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The Italian Alphabet and
a as in mama
b as in boy
c as in cat, before a consonant or the vowels A, O, U
c like CH in chip, before the vowels I or E
d as in dollar
e (open) as in elbow
e (closed) as in egg
f as in forest
g as in girl, before consonants and the vowels A, O, U
g like J in jump, before the vowels I or E
h is silent
i like the e in the English word ego
j is only used in foreign words
k is only used in foreign words
l as in like
m as in motor
n as in nickel
o (open) as in over
o (closed) as in olive
p as in picture
q as in queen (as in English, followed by u)
r with a slight trill
s as the z in zebra
t as in table
u as in fruit
v as in vine (but sometimes like a w in older words)
is only used in foreign words (the w sound can also be made,
as in Latin, by using an oe combination)
x as in box
y is only used in foreign words
z as in TS combination in pits or the DS combination in pads
Consonant Pairs
CH before I or E is pronounced as a ck sound as in click
before I or E is pronounced as a hard g sound as in
RR is "trilled" more than a single R
SS is pronounced more like the S in English as in summer
ZZ as in pizza
SCI or
is pronounced as an SH sound as in sheet
is pronounced as SK in ski
almost always has the pronunciation of the NY
combination as in vineyard
GU is pronounced like a GW sound as in language

Articles in Italian
DEFINITE ARTICLE ("articolo determinativo"):
in italian has a number of different forms, depending on whether
the noun it accompanies is masculine or feminine, singular or
plural. It also changes its form according to the initial letters of
the word that follows it.
single consonant: il "il teatro" <the theater>
double consonants: lo "lo specchio" <the mirror>
vowels: l' "l'orso" <the bear>


single consonants: i "i denti" <the teeth>
double consonants: gli "gli stivali" <the boots>
vowels: gli "gli alberghi" <the hotels>
consonants: la "la casa" <the house>
vowels: l' "l' anima" <the soul>

invariably: le "le regole" <the rules>

"Z" and "X" count as double consonants ("DS" and "KS").

"Lo" and "la" elide (lose their vowels and take an apostrophe)
before words beginning with a vowel.

Definite articles are used with nouns which are abstract, general
or collective:
"la vita" <life>;
"l'oro" <gold>;
"la gente" <people>.

They are used with parts of the body and articles of clothing,
where English would use a possessive adjective:
"le mani" <her hands>;
"le scarpe" <his shoes>.

Definite articles are also used with titles preceding a last name,
except in direct address:
"Il signor Bianchi è di Firenze." <Mr. Bianchi is from Florence.>

"Buon giorno, signor Bianchi" <Hello, Mr. Bianchi>.

Another important use of the definite article is with possessive

"Ho perso il mio libro" <I lost my book>.



MASCULINE, before:
single consonants: un "un teatro" <a theater>
double consonants: uno "uno specchio" <a mirror>
vowels: un "un orso" <a bear>

FEMININE, before:
consonants: una "una casa" <a house>
vowels: un' "un' anima" <a soul>

Omission of the Article:

The indefinite article is omitted after the verbs essere and
diventare before nouns that indicate religion, profession, marital
status, or titles:
Mario è dottore e Alfredo è avvocato. (Mario is a doctor and
Alfredo is a lawyer.)
Io sono cattolica e lui è protestante. (I am Catholic and he is a

It is also omitted after che in exclamations:

Che bel uomo! (What a handsome man!)
Che peccato! (What a shame!)

The definite article is omitted after in with geographical terms if

the terms are feminine and singular and not modified.
L'Emilia-Romagna è in Italia. (Emilia-Romagna is in Italy.)

It is omitted with names of cities.

Conosci Milano? (Do you know Milan?)
Avete mai visto Sorrento? (Have you ever seen Sorrento?)

In some common expressions.

a sinistra (to the left)
a destra (to the right)
in cima (on top)

"Some" or "any" is expressed in Italian in affirmative sentences

by the partitive construction of di + the definite article.
Compro del formaggio e del pane. (I buy some cheese and
some bread.)
Abbiamo dei parenti in Italia. (We have some relatives in Italy.)
Abbiamo comprato della carne. (We bought some meat.)
Plural Indefinite Articles: The
partitive construction:
can be considered as the plural form of the indefinite article. It is
never used in negative sentences and is often omitted in
Non vendono pane qui. (They don't sell bread here.)
Vuole carne o pesce? (Does he want meat or fish?)

The partitive is also expressed with un po' di with singular

nouns and alcuni,-ewith plural nouns:
Devo comprare un po'di verdura. (I need to buy some
(I want to buy some apples.)

An interjection is a word or expression often given increased
emotive value in the stream of speech. Interjections are rarely
used in formal or business writing. In print interjection is usually
followed by an exclamation mark or a comma:

suvvia! = alas!
aiuto! = help!
hey! = hey!
oh! = wow!
ahi! = ouch!
bontà mia! = My goodness!

Ahi! Mi sono rotto una gamba! <Ouch! I broke my leg!>

Prepositions are invariable connecting words preceding
elements in a sentence (nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs) that
show the relationship between other elements or other

La bicicletta di Paolo è rotta. <Paolo's bicycle is broken.>

Mettilo sul tavolo. <Put it on the table.>
Dopo averci detto tutto ciò, lui sparì. <After telling us all that, he
Per quello che lei ci disse, cambiammo idea. <Because of what
she told us, we changed our mind.>

Simple Prepositions
In Italian the basic or simple prepositions, are:

di (of)
a (at, to)
da (from)
in (in)
con (with)
su (on)
per (for)
tra (among, between)
fra (among, between)
sotto (under)
sopra (over)

Scrivo a Piero. <I'm writing to Piero.>

Poco lontano da qui, câè un ristorante. <Not too far from here,
there is a restaurant.>

Carlo è tra quella folla. <Carlo is among that crowd.>

Some prepositions (a, da, di, in, su) contract and combine with
the definite article to form a single word as shown in the chart
below. (These are called preposizioni articolate.)

al ristorante (to the restaurant)

Metti il libro sul tavolo. (Put the book on the table.)
Metti il libro nellâarmadio. (Put the book in the closet.)
Potrò vederti domani dalle 5 alle 7. (I can see you tomorrow,
from 5 to 7.)
Saltò giú dal secondo piano. (He jumped from the second

Along with the simple prepositions there is a

group words, called preposizioni improprie
which are actually adverbs, adjectives or rarely
verbs, but often they function as prepositions:
davanti (in front of)
avanti (in front of)
innanzi (in front of)
dietro (behind)
dentro (inside)
oltre (further)
presso (by)
fuori (outside)
sopra (over)
sotto (under)
su (on)
accanto (near by)
attorno (around)
intorno (around)
prima (before)
dopo (after)
lungo (along)
secondo (in accordance with)
vicino (near, close by)

Vai fuori! (Go out!) (adverb)
Starò fuori città per qualche giorno. (I will be out of town for a
few days.) (preposition)

Tu stai dietro. (You stay behind.) (adverb)

Lâaltro è dietro la casa. (The other is behind the house.)

Mia nonna abita vicino. (My grandmother lives near by.)

La casa di mia nonna è vicina. (My grandmother's house is
close.) (adjective)
Mia nonna abita vicino a noi. (My grandmother lives near us.)

Nouns: Gender and agreement

Gender and number
NOUNS ("sostantivi") can have two GENDERS ("generi"),
masculine and feminine, and two NUMBERS, singular and

Generally speaking, masculine nouns end in "-o" (plural "-i")

and feminine nouns end in "-a" (plural "-e"):
"il libro" <the book>, "i libri" <the books>;
"la casa" <the house>, "le case" <the houses>.

There are exceptions:

Some feminine nouns end in "-o". they either form the plural in
"la mano" <the hand>, "le mani" <the hands>;
or (if foreign loanwords ) remain unchanged,
"la foto" <the photograph>, "le foto" <the photographs>.

Some masculine nouns end in "-a"; they form their plural in "-i":
"il problema" <the problem>, "i problemi" <the problems>.

Some masculine nouns change their gender to feminine in the

plural, with a singular-type "-a" ending rather than the usual
plural form "-e":
"l'uovo" <the egg> BUT "le uova" <the eggs>;
"il dito" <the finger> BUT "le dita" <the fingers>.

There are also a number of nouns which do not end in "-o" or "-
Nouns ending in "-e," whether masculine or feminine, invariably
form the plural in "-i":
"il fiore" <the flower>, "I fiori" <the flowers>;
"la lezione" <the lesson>; "le lezioni"<the lessons>.

Nouns ending in "-i" or an accented vowel do not change in the

"la crisi" <the crisis>, "le crisi" <the crises>;
"la virtù" <the virtue>, "le virtù" <the virtues>;
"la città" <the city>, "le città" <the cities>.

The same is true of one-syllable nouns, and of foreign

loanwords ending in a consonant:
"il re" <the king>, "i re" <the kings>;
"il film" <the movie>, "i film" <the movies>.

Some nouns ending in "-a" or "-e" can be either masculine or

feminine, depending on the gender of the person being named
by the noun:
"il pianista" <the male pianist>; "la pianista" <the female
"il cantante" <the male singer>, "la cantante" <the female

Other nouns change their ending according to gender:

"l'attore" <the actor>, "l'attrice" <the actress>;
"il gallo" <the rooster>, "la gallina" <the hen>;
"il cameriere" <the waiter>, "la cameriera" <the waitress>.

There are also nouns that have both genders, but with a
different meaning for each:
"il fine" <the purpose>, "la fine" <the conclusion>;
"il tema" <the topic>, "la tema" <fear>.

A noun and its modifiers have the same gender
and have number AGREEMENT. If a noun is
feminine, its modifiers will be feminine:
"una antica chiesa" <an old church>.
If a noun is plural, its modifiers will be plural:
"i capelli grigi" <gray hairs>.

Quantity in nouns:
Below are examples of countable nouns. Pay special attention
to the expressions of quantity in parentheses. Those listed
below are used only with countable nouns.
Expressions of Quantity Countable Nouns
uno (one) studente (student)
ogni (every) libro (book)
ogni (every) stanza (room)
due (two) piante (plants)
entrambi (both) ragazzi (boys)
un paio di (a pair of) scarpe (shoes)
alcuni (some/few) amici (friends)
molti (many) cani (dogs)
pochi (few) pesci (fish)
parecchi (quite a few/a lot) amici (friends)
meno (fewer) vantagi (advantages)

Below are examples of noncountable nouns. The expressions of

quantity preceding parentheses are used only with
noncountable nouns.

Expressions of Quantity Noncountable Nouns

un po' di (some/a little bit of) caffè (coffee)
molto (a lot of) ghiaccio (ice)
molta (many) gente (people)

Cardinal adjectives -- one, two, several etc. -- are used with

noncountable mass nouns (nouns of substance) only in a very
restricted context and mean portion:
Vogliamo due caffè per favore. (We want two coffees, please.)
Il cameriere ci ha portato un tè e un caffè. (The waiter brought
us one tea and one coffee.)

Noncount nouns:
refer to things that cannot be counted. In English they do not
usually take a definite aritcle, but in Italian they often do.

Whole groups of similar items :

il cibo (food)
la posta (mail)
la roba (stuff)
la spazzatura (garbage)


il caffè (coffee)
il tè (tea)
il latte (milk)
l'olio (oil)
la benzina (gas)
l'aceto (vinegar)


il ghiaccio (ice)
il burro (butter)
il formaggio (cheese)
la carne (meat)
il legno (wood)
il sale (salt)
il pane (bread)


l'aria (air)
lo smog (smog)
l'ossigeno (oxygen)


il riso (rice)
il grano (grain)
la farina (flour)
lo zucchero (sugar)
la sabbia (sand)

Abstract nouns:

la bellezza (beauty)
l'educazione (education)
la salute (health)
l'aiuto (help)
la violenza (violence)

Sports, games, and activities:

il calcio (soccer)
il baseball (baseball)
il football (football)
il poker (poker)

il tempo (weather)
la nebbia (fog)
la pioggia (rain)
la neve (snow)
il fuoco (fire)
la luce (light)
il vento (wind) -- but, figuratively, "i quatri venti" = "the Four

Noun/Adjective Suffixes:
Suffixes modify the meaning of the base word and can be used
to form adjectives from nouns and vice versa.

Suffixes can be used to form diminutives, augmentatives, and

pejoratives (depreciatives), but they should be coined
cautiously: many have preexisting figurative, slang, or sexual

Many other suffixes form adjectives from nouns and verbs, but
most of these adjectives can stand alone as nouns -- the noun
they modify can be an unspoken indefinite pronoun: one or

In English, the diminutive endings -let and -ie (-y) are added to
nouns to connote small size or endearment: pig, piglet, piggie.
Italian uses the diminutive ending in the same way.

The final vowel of the noun is dropped before adding the

diminutive suffix. In the feminine form the -o changes to -a.

-ino uccello --> uccellino (little bird)

-icino cuore --> cuoricino (little heart)
-etto giovane --> giovanetto (little young man)
-ello fontana --> fontanella (little fountain)
-olo figlio --> figliolo (little son)
bocca --> boccuccia (cute, little mouth)
-olino radio --> radiolina (little radio)
-uzza via --> viuzza (little street)

Sometimes diminutives connote a bad quality or contempt.

casa --> casuccia (small, ugly house)
-etto podere --> poderetto (worthless, little farm)

Some nouns change meaning and gender when a suffix is

-ino camera --> camerino (room --> changing room)
-ino coda --> codino (tail--> pigtail)
Caution: codina (feminine) in some dialects means
prostitute and codino (masculine) can be male prostitute if
applied to a person.
N.B.: coin diminutives cautiously -- many
(including all of the above) have preexisting
slang or figurative, including sexual,

Augnentative suffixes are added to a noun to indicate large size
or exaggeration of a quality. A common one is -one.
-one naso --> nasone (big nose -- or a person who has one)
-one libro --> librone (big book)
Some feminine nouns when the -one suffix is attached
change gender.
la donna --> la donnone (big woman -- or too masculine or
dominating, or a male transvestite)
la febbre --> la febbrone (high fever -- or excitement,
including sexual)
la palla --> la pallone (soccer ball, or possibly male sexual
arrousal without release)
-one la stanza --> la stanzone (room large room)
N.B.: coin augmentatives cautiously -- many
have preexisting slang or figurative,
including sexual, meanings.

The following suffixes convey the idea of ugliness or a bad
-accio ragazzo --> ragazzaccio (bad boy)
-astro poeta --> poetastro (a terrible poet)
-ucolo maestro --> maestrucolo (bad teacher)
-accione uomo --> omaccione (ugly man)

Other Noun/Adjective Suffixes:

stupido --> stupidaggine (foolishness or a
-aggine (-ness)
foolish act)
-aio (one who
forno --> fornaio (baker)
sells/is in
charge of)
-anza/enza (makes vedova --> vedovanza (widowhood),
abstract) magnifico --> magnificenza (magnificence)
-ata (-ful) cucchiai --> cucchiaiata (spoonful)
(a blow by pugnale --> pugnalata (dagger stab)
means of) cabrare (to zoom): cabrata (zooming or
(an action) aerobatics)
-ere/ore (one who banco --> banchiere (banker), conquista
does) --> conquistatore
-eria (place where) libro --> libreria (bookstore)
-ero (changes noun
guerra -->guerriero (warlike)
to adjective)
pina --> pineta (pine grove/forest)
-ia (arts or sciences) geologia (geology)
(marks maestro --> maestria
abstactions) (masterliness/mastery)
rosso --> rossicio (reddish one or reddish
-iccio (-ish)
as an adjective)
-oso (characterized rocco --> roccoso (rocky)
-ta' (-ty) fraternita' (fraternity)
bravo --> bravura (something worth of
-ura a"bravo")
alto --> altura (heights/highlands)
-uta (adjective-
barba --> barbuta (bearded)

The definite articles form CONTRACTIONS ("contrazioni") with
the prepositions
"a" <to, at, in>,
"di" <of, from, by, about>,
"da" <of, by, from, with>,
"in" <in, to>,
"su" <on>, and
"con" <with>:

*Modern Italian uses separate words in place of archaic forms:

e.g., "con lo" vice "collo."

