20 Italian Irregular Verbs You Need to Learn 

Welcome to the intriguing world of Italian irregular verbs! The Italian language, known for its melodic rhythm and emotional expressions, is as enchanting as the nation itself. One of our linguistic gems are the irregular verbs, which break away from the monotonous regularity of their counterparts, adding zest to the language.

The Italian language is home to countless verbs that defy standard patterns, posing a challenge for learners. And I’ll be honest with you, if I were to start learning Italian from scratch, I think irregular verbs would be one of the most difficult aspects. However, it’s all part of the journey towards mastering the language! 

In this article I will cover 20 of the most common Italian irregular verbs in the present tense. For ease, I’ve organized them based on the type of irregularity.

irregular verbs in italian

Understanding irregular verbs in Italian

Italian irregular verbs can be a bit tricky to handle. Unlike regular verbs that follow a predictable conjugation pattern, irregular verbs do not conform to any set rule. And while every language has its share of irregular verbs, Italian stands out as one of the languages with the highest number of them.

From everyday verbs like essere (to be) and avere (to have) to the lesser-known nuocere (to be harmful) and giacere (to lie), you’ll see that irregular verbs are everywhere in Italian, providing intrigue and surprise.

While irregular verbs might appear intimidating at first glance, don’t despair! Sure, at the beginning you’ll have to memorise them and try to use them as often as possible. But with a little effort and lots of attention, you’ll soon discover that even these rule-breakers have their own patterns. To get started, try committing a few of these verbs to memory and put them into practice as often as you can. Before you know it, you’ll sound like a pro!

asian boy screaming while doing homework
Don’t be afraid of irregular Italian verbs!

The irregularities of Italian auxiliary verbs

The auxiliary verbs essere (to be) and avere (to have) play a crucial role in constructing sentences in Italian. While they are essential, they have unique conjugation patterns, which must be memorized for effective use in spoken and written Italian.


Essere (to be)

io sono
tu sei
lui / lei è
noi siamo
voi siete
loro sono

  • Paolo è un insegnante. = Paolo is a teacher.
  • Di dove siete? = Where do you come from?

Avere (to have)

io ho
tu hai
lui / lei ha
noi abbiamo
voi avete
loro hanno

  • Abbiamo fretta. = We are in a hurry.
  • Quanti anni hai? = How old are you?

Italian irregular modal verbs  

Modal verbs allow us to express things like obligation, possibility, and desire, and they are followed by infinitive verbs. Despite being used all the time, they’re hard to master since they don’t follow normal verb conjugation rules.


Volere (to want)

io voglio
tu vuoi
lui / lei vuole
noi vogliamo
voi volete 
loro vogliono

  • Voglio comprare un abito nuovo. = I want to buy a new dress.
  • Vogliamo andare a vivere fuori città. = We want to move out of town.

Potere (to be able to / can)

io posso
tu puoi
lui / lei può
noi possiamo
voi potete
loro possono

  • Posso uscire con i miei amici questa sera? = Can I go out with my friends tonight?
  • Puoi aiutarmi a preparare una festa a sorpresa per Giacomo? = Can you help me throw Giacomo a surprise party?

Dovere (to have to / must)

io devo
tu devi
lui / lei deve
noi dobbiamo
voi dovete
loro devono

  • Devo lavorare fino a tardi stasera. = I have to work late tonight.
  • Non dovete bere alcolici se guidate la macchina. = You mustn’t drink alcohol when you are driving.

Italian irregular verbs with stem changes

Some irregular verbs in Italian undergo stem changes in conjugation, meaning that the verb’s root (or stem) changes in specific tenses. This change typically occurs for all subject pronouns, except for noi (we) and voi (you), which remain unchanged.


Andare (to go)

io vado
tu vai
lui / lei va
noi andiamo
voi andate
loro vanno

  • Andate a giocare con gli altri bambini. = Go play with the other kids.
  • Oggi vado al mare. = I’m going to the beach today.

Uscire (to go out)

io esco
tu esci
lui / lei esce
noi usciamo
voi uscite
loro escono

  • Mamma, stasera esco. = Mum, I’m going out tonight.
  • Uscite spesso insieme a loro? = Do you often go out with them?

Morire (to die)

io muoio
tu muori
lui / lei muore
noi moriamo
voi morite
loro muoiono

  • Muoio dalla voglia di andare in vacanza. = I can’t wait to go on holiday.
  • Tutte le mie piante muoiono, non capisco dove sbaglio. = All of my plants die, I don’t understand where I’m going wrong.

Other examples of verbs that change their stem include sedere (to sit) and udire (to hear).

Italian irregular verbs adding -isc to their stem

A number of Italian verbs in the third conjugation (i.e., ending in -ire) add the chunk -isc to all persons except the first and second person plural (noi and voi).


