Essere – to be

Italian Verb to Be

Essere - Italian verb to be
Share / Tweet / Pin Me!

Essere is one of two Italian verbs that can mean "to be."* It’s the most common verb in the Italian language, used to describe many aspects of being:

1) Names and professions

Sono Laura.   I’m Laura.
Quest'uomo è un medico. This man is a doctor.

2) Nationality, origin

Sono tedesco. I’m German.
Siete di Venezia? Are you from Venice?

3) Relationships, ownership

È mio fratello. He’s my brother.
Questa è la mia macchina.   That’s my car.

4) Descriptions (physical, mental, material)

Sono alti.   They are tall.
Francesca è intelligente.   Francesca is smart.
Questo cuscino è di velluto.   This cushion is (made of) velvet.

5) Feelings

Siamo malati.   We’re sick.
Sei stanco?   Are you tired?

6) Time and date

Sono le 15:00.   It’s 3 pm.
È il 10 settembre.   It’s September 10.

7) "To exist"

Essere o non essere, questo è il dilemma.   To be or not to be, that is the question.
Non c’è dubbio.   There is (exists) no doubt.

8) Compound tenses

Essere can also serve as the auxiliary verb in compound tenses and moods like the passato prossimo.

8) Passive voice

Essere is used to create all tenses and moods of the passive voice.

Essere present tense conjugations

io sono    noi siamo
tu sei voi siete
lui, lei è loro sono

 Note that the io and loro conjugations are identical. Since Italian is pro-drop, you have to rely on context to let you know who the subject is, but this is rarely a problem as it’s usually obvious. If you’re concerned that it’s not, you can use the subject pronoun to make sure there’s no confusion.

* The other is stare. We’ll compare the two in detail in a future lesson.

 Related lessons

Learn Spanish En español

Learn French En français

 Share / Tweet / Pin Me!

Essere - to be, to exist

Virtual Italian Teacher at Lawless Languages | Website | + posts

Ciao! I’m Laura K Lawless, creator, writer, editor, and CLO (Chief Lawless Officer) of this free online Italian learning site.

Lawless Italian is an official Lawless Languages site.