Let’s dive into the most commonly used moods in Italian verbs. Moods indicate the attitude or purpose behind a verb’s action. In this post, you’ll learn the most used Moods and Tenses Verbs in Italian. Verbs have FIVE main moods:
⚠️ Please note that this post does not cover every single tense and mood in Italian verbs. It focuses on the most commonly used ones to provide you with a solid foundation. There are additional tenses and moods that can be explored as you progress in your Italian language journey.
To start constructing meaningful speeches in Italian, it is essential to focus on the basic verb tenses.
In this page you’ll find the key verb tenses that will allow you to express yourself effectively.
1. INFINITIVE & PARTICIPE
The infinitive form in Italian provides flexibility and versatility in constructing sentences.
It serves as a base for verb conjugation, expresses intentions, and is used in various grammatical structures.
By familiarizing yourself with the infinitive, you’ll gain a solid foundation for further exploration of Italian verbs.
Participle Passato (Past Participle)
The past participle is used to form compound verb tenses, such as the passato prossimo (present perfect) and the trapassato prossimo (past perfect). It is also used as an adjective to describe nouns.
The indicative mood is used to express statements, facts, and questions. It provides straightforward information about actions. The indicative expresses something as a fact. It is the most commonly used mood.
The most used tenses in the indicative mood includes:
The imperative mood is used to give commands, orders, or instructions. It is commonly used to address someone directly. The imperative is the command form, used to give orders.
- Mangia la pizza! (Eat the pizza!)
- Parla italiano! (Speak Italian!)
- Studiate attentamente! (Study carefully!)
The condizionale is a verb tense used to express actions that are dependent on a condition or hypothetical situations in the present or future. It allows us to imagine possibilities and convey ideas that are based on certain conditions.
The condizionale in Italian allows us to convey politeness, hypothetical situations, and advice. By mastering the condizionale, you’ll be able to express yourself more effectively and add nuance to your Italian conversations. Practice using it in various contexts to gain confidence and fluency.
- Potresti chiudere la finestra? (Could you close the window?)
- Mi piacerebbe visitare l’Italia un giorno. (I would like to visit Italy one day.)
- Dovresti studiare di più per l’esame. (You should study more for the exam.)
- Prendi un ombrello, potrebbe piovere più tardi. (Take an umbrella, it might rain later.)
The subjunctive mood expresses doubt, uncertainty, or subjective opinions. It is commonly used in dependent clauses after certain verbs or expressions. 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).
Want to learn more about Subjunctive?
Infinitive & Participle (Indefinite verbs)
The infinitive, or infinito, is the base form of a verb that remains unchanged. It is an essential component of Italian grammar and plays a crucial role in constructing sentences.
The infinitive PRESENT is the unconjugated verb expressing the action itself, with no reference to time or person. This is the form found in a dictionary.
The regular present infinitive ends in: ARE – ERE – IRE
- Parlare (to speak)
- Scrivere (to write)
- Dormire (to sleep)
- Mangiare (to eat)
- Capire (to understand)
The participle plays a crucial role in constructing sentences and adds depth and nuance to the Italian language.
Particularly, the past participle is used to form compound verb tenses, such as the passato prossimo (present perfect) and the trapassato prossimo (past perfect). It is also used as an adjective to describe nouns.
Formation of Compound Tenses:
The past participle is an integral part of compound verb tenses, such as the passato prossimo (present perfect), trapassato prossimo (past perfect), and many others.
It is used in combination with auxiliary verbs, such as avere (to have) or essere (to be), to form these tenses.
- Ho mangiato una pizza. (I have eaten a pizza.)
- Hai comprato un regalo. (You have bought a gift.)
- Sono arrivato/a tardi. (I arrived late.)
- Siamo andati/e in vacanza. (We went on vacation.)
1. MODO INDICATIVO PRESENTE
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.
- 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)
2. MODO INDICATIVO PASSATO PROSSIMO
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.
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.)
3. MODO INDICATIVO FUTURO SEMPLICE
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
5. MODO INDICATIVO IMPERFETTO
The imperfetto (imperfect) is one of the most used past tenses in Italian.
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:
6. MODO INDICATIVO TRAPASSATO PROSSIMO
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.
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)
8. CONDIZIONALE PRESENTE
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?)
9. MODO IMPERATIVO PRESENTE
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)
11. CONGIUNTIVO PRESENTE
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
12. CONGIUNTIVO IMPERFETTO
The imperfect subjunctive is used to express actions or states that are uncertain, hypothetical, or subjective in the past. It is commonly used in subordinate clauses after verbs expressing doubt, possibility, or desire.
Here are a few examples:
- Se avessi più tempo, viaggierei di più. (If I had more time, I would travel more.)
- Volevo che tu venissi con me. (I wanted you to come with me.)
- Pensavamo che studiassi medicina. (We thought you were studying medicine.)
These are the main moods in Italian verbs. Each mood has its own unique usage and conjugation rules. By mastering these moods, you’ll be able to convey a wide range of meanings and effectively express yourself in Italian.