Finire (to finish)

io finisco
tu finisci
lui / lei finisce
noi finiamo
voi finite
loro finiscono

  • A che ora finiscono le lezioni. = What time do classes end?
  • Prima finisci di mangiare e poi puoi andare a giocare. = You can play after you finish eating.

Pulire (to clean)

io pulisco
tu pulisci
lui / lei pulisce
noi puliamo
voi pulite
loro puliscono

  • Puliscono le scale tutti i giorni. = They clean the stairs every day.
  • Pulisci la tua camera, altrimenti non esci! = You won’t be going out if you don’t clean your room.

Spedire (to send, to ship)

io spedisco
tu spedisci
lui / lei spedisce
noi spediamo
voi spedite
loro spediscono

  • Spedite anche all’estero. = Do you also ship abroad?
  • Ogni mese spediscono soldi alla famiglia. = They send money to their family every month.

Other common verbs in this category are capire (to understand), costruire (to build), preferire (to prefer), contribuire (to contribute), restituire (to return something), inserire (to insert), unire (to unite), dimagrire (to lose weight). 

Italian irregular verbs that add a -g 

And now, let’s take a look at some verbs that add the consonant -g in their conjugations with the pronouns io (I) and loro (them)


Venire (to come)

io vengo
tu vieni
lui / lei viene
noi veniamo
voi venite
loro vengono

  • Vengo in ufficio alle 10. = I’m coming to the office at 10.
  • Questi libri vengono da molto lontano. = These books come from very far away.

Rimanere (to stay, to remain)

io rimango
tu rimani
lui / lei rimane
noi rimaniamo
voi rimanete
loro rimangono

  • Rimango dalla mia amica stasera. = I’m staying at my friend’s place tonight.
  • Rimangono pochi biglietti per il concerto. = There are only a few tickets left for the concert.

Tenere (to hold, to keep)

io tengo
tu tieni
lui / lei tiene
noi teniamo
voi tenete
essi tengono

  • Tieni un attimo il bambino per favore? = Would you mind holding the baby for a moment?
  • Il progetto tiene conto delle esigenze dei nuovi inquilini. = The project considers the needs of the new tenants.

Other Italian verbs that add the consonant -g to the first person singular and the third person plural include accogliere (to welcome), valere (to be worth), and intrattenere (to entertain). 

Italian irregular verbs with spelling changes  

Occasionally, certain Italian verbs may exhibit slight spelling variations that may go unnoticed in speech but can cause raised eyebrows when seen in writing. For instance, they can take a double consonant with some pronouns.


Piacere (to please) 

io piaccio
tu piaci
lui / lei piace
noi piacciamo
voi piacete
loro piacciono

  • Mi piace viaggiare. = I like to travel.
  • I regali piacciono a tutti. = Everyone likes gifts.

Tacere (to be silent)

io taccio
tu taci
lui / lei tace
noi tacciamo
voi tacete
loro tacciono

  • Taccio per non dire cose che potrebbero ferire i tuoi sentimenti. = I stay silent to avoid hurting your feelings.
  • Tu taci sempre quando si discute di politica. = You’re always silent when it comes to politics.

Nuocere (to harm, to damage)

io nuoccio
tu nuoci
lui / lei nuoce
noi nuociamo
voi nuocete
loro nuocciono

  • Fumare nuoce gravemente alla salute. = Smoking is severely harmful to health.
  • Queste affermazioni nuocciono alla credibilità del governo. = These statements harm the government’s credibility.

Other common Italian verbs with spelling changes are si coniugano compiacere (to appease), giacere (to lie), and dispiacere (to be sorry).

Italian irregular verbs with contracted infinitives

Finally, some Italian verbs have really short infinitives, but when you conjugate them, they tend to get a bit longer and follow their own rules. 


Bere (to drink)

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

  • Bevo molto durante il giorno. = I drink a lot during the day.
  • Bevi un pò di vino! = Have some wine!

Dire (to say)

io dico
tu dici
lui / lei dice
noi diciamo
voi dite
loro dicono

  • Dite sempre così e poi non fate mai niente. = You always say that, but you never do anything.
  • Dicono che non serve la prenotazione. = They say that a reservation is not necessary.

Fare (to do, to make)

io faccio
tu fai
lui / lei fa
noi facciamo
voi fate
loro fanno

  • Faccio spesso yoga la mattina. = I often do yoga in the morning.
  • Fate attenzione a non perdere le chiavi. = Make sure you don’t lose the keys.

Other contracted infinitive verbs include dare (to give), porre (to put, but not as common as the verb mettere for this use), and trarre (to pull, to bring).

Valentina is a travel writer in love with her country. Having travelled widely around the globe, she realised there was more to explore closer to home and decided to put the passport aside for a while. You can follow her adventures around Italy on her blog myitaliandiaries.com

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