Italian Study Card

Basic – Intermediate

 

This section provides easy to understand explanations to help you get the most out of your Italian Study Card.

It goes through the content and layout and it gives you a brief explanation of each topic with examples.

If you come across an English Grammar Term you are not familiar with, check the Glossary on this website. Remember that you can use your Spanish Study Card with any textbook you may be using.

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The Italian card displays 35 independent tables with the most important grammar elements. LOS PRONOMI PERSONALI SOGGETTO (Subject Personal Pronouns), io ,tu, lui, lei, , noi, voi, and loro. determine the three main colours used throughout the card.

They are the persons who the sentence refers to. In English they are the words I, you, he, she, it, we, you and they. The singular personal pronouns (I, you, he, she, it), are represented in a light shade of yellow, purple, and green. And the plural pronouns (we, you, they), are represented in a dark shade.

Lei means you in English, but it’s the formal way to address someone. It is in the group of green colours because it’s conjugated like the third person lui and lei.

Loro means you (plural) in English. Ustedes is the formal way of voi. It is in the group of green dark colours because it’s conjugated like the third person plural loro.

Look at the tables below:

 

Get familiar with the colour pattern to easily identify the word or ending you need according to the subject personal pronoun you’re using. With your card in hand, go through this section to find the explanations on the content of your Spanish Study Card. Or you can also skip to the name of the table you wish to expand your information on.

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The section below is intended to be a general explanation of grammar created for you to understand the layout of your card, in order to take full advantage of it. By no means should this section be considered a course on its own. 


 

 
ESSERE PRESENTE

This is a very important verb which you will be using all the time.

  • Essere literally means to be. (the conjugated forms are am, is, are).
  • There is another verb, stare, which also means to be, which is explained further down the tabs.
  • Essere is used when you want to express unchanging identity traits, such as your physical description, personality, and character, your nationality, race, gender and profession.

Example:

(Io) sono alto. (I’m tall.)

(Noi) siamo francesi. (We are French.)

(Tu) sei molto intelligente. (You are very intelligent.) 

Carlos è un avvocato. (Carlos is a lawyer.)

The persons in Italian are optional, this is because since every person has a specific verb, it tells you what person you are referring to.

  • It is used to express temporary location of a person or of an object. 

Example:

Il tuo telefono è sotto il cuscino. Your phone is under the pillow.

    I miei fratelli sono a scuola. My brothers are in school.

  • It’s also used in date and time.

Example:

La festa è sabato. The party is on Saturday.

Il concerto è alle 20:00. The concert is at 8:00 pm.

  • For temporary or permanent health conditions. 

Example:

 (Io) sono malatto. (I’m sick)

  • It’s used to express temporary or permanent emotions.

Example:

(Io) sono arrabbiato. (I’m angry)

NOTE: In Southern Italy, sometimes stare is used instead of essere

STARE PRESENTE

The verb stare means to be.

  • In Italian you use stare to express where someone stays or spends the night or lives .

Example

Sto con mia sorella. (I’m staying with my sister)

  • To express the current the physical or emotional state. It is used with adverbs. (Temporary states)

Example:

 Mio nonno sta male. (My grandad isn’t well.) 

  • It’s used to form the present continuous or presente progressivo.

Example:

    (Lei) sta studiando. (She’s studying.)

  • To express the usual location of an object.

Example:

    La casa sta sulla collina, The house is on the hill.

  • It is used in orders.

Example:

    Stai zitto! (Shut up!)

   Stai tranquillo! (Stay calm!)

If you speak Spanish and know the difference between ser and estar, don’t assume it’s the same in Italian. They share some similarities but it’s best if you learn to see them with different eyes.

AVERE PRESENTE
  • Avere is one of the most important verbs in Italian. It means to have.

 

  • It is used to express possession.

Example:

Tu hai molti vestiti. (You have many clothes.)

     (Loro) hanno un buon lavoro. They have a good job.

  • In English we say: I’m hungry, I’m cold, I’m sleepy. In Italian, you need to use the verb avere.

Example:

Noi abbiamo paura. (We are afraid, we have fear on us.)

    Tu hai fame. (You are hungry.)
 
 
 
 
 
  • Avereis used to express your age.

Example:

Ho dodici anni. (I’m 12 years old)

Quanti anni hai?(How old are you?)

ARTICOLO INDETERMINATIVO

Your table shows you the 4 indefinite articles in Italian in masculine and feminine in singular. In Italian, there aren’t plural indefinite articles. 

