Essere (to be). Meaning and Conjugation

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Welcome to our Italian grammar course for beginners! Today we`re going to talk about the verb "essere".

The verb "essere" is an important and frequently used verb in Italian. It means "to be" in English.
Since it is the most commonly used verb in the language, learning the verb essere is essential in Italian.
"Essere" is also an irregular verb. That`s why we have to learn all its forms by heart because we have to use it when we want to use other tenses (eg Passato Prossimo - Present Perfect). Let`s see how "essere" is used in general phrases and conjugated.

You can listen to all phrases in Italian used in the article online by pressing the Play button:


Here`s an overview of its conjugation in the present tense:

Subject Essere (It.) To be (Eng.)
Io sono I am
Tu sei You are
Lui / Lei è He/She/It is
Noi siamo We are
Voi siete You are
Loro sono They are

Io sono italiano (I am Italian);
Tu sei studente (You are a student);
Lui è felice (He is happy);
Lei è stanca (She is tired);
Noi siamo in ritardo (We are late)
Voi siete amici (You all are friends)
Loro sono contenti (They are happy).

Usage of Essere

1. Identity: "Essere" is used to express one`s identity, nationality, or profession.
Sono un traduttore (I am a translator);
Sei americano? (Are you American?).

2. Characteristics: It is used to describe inherent characteristics or qualities of someone or something.
Lei è intelligente (She is intelligent);
Il cane è simpatico (The dog is nice).

3. Location: "Essere" is used to indicate the location of something or somebody.
La scuola è vicino al parco (The school is near the park);
Il ristorante è in centro (The restaurant is downtown).

4. Time: It is used to express the time, especially with the 24-hour clock.
Sono le dieci (It`s ten o`clock).

5. Feelings and States: "Essere" is used to express feelings, emotions, or states of being.
Sono felice (I am happy);
Siamo stanchi (We`re tired).

6. Existence: We use it to talk about the existence of somebody or something.
Ci sono molti libri nella biblioteca (There are many books in the library);
Sono problemi difficili (These are difficult problems).

7. Compound Tenses: "Essere" is also used as an auxiliary verb to make various compound tenses, such as the passato prossimo (present perfect) tense.
Sono andato/a al cinema ieri (I went to the cinema yesterday).
In this sentence, "sono andato/a" is the passato prossimo form of "essere" (io sono) combined with the past participle of the verb "andare" (andato/a). We will talk about it later.

Common expressions with "Essere"

Here are some common phrases with the word "essere" in Italian that you can use in conversation:

1. Sono di... (I am from...).
"Sono di Roma." (I am from Rome).

2. Sono felice / triste / arrabbiato/a (I am happy / sad / angry).
"Sono felice di vederti" (I am happy to see you).

3. Sono stanco/a / affamato/a (I am tired / hungry).
"Sono stanco dopo il lavoro" (I am tired after work).

4. Sono alto/a / basso/a (I am tall / short).
"Sono alto come mio padre" (I am tall like my father).

5. Sono italiano/a / francese / americano/a (I am Italian / French / American)
"Sono italiano, ma mia madre è francese" (I am Italian, but my mother is French).

6. Sono uno studente / un`architetto / un medico (I am a student / an architect / a doctor).
"Sono uno studente di medicina" (I am a medical student).

7. Sono in ritardo / in anticipo (I am late / early)
"Mi dispiace, sono in ritardo alla riunione" (I`m sorry, I am late for the meeting).

8. Sono qui / là (I am here / there).
"Sono qui per aiutarti" (I am here to help you).

9. Sono d`accordo / in disaccordo (I agree / disagree)
"Sono d`accordo con la tua opinione" (I agree with your opinion).

Mastering "essere" is crucial for basic communication in Italian, as it is used in various contexts and sentence structures. Practice its conjugation and usage to become more proficient in expressing yourself and understanding others in the language. Happy learning!