Italian present tense: -ARE verbs

Regular and spell-change in the present tense -ARE verbs by ab for

As I said in: How Italian verbs work, (Start there if you missed it!) Italian verbs are all about knowing how to identify the stem, and add the appropriate ending for each subject/tense.  

Today, we're going to look at the Simple Present Tense and in particular, -ARE verbs: 

[We'll cover -ERE and -IRE forms at a later date —Again, review How Italian verbs work in case you're not sure what that means]

To conjugate -ARE verbs in the simple present tense, just drop the -ARE from the infinitive form, and add one of the following endings:

Present tense -ARE verb conjugation endings in Italian: -o, -i, -a, -iamo, -ate, -ano  by ab for

So, if I wanted to conjugate the regular verb: 'parlare' in the first person singular or 'io' it would look like this:
parlare -> parl -> parlo  Conjugation of parlare in 1st person singular present tense by ab for

I speak

Parlo l'italiano.
I speak Italian.

Applying the same conjugation process to all the other subjects, I end up with this chart:

Present tense -ARE verb conjugation endings in Italian: -o, -i, -a, -iamo, -ate, -ano  by ab for

Present tense of parlare (to speak) conjugation table [io parlo, tu parli, lui/lei parla, noi parliamo, voi parlate, loro parlano] by ab for Via Optimae,

-Parli l'italiano?
Do you speak Italian?
-Sì, parlo l'italiano.
Yes, I speak Italian.
-Parlano l'italiano?
Do they speak Italian?
-No, parlano l'inglese.
No, they speak English.

Using the above examples as clues, how would you say:  "We speak Italian." ? ("We" is "noi", review subject pronouns if needed in: How Italian Verbs Work)

[Highlight below to reveal answer]

Parliamo l'italiano.
Here are some other regular -ARE verbs:

portare - to bring
amare - to love
arrivare - to arrive
trovare - to find

Can you write out the present tense conjugations for each?  

Present tense -ARE verb conjugation endings in Italian: -o, -i, -a, -iamo, -ate, -ano  by ab for

I recommend writing out conjugations in 2x3 tables so you can refer back to them easily.  Make your own, or use Via Optimae's:

Italian present tense: -ARE verbs Worksheetavailable on pages 4 and 5 of the digital Beginner's Workbook*: (with easily printable pages!)
 *not currently available on mobile devices, please try on a regular computer!

ITALIAN: Workbooks Beginner's Workbook, Part One, from Via Optimae,


You can verify your answers or look up the conjugation for any verb/tense in Word Reference's handy conjugator:

.Screenshot of Word Reference's Italian verb conjugator as seen on
The simple present tense is the first column of the first row labeled "presente."

Spell-change verbs

There are other verbs that are regular, except when you add the regular endings, it creates weird letter combinations or sounds in Italian.  These are called Spell-change verbs.

One example is mangiare.  If you simply drop the -ARE as you are supposed to and conjugate, you will get the following forms:

io mangio
tu mangii  (why so many i's?, should be mangi)
lui/lei mangia 

noi mangiiamo ✗ (again, why so many i's? should be mangiamo)
voi mangiate 
loro mangiano 

To avoid the "too many i's syndrome", you just drop one of them… A quick spelling change so that you're left with normal forms:

Present simple conjugation table of Mangiare (to eat) [io mangio, tu mangi, lui/lei mangia, noi mangiamo, voi mangiate, loro mangiano] by ab for

Other Spell-change verbs add an "h" to some of the forms so that the verb maintains its original sound.  This is because of how "c" and "g" are pronounced depending on the vowel that follows.

