Essere: conjugation, present tense

“Essere, o non essere, questo è il dilemma”, says Shakespeare’s Hamlet in Italian. Here’s how to conjugate the irregular verb “essere”.

  • Io sono – I am
  • Tu sei – You are
  • Lui, lei è – He, she is
  • Noi siamo – We are
  • Voi siete – You are
  • Loro sono – They are

In Italian, unlike in English, the use of personal pronouns like io (I), tu (you) etc. with verbs is not required. On the contrary, it makes you sound like a textbook. You don’t need that because the  verb itself indicates who it is referring to.

Examples:

  1. Sei americano?
    Are you American?
  2. No, sono canadese.
    No, I’m Canadian.

Basic uses of essere

Essere is used with di name of a city to indicate city of origin (the city someone is from). To indicate country of origin, an adjective of nationality is generally used: He is from France + He is French = È francese.

  1. Di dove sei?
  2. Io sono di Chicago

Essere + di + proper name is used to indicate possession. No apostrophe s is used in Italian to indicate possession: It is Stefano’s = It is of Stefano’s = È di Stefano.

To find out who the owner of something is, ask Di chi è singular or Di chi sono plural.

  1. Di chi è questo gatto?

Audio lessons to practice essere

To practice essere, take Lesson 1 of the Italian audio course “Ripeti con me!”.


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