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INDICATIVE TENSES OF ITALIAN VERBS
The Italian word for tense is tempo, which also means time, suggesting that tenses are inflections which show whether actions are carried out in the present, in the past, or in the future.
As in most western languages, also Italian verbs are indicated with their infinitive tense, called tempo infinito or simply infinito (omitting the word for tense).
According to the infinitive tense, verbs can be divided into three main groups, called coniugazioni (= conjugations):
1. verbs ending with ...are, like andare (to go), mangiare (to eat), camminare (to walk)
2. verbs ending with ...ere, like avere (to have), vedere (to see), essere (to be), decidere (to decide)
3. verbs ending with ...ire, like dormire (to sleep), venire (to come), coprire (to cover)
In conjugations 1 and 3, the infinitive tense of all verbs has an accent on the penultimate syllable, thus stressing the verb's inflection (in the following examples, the stressed syllable is shown in italics style and in lighter blue colour):
andare (1st), mangiare (1st), dormire (3rd), venire (3rd), etc.
But in the 2nd conjugation (...ere), stress may sometimes fall on the antepenultimate syllable (i.e. one syllable before the infinitive's inflection), so this conjugation may be split into two further groups:
verbs whose penultimate syllable carries the stress (as in conjugations 1 and 3): avere, vedere, etc.
verbs whose stress is carried by an earlier syllable, as essere, decidere, etc.
Indicative is the group of tenses used more often, especially at an early stage.
Since some of the tenses do not exactly match English ones, their literal meaning will be stated in this page, but in further pages they will be referred to with their Italian name.
PRESENTE (= literally present tense), translating English present tense: "I go", "you go", etc.; IMPERFETTO (= literally imperfect tense), translating English simple past tense "I went", "you went", etc., expressing an action which was still in progress by the time the sentence refers to, or was habitual (the use of this tense will be later explained more in detail). FUTURO (= literally future tense), translating English future tense, "I shall go"; PASSATO REMOTO (= literally remote past tense), translating English simple past tense "I went", expressing an action which happened quite a long time ago, and has already ended by the time the sentence refers to. This tense almost acts in opposition to imperfect tense, by which the past action has not ended by the time of the sentence (further details will be discussed later on).
compound tenses (made by an auxiliary verb + the main verb's past participle)
PASSATO PROSSIMO (= literally recent past tense), translating the English present perfect "I have gone", and often also English simple past tense "I went"; it expresses actions which have taken place a short time ago. TRAPASSATO PROSSIMO (= recent pluperfect tense), matching English past perfect "I had gone"; it expresses actions which have taken place a long time ago. TRAPASSATO REMOTO (= remote pluperfect tense), translating the same English past perfect "I had gone", but with a much more limited use: the action described is no longer in progress, and it is followed by another action expressed by simple past tense (i.e. "when he had gone, you came");
FUTURO ANTERIORE (= literally forward future), also known as future perfect, expressing an action which will have taken place in a future time: in English, this tense is not specific, but the matching form may be obtained all the same: "you will have gone", "they will have arrived", etc.
In Italian, this same tense may also translate uncertainty, as if the action was not sure, or only had chance to be true: "it might have been him", "he might have arrived".
In the following paragraphs, all these concept will be fully discussed again.
Summarizing again these tenses in a chronological order:
FUTURE ACTIONS are translated by:
futuro = English future tense: the action will happen in the future
futuro anteriore = English future perfect: in the future, the given action will have happened; but it can also express possibility: the action might have happened (now).
PRESENT ACTIONS are translated by:
presente = English present tense: the action happens now
PAST ACTIONS are translated by:
passato prossimo = English present perfect: the action has happened a short time ago and is now over
imperfetto = English simple past: the action happened in the past, and was either habitual or was in progress
passato remoto = English simple past: the action happened a long time ago, and is now over
trapassato prossimo = English past pefect: the action had happened in a further past
trapassato remoto = English past perfect: the action had happened, and then something else happened afterwards
Inflections of regular verbs follow a standard pattern, but there are many irregular verbs too, most of which are important ones, as the verb essere (to be) and avere (to have), which will be the first ones discussed in the following paragraphs, because they are also used as auxiliary verbs for all others.
Nevertheless, when two irregular verbs have similar stems, they often have similar inflections too.