Forming Adjectives:
Some adjectives are formed from verbs by adding the suffix
Such adjectives are actually archaic forms of the present
ardere (to burn) ---> ardente (hot)
fortificare (to fortify) ---> fortificante (fortifying)

Other adjectives are derived from the past participles of verbs.

scrivere (to write) --> scritto (written)
contorcere (to twist) --> contorto (twisted)

Adjectives are sometimes formed from nouns by adding the

suffixes -so (English -ous) and -ico (English -ic).
miracolo(miracle) --> miracoloso (miraculous)
letargo (lethargy) --> letargico (lethargic)

ADJECTIVES agree in gender and number with the nouns they


Regular adjectives with separate masculine and feminine forms

end in -o (m.) and -a (f.) in the singular, -i (m.) and -e (f.) in the
"Il battello è bianco" <The boat is white>;
"La colomba ha un'ala bianca" <The dove has a white wing>;
"I miei denti sono bianchi" <My teeth are white>;
"Le mie scarpe sono bianche" <My shoes are white>.
(Note that the letter "h" inserted in bianchi and bianche is
there to keep the "hard" sound of the "c".)

Regular adjectives with identical masculine and feminine forms

have a singular ending "-e" and a plural ending "-i":
"un vestito verde" <a green dress>;
"una mela verde" <a green apple>;
"dei alberi verdi" <some green trees>;
"delle tartaruge verdi" <some green turtles>.

N.B. Adjectives describing colors by means of nouns do not

change form to show gender or number:
"la rosa" <the rose>, "rosa" <pink>, "dei fiori rosa" <some pink
"la viola" <the violet>, "viola" <purple>, "un vestito viola" <a
purple dress>.

Other adjectives describing colors that are invariable are:

"arancione" <orange>, "marrone" <brown>, "blu" <blue>,

If an adjective follows two nouns, it takes a plural form;

if one of the nouns is masculine, the adjective must be
masculine plural:
"un vestito e una camicia rossi" <a red dress and a red shirt>.
(also note the difference between rossa = red and rosa =

If the adjective precedes two nouns, however, it agrees with the

closest one:
"rosse camicie e vestiti" <red shirts and dresses>.

The POSITION of adjectives follows certain rules. Generally

speaking, adjectives which describe or differentiate FOLLOW
the nouns they modify:
"una fontana magnifica" <a magnificent fountain>;
"la mano destra" <the right hand>.

Adjectives PRECEDE the nouns they modify when they express

an essential or characteristic quality, and when they limit or
"un piccolo asino" <a small donkey>;
"le poche case" <the few houses>;
"alcuni romanzi" <some novels>.

Some adjectives change meaning when they precede the noun,

taking on a figurative sense:
"un uomo povero" <a poverty-stricken man> but "un pover'
uomo" <an unfortunate fellow>.

Forming Adverbs:
ADVERBS of manner are usually formed by adding the suffix "-
mente" to adjectives in their feminine singular form:
"esatta" <exact>, "esattamente"<exactly>.

"Buono" <good> and "cattivo" <bad> have special adverbial

"bene" <well> and "male" <badly>.

Some singular masculine adjectives are used adverbially:

"Parlo piano" <I am speaking softly>;
"Abitano vicino" <They live nearby>;
"Sempre risponde giusto" <She always answers correctly>.
The COMPARATIVE form of adjectives and adverbs is
expressed by preceding them with "più" <more> or "meno"
"alto" <tall>, "più alto" <taller>;
"diligentemente" <diligently>, "meno diligentemente" <less

The complete comparison is usually expressed with "di" <than>

before nouns or pronouns and "che" <than> before modifiers:
"Giovanni è più vecchio di te" <John is older than you>;
"La lezione è più istruttiva che divertente" <The lesson is more
informative than entertaining>.

The RELATIVE SUPERLATIVE of adjectives is expressed by

preceding the comparative form with the definite article:
"il più giovane" <the youngest>;
"la meno veloce" <the least rapid>;
"i meno intelligenti" <the least intelligent>;
"le più attive" <the most active>.
(The definite article is not repeated if it already precedes the
"la ragazza più intelligente" <the smartest girl>.)

The ABSOLUTE SUPERLATIVE of an adjective (indicating

degree rather than comparison) is regularly formed by adding
the suffix "-issimo," which is then inflected like a regular
"un libro utilissimo" <a very useful book>;
"una donna bellissima" <a very beautiful woman>.

The ABSOLUTE SUPERLATIVE of adverbs is formed by adding

"-issimamente" to the stem of adverbs ending in "-mente" but "-
issimo" to the stems of other adverbs:
-issimamente -- "lentamente" <slowly>, "lentissimamente" <very
-issimo -- "spesso" <often>, "spessissimo" <very often>.

Adjectives and adverbs are sometimes doubled to express an

absolute superlative:
"parla piano piano" <speak very softly>
Comparisons of Equality:
To form the comparison of equality with adjectives, use:

Tanto (as, so) + adjective + quanto (as) + noun

Angela e tanto bella quanto sua sorella. <Angela is as beautiful
as her sister.>


Cosi (as, so) + Adjective + come (as)

Angela e cosi bella come sua sorella. <Angela is as beautiful as
her sister.>

(To form the comparison of equality with nouns, only

tanto...quanto is used, and these words must agree with the
nouns they modify:
Lui vende tanti libri quante reviste. <He sells as many books as

Comparisons of superiority or inferiority:

when two charcteristics or qualities of one person are being
compared, use:
(Someone is) piu (more) or meno (less) + adjective + che (than) +

When comparing two persons or things, use:

(Someone or something is) piu (more) or meno (less) + adjective
+ di (someone or something else.)

In addition to the
regular (piu, il piu) forms, there are some irregular adjective

superiore il superiore supremo (very

Alto (high)
(higher) (highest) high)
inferiore l' inferiore
Basso (low) infimo (very low)
(lower) (lowest)
Buono migliore ottimo (very
il migliore (best)
(good) (better) good)
peggiore il peggiore pessimo (very
Cattivo (bad)
(worse) (worst) bad)
Grande maggiore il maggiore massimo (very
(large) (older) (oldest) large)
Piccolo minore il minore minimo (very
(small) (younger) (youngest) small)
The two forms of comparison usually differ in meaning, and the
differences are learned through experience and may differ
regionally (piu grande <bigger> vs. maggiore <older>.)

There are similar irregular adverb comparisons:

meglio il meglio ottimamente

Bene (well)
(better) (best) (excellently)
peggio il peggio pessimamente (very
Male (badly)
(worse) (worst) badly)
piu (more) il piu (most) moltissimo (very much)
Poco (little) meno (less) il meno (least) pochissimo (very little)

The piu, il piu (and meno, il meno) forms of comparison are

irregular adverb forms modifying base form adjectives:
il piu (adverb) grande (adjective) = <the most large> = <the

As in English, Combinations and doubling are also used for of

emphasis and for special meanings:
il piu maggiore di maggiore <the oldest of the oldest>
meno il superiore <a little less than perfect>
maggiore maggiore <much older>

POSSESSIVE ADJECTIVES ("aggettivi possessivi") and
POSSESSIVE PRONOUNS ("pronomi possessivi") are usually
compound forms which include a definite article that is not
translated into English.

The forms of the possessive adjective are:

il mio i miei la mia le mie <my>
il tuo i tuoi la tua le tue <your> familiar
<his,her> or
il suo i suoi la sua le sue
<your> polite
il nostro i nostri la nostra le nostre <our>
il vostro i vostri la vostra le vostre <your> familiar
il loro i loro la loro le loro or
<your> polite

Possessive pronouns are identical in form to possessive

adjectives; the difference is in meaning. Where the possessive
adjective "il mio" means "my," for example, the possessive
pronoun "il mio" means "mine": "le tue scarpe e le mie" <your
shoes and mine>.

It is important to note that possessives agree in gender and

number with the thing possessed, rather than with the
"i miei amici" <my friends>
"la loro automobile" <their car>.

If ambiguity results from the use of possessives, possession

may be expressed by means of "di" with a disjunctive pronoun:
"la sua valigia" <his or her or your suitcase>; "la valigia di lui"
<his suitcase>.

If the possessor is also the subject of the sentence, "proprio"

may be used instead of "suo" or "loro":
"Giovanni porta la propria valigia" <John carries his own
"Proprio" MUST be used after impersonal expressions:
"Bisogna portare le proprie valige" <One must carry one's own
pieces of luggage>.

When referring to articles of clothing and parts of the body, the

definite article is regularly used instead of the possessive
"le scarpe" <her shoes>; "la testa" <his head>.

The DEMONSTRATIVE ADJECTIVES ("aggettivi dimostrativi")
singular plural singular plural
masculine masculine feminine feminine
questo questi questa queste <this> <these>
quello quelli quella quelle <that> <those>
codesto codesti codesta codeste <that> <those>

"Codesto" refers to something near the person being spoken to,

but itis falling into disuse: "quello" is replacing it.

"Questa" is sometimes shortened to "sta" and contracted with

the noun it modifies:
"questa sera" <this evening>, "stasera" <this evening>.

There is elision of "questo," "questa," and "quella" before a

noun beginning with a vowel:
"quest'aereo" <this airplane>;
"quest'aula" <this classroom>;
"quell'autostrada" <that highway>.

Demonstratives agree in gender and number with the nouns

they modify, and always precede them:
"questo libro" <this book>;
"quella casa" <that house>.

The DEMONSTRATIVE PRONOUNS ("pronomi dimostrativi") are

identical in form to the demonstrative adjectives, but mean "this
one," "that one," etc. They are used alone, but refer back to
something mentioned earlier (the antecedent) and agree with it
in number and gender:
"Questa casa è bianca e quella è nera" <This house is white and
that one is black>.

SUBJECT PRONOUNS ("pronomi") are often omitted, since the
verb form indicates the subject:
"Ho freddo" <I'm cold>.

When subject pronouns are used, it is for purposes of

emphasis, clarification or courtesy:
"Io ho freddo" <I, for my part, am cold>;
"Lui detesta il film" <He hates the movie>;
"Vorrebbe Lei venire con me?" <Would you like to come with

The subject pronouns are:

Singular Plural
1st person io <I> noi <we>
2nd person familiar tu <you> voi <you all>
2nd person polite Lei <you> Loro <you all>
3rd person lui <him> loro <them>
lei <her> loro <them>
esso <it (m,)> essi <them (m.)>
essa <it (f.)> esse <them (f.)>
Note that second person polite form pronouns are capitalized.
In literary usage, "eghli"is sometimes used for "lei" <him>;
"ella" is sometimes used for "lei" <her>. Such usage is mainly

OBJECT PRONOUNS are either direct or indirect, and

cannot stand alone without a verb. The direct object receives
the action of the verb directly while the indirect object is
indirectly affected by it. With the exception of "loro," they
PRECEDE the conjugated verb:

"Ti ho visto ieri" <I saw you yesterday>;

"gli ho dato il mio numero di telefono" <I gave him my phone

The forms of the direct and indirect object pronouns are:

Singular Direct indirect

1st mi <me> mi <to me>
2nd familiar ti <you> ti <to you>
2nd polite La <you> Le <to you>
3rd masculine lo <him/it> gli <to him/to it>
3rd feminine la <her/it> le <to her/to it>

Plural Direct Indirect

1st ci <us> ci <to us>
2nd familiar vi <you> vi <to you>
2nd polite masculine Li <you> Loro <to you>
2nd polite femimine Le <you> Loro <to you>
3rd masculine li <them> loro <to them>
3rd feminine le <them> loro <to them>

With the exception of "loro," pronouns regularly precede the

conjugated verb, but they are attached to infinitives (which drop
the final "-e"), participles and familiar commands:
"Sono venuto per vederlo" <I have come to see it>;
"Sto chiamandolo" <I am calling him>;
"Ascoltami" <Listen to me!>.

In a compound (perfect) infinitive, the pronoun is attached to the

auxiliary verb:
"averti chiamato" <having called you>.

Some one-syllable familiar commands double the first

consonant of the object pronoun:
"Dimmi" <Tell me!>.

"Lo" is used as a neuter pronoun referring back to a general

idea or situation:
"Vale la pena -- Sì, lo so!" <It's worth the trouble-- Yes, I know it!

When direct and indirect pronouns are used together, the

indirect pronoun comes first. "Loro" is the exception to this
rule; it always follows the verb:
"Lo disse loro" <He said it to them>.

Before "lo," "la," "li," "le," and "ne," the indirect object
pronouns change their form as follows:

mi --> me: "Giovanni me lo diede" <John gave it to me>

ti --> te: "Te lo ho comprato" <I bought it for you>
ci --> ce: "Ce lo dà" <He gives it to us>
vi --> ve: "Ve l'ho detto ieri" <I said it to you yesterday>
gli--> glie: "Glieli manderò" <I'll send them to him>
gli --> glie: "Glielo dicono" <They say it to her>
Note that "glie" combines with the direct object pronoun.

The 3rd person reflexive pronoun singular and plural "si"

changes to "se" before a direct object pronoun:
"Si lava la faccia? Sì, se la lava." <Does he wash his face? Yes,
he washes it>

After prepositions, the following DISJUNCTIVE

PRONOUNS are used:
Singular Plural
1st person me <me/myself> noi <us/ourselves>
2nd person
te <you/yoursef> voi <you all/yourselves>
2nd person
Lei <you> Loro <you>
3rd person lui <him> loro <them>
lei <her> loro <them>
esso <it(m.)> essi <them (m.)>
essa <it (f.)> esse <them (f.)>
se <yourself/himself> se <youselves/themselves>
se se
<heself/itself/oneself> <yourselves/themselves>

These pronouns, also known as stressed pronouns ("pronomi

tonici"),are used most frequently as objects of prepositions.
"Parla a me?" <Are you speaking to me?> "Preferisco lavorare
per lei" <I prefer to work for her>.

Relative pronouns:
RELATIVE PRONOUNS ("pronomi relativi")
introduce a subordinate clause and represent persons or things
mentioned previously. They can function as either subject or
object pronouns without any change in form.

