Corso di italianoItalianoSeconda unità

2.1. The present tense

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Knowing the present tense is very important to be able to form your first sentences in Italian. Let’s learn together the rules of the present tense and irregular verbs like essere and avere.

Emma si presenta

Listen and read this little introduction of our friend Emma and pay attention to the verbs.


Ciao! Mi  chiamo  Emma e  ho  due anni.  Abito  a Linnich, un paese tra Colonia e Aquisgrana, con i miei padroncini e i bambini.  Abitiamo  in una casa grande. I bambini  vanno  a scuola, i miei padroncini invece  lavorano . Spesso la mia padroncina  legge  un libro o  guarda  la TV sul divano, mentre io  dormo  sulla poltrona. Ma  siamo  anche molto sportivi. Io  faccio  agility, la mia padroncina  fa  yoga e il mio padroncino  fa  jogging. Mi piace molto fare agility! A presto!

Hi! My name is Emma and I’m two years old. I live in Linnich, a village between Cologne and Aachen, with my mom and dad and the children. We live in a big house. The children go to school, mom and dad work. My mom often reads a book or watches TV on the sofa while I sleep on the armchair. But we are also very sporty: I do agility, my mom does yoga and my dad goes jogging. I like doing agility! See you soon!

Find the right forms of the present tense from Emma’s text!

Fai un esercizio!

Molto bene! You start learning the verbs in the present tense. Now let’s take a closer look at the grammar.

The three verb classes

The verbs in Italian are divided into three verb classes. These are -are, -ere and -ire.

AREamare to love , giocare to play, mangiare to eat, lavorare to work, cucinare to cook, camminare to walk, parlare to speak, urlare to shout
EREvivere to live, leggere to read, scrivere to write, prendere to take, cadere to fall, conoscere to know
IREpartire to leave/depart, dormire to sleep, aprire to open, sentire to hear, seguire to follow, offrire to offer

The formation of the present tense

To form the present tense you have to cut off the ending -are, -ere or -ire. Thus you get the so-called verb stem. Then you have to add the appropriate present tense ending. Each verb class has its own endings.

Verb stem + present ending

lui, leiamavivesente

I love Italy!

  • Amo la pizza! I love pizza!
  • Il cane dorme sul divano. The dog sleeps on the couch.
  • Noi viviamo in centro. We live in the city center.
  • Le ragazze mangiano il gelato. The girls eat ice cream.
  • Il bambino scrive una cartolina. The kid writes a postcard.
  • Non sento niente. I don’t hear anything.

1) Some verbs on -ire add -isc- between verb stem and ending. Pay attention at the pronunciation!

Capire to understand:


io capisco
tu capisci
lui, lei capisce
noi capiamo
voi capite
loro capiscono

Other such verbs are: preferire to prefer, finire to finish, pulire to clean.

2) Verbs on -care, -gare add an h between stem and ending if the ending starts with -i or -e. In this way the c is always pronounced hart, like [k].

Giocare to play 


io gioco
tu giochi
lui, lei gioca
noi giochiamo
voi giocate
loro giocano


Here you can find some of the most important irregular verbs.

to be
to have
to go
lui, leièhava
to do
to give
to say
lui, leifadice
to come
to know
to stay, be
lui, leivienesasta
to leave, go out
to can, be able to, succeed
to get in, climb up
lui, leiesceriescesale

Furthermore, the verb bere to drink forms the present tense based on the old verb bevere: io bevo, tu bevi, lui beve, noi beviamo, voi bevete, loro bevono.


  • Sono felice! I’m happy!
  • Il mio gatto ha fame. My cat is hungry.
  • Sono stanco, vado a casa. I’m tired, I’ll go home.
  • Dopo cena faccio una passeggiata. I’ll go for a walk after dinner.
  • Venite alla festa? Do you come to the party?
  • Come stai? – Sto bene, grazie. How are you? – I’m fine, thanks.


Fai un esercizio!

Impara con Kira e Cody

dal calendario 2019

Presente tense of verbs on -are
to arrive

Cody: "The train arrives at 8.
The train arrives at the station."

l'autista (m., f.) driver
la giraffa giraffe 
il treno Train
il binario track

Presente tense of verbs on -ere
to take

Kira: "My girlfriend takes the plane at the airport.
She doesn't miss the plane. Thank God!"

perdere to lose, to miss
Presente tense of verbs on -ire
to leave, depart

Cody: I'm going on vacation!
I'm leaving for Verona!

le cuffie (pl.) headphones
la valigia suitcase
gli occhiali da sole (pl.) sunglasses

Presente tense of some verbs on -ire
to understand

Giapponese: イタリアが好きです (Itaria ga suki desu) I like Italy.
Italiano: I'm sorry, I don't understand!

il giapponese Japanese

Cody's going on vacation. 
The train for the airport leaves at six from track 2.
Cody waits patiently for the train.
"Oh no, the train is late!"
Fortunately, it's only 10 minutes late.
Cody arrives at the airport on time.
He even has time to stop at the café for coffee.
He takes a caffè macchiato. 
He finishes drinking and says:
"Now I'm ready to leave!"

Regular verbs:
aspettare to wait
arrive to arrive
prendere to take
partire to leave, depart
finire to finish

- il caffè macchiato is an espresso with warm milk. Pronunciation: [makkjato]
- aspettare waiting does not need a preposition: lui aspetta il treno he waits for the train.
Esercizio: Write the verbs in the present tense.


1) Di notte gli animali dormono. At night the animals sleep.
2) Il papà pulisce la macchina. Daddy cleans the car. 
3) Le foglie cadono dagli alberi. The leaves fall from the trees. 
4) Voi suonate la chitarra molto bene! You play the guitar very well! 
5) Tu conosci il mio amico Tom? Do you know my friend Tom? 
6) Per cena noi cuciniamo il risotto. We cook risotto for dinner. 
Present indicative of irregular verbs 
Fare to do, make

Kira: "I take a bath in the bathtub." (lit. I do the bath in the bathtub)
Kira: "I like to make foam!"

la schiuma foam
Present indicative of irregular verbs 
to go

Cody: "Every now and then I go to the disco."
Cody: "I like to go dancing!"

Game with verbs: Find the intruder
In every series of verbs there is a verb that is different from the others. The reason for this can be of semantic or grammatical nature. Can you find it? 


1. finire to finish - dormire to sleep - capire to understand - preferire to prefer. REASON: The other verbs add -isc.
2. andare to go, drive - venire to come - leggere to read - partire to leave, depart. REASON: The others are movement verbs.
3. fare to make, do - andare to go, drive - dare to give - mangiare to eat. REASON: The others are irregular verbs
4. dire to say - parlare to speak - urlare to shout - uscire to go out. REASON: The other verbs belong to the semantic word field of "speak".

Esercizio: Which is the right form?

1) lui viene (venire to come)
2) noi diamo (dare to give)
3) voi andate (andare to go)
4) io faccio (fare to do, make)
5) noi giochiamo (giocare to play)
6) tu preferisci (preferire to prefer)

Prossima lezione: il tempo libero the free time

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Il corso
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2.2. Il tempo libero: the free time

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