These tenses (I have seen, you have heard, he had wrote, they had come, etc.) are very similar to the English ones, as they need an auxiliary verb in simple tense, followed by the main verb's past participle.
Two auxiliary verbs are used in Italian: avere (to have), used for all transitive verbs and a few intransitive ones, and essere (to be), used for most intransitive verbs.
The same auxiliary essere is also used for passive forms.
English uses auxiliary verbs in a rather different way: the verb to have is always used for compound tenses, both for transitive and intransitive verbs ("I have gone", "it had rained", "we had returned", etc.); verb to be is always used for passive forms ("I am helped", "you were defeated", etc.).
Interrogative and negative sentences, instead, use the auxiliary verbs to do and to have ("do you go...?", "have you gone...?", "I do not go").
To become confident with the construction of Italian compound tenses you should focus well the simple pattern mentioned above and summarized by the following lines:
transitive verbs form compound tenses by using avere + past participle of the main verb
most intransitive verbs use essere + past participle of the main verb
a few intransitive verbs use avere + past participle of the main verb, as transitive ones
|.3 ESSERE (TO BE) PART I SIMPLE INDICATIVE TENSES|
The Italian verb essere (= to be) is strongly irregular but also very important, because it is one of the two auxiliary verbs used in forming compound tenses with all other verbs.
Furthermore, essere is also used to introduce a copula (i.e. when the verb to be expresses a condition, a quality, not an object, like "I am old").
Therefore, it is important to learn it before discussing regular verbs.
|1st person||(io) sono||I am||siamo||we are|
|2nd person||sei||you are (singular)||siete||you are (plural)|
|3rd person||è||he/she/it is||(essi/esse) sono||they are|
A first important thing to remember is that Italian verbs do not necessarily need a personal pronoun, since all different persons (singular and plural) have a specific inflection. So, when the subject of a sentence is a personal pronoun, it may often be omitted. The sentence might therefore appear without a subject, because in English it is always mentioned, but in Italian the verb's inflection is often sufficient to understand who carries out the action.
Only inflection sono occurs in two persons, 1st singular and 3rd plural, and might be mistaken. But also in this case, there is no need to use a pronoun when the other parts of the sentence make it clear to whom sono refers:
sono alto = I am tall (alto is singular, therefore sono can only be 1st singular person)
sono giovani = they are young (giovani is plural, therefore sono is 3rd plural person)
Pronouns, though, may be used to give a certain emphasis, or to show a contrast. Focus this case:
sei un uomo = you are a man
tu sei un uomo = you are a man
The second sentence might carry a meaning of you are a man, not me, or her, or you are indeed a man, not a woman, giving a certain stress to "you".
Also when the sentence expresses a contrast, personal pronouns may be used for the same reason explained above:
io sono un uomo e tu sei una donna = I am a man and you are a woman
noi siamo veloci, voi siete lenti = we are fast, you are slow
But if no emphasis is required, Italian often omits the pronoun:
sono magro (alternatively io sono magro) = I am thin
sei un uomo (alternatively tu sei un uomo) = you are a man
siete ragazzi (alternatively voi siete ragazzi) = you are boys
è un vecchio libro (alternatively esso è un vecchio libro) = it's an old book
è una brava insegnante (alternatively ella è una brava insegnante) = she is a good teacher
sono vecchie (alternatively esse sono vecchie) = they are old (feminine)
So, there is no need to worry about the choice of pronouns. But should the latter be used for more emphasis, they need to match the verb by gender and number.
Plural forms will obviously be told by the same verb inflection:
sono giovane = I am young
siamo giovani = we are young
sei alto = you are tall (masculine)
siete alti = you are tall (plural)
|1st person||ero||I was||eravamo||we were|
|2nd person||eri||you were (singular)||eravate||you were (plural)|
|3rd person||era||he/she/it was||erano||they were|
Accent falls on the penultimate syllable of each of them, except for erano, whose stressed syllable is the antipenultimate (pronounced "ehrahnoh").
