The most used Moods and Tenses Verbs in Italian

In this post, you’ll learn the most used Moods and Tenses Verbs in Italian. Verbs have four main moods:

italian main moods The most used Moods and Tenses Verbs in Italian
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the infinitive is the unconjugated verb expressing the action itself, with no reference to time or person. This is the form found in a dictionary.

The Infinito can be present and past:

The regular present infinitive ends in: ARE – ERE – IRE

The past infinitive is composed of the present infinitive of essere or avere and the past participle.


The indicative expresses something as a fact. It is the most commonly used mood.
The indicative includes:

  • presente
  • imperfetto
  • passato remoto
  • futuro semplice
  • passato prossimo
  • trapassato prossimo
  • trapassato remoto
  • futuro anteriore


The imperative is the command form, used to give orders.


The subjunctive expresses possibility, hope, feelings, and wishes and is almost always preceded by che, such as

Lui vuole che io dorma (He wants me to sleep).

The congiuntivo mood can be: presente, passato, imperfetto, trapassatoThe congiuntivo mood can be: presente, passato, imperfetto, trapassato

Want to learn more about Subjunctive?

Una Ricetta per il Congiuntivo – A Recipe for the Subjunctive



map indicativo The most used Moods and Tenses Verbs in Italian
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The present indicative expresses a fact, tells what usually happens, what is happening now, and general truths.

In addition, the Italian present tense is often used to refer to the immediate future and also refers to the past, which is called the historic present.

linea del tempo - presente The most used Moods and Tenses Verbs in Italian
The TIMEline (the present)


  • Lava i piatti. (He/She washes the dishes. He/She is washing the dishes.)
  • Mangio la pizza (I eat a pizza/I’m eating a pizza)
  • Non guardo la televisione (I don’t watch TV.)

When the verb is showing the action taking place at the moment, it is possible to use the

present tense of stare + the gerund of the verb.

One can say:

Io ascolto la radio. (I am listening to the radio.)

Io sto ascoltando la radio. (I am listening to the radio)


  • Sto mangiando la pizza (I am eating a pizza)
  • Sto guardando la televisione (I am watching TV)


The passato prossimo is one of the two most used past tenses of the indicative in Italian (the other is the imperfetto).

The passato prossimo (present perfect) is the past tense of a verb used to express an action developed and completed in the past.

linea del tempo - passato The most used Moods and Tenses Verbs in Italian
The Timeline (the past)

It is made of the present tense of the auxiliary verbs avere (to have) or essere (to be) + the past participle of the main verb representing the action.


  • Ieri sera ho mangiato la pizza (Last night I ate pizza)
  • Ieri Anna è andata al supermercato (Yesterday Anna went to the supermarket)
  • L’estate scorsa siamo andati in vacanza sul lago di Garda. (Last summer we went to Lake Garda for our/a holiday.)


In Italian as in English, the future tense is used to indicate an action which will take place at a future time.

In Italian the future is a simple tense, you do not need an auxiliary as in English (will-shall).

To form the regular futuro semplice add to the stem of the verbs the appropriate endings.

In Italian, the future tense is used to make promises, forecast events, to make plans.

In Italian the future can also be used to express a probable fact, something that the person speaking feels is probably true. This is called the future of probability.


  • Domani mangerò la pizza (Tomorrow I’ll eat pizza)
  • Domani andrò a Venezia (Tomorrow I’ll go to Venice)

Learn more about the FUTURO


The futuro composto/anteriore (future perfect) is used to express an action that will take place before another one in the future.

linea del tempo - futuro anteriore The most used Moods and Tenses Verbs in Italian
Timeline (the future in the past)

As in English, it is a compound tense formed by the future of the verbs avere or essere + the past participle of the main verb.


  • Mangerò la pizza dopo che avrò mangiato le verdure (I’ll eat pizza after I have eaten vegetables)
  • Tornerò al mio paese quando avrò dato l’esame di italiano (I’ll return after I have taken the Italian exam)


The imperfetto (imperfect) is one of the most used past tenses in Italian.

linea del tempo - imperfetto The most used Moods and Tenses Verbs in Italian
The Timeline (the imperfetto)

It is called ‘imperfetto’ because there is no reference to the beginning or end of the action it expresses.