The most common relative pronouns are:

1) "che" or "il quale" <who, which, that>, referring to a specific
"L'uomo che hai visto è italiano" <The man you saw is Italian>;
"Giulia, la quale è italiana, non parla inglese" <Julia, who is
Italian, doesn't speak English>;

2) "quel che," "quello che" or "ciò che" <what>, referring to an

unspecified antecedent:
"Quel che ha fatto non m'interessa" <What she did doesn't
interest me>;
"Non so quello che ha fatto" <I don't know what she's done>;
"Fa ciò che vuole" <She does what she wants>;

3) the impersonal pronoun "chi" <the one who/whom>:

"Chi ride vince" <He who laughs wins>.

After a preposition, the invariable pronoun "cui" is used in place

of "che":
"Ecco la signora di cui parlai" <Here is the woman of whom I

Indefinite Pronouns:
Such pronouns refer to indefinite (sometimes unknown)
persons or things or to indefinite quantities:

Poco fa qualcuno ha bussato alla porta.<Not too long ago

somebody knocked at the door..

A nessuno è permesso di parcheggiare lâauto in quella

strada.<Nobody is permitted to park the car on that street.>

Chiunque può farlo.<Anybody can do it.>

Tutto è possibile in questa situazione.<Everything is possible in

this situation.>

Se ti regalano molti libri ricordati che ne vorrei alcuni

anchâio.<If they donate many books to you, remember that I
would like some too.>

Tutti applaudirono.<All of them clapped their hands.>

The following indefinite pronouns become
indefinite adjectives when they accompany a
poco (little)
alquanto (pretty much)
tanto (much)
altrettanto (as much)
molto (much)
troppo (too much)
tutto (all)
ciascuno (each)
altro (other)
vario (various)
tale (such)

Ho bisogno di molti soldi. (adjective) <I need a lot of money.>

Quanto costano questi bicchieri? Me ne servono molti.

(pronoun) <How much are these cups? I need many of them.>

Ho pochi soldi. (adjective) <I have little money.>

Devo controllare quanti soldi ho. Ne ho pochi. (pronoun) <I need

to check how much money I've got. I don't have much.>

Non mi è piaciuto nessun vestito tra quelli che ho visto.

(adjective). (I didn't like any of those dresses that I saw.)

Sì, ho visto I vestiti, ma non mi è piaciuto nessuno. (pronoun)

<Yes, I saw the dresses, but I didnât like any of them.>

The following indefinite pronouns can be used only and

exclusively as pronouns:
Uno/-a, (a person), indicates a single person, but sometimes can
be used in the plural:
Ha telefonato uno, che voleva parlarti. <Somebody called who
wanted to talk to you.>

Ho ascoltato le opinioni degli uni e degli altri. <I listened to the

opinions of different people (the "ones" and the others).>
Qualcuno/qualcuna, <somebody> is used only in the singular.
Qualcuno ha bussato alla porta. <Somebody knocked at the

Ho preparato dei panini. Prendine qualcuno.<I fixed some

sandwiches. Have some.>

Ognuno/ognuna <each one/every>, is used only in the singular

Ognuno darà il suo contributo. <Each person will give his/her
own contribution.>

Chiunque <anybody, whoever> is only used in the singular and

refers only to people.
Chiunque potrebbe farlo. <Anybody could do it.>

Chicchessia <whoever>, used only in the singular, refers only to

Non ho paura di chiccessia. <I'm not afraid of anybody.>

Qualcosa <something> is invariable and refers to things in

Dimmi qualcosa delle tue vacanze. (Tell me something about
your vacation.>

Niente or nulla (nothing), is also invariable.

Non ho paura di niente. <I'm not afraid of anything.> (Notice the
use of the double negative )

Negative Pronouns:
nessuno (nobody, none)
alcuno (none)

Doubled Pronouns (Pronomi

When both the direct and indirect object are expressed by
The indirect object pronoun always is first,
The -i ending of mi, ti, ci, and vi indirect object pronouns
changes to -e,
An -e is added to gli, glie form and the direct objec pronoun are
written as one word.
\direct lo la li le ne
mi me lo me la me li me le me ne
ti te lo te la te li te le te ne
gli, le, Le glielo gliela glieli gliele gliene
ci ce lo ce la ce li ce le ce ne
vi ve lo ve la ve li ve le ve ne
...loro o lo... loro la... loro li... loro le... loro ne... loro
gli glielo gliela glieli gliele gliene

Both pronouns are always before the verb:

Te lo regalo. Ve ne ho parlato. Glieli manderò. Me li hai

unless the verb is an infinitive, in which case they are attaged as

suffixes to the infinitive:
E' importante parlargliene
(exceptions to the exception: Voglio/Posso/So/Devo
parlargliene or Gliene voglio/posso/so/devo parlare.)

or an imperative, where they are also attached to the verb form

Diglielo! Compramelo!

Imperative with Pronoun:

Pronouns are always attached to the end of imperatives:
Andiamoci! Non fatelo! Compramelo! Parlagli! (but also Parla
loro!) Svegliati! Alziamoci!

Negative imperatives (tu) alow two constructions:

Non andarci! or Non ci andare! - Non comprarmelo! or Non me
lo comprare!

A verb is negated by preceding it with "non." When there is an
object pronoun in front of the verb, "non" comes before the
object pronoun:
"Non mi telefona" <He doesn't call me>.
A negative response, as in English, may consist of the single
word "No":
"Lei parla italiano?-- No" <Do you speak Italian?-- No>.

Double negatives are standard in Italian:

"Non vedo nessuno" <I don't see nobody = anybody>.

Verbs "i verbi":

Conjugation: tense, person, and
There are three verb CONJUGATIONS ("coniugazione") in
Italian, identified by the endings of the infinitives:
First Conjugation -are "parlare" <to talk>
Second Conjugation -ere "vendere" <to sell>
Third Conjugation -ire "dormire" <to sleep>

There are four SIMPLE TENSES:

PRESENT: "Parlo" <I speak>
FUTURE: "Parlerò" <I will speak>
IMPERFECT: "Parlavo" <I used to speak>
SIMPLE PAST: "Parlai" <Ispoke>

There are four COMPOUND TENSES:

PRESENT PERFECT: "Ho parlato" <I have spoken, I spoke>
- "Sono arrivato" <I have arrived, I arrived>
FUTURE PERFECT: "Avrò parlato" <I will have spoken>
- "Sarò arrivato" <I will have arrived>
PLUPERFECT: "Avevo parlato" <I had spoken>
- "Ero arrivato" <I had arrived>
PAST ANTERIOR: "Ebbi parlato" <I had spoken>
- "Fui arrivato" <I had arrived>
The pluperfect is sometimes called the past perfect or first past
perfect; the past anterior is sometimes called the preterite
perfect or second past perfect.

There are four verbal MOODS or modes ("modi"):

INDICATIVE (stating a fact): "Parlo italiano" <I speak Italian>

SUBJUNCTIVE (expressing an attitude): "Credo che lei parli

italiano" <I think she speaks Italian>

CONDITIONAL (indicating a possibility): "Gli studenti

parlerebbero italiano, se potessero"
<The students would speak Italian if they could>

IMPERATIVE (giving a command): "Parla italiano!" <Speak


The conjugated forms of verbs agree with the person and

number of the subject. There are two NUMBERS (singular and
plural) and three PERSONS. First person is the speaker; second
person is the one spoken to; third person is the one spoken

1ST PERSON: io parlo <I speak> noi parliamo <we speak>

2ND PERSON: tu parli <you speak> voi parlate <you speak>
lei parla <she
3RD PERSON: loro parlano <they speak>

The "Lei/Loro" (polite "you") form of address is second person

but uses third person verb forms.

First Conjugation:
Present Infinitive Past Infinitive (Perfect
parlare (to talk) avere parlato
Present Participle Past Participle
parlando parlato, -ata, -ati, -ate
io parlo - ho Parlato
tu parli - hai parlato
lui/lei parla - ha Parlato
noi parliamo - abbiamo parlato
voi parlate - avete parlato
loro parlano - hanno parlato

(Past Perfect)
io parlavo - avevo parlato
tu parlavi - avevi parlato
lui/lei parlava - aveva parlato
noi parlavamo - avevamo parlato
voi parlavate - avevate parlato
loro parlavano - avevano parlato

Future Perfect
(Future Anterior)
io parlerò - avrò parlato
tu parlerai - avrai parlato
lui/lei parlerà - avrà parlato
noi parleremo - avremo parlato
voi parlerete - avrete parlato
loro parleranno - avranno parlato

Simple Preterite Perfect

past (Past Anterior)
io parlai - ebbi parlato
tu parlasti - avesti parlato
lui/lei parlò - ebbe parlato
noi parlammo - avemmo parlato
voi parlaste - aveste parlato
loro parlarono - ebbero parlato

-Present Past
Subjunctive Subjunctive
io parli - abbia parlato
tu parli - abbia parlato
lui/lei parli - abbia parlato
noi parliamo - abbiamo parlato
voi parliate - abbiate parlato
loro parlino - abbiano parlato

Imperfect Past Perfect

Subjunctive Subjunctive
io parlassi - avessi parlato
tu parlassi - avessi parlato
lui/lei parlasse - avesse parlato
noi parlassimo - avessimo parlato
voi parlaste - aveste parlato
loro parlassero - avessero parlato

Present Past
Conditional Conditional
io parlerei - avrei parlato
tu parleresti - avresti parlato
lui/lei parlerebbe - avrebbe parlato
noi parleremmo - avremmo parlato
voi parlereste - avreste parlato
loro parlerebbero - avrebbero parlato
Present Imperative
tu parla
Lei parli
voi parlate
Loro parlino

Second Conjugation
Present Infinitive Past Infinitive (Perfect
vendere (to sell) avere venduto
Present Participle Past Participle
vendendo venduto, -uta, -uti,
(Passato Prossimo)
io vendo - ho venduto
tu vendi - hai venduto
lui/lei vende - ha venduto
noi vendiamo - abbiamo venduto
voi vendete - avete venduto
loro vendono - hanno venduto

io vendevo - avevo venduto
tu vendevi - avevi venduto
lui/lei vendeva - aveva venduto
noi vendevamo - avevamo venduto
voi vendevate - avevate venduto
loro vendevano - avevano venduto

Future Perfect
(Future anterior)
io venderò - avrò venduto
tu venderai - avrai venduto
lui/lei venderà - avrà venduto
noi venderemo - avremo venduto
voi venderete - avrete venduto
loro venderanno - avranno venduto

Simple Past
Past Anterior
io vendei - ebbi venduto
tu vendesti - avesti venduto
lui/lei vendè - ebbe venduto
noi vendemmo - avemmo venduto
voi vendeste - aveste venduto
loro venderono - ebbero venduto

Present Past
Subjunctive Subjunctive
io venda - abbia venduto
tu venda - abbia venduto
lui/lei venda - abbia venduto
noi vendiamo - abbiamo venduto
voi vendiate - abbiate venduto
loro vendano - abbiano venduto

Imperfect Past Perfect

Subjunctive Subjunctive
io vendessi - avessi venduto
tu vendessi - avessi venduto
lui/lei vendesse - avesse venduto
noi vendessimo - avessimo venduto
voi vendeste - aveste venduto
loro vendessero - avessero venduto

Present Past
Conditional Conditional
io venderei - avrei venduto
tu venderesti - avresti venduto
lui/lei venderebbe - avrebbe venduto
noi venderemmo - avremmo venduto
voi vendereste - avreste venduto
loro venderebbero - avrebbero venduto

tu vendi
Lei venda
voi vendete
Loro vendano

Third Conjugation
Present Infinitive Past Infinitive (Perfect
dormire (to sleep) avere dormito
Present Participle Past Participle
dormendo dormito, -ita, -iti, -ite
(Passato Prossimo)
io dormo - hodormito
tu dormi - haidormito
lui/lei dorme - hadormito
noi dormiamo - abbiamodormito
voi dormite - avetedormito
loro dormono - hannodormito

(Past Perfect)
io dormivo - avevo dormito
tu dormivi - avevi dormito
lui/lei dormiva - aveva dormito
noi dormivamo - avevamo dormito
voi dormivate - avevate dormito
loro dormivano - avevano dormito

Future Perfect
(Future Anterior)
io dormirò - avrò dormito
tu dormirai - avrai dormito
luilei dormirà - avrà dormito
noi dormiremo - avremo dormito
voi dormiete - avrete dormito
loro dormiranno - avranno dormito

Simple Past
Past Anterior
io dormii - ebbi dormito
tu dormisti - avesti dormito
lui/lei dormì - ebbe dormito
noi dormimmo - avemmo dormito
voi dormiste - aveste dormito
loro dormirono - ebbero dormito

Present Past
Subjunctive Subjunctive
io dorma - abbia dormito
tu dorma - abbia dormito
lui/lei dorma - abbia dormito
noi dormiamo - abbiamo dormito
voi dormiate - abbiate dormito
loro dormano - abbiano dormito
Imperfect Past Perfect
subjunctive Subjunctive
io dormissi - avessi dormito
tu dormissi - avessi dormito
lui/lei dormisse - avesse dormito
noi dormissimo - avessimo dormito
voi dormiste - aveste dormito
loro dormissero - avessero dormito

Present Past
Conditional Conditional
io dormirei - avrei dormito
tu dormiresti - avresti dormito
lui/lei dormirebbe - avrebbe dormito
noi dormiremmo - avremmo dormito
voi dormireste - avreste dormito
loro dormirebbero - avrebbero dormito

Present Imperative
tu dormi
Lei dorma
voi dormite
Loro dormano

Avere and Essere:

Avere (to have)
Simple Present Imperfect
Present Imperfect Future Conditiona
Past subjunctive Subjunctive
io ho avevo ebbi avrò abbia avessi avrei
tu hai avevi avesti avrai abbia avessi avresti
ha aveva ebbe avrà abbia avesse avrebbe

noi abbiamo avevamo avemmo avremmo abbiamo avessimo avremmo

voi avete avevate aveste avrete abbiate aveste avreste

loro hanno avevano ebbero avranno abbiano avessero avrebbero

essere (to be)

Simple Present Imperfect
Present Imperfect Future Conditional
Past subjunctive Subjunctive
io sono ero fui sarò sia fossi sarei
tu sei eri fosti sarai sia fossi sarest
è era fu sarà sia fosse sareb

noi siamo eravamo fummo saremo siamo fossimo sarem

voi siete eravate foste sarete siate foste sarest

loro sono erano furono saranno siano fossero sareb

The PRESENT tense ("presente"):

of regular verbs is formed by adding a set of personal endings
to the verb stem.

First Second
conjugation conjugation
"parlare" <to speak> "vendere" <to sell>
io parl-o <I speak vend-o <I sell>
tu parl-i <you speak> vend-i <you sell>
lei parl-a vend-e <she sells>
noi parl-iamo <we speak> vend-iamo <we sell>
voi parl-ate <you speak> vend-ete <you sell>
loro parl-ano vend-ono <they sell>
Third Third (-isco)
conjugation congugation
"dormire" <to sleep> "pulire" <to clean>
io dorm-o <I sleep> pul-isco <I clean>
tu dorm-i <you sleep> pul-isci <you clean>
lei dorm-e pul-isce <she cleans>
noi dorm-iamo <we sleep> pul-iamo <we clean>
voi dorm-ite <you sleep> pul-ite <you clean>
loro dorm-ono <theysleep> pul-iscono <theyclean>

The present tense can have the sense of the English present
"scrive" <she is writing>.

The present tense is also used in conversation to refer to

actions which will take place in the immediate future.

