Verbs (verbi) are the core of each possible sentence in speech, as they express whatever action is being carried out and whatever is being talked about in the phrase.
The Italian language is very rich in term of varieties of verbs, embedded with a large number of many different moods and tenses.
Mastering them mught be quite a challenging experience - nevertheless, it is definitely worth the effort.
How do verbs in Italian work?
For any English speaker willing to get familiar with the verbs in the Italian language, it is paramount to learn two very important aspects:
- in contrast with English, there is a different verb declension for each person, therefore making it possible for up to six different verbal forms occurring in a single tense;
- consequently, it is not obligatory to write the personal pronoun before each verb.
If you are confused, please have a look at the following table for a more practical explanation:
|1st sing.||I run||corro|
|2nd sing.||you run||corri|
|3rd sing.||he runs||corre|
|1st plur.||we run||corriamo|
|2nd plur.||you run||correte|
|3rd plur.||they run||corrono|
As you may notice, whereas all declensed form of "run" are equal to the infinitive form of the verb (except for the 3rd person singular), in Italian it is different for each person.
Therefore, even if it is not wrong to say io corro, tu corri, lui corre (and so on), it is possible to omit the pronoun since the verb itself implies who is performing the action!
Characteristics of the Italian verbs
It is fundamental to be able to recognize the two main elements of an Italian verb - that is, the radice (lit. "root") and desinenza ("ending").
In the above mentioned verb corriamo ("we run"), the radice is corr- and the desinenza is -iamo. Now, for a bit of explanation:
- as radice we consider the portion of verb which stems directly from the infinite form and stays unchanged in every tense. It is thus the fixed part of the verb;
- as desinenza we consider the ending of the verb, which changes according to both the tense and the person. Therefore it is the variable part of the verb.
So essentially, learning how to conjugate verbs in Italian is a matter of learning how desinenze work with each different kind of tenses.
Italian moods and tenses
All the Italian verb conjugations may be subdivided in several different categories.
The main category is called modo ("mood"), expressing the way the action described by the verb is carried out.
Each modo has one or more tempo ("tense") which expresses the timeframe of the verb (be it present, past or future).
Italian verb conjugation
One last paragraph to introduce the verb conjugation in Italian.
- conjugation, verbs ending in -are: cantare, parlare, trovare;
- conjugation, verbs ending in -ere: chiedere, ridere, scrivere;
- conjugation, verbs ending in -ire: dormire, pulire, servire.
Each one of these classes of verbs conjugates in its own way.
Have a look at some examples of conjugations (present tense) for each one of those classes:
|parlare (I)||ridere (II)||dormire (III)|
All the desinenze marked in bold show the differences induced by each class of conjugation.
As you progress through more complex tenses, you will find out that these differences grow much bigger along the way.
Before you start learning the Italian verbs thoroughly, we suggest you try out the first (audio) exercise on the Italian verb conjugations!
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