Imperfect tense is usually translated with English simple past, although it expresses the concept of an action carried out in the past which has not necessarily come to an end. In many cases, the English form "I used to be" could be used instead of "I was"; since Italian has no such form, you may translate imperfect tense with both English forms:
ero bravo = I was clever or I used to be clever (the fact of being clever is a condition lasting throughout the time the sentence refers to)
era un cattivo studente = he/she was a bad student or he/she used to be a bad student (again, a condition, with no definite end)
erano quattro uomini = they were four men (again, a condition lasting throughout the period which the sentence refers to, although the form "they used to be..." would not be proper in this case)
|1st person||sarò||I shall be||saremo||we shall be|
|2nd person||sarai||you will be (singular)||sarete||you will be (plural)|
|3rd person||sarà||he/she/it will be||saranno||they will be|
All accents fall on the penultimate syllable of each inflection, except sarò and sarà which have an accent on the last syllable (pronounced "sahroh", "sahrah").
In a few cases, Italian future tense might have a meaning of probability, or chance: for example, if the phone rings, the expression sarà Carlo translates the English form it might be Charles.
|1st person||fui||I was||fummo||we were|
|2nd person||fosti||you were (singular)||foste||you were (plural)|
|3rd person||fu||he/she/it was||furono||they were|
Accents fall on penultimate syllables, except in fu (only one syllable), obviously carrying stress, and furono, where the antipenultimate syllable is stressed (pronounced "fwrohnoh").
Notice that fu does not have an accented u because there is no other way of pronouncing the word.
This tense expresses the fact that the action has ended time ago, and is no longer in progress:
fu un brutto incidente = it was a bad accident (the fact happened long ago, and it is now over)
fu un grande musicista = he was a great musician (in the past, meaning "...now he is dead")
furono bravi a vincere = they were clever to win (on that specific occasion, not as a lasting condition).
|.4 AVERE (TO HAVE) PART I SIMPLE INDICATIVE TENSES|
Avere is another auxiliary verb used in compound tenses, therefore it is as much important as the previous one.
It is irregular, but less than essere.
|1st person||ho||I have||abbiamo||we have|
|2nd person||hai||you have (singular)||avete||you have (plural)|
|3rd person||ha||he/she/it has||hanno||they have|
accent falls on the penultimate syllable, except in those inflections which only have one, ho, hai, and ha, which sound like "oh" "ahyh" and "ah", spelled without an accented vocal on the last letter because no other accent would be possible (as in simple past inflection fu, see paragraph 4.3);
a second note is about the spelling of inflections starting with an h: in Italian, this consonant is absolutely soundless, so read the word as if the h was not there.
The reason for which h is added is that similar words (without an h) exist: ai = to the (pronounced exactly like hai = you have); a = to or for (pronounced exactly like ha = he/she/it has); anno = year (pronounced exactly like hanno = they have); etc.
So the consonant is merely graphic, to indicate the verb's inflections.
ha una bella casa = he or she has a nice home
hanno due gatti = they have two cats
tu hai un gatto, ma io ho un cane = you have a cat, but I have a dog (notice the use of pronouns for stressing the opposition)
|1st person||avevo||I had||avevamo||we had|
|2nd person||avevi||you had (singular)||avevate||you had (plural)|
|3rd person||aveva||he/she/it had||avevano||they had|
As for the same tense of the verb essere, accent falls on the penultimate syllable of each of them, except for avevano, whose stressed syllable is the antepenultimate (pronounced "ahvehvahnoh").
Always remember that the imperfect tense expresses the concept of a past action which has not necessarily come to an end:
l'uomo aveva un grosso naso = the man had a big nose (this is a condition, which obviously was lasting for the whole time the sentence refers to)
avevo tre automobili = I had three cars or I used to have three cars (probably I do no longer have them now, but nevertheless the expression carries the sense of "some time ago I used to have them", as a continuous condition).
|1st person||avrò||I shall be||avremo||we shall be|
|2nd person||avrai||you will be (singular)||avrete||you will be (plural)|
|3rd person||avrà||he/she/it will be||avranno||they will be|
Accents fall on the penultimate syllable of each inflection, except avrò and avrà which behave like sarò and sarà (see future tense of essere): although both verbs are irregular, their future tense has the same patterns.
|1st person||ebbi||I was||avemmo||we were|
|2nd person||avesti||you were (singular)||aveste||you were (plural)|
|3rd person||ebbe||he/she/it was||ebbero||they were|
A tense with very irregular inflections, where all accents fall on penultimate syllables, except in ebbero, whose antepenultimate syllable is stressed (pronounced "eh'bbehroh").
