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Verb Drills 2 - Lesson 1

All about Essere

After this class you should;
Be able to conjugate the verb Essere in
Simple and compound indicative tenses as well as
Simple and compound subjunctive tenses
And the imperative and conditional
Use a vocabulary to describe verbs and their tenses in Italian


As I do with most everything I look at the division of tenses a little differently than most do. Technically speaking the correct way to categorize the various tenses would be;

Definite - Indicative, Imperative, Conditional and then subjunctive
Indefinite - Infinitive, Participle and the gerund

For the purposes of this lesson I look first at what I call simple tenses (non subjunctive) meaning no auxiliary verb and then move on to the participle and compound tenses which are made from simple tenses and the participle. Then I handle the subjunctive the same way. The infinitive is in the title and I leave the gerund for the lessons on the progressive tenses.

For most of you these first four tenses should be almost more of a review;

il tempo presente il tempo imperfetto il tempo futuro il tempo passato remoto
I am
you are
he/she is
we are
you are
they are
I was being
you used to be
he/she used to be
we were being
y’all used to be
they were being
I will be
you will be
he/she will be
we will be
y’all will be
they will be
I was
you were
he/she was
we were
y’all were
they were

The imperative should also be more of a review while the conditional may be new. Remember with the imperative, we don’t look at it like; I, you, he/she, we, y’all and they – Instead it is listed as; You, us, y’all (informal) and then you, y’all (formal). There is no “I” with the imperative tense.

il tempo imperativo il tempo condizionale
Lets be!
I would be
you would be
he/she would be
we would be
y’all would be
they would be

participio passato - Singular; stato (M), stata (F), - Plural; stati (M), state (F)

Now we’ll look at the compound tenses. If you have the simple tenses that we have covered so far committed to memory along with the past participle options then these four are a breeze. Basically they amount to review and combining what we already know.

il tempo passato prossimo il tempo trapassato prossimo
sono stato /a
sei stato /a
è stato /a
siamo stati /e
siete stati /e
sono stati /e
I have been
you have been
he/she has been
we have been
y’all have been
they have been
ero stato /a
eri stato /a
era stato /a
eravamo stati /e
eravate stati
erano stati /e
I had been
you had been
he/she had been
we had been
y’all had been
they had been

Once you get it – how to construct the compound tenses then the options just keep growing. Check out these next two! Once again, if you study and memorize the simple tenses and past participles then these become very easy.

il tempo condizionale passato il tempo futuro anteriore
sarei stato /a
saresti stato /a
sarebbe stato /a
saremmo stati /e
sareste stati /e
sarebbero stati /e
I would have been
you would have been
he/she would have been
we would have been
y’all would have been
they would have been
sarò stato /a
sarai stato /a
sarà stato /a
saremo stati /e
sarete stati /e
saranno stati /e
I will have been
you will have been
he/she will have been
we will have been
y’all will have been
they will have been

Ok, now let’s look at two more simple tenses in a different mood, the subjunctive. We are not going to go into all that these tenses involve and when to use them as that is an entire lesson in itself and is already available online. It is also covered in verb drills II. So here we go!

Congiuntivo Presente Congiuntivo Imperfetto
that I am
that you are
that he/she is
that we are
that y’all are
that they are
that I would be / could be / was / to be
that you would be / could be / was / to be
that he/she would be / could be / was / to be
that we would be / could be / was / to be
that y’all would be / could be / was / to be
that they would be / could be / was / to be

Now let’s look at the compound tenses in the subjunctive – how to construct the compound tenses is exactly the same. You simply use the simple tenses in the subjunctive mood and past participles that you already learned! Once again, don’t get hung up on the meaning, translation or use of the subjunctive mood. We cover that in detail in a series of lessons just for that mood where we can really spend the time explaining and understanding it.

Congiutivo passato Congiuntivo trapassato
Sia stato /a
Sia stato /a
Sia stato /a
Siamo stati /e
Siate stati /e
Siano stati /e
That I was / have been
That you were / have been
That he/she was / has been
That we were / have been
That y’all were / have been
That they were / have been
Fossi stato /a
Fossi stato /a
Fosse stato /a
Fossimo stati /e
Foste stati /e
Fossero stati /e
That I had been
That you had been
That he/she had been
That we had been
That y’all had been
That they had been

