As part of my irregular present tense verb series, today we are going to look at a very common irregular present tense verb - ‘bere’ - which means ‘to drink’.
A verb is a doing or action word and we need to use them to speak Italian correctly. Here you can see three example sentences with the verb ‘bere’:
Io bevo una birra - I drink a beer
Tu bevi un succo di frutta - You drink a fruit juice
Noi beviamo un espresso - We drink an espresso
Italian verbs are grouped into three types, -are verbs, -ere verbs and -ire verbs. At Italy Magazine we have covered these regular present tense verbs so you can read all about them. Regular verbs follow a pattern. Irregular verbs, on the other hand, don’t follow one pattern. You just have to learn each irregular verb individually. You may already have done this with two very common irregular verbs – ‘essere’ (to be) and ‘avere’ – (to have). If you need a reminder, have a look here and here.
So, returning the verb ‘bere’ (to drink) - see it in full below:
Io bevo - I drink
Tu bevi - You (singular) drink
Lui / lei beve - He / she drinks
Noi beviamo - We drink
Voi bevete - You (plural) drink
Loro bevono - They drink
As you can see, the endings are the same as regular -ere verbs. It’s the beginning of the word which is different, in grammar terms this is called the root.
Here are some sentences using the verb ‘bere’:
Io bevo un cappuccino ogni mattina - I drink a cappuccino every morning
Tu bevi troppo - You drink too much
Lui non beve mai - He never drinks
Lei beve molti caffè - She drinks lots of coffees
Noi beviamo spesso l’aranciata - We often drink fizzy orange
Voi bevete il digestivo dopo la cena - You drink a digestif after dinner
Loro bevono il vino rosso - They drink red wine
There are some fun Italian expressions using this irregular verb. They are idiomatic expressions, which means they can’t be translated word for word into English. You just translate the sense and learn them. You can then use them when speaking with Italians, as it brings colour and life to your language.
Bere come una spugna
Literal meaning: to drink like a sponge
Real meaning: to drink in excess. In English, it would be ‘to drink like a fish’.
O bere o affogare
Literal meaning: to drink or to drown
Real meaning: a choice between two difficult options. This could be translated in English as ‘to sink or swim’, or even ‘to like it or lump it’.
È facile come bere un bicchiere d’acqua
Literal meaning: it’s as easy as drinking a glass of water
Real meaning: it’s extremely easy and simple. In English this would be ‘it’s a piece of cake’, ‘it’s as easy as pie’, or even ‘it’s plain sailing’.