Over the last few lessons, you learnt everything you need to use Italian verbs in the present tense.
But how much can you remember?
Test your knowledge and review what you learnt in episode 44 of 5 minute Italian: The complete guide to the Italian Present Tense
To make sure you remember what you learnt in today’s lesson, below you’ll find bonus materials including word lists, quizzes and flashcards. But first…
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Remember and practice using what you learnt with the bonus materials for today’s episode.
Italian present tense at a glance
Pago = I pay
Pago un caffè = I’ll pay for a coffee (literally: I pay a coffee)
Prendo = I take
Prendo un caffè = I‘ll have a coffee (literally: I take a coffee)
Apro = I open
Apro il vino = I open the wine
Paghiamo = we pay
Paghiamo il caffè = we pay for the coffee (literally: we pay the coffee)
Prendiamo = we take
Prendiamo un caffè = let’s have a coffee (literally: we take a coffee)
We open = apriamo
We open the wine = apriamo il vino
Paghi = you pay
Paghi sempre = you always pay (literally: you pay always)
Prendi = you take
Prendi un caffè? = are you having a coffee? (literally: you take a coffee?)
Apri = you open
Apri il vino = are you opening the wine? (literally: you open the wine?)
Paga = he pays; she pays; you pay (formal)
Prende = he takes; she takes; you pay (formal)
Prende un caffè = he’s having a coffee; she’s having a coffee; you’re having a coffee (formal)
Apre = he opens; she opens; you open (formal)
Apre il vino = he’s opening the wine; she’s opening the wine; you’re opening the wine (formal)
Pagate = you all/both pay (you plural)
Pagate con la carta? = Are you all/both paying by card? (literally: you plural pay with the card?)
Prendete = you all/both take (you plural)
Prendete un caffè = are you all/both having a coffee? (literally: you plural take a coffee?)
Aprite = you all/both open
Aprite il vino = are you all/both opening the wine? (literally: you plural open the wine?)
Pagano = they pay
Pagano il caffè = they’re paying for the coffee (literally: they pay the coffee)
Prendono = they take
Prendono un caffè = they’re having a coffee (literally: they have a coffee)
Aprono = they open
Aprono il vino = they’re opening the wine (literally: they open the wine)
Capisco = I understand
Preferisco = I prefer
Preferisco il vino bianco = I prefer white wine
Preferiscono = they prefer
Preferiscono il vino bianco = they prefer white wine
Preferisci = you prefer
Prefersici il vino bianco o il vino rosso? = Do you prefer white wine or red wine?
Preferisce = he prefers; she prefers; you prefer (formal)
Preferisce il vino bianco? = Does he prefer white wine?; Does she prefer white wine? Do you prefer white wine? (formal)
Preferiamo = we prefer
Preferiamo il vino bianco = we prefer white wine
Preferite = you all/both prefer
Preferite il vino bianco o il vino rosso? = do you all/both prefer white wine or red wine?
Take the Quiz!
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Click here to take the quiz for this episode: The Complete Guide to Using the Italian Present Tense
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Please note, this is not a word for word transcript.
Katie: Ciao a tutti e benvenuti a 5 Minute Italian, I’m Katie
M: And I’m Matteo.
K: Over the last few lessons (lessons 39 to 43), you’ve been learning how to use Italian verbs in the present tense. Today, we’re going to do a review of all these lessons so you can practice what you learnt and use what you know to say useful sentences in Italian.
This episode is going to be longer than the normal episodes because – what kind of complete guide would it be if it was only 5 minutes? We wanted to go into more depth in this episode so that by the end, you’ll have all the information you need to use regular Italian verbs in the present tense.
Matteo: To get the most out of this lesson, you should know that there are 4 types of verbs:
K: First, verbs that end in -are, like parlare (to speak). Second, verbs that end in -ere, like scrivere (to write) and third, verbs that end in -ire, like dormire (to sleep). The 4th kind is verbs like capire which also end in -ire, which follow their own rules. If you feel like you need a little refresher on these 4 groups, you can go back and listen to episodes 39 to 43 before coming back for this review.
M: But if that’s all clear, let’s get started.
