Do you speak Italian? – Officina delle Lingue

Do you speak Italian?

Here you can find short ITALIAN LESSONS

These are easy grammatical charts, which introduce and explain the main Italian grammatical rules for those people who want to start to study Italian or are simply curious.

Take a look!

The articles are those words which have not an own meaning themselves and they can not be used alone. They are always BEFORE a noun.

There are 2 kinds of articles in Italian: DETERMINATIVI (definite) and INDETERMINATIVI (indefinite).

The article DETERMINATIVO is referred to a person, animal or object, which are known by who speaks or listens.

Example. “In cortile c’è il cane.” (“In the garden there is the dog” – we already know the dog)

The article INDETERMINATIVO is referred to a person, animal or object, which are not known by who speaks or listens.

Example. “In cortice c’è un cane”. (“In the garden there is a dog” – any dog).

THE FORM

Articles Determinativi Indeterminativi Where?
Singular Plural Only singular It depends on the initial letter of the NOUN.
Male IL I UN Before nouns which begin with a consonant letter.

(except for: o z, s + cons., x, y, ps, gn, pn)

LO GLI UNO Before nouns which begin with these letters: z, s + cons., x, y, ps, gn, pn
L’ GLI UN Before nouns which begin with vowels
Female LE LE UNA Before nouns which begin with a consonant letter.
L’ LE UN’ Before nouns which begin with vowels

The article determinativo can also be used to indicate:

  • A unique person or object . Example: “La luna è gialla” – (The moon is yellow- there is only one moon)
  • A specie or category. Example: Il leone vive in Africa”.(The Lion lives in Africa)

The article indeterminativo can also be used to indicate:

  • A person/animal/ object we don’t want to indicate in a precise way: Example. “Mi ha telefonato un amico”.- (a friend of mine call me).

The nouns are those words we use to indicate what we think and what we are speaking about: persons, animals, objects, thoughts, places, ideas, feelings.

They can be divided into different categories:

  • COMUNI: a person, animal or object in general. They are written with the lowercase. For example: Es. città, ragazzo, casa
  • PROPRI: a person, animal or object in particular. They are written with the capital letter. For example Torino, Francesco, Po…

There are other groups of nouns like: concreti (they indicate something real, that we can touch), astratti (they indicate ideas, concepts, thoughts), individuali (they indicate a unique person or object) and collettivi (they indicate a group of people or objects).

All the nouns in Italian have a grammatical GENDER. They can be MALE or FEMALE. When the noun indicates a person or an animal, the gender always coincides with the real gender.

Nouns of person or animals of male gender are male from the grammatical point of view (example. uomo, padre, amico, leone…).

Nouns of persons or animals of female gender are female from a grammatical point of view (example. donna, madre, leonessa, gallina…).

Nouns of object, ideas, feelings can be male or female. In this case, the gender is only a grammatical category.

In Italian we have the concordanza: it means to put all the male words or female words together. Example. una donna, il gatto.

In order to recognize the gender, it is necessary to check the final DESINENCE:

  • O -> male
  • A -> female
  • À-> female
  • E- È-> male or female .  Example il sole, la luce
  • I- Ì-> male or female  Example il lunedì, l’analisi
  • Ù -> female

How can we turn from male to female?

It depends on the NOUN. There are different exceptions:

Nomi mobili -> they change the finale desinence. Example bambino– bambina / attore -attrice

Nomi indipendenti -> they have two different forms.  Example padremadre

Nomi di genere comune -> they have the same form, but they change the article.  Example il cantante la cantante

Nomi di genere promiscuo ->they have the same form. It is necessary to distinguish the gender. Example il leopardo maschio il leopardo femmina

All the nouns in Italian have a GRAMMATICAL NUMBER. It means they can be SINGULAR o PLURAL. The part which distinguish between singular and plural is the DESINENCE of the word.

