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For many learning Italian it's confusing as to when to use the passato prossimo (present perfect) rather than the past (passato). Things get even more complicated when you add geography into the equation. In the South of Italy you will find many people who use the passato when speaking, which while common is not correct. In the North, however, the majority of people will use the correct passato prossimo, which expresses the past.
For example, many Southern Italians will say "ieri uscimmo a cena" to say "yesterday we went out to dinner." This is incorrect. The correct phrasing would be "ieri siamo usciti a cena." Another example is "un mese fa incontrai Claudia" ("a month ago I ran into Claudia"), where the correct phrasing is "un mese fa ho incontrato Claudia."
A verb is an action word and a variable part of speech that depends on four elements:
The reflexive pronouns (i pronomi reflessivi), mi, ti, si, ci, vi, si, are identical in form to direct object pronouns, except for the third-person form si (which is the same in the singular and in the plural). The following table includes the reflexive pronouns in Italian.
Modal verbs are words used to give additional information about the main verb in a sentence, a verb being a word that expresses existence, action, or occurrence. In Italian the following words are modal verbs:
Volere (to want to) - io voglio
Potere (to be able to) - io posso
Dovere (to have to) - io devo
Modal Verbs - Present Tense
Il Gerundio nella lingua italiana esprime l'idea del verbo in funzione di complemento (di tempo, di modo, di mezzo, di causa ecc); es. Lavorando ( = col lavoro) mi guadagno la vita; Avendo sbagliato ( = A causa dello sbaglio) sono stati puniti. Il gerundio ha solo 2 tempi: presente e passato. Il presente ha il valore di ogni altro presente; la parte che cambia è la parte finale che si aggiunge alla radice del verbo: -ando per i verbi in -are; -endo per i verbi in -ere/-ire/- isc. Il gerundio passao è composto dall'ausiliare di avere/essere al presente del gerundio + participio passato del verbo. Quindi il gerundio si forma dalla radice del presente indicativo
le desinenze -ando, -endo, a seconda dei casi.
Il gerundio si usa molto spesso nelle frasi secondarie:
Verbs in Italian Grammar
Il verbo può indicare un'azione che passa direttamente su un complemento detto oggetto o diretto come: Mangio il pane; Guardo la campagna, Rompo la noce, in cui l'idea di mangiare, del guardare, del rompere, non si può concepire senza quella dell'oggetto su cui ricadono queste azioni. Tali verbi si dicono TRANSITIVI perchè appunto l'azione passa dal soggetto sul complemento oggetto.
Se il verbo indica una azione che, compiuta dal soggetto, resta in esso, come: io rido, tu dormi, si dice INTRANSITIVO.
Certi verbi come incominciare, aumentare, rovinare, terminare,ardere, annegare, ecc, possono essere usati sia in modo transitivo che in modo intransitivo.
Esempio: Il maestro incomincia (uso transitivo) la sua lezione alle nove. La lezione incomincia (uso intransitivo) alle nove.
Verbs can be active or passive voice. This means that when the subject of the verb does the action of the verb, we can say the verb is active, alternatively a verb is in the passive voice if the subject has the action of the verb made.
The passive voice (la forma passiva) is a construction in which the direct object becomes the subject and the subject becomes the agent.
Only transitive verbs have passive form.
The conditional perfect is a tense that is used to express the idea of "would have." Some examples of sentences in the conditional perfect in English are:
1. I would have bought a house, but I didn't have the money.
2. She woud have come but she was ill.
Here is how you do it:
1. You need the conditional tense of the verb Avere
Avrei = I would have
Avresti = You (singular) would have
Avrebbe = he/she would have
Avremmo = We would have
Avreste = you (plural) would have
Avrebbero = They would have
2. You need the past participle of the verb you are using.
To form a past partciple, start from the infinitve form of the verb. Infinitives end in either "are" "ere" or "ire"
If the infinitive ends in "are" then you cut off the "are" and add the letters "ato" parlare ---> parl ---> parlato = spoken
The future perfect is a tense that is used to express the idea of "will have." Some examples of sentences in the future perfect in English are:
1. By the time you arrive we will have already left= Ora che tu arrivi, io sarò già partito
2. I will have already bought the car by the time you can loan me the money= Avrò già comprato la macchina ora che puoi imprestarmi i soldi.
The imperative tense in Italian expresses a command (sit down - siediti, come here - vieni qui, bring me the ticket - prendimi il biglietto, etc...), but it can also express an invitation to do or to have something: have some cake, feel fre to ask, etc).
In English, commands can be interpreted as rude and insensitive, but we can hear often them in informal Italian, but the most important thing is don't use this informal imperative with strangers, because it could be considered quite rude or primitive.
In Italian grammar, we use the conditional tense when it refers to an action that is possible or likely, but dependent upon a condition.
Example: I would go on holiday, but I haven't enough time.
Vorrei andare in vacanza ma non ho abbastanza tempo
It can be used in two tenses, the present, by conjugation of the appropriate noun, or the past, using the auxiliary conjugated in the conditional, with the past participle of the appropriate noun:
Verbs can be used in different ways, active, passive and reflexive forms.
When the subject of the sentence is doing the action we use the active form:
Tu meriti un premio. = You deserve a prize.In the passive voice the verb is changed so its object becomes the grammatical subject. When the "agent"of the action is specified, the passive voice is expressed by the following sentence:
Subject + essere + past participle + da + agent
Es. Questa barca è stata costruita da Carlo. = This boat was built by Charles.
The future tense is used in order to express events that will happen in the future. Any Italian verb that is conjugated in the future tense is translated back into English with the word "will"
In order to conjugate a verb in the future tense, you always start with your infinitive. Remember that infinitives end in "are" "ere" and "ire".
The next thing I have to do is to drop the final "e" from the infinitive.
The third thing I do is to add the appropriate ending depending on what the subject of the sentence is.
When I was young I used to go to the movies all the time.
They were listening to the radio when...
My mother always used to make frittata for me as a child.
In the above situations, the action doesn't have a definite end. If I were to say, "Yesterday, I made a frittata" that sentence would NOT be in the imperfect because the action clearly stopped at some point in time.
The imperfect is used to describe many different things in the past such as:
Italian Reflexive Verbs
Verbs in Italian are called reflexive when the subject is carrying out the action with respect to himself or herself, for example when a man combs his hair. As you might expect, not all verbs can be reflexive: only the ones that the subject can do himself, such as falling asleep.
To create a reflexive verb, you add the ending -si, etiher at the end of the verb in its infinitive state (addomentarsi) or before the verb when it is conjugated (si e' addormentato).