• Italian grammar
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  • 1 Italian alphabet and pronunciation (letters,...)
  • 2 Function of Italian words (subject, object)
  • 3 Italian articles (the/a, an) [0/16]
  • 4 Italian numbers (cardinal, ordinal) [0/7]
  • 5 Italian nouns [0/13]
  • 6 Italian adjectives [0/17]
  • 6.1 Adjective agreement in Italian (endings) [0/2]
  • 6.2 Qualifying adjectives in Italian [0/3]
  • 6.3 Possessive adjectives in Italian (my, your, his/her...) [0/3]
  • 6.4 Demonstrative adjectives in Italian (this, that) [0/2]
  • 6.5 Indefinite adjectives in Italian (some, any...) [0/3]
  • 6.6 Numeral adjectives in Italian (one, the first...) [0/2]
  • 6.7 Interrogative adjectives in Italian (what/which,...) [0/2]
  • 6.8 List of adjectives in Italian (A-Z)
  • 7 Italian pronouns [0/28]
  • 7.1 Personal pronouns in Italian [0/6]
  • 7.2 Relative pronouns (who, that, which, ...) in Italian [0/4]
  • 7.3 Possessive pronouns in Italian (mine, yours, his, ...) [0/4]
  • 7.4 Demonstrative pronouns (this, that, ...) in Italian [0/3]
  • 7.5 Indefinite pronouns (few, some, many, ...) in Italian [0/4]
  • 7.6 Interrogative pronouns (who, what, which) in Italian [0/4]
  • 7.7 Reflexive pronouns in Italian (myself, each other) [0/3]
  • 8 Italian prepositions [0/25]
  • 8.1 Italian simple prepositions [0/20]
  • 8.1.1 Italian preposition "di" (of, from,...) [0/1]
  • 8.1.2 Italian preposition "a" (at, to,...) [0/1]
  • 8.1.3 Italian preposition "da" (by, from,...) [0/1]
  • 8.1.4 Italian preposition "in" (in, to,...) [0/1]
  • 8.1.5 Italian preposition "con" (with) [0/1]
  • 8.1.6 Italian preposition "su" (on, over,...) [0/1]
  • 8.1.7 Italian preposition "per" (for, to,...) [0/1]
  • 8.1.8 Italian prepositions "tra/ fra" (between, among,...) [0/1]
  • 8.1.9 "On" in Italian (su)
  • 8.1.10 "To" in Italian [0/4]
  • 8.1.11 Italian prepositions of place and time [0/3]
  • 8.1.12 Simple preposition chart - English to Italian [0/5]
  • 8.2 Italian articulated prepositions [0/3]
  • 8.3 Expressions with Italian prepositions [0/2]
  • 9 Italian adverbs [0/24]
  • 9.1 Italian adverbs of manner (good, bad, so) [0/4]
  • 9.2 Italian adverbs of frequency and time (always, now) [0/4]
  • 9.3 Italian adverbs of place (here, there) [0/4]
  • 9.4 Italian adverbs of quantity (more, nothing, enough) [0/3]
  • 9.5 Italian affirmation/negation adverbs (Yes, No, Neither) [0/4]
  • 9.6 Italian adverbs of doubt, interrogative/exclamative [0/5]
  • 10 Italian comparatives, superlatives (adjectives/adverbs) [0/7]
  • 11 Italian tenses and verb conjugation [0/17]
  • 11.1 Present tense in Italian (presente indicativo) [0/2]
  • 11.2 Past tenses in Italian [0/11]
  • 11.3 Future tenses in Italian [0/4]
  • 12 Italian verbs [0/94]
  • 12.1 Functions and classification of Italian verbs [0/1]
  • 12.2 Transitive and intransitive verbs in Italian [0/2]
  • 12.3 Active voice and passive voice in Italian [0/2]
  • 12.4 Italian regular verbs [0/30]
  • 12.4.1 First conjugation in Italian (verbs ending in -are) [0/16]
  • Fill in the blanks with the correct form of the first conjugation (Score -/-)Free
  • 12.4.1.1 Conjugation of abitare (to dwell) in Italian [0/2]
  • 12.4.1.2 Conjugation of amare (to love) in Italian [0/2]
  • 12.4.1.3 Conjugation of giocare (to play) in Italian [0/2]
  • 12.4.1.4 Conjugation of lavorare (to work) in Italian [0/2]
  • 12.4.1.5 Conjugation of mangiare (to eat) in Italian [0/2]
  • 12.4.1.6 Conjugation of parlare (to speak) in Italian [0/2]
  • 12.4.1.7 Conjugation of studiare (to study) in Italian [0/2]
  • 12.4.1.8 Conjugation of pagare (to pay) in Italian [0/1]
  • 12.4.2 Second conjugation in Italian (verbs ending in -ere) [0/6]
  • 12.4.3 Third conjugation in Italian (verbs ending in -ire) [0/8]
  • 12.5 Italian irregular verbs [0/38]
  • 12.5.1 Conjugation of irregular verbs ending in -are [0/8]
  • 12.5.2 Conjugation of irregular verbs ending in -ere [0/24]
  • 12.5.2.1 Conjugation of sapere (to know) in Italian [0/2]
  • 12.5.2.2 Conjugation of leggere (to read) in Italian [0/2]
  • 12.5.2.3 Conjugation of mettere (to put) in Italian [0/2]
  • 12.5.2.4 Conjugation of piacere (to like) in Italian [0/2]
  • 12.5.2.5 Conjugation of rimanere (to remain, to stay) in Italian [0/2]
  • 12.5.2.6 Conjugation of conoscere (to know) in Italian [0/2]
  • 12.5.2.7 Conjugation of scrivere (to write) in Italian [0/2]
  • 12.5.2.8 Conjugation of vivere (to live) in Italian [0/2]
  • 12.5.2.9 Conjugation of chiudere (to close, to shut) in Italian [0/2]
  • 12.5.2.10 Conjugation of prendere (to take, to catch) in Italian [0/2]
  • 12.5.2.11 Conjugation of bere (to drink) in Italian [0/2]
  • 12.5.2.12 Conjugation of tenere (to hold, to keep) in Italian [0/2]
  • 12.5.3 Conjugation of irregular verbs ending in -ire [0/6]
  • 12.6 Italian modal verbs [0/6]
  • 12.7 Italian reflexive verbs [0/2]
  • 12.8 Verbi sovrabbondanti in Italian [0/2]
  • 12.9 Verbi difettivi in Italian [0/2]
  • 12.10 Verbi fraseologici in Italian [0/2]
  • 12.11 Verbi impersonali in Italian [0/2]
  • 12.12 Auxiliary verbs (essere, avere) in Italian [0/5]
  • 12.13 Verbs and prepositions in Italian
  • 13 Italian moods
  • 14 Indicative mood in Italian
  • 15 Subjunctive in Italian [0/9]
  • 16 Conditional in Italian [0/4]
  • 17 Infinitive in Italian [0/1]
  • 18 Imperative in Italian [0/3]
  • 19 Gerund in Italian [0/3]
  • 20 Present participle in Italian [0/1]
  • 21 Past participle in Italian [0/1]
  • 22 Italian sentences [0/15]
  • 22.1 Italian sentence structure (word order) [0/4]
  • 22.2 Structure of complex Italian sentences [0/4]
  • 22.3 Not in Italian (negation, negative sentences) [0/3]
  • 22.4 Italian interrogative sentences (questions) [0/1]
  • 22.5 Italian conditional sentences (if-clauses) [0/1]
  • 22.6 Italian passive sentences [0/1]
  • 22.7 Italian impersonal construction (Si impersonale) [0/1]
  • 23 Italian conjunctions [0/4]
  • Definition and usage of the imperfect tense in Italian (imperfetto)

