Italian Present Indicative: Regular, Irregular, Essere and Avere

By Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch

Are you studying the Italian present tense? Learn how to conjugate Italian verbs in the present indicative tense. Explains regular verb conjugation, irregular verb conjugation, as well as conjugating the verbs essere and avere.

When is Present Indicative Used?

Present indicative tense in Italian is very similar to present tense in English. Present indicative is used when the action:

1) is taking place habitually;

2) is taking place at the moment of speaking;

3) has a future meaning.

When conjugating Italian verbs in the present indicative tense, the verb will fall into either the regular or irregular category. Essere (to be) and avere (to have) are two special verbs in Italian that have their own conjugation, and will be essential when using Italian in the past tense.

Regular Verbs

Italian regular verbs are the easiest to conjugate, since they follow a specific pattern. Three groups of regular verbs exist: -are verbs, -ere verbs and -ire verbs.

-Ire verbs can be a tad tricky, since there are some variations in the endings. Therefore, we will have two -ire verb examples: sentire and finire.

Before beginning a conjugation, students should familiarize themselves with the six persons: three singular persons and three plural persons: io (I), tu (you), lui and lei (he and she), noi (we), voi (you—plural) and loro (they).

-Are verbs are regular verbs that have the ending -are. To conjugate, remove the -are and add the appropriate endings. In this example, we will use the verb cantare (to sing):

io cant- o

tu cant- i

lui/lei cant- a

noi cant- iamo

voi cant- ate

loro cant- ano

The same process is done for -ere verbs, like the verb vedere (to see):

io ved- o

tu ved- i

lui/lei ved- e

noi ved- iamo

voi ved- ete

loro ved- ono

Notice the endings for -are verbs and -ere verbs are similar, except for the changes on the third person singular, second person plural and third person plural. This pattern continues with some of the -ire verbs, like sentire (to hear):

io sent- o

tu sent- i

lui/lei sent- e

noi sent- iamo

voi sent- ite

loro sent- ono

However, other -ire verbs, like finire (to finish) follow a different ending pattern:

io fin- isc- o

tu fin- isc- i

lui/lei fin- isc- e

noi fin- iamo

voi fin- ite

loro fin- isc- ono

Common -ire verbs that are conjugated like sentire include aprire (to open), coprire (to cover), divertirsi (to enjoy oneself), dormire (to sleep), offrire (to offer), partire (to leave), seguire (to follow), servire (to serve/need), soffrire (to suffer) and vestire (to dress).

Common -ire verbs that are conjugated like finire include capire (to understand), colpire (to hit), costruire (to build), fornire (to supply), guarire (to get better), preferire (to prefer), pulire (to clean), sostituire (to substitute), spedire (to send) and unire (to join).

Irregular Verbs

Italian irregular verbs are verbs that do not fit into regular conjugation endings. We will go over the conjugation of the most common irregular verbs in Italian. Students should memorize these conjugations:

potere (can)

io posso

tu puoi

lui/lei può

noi possiamo

voi potete

loro possono

piacere (to like)

io piaccio

tu piaci

lui/leipiace

noi piacciamo

voi piacete

loro piacciono

fare (to do, to make)

io faccio

tu fai

lui/lei fa

noi facciamo

voi fate

loro fanno

volere (to want)

io voglio

tu vuoi

lui/lei vuole

noi vogliamo

voi volete

loro vogliono

bere (to drink)

io bevo

tu bevi

lui/lei beve

noi beviamo

voi bevete

loro bevono

dare (to give)

io do

tu dai

lui/lei dà

noi diamo

voi date

loro danno

dovere (must)

io devo

tu devi

lui/lei deve

noi dobbiamo

voi dovete

loro devono

andare (to go)

io vado

tu vai

lui/lei va

noi andiamo

voi andate

loro vanno

dire (to say)

io dico

tu dici

lui/lei dice

noi diciamo

voi dite

loro dicono

sapere (to know)

io so

tu sai

lui/lei sa

noi sappiamo

voi sapete

loro sanno

stare (to stay)

io sto

tu stai

lui/lei sta

noi stiamo

voi state

loro stanno

uscire (to go out)

io esco

tu esci

lui/lei esce

noi usciamo

voi uscite

loro escono

Essere and Avere

Essere and avere are two very important verbs in Italian that have irregular conjugations. Students should also memorize these conjugations:

essere (to be)

io sono

tu sei

lui/lei è

noi siamo

voi siete

loro sono

avere (to have)

io ho

tu hai

lui/lei ha

noi abbiamo

voi avete

loro hanno