K: Let’s forget about the 4th group for now, we’ll come back to that later. For now, let’s talk about the normal -are, -ere and -ire verbs.
Let’s imagine we want to say something with “I” as in “I speak”, “I write” or “I sleep”. What do we do?
M: Remove the -are, -ire or -ere from the ending and add “o”.
K: So if pagare means “to pay”, how would you say I pay?
M: Pago. Remove the -are and add “o”. Pago.
K: Let’s imagine you’re at the till in Italy and you’d like to pay for a coffee. Italian is often much simpler than English, so while in English, you might say something like, “I’d like to pay for the coffee” or “can I pay for the coffee please?”. In Italian, you’d literally just say “I pay the coffee”. “The coffee” is il caffè. So how would you say “I pay the coffee?”
M: Pago il caffè
K: To take is “prendere”. How would you say “I take”?
M: Prendo. Remove the -ere and add “o”. Prendo
K: And Italians don’t have a coffee, they “take a coffee”. To say “I’ll have a coffee” in Italian, we literally say, “I take a coffee – un caffè” How would you say that?
M: Prendo un caffè.
K: “Open” is aprire. So how would you say “I open”
M: Apro. Remove the -ire and add “o”. Apro.
K: The wine is il vino. How would you say “I open the wine?”
M: Apro il vino.
K: Next, to make the “we form” for these verbs, as in “we speak” or “we sleep” we just remove the -are, -ere, or -ire and add iamo. Let’s start with pagare to pay. How would you say “we pay?”
M: Paghiamo. Remove the -are and add “iamo”. Paghiamo
K: We pay for the coffee? Remember Italians don’t use “for” with pagare, so it would literally be “we pay the coffee”. We pay il caffè.
M: Paghiamo il caffè.
K: And just as a side note, if you’re reading the show notes, you might notice a “h” in the spelling of this word. Paghiamo is spelt: p – a – g – h – i – a – m – o.
M: The “h” is there for a good reason. In Italian, whenever you have the letter “g” followed by the letter “i”, it’s pronounced as a soft “g” sound. Like the “gi” in the name Luigi.
K: So without the h, we’d have p – a – g – i – a – m – o, which would be pronounced like pagiamo. And we don’t want that. So we insert a “h”, which makes the hard “g” sound. Paghiamo. If you want to learn more about Italian spelling rules with the hard and soft “g” sounds, you can go back and listen to episode 12 on how to pronounce and Italian menu. For now, lets more onto our -ere verb, prendere. “to take”. How would you say “we take?”
M: Prendiamo. Remove the -ire and add “iamo”. Prendiamo.
K: And we know to make suggestions, we just use the “we form” with a suggestion tone. So how would you way “let’s have a coffee?” literally: “we take a coffee”.
M: Prendiamo un caffè.
K: And what about aprire. How would you say “we open?”
M: Apriamo. Remove the -ire and add “iamo”. Apriamo
K: Let’s open the wine? Literally, “we open the wine”.
M: Apriamo il vino.
K: To get the “you” form, we just remove the -are, -ere and -ire and add an “i” sound. Let’s go back to pagare, to pay. How would you say “you pay”?
K: And here again, if you’re looking at the spelling in the notes, you’ll see a “h” after the letter g, which helps us keep the hard “h”.
M: Yes, without the h, it’d be pronounced as pagi, which we don’t want.
K: So again, you pay is:
K: Always is “sempre”. Imagine you’re fighting with a friend who won’t let you pay. How would you say “you always pay” literally, “you pay always”
M: Paghi sempre!
K: Next, predere. How would you say “you take?”
M: Prendi. Remove the -ere and add an “i” sound. Prendi.
K: Now how would you ask your friend, are you having a coffee? Literally, you take a coffee?
M: Prendi un caffè?
K: Now aprire. How would you say “you open?”
M: Apri. Remove the -ire and add an “i” sound. Apri.
K: And how would you say “are you opening the wine?” literally you open the wine?
M: Apri il vino?
