Languages › Italian How to Conjugate Italian Verbs Like a Native Use this method to improve your knowledge of verbs Share Flipboard Email Print Learn how to improve your knowledge and usage of regualar and irregular verbs in Italian from the present to the imperfect tense. PeopleImages Italian Grammar History & Culture Vocabulary By Michael San Filippo Italian Expert M.A., Italian Studies, Middlebury College B.A., Biology, Northeastern University Michael San Filippo co-wrote The Complete Idiot's Guide to Italian History and Culture. He is a tutor of Italian language and culture. our editorial process Michael San Filippo Updated January 27, 2019 Learning vocabulary for nouns like “toothbrush” and “tomato” are important, but without verbs, they’re not as useful. Verbs are essential to communicating in any foreign language, and while Italian verbs have a consistent, logical pattern of conjugation, there are still many verbs that are irregular. Plus, even if you memorize all of the verb conjugations, being able to use them quickly in conversation is another story. I say this to emphasize the importance of getting a lot of practice with verbs -- both with written exercises and with plenty of speaking. To get you started, or perhaps to fill in some gaps, below you can read about the three Italian verb categories along with suggestions for your studies so you can learn how to conjugate verbs like a native. Step 1) Learn the present tense conjugations of the verbs avere (to have) and essere (to be). They are the key to learning all of the other Italian verb conjugations. Step 2) Understand that Italian verbs fall into three categories of conjugations depending on the endings of the infinitive: -are verbs Comprare - To buy Imparare - To learn Mangiare - To eat Parlare - To talk -ere verbs Credere - To believe Leggere - To read Prendere - To take Scendere - To get off, to descend -ire verbs Salire - To go up Uscire - To go out The stem of regular verbs is obtained by dropping the infinitive ending. In English, the infinitive (l'infinito) consists of to + verb. Step 3) Recognize that Italian verbs are conjugated in the various persons, numbers, and tenses by adding the proper ending to the stem. To start, let’s use the regular verb “credere - to believe” as an example. io - credo noi - crediamo tu - credi voi - credete lui / lei / Lei - crede loro, Loro - credono Notice how the ending changes based on the subject. “I believe” is “credo” and “they believe” is “credono.” Let’s use the irregular verb “andare - to go” as another example. io - vado noi - andiamo tu - vai voi - andate lui / lei / Lei - va loro, Loro - vanno Since the endings are different for each subject, more often than not you can drop the pronoun. So, for example, instead of saying “Io credo - I believe,” you can just say “Credo - I believe” with the “io” as a subject pronoun. Step 4) Memorize the present tense conjugations of common, irregular verbs. These are “dovere - must,” “fare - to do, to make,” “potere - can, to be able to,” and “volere - to want.” Step 5) Learn how to use common verbs in the following tenses: Il presente Il passato prossimo L’imperfetto How do you know which verbs are common? While you could use the lists of the most common verbs online, I think it’s more useful to think about the verbs you commonly use and learn how to be flexible with those. One exercise for figuring out which verbs those are is by writing short compositions about your life, like how to introduce yourself, talking about your family, and discussing your hobbies. You’ll start to notice which verbs are used most often and then you can focus on those to memorize. Tips: Note that in the third person plural the stress falls on the same syllable as in the third person singular form. In a pinch, you can always consult a table of verb endings to determine the correct tense. Cite this Article Format mla apa chicago Your Citation Filippo, Michael San. "How to Conjugate Italian Verbs Like a Native." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, thoughtco.com/how-to-conjugate-italian-verbs-like-a-native-2011159. Filippo, Michael San. (2020, August 26). How to Conjugate Italian Verbs Like a Native. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-conjugate-italian-verbs-like-a-native-2011159 Filippo, Michael San. "How to Conjugate Italian Verbs Like a Native." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-conjugate-italian-verbs-like-a-native-2011159 (accessed May 19, 2021). copy citation Watch Now: How to Ask for the Check in Italian Italian Verb Conjugations: 'Credere' The Future Tense in Italian Italian Regular Verb Endings Second Conjugation Italian Verbs Third Conjugation Italian Verbs Ending in -isco Irregular First-Conjugation Italian Verbs Italian Verb Conjugations: Nascere Italian Verb Conjugations: 'Pensare' Conjugation Table for the Italian Verb Mettere Italian Verb Overview for Beginners Conjugating Andare in Italian Form Third Conjugation Verbs in Italian Using -Ire Italian Language Lessons: Italian Present Tense How to Conjugate the Verb 'Stare' in Italian How to Conjugate the Italian Verb Diventare Conjugation Table for the Italian Verb 'Cercare'