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Our 2020 Guide to the CILS Italian Test

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Maybe you’ve already thought about taking an Italian proficiency test, or maybe you have no idea what we’re talking about. In this article, we’ll explain why it’s important to take an Italian test like this one, and we’ll guide you through everything you’ll need to do to sign up and pass the most widely accepted proficiency test (CILS). By the time you’re done reading, you’ll be totally prepared for the big day—even if this is your first time hearing about the test.

Spoiler alert: You need to get started six months beforehand!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Study Strategies in Italian Table of Contents
  1. What is a Proficiency Test?
  2. Why Take a Proficiency Test?
  3. What is the CILS Certification?
  4. How to Get Started
  5. What to Expect on the Day of the Test
  6. The CILS DUE-B2 Test
  7. Winning Strategies for Taking the CILS Exam
  8. How to Prepare for the CILS Exam
  9. Conclusion

1. What is a Proficiency Test? 

Are you ready to be tested…?

Are you ready to be tested…?

Nowadays, in order to attain any approved language certificate, you must first be tested on the four basic competencies (Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking). These tests are quite thorough; they might last a few hours, or even be spread out over the course of two days. Depending on where you are in your language studies, you would apply for one of the different levels (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2). 

In regards to which exam to take, there are a few options for recognized certifications, each with just slight differences that mainly correlate with your final goal. Which takes us to the next question…

2. Why Take a Proficiency Test?

There are many reasons why you might want to take certain Italian exams or attain Italian language certifications: 

  • To check your progress
  • To look good on your CV
  • To qualify for a school, a university, a job, etc.
  • To apply for Italian citizenship (as of December 2018, a basic (B1) level of Italian is required to apply)
  • To be able to teach Italian

What’s your motivation?

In this guide, we’ll tell you all about the best-known and most-renowned certification, called CILS. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about these comprehensive tests, and try to answer your questions: 

  • What is CILS?
  • What should you expect?
  • How can you prepare?

Are you ready?

3. What is the CILS Certification?

The CILS Certification, or Certificazione di italiano come lingua straniera (“Certificate of Italian as a Foreign Language”), is a qualification officially recognized by the Italian state, based on an agreement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It certifies students’ degree of competence in the Italian language. 

Why do you need that? 

An official certification is often necessary for admission into Italian universities, and it could be helpful if you plan to have professional contact with Italy. This certification was originally devised by the Università per Stranieri di Siena, but today, it’s administered all over the world. You can just choose a school or a university near you and take the exam there.

The certification follows the six levels of competence determined by the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) of the Council of Europe. Each level certifies your language ability, including whether you can communicate effectively in a specific social or professional context. 

Choose your level carefully!

Choose your level carefully!

How do you know what level you’re at and what test to choose for your certification? The first thing you should consider is what your current linguistic ability is and/or what level you need to achieve. 

The following table outlines the basic differences between the levels and what they correspond to in terms of communication and grammar knowledge:

LevelDescriptionYou are able to:Main grammar points
CILS A1Beginner
It’s intended for learners with initial skills in the Italian language. In this level, you find different exams tailored to the various types of students, as follows:
  • A1
  • A1 for integration into Italy
  • A1 children (eight to eleven years)
  • A1 teenagers (twelve – sixteen years)

The format is the same, but the content varies.
Understand short texts and use everyday expressions; 
Introduce yourself;
Ask and answer questions about personal topics;
Interact in a simple way



  • Articles and adjectives;
  • Feminine, masculine, plural;
  • Numbers;
  • Simple prepositions;
  • Regular verbs;
  • Essere e avere (“to be,” “to have”);
  • Modal verbs potere, dovere, volere (“can,” “must,” “want”);
  • Present tense;
  • Passato prossimo (“present perfect”) tense;
  • Imperative mood;Main adjectives and adverbs
CILS A2ElementaryThis level certifies an initial competence, which still lacks autonomy from the communication point of view. 
Like the previous level, it’s divided into different modules according to the student:
  • A2
  • A2 for integration into Italy
  • A2 children (eight to eleven years)
  • A2 teenagers (twelve to sixteen years)
Understand expressions frequently used in relevant personal and professional areas;
Communicate in simple exchanges on familiar and common topics, and exchange information;
Express opinions with ease; 
Make invitations and apologize
  • Si impersonal and reflexive;
  • Prepositions and articles;
  • Irregular verbs andare, bere, dare, dire, fare, stare, venire (“go,” “drink,” “give,” “say,” “do,” “stay,” “come”);Use of passato prossimo vs imperfetto;
  • Complex sentences with prima di, invece, allora, infatti, non solo … ma anche, o, che, se (“before,” “instead,” “then,” “as a matter of fact,” “not only… but also,” “or,” “that,” “if “)
CILS UNO-B1IntermediateThis level certifies that the student has the skills necessary to use the Italian language independently and adequately in the most frequent situations of daily life. 
This is the certification needed to apply for Italian citizenship.
Communicate in Italian in everyday situations in both written and oral form in an effective way (even if with a few errors);
Understand the essential points of clear and articulated messages;
Read the most popular and useful texts
  • Position of the adjective;
  • Comparatives and superlatives;
  • Reflexive and relative pronouns;Possessive adjectives;
  • Demonstrative, interrogative, and indefinite pronouns;
  • Conditional mood;
  • Complex sentences: temporal, causal, declarative, and relative clauses
CILS DUE-B2Upper-IntermediateThis is the level that certifies the full autonomy of communication. 
It’s the minimum level ofcompetence for access to the Italian university system for students, teachers, andresearchers. It’s also required to obtain scholarships or internships.
Understand the basic ideas of complex texts related to everyday or more abstract concepts;
Utilize effective oral and written Italian (even if with a few errors);
Interact easily during a stay in Italy or in work meetings
  • Ci, ne (“in here,” “of it”);
  • Passato remoto (“remote past”);
  • FutureUse of the subjunctive (present and past, judgement and doubt)Impersonal verbs;
  • Past conditional;
  • Hypothetical phrases;
  • Implicit and explicit complex sentences
CILS TRE- C1AdvancedThis is the level of mastery in Italian proficiency: It means that you can communicate formally for social, academic, and professional purposes. Those who possess this level are able to interact formally in public institutions or companies, and to fit in in any situation. Understand long and demanding texts and their implicit meaning
Talk spontaneously and fluently without searching for your words too much;
Use the language in an efficient and flexible manner at home, work, or school;
Express your opinions on complex topics in a clear and structured manner, having full control over the linguistic tools
  • Past subjunctive;
  • Gerund and past participle;
  • Passive voice;
  • Idiomatic verbs;
  • Complex sentences: consecutive, concessive, modal, incidental, exclusive, restrictive;
  • Direct and indirect speech
CILS QUATTRO-C2Proficient
This is the level of full Italian language mastery. It means you can dominate not only all informal and formal situations, but also professional ones. 
It’s the level necessary to teach Italian abroad.
Understand effortlessly anything you read or hear;
Summarize facts and arguments from various sources, written or spoken;
Express yourself fluently, mastering slight nuances in meaning
  • Pragmatic rules of informal contexts and formal communication; 
  • Social varieties of linguistic uses of Italian;
  • Full grasp of the sociolinguistic and sociocultural implications of native language


4. How to Get Started

So, if you made it this far, you’re probably serious about taking a certification test. If so, pay attention to the next steps of CILS exam preparation:

1. Find the closest venue offering the test and get in contact with them for information. Do this at least a couple of months before taking the exam.

2. Plan well in advance. Once you take the test, you’ll receive the results via email after a period of time that can vary from two to four months, depending on your level and the total number of candidates. So, it’s better if you start thinking about your certification at least six months before you’ll actually need it.

Plan in Advance

Plan in advance: six months should do!

4. DOs:

  • The exams typically start at 8:30. Be on time, or you’ll lose the right to take the test;
  • You NEED to take a photo ID with you (the same one you used for the registration);
  • Bring a black pen (nothing else is allowed, and definitely no dictionaries or smart devices);
  • Before and during the test, make sure you listen carefully and follow the instructions, especially about how to fill the answer sheets.

5. DON’TS:

  • You cannot open the notebook before the start of the tests;
  • You cannot review or correct tests related to the previous sections;
  • You cannot move to the next section before the scheduled time;
  • You cannot ask for explanations on the content of the tests;
  • You cannot leave the room before the break, unless it’s for a serious need (so, make sure you go to the bathroom in advance).

5. What to Expect on the Day of the Test

Language Skills

Like all language proficiency tests, CILS certification is based on the four main communicative abilities (Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking). In addition, it contains an analytic section. Here’s how the exam is divided:

  • Ascolto (“Listening comprehension”)
  • Comprensione della lettura (“Reading comprehension”)
  • Analisi delle strutture di comunicazione (“Analysis of communication structures”)
  • Produzione scritta (“Writing test”)
  • Produzione orale (“Speaking test”)

All levels have more or less the same structure, but obviously, the difficulty and complexity of the texts and contents are higher with each level. 

In this guide, we’ll take into account only one of the levels: The CILS DUE B2. This is, in fact, the level where the student should have full autonomy in communicating without too many problems. It’s also the level that gives the student access to schools and universities, and it allows the student to apply to most jobs requesting knowledge of the Italian language.

But keep in mind that all of the instructions and tips to prepare for and approach the exam are largely the same, regardless of level.

6. The CILS DUE-B2 Test

The total duration of the exam is almost four hours, but be prepared to do the speaking test on a different day, mainly for logistic reasons. The maximum score you can receive for this certification is 100 (20 for each section), while the minimum passing score is 55. But be careful: You need to get at least 11 in each section if you want to pass!

A Woman Listening

Listen very carefully to the CILS audio recording…

1 – The Listening Comprehension

Duration: 30 minutes, three exercises for a total of 20 points. Minimum passing score is 11 points

  • In the listening comprehension test, you’ll hear a recording of a real-life dialogue at a regular speed. It can be a conversation, a telephone call, an interview, an instruction text, a radio program, etc., with two native speakers.
  • The recordings will be played twice, and the timing includes the instructions as well as the time to fill in the answers.
  • The test will be divided into three exercises in which you’ll be asked to answer questions and identify information, typically in a multiple-choice format.

2 – The Reading Comprehension

Duration: 50 minutes, three exercises for a total of 20 points. Minimum passing score is 11 points

  • The reading portion tests your ability to understand the general meaning of the information presented to you. You should expect extracts from books, newspapers, magazines, works of fiction, catalogs, instruction manuals, publicity, etc.
  • The total amount of text that you’ll need to read and understand is around 1200-1400 words.
  • There will be three parts, divided into a multiple-choice exercise, an exercise where you’ll need to find information in a text, and one based on the reconstruction of a text, following the logical and temporal sequence. 

3 – Analysis of Communication Structures

Duration: 60 minutes, four exercises for a total of 20 points. Minimum passing score is 11 points

  • In this part of the CILS Italian exam, you’ll have to be able to analyze, summarize, or transform a text. 
  • There will be four parts, which can be multiple-choice, cloze (where you need to fill in missing words), or completion tests, mostly based on vocabulary or grammar points.

4 – The Writing Test

Duration: 70 minutes, two tests for a total of 20 points. Minimum passing score is 11 points

  • In this part of the test, you’ll have to produce two simple but well-structured written texts, showing that you’re able to describe events and experiences through a cohesive and coherent text. You’re also expected to clearly highlight the relationships between concepts.
  • There will be two sections. The first will be centered on a description or narration, the review of a film / book / show, etc. (from 120 to 140 words). The second is usually a formal or informal letter (from 80 to 100 words).
A Woman Writing Using a Big Pencil

Do you find it hard to write? The secret is to practice, practice, practice!

5 – The Speaking Test

Duration: 10 minutes, two tests for a total of 20 points. Minimum passing score is 11 points

  • In the final part of the CILS test, you’ll have to communicate effectively by having a coherent and well-structured conversation on a variety of situations. You can be asked to make a description, narrate an event, or express an opinion on various topics, clearly explaining your ideas and showing relevant examples. There will be two tests, both in the presence of an examiner: one monologue and one dialogue.
  • For the dialogue, you’ll choose a topic among the three or four proposed to you, and the examiner will start asking questions. The duration of the dialogue should be around two or three minutes.
  • For the monologue, the student is asked to talk about one topic chosen from a short list, which can also contain pictures to illustrate. The duration of the monologue should be about two minutes.


7. Winning Strategies for Taking the CILS Exam

Read or listen to the instructions very, very carefully. They are the first step to a good performance.

1. Be calm and relaxed, but at the same time, keep track of the time. Every section has a given time limit, which is more than enough to complete the task—unless you stubbornly stop too long on a single question. If you’re in doubt, make a mental note and come back to that question at the end of the section if you have time. 

2. Take a peek at the questions beforehand, so you’ll have a basic notion about the topic and what you’ll be asked about during the listening or reading comprehension sections.

3. Read the text very carefully, trying to understand as much as possible. And then read it again. Underline or write notes on a separate piece of paper to help you organize your thoughts and your ideas.

4. If you don’t know an answer, try to guess it by exclusion. Sometimes, if you eliminate all the wrong or improbable answers, you’ll be left with just the correct answer.

5. In the speaking sessions, there’s often an initial part where the examiner asks personal questions (name, activity, origin, hobbies, etc.) to start assessing your level and to put you at ease. You’d better be ready and prepare a nice presentation about yourself

6. Keep it simple! Try to avoid overly complicated sentences and structures. Write what you know, and avoid translating from English at all costs! Remember all of the Italian sentence patterns that you already know and use them.

Playing Chess

It’s always important to have a strategy.

8. How to Prepare for the CILS Exam

There are many ways to prepare for the CILS exam. One of them is to take advantage of all the available resources that ItalianPod101.com offers. 

Another good way to practice is to go to the official CILS site and take a simulated test. There, you’ll find a copy of a real test administered by the Università per Stranieri di Siena in 2012. You can also buy official books that will allow you to practice and study.

Be sure you have a good grasp of the grammar topics required for your level. And before anything else, search the ItalianPod101 database of grammar and vocabulary lessons.

Read as much as you can! Reading is a great exercise to expand your vocabulary and easily fix grammar structures and points in your mind. It will help you not only in the reading comprehension test, but in all of the other sections as well. Newspapers, magazines, books, letters—everything helps.

Listen to a wide variety of audios. You can find many online Italian radio shows and podcasts, or simply tune in to movies or series. Try to concentrate as much as possible, and maybe even listen with your eyes closed, to better understand what you’re hearing. Getting used to listening to native Italian speakers will give you the necessary confidence for the listening and speaking portions of the test.

Practice writing. Lose your inhibitions and  write as often as you can. Keep your sentence patterns simple, but be effective and precise with your vocabulary. It can be very useful to use spell-checkers and translators, mainly to verify that your sentence is written correctly in terms of conjugation, spelling, agreements, etc.

A Woman Writing

Just three words: Practice. Practice. Practice.

9. Conclusion

So, do you have everything you need to embark on this adventure and take the CILS certification test? 

Whatever your strategy, know that you’ll always be able to count on a variety of ItalianPod101 resources: vocabulary lists, audio podcasts, grammar lessons, and much more.

Remember that you can also use our premium service, MyTeacher, for one-on-one interaction with your personal teacher, guidance, and ongoing assessment. You’ll receive personalized exercises (reading, writing, and speaking) with non-stop feedback, answers, and corrections, so you’ll be ready for your B2 in no time—all while having fun!

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How to Master the Most Useful Italian Sentence Patterns


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Have you ever asked yourself how we learn our native language when we’re kids? We keep hearing and repeating the same simple sentences over and over. That’s the only trick! 

As an adult, it works the same way: You memorize a sentence structure, then you start changing the elements a little, and in the end, you start making the sentences more complex. 
With this simple guide on forming sentences in Italian, we’ll help you memorize the most basic and useful Italian sentence patterns; with those, you’ll be able to generate hundreds of natural sentences. And in no time, you’ll be holding complex conversations with ease and confidence.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian Table of Contents
  1. A is B: L’italiano è bello!
  2. Voglio imparare l’italiano con ItalianPod101.com!
  3. Love is all you need…
  4. Mi piace l’italiano!
  5. Bella Ciao and the Reflexive Verbs
  6. Asking politely: Scusi, posso…?
  7. Asking Questions
  8. Conclusion

1. A is B: L’italiano è bello!


Sentence Patterns

In Italian, if you want to describe a person or an object, you need to be able to say that A is B. Nothing’s easier! The only thing is that you need to know how to use and conjugate the verb essere (“to be”). And once you master that, you need to keep in mind that everything in Italian needs to agree in number (singular/plural) and gender (masculine/feminine).

  • Mario è mio fratello. (“Mario is my brother.”)
  • Maria è mia sorella. (“Maria is my sister.”)

There are already a lot of things you can say using this pattern:

  • (Lei)* È professoressa di italiano. (“She is an** Italian teacher.”)
  • (Voi) Siete molto simpatici. (“You are very nice.”)
  • Gli amici sono americani. (“The friends are American.”)

*Notice how, in Italian, you don’t need to express the personal pronoun when it’s the subject of the verb (io, tu, lui/lei, noi, voi, loro), **and when you say someone’s profession, you can omit the article:

  • (Io) Sono avvocata. (“I’m a lawyer.”) [for a female speaker]
  • (Tu) Sei ingegnere. (“You are an engineer.”)
  • Carlos è studente. (“Carlos is a student.”)

