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Introduction

[deactivated user]

    Please note that I started learning Italian two months ago and that there may be some faults in my explanation. Also note that English isn't my native language.

    Regular Verbs

    There are three kinds of verbs in Italian:

    The regular conjugations of these verbs are as follows:

    First conjugation verbs, remove -are from the infinitive to get the stem and add:

    • io: -o -> io passo - I pass
    • tu: -i -> tu passi - You pass
    • lui: -a -> lui passa - He passes
    • noi: -iamo -> noi passiamo - We pass
    • voi: -ate -> voi passate - You pass
    • loro: -ano -> loro passano - They pass

    Second conjugation verbs, remove -ere from the infinitive to get the stem and add:

    • io: -o -> io credo - I believe
    • tu: -i -> tu credi - You believe
    • lui: -e -> lui crede - He believes
    • noi: -iamo -> noi crediamo - We believe
    • voi: -ete -> voi credete - You believe
    • loro: -ono -> loro credono - They believe

    Third conjugation verbs, remove -ire from the infinitive to get the stem and add:

    • io: -o -> io apro - I open
    • tu: -i -> tu apri - You open
    • lui: -e -> lui apre - He opens
    • noi: -iamo -> noi apriamo - We open
    • voi: -ite -> voi aprite - You open
    • loro: -ono -> loro aprono - They open

    How to remember this? Well:

    • io is always stem + o
    • tu is always stem + i
    • lui is always stem + e unless it is an -are verb, then stem + a
    • noi is always stem + iamo
    • voi is always the infinitive with the last r replaced by a t
    • loro is always stem + ono unless it is an -are verb, then stem + ano

    Please note that there are many exceptions, which italian.about.com will be happy to tell you about.

    Irregular Verbs

    There are a number of irregular verbs in this lesson and I won't list them all. The most important (the ones I've seen most on DuoLingo anyway):

    Essere (to be)

    • io sono - I am
    • tu sei - You are
    • lui è - He is
    • noi siamo - We are
    • voi siete - You are
    • loro sono - They are

    Stare (to stay)

    • io sto - I stay
    • tu stai - You stay
    • lui sta - He stays
    • noi stiamo - We stay
    • voi state - You stay
    • loro stanno - They stay

    Avere (to have)

    • io ho - I have
    • tu hai - You have
    • lui ha - He has
    • noi abbiamo - We have
    • voi avete - You have
    • loro hanno - They have

    Andare (to go)

    • io vado - I go
    • tu vai - You go
    • lui va - He goes
    • noi andiamo - We go
    • voi andate - You go
    • loro vanno - They go

    Potere (can \/ to be able to)

    • io posso - I do
    • tu puoi - You do
    • lui può - He does
    • noi possiamo - We do
    • voi potete - You do
    • loro possono - They do

    Volere (to want)

    • io voglio - I want
    • tu vuoi - You want
    • lui vuole - He wants
    • noi vogliamo - We want
    • voi volete - You want
    • loro vogliono - They want

    It's nice to know these since they will be used a lot by Duo :).

    Piacere

    Piacere is a verb you'll hate which is ironic since it means 'to like'. If you like something in Italian you literally say that it pleases you. So, 'I like my cat' becomes 'my cat is pleasing to

    me'. But it is always nice to begin with yourself and so: 'to me my cat is pleasing'. Usually the verb wants to be in the middle of the sentence and thus the way Italians say it: 'to me is pleasing

    my cat' This can be translated into Italian in two ways:

    • a me piace il mio gatto - to me is pleasing my cat
    • mi piace il mio gatto - me is pleasing my cat

    But you should translate both with 'I like my cat'

    If you want to use 'a + personal pronoun' you need the stressed form of the personal pronoun:

    • a me - to me
    • a te - to you
    • a lui - to him
    • a lei - to her
    • a noi - to us
    • a voi - to you
    • a loro - to them

    Otherwise use the unstressed form:

    • mi - me
    • ti - you
    • gli - him
    • le - her
    • ci - us
    • vi - you
    • loro - them

