Present Tense

The present tense in Italian is essentially the same as in English. The only difference is that it can also be used as the present continuous, so “I do” and “I am doing” are conjugated the same way. The English present continuous, however, is expressed in a better way by a more complex construction with the verb “stare” and the “gerundio” form (the English -ing form).
Also note that the subject pronoun can be dropped from a conjugated verb because the ending of the conjugated verb communicates the subject of the action.

Present Tense Conjugations 1, 2, & 3

To conjugate regular verbs follow this method:
1) Drop the ending from the infinitive to give the stem.
Exx. lavorare (to work) → lavor-
2) Add the correct ending:
Exx. lavorare → lavor- → lavoro


So, for example, parlare (to speak) would be conjugated as follows:

(Io) parlo (“I speak / am speaking”)
(Tu) parli (“You speak / you are speaking”)
(Egli/ella/Lei/Lui) parla
(Noi) parliamo
(Voi) parlate
(Essi/Loro) parlano

Note: Egli, ella, and essi are older versions of lui, lei, and loro, respectively, but are still used occasionally today.

3rd Conjugation Verbs taking “-isc-“

Many 3rd Conjugation verbs add the letters -isc- between the stem and the ending for the present tense. This is constructed as follows:
finire(to end/finish)

io-iscoio finisco
tu-iscitu finisci
lui/lei/Lei-iscelui/lei/Lei finisce
noi-iamonoi finiamo
voi-itevoi finite
loro-isconoloro finiscono

Remember that, when followed by i or e, -sc- sounds like the English ‘shake’ (/ʃ/) (; if a, o or u follow, it will be read as “sk” (/sk/).

The Passato Prossimo

The Passato Prossimo is one of the most commonly used past tenses in Italian. It is a compound tense, therefore the auxiliary verbs avere and essere are used in conjugation. Note that the following conjugations are both irregular.
Avere- to have

Io ho
Tu hai
Lui/Lei ha
Noi abbiamo
Voi avete
Loro hanno

Essere- to be

Io sono
Tu sei
Lui/Lei è
Noi siamo
Voi siete
Loro sono

The Past Participle

The past participle is used with the verbs avere and essere to form the passato prossimo. To form the past participle, the ending of the verb (-are, -ere, -ire) are changed as follows:

verbs ending in -are take -ato for their past participle (example: parlare changes to parlato)
verbs ending in -ere take -uto for their past participle (example: vendere changes to venduto)
verbs ending in -ire take -ito for their past participle (example: finire changes to finito)

Note that the past participle of avere is avuto and the past participle of essere is stato.

Formation of the Passato Prossimo with Avere

To form the passato prossimo, you have to use avere or essere plus the past participle. Most verbs take avere for the passato prossimo; all reflexive verbs take essere and a few select verbs of motion take essere.
For now, we’ll deal with the verbs that take avere. First, you conjugate avere for the appropriate subject, then place the past participle after it.
Example: parlare- to speak

Io ho parlato
Tu hai parlato
Lui/Lei ha parlato
Noi abbiamo parlato
Voi avete parlato
Loro hanno parlato

The literal translation of this is I have spoken, you have spoken, he/she has spoken, etc. However, this tense is the main past tense used in Italian and can be loosely translated as I spoke, you spoke, he/she spoke, etc. Note that almost all verbs are conjugated this way with the passato prossimo.

Formation of the Passato Prossimo with Essere

The passato prossimo is generally conjugated with avere; however there are some situations in which essere must be used. Many verbs of motion, and all reflexive verbs, require essere.
Some of the most common verbs that take essere are:

to arrive arrivare
to go andare
to go out uscire
to enter entrare
to come venire (venuto)
to be essere (stato)
to leave partire
to stay, be stare (stato)
to disappear sparire
to come back/return tornare
to be born nascere (nato)
to die morire (morto)
to remain rimanere (rimasto)

Note that irregular past participles are in parentheses.
And before we get to an example, there is just one other difference between essere and avere for the passato prossimo. While in conjugations with avere, the past participle does not agree with the subject, it must in essere.
For example: If you are a girl and want to say ‘I spoke’, you say ‘ho parlato’. But if you want to say ‘I was’, you would use essere and the participle would agree, so you would say ‘sono stata’.
The same changes occur for plural subjects, such as noi, which can have a past participle ending in -i or -e.
Now for an example of a passato prossimo conjugation with essere: nascere- to be born

Io sono nato/a
Tu sei nato/a
Lui/Lei è nato/a
Noi siamo nati/e
Voi siete nati/e
Loro sono nati/e

The Future Indicative

The future indicative is the equivalent of ‘will + a verb’ in English. It is not a compound tense in Italian (it is not formed with avere/essere like the passato prossimo).
The verbs avere and essere are irregular in the future indicative. Their conjugations are:
Essere- to be

Io sarò
Tu sarai
Lui/Lei sarà
Noi saremo
Voi sarete
Loro saranno

Avere- to have

Io avrò
Tu avrai
Lui/Lei avrà
Noi avremo
Voi avrete
Loro avranno

Regular Verbs in the Future Tense

-Are and -ere verbs are conjugated the same for the future indicative. The endings are erò, erai, erà, eremo, erete, and eranno. Therefore we have:
Parlare- to speak

Io parlerò
Tu parlerai
Lui/Lei parlerà
Noi parleremo
Voi parlerete
Loro parleranno

Vendere- to sell

Io venderò
Tu venderai
Lui/Lei venderà
Noi venderemo
Voi venderete
Loro venderanno

The endings for -ire verbs are almost the same; the only difference is the first e of the ending is changed to i. Therefore the endings are: irò, irai, irà, iremo, irete, iranno.
Finire- to finish

Io finirò
Tu finirai
Lui/Lei finirà
Noi finiremo
Voi finirete
Loro finiranno

There is a small group of verbs whose stem ends in g or c. In the formation of the future indicative, these verbs take and h before the ending. For example:
Dimenticare- to forget

Io dimenticherò
Tu dimenticherai
Lui/Lei dimenticherà
Noi dimenticheremo
Voi dimenticherete
Loro dimenticheranno
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