The Italian Present Tense

Weilà! I hope you are doing good today! This blog post correlates to my video Learn Italian Ep.04 - The Present Tense | Grammar Basics 1 in which I go over the Italian pronouns and conjugating verbs in the Present Tense.

So to begin, here are the Italian Pronouns:

io = I

tu = you (informal)

lui/lei (egli/ella) = he/she

noi = we

voi = you all/you guys (plural you)

loro = they

Just to note a few things:

  • Egli & Ella mean he & she respectively, however they are never used in Spoken Italian. You may only come across these two pronouns in Italian literature.
  • Voi is the plural pronoun for you. Now what does that mean? Basically, if I'm talking to "all of you" or "you guys," I will use "voi" in Italian. The pronoun tu is used for just when you're talking to 1 person and you're addressing them as you.
  • Lei means she, but when written with a capital L, it is the Formal You in Italian. When you speak, obviously you can't speak in capital letters, but if you call someone Lei, be it a man or a woman, you are being formal with them. I'll get into this in a different blog post because it requires more explanation.

So let's move on!

In Italian there are 3 types of verbs: ARE, ERE, & IRE verbs. How do you know whether a verb is an ARE, ERE, or IRE verb? Just check out its last 3 letters, they'll be ARE, ERE, or IRE. Depending on what a verb ends in, that will tell you how it needs to get conjugated, depending on the verb tense of course.

Mangiare is a ARE verb because its last 3 letters are ARE. Mangiare means "To Eat" in English.

To conjugate any verb, we eliminate the last three letters of the verb, in this case ARE, and then we plug in a new ending depending on the pronoun. For each pronoun there is a different verb ending.

Here are the pronouns with their correlating verb endings for all Regular ARE verbs:

io - o          noi - iamo

tu - i           voi - ate

lui/lei - a     loro - ano

(The reason for separating the Pronouns into 2 columns is to distinguish between the Singular Pronouns and the Plural Pronouns. When I was studying Italian, this is the way I always wrote down the verb endings and conjugations, maybe it will help you guys to see it written out this way too).

Regular verbs are verbs that follow this cookie-cutter way of conjugating. That means that no matter the verb, as long as it ends in ARE, we just use these endings I provided above and BOOM, you've just conjugated!

So let's see how all this actually works, let's conjugate MANGIARE:

I'll give you a formula: MANGIARE - ARE = MANGI. All I did was eliminate the last three letters of the verb, the ARE.

MANGI is now our ROOT or our STEM, let's call it. And now we just plug in the verb endings above to say "I eat, you eat, he/she eats," and etc.

Here's another formula using the root of the verb and a verb ending from above. I'm going to use the verb ending O that comes from the pronoun IO which means I. That way I can say I EAT:

MANGI + O = MANGIO.

So we now have MANGIO which means I EAT.

I'm now going to show you the whole verb conjugated:


To better help you to see the pattern, here are the Pronouns and the Regular ARE verb endings again:

io - o          noi - iamo

tu - i           voi - ate

lui/lei - a     loro - ano


Mangiare = To Eat

io mangio = I eat

tu mangi = you eat*

lui/lei mangia = he/she eats

noi mangiamo = we eat

voi mangiate = you all eat

loro mangiano = they eat

*because there's already an 'i' at the end of Mangiare once you eliminate the ARE, you don't add in another 'i'.

Let's conjugate another ARE verb just to reinforce what we just did. Let's conjugate PARLARE which means TO TALK:

Parlare = To Talk

io parlo = I talk

tu parli = you talk

lui/lei parla = he/she talks

noi parliamo = we talk

voi parlate = you all talk

loro parlano = they talk

 

Is it starting to make sense? Remember, all we're doing is eliminating the last three letters of each verb, the ARE, and we're plugging in the endings that correlate with the pronouns.

You see, in English as we do is keep the verb relatively the same and we just change the pronoun. In Italian, you change the pronoun and the verb. You can see what I mean by the translations in English of the Italian verbs that we conjugated above.

Now let's check out ERE and IRE verbs. They're relatively similar to how we conjugate ARE verbs. Now that we have the basics down of what pronouns are and how when you conjugate you're just eliminating the last 3 letters of a verb and swapping in new verb endings depending on the pronoun, this should be a bit easier ;)

Let's first see ERE Regular verb endings:

io - o           noi - iamo

tu - i            voi - ete

lui/lei - e     loro - ono

As you can see, the verb endings are very similar to the ARE verb endings, only some things changed. Its going to be this way for IRE verb endings too.

So let's conjugate the Regular ERE verb, CHIEDERE which means TO ASK:
 

Chiedere = To ask

io chiedo = I ask                    

tu chiedi = you ask                

lui/lei chiede = he/she asks    

noi chiediamo = we ask

voi chiedete = you all ask

loro chiedono = they ask

 

Here are the IRE Regular verb endings:

io - o            noi - iamo

tu - i             voi - ite

lui/lei - e      loro - ono

 

Let's now conjugate the IRE verb DORMIRE, which means TO SLEEP:

Dormire = To Sleep

io dormo = I sleep

tu dormi = you sleep

lui/lei dorme = he/she sleeps

noi dormiamo = we sleep

voi dormite = you all sleep

loro dormono = they sleep

And violà! You've successfully learned the Italian Pronouns and how to conjugate verbs in the Present Tense! You should give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done!

Now, as this all may be very new for you, I suggest taking your time with this. Watch the video that correlates with this blog post a couple of times. And the beauty of a video is that you can pause, rewind, and fast forward as much as you like. I'm sure you'll get this down after checking out the video and taking a look at this blog post a couple of times. As with everything, practice makes perfect!


Best of luck to you, and when you feel you're ready to move on, check out the other videos in my Grammar Basics and Learn Italian Series! I'll put all the links down below.

Video that correlates with this post, Grammar Basics 1:

 

Playlist:

Learn Italian Videos In Chronological Order

 

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Tom