Category Archives: Italian Language Lessons

Da quanto tempo in Italian

In Italian when you say that you have been doing something, unlike English in Italian you use the present tense, for example:.

  • E.g. Studio qui da due anni = I’ve been studying here for two years. [Literally: I study here since two years].

Essentially when you talk about how long you have been doing something and you are still doing it you always use the present tense together with the word ‘da‘ which in this context means ‘since‘.

By contrast when you want to ask how long someone has been doing something (and they still do the activity) you use ‘Da quanto tempo…?‘ (literally: Since how much time…?) plus the present tense, for example:

  • Da quanto tempo abiti a Londra? = How long have you lived here in London? [Literally: Since how much time you live in Fareham?]

Even though in English we do not use the present tense in this context, you must in Italian. The reason why is because in Italian if you continue to do the thing talked about you are seen as still doing it, hence why the present tense is used.

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Italian Irregular Verbs in Present Tense

This post looks at some commonly used Italian irregular verbs in the present tense.

What is an irregular verb?

Put simply an irregular verb is one that does not follow the normal pattern. Essentially the verbs discussed in this post do not follow the pattern explained in that post.

If you are unfamilar with the normal pattern Italian verbs have in the Present Tense, take a look at this post on that topic.

An example of an irregular verb in English is ‘to be’. In English we do not say ‘I be, you be, he be, etc’. Instead we say ‘I am, you are, he is, etc’. This verb has no real pattern. It simply has to be learnt as is.

A number of irregular Italian verbs exist, which unfortunately need to be learnt as they are. Some of the most important ones in the present tense are listed below.

Common Present Tense Irregular Verbs

Below are the some commonly used Italian irregular verbs written out in the Present Tense.

Andare – To go

  • (io) Vado = I go
  • (tu) Vai = You go (informal singular ‘you’)
  • (lui/lei/Lei) Va = He/She goes + You go (formal singular ‘you’)
  • (noi) Andiamo = We go
  • (voi) Andate = You go (plural ‘you’)
  • (loro) Vanno = They go

Avere – To have

  • (io) Ho = I have
  • (tu) Hai = You have (informal singular ‘you’)
  • (lui/lei/Lei) Ha = He/She has + You have (formal singular ‘you’)
  • (noi) Abbiamo = We have
  • (voi) Avete = You have (plural ‘you’)
  • (loro) Hanno = They have

Note: If a word begins with the letter ‘h’ do not pronounce the ‘h’.

Dire – To say/tell

  • (io) Dico = I say
  • (tu) Dici = You say (informal singular ‘you’)
  • (lui/lei/Lei) Dice = He/She says + You say (formal singular ‘you’)
  • (noi) Diciamo = We say
  • (voi) Dite = You say (plural ‘you’)
  • (loro) Dicono = They say

Dovere – To have to (‘must’)

  • (io) Devo = I have to
  • (tu) Devi = You have to (informal singular ‘you)
  • (lui/lei/Lei) Dve = He/She has to + You have (formal singular ‘you’)
  • (noi) Dobbiamo = We have to
  • (voi) Dovete = You have to (plural ‘you’)
  • (loro) Devono = They have to

Essere – To be

  • (io) Sono = I am
  • (tu) Sei = You are (informal singular ‘you’)
  • (lui/lei/Lei) È = He/She is + You are (formal singular ‘you’)
  • (noi) Siamo = We are
  • (voi) Siete = You are (plural ‘you’)
  • (loro) Sono = They are

Fare – To make/To do

  • (io) Faccio = I make
  • (tu) Fai = You make (informal singular ‘you’)
  • (lui/lei/Lei) Fa = He/She makes + You make (formal singular ‘you’)
  • (noi) Facciamo = We make
  • (voi) Fate = You make (plural ‘you’)
  • (loro) Fanno = They make

Potere – To be able (‘can’)

  • (io) Posso = I can
  • (tu) Puoi = You can (informal singular ‘you’)
  • (lui/lei/Lei) Può = He/She can + You can (formal singular ‘you’)
  • (noi) Possiamo = We can
  • (voi) Potete = You can (plural ‘you’)
  • (loro) Possono = They can

Sapere – To know

  • (io) So = I know
  • (tu) Sai = You know (informal singular ‘you’)
  • (lui/lei/Lei) Sa = He/She knows + You know (formal singular ‘you’)
  • (noi) Sappiamo = We know
  • (voi) Sapete = You know (plural ‘you’)
  • (loro) Sanno = They know

Venire – To come

  • (io) Vengo = I come
  • (tu) Vieni = You come (informal singular ‘you’)
  • (lui/lei/Lei) Viene = He/She comes + You come (formal singular ‘you’)
  • (noi) Veniamo = We come
  • (voi) Venite = You come (plural ‘you’)
  • (loro) Vengono = They come

Volere – To want

  • (io) Voglio = I want
  • (tu) Vuoi = You want (informal singular ‘you’)
  • (lui/lei/Lei) Vuole = He/She wants + You want (formal singular ‘you’)
  • (noi) Vogliamo = We want
  • (voi) Volete = You want (plural ‘you’)
  • (loro) Vogliono = They want

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How to learn Irregular Verbs

Most people learn these verbs by repetition. During tuition we would regularly practise them, but in the absense of a tutor you could:

  • Record yourself saying these verbs and listen to the recording at home, in the car, etc.
  • Make some flash cards where you write the English on one side and the Italian on the other side. Look at the cards for short bursts often.