  • The articolo indetermenativo (Indefinite Articles) is the equivalent of a/an in English.
  • In Italian, they have a masculine and feminine form in singular.
  • Just like the articolo determenativo they need to agree in gender (feminine or masculine) and number (singular or plural) with the noun (thing or person) they modify.

 

  • Un is used with masculine singular nouns. They can begin with a consonant or a vowel.

Example:

un quaderno – a notebook

un libro – a book

un albero – a tree

  • Uno is used with masculine singular nouns when they begin with s + consonant, i + vowel, x, y, z, gn, pn and ps. Your card has a small table to remind you of these letters.

Example:

uno zaino – a backpack

uno psicologo – a psycologist

uno scoiattolo – a squirrel 

  • Una is used with feminine singular nouns that begin with a consonant.

 Example

una macchina – a car

una penna – a pen 

una palla- a ball

ARTICOLO DETERMINATIVO
 
  • The artIcolo determinativo (Definite Articles) is the equivalent of the word the in English.
  • It has to agree with the number and gender of the noun it precedes.
  • They are used for feminine and masculine nouns in singular or plural. So make sure you know the gender of the word.

 

  • Il is used with masculine singular nouns that start with a consonant.

il libro – the book

il gatto – the cat

il tavolo – a table

  • l’ is used with masculine and feminine singular nouns that begin with a vowel.

 Example

l’albero – the tree (masculine)

l’insalata – the salad (feminine) 

  • i is used with plural masculine nouns.

 Example

i libri – the books

i gatti – the cats

  • lo is used with singular masculine nouns and gli with masculine plural nouns that begin with s + consonant, i + vowel, x, y, z, gn, pn and ps. Your card has a small table to remind you of these letters.

 Example

lo yogurt – the yougurts

gli – orologi – the watches

  • La is used with feminine singular nouns that start with a consonant.

 Example

la casa – the house 

la penna – the pen

la sedia- the chair   

  • Le is used with feminine plural nouns that start with a consonant or a vowel.

 Example

le case – the houses 

 

le penne – the pens

le sedie- the chairs   

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THERE IS / THERE ARE
  • This expression literally means there is and there are.

Example:

C’è una bottiglia sul tavolo.  – There is a bottle on the table.

Ci sono molti negozi a Milano. – There are many shops in Milan.

Hay unos libros sobe la mesa. There are some books on the table. 

  • To form the negative form just add non before c’è and ci.

Example:

Non c’è fretta. – There is no hurry. 

PIACERE E VERBI SIMILI

This table displays the pronouns you need to use to express I like, I’m interested and I miss. These verbs need to follow the pronouns which are represented in the same colour coded system as the pronomi personali soggeto.

  • To say I like in Italian, you need to use the pronouns given on the table.
  • Gli is used for men and le for women. gli is used for both masculine and feminine in plural.

Example:

Mi piace la música. I like music. 

Ti piace la música. You like music. 

Gli piace la música. He likes music. 

 

  • If the noun is in plural, use piacciono.

Example:

Mi piacciono i biscotti. – I like biscuits.

Ti piacciono i biscotti. – You like biscuits.

 

  • To say I’m interested in… you do the same as with piace and piacciono.

Example:

Mi nteresa molto l’arte. – I’m very interested in arts. 

Ti nteresa molto l’arte. – You are very interested in arts. 

 

  • If you want to use it in negative, you add the word non.

    Example:

    Non mi piace la música. I don’t like music. 

    Non gli piace la música. He doesn’t like music. 

POSSESSIVI

This table displays the Possessive Adjectives in Italian in singular and plural form.

  • The possessivi are the words used to indicate to whom or to what something belongs.
  • The possessives my and mine are used indistinctively in Italian.
  • They need to agree with the noun that is possessed, (not the possessor) in gender (masculine or feminine) and number (singular or plural)
  • As you can see on your card, the pronoun is shown in masculine and feminine:

mio / a, miei / mie

  • A unique characteristic is that they are preceded by a definite article (the) (il / la / i / le) and it has to agree with what’s possessed.
  • The colours in the possessivi table will help you identify the word needed for a specific person (first, second, third; singular or plural). Remember that the light colours indicate the singular persons and the dark ones the plural persons.

Example:

il mio libro – my book (the book is masculine)

la sua pianta -his or her plant (the plant is feminine. 

i nostri amici –our friends (the friends are male)

le nostre amice –our friends (the friends are female)

le tue scarpe e le mie  – your shoes are mine (the shoes are feminine)

 

AGGETIVI

This table displays 40 common Adjectives. They are given in the singular masculine form.