K: Just another little note about spelling here. We’ve been talking about the “ee” sound as in paghi, prendi and apri. In Italian, this “ee” sound is actually represented by the letter “I”. Just like in the name Luigi. The last letter is an “I” but it’s pronounced as “ee”. Whenever you see the letter “i” you know it’s pronounced as “ee”. And you can look in the show notes if you’re interested in seeing the spelling of today’s words.
K: So we’ve talked about the I, the We and the you forms, which are the same for -are, -ire and -ere regular verbs. The other forms are slightly different. Next, let’s look at the “he” and “she” form, as in “he sleeps” or “she sleeps”. We’ve also got the formal “you”, that Italians use with people they don’t know very well. The good news is, these three forms, the “he”, the “she” and the formal “you” are all the same in Italian.
M: To get the he/she form, for -are verbs like pagare just remove the -re from the end.
K: So you’re left with paga. So again, how would you say “he pays”
M: Paga. Remove the -re from pagare. Paga.
K: And “she pays?”
K: And “you pay”, if you’re speaking to someone you don’t know, like a receptionist?
K: To get the he/she form for -ere verbs like “prendere” we do the same. Just remove the -re. So how would you say “he takes”
M Prende. Remove the -re from prendere. Prende.
K: And how would you say: “he’s having a coffee?” literally, he takes un caffè.
M: Prende un caffè.
K: She’s having a coffee? Literally: “she takes un caffè?”
M: Prende un caffè.
K: And if you wanted to say “are you having a coffee?” in the formal form, for example to a colleague you don’t know very well? Remember in Italian form, questions are easy, you just say “you have a coffee?” with question intonation.
M: Prende un caffè?
K: To get the he/she form for -ire verbs, like aprire, we can’t just remove the -re, because then we’d be left with apri with the “i” ending. But we already know this means “you open”. So we “borrow” the he/she form of the -ere verbs. So to say “he/she opens”, we remove the “re” but instead of an “i” sound, we add an “e” sound.
M: Apre. Remove the -re and change “i” to “e”.
K: How would you say he is opening the wine? Literally “he opens the wine”.
M: Apre il vino.
K: She opens the wine?
M: Apre il vino.
K: Are you opening the wine? In the formal form, to someone you don’t know very well?
M: Apre il vino?
K: Next, the plural “you”. We know Italian has a plural you form, as in “you all” or “you both” do something. To get this form, it’s simple. Just change the “r” to a “t”. Let’s go back to, pagare, to pay. How would you say “you all or you both pay”?
M: Pagate: Change the “r” in pagare to a “t”. Pagate.
K: By card is literally “with the card” – con la carta so how would you say, to a group of people “are you paying by card?” Literally – you (plural) pay with the card?
M: Pagate con la carta?
K: Next prendere. How would you get the plural “you”?
M: Prendete. Change the “r” in prendere to a “t”. Prendete.
K: So how would you say “are you all having a coffee?” literally: you plural, take un caffè.
M: Prendete un caffè?
K: Next, aprire. How would you get the plural “you”?
M: Aprite. Change the “r” in aprire to a “t”. Aprite.
K: So how would you say “are you all/both opening the wine”? Literally, you plural, open the wine.
M: Aprite il vino?
K: Finally, the “they” form, as in “they speak” or “they sleep”. To get this form, for -are verbs, like pagare, we remove the -are and add “a – n – o”. So how would you say “they pay”?
M: Pagano. Remove the –are and add a – n – o. Pagano.
K: They’re paying for the coffee? Literally: “They pay il caffè.”
M: Pagano il caffè.
K: Now for the -ere and -ire forms are the same. We remove the –ere and -ire and add “o – n – o”. So how would you say “they take”?
M: Prendono. Remove the –ere and add o – n – o. Prendono.
K: They’re having a coffee? Literally: they take un caffè?
M: Prendono un caffè.
K: And what about aprire. How would you say “they open”?
M: Aprono. Remove the –ire and add o – n – o. Aprono.
K: They’re opening the wine? Literally: “they open the wine”
M: Aprono il vino.
K: Phew! That was all the verb forms of the present tense for our -are, -ere and -ire verbs.
M: But what about the 4th group, like capire?
