“Verbs are the backbone of the language” said a wonderful teacher once and it’s true! We can’t pretend that you can manage without them. There’s nothing to get stressed out about in learning verb endings because regular verbs follow a pattern.

Last week, we looked at the tu [“familiar” you], Lei [formal “you”] and voi [plural you] forms (How to say "you" in Italian).

This week, let’s look at the other present tense forms:
Do you remember that, with a regular –are verb like cantare, to sing, we first take the –are off? Ok, let’s do that. We’re left with cant-. To this we add these endings:

o for the io [I] form - canto

iamo for the noi [we] form - cantiamo

ano for the loro [they] form – cantano

So now we can put together the whole verb in the present tense. We don’t really need to put the subject pronouns as the endings tell us who is doing the action:

  • [io] canto – I sing / am singing

  • [tu] canti – you [familiar] are singing

  • [Lei/lei/lui] canta – You [formal] / she / he sings / are / is singing

  • [noi] cantiamo – we sing / are singing

  • [voi] cantate – you sing / are singing

  • [loro] cantano – they sing / are singing

The stress is on the first syllable of the verb in the first three and the last forms. It is on the third syllable in the noi form and the second in the voi form.

Once you can put together one – are regular verb, you can do them all, so try producing the present tense of parlare – to speak.

Now let’s use some –are verbs. Can you add the right endings to these? (click on the space to see the correct answer)

This will open a pop-up window containing the answer. If it doesn't work you may either have Javascript or Pop-up windows disabled or the page needs refreshing


  • Il film cominci_ alle 21.00 [cominciare – to begin. Use the lei / lui form.]

  • Dove lavor_, Giulia? [lavorare – to work. Use the tu form.]

  • Lavor_ in un ufficio. [Use the io form.]

  • Parl_ _ _ italiano? [Use the voi form.]

  • Si, parl_ _ _ _ italiano. [Use the noi form.]

  • Susan e David, parl_ _ _ italiano? [Use the loro form.]

  • Si, parl_ _ _ italiano. [Use the loro form.]

  • Parl_ inglese? [Use the formal you form.]

  • Vasco Rossi cant_ a Londra. [Use the lei/lui form.]

  • I bambini litig_ _ _ [litigare – to argue. Use the loro form.]

Note to non-beginners: one thing at a time! The Italian present continuous form with stare will come later!

Video of the song "Io canto" by Laura Pausini