Italian Irregular Verbs: An Introduction
From day one, Italian learners encounter the irregular present tense. For example, the irregular verb stare, is used in the common greeting “Ciao, come stai?” (= Hello, how are you?), or other irregular verbs such essere (= to be) and avere (= to have) appear in many useful sentences for beginners. This is because in Italian, as in many other languages, the most frequently used verbs are often irregular. This means that those verbs do not follow regular conjugation patterns and their conjugation must be memorized.
All Italian verbs can be divided into three groups and are classified according to the ending of their infinitive forms into three groups (conjugations): – are, – ere, or – ire.
Common first conjugation irregular verbs (ending in – are) are: andare (= to go), dare (= to give), fare (= to do/make), stare (= to stay).
Common second conjugation irregular verbs (ending in – ere) are: essere (=to be), avere (= to have), bere (= to drink), cadere (= to fall), sapere (= to know), volere (= to want).
Common second conjugation irregular verbs (ending in – ire) are: dire (=to say), venire (= to come), uscire (= to go out), salire (= to go up).
Irregular Present Tense: Conjugation
This table shows some the present tense of some first conjugation irregular verbs (ending in – are):
|Irregular verbs – Present Tense (First Conjugation)|
|andare (to go)||dare (to give)||fare (to do/make)||stare (to stay)|
This table shows some the present tense of some second conjugation irregular verbs (ending in – ere):
|Irregular verbs – Present Tense (Second Conjugation)|
|essere (to be)||avere (to have)||sapere (to know)||bere (to drink)|
This table shows some the present tense of some third conjugation irregular verbs (ending in – ire):
|Irregular verbs – Present Tense (Third Conjugation)|
|dire (to say)||venire (to come)||uscire (to go out)||salire (to go up)|
Present Tense: Explained
In Italian, the present tense is used in the following cases:
- To talk about ongoing actions happening in the present:
Lucia sta bene.
Lucia is doing well.
Hai tempo per un caffè?
Do you have time for a coffee?
- To talk about general truths:
Le temperature salgono durante i mesi estivi.
The temperature goes up during the summer.
- To talk about habits and recurrent actions still happening in the present:
Bevo un bicchiere di latte ogni sera dopo cena.
Every evening after dinner I drink a glass of milk.
- Sometimes, the present tense is used to talk about the future, if the time of the action is clear from other elements in the sentence, meaning if other words refer to a future time or event.
Vieni a trovarmi la prossima settimana?
Will you come visit me next week?
Audio lessons to practice the present tense of irregular verbs
To practice the present tense of irregular verbs, take Lesson 8 of the Italian audio course “Ripeti con me!“.