Italian Verb Conjugation

Italian Verb Conjugation sounds like a bit of a scary thing. But in fact it's something we do in our own native language everyday.

Simply put, in English or Italian, conjugation is the act of changing a verb to suit the way it's being used.

Remember a verb is a doing word, like 'am'. Now the form of the verb changes according to when it happens, 'I was', who does it, 'she is', and how many of them there are doing it, 'they are'.

Let's have a look at how it works in Italian...

Patterns of Italian Verb Conjugations

Italian verbs are divided into three patterns of conjugation, following their infinitive form.

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mangiare, cantare, volare
–ARE
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vedere, correre, sorridere
–ERE
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dormire, coprire, morire
–IRE

There is a 4th conjugation, which is generally accepted as a derivation of the third one, due to the fact that the infinitive form ends also with -IRE. In this conjugation, at the 1st, 2nd 3rd singular and 3rd plural person we have to add the suffix -isc at the stem. For example:

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capire, preferire, gioire
–ISC

Many Italian verbs are irregular. While the regular verbs use the same stem for all the declination forms, the irregular verbs, instead, have more stems. Many of the irregularities date to the Latin Grammar. Usually the changes affect only the stem of the verb. Essere (to be) and avere (to have) are the auxiliary verbs.

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essere
to be
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avere
to have

The transitive verbs -verbs that require both a direct subject and one or more objects - can be active - io mangio la mela - I eat the apple - as well as passive - la mela è mangiata da me - the apple is eaten by me. The passive form is built with the auxiliary essere + past participle which follows the usual adjective agreement rules concerning genre and number.

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io mangio la mela
I eat the apple
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la mela è mangiata da me
the apple is eaten by me

The intransitive verbs - verbs that are not followed by an object - don't have a passive form and they use the auxiliary essere for the compound tenses.

Regular Italian Verbs, simple tense

Indicativo Presente – I sing

 
io
tu
lui/lei/Lei
noi
voi
loro
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–are
canto
canti
canta
cantiamo
cantate
cantano
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–ere
corro
corri
corre
corriamo
correte
corrono
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–ire
scopro
scopri
scopre
scopriamo
scoprite
scoprono
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–ire with isc
capisco
capisci
capisce
capiamo
capite
capiscono
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essere
sono
sei
è
siamo
siete
sono
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avere
ho
hai
ha
abbiamo
avete
hanno

Indicativo Imperfetto – I used to sing

 
io
tu
lui /lei /Lei
noi
voi
loro
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–are
cantavo
cantavi
cantava
cantavamo
cantavate
cantavano
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–ere
correvo
correvi
correva
correvamo
correvate
correvano
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–ire
scoprivo
scoprivi
scopriva
scoprivamo
scoprivate
scoprivano
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–ire with isc
capivo
capivi
capiva
capivamo
capivate
capivano
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essere
ero
eri
era
eravamo
eravate
erano
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avere
avevo
avevi
aveva
avevamo
avevate
avevano

Indicativo Passato Remoto – I sang

* many verbs have irregular form in this tense

 
io
tu
lui /lei /Lei
noi
voi
loro
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–are
cantai
cantasti
canto
cantammo
cantaste
cantarono
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–ere
corsi
corsi
corse
corremmo
correste
corsero
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–ire
scoprii
scopristi
scoprì
scoprimmo
scopriste
scoprirono
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–ire with isc
capii
capisti
capì
capimmo
capiste
capirono
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essere
fui
fosti
fu
fummo
foste
furono
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avere
ebbi
avesti
ebbe
avemmo
aveste
ebbero

Indicativo Futuro – I will sing

 
Io
tu
lui /lei /Lei
noi
voi
loro
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–are
canterò
canterai
canterà
canteremo
canterete
canteranno
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–ere
correrò
correrai
correrà
correremo
correrete
correranno
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–ire
scoprirò
scoprirai
scoprirà
scopriremo
scoprirete
scopriranno
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–ire with isc
capirò
capirai
capirà
capiremo
capirete
capiranno
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essere
sarò
sarai
sarà
saremo
sarete
saranno
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avere
avrò
avrai
avrà
avremo
avrete
avranno

Practice Phrases containing Italian Regular Verbs – Simple Tense

Italian
English
Tenses
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Io suono la chitarra
I play the guitar
Indicativo Presente
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Io suonavo la chitarra
I was playing the guitar
Indicativo Imperfetto
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Io suonai la chitarra
I played the guitar
Indicativo Passato Remoto
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Io suonerò la chitarra
I will play the guitar
Indicativo Futuro Semplice
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Suona la chitarra!
Play the guitar!
Imperativo

Irregular Italian verbs – Simple tenses, indicative

 
io
tu
lui /lei /Lei
noi
voi
loro
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andare (to go)
vad-o
va-i
v-a
and-iamo
and-ate
vanno
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dire (to say)
dic-o
dic-i
dic-e
dic-iamo
d-ite
dic-ono
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fare (to do)
facci-o
fa-i
f-a
facc-iamo
f-ate
fanno
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venire (to come)
veng-o
vien-i
vien-e
ven-iamo
ven-ite
veng-ono

Indicativo Imperfetto:

io
tu
lui /lei /Lei
noi
voi
loro
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andavo
andavi
andava
andavamo
andavate
andavano
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dicevo
dicevi
diceva
dicevamo
dicevate
dicevano
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facevo
facevi
faceva
facevamo
facevate
facevano
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venivo
venivi
veniva
venivamo
venivate
venivano

Indicativo Passato Remoto:

io
tu
lui /lei /Lei
noi
voi
loro
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andai
andasti
andò
andammo
andaste
andarono
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dissi
dicesti
disse
dicemmo
diceste
dissero
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feci
facesti
fece
facemmo
faceste
fecero
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venii
venisti
venì
venimmo
veniste
vennero

Indicativo Futuro:

io
tu
lui /lei /Lei
noi
voi
loro
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andrò
andrai
andrà
andremo
andrete
andranno
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dirò
dirai
dirà
diremo
direte
diranno
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faro
farai
farà
faremo
farete
faranno
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verrò
verrai
verrà
verremo
verrete
verranno

Practice Phrases containing Italian Irregular Verbs – Simple Tense

Italian
English
Tenses
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Io vado a casa
I go home
Indicativo Presente
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Io andavo a casa
I was going home
Indicativo Imperfetto
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Io andai a casa
I went home
Indicativo Passato Remoto
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Io andrò a casa
I will go home
Indicativo Futuro Semplice

Rules in order to remember the Italian irregular forms

Although there are no rules calculate the right form of the irregular verbs, there are some tricks that help us. The most common is that the first singular and the third plural person have the same stem, while the second plural person is commonly - but not always - regular. Many verbs which are irregular in the Italian language have a regular form in some prominent dialect, like the Florentine, and they are still used not only in spoken but also in written language at higher level too. The most famous example is the verb fare (to make), which in Italian at the present tense, first person, is io faccio and in Florentine io fo. Although it is just a dialectal form, it can easily be found, and is accepted, in some prominent modern Italian authors like Oriana Fallaci, who was born in Florence.

Italian verb conjugation summary

  • Four conjugations, - ARE, -ERE, -IRE, and -IRE with suffix -isc
  • Regular verbs have one stem; irregular verbs have more stems.
  • Many Italian verbs are irregular.
  • Essere (to be) and avere (to have) are the auxiliary verbs.
  • The passive form is built with the auxiliary essere + past participle
  • The intransitive verbs don't have a passive form and they use the auxiliary essere for the compound tenses
  • In the irregular verbs the first singular and the third plural person have the same stem, while the second plural person is commonly regular

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