Volevo, potevo, sapevo: Italian grammar lesson 106

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Imperfetto of potere Italian
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Volere, potere and dovere

There are some verbs that are special in Italian. This is because they can be followed by other verbs.

This is the case of volere (to want to), potere (can/to be able to), and dovere (to have to).

These verbs respectively express a wish, a possibility, or a necessity.

Here are some examples:

Vogliamo mangiare la pizza.

We want to eat pizza.

Possiamo venire con voi?

Can we come with you?

Dovete andare a casa.

You have to go home.

We can use these verbs to talk about the present, the past, and the future.

In today’s post, we’re going to learn about the imperfetto of volere, potere and sapere (like volevo, potevo, sapevo, etc.).

Imperfetto of volere potere dovere

What is the imperfetto?

The imperfetto is a tense that we use to talk about the past.

For instance, we use it to describe the way people, objects, or places were in the past, like in the example below.

La piazza prima era molto piccola.

Before, the square was very small.

We also use it to describe situations and factual conditions or to describe states of mind or health in the past.

Laura non stava molto bene ieri.

Laura wasn’t very well yesterday.

We can also use it to describe what used to happen, such as habits and repeated actions in the past.

Noi andavamo sempre in Messico d’estate.

We would always go to Mexico in the summer.

Finally, we use the imperfetto to express a continued and prolonged action that happened in the past.

Cosa dicevi ieri su mio fratello?

What were you saying yesterday about my brother?

Imperfetto of potere

Imperfetto of volere

Let’s have a look at the conjugation of volere in the imperfetto:

Italian Translation
Io volevo I wanted
Tu volevi You wanted
Lui/Lei voleva He/She wanted
Noi volevamo We wanted
Voi volevate You wanted
Loro volevano They wanted
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Here are some sentences with the verb volere in the imperfetto:

La scorsa estate io volevo andare al mare.

Last summer, I wanted to go to the beach.

Cosa volevi dirmi ieri?

What did you want to tell me yesterday?

Imperfetto of dovere volere potere

Imperfetto of potere

Let’s now have a look at the conjugation of potere in the imperfetto:

Italian Translation
Io potevo I could
Tu potevi You could
Lui/Lei poteva He/She could
Noi potevamo We could
Voi potevate You could
Loro potevano They could

And some examples…

Da piccoli, non potevamo uscire con i nostri amici.

When we were little, we couldn’t go out with our friends.

L’anno scorso potevo lavorare da casa.

Last year, Icould work from home.

Imperfetto of volere Italian

Imperfetto of dovere

Finally, here’s the conjugation of the verb dovere in the imperfetto:

Italian Translation
Io dovevo I had to
Tu dovevi You had to
Lui/Lei doveva He/She had to
Noi dovevamo We had to
Voi dovevate You had to
Loro dovevano They had to

And here’re some examples:

Cosa dovevate dirci ieri?

What did you have to tell us yesterday?

Angelo doveva pulire la casa e non l’ha fatto.

Angelo had to clean the house but he didn’t do it.

Imperfetto of dovere

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