Italian grammar

Practise or improve your Italian grammar with clear grammar explanations

Language; parts of speech; simple, compound and complex sentences; italian alphabet; monosyllabic and polysyllabic words; hyphenation and punctuation rules; word formations; formal and informal register.

Parts of speech

Verbs are words that describe an action, a state of being or a quality. In Italian, verbs can be transitive or intransitive or both. Transitive verbs are linked to a direct object, that receives the action of the verb. Intransitive verbs can not use any direct object. Transitive verbs have active and passive voices. Intransitive verbs have only active voice. Many verbs in Italian are reflexive and pronominal: they can easily be identified by the use of reflexive pronouns.
There are four finite moods (indicative, conditional, subjunctive and imperative) and three indefinite moods (infinitive, participle and gerund). Each mood has more than one tense, except the imperative that only has a present tense. The tenses are simple or compound. Simple tenses are made removing the infinitive endings (-are, -ere, -ire) and adding the endings for the corresponding subject. Compound tenses are made of an auxiliary verb (to be or to have) and the past participle.

Nouns refer to people, places, animals, objects and concepts. In Italian, all nouns have a gender (masculine or feminine) and a number (singular or plural). In most cases, you can recognise a noun’s gender and number by its ending or, if present, by the preceeding article.

Pronouns are used as a substitution for a noun already mentioned or known.
Personal pronouns refer to specific individuals and groups. There are four types of personal pronouns: subject pronouns, reflexive pronouns, object pronouns (direct and indirect) and complement pronouns. Reflexive pronouns are used as either the object in a sentence (reflexive verbs) or to add emphasis (pronominal verbs).
Interrogative pronouns are used to ask open questions about identity, choice, quantity.
Demonstrative pronouns refer to objects or people that are either near or far away.
Possessive pronouns show who has a particular relationship (of possession, kinship, friendship, etc.) with what is expressed by the noun they replace.
Indefinite pronouns are used to refer to a person, animal or thing that doesn’t need to be specifically identified.

Interjections are words that express a spontaneous feeling such as surprise, disgust, joy, excitement, or enthusiasm.

Articles are used before a noun.
The definite article is used before a specific or previously mentioned noun, but also when referring to general concepts.
The indefinite article is used before a noun to define it as something generic.
The partitive article is placed before an uncountable noun or to introduce an unknown amount.

Adjectives can identify a noun (quella casa) or express a quality (una grande casa) or can be linked to some type of verbs (la casa è grande). In Italian, most adjectives agree in gender and number with the noun they modify.

Adverbs are used to add more information about a verb, an adjective, another adverb, or an entire sentence.
Adverbs of manner describe how and in what way the action of a verb is carried out.
Adverbs of place tell us where something happens.
Adverbs of time tell us when something happens.
Interrogative adverbs are used to form direct questions and indirect questions.
Adverbs of affirmation, negation and doubt declare something true or doubtful or make a negative statement.
Connecting or linking adverbs are useful to explain the connection between events or ideas.

A preposition is generally used before a noun or a pronoun. Moreover, some verbs and adjectives are followed by a certain preposition. In Italian, there are primary (e.g. a, di, da) and secondary (e.g. sopra, sotto, dentro) prepositions, prepositions combined with definite articles (e.g. al, del, dal) and prepositional phrases (e.g. prima di, davanti a). Preposition usage follows some rules but it is also dictated by fixed expressions.

Conjunctions are used to connect words and sentences. Coordinating conjunctions connect two words or two sentences. Subordinating conjunctions introduce a subordinate clause.


A simple sentence is a sentence containing an independent clause. Any clause needs at least one predicate. Moreover, a clause may contain a subject, an object, etc.

A compound sentence joins at least two independent clauses together. A complex sentence joins one independent clause and at least one dependent clause.


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