Easy Learning Italian

The present simple tense - Easy Learning Grammar Italian

1  How to make the present simple tense of regular –are verbs

  • Verbs that have an infinitive ending in –are, such as parlare, abitare and studiare have a particular pattern of endings.
  • To make the present simple tense of regular are verbs take off the –are ending
    to get the stem of the verb.
InfinitiveMeaningStem (without –are)
parlareto speakparl-
abitareto liveabit-
studiareto studystudi-
  • Then add the correct ending for the person you’re talking about.
  • Here are the present simple endings for regular –are verbs:
Present simple endingsPresent simple of parlareMeaning: to speak
–o(io) parloI speak/am speaking
–i(tu) parliyou speak/are speaking
–a(lui/lei) parla
(Lei) parla
he/she/it speaks/is speaking you speak/are speaking
–iamo(noi) parliamowe speak/are speaking
–ate(voi) parlateyou speak/are speaking
–ano(loro) parlanothey speak/are speaking
Parli inglese?Do you speak English?
Chi parla?Who’s speaking?
Parlano bene italiano.They speak good Italian.
TipWhen you are talking about a male, a female or a thing, or are using
lei as the polite word for you, you use the same verb form.
  • For more information on Ways of saying ‘you’ in Italian, see Subject pronouns.
  • Note that in Italian there’s often no need to use a subject pronoun such as io (meaning I) or tu (meaning you) because the verb ending makes it clear who is doing the action. However, when you’re talking about people you can use the pronouns lui, lei or loro with the verb for the sake of emphasis or to make things clearer.
Parla italiano lui? Does he speak Italian?
Lei parla bene inglese, ma lui no.She speaks good English, but he doesn’t.
Loro non parlano mai.They never speak.
When you’re talking about things you ALWAYS use the verb by itself, with no pronoun.
Vedi l’autobus? – Sì, arriva.Can you see the bus? – Yes, it’s coming.
Vuole queste? – No, costanoDo you want these? – No, they cost too much.
Key points
  • If you take the –are ending off the infinitive of a regular verb you get the stem.
  • You add one of these endings to the stem: –o, –i, –a, –iamo, –ate or –ano.
  • You only use a pronoun with the verb for emphasis or to be specially clear, but only when talking about people.

2  How to make the present simple tense of regular –ere verbs

  • Verbs that have an infinitive ending in –ere, such as credere, ricevere and ripetere have their own pattern of endings.
  • To make the present simple tense of regular –ere verbs take off the –ere ending
    to get the stem and then add the correct ending for the person you’re talking about.
InfinitiveMeaningStem (without –ere)
credereto believecred-
ricevereto receivericev-
ripetereto repeatripet-
  • The io, tu and noi endings you add to the stem of –ere verbs are the same as
    –are verb endings. The other endings are different.
  • Here are the present simple endings for regular –ere verbs:
Present simple
endings
Present simple of
credere

Meaning:to believe
–o(io) credoI believe
–i(tu) crediyou believe
–e(lui/lei) crede
(Lei) crede
he/she believes
you believe
–iamo(noi) crediamowe believe
–ete(voi) credeteyou believe
–ono(loro) credonothey believe
Non ci credo.I don’t believe it.
Credi ai fantasmi?Do you believe in ghosts?
Lo credono tutti.They all believe it.
TipWhen you are talking about a male, a female or a thing, or are using
Lei as the polite word for you, you use the same verb form.
  • Note that in Italian there’s often no need to use a subject pronoun such as io (meaning I) or tu (meaning you) because the verb ending makes it clear who
    is doing the action. However, when you’re talking about people you can use
    the pronouns lui, lei or loro with the verb for the sake of emphasis or to make things clearer.
Lui non ci crede.He doesn’t believe it.
Lei crede ai fantasmi, io no.She believes in ghosts, I don’t.
Loro lo credono tutti.They all believe it.
When you’re talking about things you ALWAYS use the verb by itself, with no pronoun.
La minestra? Non sa di nulla.The soup? It doesn’t taste of anything.
Le piante? Crescono bene.The plants? They’re growing well.
TipRemember that you never use a pronoun in Italian to translate it at the beginning of a sentence.
Dipende.It depends.
Piove.It’s raining.
Key points
  • If you take the –ere ending off the infinitive of a regular verb you get the stem.
  • You add one of these endings to the stem: –o, –i, –e, –iamo, –ete or –ono.
  • You only use a pronoun with the verb for emphasis or to be specially clear, but only when talking about people.

