How to conjugate essere (to be) in Italian with all tenses & moods


Valentina Fornelli

As you already know if you’re studying Italian, verbs are not the easiest thing in the language of the Belpaese, especially if your mother tongue is English. There are three different regular conjugations, about 30 must-know irregular verbs and a specific form for every person.

But if we know our readers, we are sure that you’re one of those learners that are excited by linguistic challenges. Especially when they are as important as learning the conjugation of “to be” in Italian, aka the verb “essere”!

The verb “essere”

The verb “essere” is, together with “avere” (“to have”), one of the two auxiliary verbs in Italian. This means that they’re used both independently and as “helpers” of any other verb to form specific tenses.

Needless to say, the conjugation of “essere” in Italian is irregular, and you’ll have to learn it by heart in order to communicate every possible nuance of your being to your Italian friends, family and acquaintances. But oh it’s so worth it!

So, enough with the presentations, let’s really get to know the conjugation of “to be” in Italian!

Man studying the verb essere.

Italian verb “to be” conjugation chart

Here you have the entire conjugation of “essere” in Italian. Don’t forget to bookmark this page to be able to come back for any doubt!

But before we start, let’s remember one little rule concerning Italian verbs: unlike in English or French, in Italian when the subject of a verb is not explicitly stated you’re not supposed to replace it with a pronoun.

Easier done than said:

  • Sono in ritardo.
    I’m late.
  • Sei interista o milanista?
    Are you an Inter or Milan supporter?
  • Dov’erano le forbici? Erano nel cassetto.
    Where were the scissors? They were in the drawer.

As you can see, the pronouns are missing in all three examples whenever the subject was implicit. You can, though, use a pronoun when the subject can be misinterpreted or to add emphasis.

Present tense

The “presente” is the most basic tense and the first one you must learn.

Io sonoI am
Tu seiYou are
Egli/Ella (Lui/Lei in spoken language) èHe/She is
Noi siamoWe are
Voi sieteYou are
Essi/Esse (Loro in spoken language) sonoThey are

Example sentences

  • Sei la mia migliore amica.
    You’re my best friend.
  • Marco è proprio un bel ragazzo.
    Marco really is a good-looking guy.

Present perfect

Present perfect or “passato prossimo” is a very important tense, commonly used to describe an action that has taken place in the past but whose consequences are still relevant today, so the past action feels somehow “close” even if it ended. Let’s see the conjugation of to be in Italian in the “passato prossimo” tense.

Io sono stato/aI have been
Tu sei stato/aYou have been
Egli/Ella (Lui/Lei in spoken language) è stato/aHe/She has been
Noi siamo stati/eWe have been
Voi siete stati/eYou have been
Essi/Esse (Loro in spoken language) sono stati/eThey have been

Example sentences

  • Sono stato a Venezia tre volte.
    I’ve been to Venice three times.
  • La Sig.ra Rossi è stata la mia insegnante.
    Mrs Rossi was my teacher.


The imperfect (“imperfetto”) tense is used whenever we want to talk about an action we used to do in the past, not something that happened once or a certain number of times.

Io eroI was
Tu eriYou were
Egli/Ella (Lui/Lei in spoken language) eraHe/She was
Noi eravamoWe were
Voi eravateYou were
Essi/Esse (Loro in spoken language) eranoThey were

Example sentences

  • Da bambino ero molto vivace.
    As a child I was very lively.
  • Eravate a casa ieri?
    Were you at home yesterday?

An example of an imperfect tense in Italian.


A tense used when narrating past events, to describe an action that’s happened before the main one.

Io ero stato/aI had been
Tu eri stato/aYou had been
Egli/Ella (Lui/Lei in spoken language) era stato/aHe/She had been
Noi eravamo stati/eWe had been
Voi eravate stati/eYou had been
Essi/Esse (Loro in spoken language) erano stati/eThey had been

Example sentences

  • Ho visitato Venezia nel 2021, ma ci ero già stato nel 2003.
    I visited Venice in 2021, but I had already been there in 2003.
  • I miei due cani erano stati maltrattati dal precedente padrone.
    My two dogs had been mistreated by their previous owner.

Passato remoto

A tense whose name literally translates into “remote past”, the “passato remoto” is mostly used in literature and rarely in spoken language. It’s mandatory to know it, though, if you want to read Italian novels and short stories!

Note: by adding the past participle “stato” - or feminine “stata”, and plural “stati” and “state” - you can form the very uncommon tense “trapassato remoto”.

Io fuiI was
Tu fostiYou were
Egli/Ella (Lui/Lei in spoken language) fuHe/She was
Noi fummoWe were
Voi fosteYou were
Essi/Esse (Loro in spoken language) furonoThey were

Example sentences

  • Fu mio nonno a costruire questa casa.
    It was my grandfather who built this house.
  • I Romani furono feroci conquistatori.
    The Romans were ferocious conquerors.


“Sarà quel che sarà”, goes a famous ‘80s song. But even if you embrace the most fatalistic attitude, you must know the conjugation of the future tense of “essere” in Italian!

Hint: the future tense is often used in Italian to express a doubt or a supposition.

Io saròI will be
Tu saraiYou will be
Egli/Ella (Lui/Lei in spoken language) saràHe/She will be
Noi saremoWe will be
Voi sareteYou will be
Essi/Esse (Loro in spoken language) sarannoThey will be

Example sentences

  • Sarò sempre al tuo fianco.
    I’ll always be on your side.
  • Laura sarà alla tua festa?
    Will Laura be at your party?