Although the past perfect of the verb essere (discussed in the previous paragraph) has some differences, accents and many of the inflections work in the same way.
Remember that this tense expresses ceased actions, no longer active:
l'uomo ebbe un incidente = the man had an accident (the accident itself did not last in time)
avemmo una grande fortuna = we had a great luck (we were lucky on that occasion)
ebbero due figli = they had two sons (in Italian this sounds like "their two sons were born", as a non-lasting action, while the imperfect tense avevano due figli would express the fact that during their lives "they had two sons", as a continuous condition).
|.5 VERBS OF THE 1st CONJUGATION PART I SIMPLE INDICATIVE TENSES|
Verbs whose infinitive tense has the inflection ...are, belong to the 1st conjugation.
Most verbs belonging to this conjugation are regular. Tenses will be discussed by using the verb parlare (= to speak, to talk). Sample sentences will also use these other few regular verbs:
|lavorare = to work||tirare = to pull||cantare = to sing|
|ascoltare = to listen||cucinare = to cook||comprare = to buy|
|pagare = to pay||attaccare = to attack||mangiare = to eat|
|fischiare = to whistle||pescare = to fish||pagare = to pay|
|portare = to carry, to bring||sbirciare = to peep||strisciare = to creep|
|saltare = to jump||cambiare = to change||scappare = to escape, to run away|
Comparing them with the two irregular verbs essere and avere already discussed, you will surely find that many inflections are similar (but many others are different).
|1st person||parlo||I talk||parliamo||we talk|
|2nd person||parli||you talk (singular)||parlate||you talk (plural)|
|3rd person||parla||he/she/it talks||parlano||they talk|
As in all previous verbs, accent falls on the penultimate syllable, except for the 3rd plural person, whose antipenultimate syllable is stressed (pronounced "pahrlahnoh").
parla bene = he or she speaks well
tiro una fune = I pull a rope
gli uccelli cantano = the birds sing
--- PHONETIC CHANGES ---
When the last letter of the verb's root is c or g, for phonetic reasons the inflections of the 2nd singular person and 1st plural person (...i and ...iamo) need an h :
|1st person||gioco||I play||giochiamo||we play|
|2nd person||giochi||you play (singular)||giocate||you play (plural)|
|3rd person||gioca||he/she/it plays||giocano||they play|
note the h in the 2nd singular and the 1st plural persons: it enables consonant c to keep a "hard" sound (English sound: "johkyh", "johkyahmoh"); without an h, the pronounciation would be "johchyh", "johchahmoh".
pago = I pay, paghi = you pay (not pagi), paghiamo = we pay (not pagiamo)
attacco = I attack, attacchi = you attack, attacchiamo = we attack
When the root of the verb ends with vowel i, the 2nd singular person and the 1st plural person drop this vowel:
|1st person||mangio||I eat||mangiamo||we eat|
|2nd person||mangi||you eat (singular)||mangiate||you eat (plural)|
|3rd person||mangia||he/she/it eats||mangiano||they eat|
note how the root of verb mangiare is mangi..., but the 2nd singular and the 1st plural persons lose the i;
sbircio = I peep, sbirci = you peep (not sbircii), sbirciamo = we peep (not sbirciiamo)
striscio = I creep, strisci = you creep (not striscii), strisciamo = we creep (not strisciiamo)
|1st person||parlavo||I talked||parlavamo||we talked|
|2nd person||parlavi||you talked (singular)||parlavate||you talked (plural)|
|3rd person||parlava||he/she/it talked||parlavano||they talked|
Also in this case, all accents falls on the penultimate syllable of each person, except for parlavano, whose stressed syllable is the antipenultimate (pronounced "pahrlahvahnoh").