But what about when you want to say that A is not B? No problem. Anytime you need to express a negative statement, you just add the negation non (“not”) in front of the verb, as in:

  • Maria non è mia sorella. (“Maria is not my sister.”)
  • Questo orologio non è un regalo. (“This watch is not a present.”)

Notice also how the basic Italian sentence structure doesn’t change with most of the tenses (past, future, etc.).

  • Giovedì sarà il mio compleanno. (“Thursday will be my birthday.”)
  • Mario non era un bravo calciatore. (“Mario wasn’t a good soccer player.”)

And finally, if you need to ask a question, remember that, in Italian, you don’t need to do much. Just change your intonation, and you’ll have a perfect question.

  • Sei ingegnere? (“Are you an engineer?”)
  • Mario non era un bravo calciatore? (“Wasn’t Mario a good soccer player?”)

When we use adjectives to describe a person, a thing, or a situation, the structure stays exactly the same, including in the negative form or in other tenses:

  • (Tu) Sei bellissima! (“You are very beautiful!”)
  • La lasagna era deliziosa. (“The lasagna was delicious.”)
  • Il museo che abbiamo visitato ieri era molto interessante. (“The museum we visited yesterday was very interesting.”)

A Red Rose on Top of a Love Letter

The rose is red…[A] is [B]

2. Voglio imparare l’italiano con ItalianPod101.com!

Voglio (“I want”) is one of the Italian modal verbs (verbi servili) that are constructed by directly preceding the infinitive. 

  • Voglio imparare l’italiano con ItalianPod.101! (“I want to learn Italian with ItalianPod101.com!”)
  • Devo parlare. (“I have to speak up.”)
  • Posso fare. (“I can do it.”)
  • So suonare. (“I know how to play.”)

You can probably guess by now what the pattern is for the negative and interrogative forms. Yes, you’re right! For the negative form, you just put non (“not”) in front of the verb; if you want to ask a question, you just change the intonation:

  • Non voglio andare a scuola domani! (“I don’t want to go to school tomorrow!”)
  • Sai suonare il sassofono? (“Can you play the saxophone?”)

Italian phrases change a little when we start using direct or indirect personal pronouns, which we can put in front of the conjugated verb (as usual): 

  • Lo voglio dire. (“I want to say it.”)

Or, we can attach it to the end of the infinitive: 

  • Lo voglio dire; = Voglio dirlo(“I want to say it.”)
  • Ti devo parlare; = Devo parlarti; (“I have to talk to you.”)
  • Lo possiamo fare; = Possiamo farlo; (“We can do it.”)
  • La so suonare; = So suonarla; (“I can play it.”)

3. Love is all you need…

Although it might be true that “All you need is love,” in the real world, outside of dreamy songs, we need a lot of things. In Italian, “to need” translates into avere bisogno di. It’s a slightly different structure than in English and you’d better get familiar with it, because when you travel to Italy, or when you’re in the company of Italian friends, you might need to say one of the following:

  • Avete bisogno di informazioni? (“Do you need information?”)
  • Hai bisogno di cambiare i soldi. (“You need to change the money.”)
  • Il bambino ha bisogno di mangiare subito! (“The kid needs to eat right away!”)

A Group of Friends Holding Their Hands Up in Heart Shapes

Abbiamo bisogno d’amore! (“We need love!”)

Let’s take a look now at this Italian language sentence structure. 

You’ve probably noticed that we’re conjugating the verb avere (“to have”), which means that the literal translation of avere bisogno di is “to have the need for.” The noun bisogno (“need”) never changes, regardless of who the subject is, or who or what you need. 

Another important thing to remember is that the thing you need is introduced by the preposition di (“of”). When prepositions meet the article, they usually merge into a preposizione articolata.

  • Ho bisogno del (=di + il) bagno. (“I need the bathroom.”) 
  • Hai bisogno della (=di + la) macchina? (“Do you need the car?”)

When what you need is expressed by an action (and therefore a verb) you can change the sentence by replacing avere bisogno di (“to need”) with dovere (“to have to”). Like in English, the final meaning in Italian is basically the same, with maybe just a slight difference:

  • Ho bisogno di mangiare altrimenti svengo. (“I need to eat, otherwise I’ll faint.”) >> It’s necessary.
  • Devo mangiare altrimenti svengo. (“I have to eat, otherwise I’ll faint.”) >> I have no choice.

4. Mi piace l’italiano!

In Italian, the verb piacere expresses the concept of “liking” something, and of showing tastes and preferences. Piacere uses a particular sentence structure: What you like (or don’t like) is the subject of the verb, while the person who likes (or dislikes) someone/something is expressed with an indirect personal pronoun. 

If you try to translate it literally into English, you’ll have to change the order of the words a bit. Take a look:

  • Mi piace la pasta. (Mi = a me) > “I like pasta.”
  • Ti piace la pasta. (Ti = a te) > “You like pasta.”
  • Le piace la pasta. (Le = a lei) > “She likes pasta.”
  • Gli piace la pasta. (Gli = a lui) > “He likes pasta.”
  • Ci piace la pasta. (Ci = a noi) > “We like pasta.”
  • Vi piace la pasta. (Vi = a voi) > “You like pasta.”
  • A loro piace la pasta. > “They like pasta.”

Can you see what happened here? In the Italian translation, the grammatical subject is no longer “I” (io); it turned around to be the pasta! So if we go for the literal English translation, it would be “Pasta (subject) pleases (third person plural verb) me.”

If the thing you like is plural, you use piacciono (“they please”).

  • Mi piacciono gli spaghetti. > “I like spaghetti.”
  • Ti piacciono i fumetti di Diabolik? > “Do you like Diabolik comic books?”
  • Non ci piacciono le brutte notizie. > “We don’t like bad news.”

The verb piacere can also be followed by an infinitive.

  • Non gli piace guidare. > “He doesn’t like to drive.”
  • Ti piace ballare? > “Do you like dancing?”
  • Mi piace camminare a piedi nudi. > “I like to walk barefoot.”

Many other verbs use the same Italian sentence construction as piacere. For example:

  • Dispiacere (“to be sorry”) >> Mi dispiace per la confusione. (“I’m sorry for the mess.”)
  • Bastare (“to suffice”/”to be enough”) >> Ci basta poco. (“We don’t need much.”)
  • Mancare (“to miss something or someone”) >> Mi manca molto. (“I miss it a lot.”)
  • Servire (“to need”) >> Gli servono due pomodori. (“He needs two tomatoes.”)
  • Interessare (“to be interested in”) >> Ti interessa la storia? (“Does history interest you?”)
  • Sembrare (“to seem”/”to appear”) >> Ci sembra molto bello. (“It seems very nice to us.”)
  • Dare fastidio (“to annoy”/”to bother”) >> Mi dai proprio fastidio. (“You really bother me.”)

5. Bella Ciao and the Reflexive Verbs

Lately, the traditional hymn of freedom and resistance Bella Ciao has become very popular. But have you ever realized how it’s also a hymn to the power of reflexive verbs? Just look at the very first lyrics:


Someone Holding a Sign that Says

Is it a protest or a bank robbery…? 😉

Una mattina mi son(o) svegliato,
o bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao ciao ciao!
Una mattina mi son(o) svegliato
e ho trovato l’invasor.

One morning I awakened,
oh bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao, ciao, ciao!
One morning I awakened
And I found the invader.

One very common structure in Italian is to use reflexive verbs. These verbs express that the subject and the object of the action are the same: 

  • (io) mi sono svegliato. (“I woke up.” Literally: “I woke myself up.”)
  • (io) mi lavo le mani. (“I wash my hands.” Literally: “I wash myself the hands.”)

As you can see from the examples above, the reflexive verb is always preceded by a reflexive pronoun. So the pattern is always:

[subject] [reflexive pronounsame person as the subject] [verb]
[Maria] [si – (lei)] [sveglia]

Further, an Italian sentence that uses reflexive verbs requires the auxiliary essere (“to be”) in the past and all compound tenses. It also needs the consequent agreement of the past participle with the subject, as usual.

  • Si sono sposati l’anno scorso. (“They got married last year.”)
  • Carla, ti sei arrabbiata con me? (“Did you get angry at me?”)
  • Ieri non mi sono rasato. (“Yesterday, I didn’t shave.”)

In Italian, many common reflexive verbs are those related to routine daily actions. Reflexive verbs, in the infinitive form, will have the third person reflexive pronoun -si attached to the end, which can be a little confusing. Let’s see a few examples to clear things up.

Svegliarsi (“to wake up”) > Mi sveglio alle sei. (“I wake up at six.”)

Alzarsi  (“to get up”) > Ti alzi? (“Do you get up?”)

Lavarsi (“to wash up”) > John si lava solo la domenica. (“John washes up only on Sunday.”)

Vestirsi (“to dress up”) > Mi vesto per andare alla festa. (“I dress up to go to the party.”)

Mettersi (“to wear”) > Non ti metti il vestito rosso? (“Don’t you wear the red dress?”)

Pettinarsi (“to comb”) > Jessica non si pettina mai. (“Jessica never combs her hair.”)

Radersi (“to shave”) > Si rade un giorno sì e un giorno no. (“He shaves every other day.”)

Truccarsi (“to put on makeup”) > Le bambine si truccano a Carnevale. (“Girls put on makeup for Carnival.”)

Addormentarsi (“to fall asleep”) > Mi addormento a mezzanotte. (“I fall asleep at midnight.”)


A Man Thinking Deeply about Something on a White Board

Reflecting on reflexive verbs…

Many Italian verbs that express a physical state or a state of mind are also reflexive:

Annoiarsi (“to get/be bored”) > A teatro ci annoiamo. (“We get bored at the theater.”)

Arrabbiarsi (“to be angry”) > Perché ti arrabbi? (“Why do you get angry?”)

Chiamarsi (“to be called”) > Ciao, mi chiamo Elena. (“Hi, I’m called Elena.”)

Divertirsi (“to have fun”) > Sono sicura che vi divertiete. (“I’m sure you’ll have fun.”)

Innamorarsi (“to fall in love”) > Mi sono innamorata di te. (“I fell in love with you.”)

Lamentarsi (“to complain”) > Si lamentano sempre. (“They complain all the time.”)

Preoccuparsi (“to worry”) > Non ti preoccupare. (“Don’t worry.”)

Rilassarsi (“to relax”) > La domenica mi rilasso in famiglia. (“On Sunday I relax with my family.”)

Sedersi (“to sit down”) > Ci sediamo un poco? (“Shall we sit down for a while?”)

Sentirsi (“to feel”) > Non ti senti bene? (“Aren’t you feeling well?”)

Sposarsi (“to get married”) > Si sposano a maggio. (“They get married in May.”)

Vergognarsi (“to be ashamed”) > Mi vergogno di quello che ho fatto. (“I’m ashamed of what I’ve done.”)

6. Asking politely: Scusi, posso…?


1- Posso?

There are many situations where you need to politely ask to go someplace, or to get information or a service. Here’s the correct Italian language sentence pattern for you to use in order to make the best impression with your politeness.


A Little Boy Asking to Use the Bathroom

Posso andare al bagno? (“May I go to the bathroom?”)

As in English, Italian uses the verb potere (“can”/”may”), followed by an infinitive, to ask for permission to do or get something.

  • Posso entrare? (“May I come in?”)
  • Posso andare in bagno? (“Can I go to the bathroom?”)
  • Posso alzarmi da tavola? (“Can I be excused?” Literally: “Can I leave the table?”)
  • Posso avere il tuo numero di telefono? (“Can I have your phone number?”)

2- Scusa… Scusi…

Often, before asking for something, Italians say Scusa… (informal) or Scusi… (formal). But what does that mean? It’s actually a short version for saying “Excuse me,” and in some situations, it can also be used to say “Sorry.” But going back to the sentence pattern for politely asking for something, scusa is a way to draw the attention of the person you’re about to ask permission from.

  • Scusi, posso entrare? (“Excuse me, may I come in?”)
  • Scusa, posso avere il tuo numero di telefono? (“Excuse me, can I have your phone number?”)

A common situation where you should use this structure is when you’re at a coffee bar or a restaurant, and you want to draw the waiter’s or bartender’s attention before making your request:

  • Scusi, posso avere un cappuccino? (“Excuse me, can I get a cappuccino?”)
  • Scusi, possiamo avere il conto? (“Excuse me, can we have the bill?”)

Or, if you’re lost in Milan or Rome and you need directions (or the time):

  • Scusi, può dirmi come arrivo al Duomo? (“Excuse me, can you tell me how to get to the Duomo?”)
  • Scusi, può dirmi che ore sono? (“Excuse me, can you tell me the time?”)

Remember to use the formal version, scusi, when you talk to an older person, someone you don’t know, or anyone you want to show respect to (and with waiters and bartenders). The informal scusa is for young people, friends, and family.

3- Potrei…?

Finally, another way to ask politely for something in Italian is to use the present conditional. This shows that you’re asking something, but you’re not ordering. You’re rather expressing a wish.

  • Potrei avere un cappuccino? (“Could I have a cappuccino?”)
  • Mi farebbe un cappuccino? (“Could you make me a cappuccino?”)
  • Mi potresti dire l’ora? (“Could you tell me the time?”)

7. Asking Questions


1- About things: Che cos’è …?

Cosa (“thing”) is the most indeterminate and comprehensive word in the Italian language. With the word cosa, you can indicate anything that exists, whether in an abstract sense or in reality. It’s also the interrogative pronoun we use to ask about things when we want to know what they are, what they do, etc.


A Woman with Question Marks Above Her Head

Cosa? Dove? Quando? Too many questions!!!

It’s interesting to notice how there are different ways to say “what” in Italian:

  • Che
  • Cosa
  • Che cosa

These pronouns are always followed by a verb, either essere (if you’re asking what things are), or any other verb (if you’re asking about any other thing).

  • Che fai stasera?
  • Cosa fai stasera?
  • Che cosa fai stasera?

What’s the difference between the above sentences? None whatsoever. They all mean: “What do you do tonight?” Similarly, the following sentences all mean: “What is an interrogative pronoun?” (By the way, if you want to know more about interrogative pronouns in Italian, you can review all about pronouns on ItalianPod101.)

  • Che è un pronome interrogativo?
  • Cos’è un pronome interrogativo?
  • Che cos’è un pronome interrogativo?

Did you see what happened with cos’è (in cos’è successo)? When you have cosa + è, the final “a” is dropped, and you add an apostrophe (‘) to indicate that there was an elision. This is quite common in Italian, and we’ll see more examples of this in the next chapter.

2- Asking about a location: Dov’è …?

It might be true that all roads lead to Rome, but when you’re in Rome and you need directions to get around, what do you do? For that, you simply use the adverb dove (“where”). Remember what happened with cosa + è = cos’è (elision). The exact same phenomenon happens here: dove + è = dov’è.

  • Dov’è il bagno? (“Where is the bathroom?”)
  • Dove si prende l’autobus? (“Where do we take the bus?”)
  • Dove va questo treno? (“Where does this train go?”)

A Map Focusing on Rome

All the roads lead to Rome, but you can still get lost…

Another common way to ask where things are is by using the verb trovarsi. It’s a reflexive verb meaning “to find oneself” / “to happen to be” / “to be situated.”

  • Dove si trova il bagno? (“Where is the bathroom?”)
  • Dove mi trovo? (“Where am I?”)

And finally, you can hear Italians use the verb stare (literally “stay”) to indicate where things are (especially within Rome):

  • Dove stanno i miei calzini? (“Where are my socks?”)
  • Stanno nel primo cassetto, come sempre! (“They are in the first drawer, as always!”)

3- Asking about time: Quand’è?

Tell me Quando Quando Quando

This old Italian standard from the ‘60s is the perfect soundtrack to introduce the final basic Italian sentence pattern: Asking about time. Quando (“when”) is used pretty much the same way as the other interrogative words, including the trick quando + è = quand’è.

  • Quand’è il tuo compleanno? (“When is your birthday?”)
  • Quando arriva il treno? (“When does the train get in?”)
  • Quando cominciano le vacanze di Natale? (“When does the Christmas vacation start?”)

Obviously, you use quando if you mean to ask a general question about time, but you can change the formula if you want to be more specific:

  • In che anno sei nato? (“What year were you born?”)
  • A che ora arriva il treno? (“What time does the train get in?”)
  • Che giorno cominciano le vacanze di Natale? (“What day do the Christmas vacations start?”)

Sentence Components

8. Conclusion

Do you think you know enough about the most useful Italian sentence structures now? Do you feel confident about diving into a conversation in Italian, using basic sentences, questions, and polite requests? What about discussing your likes and desires?

Let us know if there’s any other topic or sentence pattern that you would like to learn more about. And make sure to explore our site, ItalianPod101.com, to take advantage of our free resources, vocabulary lists, and mobile apps to practice whenever and wherever you want.
Remember that you can also use our premium service, MyTeacher, to learn Italian with your own teacher. You’ll also continue to study at your own pace with fast, fun, and easy Italian lessons, including 220+ hours of audio/video courses, study tools, and more!

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The 100+ Most Common Italian Adverbs

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“Adjectives are the sugar of literature and adverbs the salt,” said the great American writer Henry James. So, let’s add some salt to your Italian with this amazing list of the 100+ most common Italian adverbs by ItalianPod101!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Italian Table of Contents
  1. What is an Adverb?
  2. List of the Most Common Italian Adverbs
  3. Improve Your Italian While Having Fun with ItalianPod101

1. What is an Adverb?

Top Verbs

An adverb is an element in a sentence that can’t be inflected and which modifies the meaning of another element. As in Henry James’ quote, it adds something to a sentence, a nuance that makes it more meaningful and rich.