K: Right, so there’s another kind of -ire verb, like capire, that doesn’t follow the normal -ire verb rules. We like to call these the “-isco” verbs, because to make them, you have to add “isco”. For example, To say “I understand”, we remove the -ire from capire and add -isco.
K: Let’s try with a different verb. Preferire, which means “to prefer”. How would you say “I prefer”?
M: Preferisco. Remove the -ire and add “isco”.
K: And how would you say “I prefer white wine”? Literally: “I prefer the wine white – il vino bianco”
M: Preferisco il vino bianco
K: How would you say “they prefer?” To get the “they” form, we go from the “I” form preferisco and just add “no”
K: They prefer white wine? Literally: they prefer il vino bianco.
M: Preferiscono il vino bianco.
K: Now, to get the “you” form, as in “you prefer”, we do the same as we did for the “I” form, so we start by removing the -ire from preferire, which leaves us with prefer-. This time, to get the “you” form, we add “-isci”. So how would you say “you prefer”?
K: And how would you say “do you prefer white wine?” Literally: “you prefer il vino bianco?”
M: Preferisici il vino bianco?
K: Il vino bianco o il vino rosso? White wine or red wine? So how would you say “do you prefer white wine or red wine?” Literally – do you prefer “THE wine white or THE wine red?”
M: Preferisici il vino bianco o il vino rosso?
K: Next, to get the “he form” start from the “you” form preferisci. Now just change the “i” sound to an “e” sound. So how would you say “he prefers?”
K: He prefers white wine?
M: Preferisce il vino bianco.
K: And the good news, we know this is the same as the “she form”. So how would you say “she prefers?”
K: She prefers white wine?
M: Preferisce il vino bianco
K: And we know this is also the same for the “formal you” for someone you don’t know very well. How would you say “you prefer” in the formal you?
K: Let’s imagine your son or daughter is marrying an Italian, and you meet your future son in law or daughter in law’s parents for the first time. In this case, you’d start with the formal you. How would you say “do you prefer white wine?” in this case? Literally: “You formal prefer the wine white?”
M: Prefersice il vino bianco?
K: il vino bianco o il vino rosso? White wine or red wine? So how would you say “do you prefer white wine or red wine?” Use the formal “you”.
M: Preferisce il vino bianco o il vino rosso?
K: Next – more good news: the remaining forms, so the “we” form and the “plural you” follow the same rules as the normal -ire verbs, like aprire (to open). So how would you say “we prefer?”
M: Preferiamo. Remove the “ire” from preferire and add iamo. Preferiamo.
K: We prefer white wine? il vino bianco
M: Preferiamo il vino bianco.
K: And can you remember how to make the plural you, as in “you all” or “you both prefer”? Change the “r” to a “t”. So change the “r” in preferire to a “t” and you’ll get:
K: So how would you say “do you all/both prefer white wine or red wine” Literally: “prefer (you plural) il vino bianco o il vino rosso?”
M: Preferite il vino bianco o il vino rosso?
K: And that’s it!
K: A final word about these verb forms, don’t worry if you need to go over this a lot before it starts to make sense. That’s normal. No one hears this just a couple of times and just gets it. Repetition is a key part of language learning – you’ll need to come back to these forms many times, see and hear them being used and practice using them a lot yourself before they stick. So don’t worry, it’s completely normal that these verbs pose some memory challenges. Forza, you can do it!
On our website, we’ve got loads of stuff that will help you remember the verbs in todays lesson.
Importantly, there’s a set of flashcards that you can download, which are like little digital cards with English on one side and the Italian on the other – you look at the English side, which will say, for example, “we prefer” then you try to remember the Italian preferiamo. Then you can turn the card over and see the Italian side to check your answer. Over time, this will really help you remember those verb forms. You can also download these to your phone so that you can do it while you’re waiting in the queue for the supermarket.
You’ll also find other handy resources like a quiz, so you can test your knowledge, a wordlist, so you can see the spelling, and a transcript of today’s episode. You can find all of this by going to joyoflanguages.com/italian-present-tense. Or you can head over to joyoflanguages.com, click on the Italian podcast section and scroll down to this episode.
M: That’s it from us for now, see you next time, or as we say in Italian,
K: Alla prossima!
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