The number of a noun can be:

  • SINGULAR: it indicates a unique person or object
  • PLURAL: it indicates more than one person or object.

There are nouns which don’t change and singular and plural are the same. They are called nomi invariabili,

Example . il re – i re.

How can we turn from singular to plural?

It is necessary to check the final DESINENCE

Singular desinence Plural desinence Example
A I–if they are male

E – if they are female

Problema/Problemi

Donna/ donne

O I Libro/libri
E I Cane/cani
I I Analisi/analisi

There are also exceptions:

-ca/-ga -chi/-ghi if they are male

-che/-ghe if they are female

collega/colleghi

banca/banche

-co/-go -chi/-ghi if they have the accent on the second to last syllable

-ci/-gi if they have the accent on the third to last syllable

gioco/giochi

 

sindaco/sindaci

-logo -loghi if they are objects

-logi if they are persons

dialogo/dialoghi

psicologo/psicologi

-cia/-gia -ce/-ge if there is a consonant before them.

-cie/-gie if before there is a vowel.

mancia/mance

 

valigia/valigie

-cìa/-gìa -cìe/-gìe farmacia/farmacie
-io -i -ìo -ii figlio/figli
Irregular nouns uomo/uomini bue/buoi paio/paia

dio/dei uovo/uova braccio/braccia

 

The adjectives are those words we usually use to better describe the nouns. They explain their characteristics and qualities.

The adjectives are QUALIFICATIVI when they specify better the noun, which turns from general to particular.

Example: “Devo stirare le camicie nuove (“I have to iron the new shirts” – it specifies which shirts).

The adjectives can be male or female, singular or plural. They have to be conformed with the noun and the article.

Example: “il ragazzo simpatico” – male singular

  • 2 male nouns + male plural adejective  

Example: “un libro e un quaderno nuovi

  • 2 female nouns + plural female adjective

Example: “una penna e una matita nuove

  • 2 nouns (male – female) + male plural adejective

Example: “una penna e un libro nuovi

 

The adjectives can specify also the DEGREE of a quality.

COMPARATIVE: is udes when we make a comparison between 2 elements and it can be of majority (più…. di), minority (meno…di), equality (come…).

Example: “Questa casa è più grande/meno grande/ grande come quella di Marco -> COMPARATIVE FORM

SUPERLATIVE: can be relativo (maximum or minimum degree of a thing over all the others) o assoluto (maximum or minimum without any relation with others). This last one is created by adding the desinence -issimo/a at the end of the adjective.

Example: “Questa casa è grandissima/la più grande di tutte” -> SUPERLATIVE FORM

The pronouns can be used to SUBSTITUTE a noun in a sentence, not to repeat it and make the sentence more fluently.

There are different kinds of pronouns : PERSONAL, POSSESSIVE, DEMONSTRATIVE, INDEFINITE, RELATIVE e INTERROGATIVE.

PERSONAL pronouns can indicate:

  • SUBJECT PRONOUN -> who makes the action. Example: “Io, tu, egli, ella, noi, voi, essi” – Example: Lui va a scuola”
  • OBJECT PRONOUN -> they are the object in the sentence. Example: “mi, ti, lo, la, ci, vi, li, le” – Example: “Noi guadiamo la tv. La guadiamo”
  • INDIRECT OBJECT PRONOUN ->  they represent the indirect object pronoun. Example: “mi, ti, gli, le, ci, vi, gli”-” me, te, lui, lei, noi,voi, loro” (when they are introduced by a preposition). Example:Vi telefonerò domani”- “Vengo con voi“.

The adjectives and the pronouns can be: POSSESSIVE, DEMONSTRATIVE, INDEFINITE e INTERROGATIVE.

The adjectives stay near the noun; indeed the pronouns substitute it.

POSSESSIVE: they indicate to whom a thing or a person belongs. They can be singular, plural, male or female.