  • Adjectives in Italian have a masculine and feminine form, singular and plural.

 

  • Most adjectives end in o and they have four different endings:

 

    • in masculine singular: o
    • in feminine singular: a
    • in masculine plural: i
    • in feminine plural: e

Example:

Un nuovo libro – A new book (the book is masculine)

 Due nuovi libri – Two new books (the books are masculine)

Una nuova macchina – A new car (the car is feminine)

Due nuove macchine – Two new cars. (the cars are feminine)

 

  • The adjectives that end in o only have 2 different endings:

 

    • in masculine or feminine singular: e
    • in masculine or feminine plural: i

 

  • Example:

La casa è grandthe house is big. (The house is feminine)

Il tavolo è grande. – the table is big. (The table is masculine)

Le case sono grandi – The houses are big  

I tavoli sono grandi – the tables are big

PRESENTE - VERBI REGOLARI / IRREGOLARI

The centre pages have plenty of information on verbs. To take full advantage of the Italian Study Card, it’s important to understand the layout and colour-coded system.

  • The main topic on this page is the Present. This page has an upper frame. The upper section contains 19 VERBOS iPRESENTE. 

In the centre of the page, you will find the regular endings for the are, ere and ire verbs for each person in the colour coded system:

  • You use the present tense to talk about habits, routine and facts. I live with my sister.
  • You use the present tense to talk about something that is happening now. They’re talking about it.
  • It’s also used to talk about upcoming plans.  We’re playing a match tomorrow

Example:

L’acqua bolle a 100 gradi. Water boils at 100 degrees. (fact)

Paolo lavora a casa oggi. Paolo is working from home today. (happening now)

Leggo ogni giorno – I read every day (habit or routine)

 Lei torna a casa domani. She’s going back home tomorrow. 

To form the Present tense is quite easy:

  • Italian verbs can end in are, ere and ire.

Example:

parlare – to speak

leggere – to read

dormire – to sleep

  • Remove the infinitive ending are, ere or ire. You are now left with the present stem: parl-, legg-, dorm-
  • Finally, add the personal ending shown in the centre of the card, according to your type of verb and the person you want to use it with.
  • The verbs that end in ire have two sets of conjugations and are shown on the table as well.
    • Type is: o, i, e, iamo, ite, ono – dormiredormo  
    • Type 2 is: isco, isci, esce, iamo, ite, iscono – capirecapisco

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parlo  I speak

parli – you speak

parla – he / she / (you formal) speaks

parliamo we speak

parlate  – you speak (plural informal )

parlano  – they speak

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Use the table called FRECUENZA on your table, to form complete personal sentences.

Remember to practise them out loud.

IRREGULAR VERBS

  • Your card includes a table with nine very common irregular verbs. They are conjugated for you so you can use them as a quick reference when you need them: ANDARE, FARE, DARE, VENIRE, DIRE, SAPERE, VOLERE and DOVERE
  •  Your card also has a table with 5 examples of irregular verbs that change a little bit for pronunciation purposes. They end in -care, -gare, -ciare and –sciare.

 

PRONOMI REFLESSIVI / VERBI REFLESSIVI

This table in your card displays the six Reflexive Pronouns, each in its own colour to identify each person.

  • The pronomi reflessivi are used when the action is done and received by the subject.
  • The meaning in English is

mi – myself

ti – yourself

si – himself

si – herself

ci – ourselves

vi – yourselves 

si – themselves

  • You can identify a reflexive verb by the reflexive pronouns –si, which is placed after the infinitive: alzarsi.
  • To conjugate the verb, you add the Pronombre Reflexivo before the verb. Remove –si and conjugate the verb according to the person.

Example:

Alzarsi 

alzar + ending

(Io) mi alzo – I get up

(tu) ti alzi– you get up 

Your card gives you 9 common reflexive verbs as well. 

PRESENTE PROGRESSIVO
  • You use this tense instead of the present when you want to emphasize that is used to expresses that something is happening right now.

Example

Arrivano. They’re coming. 

Stanno arrivando! They’re coming now!

 

  • It’s formed with the conjugated verb stare in present and with the endings –ando (are verbs) and –endo (ere /ire verbs) added to the verbs.
  • Remove the –are,ere or –ire of the verb and add –ando or –endo to the root.  This corresponds to ing in English

Example

cantare – cant + –ando = cantando (singing)

  • Your table shows you the conjugation of stare for easy reference and the endings with examples. 
  • Your table also shows you 2 irregular verbs. fare facendo and diredicendo.

Example:

fare – facendo (doing)

Que cosa stai facendo? (What are you doing?)