"C" when followed by an "o", "a", or "u" makes a hard sound, like a "k" in English:

giocare  /dʒoˈkare/  (listen to pronunciation on wordreference) 
to play

"C" when followed by an "i" or an "e" makes a sound like "ch" in English:


When you conjugate 'giocare' in the present tense following the normal rules, you'll get the following:

io gioco✓  (the "c" maintains its "k" sound)
tu gioci  (oops the "c" is like "ch" we need an h! giochi)
lui/lei gioca 

noi giociamo ✗ (again, our "c" is now "ch" we need an h! giochiamo)
voi giocate 
loro giocano 

The "h" in the above examples tells readers: "Say this like a k!"  By adding the "h" we maintain the original sound of the verb.  All the correct forms:

gioco giochi gioca giochiamo giocate giocano GIOCARE present tense conjugations showing spell change by ab for Via Optimae,

Similarly, "g" also makes a "hard" sound (like the "g" in "great) when followed by "a", "o", or "u":

to pay

When followed by a "e" or "i" the "g" becomes "soft" like the "j" in English 'judge'.

giusto     /ˈdʒusto/    (listen to pronunciation on wordreference)
just, fair

When you conjugate 'pagare' in the present tense following the normal rules, you'll get the following:

io pago✓  (the "g" maintains its hard sound)
tu pagi  (oops the "g" is now like "j" of judge we need an h! paghi)
lui/lei paga 

noi pagiamo ✗ (again, our "g" has changed, we need an h! paghiamo)
voi pagate 
loro pagano 

The "h" in the "tu" and "noi" forms tells us to keep the hard sound, so now all the forms have the same "g" sound as the original infinitive:

pago, paghi, page, paghiamo, pagate, pagano: PAGARE in the simple present tense conjugation table showing spell change by ab for Via Optimae,

Here are some more spell-change -ARE verbs.  Using the rules above, can you conjugate and incorporate the appropriate spelling changes?

[Again, you can use either the blank conjugation tables or the conjugation tables plus -ARE present tense review as worksheets, if desired.]

elogiare   [check your answers]
to praise 

mancare  [check your answers]
to be missing 

legare     [check your answers]
to tie, fasten

That's it for now on -ARE verbs... keep practicing until the forms become natural to you. Use the words in the image at the beginning of the post- they're all regular or spell-change -ARE verbs!

Happy Conjugating!

Alex on

Ready to move on to the next lesson in this series?
TRY:  Italian Present Tense: -ERE verbs

Try this free online -ARE verb conjugation exercise:

All lessons in the Beginner's Italian series:
  (1) How Italian verbs work(Intro to verbs & grammar terms)
  (4) Italian present tense: -IRE verbs — CURRENT PAGE
  (5) La negazione - Negation
  (6) Ogni quanto? Quante volte? (Adverbs of frequency)
  (7) C'è & Ci sono (There is & There are)


Quanto più… tanto più…

"Una montagna è come l'istruzione, quanto più alta l'ascesa, tanto più esteso il panorama" quote by Dr. Christiaan Barnard by Alex for didattichiamo

Can you translate the above quote in English?  Use the following mini-dictionary as a reference, if necessary:

la montagna - mountain
l'istruzione (f.)- instruction, education, learning
l'ascesa - ascent
il panorama - panorama, view

alto - high
esteso - extended, extensive, widespread

come - like

Highlight below to see my attempt:

A mountain is like education: the higher the ascent, the even more extensive the view.

A good reason to keep climbing, no?

In the name of keeping with the "ascent", let's look at one of the special constructions used in the quote:

As you can see, this expression is pretty close, but cannot be translated word for word from Italian to English or viceversa.  Now that you know the construction, however, it's easy to use it any number of sentences.  Here's one of my own:

Quanto più diventi grande, tanto più vorrai essere piccolo.
The bigger* you get, the more you'll wish you were small.

*Note that for some adjectives in English, we cannot say "the more ___" but instead must say "the ___er", as in: the more big  "the bigger"

Here's another from an Arthur Schopenhaeur quote:

La ricchezza assomiglia all'acqua di mare:
Wealth is like sea water:

quanto più se ne beve, tanto più si ha sete.
the more we drink, the thirstier we become.

We could say a similar thing of learning:

Quanto più si impara, tanto più si ha voglia di imparare.
The more one learns, the more one wants to learn.

What do you think? Can you come up with or find any sentences in Italian that use this form?  Comment below!

Happy climbing!


How Italian verbs work

Grammar books throw around terms like infinitive, person, conjugation, tense, regular and irregular all the time... but what do they really mean?  

All those terms are related to verbs and can be useful to understanding how Italian verbs work, so let's break them down:


Infinitive refers to the most basic form of the verb, the general verb that tells us nothing of tense (when it occurs)  or person (who did it.)