Let’s see an example:

  • Angela was walking back home.
  • Angela was tiredly walking back home. 

The adverb “tiredly” adds a new layer of meaning to the sentence and clarifies the image we may create of Angela while she was walking back to her house.

Well, now that we’ve convinced you of the importance of Italian adverbs, let’s see our amazing Italian adverbs list.

Woman Sitting on Floor with Speech Bubble above Her Head

2. List of the Most Common Italian Adverbs

1 – Italian Adverbs of Time

We start our list with the Italian time adverbs:

  • Oggi (“Today”)
    • Oggi Marta e Lorenzo si sposano.
      “Today, Marta and Lorenzo are getting married.”
  • Ieri (“Yesterday”)
    • Sono tornato ieri dall’Italia.
      “I came back from Italy yesterday.”
  • Domani (“Tomorrow”)
    • Domani andremo a Roma.
      “Tomorrow, we’ll go to Rome.”
  • Presto (“Soon”)
    • Spero di vederti presto.
      “I hope to see you soon.”
  • Tardi (“Late”)
    • Elena arriva sempre tardi.
      “Elena always arrives late.”
  • Prima (“Before”)
    • Prima di tornare a casa, sono andato al supermercato.
      “Before coming home, I went to the supermarket.”
  • Dopo (“After”)
    • Dopo aver cambiato lavoro, la mia vita è migliorata.
      “After I changed my job, my life got better.”
  • Ora (“Now”)
    • Ora sono troppo stanca per uscire.
      “Now I’m too tired to go out.”
  • Stamattina (“This morning”)
    • Stamattina Maria si è svegliata molto presto.
      “Maria woke up very early this morning.”
  • Stasera (“Tonight”)
    • Ti va di andare al cinema stasera?
      “Would you like to go to the cinema tonight?”
  • Subito (“Immediately”)
    • Giovanni, vieni subito qui!
      “Giovanni, come here immediately!”
  • Già (“Already”)
    • Ho già visto questo film.
      “I’ve already seen this movie.”
  • Ancora (“Again,” “Yet”)
    • Non ho ancora incontrato la ragazza di mio fratello.
      “I haven’t met my brother’s girlfriend yet.”
  • Ormai (“By now,” “Already”)
    • Ormai devono essere arrivati a Milano.
      “They must have arrived in Milan by now.”
  • Poi (“Then”)
    • Siamo andati a fare shopping e poi a cena.
      “We went shopping and then to dinner.”
A Couple Window Shopping Downtown

2 – Italian Adverbs of Frequency

Here’s a list of the most common Italian frequency adverbs:

  • Mai (“Never”)
    • Non sono mai stato in Cina.
      “I’ve never been to China.”
  • Sempre (“Always”)
    • Quando viaggio, porto sempre con me un buon libro.
      “When I travel, I always bring a good book with me.”
  • Spesso (“Often”)
    • I miei genitori sono spesso fuori città.
      “My parents are often out of town.”
  • Raramente (“Rarely”)
    • Mangio carne raramente.
      “I rarely eat meat.”
  • Di solito (“Usually”)
    • Di solito il sabato esco con i miei amici.
      “I usually go out with my friends on Saturday.”
  • A volte (“Sometimes”)
    • A volte mia sorella si alza all’alba e va a correre.
      “Sometimes my sister gets up at dawn and goes jogging.”
  • Costantemente (“Constantly”)
    • Luigi controlla costantemente il cellulare.
      “Luigi constantly checks his mobile phone.”

3 – Italian Adverbs of Place

  • Qui (“Here”)
    • Potremmo fermarci qui e fare un pic nic.
      “We could stop here and have a picnic.”
  • (“There”)
    • Non andare là!
      “Don’t go there!”
  • (“There”)
    • Vorrei andare lì domani.
      “Tomorrow, I’d like to go there.”
  • Ovunque (“Wherever”)
    • Il mio cane mi segue ovunque io vada.
      “My dog ​​follows me wherever I go.”
  • Dappertutto (“Everywhere”)
    • Ho cercato le chiavi dappertutto, ma non le trovo.
      “I looked for the keys everywhere, but I can’t find them.”
  • Dentro (“Inside”) 
    • Il sale è dentro la dispensa.
      “Salt is inside the pantry.”
  • Fuori (“Outside”) 
    • Per favore, vai a fumare fuori.
      “Please, go smoke outside.”
  • Giù (“Down,” “Below”)
    • Maria è scesa giù al primo piano.
      “Maria went down to the first floor.”
  • Su (“Up”)
    • Guarda su, il cielo è bellissimo.
      “Look up, the sky is beautiful.”
  • Lassù (“Up there”)
    • Lassù c’è un bellissimo castello.
      “There’s a beautiful castle up there.”
  • Laggiù (“Down there”)
    • Laggiù c’è un ottimo ristorante.
      “There’s a great restaurant down there.”
  • Sopra (“Above”)
    • Sopra il tavolo c’è un vaso.
      “Above the table, there’s a vase.”
  • Sotto (“Below”) 
    • Sotto il tavolo c’è il gatto.
      “Below the table, there’s the cat.”
  • Vicino (“Nearby”)
    • Ho parcheggiato vicino.
      “I’ve parked nearby.”
  • Lontano (“Far away”)
    • Matteo si è trasferito lontano, in un’altra città.
      “Matteo has moved far away, in another city.”
  • Intorno (“Around”)
    • C’è un bel giardino intorno alla casa.
      “There’s a nice garden around the house.”
  • Altrove (“Somewhere else”)
    • In questo momento vorrei tanto essere altrove.
      “At this moment, I’d really like to be somewhere else.”
  • Davanti (“In front of”)
    • Di fronte alla chiesa c’è un bel caffè.
      “There’s a nice café in front of the church.”
  • Dietro (“Behind,” “Back”)
    • Si è nascosto dietro la tenda.
      “He hid behind the curtain.”
  • Ci (“There”) [also used as a desinence]
    • Mi farebbe molto piacere esserci.
      “I’d really like to be there.”
  • Vi (“There”) [also used as a desinence]
  • Ne (“[Away] from there/here”)
    • Se ne sono andati da due ore.
      “They went away two hours ago.”
  • Via (“Away”)
    • È tardi, andiamo via.
      “It’s late, let’s go away.”
People Going on Holiday

4 – Italian Adverbs of Manner

A tip: You can turn many Italian adjectives into adverbs of manner by adding –mente to feminine adjectives, which is a pattern you’ll notice often in this section. But it doesn’t always work. For example, you can’t turn cattivo into an adverb by simply adding –mente. 

The most important Italian adverbs of manner are:

  • Lentamente (“Slowly”)
    • Il latte caldo va bevuto lentamente.
      “Hot milk must be drunk slowly.”
  • Velocemente (“Quickly”)
    • Ho mangiato velocemente e sono tornato al lavoro.
      “I ate quickly and got back to work.”
  • Attentamente (“Carefully”)
    • Ascolta attentamente quello che dico.
      “Listen carefully to what I say.”
  • Facilmente (“Easily”)
    • Lucia ha passato l’esame facilmente.
      “Lucia easily passed the exam.”
  • Semplicemente (“Simply”)
    • Ho semplicemente detto di sì alla sua offerta.
      “I simply said yes to his offer.”
  • Dolcemente (“Sweetly”)
    • La baciò dolcemente sulle labbra.
      “He sweetly kissed her on her lips.”
  • Tranquillamente (“Calmly”)
    • Un uomo cammina tranquillamente sulla spiaggia.
      “A man calmly walks on the beach.”
  • Perfettamente (“Perfectly”)
    • Questo vestito ti sta perfettamente.
      “This dress fits you perfectly.”
  • Bene (“Well”)
    • La presentazione è andata molto bene.
      “The presentation went very well.”
  • Male (“Badly,” “Rudely”)
    • Monica ha risposto male a sua madre.
      “Monica responded rudely to her mother.”
  • Chiaramente (“Clearly”)
    • Il professore ha spiegato tutto molto chiaramente.
      “The professor explained everything very clearly.”
  • Letteralmente (“Literally”)
    • Sono letteralmente senza parole.
      “I’m literally out of words.”
  • Onestamente (“Honestly”)
    • Onestamente, non so di cosa stai parlando.
      “Honestly, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
  • Gentilmente (“Gently”)
    • La neve cominciò gentilmente a cadere.
      “Snow started gently to fall.”
  • Bruscamente (“Abruptly”)
    • L’auto frenò bruscamente.
      “The car broke abruptly.”
  • Improvvisamente (“Suddenly”)
    • Improvvisamente è spuntato il sole.
      “Suddenly, the sun came out.”
  • Freddamente (“Coldly”)
    • Ci accolsero freddamente.
      “They received us coldly.”
  • Calorosamente (“Warmly”)
    • Ci siamo salutati calorosamente e siamo partiti.
      “We said goodbye warmly and left.”
  • Correttamente (“Correctly,” “Properly”)
    • Sul lavoro si è sempre comportato correttamente.
      “At work, he’s always behaved properly.”
  • Duramente (“Hardly,” “Hard”)
    • Ho lavorato duramente per la mia carriera.
      “I worked hard for my career.”
  • Volentieri (“Gladly”)
    • Sarei venuto con voi volentieri, ma non potevo.
      “I would have come with you gladly, but I couldn’t.”
  • Forte (“Strongly,” “Quickly”)
    • Federica correva forte incontro a suo padre.
      “Federica was running quickly toward her father.”
Girl Running

5 – Italian Adverbs of Degree or Addition

  • Molto (“Much”)
    • Il film non mi è piaciuto molto.
      “I didn’t like the film much.”
  • Poco (“Little”)
    • A cena ho mangiato poco.
      “At dinner, I ate little.”
  • Troppo (“Too much”)
    • Stamattina ho dormito troppo.
      “I slept too much this morning.”
  • Piuttosto (“Quite,” “Rather”)
    • I mobili sono piuttosto belli, ma vecchi.
      “The furniture is quite nice, but old.”
  • Abbastanza (“Quite,” “Sufficiently”) 
    • Maria è abbastanza soddisfatta del nuovo lavoro.
      “Maria is quite satisfied with her new job.”
  • Più (“More,” “Most”)
    • Matteo è più bello di Antonio.
      “Matteo is more handsome than Antonio.”
  • Meno (“Less”)
    • Camminiamo meno di un tempo.
      “We walk less than (what we used to do) once.”
  • Meglio (“Better”)
    • Oggi mia nonna si sente meglio.
      “Today, my grandmother is feeling better.”
  • Peggio (“Worse”)
    • L’esame era difficile, ma pensavo peggio.
      “The exam was difficult, but I thought it was worse.”
  • Moltissimo (“Very much”)
    • La cena mi è piaciuta moltissimo.
      “I liked the dinner very much.”
  • Pochissimo (“Very little”)
    • Mio cugino guadagna pochissimo.
      “My cousin earns very little.”
  • Come (“How,” “Like,” “As much as”)
    • Paolo è come un fratello per me.
      “Paolo is like a brother to me.”
  • Inoltre (“Moreover”)
    • Volevo dirti, inoltre, che abbiamo finito lo zucchero.
      “I wanted to tell you, moreover, that we’re out of sugar.”
  • Pure (“Also,” “Too”)
    • Vorrebbe venire pure Flavia, va bene?
      “Flavia would like to come too, is it okay?”
  • Persino (“Even”)
    • Persino mio figlio si è divertito.
      “Even my son had a great time.”
  • Addirittura (“Even”)
    • Era così freddo che siamo addirittura partiti prima della fine del concerto.
      “It was so cold that we even left before the end of the concert.”
A Concert

6 – Italian Question Adverbs

  • Dove (“Where”)
    • Dov’è andata Gianna?
      “Where did Gianna go?”
  • Quando (“When”)
    • Quando tornerai dagli Stati Uniti?
      “When will you come back from the United States?”
  • Come (“How”)
    • Come ti senti oggi?
      “How are you feeling today?”
  • Perché (“Why”)
    • Perché non ci raggiungete più tardi?
      “Why don’t you join us later?”

7 – Italian Adverbs of Exclamation

  • Come (used to emphasize a sentence)
    • Come sono felice di vederti!
      “I’m so happy to see you!”
  • Quanto (used to emphasize a sentence)
    • Quanto mi manchi!
      “I miss you so much!”

8 – Italian Adverbs of Affirmation, Negation, and Doubt 

  • (“Yes”)
    • Sì, mi piacerebbe venire a cena con te.
      “Yes, I’d like to go to dinner with you.”
  • Certo (“Of course”)
    • Certo, ormai è troppo tardi.
      “Of course, now it’s too late.”
  • Davvero (“Really”)
    • Ho davvero voglia di un gelato.
      “I’d really like an icecream.”
  • Sicuramente (“For sure”)
    • Io e mio marito ci saremo sicuramente.
      “My husband and I will be there for sure.”
  • Proprio (“Really”)
    • Sono proprio contento che siate venuti a trovarmi.
      “I’m really happy that you went to see me.”
  • No (“No”)
    • A: Vieni con noi? 
      B: No, sono stanco.

      A: “Will you come with us?”
      B: “No, I’m tired.”
  • Non (“Not”)
    • Giorgio non è andato a scuola oggi.
      “Giorgio didn’t go to school today.”
  • Nemmeno (“Even [negative],” “Neither,” “Not even”)
    • Nemmeno io sopporto quella donna.
      “Even I can’t stand that woman.”
  • Affatto (“At all”)
    • Questo vino non mi piace affatto.
      “I don’t like this wine at all.”
  • Forse (“Maybe”)
    • Forse stasera sono libera.
      “Maybe tonight I’m free.”
  • Probabilmente (“Probably”)
    • Probabilmente alla festa ci sarà anche Mauro.
      “Mauro will probably be at the party, too.”

3. Improve Your Italian While Having Fun with ItalianPod101

More Essential Verbs

We hope you enjoyed learning about Italian adverbs with us, and that you learned some new words for your next conversation! Are there any adverbs we missed that you want to know? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll do our best to help you out! 

ItalianPod101.com is an extensive source for everything Italian, including amazing word lists, comprehensive blog posts (like our articles about Italian adjectives and nouns), apps, video lessons, and everything you need to improve your knowledge of this fascinating language. And learning with us is so fun that you won’t ever feel tired! Check out our courses, find Italian adverbs exercises and in-depth lessons, and start on the road to fluency.

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Italian Keyboard: How to Install and Type in Italian

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You asked, so we provided—easy-to-follow instructions on how to set up your electronic devices to write in Italian! We’ll also give you a few excellent tips on how to use this keyboard, as well as some online and app alternatives if you prefer not to set up a Italian keyboard.

Log in to Download Your Free Italian Alphabet Worksheet Table of Contents
  1. Why it’s Important to Learn to Type in Italian
  2. Setting up Your Computer and Mobile Devices for Italian
  3. How to Activate an Onscreen Keyboard on Your Computer
  4. How to Change the Language Settings to Italian on Your Computer
  5. Activating the Italian Keyboard on Your Mobile Phone and Tablet
  6. Italian Keyboard Typing Tips
  7. How to Practice Typing Italian

1. Why it’s Important to Learn to Type in Italian

A keyboard

Learning a new language is made so much easier when you’re able to read and write/type it. This way, you will:

  • Get the most out of any dictionary and Italian language apps on your devices
  • Expand your ability to find Italian websites and use the various search engines
  • Be able to communicate much better online with your Italian teachers and friends, and look super cool in the process! 

2. Setting up Your Computer and Mobile Devices for Italian

A phone charging on a dock

It takes only a few steps to set up any of your devices to read and type in Italian. It’s super-easy on your mobile phone and tablet, and a simple process on your computer.

On your computer, you’ll first activate the onscreen keyboard to work with. You’ll only be using your mouse or touchpad/pointer for this keyboard. Then, you’ll need to change the language setting to Italian, so all text will appear in Italian. You could also opt to use online keyboards instead. Read on for the links!

On your mobile devices, it’s even easier—you only have to change the keyboard. We also provide a few alternatives in the form of online keyboards and downloadable apps.

3. How to Activate an Onscreen Keyboard on Your Computer

1- Mac

1. Go to System Preferences > Keyboard.

2. Check the option “Show Keyboard & Character Viewers in Menu Bar.”

3. You’ll see a new icon on the right side of the main bar; click on it and select “Show Keyboard Viewer.”

A screenshot of the keyboard viewer screen

2- Windows

1. Go to Start > Settings > Easy Access > Keyboard.

2. Turn on the option for “Onscreen Keyboard.”

3- Add-ons of Extensions for Browsers

Instead of an online keyboard, you could also choose to download a Google extension to your browser for a language input tool. The Google Input Tools extension allows users to use input tools in Chrome web pages, for example.

4. How to Change the Language Settings to Italian on Your Computer

Man looking at his computer

Now that you’re all set to work with an onscreen keyboard on your computer, it’s time to download the Italian language pack for your operating system of choice:

  • Windows 8 (and higher)
  • Windows 7
  • Mac (OS X and higher)

1- Windows 8 (and higher)

  1. Go to “Settings” > “Change PC Settings” > “Time & Language” > “Region & Language.”
  2. Click on “Add a Language” and select “Italian (Italy).” This will add it to your list of languages. It will appear as Italiano (Italia) with the note “language pack available.”
  3. Click on “Italiano (Italia)” > “Options” > “Download.” It’ll take a few minutes to download and install the language pack.
  4. As a keyboard layout, you’ll only need the one marked as “Italian – Italiano.” You can ignore other keyboard layouts.