le tre donne compravano il pane = the three women bought [the] bread (as a continuous action: this could be translated as the three women used to buy bread, not only on that occasion, but usually, often, etc.; also note the use of an article where English omits it)
l'uomo portava un pacco = the man carried a parcel (obviously, in this case the man did not usually carry a parcel, but the use of imperfect gives a sense of "the man was carrying the parcel", as a continuous action, almost as to show the man with the parcel still in his hands)
ascoltavo la radio = I listened to the radio (again, suggesting a continuous action: this could be translated as "I was listening to the radio", maybe only on that occasion, but as an action in progress; note how in Italian the verb is transitive, and does not require preposition "to")
|1st person||parlerò||I shall talk||parleremo||we shall talk|
|2nd person||parlerai||you will talk (singular)||parlerete||you will talk (plural)|
|3rd person||parlerà||he/she/it will talk||parleranno||they will talk|
Accent falls on the penultimate syllable of each inflection, except parlerò and parlerà, whose stress is on the last syllable (pronounced "pahrlehroh" and "pahrlehrah"): also the two irregular verbs already discussed have the same pattern.
cucineremo una bistecca = we shall cook a steak
il cane salterà lo steccato e scapperà = the dog will jump [over] the fence and will run away (in Italian the verb to jump is transitive, and does not require preposition "over")
--- PHONETIC CHANGES ---
When the last consonant of the verb's root is c or g, all future tense inflections needs an h for phonetic reasons:
|1st person||giocherò||I shall play||giocheremo||we shall play|
|2nd person||giocherai||you will play (singular)||giocherete||you will play (plural)|
|3rd person||giocherà||he/she/it will play||giocheranno||they will play|
again, the h gives a "hard" sound (English sound: "johkehroh", "johkehrahyh", etc.); without an h, the pronounciation would be "johchehroh", etc.
pagherò = I shall pay
attaccherò = I shall attack
Instead, verbs whose last letter of the root is i, drop this vowel when it becomes phonetically redundant:
|1st person||mangerò||I shall eat||mangeremo||we shall eat|
|2nd person||mangerai||you will eat (singular)||mangerete||you will eat (plural)|
|3rd person||mangerà||he/she/it will eat||mangeranno||they will eat|
the root of verb mangiare is mangi..., but in future tense inflections is drops the i and becomes mang..., because since these inflections start with vowel e, there is no need to keep vowel i: both mangerò (correct) and mangierò (incorrect) sound like "mahnjehroh".
|1st person||parlai||I talked||parlammo||we talked|
|2nd person||parlasti||you talked (singular)||parlaste||you talked (plural)|
|3rd person||parlò||he/she/it talked||parlarono||they talked|
Penultimate syllables have an accent, except in parlò (3rd singular person), sounding as a truncated word (pronounced "pahrloh"), and parlarono (3rd plural person), whose antipenultimate syllable is stressed (pronounced "pahrlahrohnoh").
Be careful not to mistake parlò with parlerò (1st singular person, future tense), and parlarono with parlano (3rd plural person, present tense).
Always remember that this tense is used when the past action expressed by the sentence is already over.
le tre donne comprarono il pane = the three women bought [the] bread (in comparison with a similar sentence shown for the imperfect tense, here the three women bought bread on a specific occasion, not as a usual action)
il cielo cambiò colore = the sky changed colour (the change is an action with very limited duration)
tu parlasti, e io ascoltai = You spoke, and I listened (note the use of pronouns to give stress to the different subjects; the sentence refers specifically to one past occasion: should this situation have occured often or usually, imperfect tense would express the fact: io cucinavo e tu mangiavi).
|.6 VERBS OF THE 2nd CONJUGATION PART I SIMPLE INDICATIVE TENSES|
Verbs whose infinitive tense has the inflection ...ere, belong to the 2nd conjugation.
But, as explained in paragraph 4.2, the accent may fall on the penultimate syllable or on the antepenultimate one.
Most verbs in the latter subgroup are regular; despite this, past perfect tense is partially irregular in all cases, but this will be discussed later on.
Instead, almost every verb in the first subgroup has peculiarities in one or more tenses, so these ones will be discussed in a further paragraph, at a more advanced stage; only one important verb of this subgroup, vedere (= to see, to watch) is shown in this page, as a comparison with other verbs.
As a help for the reader, I will spell the Italian infinitive tense with one accented vowel (the vowel which carries the stress), but remember that this never happens in common spelling. Also take note how vowel e may have an "open" sound ( è ) or a "closed" sound ( é ), according to the verb.
Standard inflections will be shown by using the verb chièdere (= to ask for), whose accent falls on the antepenultimate syllable (pronounced "kyehdehreh").