PASSATO PROSSIMO

The main topic in this page is the passato prossimo (past tense).

  • To form the passato prossimo you need to use one of the auxiliaries or helping verbs: avere or essere conjugated in present. You also need to use the past participle of the main verb. 
  • Transitive verbs are used with avere. Intransitive verbs are used with avere or essere, so it’s best to memorise which one you need for the most common verbs, to begin with. For the moment you can find a few examples of each on your card to get you started.
  • Essere is used with all the reflexive verbs.
  • When you use essere verbs, the past participle verb needs to agree with the person in number (singular or plural) and in gender (masculine or feminine).
  • When you use avere verbs, the past participle verb doesn’t need to agree with the object unless there is a direct pronoun before the verb: lo,la, li and le. It needs to agree with the person in number (singular or plural) and in gender (masculine or feminine).

Example:

Ho parlato con Marco. (I spoke to Marco)  

Ho (avere) parlato (pasta participle) con Marco.

Paty è venuta alle sei. (Paty came at six.)

Paty è (essere) venuta (past participle with agreement) alle sei. 

Io ti ho vista. (I saw you, you is a woman)  

  • This page has an upper and lower U table. The upper U table contains 16 irregular past participle verbsThese verbs are used with avere. The lower U table has 15 past participle verbs thata re used with essere.

 

.In the centre of the page, you will find the verbs avere and essere conjugated in present for easy reference using the colour-coded system as shown below. There is also a small table below with past participle endings that help you conjugate the past participle of regular verbs. You will find more information about how to form it further below. 

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  • Passato prossimo is used to talk about a finished event in the past.

Example:

Ho parlato con Marco. (I spoke to Marco)

Paty è venuta alle sei. (Paty came at six.)

Forming the passato prossimo.

In order to form it, you need to know how to form the participio passato or the regular past participle of the verb.

Let’s use the verb parlare as an example. This is an intransitive verb so it needs to use the auxiliary verb avere.

Parlere ends in –are. Your table shows you that the ending you need is -ato .

Remove the –are ending and add the ending –ato.

Example:

parlare – to speak – parl- + -ato – parlato

You need to conjugate the verb in present according to the person performing the action, and then add the past participle of the verb.

Example:

Io sono parlato – I spoke

You will see that there are more endings in brackets in the table of participio passato. These are the endings you may need to use if you use a verb that needs essere as the auxiliary because the past participle needs to agree with the person. (masculine, feminine, singular or plural)

Example:

Io sono andato (the person talking is a man)  I went

Io sono andata (the person talking is a woman)

 noi siamo andati (the group of people is male) We went

noi siamo andate (the group of people is female)

  • Use the ESPRESSIONI DI TEMPO DEL PASSATO on your card to add time expressions to your sentences.

OGGETO DIRETTO E INDIRETTO
  • Remember that the Direct Object is the part that’s affected directly by the verb in the sentence. They answer the questions what? or whom? 

Example:

Ho comprato dei fioriI bought flowers what did he buy?

Invito i ragazziI invite the boys whom do I invite?

The direct pronouns are the words that substitute the direct object: 

 I bought them 

I invite them 

  • The pronouns on your card marked with a “D” are the direct pronouns you need to substitute the direct object. 
  • The pronoun goes before the conjugated verb. The table shows the different pronouns coloured according to the person.
  • Remember to pay attention to third persons in singular and plural. They can be either feminine or masculine singular. Your table shows you all the pronouns with the colour-coded system. li – masculine, le – feminine.

Example:

Compra la fruta he buys the fruit (fruit is feminine) 

La compra – He buys it

Non la compra – He doesn’t buy it

Perchè non li inviti? – Why don’t you invite them? (male or mixed group)

  • The Indirect Object is what’s affected by the verb in an indirect form. They answer the question to whom? or for whom?
  • The pronouns on your card marked with an “I” are the indirect pronouns you need to substitute the indirect object. 
  • Just like the direct pronouns, they go before the verb, except for loro, It goes after the verb. 
  • Remember to pay attention to third persons in singular and plural. They can be either feminine or masculine singular. Your table shows you all the pronouns with the colour-coded system. gli – masculine, loro – feminine.

Example

Gli regalo un libro – I’ll give them a book. (to a group of men)

Spiego loro come funziona – I explain tho them how it works.  (to a group of women)

Cioffrono una fetta di torta – They are offering us a slice of cake.

  • When a sentence has one verb in the infinitive and a conjugated verb, the direct and indirect are attached at the end of the infinitive. The infinitive verb just drops the last e. 