In English, infinitives have the word "to" in front of them.

to speak
to eat
to read
to write
to sleep
to finish

As you can see in the above examples, these have a very general meaning.  They refer to the action itself, and have no subject or time.

In Italian, infinitive verbs always end with one of three endings:  -ARE  -ERE  or -IRE.


These are the same verbs from the English infinitives, and have the same meaning- they refer to the action itself and have no person or time.


Person refers to the subject or the one doing the action. In Italian and English, they are:

Subject/Person pronouns in Italian: io-I, tu-you, lui/lei-he/she, noi-we, voi-you all, loro-they by ab for

If you hear somebody say "1st person singular" just know that's a fancy way of saying "I" or "io." If you hear third person plural, that's just "they" or "loro."  Easy right?


Verb endings are very important in Italian because they contain a lot of information about the tense (when the action occurred) and the subject (who did it.)  As we saw before, infinitives always have one of three endings: -ARE, -ERE or -IRE and the rest of the verb is what we call the stem or root:

stem (parl-) and ending (-are) of infinitive verb (parlare) by ab for

To express another time or tense, you change the infinitive ending (again -ARE, -ERE, or -IRE) with the ending for that tense and subject.  

In the following example, I want to conjugate parlare in the 1st person (io) present tense, so the ending I use is 'o':
Parlare ->  Parlo PARLARE conjugated in 1st person singular present tense by ab for

Here, I've CONJUGATED the verb parlare 'to speak' into the first person present tense: parlo 'I speak'.  As you can see, all the information is in the verb ending.


Learning a new tense in Italian means learning new sets of verb endings.  In general, there are different endings for each verb group (-ARE, -ERE or -IRE) and for each person (io, tu, lui/lei, noi, voi, loro)
(This may seem like a lot, but the variations from one group to the next become quite intuitive once you've learned one of them!)

Let's look at the simple present tense endings for -ARE verbs:

-ARE present tense endings by person: io-o, tu-i, lui/lei-a, noi-iamo, voi-ate, loro-ano by ab for

TIP: When learning a new tense, write out all the conjugations in a two column, three line chart like the one above.  That way, the subjects will be clear without having to write them out every time.

Given the above endings and the fact that the root of 'parlare' is 'parl-' we can write out the present tense conjugations of 'parlare':

Present tense of PARLARE: parlo, parli, parla, parliamo, parlate, parlano by ab for


If a verb is Regular, that means it follows the predictable conjugation pattern.  'Parlare' in the example above, is regular: drop -ARE and add the present tense endings, and those are the present tense forms.

There are many regular verbs, so once you've learned how to conjugate one, you can figure out the conjugations of many others.

For example, 'fermare' 'to stop'  is also a regular verb.  Use the -ARE ending chart above if needed, write out the present tense conjugations of 'fermare': 

(Highlight the space below to reveal the answers)
io fermo               noi fermiamo
tu fermi               voi fermate 
lui/lei ferma         loro fermano

IRREGULAR verbs are ones that don't follow the predictable patterns above.  A very common irregular verb is 'essere' 'to be'  You cannot drop the -ERE and add endings, instead you must memorize each conjugation: (This verb is used so frequently, you'll have it memorized in no time, don't worry!)

Essere "to be" present tense conjugations: io sono, tu sei, lui/lei è, noi siamo, voi siete, loro sono  by ab for

I go more in depth on {-ARE verbs} in the next post in this series and cover the other present tense conjugations in {-ERE Verbs} and {-IRE Verbs} but how are we feeling so far?  Are all these grammar terms starting to make sense? Anything you're still not sure about?  Feel free to comment to this post or email me using the email form on the righthand side of the page... I'm happy to help!

Happy Studying!
Alex on

Ready to move on to the next lesson in this series?
Worksheets & links to lessons in the Beginners series are included in the Beginner's Italian Workbook* which features an easy print option!
**not available on mobile devices, please try on a regular computer!