3  How to make the present simple tense of regular –ire verbs

  • Most verbs that have an infinitive ending in –ire, such as finire (meaning to finish), pulire (meaning to clean) and capire (meaning to understand) follow one pattern of endings in the present. Some common verbs such as dormire and servire have a different pattern.
  • To make the present simple tense of all –ire verbs take off the –ire ending to
    get the stem of the verb.
InfinitiveMeaningStem (without –ire)
finireto finishfin-
pulireto cleanpul-
capire to understandcap-
dormireto sleepdorm-
servireto serveserv-
  • Here are the present simple endings for regular –ire verbs:
Present simple endingsPresent simple of
finire

Meaning: to finish
–isco(io) finiscoI finish/am finishing
–isci(tu) finisciyou finish/are finishing
–isce(lui/lei) finisce

(Lei) finisce
he/she/it finishes/
is finishing
you finish/are finishing
–iamo(noi) finiamowe finish/are finishing
–ite(voi) finiteyou finish/are finishing
iscono(loro) finisconothey finish/are finishing
Il film finisce alle dieci.The film finishes at ten.
Finiscono il lavoro.They’re finishing the work.
Non pulisco mai la macchina.I never clean the car.
Preferisci l’altro?Do you prefer the other one?
Non capiscono.They don’t understand.
  • Note that in Italian there’s often no need to use a subject pronoun such as io (meaning I) or tu (meaning you) because the verb ending makes it clear who is doing the action. However, when you’re talking about people you can use the pronouns lui, lei or loro with the verb for the sake of emphasis or to make things clearer.
Lui non pulisce mai la macchina.He never cleans the car.
Lei mi capisce sempre.She always understands me.
Loro preferiscono l’altro.They prefer the other one.
When you’re talking about things you ALWAYS use the verb by itself, with no pronoun.
Il primo treno? – Parte alle cinque.The first train? It goes at five.
Le lezioni quando finiscono? – When do lessons finish?
Finiscono alle quattro.They finish at four.
  • Some common –ire verbs do not add –isc– to the stem. The most important ones are dormire (meaning to sleep), servire (meaning to serve), aprire (meaning to open), partire (meaning to leave), sentire (meaning to hear) and soffrire (meaning to suffer).
  • The endings of these verbs are as follows:
Present simple endingsPresent simple of
dormire

Meaning: to sleep
–o(io) dormoI sleep/am sleeping
–i(tu) dormiyou sleep/are sleeping
–e(lui/lei) dorme
(Lei) dorme
he/she/it sleeps/is sleeping
you sleep/are sleeping
–iamo(noi) dormiamowe sleep/are sleeping
–ite(voi) dormiteyou sleep/are sleeping
–ono(loro) dormonothey sleep/are sleeping
  • Note that these endings are the same as –ere verb endings, except for the second person plural (voi).
Dormo sempre bene.I always sleep well.
A che cosa serve?What’s it for?
Quando partite?When are you leaving?
Soffrono molto.They are suffering a lot.
TipWhen you are talking about a male, a female or a thing, or are using
Lei as the polite word for you, you use the same verb form.
Key points
  • Take the –ire ending off the infinitive of a regular verb to get the stem.
  • For most –ire verbs the endings you add to the stem are: –isco, –isci,
    –isce, –iamo, –ite or iscono.
  • A few common –ire verbs add these endings to the stem: –o, –i, –e,
    –iamo, –ite, –ono.
  • You only use a pronoun with the verb for emphasis or to be specially clear, but only when talking about people.

4  Infinitives that end in –rre

  • All regular verbs have infinitives ending in –are, -ere, or –ire.
  • A few common irregular verbs have infinitives ending in –rre. For example:
comporreto composecondurreto lead
porreto putprodurreto produce
proporreto proposeridurreto reduce
supporreto supposetradurreto translate
  • Here are the present simple forms of comporre
Present simple of
comporreMeaning: to compose
(io)compongo I compose/I am composing
(tu)componi you compose/you are composing
(lui/lei)
(Lei)
componehe/she/it composes/is composing
you compose/are composing
(noi)componiamo we compose/are composing
(voi) componete you compose/are composing
(loro) compongono they compose/are composing
  • Here are the present simple forms of produrre:
Present simple of
produrre

Meaning: to produce
(io)produco I produce/I am producing
(tu)produci you produce/you are producing
(lui/lei)
(Lei)
produce he/she/it produces/is producing
you produce/are producing
(noi)produciamo we produce/are producing
(voi)producete you produce/are producing
(loro)producono they produce/are producing
  • The present tense of all verbs ending in –porre follow the pattern of comporre, and all verbs ending in –durre follow the pattern of produrre.