“mio, tuo, suo, nostro, vostro loro”

Example: “Il mio ombrello è blu. Il tuo è giallo”

DEMONSTRATIVE: they indicate the position of who is speaking compares to who is listening. They can be singular, plural, male or female.

Questo-> indicates something near or close to.  Quello -> indicates something far.

Example: Questa borsa è di pelle. Quella è di stoffa”

INDEFINITE: they indicate in a non precise way the quantity or identity of what they are referred to.

Molto, tanto, poco, parecchio, altrettanto, troppo, tutto, alcuno, nessuno, ciascuno

Example: “Ho molti libri. Anch’io ne ho tanti“.

INTERROGATIVE: they introduce a question.

Che, Quale, Quanto are adjectives

Chi, Che cosa are pronouns.

The verb is the main element we usually use to communicate. It is referred to the subject, who makes or is subjected to the action.

It is made up by 2 parts:

  • Radice -> a root, which is always the same and be unchanged. It expresses the meaning of the verb.
  • Desinenza -> a desinence, which is the final part of the verb and it changes.

Example: Lavoriamo = lavor + iamo

In Italian language there are 3 groups of verbs. They are called coniugazioni (conjugations): -ARE; -ERE; -IRE and they indicate the final part of the verb.

Example: “Dare”- “Bere”- “Sentire”

The desinenza of a verb indicates:

  • The person who makes the action
  • The number of the persons (singular – plural)
  • The time when the action happens.
  • The mood according to the action is presented (infinite, indicative, subjunctive, conditional).

The indicative present is the mood of the verb, which describes the REALITY, as it really is.

Example: “Oggi c’è il sole”.

The indicative mood has 8 tenses:

  • 4 simple: PRESENTE (present), IMPERFETTO (imperfect), PASSATO REMOTO (remote past), FUTURO (future).

Es. “Lavoro”, “Lavoravo”, “Lavorai” ,”Lavorerò”

  • 4 compound: PASSATO PROSSIMO (present perfect), TRAPASSATO PROSSIMO (pluperfect), TRAPASSATO REMOTO (past pluperfect), FUTURO ANTERIORE (future perfect).

Example: “Ho lavorato”, “avevo lavorato”, “ebbi lavorato” ,”avrò lavorato”

The PRESENT indicates an action that happens now in this moment or an usual action.

Example: “Oggi piove”  – “Mia mamma lavora in banca”

The Imperfect is used to indicate:

  • a past action, which has a duration or continuity. Example: “Ieri pioveva”
  • a past description. Example: “La mia macchina era nera e piccola”.
  • a repetitive action and usual in the past. Example: “Quando ero piccola, andavo al parco con mia nonna”
  • a past action, which happened at the same time of another past action. Example: “Mentre leggevo il libro, ascoltavo la musica”.

As for this last case, we can find 3 different situations:

  • 2 actions which have the same duration =  Imperfect + imperfect -> Example: “Mentre studiavo, mia sorella cucinava”.
  • 2 actions which are on time or temporary = Present perfect + Present perfect -> Example: “Quando Luca è arrivato, lo abbiamo salutato”.
  • A durable action, in which happens a temporary action = Imperfect + Present perfect -> Example: “Mentre mangiavo, è suonato il telefono”

The present perfect is a COMPOUND TENSE and it is made up with 2 parts: Auxiliary verb + past participle.

Example: Ho mangiato”.

It indicates:

  • a past action, which is happened in a quite recent past.   Example:  “Sono andato in palestra”.
  • a past action, which is happened in a remote past, but its effects still affect the present.  Example: “Sono nato nel 1985”.

The AUXILIARY VERB is always represented by the present tense of verb AVERE (to have) or ESSERE (to be).

The  PAST PARTICIPLE is always created by eliminating the final desinence -are, -ere, -ire and substituting them with these desinences -ato, -uto, -ito.

Example: “parlare ->parlato ; “credere->creduto“; “sentire->sentito.

