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The imperfect tense (imperfetto) in Italian belongs to the indicative mood.Imperfetto refers to a continued action that lasted an indefinite time in the past.
The imperfetto is also used in the following situations:
The following words can help you to understand that you have to use the imperfetto.
|Da piccolo/Quando ero piccolo||When I was a child|
|Quando avevo 5/10/20 anni||When I was 5/10/20 years old|
The imperfetto is formed by adding certain endings to the root of the verb.
All regular verbs form the imperfetto based on the conjugation they belong to.
These verbs add the endings -avo, -avi, -ava, -avamo, -avate, - avano to the root of the verb.
Example mangiare (to eat)
|Io||Mangi||avo||Io mangiavo tre biscotti tutti i giorni||I used to eat three biscuits ever day|
|Tu||Mangi||avi||Tu mangiavi tre biscotti tutti i giorni||You used to eat three biscuits every day|
|Egli/Ella||Mangi||ava||Egli mangiava tre biscotti tutti i giorni||He used to eat three biscuits every day|
|Noi||Mangi||avamo||Noi mangiavamo tre biscotti tutti i giorni||We used to eat three biscuits every day|
|Voi||Mangi||avate||Voi mangiavate tre biscotti tutti i giorni||You used to eat three biscuits every day|
|Essi/Esse||Mangi||avano||Essi mangiavano tre biscotti tutti i giorni||They used to eat three biscuits every day|
Such verbs add the endings -evo, -evi, -eva, -evamo, -evate, -evano to the verb root.
Example scrivere (to write)
|Io||Scriv||evo||Io scrivevo una lettera||I wrote a letter|
|Tu||Scriv||evi||Tu scrivevi una lettera||You wrote a letter|
|Egli/Ella||Scriv||eva||Egli scriveva una lettera||He wrote a letter|
|Noi||Scriv||evamo||Noi scrivevamo una lettera||We wrote a letter|
|Voi||Scriv||evate||Voi scrivevate una lettera||You wrote a letter|
|Essi/Esse||Scriv||evano||Essi scrivevano una lettera||They wrote a letter|
These verbs add the endings -ivo, -ivi, -iva, -ivamo, -ivate, -ivano to the verb root.
Example mentire (to lie)
|Io||Ment||ivo||Da piccolo io mentivo sempre||When I was a child I always lied|
|Tu||Ment||ivi||Da piccolo tu mentivi sempre||When you were a child you always lied|
|Egli/Ella||Ment||iva||Da piccolo egli mentiva sempre||When he was a child he always lied|
|Noi||Ment||ivamo||Da piccoli noi mentivamo sempre||When we were children we always lied|
|Voi||Ment||ivate||Da piccoli voi mentivate sempre||When you were children you always lied|
|Essi/Esse||Ment||ivano||Da piccolo essi mentivano sempre||When they were children they always lied|
There are few irregular verbs in the imperfetto.
Since they do not follow particular grammatical rules, you have to study their conjugation by heart.
Here is a list of the main irregular verbs:
|Fare (to do)||Dire (to say)||Bere (to drink)|
Essere is an irregular verb in the imperfetto, while avere is a regular one.
Here you can find their conjugation:
|Essere (to be)||Avere (to have)|
Now why don't you test your knowledge on the imperfetto with our exercises!
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