2- Windows 7

1. Go to Start > Control Panel > Clock, Language, and Region.

2. On the “Region and Language” option, click on “Change Keyboards or Other Input Methods.”

3. On the “Keyboards and Languages” tab, click on “Change Keyboards” > “Add” > “Italian.”

4. Expand the option of “Italian” and then expand the option “Keyboard.” Select the keyboard layout marked as “Italian.” You can ignore other keyboard layouts. Click “OK” and then “Apply.”

3- Mac (OS X and higher)

If you can’t see the language listed, please make sure to select the right option from System Preferences > Language and Region

1. From the Apple Menu (top left corner of the screen) go to System Preferences > Keyboard.

2. Click the Input Sources tab and a list of available keyboards and input methods will appear.

3. Click on the plus button, select “Italian,” and add the “Italian” keyboard (not the “Italian – Typewriter.”)

Adding a system language

5. Activating the Italian Keyboard on Your Mobile Phone and Tablet

Texting and searching in Italian will greatly help you master the language! Adding a Italian keyboard on your mobile phone and/or tablet is super-easy.

You could also opt to download an app instead of adding a keyboard. Read on for our suggestions.

Below are the instructions for both iOS and Android mobile phones and tablets.

1- iOS

1. Go to Settings > General > Keyboard.

2. Tap “Keyboards” and then “Add New Keyboard.”

3. Select “Italian” from the list.

4. When typing, you can switch between languages by tapping and holding on the icon to reveal the keyboard language menu.

2- Android

1. Go to Settings > General Management > Language and Input > On-screen Keyboard (or “Virtual Keyboard” on some devices) > Samsung Keyboard.

2. Tap “Language and Types” or “ + Select Input Languages” depending on the device and then “MANAGE INPUT LANGUAGES” if available.

3. Select “Italiano” from the list.

4. When typing, you can switch between languages by swiping the space bar.

3- Applications for Mobile Phones

If you don’t want to add a keyboard on your mobile phone or tablet, these are a few good apps to consider:

6. Italian Keyboard Typing Tips

Typing in Italian can be very challenging at first! Therefore, we added here a few useful tips to make it easier to use your Italian keyboard.

A man typing on a computer

1- Computer

  • The key for “è” (with grave accent) is usually on the right of the P key; “é” (with acute accent) is also on the right of the P key, but you need to press Shift. “ò” is on the right of the L key; “à” is on the right of the “ò” key. “ù” is on the right of the “à” key.
  • The apostrophe is on the right of the zero key and “ì” is on the right of the apostrophe key.
  • A useful shortcut for macOS: 
    • È = Alt + Shift + E
    • The rest of the accented letters never occur at the beginning of a sentence or word.

2- Mobile Phones

  • To add accents on a vowel, keep the key pressed until the accented letter appears and choose it.

7. How to Practice Typing Italian

As you probably know by now, learning Italian is all about practice, practice, and more practice! Strengthen your Italian typing skills by writing comments on any of our lesson pages, and our teacher will answer. If you’re a ItalianPod101 Premium PLUS member, you can directly text our teacher via the My Teacher app—use your Italian keyboard to do this!

Log in to Download Your Free Italian Alphabet Worksheet

A Simple Guide to Italian Verb Conjugation

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Verbs are everywhere! Whatever you’re trying to say or write in Italian, you’re going to need to use a verb and a subject. And guess what? Right there, you already need to conjugate the verb to use it correctly. 

  • Vado al cinema. Vieni con me? Cosa dici? 
    “I go to the movies. Will you come with me? What do you say?”

For example, in this simple sentence, you’ll have to know the conjugations of the verbs andare (“to go”), venire (“to come”), and dire (“to say”).

Italian verb conjugation might seem tough at first, but with a few tips (and ItalianPod101’s resources), you’ll learn how to conjugate Italian verbs and become a real pro!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Italian Table of Contents
  1. What Does Conjugation Mean?
  2. Verb Groups
  3. Conjugation Examples
  4. Irregular Verbs and Their Conjugations
  5. Quiz
  6. Tips to Improve and Practice Your Italian Conjugations

1. What Does Conjugation Mean?

What is a conjugation and what do you need it for? A conjugation is a basic process—common to most languages—by which you change the verb ending in order to indicate who is doing the action (me, you, he/she, we, you, they), with what intention (realistic, wish, opinion, order, etc.), and when (present, past, future, etc.).

Woman with Question Marks above Her Head

Who? When? What intention? Ask questions to start conjugating.

Also, in Italian verb conjugation, you may have to:

  • Conjugate auxiliary verbs (avere/essere = “to have”/”to be”) 
  • Conjugate modal verbs (verbi servili: potere, dovere, volere, ecc. = “can, must, want, etc.”) 
  • Add a participio passato (“past participle”) 
  • Watch out for Italian irregular verbs and irregular verb forms (dire, fare, andare, stare, venire, perdere, chiudere, and a few more…)

Let’s look at this in more detail:

1- Who?

1st person singularIo“I”
2nd person singulartu / Lei*“you” (casual) / “you” (formal)
3rd person singularlui / lei“he” / “she”
1st person pluralnoi“we”
2nd person pluralvoi“we”
3rd person pluralloro“they”

*It’s important to remember that the polite form of address is in the third person singular feminine. So, for example, the phrase “What do you eat?” can be:

  • Tu cosa mangi? (informal)
  • Lei cosa mangia? (formal)

It can be a little confusing at the beginning, but since the formal way of address is extremely common in Italian, it’s a good idea to practice using it from the very beginning.

Remember that the person who is doing the action is very important because, in Italian verb conjugation, every person of the verb has a different ending. But we’ll see that in a little bit.

2- With what intention?

In every sentence, you can ask “What is the intention of this action?” This intention is called il modo (“the mood”), and it reflects whether the intention is realistic, possible, or uncertain, or if it’s a wish, an opinion, or an order. 

Let’s look at this Italian conjugation table and study the moods to determine what they mean.

Indicativo
(“Indicative”)
Mangio una pizza.
(“I eat a pizza.”)
Used to express a real and certain fact. This is, by far, the most common mood in Italian.
Conjuntivo
(“Subjunctive”)
Credo che sia meglio.
(“I think it is better.”)
Used to express an opinion, a possibility, a desire, or something uncertain. It’s usually supported by certain verbs and conjunctions.
Condizionale
(“Conditional”)
Vorrei andare.
(“I would like to go.”)
Used to express a probability or a hypothesis. Usually, one fact depends on another.
Imperativo
(“Imperative”)
Fai i compiti!
(“Do your homework!”)
Used to give an order.
The examples above are called modi finiti (“finite moods”) because they define the action in a precise way, and they’re conjugated according to the person and the time. The following ones, on the other hand, are modi indefiniti (“indefinite moods”) as they don’t have a specific subject. They usually depend on other verbs, and—very good news—they don’t change!
Infinito
(“Infinitive”)
Mangiare
(“To eat”)
It’s an undetermined action, used as the basic form of the verb.
Gerundio
(“Gerund”)
Sto dormendo.
(“I am sleeping.”)
Often used in combination with stare, it can have many intentions.
Participio
(“Participle”)
Serata danzante
(“Dancing night”)
A word formed from a verb and used as an adjective.

3- When?

Every action takes place in a specific time, called tempo (literally “time,” or “tense” in the context of a conjugation). The Italian tenses are presente, passato, and futuro, and they can be tempi semplici (“simple tenses”) when they’re made of just one word, or tempi composti (“compound tenses”) when they’re formed by the auxiliary (essere/avere) and the past participle.

Two Hearts Drawn in the Sand on a Beach

Io amo, tu ami… (“I love, you love…”) The best conjugation of all!

Let’s look at the full Italian conjugations chart of all possible moods and tenses with the best Italian verb: amare (“to love”).

MODITEMPI SEMPLICITEMPI COMPOSTI
FinitiIndicativoPresente | AmoPassato prossimo | Ho amato
Imperfetto | AmavoTrapassato prossimo | Avevo amato
Passato remoto | AmaiTrapassato remoto | Ebbi amato
Futuro semplice | AmeròFuturo anteriore | Avrò amato
CongiuntivoPresente | Che io amiPassato | Che io abbia amato
Imperfetto | Che io amassiTrapassato | Che io avessi amato
CondizionalePresente | AmereiPassato | Avrei amato
ImperativoPresente | Ama!
IndefinitiGerundioPresente | AmandoPassato | Avendo amato
ParticipioPresente | Amante
Passato | Amato
InfinitoPresente | Amare

It’s true that there are quite a lot of tenses! But keep in mind that the Italian conjugations you’ll really have to master are the ones that are in bold, as they are by far the most common. They’re also the most practical ones for meaningful communication up to an intermediate Italian level. That sounds better, doesn’t it?

2. Verb Groups

Top Verbs

In the Italian conjugation of verbs, there are three basic groups, divided according to the verb ending in the infinitive:

  • 1st with the infinitive in -ARE
  • 2nd with the infinitive in -ERE (verbs ending in -arre, -orre, and -urre belong to this group)
  • 3rd with the infinitive in -IRE (verbs that add a -isc suffix belong to this group)

Regular Italian verbs are simple to conjugate because they all follow the same pattern, as you can see in the following chart:

Io (“I”)tu (“you”)lui/lei (“s/he”)noi  (“we”)voi (“you”)loro (“they”)
AMARE (“to love”)AmoAmiAmaAmiàmoAmàteÀmano
CREDERE (“to believe”)CredoCrediCredeCrediàmoCredèteCrèdono
DORMIRE (“to sleep”)DormoDormiDormeDormiàmoDormìteDòrmono*

*Notice how the position of the stress changes syllable. Try and read the three basic present conjugations, just to familiarize yourself with the rhythm of it.

As you can see, there are no major changes from one group to the other. But things do get a bit more complicated with Italian irregular verb conjugations, which involve some of the most common verbs.

3. Conjugation Examples

Negative Verbs

Now that you know that Italian conjugations are divided into three groups, let’s see in greater detail how each group behaves according to the person (who), the tense (when), and the mood (with what intention).

1- Verbs in -ARE

AMARE (“To love”) 

IndicativeSubjunctiveConditionalImperative
PresentAbsolute Past*ImperfectFuturePresentPresentPresent
ioamoamaiamavoameròamiamerei
tuamiamastiamaviameraiamiamerestiama
lui/leiamaamòamavaameràamiamerebbe
noiamiamoamammoamavamoameremoamiamoameremmoamiamo
voiamateamasteamavateamereteamiateameresteamate
loroamanoamaronoamavanoamerannoaminoamerebbero

PARLARE (“To talk”)

IndicativeSubjunctiveConditionalImperative
PresentAbsolute Past*ImperfectFuturePresentPresentPresent
ioparloparlaiparlavoparleròparliparlerei
tuparliparlastiparlaviparleraiparliparlerestiparla
lui/leiparlaparlòparlavaparleràparliparlerebbe
noiparliamoparlammoparlavamoparleremoparliamoparleremmoparliamo
voiparlateparlasteparlavateparlereteparliateparleresteparlate
loroparlateparlaronoparlavanoparlerannoparlinoparlerebbero

GIOCARE (“To play”)

IndicativeSubjunctiveConditionalImperative
PresentAbsolute Past*ImperfectFuturePresentPresentPresent
iogiocogiocaigiocavogiocherò*giochi*giocherei*
tugiochi*giocastigiocavigiocherai*giochi*giocheresti*gioca
lui/leigiocagiocògiocavagiocherà*giochi*giocherebbe*
noigiochiamo*giocammogiocavamogiocheremo*giochiamo*giocheremmo*giochiamo*
voigiocategiocastegiocavategiocherete*giochiate*giochereste*giocate
lorogiocanogiocaronogiocavanogiochino*giochino*giocherebbero*

*Notice how, whenever the ending of the conjugation starts with i or e, the root adds an h in order to maintain the hard K sound of giocare. This will happen for all the verbs of the first group that end in -care or gare. So, for verbs in -care or gare:

C + I, E = CHI, CHE (in order to keep the hard K sound)
G + I, E = GHI, GHE (in order to keep the hard G sound)

Let’s see some examples:

  • Pagare (“to pay”)
    Paghi tu? (“Will you pay?”)
  • Cercare (“to look for”)
    Cerchiamo un bar. (“We look for a bar.”)
  • Giocare (“to play”)
    Giocheresti con me? (“Would you play with me?”)
  • Litigare (“to fight”)
    Non litighiamo! (“Let’s not fight!”)
  • Mancare (“to miss”)
    Mi manchi tanto! (“I miss you so much!”)
  • Sporcare (“to get dirty”)
    Ti sporchi sempre… (“You always get dirty…”)
  • Sprecare (“to waste”)
    Perché sprechi la carta? (“Why do you waste paper?”)
  • Navigare (“to sail”)
    Navigheremo per tre notti. (“We will sail for three nights.”)

Wait… Didn’t we tell you earlier that the only verbs you really needed to master were presente, passato prossimo, imperfetto, futuro, condizionale, and imperativo (“present, present perfect, imperfect, future, conditional, and imperative”)? 

You’re absolutely right! As a matter of fact, the absolute past (passato remoto) is mostly used in literary writing and very formal speech about things that happened a very long time ago. So you definitely don’t have to worry about it too much. Just be aware of it, just in case you encounter it while reading a story.

Do you know where you might actually hear passato remoto a lot? In the south of Italy, in Sicily for example, because southern dialects have no passato prossimo in their grammar. For this reason, people have historically tended to use this tense more often than other Italians. 

Sicily, Italy

Andai in Sicilia. (“I went to Sicily.”) Sicilians use passato remoto a lot!

On the other hand, the one that you’ll really be using all the time (in combination with the imperfect) is the present perfect (passato prossimo), which is formed by the auxiliary essere or avere (“to be” or “to have”) and the past participle. But we’ll see more about that in a little bit. For now, just take a look at what it’s like.

Passato Prossimo – AMARE
ioho amato
tuhai amato
lui/ leiha amato
noiabbiamo amato
voiavete amato
lorohanno amato

2- Verbs in -ERE

CREDERE (“To believe”)

IndicativeSubjunctiveSubjunctiveImperative
PresentAbsolute Past*ImperfectFuturePresentPresentPresent
iocredocredetticredevicrederòcredacrederei
tucredicredesticredevicrederaicredacrederesticredi
lui/leicredecredettecredevacrederàcredacrederebbe
noicrediamocredemmocredevamocrederemocrediamocrederemmocrediamo
voicredetecredestecredevatecrederetecrediatecrederestecredete
lorocredonocrederonocredevanocrederannocredanocrederebbero

PRENDERE (“To take”)

IndicativeSubjunctiveConditionalImperative
PresentAbsolute PastImperfectFuturePresentPresentPresent
ioprendopresi*prendevoprenderòprendaprenderei
tuprendiprendestiprendeviprenderaiprendaprenderestiprendi
lui/leiprendeprese*prendevaprenderàprendaprenderebbe
noiprendiamoprendemmoprendevamoprenderemoprendiamoprenderemmoprendiamo
voiprendeteprendesteprendevateprendereteprendiateprenderesteprendete
loroprendonopresero*prendevanoprenderannoprendanoprenderebbero

*Just to complicate things a bit further, most verbs of the second group in -ERE have an irregular passato remoto (“absolute past”), in which the io, lui/lei, loro (“I,” “s/he,” “they”) forms can change considerably from the root. But again, this tense is rarely used in spoken Italian, so you’ll just need to recognize them in case you encounter them while reading. 

LEGGERE (“To read”)

IndicativeSubjunctiveConditionalImperative
PresentAbsolute PastImperfectFuturePresentPresentPresent
ioleggo**lessi*leggevoleggeròleggaleggerei
tuleggileggestileggevileggeraileggaleggerestileggi
lui/leileggelesse*leggevaleggeràleggaleggerebbe
noileggiamoleggemmoleggevamoleggeremoleggiamoleggeremmoleggiamo
voileggeteleggesteleggevateleggereteleggiateleggeresteleggete
loroleggono**lessero*leggevanoleggerannolegganoleggerebbero

*See the note above.

**Contrary to what happens to the -care / -gare verbs in the first group (they add an h to keep the hard sound in front of e or i), in the second conjugation, verbs in -cere and -gere change sound from soft to hard in front of the ending -o (io and loro – “I” and “them”). 

Mother Reading to Her Baby

Che piacere leggere! (“What a pleasure to read!”)

IO LEGGO [leggo – hard G] as in “gospel”
TU LEGGI [ledʒi – soft g] as in “giant”

Other common verbs that have the same behavior are:

  • Vincere (“to win”)
    Vinco sempre! (“I always win!”)
  • Conoscere (“to know”)
    Non ti conosco. (“I don’t know you.”)
  • Crescere (“to grow”)
    Come crescono questi bambini…! (“How do these kids grow…!”)
  • Nascere (“to be born”)
    In Italia nascono 50 bambini all’ora. (“In Italy, 50 babies are born every hour.”)
  • Correggere (“to correct”)
    Correggo i tuoi errori. (“I correct your mistakes.”)
  • Friggere (“to fry”)
    Friggo le patate. (“I fry potatoes.”)
  • Leggere (“to read”)
    I ragazzi leggono Pinocchio. (“Kids read Pinocchio.”)
  • Aggiungere (“to add”)
    Aggiungono sempre troppo sale! (“They always add too much salt!”)
  • Piangere (“to cry”)
    Quando sono triste piango. (“When I’m sad, I cry.”)

