Imperfect Conjugations

Italian imperfect
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Coniugazioni dell’imperfetto

The Italian imperfect is very easy to conjugate. All regular and many irregular Italian verbs are conjugated as follows:

  1. Start with the infinitive
  2. Drop the infinitive ending (-are, -ere, -ire) to find the stem
  3. Add the imperfect ending

Regular –are verbs

Per esempio: abitare (to live)

Pronoun Ending abitare > abit-
io -avo abitavo
tu -avi abitavi
lui, lei -ava abitava
noi -avamo abitavamo
voi -avate abitavate
loro -avano  abitavano

Regular –ere verbs

Per esempio: credere (to believe)

Pronoun Ending credere > cred-
io -evo credevo
tu -evi credevi
lui, lei -eva credeva
noi -evamo credevamo
voi -evate credevate
loro -evano  credevano

Regular –ire verbs

In the imperfect, regular –ire verbs like partire (to leave) and regular –ire with –isc– verbs like capire (to understand) are conjugated the same way:

Pronoun Ending partire > part- capire > cap-
io -ivo partivo capivo
tu -ivi partivi capivi
lui, lei -iva partiva capiva
noi -ivamo partivamo capivamo
voi -ivate partivate capivate
loro -ivano  partivano capivano

 Note that the endings for the different types of verbs are very similar: the only thing that changes from one kind of verb to another is the first letter of the stem, which matches the type of verb.

Pronoun are verbs ere verbs ire verbs
io -avo -evo -ivo
tu -avi -evi -ivi
lui, lei -ava -eva -iva
noi -avamo -evamo -ivamo
voi -avate -evate -ivate
loro -avano  -evano  -ivano 

Irregular verbs

Irregular –are verbs: The irregular verbs andare, dare, and stare are regular in the imperfect.

Some irregular verbs have an irregular imperfect stem but take the regular –ere endings.

Infinitive Imperfect stem  
bere bev- (to drink)
dire dic- (to say, tell)
fare fac- (to do, make)
porre* pon- (to put)
tradurre** traduc- (to translate)

* And other verbs that end in –orre.

** And other verbs that end in –urre.

 Essere (to be) is the only Italian verb that is completely irregular in the imperfect:

io   ero
tu   eri
lui, lei   era
noi   eravamo
voi   eravate
loro   erano

 Related lessons

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Imperfetto - Italian imperfect conjugations

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