There are many verbs, which have their own irregular past participle form.

The remote past is a tense of indicative mood and it indicates a past action, which is happened in a very far past time and it is finished.

Example: “Cristoforo Colombo scoprì l’America nel 1492“.

The first conjugation -are  has only 3 irregular verbs: dare, fare, stare.

The third conjugation -ire  has only 2 irregular verbs: dire, venire.

The future is a tense of indicative mood and it indicates a future action, which still has to happen comparing the time in which we are speaking or writing.

Example: “Domani pioverà”.

The future has 2 tenses:

  • the Simple Future -> indicates an action which will happen after the present moment . Example:”Domani partiremo alle 8.00″.
  • the future perfect -> it’s a compound tense. It is made up with auxiliary verb (essere o avere) + past participle of the verb. It is used when there are 2 future actions and one happens before the other. Example: “Quando avrò scelto la scuola giusta, mi iscriverò”.

The future can be also used to express a doubt and a concession.

Example: “Marco a quest’ora sarà al lavoro?  – “Queste scarpe saranno anche comode, ma sono troppo costose”.

The subjunctive is another mood of Italian verbs.

It indicates the uncertainty, the doubt and the desire.

There is an important difference between the indicative mood and the subjunctive mood:

  • The indicative expresses a fact which is true, real, sure. Example: “Oggi c’è il sole” – “Luca studia all’università
  • the subjunctive expresses a fact which is presented as possible or as thought, desired, feared. Example: “Che bello se oggi ci fosse il sole” – “Credo che Luca studi all’università”.

The subjunctive has 4 tenses:

  • 2  simple, made up by one word -> present and imperfect Example: “che io lavori” -“che io lavorassi”
  • 2 compounds,  made up by two words -> past and remote Example: “che io abbia lavorato” – “che io avessi lavorato”.

The subjunctive can be used in independent or dependent clauses.

Independent-> they express order, exhortation, unobtainable desire.

Example: “Signora si accomodi pure qui”- “Dottore mi dica la verità”- “Giri all’angolo” -” Ah se potessi andare in America”.

Dependent clauses -> declarative and if clauses .

  • Declarative clauses -> they are put after the word “che” and they are used when you want to express a feeling, an opinion or a personal thought in the main clause.

Example: “Penso che Marta sia partita domenica”.

  • If clauses -> they are put after the word “se” and they are used when you want to express a possibility. Example: “Se studiassi di più, avrei ottimi voti”.

If there is the present in the main clause, you have to use the present or past subjunctive in the relative clause.

If there is the past (imperfect or present perfect) in the main clause, you have to use the past subjunctive (imperfect or pluperfect) in the relative clause.

Like the indicative and subjunctive mood, the conditional represents another mood of Italian language.

It indicates that an action happens on condition that another action can happen.

Example: “Mangerei se ci fosse qualcosa di buono” – “Se vincessi alla lotteria, partirei per l’America”.

The conditional has 2 tenses:

  • Simple (made up by only one word) -> it is used to express an action that could happen in the present, on condition that another action happens. Example:“Se studiassi di più, prenderei ottimi voti”.
  • Compound (made up by two words) -> it is used to express an action that could happen in the past, on condition that another action could happen before it, always in the past time. Example:”Se avessi studiato di più, avrei preso voti migliori”. 

The conditional is used:

  • by itself -> to indicate a desire or a kind request. Example:”Vorrei andare al cinema”“Mi daresti un bicchiere d’acqua?”
  • together with the subjunctive -> in the if clauses. Example: ”Se potessi, comprerei una Ferrari”.

.

The adverbs are those words or expressions that you need to modify or point out other words.

Example: “Luca è molto bravo”“Maria camminava in fretta“.

The adverbs can indicate or point out:

  • the WAY in which an action is made. Example: “bene, male, facilmente, lentamente, in fretta, di corsa, velocemente…”. Example: “Questa lettera è scritta bene” .

