Conjugations of the verb -essere (to be)

Essere is probably the most used Italian verb. It is an irregular verb (verbo irregolare, in Italian), as it does not follow a predictable pattern of conjugation. But there is no reason to be scared! In this article, we will study everything you need to know in order to master this very important verb. In a very short time, you will learn all the most common conjugations of the verb essere. This will really make you sound as a true Italian!

The most used conjugations of the verb essere

Studying Italian verb requires commitment and dedication. Thus, you may decide to approach Italian grammar by learning first the most used conjugations of verbs, at least until you are ready to explore something more complex. This is why we decide to put together all the most common conjugation of the verb essere, ready to be studied and memorised!

Remember that in Italian the use of personal pronouns with verbs is not always required, because the form of the verb itself indicates who the action is referring to.

Nominal forms

Indicativo

  • Io sono americano (I am American, indicativo)
  • Maria era molto arrabbiata (Maria was very hungry, imperfetto)
  • Sei sicuro che sarai felice? (Are you sure that you will be happy? – indicativo + future semplice)

Conjunctivo-Condizionale

  • Credi che lui sia felice? (Do you believe he is happy? – congiuntivo)
  • Sarei onorato di lavorare con voi (I would be glad to work with you – condizionale)

How to use the verb essere

1. Introduce someone

  • Sono Marco (I am Marco)
  • Lei è mia moglie (She is my wife)
  • Questo è il mio cane (This is my dog)

2. To indicate where someone is from

Just as in English, in Italian you can express the city of origin of someone or something by just using the verb essere.

  • Lui è francese (He is French)
  • Di dove sei? (Where are you from?)

3. Possession

In English, we use apostrophe to indicate possession in forming the so-called possessive case. In Italian, you can just use the verb essere.

  • Questa borsa è di Maria (this bag is Maria’s).

Study tip! To find out the owner of something, you must ask Di chi è + singular or Di chi sono + plural

  • Di chi è questa chitarra? (Whose guitar is this?)
  • Di chi sono queste chitarre (Whose guitars are these?)

4. Talk about feelings

  • Carla era molto arrabbiata (Carla was very angry)
  • Sono stanca (I am tired)

5. Passive voices

In these constructions, the subject of the verb receives the action instead of doing it.

  • Il biscotto è stato mangiato dal cane (The cookie was eaten by my dog)
  • Non credo che la lezione sia stata compresa dagli studenti (I don’t believe that the lesson has been understood by the students)

6. Other expression used with essere

  • Essere in ritardo (to be late)

“Dov’è Andrea?” “E’ in ritardo come al solito!” (“Where is Andrea?” “He is late as usual”)

  • Essere contrario a qualcosa (to be against something)

Siamo contrari ad ogni tipo discriminazione! (We are against every kind of discrimination!)

  • Essere in pensione (to be retired)

Tuo nonno è già in pensione? (Is your grandpa already retired?)

Now that you know how to properly use the verb essere, you are ready to learn how to form some compound tenses! Don’t forget to check our articles about how to form compound tenses and about the verb avere, the second most used Italian auxiliary verb!

 

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