Other verbs used in sample sentences are:
|chiùdere = to close||muòvere = to move||còrrere = to run|
|ròmpere = to break||risòlvere = to solve||scéndere = to come down, to descend|
|prèndere = to take||discùtere = to discuss||ripètere = to repeat|
|vìncere = to win||pèrdere = to lose||nàscere = to be born|
|spìngere = to push||pùngere = to prick||tìngere = to dye, to colour|
|vedére = to see||rìdere = to laugh||piàngere = to cry|
|1st person||chiedo||I ask||chiediamo||we ask|
|2nd person||chiedi||you ask (singular)||chiedete||you ask (plural)|
|3rd person||chiede||he/she/it asks||chiedono||they ask|
Accents fall on the same syllable as in present tense of the 1st conjugation (see paragraph 4.5).
In order to memorize this tense more easily, concentrate on the following differences with the 1st conjugation:
the inflection of 3rd singular person turns from ...a (1st conj.) into ...e (2nd conj.);
the 2nd plural person turns from ...ate into ...ete, for the same reason;
the 3rd plural person changes from ...ano into ...ono.
i turisti chiedono un buon ristorante = the tourists ask [for] a good restaurant (note the shortening of buono into buon, according to the rule discussed in paragraph 2.4)
discutiamo un argomento = we discuss a topic
tu ridi ma lui piange = you laugh but he cries (note the use of pronouns, to stress the contrast of subjects
--- PHONETIC CHANGES ---
When the last letter of the verb's root is c or g, verbs of the 2nd conjugation behave in a different way from the 1st one: they do NOT add a phonetic h. Therefore, no change occurs in the verb's root: this means that the sound of c or g actually changes from "hard" to "soft", according to the vowel following this consonant:
|1st person||vinco||I win||vinciamo||we win|
|2nd person||vinci||you win (singular)||vincete||you win (plural)|
|3rd person||vince||he/she/it wins||vincono||they win|
the 1st singular person sounds like "vynkoh" ("hard" c), the 2nd singular like "vynchyh" ("soft" c), the 3rd singular "vyncheh" ("soft" again), the 1st plural "vynchahmoh" ("soft"), the 2nd plural "vynchehteh" ("soft"), the 3rd plural "vynkohnoh" ("hard").
tingo ("tyngoh") = I dye, tingi ("tynjyh") = you dye, etc.
spingo ("spyngoh") = I push, spingi ("spynjyh") = you push, etc.
piango ("pyahngoh") = I cry, piangi ("pyahnjyh") = you cry, etc.
nasco ("nahskoh") = I am born, nasci ("nahshyh") = you are born, etc.
|1st person||chiedevo||I asked||chiedevamo||we asked|
|2nd person||chiedevi||you asked (singular)||chiedevate||you asked (plural)|
|3rd person||chiedeva||he/she/it asked||chiedevano||they asked|
In comparison with the 1st conjugation, the first vowel of all inflections is e; accents, instead, are the same.
chiedevano sempre aiuto = they always asked [for] help (continuous action, as also suggested by "always")
vendevamo tappeti = we sold carpets or we used to sell carpets (as an activity, therefore a lasting action)
|1st person||chiederò||I shall ask||chiederemo||we shall ask|
|2nd person||chiederai||you will ask (singular)||chiederete||you will ask (plural)|
|3rd person||chiederà||he/she/it will ask||chiederanno||they will ask|
Both accent and inflections are the same as in 1st conjugation.
chiederemo un'informazione = we shall ask [for] an information (note the apostrophe in article un', because the gender of informazione is feminine)
l'atleta correrà la maratona = the athlete will run the marathon
As mentioned in the introduction, verb vedére (accent on the penultimate syllable) has a slightly different inflection for future tense, losing the first e:
|1st person||vedrò||I shall see||vedremo||we shall see|
|2nd person||vedrai||you will see (singular)||vedrete||you will see (plural)|
|3rd person||vedrà||he/she/it will see||vedranno||they will see|
This is not a standard change, so other verbs of the same subgroup do not follow this pattern.
