Chapter 7 - A guide to Italian verbs

Verbs are the action words; they tell us what is happening.  All of the verb forms in Italian begin with the the “to” form of a verb, which is called the infinitive.  The verb forms indicate the person doing the act, and the time the act was done.  As a result, in ordinary speech, the pronouns ( I, you, he, she, we, and they) are often omitted, and it is grammatically correct to do so.

Two other changes are used, namely those which make the “ing” verb forms, and those which make the past forms used with the verbs to be or to have.  In this text, the verb forms are arranged from easiest to most complex, beginning with the infinitive, and proceeding to other forms.

In Italian, all of the verbs belong to one of three groups.  The verbs are placed into one of the groups based on its ending.  Group 1, the largest group, is identified by the ending -are.  Group 2, the smallest group, is identified by the endings -ere or -rre.  Group 3 is identified by the ending -ire.


The “to” form of a verb
The first form at which we will look is the “to” form of a verb, which is called the infinitive.
            Here are some examples of its use.
                        He needs to learn how to speak Italian.  In order to speak, it is necessary to practice.
                        It requires effort to understand how to use a language.

In dictionaries, all verbs are listed in the infinitive form because the infinitive form never changes, and all other verb forms are made from it.

Pronunciation note:  The infinitives which end in -are, -rre, and -ire  are accented on the second to last vowel, such as parlare(pahr-lAH-ray), produrre(proh-dOO-rray),or partire (pahr-tEE-ray).

Most of the infinitives of group two, however, are accented on the stem, such as ricẹvere (ree-chEH-vay-ray).  In this text, irregular pronunciation will be indicated by an accent mark.   example:  assịstere


The following infinitives of group 2 find their accent on the second to last vowel.

avẹre(to have), cadẹre(to fall), dovẹre(to owe, must), giacẹre(to lie down), godẹre(to enjoy), parẹre, (to seem), piacẹre, to please, persuadẹre(to persuade), potẹre(to be able), rimanẹre(to stay), sapẹre(to know), sedẹre(to sit), tacẹre(to be silent), temẹre(to fear), tenẹre(to hold), valẹre(to value), vedẹre(to see), volẹre(to want),
Compound forms, such as prevalẹreor prevedẹre, have the same accent as the root verb.

Except for the future tense, the loro form of all other verb tenses finds the stress on the third to last vowel.


Usage note: In Italian, the only verb form used after a preposition is the infinitive.
examples:        per imparare, in order to learn                        prima di mangiare, before eating
                        mạcchina da cucire, sewing machine             senza parlare, without speaking