Italian verbs

Using the Italian verbs “potere”, “dovere”, and “volere”

Something I insist on with my students and anyone who asks me for advice is the importance of “making something” in Italian. No, I’m not talking about taking the recipe of the lasagne in Italian and making your first lasagne. Even though recipes are indeed interesting from a pedagogical point of view. I’m talking about creating sentences.

I’ve talked about making your first sentences in this previous post, but in this article, I would like to tell you about other techniques to learn Italian verbs.

I’m not going to lie, Italian verbs can be pretty challenging if you come from an English-speaking background

But there’s something else I hardly insist on: the fact that something is hard doesn’t make it impossible.

Italian verbs

“Hard” means “hard”. And nothing else.

And when something is hard to learn or do, we just give it more time to sink in.

So, the exercises that you’re going to read in this article might need some time before they bear fruit. Give them this time because nothing happens overnight.

So, now… let’s dive in!

We’re going to see the verbs “potere“, “dovere“, and “volere“.

All these verbs are irregular, so they need to be learned as they are. But luckily, there’s a first technique to help you with that: substitution tables.

Here is how they work.

Italian verbs

Potere

Here you have a table with the verb potere.

Using the items from the left and the items from the right, you can make sentences with the combinations that you prefer.

Italian verbs

Like this:

  • Posso venire domani.
  • Potete andare a cena fuori. (This can be a suggestion)
  • Non può andare a Como.
  • Puoi aiutare i colleghi?

Which combinations can you make?

  1. _______________________________________________________
  2. _______________________________________________________
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  5. _______________________________________________________
  6. _______________________________________________________

Over to you, take a pen and a piece of paper and write your sentences with potere. One sentence for each subject. This time, instead of choosing the items from the right column, think of how you can continue your sentences.

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  5. _______________________________________________________
  6. _______________________________________________________
Italian verbs

Dovere

Let’s jump now to dovere.

Here you have a table with the conjugation of dovere and some items that go with it. Which combinations can you make?

Italian verbs

Here are some examples:

  • Devo andare.
  • Devi cucinare?
  • Dobbiamo pulire la casa.
  • Dovete studiare!

And here is some room for your combinations.

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Now, again, which sentences can you come up with that include dovere? Think of one sentence for each subject.

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  6. _______________________________________________________
Italian verbs

Volere

Let’s have a look at volere this time.

Here you have a table with the conjugation of volere and some items that you can use with it. Which combinations can you make this time?

Italian verbs

Here are some combinations for you.

  • Voglio dormire.
  • Vuoi un caffè?
  • Volete un gelato?
  • Vogliono una soluzione.

And here are a few lines for your combinations.

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One more time, which sentences can you make with volere? Think about it and write them down.

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  4. _______________________________________________________
  5. _______________________________________________________
  6. _______________________________________________________

To sum up

  • The fact that Italian verbs are hard doesn’t make them impossible to learn and master.
  • Substitution tables help you learn verbs and use them.
  • You can create your sentences to become more independent when using your Italian verbs.
Italian verbs

References

Nation Paul, What do you need to know to learn a foreign language? School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies Victoria University of Wellington New Zealand, 2014

Nation Paul, What Should Every EFL Teacher Know?, Compass Publishing, 2013

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