Italian Simple Present Tense

Present Tense The present tense in Italian is essentially the same as in English. The only difference is that it can also be used as the present continuous, so “I do” and “I am doing” are conjugated the same way. The English present continuous, however, is expressed in a better way by a more complex construction with the verb “stare” and the “gerundio” form (the English -ing form). Also note that the subject pronoun can be dropped from a conjugated verb because the ending of the conjugated verb communicates the subject of the action. Present Tense Conjugations 1, 2, & 3 To conjugate regular verbs follow this method: 1) Drop the ending from the infinitive to give the stem. Exx. lavorare (to work) → lavor- 2) Add the correct ending: Exx. lavorare → lavor- → lavoro

person -are -ere -ire
io -o -o -o
tu -i -i -i
lui/lei -a -e -e
noi -iamo -iamo -iamo
voi -ate -ete -ite
loro -ano -ono -ono
So, for example, parlare (to speak) would be conjugated as follows:
(Io) parlo (“I speak / am speaking”)
(Tu) parli (“You speak / you are speaking”)
(Egli/ella/Lei/Lui) parla
(Noi) parliamo
(Voi) parlate
(Essi/Loro) parlano
Note: Egli, ella, and essi are older versions of lui, lei, and loro, respectively, but are still used occasionally today.

3rd Conjugation Verbs taking “-isc-”

Many 3rd Conjugation verbs add the letters -isc- between the stem and the ending for the present tense. This is constructed as follows: finire(to end/finish)
person ire
io -isco io finisco
tu -isci tu finisci
lui/lei/Lei -isce lui/lei/Lei finisce
noi -iamo noi finiamo
voi -ite voi finite
loro -iscono loro finiscono
Remember that, when followed by i or e, -sc- sounds like the English ‘shake’ (/ʃ/) (; if a, o or u follow, it will be read as “sk” (/sk/). In Italian, the present indicative tense works much like the present tense in English. To conjugate Italian verbs in the present indicative tense, you first need to understand that Italian infinitives (the “to” form, as in to die, to sleep, to dream) end in one of three ways — and that you conjugate the verb based on that ending:
  • Verbs that end in -are

  • Verbs that end in -ere

  • Verbs that end in -ire

The endings of regular verbs don’t change. Master the endings for each mode and tense, and you’re good to go! Keep in mind that verbs agree with subjects and subject pronouns (io, tu, lui/lei/Lei, noi, voi, loro/Loro):
Common Regular Italian Verbs in the Present Indicative Tense
Subject Pronoun Lavorare (to work) Prendere (to take; to order) Partire (to leave) Capire (to understand)
io lavoro prendo parto capisco
tu lavori prendi parti capisci
lui/lei/Lei lavora prende parte capisce
noi lavoriamo prendiamo partiamo capiamo
voi lavorate prendete partite capite
loro/Loro lavorano prendono partono capiscono

Unfortunately, there are also irregular verbs, which you have to memorize. You’ll find that the more you practice them, the easier it is to use them in conversation:

Common Irregular Italian Verbs in the Present Indicative Tense
Subject Pronoun Andare (to go) Bere (to drink) Dare (to give) Fare (to do) Stare (to stay) Venire (to come)
io vado bevo do faccio sto vengo
tu vai bevi dai fai stai vieni
lui/lei/Lei va beve fa sta viene
noi andiamo beviamo diamo facciamo stiamo veniamo
voi andate bevete date fate state venite
loro/Loro vanno bevono danno fanno stanno vengono

The Passato Prossimo

The Passato Prossimo is one of the most commonly used past tenses in Italian. It is a compound tense, therefore the auxiliary verbs avere and essere are used in conjugation. Note that the following conjugations are both irregular. Avere- to have
Io ho
Tu hai
Lui/Lei ha
Noi abbiamo
Voi avete
Loro hanno
Essere- to be
Io sono
Tu sei
Lui/Lei è
Noi siamo
Voi siete
Loro sono
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 second-conjugation verb, take a look the following table.


I (io) scrivo (I write) (noi) scriviamo (we write)
II (tu) scrivi (you write, familiar) (voi) scrivete (you write, familiar)
III (Lei) scrive (you write, formal) (Loro) scrivono (you write, formal)
(lui/lei) scrive (he/she writes) (loro) scrivono (they write)
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.


accendere to light, ignite; turn/switch on
battere to beat, to hit
cadere to fall
chiedere to ask
conoscere to know
correre to run
credere to believe
descrivere to describe
eleggere to elect
leggere to read
mettere to put, to place
mordere to bite
nascere to be born
offendere to offend
perdere to lose
rimanere to remain, to stay
ridere to laugh
rompere to break
vendere to sell
sopravvivere 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-deh-ray).

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