In Italian, the imperfetto is a simple tense.

Use the imperfetto to express:

past contemporary actions

past action interrupted by another

past routines and habits

description of persons, animals, situations and places


  • Mentre mangiavo la pizza, guardavo la TV (While I was eating pizza I was watching TV)
  • Mentre mangiavo, ha suonato il telefono (While I was eating the telephone rang)
  • Quando è arrivato Gianni, studiavo. (When Gianni arrived, I was studying)
  • Da ragazzo (quando ero ragazzo) andavo al mare tutte le domeniche (When I was a boy I used to go to the seaside every Sunday)
  • Quando sono andata al mare il cielo era sereno e il mare era calmo (When I went to the seaside, the sky was clear and the sea was calm)

Learn more about imperfetto:


The trapassato prossimo is the equivalent of the English past perfect (I had seen).

It is used to express a completed action in the past that occurred before another past event.

linea del tempo - trapassato prossimo
the Timeline (the past trapassato prossimo)

The other past event can be in the passato prossimo, in the imperfetto.

The trapassato prossimo is formed with the imperfect form of the auxiliary verbs avere or essere + past participle (with essere the past participle always agrees with the subject in gender and number).


  • Quando Marco è arrivato io avevo già mangiato la pizza (When Marco arrived I had already eaten pizza)
  • Oggi (in libreria) è arrivato il libro che avevo ordinato un mese fa (Today, the book I had ordered one month ago, arrived)



The passato remoto (simple past) is a simple tense.

Verbs with an irregular conjugation (mostly second conjugation verbs) have irregular forms only in the first and third singular and in the third plural forms.

There is also a group of verbs completely irregular as the verb essere or the verb avere.

The passato remoto expresses an action developed and completed in the past (as the passato prossimo), but here the action has no continuing effect in the present (for the person speaking).

Timeline for the past (the past remoto)

Use to
to tell about very past actions


Dante scrisse la Divina Commedia

Use to
to tell about historical events


Leonardo dipinse la Gioconda


condizionale presente - guarderei la televisione  condizionale passato - avrei guardato la televisione


The condizionale presente (present conditional) expresses an action which depends on a condition.

This tense is often used even when the condition is not actually mentioned.

The condizionale semplice is a simple tense, you do not need an auxiliary verb like in English.

In Italian the conditional is mainly used to express wishes, formulate polite requests and give advice.


  • Mangerei volentieri una pizza (I would like to eat a pizza)
  • Ti dispiacerebbe prestarmi i soldi? (Would you mind lending me some money?)


The condizionale passato (conditional perfect) is a compound tense and is formed by the condizionale presente of the verbs avere or essere + the past participle of the main verb.  

It is used:

to express a wish or intention which could not be realized in the past, now or in the future.


  • sarei andato volenitieri al cinema
  • Ieri avrei mangiato una pizza (Yesterday I would have eaten a pizza)

to give some information about what was supposed to happen in the past


  • La polizia avrebbe preso i criminali

to express the future in the past, that is to express a future action from a point of view in the past. 


  • Pensavo che sarei tornato in aprile invece sono tornato dopo un anno.
  • La settimana scorsa Andrea sarebbe andato a Firenze, ma ha dovuto lavorare (Last week Andrea would have gone to Florence, but she had to work)



The imperativo (imperative) is the command form of the verb and is used to give orders, directions, instructions, advice, and permission.


  • Mangia la pizza! (Eat your pizza!)
  • Paolo, va subito in camera tua e studia!  (Paolo go to your room and study!)
  • Prenda la prima strada a sinistra e poi vada dritto (Take the first street on the left and then go straight on)


congiuntivo presente passato imperfetto trapassato


The congiuntivo (subjunctive mood) expresses uncertainty, doubt, possibility or personal feelings rather than facts.

It conveys the opinions and attitudes of the speaker.

With few exceptions, the congiuntivo occurs only in subordinate clauses usually preceded by the conjunction che.

Since the singular endings are the same, it is used singular subject pronouns to avoid confusion.


  • Spero che Marco mangi la pizza (I hope that Marco eats pizza)
  • Vado a trovare Michele prima che parta (I am going to visit Michele before he leaves)

italian/english verbs
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