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Grammar, spelling, and usage
Italian Present Tense
The Italian present tense (presente) is happening right now. It's a simple tense—that is, the verb form consists of one word only. The present tense of a regular Italian verb is formed by dropping the infinitive ending and adding the appropriate endings to the resulting stem. The present tense of a regular -are verb is formed by dropping the infinitive ending -are and adding the appropriate endings to the resulting stem (-o, -i, -a, -iamo, -ate, -ano). See the table below for a sample conjugation of amare (to love). PRESENT TENSE CONJUGATION OF AMARE (TO LOVE) PERSON I II III SINGULAR (io) amo (I love) (tu) ami (you love, familiar) (lui/lei) ama (he/she loves) PLURAL (noi) amiamo (we love) (voi) amate (you love, familiar) (loro) amano (they love)
(Lei) ama (you love, formal) (Loro) amano (you love, formal)
The infinitive of first-conjugation Italian verbs (those ending in -are) and the conjugated forms of the present tense are pronounced like most Italian words: the stress falls on the next-to-last syllable. The one exception is the third person plural form amano, which is pronounced AH-mah-noh, with stress falling on the first syllable. A few first-conjugation verbs are listed in the following table. COMMON FIRST-CONJUGATION VERBS arrivare ascoltare aspettare ballare camminare cantare dimenticare guidare imparare insegnare lavorare nuotare parlare to arrive to listen to wait to dance to walk to sing to forget to drive to learn to teach to work to swim to speak
COMMON FIRST-CONJUGATION VERBS pranzare suonare telefonare visitare to dine, to have lunch to play (a musical instrument) to telephone to visit
Second-Conjugation Verbs Italian verbs with infinitives ending in -ere are called second-conjugation (seconda coniugazione) or -ere verbs. The present tense of a regular -ere verb is formed by dropping the infinitive ending and adding the appropriate endings (-o, -i, -e, -iamo, -ete, -ono) to the stem. For an example on how to conjugate a regular secondconjugation verb, take a look the following table. PRESENT TENSE CONJUGATION OF SCRIVERE (TO WRITE) PERSON I II III SINGULAR (io) scrivo (I write) (tu) scrivi (you write, familiar) (lui/lei) scrive (he/she writes) PLURAL (noi) scriviamo (we write) (voi) scrivete (you write, familiar) (loro) scrivono (they write)
(Lei) scrive (you write, formal) (Loro) scrivono (you write, formal)
Second-conjugation (-ere) verbs account for approximately one-quarter of all Italian verbs. Although many have some sort of irregular structure, there are also many regular verbs (see the following table for examples) which are conjugated in the same way as scrivere. COMMON SECOND-CONJUGATION VERBS accendere battere cadere chiedere conoscere correre credere descrivere eleggere leggere mettere mordere nascere offendere perdere to light, ignite; turn/switch on to beat, to hit to fall to ask to know to run to believe to describe to elect to read to put, to place to bite to be born to offend to lose
COMMON SECOND-CONJUGATION VERBS rimanere ridere rompere vendere sopravvivere to remain, to stay to laugh to break to sell to survive
While the infinitive forms of both first- and third-conjugation Italian verbs always have the accent on the final -are or -ire, second-conjugation verbs are often pronounced with the accent on the third-to-last syllable, as in prendere (PREHN-dehray). Third-Conjugation Verbs If there are first-conjugation and second-conjugation verbs, then it stands to reason there are third-conjugation verbs (terza coniugazione)! This final group contains verbs that end in -ire in the infinitive. The present tense of a regular -ire verb is formed by dropping the infinitive ending and adding the appropriate endings (-o, -i, -e, -iamo, -ite, -ono) to the resulting stem. Note that, except for the voi form, these endings are the same as for regular second-conjugation (-ere) verbs. For an example of how to conjugate a regular -ire verb, see the table below, which conjugates sentire (to hear, to feel, to smell). PRESENT TENSE CONJUGATION OF SENTIRE (TO HEAR, TO FEEL, TO SMELL) PERSON I II III SINGULAR (io) sento (I feel) (tu) senti (you feel, familiar) (Lei) sente (you feel, formal) (lui/lei) sente (he/she feels) PLURAL (noi) sentiamo (we feel) (voi) sentite (you feel, familiar) (Loro) sentono (you feel, formal) (loro) sentono (they feel)
Other common -ire third-conjugation regular verbs are listed below. COMMON THIRD-CONJUGATION VERBS acconsentire assorbire aprire bollire coprire cucire dormire fuggire mentire morire to agree, to acquiesce to soak to open to boil to cover to sew to sleep to flee to lie to die
