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)|
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)|
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)|
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 QuizletHere'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.
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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