3- Verbs in -IRE

DORMIRE (“To sleep”)

IndicativeSubjunctiveConditionalImperative
PresentAbsolute PastImperfectFuturePresentPresentPresent
iodormodormiidormivodormiròdormadormirei
tudormidormistidormividormiraidormadormirestidormi
lui/leidormedormìdormivadormiràdormadormirebbe
noidormiamodormimmodormivamodormiremodormiamodormiremmodormiamo
voidormitedormistedormivatedormiretedormiatedormirestedormite
lorodormonodormironodormivanodormirannodormanodormirebbero

SENTIRE (“To hear” / “To feel”)

IndicativeSubjunctiveConditionalImperative
PresentAbsolute PastImperfectFuturePresentPresentPresent
iosentosentiisentivosentiròsentasentirei
tusentisentistisentivisentiraisentasentirestisenti
lui/leisentesentìsentivasentiràsentasentirebbe
noisentiamosentimmosentivamosentiremosentiamosentiremmosentiamo
voisentitesentistesentivatesentiretesentiatesentirestesentireste
lorosentonosentironosentivanosentirannosentanosentirebbero

CAPIRE (“To understand”)

IndicativeSubjunctiveConditionalImperative
PresentAbsolute PastImperfectFuturePresentPresentPresent
iocapisco*capiicapivocapiròcapiscacapirei
tucapisci**capisticapivicapiraicapiscacapiresticapisci
lui/leicapiscecapìcapivacapiràcapiscacapirebbe
noicapiamocapimmocapivamocapiremocapiamocapiremmocapiamo
voicapitecapistecapivatecapiretecapiatecapirestecapireste
lorocapisconocapironocapivanocapirannocapscanocapirebbero

*Did you notice something different about this conjugation? You’re absolutely right! Quite a few Italian verbs of the third group add an -isc suffix to the conjugation in the present, subjunctive, and imperative in the first singular (io, “I”),  second singular (tu, “you”), third singular (lui/lei, “s/he”), and third plural (loro, “they”).  


**Similarly to what happens to the verbs in the -cere and -gere that we just saw above, verbs that add the -isc suffix change sound from soft to hard in front of the endings -o and -a (io and loro – “I” and “them”).

IO CAPISCO [kapisko – hard K] as in “color”
TU CAPISCI [kapishi – soft sh] as in “sheep”

Other common verbs that have the same behavior are:

  • Capire (“to understand”)
    Capisco [capisko] / Capisci [capishi] tutto. (“I/you understand everything.”)
  • Costruire (“to build”)
    Costruisco [kostruisko] / Costruisci [costruishi] una casa. (“I/you build a house.”)
  • Finire (“to finish”)
      Finisco [finisko] / Finisci [finishi] subito! (“I/you finish right away!”)
  • Preferire (“to prefer”)
    Preferisco [preferisko] / Preferisci [preferishi] l’acqua. (“I/you prefer water.”)

    Now it’s your turn to try! Change the subject from io (“I”) to tu or lui/lei (“you” or “s/he”) and practice with the hard/soft pronunciation.
  • Proibire (“to forbid”)
    Io ti proibisco di andare! (“I forbid you to go!”) >> Lei ti ……………… di andare! (“He forbids you to go!”)
  • Pulire (“to clean”)
    Io pulisco la mia stanza. (“I clean my room.”) >> Tu …………….. la mia stanza. (“He cleans my room.”)
  • Punire (“to punish”)
    Non punisco gli sbagli. (“I don’t punish mistakes.”) >> Lui non ………… gli sbagli. (“He doesn’t punish mistakes.”)
  • Restiture (“to give back”)
    Io restituisco il libro. (“I give back the book.”)  >> Tu …………….. il libro. (“You give back the book.”)
  • Trasferire (“to transfer” / “to move”)
    Io mi trasferisco a Roma. (“I move to Rome.”) >> Tu ti …………….. a Roma. (“You move to Rome.”)

4. Irregular Verbs and Their Conjugations

Essential Verbs

As it often happens, some of the most common verbs are irregular and, although they continue to follow a pattern to a certain point, they can differ quite a lot from what you expect. 

Let’s start with the most important Italian irregular conjugations: essere (“to be”) and avere (“to have”). 

ESSERE (“To be”) 

IndicativeSubjunctiveConditionalImperative
PresentAbsolute PastImperfectFuturePresentPresentPresent
iosonofuierosaròsiasarei
tuseifosteerisaraisiasarestisii
lui/leiè*fuerasaràsiasarebbe
noisiamofummoeravamosaremosiamosaremmosiamo
voisietefosteeravatesaretesiatesarestesiate
lorosonofuronoeranosarannosianosarebbero

*The third person singular lui/lei è (“s/he is”) requires the grave accent to distinguish it from the conjunction e (“and”). Even if it might seem like a small detail, it’s considered a big mistake, so double your attention!


AVERE  (“To have”)

IndicativeSubjunctiveConditionalImperative
PresentAbsolute PastImperfectFuturePresentPresentPresent
ioho*ebbiavevoavròabbiaavrei
tuhai*avesteaveviavraiabbiaavrestiabbi
lui/leiha*ebbeavevaavràabbiaavrebbe
noiabbiamoavemmoavevamoavremoabbiamoavremmoabbiamo
voiaveteavesteavevateavreteabbiateavresteabbiate
lorohanno*ebberoavevanoavrannoabbianoavrebbero

*In Italian, you’ll never find the H at the beginning of a word, except for in foreign words such as “hotel” and the avere conjugation. For some reason, only the first singular (io, “I”), second singular (tu, “you”), third singular (lui/lei, “s/he”), and third plural (loro, “they”) in the present keep the H from the Latin conjugation habere. However, nothing changes in the pronunciation.

1- AVERE & ESSERE as auxiliaries with passato prossimo (“present perfect”)

Remember how we told you that the absolute past isn’t really used in colloquial Italian, and you would more often use the passato prossimo? Passato prossimo is formed with an auxiliary avere/essere and the past participle, which is formed as follows:

  • Verbs in -are >> -ato
    Ex: Parlare >> ho parlato  / Andare >> sono andato
  • Verbs in -ere >> -uto
    Ex: conoscere >> conosciuto
  • Verbs in -ire >> -ito
    Ex: dormire >> dormito
  • Essere >> stato 
  • Avere >> avuto

But how do you know which auxiliary to use? Here’s how it works. 

Transitive verbs (verbs that can have a direct object) form the passato prossimo with the auxiliary AVERE:

  • Amare Ho amato mio marito. (“I loved my husband.”)
  • Vendere Ho venduto la mia macchina. (“I sold my car.”)
  • Capire Ho capito quello che hai detto. (“I understood what you said.”)

Intransitive verbs (verbs that can’t have a direct object, and that usually indicate state, movement, change, etc.) form the passato prossimo with the auxiliary ESSERE:

  • Andare Sono andato al cinema. (“I went to the movies.”)
  • Venire Sono venuto con te. (“I came with you.”)
  • Uscire Sono uscito. (“I went out.”)

Other intransitive verbs that need the essere auxiliary are: salire, restare, tornare, ritornare, scendere, arrivare, cadere, entrare, and more.

Irregular verbs in Italian are quite frequent and common. Here’s a basic list with their conjugations in the present indicative, from which you can deduct the rest of the patterns.

DIREDAREFAREANDAREVENIREVOLERESAPEREPOTEREUSCIRE
iodicodofacciovadovengovogliosopossoesco
tudicidaifaivaivienivuoisaipuoiesci
lui/leidicedafavavienevuolesapuòesce
noidiciamodiamofacciamoandiamoveniamovogliamosappiamopossiamousciamo
voiditedatefateandatevenitevoletesapetepoteteuscite
lorodiconodannofannovannovannovoglionosannopossonoescono

Do you think that these are enough? No way! There are many more irregular verbs in Italian you can have fun with.

5. Quiz

Do you think that you know enough about Italian conjugations? Let’s do a quick test.

Fill in the blanks with the correct verb, paying attention to the subject and the tense:

Someone Filling Out Answers on Multiple Choice Test

Quiz time!

  1. Gli Italiani (amare) _______________ il caffè molto forte.
    (“Italians love very strong coffee.”)
  2. Domani tu (andare) ______________ al cinema con i tuoi amici?
    (“Tomorrow, will you go to the movies with your friends?”)
  3. Quando noi (essere) __________ piccoli, (credere) ___________ a Babbo Natale!
    (“When we were kids, we believed in Santa Claus!”)
  4. Io (volere) _____________ un gelato al limone, per favore.
    (“I would like a lemon ice cream, please.”)
  5. Un anno fa Laura (finire)  ______________ la scuola.
    (“A year ago, Laura finished school.”)

Let’s check the answers together:

1) Amano: This is the third person plural of the present.

2) Andrai: This is the second person singular of the future, since domani tells us that the action takes place in the future.

3) Eravamo, Credevamo: These are both first person plural of the imperfect, which is the tense we use for describing a generic time, not a specific moment.

4) Vorrei: Here, we use the first person singular of the conditional, since we’re expressing a wish or a polite request.

5) Ha finito: In this case, the past tense that we need is the passato prossimo, since it’s an action that occurred at a specific time.

Did you get them all correct?

6. Tips to Improve and Practice Your Italian Conjugations

Italian conjugations can seem like a lot to take in, but there are tricks and strategies that you can use to help you learn and remember them.

For example, you can try to memorize each verb as a chant (amo, ami, ama, amiamo, amate, amano…). This way, you’ll memorize the patterns and they’ll stick forever. Repetition always helps, so do as many exercises as you can. Reading, listening to music, and watching videos is also extremely useful in getting familiar with different kinds of verbs in context. 

And the final tip: Make sure that you take advantage of all the free resources available on ItalianPod101.com! You’ll even find mobile apps, lessons, and a guided learning system with your own teacher!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Italian

The 100+ Most Important Italian Verbs

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Verbs are concepts in motion and are a fundamental part of every language. But how many Italian language verbs should you learn to speak the language properly? Here at ItalianPod101, we believe that with the following 100+ Italian verbs, you’ll be able to face most circumstances with ease. And don’t be scared—with our examples and definitions, you’ll be able to master this Italian verbs list quickly. It’s Italian verbs made easy with ItalianPod101! 

But first, let’s take a look at Italian verb conjugation.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Italian Table of Contents
  1. Italian Regular Verbs
  2. Italian Irregular Verbs
  3. Reflexive Verbs in Italian
  4. Italian Verb Types & Their Meanings
  5. Italian Verb Placement in a Sentence
  6. ItalianPod101: A Great Source for Your Italian Learning!

1. Italian Regular Verbs

Buildings in Florence, Italy

There are three groups of Italian regular verbs, and their conjugation makes students happy. Indeed, they’re easy to learn and always the same. 

The three regular verb groups are: 

  • Verbs in -are
  • Verbs in -ere
  • Verbs in -ire

1- Verbs in -are

Here’s a chart with the -are Italian verb conjugation, and an example of how it works with the verb portare, meaning “to bring.”

1st sg (I)2nd sg (you)3rd sg (she)1st pl (we)2nd pl (you)3rd pl (they)
Stem + oStem + iStem + aStem + iamoStem + ateStem + ano
Io portoTu portiEgli portaNoi portiamoVoi portateEssi portano

Some examples of Italian verbs in -are are: 

1.

Amare
“to love”
Amo moltissimo viaggiare.
“I love traveling very much.”

2.

Pensare
“to think”
Io lavoro e penso a te.
“I work and I think about you.”

3.

Cominciare
“to start”
Oggi cominciamo un corso di italiano.
“Today, we start an Italian course.”

4.

Incontrare
“to meet”
Il Presidente incontra il suo staff nello Studio Ovale.
“The President meets his staff in the Oval Office.”

2- Verbs in -ere

Top Verbs

And now let’s see the conjugation of -ere verbs. We’ll use temere, meaning “to fear,” as an example.

1st sg (I)2nd sg (you)3rd sg (she)1st pl (we)2nd pl (you)3rd pl (they)
Stem + oStem + iStem + eStem + iamoStem + eteStem + ono
Io temoTu temiEgli temeNoi temiamoVoi temeteEssi temono

Some examples are: 

5.

Leggere
“to read”
Al mattino leggo il giornale.
“In the morning, I read the newspaper.”

6.

Mettere
“to put,” “to wear”
Marco mette sempre lo stesso cappello.
“Marco always wears the same hat.”

7.

Ridere
“to laugh”
Valeria ride sempre, è una ragazza davvero allegra.
“Valeria always laughs; she really is a joyful girl.”

8.

Prendere
“to take,” “to get”
Di solito prendono il caffè in questo bar.
“They usually get their coffee in this cafe.”
Woman Enjoying Breakfast in Venice, Italy

3- Verbs in -ire

The -ire verbs in Italian have two conjugations:

  • Verbs in -ire (simple)

This is the simplest conjugation. Here, we use the verb partire, meaning “to leave,” as an example.

1st sg (I)1st sg (I)3rd sg (she)1st pl (we)1st pl (we)3rd pl (they)
Stem + oStem + iStem + eStem + iamoStem + iteStem + ono
Io partoTu partiEgli parteNoi partiamoVoi partiteEssi partono

Other examples are:

9.

Aprire
“to open”
Il negozio apre dalle ore 10 alle ore 18.
“The shop is open from 10 to 18.”

10.

Sentire
“to hear,” “to feel”
Sento freddo, puoi chiudere la finestra per favore?
“I feel cold, can you please close the window?”
  • Verbs in -ire (with -isc-)

This is a slightly more complex conjugation. We’ll use the verb colpire, meaning “to hit,” as an example.

1st sg (I)2nd sg (you)3rd sg (she)1st pl (we)2nd pl (you)3rd pl (they)
Stem + iscoStem + isciStem + isceStem + iamoStem + iteStem + iscono
Io colpiscoTu colpisciEgli colpisceNoi colpiamoVoi colpiteEssi colpiscono

Examples: 

11.

Capire
“to understand”
Kate capisce benissimo l’italiano.
“Kate understands Italian very well.”

12. 

Pulire
“to clean”
Mia zia pulisce la casa ogni giorno.
“My aunt cleans the house every day.”

2. Italian Irregular Verbs

More Essential Verbs

Unfortunately, many very important Italian verbs are irregular, and this means that you have to learn their conjugation one by one. But don’t worry, with our help you’ll master them like it was the most natural thing in the world. 

By far, the most important Italian irregular verbs are essere (“to be”) and avere (“to have”), which also work as Italian auxiliary verbs

13. 

Essere
“to be”
Lorenzo è un bravissimo cuoco.
“Lorenzo is a great chef.”

14. 

Avere
“to have”
Luca e Antonia hanno una casa stupenda in Toscana.
“Luca and Antonia have a wonderful house in Tuscany.”

Other important examples of irregular verbs are: 

15. 

Andare
“to go”
In Italia i bambini vanno a scuola dalle 8 alle 13.
“In Italy, children go to school from 8 to 13.”

16. 

Venire
“to come”
Se non è un problema, vengo con voi.
“If it’s not a problem, I’ll come with you.”

17.

Potere
“can,” “may”
Posso raggiungervi più tardi?
“May I join you later?”

18.

Dovere
“to have to”
Devi parlare con tua madre.
“You have to talk to your mother.”
Boats in Burano, Italy

3. Reflexive Verbs in Italian

Reflexive verbs in Italian are very common and can sometimes be hard to understand for students. This is because some of them don’t actually have a real reflexive meaning. In sentences, even those verbs that have an identical subject and object are more like expressions in Italian than actual reflexive verbs as they’re thought of in English.

An example is the verb svegliarsi, which literally means “to wake yourself up.” But it really just means “to wake up.”

Some of the most important reflexive verbs are:

19.

Divertirsi
“to have fun”
Mi sono divertito molto questa sera.
“I really had fun tonight.”

20.

Lavarsi
“to wash up”
Ti sei lavato i denti?
“Did you brush your teeth?” (literally, “Did you wash your teeth?”)

21.

Alzarsi
“to stand up”
Quando l’insegnante entra in classe, dovete alzarvi.
“When the teacher comes in the classroom, you have to stand up.”

22.

Addormentarsi
“to fall asleep”
Ieri mi sono addormentata sul divano.
“Yesterday, I fell asleep on the couch.”

4. Italian Verb Types & Their Meanings

Negative Verbs

Following are a few lists of the best Italian verbs to know as a beginner in the language. Beginning with Italian action verbs, we’ll go through a variety of verb types that we’ve categorized for your convenience. Let’s get started! 

Italian Action Verbs

23.

Arrivare
“to arrive”
I miei cugini sono arrivati ieri sera.
“My cousins arrived yesterday evening.”

24.

Stare
“to stay”
A Parigi starò a casa di un’amica.
“In Paris, I’ll stay at a friend’s house.”

25.

Fermarsi
“to stop”
Fermati qui, c’è un buon ristorante.
“Stop here, there’s a good restaurant.”

26.

Camminare
“to walk”
Amo camminare sulla spiaggia.
“I love walking on the beach.”

27.

