Appendix:Italian verbs

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Main category: Italian verbs

Italian verb conjugation is one of the most complex areas of Italian grammar for native English speakers due to the relatively high degree of inflection.

Italian verb conjugations are separated into four finite moods (indicative, conditional, subjunctive, and imperative) and a few non-finite forms.

These groupings are similar to the tripartite system found in Portuguese (-ar, -er, -ir), French (-er, -ir, -re), Spanish (-ar, -er, -ir) and other Romance languages.

Non-finite forms[edit]

Each verb has a present infinitive, a past infinitive, a present gerund, a past gerund (functionally quite different from the gerund of English grammar), a present participle and a passive perfect participle (past participle) that can further inflect for number and gender.

  • Present infinitive: parlare (to speak)
  • Past infinitive: avere parlato (to have spoken)
  • Present gerund: parlando (speaking)
  • Past gerund: avendo parlato (having spoken)
  • Present participle: parlante (speaking; speaker)
  • Past participle: parlato (spoken)

Finite forms[edit]

The finite forms are grouped into seven distinct “simple tenses” (in a general sense of “tense” that refers to a specific time and a specific mood, although most modern grammars consider many of these forms as products of a tense and an aspect) and seven “perfect tenses”. The perfect tenses use the auxiliary verbs avere or essere along with the past participle. Other compound forms such as the progressive tenses are not considered to be an official conjugation tense of the verb, but a perifrase periphrasis.

Pronouns[edit]

Each of the finite “tenses” is conjugated according to the person and number of the subject. Nominative forms of Italian pronouns often serve as the subject of such verbs. Frequently, though, the form of the verb makes the person and number of the subject clear. Thus, the subject pronoun is usually dropped altogether, except when used for emphasis or contrast:

  • Implied: Sono italiano. ([I] am Italian.)
  • Emphasized: Lui è Portoghese, mentre io sono italiano. (He is from Portugal, while I am from Italy.)

For most native speakers, the unnecessary use of these pronouns often sounds extremely foreign, so something like "Io mi svegliai, io mi lavai i denti ed io mi vestii" (I woke up, I brushed my teeth and I got dressed) would sound extremely weird in most dialects, where the first "io" would probably be omitted in most cases, and the other two would never be used unless a comical effect is sought.

However, there are certain contrastive cases where the pronouns are practically compulsory. For example, when listing or introducing several people, each one requires a pronoun (or other demonstrative) to separate this person from the rest. Thus, in a sentence like "Ella si chiama Maria; io (mi chiamo) Giuseppe" (Her name is Maria; mine (name) is Giuseppe), that "io" cannot be omitted unless the topic is being suddenly changed.

Pronouns cannot be omitted also when referring to present singular subjunctive forms or to imperfect singular subjunctive forms, except the third-person singular imperfect subjunctive form.

Indicative[edit]

The indicative mood has simple tense forms and corresponding perfect and continuous forms, as in English. However, in traditional Italian grammar, continuous forms are ignored, and only the simple tenses and their perfect versions are considered as tenses.

Simple tenses[edit]

The Italian indicative mood has four “simple tenses”. As opposed to English, which has just one past tense form, Italian distinguishes between the imperfect and the past aspect. The imperfect describes an event in the past, the past historic describes a context or event in a far past. Within traditional Italian grammar, the imperfect and past historic forms are considered separate tenses, with aspect controlled by auxiliary verbs.

Perfect forms[edit]

Italian perfect tenses are always formed with avere ((auxilliary verb) to have) followed by the masculine singular form of the passive perfect participle or essere ((auxilliary verb) to be) followed by a form of the passive perfect participle:

  • Present perfect or near past (passato prossimo), e.g.: ho parlato (I have spoken)
  • Pluperfect, plusquamperfect, preterpluperfect or past perfect (trapassato prossimo or piuccheperfetto), e.g.: avevo parlato (I had spoken)
  • Past historic perfect or past anterior (trapassato remoto), e.g.: ebbi parlato (I had spoken (just before or after an other event))
  • Future perfect (futuro anteriore), e.g.: avrò parlato (I shall/will have spoken)

Continuous forms[edit]

Similar to English, Italian uses the copula—stare (to stay)—or—essere (to be)—with the gerund to express continuous activity:

Note: in the continuous forms the imperfect and the past are merged in one tense.

The distinction between habitual actions and current activity is less strict in Italian than in English:

  • parlo (I speak) (a habit or a current activity)
  • sto parlando (I am speaking) (stressing the current activity)

Conditional[edit]

The conditional mood only a simple tense the corresponding perfect and the corresponding continuous. However, in traditional Italian grammar, continuous form is ignored, and only the simple tense and its perfect version are considered as tenses.