It is occasionally used in literature to replace the past tense,

lending an immediacy to the narrative (vivid present).

The FUTURE tense ("futuro"):

is formed on the basis of a future stem, which is the same as the
infinitive (dropping the final "-e"), except that the A of 1st
conjugation -AR verbs changes to E. Identical personal endings
are used for all three conjugations:

"parlare" <tospeak> "vendere" <to sell>
future stem: future stem:
parler- vender-
<I will <I will
io Parler-ò vender-ò
speak> sell>
tu parler-ai <you will vender-ai <you
<she will
lei parler-à vender-à will
<we will <we will
noi parler-emo vender-emo
speak> sell>
<you will
voi parler-ete vender-ete will
<they will
loro parler-anno vender-anno will

"dormire" <to sleep>
future stem:
<I will
io dormir-ò
<you will
tu dormir-ai
<she will
lei dormir-à
<we will
noi dormir-emo
<you will
voi dormir-ete
<they will
loro dormir-anno

In addition to expressing future time, the future tense is used to

express uncertainty or probability in the present: "Saranno le
cinque" <It must be around five o'clock>.
Other ways of expressing the
The present tense in Italian can be used to express actions
intended or planned for the near future. Words denoting future
time such as "domani (tomorrow)," "stasera (this evening)," etc.,
are usual but not necessary indicators of this construction.
Vieni con noi [domani sera]? (Are you coming with us
[tomorrow evening]?)
No, mi dispiace -- [domani sera] lavoro. (No, I'm sorry -- I'm
working [tomorrow evening].)

The future tense is often used in Italian to make a guess about

something in the present. This is called the future of possibility.
Che ore saranno? (What time could it be?) Saranno le due. (It
could be around two.)
Di chi è questo libro? (Whose book is this?) Sarà di Sergio. (It
might be Sergio's.)


of regular verbs is formed by replacing the final "_re" of the
infinitive form with personal endings. Those endings always
begin with the letter "v" and are identical for all three

"parlare" <to sell> "vendere"
imperfect stem: imperfect stem:
parla vende
<I used to
io parla--vo vende--vo <I sold>
<you used to <you
tu parla--vi vende--vi
speak> sold>
<she used to <she
lei parla--va vende--va
speak> sold>
<we used to <we
noi parla--vamo vende--vamo
speak> sold>
<you used to <you
voi parla--vate vende--vate
speak> sold>
<they used to <they
loro parla--vano vende--vano
speak> sold>

"dormire" <to sleep>
perfect stem:
<I was
io dormi-vo
<you were
tu dormi-vi
<she was
lei dormi-va
<we were
noi dormi-vamo
<you were
voi dormi-vate
<they were
loro dormi-vano

The imperfect tense describes a situation in the past, or an

action which was ongoing or repeated. For this reason, it is
sometimes called the past descriptive.

The SIMPLE PAST tense ("passato

of regular verbs is formed by adding personal endings directly
to the verb stems. Each conjugation has a separate set of

<to <to
"parlare" "vendere"
speak> sell>
<I <I
io parl-ai vend-ei
spoke> sold>
<you <you
tu parl-asti vend-esti
spoke> sold>
<she <she
lei parl-ò vend-è
spoke> sold>
<we vend- <we
noi parl-ammo
spoke> emmo sold>
<you <you
voi parl-aste vend-este
spoke> sold>
<they vend- <they
loro parl-arono
spoke> erono sold>

io Dorm-ii
tu dorm-isti
lei dorm-ì
noi dorm-immo
voi dorm-iste
loro dorm-irono
Second conjugation -ERE verbs have the following alternate
endings (unless the verb stem ends in "-t", as with "pot-ere"):
io vend-etti; lei vend-ette; loro vend-ettero.

The simple past tense narrates an action with a beginning and

an end. For this reason, it is sometimes called the past historic.
It is also called the preterite, or the past absolute.
are formed with the auxiliary verb "avere" or "essere" and the
past participle of the main verb.

"Avere" is used with transitive verbs, and with many intransitive

verbs which express an action:
"Non l'ho visto" <I haven't seen him>;
"Ho parlato" <I have spoken>.
The past participle does not agree with the subject, although it
agrees with a preceding direct object:
"Non l'ho vista" <I haven't seen her>.

"Essere" is used with reflexive verbs, reciprocal verbs, and

verbs which express a change or continuance in a certain state:
"Mi sono lavato" <I washed myself>;
"Ci siamo parlati" <We have spoken to one another>;
"Eravate partite" <You women had left>.
Notice that the past participle agrees in gender and number with
the subject of the verb.

There are four compound tenses in the


PRESENT PERFECT: "Ho parlato" <I have spoken, I spoke>

"Sono arrivato" <I have arrived, I arrived>
FUTURE PERFECT: "Avrò parlato" <I will have spoken>
"Sarò arrivato" <I will have arrived>
PLUPERFECT: "Avevo parlato" <I had spoken>
"Ero arrivato" <I had arrived>
PAST ANTERIOR: "Ebbi parlato" <I had spoken>
"Fui arrivato" <I had arrived>

The present perfect uses a present tense auxiliary;

the future perfect uses a future tense auxiliary;
the pluperfect uses an imperfect auxiliary;
the past anterior uses a simple past auxiliary.
The pluperfect is sometimes called the past perfect or first past perfect;
the past anterior is sometimes called the preterite perfect or second
past perfect.

There are two compound tenses in the

PERFECT SUBJUNCTIVE: "Abbia parlato" <I have spoken>
"Sia arrivato" <I have arrived>
PLUPERFECT SUBJUNCTIVE: "Avessi parlato" <I had spoken>
"Fossi arrivato" <I had arrived>

There is one compound tense in the

PAST CONDITIONAL: "Avrei parlato" <I would have spoken>
"Sarei arrivato" <I would have arrived>


("passato prossimo"):
is formed with a present tense auxiliary verb
and a past participle of the main verb. It often
should be translated by the English simple
past rather than the English perfect tense
which it resembles:
"L'ho fatto per te" <I did it for you>.
The present perfect tense describes an action
which occurred at a definite time in the past.
io ho parlato <I have spoken, I spoke>
tu hai parlato <you have spoken, you spoke>
lei ha parlato <she has spoken, she spoke>
noi abbiamo parlato <we have spoken, we spoke>
voi avete parlato <you have spoken, you spoke>
loro hanno parlato <they have spoken, they spoke>

io sono arrivato <I have arrived, I arrived>

tu sei arrivato <you have arrived, you arrived>
lei è arrivata <she has arrived, she arrived>
noi siamo arrivati <we have arrived, we arrived>
voi siete arrivati <you have arrived, you arrived>
loro sono arrivate <they (f.) have arrived, they arrived>


("futuro anteriore"):
is formed with a future tense auxiliary verb and a past participle
of the main verb. It describes an action which will occur in the
future prior to another future event or situation, and must often
be translated by the English present tense:
"Quando avrai finito, ceneremo" <When you have finished, we
will eat supper>.

The future perfect may also indicate conjecture or possibility

with regard to a past event:
"Sarà andato al teatro" <He probably went to the theater>.

io avrò parlato <I will have spoken>

tu avrai parlato <you will have spoken>
lei avrà parlato <she will have spoken>
noi avremo parlato <we will have spoken>
voi avrete parlato <you will have spoken>
loro avranno parlato <they will have spoken>

io sarò arrivato <I will have arrived>

tu sarai arrivato <you will have arrived>
lei sarà arrivata <she will have arrived>
noi saremo arrivati <we will have arrived>
voi sarete arrivati <you will have arrived>
loro saranno arrivate <they (f.) will have arrived>
The PLUPERFECT or past perfect
tense ("trapassato prossimo"):
is formed with an auxiliary in the imperfect tense and a past
participle of the main verb. It is sometimes called the first past
perfect, to distinguish it from the past anterior (the second past
perfect). It describes an action which occurred in the past prior
to another past event or situation.
io avevo parlato <I had spoken>
tu avevi parlato <you had spoken>
lei aveva parlato <she had spoken>
noi avevamo parlato <we had spoken>
voi avevate parlato <you had spoken>
loro avevano parlato <they had spoken>

io ero arrivato <I had arrived>

tu eri arrivato <you had arrived>
lei era arrivata <she had arrived>
noi eravamo arrivati <we had arrived>
voi eravate arrivati <you had arrived>
loro erano arrivate <they (f.) had arrived>

The PAST ANTERIOR or preterite

perfect tense ("trapassato remoto"):
is formed with an auxiliary in the simple past tense along with a
past participle of the main verb. It is sometimes called the
second past perfect, to distinguish it from the pluperfect tense
(the first past perfect).

The past anterior is a literary tense, not used in conversation.

Like the pluperfect, it describes an action which took place in
the past prior to another past action (in the simple past tense),
and must be introduced by
"quando" <when>,
"dopo che" <after> or
"appena" <as soon as>:
"Quando avesti finito, cenammo" <When you had finished, we
ate supper>.

io ebbi parlato <I had spoken>

tu avesti parlato <you had spoken>
lei ebbe parlato <she had spoken>
noi avemmo parlato <we had spoken>
voi aveste parlato <you had spoken>
loro ebbero parlato <they had spoken>

io fui arrivato <I had arrived>

tu fosti arrivato <you had arrived>
lei fu arrivato <she had arrived>
noi fummo arrivati <we had arrived>
voi foste arrivati <you had arrived>
loro furono arrivate <they (f.) had arrived>

The CONDITIONAL mood ("condizionale"):

is used to express a doubt, a wish, or a possibility.

Che cosa avremmo devuto fare? <What should we have done?>

Vorrei un panino di prosciutto. <I would like a hame sandwich.>

Gli studenti parlerebbero italiano, se potessero. <The students
would speak Italian if they could.>

The conditional is also used in reported speech. In English, the

conditional is used for reported speech with a past tense verb of
saying ("She said she would come") and the future tense is
used for reported speech with a present tense verb of saying
("She says she will come").

In Italian, though, the present conditional is used with a present

tense verb of saying:
"Dice che verrebbe" <She says she would come>.

The past conditional is used with a past tense verb of saying:

"Disse che sarebbe venuta" <She said she would have come>.
The Present conditional is based on the future stem, and adds
identical personal endings to all three conjugations:

"parlare" <to speak>
future stem: parler-
io parler-ei <I would speak>
tu parler-esti <you would speak>
lei parler-ebbe <she would speak>
noi parler-emmo <we would speak>
voi parler-este <you would speak>
loro parler-ebbero <they would speak>

"vendere" <to sell>
future stem: vender-
io vender-ei <I would sell>
tu vender-esti <you would sell>
lei vender-ebbe <she would sell>
noi vender-emmo <we would sell>
voi vender-este <you would sell>
loro vender-ebbero <they would sell>

"dormire" <to sleep>
future stem: dormir-
io dormir-ei <I would sleep>
tu dormir-esti <you would sleep>
lei dormir-ebbe <she would sleep>
noi dormir-emmo <we would sleep>
voi dormir-este <you would sleep>
loro dormir-ebbero <they would sleep>

The PAST CONDITIONAL ("condizionale

passato") is a perfect tense using the
conditional of the auxiliary verb and a past
participle of the main verb.
io avrei parlato <I would have spoken>
tu avresti parlato <you would have spoken>
lei avrebbe parlato <she would have spoken>
noi avremmo parlato <we would have spoken>
voi avreste parlato <you would have spoken>
loro avrebbero parlato <they would have spoken>

io sarei arrivato <I would have arrived>

tu saresti arrivato <you would have arrived>
lei sarebbe arrivata <she would have arrived>
noi saremmo arrivati <we would have arrived>
voi sareste arrivati <you would have arrived>
loro sarebbero arrivate <they (f.) would have arrived>

The SUBJUNCTIVE ("congiuntivo"):

indicates a subjective attitude toward the action or situation
described by the verb. It is used to express an opinion or an
"Penso che dorma" <I think he's sleeping>;
"Che abbia venduto la macchina?" <I wonder if he sold his car?

It is also used after verbs of emotion, and of willing or hindering

an event:
"Ho paura che sia troppo tardi" <I am afraid it may be too late>;
"Desidero che venga con me" <I want her to come with me>.

The subjunctive is always used after impersonal constructions

("It is...") and for the polite imperative ("Lei"):
"Bisogna che venda la sua macchina" <It is necessary for him to
sell his car>;
"Parli piano" <Speak slowly/more literally: "If you would speak
The subjunctive has four tenses: present, perfect, imperfect and


presente") is formed as follows:
First Second
Conjugation Conjugation
"parlare" <to speak> "vendere" <to sell>
io parl-i <I speak> vend-a <I sell>
tu parl-i <you speak> vend-a <you sell>
lei parl-i vend-a <she sells>
noi parl-iamo <we speak> vend-iamo <we sell>
voi parl-iate <you speak> vend-iate <you sell>
loro parl-ino vend-ano <they sell>


"dormire" <to sleep> "pulire" <to clean>
io dorm-a <I sleep> pul-isca <I clean>
tu dorm-a <you sleep> pul-isca <you clean>
lei dorm-a <she sleeps> pul-isca <she cleans>
noi dorm-iamo <we sleep> pul-iamo <we clean>
voi dorm-iate <you sleep> pul-iate <you clean>
loro dorm-ano <they sleep> pul-iscano <they clean>


imperfetto") is formed by adding personal
endings to the imperfect stem. The endings are
identical for all three conjugations:
"parlare" <to speak> "vendere" <to sell>
imperfect stem: imperfect stem:
parla- vende-
<I used to
io parla-ssi vende-ssi <I sold>
<you used to <you
tu parla-ssi vende-ssi
speak> sold>
<she used to <she
lei parla-sse vende-sse
speak> sold>
<we used to <we
noi parla-ssimo vende-ssimo
speak> sold>
<you used to <you
voi parla-ste vende-ste
speak> sold>
<they used to <they
loro parla-ssero vende-ssero
speak> sold>

"dormire" <to sleep>
imperfect stem:
<I was
io dormi-ssi
<you were
tu dormi-ssi
<she was
lei dormi-sse
<we were
noi dormi-ssimo
<you were
voi dormi-ste
<they were
loro dormi-ssero
SUBJUNCTIVE ("congiuntivo passato") consists
of the present subjunctive of the auxiliary verb
and a past participle of the main verb.
io abbia parlato <I have spoken, I spoke>
tu abbia parlato <you have spoken, you spoke>
lei abbia parlato <she has spoken, she spoke>
noi abbiamo parlato <we have spoken, we spoke>
voi abbiate parlato <you have spoken, you spoke>
loro abbiano parlato <they have spoken, they spoke>

io sia arrivato <I have arrived, I arrived>

tu sia arrivato <you have arrived, you arrived>
lei sia arrivata <she has arrived, she arrived>
noi siamo arrivati <we have arrived, we arrived>
voi siate arrivati <you have arrived, you arrived>
loro siano arrivate <they (f.) have arrived, they arrived>


trapassato") consists of the imperfect
subjunctive of the auxiliary verb and the past
participle of the main verb.
io avessi parlato <I had spoken>
tu avessi parlato <you had spoken>
lei avesse parlato <she had spoken>
noi avessimo parlato <we had spoken>
voi aveste parlato <you had spoken>
loro avessero parlato <they had spoken>

io fossi arrivato <I had arrived>

tu fossi arrivato <you had arrived>
lei fosse arrivata <she had arrived>
noi fossimo arrivati <we had arrived>
voi foste arrivati <you had arrived>
loro fossero arrivate <they (f.) had arrived>

Verbs and expressions that require

the subjunctive in a dependent
clause express:
Emotion (joy, hope, sorrow, fear):
Sono contenta che lei lavori. (I'm happy she is working.)
Temiamo che piova. (We're afraid it's raining.)