Example

È importante mangiarla ogni giorno. It’s important to eat it every day.

Ho tempo di parlargli -I have time to talk to him

I NEGATIVI

This table on your card shows you 8 phrases to express negation or lack of something.

  • In Italian, you place the word non before the conjugated verb to express the negative form.

Example

Non è venuta. She didn’t come.

Non sono francese. I’m not French.

  • In order to form the negative with the expressions nothing, not yet, never, nobody you need to use non as well.

Example

Non succede mai. It never happens

Non ha detto niente. She didn’t say anything. 

No ho più fame. I’m not hungry anymore.

  • When you begin the sentence with never, nothing or no one, it’s not necessary to use non.

Example:

Nessuno è  venuto. Nobody came

Niente è cambiato. Nothing has changed.

PREPOSIZIONI ARTICOLATE
  • A preposition is a word that gives you more information about the relationship between two words. 

Example:

The cat is on the table 

  • Your table shows you 5 common prepositions: a (in, to), di (of), da (from) in (in, into) su (on)
  • In Italian when they precede the definite article the (il, lol, la, l”, i, gli, le), they always form a new word, which are the ones that are on your table. 

Example:

a + il = al (to the) Jaime è andato al cinema. Jaime went to the cinema.

da + la = dalla  (from the) Vengo dalla banca. I’m coming from the bank.

IMPERFETTO
  • This table displays the endings to form the imperfetto for- are and –ere and -ire verbs. 
  • It also shows the verb essere conjugated in imperfetto.
  • It gives you the irregular roots of the verbs bere (to drink), dire (to say) and fare (to do) so you can just add the endings. 

 

  •  The imperfetto is a type of past tense. It’s used to describe habits in the past. It expresses what people used to do. It also sets the scene in the past.

 

  • To form the imperfetto, you remove the -re, to – are, ere and -ire and add the endings given on the table. Remember that the colour coded system indicates which person it belongs to.

Example

parlare, vedere, partire 

parla +

vede +

parti +

parlavo – I spoke, I used to speak, I was speaking (when…)

vedevo – I saw, I used to see, I was seeing (when…)

partivo I left, I used to leave, I was leaving (when…)

 

CONDIZIONALE

This table displays the endings needed to conjugate the verbs in condizionale.

  • Would is the form used in English for the condizionale. In Italian, there’s no word for would, so you need to use the following endings to form it.
  • Just like in English, it’s used to ask for something politely, to give advice, to express a desire in the present, to show doubt, to discuss probability.
  • To form the condizionale, you need to remove –are, –ere and –ire to the infinitive verbs and add the endings on your table.
  • The endings for –are and –ere are the same. 

parlareparl-, leggerelegg-, partirepart

+

Io parlerei – I would talk

Tu leggereresti – You would read 

noi partiremmo we would leave 

 

  • Just below the condizionale, there is a table on your card called IRREGULAR ROOTS. On this table, you can see 12 common irregular verbs.  You are given the root and the ending to add to these irregular verbs. They are also irregular in the future tense. 

avereavr– + ei = avrei (I would have)

volerevorr– + ebbe = vorrebe (he would want) 

andareandr– + ebbero = andrebbero (they would go)

FUTURO
  • This table displays the endings you need to form the futuro.
  • Just like with the condizionale, there’s one single ending for the –are and -ere verbs and one for the –ire verbs.
  • The verb essere is conjugated for you for a quick reference. 

Example:

parlareparl-, leggerelegg-, partirepart

+

Io parlerò – I will talk

Tu leggerai – You will read 

noi parteremowe will leave 

  • It is used to talk about what will happen in the future. 
  • It’s used to talk about speculations.
  • To ask for suggestions

Example:

Dove sarà? Where could she be?

Studieranno tutto il pomeriggio. They will study all afternoon.

La chiamerò. I will call her. 

  • Just below the condizionale, there is a table on your card called IRREGULAR ROOTS. On this table, you can see 12 common irregular verbs.  You are given the root and the ending to add to these irregular verbs. They are also irregular in the future tense. 

avereavr– + ò = avrò (I will have)

volerevorr– + à = vorrà (he will want) 

andareandr– + anno = andranno (they will go)

You can use the SPRESSIONI DI TEMPO DEL FUTURO from the table on your card. 

 

VERBI + A
  • In Italian, some verbs need a specific preposition. These need to be memorised because they are different in English. This table on your card gives you eight common examples.  

giocare a (game) 

Io gioco a golf. I play golf.

assistere a

assisterò a una conferenza. I will attend a conference.