei
I live for her

Italian Verbs

Verbs are the core of the Italian language. They are words that refer to an action (andare - to go; mangiare - to eat) or to a state (essere - to be; stare - to stay; esistere - to exist). In Italian there are three classes of verbs, five moods and 21 tenses.

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andare
to go
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mangiare
to eat
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essere
to be
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stare
to stay
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esistere
to exist

Italian Adverbs

An adverb is a word that tells you how or where or when an action is done, for example:

Lui andò di sotto
He went downstairs
Domani andremo a nuotare
Tomorrow we will go to swim
Lei sorrise gentilmente
She smiled gently

Italian Prepositions

Prepositions are words that show position in relation to space or time, or that introduce a complement. The main prepositions in Italian are listed below.

Preposition
Italian
English
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di:
La casa di Paola
Paola’s house
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a:
Io vado a casa
I go (to) home
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da:
Il treno viene da Milano
The train comes from Milan
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in:
La mamma è in Italia
The mother is in Italy
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con:
Io vivo con Paola
I live with Paola
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su:
La penna è sul tavolo
The pen is on the table
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per:
Il regalo è per te
The gift is for you
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tra/fra:
La banca è tra il supermercato e la scuola
The bank is between the supermarket and the school

Italian Conjunctions

Conjunctions are words that link to other words or to a group of words. Like e - and, ma - but, se - if..

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Il cane e il gatto
the dog and the cat
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Sono stanco, ma vengo
I am tired, but I come
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Se vuoi, puoi dormire qui
If you want, you can sleep here

The Auxiliary Verbs: Essere and Avere

Essere and avere can be used as common verb, with the meanings of to be and to have, but also they can be auxiliary verbs, io ho comprato - I have bought.

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io ho comprato
I have brought

Essere:

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io sono
I am
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tu sei
you are
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lui/lei/Lei è
he/she is
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noi siamo
we are
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voi siete
you are
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loro sono
they are

Avere:

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io ho
I have
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tu hai
you have
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lui/lei/Lei ha
he/ she has
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noi abbiamo
we have
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voi avete
you have
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loro hanno
they have

In the formal situation, the 2nd person is substituted with the 3rd person Lei.

Some special cases:

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Luigi ha 30 anni
Luigi is 30 years old
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Io ho freddo
I am cold
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Avete fame?
Are you hungry?

Italian Grammar Rules Summary

  • There are seven main categories in Italian: articles, nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, prepositions and conjunctions.
  • Adjectives and nouns have a specific form for the masculine and for the feminine, for singular and plural
  • Verbs are the core of the Italian language
  • Some prepositions can be contracted with the articles
  • Essere and avere are the Italian auxiliary verbs.

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