I. Present tense of finire

Not all third-conjugation verbs are conjugated like sentire. The majority of them are conjugated like finire, which takes an –isc– between the stem and the ending. This occurs in all persons except the first and second plural.

finire– “to finish”

finisco           finiamo

finisci            finite

finisce          finiscono

The following are some fairly common third-conjugation verbs which are conjugated like finire.

agire       to act                               obbedire    to obey

applaudire  to applaud                   preferire   to prefer

capire      to understand                 reagire     to react

costituire  to constitute

Compare the present tense endings of regular verbs.

I (-are) II (-ere) III (-ire) III (model finire)
-o -o -o -isco
-i -i -i -isci
-a -e -e -isce
-iamo -iamo -iamo -iamo
-ate -ete -ite -ite
-ano -ono -ono -iscono


*ciò che
what (literally, what which)
privo di
devoid of, lacking in
*tra (also fra)


Last revised on January 30, 2017.

II. True imperatives

Some true imperative verb conjugations:

I II III III (-isc-) Meaning
Second person singular parla vendi senti finisci speak, sell listen, finish
First person plural parliamo vendiamo sentiamo finiamo let’s speak, etc.
Second person plural parlate vendete sentite finite speak, sell, etc.

Except for the second person singular of the first-conjugation verbs, the three forms of the imperative given above are exactly like the corresponding forms of the present indicative.

NOTE: The negative imperative is formed by placing non before the affirmative imperative in all cases except the second person singular, in which case non is placed before the infinitive.

parliamo– “let’s speak”                   parlate– “speak”

non parliamo– “let’s not speak”       non parlate– “don’t speak”

BUT:  parla– “speak”

non parlare– “don’t speak”

Imperative sentences usually end in an exclamation mark.


still, yet; again
who, whom, which, that, what
city, cities
to leave (behind)
each, every
to fear
therefore, then; hence
to rest
(biological) sex
(la) sua, (il) suo
his, her, its


Last revised on January 30, 2017.

III. Reflexive use of verbs

A verb is said to be used reflexively when it has a pronoun object, direct or indirect, which refers to the subject (I see myself, he talks to himself, etc.). In English relatively few verbs are used reflexively; in Italian a great many are. Indeed, almost any Italian verb that normally needs an object to complete its meaning (i.e. a transitive verb) can be used reflexively.

The reflexive verbal construction consists of two parts: the verb itself and the reflexive pronoun. In the infinitive form, the reflexive pronoun is attached to the end of the verb: alzarsi (to get up- cf. alzare, to raise), divertirsi (to enjoy one’s self, to have a good time- cf. divertire, to amuse, to entertain).

The reflexive verbs are conjugated as follows:

alzarsi– to get [oneself] up                       divertirsi– to have fun

mi alzo           ci alziamo                         mi diverto        ci divertiamo

ti alzi              vi alzate                            ti diverti           vi divertite

si alza            si alzano                           si diverte        si divertono

Observe that the verb itself is conjugated just like any other verb, according to the conjugation to which it belongs (thus, alzarsi, first conjugation; divertirsi, third conjugation). How would you conjugate offendersi (to be offended)?

Note the difference between alzarsi (to get oneself up / to arise) and svegliarsi (to wake up / to awaken).

1 Depending on the context, such a sentence may be interpreted reflexively: “Do you love yourselves?” The same thing is true for the three sentences that follow.

Last revised on June 15, 2022.

IV. Meaning of verbs used reflexively

  1. Many Italian verbs may be used reflexively in the plural to express reciprocal action.

Vi amate? –“Do you love each other?”1

Ci vediamo spesso. –“We see each other often.”

Loro si ammirano. –“They admire each other.”

Si parlano? –“Do they speak to each other?”

  1. The reflexive is often used for the passive (especially when inanimate objects are involved).

Le medicine si vendono all farmacia. –“Medicines are sold  at the drugstore.”

Questi libri si pubblicano in Italia. –“These books are published in Italy.”

Come si pronunzia questa parola? –“How is this word pronounced?”

  1. The reflexive may render the impersonal idea of “one,” “they,” “people,” “we,” “you.”

Come si dice “good morning” in italiano? –“How do you (does one) say good morning in Italian?”

Si dice che è molto ricca. –“They say she is very rich.” (=”It is said….”)

Quando si studia, s’impara. –“When one studies, one learns.”

  1. The reflexive may mean “oneself” (“myself,” “yourself,” “himself,” etc.).

Mi lavo. –“I wash myself.”

  1. The reflexive pronoun often need not or cannot be translated.

Si divertono. –“They have a good time (amuse themselves).”

Mi alzo. –“I get up.”

Come si chiama questo signore?—“What is this man’s name?”

As may be seen in the above examples, the reflexive pronoun precedes the verb in most cases. One exception to this has already been mentioned: it is attached to the end of the infinitive. A second exception is the imperative, where the reflexive pronoun is also attached to the end of the verb” Divertitevi! (“Have fun!“or “Have a good time!”), Alziamoci (“Let’s get up”), etc.

1 In present-day Italian, quello che or ciò che would be usual here.


at least
dir (=dire)
to say
fare l’istruito
to play the learned man
loro (adj.)
to seem/appear
si tengono
they keep themselves (3d pl. tenere)
want (3d. pl., volere)
demanded, required (pp. volere)
 vuol (=vuole)


Last revised on January 30, 2017.