Cercare
“to search,” “to look for”
Scusi, cerco un bancomat. Sa dove posso trovarlo?
“Excuse me, I’m looking for an ATM. Do you know where I can find it?”

28.

Trovare
“to find”
Ho trovato un buon amico.
“I’ve found a good friend.”

29.

Spostare
“to move”
Per favore, aiutami a spostare il tavolo.
“Please, help me to move the table.”

30.

Tirare
“to pull”
Tira per aprire.
“Pull to open.”

31.

Spingere
“to push”
Sto scendendo, non serve spingere!
“I’m getting off, there’s no need to push!”

32.

Correre
“to run”
Mia sorella corre ogni mattina per 10 chilometri.
“My sister runs for ten kilometers every morning.”

33.

Viaggiare
“to travel”
Viaggio almeno due volte all’anno.
“I travel at least twice a year.”

34.

Rimanere
“to remain,” “to stay”
Vorrei rimanere di più, ma non posso.
“I’d like to stay longer, but I can’t.”

35.

Tenere
“to keep,” “to hold”
Tienimi la mano.
“Hold my hand.”

36.

Trasportare
“to transport,” “to carry”
Questo camion trasporta frutta.
“This truck transports fruit.”
Couple on Vespa

Mental Verbs

37.

Volere
“to want”
Sono stanca, voglio andare a dormire.
“I’m tired, I want to go to bed.”

38.

Sapere
“to know”
So chi è stato.
“I know who did it.”

39.

Credere
“to believe”
Credo che tu abbia ragione.
“I believe you’re right.”

40.

Sperare
“to hope”
Spero che l’esame vada bene.
“I hope the test will go well.”

41.

Piacere
“to like”
Il caffè italiano mi piace molto.
“I like Italian coffee very much.”

42.

Dispiacere
“to be sorry”
Mi dispiace che tu non ti sia divertito.
“I’m sorry that you didn’t have fun.”

43.

Ricordare
“to remember,” “to remind”
Questa canzone mi ricorda la mia infanzia.
“This song reminds me of my childhood.”

44.

Dimenticare
“to forget”
Ho dimenticato le chiavi.
“I forgot the keys.”

45.

Imparare
“to learn”
Sto imparando l’italiano.
“I’m learning Italian.”

46.

Sognare
“to dream”
Sogno di visitare Venezia.
“I dream of visiting Venice.”

47.

Desiderare
“to wish”
Desidero rivederti.
“I wish to see you again.”

48.

Odiare
“to hate”
Mia figlia odia il cavolfiore.
“My daughter hates cauliflower.”

Verbs of Change

The world is full of change and nothing is to be taken for granted. Here are some useful Italian verbs to learn to talk about change!

49.

Cambiare
“to change”
Il paesaggio è davvero cambiato.
“The landscape has really changed.”

50.

Diventare
“to become”
Crescendo, sono diventata più indipendente.
“Growing up, I’ve become more independent.”

51.

Migliorare
“to improve”
Il mio italiano è migliorato nell’ultimo anno.
“My Italian has improved over the last year.”

52.

Peggiorare
“to worsen”
Il tempo è peggiorato rapidamente.
“The weather has quickly worsened.”

53.

Aumentare
“to increase”
Il mio stipendio è aumentato di 100 euro.
“My salary has increased by 100 euro.”

54.

Diminuire
“to decrease,” “to reduce”
Bisogna diminuire le spese.
“We have to reduce our expenses.”
Rome

Verbs for the Workplace

Here are some Italian verbs you must know to talk about work and different types of jobs.

55.

Lavorare
“to work”
Matteo lavora 10 ore al giorno.
“Matteo works ten hours a day.”

56.

Fare
“to make,” “to do”
Faccio spesso degli errori di ortografia.
“I often make spelling mistakes.”

57.

Finire
“to end,” “to finish”
Ho finito il nuovo libro di Elena Ferrante.
“I’ve finished Elena Ferrante’s new novel.”

58.

Iniziare
“to start,” “to begin”
Hai iniziato a fare i compiti?
“Did you start doing your homework?”

59.

Costruire
“to build”
Mio nonno ha costruito questa casa.
“My grandfather built this house.”

60.

Creare
“to create”
Leonardo ha creato un capolavoro.
“Leonardo created a masterpiece.”

61.

Cucinare
“to cook”
Mio padre ha cucinato la pasta.
“My father cooked pasta.”

62.

Mescolare
“to mix”
Mescola il latte con le uova.
“Mix the milk with the eggs.”

63.

Tagliare
“to cut”
Per favore, taglia il pane.
“Please, cut the bread.”

64.

Servire
“to serve”
Servire a temperatura ambiente.
“Serve at room temperature.”

65.

Guidare
“to drive”
Non mi piace guidare molte ore.
“I don’t like to drive for many hours.”

66.

Usare
“to use”
Posso usare la tua auto?
“Could I use your car?”

67.

Scrivere
“to write”
Gli scriverò una lettera.
“I’ll write him a letter.”

68.

Telefonare
“to phone”
Domani telefonerò all’ufficio.
“Tomorrow, I’ll phone the office.”

69.

Chiamare
“to call”
Andrea ti chiamerà più tardi.
“Andrea will call you later.”

70.

Chiedere
“to ask,” “to request”
Marco ha chiesto a Valentina di sposarlo.
“Marco asked Valentina to marry him.”

71.

Rispondere
“to answer”
Ti prego di rispondere al più presto.
“Please, answer as soon as possible.”

72.

Firmare
“to sign”
Ho appena firmato il contratto.
“I’ve just signed the contract.”

Sensory Verbs

73.

Guardare
“to watch”
Sto guardando la tv.
“I’m watching TV.”

74.

Vedere
“to see”
È così buio che non vedo nulla.
“It’s so dark that I can’t see anything.”

75.

Ascoltare
“to listen”
Roberto ascolta solo la musica metal.
“Roberto only listens to metal music.”

76.

Assaggiare
“to taste”
Voglio assaggiare questo vino.
“I want to taste this wine.”

77.

Profumare
“to smell”
La tua macchina profuma di sapone.
“Your car smells like soap.”

78.

Toccare
“to touch”
Tocca questo tessuto: è morbidissimo.
“Touch this fabric; it’s really soft.”

9- Other Italian Verbs for Beginners

79.

Parlare
“to talk,” “to speak”
Io e mia sorella parliamo ogni giorno al telefono.
“My sister and I talk everyday on the phone.”

80.

Dipingere
“to paint”
Michelangelo ha dipinto la Cappella Sistina.
“Michelangelo painted the Cappella Sistina.”

81.

Suonare
“to play (an instrument)”
Maria sa suonare il piano.
“Maria can play the piano.”

82.

Recitare
“to play (like an actor)”
Al Pacino ha recitato ne Il Padrino.
“Al Pacino played in The Godfather.”

83.

Mangiare
“to eat”
Di solito a pranzo mangio un panino.
“I usually eat a sandwich for lunch.”

84.

Bere
“to drink”
Ti andrebbe di bere qualcosa con me?
“Would you like to drink something with me?”

85.

Dormire
“to sleep”
La domenica dormo sempre fino a tardi.
“On Sundays, I always sleep until late.”

86.

Riposare
“to rest”
In vacanza non ho riposato per niente.
“On holiday, I couldn’t rest for a moment.”

87.

Vestirsi
“to get dressed”
Vestiti, dobbiamo uscire.
“Get dressed, we have to go out.”

88.

Nuotare
“to swim”
Non so nuotare.
“I can’t swim.”

89.

Sdraiarsi
“to lie”
Mi sono sdraiato per terra.
“I lay down on the ground.”

90.

Salire
“to get on,” “to get up”
Sono salito sull’ultimo autobus.
“I got on the last bus.”

91.

Scendere
“to get off”
Scusi, devo scendere alla prossima fermata.
“Excuse me, I have to get off at the next stop.”

92.

Sollevare
“to lift”
Questa macchina solleva fino a una tonnellata di peso.
“This machine lifts up to one ton of weight.”

93.

Passare
“to pass”
Passami il sale, per favore.
“Pass me the salt, please.”

94.

Inventare
“to invent”
Marconi ha inventato la radio.
“Marconi invented the radio.”

95.

Comprare
“To buy”
Hai comprato il latte?
“Did you buy the milk?”

96.

Vendere
“to sell”
Il negozio all’angolo vende borse e scarpe.
“The shop at the corner sells bags and shoes.”

97.

Pagare
“to pay”
Ho pagato 10 € per una pizza a una birra.
“I paid 10 € for a pizza and a beer.”

98.

Vincere
“to win”
La Ferrari ha vinto l’ultimo Gran Premio.
“The Ferrari won the latest Grand Prix.”

99.

Perdere
“to lose”
Ho perso il cellulare.
“I’ve lost my mobile phone.”

100.

Nascere
“to be born”
Sono nato in Francia, ma sono cresciuto in Belgio.
“I was born in France, but I grew up in Belgium.”

101.

Morire
“to die”
Nell’incidente per fortuna non è morto nessuno.
“Luckily, nobody died in the accident.”

5. Italian Verb Placement in a Sentence

As you can see from the many sentences above, in Italian, a verb usually goes after the subject and before the object (or any other complement). 

Example: 

Subject + Verb + Object

Il topo mangia il formaggio.

“The mouse eats the cheese.”

6. ItalianPod101: A Great Source for Your Italian Learning!

We hope you enjoyed learning about Italian verbs with us, and that you picked up a few new vocabulary words you can start using today! It will take lots of studying and practice, but you can memorize every word on this list over time. And once you do, why not start on another Italian basic verbs list on ItalianPod101? 

Have you already checked out our majestic 100 adjectives article, our amazing 100 nouns list, or our guide on Italian pronouns? If not, it’s time to do it! Improve your Italian with our wonderful guides and lessons, whenever and wherever you want. Download our mobile apps or follow our courses on your PC, and you’ll live the Dolce vita

Before you go, let us know in the comments if there are any Italian verbs you still want to know! We look forward to hearing from you, and will do our best to help! 

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Italian Pronouns: Definition, List, and Examples of Use

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Pronouns are one of the fundamental bricks in the majestic building of grammar. Basically, what they do is replace another word, allowing us to avoid repetition and making every language more agile, pleasant, and poetic. Italian pronouns are no exception. 

A pronoun in Italian can replace: 

There are many kinds of Italian pronouns, categorized by their function in a sentence. In this Italian pronouns lesson here on ItalianPod101.com, we’ll show you a list of all the most important ones, with their definitions and examples of Italian pronoun usage. It’s Italian pronouns, made easy!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian Table of Contents
  1. Italian personal pronouns
  2. Italian possessive pronouns
  3. Italian reflexive pronouns
  4. Italian demonstrative pronouns
  5. Italian interrogative and exclamatory pronouns
  6. Italian indefinite pronouns
  7. Italian relative pronouns
  8. ItalianPod101: Fast & Fun Italian for All

1- Italian personal pronouns

Introducing Yourself

A personal pronoun is a word that indicates who or what is involved in a sentence, without having to repeat it in full. Let’s clarify with an example in English: “My daughter is on holiday. She’s very happy.” Without pronouns, we would say: “My daughter is on holiday. My daughter is very happy.” A bit annoying, isn’t it?

Now, there are two categories of Italian personal pronouns:

  • Subject pronouns: When the replaced element is the subject of the sentence.
  • Object pronouns: When the replaced element is the object of the sentence. 

Further, there are two kinds of object pronouns.

  • Direct object pronouns: When the pronoun replaces a direct object, answering the question “Who?” or “What?”
  • Indirect object pronouns: When the pronoun replaces an indirect object, answering the question “To whom?” or “To what?”

Now, let’s see them in action in this nice and neat Italian pronouns table. 

Italian subject pronounsItalian direct object pronounsItalian indirect object pronouns
1st person singularIo (“I”)Mi (“Me”)Mi (“To me”)
2nd person singularTu (“You”)Ti (“You”)Ti (“To you”)
3rd person singularInformal: Lui, Lei (“He, She”).

Formal: Egli, Ella, Esso, Essa (“He, She, It male, It female”) *
Lo (“Him, It male”), La (“Her, It female”), L’ (“Him, Her, It” whenever the following word begins with a vowel)Gli (“To him, her, it”)
1st person pluralNoi (“We”)Ci (“Us”)Ci (“To us”)
2nd person pluralVoi (“You”)Vi (“You”)Vi (“To you”)
3rd person pluralInformal: Loro (“They”).

Formal: Essi, Esse (“They,” male and female) *
Li, Le (“Them,” male and female)Gli, Loro (“To them”)
*Used in written, formal language, like in literature or official documents.

And now, let’s dive into these Italian pronouns with examples!

Italian subject pronouns:

  • Io
    • Io vado al cinema, vuoi venire?

“I’m going to the cinema, do you want to come?”

  • Tu
    • Tu puoi andare ora.

“You can go now.”

  • Lui 
    • Lui aveva fame ed è tornato a casa.

“He was hungry and has gone home.”

  • Lei
    • Lei, Marta, è davvero una persona interessante.

“She, Marta, really is an interesting person.”

  • Noi
    • Noi andremo in vacanza fra una settimana.

“We’ll go on holiday in one week.”

“Did you watch the match yesterday?”

  • Loro
    • Loro non sono qui perché non sono stati invitati.

“They are not here because they were not invited.”

Direct object pronouns:

  • Mi
    • Ieri Marco mi ha visto ma non mi ha salutato.

“Yesterday, Marco saw me but he didn’t say hello to me.”

“I’ll call you tomorrow to confirm the deal.”

  • Lo
    • Cerco Giuliano, lo hai visto?
    • “I’m looking for Giuliano, have you seen him?”
  • La
    • Ti piace la pasta? Io la adoro.

“Do you like pasta? I love it.”

  • L’
    • Il Barolo è buonissimo, l’ho assaggiato in Piemonte. 

Barolo is very good, I’ve tasted it in Piedmont.”

  • Ci
    • Lorenzo ci ha invitati al suo matrimonio.

“Lorenzo has invited us to his wedding.”

  • Vi
    • Martedì vi porto a cena in un ristorante buonissimo.

“Tuesday, I’ll bring you to dinner in a very good restaurant.”

  • Li
    • Li ho incontrati stamattina al supermercato.

“I bumped into them this morning at the supermarket.”

  • Le
    • A: Hai tu le mie scarpe bianche? 

B: No, non le ho io.

A: “Do you have my white shoes?” 

B: “No, I don’t have them.”

Indirect object pronouns:

  • Mi
    • Ieri Andrea mi ha dato una bellissima lettera.

“Yesterday, Andrea gave me a beautiful letter.”

  • Ti
    • Ho bisogno di parlarti.

“I need to talk to you.”

  • Gli 
    • Gli ho consigliato di accettare il lavoro.

“I’ve suggested to him to accept the job.”

  • Ci
    • Roma ci piace così tanto che abbiamo deciso di vivere lì.

“We like Rome so much that we’ve decided to live there.”

  • Vi
    • Più tardi vi mando un’e-mail con i dettagli. 

“Later, I’ll send you an email with the details.”

  • Gli / Loro
    • Gli ho detto che devono partire entro domani. / Ho detto loro che devono partire entro domani.

“I’ve told them that they must leave by tomorrow.”

Two important notes: 

  • Unlike in other languages, in Italian, the use of the subject pronoun in a sentence isn’t mandatory. In fact, the subject pronoun is usually omitted, except when it’s needed to avoid ambiguity. 
  • Sono andato a letto presto, perché ero stanco.

“(I) went to bed early, because (I) was tired.”

  • In some cases, when you use an infinitive verb, you can add the object pronouns at the end of the sentence, attaching it to the infinitive verb.
  • Vieni a trovarci questa estate?

“Are you coming to visit us this summer?”

Italian Indirect Object Pronouns

2- Italian possessive pronouns

Italian possessive pronouns are identical to possessive adjectives. They replace the possessed object and must always be preceded by a definite article or a preposition + definite article. They’re conjugated according to gender and number. 

They are:

  • Mio / mia / miei / mie
    • Adoro il tuo stereo. Il mio è vecchio. 

“I love your stereo. Mine is old.”

  • Tuo / tua / tuoi / tue
    • Le mie nuove scarpe da trekking sono perfette. Come vanno le tue?

“My new trekking shoes are perfect. How are yours going?”

  • Suo / sua / suoi / sue
    • La mia valigia è stata finalmente trovata, ma della sua ancora non si sa nulla. 

“My luggage was finally found, but we still don’t know anything about his.”

  • Nostro / nostra / nostri / nostre
    • Tuo figlio adora il basket, mentre i nostri preferiscono il calcio.

“Your son loves basketball, while ours prefers football.”

  • Vostro / vostra / vostri / vostre
    • Il mio cane è un pastore tedesco, e il vostro?

“My dog is a German shepherd, and yours?”

  • Loro 
    • Il mio lavoro mi lascia molto tempo libero, mentre il loro no.

“My job gives me a lot of free time, while theirs does not.”

Italian Pronouns

3- Italian reflexive pronouns

Reflexive pronouns are used when the subject of a sentence is also the object. There are a lot of very common reflexive verbs in Italian, and they can be a bit confusing. Anyway, the Italian reflexive pronouns are:

  • Mi (“Myself”)
    • Mi sto facendo la doccia.

“I’m taking a shower.”

  • Ti (“Yourself”)
    • Ti sei lavato le mani?

“Did you wash your hands?”