Try to incorporate learning into your daily routine, so look at the cards when waiting for the kettle to boil, a couple of minutes every day at the breakfast table, etc. Regular and short bursts are the best way to learn words for most people.

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Hopefully this post has been useful

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Italian Present Tense: Regular Verbs

Let’s take a look at the Italian Present Tense. By the end of this post you will:

  • understand what regular verbs are
  • how to form the Present Tense for regular verbs in Italian
  • know the main differences between Italian and English in terms of how the tense is used

What do I mean by a ‘regular’ verb?

Regular verbs are ones which have verb endings which follow a pattern. Most verbs in Italian are regular and follow a pattern.

Irregular verbs are ones which do not follow a pattern and will be discussed in a future post.

Differences between the English and Italian Present Tense

I feel that before we start, we need to consider some differences between English and Italian.

The main differences for the Present Tense are:

  • In English we use several alternative present tenses, such as:

    • I talk
    • I am talking
    • I do talk

  • By contrast in Italian we usually just use one:
    • Parlo = I talk or I am talking or I do talk

There is technically also a present continuous in Italian (e.g. I am talking = Sto parlando), but this is used a lot less in Italian than in English. This will be discussed in a future post.

What about questions in the Present Tense?

The verb form for questions is identical in Italian to statements, for example:

  • Parli inglese = You speak English (speaking to one person like a friend)
  • Parli inglese? = Do you speak English? or Are you speaking English? (asking one person like a friend)

Words you should become familiar with

The following words are used with verbs:

  • io = I
  • tu = You (speaking to one person like a friend)
  • lui = He
  • Lei = You (speaking to one person more formally)
  • noi = We
  • voi = You (speaking to two or more people)
  • loro = They

Although you need to know these words, most of the time you do not say them. The reason why is the verb ending already tells us who is doing the action, for example:

  • Parlo = I talk (the ‘o’ ending tells us it is ‘I’)
  • Parliamo = We talk (the ‘iamo’ ending tells us it is ‘We’)

‘Lei’ and ‘lei’

When you say ‘lei’ (i.e. uncapitalised) it means ‘she’ whereas when you say ‘Lei’ (i.e. capitalised), it is the formal ‘you’.

There remains some potential problems

  • The verb ending for both ‘Lei’ and ‘lei’ are the same (see below)
  • The uncapitalised ‘lei’ becomes ‘Lei’ at the start of a sentence
  • In spoken form you will not hear any difference

In reality however, most of the time you will know from the context which meaning is being used.

‘You’

You may have noticed that there are several words for ‘you’ in Italian, namely tu, Lei and voi. These are

  • tu is used when you say ‘you’ to one person informally, for example to one friend
  • Lei is ‘you’ when you talk to one person formally, for example to one stranger
  • voi is ‘you’ when you talk to more than one person

Forming the Present Tense

Now let’s look at how you form the Present Tense.

The dictionary form of verbs in Italian usually have three possible endings, namely are, ire or ere. Some example are:

  • Parlare’ means ‘to talk’
  • Partire’ means ‘to leave’
  • Leggere’ means ‘to read’

To form the present tense form of the verb you remove the are, ire or ere and replace it with an ending to show who is doing the action.

-are verbs

Example –are verb: Parlare – To talk

  • (io) Parlo = I talk
  • (tu) Parli = You talk (informal singular ‘you’)
  • (lui/lei/Lei) Parla = He/She talks + You talk (formal singular ‘you’)
  • (noi) Parliamo = We talk
  • (voi) Parlate = You talk (plural ‘you’)
  • (loro) Parlano = They talk

-ire verbs

Example – ire verb: Partire – To leave

  • (io) Parto = I leave
  • (tu) Parti = You leave (informal singular ‘you’)
  • (lui/lei/Lei) Parte = He/She leaves + You leave (formal singular ‘you’)
  • (noi) Partiamo = We leave
  • (voi) Partite = You leave (plural ‘you’)
  • (loro) Partono = They leave

-ere verbs

Example –ere verb: Leggere – To read

  • (io) Leggo = I read
  • (tu) Leggi = You read (informal singular ‘you’)
  • (lui/lei/Lei) Legge = He/She reads + You read (formal singular ‘you’)
  • (noi) Leggiamo = We read
  • (voi) Leggete = You read (plural ‘you’)
  • (loro) Leggono = They read
Final Words

Hopefully this article helps you to understand the Italian Present Tense.

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Further Information

Feel free to get in contact:

  • If you have any questions
  • If you would like to book Italian tuition with me