5  Where to put the stress when saying the infinitive

  • When you say the infinitives of –are and –ire verbs the stress goes on the a,
    or i of the ending:
Non vuole parlare.He doesn’t want to speak.
Non riesco a dormire.I can’t sleep.
  • When you say the infinitive of most –ere verbs the stress goes on the syllable
    that comes before the ending.
Devono vendere la casa.They’ve got to sell their house.
Può ripetere?Could you repeat that?
  • However, there are a number of very important irregular –ere verbs which have the stress on the first e of the ending.
–ereverbMeaning
avere to have
cadereto fall
dovereto have to
persuadereto persuade
potereto be able
rimanereto remain
vedere to see
Fa’ attenzione a non cadere.Mind you don’t fall.
Non puoi avere il mio.You can’t have mine.

6  How to make the present simple tense of common irregular verbs

  • There are many verbs that do not follow the usual patterns. These include
    some very common and important verbs such as avere (meaning to have),
    fare (meaning to do or to make) and andare (meaning to go).
  • Here are the present simple forms of avere:
Present simple of
avere

Meaning: to have
(io)hoI have/have got
(tu)haiyou have
(lui/lei)
(Lei)
hahe/she/it has
you have
(noi)abbiamowe have
(voi)aveteyou have
(loro)hannothey have
Ho due sorelle.I’ve got two sisters.
Hai abbastanza soldi?Have you got enough money?
Abbiamo tempo.We’ve got time.
Hanno i capelli biondi.They have blonde hair.
  • Here are the present simple forms of fare:
Present simple of
fare
Meaning: to do, to make
(io)faccioI do/am doing, I make/am making
(tu)faiyou do/are doing, you make/
are making
(lui/lei)
(Lei)
fahe/she/it does/is doing, he/she/
it makes/is making
you do/are doing, you make/
are making
(noi)facciamowe do/are doing, we make/
are making
(voi)fateyou do/are doing, you make/
are making
(loro)fannothey do/are doing, they make/
are making
Faccio troppi errori.I make too many mistakes.
Cosa fai stasera?What are you doing this evening?
Fa caldo.It’s hot.
Fanno quello che possono.They’re doing what they can.
  • Here are the present simple forms of andare:
Present simple of
andareMeaning: to go
(io)vadoI go/am going
(tu) vaiyou go/are going
(lui/lei)
(Lei)
vahe/she/it goes/is going
you go/are going
(noi)andiamowe go/are going
(voi) andateyou go/are going
(loro)vannothey go/are going
Ci vado spesso.I often go there.
Dove vai?Where are you going?
Va bene.That’s okay.
Vanno tutti al concerto.They’re all going to the concert.
  • For other irregular verbs in the present simple tense, see Verb tables in the middle section.

7  How to use the present simple tense in Italian

  • The present simple tense is often used in Italian in the same way as in English, but there are also some important differences.
  • As in English, you use the Italian present simple to talk about:
  • things that are generally true
La frutta fa bene.Fruit is good for you.
  • current situations
Vivono in Francia.They live in France.
  • what people and things usually do
Litigano sempre.They always quarrel.
Si blocca spesso.It often jams.
  • fixed arrangements
Comincia domani.It starts tomorrow.
  • Unlike in English, the Italian present simple is used to talk about:
  • what is happening right now
Arrivo!I’m coming!
Non mangi niente.You’re not eating anything.
  • what you are going to do
È rotto, lo butto via.It’s broken, I’m going to throw it away.
Ci penso io.I’ll see to it.
  • predictions
Se fai così lo rompi.If you do that you’ll break it.
  • offers
Pago io.I’ll pay.
  • In English the perfect tense is used to say how long someone has been doing something, or how long something has been happening. In Italian you use
    da and the present simple tense for this kind of sentence.
Aspetto da tre ore.I’ve been waiting for three hours.
Da quanto tempo studi
l’italiano?
How long have you been learning Italian?
Key points
  • The present simple tense in Italian is used as in English, and has a few additional uses.
  • Use the present simple with da to talk about how long something has been going on.

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