ITALIAN: Workbooks Beginner's Workbook, Part One, from Via Optimae,

 —be the first to know about new lessons & worksheets! {Subscribe here!} 

All lessons in the Beginner's Italian series:
  (1) How Italian verbs work(Intro to verbs & grammar terms)
  (4) Italian present tense: -IRE verbs — CURRENT PAGE
  (5) La negazione - Negation
  (6) Ogni quanto? Quante volte? (Adverbs of frequency)
  (7) C'è & Ci sono (There is & There are)

Potrebbe pure interessarti….
ITALIAN: The Basics Series, starting with:
(01) Indefinite Articles (How to say "A/AN" in Italian


Read in Italian with Fabio Volo

Reading Fabio Volo with espresso by Alex for

Fabio Volo's books were some of the first I ever read in Italian.  When I first picked up Il tempo che vorrei... I knew very little about the author and his style of writing.  As it turns out, his contemporary themes and storylines as well as straightforward prose were the perfect start for a new reader like myself.  I was able to pick up new expressions and vocabulary and get more familiar with sentence structure and grammar all while being entertained with a relatable story.

I have since read several of Fabio Volo's books, including:

The plots differ and the main characters in each go by different names, but you can definitely tell it's the same author by their similar "attitudes."  Such repetition might be dull to me in English, but reading in a foreign language, I actually found the repetitiveness to be helpful it allowed me to easily follow the story as well as revisit some of the vocabulary and expressions and really commit them to memory.

You don't have to be very advanced to enjoy a book in a foreign language.  It is much easier to recognize more advanced verb tenses and vocabulary than it is to use them correctly, so don't worry if you haven't covered all the tenses or your vocabulary is still small.  Just like with anything else, you'll get better the more you do it.  If you have to start by looking up every other word, that's ok... just stay committed and you will get better!

Some tips:

Have your dictionary ready. I use because it has the Italian-English dictionary as well as the Italian verb conjugator.  It allows you to type any version of the word and it will usually be able to find the "root" of the word.  For example, let's say you see the word "sia" in Italian.  You might not know that it's a verb or what the root of the verb is.  With Word Reference, you can just type "sia" and it will show you which verb it comes from, and what form of the verb it is.
excerpt of Conjugation page of essere from word as seen on
This tells you that it comes "Dal verbo (from the verb) essere (to be).  It also tells you which conjugation: sia is the 1st, 2nd and 3rd person of the Congiuntivo or Subjunctive as well as the formal Lei command. The context of the book would help you decide which conjugation was used.

As you read, take a pencil and underline words you don't know, then write the definitions in the margins or on a separate piece of paper with the page number so you can find them later.

Underlining vocabulary by Alex for

poppa (la) :  stern (of a boat) p. 21
prua (la)  :  prow p. 21

The benefit to writing the definitions on a separate page is that you can then review the list separately.  I like to make flashcards with my vocabulary lists on Quizlet.  Here's an example of a vocabulary list I made from the verbs of Il giorno in più:

(Hint: choose different study modes from the drop down on the bottom left.  "Flashcard" mode is good for learning the words the first time around.  Once you think you've gotten them a little, switch to "Learn." When you can easily pass through the entire list, try playing games like "Scatter".)

Part of the learning process is actually making the flashcards, so I recommend you make your own custom lists for the words you need or want to learn.  Until then, you can review some of the other lists I've made based on Fabio Volo's books: 

Il giorno in più: Nouns
Il giorno in più: Adjectives/Adverbs
Il tempo che vorrei: Nouns
Il tempo che vorrei: Verbs
Il tempo che vorrei: Adjectives/Adverbs
È una vita che ti aspetto: Nouns
È una vita che ti aspetto: Verbs
È una vita che ti aspetto: Adjectives/Adverbs
Un posto nel mondo: Nouns
Un posto nel mondo: Verbs
Un posto nel mondo: Adjectives/Adverbs

Fabio Volo La Strada Verso Casa Cover as seen on

A new Fabio Volo book La strada verso casa comes out in Italy on October 22.  UPDATED 1/8/14, available through the book depository!