A wish or command:
La maestra vuole che gli studenti ascoltino. (The teacher wants
the students to listen.)
Voglio che tu lavori. (I want you to work.)

An opinion:
Penso che siano ricchi. (I think they are rich.)
Crede che Caterina abbia torto. (He thinks that Caterina is

Doubt or uncertainty:
Non siamo sicuri che Angelo capisca. (We're not sure Angelo
Dubita che Cristina arrivi. (He doubts (that) Cristina will arrive.)

Aspettiamo che lui venga. (We are waiting for him to come.)

Verbs that express advising, permitting, forbidding, ordering,

such as suggerire, ordinare, comandare, lasciare, permettere,
proibire, raccomandare can be followed by two different
constructions having the same meaning.
Permetti che io legga. (Will you let me read?)
Mi permitti di leggere. (Will you let me read?)

Subjunctive after Se and Impersonal

A hypothetical sentence (periodo ipotetico) consists of two
clauses: a dependent clause introduced by se (if) indicating a
condition, a possibility, or a hypothesis: and an independent
clause indicating the result of the condition. A hypothetical
sentence can express real situations, probable situations, and
improbable situations.
Se vanno in Italia, visitano molte città. (If they go to Italy, they
(will) visit many cities.)
Se andassero in Italia, visiterebbero molte città. (If they went to
Italy, they would visit many cities.)
Se fossero andati in Italia, avrebbero visitato molte città. (If they
had gone to Italy, they would have visited many cities.)

When unlikely situations are described, the se clause is in the

imperfect subjunctive and the result clause is in the conditional:

Se lui avesse una macchina, andrebbe in montagna. (If he had a

car, he would go to the mountains.)

When impossible situations are described, the se clause is in

the past perfect subjunctive and the result clause is in the
conditional, usually the conditional perfect:
Se avesse studiato, avrebbe superato l'esame. (If she had
studied, she would have passed the test.)

The subjunctive is used in a dependent clause and is introduced

by che after impersonal verbs and expressions that express
doubt, uncertainty, emotion.
E' importante che lei finisca il progetto. (It is important that she
finishes the project.)
E' probabile che siano partiti. (It's probable that they left.)

All impersonal verbs and expressions are followed by a verb in

the infinitive if the verb has no expressed subject.
Expressed subject
E' importante che tu parta. (It's important that you leave.)
Unexpressed subject
E' importante partire. (It's important to leave.)
Strictly speaking, the imperative mood is only used for second
person ("you") familiar commands. For the other persons, the
subjunctive mood is used as a "polite imperative."

Familiar ("tu" and "voi") positive commands are

expressed by using the present indicative form, except that the
imperative singular of first conjugation -ARE verbs ends in "-a"
instead of "-i":

tu parla <speak!> vendi <sell!>
voi parlate <speak!> vendete <sell!>


tu dormi <sleep!> pulisci <clean!>
voi dormite <sleep!> pulite <clean!>

The NEGATIVE of familiar singular commands is expressed with

the infinitive form
"Non parlare" <Don't talk!>;
"Non vendere la tua macchina" <Don't sell your car>;
"Non dormire" <Don't sleep>.

This is also the form used in written instructions (public signs,

recipes, etc.), where it has a polite, impersonal sense:
"Non fumare" <No smoking>.

The polite forms of the second person

("Lei/Loro") and the first person plural ("noi")
use the present subjunctive for commands:
Lei parli <you should speak>
Loro parlino <you all should speak>
noi parliamo <let's speak>

Lei venda <you should sell>
Loro vendano <you all should sell>
noi vendiamo <let's sell>

Lei dorma <you should sleep>
Loro dormano <you all should sleep>
noi dormiamo <let's sleep>


expresses an action in which the subject is also the object:
"Mi lavo" <I wash myself>.

Reflexive verbs are conjugated with reflexive pronouns which

normally precede the finite verb form but are attached to
infinitives, adverbial participles (usually called gerunds) and
affirmative commands:
"Mi lavo" <I wash myself>;
"lavarsi" <to wash oneself>;
"lavandoci" <washing ourselves>;
"Lavati" <Wash yourself!>.

Reflexive verbs can also express RECIPROCAL actions:

"Si parlano" <They speak to each other>.

REFLEXIVE PRONOUNS have the same form as direct object

pronouns except in the third person, where the invariable form
is "si".

First person mi <myself> ci <ourselves>
2nd familiar ti <yourself> vi <yourselves>
2nd polite si <yourself> si <yourselves>
Third person si <him/her/itself> si <themselves>

The Passive voice:

In the PASSIVE VOICE, a verb is turned around so that its object
becomes the grammatical subject. When the agent (doer) of the
action is specified, the passive voice is expressed by the
following construction:
SUBJECT + "essere" + past participle + "da" + AGENT
"Questa lettera è stata scritta da Paolo" <This letter was written
by Paul>

Since the past participle acts as a predicate adjective (following

the verb "is") in this construction, it agrees in gender and
number with the subject.

If the passive subject is a thing and the doer is not mentioned,

then a construction called the "SI PASSIVANTE" may be used.
This passive reflexive construction is formed with the pronoun
"Qui si vendono molti libri" <Many books are sold here>.

"Si" is also used as an impersonal pronoun (like the English

"one" or "they"> to form IMPERSONAL CONSTRUCTIONS with
an indefinite subject:
"Qui si mangia bene" <One eats well here>.

In compound tenses, impersonal "si" constructions must be

conjugated with "essere" as the auxiliary, even when the verb
would otherwise be conjugated with "avere":
"Qui si è lavorato molto" <They worked very hard here>.

If the verb is normally conjugated with "essere," then the past

participle has a plural form:
"Si è abituati al lavoro" <They got used to the work>.

Passive conjugation:
lodare (to praise)
Present Infinitive Past Infinitive (Perfect Infinitive)
essere lodato (to be essere stato/-a/-i/-e lodato/-a/-
praised) i/-e
Present Participle Past Participle
essendo stato/-a/-i/-e lodato/-
essendo lodato/-a/-i/-e

(Passato Prossimo)
io sono lodato sono stato lodato
tu sei lodato sei stato lodato
lui/lei è lodato è stato lodato
noi siamo lodato siamo stato lodato
voi siete lodato siete stato lodato
loro sono lodato sono stato lodato

(Past Perfect)
io ero lodato ero stato lodato
tu eri lodato eri stato lodato
lui/lei era lodato era stato lodato
noi eravamo lodato eravamo stato lodato
voi eravate lodato eravate stato lodato
loro erano lodato erano stato lodato

Future Perfect
(Future Anterior)
io sarò lodato sarò stato lodato
tu sarei lodato sarei stato lodato
lui/lei sarà lodato sarà stato lodato
noi saremo lodato saremo stato lodato
voi sarete lodato sarete stato lodato
loro erano lodato erano stato lodato

Simple Past (Historic) Past Anterior

io fui lodato fui stato lodato
tu fosti lodato fosti stato lodato
Lui/Lei fu lodato fu stato lodato
noi fummo lodato fummo stato lodato
voi foste lodato foste stato lodato
loro furono lodato furono stato lodato

Present Past
Subjunctive Subjunctive
io sarei lodato sarei
tu saresti lodato saresti
lui/lei sarebbe lodato sarebbe
noi saremmo lodato saremmo
voi sareste lodato sareste
loro sarebbero lodato sarebbero

Imperfect Past Perfect

Subjunctive Subjunctive
io fossi lodato fossi stato lodato
tu fossi lodato fossi stato lodato
lui/lei fosse lodato fosse stato lodato
noi fossimo lodato fossimo stato lodato
voi foste lodato foste stato lodato
loro fossero lodato fossero stato lodato

Past Conditional
io sarei lodato sarei stato lodato
tu saresti lodato saresti stato lodato
lui/lei sarebbe lodato sarebbe stato lodato
noi saremmo lodato saremmo stato lodato
voi sareste lodato sareste stato lodato
loro sarebbero lodato sarebbero stato lodato

Past Imperative
tu sii lodato essendo stato/-a/-i/-e lodato/-a/-i/-e
noi siamo lodato essendo stato/-a/-i/-e lodato/-a/-i/-e
voi siate lodato essendo stato/-a/-i/-e lodato/-a/-i/-e

gerund ("gerundio") is formed by adding a
suffix to the verb stem:
-ARE verbs add "-ando": parl-ando <speaking>
-ERE verbs add "-endo": vend-endo <selling>
-IRE verbs add "-endo": dorm-endo <sleeping>

Adverbial participles answer questions about the action

expressed by the main verb: "Sbagliando si impara" <One
learns by making mistakes> (answering the question, "How
does one learn?").

They are used like English present participles to form

progressive tenses with the verb "stare":
"Sto parlando" <I am talking> (Present progressive, answering
the question, "What am I engaged in doing?");
"Stava dormendo" <He was sleeping> (Past progressive,
answering the question, "What was he engaged in doing?").

Because they function as adverbs, defining an action, these

participles are invariable in form, and do not agree in gender or
number with the subject of the verb.


formed with the adverbial present participle of the auxiliary verb
and the past participle of the main verb:
"avendo parlato" <having spoken>;
"essendo arrivato" <having arrived>.
NOTE: The Italian name "gerundio" has led to the use of the
English word "gerund" to denote adverbial participles. This is
misleading, since the English gerund is a verbal noun ("Walking
is good exercise"). It is best for English--speaking students to
avoid using the term "gerund" when studying the Romance
languages like Spanish and Italian.


("participio presente") is formed by adding the following
suffixes to the verb stem:

-ARE verbs add "-ante": parlante <speaking>

-ERE verbs add "-ente": vendente <selling>
-IRE verbs add "-ente": dormente <sleeping>

The ending follows the form of unisex adjectives ending in "_e,"

changing to "_i" in the plural: "l'uomo dormente" <the sleeping
man>; "le lezione seguenti" <the following lessons>.

The PAST PARTICIPLE ("participio passato") is formed by

adding the following suffixes to the verb stem:

-ARE verbs add "-ato": parlato <spoken>

-ERE verbs add "-uto": venduto <sold>
-IRE verbs add "-ito": dormito <slept>

The ending is inflected like a regular adjective:

MASCULINE SINGULAR: parlato venduto dormito

FEMININE SINGULAR: parlata venduta dormita
MASCULINE PLURAL: parlati venduti dormiti
FEMININE PLURAL: parlate vendute dormite

When used with the auxiliary verb "essere" to form compound

tenses, the past participle agrees in person and number with the
subject of the verb:
"Giulia è arrivata" <Julia has arrived>.

When used with the auxiliary verb "avere" to form compound

tenses, the past participle has an invariable ending, except that
it can agree with a preceding direct object:
"Ho comprato una macchina fotografica" <I bought a camera>;
"Ecco la cartolina postale che ho comprata" <Here's the
postcard I bought>.
The past participle can also be used in what is called the
ABSOLUTE CONSTRUCTION, where it modifies a noun to form a
phrase with no strict grammatical connection to the rest of the
"Finita la lezione, sono partiti" <When the lesson was over, they

The noun being modified may form part of the absolute

construction, as in the preceding example, or it may be the
subject of the main clause:
"Arrivata a Firenze, Giulia gli telefonò" <Having arrived in
Florence, Julia telephoned him >.

Note that the past participle agrees in both gender and number
with the noun it modifies in the absolute construction.

The INFINITIVE ("infinito"):

is the basic form of a verb given in a dictionary. There is a
different infinitive ending for each of the three conjugations:
1ST CONJUGATION parlare <to speak>
reflexive lavarsi <to wash oneself>
2ND CONJUGATION vendere <to sell>
reflexive sedersi <to sit down>
3RD CONJUGATION dormire <to sleep>
reflexive sentirsi <to feel>

Infinitives have two tenses: present and past. The present

infinitive is the simple form given above. The past infinitive is a
compound form consisting of the present infinitive of the
auxiliary verb and the past participle of the main verb:
FIRST CONJUGATION: avere parlato <to have spoken>
- essere arrivato <to have arrived>
reflexive: essersi lavato <to have washed oneself>

2ND CONJUGATION: avere venduto <to have sold>

- essere caduto <to have fallen>
reflexive: essersi seduto <to have sat down>

3RD CONJUGATION: avere dormito <to have slept>

- essere uscito <to have gone out>
reflexive: essersi sentito <to have felt>

Infinitives can function as VERBAL NOUNS, with or without an

accompanying definite article (invariably masculine singular):
"Il ballare è molto divertente" <Dancing is very entertaining>.

The infinitive is always used after the MODAL AUXILIARY

VERBS "potere" <to be able to>, "dovere" <to have to> and
"volere" <to want to>:
"Non può parlare" <He can't speak>;
"Ho dovuto portare il loro bagaglio" <I had to carry their
"Voglio mangiare" <I want to eat>.

The infinitive is used for familiar NEGATIVE COMMANDS:

"Non andare" <Don't walk!>.
It can also be used to give impersonal commands (the type
found on public signs, etc.):
"Non fumare" <No smoking>.

The infinitive is also used after verbs which are followed by the
linking prepositions "a" and "di," and with the causative of
"fare" (to make something be done):
"Cominciarono a cantare" <They began to sing>;
"Speravano di essere a tempo" <They hoped to be on time>;
"Fa' correggere gli errori" <See to it that the errors are

Auxiliary Verbs ("verbi ausiliari"):

"Avere" <to have> and "essere" <to be> are used as AUXILIARY
VERBS to form the compound tenses. Generally speaking,
"avere" is used with TRANSITIVE verbs (verbs which take an
object) while "essere" is used with REFLEXIVE and
INTRANSITIVE verbs (verbs of motion, position, physical or
mental condition, etc.):
"Abbiamo venduto la casa" <We have sold the house>;
"Si è frenata" <She restrained herself>;
"Voi siete arrivati a tempo" <You arrived on time>.
"Stare" <to stay, to be> is used as an auxiliary verb with
adverbial participles (so-called gerunds) to form PROGRESSIVE

The present progressive uses the present tense of "stare": "Sto

parlando" <I am speaking>.

The past progressive uses the imperfect tense of "stare": "Stava

leggendo" <He was reading>.

"Andare" is used in a similar fashion as an auxiliary verb:

"Andava cantando" <He went around singing>.

Polite vs. familiar forms:

"Tu" (plural "voi") is the familiar form of address; to use it is to
"dare del tu." This form of address is used with family
members, close friends, children and pet animals:
"Tu vai al teatro?" <Are you going to the theater?>.

The polite form "Lei" (plural "Loro") is more commonly used in

conversation (it does not have to be capitalized); to use it is to
"dare del Lei":
"Vorrebbe Lei venire con me?" <Would you like to come with

The polite form of address uses third person verb forms, even
though the voice is actually second person (direct address).
This gives a sense of formality and respectful distance to the
"Dove abita lei?" <Where does she live?>;
"Dove abita Lei?" <Where do you live?>.

