ТОП 10:

INDICATIVE TENSES OF ITALIAN VERBS



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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.

 

 
 


INDICATIVO
(INDICATIVE)


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.

simple tenses

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.

 

 
 


COMPOUND TENSES


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.

 


PRESENTE

 

    singular     plural  
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)


IMPERFETTO

 

    singular     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)

 


FUTURO

 

    singular     plural  
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.



PASSATO REMOTO

 

    singular     plural  
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.

 

PRESENTE

 

    singular     plural  
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

Two considerations:
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)


IMPERFETTO

 

    singular     plural  
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).


FUTURO

 

    singular     plural  
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.



PASSATO REMOTO

 

    singular     plural  
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).


PRESENTE

 

    singular     plural  
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 :

    singular     plural  
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:

    singular     plural  
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)

 


IMPERFETTO

 

    singular     plural  
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")

 


FUTURO

 

    singular     plural  
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:

    singular     plural  
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:

    singular     plural  
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".


PASSATO REMOTO

 

    singular     plural  
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

 


PRESENTE

 

    singular     plural  
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:

    singular     plural  
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.


IMPERFETTO

 

    singular     plural  
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)



FUTURO

 

    singular     plural  
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:

 

    singular     plural  
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.



PASSATO REMOTO

 

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:

    singular     plural  
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)

    singular     plural  
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)

    singular     plural  
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)

    singular     plural  
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)

    singular     plural  
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)

    singular     plural  
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)

    singular     plural  
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)

    singular     plural  
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)

    singular     plural  
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)

    singular     plural  
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)

.7
 
 


VERBS OF THE 3rd CONJUGATION
PART I
SIMPLE INDICATIVE TENSES

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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

 


PRESENTE


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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