Italian Present Tense Irregular Verbs

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


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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