Verb-Preposition Idioms:
The following verbs require the preposition a when followed by
an infinitive. The preposition is not necessarily always
translated into English.
abituarsi (to get used to)
aiutare (to help)
andare (to go)
cominciare (to begin)
divertirsi (to enjoy oneself)
fermarsi (to stop)
imparare (to learn)
invitare (to invite)
mandare (to send)
mettersi (to begin)
obbligare (to oblige)
pensare (to think of)
riuscire (to succeed)
sbrigarsi (to hurry)
stare (to stay, to stand)
tornare (to return)
venire (to come)

Vado a giocare a calcio. (I go to play soccer.)

Impariamo a parlare in italiano. (We learn to speak Italian.)
Sono venuti a trovarmi. (They came to see me.)

The following verbs require the preposition di when followed by

an infinitive.

accettare (to accept)

ammettere (to admit)
aspettare (to wait)
avere bisogno (to need)
avere paura (to be afraid)
avere voglia (to feel like)
cercare (to try)
credere (to believe)
domandare (to ask)
finire (to finish)
offrire (to offer)
pensare (to plan)
sapere (to know)
suggerire (to suggest)
tentare (to try)
vietare (to forbid)

Ho bisogno di un caffè. (I need a coffee.)

Ho finito di mangiare alle otto. (I finished eating at 8:00.)
Tentiamo di riparare l'aspirapolvere. (We're trying to fix the
vacuum cleaner.)

Pronominal and Adverbial

Particles: "Ne", "ci", and "vi":
When used as a PRONOMINAL PARTICLE, "ne" stands for
something mentioned earlier, and means "of it," "about them,"
"Non ne ho bisogno" <I have no need of it>.

When used as an ADVERBIAL PARTICLE, "ne" means "from

there," "from here":
"Ne siamo appena tornati" <We've just come back from there>.

"Ci" and "vi" are object pronouns, but they are also used as
pronominal particles representing a previously mentioned noun
or verb with the understood preposition "a." When used that
way, "ci" and "vi" mean "to it/them," "in it/them," "about
it/them," etc.:
"Ci penso" <I'm thinking about it>.

When used as adverbial particles, they mean "there" or "to

"Ci vado" <I'm going there>.

"Ci" and "vi" change to "ce" and "ve" in front of "lo," "la," "li,"
"le" and "ne."

Many questions begin with either an interrogative pronoun or an
interrogative adverb.

Interrogative pronouns include the following:

Che? Che cosa? Cosa? <What?>
Chi? <who? whom?>
Quale? Quali? <which one? which ones?>
Quanto?(-a,-i,-e,) <how much? how many?>
Che cosa vuole? <What does she want?>
Con chi parli? <With whom are you talking?>
Quante vengono? <How many are coming?

Interrogative adverbs include the following:

Come? <how?>
Quando? <when?>
Perchè? <why?>
Dove? <where?>
Come mai? <how come?>
Come stai? <How are you?>
Perche non studi l'italiano? <Why don't you study Italian?>

Sentences are made up of one or more CLAUSES.

A clause consists of a SUBJECT (a noun or pronoun) and a

PREDICATE (what is said about the noun or pronoun).

The predicate always contains a verb.

In the simple sentence:

Il re ama la regina. <The king loves the queen.>
re is the subject and ama is the predicate.

When an adjective or noun is used along with the verb essere

<to be> in order to tell us what is being asserted about someone
or something, the adjective or noun is said to be in the
predicative position.

In the sentence:
Il re è un amante <The king is a lover.>
amante is a predicate noun.

Predicate adjectives and nouns have the same case as the noun
or pronoun they inform us about.

The DIRECT OBJECT of a verb is a noun or pronoun which

receives its action.
In the sentence:
Il re ama la regina <The king loves the queen>
regina is the direct object of the verb.

Some verbs take an INDIRECT OBJECT.

In the sentence;
Il re dà un regalo alla regina <The king gives a gift to the
regalo <servant girl> is the direct object and alla regina <to the
queen> is the indirect object.

Some verbs conjugated with essere

in compound tenses:
abbronzare (to tan)
Accadere (to happen)
accorrere (to run)
andare (to go)
avvenire (to occur)
bastare (to be sufficient)
bisognare (to need)
cadere (to fall)
capitare (to happen)
crepare (to crack)
derivare (to derive)
fiorire (to flourish)
immigrare (to immigrate)
nascere (to be born)
occorrere (to have (to))
partire (to leave)
rinascere (to be reborn)
spiacere (to be sorry)
svenire (to faint)
tornare (to return)
uscire (to go out)
venire (to come)
arrivare (to arrive)
entrare (to enter)
restare (to remain)
diventare (to become)
scendere (to descend)

stare (to stay)

List of irregular verbs:
The following verbs are irregular in different tenses and

andare (to go)

bere (to drink)
cadere (to fall)
cogliere (to pick)
comprendere (to understand)
dare (to give
dire (to say)
divenire (to become)
dovere (to have to, must)
fare (to do, to make)
godere (to enjoy)
introdurre (to introduce)
morire (to die)
parere (to appear)
piacere (to please)
porre (to put)
potere (to be able, can)
riempire (to fill)
rimanere (to remain)
salire (to go up)
sapere (to know)
scegliere (to choose)
stare (to stay)
tacere (to be silent)
tenere (to keep)
tradurre (to translate)
udire (to hear)
uscire (to go out)
vedere (to see)
venire (to come)
vivere (to live)
volere (to want)

These verbs are irregular only in the passato remoto (past

absolute) and/or the participio passato (past participle). Regular
forms are given in parentheses.
Imfinitive (translation) Passato Remoto Participio Passato

accendere (to light) accesi acceso

accorgersi (to notice) accorsi accorto
aprire (to open) (aprii) aperto
chiedere (to ask) chiesi chiesto
concludere (to conclude) conclusi concluso
conoscere (to know) conobbi (conosciuto)
coprire (to cover) (coprii) coperto >

Transfer interrupted!
correre (to run) corsi corso
decidere (to decide) decisi deciso
dipingere (to paint) dipinsi dipinto
discutere (to discuss) discussi discusso
dividere (to divide) divisi diviso
esplodere (to explode) esplosi esploso
evadere (to escape) evasi evaso
fingere (to pretend) finsi finto
giungere (to arrive) giunsi giunto
leggere (to read) lessi letto
mettere (to put) misi metto
nascere (to be born) nacqui nato
offrire (to offer) (offrii) offerto
perdere (to lose) persi perso
(perdei) (perduto)
piangere (to cry) piansi pianto
piovere (to rain) piovve (piovuto)
prendere (to take) presi preso
rendere (to give back) resi reso
ridere (to laugh) risi riso
rispondere (to respond) risposi risposto
rompere (to break) ruppi rotto
scendere (to descend) scesi sceso
scoprire (to discover) (scoprii) scoperto
scrivere (to write) scrissi scritto
spegnere (to turn off) spensi spento
spingere (to push) spinsi spinto
succedere (to happen) successi successo
trascorrere (to spend (time)) trascorsi trascorso
uccidere (to kill) uccisi ucciso
vincere (to win) vinsi vinto
Coordinate conjunctions (e, ma, and o) join units
that are equal grammatically (fill the same position in the
sentence) or join two clauses of the same type:

Scivolò e cadde sul pavimento. (He slipped and fell on the

floor.) E joins two verbs.

Si muoveva velocemente ma silenziosamente. (He moved

quickly but quietly.) Ma joins two adverbs

Possiamo andare attraverso il fiume o attraverso i boschi. (We

can go over the river or through the woods.)O joins two
adverbial phrases

Ieri sera andò a casa e trovò le finestre rotte. (She went home
last night and found the windows broken.) E joins two clauses.

The conjunctions:
entrambi · e (both· and..)
non solo· ma anche· (not only.. but also·)
sia · che· (either·or·)
nè · nè·. (neither·nor·)
serve to intensify the coordination.

Entrambi Maria ed io andremo alla festa. (Both Maria and I will

go to the party.)

Non solo diede regali a tutti noi, ma anche ci invitò alla festa.
(She not only gave all of us presents, but she also invited us to
the party.)

Nè I soldi nè il potere possono farti felice. (Neither money nor

power can make you happy.)

Sia mio marito che io possiamo portarti a casa. (Either my

husband or I can drive you home.)

If only two elements (two words, two phrases, two clauses) are
joined by a coordinate conjunction, no comma is needed before
the conjunction:
Il dottore gli disse di non fumare o bere. (The doctor told him
not to smoke or drink.)
Disse che era molto stanco e che stava per andare a casa. (He
said that he was very tired and he was going home.)

If three or more units are joined, commas separate them:

Uomini, donne, e bambini sono benvenuti. (Men, women, and
children are welcome.)

subordinate conjunctions:
join elements of unequal rank, establishing a relation of
subordination between two phrases or clauses. Following is the
list of commonly used subordinate conjunctions:

perchè because
quando when
mentre while
appena che as soon as
una volta che once (that)
come as
se if
sebbene although
a condizione che at the condition that
a meno che unless
dopo che after that
before that prima che
fino a che until

Non lo vide dopo che lui ebbe lasciato la città. (She never saw
him after he left the town.)

Prese la multa perchè guidava troppo veloce. (He got a ticket

because he was speeding.)

Una volta che hai lavato lâauto asciugala bene. (Once you have
washed the car, dry it very well.)

Si ammalò gravemente da quando ebbe l'incidente. (She

became very ill, since she had her accident.)

Non va mai ai festini, a meno che sua moglie non vada con lui.
(He never goes to parties unless his wife comes with him.)
Aspetteremo dentro fino a che la smette di piovere. (We will
wait inside until the rain stops.)

Subordinate Clause:
serves as part of a sentence but do not express a complete
thought and cannot stand by itself. They are subordinate to the
main clause.

The adjective clause (also called relative):

has the same function that an adjective or an apposition has in a
sentence. That is, it specifies a preceding noun, noun phrase or
pronoun. Relative clauses are linked to the main clause by
means of relative pronouns.
John, che è fratello di Mario, è venuto a trovarci. (John, who is
Mario's brother, came to see us.)

The verb is in the indicative mood when in the relative clause a

real and certain situation is presented:
La ragazza, che prese in prestito la rivista, entrò nella stanza.
(The girl who borrowed the magazine, entered the room.)

Il negozio, nel quale ho comprato la rivista, era chiuso. (The

shop where I bought the magazine was closed.)

The verb is in the subjunctive mood instead, when a possible,

uncertain, wished, feared or hypothetical situation is presented:
Non sembra esserci nessuno di cui mi possa fidare. (There
seems to be nobody I can trust.)

Qualsiasi persona che conosca le regole, può giocare.

(Anybody that knows the rules can play.)

The interrogative pronoun chi is actually a double pronoun, in

that it always refers to people. It stands for:
whoever (that)
he/she (who)
those (who)
and therefore it often introduces a relative clause.

Chi ha già terminato il compito, può lasciare la stanza. (Those

who have already completed the assignment can leave the
Che (that) is by far the most frequently used relative pronoun.

Noun clauses have the same function that a noun, used as a

subject or an object, has in a sentence.

Eâ ben saputo che il vino migliore è fatto in Francia.

(It is well known that the best wine is made in France.) (clause
acts as a subject)

So che il vino migliore è fatto in Francia.

(I know that the best wine is made in France. )(clause acts as an

La mia convinzione che il vino migliore sia fatto in Francia, è

(My belief that the best wine is made in France is correct.)
(clause is appositive to subject)

Noun clauses:
occur most frequently as the object of the verb in the main
sentence. Compare:
Lui si lamentava ai suoi amici di sua moglie. (He complained to
his friends about his wife.)

Lui si lamentava ai suoi amici che sua moglie era una cattiva
cuoca. (He complained to his friends that his wife was a bad

The verbs in the main clause usually express mental activities

or states and speech:

credere (to believe)

sapere (to know)
dichiarare (to declare)
dire (to tell)
ricordare (to remember)
scrivere (to write)
mostrare (to show)
chiedere (to ask)
spiegare (to explain)
consigliare (to suggest)
dispiacersi (to regret)
sognare (to dream)
predire (to predict)
insegnare (to teach)
accorgersi (to realize)
rispondere (to answer)
menzionare (to mention)
notare (to notice)

Non ho notato se lui portava gli occhiali. (I didn't notice whether

he was wearing the glasses.)

Credo che sia una persona onesta. (I believe that she is an

honest person.)

Non so se abbia intenzione di venire alla festa. (I don t know

whether or not she plans to come to the party.)

Noun clauses must be linked to the main clause with che (that)
or se (if) and take the indicative if they express a real and certain
situation, and the subjunctive if they express an unreal,
uncertain or possible condition:
So che il vino migliore è fatto in Francia. (I know that the best
wine is made in France.)
Penso che ilvino migliore sia fatto in Francia. (I think that the
best wine is made in France.)

However, the noun clause takes the conditional if it expresses

an unreal, uncertain or possible condition that is likely to
happen in the future:
Penso che dovresti farlo. (I think that you should do that.)

Sequence of tenses in noun clauses:

The main verb in the present does not require sequence of
Lui dice che: (He says (that):
l'autobus arriva sempre in ritardo. (the bus always arrives late.)

l'autobus sta per arrivare. (the bus is arriving.)

l'autobus è arrivato in ritardo. (the bus has arrived late.)

l'autobus arrivò in ritardo. (the bus arrived late.)

l'autobus arriverà presto. (the bus will arrive soon.)

l'autobus potrebbe arrivare presto. (the bus may be arriving


If you compare these present tense sentences with the past

tense sentences below, you notice that the main verb in the past
requires the verb in the noun clause to be shifted to the past:
Lui disse che: (He said (that):

l'autobus arrivava sempre in ritardo. (the bus always arrived


l'autobus stava per arrivare. (the bus was arriving.)

l'autobus era arrivato in ritardo. (the bus had arrived late.)

l'autobus arrivò in ritardo. (the bus arrived late.)

l'autobus sarebbe arrivato presto. (the bus would arrive soon.)

l'autobus avrebbe potuto arrivare presto. (the bus might be

arriving soon.)

Direct and Indirect Address

There are two ways of describing what one or more persons
have said.

To refer to the exact words said by a person, direct address

(discorso diretto) is used:
Gianni disse: "Ho comprato questa macchina." (Gianni said: "I
bought this car.")
Disse is the verb of the first sentence, ho comprato is the verb
of the second sentence. The two verbs are independent.

To refer to something that was said, without using the exact

words said by that person, indirect or reported speech (discorso
indiretto) is used:
Gianni disse che aveva comprato quella macchina. (Gianni said
that he had bought that car.)
Disse is the principal verb on which the tense of the secondary
verb depends (aveva comprato)
Indirect address is the union of two or more actions, two or
more verbs -- one that is principal and the others are secondary
or dependent. The principal verb determines the tenses and
moods of the dependent verbs.

