Italian Language Lessons: Italian Present Tense

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Italian verbs with infinitives ending in -ere are called second-conjugation (seconda coniugazione) or -ere verbs. The present tense of a regular -ere verb is formed by dropping the infinitive ending and adding the appropriate endings (-o-i-e-iamo-ete-ono) to the stem. For an example on how to conjugate a regular second-conjugation verb, take a look the following table.

PRESENT TENSE CONJUGATION OF SCRIVERE (TO WRITE)

PERSON SINGULAR PLURAL
I (io) scrivo (I write) (noi) scriviamo (we write)
II (tu) scrivi (you write, familiar) (voi) scrivete (you write, familiar)
III (Lei) scrive (you write, formal) (Loro) scrivono (you write, formal)
(lui/lei) scrive (he/she writes) (loro) scrivono (they write)

Second-conjugation (-ere) verbs account for approximately one-quarter of all Italian verbs. Although many have some sort of irregular structure, there are also many regular verbs (see the following table for examples) which are conjugated in the same way as scrivere.

COMMON SECOND-CONJUGATION VERBS

accendere to light, ignite; turn/switch on
battere to beat, to hit
cadere to fall
chiedere to ask
conoscere to know
correre to run
credere to believe
descrivere to describe
eleggere to elect
leggere to read
mettere to put, to place
mordere to bite
nascere to be born
offendere to offend
perdere to lose
rimanere to remain, to stay
ridere to laugh
rompere to break
vendere to sell
sopravvivere to survive

While the infinitive forms of both first- and third-conjugation Italian verbs always have the accent on the final -are or -ire, second-conjugation verbs are often pronounced with the accent on the third-to-last syllable, as in prendere (PREHN-deh-ray).

Additional Italian Language Study Resources

  • Language Lessons: Italian grammar, spelling, and usage.
  • Audio Lab: Word of the day, survival phrases, ABCs, numbers, and conversation.