Irregular present tense: Italian grammar lesson 8

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Summary

Dive into the quirky world of Italian irregular verbs! This guide breaks down the present tense, giving you the lowdown on how to chat like a local, express ongoing actions, and even sneak a peek into the future. 🇮🇹✨

  • Embrace the irregular: Accept that verbs like essere, avere, and stare won’t play by the rules. Memorization is your new BFF here. 🧠
  • Conjugation is key: Get cozy with conjugation tables. They’re like the secret map to navigating the maze of irregular verbs. 🗺️
  • Present tense power: The present tense in Italian is a multitasker. Use it for current actions, timeless truths, and habits. It’s the Swiss Army knife of tenses! 🔪
  • Future in disguise: Sneak into the future with the present tense. Add a pinch of context, and bam, you’re talking about tomorrow with today’s words. 🚀
  • Progressive for the “now”: Want to stress something happening right this second? Whip out the –ing form and you’re golden. ✨
  • Practice makes perfect: Don’t just read about these verbs, use them! Practice with a pal, chat with a native, or even talk to your pet in Italian. 🐶🗣️
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Italian Irregular Verbs: An Introduction

From day one, Italian learners encounter the irregular present tense.

For example, the irregular verb stare is used in the common greeting “Ciao, come stai?” (= Hello, how are you?), or other irregular verbs such as essere (= to be) and avere (= to have) appear in many useful sentences for beginners.

This is because in Italian, as in many other languages, the most frequently used verbs are often irregular.

This means that those verbs do not follow regular conjugation patterns, and their conjugation must be memorized.

All Italian verbs can be divided into three groups and are classified according to the ending of their infinitive forms into three groups (conjugations): – are, – ere, or – ire.

  • Common first conjugation irregular verbs (ending in – are) are: andare (= to go), dare (= to give), fare (= to do/make), and stare (= to stay).
  • Common second conjugation irregular verbs (ending in – ere) are: essere (=to be), avere (= to have), bere (= to drink), cadere (= to fall), sapere (= to know), and volere (= to want).
  • Common second conjugation irregular verbs (ending in – ire) are: dire (=to say), venire (= to come), uscire (= to go out), and salire (= to go up).

Irregular Present Tense: Conjugation

This table shows some of the present tenses of some first conjugation irregular verbs (ending in – are):

Irregular verbs – Present Tense (First Conjugation)
andare (to go) dare (to give) fare (to do/make) stare (to stay)
io vado do faccio sto
tu vai dai fai stai
lui/lei va fa sta
noi andiamo diamo facciamo stiamo
voi andate date fate state
loro vanno danno fanno stanno

This table shows some of the present tenses of some second conjugation irregular verbs (ending in – ere):

Irregular verbs – Present Tense (Second Conjugation)
essere (to be) avere (to have) sapere (to know) bere (to drink)
io sono ho so bevo
tu sei hai sai bevi
lui/lei è ha sa beve
noi siamo abbiamo sappiamo beviamo
voi siete avete sapete bevete
loro sono hanno sanno bevono

This table shows some of the present tenses of some third conjugation irregular verbs (ending in – ire):

Irregular verbs – Present Tense (Third Conjugation)
dire (to say) venire (to come) uscire (to go out) salire (to go up)
io dico vengo esco salgo
tu dici vieni esci sali
lui/lei dice viene esce sale
noi diciamo veniamo usciamo saliamo
voi dite venite uscite salite
loro dicono vengono escono salgono

Learn more about Italian verb conjugation.

Present Tense: Explained

In Italian, the present tense is used in the following cases:

  • To talk about ongoing actions happening in the present:

Lucia sta bene.

Lucia is doing well.

Hai tempo per un caffè?

Do you have time for a coffee?

  • To talk about general truths:

Le temperature salgono durante i mesi estivi.

The temperature goes up during the summer.

  • To talk about habits and recurrent actions still happening in the present:

Bevo un bicchiere di latte ogni sera dopo cena.

Every evening after dinner I drink a glass of milk.

Sometimes, the present tense is used to talk about the future, if the time of the action is clear from other elements in the sentence, meaning if other words refer to a future time or event.

Vieni a trovarmi la prossima settimana?

Will you come visit me next week?

If you want to stress out that an action or event is occurring right now, you can use the –ing form (progressive tense).

Practice with Quizlet

Here's a set of flashcards and quizzes to practice this grammar topic.

Irregular present tense: what you need to remember

Are you just starting to learn Italian? If so, then you have probably already encountered the irregular present tense, which is used in many common phrases.

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This is because the most frequently used verbs in Italian are often irregular, meaning they don’t follow regular conjugation patterns and must be memorized.

The present tense is used to talk about ongoing actions happening in the present, general truths, habits, and recurrent actions still happening in the present.

It can also sometimes be used to talk about the future if the time of the action is clear from other elements in the sentence.

As you can see, there is a lot to learn when it comes to conjugating Italian irregular verbs. However, with some practice and memorization, you’ll soon be able to use them like a pro!

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FAQs on Irregular present tense: Italian grammar lesson 8

What is irregular present tense?

Irregular verbs are verbs that, when conjugated, do not follow the normal conjugation structures, which typically only change the verb's ending. 

What are the irregular verbs in Italian?

Some of the most common Italian irregular verbs are: AVERE (to have) , ESSERE (to be), ANDARE (to go) , USCIRE (to leave, to go out) , VENIRE (to come) , FARE (to do, to make), DARE (to give), DIRE (to say, to tell)

How do you form the present tense in Italian?

The Italian present tense is produced by simply changing the verb stem's endings. After the traditional -are, -ere and -ire ends of the infinitive are removed, the verb's stem is what is left over.

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