Some examples:
Disse che conosceva quella
Disse: "Conosco questa
(He said (that) he knew that
(He said: "I know this woman.")
Gli rispose: "E' strano che Gli ripose che era strano che lui
tuconosca questa donna." conoscesse quella donna.
(She responded to him: "It's (he responded to him that it was
strange that you know this strange that he knew that
woman.") woman.)
Disse che sarebbe andato al
Disse: "Andrò al mare.
(He said: "I will go to the
(He said (that) he would go to the
Disse: "Sono arrivata alle Disse che era arrivata alle sette.
sette." (She said that she had arrived at
(She said: "I arrived at seven.") seven.)
Disse che avrebbe voluto
Disse: "Vorrei mangiare." mangiare
(She said: "I would like to eat.") (She said that she would like to

Adverbial Clauses
Like an adverb, the adverbial clause modifies the predicate of
the main clause.
The following conjunctions introduce an adverbial clause:

quando (when)
mentre (while)
dal momento che (since)
prima che (before)
dopo che (after)
fino a che (until)
appena che (as soon as)
Quando piove, non mi piace guidare. (When it rains, I don't like
to drive.)

Mentre camminavo nel parco, vidi dei bambini litigare. (While I

was walking in the park, I saw children fighting.)

Dal moment che non vuole ascoltarmi, non gli parlerò più.
(Since he doesn't want to listen to me, I will not talk to him any

Lavatevi le mani, prima che vi mettiate a tavola. (Wash your

hands before you sit down for dinner.)

Dopo che ebbe finito i compiti, andò a letto. (After she finished
her homework she went to bed.)

Fino a che non avrai finito i compiti, non potrai andare a

giocare. (Until you haven't completed your homework, you
won't be going to play.)

Adverb clauses of time:

This type of clause, also called a temporal clause, establishes a
relation of time with the main clause.

CONTEMPORANEITY. If the action expressed in the adverbial

clause is occurring at the same time as the one expressed in the
main clause, the adverbial clause is introduced by one of the
following conjunctions:
quando, allorchè, allorquando (when)
nel momento che, al tempo in cui (at the time that)
mentre (while)
finchè, fintantochè (as long as)

The verb in the temporal clause will be in the indicative mood.

Quando non ci sei, mi sento triste. (When you are not here, I
feel sad.)

Mentre dormivamo, ha piovuto a dirotto. (While we were asleep,

it rained heavily.)

Tutto questo succedeva al tempo in cui abitavamo in

campagna. (All of this happened at the time that we were living
in the country.)
Puoi restare qui fintanto che te ne stai tranquillo. (You can stay
here as long as you are quiet.)

Mentre guardavo la televisione, il telefono squillò. (While I was

watching TV, the phone rang.)

This type of adverbial clause can also be expressed by the

present gerund if its subject coincides with that one of the main
Elena leggeva, ascoltando la radio. (Elena was reading, (while
she was) listening to the radio.)

The clause of cause and effect indicates the cause or

the reason for which a situation expressed in the main clause is
verified. The following conjunctions are used with this type of

perchè, perciò, onde per cui, ragion per cui (because)

come (as)
fintanto che (as long as)
in quanto che, per il fatto che, dal momento che, (since)
poichè, giacchè, siccome, ora che (now that)

Non esco perchè sono stanco. (I'm not going out because I'm

Dal momento che il tempo era così brutto, decidemmo di non

uscire. (Since the weather was so bad, we decided not to go

Ora che il progetto è completato, posso prendermi due giorni di

vacanza. (Now that
the project is completed, I can take a few days off.)

Come arriva lâinverno, passiamo meno tempo fuori. (As it is

winter now, we spend less time outside.)

Fintanto che sei libero, puoi portare la lettera allâufficio postale

per me? (As long as you are free, can you take the letter to the
post office for me?)

Eâ così sensibile che ogni piccola cosa lo disturba. (He is so

emotional that every little thing upsets him.)
Aveva passato la settimana scorsa allâospedale, ragion per cui
era piuttosto debole quando tornò a casa. (He spent the last
week in the hospital, so he was quite weak when he came back

If the subject of the main clause coincides with the subject in

the adverbial clause, adverbial clauses of causes and effect can
also be expressed by a present or past gerund or past
Avendo finito di studiare, il ragazzo potè finalmente uscire.
(Since he had completed his homework, the boy could finally go

Conditional clauses:
Statements with real conditions express
different kinds of conditional meanings.
Se piove, cosa faremo? (If it rains, what will we do?)

Se hai bisogno di qualcosa, fammelo sapere. (If you need

anything, please let me know.)

I lavoratori in sciopero torneranno al lavoro, se raggiungeranno

l'accordo con l'amministrazione. (The strikers will go back to
work if they reach the agreement with the administration.)

Se sarai nominato, ti opporrai alle sue misure? (If you are
elected, will you oppose his measures?)

Note that in Italian if the action will take place in the future (the
main clause verb is in the future), the verb in adverbial clause is
also in the future.

Se farà bel tempo andremo al picnic. (If the weather is nice, we

will go on a picnic.)

Se domani avrà abbastanza tempo, mi chiamerà. (If she has

enough time tomorrow, she will call me.)
Comparative clauses:
Adverbial clauses of comparison are usually introduced by
comparative words, such as:

come (as)
piuttosto che (rather than)
che (than)
di quanto (than)
una volta che (once)
fintanto che (as long as)
allorquando (when)

L'esame è stato difficile proprio come prevedevo. (The test was

as hard as I thought it would be.)

Finì molto più presto di quando avevamo calcolato. (It ended

much sooner than we planned.)

La nuova macchina non è tanto più efficiente di quanto lo sia

quella vecchia. (The new machine is not more efficient than the
old one.)

Comparative clauses can also be expressed in Italian with

piuttosto di plus infinitive:
Piuttosto di stirare tutta quella biancheria , laverei i piatti tutto il
giorno. (Rather than iron all that linen, I would wash dishes all
day long.)

Punctuation differences:
In almost all cases, Italian punctuation is the
same as punctuation in English. Following are
some exceptions:
Periods in abbreviations :
Often the period is in the middle of an abbreviation

Sig. Signor (Mr.)

Sig.ra Signora (Mrs.)
Sig.na Signorina (Miss)
Egr. Egregio (distinguished)
C.V. curriculum vitae (resume)
Spett.le Spettabile (respectable)
All. allegato (enclosures)
v. vedi (see)

Since the dawn of the internet, the English word "dot" has
entered Italian with the meanings:
period, decimal point, and "dot" (as in "netscape.com" =
netscape dot com).

Comma in expressions of time:

In Italian, expressions of time are written with a comma instead
of a colon:

8,30 di mattina 8:30 a.m.

10, 45 di sera 10:45 p.m.
11,15 di notte 11:15 p.m.

Quotation marks (le virgolette):

enclose the direct quotation, that is the repetition of someone's
exact words. Frequently in Italian they appear in this manner:
<< >>
L'avvocato disse: <<Lei è disoccupato?>> (The lawyer said:
"You are unemployed?")

Prefixes and suffixes:

Common Prefixes
ante (before) antefatto (antecedents)
(to divide
con (with) condividere
contra (against) contrattacco (counterattack)
de/di (from) deviare (to deviate)
in (in, as a negative) inesperto (inexpert)
(in, used in forming
in infiammare (to inflame)
pre (before) preavviso (forewarning)
trans/tras (across) Transatlantico (transatlantic)
a/ab from/out of abrogazione (abrogation)
bi/bis (twice) bisnonno
inter (between) interporre (to interpose)
(the day after
pos (after) posdomani
pro (forward) proporre (to put forward)
per perlustrare (to reconnoiter)
re/re (again) reazione (reaction)
semi (half) semicerchio (semicircle)
e/ex (out) eccetto (except)
anti (against) anticomunista (anti communist)
peri (around) periscopio (periscope)
sin (with) sincronico (synchronous)

common suffixes (Many from Latin)

-zione -tion operazione (operation)
-tore -man pescatore (fisherman)
-ia -y gloria (glory)
-ibile -ible incredibile (incredible)
-ismo -ism feminismo (feminism)
-ista -ist socialista (socialist)
-ice -ess actrice (actress)
-ore -or venditore (vendor)
-orio -ory migratorio (migratory)
x-oso -ous geloso (jealous)

Cardinal Numbers:
0 zero 10 dieci 20 venti
1 uno/una 11 undici 21 ventuno 10 dieci 100 cento
2 due 12 dodici 22 ventidue 20 venti 200 duocent
3 tre 13 tredici 23 ventitre 30 trenta 300 trecento
4 quatro 14 quattordici 24 ventiquatro 40 quaranta 400 quatroce
5 cinque 15 quindici 25 venticinque 50 cinquanta 500 cinquece
6 sei 16 sedici 26 ventisei 60 sessanta 600 seicento
7 sette 17 dicasette 27 ventisette 70 settanta 700 settecen
8 otto 18 dicotto 28 ventotto 80 ottanta 800 ottocent
9 nove 19 diciannove 29 ventinove 90 novanta 900 novacen
10 dieci 20 venti 30 trenta 100 cento 1.000 mile
101 cent(o)uno 1.100 millece

Cardinal numbers are used in Italian to count, to indicate

quantities, and for giving all dates except the first of every
month (which is always "il primo".)

Milione, miliardo, bilione, trilione, etc.

are nouns in italian and must be preceded by the indefinite
article un or any other number and must be fillowed by the
preposition di when used before another noun:
$1.000.000 = un milione di dollari
$2.ooo.ooo = Due milione di dollari
IL1.000.000.000 = un miliardo di lire (Equivalent to the U.S.
IL2.ooo.ooo.ooo = due miliardi di lire (note that miliardi is plural)

Bilione, trilione, etc. are ambiguous:

Bilione, for example, now most often means 1,000,000,000 (one
thousand million, the same as miliardo and the U.S. billion)
although it still sometimes means 1,000,000,000,000 (one
thousand thousand million).
Trilione now usually means 1,000,000,000,000 (one thousand
thousand million, the same as the U.S. trillion) although it still
sometimes means 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 (one thousand
thousand thousand thousand million. If your talking about large
amounts of money, especially your own money, it is best to
show the amount you mean in written figures.

In Italian, The only way to say 1,ioo through 1,900 is millecento,

milleduecento, milletrecento, etc. There is no italian equivalent
to "thirteen hundred".

Collective Numbers ("about ten, about sixty,

etc.), normally formed by dropping the final vowel of the
cardinal numbers and adding -ina, are used to express
approximations ("about ten", "about fifty", etc.) Collective
numbers are feminine nouns and are almost always indefinite,
so they normally require the indefinite article una. They are
followed by the preposition di if used with another noun.
una diecina <about ten>
una cinquantina <about fifty>
una trentina di nostri amici <about thirty of our friends>
un centinaio <about a hundred>, centinaia <hundreds>
un migliaio <about a thousand>, migliaia <thousands>

Dozen/dozens (of):
una dozzina, due dozzine, etc. <a dozen, two dozen, etc.>
Una Dozzina di mele <a dozen apples>
a Dozzina <by the dozen>)
(uno sacco di: Ho uno sacco di cose da fare, <I have dozens
of (lots of) things to do.> -- sacco really means "sack" so <I have
a sack of things to do>

Cardinal numbers in simple Mathematical

piu = plus -- Addizione
meno = minus -- sottrazione
per = times, multplied by -- multiplicazione
diviso per = divided by -- divizione
Fratto = divided by -- divizione

fa (fanno) = equals, are

e uguale a = equals, are
tre piu sette fa (fanno) dieci <3 + 7 = 10>
(Tre piu sette e uguale a dieci <3 + 7 = 10>)
trenta meno quindici fa (fann0) quindici <30 - 15 = 15>
cinque per sei fa (fanno) trenta <5 x 6 = 30>
quaranta diviso per diece fa (fanno) quatro <40 : 10 = 4>

Fractions -- frazione:
1/2 = la meta <one/a half> (le due mete <both halves>) (1 1/2 =
uno e meta <one and a half>)
1/2 = mezzo,-a,-i,-e <one/a half (something)> (I due mezzi (cosi)
<both half (somethings)>)

La meta is the noun and mezzo is the adjective:

la meta della classe <half of the class>
mezza bottiglia <a half bottle>

Other fractions use the same word for nouns and adjectives, but
they are also inflected when used as adjectives, e.g., la terza
1/3 = un terzo <one/a third> (2/3 = due terzi <two thirds>) (1.2/3
= uno e due terzi <one and two thirds>)
1/4 = un quarto <one/a fourth or one/a/quarter>
1/5 = un quinto
1/6 = un sesto
1/7 = un settimo
1/8 = un ottavo
1/9 = un nono
1/10 = un decimo
1/11 = un undecimo
1/17 = un diciasettimo
1/18 = un dicottimo/un dicottavo
1/19 = un dicianovimo/un dicianono
1/20 = un ventesimo
1/21 = un ventunesimo
1/22 = un ventiduesimo
1/23 = un ventitresimo
1/28 = un ventottesimo/un ventottavo
1/100 = un centesimo
1/1000 = un millesimo

As in English, fractions are formed by using a cardina number in

the numerator and an ordinal in the denominator, and if the
numerator is more than one, the denominator is plural.
Sources differ on how to form obscure fractions --
mathematicians appear to prefer "un ventottesimo" for 1/28 (but
are just as likely to say "uno diviso per (or fratto) ventotto.")
Linguists like "un ventottoavo" for 1/28 (but they also may just
say "uno diviso per ventotto.")

As in English, any fraction can be spoken like "dieci diviso per

ventitre <ten divided by twenty three>.

Fratto also is translated by the English word fractional.

Decimals (Frazione decimale):

Decimal fractions are formed regularly in Italian using the word
"virgola" <comma>. True to the word, a comma is used in
Italian rather than the period used in English:
1,25 = uno virgola venticinque <1.25 = one point two five>
Italians with many english speaking contacts may say "uno
punto (decimale) venticinque" when speaking to Enlish

Multiplicative numbers (double, triple, etc.):

Multiplo <multiple, manifold>
doppio <double, twice, dual, twofold>
triplo <triple, treble, threefold>
quadruplo <quadruple>
quintuplo <quintuple>
sestuplo <sextuple>
settuplo <septuple>
ottuplo <octuple>
nonuplo <nontuple>
dieci volte maggiore/tanto <tenfold, decuple>
undici volte maggiore/tanto <elevenfold>
centuplo <hundredfold, centuple>
mille volte magiore/tanto <thousandfold>

Multi-, dupli-, tripli- quadrupli-, etc. are used as prefixes

multiplicare, duplicare, triplicare, quadruplicare, etc. <to miltiply,

to double, to triple, to quadruple, etc.>
Telephone numbers:
Italian phone numbers can have from five through ten (or even
more) digits.
Area codes are either two or three digits, almost always start
with zero, and may or may not have to be dialed within local
areas -- in Rome, for example, the 06 area code has to be dialed
before local numbers.

To speak a phone number, first say the individual digits of the

area code (e.g., "zero, sei" for Rome, or "zero, sette, uno" for

then say the numbers in groups of two (55551515 is

"cinquantacinque, cinquantacinque, quindici, quindici" -- 55-55-
15-15.) if there are three digits left at the end of the number,
they are combined into a group (55151 is "cinquantacinque,
centocinquantuno" -- 55-151 -- never "cinquantacinque, quindici,
A number including its area code combines the two usages.
(Ancona 555151 is "zero, sette, zero, cinquantacinque,
centocinquantuno" -- 1-7-1-55-151.)