There are also several other Fabio Volo titles in the original Italian available for purchase at The Book Depository  (all with free shipping worldwide!) I also found two titles that have been translated into English and are available in Kindle Versions through Amazon:

The Book Depository
" 'I'll trade all my tomorrows for a single yesterday: cambierei tutti i miei domani per un solo ieri, come canta Janis Joplin.' È forse proprio questo il tempo che vorrei. Lorenzo non sa amare, o semplicemente non sa dimostrarlo. Per questo motivo si trova di fronte a due amori difficili da riconquistare, da ricostruire: con un padre che forse non c'è mai stato e con una lei che se n'è andata. Forse diventare grandi significa imparare ad amare e a perdonare, fare un lungo viaggio alla ricerca del tempo che abbiamo perso e che non abbiamo più. È il percorso che compie Lorenzo, un viaggio alla ricerca di se stesso e dei suoi sentimenti, quelli più autentici, quelli più profondi. Il nuovo libro di Fabio Volo è anche il più sentito, il più vero, e la forza di questa sincerità viene fuori in ogni pagina. Ci si ritrova spesso a ridere in momenti di travolgente ironia. Ma soprattutto ci si ritrova emozionati, magari commossi, e stupiti di quanto la vita di Lorenzo assomigli a quella di ciascuno di noi."

(all synopses taken directly from Amazon)


The Book Depository

Daybreak (English translation*) 
Kindle edition only on Amazon, available Oct. 22

*I haven't read the English translation, but I could see it being very useful to buy both the original Italian and the English translation and using them to study new grammar concepts and vocabulary as well as verify comprehension. —Alex

"Our house is full of candles that have never been lit. Like the two of us. . . . We don’t live together; we’re killing time together.

Elena is unsatisfied with her life. Her marriage drags on wearily without passion. Then one day, something changes. Feelings of love and desire spring up within her, and Elena realizes that she deserves more; she deserves happiness.

I wondered how many men it took to prepare me. . . . Actually, I realized that the question was wrong—how many women did I have to wear in order to prepare myself?

Told in the voice of a supremely real and honest woman, Daybreak will inspire readers to look at their lives with a renewed sense of independence, fearlessness, and optimism."


Il giorno in più (Italian)
The Book Depository

One more day (English)
Kindle edition on Amazon

"Giacomo’s life could not be more enviable. He is young and good with women, has inherited an apartment, does well at work, and always manages to escape any sort of commitment. But he feels trapped in a monotonous life that shows no signs of changing . . . Who knew success could be so boring? His routine is finally interrupted when a captivating young woman invites him out for coffee, and so begins a love story full of the realities of modern relationships."


Un posto nel mondo (Italian)
The Book Depository

"Michele ha un amico, Federico. Uno di quegli amici con i quali dividi tutto: l'appartamento, la pizza e la birra, ma anche i sogni e le frustrazioni, le gioie e i dolori, e qualche volta le donne. Un giorno Federico decide di mollare tutto e partire. Stanco della vita monotona di provincia, se ne va alla
ricerca dell'altra metà di sé. Michele invece resta. Quando torna, dopo cinque anni, Federico è cambiato. Ora è sereno, innamorato di una donna (Sophie) e della vita. Sembra una storia a lieto fine, ma non è così. Federico all'improvviso riparte, stavolta per un viaggio molto più lungo. Ritornerà (a sorpresa) nascosto dietro gli occhi di una bambina, Angelica."


The Book Depository

"Questo libro parla di Francesco che non era felice e invece poi sì. Finito. Un ragazzo di oggi, un trentenne qualunque, con un lavoro stressante, storie di sesso con ragazze diverse, la paura di restare fuori dal branco, la difficoltà di comunicazione con i genitori, il rimpianto e il ricordo dell'infanzia, il rito delle canne e il mito dell'amicizia, quella vera. Un ragazzo che un giorno si accorge di esistere senza vivere davvero, e decide che così non va. Con una buona dose di coraggio e tanta autoironia affronta la depressione, l'ipocondria, il torpore esistenziale. Come? Chiedetelo a Francesco. E a Ilaria.
Perché non vorremmo anticiparvelo, ma in questa storia c'è anche un lieto fine... Fabio Volo esplora con un linguaggio semplice il complesso mondo interiore di tutti e di ognuno.
E racconta come nessun altro l'umorismo, le folgorazioni e le malinconie struggenti di un ragazzo normale."

Buona lettura!  
(Happy reading!)


See also:

Frasi celebri su Via Optimae

Frasi celebri su Via Optimae
Acque del sud (To Have and Have Not) original: "You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and… blow."