COMMON THIRD-CONJUGATION VERBS offrire partire riaprire scoprire seguire sentire servire sfuggire soffrire vestire to offer to leave to reopen to discover, to uncover to follow to hear, to feel, to smell to serve to escape to suffer to dress, to wear
Indicative, Subjunctive, Conditional, Imperative, and Gerund Tenses INDICATIVE/INDICATIVO CONDITIONAL/CONDIZIONALE Present/Presente ENDING –ARE –ERE –IRE Present/Presente I singular –o –o –o/–isco ENDING –ARE –ERE –IRE II –i –i –i/–isci I singular –erei –erei –irei III –a –e –e/–isce II –eresti –eresti –iresti I plural –iamo –iamo –iamo III –erebbe –erebbe –irebbe II –ate –ete –ite I plural –eremmo –eremmo –iremmo III –ano –ono –ono/–iscono II –ereste –ereste –ireste Imperfect/Imperfetto III –erebbero –erebbero –irebbero ENDING –ARE –ERE –IRE IMPERATIVE/IMPERATIVO I singular –avo –evo –ivo II –avi –evi –ivi Present/Presente III –ava –eva –iva ENDING –ARE –ERE –IRE I plural –avamo –evamo –ivamo I singular – – – II –avate –evate –ivate II –a –i –i/–isci III –avano –evano –ivano III –i –a –a/–isca Past absolute/Passato remoto I plural –iamo –iamo –iamo ENDING –ARE –ERE –IRE II –ate –ete –ite I singular –ai –ei/–etti –ii III –ino –ano –ano/–iscano II –asti –esti –isti INFINITIVE/INFINITO III –ò –é/–ette –ì I plural –ammo –emmo –immo Present/Presente II –aste –este –iste ENDING –ARE –ERE –IRE III –arono –erono/– –irono PARTICIPLE/PARTICIPIO ettero
Table of Regular Verb Endings
Future/Futuro semplice ENDING –ARE –ERE –IRE I singular –erò –erò –irò II –erai –erai –irai III –erà –erà –irà I plural –eremo –eremo –iremo II –erete –erete –irete III –eranno –eranno –iranno SUBJUNCTIVE/CONGIUNTIVO Present/Presente ENDING –ARE –ERE –IRE I singular –i –a –a/–isca II –i –a –a/–isca III –i –a –a/–isca I plural –iamo –iamo –iamo II –iate –iate –iate III –ino –ano –ano/iscano Imperfect/Imperfetto ENDING –ARE –ERE –IRE I singular –assi –essi –issi II –assi –essi –issi III –asse –esse –isse I plural –assimo –essimo –issimo II –aste –este –iste III –assero –essero –issero
Present/Presente ENDING –ARE –ERE –IRE Singular –ante –ente –ente Plural –anti –enti –enti Past/Passato ENDING –ARE –ERE –IRE Singular –ato, –ata –uto, –uta –ito, –ita Plural –ati, –ate –uti, –ute –iti, –ite GERUND/GERUNDIO Present/Presente ENDING –ANDO –ENDO –ENDO
Conjugating regular verbs is fairly simple. Take off the last three letters of -are, -ere, and -ire ending verbs and add these to the stem: -ARE ending (I) -o (you) -i (he/she/it) -a (we) -iamo (you all) -ate (they) -ano -ERE ending (I) -o (you) -i (he/she/it) -e (we) -iamo (you all) -ete (they) -ono Some -IRE verbs have alternative endings -IRE ending (I) -o / -isco (you) -i / -isci (he/she/it) -e / -isce (we) -iamo (you all) -ite (they) -ono / -iscono ESSERE ---Present Tense: I am = io sono you are = tu sei he/she/it is = lui/lei é we are = noi siamo they are = loro sono you all are= voi siete ---Past Tense (Imperfect): I was = io ero you were = tu eri he/she/it was = lui/lei era we were = noi eravamo you all were= voi eravate they were = loro erano
AVERE ---Present Tense: I have = io ho you have = tu hai he/she/it has = lui/lei ha we have = noi abbiamo you all have= voi avete ---Past Tense (Imperfect): I had = io avevo you had = tu avevi he/she/it had = lui/lei aveva we had = noi avevamo you all had = voi avevate they had = loro avevano
they have = loro hanno CONOSCERE (know or be acquainted with) ---Present Tense: I know = io conosco you know = tu conosci he/she/it knows = lui/lei conosce we know = noi conosciamo you all know= voi conoscete they know = loro conoscono FARE ---Present Tense: I make = io faccio you make = tu fai he/she/it makes = lui/lei fa we make = noi facciamo you all make= voi fate they make = loro fanno ---Past Tense (Imperfect): I made = io facevo you made = tu facevi he/she/it made = lui/lei faceva we made = noi facevamo you all made = voi facevate they made = loro facevano ---Past Tense (Imperfect): I knew = io sapevo you knew = tu sapevi he/she/it knew = lui/lei sapeva we knew = npi sapevamo you all knew= voi sapevate they knew = loro sapevano
Commands The imperative tense is used for commands. This tense is formed using these rules:
1. The second person singular and plural (tu and voi) forms are the same as their present indicative forms, with the exception of -are verbs, which add -a to the root. 2. The formal lei/loro form take the present subjunctive form. 3. The first person plural (noi) form also uses the present indicative form. Here are some examples:
tu (you) lei (he/she) noi (we) aprire cantare vendere apri canta vendi apra canti venda
apriam cantiamovendiamo o loro (they) aprano cantino vendano To form negative commands place non before the Infinitive form: Don't sleep! => (tu) Non dormire! Don't sing! => Non cantare!
