“To have” (“avere”) and “to be” (“essere”) – (Italian-IT)

“To have” and “to be” are the bread and butter of a new language, and so it’s a good place to start when you’re looking at learning your first verbs. You’ll also learn the personal pronouns here, and get accustomed to the idea of writing out verbs in their conjugations, i.e. the different forms the verb takes depending on the subject of the sentence.

The infinitive of a verb is its “to” form, such as “to have”, “to play”, and is usually the form you use when talking about the verb as a concept. There are three grammatical “persons”: first, second, and third. Each of these persons has a singular form and a plural form, giving a total of six combinations. The first person contains the speaker, i.e. “I” in the singular, or “we” in the plural. The second person is the person you are addressing, i.e. “you” in the singular to one person, or to a group of people, that doesn’t include the speaker. The third person is neither the speaker nor the addressee; in the singular, it can be “he”, “she”, or “it”, and in the plural “they”. It’s a good idea to get used to the terminology, if you’re not already familiar, for personal pronouns, so when you hear “second person plural” you know exactly what it refers to – plural “you”, in this case.

First person singular io I
Second person singular tu you
Third person singular lui
First person plural noi we
Second person plural voi you
Third person plural loro they

There are several Italian personal pronouns that are largely out of use now, especially in spoken language, such as the use of “Lei”, “Loro”, or “Voi”, as a formal “You”. As well as “lui” for “he”, there exists also “egli” and “esso”; as well as “lei” for “she”, there is “ella” and “essa”. There are also gender-specific words for “they”, analogous to French “ils” and “elles”, namely “essi” (for a group of males) and “esse” (for a group of females). The ones above are more commonly used, but it’s worth bearing these other ones in mind to avoid confusion.

Italian personal pronouns are often dropped when they are the subject, e.g. “Ho un cane” (“I have a dog”) is equivalent to “Io ho un cane”.


(io) ho I have
(tu) hai you have
(lui/lei/esso) ha he/she/it has
(noi) abbiamo we have
(voi) avete you have
(loro) hanno they have

In many languages, “to be” is the most irregular verb. For example, in English, where most verbal forms only change for the “he/she/it” form (by adding -s, e.g. “he plays”), “to be” has many different and odd forms, “I am”, “we are”. “Essere” is also a particularly irregular verb in Italian.


(io) sono I am
(tu) sei you are
(lui/lei/esso) è he/she/it is
(noi) siamo we are
(voi) siete you are
(loro) sono they are

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