Subjunctive[edit]

The subjunctive mood is most commonly used to express the speaker’s (or writer's) opinion, wish, doubt, emotion, or judgement about the unlikelihood of a hypothetical event. There are, however, plenty of other situations when it is used.

Simple tenses[edit]

  • Present subjunctive (presente), e.g.: Loro vogliono che io parli (They want me to speak)
  • Imperfect subjunctive (imperfetto) e.g.: Se io parlassi (If I spoke)

Perfect forms[edit]

Continuous forms[edit]

Note: in the continuous forms the present and the impefect are merged in one tense.

Imperative[edit]

Strictly speaking, Italian only has imperative forms for the second-person (singular and plural). For all other persons, the corresponding subjunctive forms are used instead. The imperative mood has 5 persons:

  1. Second-person singular
    • Positive: -are verbs: same as third-person singular present indicative; -ere or -ire verbs: same as second-person singular present indicative.
    • Negative: non + infinitive
  2. Third-person singular: same as third-person singular present subjunctive
  3. First-person plural: same as first-person plural present subjunctive (= first-person plural present indicative)
  4. Second-person plural: same as second-person plural present indicative
  5. Third-person plural: same as third-person plural present subjunctive

Positive[edit]

  • Parla! — “Speak!” (familiar singular, corresponding to tu)
  • Parli! — “Speak!” (formal singular, corresponding to lei)
  • Parliamo! — “Let us speak!” (corresponding to noi)
  • Parlate! — “Speak!” (second plural, corresponding to voi)
  • Parlino! — “Speak!” (third plural used as formal second singular corresponding to loro; rare)

Negative[edit]

  • Non parlare! — “Do not speak!” (familiar singular, corresponding to tu)
  • Non parli! — “Do not speak!” (formal singular, corresponding to lei)
  • Non parliamo! — “Let us not speak!” (corresponding to noi)
  • Non parlate! — “Do not speak!” (second plural corresponding to voi)
  • Non parlino! — “Do not speak!” (third plural corresponding to loro; rare)

Object pronouns[edit]

The object pronoun can be placed after the infinitive, gerund, and second-person singular imperative (with some verbs the imperative after the verb becomes its enclitic form (a type of suffix, however, not all Italian speakers consider enclitic forms as suffixes), or before any form. Exceptions are made in poetry for scansion. Pronouns are agglutinative, with the following phonetic modifications:

Examples[edit]

Most Italian verbs fall into one of three regular conjugations, based on the second-last vowel of the infinitive form, which always ends in -are (first conjugation), -ere (second conjugation), or -ire (third conjugation).

The conjugation of some irregular verbs for etymological reasons pertain to an unexpected group due to the ending of the Latin word from which are inherited or derived (i.e.: the verb fare ends by -are, but is considered of second irregular conjugation because it comes from the latin facere), there are also three subgroups (with common roots) of verbs which ends by -arre (i.e.: trarre, root: "tr(a)-"), -orre (i.e.: porre, root: "p(on)-") or -urre (i.e.: tradurre, root: "d(uc)-") that for etymological reasons are considered of second irregular conjugation because they comes from latin verbs with their present active infinitive forms ending by -ere.

Verbs ending in -ere or -ire follow the same conjugation patterns and -ere verbs are far more common. Like English, some of the most common verbs are irregular (e.g. porre, "to put, place") but most are predictable.

The verbs avere (to have) and essere (to be), which are auxiliary verbs, are considered officially as belonging to a "proper conjugation", although they follow a common pattern of -ere irregular verb.

The following three conjugation tables illustrate the patterns used by regular Italian verbs.

Some uncommon Italian verbs are defective (i.e. the verbs ire (literary) and gire, both obsolete synonyms, now regional, of the verb andare (to go)).

Regular verbs ending in -are[edit]

Following is the conjugation of the regular intransitive -are verb parlare (to speak):

Regular verbs ending in -ere[edit]

Following is the conjugation of the regular transitive -ere verb ricevere (to receive):

Regular verbs ending in -ire[edit]

Following is the conjugation of the regular intransitive -ire verb dormire (to sleep):

Notes[edit]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 1.24 1.25 1.26 1.27 1.28 1.29 1.30 1.31 1.32 1.33 1.34 1.35 1.36 1.37 1.38 1.39 1.40 1.41 1.42 1.43 1.44 1.45 1.46 1.47 1.48 1.49 1.50 1.51 1.52 1.53 1.54 1.55 1.56 1.57 1.58 1.59 the third feminine singular person lei, the second plural person voi and (rare) the third plural persons loro are used in polite speech also referring to a second-person singular subject