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carla1604Tuesday 10th of May 2005 07:07:43 PM
Italian grammar - beginners - Hello everyone,
I think it might be helpful, especially for beginners, to recall some grammar basics.
I'll post to this thread explanations about basic italian grammar. Your questions are welcome :)

We'll start with two useful verbs: essere and avere.

present tense of essere (to be)

[color=blue]io sono - i am
tu sei - you are
lui/lei/esso è - he/she/it is
noi siamo - we are
voi siete - you are
essi sono - they are[/color]

present tense of avere (to have)

[color=green]io ho - i have
tu ha - you have
lui/lei/esso ha - he/she/it has
noi abbiamo - we have
voi avete - you have
essi hanno - they have[/color]

Like in English, in Italian the verbs essere and avere can be used:
1. alone (to mean ‘to be’ and ‘to have’ )
Io sono Italiana - I am Italian
Io ho un gatto - I have a cat

2. as auxiliaries to form compound verb tenses.
Oggi sono andata al lavoro presto - Today I went to work early
Ieri sera ho guardato la televisione - Last night I watched TV

Present tense of essere and avere are used in many idiomatic expressions that can’t be translated litterally.
Here are some:

C’è, ci sono = There is, There are
Oggi c’è il sole = Today the weather is sunny, today is a sunny day
C’è un gatto che gioca nel giardino = There is a cat playing in the garden
A Roma in questo periodo ci sono molti turisti = In Rome at this time of the year there are many tourists
E’ un’ora che aspetto = I’ve been waiting for an hour
Sono due anni che studio l’Italiano = I’ve been studying Italian for two years
E’ molto tempo che non ci sentiamo = It’s been ages since I haven’t heard of you

Avere fame, avere sete = to be hungry, to be thirsty
Avere ragione, avere torto = to be right, to be wrong
Avere bisogno = to need
Avere voglia = to feel like
Avere freddo, avere caldo = to be cold, to be hot
Avere paura = to be afraid
Avere sonno = to be sleepy
Avere fretta = to be in a hurry
Avere 20/35/50 anni = to be 20/35/50 year-old

latharaThursday 19th of May 2005 02:23:12 PM
tenses - I ofen get confused when choosing imperfetto and passato prossimo.
If i was to discribe what i did yesterday, that would be passato? But if i did something yesterday and it continues to effect me, is that when i use imperfetto...i get confused.

carla1604Friday 20th of May 2005 03:50:33 AM
Passato prossimo and imperfetto - Hi Lathara,
Here's my explanation. I hope I made things clear. If not, feel free to ask agani ;)

The most common past tenses in Italian are: Passato prossimo, passato remoto and imperfetto.

To report past events, both passato prossimo and passato remoto are used, but passato prossimo is more common in spoken language, while passato remoto is used in novels and written texts in general, so, unless you want read a novel, you can skip it for now.
Examples of passato prossimo
‘Ieri [color=blue]sono andata [/color] al cinema’ – ‘Yesterday I went to the movies’
‘L’anno scorso [color=blue]ho fatto[/color] un viaggio in Italia’ – ‘Last year I travelled to Italy’

Imperfetto is used:
1. when referring to usual, routine actions, like the English ‘use to…’.
‘Quando [color=green]ero[/color] studente [color=green]arrivavo[/color] sempre tardi a scuola’ – ‘When I was a student, I used to be late at school’
2. for descriptions
‘Ieri c’[color=green]era[/color] il sole e [color=green]faceva[/color] caldo’ – ‘Yesterday the weather was sunny and warm’
3. when referring to simultaneous actions
‘Mentre [color=green]andavo[/color] a casa ho incontrato un mio amico’ - ‘While I was going home, I met a friend of mine’

Here is a little exercise to practice. passato prossimo and imperfetto.
In the following text, fill in the blanks with the appropriate tense (passato prossimo or imperfetto). Put the verbs in 1st person singular (io).

Ieri ________________(svegliarsi) alle 8 e mezzo. _______(Piovere). Siccome ___ (essere) tardi, _________(chiedere) a mio padre di accompagnarmi a scuola, ma la sua macchina ___ (essere) senza benzina, così __________ (dovere) prendere l’autobus.
Mentre _________ (aspettare) l’autobus alla fermata, ________ (vedere) passare un mio amico in moto, e gli __________ (chiedere) un passaggio, così _____________ (arrivare) in orario.

To make things more easy, here’s the English translation:
Yesterday I woke up at 8:30 am. It was raining. Since it was late, I asked my father to take me to school by car, but his car was out of gas, so I had to take the bus.
While I was at the bus stop waiting for the bus, I saw a friend of mine going by (?) on his motorbike, and I asked him for a lift, so I arrived at school on time.
(If you find mistakes in my English sentences, please send me a PM, I’ll correct them).


oviaukkoSunday 26th of June 2005 01:04:38 AM
- i've always been tought loro instead of essi. what's the difference there, is one more informal maybe?

and another thing, are you going to continue posting these basic grammar lessons? it'd be wonderful as my italian is very very rusty.


carla1604Sunday 26th of June 2005 05:29:01 AM
Loro - Essi - Hi Hazel,
The words essi, egli and ella are subject pronouns (the same as the English they, he and she), while loro, lui and lei are object pronouns (like the English them, him and her).

Nowadays, the pronouns essi, egli and ella are very little used, because in everyday speech people tend to replace them with loro, lui and lei, even when they act as subjects. You will only find essi, egli and ella in novels and literary pieces.