Introduction to Verbs

Italian verbs
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Introduzione ai verbi

Verbs are action words that express the action (He runs) or state of being (I am tired) of a sentence. They are one of the main parts of speech.

Italian verbs have to be “conjugated” or “inflected”; that is, changed according to how they are used. They have five to six different conjugations for each tense and mood.

The basic form of a verb is called the "infinitive" and is the name of the verb. The English infinitive is “to” followed by a verb, while the Italian infinitive is a single word with one of three infinitive endings (-are, –ere, or –ire). These three groups can then be further divided into:

A) Regular verbs, which follow a standard pattern of verb conjugations:

1. -are parlare (to speak)  Regular -are verbs
2. -ere vendere (to sell) Regular -ere verbs
3. -ire partire (to leave) Regular -ire verbs

B) Stem-changing verbs, which take the same endings as regular verbs, but undergo spelling changes in the radical* of some conjugations.

C) Irregular verbs, which have unique conjugations.

  When you encounter a new verb, be sure to learn its infinitive, which is used as the basis for just about everything you do with it.

* Most Italian verbs are conjugated by removing the infinitive ending to find the "radical" or "root" (e.g., parlare –> parl-) and then adding the appropriate ending, which is determined by a combination of five different elements:

  1. Number
  2. Person
  3. Tense
  4. Mood
  5. Voice

More detailed lessons on all of the above coming soon!

 Italian Verb Conjugations

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Introduction to Italian verbs