Regular and Irregular Verbs Ending in ‘-ere’

Fri, 07/09/2021 - 09:32
italian

We have seen recently that Italian verbs and their multiple forms are nothing to be afraid of! Regular verbs ending in –are follow a pattern, so once you memorize it, conjugation becomes a piece of cake. The same works for another group of Italian verbs—those ending in –ere. Here we’ll go over how to conjugate them and how beginners can avoid common mistakes.

Regular -ere Verbs

Let’s start with the regular verb “vivere” (to live) and look at its present tense forms. As with the verbs ending in –are, we take off the –ere ending and are left with viv-. Then we add:

(io) viv-o   I live/I’m living
(tu) viv-i   you [familiar] live/are living
(Lei/lei/lui) viv-e   she/he lives/is living
(noi) viv-iamo we live/are living
(voi) viv-ete you live/are living
(loro) viv-ono they live/are living

 

The stress in the infinitive (the form of the verb that corresponds to the “to” form in English) is on the first syllable, in this case vivere. The stress is on the first syllable of the verbs in the first three and the last forms. It’s on the third syllable for the “noi” form and the second for the “voi” form.

Remember that when building a sentence, we don’t really need to put the subject pronouns before the verb as the endings tell us who is doing the action.

Vivo in Italia da cinque anni.” – I’ve been living in Italy for five years.

Viviamo vicino alla stazione.” – We live near the train station.

Da quanti anni vivete a Torino?” – How long have you been living in Turin?

Some –ere verbs have the stress on the letter “e” of the ending in the infinitive, eg., vedere – to see. 

(io) vedo I see/am seeing
(tu) vedi you  [familiar] see/are seeing
(Lei/lei/lui) vede she/he sees/is seeing
  you [formal] see/are seeing
(noi) vediamo  we see/are seeing
(voi) vedete   you see/are seeing
(loro) vedono they see/are seeing


As always, any rule has exceptions and if there are regular verbs in -ere, there must be irregular ones. Their conjugation is slightly different, but it has common characteristics.

Scegliere [she-ljee-e-reh] – to choose Spegnere [spe-njee-e-reh] – to turn off
(io) scelgo [shel-goh] (io) spengo
(tu) scegli   (tu) spegni
(Lei/lei/lui) sceglie   (Lei/lei/lui) spegne
(noi) scegliamo   (noi) spegniamo
(voi) scegliete (voi) spegnete
(loro) scelgono (loro) speng

 

Che pizza scegli?” – Which kind of pizza do you choose?

Dai, scegliamo un film per stasera!” – Come on, let’s choose a movie for tonight.

Valentina non spegne mai la luce nella sua stanza!” – Valentina never turns the light off in her room!

Non spengo la luce di notte” – I don’t turn the light off at night.

As you can see, the endings are just the same, but in the first and and the last form “gl” becomes “lg”, and “gn” becomes “ng”.

Verbs like tenere, rimanere, etc. are conjugated similarly.

Tenere [te-ne-reh] – to hold, to keep Rimanere [ree-ma-ne-reh] – to stay
(io) tengo (io) rimango
(tu) tieni   (tu) rimani
(Lei/lei/lui) tiene   (Lei/lei/lui) rimane
(noi) teniamo (noi) rimaniamo
(voi) tenete    (voi) rimanete
(loro) tengono (loro) rimangono

 

“Ci tengo molto a te.” – I really care about you.

“Tieni, questo regalo è per te.” – Take it, this gift is for you.

Rimaniamo per un paio di giorni.” – We are staying for a couple of days.

Let’s take the verb bere (to drink) as another example This verb is a bit different from those listed above. Bere comes from the latin verb “bevere”, so to conjugate it correctly, we take off the ending –ere from this original verb and add:

(io) bevo
(tu) bevi
(Lei/lei/lui) beve
(noi) beviamo
(voi) bevete
(loro) bevono

 

Ci beviamo un bicchiere di vino?” – Maybe we can have a glass of wine together?”

Non bevo latte” – I don’t drink milk.

Did you realize that the endings are always the same? Exercising regularly will help your brain to bring conjugation to perfection and you will do it automatically.

However, there is a group of Italian verbs that don’t follow the same rules and just have to be learned by heart: the modal verbs. These verbs are used extremely frequently in everyday life, so it’s useful to learn them as soon as possible: volere, potere, dovere, and sapere. 

Volere [vo-le-reh] – to want Potere [po-te-reh] – can
(io) voglio (io) posso
(tu) vuoi (tu) puoi
(Lei/lei/lui) vuole (Lei/lei/lui) può
(noi) vogliamo (noi) possiamo
(voi) volete     (voi) potete
(loro) vogliono (loro) possono

 

“Le ragazze vogliono andare a ballare stasera.” – The girls want to go dancing tonight.

Puoi chiudere la porta, per favore?” – Can you close the door, please?

Dovere [do-ve-reh] – must Sapere [sa-pe-reh] – to know
(io) devo (io) so
(tu) devi   (tu) sai
(Lei/lei/lui) deve (Lei/lei/lui) sa
(noi) dobbiamo (noi) sappiamo
(voi) dovete (voi) sapete
(loro) devono  (loro) sanno

 

“Devo chiamare mia mamma.” – I must call my mom. 

“Non sappiamo cosa fare questo fine settimana.” – We don’t know what to do this weekend.

Practice Your -ere Verbs

Now see if you can put the right form of the verb in brackets into these sentences! (Click on the space to see the pop-up window containing the answer).

L'Italia [vincere] i Mondiali. Vince
[Io][scrivere] una lettera. Scrivo
[Noi] [prendere] il treno. Prendiamo
Mio marito [vendere] i cellulari. Vende
I ragazzi non [rispondere]. Rispondono
[Voi][prendere] il tè, signori? Prendete
Tu[leggere] il giornale? Leggi
[Lei] [prendere] un caffè, signora?Prende
[Noi] ci [vedere] domani. Vediamo
I politici[discutere] la situazione. Discutono
[Lei][bere] solo il vino bianco. Beve
[Noi] non [sapere] ancora cosa cucinare stasera. Sappiamo
[Io][dovere] andare adesso. Devo
[Tu][volere] prendere un gelato? Vuoi
[Voi][potere] fare quello che volete. Potete

 

As you can see, the conjugation of Italian verbs is quite manageable. Pay attention, however, because some verbs are regular in the present tense but have irregular forms in other tenses. We will address this subject another time. For now, stay tuned to learn how to conjugate Italian verbs ending in –ire and many other things about the Italian language coming soon!

 

(Note: This article was originally written for Italy Magazine by Pat Eggleton on June 3th 2010. It has been updated and expanded.)

 

This language article is curated by the expert instructors from L'Italiano Porticando Italian language and culture school located in the heart of historic Turin. Accredited by the ASILS (Association of Schools Teaching Italian as a Second Language), L'Italiano Porticando offers individual and group lessons, themed courses, and cultural classes on everything from Italian cinema to Turin’s famed chocolate.