  • Si (“Himself, Herself, Themselves”)
    • Si è vestito in fretta ed è uscito.

“He dressed up quickly and got out.”

  • Ci (“Ourself”)
    • Io e Antonio ci amiamo molto.

“Antonio and I love each other very much.”

  • Vi (“Yourself”, plural)
    • Oggi vi siete svegliate molto presto, come mai?

“Today you got up very early, why?”

4- Italian demonstrative pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns are used instead of a noun to point out a specific person or thing. The most common Italian demonstrative pronouns are:

  • Questo / questa / questi / queste (“This, these”)

“This is Luca, my husband.”

  • Quello / quella / quelli / quelle (“That, those”)
    • Quelli che vedete sono i resti di un grande tempio romano.

“Those you see are the remains of a big Roman temple.”

5- Italian interrogative and exclamatory pronouns

Basic Questions

Interrogative and exclamatory pronouns are used to form questions or exclamations. In Italian, they are:

  • Chi (“Who”)
    • Chi è l’uomo con cui parla Simone?

“Who is the man Simone is talking to?”

  • Che cosa / Cosa / Che (“What”). All of these options are synonyms.
    • Cos’è successo?

“What happened?”

  • Quanto / quanta / quanti / quante (“How much” but also “So much” in exclamations)
    • Quanto mi manchi!

“I miss you so much!”

  • Quale / quali (“Which one”)
    • Tra pizza e pasta, quale preferisci?

“Between pizza and pasta, which one do you prefer?”

Pizza and Pasta

6- Italian indefinite pronouns

Indefinite pronouns are used to indicate something or someone in general. The most common Italian indefinite pronouns are:

  • Alcuno / alcuna / alcuni / alcune (“Some”)
    • A: Ti sono piaciute le opere in mostra? 

B: Alcune mi sono piaciute, ma non tutte.

A: “Did you like the artworks on display?” 

B: “Some I liked, but not all of them.”

  • Molto / molta / molti / molte (“Many, a lot”)
    • A: Hai fame? 

B: Molta!

A: “Are you hungry?” 

B: “A lot!”

  • Poco / poca / pochi / poche (“Few”)

B: No, poca.

A: “Were there many people at the concert?” 

B: “No, not much.”

  • Tanto / tanta / tanti / tante (“Many”)
    • Tanti sono venuti alla manifestazione, nonostante il freddo.

“Many went to the demonstration, despite the cold.”

  • Troppo / troppa / troppi / troppe (“Too much, too many”)
    • Troppi non sono tornati dalla guerra.

“Too many didn’t come back from the war.”

  • Tutto / tutta / tutti / tutte (“All, everyone”)
    • Siamo arrivati tutti in ritardo.

“We’ve all arrived late.”

  • Uno / una (“One”)
    • A: Hai un cellulare? 

B: Ne ho uno, ma è vecchio.

A: “Do you have a mobile phone?” 

B: “I have one, but it’s old.”

  • Qualcuno / qualcuna (“Someone, anyone”)
    • Qualcuno sa dirmi dov’è Dario?

“Could anyone tell me where Dario is?”

  • Ciascuno / ciascuna (“Everyone, each one”)
    • Ciascuno di noi ha un compito.

“Each one of us has a task.”

  • Ognuno / ognuna (“Everyone, each one”)
    • Ognuno deve fare la sua parte.

“Everyone has to do their part.”

  • Nessuno / nessuna (“No one, any”)
    • Nessuno sa perché è successo. 

“No one knows why it happened.”

  • Sono andata a cercare funghi nel bosco, ma non ne ho trovato nessuno. 

“I went looking for mushrooms in the forest, but I didn’t find any.”

Italian Indefinite Pronouns

7- Italian relative pronouns

Relative pronouns connect a sentence with a subordinate clause. The Italian relative pronouns are:

  • Che (replaces a subject or direct object)
    • La donna che sta parlando con Leo è il mio capo. 

“The woman who is talking with Leo is my boss.”

  • Chi (“The person who, the people who, whoever”)
    • Chi è stato?

“Who did it?”

  • Cui (replaces an indirect object)
    • La ragazza di cui ti ho parlato sta entrando nella stanza proprio adesso.

“The girl I told you about is entering the room right now.”

  • Il quale / la quale / i quali / le quali (same as Cui)
    • La persona per la quale lavoro si chiama Mario Rossi.

“The person I work for is called Mario Rossi.”

8. ItalianPod101: Fast & Fun Italian for All

Improve Listening

Mastering Italian pronouns is no easy feat, but with enough practice, you’ll get there! We hope you enjoyed this article and that you’re well on your way to really understanding Italian pronouns.

If there’s anything you didn’t quite understand, don’t hesitate to reach out in the comments. We’ll do our best to help you out! 

Grammar is a complicated universe, but we at ItalianPod101 are here to help! Check out our lesson library and enjoy hours of videos, tons of useful articles, and practical mobile tools to learn and study whenever and wherever you want. 

Happy Italian learning! 

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eunhaeng gyejwaleul mandeulgo sip-eoyo.

I want to open a bank account.

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Italian Word Order: From Basic to Complex Sentences

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When speaking a new language, you’ll find that many things about it are different compared to the language you’re used to. Sounds, words, grammar, everything is…foreign? Well, yes, of course. 

But maybe you haven’t yet thought about whether or not the sentence structure and word order are different, too. 

First of all, what do we mean by that? We’re talking about the basic word order, the correct sequence of all the elements that form the basic structure of a sentence.

If you compare the English and Italian sentence structure, you’ll definitely find differences that might create some confusion, especially when you get to negative sentences, questions, and complex phrases. But don’t worry about it; we’re here to help you with this simple guide. We’ll help you understand the basics of Italian word order rules, and then we’ll guide you until you’re able to perform well when creating more advanced sentences.

So, are you ready to learn about word order in Italian?

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian Table of Contents
  1. The Basics of Italian Word Order with Subject, Verb, and Object
  2. Il Buono, il Brutto e il Cattivo: Italian Word Order with Modifiers
  3. The Importance of Exercising
  4. The Famous Last Words

1. The Basics of Italian Word Order with Subject, Verb, and Object

The basic Italian sentence structure, as with all Neo-Latin languages, follows the Subject Verb Object (SVO) pattern.

(And by the way, since we’ll be talking a lot about apples…what about checking out how to say the names of all kinds of fruit?)

First of all, let’s see what the single elements of this sentence mean:

  • {Eva mangia una mela.} (“Eva eats an apple.”)

Subject = It’s who/what is doing the action >> Eva mangia una mela.

Verb = It’s the action >> Eva mangia una mela.

Object = It’s the destination of the action >> Eva mangia una mela.

The sentence structure doesn’t change, even if you want to make the same sentence interrogative. In fact, in Italian, there is no S-V inversion as there is in other European languages (French and German, for example), and you don’t need to add anything to the sentence as you would do in English. 

In the case of Italian question word order, the basic sentence structure remains the same; you just need to add the interrogative tone and the question mark.

A Woman about to bite into a Green Apple

Eva, are you really going to eat that…???

See the examples:

  • {Eva mangia una mela.} (“Eva eats an apple.”)
  • {Eva mangia una mela?} (“Does Eva eat an apple?”)


  • {Studi l’italiano.} (“You study Italian.”)
  • {Studi l’italiano?} (“Do you study Italian?”)

Notice how in Italian, we generally omit the personal pronoun as a subject (io, tu, lui/lei, noi, voi, loro – “I, you, he/she, we, you, they”) unless there’s an ambiguity in the sentence, or you want to give particular emphasis to the person doing the action.

But what happens when you want to make a negative sentence? Very simple. You add the negative adverb non in front of the verb:

  • {Eva non mangia una mela.} (“Eva does not eat an apple.”)
  • {Eva non mangia una mela?} (“Doesn’t Eva eat an apple?”)


  • {Non studi l’italiano.} (“You don’t study Italian.”)
  • {Non studi l’italiano?} (“Don’t you study Italian?”)

As you can see, whether it’s affirmative or interrogative doesn’t change the structure of the sentence.

This is always the basic structure, even when the sentence becomes more complicated. For example, you could have a whole clause as a subject:

La prima donna che abita sulla terra mangia la mela. (“The first woman living on earth eats the apple.”)

Similarly, you could have a whole clause as an object:

Eva mangia quel frutto rosso o giallo o verde che chiamiamo mela. (“Eva eats that red or yellow or green fruit that we call apple.”)

2. Il Buono, il Brutto e il Cattivo: Italian Word Order with Modifiers

Improve Listening

Let’s look at the word order in Italian sentences when things get more complex. What happens to the sentence when you add, for example, an adjective that modifies the nouns (like bravo or “good”), or an adverb that modifies the verb (like sempre or “always”). These are called modifiers, as they’re used to add meaning—and therefore modify—the element they go with. 

1. Adjectives 

  • {Lo studente studia l’italiano.} (“The student studies Italian.”)

What if I want to add that we’re talking about an “American” student  (americano) studying Italian? 

  • {Lo studente americano studia l’italiano.} (“The American student studies Italian.”)

Did you see what happened? The adjective went after the noun. And this is the general rule: Italian adjectives follow the noun:

L’italiano non è una lingua (noun) difficile (adjective). (“Italian is not a difficult language.”)

Ho comprato un vestito rosso. (“I bought a red dress.”)

Sei un ragazzo simpatico! (“You are a nice boy!”)
But all rules have an exception, right? So, keep in mind that some of the most common Italian adjectives are placed before the noun. And here’s the list:

bello“beautiful”Un bel* ragazzo“A beautiful boy”
bravo“good”Una brava ragazza“A good girl”
brutto“ugly,” “bad”È un brutto giorno“It’s a bad day”
buono“good”Hai fatto un buon* lavoro.“You did a good job.”
caro“dear”Sono dei cari amici.“They are dear friends.”
cattivo“bad”Non dare il cattivo esempio.“Don’t set a bad example.”
giovane“young”Conosco un giovane attore.“I know a young actor.”
grande“big”Abbiamo una grande opportunità.“We have a great opportunity.”
lungo“long”Facciamo una lunga passeggiata.“Let’s take a long walk.”
nuovo“new”Il nuovo libro è rosso.“The new book is red.”
piccolo“small,” “little”Ho un piccolo problema.“I have a small problem.”
stesso“same”La stessa ragione“The same reason”
vecchio“old”Un vecchio albero“An old tree”
vero“true”È una vera avventura!“It’s a real adventure!”

*Bello/a and buono/a (“beautiful” and “good”), when they come before a noun, change their endings following the same rules of the definite article (bello >> il) and the indefinite article (buono >> un). Check the following examples. Do you want to know more and practice? 

an Upclose Shot of Baby’s Sleeping Face

Un bel bambino/Un bambino bello! (“A cute baby!”)

  • Il ragazzo >> il bel ragazzo 
  • Lo studente >> il bello studente
  • Un giorno >> un buon giorno
  • Uno studente >> un buono studente

But watch out! If they’re used together with an adverb, they must follow the noun, as in the general rule:

  • È un vecchio albero. (“It is an old tree.”) | È un albero molto vecchio. (“It is a very old tree.”)
  • È un brutto giorno. (“It’s a bad day.”) |  È un giorno veramente brutto . (“It’s a really bad day.”)

The same thing happens if you want to convey emphasis or express a contrast. In the following sentence, for example, the stress of the sentence is on the age of the tree, and not the tree itself:

  • Questo non è un albero vecchio, è un albero giovane! (“This is not an old tree, it is a new tree!”)

2. Adverbs

Just like adjectives, adverbs are modifiers and they appear in a sentence to slightly modify the meaning of the verb or adjective they go with. In Italian, they’re usually placed after the verb:

  • Leggo sempre il giornale. (“I always read the newspaper.”)
  • John parla bene l’italiano. (“John speaks Italian well.”)

Naturally, there are some exceptions to this rule in case of:

  • Modifying an adjective
    • È un albero molto vecchio. (“It is a very old tree.”)
  • Modifying another adverb
    •  John parla molto bene l’italiano. (“John speaks Italian very well.“)
  • The negative non, which we’ve already seen
    • Non leggo il giornale. (“I don’t read the newspaper.”)

But notice what happens if you add another negative adverb. Let’s compare English to Italian: Double negatives are grammatically incorrect in English, but in the Italian language, they’re perfectly acceptable:

  • Non leggo mai il giornale. (“I never read the newspaper.”)
  • Non leggo più il giornale. (“I no longer read the newspaper.”)
  • Non leggo quasi mai il giornale. (“I almost never read the newspaper.”)

Do you think we can add some more elements to complicate the structure a bit? Certamente! (“Of course!”) Which brings us to the other exception, when an adverb is formed with the -mente suffix (usually equivalent to the English “-ly” suffix).

Someone Looking Down at a Newspaper

I always read the newspaper. Do you?

See, for example, the case of normalmente (“generally, normally”):

  • A) Normalmente non leggo il giornale.
  • B) Non leggo normalmente il giornale.
  • C) Non leggo il giornale normalmente.

All these sentences have the same meaning (“I don’t normally read the newspaper”), although we can argue that by moving around the adverb, we end up stressing different parts of the sentence. In A), the stress is on the frequency; in B), it’s on the act of reading; in C), it’s on the newspaper. It’s a small nuance, but nevertheless is there.

3. Adverbs & Auxiliary or Modal Verbs

So far, we’ve looked at simple verbs. But what happens if a verb is composed of an auxiliary, as in the case of the passato prossimo, or with modal verbs (potere, volere, sapere, dovere – “can, will, know, must”)?

With these verbs, you normally follow the general rule. But in the presence of the following adverbs expressing time, assessment, certainty, or doubt, they can be placed in the middle, between the auxiliary and the past participle (or between the modal verb and the infinitive).

Ancora (“Yet”)Proprio  (“Really”)
Appena  (“Just”)Subito  (“Immediately”)
Finalmente  (“Finally”)Certamente  (“Surely”)
Già  (“Already”)Forse  (“Maybe”)
Mai  (“Never”)Nemmeno  (“Not even”)
Sempre  (“Always”)Probabilmente (“Probably”)
Spesso  (“Often”)Sicuramente  (“Definitely”)
  • Eva ha appena mangiato la mela… (“Eva just ate the apple…”)
  • Non ho ancora letto il giornale. (“I haven’t read the newspaper yet.”)
  • Voglio sicuramente studiare l’italiano con ItalianPod101. (“I definitely want to study Italian with ItalianPod101.”)
  • Devo proprio chiedere scusa…? (“Do I really have to apologize…?”)

4. Prepositional Phrases

In most sentences, we end up referring to “when,” “where,” and “how” the action is taking (or took) place. These sentences are the ones that explain the when, where, and how, and they’re called prepositional phrases since they’re often introduced by a preposition.

  • Studio l’italiano di sera. [when?] (“I study Italian in the evening.”)
  • Studio l’italiano a Firenze. [where?] (“I study Italian in Florence.”)
  • Studio l’italiano con ItalianPod101. [how?] (“I study Italian with ItalianPod101.”)

As you can see in the examples above, these phrases normally go at the end of the sentence, although with most of the phrases indicating the time aspect of the action (when?), you can safely move the elements around, just as you would in English:

  • Studio l’italiano di sera. [when?] (“I study Italian in the evening.”)
  • Di sera studio l’italiano. [when?] (“In the evening, I study Italian.”)
  • A pranzo non bevo mai il caffè.  [when?] (“For lunch, I never have coffee.”)
  • Non bevo mai il caffè a pranzo. [when?] (“I never have coffee for lunch.”)

But, if you’re not sure, always place them at the end of the sentence, and you’ll definitely be correct.

If you want more information on Italian prepositions, be sure to take a couple of minutes to watch the video below:

5. Personal Pronouns

Remember the first sentences we looked at?

  • {Eva mangia una mela.} (“Eva eats an apple.”)
  • {Studi l’italiano.} (“You study Italian.”)

Subject, verb, object. In that order. Well…not always. If you substitute the object with a personal pronoun, that pronoun would still be the object of the action, but it goes BEFORE the verb. Take a look:

  • {Eva la mangia in fretta.} (“Eva eats it in a hurry.”)
  • {Lo studi con ItalianPod101.} (“You study it with ItalianPod101.”)
A Personal Trainer Talking into a Megaphone

Help! I need a Personal [pronoun] Trainer!!!

The same rules apply to indirect personal pronouns, as in:

  • Gli chiedo un favore. (“I ask a favor of him.”)
  • Mi piace la pizza. (“Pizza pleases me.“= “I like pizza.”)

This is also true for the little pronouns ci (“in it,” “there”) and ne (“of it”).

  • A Roma? Ci andiamo domani. (“To Rome? We go there tomorrow.”)
  • Ha del prosciutto? Ne vorrei 100 grammi. (“Do you have ham? I would like 100 grams of it.”)

Things, however, change a little when we have these same pronouns, but the verb is an infinitive, a gerund, or an imperative. (Maybe you need a little more practice with those tenses or how they’re conjugated?

Because with these tenses, the pronoun can be placed either before or after. And in case it’s after, you need to attach it to the verb. Let’s see how:

  • {Eva mangia una mela.} (“Eva eats an apple.”)
  • {Eva la mangia in fretta.} (“Eva eats it in a hurry.”)
  • {“Eva, mangiala!} (“Eva, eat it!”)
  • {Studi l’italiano.} (“You study Italian.”)
  • {Lo studi con ItalianPod101.} (“You study it with ItalianPod101.”)
  • {Puoi studiarlo con ItalianPod101.} (“You can study it with ItalianPod101.”)
A Bunch of Women Doing Yoga at the Beach

A little patience and lots of exercise: the perfect strategy for learning a language!