The country code for Italy is 39 and is said as a two number

group ("trentanove") before all the other numbers (Rome, Italy
55551515 is "trentanove, zero, sei, cinquantacinque,
cinquantacinque, quindici, quindici" -- 39-0-6-55-55-15-15.)

If you ask for a repeat, and the person on the line recognizes
that you are a foreigner, you may get all the digits individually
(39 06 55551515 would be "tre, nove, zero, sei, cinque, cinque,
etc." -- 3-9-0-6-5-5-etc.)

Collective numerals are numbers that indicate an

approximate quantity. Most of these numbers are formed by
adding the suffiix -ina to the cardinal number (minus the final
letter). Collective numerals are nouns and take the preposition
di before another noun.

Ho parlato con un quarantina di studenti. (I spoke with about 40


12 roses (12, an exact una dozzina di rose (an

number) approximation, around 12)
venti (twenty) una ventina (around twenty)
cinquanta (fifty) una cinquantina (around fifty)
un centinaio (pl. centinaia) around a hundred (hundreds);
un migliaio (pl. migliaia) around one thousand (thousands)

Ordinal Numbers

11th undicesimo/
1st primo 100th centesimo
12th dodicesimo/
2nd secondo 200th du(e)centesimo
13th tredicesimo/
3rd terzo 300th trecentesimo
4th quarto etc. etc.
5th quinto
101st centunesimo/
6th sesto 20th ventesimo
centesimo primo
7th settimo 30th trentesimo etc.
8th ottavo etc.
9th nono 1,000th millesimo
21st ventunesimo/
10th decimo
ventesimo primo
22nd ventiduesimo/
ventesimo 1,000,000th milionesimo
nth ennesimo
last ultimo
As in English, ennesimo <nth> can mean "any number" or can
mean "utmost"

Ordinals agree with the nouns the modify in gender and number

Ordinals normally precede the noun the modify ("il primo

capitolo" <the first chapter>) but can follow the noun for
empasis and always follow the noun to indicate lines of
succession of kings, Popes, ect.: Enrico Ottavo <Henry the
Eighth>, Papa Pio decimo < Pope Pius the Tenth.

As in English, ordinals can be used without the noun they

modify, but if the noun is known the ordinal should be inflected.

Only the ordinal primo is used in dates: Oggi e il primo (di)

febbraio <Today is the first of February.>
All other dates us cardinal numbers: Oggi e il cinque (di)
Febbraio <Today is February the fifth.>)

"To the nth power"

x al quadrato = x squared
x al cubo = x cubed
x alla quarta (potenza) = x to the fourth (power)
x all'ennesima (potenza) = x to the nth (power)

radice quadrata di x = the square root of x

radice cubica di x = the cube root of x
quarta radice di x = the fourth root of x
ennesima radice di x = the nth root of x

What hour is it?
Che ora e? / Che ore sono?
di notte ----> it's one a.m.
e l'una ---->
di pomeriggio ----> it's one p.m.
e mezzogiorno ----> ----> it's noon
e mezzanotte ----> ----> it's midnight
sono le due
----> it's two p.m.
del pomeriggio ---->
di notte ----> it's four a.m.
sono le quattro ---->
del pomeriggio ----> it's four p.m.
di mattina ----> it's five a.m.
sone le cinque ---->
del pomeriggio ----> it's five p.m.
sono le undici ----> di mattina ----> it's 11 a.m.
di notte ----> it's 11 p.m.
Because the word ora,-a is implied, the feminine definite article
is used.

Italian uses e (singular) for 1 o'clock and sono (plural) for hours
more than one o'clock.
e l'una <It's one o'clock>
sono le sei <it's ("they are") six o'clock>

Morning, Noon and Night:

A.M. (antimeridiano) and P.M. (postmeridiano) exist in Italian,
and the abreviations are the same as in English, but they are
rarely used. Some Italians use a.m./p.m only when talking to

di mattina (5 a.m. to noon),

del pomeriggio (noon to 5/6 p.m.),
di sera (5/6 p.m. to 10 p.m.), and
di notte (10 p.m. to 5 a.m.) are more commonly used.

Borders between pomeriggio / sera / notte / mattina vary

considerably, but the mattina / pomeriggio line is more
consistently at noon.

"Mezzogiorno," however, can stretch out several hours into a

long lunch. "il mezzogiorno" is the south of Italy, which is
famous for long lazy afternoons. "a mezzogiorno" means <in
the south>, while "al sud" means <to the south.> "sono a
mezzogiorno" can mean <they are lazy> as well as <they are
taking a long lunch.>

Minutes are added to the hour using e <and>:

sono le due e venti. = <it's 2:20>
E l'una e trentotto = <it's 1:38>
Sono le otto e cinquantanove = <it's 8:59.>

Minutes past the half hour can also be expressed as:

the next hour minus (meno) the minutes until the next hour --
Sono le dieci meno venti = <it's 20 minutes before 10> or <it's
or as:
Minutes "left to go" (mancare = to be lacking) before the next
hour --
Mancano dieci minuti alle sette = <it is (They are lacking) ten
minutes before seven>
Manca un/uno minuto alla sei = <it is (it is lacking) a/one
minute before six.

Rarely, minutes can be added to any time for emphasis,

meaning "you are this many minutes late" --
Sono le nove e venticinque e dieci <(roughly) It's 9:35 and you
were supposed to be here ten minutes ago at 9:25.>

Quarters and thirds of Hours:

(ora,-e) e un quarto <a quarter past>
... e mezzo/mezza <half past>
... e tre quarti <three quarters past> (rarely used)
... meno un quarto <a quarter to>
... e un terzo/terza <20 past> (rarely)
... meno un terzo/terza <20 til> <Rarely>

At what time? When?

A Che ore ...?
A mezzogiorno <at noon>
All'una precisa <at one o'clock sharp>
alle otto precise <at eight sharp>
alle otto e trentotto <at 8:38>

Time expressions:
in anticipo <early, ahead of time>
in orario <on time>
in ritardo <late>
in punto <sharp, on the dot, punctual(ly)
precisa,-e <sharp>
le ore di punta <rush hour(s)>
la mattina <in the morning>
il pomeriggio <in the afternoon>
la sera <in the evening>
la notte <at night>
E' presto <It's early/it's on time>
E' tardi <it's late>
ieri <yesterday>
ieri l'altro/l'alto ieri <the day before yesterday/the other day>
oggi <today>
domani <tommorow><figuratively -- "whenever">
dopodomani <the day after tomorrow>
...fa <...ago> --
venti minuti fa <20 minutes ago>
molto tempo fa <a long time ago>
secoli fa <centuries ago>
Fra...e... <between...and...> --
fra otto e nove <between 8 and 9>
circa <about/approximately> --
e circa l'una <it's about one>
Sono circa le tre <it's about three>

One Time, Two Times, Many times, at times, Sometimes, etc.

La volta expresses repetative time:
Dillo ancora una volta <SAy it once more (one more time)>
Quante volte ...? <How many times ...?>
A volte .... <At times ....>
Qualche volta... <sometimes> --
volta is singular because qualche is always followed by
singular nouns
La secunda volta <the second time>
Mille volta <a thousant times> <countless times>
c'era una volta <there once was/once upon a time>
una volta per sempre <once and for all>
per l'ultima volta <for the last time>
tre volte stupido <utterly stupid>
ogni volta <every/each time>
due per volta/tre per volta/etc. <two at a time/three at a
la volta tua <your turn>
la prossima volta <the next time>
la altra volta <the other time>
un'altra volta <another time>

Days, months, seasons, years, dates

Days of the week:
Lunedi <(on) Monday>
Martedi <(on) Tuesday>
Mercolodi <(on) Wednesday>
Giovedi <(on) Thursday>
Venerdi <(on) Friday>
Sabato <(on) Saturday>
Domenica(F) <(on) Sunday>





Centuries (secoli):
il Undicento (secolo) = 1101 through 1200
il Duecento (secolo) = 1201 through 1300
il Trecento (secolo) = 1301 throuh 1400
il Quatrocento (secolo) = 1401 through 1500
il Cinquecento (secolo) = 1500 through 1600
il Seicento (secolo) = 1601 through 1700
il Settecento (secolo) = 1701 through 1800
l'Ottocento (secolo) = 1801 through 1900
il Novecento (secolo) = 1901 through 2000

Note that Italian uses "the 1200 (century)" where English uses
"the 13th century." The word secolo is used only if needed to
avoid confusion.

Centuries are capitalized.

Idiomatic Verb Constructions:

Piacere <to be pleasing to/(roughly) to like>:
Usually used in the third person singular or plural, depending
on whether what is pleasing is singular or plural:
Singular --
present piace
imperfect piaceva
future piacera
conditional piacerebbe
present perfect e' piaciuto,-a
past perfect era piaciuto,-a
future perfect sara piaciuto,-a
conditional perfect sarebbe piaciuto,-a

Plural --
present piacciono
imperfect piacevano
future piaceranno
conditional piacerebbero
present perfect sono piaciuti,-e
past perfect erano piaciuti,-e
future perfect saranno piaciuti,-e
conditional perfect sarebbero piaciuti,-e
Note that piacere is conjugated with essere so the past
participle agrees with its subject.

The recipient of the action (the person(s)) to whom something is

pleasing is either the indirect object (or the dative object --
indirect object -- pronoun) or the object (or the disjunctive
object pronoun) of the preposition "A."

If the indirect object (dative) pronoun is used, it precedes the

verb: Mi piace.... and the subject (that which is pleasing) follows
the verb: mi piace il film. The verb, naturally, agrees with its

If a + disjunctive is used it Precedes the verb or follows the

subject which follows the verb: A me (disjunctive object
pronoun) piace il film (subject). -- 0r-- Piace il film (subject) a
me(disjunctive pronoun.)

An infinitive can be the subject of piacere:

Mi piace viaggiare. <To travel is pleasing to me./I like to travel.>
Piace viaggiare a me. <To dance is pleasing to me./I like to
(The English usage of the participle as a noun is not used with

Weather --
Che tempo fa? <How is the weather?/lit.: What weather makes
Fa bel (cattivo) tempo. <the weather is good (bad).:/Lit.: It
makes good (bad) weather.>
Fa freddo. <It's cold.>
Fa molto caldo. <it's very hot.>
(But: Poive. <It's raining.>, Neve. <It's snowing.>, Tira vento.
<The wind is blowing.>

Professions --
Che cosa fa Suo padre? <What does your father do?>
Mio padre fa il medico. <My father is a doctor.>
Faccio il musicista. <I am a musician.>

in place of English "have" -- to "Have something

done" --
Faccia aprire la porta. <Have the door opened.>
Mi sono Fatto un vestito. <I had a dress made for myself.>
Le ho fatto scrivere una lettura. <I had her write a letter./I made
her write a letter.>
Note the use of the infinitive vice the English usage of the past

Other Idiomatic Expressions --

Fare una domanda <to ask a question>
fare un viaggio <to take a trip>
fare un bagno <to take a bath>
Fare una passeggiata <to take a walk>
Fare colazione <to have breakfast/brunch/light lunch>
fare da mangiare <to make lunch or dinner>
fare attenzione <to pay attention>
fare un piachere <to do a favor>
Fare una conferenza <to give a lecture>
Farsi male <to hurt oneself>
farsi la barba <to shave>
Si fa tardi. <It's getting late.>
Non fa niente. <It's all right.>

To be hungry = to have hunger; to be thirtsy = to have thirst
Ho fame <I'm hungry>
Ho sete <I'm thirsty>
Ho caldo <I'm warm> (not the same as Fa caldo <it's hot/warm>)
ho freddo <i'm cold> (not the same as Fa freddo <it's cold>)
Ho fretta <I'm in a hurry>
Ho paura <I'm afraid>
Ha ragione <You're right>
Ho sonno <I'm sleepy>

Ho venticinque anni <he's fifteen years old>
Ha i capelli biondi <He has blond hair/his hair is blond>
Che cosa hai? <what's the matter with you (familiar singular?>
Non ho niente. <Nothing is the matter with me.>

Essere vs. Stare:

Essere and stare both are often translated into English as "to
be" but are not interchangeable.

Although efforts have been made to determine rules about their

usage, there appear to be almost as many exceptions as there
are uses. The easiest way to deal with them is therefore to
memorize which kind of expression uses each verb.

Milano e Napoli sono in Italia. -- simple location indicated by
sono <they are>
Come staI? Sto bene. -- health condition indicated by staI <are
you?> and sto <I am>
Sono Ammalati. <I'm not well./(more litterally) I am fallen ill.> --
health indicated by sono <i am> as a helping verb to form the
participle of ammalare <essere ammalato,-a,-i,-e = to be(come)
Siamo arrivati. <We arrived.>
Stiamo andando a casa. <We are going home.> -- progressive
Stiamo per andare a casa. <We are about to go home.>
Stiamo a Milano. <We live in milan.>
Stai zitto! <Be Quiet!>
Stai a sentire! <Listen to this!>

C'e and Ci sono:

C'e = <there is>
Ci sono = <there are>
C' ere = <there was>
C'erano = <there were>

C'e ancora molto da fare. <There is still much to do.>

Ci sono quattro posti liberi. <There are still four empty
C'era molto da fare. <There was much to do.>
C'erano molte cose da fare. <There were many things to do.>

Aver bisogno di and Bisognare:

Aver bisogno (noun, masculine, singular) di expresses lack of
something and is translated literally as "to have need of." --
Ho bisogno di un paio di scarpe. <I need (have need of) a pair of

The verb bisognare is impersonal and means "to be

necessary." It is always followed by the subjuntive. --
Bisogna ch'egli parta. <It is necessary that he go.>

Volere <to wish/want> is conjugated irregularly:
voglio, vuoi, vuole, vogliamo, volete, vogliono

Although volere is used regularly in Italian, its translations are

idiomatic in English:

Voglio partire. <I want to leave.>

<Will you do this for me? (more literally: Do
Vuol farmi questo?
you want to do this for me?>
Vorrei andarci
<I, also, would like to go there.>
Cosa vuol dire <What does this word mean? (more
questa parola? literally: This word wants to say what?>
Ci vogliono due ore
<It takes two hours to go (there). (more
per andare.
literally: It wants two hours to go (there).>
Come vuole. <As you wish.>
Voglio bene a mia <I love my mother. (more literally: I wish my
madre. mother well.>
dar ragione <to agree ("give agreement")>
dar torto <to disagree ("give disagreement")>
dare la mano a <to shake hands with ("to give the hand to")>
dare del tu, del voi, del Lei, del Loro <to use tu, voi, Lei, Loro(in
direct address)>

Andare in treno, in automobile <to go by (lit: in) train, by car>
Andare a cavallo <to ride hrseback>
Come va? <How goes it?>
Va bene. <Very well.>
Sapere and Conoscere:
Both sapere and conoscere are translated as "to know" in
English, but sapere really means "to have knowledge about"
while conoscere merely means "to be acquainted with."

Conoscere also can mean to meet or make the aqcuantaince of.

Sa che ore e? <Do you know what time it is?>

Conosco quel signore. <I know that man.>
Vorrie conoscerla. <I'd like to meet her.>
Non sa suonare il pianoforte. <He doesn't know how to play the
Piacere di conoscerLa. <I'm pleased to meet you.>
So dove la stazione. <I know where the station is.>
Conosco quell'albergo. <I know that hotel.>