    So now you like your cat so much that you buy another one and write:

    • a me piace i miei gatti

    And Duo will say this is wrong. Why? Well, if you literally translate this back to English: 'to me is pleasing my cats' -> 'to me my cats is pleasing' -> 'my cats is pleasing to me'. My cats is. . . are the subject of the sentence! So you should use the third person plural present form of piacere: piacciono¹

    • a me piacciono i miei gatti

    Luckily for you, your cats like you back², so 'your cats like you' or rather 'to your cats is pleasing you'. Now you get 'a + definite article + possessive pronoun + gatti' -> 'a i tuei gatti' -> 'ai tuoi gatti' (since you must contract them) as the indirect object³ and thus:

    • ai tuoi gatti piaci tu

    Some more examples:

    • a lui piace la scuola - He likes the school
    • ci piace la casa - We like the house
    • agli uomini piaccionno le macchine - The men like the cars

    In bocca al lupo!

    edit 19/08/2013 22:03: Fixed a typo
    edit 25/08/2013 22:12: Fixed a translationbug mentioned by Zolfe76
    edit 16/10/2013 18:45: Fixed bugs mentioned by jimmyarctic and bbbindle

    August 5, 2013

    15 Comments


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Xiamantwi

    Thanks for this; it is really helpful. I try to think like Yoda when dealing with Piacere. "To me, pleasing - my cats are.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Zolfe76

    Your posts are really useful - thanks!

    I hate to point out what I think is a mistake in this one: doesn't potere mean "to be able to...", rather than "to do"? So Io posso means "I can"... etc.

    Keep up the good work!


    [deactivated user]

      You're right. I will correct it in a moment. :)


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Aratal

      This was extremely helpful, and a pleasure to read. Thanks a lot!


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Indielover

      Thank you very much for your explanation! I must admit I didn't bother to look up the most common irregular verbs in advance. This post is really helpful.

      I feel sorry for you English native speakers, as I see how much illogical Italian grammar sometimes is for you. The "piacere" noun is a typical example. My mother tongue, and Croatian and Serbian language too, for example, have some verbs with the same grammatical structure, so it sounds intuitively understandable to me. On the other hand, I found English grammar difficult and counterintuitive before I got used to it.


      [deactivated user]

        I first encountered 'piacere'-like constructions while learning French from french.about.com (I might have encountered them in high school, but back then I hated languages so I don't remember :) ): 'Tu me manques' - 'I miss you'. I found it indeed illogical then. Later on DuoLingo I got them again while studying French, then with Spanish: 'Me gostan los gatos' - 'I like the cats' and then again with Italian. So when I got to Portuguese I was quite surprised they say 'Eu gosto os gatos' instead of 'a me gostam os gatos' :).

        But the strangest thing is that my native language (Dutch) sometimes uses the same construction, be it at other times than oman languages, without me ever realizing it while learning French and Spanish :). 'Met mij gaat het goed' - 'I am fine' (literally 'with me goes it well'¹). You can use the same construction in German: 'Mir geht es gut'


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/esneo711

        Very nice explanation and introduction - Thanks for the lesson stefott!


        [deactivated user]

          You're welcome :)


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/U_s_e_r-8065

          stefott. Thank you this is really helpful.


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jimmyarctic

          Excellent work - very helpful. However for the second conjugation verb example ("to believe"), the English still has "to pass". Thanks so much for this though!


          [deactivated user]

            By now it's three weeks later, but I've fixed the 'believe' bug :) Thanks :)


            https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ahmed_ismeal

            Exactly what i needed .... They should put something like that for each grammar lesson .


            https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bbbindle

            Thanks for your explanation. You have a mistake in your second conjugation example- "Io credo" is "I believe." etc. Copy-paste error? Also, in this line: "voi is always the infinitive with the last r replaced by a t," it should be "the last r replaced by te," not just "t."


            [deactivated user]

              Yes, you're right. Will fix it in a minute :)


              https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kkunkler75

              Most useful post I've seen on the whole site so far. Thanks for putting this together!

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