The imperative mood is the mood of command in Italian. There is one tense form. The imperative in Italian is limited to five personal forms in the affirmative, and five personal forms in the negative. The imperative lacks a "first person singular" form.
The main parts of any imperative are the second person singular and plural.
For the first conjugation in are, the affirmative second person singular is identical to the third person singular form of the present tense.
For the second and third conjugations in ere/ire, the affirmative second person singular is identical to the second person singular form of the present tense.
For all conjugations (are/ere/ire), the second person plural is identical to the second person plural form of the present tense.
"to sing" (are) 2sg tu "to see" (ére) canta! "to put" (ere) vedi! "to finish" (ire w/ isc) metti! "to sleep" (ire w/o isc) finisci!
The negative imperative in the second person has the following quirk: the second person singular is the word non before the infinitive. The plural is non before the plural affirmative:
"to sing" (are) 2sg tu "to see" (ére) non cantare! "to put" (ere) non vedere! "to finish" (ire w/ isc) non mettere! "to sleep" (ire w/o isc) non finire! non dormire!
The "formal" imperative, used to make more polite commands, in the singular is identical to the third person singular form of the present subjunctive:
"to sing" (are) 2sg.form Lei "to see" (ére) canti! "to put" (ere) veda! "to finish" (ire w/ isc) metta! "to sleep" (ire w/o isc) finisca! dorma!
The plural form, which is not often used (it is considered too formal), is the third person plural of the present subjunctive:
"to sing" (are) 2pl.form Loro "to see" (ére) cantino! "to put" (ere) vedano! "to finish" (ire w/ isc) mettano! "to sleep" (ire w/o isc) finiscano! dormano!
The negative of the polite forms adds non before the respective forms: (Lei) non canti!, (Loro) non cantino!
Even though there is no first person singular, there is a first person plural, as well as the third person (singular and plural). These forms are identical to the corresponding forms of the present subjunctive
"to sing" (are) 3sg lei "to see" (ére) canti! "to put" (ere) veda! "to finish" (ire w/ isc) metta! "to sleep" (ire w/o isc) finisca! dorma!
1pl noi 3pl loro
These forms translate as "Let him ..., let's ..., let them ...": Cantiamo questa canzone! Let's sing this song! Scrivino a loro genitori! Let them write to their parents! Mangi tutti i maccheroni! Let him eat all the macaroni!
The negative is formed by adding non before the affirmative forms: non canti!, non vediamo!, non dormano!.
Participles in Italian are non-finite forms that are usually used with auxiliary verbs, and sometimes as nominal modifiers (i.e. adjectives). There are two types of participles: present and past.
The present participle ends in -ante for are verbs or -ente for ere/ire verbs, and is attached to the verb stem: cantante (singing) vedente (seeing) mettente (setting) finente (ending) dormente (sleeping) Present participle forms are not used with verb nowadays; they are mainly used as adjectives.
The past participle is slightly harder to form as, along with the preterite, this has the most irregular forms of any verb form. Verbs in are and ire have the most number of regular forms. The basic ending is -ato or -ito: <p> cantato (sung) finito (ended, finished) dormito (slept) Verbs in ere have the most number of irregular forms. However, there is a regular affix for verbs of this class, in -uto: <p> avuto (had) [avere] saputo (known) [sapere] tenuto (held) [tenere] Many irregular forms have endings in -to, -so, or -sso: <p> nato (born) [nascere] discusso (discussed) [discutere] messo (set) [mettere] preso (taken) [prendere] chiuso (closed) [chiudere] cotto (cooked) [cuocere] scelto (chosen) [scegliere] visto (seen) [vedere] vissuto (lived) [vivere] etc... Many verbs with irregular forms are also irregular in other ways (see *Irregular Verbs).
Use of the Past Participle
The past participle is used mainly with auxiliary verbs in forming compound tenses: <p> è nato (he was born) [passato prossimo] sono discusso [per] (I am discussed [by]) [passive] ebbero messo (they had set) [trapassato remoto] ho preso (I took) [passato prossimo] si sarà chiuso (it will be closed) [reflexive future passive] etc... The past participle can also be used as an adjective: <p> bottiglia aperta (open bottle) [aprire] libro trovato (found book) [trovare] nemici conosciuti (known enemies) [conoscere] The past participle can change forms according to gender and number, whether used with an auxiiary or as an adjective: <p> "sung"
cantato masc. sing. cantata fem. sing. cantati masc. sing. cantate fem. sing. <p> "closed" chiuso masc. sing. chiusa fem. sing. chiusi masc. sing. chiuse fem. sing.
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