3. The Importance of Exercising

Time to put everything into practice with these step-by-step exercises on Italian word order. Let’s start with a very basic sentence, and we’ll add up elements of complexity. Check the sections above in case you’re uncertain of something.

How would you translate these sentences?

  1. “Mary studies Italian.” – ________________________________________________________
  1. “She studies it with ItalianPod101.” – _____________________________________________
  1. “She studies Italian with ItalianPod101 everyday.” – __________________________________
  1. “Her friends don’t study Italian with ItalianPod101 yet.” – ______________________________
  1. “She studies Italian with ItalianPod101 everyday comfortably at home.” – _________________
  1. “Maria never forgets her Italian lessons.” – _________________________________________
  1. “Maria has probably studied Italian today.” – _____________________________________
  1. “This summer, Maria can study it in Florence.” – ______________________________________

Check your answers here:

1. Maria studia l’italiano.

2. Lo studia con ItalianPod101.com.

3. Studia l’italiano con ItalianPod101 ogni giorno.

4. I suoi amici non studiano ancora l’italiano con ItalianPod101.

5. Studia l’italiano con ItalianPod101 ogni giorno comodamente a casa.

6. Maria non dimentica mai le sue lezioni di italiano.

7. Maria ha probabilmente studiato l’Italiano oggi.

8. Quest’estate Maria può studiarlo a Firenze. 

Improve Pronunciation

4. The Famous Last Words

Now you’ve learned how to structure a sentence in Italian. Soon, with a little practice, you’ll be able to build more and more complex sentences, putting every word in the correct order. Hopefully, this guide has helped you with this mission. 

Practice is always the best strategy for improving Italian grammar, vocabulary, and communication skills. So make sure you visit ItalianPod101.com. Here you’ll find a great number of free resources, podcasts, lessons, and even mobile apps and a free PDF with practical and efficient lessons. Keep up with your good work on your Italian learning! 

In the meantime, if there’s anything in this lesson you didn’t quite understand, feel free to leave us a comment and we’ll do our best to help you out!

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Wait a Minute… Do You Know How to Tell Time in Italian?

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How often do you need to check the time every day? Telling the time is part of everyday life, so if you’re making plans for a specific time and date while traveling or studying in Italy, it’s essential that you master this conversation skill as soon as possible. 

In this article, I’ll be going over everything from how to say “hour” in Italian to asking for the time and making plans in Italian. Let’s get started.
Che ore sono? è ora di iniziare a divertirsi con ItalianPod101.com! (“What time is it? It’s time to start having fun with ItalianPod101.com!”)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Time Phrases in Italian Table of Contents
  1. How to Ask for the Time in Italian
  2. Italian Hours
  3. Give Me a Minute…
  4. How to Divide Hours into Minutes in Italian
  5. General Time References of the Day in Italian
  6. Top Italian Time Adverbs
  7. Italian Proverbs and Sayings about Time
  8. Conclusion

1. How to Ask for the Time in Italian

Man Checking Watch

To start, let’s see the very first basic phrases you can use to ask for and say the time in Italian:

  • Che ore sono? / Che ora è? 


These literally translate to “What hours are they?” and “What hour it is?” respectively. They both mean “What time is it?”

This is the easiest way to ask the time in Italian. With this phrase, you don’t have to worry too much about using formal vs. informal speech, as adding scusi (“excuse me” – formal) or scusa (“excuse me” – informal) at the beginning of the sentence can make it more formal or informal.

  • Potrebbe/Potresti dirmi l’ora? 


This translates to “Could you (formal/informal) tell me the time?” 

This is a more complex form of asking for the time in Italian. It can be used both formally and informally as long as you change the person (2nd vs. 3rd) of the subject accordingly.

  • A che ora è…? /A che ora comincia…? 


These translate to “At what time is…” and “At what time starts …?” respectively. This is the Italian formula for asking when something (a meeting, a show, etc.) is going to start.

Did you notice that in Italian we say ore, literally meaning “hours,” when we talk about time? If you look up ora (“hour” in the singular) in an Italian dictionary, you’ll find that it means both “hour” and “now.” While the literal translation of “time” is tempo, in Italian, we use this word just in the sense of the concept of time—never to represent the passing of time on a clock. Interesting, right?

Che ore sono? Uffa*… il tempo non passa mai… (“What time is it? Geez…time never passes…”)

*Uffa is an untranslatable word that makes life so much more interesting! Depending on the context, it can be translated as “geez/gosh!”, “damn” (angry), “come on!” (impatient), “phew” (generic), or “oh, hum” (bored).

2. Italian Hours

When you say the time in Italian, it’s more common to use the twelve-hour clock, unless it’s in written official communication. In order to avoid confusion or ambiguity, you’ll often hear Italians say the time with the twelve-hour clock, adding di mattina, del pomeriggio, di sera, or di notte (“in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening, at night”).

Hourglass

Una vecchia clessidra (“An old hourglass”)

There’s no equivalent for “o’clock” in Italian. You simply say the time, and if you want to be very precise, you add in punto. You’ll only use this if you want to remark that it just turned exactly that time: Ci vediamo alle tre in punto! (“We meet at three o’clock (sharp)!”).

To state what time it is, you use the verb essere (“to be”), in the singular è, for midnight (mezzanotte), midday (mezzogiorno), and one o’clock (l’una). The rest of the time, you use the plural sono and the number  equivalent to the hour.
But if you want to say what time something happens, you use a/alle and the time, like this: a mezzanotte (“At midnight”), alle tre (“at three”). Remember that alle = a + le. Do you need to brush up on compound prepositions? Follow me!

È mezzanotte / A mezzanotte “It’s midnight” / “At midnight”
È l’una (di notte) / All’una (di notte) “It’s one AM” / “At one AM”
Sono le due (di notte) / Allle due (di notte) “It’s two AM” / “At two AM”
Sono le tre (di notte) / Alle tre (di notte) “It’s three AM” / “At three AM”
Sono le quattro (di notte) / Alle quattro (di notte) “It’s four AM” / “At four AM”
Sono le cinque (di mattina) / Alle cinque (di mattina) “It’s five AM” / “At five AM”
Sono le sei (di mattina) / Alle sei (di mattina) “It’s six AM” / “At six AM”
Sono le sette (di mattina) / Alle sette (di mattina) “It’s seven AM” / “At seven AM”
Sono le otto (di mattina) / Alle otto (di mattina) “It’s eight AM” / “At eight AM”
Sono le nove (di mattina) / Alle nove (di mattina) “It’s nine AM” / “At nine AM”
Sono le dieci (di mattina) / Alle dieci (di mattina) “It’s ten AM” / “At ten AM”`
Sono le undici (di mattina) / Alle undici (di mattina) “It’s eleven AM” / “At eleven AM”
È mezzogiorno / A mezzogiorno “It’s noon” / “At noon”
È l’una / All’una “It’s one PM” / “At one PM”
Sono le due (di pomeriggio) / Alle due (di pomeriggio) “It’s two PM” / “At two PM”
Sono le tre (di pomeriggio) / Alle tre (di pomeriggio) “It’s three PM” / “At three PM”
Sono le quattro (di pomeriggio) / Alle quattro (di pomeriggio) “It’s four PM” / “At four PM”
Sono le cinque (di pomeriggio) / Alle cinque (di pomeriggio) “It’s five PM” / “At five PM”
Sono le sei (di pomeriggio) / Alle sei (di pomeriggio) “It’s six PM” / “At six PM”
Sono le sette (di sera) / Alle sette (di sera) “It’s seven PM” / “At seven PM”
Sono le otto (di sera) / Alle otto (di sera) “It’s eight PM” / “At eight PM”
Sono le nove (di sera) / Alle nove (di sera) “It’s nine PM” / “At nine PM”
Sono le dieci (di sera) / Alle dieci (di sera) “It’s ten PM” / “At ten PM”
Sono le undici (di sera) / Alle undici (di sera) “It’s eleven PM” / “At eleven PM”

Naturally, it’s another matter to know how to write the time in Italian…. Here’s a hint: right now, it’s 11:33.

Impatient Boy at Table Holding Cutlery

È ora di pranzo! (“It’s lunchtime!”)

You’ll often find Italians referring to noon or one PM as l’ora di pranzo, meaning “lunchtime.” When it’s time to eat, it’s a sacred time for Italians. So, just a word of advice: avoid planning a meeting around that time unless you’re making plans for a lunch or dinner. Also, remember that the typical time for meals changes according to the region in Italy. Generally, people in the north have lunch around noon, while the more south you go, the later lunchtime (or dinnertime) is, especially in the summer. 

3. Give Me a Minute…

Time

A minute isn’t much, but we use the word all the time, both as a reference to sixty seconds and a more generic “little time.”

Kids will always tell you un minuto… cinque minuti… (“one minute… five minutes… “) when you ask them to get out of bed or clean their room, don’t they?

  • Sono le otto, alzati! “It’s eight o’clock, get up!”
  • Ho sonno… ancora cinque minuti… “I’m sleepy…five more minutes….”

It’s also the typical excuse for the chronic latecomer…

  • Ciao, sei pronto? “Hello, are you ready?”
  • Ehm…. Quasi… cinque minuti e arrivo… “Ehm…almost…five minutes and I’ll be there…”

Here are a few more useful formulas. Notice how the verb is in the imperative mood. You can practice with these phrases:

Dammi un minuto… “Give me a minute…”

Aspetta un minuto… “Wait a minute…”

The same formulas can be used with secondo, meaning “second.”

But in fact, apart from when we talk about cinque minuti or dieci minuti (“five minutes” or “ten minutes”), we rarely use the word “minute” in a sentence. See how it works in the case of 6:05 PM:

  • Che ore sono? (“What time is it?”)
  • Sono le sei e cinque. (“It’s five past six.”) 

We’ll look at this more in the following chapter.

Clock Spiral

Ore e minuti (“Hours and minutes”)

4. How to Divide Hours into Minutes in Italian

When the digital watches came around, a lot of people started telling time like robots:

  • Che ore sono? (“What time is it?”)
  • Sono le 17 e 27. (“It’s 17: 27.”)

But luckily, people soon realized it was too ugly and stopped doing that. The normal behavior now is to round up the minutes to halves, quarters, and fives. Much better!

  • mezz’ora (“half an hour”) 

Notice how in front of ora, the word mezza drops the last letter, a, and adds an apostrophe (‘), becoming mezz’ora. But whenever you need to put it after the hour, to mean “half past…” then you use the complete word, either mezzo or mezza.

  • … e mezza/mezzo  (“half past…”)

In this case, telling time in Italian is much simpler than in English. You just need to put together the hour and the half hour with the conjunction e. Notice how both mezzo and mezza are correct.

  • un quarto d’ora (“a quarter of an hour”)

Notice how here, too, we drop a letter and add an apostrophe, so that un quarto di ora becomes much nicer to hear and pronounce: un quarto d’ora.

  • e un quarto (“a quarter past …”)

To add just a quarter of an hour, you also need to put the conjunction e + un (indefinite article).

  • Just like in English, an easy way to tell time is by fractions of five minutes, as in:
  • le … e cinque (“five past …” or “… oh five”)
  • le … e dieci (“ten past …” or “… ten”)
  • le … e quindici (“fifteen past …” or “… fifteen”)

le … e venti (“twenty past …” or “… twenty”)

  • le … e venticinque (“twenty-five past …” or “… twenty-five”)
  • le … e trenta (“thirty past …” or “… thirty”)
  • le … e trentacinque (“thirty-five past …” or “… thirty-five”)
  • le … e quaranta (“forty past …” or “… forty”)
  • le … e quarantacinque (“forty-five past …” or “… forty-five”)
  • le … e cinquanta (“fifty past …” or “… fifty”)
  • le … e cinquantacinque (“fifty-five past …” or “… fifty-five”)
  • meno… 

After half past thirty-five, normally in Italian you start saying the following hour “minus” the minutes needed to get to the top of the hour. For example: 

  • 10:40 = le undici meno venti (literally “eleven minus twenty”)  
  • 11:45 = le dodici/mezzogiorno meno un quarto (“twelve/noon minus a quarter”)
  • 15:50 = le quattro meno dieci (“four minus ten”)
  • 19:55 = le otto meno cinque  (“eight minus five”)

5. General Time References of the Day in Italian

Telling the exact time, or being able to read a clock, is important. But since prehistoric times, people have talked about time by referring to the different stages of the day. So, if you want to have a more natural Italian conversation, here are the most common ways to give the general time of day in Italian.

Let’s remember that AM / PM isn’t commonly used in Italian. Instead, to avoid ambiguity or confusion, you’ll hear people mention di mattina, del pomeriggio, di sera, and di notte (“in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening, at night”) after the time. These are the four basic stages of the day, but below is a more complete list of phrases using all the different parts of the day.

Sun Low Over the Horizon

Dall’alba al tramonto (“from dawn to dusk”)

Sono uscita di mattina presto.“I left early in the morning.
Faccio colazione a metà mattinata.“I have breakfast mid-morning.”
Mi sveglio sempre all’alba.“I always wake up at dawn.”
Ci vediamo a mezzogiorno (ad ora di pranzo).“See you at noon (at lunchtime).”
Ti chiamo nel primo pomeriggio.“I’ll call you in the early afternoon.”
La festa comincia nel tardo pomeriggio.“The party starts in the late afternoon.”
Com’è bella la montagna al tramonto!“How beautiful the mountain is at sunset!
Non esco mai di sera tardi.“I never go out late at night.”
È ora di cena.“It’s dinner time.”
Non si può fare rumore a notte fonda.“No noise can be made in the middle of the night.
Ho sentito un rumore nel cuore della notte.“I heard a noise in the dead of night.
È tardi: ora di dormire!“It’s late: time for bed (nap time)!”

6. Top Italian Time Adverbs

Improve Listening

Once you’ve mastered how to say the time, how to talk about all the stages of the day and night, you still need some other little words that help you indicate when something happens. When talking about time in Italian, these adverbs of time will be immensely helpful:

  • adesso/ora (“now”)


Il treno parte ora. (“The train leaves now.”)

  • al momento (“at the moment”)


Al momento non abbiamo tavoli liberi. (“At the moment, we don’t have free tables.”)

  • nel frattempo (“in the meantime”)


Nel frattempo preparo il pranzo. (“In the meantime, I’ll prepare lunch.”)

  • prima/dopo (“before/after”)


Ci vediamo prima di cena o dopo cena? (“Shall we meet before dinner or after dinner?”)

  • presto/tardi (“early/late”)


Per favore, arriva presto. Non fare tardi come al solito. (“Please, be there early. Don’t you be late as usual.”)

  • tra un po’ (“In a while”)

Pay attention to the apostrophe (‘). It’s there to indicate that it was originally a longer word (poco) that dropped the last syllable.


Ora non ho voglia. Lo faccio tra un po’. (“Now I don’t want to. I’ll do it in a while.”)

  • per molto/poco tempo (“for a long/short time”)


Per molto tempo ho creduto a Babbo Natale. (“For a long time, I believed in Santa Claus.”)

  • sempre/mai (“always/never”)
  • Vai sempre in palestra? (“Do you always go to the gym?”)
  • No, non ci vado mai. (“No, I never go.”)
  • il prima possibile (“as soon as possible”)


Ho bisogno della relazione il prima possibile. (“I need the report as soon as possible.”)

  • in qualsiasi momento (“at any time”)


Può succedere in qualsiasi momento. (“It can happen at any time.”)

  • di tanto in tanto (“from time to time”)


È bene fare una pausa di tanto in tanto. (“From time to time, it’s good to take a break.”)

7. Italian Proverbs and Sayings about Time

Time is such a universal and primordial concept that in all cultures, you’ll find many proverbs and sayings about it. Here are some of the most common proverbs and sayings about time in Italian.

Sundial
Il tempo è denaro.“Time is money.”
Il tempo vola.“Time flies.”
Chi ha tempo non aspetti tempo.“Those who have time do not wait for time.”

Meaning: Basically, it’s an invitation to act immediately without hesitation.
La notte porta consiglio.“The night brings counsel.”

Meaning: The best decisions must be made with a clear mind, better if after a long sleep.
Dare tempo al tempo.“Give time to time.”

Meaning: Allow things to fall into place by waiting for the right moment.
Il tempo è galantuomo.“Time is a gentleman.”

Meaning: Time restores the truth, repairs all wrongs, and heals everything. Therefore, we must learn to wait.
Ora di punta.“Rush hour.”

Meaning: This literally means “peak hour” because it refers to a peak in a diagram.
Fare le ore piccole.Literally “to make the small hours.”

Meaning: It means to stay up or out until very late (one, two, or three).
Non vedo l’ora (che succeda…).“I can’t wait (for something to happen).”

8. Conclusion

Basic Questions

I bet time flew while learning to tell time in Italian and more. Now you can practice telling time: make plans with your Italian friends, ask strangers for the time, or find out what time the movie starts.

But most importantly, don’t stop now! Go on and keep learning Italian with fun lessons and tons of podcasts and videos on ItalianPod101.com. We’ll help you improve quickly. 

Before you go, practice telling time in Italian by dropping us a comment with the current time in Italian! We look forward to hearing from you!

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