Class PDF

basic online exercise
advanced online exercise


verb tenses
present progressive
past progressive
remote past
present perfect
past perfect
past conditional
i tempi dei verbi
presente progressivo
passato progressivo
passato remoto
passato prossimo
trapassato prossimo
condizionale passato
imperfect subjunctive
past subjunctive
past perfect subjunctive
reflexive verb
past participle
future perfect
to conjugate
congiuntivo imperfetto
congiuntivo passato
congiuntivo trapassato
verbo riflessivo
participio passato
futuro anteriore

Printable Vocabulary
Printable large flash cards (English Side)
Printable large flash cards (Italian Side)
Printable small flash cards (English Side)
Printable small flash cards (Italian Side)
Downloadable Podcast
basic online exercise
(Italian to English)
(English to Italian)
printable crossword


Domenic: Questo è il Gianicolo. Il Gianicolo è una collina di Roma, non appartiene ai sette colli. Potete vedere Piazza Venezia, il monumento alla Piatra, potete vedere la Sinagoga, dove porterò domani Chuck. Quello è il Ghetto, il più antico ghetto ebraico al mondo: la parola ghetto viene dall'italiano, è un quartiere di Venezia dove c'erano le fonderie, dove si fondeva il metallo e molti ebrai che erano stati cacciati dal nord Europa si erano rifuggiati nella Repubblica di Venezia, erano assistiti e ben voluti dalla Repubblica di Venezia, però loro parlavano una lingua che non era dolce come l'italiano, quindi la g, la dicevano gh, non dicevano getto, ma dicevano ghetto. Getto significa uscire, gettare. Queste fonderie, che fondevano appunto il metallo, da questa parola “getto”, pronunciata “ghetto”, viene fuori il ghetto ebraico.

Chuck: si scrive ghe?

Domenic: si in italiano si scrive così, però prima era scritto “getto”, ge; però i tedeschi, gli ebrei tedeschi, quelli del nord Europa che venivano in Italia, pronunciavano “gh”, non pronunciavano “g”, perché non avevano questo suono. E questa è Roma. Adesso andiamo in un altro posto molto più bello sotto. Lì c'è l'ambasciata di Spagna, quella lì con il campanile, lo vedi? Dove siamo passati prima.

Printable Video Dialog
Printable Practice Sheets
printable comprehension crossword

useful Italian phrase;

In bocca al lupo!
Good luck!
(very strong form like
"break a leg")

Class Dialog

Learn how to say everything below in Italian paying particular attention to the different tenses of "to be" used here. Then print out and bring the printable form of this dialog and be prepared to say the dialog below as one of the persons in class.

Hello, Bob?
This is Bob, may I help you?
Bob, I am Peter, your neighbor. Where are you?
I am in Rome.
Rome? When will you be home? And why are you in Rome?
I hope to be home tomorrow and I am in Rome because I had come here when I was a child. My relatives used to be in Italy.
I hope that you are home tomorrow also. I have never been in Italy. Ranee has been to Italy 5 times. She thought that I had been in Italy but I had not.
I wouldn’t have been in Italy so many times if I didn’t have family here. If I had family in Hawaii, I would be there right now! Would you be in Hawaii if you could be there?
I am sure that by the time I turn 30 I will have been in Hawaii. Well I have to go now.
Peter, why did you call?
Oh ya Bob, Be strong! Your house burned down.
My house burned down? Well it could be worse.
It is, it burned down because you truck blew up when you new boat hit it. That is when the police found all of your illegal fireworks
How did my boat hit it?
Sorry Bob, I have to go now. I am busy, busy busy!

printable class dialog

You can learn more about the verb "essere" on these pages of the following books.

396 - 398 (page #'s may vary as I have an older edition) of "Ciao" by Carla Federici & Carla Larese Riga, copyright 1986.
247 of the book "Complete Italian Grammar" by Marcel Dansesi, copyright 1976.
50 - 51 of the book "Italian Verb Drills" (Third Edition) by Paola Nanni-Tate, copyright 2011.

If you do not own these books, don't worry, it is not mandatory that you do unless you were instructed to buy them at the beginning of the class. However, they can be very useful in a lot of ways and if you would like to know more about these books and where to buy them, simply go to our online bookstore or quicker yet, just click on the appropriate book below.

Did you know?

"The name Italy comes from the word italia, meaning “calf land,” perhaps because the bull was a symbol of the Southern Italian tribes.

This information obtained from http://facts.randomhistory.com/2009/05/14_italy.html

Have you heard?

Quando una stella muore by Giorgia is another beautiful song to add to the list that this Italian Singer has done so beautifully. In addition the pace at which it is sung is nearly perfect for the student trying to comprehend. Listen closely and see how much of this song you can understand the first time listening!

This and many other
great songs are available on --->

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