Italian Lessons | Italian Grammar
Lesson Two / Lezione due
Languages need verbs and people need to communicate. Every language needs action words and “state of being” words. They tell us what is going on. Sometimes we just need more information, too. In this lesson you will learn the formation of questions and several verbs (with conjugations) plus a few more useful phrases.
Paola and Marco have breakfast at a bar.
Paola: Salve, vorrei un cornetto e un cappuccino, per favore. Marco: Per me invece un espresso, grazie. Barman: Volete altro? Marco: No, grazie. Paola: Quanto viene? Barman: Sono 3 euro e 10.
|(Io) Vorrei…||I’d like…|
|Per me…||For me…|
|Volete altro?||Anything else? (lit. Do you want other?)|
|Quanto viene?||How much (does it all cost)?|
|Sono 3 (euro) e 10 (centesimi).||It is 3.10 Euros.|
A man asks for directions to the Leaning Tower, in Pisa.
Daniele: Scusi, dove devo andare per arrivare alla Torre Pendente? Helper: Allora, vada sempre diritto, poi giri a destra. Daniele: Grazie. Helper: Si figuri.
|dove devo andare per arrivare la Torre Pendente?||What’s the way to the Leaning Tower? (lit. Where should I go to get to the Leaning Tower?)|
|Allora, …||Well, … / So, …|
|Vada sempre diritto, poi giri a destra||Go straight forward, then turn right.|
|Prego. / Si figuri. / Di niente.||You’re welcome.|
How to formulate a sentence in Italian
There is not a rigid schema to follow for formulating sentences in Italian. There is actually no difference between questions, answers and affirmations, except for the different spoken pronounciation of questions (indicated by the “?” symbol), but it does not differ particularly from English.
What is different, and often hard to understand, however, is the possible absence of the subject. In these cases, the subject is said to be implied (“sottinteso” in Italian) and is usually understandable by the different form of the verb, that is directly associated to the subject itself. See the auxiliary verbs below for a real example, and keep them in mind, because they are used more often than you would think.
Auxiliary verbs (present form)
The auxiliary verbs are two, essere (to be) and avere (to have). They are both irregular ones, and are used for both their actual meaning and for construction of all other non-auxiliary verbs in forms other than the present.
General formulation of phrases
|Subject (common form)|
- (implied form)
|Verb||Object(s) (when necessary)|
Form 1 (with phrase inversion)
|Proposition (when necessary)||Verb||Subject (common form)|
- (implied form)
|Object(s) (when necessary)||?|
Form 2 (without phrase inversion)
|Proposition (when necessary)||Subject (common form)|
- (implied form)
|Verb||Object(s) (when necessary)||?|
Some Important Verbs
Verbs are actually the kernel of a language; without them, it is actually impossible to build relevant phrases and talk to a native speaker. Italian has two auxiliary verbs, essere (to be) and avere (to have). In addition to that, the language permits also the use of a number of verbi servili, some auxiliary verbs that may be used in particular cases, and need to be accomplished with another verb in order to have an actual meaning. These verbs are dovere (to have to), potere (to be able), and volere (to want).
Other verbs seen before are:
- andare (to go)
- venire (to come)
- arrivare (to arrive)
- girare (to turn)
- stare (to stay, to stand)
- vedere (to see)
- chiamare (to call)
- sapere (to know (something))
- conoscere (to know (someone))
About how to conjugate these verbs, you should take a look at the dedicated section; of course, there are some verbs which do not fit on these rules: they are called verbi irregolari (irregular verbs). Andare, venire and sapere, for example, are irregular verbs.