Italian Grammar

Understanding Italian Grammar

Italian grammar is the body of rules describing the properties of the Italian language. The Italian language is based on the following categories: articles, adjectives, nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions.

In Italian articles are more than just simple words before the nouns. They identify the genre and the number of the nouns and are essential in order to recognize irregular nouns. They can be masculine or feminine, singular or plural and, except in some specific cases, they must always be used. For more on Italian articles click here.

Il cane

the dog

lo studente

the student

la casa

the house

i cani

the dogs

gli studenti

the students

le case

the houses

Adjectives are words that describe a person or a thing. For more on Italian Adjectives click here.

Un cappello rosso

A red hat

Un pranzo italiano

An Italian meal

La camera è quadrata

The room is square

Nouns are words that refer to a person or a thing; they can be masculine or feminine, singular or plural. Many Italian nouns have irregular form.

Gatto

cat

Salute

health

Enrico

Enrico

Parigi

Paris

Pronouns are words that are used in place of a noun. They can stand in for the subject, Io mangio - I eat; the object, Paola mi ama - Paola loves me; or the complement, Io vivo per lei - I live for her. There are many kinds of pronouns: personal, possessive, demonstrative, interrogative and indefinite. For more on pronouns in Italian click here.

Io mangio

I eat

Paola mi ama

Paola loves me

Io vivo per lei

I live for her

Verbs are the core of the Italian language. They are words that refer to an action (andare - to go; mangiare - to eat) or to a state (essere - to be; stare - to stay; esistere - to exist). In Italian there are three classes of verbs, five moods and 21 tenses. For more on verbs in Italian click here.

If you want to find out more about verb conjugations in Italian then check this lesson out!

andare

to go

mangiare

to eat

essere

to be

stare

to stay

esistere

to exist

Italian Adverbs

An adverb is a word that tells you how or where or when an action is done, for example:

Lui andò di sotto

He went downstairs

Domani andremo a nuotare

Tomorrow we will go to swim

Lei sorrise gentilmente

She smiled gently

Prepositions are words that show position in relation to space or time, or that introduce a complement. The main prepositions in Italian are listed below. For a more in-depth look at Italian prepositions click here.

di

La casa di Paola

Paola’s house

a

Io vado a casa

I go (to) home

da

Il treno viene da Milano

The train comes from Milan

in

La mamma è in Italia

The mother is in Italy

con

Io vivo con Paola

I live with Paola

su

La penna è sul tavolo

The pen is on the table

per

Il regalo è per te

The gift is for you

tra/fra

La banca è tra il supermercato e la scuola

The bank is between the supermarket and the school

Italian Conjunctions

Conjunctions are words that link to other words or to a group of words. Like e - and, ma - but, se - if.

Il cane e il gatto

The dog and the cat

Sono stanco, ma vengo

I am tired, but I'm coming

Se vuoi, puoi dormire qui

If you want, you can sleep here

The Auxiliary Verbs: Essere and Avere

Essere and avere can be used as common verb, with the meanings of to be and to have, but also they can be auxiliary verbs, io ho comprato - I have bought.

io ho comprato

I have brought

Essere:

io sono

I am

tu sei

you are

lui/lei/Lei è

he/she is

noi siamo

we are

voi siete

you are

loro sono

they are

Avere:

io ho

I have

tu hai

you have

lui/lei/Lei ha

he/ she has

noi abbiamo

we have

voi avete

you have

loro hanno

they have

In the formal situation, the 2nd person is substituted with the 3rd person Lei.

Some special cases:

Luigi ha 30 anni

Luigi is 30 years old

Io ho freddo

I am cold

Avete fame?

Are you hungry?

Italian Grammar Rules Summary

  • There are seven main categories in Italian: articles, nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, prepositions and conjunctions.
  • Adjectives and nouns have a specific form for the masculine and for the feminine, for singular and plural
  • Verbs are the core of the Italian language
  • Some prepositions can be contracted with the articles
  • Essere and avere are the Italian auxiliary verbs.

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