In order to create an adverb, it is necessary to add the desinence -mente to the female form of the adjective. Example: “attento-> attenta -> attentamente”.

  • the TIME in which an action happens. Example: “ora, poi, mai, spesso, sempre, subito, prima, dopo….” Es.” Vado spesso in palestra”.
  • The PLACE in which an action happens. Example: “qui, qua, li, là, vicino, lontano, sopra, sotto, dentro, davanti, nei dintorni, dappertutto…”. Example:”Io abito lontano da qui“.
  • The QUANTITY of what it is expressed by a verb or adjective. Example:”molto, poco, abbastanza, troppo, tanto…”. Example:“È troppo pigro per andare in palestra”.

Furthermore there are other kinds of adverbs, like:

  • INTERROGATIVE adverbs that are used to introduce a question. Example: “Come? Quando? Perché? Dove? Quanto?”.
  • ADVERBS OF JUDGEMENT that are used to express a judgement or an opinion. Example: “sì, no, non, forse, magari, senza dubbio, neppure, nemmeno…”.

The prepositions are used before nouns, adjectives, adverbs and verbs in the infinite form in order to link them in different ways.

Example: “La macchina di Riccardo è qui” -> “di” links Riccardo (subject) and the car and it expresses the possessive relation between them.

There are 4 kinds of prepositions:

  • SIMPLE -> di, a, da, in , con, su , per , tra, fra
  • PREPOSITION COMBINED WITH THE DEFINITE ARTICLE -> Example: “del, della, dal, nel…”.
  • PREPOSITION that can be used as ADVERBS -> Example: sopra, sotto, davanti, dietro, dentro, fuori, dopo, prima) or as ADJECTIVES -> Example: vicino, lontano, lungo
  • PREPOSITIONAL PHRASES -> prepositions made up by more that one word. Example: “a causa di, di fronte a, per mezzo di…”.

The Imperative is another mood of Italian verbs, besides indicative, subjunctive and conditional.

It is normally used to express an order or command.

Example: “Shut up!”“Go and catch the car!”

It can also express an invitation or suggesstion.

Example: “Please, listen to me”- “Take another cup of tee!”

The imperative has only the present tense and the second singular and plural person (you).

Here below some of the most important irregular verbs (expressed in the two singular and plural second persons):

  • Essere  (to be) -> sii – siate
  • Avere (to have) -> abbi – abbiate
  • Andare (to go) -> va’  (vai) – andate
  • Dare (to give) -> da’ (dai) – date
  • Stare (to stay)-> sta’ (stai) – state
  • Dire (to say) -> di’ – dite
  • Fare (to do) -> fa’ (fai) – fate

The imperative can be also used with object and indirect object pronoun and in these cases, It is put at the end of the verb.

Example: “Tu lo guardi” -> “Guardalo

The negative form has 3 different forms, according to the person (you second singular persons/plural person and You courtesy form)

Example:

  • con il “tu” ( you second singular person) -> non+ infinitive verb– Es. “Non venire!”
  • con il “Lei” (You courtesy form) -> non + present subjunctive tense  – Es. “Non venga!”
  • con il “voi”(you second plural person) -> non + imperative –  Es. “Non venite!”

The auxiliary verbs are all the verbs which can support other verbs in the sentence by making their meaning more complete or precise.

The two most important auxiliary verbs in Italian are: ESSERE (to be) and AVERE (to have).

They can be used by themselves or with other verbs.

ESSERE (to be):

  • it can be independent and it means “to stay”. For Example: “I am in front of the restaurant. I’m waiting for you“.
  • it can be used as copula. The copula means that it joins the subject to a name or an adjective into the predicate.

AVERE (to have):

  • it can be used with the meaning of “have got”. For example: “I have a car“.

The two most important functions of the auxiliary verbs are:

  • to support other verbs in the creation of compound tenses.
  • to create the passive form.