Future perfect

Now, let’s move even forward in the future with the future perfect. As in English, it describes an action that will be completed in the future. As the future tense, it’s also used in Italian to express doubt or a supposition.

Io sarò stato/aI will have been
Tu sarai stato/aYou will have been
Egli/Ella (Lui/Lei in spoken language) sarà stato/aHe/She will have been
Noi saremo stati/eWe will have been
Voi sarete stati/eYou will have been
Essi/Esse (Loro in spoken language) saranno stati/eThey will have been

Example sentences

  • Quando sarai stato a Roma, saprai quanto è bella.
    When you've been in Rome, you’ll know how beautiful it is.
  • Mario non era alla festa, sarà stato impegnato.
    Mario wasn’t at the party, he must have been busy.

When you've been in Rome, you’ll know how beautiful it is.


The conditional tense is used to express something that only happens when a condition is met. It’s also used to ask something gently or to express a desire. It exists in present and past tense.


Io sareiI would be
Tu sarestiYou would be
Egli/Ella (Lui/Lei in spoken language) sarebbeHe/She would be
Noi saremmoWe would be
Voi saresteYou would be
Essi/Esse (Loro in spoken language) sarebberoThey would be

Example sentences

  • Lo sarei disponibile, se lei me lo chiedesse.
    I would be available, if she asked me.
  • Sarebbero davvero una bella coppia.
    They would really be a nice couple.


Io sarei stato/aI would have been
Tu saresti stato/aYou would have been
Egli/Ella (Lui/Lei in spoken language) sarebbe stato/aHe/She would have been
Noi saremmo stati/eWe would have been
Voi sareste stati/eYou would have been
Essi/Esse (Loro in spoken language) sarebbero stati/eThey would have been

Example sentences

  • Saresti stata tanto buona con me, se non avessi conosciuto mia madre?
    Would you have been so good to me, if you hadn’t met my mother?
  • Saremmo stati meglio in una stanza più grande.
    We would have been better in a bigger room.


One of the trickiest Italian tenses of all, the subjunctive or “congiuntivo” is used any time you want to express doubt, uncertainty, possibility, invitation or an hypothesis. It includes no less than four different tenses.


Used when the main sentence is in present tense.

Che io sia-
Che tu sia-
Che egli/ella (Lui/Lei in spoken language) sia-
Che noi siamo-
Che voi siate-
Che essi/esse (Loro in spoken language) siano-

Example sentences

  • Sono felice che tu sia qui.
    I’m happy you’re here.
  • Spero che siate felici insieme.
    I hope you’re happy together.


Used when the main sentence is in present tense, but the subordinate clause refers to a past action.

Che io sia stato-
Che tu sia stato-
Che egli/ella (Lui/Lei in spoken language) sia stata-
Che noi siamo stati-
Che voi siate stati-
Che essi/esse (Loro in spoken language) siano stati-

Example sentences

  • È incredibile che sia stato tanto stupido.
    I can’t believe that I’ve been that stupid.
  • Mia mamma è contenta che siamo stati con lei tutto il weekend.
    My mother is happy that we’ve been with her all weekend.


Imperfect subjunctive is used after a principal sentence expressing insecurity or an hypothesis in past tense.

Che io fossi-
Che tu fossi-
Che egli/ella (Lui/Lei in spoken language) fosse-
Che noi fossimo-
Che voi foste-
Che essi/esse (Loro in spoken language) fossero-

Example sentences

  • Non credevo che Palermo fosse così bella.
    I didn’t think Palermo was so beautiful.
  • Pensavate che fossi stupido?
    Did you think I was stupid?

Past perfect

Could the Italian language deprive all its students of the past perfect subjunctive? Of course not! This tense is used to describe a fact that might have happened (but it didn’t!) before a past action, but always in the past. Clear and simple, right?

Che io fossi stato/a-
Che tu fossi stato/a-
Che egli/ella (Lui/Lei in spoken language) fosse stato/a-
Che noi fossimo stati/e-
Che voi foste stati/e-
Che essi/esse (Loro in spoken language) fossero stati/e-

Example sentences

  • Se fossi stato più attento, non sarei caduto.
    If I had been more careful, I wouldn’t have fallen.
  • Se voi foste stati con lei, si sarebbe divertita di più.
    If you had been with her, she would have had more fun.


Now, let’s leave the realm of what could have been, and enter a state where there’s no room for uncertainty.

Sii! (tu)Be!
Siate! (voi)Be!

Example sentences

  • Sii felice!
    Be happy!
  • Siate fieri di voi!
    Be proud of yourselves!


Last but not least, the important gerund.

Present: essendoBeing
Past: essendo statoHaving been

Example sentences

  • Essendo domenica, i negozi sono chiusi.
    Being it Sunday, the shops are closed.
  • Essendo stato due anni in Francia, parlo il francese
    Having been two years in France, I speak French.

Study Italian at your pace and have fun!

Verb marathons like this one do provide crucial notions, but are not the most fun way to learn a language. Choose the best Italian courses for your needs and preferences, and learn at your pace while enjoying every lesson!

Call Us


Find out more

Fill in the form below and we’ll contact you to discuss your learning options and answer any questions you may have.