Il Presente (the most important tense)

The “presente” is the most important tense you will learn. It is used most often and as you get more sophisticated in Italian, it also becomes the basis for the “congiuntivo presente.”

The interesting quality Italian has, when compared to English, the verbs alone contain a lot of information: (1) what action is taking place, (2) number of people/things completing the action, (3) when the action is taking place.

The “presente” also has THREE different meaning or translations when compared to English. Let’s take the verb “mangiare” = to eat, as our example:

“Io mangio la pizza.” can be translated as: (1) I eat pizza. (2) I do eat pizza. (3) I am eating pizza.

Pay careful attention to the three possible “translations,” they are each used under a different context. Maybe it would be best to ask yourself, what question do each of the three “translations” answer?

(1) What do you eat for lunch everyday? I eat pizza. [Cosa mangi per pranzi ogni giorno? Io mangio la pizza.]

(2) Do you eat pizza? [Mangi la pizza? Sì, io mangio la pizza.]

(3) What are you eating? [Cosa mangi? Io mangio la pizza.]

Here is the “tabella” for the three verb types: -are, -ere, and -ire (including -isc verbs)

 

-are

-ere

-ire

-ire (-isc)

singular subjects

io

-o

-o

-o

-isco

tu

-i

-i

-i

-isci

lui

lei

-a

-e

-e

-isce

plural subjects

noi

(io + anyone)

-iamo

-iamo

-iamo

-iamo

voi

(tu + anyone)

-ate

-ete

-ite

-ite

loro

(lui/lei + anyone)

-ano

-ono

-ono

-iscono

Did you notice that the IO, TU, and NOI forms are the same? And did you notice that -ERE, and -IRE are identical except for the VOI form?

In order to recreate a verb in the “presente” all you have to do is the drop the -ARE, -ERE or -IRE ending, and replace it with one of the endings in the “tabella” above. The stem or root of the verb stays the same. The endings must match amount of subjects. They do not mix, IO can only be -O; TU can only end in -I etc.

For example: MANGIARE, drop the -ARE and add the endings:

Io mangio la pizza. –> I eat pizza.

Tu mangi la pizza. –> You eat pizza.

Giorgio(lui) mangia la pizza. Maria(lei) mangia la pizza. –> Giorgio/he eats pizza. Maria/she eats pizza.

Giorgio, Maria ed io (noi) mangiamo la pizza. –> Giorgio, Maria and I (we) eat pizza.

Tu, Giorgio e Maria(voi) mangiate la pizza. –> You, Giorgio and Maria (you all) eat pizza.

Giorgio e Maria (loro) mangiano la pizza. –> Giorgio and Maria (they) eat pizza.

 

Please keep in mind that the LUI and LEI endings DO NOT MATCH THE GENDER OF THE SUBJECT! The “presente” does not give gender information (male/female) only number (singular/plural).

Giorgio mangia. Maria mangia.

Giorgio vede l’amico. Maria vede l’amico.

Giorgio finisce il compito. Maria finisce il compito.

 

There are of course irregular verbs, these must me memorized because their stem changes, and the changes can not be predicted.