    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.

    Example: 

    • Mentre nuotava, ha visto un pesce (While he was swimming, he saw a fish)
    • Luigi era un bambino molto timido (Luigi was a very shy child)

    When to use the imperfetto

    The imperfetto is also used in the following situations:

    1. to describe a habit in the past (imperfetto iterativo)
    2. to emphasise a continued action (imperfetto descrittivo)
    3. to narrate stories (imperfetto narrativo)
    4. to request something politely (imperfetto attenuativo)
      Example Translation
    Imperfetto iterativo
    • Giocava a carte tutte le sere
    • Mangiava sempre una mela prima di uscire di casa
    • He used to play cards every evening
    • He used to eat an apple before leaving the house
    Imperfetto descrittivo
    • Camminavo sotto il sole da ore
    • Correva sotto la pioggia da ore
    • I had been walking in the sun for hours
    • He had been running in the pouring rain for hours
    Imperfetto narrativo
    • Ero al mare e all'improvviso scoppiava un temporale
    • Entrava un tizio nel bar e iniziava a sparare
    • I was at the seaside and suddenly a storm broke out
    • A guy entered the pub and started shooting
    Imperfetto attenuativo
    • Volevo un po' d'acqua, per favore
    • Volevo chiederle una cosa
    • I just wanted some water, please
    • I just wanted to ask you something

     

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    Marker words that indicate the imperfetto

    The following words can help you to understand that you have to use the imperfetto.

    Example: 

    • Da piccolo andavo sempre a letto alle 21 (When I was a child I used to go to bed at 9 pm.)
    • Mentre camminavo, sono inciampato (While I was walking, I stumbled)
    Example Translation
    Mentre While
    Da piccolo/Quando ero piccolo When I was a child
    Quando avevo 5/10/20 anni When I was 5/10/20 years old
    Ieri Yesterday

     

    Conjugation of the imperfect tense in Italian

    The imperfetto is formed by adding certain endings to the root of the verb.

    Conjugation of regular verbs in the imperfect tense in Italian

    All regular verbs form the imperfetto based on the conjugation they belong to.

    Verbs that belong to the -are conjugation

    These verbs add the endings -avo, -avi, -ava, -avamo, -avate, - avano to the root of the verb.

    Example mangiare (to eat)

      Root Ending Example Translation
    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

     

    Verbs that belong to the -ere conjugation

    Such verbs add the endings -evo, -evi, -eva, -evamo, -evate, -evano to the verb root.

    Example scrivere (to write)

      Root Ending Example Translation
    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

     

    Verbs that belong to the -ire conjugation

    These verbs add the endings -ivo, -ivi, -iva, -ivamo, -ivate, -ivano to the verb root.

    Example mentire (to lie)

      Root Ending Example Translation
    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

     

    Conjugation of irregular verbs in the imperfect tense in Italian

    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)
    Io facevo dicevo bevevo
    Tu facevi dicevi bevevi
    Egli/Ella faceva diceva beveva
    Noi facevamo dicevamo bevevamo
    Voi facevate dicevate bevevate
    Essi/Esse facevano dicevano bevevano

     

    Auxiliary verbs: essere/avere

    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)
    Io ero avevo
    Tu eri avevi
    Egli/Ella era aveva
    Noi eravamo avevamo
    Voi eravate avevate
    Essi/Esse erano avevano

     

    Example:

    • Tu eri un bambino molto vivace (You were a lively child)​
    • Voi avevate tre giorni per portare a termine il vostro compito (You had three days to complete your task)

    Now why don't you test your knowledge on the imperfetto with our exercises!