How to Form Third Conjugation (-ire) Verbs in Italian

Learn how to conjugate "-ire" verbs in Italian

View outside a traditional food shop
View outside a traditional food shop. Gary Yeowell

While there are certainly a lot of regular verbs that conjugate according to the patterns you learn in textbooks, there are also a number of verbs that don’t cooperate with those rules. Third conjugation verbs fall squarely in that category and have a unique feature about their endings that you’ll need to know if you’re going to conjugate verbs like a native speaker.

To start, the infinitives of all regular verbs in Italian end in –are, –ere, or–ire and are referred to as first, second, or third conjugation verbs, respectively.

In English the infinitive (l'infinito) consists of to + verb.

In this lesson, we’re going to focus on third conjugation verbs, which are verbs with infinitives ending in –ire. They’re also more simply called -ire verbs.

How an -ire Verb is Formed

The present tense of a regular –ire verb is formed by dropping the infinitive ending, –ire, and adding the appropriate endings to the resulting stem. There is a different ending for each person, like “I,” “you,” or “we,” for example.

Capire - To understand (present tense)

io capisconoi capiamo
tu capiscivoi capite
lui, lei, Lei capisceessi, Loro capiscono

Characteristics of Third Conjugation Verbs

When it comes to the indicative and subjunctive present moods, many –ire verbs add the suffix -isc to the first, second, and third person singular and third person plural. and

It’s also added to the second and third person singular and third person plural of the present imperative mood.

Finire - To finish

  • io finisco - i finish
  • tu finisci - you finish
  • egli finisce - he finishes
  • essi finiscono - they finish

Present Subjunctive Mood

  • che io finisca - that I finish
  • che tu finisca - that you finish
  • che egli finisca - that he finishes
  • che essi finiscano - that they finish
  • finisci - you finish
  • finisca - he/she/it finishes
  • finiscono - they finish

Preferire - To prefer

  • Io preferisco - i prefer
  • Tu preferisci - you prefer
  • Egli preferisce - he prefers
  • Essi preferiscono - they prefer

Present Subjunctive Mood

  • Che io preferisca - that I prefer
  • Che tu preferisca - that you prefer
  • Che egli preferisca - that he prefers
  • Che essi preferiscano - that they prefer

Some verbs have both forms, similar to the model of sentire and finire:

Languire - to languish, to fade

  • io languo  
  • io languisco

Mentire - to lie

  • io mento   
  • io mentisco

Other verbs also have both forms but take on diverse significance:

Ripartire

  • io riparto - to leave again
  • io ripartisco - to divide 

Present Participles Ending in -Ente or -Iente

Generally the present participle (il participio presente) of third conjugation verbs end in -ente.

Several have the form -iente, and a few can have both endings:

  • Morire (to die) --> morente
  • Esordire (to begin, to start off, to commence) → esordiente
  • Dormire (to sleep) →  dormente/dormiente

Some participles change the letter t that precedes the declination of the participle iente to the letter z:

  • Sentire (to feel, to hear) → senziente

Other popular verbs that are third conjugation and take the -isc suffix are:

  • Agire - to act, to behave

  • Approfondire - to increase, to enhance

  • Capire - to understand

  • Chiarire - to clarify

  • Costruire - to construct

  • Definire - to define

  • Fallire - to fail

  • Fornire - to provide

  • Garantire - to guarantee

  • Guarire - to heal

  • Pulire - to clean
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Filippo, Michael San. "How to Form Third Conjugation (-ire) Verbs in Italian." ThoughtCo, Nov. 29, 2016, thoughtco.com/third-conjugation-italian-verbs-2011718. Filippo, Michael San. (2016, November 29). How to Form Third Conjugation (-ire) Verbs in Italian. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/third-conjugation-italian-verbs-2011718 Filippo, Michael San. "How to Form Third Conjugation (-ire) Verbs in Italian." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/third-conjugation-italian-verbs-2011718 (accessed May 26, 2018).