ESSERE is the verb to be.

As we have seen in the previous tabs, it can be used by itself or as auxiliary verb.

Here below there are some charts with all the conjugations of the verb at differend moods and tenses.

INFINITIVE -> present form: ESSERE

INFINITIVE ->past form: ESSERE STATO

INDICATIVE
Presente Passato

Prossimo

Imperfetto Trapassato

Prossimo

Passato Remoto Trapassato Remoto Futuro

semplice

Futuro Anteriore
IO (I) sono sono stato ero ero stato fui fui stato sarò sarò stato
TU (You) sei sei stato eri eri stato fosti fosti stato sarai sarai stato
EGLI (he) è è stato era era stato fu fu stato sarà sarà stato
NOI (we) siamo siamo stati eravamo eravamo stati fummo fummo stati saremo saremo stati
VOI (you) siete siete stati eravate eravate stati foste foste stati sarete sarete stati
ESSI (they) sono sono stati erano erano stati furono furono stati saranno saranno stati
CONDITIONAL
PRESENTE PASSATO
IO (I) sarei sarei stato
TU (you) saresti saresti stato
EGLI(he) sarebbe sarebbe stato
NOI(we) saremmo saremmo stati
VOI (you) sareste sareste stati
ESSI (they) sarebbero sarebbero stati
SUBJUNCTIVE
PRESENTE PASSATO IMPERFETTO TRAPASSATO
 io sia che io sia stato che io fossi Che io fossi stato
che tu sia che tu sia stato che tu fossi Che tu fossi stato
che egli sia che egli sia stato che egli fosse Che egli fosse stato
che noi siamo che noi siamo stati che noi fossimo Che noi fossimo stati
che voi siate che voi siate stati che voi foste Che voi foste stati
che essi siano che essi siano stati che essi fossero Che essi fossero stati
IMPERATIVE
Presente
sii
siamo
siate
siano

AVERE is the verb to have.

As we have seen in the previous tabs, it can be used by itself with its ow meaning and as auxiliary verb.

Here below there are some charts with the conjugations of the verb at different tenses and moods.

INFINITIVE Present form: avere

INFINITIVE Past form: avere avuto

INDICATIVE
Presente Passato

Prossimo

Imperfetto Trapassato

Prossimo

Passato Remoto Trapassato Remoto Futuro

semplice

Futuro Anteriore
IO ho ho avuto avevo avevo avuto ebbi ebbi avuto avrò avrò   avuto
TU hai hai avuto avevi avevi avuto avesti avesti avuto avrai avrai   avuto
EGLI ha ha avuto aveva aveva avuto ebbe ebbe avuto avrà avrà avuto
NOI abbiamo abbiamo avuto avevamo avevamo avuto avemmo avemmo   avuto avremo avremo avuto
VOI avete avete avuto avevate avevate

avuto

aveste aveste avuto avrete avrete avuto
ESSI hanno hanno avuto avevano avevano avuto ebbero ebbero avuto avranno avranno avuto
CONDITIONAL
Presente Passato
IO avrei avrei avuto
TU avresti avresti avuto
EGLI avrebbe avrebbe avuto
NOI avremmo avremmo avuto
VOI avreste avreste avuto
ESSI avrebbero avrebbero avuto
SUBJUNCTIVE
Presente Passato Imperfetto Trapassato
che io abbia che io abbia avuto che io avessi che io avessi avuto
che tu abbia che tu abbia avuto che tu   avessi che tu   avessi avuto
che egli abbia che egli abbia avuto che egli avesse che egli avesse avuto
che noi abbiamo che noi abbiamo avuto che noi avessimo che noi avessimo avuto
che voi abbiate che voi abbiate avuto che voi aveste che voi aveste avuto
che essi abbiano che essi abbiano avuto che essi avessero che essi avessero avuto
IMPERATIVE
Presente
abbi
abbia
abbiamo
abbiate
abbiano