This tense is always partially irregular: changes do not occur in inflections, but in the roots of 1st singular, 3rd singular and 3rd plural persons:
|1st person||chiesi||I talked||chiedemmo||we talked|
|2nd person||chiedesti||you talked (singular)||chiedeste||you talked (plural)|
|3rd person||chiese||he/she/it talked||chiesero||they talked|
The first evident difference is the change of root; as a general rule, 1st and 3rd singular and 3rd plural persons have a different root than the others (which keep the original one); obviously, the new root is the same for all three persons. In this case, the normal root chied... has turned into chies..., and for many other verbs the change is similar: the last consonant turns into s. But for some verbs the change is more consistant (past perfect might be a nightmare for beginners, and a real test for well-taught Italian speakers). This is why, in common speech, many Italians too often prefer to use the present perfect tense (a compound tense, discussed in a further paragraph) instead of past perfect, although this choice would be considered slightly incorrect.
The second important difference with the same tense of the 1st conjugation is that no inflections have an accent on the last syllable (no one ends with an accented vowel).
Despite the change of root, though, all inflections are regular and do not change.
This is an example of how other verbs behave, according to the "simple" rule:
chiudere (to close)
|1st person||chiusi||I closed||chiudemmo||we closed|
|2nd person||chiudesti||you closed (singular)||chiudeste||you closed (plural)|
|3rd person||chiuse||he/she/it closed||chiusero||they closed|
risolvere (to solve)
|1st person||risolsi||I solved||risolvemmo||we solved|
|2nd person||risolvesti||you solved (singular)||risolveste||you solved (plural)|
|3rd person||risolse||he/she/it solved||risolsero||they solved|
spingere (to see)
|1st person||spinsi||I pushed||spingemmo||we pushed|
|2nd person||spingesti||you pushed (singular)||spingeste||you pushed (plural)|
|3rd person||spinse||he/she/it pushed||spinsero||they pushed|
ridere (to laugh)
|1st person||risi||I laughed||ridemmo||we laughed|
|2nd person||ridesti||you laughed (singular)||rideste||you laughed (plural)|
|3rd person||rise||he/she laughed||risero||they laughed|
But here are some others whose root changes more evidently:
prendere (to take)
|1st person||presi||I took||prendemmo||we took|
|2nd person||prendesti||you took (singular)||prendeste||you took (plural)|
|3rd person||prese||he/she/it took||presero||they took|
vedere (to see)
|1st person||vidi||I saw||vedemmo||we saw|
|2nd person||vedesti||you saw (singular)||vedeste||you saw (plural)|
|3rd person||vide||he/she/it saw||videro||they saw|
rompere (to break)
|1st person||ruppi||I broke||rompemmo||we broke|
|2nd person||rompesti||you broke (singular)||rompeste||you broke (plural)|
|3rd person||ruppe||he/she/it broke||ruppero||they broke|
muovere (to move)
|1st person||mossi||I moved||muovemmo||we moved|
|2nd person||muovesti||you moved (singular)||muoveste||you moved (plural)|
|3rd person||mosse||he/she/it moved||mossero||they moved|
nascere (to be born)
|1st person||nacqui||I was born||nascemmo||we were born|
|2nd person||nascesti||you were born (singular)||nasceste||you were born (plural)|
|3rd person||nacque||he/she/it was born||nacquero||they were born|
chiusi la porta = I closed the door (the action is over)
vedesti un grosso animale = you saw a big animal
due uomini scesero le scale = two men came down the steps (they did this once; had the sentence been "usually, they came down the steps", imperfect tense would have been used: ...scendevano le scale)
VERBS OF THE 3rd CONJUGATION
Verbs whose infinitive tense has the inflection ...ire, belong to the 3rd conjugation.
This is the conjugation with the least umber of verbs, and most of them are regular.
Verb capire (= to understand) is used to discuss the tenses; others used in sample sentences are:
|agire = to act||proibire = to forbid||finire = to finish|
|sparire = to disappear||fornire = to provide with||obbedire = to obey|
|garantire = to grant||reagire = to react||punire = to punish|
|seguire = to follow||partire = to leave||sentire = to feel|
|scoprire = to discover||fuggire = to escape||dormire = to sleep|
|aprire = to open||cucire = to sew||mentire = to lie|
Present tense of the 3rd conjugation is slightly more difficult than others because two different inflections may occur, according to the verb:
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