Italian Verbs

Verbs are doing words, and with Italian verbs, just like in English, they're used to denote an action performed by someone or something.

Anything you or anyone else does needs a verb so that you can do it. You can't run without verbs, you can't sing without verbs. Let's face it, without verbs you just can't do anything at all.

Love, breathe, live... All verbs.

So let's hear it for the mighty verb, and let's find out more about exactly how verbs work in Italian...

Italian verbs are divided into three patterns of conjugation, according to the ending of the infinitive form:

Italian verbs ending in the infinitive with - ARE:

Italian verbs ending in the infinitive with - ERE:

Italian verbs ending in the infinitive with - IRE:

Regular verbs have always the same stem, but most of the Italian verbs are irregular, which means that they use more stems, according to their Latin origin. For ex. the verb andare (to go) has the following stems: and-, v-, vad- .


The verbs are divided into 2 forms, for a total of 7 moods - the personal form, which is related to a noun or a pronoun (indicative, subjunctive, imperative, conditional), and the impersonal form (infinitive, gerund and participle).

Simple and Compound Tenses

The Italian verbs have 21 tenses, divided in two classes: simple tenses (one word in the active form, two words in the passive form) or compound tenses (two words in the active form, three words in the passive form). The compound tenses express an action that has happened before the corresponding simple tense form.

The imperative has just a simple tense form.

The compound tenses are built with the auxiliary verb of the corresponding simple tense + the past participle. In the active form, the transitive verbs use the auxiliary avere, while the intransitive ones the auxiliary essere. The following verbs also require the auxiliary essere:

  • verbs meaning movement: (andare, to go; venire, to come; etc.): io sono andato, I went. Please note: camminare (to walk), nuotare (to swim) and sciare (to ski) require avere.
  • reflexive verbs (alzarsi, stand up): io mi sono alzato, I stood up
  • piacere (like): mi è piaciuto, I liked it

The past participle with essere follows the usual adjective agreement rules concerning genre and number.

Practice phrases containing compound forms:

Active compound tense:

Passive compound tense:

Intransitive compound tense:

Scheme of connection between simple and compound tenses







Practice phrases about simple and compound tenses

Simple tense: Presente - Compound tense: Passato Prossimo

Simple tense: Imperfetto - Compound tense: Trapassato Prossimo

Simple tense: Passato Remoto - Compound tense: Trapassato Remoto

Simple tense: Futuro Semplice - Compound tense: Futuro Anteriore

Anything else important about Italian verbs

The verbs are the core of the Italian language. Any tense has its own meaning and function inside the sentences. This is particularly relevant in the past tense. For example, while the passato prossimo (io ho mangiato - I have eaten) is commonly used instead of the passato remoto (io mangiai - I ate) in the daily language, the two tenses have different meanings: the first indicates the recent past, the second the historic past. Although a compound tense, the passato prossimo, which is the present perfect in English, is also commonly used as a simple tense. Otherwise this form cannot be used when the verb is related to an action repeated more than once. In that case, it is used the imperfetto.

Italian verbs summary

  • Three patterns of conjugation, following the infinitive forms: - ARE, -ERE, -IRE.
  • Regular verbs have one stem, while irregular verbs are built with more stems, following their Latin origin.
  • The tenses can be referred to a noun - personal forms - or not - impersonal forms -.
  • Seven moods: indicative, conditionalsubjunctive, imperative, infinitive, participle, gerund.
  • There are 21 tenses in the Italian language and all of them are commonly and currently used.
  • Simple and compound tenses are strictly connected and related.
  • The auxiliary verbs are avere and essere and they are used in order to build the compound tenses.
  • In the modern Italian language the passato prossimo is commonly used as the past form in substitution of the passato remoto.
  • Don't confuse the passato prossimo/passato remoto (the fact happened once) with the imperfetto (the fact happened more times).
  • The Italian verbs are the core of the Italian language.
For more on Italian grammar check out these lessons! A presto!
Maria Di Lorenzi
Rocket Italian


Test yourself with the Rocket Italian testing tools! Improve your knowledge of Italian!

Note that the tests below are listed from easiest to hardest.

Hear It Say It!

<{percentComplete['hearit']}>% Complete

Improve your understanding of spoken Italian. With Hear it Say it! you can tune your ear to Italian, increase your vocabulary and improve your pronunciation at the same time! Ready?

  • Click the Get Started button below
  • LISTEN to the audio (and touch up your pronunciation with Rocket Record if you like; Chrome/Firefox/Edge desktop browsers only)
  • Click REVEAL to see the word/phrase and see the translation
  • Just click your RATING to continue

See how many words you've rated at each level below. Just click on the number below each rating to review your words and phrases.

Write It!

<{percentComplete['writeit']}>% Complete

Write it! helps you to improve your written Italian and your understanding of sentence structures. Just listen to the audio and type in what you hear!

  • Click the Get Started button below
  • LISTEN to the audio
  • WRITE down, in Italian, what you hear
  • Click REVEAL to see the word/phrase and see the translation
  • Your answer will be automatically RATED, just click the rating to continue


Click the keyboard icon for a Italian keyboard

Know It!

<{percentComplete['knowit']}>% Complete

Know it! tests you on your ability to translate English to Italian! Ready?

  • Click the Get Started button below
  • READ the word/phrase
  • RECORD yourself saying it in Italian (Chrome/Firefox/Edge desktop browsers only)
  • Click REVEAL to see the word/phrase in Italian and listen to the Italian audio

Over 1,200,000 people love Rocket Languages

Here's what Rocket Languages members have to say:

Andrei Freeman - Pennsylvania, USA


Pennsylvania, USA

Rudi Kopp - USA



Carmen Franceschino - Pennsylvania, USA


Pennsylvania, USA

Kelly Scali - Chicago, USA


Chicago, USA

Mark Waddel - Auckland, NZ


Auckland, NZ

William McGill - Florida, USA


Florida, USA

Probably the best language tool I've come across. Actually love it more than Rosetta Stone and Duolingo

Try our award-winning online Italian course for FREE 受賞歴ありの英語学習ソフトウェアを無料でお試しください Pruebe nuestro galardonado software del idioma inglés GRATIS

(And see how easy it actually is to learn Italian... even if you've tried and failed before) (そして英語学習がどれだけ簡単か、肌で感じてみてください…今までに失敗したことのある人でもそれが分かるでしょう) (Y vea qué tan fácil es en realidad aprender inglés… aún si lo ha intentado y fallado antes)