To structure an Italian sentence correctly it's necessary to remember some basic rules, which we will soon go through in this lesson.
Remember that the structure of a sentence is never really fixed, but rather changeable according to the communicative intentions of the speaker.
If you want to avoid mistakes and sound like a native speaker, it's fundamental to read, listen, and also try to speak Italian as much as possible.
Word order in Italian
Let's analyze the main types of sentences used in everyday language.
The core of a basic affirmative sentence is composed of three parts, in this order:
Affirmative sentence: Subject + Verb + Object
Example: Io (Subject) + parlo (Verb) + con te (Object). (I talk with you)
If you want to add more elements to a simple sentence, it will be necessary to respect additional word order rules, which are analyzed here Italian sentence structure (word order) and here Structure of complex Italian sentences.
Negative sentences (Non)
To form simple negative sentences it's necessary to add Non (Not) before the verb you want to negate.
Negative sentence: Subject + Non + Verb + Object
- AFFIRMATIVE: Maria mangia il cioccolato. (Maria eats chocolate)
- NEGATIVE: Maria non mangia il cioccolato. (Maria doesn't eat chocolate)
To ask a question in Italian, you just need to use a rising intonation of your voice; the sentence structure remains unchanged.
Don't forget to add a question mark at the end of a written sentence.
Interrogative sentence: Same structure + Rising intonation + (Question mark)
- AFFIRMATIVE: Marco è andato in montagna ieri. (Marco went to the mountains yesterday)
- INTERROGATIVE: Marco è andato in montagna ieri? (Did Marco go to the mountains yesterday?)
If you want to ask a question with one of the so-called Wh-Questions, the sentence structure changes as follows:
Wh- Questions: Interrogative adjective/adverb/pronoun + Verb + Subject
To learn more, take a look at Italian interrogative sentences (questions).
Italian conditional sentences (if-clauses)
If-clauses are introduced by the adverb Se (If).
The If-Clause can precede or follow the main clause.
If-clauses (1): Se + Clause + Comma + Main clause
If-clauses (2): Main clause + Se + Clause
Italian active and passive voice
The subject carries out the action expressed by the verb.
Active form: Subject + Verb + Direct object
The action falls on the object, which is moved at the beginning of the sentence.
Passive form: Direct object + Verb + [Preposition Da + Subject/Agent]
The passive could also be built with Si and the following structure:
Passive with Si: Si + Verb + Rest of the sentence
To take a deeper look at this topic, go to Italian passive sentences.
Italian impersonal construction
These sentences don't have a specified subject, but are rather carried out by everyone, all.
Impersonal form: Si + Verb + Rest of the sentence
If you want to know more, go to Italian impersonal construction (Si impersonale).
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